Historicon Procrastination

Click on the picture for a link to the Tomahawk Campaign blog.

May was a busy month for me at work, and then I ended that month with a weekend away at a roleplay gaming camp which fired up my enthusiasm for all things related to roleplaying.  My miniature soldier painting took a back seat to all my free time spent buying and reading all the latest RPG rules in PDF. But I have still been paying some attention to my favorite gaming blogs, and I was definitely excited to play a some games at Historicon coming up in July, games I’ve been watching develop on some blogs with posts updating progress about figures built and prepared for the event.

I have played a few games of Muskets & Tomahawks and really enjoy both the game and the historical setting of the French & Indian War.  In particular, I was watching a blog started by a fan of M&T  planning to run a game at Historicon.  The pictures of the painted rangers and trees in the background certainly beat my own painting of the inexpensive plastic figures in 1/72 scale, so I don’t feel so bad for not running a game of M&T myself at Historicon; others will represent the game better than I could have done myself.

Unfortunately, I procrastinated: today is the last day to pre-register for Historicon and sign up for games, and the Muskets & Tomahawks game set for Saturday night is sold out. I’ll still stop by the table and take some pictures, but I’m not going to play. But I’ve already played the system, and better to think of some interested players are signed up to try the game for the first time.

Click on the picture for a link to the MisterNizz blog on WordPress.

But I’m still always a fan of naval games, and I’m particularly interested in a big fantasy naval game put together by a fellow fan of The Uncharted Seas game system.  I’m particularly interested in this project because of the larger scale of the ships, definitely more than I managed to put together myself for a big game of BOTTLESHIPS on the lawn with empty beverage containers. I’m pleased there are still slots open for this game, and I signed up for one. I want to take pictures, of course, but I really want to see first hand how these homebrew rules for a fantasy naval game in an epic scale and designed by a fellow naval gaming fan actually play out on the table.

Last month I almost didn’t get my own naval game listed for Historicon because I missed the preliminary deadline (I was in the woods playing dungeon world RPGs instead), but I’m pleased to see so many games on the schedule and I look forward to walking around and seeing games in progress even if I can’t actually participate as a player.  Historicon was a big show and plenty of fun for me last year, and I’m looking forward to taking the extra time off to spend several days at the convention.

Choosing a Scale

I have a new set of historical wargaming rules, enthusiasm for the period–paints and brushes stand at the ready on my desk.  Now I need some figures!  My local games store carries a variety of board games and miniatures for roleplaying, fantasy and science-fiction games.  The closest figure I could find to 18th century French & Indian War is a Reaper miniature in fringed leather jacket and coonskin cap with a long rifle cradled in his elbow.

I remembered seeing some plastic figure packs at a local hobby store, and I went to buy several packs of Indians and Revolutionary War figures in plastic 1/72 scale produced by IMEX (and I bought several packs of wire pine trees on severe discount from the previous Christmas season).  The plastic figures are single pieces, easy to paint, and mounted on pennies (thanks to the federal government for subsidizing my hobby–there is no way I could purchase metal bases at a single cent per base, not even with cheap metal washers); they look good and stand ready to serve on the tabletop, and I’ve played several games with them already.

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I have been gaming for most of my conscious life, mostly board games, roleplaying games, and, more recently, I have taken up the peculiar hobby of collecting and painting toy soldiers.  I started three years ago by borrowing acrylic paints from my wife’s craft materials to provide a bit of color to the little plastic figures and tokens in my boxed set of BattleLore.  Then I bought into a new game called Arcane Legions which bridged a gap between a board game like those in the Commands & Colors series and collectible miniature tabletop games like Warhammer.  I began to lurk about online forums and pick up painting techniques, and soon enough I began buying my own figures to paint, starting with a range of fantasy ships in a line called The Uncharted Seas from Spartan Games; these model ships were relatively inexpensive and fun to paint, compared to the more distinquished historical model ships, and the tabletop game was fun to play.  I soon had a Usual Opponent, and we enjoyed many late night games on a piece of fiber board I had spray painted blue and kept stored behind a bedroom door when not propped on the living room table for nautical adventures.  I started a blog to post pictures taken from those games along with written battle reports.  I began planning and running regular tournament events, first for The Uncharted Seas and then for a newer version by the same company called Dystopian Wars.

In the summer of 2012 I attended my first wargaming convention, the prestigious Historicon which, for the first time, was located only 35 miles from where I now live in Virginia (with my wife and two cats).  Boyhood fantasies were realized during that single day I attended the convention.  I remember how I had attempted to paint plastic green army men to look more like soldiers from the Civil War, painting gray or blue uniforms with a cheap set of watercolor paints, and I even tried to model a bit by flattening the helmets with a craft knife to resemble kepis.  I became enamored of my limited notions of the French & Indian War, setting up battles in the woods behind the house where I lived, using my collection of plastic Indians, some plastic cowboys, and green plastic army men modified to look like musket-armed soldiers.  Now, more than two decades later, I witnessed an assortment of old and middle-aged men, leavened with some younger adults and even children, moving beautifully painted toy soldiers about on tables which were covered with fake trees and little buildings similar to what I had only thought in terms of model railroads before.  With some dice and rules, I saw historical battles brought to a certain vivid presentation beyond textual descriptions and some black & white illustrations.  This was something which brought together my boyhood fantasies and my more adult interest in military history.

After Historicon I bought a copy of Muskets & Tomahawks, my first proper ruleset of historical gaming.  I had played conflict simulations in my young adult years, starting with the classic Axis & Allies and moving onto some games from Avalon Hill and then GMT.  But this was my first endeavor to play some actual historical wargames on the tabletop with painted miniatures.  A visit to a local hobby shop provided a resource for a collection of 1/72 scale figures, each man standing a mere 1-inch tall, of Indians, Revolutionary soldiers, and British Redcoats, all in molded plastic and quite inexpensive.

The more I painted figures the more I investigated the history and uniforms of the 18th century, all while listening to wargaming podcasts, and I came across a show titled Meeples & Miniatures in particular, and some lively conversations with Henry Hyde and his descriptions of Imagi-Nations which are basically alternative historical settings for wargaming–the best part about this concept is I could paint my figures any way I like without regard to historical accuracy, and I began inventing my own little version of the French & Indian War within which I intended to set up and play my own campaign using the M&T rules and my expanding collection of toy soldiers, buildings, trees and terrain all in 1/72 scale.

A company of colonial militia defend a homestead in the Iohi River Valley from a Lintyan raiding party; unfortunately, most of the arrows fired from the nearby tree line find their marks and the militia soon break and run in my first game of M&T.

Like so many moments of sudden invention, I realized the name of my alternative setting to the FIW while in the shower, shampooing my hair.  Rather than “French” I would call my respective faction “FANCY” and it was only a matter of playing little games with nomenclature to invent the rest, a little world of wooden forts in the forest, soldiers with muskets and natives with tomahawks, village raids and wilderness excusions, all under the heading of the Fancy & Lintyan Wars.