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"What was the best convention game you ever played in? " Topic

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1,537 hits since 3 May 2018
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BrockLanders03 May 2018 7:25 p.m. PST

After 20 years or so of just going to conventions to either game or shop, I've decided I am going to put on a game at Little Wars next year. It will be a 28mm WW2 skirmish game, played on terrain boards I've been working on for several years now. A bit apprehensive about doing this for the first time as I want everyone involved to have a good experience. So, what was the best game you ever played in, and what made it so good? What advice would you give to a first time GM to ensure a fun game?

Rich Bliss03 May 2018 7:45 p.m. PST

1) Keep it simple. Simple forces, simple scenario, no exotic weapons, no complicated vioctpry condition,
2) If you can"t remember a rule, fake it. No referencing the rule books
3). Have a compete players aid card for everyone. Make sure the complete turn sequence is on it.
4). Label all troops clearly
5) no hidden troops

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP03 May 2018 8:03 p.m. PST

Invasion of Zanzibar at HC several years ago, Because Zanzibar won!!!

Dn Jackson03 May 2018 8:14 p.m. PST

I played a Johnny Reb game with John Hill probably 30 years ago. I disobeyed the overall commander for our side to take my brigade against a threat he didn't see. John pulled me out of the game and gave me a cavalry command at the other end of the board and me and my opponent had a great time charging, counter charging, and capturing/holding a supply train. When it was over John complemented me saying he'd never seen cavalry handled that well, (he was probably making me feel good).

One of the things I've always loved about Johnny Reb is that when the game is played right the movement of the figures on the table looks like you're reading an account from the war.

I agree with Rich Bliss, keep it simple and fun.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian03 May 2018 9:00 p.m. PST

Well, I would have to say it was a WWII skirmish game with simple terrain and simple rules.

Winston Smith03 May 2018 9:15 p.m. PST

Most fun was a Trojan Wars game put on by Pictorsstudio.
I had Agamemnon. A truly dislikable Bleeped text of a person.
I had 5 chariots, and a horde of unimportant infantry.
Missile fire from the Trojans killed 2 of my chariots. Mirabile dictu, that reduced the frontage of the unit, me, enough to fit through a tiny gap in the lines.
So, there I was. Suddenly behind the Trojan lines. Troy was unguarded.
I charged the gates, defended solely by Artemis. Thing was, God's or goddesses whined back to Olympus if they got just one wound.
End of the story is that I "rescued" Helen. A quick look over the battlements showed that my bro, Menelaus, was a long way away, fighting most of the Trojan army.
Helen and I lived happily ever after in Tyre.

The whole game, for me, boiled down to rolling exactly the right roll. That's ok. Dice have screwed me over too.

KSmyth03 May 2018 9:49 p.m. PST

I had a best day of gaming in Portland at the Crystal Palace many years ago. Participated in a 15mm Ancient sea battle called Mare Nostrum. We were getting our butts beat, but somehow we managed to come back and win.

Later in the day I played in a 20mm SCW game called Non Pasaran. Much fun, great die rolling and we as the Republicans destroyed the Fascist menace.

Both games were fun, and we won!! Great stuff. Probably 1988 or something like that.

nevinsrip03 May 2018 11:06 p.m. PST

I don't game, so you're getting a different perspective.
But, I've been to a dozen or so Historicon's and really enjoyed just watching the various games, as they played out.

The best game I ever saw, was a French and Indian War canoe race, between some Trappers and Indians. All of the players had a canoe, with the trappers attempting to get away from the Indians.
Some readers must have seen this, as it was run for 3 days non stop. It was that popular. Maybe 2002 or 2004?

The lake was a simple blue tarp with various individual terrain pieces placed upon it. The terrain was exceptional. The host was able to move the terrain around to show different scenarios.

The rules were one side of a single sheet of paper.

So, after watching the canoe race a couple of times, I make the following recommendations.

Besides being cheerful and friendly, explain to the crowd what's going on. Encourage people to play.

1. Easy to grasp rules. One page. Explain them before starting play.
2. Quick play. Keep the game moving at a rapid pace. It kept everybody involved.
3. No arguing. The Host made the decisions and everyone lived with it. Emphasize that at the outset.
4. Keep it short. The canoe game turned over every 90 minutes or less. Not enough time to get bored
5. Remember fun. Isn't that why you play?

And if you game can handle it, have a lot of players in the game. The more player there are, the better that people will stay involved.

Good luck

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 3:03 a.m. PST

I played in a FFL vs Taureg game hosted by Duke Seifried (sp?) years ago in Indiana, so much fun & great game.

Fitzovich04 May 2018 3:59 a.m. PST

I agree with Rick Bliss above all Keep It Simple and remember it's a game, it should be a fun experience. If you and your players are laughing, then I would say you have succeeded.

PzGeneral04 May 2018 4:20 a.m. PST


I've played Scott's Trojan War game too. Here in Toledo, besides my wife, only one other person showed up to play. All I really remember was the rules were Warhammer Ancients and there were plenty of exploding Chariots. And I think a bunch of the Heroes died too….. wink

Outside of that, no one game really sticks out. I've been to many a convention game and enjoy almost every one thoroughly. A big thank you to all those Game Masters who put them on, not only for the game, but for all the time and expense they put into making strangers happy grin

redbanner414504 May 2018 4:38 a.m. PST

So many great con games. I don't even know where to start.

Winston Smith04 May 2018 6:00 a.m. PST

6. The GM should not have an agenda to force the action the way he thinks it should go.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian04 May 2018 6:10 a.m. PST

I'm with redbanner. Probaly the Pirates games put on by the Flagship Games crew at Kublacon back in the 90's

Old Wolfman04 May 2018 6:49 a.m. PST

I know that feeling,Red.

Dashetal04 May 2018 6:49 a.m. PST

Too many but one of the funniest was an ancient slimy limey variant. My friend and I were the only adults in the game. The other 10 players were all boy scouts who came to the con as a group. My friend is a cautious player and worries about his dice rolling. He was in charge of our side. We each commanded a ship. The second turn of the game a large rock from the youngest scout's ship smashed his sole bolt thrower, demasted his ship and killed most of his rowing crew leaving him dead in the water. Saving rolls would have stopped or mitigated the damage but my friends bad luck held. The aghast GM said that had never happened before and apologized profusely. One of the scouts on our side said to him forcefully "You suck, I'm switching sides." The rest of the scouts on our side agreed so it became two against ten. I looked at my visibly dejected friend and said laughingly you are on your own as I sailed off the edge of the board.

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 6:49 a.m. PST

"I don't game but, I've been to a dozen or so Historicon's [sic]" I find this a rather odd statement. It's as if I were to say "I don't play golf, but I like to wander around the links watching other people play" or "I hate professional sports, but those hot dogs at the stadium!" Admittedly our games are more visually appealing than guys in pastel shorts, but what, nevinsrip, puts you off about actually playing?

joeltks Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 6:59 a.m. PST

Eons ago (DallasCon around '89 or so), undersea game with individual characters tasked with retrieving hitler's brain from a crashed transport plane. Used 1/35 (?) plastic divers that the GM had mounted on variable height stands and given a 'bubble' string that represented hit points. It was well crafted (felt like playing in a fish tank), quick, full of action and laughs. Seldom have I ever been around a table where it was apparent how much fun everyone there was having. Not a typical 'wargame' per se; but fits the mold of skirmish actions. Every really great game I've played in has been one where the GM found a way to keep everyone involved all the time. Down time is a killer for me.

wakenney04 May 2018 8:59 a.m. PST

HCon a few years back the I95 gamers ran a great game using Rules with no Name. Nice western set-up, minimal but great looking scenery. Scenario was a group of bandits trying to capture a stage coach before we made it to a strong house.

First round, first shot, the bandits shot the coach driver in the head. We had to use one of our shooters as a driver, basically dooming us on the long haul down table. We couldn't drop enough of the bandits as we went to make a difference. But, the game kept rolling. We get to the stronghouse, everyone piles out of the coach, and a classic shootout starts.

The bandits win in the end but such fun was had for the losing side. The whole thing played out like a classic western movie. There were instances where the rules were fudged to make things move better but never in way that hurt any player or the play. Great game put on by a great group.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

The best is hard to say. I've been in a lot of really fun games. Probably the best overall was a goofy game where it was the townfolk of Mayberry in the 1950s vs an Alien Invasion. The alien goal was to steal Aunt Bea and her pies to take back to their homeworld. This was a Little Wars game years back.

As the townsfolk, we didn't know the alien goal, only that we had to repel them within so many turns or the army would blow up the town to stop the Aliens.

We had Barney with a revolver and just a single bullet and Gomer and Opie and the whole gang. There must have been 12 people playing, but the GM kept everything just swimming along so that you never felt like you were sitting around waiting. So much fun. We stopped the aliens just at their flying saucer entrance ramp as they were trying to carry Aunt Bea away.

That one really sticks in my mind.

Another was a Uncle Duke spectacular using WAB rules set in ancient Egypt with thousands of figs on the table. We were divided into little battles all making up the big battle so it zipped along despite there being 20 or so players total. The most amazing moment was when the guy who played an ally on my flank fired off 60 bow shots (I don't recall the exact details, I just knew he had to role something like 120 times) and missed with every single shot. His dice were not cooperating that day. I saw the rolls and it was the most epic dice fail I've ever seen.

Mostly, though, it was the games were there was fun being had and smiles on faces as the game zipped along nicely.

CSherrange04 May 2018 11:42 a.m. PST

If your rules cant be fit onto no more than 4 sheets of paper, don't run it or else advertise in the program that you must have experience with the ruleset.

My fave was a King Kong game a few Historicons ago, where players split up and controlled Kong island, film crews, and Ann Darrow.

Rules fit on a single 8x10 and could've gone on an index card. Man was that great fun.

wargamingUSA04 May 2018 12:18 p.m. PST

Played in a 28mm FIW-era game put on by Brian Whitaker some years ago at one of the HMGS-E cons. My pal, Mike the Enforcer, and I were two of four Indian players facing off against, IIRC, three colonists-militia.

Mike and I teamed up, stole booty, killed, scalped and eluded the militia and other Indians and jumped in our canoes to escape and win the game. So we went and bought ourselves a beer.

Basically… a steal the pig fiasco but no Vikings or other ancient culprits. Most fun I've ever had in a convention game and will never forget it.

dapeters04 May 2018 12:22 p.m. PST

Any game where I have enjoy other the folks playing in the game. At one Historicon my friend and I arrived at a game with a draft beer from the bar. The GM saw this and said that there was a two drink limit. We said we were fine with it, and the GM pulled out a bottle of Jägermeister and a shot glass.

Jozis Tin Man Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 12:29 p.m. PST

A Godzilla versus Mecha-godzilla game at Millennium con in Austin in the early 2000's. Matrix game rules, paper buildings that got crushed as they were destroyed, and I played the University scientists trying to identify Godzilla's weaknesses while not being crushed…

Gone Fishing04 May 2018 12:42 p.m. PST

All these sound good, but I'd give my right arm to have been in either that canoe game or the alien abduction attempt of Aunt Bea and her pies. I'm smiling just thinking about both of them…

Grumble8710604 May 2018 1:54 p.m. PST

The best game I played in was at Historicon in the early-to-mid 00's, a huge Command Decision North Africa scenario. It was loosely based on either Crusader or Gazala -- anyway, battles around Tobruk and the border. I can't remember which one, because I was way over in a corner leading a Gurkha battalion so didn't see a lot of armor, just some PzKw III's and infantry tanks.

There were GM's and sub-GM's and dozens of players. I had always wanted to run either Crusader or Gazala as a campaign game, and so apparently had Frank. So he got to run something like a campaign game, but all at once, and I got to see it and -- maybe -- get it out of my system.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 2:59 p.m. PST

3). Have a compete players aid card for everyone. Make sure the complete turn sequence is on it.
3a) Follow the turn sequence.
3b) Seriously, follow the turn sequence.
6. The GM should not have an agenda to force the action the way he thinks it should go.
Unless the game is cooperative (all players vs. the GM), in which case manipulating the course of the game is actually a really good idea.

- Ix

PS: 3c) Please follow the turn sequence.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 2:59 p.m. PST

It's hard for me to cite a "best" game, but by far some of my favorite gaming experiences were the Midnight Massacre games at Historicon. I was pleasantly surprised that liquor could be a successful game mechanic, rather than the ruin of the game. Those games were more fun than a busy craps table during a long run.

- Ix

T Corret Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 3:12 p.m. PST

A tie for best. A Konigskreig 15mm SYW massive Prussian-Austian game at an early Havoc. The figures were beautiful and the players pleasant and engaged. I even learned the advantage of hoarding movement chits to crush the poor Austrians! The second was a Pacificon Chef d'Battalion game run by Scotty Bowden himself. I had a Young Guard regiment with attached Genie, and blew through Ligny taking out a Landwehr battalion, a road-marching Reserve regiment, and panted to a halt at a stream right in front of an artillery battery. Even worse, my movement was so quick, no other French player knew what had happened. Glory, then death.

21eRegt04 May 2018 5:43 p.m. PST

Red Baron at little Wars. I like to try what are for me new rules. The actual game was just good/okay, but it started a love affair with RB that lasted 20 years.

Katzbalger04 May 2018 6:01 p.m. PST

Historicon many years ago--it was a Pedicarus Alive or Raisuli Dead scenario played with (IIRC) Soldiers Companion rules. I was the German commander. Fun game, most played sort of in character, and it ran relatively quickly, with everyone getting their shots in.


brucka04 May 2018 6:08 p.m. PST

Jim P's SYW games at Little Wars. Rules on one sheet. Always fun and moving along.

Brent's Impetus games at Little Wars.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2018 8:15 p.m. PST

Lots of games. The critical things were
1. I knew the rules.
2. My decisions mattered.
3. The game kept moving.

Four pages of rules is an absolute max. One sheet is what you're really looking for.

nevinsrip05 May 2018 1:22 a.m. PST

"I don't game but, I've been to a dozen or so Historicon's [sic]" I find this a rather odd statement."
Why? Does everyone who goes to a convention play in a game?
Is it compulsory?
I went to Historicon to meet with friends in the hobby, to buy figures and terrain, to see the games and to eat at Good and Plenty. I went the year Hal MWAN was honored, because I wanted to finally meet Hal in person after years of correspondance. Reason enough to my mind.

I'm a figure collector and diorama maker. I love the flea markets, where I always spent way too much. But most of all, I treasure the hours that I spent with Duke Siefried.
Duke taught me a lot about terrain and even gave me the recipe for Sceano-Squares.

I think that it's odd that you feel that only people who game should attend conventions. More people collect and paint figures, than actually use them in a game, I believe.

Anyway, it's called the MINIATURES page for a reason.
Not the WARGAMERS page.

"but what, nevinsrip, puts you off about actually playing?"

Jeff, It's just not for me. I don't care to take the time to learn the rules and I'm not really a games player. I like the visual aspect of toy soldier collecting and have zero interest in slogging through pages and pages of rules.
If I want to roll dice, I'll play Craps.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 7:46 a.m. PST

Anyway, it's called the MINIATURES page for a reason.
Not the WARGAMERS page.

To be fair, you were talking about Historicon, which is a wargaming convention. But no, playing is not compulsory wink

By the way, I'm a customer, and a very happy one.

nevinsrip05 May 2018 10:04 a.m. PST

"By the way, I'm a customer, and a very happy one."

Glad to hear that!

Wargames Convention is really a generic term. Of course there are games, but there is also a wide variety of associated activities.
Vendors Hall….no games there.
Flea Market…..same
Guest Lectures…ditto
Painting Clinics….nope
Meeting people that you know from correspondence, but have never met face to face.

And lots of other activities that don't include games.

The term itself "Wargames" has grown to include figure painters/collectors, diorama makers, history buffs and
several others.
If you look on TMP, how many posts actually show games?

I just don't think that you have to be involved in gaming to go to a convention. I listed my reasons for attending.
Should I have stayed home because I didn't play in a game?

Grumble8710605 May 2018 10:32 a.m. PST

Should I have stayed home because I didn't play in a game?

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Events Desk at Cold Wars 2018 sending volunteers (including me) around the convention area to check in with the various games being run each hour.

A GM who had had only one player sign up for his game jokingly asked me whether he would be forbidden to run any more games at HMGS conventions. My response was "of course".

Nevinsrip, I'll broaden that to say, "If you're not going to play a game, you're forbidden to come." evil grin

Oh, wait -- these rules would have disqualified me from attending CW 18 -- twice over. I have run more than one game where only one player signed up, and even if I could have weaseled my way past that, for CW 18 I volunteered at the Events desk and ran a game but didn't play in any.

Grumble8710605 May 2018 10:41 a.m. PST

I played a Johnny Reb game with John Hill probably 30 years ago.

Another great game I played in -- not great for the usual reasons but more of a learning experience -- was a Johnny Reb battle. I was assigned to attack the troops of a player who had green troops armed with smoothbore muskets. "This will be easy."

A few turns later I was reeling in defeat. Some time after that, I learned the name of the guy running the green troops: P.J. O'Neill. 'Nuff said. grin

Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 6:12 p.m. PST

‘I've always thought there were at least three hobbies combined into the larger miniature wargamming hobby. 1. The guy who really enjoys playing. 2. The guy who enjoys the study and reasearch and probably puts on games for others to enjoy. 3. The guy who likes to paint. I have to admit that of the three, I enjoy the playing least. I have been to most of the Eastern conventions over the years, and there were quite a few in which I didn't play a single game. Didn't miss it either. However, I really enjoyed the camaraderie, watching the games, and attacking the dealer halls.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2018 6:16 p.m. PST

Too many to remember all of them. Terrific games of Palo Alto and Reseca de la Palma hosted by Bob Marshall. A 55 Days at Peking by Rich Hasenauer, Mike Montemarano and group of other guys. 2nd El Teb by Larry Brom. A 25mm Napoleonic courier game by Chuck Scholti. And a ton of others.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 6:30 a.m. PST

1. The guy who really enjoys playing. 2. The guy who enjoys the study and research and probably puts on games for others to enjoy. 3. The guy who likes to paint.

Agreed. I would guess most of us are some combination of all three. I know some people who absolutely hate painting and send everything to painting services. Then there are some, like nevinsrip, who are the opposite. It's a big hobby and there is room for all.

Now how many became hobbyist #2 because they were frustrated with just being hobbyist #1? I know I was. No one putting on a Aztecs vs Conquistadors game? Then I better do it myself.

Sorry for the derail.

corzin06 May 2018 8:17 a.m. PST

when i think back to the games i played and always had fun at and therefor what i call a great convention game…Roman Circus 2 chariot racing . i remember going to a museum in Rome and they had a model of a circus, and i thought…I raced chariots in a better looking stadium…

Dynaman878906 May 2018 7:44 p.m. PST

For me it was a game of Fireball Forward. I had the two 17lber guns on my side while others had other troops. Faced by 4 Tigers and a group of other German armor. First shot with 17 lber took out one Tiger and his buddy failed morale and ran. Second 17 lber fired at one tank from the other group of 2 killed it – his buddy also ran. Game over in two shots. The guys NOT running the Tigers in that game knew sending them out front was a bad idea but the Tiger players didn't listen.

ubercommando12 May 2018 9:32 a.m. PST

Staines Wargamers Schweinfurt game. It was a WW2 aerial combat game where you were a Luftwaffe fighter trying to shoot down as many B-17 bombers who were in a box formation. Good but simple game mechanics, it made you think about tactics and it was in a league format so you could go back multiple times to see if you could improve your score.

Rev Zoom25 May 2018 8:19 a.m. PST

Historicon a few years ago I was in a HUGE Pirates game. Spread over 5 tables. I think. Beautiful ships and scenery, easy rules and just a blast to play. I haven't had so much fun or laughed so hard in many a day. Even though there ware lots of players, there were lots of assistant GMs and the rules were simple. Sure wish they would come back to another Historicon.

mindenbrush27 May 2018 3:08 p.m. PST

Carnage & Glory games run by David Bonk and Nigel Marsh etc.
Well laid out games, good looking figures and terrain plus the unknown state of your troops makes you think about them rather than just rolling a die.
I run games at Historicon and have run games at Cold Wars in the past – get players into action as soon as possible, keep it light hearted and know your rules!

steve186528 May 2018 4:04 p.m. PST

I played in a game of Romans VS druids isle of Man. I was the only person who was to play Druids. luckily for me another player came to my aid. We won. The GM who club had played this game many time said this was the first time the Romans had lost so badly.

Meveeder29 May 2018 10:37 a.m. PST

Any game the Veeder boys have ever run!!!!!

no, but seriously…

There was a gentleman from South Carolina with a Scotish last name that ran 28mm French and Indian skirmish games. He had a beard and his son was also involved in running the games. The first year Historicon was at Lancaster, they built a gorgeous palisade fort using nails!!!! They were entertaining hosts and made sure everyone was included. They made my first convention game a memorable event when I first attended Historicon in Harrisburg as a teenager. I was hooked! They went out of their way to make sure everyone was having a great time, win or lose. I try to make that happen every time I run a game.

Old Wolfman21 Jun 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

Team Yankee at CincyCon last March,and Aerodrome at GenCon 2016,CincyCon,ATC,at numerous times.

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