Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Entry 200: MLK Weekend Gaming

I have a couple of topics I'd like to cover in this entry, my 200th. One topic that's been raised is regarding NHMGS participation at multi-genre game conventions such as ConQuest and Dragonflight. I have a connection and a certain attachment to these cons. They are run by good people whose company I truly enjoy, gamers like me who just enjoy different games.

Gabriel Vega is the owner of Avalon games that runs the ConQuest conventions up the west coast. These are for-profit conventions, meaning if there is a profit, he gets it. It's risky, speculative and challenging. I wouldn't want to make my living hosting conventions. He is a kind and generous man and I enjoyed working with him four years ago as a historical miniatures coordinator. Mark Verdeck is the man at ground zero for Gabe, who lives in Southern California. Mark coordinates the coordinators and has his finger on the pulse of Seattle area gaming. Well, some of the gaming.

Which brings me to my next point, and that is the NHMGS connection or lack thereof to ConQuest and Dragonflight. First there is no official NHMGS policy on these two conventions. I can say that as the president. After my term as Enfilade director expired, I agreed to work for both conventions and tried to drum up business in historical miniatures. For one year I had success at each, but not beyond the one year. I can't account for this. It's the same convention, the same location and not many variables between years. For what ever reason, members were reluctant to support. I can offer several examples, excuses, explanations, and I'm not sure any of them are correct, but here goes:

  1. Both conventions are costly--unless folks pre-register months in advance. Our guys just don't do that. At Enfilade folks can pre-register up until about May 10th. The difference for our guys between pre-register and walk-up is five bucks. A much bigger difference for the other two.
  2. Historical miniatures are like round pegs in square holes at multi-genre conventions. Guys can show up with board games, or 40K armies, or to role-play and can expect to find someone to play their game. If I show up with a historical miniature game, unless I have friends coming to play it, the chances my game, which I just paid a sizable admission to host, likely won't get played. I have been to cons hoping to do "missionary" work, trying to draw some interest from those who weren't historical miniaturists. It just didn't work. I have scars from trying.
  3. These conventions have little to draw historical miniaturists beyond a place to play. We don't all have homogeneous interests, use the same set of rules for a historical period beyond, perhaps, DBA or Fields of Glory. There isn't a big promotion or even a guest they could offer us to spur interest. The money isn't there, and the directors don't know our branch of the hobby well enough. That isn't true for the CCG players, the role-players or the GW gamers.
In any case, I write this not to bad-mouth ConQuest or Dragonflight and their practices. I think what they do is great, but we are just not the audience meant for their convention. I would never discourage our members from attending, and, in fact, encourage them to attend if it suits their time or budget. Many of our guys also cross over neatly to board games, and that's another avenue to enjoy the con. It's more problematic as a historical miniatures venue.

Monday was the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a school teacher I had the day off. There were enough of us celebrating the holiday that we agreed to get together for a game at Game Matrix. Mark Waddington offered to run his Isandahlwana game. I'd heard much about it, but never played, so I raised my hand and said I was interested. The game is a simplified version of The Sword and the Flame, so skazillions of units are easily run. The British start the game knowing they will eventually be slaughtered, but they earn points for breaking Zulu units (which are recycled) and the Zulus earn points for killing British, capturing the camp and wagon park, as well as those fleeing Brits that may wear red or bear the regimental standard.

We got there on time and the game was a pretty quick set up. I offered to play Zulus, and ran the right "horn" with Arthur Brooking. The job of the right horn in this battle is to be the blocking force as British resistance to the Zulu onslaught breaks resistance in the encampment apart and refugees begin to flee the camp. The entry of the right horn was delayed until turn 3, so it took some time to get going.

Arthur and I had five ten man units. He launched one of them against one of the 24th Regiment's companies and played a key role in driving them to destruction. I took the other four units and began driving across the Savannah--smack into the Natal Mounted Rifles commanded by Dave Schueler. Dave played it pretty cagey, always withdrawing in front of surging commands and giving us a blast in the face for our troubles. He always got the draw after my leading units, so was able to evade our charges.

That worked until he ran out of real estate. By then I was across the trail leading to the ford over the river, and the few British refugees from the debacle in camp were accounted for by Zulu units. Though our units had no part in the serious fighting, we did finally dispatch Dave's horsemen and were facing no further organized units when the game was called. The right horn had moved into the narrow pass and the block was complete. Mark declared it a victory for the Zulus, though not an overwhelming one. All in all it was much fun.

It was a sort of weird day however. There was major fire in some shops just up the street. Three shops including a thrift shop and tire store were badly damaged and firefighters fought the blaze most of the time we were gaming. The smoke got nasty at times, depending on the way the wind was blowing.


DeanM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DeanM said...


Your reason #2 sounds painful, hopefully you've healed and the scars don't hurt too bad :)!

Nice pictures and the figures and terrain look great. Between the smoke and recalling the rules for the Sharp's game (hadn't touched it since MoF), I regret not getting a better view of Mark's game.

P.S. When can I send my payment in for Enfilade 2010 :)!

Kevin said...

Soon. We meet next weekend to figure out the particulars of Enfilade. I assume we'll set up the PayPal account shortly after the meeting. I'll keep you posted.