Historicon 2002 Report

By Warren Peterson

I had the opportunity this year to attend Historicon. The experience was thoroughly enjoyable and I encourage everyone who enjoys miniature gaming to try and attend this large East Coast convention. In addition to the games, the dealer area alone is well worth the trip. The following is a brief description of the games I participated in and my experiences.

Ploesti, The Approach. Hosted by Tom Sparhawk. This game was a 1/300 WWII aircraft battle using Blue Sky rules. The scenario was a flight of B-24s are traveling from Africa to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti when they are intercepted by German/Bulgarian air forces. This scenario was part of a larger campaign that consisted of a series of linked games over the course of the convention. I participated as an Axis player. Although our planes weren't the best or in sufficient number we did manage to bring down several of the bombers. See Tom's write-up of the campaign on this website for the outcome.

Northwest Frontier by GASLIGHT. Hosted by HAWKs. This game was a 25mm Victorian science fiction game using GASLIGHT rules. The scenario was Pathans attacking a British unit in a small mountain village. A variety of steam powered vehicles were used in the game. These consisted of tracked tanks, flyers, walker tanks, buggies and trucks armed with an array of weapons (cannons, guns, beamers, and missiles). I participated as a British player. The battle was well fought, but in the end the British were unable to disable one Pathan vehicle. With no weapons left which were capable of destroying the vehicle, it was just a matter of time before it succeeded in routing the remaining British infantry. The GASLIGHT rule set is interesting and does a good job of combining historical forces with normal and science fiction/fantasy weapons.

A Lyttel Geste of Robin Hood. Hosted by Howard Whitehouse. This game was a 25mm fantasy game using home rules. The scenario for this game was the capture of Robin Hood by the Sheriff. In addition to this overall goal, there were other heroes and villains in the game with different goals. I played as Sir Guy of Gisborne. This game suffered from too many players (several of which were children), no common objectives as everyone just seemed to do their own thing, an unstructured turn sequence, shouting and just general chaos. I'm sad to say I left the game after a few turns. On the positive side, the table scenery was excellent and the figures were well painted. I was told that the game ran again later with fewer players (adults only), and it supposedly went much better.

Ploesti - Low Level Attack. Hosted by Tom Sparhawk. This game was a 1/300 WWII aircraft battle using modified Blue Sky rules. This game consisted of the low level bombing run by the B-24s that survived the approach game. I participated as an Axis player again. The scenery for this game was very nice. Tom did an excellent job in laying out the city and oil refinery. He even had barrage balloons. We placed our flak batteries on what we thought were the likely approaches using the barrage balloons and a flak train to cover one side of the city. In retrospect, we probably had our flak batteries to spread out as the bombers did make it through to the refinery. However, we did manage to bring down several more of the bombers that had made it through the "Approach" game. See Tom's write-up of the campaign on this website for the outcome of the bombing run.

The Trojan War - The Death of Achilles. Hosted by Paul Dobbins. This game was a 25mm ancients game using Fast Play Ancient Warfare rules. I have not played very many ancient period games, but I decided to try this game because it sounded interesting and it might be fun for a change. I played as a Trojan. The opponents were Greeks. My force consisted of a unit of heavy infantry, a pair of chariots and some light infantry skirmishers. Each player also had a hero and a champion. The benefit of these guys was in motivating the troops and providing an upper hand in combat. Now, I don't know what is about some games, but this game had a couple of players who were "rules lawyers". Needless to say the game was very slow to develop, as there seemed to be a need to huddle before each turn and discuss what to do. Then once something was done by one side or the other it was reviewed, discussed or argued about. Suffice to say that after about 3 hours the troops finally maneuvered and began striking blows at each other. Unfortunately Achilles wasn't killed so the Trojans lost.

Up the Great Grey-Green, Greasy Watusi. Hosted by Mark Stevens. This game was a 25mm Victorian game using The Sword and The Flame rules. I played the British Commander leading a unit of Royal Marines supported by a Naval Landing Party, Hausa police, and West Indies troops. We also had a paddlewheel steam boat and a small motor launch. Our objective was to march on and destroy a village being used by Arab slave traders. This game was well fought by both sides. The Arabs and their African allies attacked the invading force the minute it landed on the river shore. The attacks seemed relentless both on shore and off, with natives in dugout canoes trying to board our heavily armed river boats. Of course British firepower was telling as always, but the landing force was worn down to a point where it was difficult to press on to the village without reinforcements. This was a very exciting game.

Viking Looters. Hosted by Greg Whitaker. This game was a 25mm-fantasy game using Viking Looters rules. Out of all the games at Historicon, I had the most fun playing this simple, competitive and dare I say cutthroat game. The scenario was simple - you are a Viking and need to get back to the boat first with the most loot (in this case pennies). Your movement rate is based on the amount of loot you carry. All players start at the same distance from the boat. The fun comes in that each player is dealt several cards. Each card represents an event, usually bad, which causes an opponent to drop pennies, fight battles, become pursued or otherwise delayed from returning to the boat. A turn consists of each player deciding whether or not to play a card on an opponent, or passing (not playing a card). Once all cards in a turn are played (face down on the table), the GM examines and reveals them in a reasonable order based on their events. Everybody gets to move each turn and of course the events can alter that significantly. Some events can result in unfavorable outcomes such as death, but if you have an un-played card in your hand you are reborn (restarted) at the original distance from the boat. With 10 or more players in a game, the action can get fast and furious.