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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Little Wars 2017, 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.

The 2017 Little Wars Convention was put on by HMGS Midwest at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard Illinois during the weekend of April 27th-29th,  This is the second year that they were onsite in their new location now that the old DuPage is no longer there. 

Part 1: "Head out on the highway...."

My wonderful wife (Gawd bless her!), was unable to attend again, so for the weekend we had planned (Saturday and Sunday), I teamed up with my friend, fellow war-gamers (and Yankee ACW nemesis), Bill Rosser for the weekend trip up there.

We took I75 up and then 94 onto Chicago, and then got onto 294 which took us onto 88 and then onto Lombard and nearby Downers Grove. The morning started out okay, but as we kept going North the clouds got heavy and the signs of oncoming rain was more evident as we traveled. Nonetheless we continued our journey towards our destination, (After a quick stop for donuts and coffee that is)...

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


Hmmm...what could this be?


Okay this isn't looking too good and based on what we are seeing it must have just happened.

Impact mark of whatever had hit it and was burning up ahead...


Annnnnnnnd it's an 18 wheeler on it's side burning.  Note: part of the wheel assembly is right to the left of us...

And as traffic gets out of the way, a clearer picture...

I also took a bit of video of it as we got closer and caught part of it exploding. 
We moved quickly past it and continued onto our destination.

Part 2: "This looks like the place..."

Arriving at The Westin, we ended up parking in the nearby parking lot, just the bottom fell out of the sky and the rain came down.  
We quickly moved into the building and found registration and registered. I re-joined HMGS Midwest because I figured it was the least I could do to support the organization that is putting on this convention.

Yours truly at the con, (wearing the obligatory Confederate Forage Cap)...

Once we were registered we got our programs, and our swag bag.

For the life of me I don't have my copy of the Program to give you a shot of the cover as I have. Mine seems to have disappeared
Along with the program the swag bag was filled with a wide variety of stuff, 
First off, I'd like to say "WOW" to "The Wargames Company" for sponsoring the swag bag. It was very nice.

A penguin in uniform!

Among some of the items in the bag was a plastic sprue of a FoW BF 2012 series M4 Sherman, (iirc this is the M4A1 version). While I don't play FoW, it is a nice surprise and one can never have too many tanks...



Also in the bag was a copy of the scenario booklet "The Battle of Blindenmarkt: 1809 in Germany" by The Wargames Company.  While I am not a Napoleonic's player I can and do appreciate well written and produced scenario books, and the quality here is superb.

A nice bit of reading....

And once again Old Glory was there and provided one of their "Little Wars Vikings" figures.



Wandering around the place, we checked out the dealers/flea market/paint and take/reenactors area.
By this time it was raining cats and dogs outside, and would continue the entire day, and later on we would find out that some of the events were cancelled due to the weather preventing GM's from showing up and running their games. 

The P&T (Paint and Take) was well set up and very popular.

There were approx 3-4 reenactor groups at the con, (Ancient Romans, Napoleonic French, WW1 Germans, and WW2, (I think I saw some WW2 US Pacific Marines). While they had nice displays, I didn't see much interest in them, (especially the Napoleonic French).





Part 3: "Dealers and A Death...."

So with that in mind, we wandered into the Dealers Room.
Old Glory, Knuckleduster, Scale Creep, Badger, OMM, Recreational Conflict, The Local FoW/BF distributor and The Wargames Company seemed to be the primary distributors there. There were a few more that are listed but for the most part it was all the standard dealers.

Old Glory in the front right here...Always have a wonderful wide selection....



Enterprise Games, with Badger off to their left, and other dealers.

Since we were planning on an over-nighter, I was planning on getting more photos for a better display of the Vendors area.
I wandered over and took some pics of Forrest Harris's Knuckleduster setup. He is starting to preview his new "Gunfighters Ball 28-32mm Western Buildings and they look very impressive.


Knuckleduster Buildings and the new Gutshot "Showdowns and Shootouts" scenario book.


A closer look at the new buildings....


The Desperado and Gutshot Rules and expansions. Pick yer poison....

A close up of one of the painted and weathered Knuckleduster buildings. These buildings paint up really well.

While I was planning on spending some Sunday money at Knuckleduster, it ended up not happening due to our schedule change.
My big purchase on Saturday was from Badger Games, (more on this later).

The actual vendor room was sold out and there was an overflow vendor room in the side hallway right next to the flea market. 
To be honest, I think I had mixed feelings about this as it seemed the the vendors that were put in there seemed to be more of a "secondary importance". Now I am sure that is not the case but to be honest, if I was going to be selling my wares and willing to pony up the bucks in the future for vendors tables, I should have as much right to the large dealers room as some of the old familiar standbys.

I took a quick cruise around the flea market and in tried and true tradition ended up buying five figures from Uncle Dukes table. (Part of my haul and described later).

I decided to take a quick break and sat down, and then I got a text message....


My cousin sent me a message to say that her mom, (my aunt) had died in her sleep that morning. She was 92 and was the last of my grandmothers six daughters. All six of them had died of Alzheimers/Dementia and now with her passing, that link to our family and ancestors was forever gone.
It took me a few moments to compose myself and then I steeled on.
And it was off to the game room.

Part 4: "The Gaming Area", (or "The REAL reason that YOU are reading this blog entry...")

So entering the gaming area, I was impressed.
It's well lit and the noise wasn't a roar. There were lots of tables, and people playing (more in the afternoon I think than the morning as the weather I believe had an issue with it).
One thing I did notice this year was that this seemed to be "The Day of BIG MEGA Multi-table battles", as numerous games were very large scale affairs.
Here are two photos of the gaming area on Saturday:



Yeps the fellow in the short sleeve blue shirt with his hands in his pockets is friend, fellow war-gamer, and all around Yankee nemesis, Bill Rosser. 

The introduction board to "The American Adventure Game", They had a nice set of handouts explaining it, but in my usual self I completely forgot to take one...

 Of interest to me was a SST Style Bug attack on Planet P style game going on...
Once again the Mobile Infantry was out dealing with the bug menace.

"Would you like to know more???...."


The outpost in "Bug World"...


"Annnnnnd here they COME!!!!!".... 

 And then there was this very impressive 1/35th Scale WWII game.





And a giant ant "THEM!' sort of game....

Over in the corner floor was an interesting game that seemed to attract the kids. It was a pulp style/victorian/steam naval boat game.  



Funny thing...this boat is actually a decorative piece from Hobby Lobby...

And Uncle Duke was running one of his large Mega-Games...this time a massive multi-table Desert Affair...


Arabs in the front, and the Crusader fortress in the back

And another shot of the real estate:





And some more pics of it:


Meanwhile in the minaret...

"He began to waaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiillllll......"

"Sharif he don't like it!!!!"


"Rock the Casbah, Rock the Casbah..."
And then there was one entire section side of the room it seemed...
In Martians....

Massive multi-table games of AQOTMF, as the threat from the red planet and their tripod walkers moved across our world.


A hard fought battle for our world...


Observation balloon, directing fire towards the Alien Tripods...


Defense field HQ and "The Trenches..."


Tripods and Troops fighting it out...

An objective marker, or breakfast tomorrow morning?....YOU decide....

And then there was another pulp game:

Some of the figures on the table...Hmmm...some of these goons look familiar....


To be honest, I didn't stick around for the game, but it looked like the objective markers/plot point markers were "ducks"...




What I found most intriguing was this:






 Look familiar?
It's the same decorative boat from Hobby Lobby that was used by another player as one of his boats in the floor game I described earlier.


And there were many, many, more games but my battery on my camera phone was powering down.

By now, the rain was pouring down hard and instead of staying overnight, (two of the games I had signed up for were cancelled), Bill and I decided to head back.

Part 5: My loot haul....

So I made it back home, and looked at my loot.
First off I did a bad thing and stepped into a new genre: 1920's-1930's era gangsters. 
 Since a lot of the stuff can also be used with Pulp games, it's a good choice, plus I wanted to get in on the original "The Chicago Way" KS but couldn't afford to at the time.
With that being said, I went ahead and made a step into it.

I picked up the rule book, an extra set of cards, and the tokens.

"What's a game without da rules?..."


Extra set of cards for play...nice thinking...

Da tokens ta help youse know what's goin' on...

Now...I ask you all...What's a miniatures game without....
...
...
...
Miniatures?
First up...The gangsters...

"You'se got needs....they's got solutions...."

And the Prohibition Agents...


"The law is the law..."

And naturally....yeah, naturally I had to pick up some extras...so I did.
First up..."The Terrified Civilians"...
Collateral damage to cause problems for players in the game...



And I grabbed "The Bootlegger Still".  Now historically this really isn't an accurate still, but with a little work, I think I can make it "better"...*cough cough*.



And last but not least, I grabbed some Uncle Duke Figures. Five of them....

The total haul for this trip...


 I will admit that it is indeed a much smaller haul than I usually get, but time was short, and thus less purchased.
On a good note, Badger Games, put in a free figure or two with purchases so I came out with a Bandito with a Rifle, and a Sci-Fi Skirmish Sniper figure.
So all in all I ended up with 3 free figures, (plus the OG Viking from Bill), and two sprues of Sherman Tanks...so FIVE (5) free minis, and two tanks along with my haul. Not bad for a day.

On the way back we stopped for dinner at Bar Louies and had a great meal, and a nice beer called "Old Grumpy", and let the storms pass up.
I finally ended up home around 12:30 am...a long day but a good one.

Dinner....

And a good "Old Grumpy"...

PART 6: Conclusion....

 This is my 4th Little Wars convention that I have been to, and I have enjoyed each one. Unfortunately I wasn't able to stay the entire weekend, and I wasn't able to make last year at all...
I am enjoying this convention tremendously and even though the weather cause a less than 5% attendance drop, HMGS Midwest memberships increased by almost 20%. I'm thinking that the winning idea for this is that HMGS Midwest does a good job to make the conventions fun, and unlike other *cough cough cough* HMGS chapters *cough cough cough*  doesn't seem to get in a constant battle over "Where to have their convention THIS year..."

If there were any possibly suggestions I would say this.

1: Food choices at the hotel were horribly expensive.  I know we are in the "Chicago-land area" but ten dollars for a hamburger? Really?

2: Try to accommodate ALL of the vendors  in one large room. This helps tremendously.

3: A little more signage would be good also.

4: Update your website and make it "newbie friendly".

Other than that, I think the con is doing great.
I will definitely be back next year.

Thanks for reading.
More to come....

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