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Historicon 2006

July 20th to 23rd 2006

organized by HMGS East


by Bill McIntyre,  

Orlando, Florida


Historicon is reputedly the largest miniature figurine wargaming event in the world. It is an annual pilgrimage for the devoted. Above all, it is a damn good long weekend of solid wargaming for those who are able to make the trek to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA.


As with last year, I closed the file that I was working on at the office, booked a last minute hotel room through Orbitz, called Hertz to have car ready for me at Philadelphia Airport, signed off, put my office laptop away, told my wife I had an out of state assignment, and headed out to Orlando International to make that trek. 


Traditionally held each July at the Lancaster Host Hotel the event runs from Thursday to Sunday. Located just outside the Pennsylvania town of Lancaster, this area of America is better known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country.  That in fact is a misnomer since the correct term should really be “Deutsch” as the people you see driving horse drawn buggies dressed in traditional costumes in the rolling green countryside are in fact originally from Germany, not Holland.  The event is like the Vegas of wargaming.  Staged in a labyrinth of hotel function rooms with coffee, drinks and different eats served at every corner, it is highly recommended.  And if you do have family including kids with you, there is so much to do family wise nearby that you can comfortable combine the pilgrimage with a family vacation. Additionally, there is Gettysburg within a two to three hours’ drive and a host of other historical sites and battlefields if one casts a greater radius.


Those better organized than I of the “last minute to hell with the office, let’s go”, had the benefit of having signed up on-line and booking places at those particular games that appealed to them.  If you are going to attend future Historicons do look into this.  There is a limit on how many games you are able to book in advance.  At the hotel there is a sign up desk allowing those attending the convention to book one game per day.  But many games are organized by game masters so as to allow for walk ups.  Just because you are told a game is fully booked by the sign-up desk it may not actually be full.  If it is something that you really don’t want to miss, go to the game ahead of time and ask the organizers if there are any additional places; even if there are not, make sure you stay there and tell the organizers that you want to be placed on the reserve list – there are often no shows.


In addition to gaming, there is a daily schedule of seminars, painting classes, flea market, exhibitors selling everything the wargamer could need, and, of course, the hotel bar. My last image of the bar was of a Glaswegian lining up a number of beers on the bar so that he was able to continue regaling everyone even though “last orders” were being called.


On the first day (Thursday) I enjoyed memorable participation games set up by Old Dominion Game Works.  This company staged all-day walk-up demo games for ACW, AWI and Naploeonics – the organizers staged these demo games in a quiet area, far from the madding crowd.  They also had other games set up for moderns.  Later that evening I attended a British colonial Zulu War game – one lesson I learned was: do not send out irregular mounted light infantry against possible Zulu multi-flank attacks.


There were games scheduled for 8:00 am Friday but after a heavy day of campaigning on Thursday, I just could not make it in time for any of those.


In between gaming on Friday, I attended Colonel David Glantz’s seminar on The Battle of Prokhorovka (WWII) Re-Examined.  A veritable guru on tank battles, he gave an intensive account of this eastern front campaign.  As also Peter Panzeri’s Military Disasters Part One: Mount Gilboa to the Alamo.  Panzeri as you no doubt know is the author of a classic work on the Little Big Horn, now in its fifth edition.  I also attended his part two seminar on the same theme.  Very interesting speaker.  He did tend to get a little sidetracked talking about the Little Big Horn, but then we all have our hobby horse.


Friday evening saw a marathon Napoleonic game: Albuera, Spain 1811.  Shako II rules.  The victory conditions were brutal.  David Waxtel and Andrew Waxtel ably hosted a long evening of intense wargaming.  On virtually the last dice roll of the last bound, we won.  I followed this up on Saturday evening with Bagration’s battle of Austerlitz, 1805.  Again ably hosted by David Waxtel and Mike Pierce.  Brutal victory conditions but again on the last dice roll of the last bound, we won.  The rules are in fact still being play tested but should be out soon.  I was a little disappointed to not have any movement for British squares but then you can’t have everything.  A co-player in both games was Tim Harwood who some of you may recall attending HKSW meetings at the Mariners Club some years ago.


On Saturday morning I played a British commander in the American War of Independence battle.  The Battle of Guilford Court House (Age of Reason 15mm Rules: Flint and Steel).  Patiently hosted by game-master rich Kane.  The game went way over its allotted time and we ended up picking up the table and moving it to the side and replacing it with a fresh table for the next scheduled game whose gamers were arriving to set up.  My units were wiped out by enemy cannon file; just as well as I had to dash off to a seminar. 


For those of you intending to get involved in the WRG knockout competitions do get in touch with Bruce Meyer.  Bruce is a stalwart organizer at Historicon and a veteran member of the HKSW.


Marathon wargaming; marathon sessions in the bar; what more can I say . . .    

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