Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Historicon 2022

 Here's a somewhat belated report on my trip to Historicon 2022.  In summary, a great time was had!

It was held at the Lancaster Convention Center on the square in downtown Lancaster.  This is a great site for the convention, with numerous places to eat just steps from the hotel.  The layout for the convention itself  was good, all events in proximity without seeming too crowded.  A big change from the subpar Valley Forge Casino site.  

I ran two games at the convention.  The first, run on Friday night of the convention, was a reprise of a game I ran a few years ago, Sharp's Pride and Prejudice and Master and Commander and Zombies, taking Seth Graeme-Smith's hilarious "adaptation" of the Jane Austen classic and adding a few popular period literary heroes.

  This time I used a modified form of the new Silver Bayonet rules (as well as adding Mary Shelley and Frankenstein's monster).  I believe they worked well for this game, intuitive enough for the players to pick up easily and quick playing enough despite having 14 players. 

The main focus of the game was to prevent the dastardly Mr. Wickham from running off with the youngest of the five Bennet sisters to have his way with her, thus shaming the family.

Rosings Park and the village of Hunsford, site of the unpleasantness.

The local militia under Colonel Fitzwilliams

Mary Shelley and her friends experiment with a new method of fighting zombies, their own undead construct. Part of this faction included Lord Byron which resulted in adding a rule for Cutting Remarks for several figures, a last minute addition that worked well and had quite a bit of humor - Thanks to Virginia Montrie for coming up with that idea.

Our heroes, Elizabeth Bennet and the hopeful Fitzwilliams D'Arcy who hoped to convince Elizabeth to marry him.

The grave yard at Hunsford, Zombie central

Richard Sharpe and Harper fending off some zombies with the help of a couple of Healthy Farm Girls.  

Jack Aubrey and the crew of HMS Surprise had decided to enter the board near the graveyard and so bore the brunt of the battle against the Unmentionable Undead.

The Reclaimers, zombie-seeking bounty hunters who were not above taking live humans in a pinch.

There were various types of undead, most of them quite disgusting and, on occasion, explosive.

A zombie horde on the move.

Elizabeth and Darcy catch sight of Wickham's carriage and are in hot pursuit.

Here's some shots of the game in progress.  My thanks to Joe Procopio for getting most of these shots. On the military side of things, the crew of the Surprise and Sharpe's riflemen rather handily kept the zombie hordes at bay, allowing Elizabeth, D'Arcy, and the rest of the Bennet family to track down the evil Wickham and rescue young Lydia.
The final confrontation occurred on the grounds of Rosing Park, Lady Catherine de Burge's sprawling estate.  This resulted in one of the more colorful incidents when one of the exploding zombies was "detonated" next to a traveling merchant who was carrying explosives and ammunition.  The resulting explosion destroyed Lady Catherine's troop of ninja bodyguards but our heroes managed to survive.

Although Wickham had escaped and thrown himself on the mercy of Colonel Fitzwilliams, he was unaware that the Colonel was D'Arcy cousin.  Using his quick wit, D'Arcy was able to convince the Colonel to order Wickham to marry Lydia, thus preserving the Bennet Family reputation and winning the heart and hand of Elizabeth.

All in all, I think the game was a success, thanks mostly to a great bunch of players who enthusiastic got into the spirit of my Regency zombie melodrama.

The second game I ran, on Saturday afternoon, was a reprise of Leonardo Da Vinci and the Prince of Foxes that I had run at Historicon 2021. See for more details on the plot of this game.

As previously the forces of Cesare Borgia were attacking the city of Citta Del Monte, defended by the noble Lord Marc'Antonio Verano, his beautiful young wife, Donna Camilla, and the former Borgian Lieutenant, Andrea Orisini, a peasant artist posing as a nobleman.

Here's a shot of the city and its defenses as the Borgian forces begin their approach.

Here's is the main Borgian army and air fleet.  I added a few new units based on the experiences at the previous Historicon.  These were two additional large tanks and a battery of heavy, but slow moving, siege artillery.
The way this game played out was quite different than at the previous convention.  Then, the Borgian threw all of their forces into the fray and were mostly held at bay.  This time, the air fleet stayed off of the table, entering only after most of the long range Montan artillery had been eliminated. 
At first this seemed like a dangerous strategy.  The Borgian ground forces suffered heavy losses and seemed to be making little head away.  Then a very lucky assassin strike killed Cesare Borgia himself.  As it turned out, however, most of the Borgain army passed the resulting moral test and fought on.
The Borgian were beginning to crack the river defense line and had taken out most of the Montan heavy artillery. Then the air fleet swooped in and assaulted the city itself.  After a long see-saw battle, the elite aerial troops captured the city and forced Lord Verano to surrender to save his people further suffering.  However, Orsini, with the help of assassin Mario Belli, had managed to escape from the clutches of his former lover, Angela Borgia.  With Cesare dead and his father Pope Alexander VI soon to follow, the hard fought Borgian victory would prove ephemeral and Orsini would soon return to free the city.  

I had another group of enthusiastic players, 15 this time, who made this another great gaming experience.

And the game won an award.

I also got to play in several very fine games. On Thursday morning, I got to play in Miles Reidy's Battle of Manziket game.  Miles is a great GM, who keeps the game moving and livens it with very funny banter.  This game was true to that form.

I usually prefer playing in larger scale games but playing one of these great battles in a smaller scale (10mm) really gives a sense of the sweep of the fighting.

I played as the East Roman Emperor Romanus.  Proud to say, we did not suffer the disaster that the historical battle proved to be.  Rather, we fought to a respectable tie.

The last turn of the game saw a dramatic fight between the elites of both armies 

Thursday evening, I played in Peter Anderson's Battle of Pavia game.  This was using the To the Strongest rules.  This was the first time I played this unique set of rules and I liked them.  They are designed to play large battles very quickly, using a gridded tabletop and card draws instead of dice.  T

I wondered about how the grid would look but the Pete used unobtrusive dots on the tabletop that were easy to determine the squares but not to disruptive to the overall look.
The units had a large number of well painted figures, just the thing for the Italian Wars.

I was the commander of the French Army's Swiss mercenaries.  We replayed history pretty well.  King Francis was captures and my Swiss slaughtered.  Still a very fun game.

Friday morning, I played in Dave Waxtel's Ramming Speed. I was the Admiral of a five ship Roman squadron, each with its own player-commander, taking on a Carthaginian fleet of 6 speedier and more maneuverable vessels 

The scratch-built 28mm scale galleys were things of beauty.
It was a floor game played on blue painters tarp, simple but effective.
The Carthaginian fleet hoped to dance around and encircle us.

We Romans charged right at the center and concentrated on the Carthaginian flag ship and left flank. A lucky catapult shot from my flagship killed the Carthaginian admiral early in the game.
One of our triremes did outstanding duty keeping the three ships of the Carthaginian fleet distracted while the rest of us successfully crushed the remaining Punic ships.  The Dave's Ramming Speed rules are fast, furious, and a lot of fun.

The last game in which I played was Mike DeCarlo's Open Range - Rawburn's Revenge, using the Ruthless rules modified for running cattle herds.  As part of the bad guys, I managed to prevent the good guys getting their herd across a river crossing, mostly by stampeding my own herd.  A fun little game that was the perfect ending to the convention.

Although I didn't get to play in them, I saw a lot of really fantastic games at the con.  Foremost among these was Martyn Kelly's Ravenna.  I had played in Martyn's Bicocca game at the last Historicon.  The game's him puts on are truly works of art.  Beautiful scenery with vast number of very colorful, extremely well painted figures, just an absolute treat for the eyes.

I was disappointed I couldn't play in this game as it conflicted with one of my own.  Martyn runs a great game that reaches a satisfying conclusion in only 3-4 hours despite the epic scale.

Another stunning game that attracted a lot of attention was Doug Fisher's Have Gun Will Travel.  Based on a 1950s board game, players as bounty hunters maneuvered on the board in search of their criminal prey.  Once found, they transferred to one of the gorgeous miniatures table to fight out the action.  Great idea well executed.  I hope I can get to play this game at some future convention.

Here's a few other games that caught my eye:

A French and Indian War game:

The Battle of San Juan Hill:

n incredibly detailed Wild West game:

This was Sharpe's Practice, I believe

A colorful siege game set in medieval Italy

The beautiful Test of Honor game.  Incredible ship models


Anonymous said...

Florence played in the Have Gun Will Travel game and had a great time

Gonsalvo said...

Glad you enjoyed playing in Pavia! Much as in our playtest (and history as well), the Swiss, despite their special abilities, just couldn't get it done before the numbers of the opposition side began to tell.

I saw parts of your two game which looked like a total hoot!

Codsticker said...

Your games look fantastic; really wonderful terrain.

Rick, the Grumpy Gnome said...

Thanks for posting all this so we can try to share in the experience, even if for just a bit. Everything looks amazing and it would be great to one day get to play in one of your games.