Historicon

By Scott Parrino 12 Aug 2004 0

Introduction

The Eastern Chapter of the Historical Miniatures Game Society (HMGS East) stages three wargaming conventions a year: Fall In, Cold Wars, and Historicon. Historicon, the largest of the three, is held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania each July. I recently returned from the 2004 edition which offered over 600 events, drawing upwards of 3700 attendees. I don?t think I?ve had more fun over a long weekend while keeping my cloths on?which, by the way, the sheriff said is generally a good idea in Amish country.

The official theme of this year?s Historicon was ?D-Day and the Liberation of Europe, 1944.? About a third of the events were set in some Second World War theatre, wargamers? perennial favorite, but the other four hundred plus games spanned the gamut from Ancients to the distant Future, concluding, as is traditional, on Sunday morning with Mark McGlaughlin?s ever popular ?Princess Ryan?s Star Marines.?

Historical Period(s)

Number of Games

Ancients

33

Dark Ages / Medieval

21

Renaissance / Pike & Shot

11

Age of Reason

39

Napoleonics

48

American Civil War

48

Blood and Iron

69

The Great War (WW1)

31

Second World War (WW2)

200

Modern

33

Future

33

Fantasy / Science Fiction / Other

55

In addition to the officially scheduled games in the Program Events List there were also both an Ancients and Pike & Shot tournament, not to mention floating pickup games. Anybody who has ever looked in on the De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) Ancients tournament knows how popular that ladder competition gets, with play going on into the wee hours.

Back to the Bundu

Variety is the spice of life at Historicon. It?s not just the sheer number of games, but the bizarre quirkiness that draws crowds. Miniatures gamers don?t know the meaning of the word ?arcane.? For example, having been defeated playing the British during the ?The Battle of Tanga? at Historicon 2003, I thought I?d seen the last of German East Africa for awhile. But GM Frank Luberti brought Jan Smuts and his Boers back to the bundu in a bid to take Salaita Hill from Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck this year. Of course, by miniaturists? standards Salaita scarcely qualifies as obscure, since some of the general public has heard of World War One.

I have long pondered whether it takes a different breed to play miniatures, but it was Jim Day of Lost Battalion Games that may have set me straight. ?We include only enough scenarios in our products to help teach the game system because GMs tend to enjoy researching and customizing their own,? he said. Ah, the game master! Day has put his finger on it: there aren?t nearly as many auteur hobbyists - a.k.a. GMs - doing board or computer wargaming.

Day is in a position to appreciate such subtleties since he designed (unpublished) miniatures rules that board game developer S. Craig Taylor stumbled upon in Detroit back in the 70?s. Their eventual collaboration was the genesis of Yaquinto?s Panzer board game, published in 1979. Its success spawned Armor and 88, both also World War II tactical armor board games. Later, Taylor replaced their ?plotted, simultaneous movement? system with less cumbersome ?order markers? (chits) in Avalon Hill?s Main Battle Tank and Israeli Defense Forces games, both of which employed the system to depict modern mechanized combat throughout the 80s and 90s.

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