The decision to wait on posting about the 2nd con I have ever been to is an easy one. I should really wait. Put my thoughts on paper. Gather my emotions up, recover, and reflect on the aspects that most mattered to me.
Pull together cohesive thoughts and impressive cogent arguments for cons, the people who play them and the way they are handled…..Screw that. Instead here is what went down.
I arrived a day early so I could conduct some meetings and get reacquainted with Jeff Newell, Pete Gade and Ralph Shelton. Good news! Jeff is still this happy little bear, Pete is still a insightful funny guy and Ralph is still a dick. So all is well!
This year I was on a mission to experience new games, see how people play games I already play and capture the goings on in my head.
Wednesday seems like a blurry week ago already. We set up OaO (1914 from GMT), OCS The Blitzkrieg Legend, and got in a quick game of Lock’n Load.
The LNLP people show me all the production copy of Forgotten Heroes, the non gloss map format. The perfectly cut counters from it and ANZAC Attack. They also shared the production copies of Heart of Darkness and Nuklear Winter ’68. All looked amazing, easy to read rule booklets (a fix) and well done. I did note that the Chaplain rules were missing from the box, but they intend to rectify that.
I played two rounds of Heroes of the Pacific with Mark Walker, exploring some of the new rules and scenarios for the Pacific Theatre. It never ceases to amaze me how tight he makes these darn things, yet keeps the strong historical flavor.
Am I re instating my order? Probably and most certainly for ANZAC Attack, that thing is chock full of scenarios. Note it is a straight reprint + extra counters.
I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Vance Strickland! We played Nations at War – Desert Heat. Totally different feel for NaW vs WaW. While the same system the weapons platforms are chalk and cheese.
Good fun, amazing counter art and work on the boards.
Took a beat down here, but enjoyed working on the VP conditions. OCs got into full swing Thursday.
At the same time I was player/coaching Panzer, with what ended up being 5 of us. About 6 turns were accomplished with lots of explanatory pauses. Panzer was the more involved game for the day, making sure you were teaching correctly, and not letting your forces be attrition shot away. This meeting engagement had everyone shouting, hooting and hollaring at results as King Tigers popped, Hand to Hand combat was explored and Soviet monster tank killers brewed up.
All that time a Hunters Tournament was raging. With a dozen or more guys competing and cheering each other on to sink more tonnage, blow up Capital ships and avoid air strikes and escorts. At one point several Kommandants played well into the wee hours of the morning with an illegal bottle of Makers Mark! Where is the Schnapps!! I played one round to get a hang for the system. My efforts were less than stellar. One event in 7 checks in Spain. The “HUGE” freighter weighed 1100 tonnes. :(, I shot I missed and then got one hit. The escort chasing it was aggressive but I shoo’ed him off. At that point some other things were happening that needed attention. By late that night the humor was evident in my Goose Egg. I elected to keep it that way.
The Battle for Normandy was in full swing, the poor guys playing La Bat – Leipzig managed just 3 hours elapsed game time over 4 days…..apparently too cautious play by Napoleon! Totaler Krieg and Dai Senso were linked and war was waged amongst the Zombicide players and Axis & Allies fan…yes 1 poor soul could find no one to play A&A.
I found listening to people talk about their games they were playing was really cool. OCS players Art, Matthew, Steve and Bill recalling past games or reviewing areas of weak play as they stood at 1am pondering the next days play. Hearing someone explain their approach to a game, in terms of key terrain areas to monitor, cards to look for was excellent also.
Another aspect I enjoyed was hanging with designers and developers, listening to their stories, their challenges and what motivated them to create.
Mark Simonitch & I had lunch to explore his past gaming designs, the genesis of Hannibal : Rome v Carthage
“I stole it from Herman’s title”. Simple enough. He and Mark Herman had discussed what period would work best for the game and some nice refinements to the battle system evolved. Mark went on to discuss map art, his recent release France ’40, (which received some decent play time at the con) and also shared a little about his planned re make of Ukraine ’43.
Mark was one of the friendliest ‘names’ at the con and I enjoyed his company a lot.
Day turned to night and the mood intensifies, people look at game tracks and VPs. How much of this game will they finish? But all in a sense of desire to ‘see the monster done’.
Folks tour the rooms, admire games, ask questions, find ad hoc opponents. Some pc software game designers were in attendance learning a couple of games in stealth mode for future development!
Speaking of PC games….I played some Heroes of Stalingrad. OMG. IT is FREAKING AWESOME…but more on that later.
The Combat Commander tournament was on. I had really wanted to play just one game face to face to see what the fuss was all about since solo really was not much fun.
The price of admission is that I had to play in the tournament. Ugh. I’d rather have a broken tooth…oh thats right I do.. Darn it.
So I squared off with my opponent, let him choose sides, and as the Brits hunkered down to defend the warehouse or something in Arnhem.
Poor guy I had so many questions for him, I think his eyes bled. After taking his advice on ‘where’ to place a Heavy MG reinforcement (a logic non gamey spot near his advancing forces…I was thinking down the road in the open.), his Germans promptly stormed into the Building!
The one card I knew that would be good in this situation was Mines, and of course the Ambush card. I laid that on his Nazi’s. They broke like a ginger snap dunked in a hot cuppa tea!
With his Left flank eviscerated it was time for that Flame thrower to get to work.
Now as the defender I wanted the clock to run out, and I wanted to see the additional VPs for each turn. I did not want him to capture any of the VP locations. My margin was high on VP’s but a silly mistake could cost the game. I need to get the flamethrower going. I jammed thru cards rapidly.
Shortly there after, several fireteams were smouldering, as the unit went to work. On the last Leader casualty check the German flipped time! A 12! Men died and we hit sudden death. Sweet!
My 2nd scenario on Saturday was a foggy one, and required the movement in recon to gain points. The men moved too slow. The sun burned too bright and my boys were crushed. A very tense game and a lot of fun as the opponents I faced helped me enough to be competent!
Pete Gade and I played a superb game of Lock’n Load set in Vietnam. Replicating part of the battle known as Arizona. Where a listening post and fireteams must stop a night patrol from passing thru.
The Vietnamese forces dodged and weaved, back track and scrambled but could still only manage 8 of the 12 VPs required for a win, but they gave their all on the field. There was no beating Peters depth of defense, star shells and octagon of death pink 1d6.