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"Make Historicon Great Again!!!!!" Topic


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Rangers Lead the Way21 Mar 2017 10:41 p.m. PST

Like the subject says.. Post your IDEAS here for 2018 lets be serious I say 2018 so it will give us time to plan.

Rotundo22 Mar 2017 1:38 a.m. PST

'18 is at the host. Are you referring to 2019?

jdpintex22 Mar 2017 2:07 a.m. PST

Entice the vendors to return. Otherwise the local cons are a better value and a better time to be had.

T34forU22 Mar 2017 2:26 a.m. PST

As far as I'm (and my club's) concerned, as long as Historicon's at the Host, it WILL be great again. Two of us went to Fredericksburg the first year…haven't been back. Then again, we're all less than an hour away from Lancaster. Though I was looking forward to the NJ location…mostly because there are breweries in the area that I haven't been to yet.

YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 3:30 a.m. PST

I was always very supportive of the motivation (and sometimes NEED) to move Historicon to other locations, but as it has all played out over the last few years it seems the best thing to do is to to keep all three HMGS cons at the Host and be done with it. Now, that assumes the Host is financially feasible, still wants HMGS business, and is up to code, but as long as those three conditions remain satisfied it is my opinion that HMGS should just stick all three cons there and then focus energies on other things.

This is not to criticize at all the various moves over last few years--but it just seems going forward this is the best idea. We are a slightly graying, stubborn group of people who all seem to be too attached to Lancaster to make moving around anymore worthwhile. Let other regional conventions fill the void (of sorts) both north and south of Lancaster, and not attempt to fill those niches by moving one or more of Fall-In, Cold Wars, or Historicon.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

What Yogi said.
But I am curious as to what happens if:
A: The Host isn't financially feasible.
or
B: Like in the past, The Host discovers that they really "Don't" want our business.

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 5:13 a.m. PST

The problem with staying with the same old same old style of convention is the question "When will it be unfeasible for the show to have dealers other than flea market dealers?"

Remember if the goal is to only cater to the same old crowd over and over and over again, without the any effort to seek new influx of new gamers, then it effects the economic feasibility of those who make up the dealer hall. Just look at standard retail, cut back on the number of consumers coming through the Brick and Mortar store and what happens, that store goes away while the company looks for other ways to pay the bills.

Moving the convention may not be the answer, because for me the visual appeal of the games have diminished from what I remember from the late 90' and early 2000's. This is not to slight all games, but it seems that many of those who use to put on very appealing visual games no longer attend.

in regards to the Host, the food is expensive, and the room up grades still have a long way to go – I didn't have one hot shower the entire time I was there this last weekend.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 5:26 a.m. PST

Bravo Miniatureships!!!!!! The Host is going raise rates to pay for all the cosmetic repairs. The only think that may keep it down, is the two brand new hotels being built on either side of the " Grand Old Host".

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 5:44 a.m. PST

My question is what happens if the numbers continue to dwindle regardless of location. I see other shows around the country growing by leaps and bounds like PAX and Adepticon and GenCon while the Historicon crowd grouses about how tough the economy has been. Yes, it was tough, and yet those other shows grew and are thriving during the same period. I see shows like Little Wars shaking things up a bit and being rewarded for it.

I want there to be a Historicon, but I also want an engaged and enthused crowd that continues to thrive. Not a slow slide into oblivion.

historygamer22 Mar 2017 5:55 a.m. PST

So interesting discussion with someone at the con, though not sure how true. The fellow I was talking to said that when FI was first conceived it was meant to be a true gaming con only – no dealers. Maybe that idea (true or not) needs to be revisited. Make one of the cons games- and flea market-only. Move to a less expensive venue since less room would be needed.

That would position the other two cons as a "bigger show."

vicmagpa122 Mar 2017 5:56 a.m. PST

i think we have to look at a greying hobby. at one time HMGS was trying to entice new members by sponsoring demo's throughout the region. I think it helped when we demo historical games at the mall and other areas. maybe at schools as well tying in with the history department.
Location has to do with Lancaster being a tourist attraction.it is family friendly where some other areas are not. the move to lancaster or philly area would be preferable. not because of how close it is for me. But the proximation to transportation. Just look at it.

The Wargaming Company22 Mar 2017 6:02 a.m. PST

This is specifically in response t the couple of posts that mention vendor concerns.

As a vendor, I will echo what others have mentioned before:

Presently, vendors see one group of gamers at Cold Wars and Fall-In. We see a different group of gamers (including some overlap from the first group) at Historicon.

Holding all three conventions at the same location reduces the exposure to new and different gamers.

We like the Lancaster Host, we find it more convenient than hauling our wears to VA, but more important than our convenience is our market exposure.

-TWC
thewargamingcompany.com

Personal logo capncarp Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 6:12 a.m. PST

TGerritsen: I am with you in wanting an enthused and engaged crowd, which means that we gamers must foment and foster new gamers from outside our clique. Getting youth involved via school programs (hyping the educational and family-friendly aspects) , talking up the fun or scholarship or artistic aspects of gaming--we all need to be boosters of our hobby to attract and _retain_ members. This also means making conventions a more family-friendly environment, providing adequate kids' games and activities. Some of us have our spouses along, not all of which game. How can we keep them from being bored or displeased? A couple of small efforts in these directions can make the difference between a lackluster experience and a happily memorable one for a family. We just have to identify the needs and plan accordingly.
<soapbox mode disengaged>

billclo22 Mar 2017 6:24 a.m. PST

From the perspective of a fairly new guy, I have some observations:

1) Perhaps the organization is a little too specialized? It looks to me to be mainly a bunch of old guys playing the same same old year after year. While there are some kids at the conventions (mine included), I doubt that there is new blood entering the hobby fast enough to replace the old guys who stop playing/die off. Not enough new YOUNG people are being attracted.

I looked at the various cons that TGerritson mentioned, and with the exception of Little Wars, they are more generic in nature. A lot of comic stuff, some anime, some gaming, you name it. A lot like Origins and Gencon. So there is something for nearly everyone. Many of those comic and anime people may play some sort of game, but its likely to be some sort of non-historical game. Contrast this to HMGS where it's mostly hyper-specialized historical games, which isn't everyone's cup 'o tea (mine included). I show up for the non-historical stuff mainly, since none of those larger generic cons are within a distance I am willing to drive (not really able to fly to cons for various reasons).

2) Many younger folk seem to be mainly attracted to the non-historical games, myself included. Yet it seems to me that there are fewer and fewer non-historical games being run. It got to the point at Fall-In that I had too much free time because there weren't enough games I wanted to play. So I ran 2 non-historical games on Friday at Cold Wars, which were well-attended. I still get a sense of unhappy tolerance from the pure-historical guys, not acceptance as fellow gamers. Part of that may be old guy crotchety-ness, and unwillingness to see any change. Frankly, I think that if the non-historical games were to be banned, con attendance would plummet. I certainly would stop attending. Which would reduce my gaming sessions to maybe once or twice a year, not that its great now.

I realize that the HMGS charter/IRS regs require that there be mainly historical games, but if if that's all that the cons have to offer, then I see attendance continuing to dwindle as the gaming population continues to grey. Lets face it, miniatures gaming in general seems to be in general decline from my perspective, but being over-specialized may not be helping.

3) Would there be any value in trying to set up a sister/partner organization that would cater to a wider audience? More variety of games/types of games, using some of the same infrastructure/personnel? That way the pure-historical guys could have their "pure" convention until it dwindled into non-viability and gradually the sister/partner conventions might thrive as the hobby evolves?

grtbrt22 Mar 2017 6:37 a.m. PST

Here are my thoughts .
a) All the conventions that people mention as being Great /fun/ I want to return to basically have 1 thing in common .
That is they are the only convention that that group/entity put on (yes there may be an exception here and there )!
HMGS dilutes the product by attempting to run 3 conventions . The dynamics of wargaming and conventions have changed yet the HMGS approach has not kept pace there are a lot more options out there than there was 20 years ago -the 3 conventions are now competing against many different gaming conventions and not competing well .

If the purpose of HMGS is to put on conventions -then fine do it ,but do it correctly and in a professional manner – not in the haphazard amateur manner we see now . Too many of the people involved see their part of the convention as their fiefdom to do as they will .

Rotundo22 Mar 2017 7:31 a.m. PST

Put on games. Seriously, take your best game and run it. Pick a time slot, partner with a buddy and run a game. The spectacle is what we all want.

DestoFante22 Mar 2017 8:05 a.m. PST

Personally, I am not sure whether I understand the convention business model where vendors bear most of the costs, and definitely I do not understand the decision to hold three conventions in the very same location. On the latter, I think it would make a lot of sense (assuming this is a HMGS EAST organization) to arrange one convention in each of the three major areas of membership: one south of DC (I personally loved the Fredericksburg con); one in PA at Lancaster (fine to me), and one in the NJ/CT area (not sure if any suitable venues exist, but the members' contingent from the area probably deserve an event more conveniently located to them.)
As for vendors – for many years, shopping was my major motivation to attend. Over time I noticed a decay in the vendors' pool, most acute (in my perception) following the 2008 recession. In recent years, I made the trip from Chicago just for sake of meeting friends, and my spending dropped – in my case, as a result of uninspiring supply. If I were anywhere representative of at least one segment of the hobby, bringing more vendors – and more variety of offers – would be crucial to re-energize my participation. Since I now live in Europe, a just-meh show is unlikely to convince me to make the trip across the Atlantic pond.

Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

Wow… so much to discuss…. so many facets…
Ok, I will take a run at this….

1. Finances…. wherever it/they go, it has to be economically doable and sustainable. This could mean price increases.

2.Putting on lots of games means needing lots of space and tables.. these things do cost more than you might think… but that is not the hindrance.. it is finding enough attendees to FILL those seats for the events. Here is a simple math fact: the average game has 4 seats… with many others ranging from 2 to even 16….. a proper ratio of GM's vs. attendees/players must be achieved…. Otherwise, you potentially have many games with not enough players to run them. That is a LOT of work put into a game and no ROI… This balance has been achieved.. it has actually worked itself out…. I have been to all 3 shows when they were large and small…. by my best calculations…. a good show has roughly 280-320 game events for approximately 2000 attendees…. working through event cancellations and pick up games…. this still does leave some GM's short of players…. take that math as you will… as an events manager and CD for 7+years running now…. I keep very close tabs on these numbers.

3.On the greying or specialization….or simply the "H" in HMGS…. I get it, I get the argument, etc…. I am not sure how it is stated in our charter or what amendments are in the bylaws… about ratio of historic to non-historic events…. whatever… But clearly, there is no denying the facts…. IF the show was limited to only historic games or historic based games, the shows would all be about 1/3 smaller…. From my observations quite a few that attend the shows, play in both historic and non-historic games…. If we want the hobby to survive, we need to be diverse… I am not lecturing on how to do this, but we are fools to think a 100% Historic show will continue to grow…. And for those of you who quote all of these other shows that are growing… they all contain major portions of non-historic, even LARPing and CosPlay stuff…. Just something to think about.

Personally, I am a button counting Napoleonic player who has had to diversify…. I love it all now…

4. On outreach an "new blood"… for those that have not been following along or did not go to the membership meeting… HMGS has actually really been putting a LOT of effort into this and has just started working on a full fledged program with a few organizations to bring wargaming to a younger audience… such as in after school programs, etc….

I am looking heavily at my own local high school and trying to get a gaming club set up…. The key here is having children, our own children, who want to play and can help bring in new blood. There is a large amount of grey hobbyists in HMGS now, but there is also 2 more generations… mine and my kids…. I want the hobby to outlast me, that is for sure…. who else will buy my stuff and pay for my funeral expenses?

But seriously, HMGS is geared up to and working very hard for bring in new blood to the organization and war gaming currently.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 9:06 a.m. PST

I thought the purpose of the HISTORICAL MINIATURES GAMING society was to sponsor HISTORICAL MINIATURES GAMING events. There are plenty of conventions around that cover, non-historical, non-miniature, non-gaming events. Suggesting that Historcon diversify to these other formats seems pretty off base.

If keeping to the purpose of the group means it will decline, then so be it. Do not change focus just to survive. Maybe move one convention further west -- Pittsburgh?

The hobby has been graying for the last 30 years but new blood keeps pumping in. I (very gray, if not white) now play HMG in a local group that is 16 people, with 1/3 being high schoolers. The rest, except me, under 50.

Stepman322 Mar 2017 9:22 a.m. PST

H-Con needs room to spread out. Utilize the comedy room again for tournament play and have the outside pool in GOOD working order. Erect (he-he, he said erect, Bevis and Butt-Head voice) the tent outside with mobile AC units for Hobby U (If able to due to security reasons). Better food selections or just do what's on your current menu 100%. More staff and possibly open up the breakfast side for dinner service. Publicize the awards a bit more. I was unaware that there was anything being done this Cold Wars in the way of competition. HYPE the show…Staff should engage the crowd more. A staff uniform…some of the staff may not be recognized by new attendees. These are the "go to people" for answers…

And convention goers. Realize this is everyone's convention. A standard of basic hygiene is expected and should be exercised. Don't pee on the floor, wash your hands and don't spread your filthy "bugs". You are handling door knobs, dice and figures that other people will be touching. No reason to leave the convention sick…

Maybe offer free iced tea as well as H2O at the water stations…Tea is fairly cheap and so is sugar. Make a few gallons of unsweet tea too…Its small gestures that go a long way…

Bring back the convention swag. I remember getting a ruler and dice before. The free figure is always cool as well, make it match the convention theme…

And I still think a "Midnight Madness" flea market would be a great idea…charge half price for the table space. Start it at 2300hrs and end it at 0100…

My thoughts…

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 9:41 a.m. PST

A great convention involves good admin and facilities, multiple different well-run games, a good lecture and teaching series, a well-stocked dealers hall and a humongous flea market. Most of these are mutually reinforcing, and HMGS BOD and convention staff are doing well at admin, which they directly control.

Tweaks: Games could have a wider variety of rules and probably average larger castings. i like small scales myself, but they lack the visual appeal of 28's and 54's. There could also be more beginner-friendly or kid-friendly games, and more short games. Dealers could offer more historical miniatures. we could work a little harder to ensure the rules played on the tables were for sale in the hall.

But to do these things, game masters and dealers have to cooperate.

As for the diversity arguments, they sound to me very much like destroying HMGS in order to save it. How about some outreach for kids instead?

And much as I personally love the Host, what is best for HMGS East in the long run--they did what they needed to do for 2018--is as was said--a convention at the Host, one at the FCC and one north and east if a suitable location can be found. (I will myself only be attending the one at the Host.)

YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 9:43 a.m. PST

I think having two cons instead of three, and rethinking the vendor-financed model (so as to encourage more dealers) should both be on the table to at least discuss.

Maybe HMGS should run two historical-focused conventions each year, and partner with a sister/different organization to run a more open "all miniatures" convention for the third. Despite its name, a "Historicon" in July that is fully open to non-historical games might be a good idea--it could bring more and different gamers, pump up attendance, and diversify the hobby. I still think the best way to recruit a new ACW/Nappy/FoW player is to play a game next to a Warhammer game and let those fantasy/sci-fi gamers wander over to look. GenCon is usually in August and presents scheduling problems, Adepticon is in March, so the July timeframe for Historicon is prime for attracting students and families.

Razor7822 Mar 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

I tried several times last year to get a vendor's booth. Finally after several attempts and not even the courtesy of sending an email reply I gave up.

Personal logo Sir Walter Rlyeh Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 9:53 a.m. PST

It's probably an act of masochism to even reply to this post but I am at the dealership getting my car serviced so what the hey. It seems reasonable, that if you are going to have three conventions a year, you should hold them at different locations so that making it to at least one will be semi convenient. This assumes that you want a national or even a regional convention. Three conventions at the same location makes you a local convention, which is fine but then you are just a local club.

Personal logo Dervel Supporting Member of TMP Fezian22 Mar 2017 10:10 a.m. PST

Getting back on topic (And yes it's masochistic to reply to this thread at all)….
Historicon 2018?

My understanding is that Historicon 2018 is planned for the Host?
So while I agree, three locations has merit, it's not the topic. Also if the location has been chosen, arguing about how it was in my backyard or now it's moving from my backyard is also not the topic.

Trying to throw out all the games that are not historical enough is also not the topic. The barn door on that topic was thrown off the hinges with Princess Ryan and her Space Marines a long time ago and trying to close it is not going to make the convention great either. It was a good thing to lighten up a little, if nobody is really shooting at you then we are talking about games. There was even an attempt several years ago to limit non-historical by suggesting any game that was non-historical (except Victorian SciFi which was deemed historical) was going to have to be on Thursday and Sunday only. Didn't work and did not help attendance.

Letting it die rather than continue to play games not deemed historical enough by one person or another is not the topic either, at least it is not going to help make things great again.


So back to Rangers original point here are some suggestions?

First of all we, the ones that attend and play, need to decide that making it great is what we want and get behind it. If we spent half as much time promoting the convention as we do arguing about it on TMP for example, imagine what we could accomplish.

Bring a friend. Over the years I have made efforts to drag my friends not only into gaming, but to the three major east coast conventions. If just 25% of us managed to promote the convention successfully to one other person and get them to come whether it is a new gamer or an old friend that stopped going… we have made a significant step towards rebuilding attendance.

Promote the convention, promote your games, talk it up online, TMP, Facebook, local clubs and game groups…

Get more people there then make sure they have a good time. Show case games are great eye candy, but let's make sure we have plenty of fun smaller games for people to play… including small demo and teaching games so people can try a game maybe investing an hour instead of 4 and move on to something else. I use the East Coast conventions to play my favorite game with friends I don't see any other time. Many people are trying a game for the first time and or looking to try a new rule set, if they commit 4 hours they lose half to a third of their day. We did a lot of demo games over the last weekend, and many were to very young gamers. Often this demo was squeezed in between longer events.

Site issues, if Historicon 2018 is at the Host, then the Historicon staff needs to make sure the Host management team is focused on the mechanical needs especially the AC. This will be critical to success and much more important that many of the other obvious issues with the site. So the site has to meet some basic needs and for July, the AC could be a huge issue.

Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 10:57 a.m. PST

What Dervel said…..

Well said!!!

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 12:18 p.m. PST

Not an issue for me anymore but bring back the kids room. Free kids room with some light gaming was a great way to attract families (defeat the perceived greying of the hobby)

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 12:19 p.m. PST

….and definitely I do not understand the decision to hold three conventions in the very same location.

I think this was a stop gap measure. The intent certainly is not to make this a practice. The BOD is looking for other sites for other conventions.

Personal logo capncarp Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

And while I have no objection to having Historicon find a new home, neither will I be unhappy for a year in which all three cons are within commuting distance, for me at least.

zoneofcontrol Inactive Member22 Mar 2017 12:49 p.m. PST

I'll throw this in here as more related to information than to the site where it is held.

The HMGS, Inc. website does a decent job of posting the dates and so forth for each con. However, the updating of info drops off and stops completely BEFORE the cons are held. The "Events" listing is updated to a 1-1/2 or 2 months before the con and that's it. "Hobby U." sometimes gets listed, sometimes does not. "Seminars" was blank. Were there no seminars or were they just not advertised? I know that a informational phone app is done outside the organization but that info doesn't appear on the website.

I heard that a Lancaster TV news station came in and did a broadcast on site during Cold Wars. (I pre-registered but came down with bronchitis and couldn't attend.) I heard about this through a friend who saw the broadcast and called me to tell me about it. He said he saw it on both Friday and Saturday. I think that is great that this happened but I only found out about is afterwards. Was this mentioned or linked anywhere?

The home website is a little clunky but I can live with that. I just wish a little more informational management went into it to make it worth looking at.

Ottoathome22 Mar 2017 1:08 p.m. PST

1. The hobby has been graying since I was 12 and entered it. it has been a constant lament for 48 years, and always new blood comes in. In fact There are more younger gamers in the hobby now than when I got into it in 1964.

2. Talk about moving the convention around is nice, but who'se going to come. There are HMGS cons in Midwest, south, South west, California, Florida blah blah blah. Do any of them draw the attendance needed to fund a historicon there? Or even a Fall in? No. We are a niche hobby and we and the HMGS simply can't afford to put on a huge convention with hundreds of dealers and thousands of attendees. They're doing the best they can. Nor by the way do I want to go to them. If I wanted to go to Gen-Con I'd go to Gencon and pay what over $75 USD a ticket and $300 USD a night for a hotel?

3.Someone said "Get more people there then make sure they have a good time. Show case games are great eye candy, but let's make sure we have plenty of fun smaller games for people to play… including small demo and teaching games so people can try a game maybe investing an hour instead of 4 and move on to something else."

Nice, whose going to do that? It's not up to the HMGS to make people have a good time, the attendee must do that for himself. How are you going to "make sure you have plenty of fun smaller games for people to play" These are the province of the individual and people do what they want to do. If you go to the convention with a sense of entitlement that the convention is there to amuse you and make you have fun then give it up. If the hobby itelf, if going to the convention and living for yourself and doing what you want for yourself isn't enough then pack it in.

4. I know of no one wanting to toss out non-historical games, since in fact, almost all games at the convention are not historical. I mean standard games which are mostly hypothetical battles let alone sci-fi and fantasy.

5. War game conventions are a lot like camping trips. You aren't going to a spa where people cater to your every need. A camping trip requires a bit of sweat equity to be a success. So does a convention. You want people to flutter around you and make sure you have a good time- go to Club Med or take a cruse.

Someone said "

Personal logo Colonel Bill Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 2:13 p.m. PST

Build a wall, and make the Host pay for it.

(sorry, couldn't resist:) )

Ciao, Colonel Bill
ageofeagles.com

Personal logo Dervel Supporting Member of TMP Fezian22 Mar 2017 2:13 p.m. PST

3.Someone said "Get more people there then make sure they have a good time. Show case games are great eye candy, but let's make sure we have plenty of fun smaller games for people to play… including small demo and teaching games so people can try a game maybe investing an hour instead of 4 and move on to something else."
Nice, whose going to do that? It's not up to the HMGS to make people have a good time, the attendee must do that for himself. How are you going to "make sure you have plenty of fun smaller games for people to play" These are the province of the individual and people do what they want to do. If you go to the convention with a sense of entitlement that the convention is there to amuse you and make you have fun then give it up. If the hobby itelf, if going to the convention and living for yourself and doing what you want for yourself isn't enough then pack it in.

Otto, maybe you misunderstood the post…. There are some cranky SOB's that show up, just like on TMP, and nothing will please them. That's their problem. Maybe I should say "make sure that we do whatever we can do to provide them the opportunity to have a good time."

However, HMGS and the GM's are the hosts at the convention like it or not, that is what we sign up for and we have some responsibility to make it fun. If we don't want that responsibility, then we should convert our badges to attendee.

Inadequate AC during JULY in Pennsylvania = not much fun or not a good time. HMGS can do something about that by venue selection.

The GMs who are putting on games need to make an "effort" to host a quality game. Maybe we disagree here, but I do think as a GM we have a responsibility to try to entertain the people playing in our games. As a GM, if I set people down to an inadequately prepared game (not even mentioning poor looking), I don't understand the rules or can't explain them, expect new people to learn an overly complicated game and play in 3-4 hours, have 20 people in a game designed for 4 then this is one of the many ways I have failed as a GM.

It's not a sense of entitlement on the part of the attendees, They go to have fun. If the convention facility is inadequate and the GM's don't present enjoyable games, the convention will die a slow death because people won't come back. They will go to conventions that are fun or play at home or do something else… Hobbies are for entertainment? At least mine is..


And…..
Regarding tossing out fantasy and SciFi, there are plenty of comments on this thread and others on TMP complaining about how the H in HMGS stands for Historical and having non-Historical is not appropriate. The Historicon convention staff once tried to ban these games from being run on Friday and Saturday… Due to "table space concerns", the result was that they had enough games drop out they did not have any space concerns and decided not to enforce the ban, Problem solved.

Fortunately nobody really takes it seriously.

historygamer22 Mar 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

I agree with Otto. I'd also suggest that catering kids is not the kind of wargame convention I want to attend. "Growing the hobby" doesn't occur at least on any meaningful scale at HMGS cons. You either like wargaming, or you don't. It is ridiculous idea that someone is going to get in a car to "check it out" at least in significant numbers. You cater to the masses, not the fringes.

Want to grow Hcon?

1. Advertise. The budget has been slashed to make the bottom line look better than it is. Same for all cons.

2. Step up the con brochures. They are minimalist at best. Put pictures of games in the brochure even better, put pictures of the games that plan on being at the convention.

3. Limit the number of games. For some reason, HMGS often seems to feel it has to take very game that registers sight unseen. Don't. Estimate the number of people attending, figure out the number of games needed allowing that some only come to shop, some come only to look, some only play in tournaments, and some will play in pick-up games.

4. There is nothing wrong with asking for pictures of a GM's games ahead of time from unknown quantities. It is easier to screen games ahead of time than ask someone to leave. I'm seeing at least some games with minimal effort and some with unpainted figures. HMGS cons are under no obligation to host such games and give free admission.

5. HMGS has a ready list of higher end games from recent PELA lists and judging sheets. Contact that GMs, solicit their attendance. Offer then choice locations, maybe some extra game space, etc. Encourage the best to come back. Not happening now.

6. Announce the game awards ahead of time. Announce the winners afterwards, including pictures you know to encourage others.

7. Bring back a real wargaming painting competition. The one offered now rewards single figures. Reward wargame units this is not the MFCA show. It used to be one of the highlights of the shows up on the balcony. Now you need a map to find it- if you even bother.

8. Manage the gaming area. It is the main draw. Set up a management table in the gaming area to resolve table conflicts, ensure tables aren't moved, ensure games show up. Keep an eye on the games. Get some data on what is full and what isn't.

9. Target dealers who sell figures. Many no longer return. Why not? What would make them come back?

10. Find reasons for past attendees who don't attend, to come back. Many of the above might help. HMGS has years of attendance addresses. Spruce up the mailer (see above) and spruce up the website. Again, with a long list of award winning games where are the photos? Show people having fun at the games too.

Waco Joe22 Mar 2017 3:17 p.m. PST

Here are a few stupid ideas from an outsider for all it's worth:

First and most important. Develop selective amnesia when it comes to the past success or failures of previous cons. Start fresh and leave no avenue unexplored. This does not mean to ignore past mistakes, just work toward identifying what created the mistake and how to avoid it.

Second, it has already been pointed out that three cons is a heavy load, maybe it is time to pare the limbs.

Third, if three cons is still the goal try to make them have their own flavor. Historicon at the Host makes sense. Make it the primary dealer con and showcase the games. Maybe limit the flea market hours to less desirable times such as the Saturday night limbo mentioned above. The idea of moving the other cons north and south for those regions sounds like a good one. Focus on more local vendors, expand the flea market, experiment with the game offerings. Above all else be profitable, even if it is a small margin. Make that your base line and grow the cons from there.

The ideas that Historygamer listed are all good ones, build on that.

historygamer22 Mar 2017 4:22 p.m. PST

Just to add flavor to some of the games – one GM had a minimalist Zulu set up, virtually no terrain, and kleenex for smoke.

Another put out unpainted GW robots on a bare tabletop, and used a lot of tables. They stepped up their game last con, most of the tanks/figures were painted (some even had two colors) and they came up with a felt drop cloth. They also took up one of the larger table setups.

Another table I saw featured some unpainted figures/models.

All of the above were in the main ballroom.

I'm seeing more board games pop up on empty tables, yet the wargames aren't full. Why is HMGS paying for both empty games and tables for board games? Too many tables?

Is anyone tracking the no-show GMs? Is there a pattern to some? I understand snow, illness, work. But if someone is a recurring no-show (for whatever reasons), or worse yet, shows up and gets a badge – but doesn't put on a game – why isn't that being tracked and these people being declined?

I'm not saying that above happens a lot, but it might as no one knows how wide the problem is as no one is tracking them – especially across all three cons.

Dashetal22 Mar 2017 4:48 p.m. PST

To make the games more interesting, gave out cash prizes for the best looking games, provide valet assistance to help bring in the games and then take out the finished games under the direction of the GM.

Then HMGS should have someone who knows how to put together an interesting video make the rounds and show games being played, interview the game masters. The idea would be to only feature games that look good.

The finished film should be put on YouTube and sites like that. Use a title like Historical Miniatures in Action. Film incidentally in the background at the beginning a banner with the HMGS info so they can find your site. Have a section on your site explaining about the film and how it came about. Do this at least once a year. The GMs attending will be flattered by the attention and will bring up their presentations.

The above is just off the top of my head. I am certain others could add to the idea.

Dashetal22 Mar 2017 5:28 p.m. PST

A second film should also be put on HMGS site where you explain about the convention film and on this you interview the attending dealers, talk about their products and how to reach them. Remove this film the following year and make a new one. Do not charge the dealers for this as this should not be a convention fee just a perk. This encourages the dealers to attend each year.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2017 5:32 p.m. PST

Hmm. One I might have thought of earlier--a little tutorial somewhere about registering to hold a game and putting one on. I've done it, and I still think I missed a few tricks about set up and take down times vs start times and game length, for instance. Or some way to coordinate so the only two Barsoom games in the convention aren't running at the same time?

Nothing against current GMs, some of whom are very good, but the wider the variety of period, scale, rules and scenario, the better our chances of having just the game someone is looking for.

Bosco05 Inactive Member22 Mar 2017 5:33 p.m. PST

Here are a few thoughts on trying to improve the con from A GM perspective. I really enjoy putting on big games and put a lot of effort into trying to have a good looking game that the players enjoy. My game aren't strictly historical – two years ago it was a British intervention in the Civil War and last year was a French intervention in the War of 1812. Big games mean lots a crap to move around so here are my ideas:

(1) Onsite locked storage – hauling 1,500+ 28mm scale miniatures out every night to lock in my car isn't fun and it would be great if there could be a room to keep these in. I would agree to hold HMGS harmless for theft/damage but having a locked room would really be a big help

(2) Assign a experience GM to walk new ones through how to put on a game. I've been doing games at Historicon for 6 years now and have a few tricks to make both organizing and running games go a lot smoother. It can be intimidating to host your first game and getting some advice may lower the attrition rate of first time GM's. I've done this "unofficially" with several new GMs and think I've been helpful.

(3) Have some hand trucks / carts available onsite that GMs can check out to help cart stuff in. We can leave a cash deposit of 20.00 that's forfeit if we don't bring the carts back. My SUV is stuffed to the brim with minis and terrain and I often don't have room for a wheeled cart.

(4) set up special awards for new GM's – people love trophies give more out IF you want them to come back and GM again. I like Dashetal's idea of video reporting. Wargame Illustrated did a video report from HCON last year and I must say I was a little chuffed to see my little game featured for a few seconds.

(5) I think there's a conflict of interest between the flea market and the vendor hall – it would be interesting to see how it would work to have a con with a flea market or only have one open on Saturday – would the vendors see an uptick in sales?

Garth in the Park22 Mar 2017 5:57 p.m. PST

1. The hobby has been graying since I was 12 and entered it. it has been a constant lament for 48 years, and always new blood comes in. In fact There are more younger gamers in the hobby now than when I got into it in 1964.

Otto, I don't suppose you have any evidence to back that up? Any data? Any demographic studies, anything…? No? Didn't think so. You never do.

historygamer22 Mar 2017 6:39 p.m. PST

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think the graying of the hobby is the issue so much as 1.) How do you get many of the past attendees to come back?, and 2.) How do you get the newer gamers to attend?

I see lots of younger historical gamers at the local shop, but they don't seem interested in attending.

I have also never bought into the line of thinking that you can convert fantasy gamers if they just see a historical game. I had a young fellow come over one time and asked why we gamed such an obscure period? I had no idea the American Civil War was so obscure. He wandered back to his unpainted fantasy game and blissful ignorance. :-)

Some thoughts on the above well written post:

1. Storage would be great. Identifying a secure room and staffing it would be the challenge.

2. New GMs should hone their skills at the local level, then bring them to the bigger shows.

3. HMGS has/had several hand carts. I wonder what happened to them?

4. Awards are great, but the present award program isn't working well as no one knows who the winners are, nor sees pix of their games. Need to fix what we have first before expanding.

5. I made a video for HMGS back in 1990. I was a TV producer at the time. I think we were a bit ahead of our time, as it really wasn't possible to post to the internet back then (at least as far as we all knew). FYI to any future production crew who tries the noise is overwhelming in the gaming areas, and the lighting stinks. Newer digital cameras may handle the smaller scales better than the cameras back then did. Same for lighting problems.

6. Trying to force vendor sales by suppressing the flea market is a bad idea. I spent zero in the flea market this year, but trying to force me, or anyone to spend more on other things is a waste of time. Free market. Besides, I might use that "extra" money on a meal. I do know when I make money in the flea market area I spend ever dime in the dealer hall.

TMPWargamerabbit22 Mar 2017 8:24 p.m. PST

For the conversation. I know HMGS-East has long experience with running conventions, location management, staffing, and all that takes to run a major convention. With that said, I have copy pasted a memo I wrote several years again to our local Southern California Strategicon convention management making comparison to the larger historical gaming conventions up north in California and their annual events held every President's day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day weekends. Being four day events like Historicon, Strategicon has all forms of gaming, miniatures, RPG, boardgames… and has a good turnout for every convention. But for historical miniatures, they are much smaller than the conventions held up north in the Bay area and what HMGS-PSW has for historical gaming.

The question to me was what can improve the historical miniature gaming event total, the games themselves, and supporting GM's. To grow Strategicon and give competition to the conventions up north held on the same three weekends each year.


My memo reply to Strategicon…..as I live in the same region of Southern California:

"….It's interesting to hear that the board gamers have the same basic "issues" as the historical miniature groups.

Personally, It is possible to have historical miniature gamers attend conventions. Up north, both Kublicon and Pacificon have a large historical miniature gaming format. Further north we have the NW Historical gaming conventions. This just covers the western coast region. Of course there are the Mid America, Mid Altantic, SouthEast and the big conventions of HMGS-East for the eastern coast regions.

Links:
kublacon.com
pacificongameexpo.com
nhmgs.org

So, why does Southern California have it different….

Some thoughts:

We have the active HMGS-PSW in southern California. The Bay area doesn't have HMGS chapter per say…. There is HMGS-West…. but it is some what low key group. The NW has NHMGS to cover WA, OR, ID. similar to HMGS-PSW but smaller I think.

All the above conventions have dozens of games at their regional convention. Convention pricing seems to be the same….$30-50 for entire Con so why the differences in historical miniature attendance.

1. Convention location? LAX isn't the best location….. who wants to go to LAX if you live here in LA.
2. Parking fees…. $10 USD plus per day is downer…. The other conventions seem to try to have free parking per the gaming grapevine nearby… not blocks away.
3. Gaming tables are full size…. at least 5 to 6' depth. 8'x6' will handle most miniature games… but be prepared for the giant games of 20'x6' in the future. Once you have the convention well established as gamer's heaven these games and their GM will appear… and you want them! If done with artistic miniatures and terrain… they will pull in gamers from distances you wouldn't think of. Round tables normally don't function well for historical games. Have extra side tables on call for last minute requirements, miniature storage and game set up. GM don't like to place their artistic miniatures on the floor.. even under the the table. Feet always seem to find them. Lastly, make sure the tables line up and are level. Have wooden shims available to level tables. A "rocking" table does no one any good.
4. Hotel food pricing is kept low….. and the local area eats are within a block or two of hotel. Late evening "Bar scene" to unwind the gaming day is noted. Have ice water stationed around the room.
5. Are gaming events for the late evening crowd supported? Basic games…. quick and fun. They are advertized all around the gaming hall. While at it…. post notices for the big miniature games all around the convention with games pictures from the PEL…. so of a "be there or be square" type adverts.
6. Are there "game barkers/recruiters" who spread the word, location and start time of games during the convention day. They can hand out special game list flyers for that afternoon scheduled games… that evening games highlighted for example. Thus the GM doesn't have to chase around the open floor recruiting, watching his valuable miniatures/table and set up the game itself. "Drive" the crowd into the miniature room.
7. Game room lighting is a big thing!. Who wants to stage a game requiring the GM to bring his own lighting. This is not a sit down dinner and dance event. I know… I do ballroom and latin dancing too.
8. The convention PEL must have pictures, photos, GM blog cross links, etc. Use previous convention pictures if needed. Any good GM will have a whole bucketload of available pictures to plug into the PEL. Spend the effort to promote…to promote…and more promotion of the games. The written materials should be sufficent for the "game barkers" to know exactly what they are promoting to the entire convention at large, not just the miniature room.
Example: I wrote up a pre-game blog post on HMGS-PSW and my own Wargamerabbit blog site for the recent HMGS-PSW Hit the Beach convention Ligny 1815 game. Then I wrote up and posted pictures for After Action Report (AAR) to the same sites plus TMP (link: TMP link ). Now this may be too much for the average GM….. but the key is to show the outside world what to expect for the next convention. link and link . Go back the HMGS-PSW January convention. I GM'd three games on three days….yes three games at that simple convention. Each had a game write up posted. I know Adam, Harold, Steve, Frank in person (all GM's)…. but did you give a visual write up of their recent convention games? I have seen written text reports….. boring to the average joe gamer…. gaming action photos sell!
So……next thought….
9. Have someone on the convention staff go around the miniature room and click pictures for the Convention web site. Video report links would be better. Post then up that evening!….not weeks later. You must show off the convention game room and all the "happy gamers". Show what is going on! If I was to click on Strategicon web site today would it show me the action of last convention…of yesterdays gaming? The games shown in good detail? The variety of historical gaming? Gamers will quickly size up the convention by comparison with other regional conventions. You want to be what they compare to… not the other way round. Think like the evening news reporting the convention….
10. Figure out how to have not just the GM bring his body and game material….but his "support team" to run the games. No GM wants to arrive at the Con, set up… and have nearly nobody play the game. That is were the "Game barkers" come in….drive players into the miniature room. Also… I would have a very reduced price for GM game support staff for convention entrance (think $10 USD maybe). These GM supporters will be on site to start the game with the GM if needed, they can assist "drafting players" into the game.. sort of a hand off from the "game barkers" to the game support staff action. New players are "somewhat afraid to speak up" or request to join in. I say push them forward into the line of fire and hand them dice. GM's will be tickled pink to bow out of playing and just coach the miniature game from the side lines. Helping new players with the game mechanics, rules…whatever. GM's "support staff" can act as either game leaders to keep the game moving and interesting, or assist the GM with the new players…and of course assist with the set up/clean up process. But if only the GM gets the free convention entrance…. then the support staff becomes questionable….leaving the poor GM to run it all…. which is no fun…. hence limited GM convention appearances…. which leads to no games.
Miniature games, big and small, are very different from board games with their 5 minute set up. The set up time and effort alone should sufficent for special entrance arrangements. I typically figure on a full hour just for set up…. and another hour for clean up. Miniatures you just cannot slide into a box…. each are placed into the box…plus the game tabletop terrain is another layer of time. Quick thought…. 1 GM or staff support member for every 4 players…. big games will require that level of support when thousands of tabletop miniatures are involved. If I ran a 15 player game….. 7 per side plus GM…. I would hope to have 2 "rules player veterans" per table side for support staff on the game. Can your convention entrance pricing support that? GM plus 4 game support plus 10 players. If a very successful game is run…. with many happy convention gamers… I would give strong thought to waive the entrance fees or parking costs for the GM and his support staff. If I saw a game with a dozen players all enjoying themselves, I would do everything to have that GM and his support staff return at the next convention. The word will get out…. you will have many new games at the following convention and bang…. you have a very successful convention of happy gamers…. which assures the next convention. Success leads to success.
11. Have available carts, low wheeled trucks etc to support the transfer of game miniatures and tabletop terrain from loading dock to game room. I think Strategicon does this but I would confirm. Have a loading and unloading zone near the gaming room staffed with a willing hand or two from the convention staff at rush hour.
12. Avoid tying to cram miniature event games into small time slots. 4 hours should be the smallest time slot…. larger games can go for 8 hours+ easy.
13. Preview GM's game with examples of their previous game vis pictures (if possible)….. if you like what you see….. promote the game as marquee event…. we don't need the flashing lights… but the GM will feel the "love". Also…those pictures will help out the convention PEL!
14. PEL's need to be very informative towards game details, game event history, a short scenario outline plus easy to understand from a time line format. Make sure all points are covered. Players know of the game event and know location and estimated starting time.
15. Additional thoughts for #9 above. At the end of the convention you should be able to have linked on your Strategicon site a visual history of the convention. That visual history is what you promote for the next convention…..show the action. Does Strategicon have such a link? Is it buried? It should be screaming to be seen…. foremost on the Strategicon site. Think several hundred photos for the four days…..not just one or two for a gaming event. Youtube video links?
16. GM awards for great games…..If Strategicon (you) like it…and the players loved it….. Award it! Then promote it to death on your summary of the convention. Great leaders of history have award babbles in their pockets. Follow their lead.


Some thoughts….I am sure I can think of some more but the above is a good start.

Michael aka WR….."

TSD10122 Mar 2017 9:47 p.m. PST

Plenty of good and not so good ideas but its nice to see a lively discussion.

I will throw this out there. It would be prudent to see what levels Historicon attendance rises to in the first year back at the Host before making any more grandiose plans. If attendance still hovers in the low 2000s like the FCC it does not bode well.

(1) Onsite locked storage hauling 1,500+ 28mm scale miniatures out every night to lock in my car isn't fun

100% agree, I usually only run 1 game because the set up and break down takes so long, plus parking. Having this convenience would encourage me to run on multiple days.

4. Awards are great, but the present award program isn't working well as no one knows who the winners are, nor sees pix of their games. Need to fix what we have first before expanding.

I won 1 award in the past, and although people have stopped by taking plenty of pictures I've never seen them pop up anywhere online. If I hadn't seen Xintao's post in another thread I would never have known who won the "Best of Show" award this Cold Wars.

Is anyone tracking the no-show GMs? Is there a pattern to some?

I've had this happen before at a Sunday game where no one showed up and the game wasn't listed as cancelled ahead of time, I wouldn't put it past a few unscrupulous individuals to do this.

(5) I think there's a conflict of interest between the flea market and the vendor hall

Its only a conflict of interest when people show up to the dealer hall with 2 tables full of brand spankin new items still in blisters or shrink wrap charging near retail price. I thought there were some rules against this but if so they are very loosely enforced. If you're in the flea market, I expect flea market prices.

historygamer23 Mar 2017 4:37 a.m. PST

Not my idea, but since it is a good one I'm sharing it:

Take the winners of the most recent con and feature them at the next con (if they can attend). Post pictures of their games in the convention mailer. Give them a place of honor, where all can see them. It's a win, win for all involved. It ensures more quality games at a con, and promotes quality games for all to see and encourages others.

I am surprised no one has thought of this before. It seems like a no-brainer. Hcon could start by inviting the recent award winning games at CW, and HMGS should continue the trend from there.

Like many, I come to shop, socialize, etc. But I always make a point to see the games and do a lot of walking and looking. I'm sure many others do too.

Ottoathome23 Mar 2017 4:47 a.m. PST

All of these things require WORK and quite often CASH! Who's going to do the work and who is going to put up the cash.

Lock up storage. WE HAD THAT! At the Host at the GM Help Desk, which Pete Panzeri ran for several years. Then it became an ordeal to do and it was discontinued.

Carts, WE HAD THAT, At the host at the GM Help desk, Worked well for a few years until people got tired of doing it an somehow the carts disappeared as did the donated sign and he carts when it was under the charge of Ernest Swynsum lost them or left them at the convention.

Helping GM's set up and haul stuff around . WE HAD THAT, again as part of the GM help desks. You can charge Pete Panzeri with a lot of things but not with inattention to this. Many the times I saw him hauling around tables and making arrangements for GM's to squeeze in a table here or there or work out knotty problems with registration. This when they got a blank look or a shrug from the regular staff.

More public and more awards WE HAD THAT, again as part of the GM help desk. It was run on a shoestring and Pete Panzeri set up a system, overcomplicated, and convoluted, but it was something. Again, to do the program took a lot of work and a lot of labor and volunteers, and often Pete was rushing around attempting to do something. People just didn't volunteer and after a while the few that did got tired. Pete did his best but he was only one man and he was trying to cover a huge convention. Unfortunately it reached the ludicrous point where he handed an award to one GM for a great game he put on and everyone loved… unfortunately the game hadn't taken place yet and the GM was still setting up, not taking it down. Apparently someone nominated the guy for an award who was a friend of his and the timing got screwed up.


That didn't necessarily devalue the award, but it goes to show that the level of volunteerism to do these things was simply not there.

In all of these things it was gamer apathy and cost that kyboshed the effort.

I certainly hope all of you with these grandiose plans clamored to help pay and put on these things you want at the Membership meeting….

Yeah I thought not.

TSD10123 Mar 2017 5:40 a.m. PST

I certainly hope all of you with these grandiose plans clamored to help pay and put on these things you want at the Membership meeting….

Yeah I thought not.

I can only speak for myself, but I'm willing to pay a little more for registration or membership fees to help have a smoother convention

Dashetal23 Mar 2017 6:56 a.m. PST

Raise the entrance fees. Even $5 USD would bring it up to $10,000. USD Hire temp labor to help with the loading and unloading and the video labor. The ideas may not be feasible but to dismiss them out of hand without exploring them seems short sided.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 7:20 a.m. PST

Guys, just a reminder: small local cons and game shops will always have a higher percentage of younger players. The ones who show up at Lancaster--or wherever--have money, have transportation, can take time off from work, and can decide where the family goes on holidays. I started wargaming at age 12. If the conventions had existed then, I'd have been 22 by the time I owned a car and had the freedom and possibly the money to make it to Lancaster. Two years after that, I was married, and family obligations would have been a factor. I'd say I was in my early 40's before everything fell into place.

I suspect the median age of miniatures players--and especially historical miniatures players--is rising. But Historicon isn't evidence.

historygamer23 Mar 2017 8:02 a.m. PST

Otto:

Spot on. You are correct about Pete, but left out the hard work of James Curtis who continued the program for some time.

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