Thursday, November 18, 2021

Historicon 2021: Masks, Saving Christmas, and Renaissance Art History

 So Historicon actually happened!  It was great getting to do some in-person convention gaming again.  Despite the mask requirement and a less than great venue (more on that below), I had a fantastic time.

I ran two games at the convention.  The first was my take on the first Die Hard movie, called It Isn't Christmas Until Hans Gruber Falls from Nakatomi Tower.  This was probably the smallest physical game I've run at a convention as well as the shortest, completing it in about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Nonetheless, we had nine very enthusiastic players with room for my son Nick and friend Dave to play some of the NPCs.  There was a lot of laughter and movie quotes and I think everyone had a great time despite its short run. I used a modified version of Stargrave which worked well in the convention setting.  We were surprised at how closely the action followed the movie, although John McClane was nearly killed on the first turn by a chainsaw-wielding Karl.  Nonetheless, Argyle slugged Theo before he could escape with the loot, McClane saved Holly from Hans Gruber by using a secret pistol taped to his back, and Hans obligingly then fell from the Tower.  We went the movie one better when helicopter bearing FBI agents Johnson and Johnson was shot down and then crashed on top of the fallen Hans.  The action was too fast and furious to take many pictures but here are a few:

The other game I ran was Leonardo da Vinci and the Prince of Foxes, using weird science elements to play out the climatic battle from the novel/movie Prince of Foxes. I used a modified Dragon Rampant rules and we had 14 enthusiastic players who seemed to really enjoy the game.  Although there were a couple of close moments when the Cesare Borgia's air mobile troops managed to get into the city and attack the palazzo, the forces of good, defending Citta del Monte, won a resounding victory. 

The game caught the eye of the folks from Little Wars TV and they even intervened me.  Here's their video recap of the convention.  My bit starts about 3:08 but the whole thing is very worthwhile watching for a full view of the convention:

Here's some pictures I took before and during the game:

The Borgian hordes descending on Citta del Monte

The Citta del Monteans managed to hold the river line through the game, keeping reinforcements from reaching their air-landed brethren in the city.

The table at the end of the game.  Although the Citta del Monteans had suffered heavy casualties, the Borgians faired worse, losing their large aerial battleship, one helicopter, one landship, and a host of cavalry.  Surprisingly, it was the Citta del Montean militia defending the river that proved most effective.

In addition to running these two games, I got to play in a couple as well.  The first was an ancients games using Command and Colors and simulating the Battle of the Medway during the Roman conquest of Britain.  As one of the British players, all I can say is that we were thoroughly thrashed.  Sadly, I didn't get pictures.

The other game I was lucky enough to play in was Martyn Kelly's incredible Battle of Bicocca game.  Pictures do no do justice to what a work of art this game was.  Beautiful figures and terrain and on such an epic scale! 

 I controlled the French cavalry on the left flank and got to go up against my friend Steve.  Although we were a side-show compared to the rest of battle, we had a great time.  I had some of the best dice results in a game while Steve had some of the worst so my gendarmes got the better of his Milanese cavalry. 

 While I was only moving toward the Spanish flank by game's end, the associated French infantry had managed to capture the bridge and advanced into the Spanish camp.  This couple with a Franco-Swiss breakthrough in the center gave the French a resounding win.  A great time with a beautiful game.

Some general observations, there was a requirement to wear masks in any of the convention areas and the vast majority of attendees were respectful of the requirement.  I didn't find it to big of a problem.  Regarding the venue, the Valley Forge Casino and Resort, it is not one of my favorite places for a convention.  While the facilities are decent, there was almost no service either for the rooms and for the convention generally.  Worse is the dispersed nature of the gaming areas, with games scattered throughout a large and labyrinthian facility so that you never got a sense of attendance and I know I missed seeing a lot of great games.  I did catch a few pictures of some games that caught my eye:

Another beautiful game, the large Test of Honour games that ran throughout the weekend.

A great ancients naval warfare floor game

Siege of Maiden Castle

Not sure what this was but it looked like Romans vs Iberians

The colorful and whimsical Wars of Oz game

Battle of the Misty Mountains with its ingenious backdrop decoration.

Conclusion, despite some minor complaints about the hotel, it was a great return to convention gaming!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Leonardo da Vinci and the Prince of Foxes (Again)

 In addition to my Die Hard game, I will be running another game at Historicon. This one is called "Leonardo Da Vinci and the Prince of Foxes." (I had hoped to run it at the 2020 Historicon but Covid intervened.)

It's a weird war take on the old Samuel Shellabarger novel/Tyrone Powers movie set in Borgia's Italy. Here's the description: "Artist turned imposter nobleman, Andrea Orsini has been sent by Cesare Borgia to undermine Marc Antonio Verano, lord of Citta Del Monte as part of his plans of conquest. However, Orsini has turned away from villainy and now sides with the good people of Citta Del Monte. Using the notebook of his former master, Leonardo da Vinci, Orsini has fashioned a host of amazing war machines to defend the city. Borgia has decided to fight fire with fire and hired the great Leonardo himself. "

I'll be using the variations on the Osprey Rampant series of rules, mostly Dragon Rampant and Pikeman's Lament.

Mat is by Cigar Box Battle mats, the buildings are from various mdf manufacturers or scratch-built.  The da Vinci models are mostly from Academy or Elenco.

The army of Cesare Borgia "marches" on Citta del Monte

The Borgian aerial fleet

The flagship, La Giaconda, captained by Leonardo himself

A massive Borgian landship

The Borgian ground forces

Cesare's father sent the papal choir to aid morale

The small army of Citta del Monte

Citta del Monte's beloved lord, the venerable Marc'Antonio Verano

Defending the city itself is Verano's much younger wife, Dona Camilla

A surprise in store for the Borgians, a huge steam cannon

Help is on the way in the form of the heroic French hero Chevalier Bayard

The Blessed Lucia of Narni is there to keep everyone honest

An aerial assault on the city

The Prince of Foxes himself, Andrea Orsini, piloting a flying machine.

The city in more peaceful times.