Sunday, July 28, 2019

New Friends And New Possibilities

One thing I've struggled with is finding people to game with and that's why over the last several years I've been moving more towards playing rules/games that have a solo option. But also, truth be told I'm a bit of a socially awkward person.

And I really don't do well in speaking situations. For example, I can't tell you how many times I will be out at a restaurant and the server brings my food and says "enjoy your meal" and I'll say "you too". Winning.

I sometimes have a hard time trying to keep conversations too - I stumble on words and find it hard remember simple words, and a lot of that is because of the many concussions I've had over the years from sports. So I'll always be the one not talking. It's extremely frustrating but I always have to preface that when I meet new people

Flash forward to present day and I was seeing just some incredible work being put up on social media by a guy named Fenton Crackshell (aka Beau). He had posted about doing some 7TV games (he's really active on the Facebook page for the game and does some absolutely brilliant stuff in that pulpy/spy-fi genre that I just love) in the past at a comic book/game store that I had been to before. Immediately I start thinking "if he's gaming there he's got to be relatively close to me", maybe this is a great opportunity to meet up with like-minded gamers despite all my social anxiety as explained above.

We got in contact with each other and set a meet up to play some 7TV at his home. It's a bit mad to think back on it on now, but essentially it was what it must feel like for anyone who's ever been on a blind date before - we didn't know each other from a hole in the wall and we both could have been complete maniacs or serial killers. Though the odds of two serial killers being in the same basement is probably pretty high, no?

The best analogy that I can possibly give you to walking down into Beau's jaw dropping gaming basement is that it felt exactly like when the kids first entered the chocolate room in the movie 'Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'. I was in complete awe and wonderment of what I was seeing - there were games, comic books, probably 1000's of miniatures, terrain, old school cabinet style video games, graphic novels, a ski ball machine, a massive gaming table, pop culture stuff, and all of it was everywhere and as far as the eye could see - honestly it was like what it would have been if 14 year old me could have bought everything I ever wanted all in one place, it was total sensory overload for a geek like myself! And if it wasn't for the fact that it was the very first time being at his home and meeting him I totally would have been snapping photos on my phone left and right lol!

After I finished gawking at everything we got right into the game following a quick refresh of the rules, as I hadn't played 7TV in well over a year. Beau took on the role of GM and a friend of his, Bob, ran the opposing league. All the photos above and below that you see of the game are all compliments of Beau's iPhone.

You've heard me joke in the past about how awful my luck is when I roll dice for games, well if Beau and Bob were here to comment they would verify that very fact. It was unreal how badly I was rolling, it was absolutely incredible!

Unfortunately it's been almost three months since we played this game so I can't remember a lot of the details of it, but I did use some of the cool gadget cards to get my agent (above) into the ship - I think it might have been the suction cups that allowed me to scale the side of the ship here.

A lot of the terrain and scenery, like the brick work above, was all done by Beau's other friend Chris. Just some amazing scratch built terrain and the photos don't do it justice!

What can really be interesting for a possibility in the future is that he has a You Tube channel - he did a six part series on the MV Australis build, which is the massive ship from Black Site Studios that you see in all the photos - so maybe video battle reports are something we could try in the future. Then the whole world can actually see how badly I roll dice!

The one thing that also blew me away was Beau's incredible painting. All these photos don't even come close to showing how amazing the brushwork on these models were - I really wish I'd taken some close-up photos, but hopefully I can do that next time.

Despite my horrific dice rolling I somehow managed to get two of my agents into the same room with the MacGuffin for a checkmate sort of play and actually won the game! It was great fun and just an absolutely incredible table to game on!

Again, a big thanks to Beau for welcoming me into his home, and to Bob as well for playing. I know he's interested in giving Pulp Alley a go, so that's on my list to get something made up for him and the other guys to possibly try. Here's to hopefully getting together on a more regular basis to roll some dice or heck, maybe even making it a small impromptu club, meeting every other week or two each month.

Until next time, thanks for looking!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Historicon 2019 - Final And Future Thoughts

So Historicon 2019 is over and I am so glad that I was able to sort out the last minute trip as it was absolutely needed. I got to see some old friends and of course spend way too much money on hobby stuff. First really quickly, I think the move by HMGS to the Lancaster Convention Center was a brilliant one. For the first time holding an event there I personally feel that the changes to make 2020 even better are few.

There are plenty of other forums/posts/blogs talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly (which TMP always holds court on) of the event so I won't go into a list here, but for me the biggest problem and the one I feel will need to be addressed first and foremost was the noise levels in the two main gaming halls. I hate to be brutal, but it was absolutely atrocious. How can it be fixed? That is the million dollar question to be sure, but it has to be right at the top on ways to improve next year.

I made a few more smaller purchases over the last couple of days - it could have been much worse believe me (well, actually it was as you'll soon see). I picked up some more casualty markers from Knuckleduster. A diecast Aston Martin DB5 for Spy-Fi/James Bond. A handful of pack horses from a guy who just had boxes upon boxes of Foundry figures at the flea market. Some sandbag emplacements. I got the Wargames Illustrated excluse T.E. Lawrence on a motorcycle with the subscription renewal, but the item I'm most excited about is the Green Stuff World rollers I grabbed. I've heard nothing but great things about them when used with XPS foam...

Which means I think this will finally get me motivated to start playing about with my Proxxon foam cutter that's sat unopened for like a year now (found it online for only $80 shipped so I jumped on the deal).

But as I mentioned in my earlier Historicon posts, there is always one game that hits me right in the feels and makes that little voice inside my head go "yeah Ivor, let's do that at home". Well this year it was the Alamo. Yes, I totally impulse bought the Alamo (damn you Jay lol!) in 28mm scale. It's an absolute monster taking up the entire 6x4 table you see.

And like every other Historicon in the past I've impulse bought a new project (28mm ACW from my first convention, the hundreds of dollars spent at Old Glory on old west buildings and figures year  two, the Islawanda/Rorke's Drift box sets from Warlord year three... you see where I'm going here) after I bought the Alamo itself I immediately went into a "what have I done" moment like young Skywalker here. The amount of figures needed for this project is literally making my stomach hurt lol! Oh well, if nothing else I've got a boss fort to have some old west battles in and around.

Final thoughts on the convention - absolutely loved it. It was great to see both Miles Reidy and Joe Procopio again, so glad we got the chance to sit and chat a bit guys! I also got to catch up with super terrain maker David Sibicki and his wife Kalissa - who won an award for her game Friday morning, congrats! - as well as meeting up with Beau and Chris. I was finally able to make it to the Hobby University and learned a lot of really neat things - I will 100% be doing more of these classes at future conventions. But I think my biggest highlight of the event was being able to see the absolute joy on Forrest Harris' face as he watched six of us play the game he created in the Commonwealth Hall, Gunfighter's Ball. I had seen Forrest in the dealers hall demoing the game and was able to just say "hello" and that I backed his Kickstarter, just love the figures and what he's doing with the old west genre. He was extremely thankful for the support. It put a smile on my face as I watched him from the other end of the table just watching and listening - he looked like a child on Christmas morning 😀 I could really tell he absolutely loved seeing people play the game that he created. Cheers Forrest!

So now to the dilemma of Historicon 2020, as I really really want to build and create a new game table to showcase, and I've got a lot of really great ideas that could be pretty fun. First and foremost though I feel I'd need a co-pilot. My voice is WAY too quiet to even attempt to be explaining rules or the like - I've done it several times in the past at the Fredericksburg location and shouting just isn't my thing. So I'm thinking I'd need someone to partner up with me to be the "voice" in a way. Second problem, and what I think will ultimately make this nigh impossible is that the family we work for has bought a new farm in South Carolina, so I will now be spending six months of the year down south with the horses - in the past I would always stay up north as the wife and horses took the annual trip south, which allowed me time to hobby almost exclusively. The photo above shows just how big the new farm is - clocking in at a whopping 375 acres.

Thankfully we only have 9 horses right now, but I still feel like I'm going to be pretty busy and more importantly, how do I possibly bring everything I need to build and create a new game from the studio here at the farm in Ohio, all the way down to South Carolina? And I really don't want to have to buy stuff all over again. So as usual, nothing is simple and now I have all kinds of logistics to figure out if I'm going to attempt a table for H-con 2020...

A couple of random notes of craziness to end this post. First, I don't particularly like Facebook but nonetheless am on it for following gaming/hobby pages. I follow the Mantic page for The Walking Dead miniatures game and a while back Mantic guru himself Ronnie Renton posted that he was looking for photos to go in the rule book for the new expansion called 'March To War'. Just for fun I posted up one of my old staged photos on a warehouse platform and low and behold while I was at Historicon I got a notification that Ronnie had commented on my photo - how cool was that!

And finally the big one that came as total surprise was I got an email from my friend Joe Procopio saying that I was in Dave Taylor's new book 'Armies, Legions, and Hordes'. I had absolutely no idea that I was going to be in it or I'd definitely would have backed the Kickstarter lol! Dave has been brilliant in regards to putting my work out to the masses - he's gotten me in Wargames Illustrated several times (one being a pretty big article which itself was just mad) so to now be in an actual published book is even madder. Thanks Dave!
*though looking at these photos this was like three years ago and those building need shingles, those old Litko clear bases have since gone the way of the garbage can, that phonebooth is not period correct, and just generally I think I'm much better at table creation nowadays lol! artists, always their worst critics*

I also want to welcome new follower Martin Thorton to the blog! Appreciate you following along.

Until next time, thanks for looking!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Historicon Day 3 The Finale

The final day of Historicon - there are always a handful of games on Sunday morning,  but unofficially the event is over on Saturday. 

It felt to me like Saturday wasn't as busy as Friday was and there were a lot of the same games being run from the day before too - but I will say that I played in a game and was in a couple of Hobby University classes so maybe that is why I felt that way.

That amazing Pegasus Bridge game was being played again and this time the sun hadn't gotten around to that side of the building so I was able to get much better photos. This table was an absolute highlight of the entire event.

I got over to Jason's (aka Doctor Merkury) fantastic G.I. Joe pulp game for a few minutes and it looked like everyone was having a blast - and I had taken three more photos but I must have been moving my hand as they were all blurry, so here's a link to his blog with a ton more photos of the Brew Up In Benzeen. I wanted to say "hello" and let him know I was the Saturday Mornings guy but didn't want to interrupt his game 🙂

How cool was this table - a four level river boat fully accessible!!

It's always fun to see zombie games have just a wall of the undead like in a movie.

And finally, I found this quite interesting and thought I'd share. I noticed this building on my first day because it literally looked like a castle, so I was like "what in the world is that?" - turns out it's the Lancaster County Prison. Right in downtown and right next to a park no less?!?!

I'll do one more Historicon wrap up post and then on to cleaning up some posts that have been in draft mode for months. And then figure out if I'm going to try to build another table/game for Historicon 2020 - but I think for certain if I do decide to do it I'm going to need to have a partner, and why I'll discuss in the wrap up post.

Hopefully all the photos over the past few days have helped to convey the size and scope of the event 😀

As always, thanks for looking!