The Blog of Michael T. Murphy and his lifelong obsession with "little army men" and their imaginary glory, miniature wargaming, and other things...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Little Wars 2015, a review.....

Dear Readers;

This review is wordy, long, and photo intensive. May I humbly suggest that you find a nice, relaxing drink to refresh yourself with as you read on-wards.....
Thanks!

The 2015 Little Wars Convention was put on by HMGS Midwest at the Du Page Expo Center in St. Charles, Illinois, during the weekend of April 24th - 26th. This was the last year that they are going to be here and were going out in style. (More on this later).....

My wife had planned to once again accompany me up to the show, but a sudden work emergency forced her to stay here. Undaunted, I was able to coax good friend and fellow TMP'er, Dan Merchant, (Aka: "Marauder 6"), into coming along...

We took I65 up and then 94 into Chicago, turning left on North Avenue which was then a 30 mile straight shot to the center.  We stayed this year at the Hilton Garden Inn, instead of The Pheasant Run like we did last year.

Upon arriving at the scene, I registered, (yes, yes, I know I said last year that I would pre-register this year, but things got away from me.)
While I was registering, Dan noticed an issue with his registration.
I had submitted to run E113 on Saturday Night, (28mm Pulp "The Lost Treasure of Chili Verde"), and had received notice that the game was pre-registered for 5 out of 6 players already. One thing I like about HMGS and how they do this is that they DO NOT pre-reg out a game 100%. If you have 10 slots they will pre-reg 9 max....They always keep at least one ticket open for someone to register at the counter. This is good and all.
"Somethings not right." Dan told me.
I looked at him and asked what was the matter.
"I don't have your game event printed on my registration ticket." He said.
So after a quick discussion it seems that by the time he sent his registration in, I had already been maxed out.
Knowing this, made me a bit anxious and I knew I had to run a good game....it wouldn't be right, fair, or proper for anything less.

NOTE: CLICK ON THE PHOTOS FOR LARGER PHOTOS OF EACH....

So we received our programs....


As always HMGS Midwest does a smash up job of publishing the game program guide. It's clear, clean, easy to read. I only found 2 major formatting / printer errors, and based on how it was set up, it looked like these had to do with the layout.
I'll be honest though, the cover just didn't "do it for me", the way the last two years did....In fact I really liked the 2013 cover....

Another little benefit of registering was that I got a free figure! (yes, another figure...this would be the first of many acquired that weekend....)




From what I have been told, this is an Old Glory Viking Shield Maiden. It's not too shabby and there is talk of another Viking Figure next year....

Friday we wandered around and Dan got a lay of the land. I watched a few games being played and then we got into the Friday Night "All Quiet On The Martian Front" game.
This was a mega-game, and according to the events list was for 6-8 people. It ended up with 16 approx. and IMHO, the GM was way overwhelmed. It was a Martian attack against entrenched infantry backed up with two land dreadnoughts.
I had wanted to play this game to see how it played, and while I loved the models, (Really I do...), the rules seems a bit "FoW/Clunky". You roll against the defense #, then roll to penetrate, then roll to see which damage you did.
I played off as the Martians against Dan.
To be honest, there was simply too much going on for the game to be really enjoyable, and I had a lady sitting next to me, that had a horrible habit of over-talking, and interrupting me whenever I said something. She was also very LOUD, (and she played in EVERY "All Quiet" game that was listed that weekend; which I don't think was really fair, but oh well..)
The Land Dreadnoughts are HUGE pieces, and heavy, (and anywhere between $170.00 - 200.00 USD per model). Plus after reading up on them, we realized that the only way the Martians could've gotten to take one of these things out was to do a mass walker bum-rush, and hope you can take it out BEFORE you run out of walkers....
It simply dominates the battlefield.
Here are some of the pics I took of the Martian Forces on Friday Night...
I like the metallic paint-jobs and they are beautiful models....
(Click on the photos for a larger photo of each)....






And a pic of the table. You can see from this size and distance that it is huge. Based on a quite counting, there was probably $2000.00 USD worth of models there


The Land Dreadnought, (as I said this thing is huge...)

Good friend and fellow TMP'er Dan Merchant/Marauder 6, in scale comparison with the Land Dreadnought....

It was pretty obvious going to be a human victory....so we finished the game and called it a night....
We found a place that seemed to call to us in the dark hours like a siren to a lost sailor......

"Yeaaaaaaahhhh.....Buddy!!!! Nothing like MIDNIGHT PANCAKES!!!"



Stuffed full of American IHOP goodness...we made it back to our hotel rooms and called it a night....

Oddly enough, I really didn't buy anything on Friday as I have in the past.
I would however, make up for it on Saturday and Sunday....

Saturday Morning:
I'm on a beach blanket.....the sun is warm on my skin and the sand is glistening white....I'm in the Cayman Islands on my own private beach... Salma Hayek is pouring me a fresh mimosa, and spilling out of her bikini again....from down at the end of the blanket, I can see Alyssa Milano on her knees and elbows looking at me and telling me "She's been a bad girl"....as Martha Stewart pours coconut oil out on her hand, and tells me, "Now watch how I apply "discipline" ", as she moved behind to position her hand for a good, firm spanking on Ms. Milano's delectable tush...

RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!
RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!

Suddenly the beach was fading quickly....the sensual sounds of a "bad girl spanking" along with the delightful tastes of the Mimosas, and the company of Ms. Hayek, was vanishing....

RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!
RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!

I opened my eye..(not both..just one), and peered at the phone giving me my 7:30 AM wake up call....

"Damn...." I muttered....

One moment I was about to watch and enjoy a hot coconut oil spank down, and then the next moment I am waking up in a hotel in West Chicago-land....sigh...
Life's not fair....

I rolled out of bed....
It was cold, and wet....
Outside was cold, wet, dreary rain....not a drizzle, but a steady downpour.
I wondered if this would hurt attendance.
(To be honest, it seems that Saturday was a bit lighter, but Sunday had seemed to make up for it)....

We got a quick breakfast and made our way to the convention....

And here is where I began my convention pic taking in earnest.....

So a quick entrance, and past registration....

All Seems Quiet on The Registration Front.....

And entering the doors to see the GM check-in and the event board setup as usual.
I like how they try to keep everything "standard" each year which gives a good sense of stability and lets us "kinda sorta" remember where things are.....


The room was pretty packed with games going on, and the dealers at the far end....


Unfortunately I had wandered in behind an individual who gave me the first strong whiff of that good old "Gamey Gamer" smell. I would catch whiffs of it again in slight doses over the weekend, but there always seems to be that "one guy"...and this guy was it....ew....

Dan and I wandered around, I checked the location of my table, (D4), and saw that it was being used for a WWII game...lots of tanks....
So we continued to wander.....

Some of the game tables were absolutely amazing, and I think it's a credit to many of the GM's here that run these games for what they can come up with, and put out there on the table....
One of the first tables we came across was a LARGE setup for "Pig Wars"....very nice terrain, figures, and a castle (with a naked chick in the top tower...go figure...)


Pigs...

Momma Duck and her ducklings...

Momma Hen and her chicks....

....and the sun-worshipper on top of the castle tower....

Not all games though had barnyard critters and nude women though...
There were some games that were beautifully done....among them was a WWII multi-table beach landing game.....




Absolutely gorgeous figures and terrain for this game, and numerous players. Holy cow, I couldn't even begin to fathom running this...

And there was WW1 Aerial Combat....

"After the turn of the cen-tury...In the clear blue skies, over Ger-many....."

As we walked around the room, I noticed how "big" a lot of these games were. In fact, it seemed that "big games" (on lots of tables), seemed to be the order of the day....
An interesting example was this Alternative WWII game in Egypt or something sorta like it....


I increased the size of the pic for this as it was simply freaking HUGE.....WWII with mechs....Not sure if it was Gear Krieg or not....

Then over in the middle was Uncle Duke's Western Game....
This was a lengthwise, multi-table extravanza with numerous little details hidden away that you had to look for.  It had numerous scenes and scenarios going on....cattle rustling, federales/banditos, Indian Raid...gunfights in town, etc....










I always like taking lots of pics of Western Games due to Gutshot, and how/what I can use....

Then as I came around the room, I saw this colored, topographical beauty.....



There's an inset at the end of the table......

Oddly enough...I sucked in air...and got real quiet as I walked around it....
Something about this scenario always seems to get to me....and for a moment I blocked out the noise of the people in the convention and just "took it all in"....
I got closer to the inset.....
...
...
...
And there they were....



Sitting there just like that fateful morning back in December so long ago.....

"And the names rang out like a bell tolling.....California...Oklahoma...Maryland...West Virginia...Tennessee...Arizona...Nevada....Pennsylvania...and so many, many others...."

I shook off what I felt....and moved on...
Later on I would come by when it was being played; And in true style, West Virginia was making a run for it....God bless....


Perhaps of all the "big games" that were going on the one that really, REALLY attracted my attention was the 1930's Gangster game. Yet another multi-table special, the GM had gone all out to make a small city-slice, where players played various mobs, cops, and G-men. Using O scale, custom made, and Plasticville buildings, he had done a smash up job....
It does give me some "ideas" for the future....











Numerous blocks of fedora wearing, gum chewing, tommy-gun toting goodness...
Jimmy Cagney would feel right at home in this setup....

After making a this walk through, I headed over to the dealers area. The first thing I wanted to see was the models for the "All Quiet On The Martian Front" game stuff....
After looking at them, I finally realized that while I liked it, it was currently just too dang expensive to take the initial plunge. Yes, yes, I know..."I should'a funded their kickstarter"....That dear readers is an entirely different story altogether...

But while I was around, I did manage to pick up 13 loose single figs from Uncle Dukes table....

"3 Pirates, a couple of Arabs, a medieval princess, some colonial figures, and 2 US Marines in Montana Hats....all in all not too bad....I should've gotten more camels though....grrrr...."

And while making my rounds, I found these.....

At only five bucks a piece, this is a deal that even His Excellency, President-For-Life P'hat Daddee B'wonah cannot pass up.... The BAF (Bongolesian Air Force),  just got substantially larger!!!

And I picked up two sets of "odds and ends figures"....

That's an old Ral Partha AD&D "Crypt Thing", and some WI Foundry Figs right there....


By this time it was getting close to time for my game....so I went and cleaned off the table I was going to be running at and started setting it up. The previous people there had been kind of slack about getting rid of their trash...and just left it on the table and on the floor.
To be honest, if there was something that did irritate me, it was just how trashy some of the people there were. There are plenty of trashcans, but so many of them just can't be bothered to throw away their garbage..and so it's all over the floor and tables....
At least though they haven't gotten around to destroying the bathrooms with bad aim like they do at H-con.....

So I started setting up for my game while Dan wandered up to stand in line to get his ticket....
There were two tickets on the board for the game as one pre-registered came back by and turned his in...
Dan was third in line...
And the first two guys took the last two tickets....
Sigh....

So it came down to play and Dan was in "Wait and see if no one is there" mode....and one player didn't show up at the required time....so I started introductions and then Dan was ready to play when a guy comes up and hands me his ticket....
Double sigh.....

So Dan went to play some Axis and Allies, and I ran "The Lost Treasure of Chili Verde"....
(A more thorough write up will soon follow), but here are a few teaser pics....

First off, yours truly in standard Gray Forage Cap....It's kind of become my "thing to wear" at Little Wars....


Now let's ALL sing together!!!!

"South of the boooooooooooooooor-derrrrrrrrrrrrr....
Down, Mexi-co waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy....."

(*Note: With the exception of the two Old Glory buildings on the table, all of these buildings were scratch-built by Mr. Bart Allen, (TMP: Smokeyroan)....He does a dang good job!)



The hot, dusty, sweaty, sleepy town of Chili Verde quietly roasts in the merciless hot, hot, sun, while chaotic adventure is just moments away....For somewhere in this town is a lost Aztec treasure....


From his little fresh fish shop, Ol' Cappy sells "Fresh 3 day old fish, caught 5 days ago...."

Meanwhile, El Capitan Empanada and his Federales wait outside the jail....

While the front door of the church is for some reason being guarded by the Northside Ladies Tea and Crumpets, Poetry, Temperance, Women's Suffrage, Occultic Research, Croquet, and Murder Society....

While the heroes look down the dusty street and ponder what does Fate have in store for them?
From L. to R.: Miss Rachel Rodgers, (daughter of world renowned crackpot explorer Professor Rodgers), Miss Eleanor Rigby, The ever dashing, daring, ruggedly handsome adventuring archaeologist with an identity complex, Colorado Jack!, Butch the Bulldog, Laird Angus MacHaggis of Clan MacHaggis, (rumored to be "The Stingiest Clan in Scotland"), and finally "Big Mack" with his Cigar and B.A.R.....

Meanwhile the criminal element of "Mr. Bigg" and his Fez wearing toadie, "Mr. L." come in with their bunch of goons from another side....

And yes...there are Nazis....(We hate those guys).... Der Fuehrer has sent Der Stahlhelm and his Valkure-FrauleinKommandos to secure the treasure for The Fatherland. They have also been given permission to shoot things up....

And what is a mysterious, hidden treasure without a wacky religious cult?....Here we see "The Mysterious Jade Cult", led by their Evil Leader, (known to everyone as "Evil Leader", (really...he's not that good at names), as they prepare to lay claim to the treasure also...

And finally, what is a Mexican Villa without....BANDITOS!?!?!?.....

 Here we see the notorious Bandito Leader "El Burrito Grande" as he prepares to exit out of the Cantina...

A close up pic of the Mexican Banditos....From L to R...Pepe, Pedro, El Burrito Grande, Pablo, Paco, and in the red shirt....Karl....(don't ask)....


Needless to say the game was a hoot and there will be a write up in the near future....but this will be our cliffhanger....

With Saturday nights game done, we headed out into the chilly, wet night, to IHOP and then to our room and beds....

SUNDAY....
We got up and the weather was gorgeous....
A quick breakfast and off to the con one last time.

Most of the dealers were starting to shut down, (and this was at around 10 am)...Maybe it's me, but if the con is over with at 4:00 PM, don;t you think you might, want to stay open until at least 1 PM in case of some last minute sales? (like I did?).

So I made one last run around....and hit Knuckleduster....
And spent lots of money....
Forrest Harris is a really great guy, and he does a great business....and from me I bought six packs of figs and two buildings....(60 figures in all)....

Yee-haw!

"Women of the Gun" - Hell hath no fury like an angry woman with a Colt Walker Dragoon....

"Singing Cowboys"....Now I can yodel to my hearts delight.....

Barrom Brawl: I purchased two packs of this one by mistake...but now I can have EVEN BIGGER fights!!!!

Sidekicks....Scatterguns, gimpy legs, scraggly, beards and no teeth; these fellers are what you need to make your hero look good...

Shopkeepers....never have enough of them...they keep getting gunned down...


And finally...two more buildings.....

Last time I bought a small saloon, and a small shop building...this time a small store and a large store...

Meanwhile Dan, dumped a lot of money into Pico Micro-Armor and got some really good deals....

So with that, Dan and I started the long drive home....We didn't stay for the elections...and word is that they have an entirely new staff. Here is wishing them luck.

This was a tally of my final haul: 

Hmmm...just added another 77 figures to the "mountain o'lead"....

All in all, it wasn't a bad haul for me. 
It was obvious that my wife, (Gawd bless her!), wasn't there as there was no real terrain, or scenery bought, (that's her thing), and I concentrated mainly on figures. 
Ah well...there is always next year...

Conclusion:
I've been going to Little Wars for 3 years now, (not much I know), but I think I do have a basic lay of the land. It's a good con; well organized and set up. Looking at what they have going for next year at the Lombard Center, I am eagerly looking forward to it. Perhaps a little 15mm Bongolesia action, hmmm?....

The only real "cons" I could say about this con came from one vendor who absolutely seems to have some issue with me. He never looks happy and whenever I am around, he has this scowl and just stares at me as if challenging me to do, or say anything.
Maybe he knows my name....maybe it's just me...or maybe it's the Confederate gray forage cap I wear that reminds him of the old family stories told to him when he was a little boy about how "Great Grandpa got his fiddly bits shot off by a Johnny Reb on the 1st Day of Gettysburg, and if it hadn't been for his brother George keeping Great Grandma company during the war, the family line would've ended right then and there in a field in Pennsylvania...."

Anyhow...I was well please with Little Wars and what HMGS Midwest did....
I look forward to next year.

1 comment:

Prima Lucem said...

Too bad about the AQMF game. I can see how a game that big (with one ref!) can really bog down. The rules are actually pretty quick and easy compared to most other games I've played. Hope you give it another shot (and post pics!).