Sunday, March 12, 2006

Salute '06

This weekend I took Friday off, and traveled with my wife to Salute, a miniatures convention hosted by the Trumpeter Society in of Vancouver B.C. Lorri has been sick all week. She actually missed three days of work, and she never misses. I was afraid she wouldn't be able to travel, but she sucked it up and we drove off together. We didn't get away as early as I planned. A light snow fell overnight, and life on the road Friday morning was hellacious. Lorri also needed to complete some work at home, so instead of getting away at 11:00, we left at 1:00. We still missed most of the traffic, running into rough spots only near Everett and just across the border. We rolled into Metrotown Holiday Inn at about 5:30. We spent some time wandering the Metrotown Mall, and ate some dinner, before returning to the hotel at 8:00, some reading, and snooze time.

I love going to Salute, and I try to make it every year. I feel I have very good gaming friends there, and it is one of the few times a year I get to see them. Doug Hamm, Chris Leach, Steve Allen, Bruce Harborne and others are guys I know I would game with regularly if I lived a little farther north. And then there's Kelly Jones. Kelly has been largely out of the gaming cycle since he was diagnosed with cancer last year. I've known him through game conventions for many years, and missed him a lot at Enfilade last year. He is a vital, loud, good humored man, known for his booming voice and infectious laugh. I've never known Kelly to be impatient, intolerant or unfriendly. I should be as good a person. It was a shock to see the effect of his illness, but it was still good to see him.

Salute is held at the Bonsor Centre in Burnaby, B.C. It is a community center that is simply a wonderful site. All kinds of activities occur there, including swimming, a host of other sports and fitness, as well as the monthly Friday game nights. The game nights draw nearly a hundred participants who pay an entirely reasonable fee to play historical, sci-fi and fantasy miniatures, as well as board games. The Trumpeters usually play in a large banquet hall I would estimate at about 4,000 sq. ft, but for the convention they spread into a room across the hall which houses a large Rogue Trader tournament. One thing I really admire about the Trumpeters is the coexistence between gamers of different genres. I think there are some jealousies between the clubs and the genres to insure fair treatment, but overall they act in their mutual self-interest.

Salute is a hoo-hah big deal. There are always some amazing games on tap there, and this year was no exception. There were two great Star Wars themed games including a battle on a molten planet that was lit with flourescent lights. The same fellow had a battle on Endor game that was going to be run Sunday with much of the board taking place on large tree platforms. Chris Leach was running some great looking 20mm WWII using a set of rules called Blitzkrieg Commander. It was in hedgerow country and the modelling looked great. The White Rock gamers ran some 25mm Armati games with some beautiful miniatures. I saw the Japanese and Chinese figures, but I missed out on their other games. Bruce Harborne, Steve Knight and Wayne Johnson from North Vancouver ran a great east front World War I game that drew quite a crowd.

As super as these games looked, perhaps the most interesting game was run by Eric Hotz. He's developed a rules set called Roman Seas for Ancient Naval Battles. They are targeted at Rome, but I could easily see them expanded to the Greek and Persian Wars or other similar conflicts as time goes on. Being the talented graphic artist he is, Eric designed and built paper models to represent the ships, crewed them with 6mm figures, and added villages, sea walls and other accessories. Those I spoke to that played the game quite enjoyed them, and I hope Eric will bring them to Enfilade. He will likely sell them, as he does his Whitewash City paper miniatures, and it's a great idea. If you weren't there to see them you missed out.

The convention pulled off a significant coup in attracting a couple of B.C. manufacturers. Kingsford Miniatures showed up with their ranges that include Woodland Indians and Samurai. They're nice figures, and if I'd been in the market I would have purchased some. Perhaps the bigger bonus was the presence of Bob Murch and Pulp Miniatures. What a great guy. I tried to persuade him to come from Enfilade, but it wasn't hopeful. I did buy one pack of Chinese infantry to fill out my Cannon Fodder guys, but didn't go crazy. Bob hung out with us around our game for a while. He knows a lot about the War of 1812.

I played fourteen hours of War of 1812 games with Doug Hamm and his friend Andrew. We set up the board, and layered on the terrain. We ran three different games over the same terrain with different objectives each time. It was a lot of fun. I always enjoy seeing Doug and playing games with him, it is a highlight of my year. Andrew was a laid back added bonus, fun to game with, and enjoyable to talk to. It was gratifying to pull out the miniatures and put them out on the table. I painted a unit of Royal Marines for the game, so they were blooded. Doug wrote v.2 of the rules, with some significant changes, particularly the fire table. The rules are based on Fire and Fury, with a maneuver chart, effectiveness table and melee chart that would look pretty familiar to players of FandF. The revised edition has ditched the Hasenauer fire table for something different. After 2 and a half games we agreed it needed some tweaking, but overall they played quite well. It makes me want to pull out some more figures to paint.

We played until about 9:30 before shuffling off home and the hotel. It was a great day of gaming and visiting. The only disappointment was that a great many of my American colleagues didn't participate. It was a great con and they missed out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Events for Enfilade

I've definitely settled on the games I'll run for Enfilade. It is a pair of games that will involve assaults and sorties near fortified positions.

For the first game, an assault on a fortified bridge position, I'm going to use the Tactica siege rules, probably with some modifications. I'll provide an array of options for the French defenders and English attackers. The options will range from extra troops to light siege equipment, such as an Onager and mantlets for the attackers, to a crow or light ballistas for the defenders. However, the onus is on the attackers to capture the barbican with towers in a short time to secure the river crossing for the advancing army. The rules seem simple enough to manage a fair number of singly based figures. I think I can manage to keep things fun and interesting.

The second game involves a night sortie by castle defenders to destroy siege engines attacking their defenses. The English attackers will move in groups at night. They are always at risk of discovery, and losing their way. I'm still deciding on rules, whether they are the Pig Wars late medieval variant, or perhaps an adaptation of the Tactica rules. The latter may be a bit too simple. The I foresee the night movement posing special problems for the attackers, and a matter of some confusion for the defenders, as they try to cover the possibilities.

After a lot of question about what to do with all of my Hundred Years War figures, I've decided to continue to singly mount all of them. I can place them on movement stands for large scale battles, if needed, but the single mounting retains flexibility. I kind of think its crazy to have hundreds and hundreds of figures per side singly mounted, but there you go.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Groups and More Groups, and Entering the Electronic Age

Last night we held our first NHMGS conference call. It was an interesting experiment in group dynamics. As with most Enfilade gatherings, though we don't begin randomly, we often stray from our discussion paths.

We did make some important decisions. First, we agreed that David Sullivan would continue our banner ads at the current intense rate, and throttle back the ads to a more affordable, sustainable level in a couple of weeks. We would also hit TMP with newsworthy announcements after the attendance of several notables is confirmed after Cold Wars. The idea is to keep up a drumbeat of good news about Enfilade.

We also had a useful discussion of the Citadel. We all agreed that the Citadel needed to come out on a more regular basis. My goal was a quarterly, plus one Enfilade preview. Others suggested three plus a preview. Norris agreed he would work hard to learn publisher and try to have something out by the 20th. Bruce raised the question of whether there was an interest in an electronic Citadel. He suggested a moderated Yahoo group for the Citadel in which issues were kept in the files section of the group to be accessed by NHMGS members. We agreed that the Citadel offered considerably greater creativity, with color and pictures for the authors. It was suggested that we offer the change at Enfilade in order to get some paper Citadels out to cover our lack of newsletters over the past year, before making this change.

I agreed to begin another new Yahoogroup covering the decision makers in Northwest conventions. We agreed that some business conducted on our Faithful group should be kept between us, and that some material in our files section was sensitive. I promised to set this up next week.

We agreed to raise the heat on the membership on the NHMGS group to get in their games and make their hotel reservations. I promised to approach Eric Hotz about including information about Enfilade on the Trumpeter website. I expressed my happiness with the number of committed games to date, and also suggested we get out our PEL to as many places as possible with regular updates.