After months of anticipation and planning, I just wrapped up my very first visit to Historicon, here in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
While I was beginning to have doubts that any event could live up to the hype I’d built up in my head, it truly was a most rewarding experience that I’ll never forget, and hopefully I can come back some time.
I thought I’d post a day-by-day account of what I got up to, as well as plenty of photos.
Woke up full of hope and excitement at 3am only to have American Airlines completely FUBAR the day, almost making me give up on the whole thing. Didn’t land in Virginia until 2am the following morning. Say no more.
With less than four hours of sleep and two ridiculously early starts, I sleepily made my way to the convention for the first time to participate in the Bolt Action Tournament sponsored by Warlord Games. I played three great games against some very friendly opponents, and although my Soviets managed to lose all three, I had a great time. I guess I could’ve blamed it on lack of sleep, but I think my list needs a pretty serious overhaul. Too many foot-slogging rifles, and not enough punch or maneuverability. I do like the overall infantry horde theme, it just seems to disintegrate before my eyes all the time.
After a brief wander around the Wally’s Basement flea market and the truly mind-blowing vendor hall, I decided to head back to the hotel for some sleep, intending to start bright and early the next morning.
With a clearer head, and a spring in my step, I hit the show early, credit card in hand ready to make some purchases. I won’t bore you with the details, but I bought a ton of Bolt Action minis, including Pegasus Bridge, and a few other bits and bobs. I finally got to see the Flag Dude’s booth in the flesh, and it truly was amazing. I’d seen his super realistic looking flags online, and didn’t think they could actually look that good without some fancy model-work, but they were as good, if not better in person, and the Flag Dude himself was a really nice guy. I bought a bunch of ACW flags and have a feeling they’ll be all the motivation I need to focus on my 15mm Union and Confederates once again.
An observation I had – I was expecting that Historicon being the mother of all game cons, there would’ve been some pretty serious deals or discounts going on, but everything seemed to be regular price which was kind of disappointing. Now, the vendors are one thing, I know it’s a low-margin business, but most of the prices at the Flea Market were laughable. There seemed to be two groups of sellers – those with masterpiece armies costing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and those selling piles of scrappy unpainted junk for equally exorbitant prices. On the plus side, if the prices were reasonable, I’m sitting on a goldmine!
To round out the morning, I entered three minis in the Wargames Illustrated painting contest. None of them won, although I can’t say I put a tremendous effort in. Now I know the level of competition, I’ll stand a better chance next time. Some of the other minis, particularly in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi categories were very good indeed.
I spent the afternoon learning a game I’ve wanted to get into for a long time; De Bellis Antiquitatis, or DBA. Playing with Romans and Gauls, I found it to be a rather unique set of rules; easy to learn but difficult to master. I’m definitely going to invest in a couple of armies at some point, but first I need to track down the rules, which apparently have been out of print for some considerable time. The fact I still hear gamers talking about this system is a testament to how popular it must be, so watch this space for updates when I finally track down everything I need.
After another hour or two perusing the vendor hall, I went to a microbrewery called The Blue and the Grey – very nice cherry ale! Then I headed back to the show for an intriguing pick-up game called Trouble at the Spyglass Tavern; a swashbuckling, treasure-grabbing pirate jaunt run by a game club from Maryland. There were nine of us each controlling a band of pirates, and while nobody managed to escape the tavern with the booty, I had a lot of fun leaping over bar counters and sword fighting other sea dogs.
I arrived bright and early once again, but sadly the steam had certainly run out of my fellow gamers, and there was hardly anyone there. I had one last wander around the vendor hall, and chatted with rules writer, Ernie Baker about his latest game; All Quiet on the Martian Front. I got the impression this was the new and shiny darling of the game convention, and there was certainly a lot of buzz about it. While I was reluctant to make an impulse buy, I’m kinda-sorta regretting it now, as the Tripods were super cool, and while I’m not really into Steampunk at all, it’s certainly the closest I’m going to get to playing something roughly to do around World War 1.
And with that, Historicon was over! I spent the rest of the day visiting the USMC Museum, which was absolutely amazing, and spent the following day visiting some American Civil War battlefields – Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Fredericksburg. Besides being inspirational for my wargaming hobby, it was extremely interesting to learn some valuable US history. I highly recommend visiting them if you haven’t already.
Enough chatter, on with the pictures!