07 September 2009


I attended Strategicon in Los Angeles this weekend as an official representative of Old Dominion GameWorks.  As publisher of General Quarters III, my presence was requested by the “Special Projects Team.”  They are a good bunch of guys who are literally swimming upstream, trying to inject interest in miniatures into this thrice-annual convention by inveigling gamemasters to run lots of games.  Strategicon had become a miniatures desert for a while, and now it is still pretty arid, but there is a trickle of activity.  They are doing their best.  One of the things the Special Projects people do is run GQIII games in 1:700 scale, on a cordoned off area of the exhibit hall floor, with a measuring cloth ruler about 20-30 feet long.  Very eye-catching and well attended.

Strategicon itself is predominantly a boardgame and role-playing con, with Euro games in abundance in the boardgame rooms.  Historical gaming takes a back seat everywhere, including the miniatures area, yielding much of its space to Star Fleet Battles, Warhammer in its various incarnations, and Battletech.  So there is a challenge in looking for passing folks interested in trying something new.

I refereed two games of the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, a fairly well balanced scenario between the USN and the Kaigun (Imperial Japanese Navy).  In the event, it was a US victory, with the Japanese inflicting almost as much damage to themselves through collisions as were inflicted by the Americans.  Historically, USN cruisers' gunfire quickly disabled one Japanese light cruiser. Then two IJN destroyers collided during one's torpedo attack.  Finally, a Kaigun heavy cruiser sliced off the bow of yet another destroyer.  In my games, the U.S. won once, and in the other they had their head handed to them by successful Japanese torpedo fire.  As usual, there were problems with getting adequate table space for games.  Despite using 1:6000 miniatures, I had problems running a game on a small 6’ x 2½’ riser.  The con can do better in allocating sufficient area to miniatures games.

Some friends from San Diego made a day trip to the con, and played in a car racing game called Speed Rally (I think).  It quickly degenerated into Circus Maximus with automobiles, with only one car moving at the end of six laps.  Much hilarity as they collided with and shot at each other.  A good bit better than the much-revered Car Wars, in my view.

I managed to include playing in one game run by a local gamer of the Battle of Iuka, Mississippi, an ACW historical affair from 1862.  Had my entire Union brigade run off its center position by the successful charge of one somewhat depleted Confederate brigade, so I was done fairly early in the game.  Eventually the Union would win, surprisingly.  The casualties the Confederates were racking up finally caught up with them.  Great fun, and demonstrated another game system and how it handles American Civil War combat.

I traded my first edition of Yaquinto’s game Ironclads.  Glad it went to an appreciative friend, who will make some use of it, since I never will.  As much as I enjoy naval conflict in general, ACW has never appealed to me.  Too much like hitting an anvil with a hammer.  Mais, chacun à son goût!


Michael said...

Interesting comments about the decline of military miniatures games. But didn't Historicon set a record for attendance this year? Maybe the historical miniatures folks are just hitting one convention to use their limited (if you are like me)money.

Would you please say what rules were used for the ACW game? sounds like you didn't use Battlelines.

gregoryk said...

Quite possible that gamers are husbanding their money, but Strategicon has not had a good miniatures or historical presence since I have attended it. I think it is a matter of lack of interest and presence more than anything. It is hard to overcome. HMGS-PSW has had a rough time of it in recent years, although recently they have had some good success hosting weekend and nightly events in Anaheim.

The rules were Guns at Gettysburg. Good set.

Thunder said...

Good to hear you could make it to Strategicon. I made it last year and did play a few historical miniature games. Compared to the cons we have here in Arizona, there was a plethora of Historical miniatures at Strategicon. Not knocking the local cons though as they are completely historical mini friendly, but few people actually run them here. Back in the late 80s I was in kid living in California and would attend Strategicon and that's where I got into microarmor playing games sponcered by inService miniatures and Mobius and his rules. I was sold and still love my microarmor.

gregoryk said...

I am fond of my micro-armor, too, though 10mm has its attractions. The nice thing about 6mm is that everything looks in scale, which seems sorely lacking in 15mm and larger games. Just cannot seem to wrap my head around the size anomalies.