Monday, March 9, 2015

Cold Wars 2015 Report

Last Saturday, I took my first trip to the Cold Wars wargaming convention in Lancaster, PA.  The annual convention is run by the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society.

To be honest, I have a bit of an anxiety issue getting outside my comfort zone (i.e. my basement) when it comes to gaming and geekery.  But, I decided to head out nonetheless, and took my oldest along with me for moral support.

I have to say, never having been to anything like this before, I was overwhelmed.  The sheer number of folks attending, the games in play, it all made my head spin.
This is the expo center.  I could not believe how many vendors were there.  Again, overwhelming.  I resolve to make up a shopping list next year, so I don't leave regretting all the things I didn't buy.

The crowd largely met the stereotypes: 95% men, mostly over 50, lots of them overweight and clumsy, 90% having facial hair, way too many non-baseball hats (this is not the outback!), some standout types lacking any social awareness and, amongst the younger folks, more body odor than was reasonably necessary.

That said, almost everyone was quite friendly, I was amazed at how many people seemed to know each other, the ladies in attendance seemed to be enjoying themselves, there were quite a few kids in attendance and everyone (especially in the flea market) treated my boy with kindness.  Camaraderie was the order of the day.  I wish I knew more gamers!

As far as gaming, there seemed to be a ton of WW2 (all sizes from Bolt Action to FOW to 6mm), many ACW, and lots Napoleonic and ancients.  All the products on display ignited an interest in historicals.  I nearly bought heavily into SAGA, but the $40 price of the thin, paperback rule book turned me off.
This picture is linked from the blog of Scott Mingus, who apparently ran an ACW game at the convention.  Please take a look at this post, as it has some really great pictures of the event and gives you a real feel for the goings on!  The attention to detail that most of the historical wargaming guys have is truly awe inspiring, and Scott seems to be a good example of that.  Hope he doesn't mind me advertising his blog . . .  
There was no Warhammer games in action I could find, other than one table of 5 or 6 guys playing a Epic.  Wish I had taken a picture, it was quite a sight!

Happily, my boy fell in with a group of kids playing the battling-giant-robot game BattleTech. The game was being run by a pretty young lady with the patience of a saint.  My boy spent about 2 1/2 hours at the table and enjoyed every minute.  Looks like some BattleTech purchases are in my future.  My thanks to the kind souls managing this room, I have no idea how they pulled it off!
My only exposure to the BattleTech universe was the MechWarrior PC game, circa 1995.  Very laggy, but in fairness I was running a Pentium 90.  I recall using a flight stick, and loved using the "top hat" to move the head around.  
A big draw of the show seems to be the flea market tables.  Being geared toward historical miniatures, there was not a lot of GW stuff, but there was some here and there.  Lots of boardgames, interestingly enough.  And more historical stuff than I could ever have imagined.

Here's my take from the day:
For my Mordheim board, I picked up some dental plaster castings of tables, chairs, fireplace, etc.  These are from WindSword in the expo center.  I'm very happy with the quality and price!  Check 'em out.
From a cool dude at the flea market, I picked up a Judge Dredd mini (I think GW, mid 2000's) and an exorcist Judge holding up s cross (something tells me this Judge may be falling into a time portal and winding up in Mordheim).
Two Chaos warriors from 1985.  So Psyched to paint these up.  My Nurgle Chaos dude needs some friends.
Nurgly Chaos 40k guy.  Just in case my (coming soon) Death Guard force falls into heresy, they'll need some guidance.
I have two old GW skeleton dudes.  These two Ral Partha blister packs quickly added up to create a nice warband for my Mordheim table.  Very interesting that the one on the right has a "Contains Lead" warning label on the back, while the one on the left has a prominent "Lead Free" logo.  One early '80's and one late '80's.  
This simply terrible picture deftly conceals two (yes, two!) Skaven Ogres.   Again, to round out a small Skaven force for Mordheim.  The guy selling these offered the entire Skaven box for a very good deal, but I told him there was no way could paint all that stuff!
Handful of what I think are Second Ed. Space Marines. They all have the older style backpacks, so heck yea!
Some very nice gentleman handed these to my boy for free, each time we walked past his table.  I told him that if he didn't knock it off, we'd just keep coming by all day!  They seem to be 6mm, maybe 10mm?  The one on the left seems very Death Korps of Kreig, no?  The ACW guy looks like a simple white basecoat and blue base wash.  Seems to work quite well, actually.
For scale purpose . . .
Chaosy decals from a young lady who was balancing a baby on her hip, while her husband was off shopping for more stuff!  A dedicated wife, for sure.
And, rounding it off, two codexes from the same table.  Price was right, what the hey.
Also, my boy spent a fair bit picking up this gem:

Risk, 2210 A.D.  An offering from the Avalon Hill imprint of Hasbro.  One of my son's tutors (a local college kid) told him this was a great game, so my boy just had to have it.  I think he overpaid, but hey, I'm old, so I think everything is overpriced.   We're only an hour into our first game, and learning the rules, but it certainly is fun.
If anyone wants some Epic counts-as minis, this would be a great starting point.  455 minis, hard plastic, almost all the size of dreadnoughts and maybe knights.
I'm already looking forward to Cold Wars 2016!