Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer Gaming

Although my Summer gaming has been lackluster so far, things are about to pickup. Read on and I'll tell you why...


Summer's biggest miniature wargaming convention is right around the corner. Historicon 2009 is being held at the Lancaster Host hotel and resort from July 16th thru the 19th in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is HMGS East's Silver Anniversary, so this show promises to be a great one. It's hard to believe that HMGS East has been kicking around for 25 years. Has it really been that long since I started going to wargaming shows at the old Penn Harris in Harrisburg, PA?

I'm planning a foray down to this wargamer's nirvana on Saturday, July 18. This is mainly a shopping excursion for me, unless I can convince my friend Kevin to hang around and join in an evening game at the Host (they have a few pretty neat fantasy/pulp style games running that night, although I'm always up for a Dark Age or Medieval battle as well).

I certainly don't need to buy any more unpainted metal soldiers. My paintbrush has yet to touch the minis that I purchased at the last two HMGS East cons. I've got Eureka frogs and a Beowulf warband, croc-men from Crocodile Games, Swiss Gnomes for Gnome Wars, barbarians from Bronze Age, and medieval knights and archers from Fronk Rank lined up in the painting queue. My New Year's Resolution to PAINT MORE OFTEN has failed miserably! But hey, there's still half-a-year left. It's never too late to get started on some new projects right?

I am, however, VERY tempted to look at the IRON WIND METALS booth this go around as they're supposed to be carrying figures from DragonBlood and Otherworld. Both of the manufacturers make absolutely spectacular models. Dragonblood has some really cool Lizardmen and Troglodytes, and a brand new Forest Troll. They don't have a bad figure in their whole range, and that's truly saying something. Otherworld is a UK based figure-maker, and they make a range of fantasy minis that will warm the cockles of any old-school D&D gamer's heart. These figures look like living incarnations of creatures from the 1st Edition Player's Handbook. Their pig-faced Orcs and Bugbears are amazing! I must have some....

My biggest focus will be on nicely painted figures and terrain. That means must-stops at Stan Johansen's, Evil Bob's, Toy Soldier Gallery, Acheson's Creations, and Albright's booths, a swing by David McBride's Splintered Light Minis stand, and lots of scouting for other cool stuff in both the vendor hall and flea market. Plus, I can damn-well guarantee that I'll pick up something at LITKO. They make the best bases and markers in the industry in my humble opinion.

So it should be a fun Saturday. Hope my wallet holds up!


The next scheduled Game Day for the Sultans of Severnia wargaming group will be held on Saturday, July 25 at my house. We'll be fighting some more battles using the brand new Sword of Severnia fantasy mass-battle rules that I've been developing.

The wargame system is coming along quite nicely. Over the past 18 months, the game has undergone lots of tweaking and rules revisions as I've continually tried to streamline things to make the game easier to learn, less fiddly, faster playing, more strategic, and more fun. The wargame group is pretty darn happy with the way the game is working right now, and being my own harshest critic, I think I finally agree with them. It's certainly true that the sheer number of rules adjustments have slowed down to a tiny trickle. Aside from a few final tweaks, I would say the overall rules system is 98% finished.

The wargame, however, is still a fair bit away from final publication. I've still got to write the final, full-edition of the rulebook. Currently we're using a living, breathing playtest-version of the rulebook and some supplementary add-on booklets covering Special Abilities, Special Events, Scenarios, and so forth. All of that needs merged together, some fluff material and graphics added, and a nice index created for the whole thing.

Plus, the biggest thing is that I've still got the WarBuilder software to finish. This companion PC software comes with the Deluxe version of the game. It enables you to create your own custom regiments and characters, assemble them into an army, crunch their Point Values, and print out custom Stat-Cards / Stat-Sheets which are used as important reference materials during game play. It's been close to 6 months since I last stuck my paws into the PowerBuilder desktop environment and created database tables and wrote programming code. I'm hoping to get started with that again now that the game rules have stabilized.

Throwing a BIG monkey wrench into this whole process has been my move from a full-time, independent software developer running my own micro ISV, to working as an application design consultant for Hershey (yep, the chocolate folks). Right now, I'm on a 6-month contract. Whether it lasts longer than that is unknown at this point. It depends on whether they find me useful and have more projects to work on once 2010 rolls around, and whether I like it enough to stay there. The jury is still out on that one. Returning to work in the corporate environment after being a small business owner for almost 15 years is a MUCH BIGGER CHANGE than I ever imagined it would be.

PS: If anyone is looking to hire a full-time game designer / desktop software developer or small business partner, then please give me a holler. I'm keeping my options open.

Anyway... the next Sultans Game Day should be a blast. I'm really looking forward to it.


This August, I'm finally planning on heading down to Lancaster, PA to check out the WBC (World Boardgaming Championships). My old friend Mayer and I are planning to day-trip down there sometime in the August 7th to 9th timeframe. I'm not sure if Mayer has ever been to the WBC, but being a former long-time game store owner I wouldn't be surprised if he had been. I've never been to the WBC, which is odd considering I only live 45 minutes outside of Lancaster and have been playing boardgames for many years of my life. Sometimes you overlook the things that are in your own backyard!

I like to WIN at games. Really, who doesn't? But I certainly don't consider myself to be a competitive tabletop gamer. That's really the domain of people who play boardgames to pretty much the exclusion of doing anything else for a good time. I'm more eclectic in my hobbies and don't have the time or desire to focus 100% on just one thing. To me, games are a chance to kick back with your good friends & family and enjoy a fun, social experience together. Sometimes that experience can be mentally challenging and thought-provoking, while other times it may simply be centered around laughs and beer & pretzels shenanigans.

The WBC doesn't strike me as an event for the non-competitive gaming bunch. Perhaps it's the fact that it contains the word CHAMPIONSHIPS in its title. That evokes images of Chess masters poring over checkered boards, stroking their beards, and fretting over the movement of a single game piece. Although at the WBC, it's really wargamers pushing chits around on paper hex maps. Or at least that's how it has always SEEMED to me. And perhaps that's why I have never gone to this convention. I just don't feel like sitting around for 6 hours gaming with a bunch of tight asses. Hopefully, I'm DEAD WRONG about all of this.

I did hear that the WBC has open-gaming. I even hear that some non-competitive folks venture down to the WBC every year just to play for fun, rather than prizes and trophies. That has my curiosity piqued. Perhaps I've been missing out on some gaming fun? We shall see. Hopefully, I'm not up to my eyeballs in tight-asses. As Nacho Libre says, "sometimes, a man needs to put on his stretchy pants".