Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hero’s Gambit and other things…

So… the Hero’s Gambit

When I first started to compose this it was going to be a email/post to drum up some helpers and participants for a series of games I would run over the convention weekend. However I kind of dropped the ball with regards to the Gambit this year, and it may not have just been entirely due to laziness on my part…

Looking back at the experience of the last four years of running events at the Hero’s Gambit – and comparing them with my experiences playing and running games at Fallcon and Mayday – I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe the HG isn’t the place to run the kind of Games I want to run and play.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying the Hero’s Gambit is a “bad” or “poorly run” convention. Rather the opposite. I think they do a smashing job at what it is they want to do with the given the resources at their disposal. What they want to do is run tournaments; Warhammer Fantasy, 40K, Flames of War, D&D, and maybe Settlers of Cattan… (oh, and a couple of LARPS…). Other than the events that I run there has been one maybe two other people that have come out and run single event/demo games – usually on the Friday nights – and usually boardgames. It is not what people come to the convention for, though. They come for the tournaments (or the LARPs..).

If no one is coming to the Hero’s Gambit to play the type of games I want to run, why on Earth would I continue to run them?

I would actually like to thank the organizers of the Hero’s Gambit for allowing me the opportunity to run events at their convention over the last couple of years and wish them all the best in the years to come – though considering the number of organizers that have moved away (or just moved on) over the last couple of years and the complete and utter lack of new volunteers I can’t see how they can keep up the energy to keep it going…

I do think I learned a lot each year and improved on the format of the events I ran each year. I think last years games were the best by far in terms of turnout and the amount of fun for all involved (both players and myself). It was, however a) a LOT of work, and b) there was no one that showed up that I didn’t already game with…

After much thinking about it in the following months I realized I could do the same thing (run a series of games over a weekend) ANY weekend of the year (that people were available for) – but do it in the comfort of my own house where a) it would be much, much quieter and I wouldn’t have to shout all weekend long just to be heard and find myself on Monday with a tremendous headache and no voice, b) We could play on my big solid table where I wouldn’t have to worry about someone bumping the table and knocking all the toys over, c) I wouldn’t have to haul my toys half way across town (and potentially forget essential components - like, say, unit cards that I spent hours the night before preparing…), etc, etc, etc….

So, a weekend of wargaming….
While I’m not going to be running games at the Gambit anymore I’d still like an opportunity for a weekend of wargaming here in Saskatoon from time to time… So I’ thinking I will run a sort of mini-con in the War Room (my basement wargames bunker – it’s not that bad, for those of you not familiar, It’s really only a half basement, fully developed, 8ft ceilings and 3’x3’ windows… it’s really rather nice…).

I’ve thought about some different potential formats for such a weekend. It could either be just like a mini-con where a number of the participants each volunteer to run a different game in one of the time-slots OR I could just run a series of games all by myself all weekend – all the participants would have to do is show up and play my games! I’m kind of leaning towards the latter as I am a closet control freak and also if someone wasn’t able to come at the last minute I’d have to come up with something at the last minute anyway…

Whether I run all the games or other run games I thought it might be fun to have a sort of theme to the weekend – maybe based around a single conflict; the Great War, for example…. Games could be played for different theatres of aspects of the conflict – maybe some Air combat with Canvas Eagles or Wings of War, some action at sea with some naval wargame or another, and of course some land battles in one or more theaters of the conflict…

Better yet… a Wargames Campaign Weekend! Play out an entire wargames campaign over a weekend! This is my favorite idea of all of them. I’ve always wanted to play a campaign of some sort; I’ve started a few but never really brought any to any sort of conclusion (hmmm… except maybe the All Quiet Campaign I ran for Mr. Miller and John Bertolini a couple years back…).

At first I thought of a Map Campaign. I’ve always wanted to run a map campaign of some sort. This would be where everybody has a kingdom/country/state and army of their own and wages war on the other participants as they see fit. The idea attracts me, as there would be opportunity for political intrigue (and back-stabbing) and Strategic planning and movement in addition to the tactical/table-top battles. The downside of this format for a wargame weekend is there could be rounds where people don’t get to participate and the possibility of participants being knocked out early in the game whether through an unfortunate series of bad luck or being ganged up on by the other players for whatever reason. Also it might be difficult to bright such a campaign to a reasonable conclusion in a single weekend.

So instead I was thinking a scenario-based campaign might work better. Where the next following scenarios are affected, or even determined, by the outcome of the preceding scenarios. With this format there would only be two sides – participants would be divided among the two and for each game the would simple split the resources/commands available for the game. If someone suddenly can’t make it, or has to leave early – there’s no problem – the remaining players on that side just end up with more toys to play with… also with this format there is some opportunity to incorporate some sort of “play balance” and to keep EVERYONE involved all weekend.

Back to the map Campaign for a second… I think it would be a great idea for an ongoing campaign or a scenario generator for a regular game night… My ideas here is that the C-on-Cs for the forces/nations involved would ideally be people that don’t even live here and preferably don’t know who each other are. They would be given Sitreps for each turn and could do all the strategic planning and moving of troops and when forces bump into each other me and the local gaming crew would play out an appropriate scenario to determine the outcome. C-in-Cs could issue orders to their tactical commanders in as much detail as they want and if appropriate to the campaign send messages/couriers to the other force commanders – through me – this way I could keep track of what’s going on, what deals are being made and possible introduce some static into the campaign… couriers gone missing… or even intercepted…?!

Anyway… I’d like to hear what you have to say. Ideas? Suggestions? Whatever! Please feel free to post comments below.

Would you be willing/interested/able to (travel to and/or) participate in a wargaming weekend in Saskatoon?

What format would you prefer? Games run by different people or everything run by Tim? A theme weekend or a mix of periods, scales, and rules? A campaign weekend?

If you were interested in a Campaign or theme weekend that conficts eras would you be most interested? Which would you boycott?! Ancients? 1066? Seven Years War? Great War? WW2? Vietnam or other modern conflicts? Others?

What time of year would be best for such a thing?

I was thinking I’d like to do this at the end of February – it’s sort of between Fallcon and Mayday and there’s no other cons going on (that I’m aware of) to compete with… it wouldn’t interfere with any summer holidaying plans… it’s a good excuse to take an day off of work and make a long weekend for yourself where there normally isn’t one… (unless they’re doing that family day thing in February again…). It’s also my birthday, for the last three years I’ve hosted a Wargaming Birthday Bash – so this would become a Wargaming Birthday Bash WEEKEND! It is of course winter… and could potentially be a crappy time to travel… but then so was Hero’s Gambit three years back…


  1. I love your idea for the map campaign! Maybe I could lead the Independent Reformed Duchy of Sarnath to greatness after all (from the comfort of my own apartment)!


  2. Sweet!

    Consider yourself signed up!

    ...uh... remind me here... Who's side were they on in WW2...?

  3. We are talking about a Cuba trip in Feb, so I don't know the dates I will be unavailable.

    Can you have one of these in the game for me to use?


  4. What the...?

    You want to use an RC model in a wargame in my basement...?! I don't think there would be room for it to take off - let alone safely fly around!

    Here's a neat idea....plan your Cuba trip to start on the 25th! Fly out of Saskatoon! Make it a weekend stop-over on your way to Cuba.... or you way home...

    So, when would be a better time?

  5. One other thing, I won't be down for HG this year, they have someone running C&C games already and I have family in town the week before.

  6. yeah, I already knew that. I think you were telling me in May that you probably weren't coming. If I thought you might be I would have probably dragged some games out and run stuff...