Thursday, August 4, 2016

Reflections over the Pond - Historicon 2016

Our home for Wednesday till Sunday

I have remained largely silent throughout Clarence's running commentary on Historicon but having put both feet back on the ground in Blighty, it is time to commit some reflections of the trip to the blog.

The first 10 days of my trip were spent writing stuff about 1690s Ireland which means new pdfs shortly and some fairly major progress on the Ireland publications front.

10 days of this in FL whilst my family party-ied!
What we pledged to do over the four days was not for the faint of heart. On paper it looked like a lot, in reality it was an awful lot! Seven games with an average running time of about 2.5 hours each, two talks on wargaming subjects which I may transfer to blog posts - How to achieve decisive results on the table top and Why are wargames light on cavalry? (in keeping with the cavalry in warfare theme of the convention) and supporting the sales efforts of Le Roi Soleil in the Dealer Hall it all added up to a heavy schedule.

Steering the Kestrel was not achieved with universal success!

Pile on top of that our once in five year opportunity to talk face to face about our joint projects and trying to keep Dan Faulconbridge, Bill Thornhill and Dave Taylor out of trouble and the bar(s) and we definitely reached the end of the bungee cord on this trip.

It is a measure of our busyness that when confronted with a free afternoon to tour the battlefields of Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville we instead decided to sit at a coffee table with two pieces of teddy bear fur and work out new rule mechanisms... oh that sentence could have gone so wrong!

Serious Playtesting!

Historicon was a very uplifting wargaming experience. Total immersion gaming I would call it. The players are hungry for new rules, fun and dice rolling. Each one of our seven games was different and we watched teams of minds puzzle out (or not) how to solve the problem of the Penny burn. The final score was 5:2 to the Jacobites but the last game was settled by a game of Blackjack 21:20 - couldn't have been closer and another of the games could easily have gone to the Williamites so it could have been 4:3 or even 3:4.

Attention to detail - Clarence's model map was actually of the table!

We made excellent use of personal duels. Adam Murray fought General Maumont at least once but I think actually twice. In another game Lord Galmoy was wounded on the cheek and ran away to tell his mum or something. Maumont's mistress Molly Malone was abducted to be tutored in the Protestant faith in another game. A sea captain was left in port for being drunk, some officers changed sides and deserted the Jacobite positions and six Jacobites fell off a landing stage into the Foyle and drowned. A Jacobite sniper picked off most of the Kestrel's crew and annoyed the owning player Rich so much that he decided to broad side the rowing boat. That's when you know you have really got under someone's skin!

A beautiful model on a realistic river

We had camp raiding, house burning, ship wrecking and in the last game Adam Murray drowned in a bog! It was clear that pike and shot gaming is an untapped reservoir for American gamers and we were so encouraged by the response that it is tempting to consider doing it all again next year even though for me it involved eight flights from Glasgow via Heathrow, Tampa, Charlotte and Richmond and return.

See! we do BOTH exist in the same room at the same time!

Running some talks on wargaming/historical topics and managing an open mic session within those events was a very interesting experience. Listening to the views and questions from gamers really did add a lot of value for me and I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of several very knowledgeable people.

Murray - 'liberates' Maumont's mistress

The most curious element of it all was the Hilton Hotel cluster without bars or restaurants, well except one which was well worth going to just for this....

Immediately knight this barman.. this is a Glenfiddich!

A Fredericksburg barman, bless his soul and  God preserve him until my return, thought the above was the measure for a 10 year old Glendfiddich. My smile as he continued to pour greatly amused my drinking companions and the people who hadn't yet bought a round because you will not be surprised to hear, this lasted me about two hours and it cost about $8US. All you Brits out there take a really good look at the best $8 I never spent as it wasn't my round!

Was it all about religion? this chap seems to think so!

Historicon was perhaps not at its shiniest but my own personal experience was of the highest level. Recommendations: Hilton Hotels should upgrade their broadband, install bars and promote the barman mentioned above.

I am off red meat now for about a year and sugar too! Well maybe till Claymore anyway. Now, I'm off to finish my All American birthday cake.....

Diabetics look away... NOW!


  1. ...those are the whitest legs I have ever seen... :o)

  2. That is them WITH a tan. FYI Scottish legs begin blue and turn white in the sun :)

    1. They're known as milk bottles where I come from :) :)


    2. That's M'Lord Milk Bottle... Don't forget the medal! Don't make me summon the fyrd...

    3. Ah,, I wondered when the manky mob from Lanarkshire would chip in... there goes the neighbourhood

  3. I was gonna mention the legs, but I won't now!

  4. Actually, the Virginian's pins are about the same shade as mine!

  5. So now that you have done Historicon, what is your take on the difference between conventions in the USA and the UK?

    You know that you are really focused on the hobby when you turn down a chance to see three ACW battlefields at the expense of working on the rules LOL😅

    Glad to hear that you had such a good time at the show. Conventions are very exhausting things, in my experience.

  6. Jim, this was my third time at Historicon so I have a good feel for it now. I have been asked to do another commentary piece by a mag so hopefully will get round to that in full but suffice it to say energy level would be the biggest noticeable difference. There is more obvious gamer enthusiasm in at US conventions than UK shows. The British reserve seems to be clearly a fact and not a myth.

  7. MAybe a bit late, but
    happy birthday Barry!

    If I had the time and cash, I would like to visit one of those large US shows. maybe in the future.

    1. thank you.. I mostly try and forget them at my age

  8. It was good to meet you Barry. Wish I had had time to get in on the game. It looked like a rousing time, and had me looking over from my Space Hulk game. Hoping you put up your talks up as posts. I was going to try and make them, but gaming got in the way of those as well. Even though I didn't participate you guys did an awesome job, anyone that walked by could most likely tell that. ;)

  9. That's 67kr for what looks to be half pint of single malt. In Norway even a jack Daniels will cost you close to 90kr and you'd be hard pressed to find any single malt for less then 120kr($15) and that's 2cm not that swimming pool you got!

  10. Am I going to have to wear sunglasses at Claymore tomorrow from the glare of those legs???

  11. Barry, it was good to meet you, and I really enjoyed playing in your Thursday game. I hope you make it back next year, and if you do, I promise I'll add a couple more gamers to the BLB cadre.

    1. Thanks, good to meet you too and always good to hear a compliment from a citizen of the People's Republic!


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