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"Convention selection advice" Topic

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Areas of Interest


924 hits since 13 Nov 2018
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Wooly Bugger13 Nov 2018 5:30 p.m. PST

As a new member on TMP I thought I'd ask the group for some suggestions. Myself and a few friends I game with up in Canada are thinking of going to "a big US wargaming conference." We haven't decided on which one or where but we likely would have to fly so it doesn't really matter too much where in the USA it would be. Also we are planning for the future so any time in the next year or so is fine (so if we just missed your favourite conference next year would work too). Lastly, we mostly game miniature games so we are looking for a conference that does mostly miniatures (not board or card games).

So… give me your suggestions and reasons why if you don't mind!

Thank you!

Personal logo Dervel Supporting Member of TMP Fezian13 Nov 2018 6:48 p.m. PST

Sort of depends on what you want to play but the ones below are all miniatures oriented and probably some of the biggest.

Historicon, Cold Wars, and Fall In are some of the largest with the biggest miniatures oriented shopping.

All three are in the Lancaster PA area. A good selection of Historical games, but plenty of SciFi and Fantasy as well.

Little Wars in the Chicago area is smaller, but an excellent selection of games and shopping. Similar mix to the big three mentioned above.

Adepticon (also Chicago) is more tournament oriented with a large selection of GW as well as Warlord sponsored tournaments. This is the only one I mention that I have not attended, but many of my friends do and go there specifically to play in the tournaments.

masm611013 Nov 2018 7:07 p.m. PST

Where in Canada?

If near Montreal I would recommend Hazzah in Maine.
It will be about a 5 hour drive.

It is not a "big" show compared to the national ones, but for a regional one it is growing.


Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2018 1:55 p.m. PST

Wooly, I would fly in a go to Historicon at the Lancaster Convention Center in 2019. In this part of the world it is the biggest convention, with the most games and the most vendors. Plus it's in a nice venue.

Then spend some time to visit Gettysburg. That would make a great trip.

From a fellow Canadian (albeit from Ontario).

Walking Sailor15 Nov 2018 8:34 a.m. PST

Hurricon (and Recon) by HMGS South in Orlando. Orlando is a good airport and … DISNEY! link

Wooly Bugger15 Nov 2018 3:19 p.m. PST

Sorry for the slow reply. I'm a new member and the site let me post my initial forum discussion but then I couldn't respond initially for a few days.

All great ideas.

I'm in Calgary so about three hours drive north of Montana.

I've been looking at Historicon and some of the other HMGS conferences but frankly all the comments about the Host site threw me off initially. I understand Historicon this summer will be in a new site though. Has anyone seen or been to the new location? Also would you fly into Baltimore or Philadelphia and drive from there for Lancaster?

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2018 5:53 a.m. PST


Here is the website for the new site. The hotel is currently totally booked but I believe new rooms may open up. as you can see the venue is quite a step up from the Host. Believe it or not it is also about $5 USD cheaper per night. Regardless, there are many hotels in the area.


As for airports, my friend flies in from Chicago and lands at the Lancaster airport. Maybe you can arrange something similar from Calgary.

holien16 Nov 2018 8:18 a.m. PST

I fly over from the UK for HCon and imo it is the best gaming event for historical miniatures in the world.

Next year the venue is Not the Host so I would really recommend it. Even if it was the Host I would still go but stay at another hotel near by. The Host is a dump but if you are just playing a game it is not really an issue. (Bar people with mobility issues – I would not go if I had any problems as the place is a mare…)

Also if they do hold it at the Host again by then surely the work to update it will be completed…

KPinder16 Nov 2018 8:48 a.m. PST

I'm gonna go out on a bit of a limb here, but I'd suggest Lancaster's HMGS Cold Wars, this coming March, *IF* you can cobble together the travel plans affordably, given the short notice.

I'll admit, the condition of the Host this past show left me with my jaw hanging most of the weekend, but on balance, it'd likely be the best of the 2019 HMGS east coast options.

2019's Historicon and Fall In are both at venues which we have either never used, or have not used in years. For all its' not inconsiderable warts, The Host is a known quantity. I've heard good things about Little Wars, and I've never been there, but I think it's a bit smaller than the east coast cons.

I'd plan to stay at a close by hotel, not at the Host, if it can be avoided. There are close to 700 rooms to choose from within .3 miles. Amazingly, there are two hotels that are more convenient to the vendor area than the Host is. There is a third, but it has an iffy, rep, and is apparently now also remodeling. This will also avoid the parking issues the Host currently has. Contact several hotels and price shop. Be sure to mention you are attending the con as special rates may apply.

Plan to eat off site unless Coffee.Co. is handling the food again. I didn't use them, but the consensus from Fall In was they had their crap wired together pretty tight. There are also plenty of off site food sources to choose from within walking distance.

Watch the weather forecasts and pack accordingly. It could be cold and snowy or mild and spring-like. It could pour down rain. March in southern Pennsylvania is a total crap shoot.

The HMGS cons are 90% miniatures. You'll see some card and board games being played, but these are mostly after hours pick up games. HMGS cons are 60-75% historical with the rest being fantasy, sci-fi, and pulp.

Watch the HMGS website for the Preliminary Events List (PEL) and sign up for some games when you preregister. Be sure to prereg. You don't want to have to waste time in a line when you get there.

Try not to soil your BVD's when you see the vendor area for the first time. It's not a snazzy as the UK cons, but you get 3 days to shop, not 8 hours. It can be pretty overwhelming.

You can get a lot of guidance and info by searching in here for threads about the east coast cons, especially those asking for advice. There are TONS of threads containing platinum mines of useful info on how to get the most out of a con weekend.

Consider coming early or staying over to do some histo-tourism. You'll be 90 minutes from Gettysburg, which will put you 60 minutes from Antietam. You'll be 60 minutes from Valley Forge. Something to think about.

I drive, so I can offer no useful guidance about where to fly into. Sorry.

Hope this proves to be of some use.


capncarp16 Nov 2018 10:34 a.m. PST

If you are flying in, the closest major airport is Harrisburg International Airport (HIA), which is about 30 miles northwest of Lancaster and has car-rental services adjoining.
Amtrak passenger rail goes from Middletown (HIA is actually located in Middletown, PA) to Lancaster, but getting from the terminal to the station may be accomplished by taxi.
Farther afield, BWI is about an hour(ish) south of Lancaster via Interstate 83/US Rte 30 East.
Philadelphia International Airport is about an hour(ish) east of Lancaster, with traffic being a wildly varying time-factor.
Or, buy a cheap car an road-trip it. Discard car at end of adventure. ;D
Just for gits and shiggles, I checked the costs of an economy round trip from Calgary to HIA leaving 3/11/19 returning 3/18/19 (Cold Wars) and the best ticket price is United Airlines for about $500 USD USD.

The Bibliophile Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2018 12:11 p.m. PST

I suggest avoiding coming for Cold Wars and wait until Historicon. The location where Cold Wars is to be held, the Lancaster Host Resort, is miserable. I was embarrassed when I brought a friend with me to Historicon last summer who had never been to a wargaming convention before. Fun games, good people, ridiculously bad venue. If somebody said "Hey join me at the premiere wargaming convention in America" and then took me to the Host, I would be profoundly disappointed.

KPinder16 Nov 2018 1:31 p.m. PST


I'd agree, but there are only 2 hotels within easy walking distance of the HCon venue; The Marriott and the Hotel Lancaster. They are full, and unless the Marriott completes their planned added bank of rooms in time, that's it. The next hotels are .9 and 1.3 miles out and they only add 130 odd rooms. (40% of the capacity of the Host.) Beyond that and you're talking commuting into a metro area where there will inevitably be competition for the available parking spaces.

I'd hate to have a bunch of guys come 3700 miles just to get jammed up 15 blocks from the venue.

I have high hopes that the downtown site pans out. If there ends up being a snag, I fear it's going to be getting the attendees the last few blocks/miles from their rooms to the con without having them circling like vultures trying to find someplace to park.

I don't really know what Lancaster downtown parking is like in summer. There could be plenty. I could be all wrong. If so, no one will be better pleased than I.

Perhaps someone who lives in Lancaster could swing by the 2 city lots associated with the two closest hotels in the AM this Thursday thru Sunday to give some scouting 411.

Wooly Bugger16 Nov 2018 1:32 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the advice. On a convention specific question what is the main difference between Historicon, Fall In, and Cold Wars (other than the obvious times of year and that they now will be in different locations)? Is there a difference to the style of games, number of games, etc…

My understanding is Historicon is the biggest and Fall In the smallest but am I missing something else in the differences?

Thank you for all the help!

KPinder16 Nov 2018 1:49 p.m. PST

Once upon a time Historicon was substantially larger than its' two brethren. (3000+ people) It ran onto some hard times and is now comparable in size to Cold Wars. Fall in has always been the smallest. HCon and COld Wars should draw around 2500. Fall In has been running between 1500 and 2000.

It's hard to generalize about game styles. HCon used to boast some pretty mega games, tho nowadays you may see one at any of the cons. Of course more attendees usually translates into more games. Some shows have seemed to be Napoleonic heavy. Some have seemed ACW heavy. It varies. Historical purists will always complain there is too much fantasy/sci-fi. There are big tournaments devoted to popular game systems at all the cons.

The size of the Host Expo has sort of choked off the number of vendors we can have. It may well be that the next HCon, at the larger convention center, the increase in space may enable a big increase in the number of exhibitors. We'll have to see.

Visit the HMGS website for Fall In. Click on Attendee info, then click Exhibitors. It will provide a list and a map of who was at Fall In last week. There is a lot of overlap in vendors in attendance from one show to the next.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2018 8:08 p.m. PST

Sorry Wooly, when said Lancaster Airport, I actually meant HIA, which is in Middletown PA. It's about 60km away.

I'd still recommend Historicon.

War Scorpio16 Nov 2018 8:46 p.m. PST

From a distance I'd pick Historicon in Downtown Lancaster. Booked room the day they went on sale so I was lucky. There are other hotels nearby. Should be awesome selection of games. Longest running covered farmers market next door, pubs, breweries, etc. After years on the 30 "strip" I'm looking forward to a city experience.

Cold Wars could be iffy, but as a local I'm attending.

capncarp17 Nov 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

Bowman: I had thought you were originally referring to the "puddle-jumper" Lancaster Airport, which is about 3 miles north of Rt 30 on Rt 501 (Lititz Pike).
Cold Wars would make somebody from the Great White North feel a bit at home, what with the chance of snow, but that would also hamper tourist opportunities (Gettysburg, Antietam, etc.)
Historicon, being in July, might indeed be a better vacation-starter, with swanning off to historical sites being a bit more convenient in Pennsylvania's sticky, muggy summers.
As for Cold Wars, since I am (relatively) a local to the Host, I'm going to ride the old girl down in what may be her last gasp as an HMGS site.
Hmmmm…viking funeral in the indoor pool….?

Tumbleweed Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2018 12:05 p.m. PST


If you're flying in from London, try Wow Airlines from Gatwick to Baltimore (with one stop in Iceland). Wow was recently bought out by Icelandic Air but is still very inexpensive.


I second all of KPinder's comments but one. Although I also prefer Cold Wars and will attend as a dealer (The Viking Forge) I would recommend that you attend Historicon. That convention gets a bigger turnout of major dealers like GHQ and has historically offered more in the way of big, showy games. Also, there is more likelihood of a weather disruption in Calgary and Lancaster in March.

If you are going to rent a car, the best deal is Alamo. They usually have the lowest rates of the majors and will often give you a free upgrade if one is available.

holien18 Nov 2018 2:37 p.m. PST

Thanks Tumbleweed I am tied to BA with airmiles but I have looked at WoW and at some point when my finances go down hill (after Brexit no doubt) I might well use them to get my American gaming fix….

I am hoping downtown Lancaster works out, but I do realize that the lack of local hotels in walking distance is a big concern for people. Let's see if it is less of an issue than the FCC and the i-95 parking lot…

capncarp19 Nov 2018 11:03 a.m. PST

I-95 parking lot….
I think we dodged a bullet, what with Amazon building its HQ2 in Crystal City: umpty-thousand more commuters on the Capital Beltway. So there would be several 1-95 parking lots likely.

Personal logo vonLoudon Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2018 2:54 p.m. PST

I met some Canadian couples in my hotel in Lancaster while checking in for Fall In. They were wearing the red poppies on their clothing. We talked a little about that and I learned they were from Canada and on their way back. They stopped for the Christmas play at the Lancaster musical theater venue nearby. Nice folks. So y'all come on down.

Grumble8710621 Nov 2018 9:09 p.m. PST

On a convention specific question what is the main difference between Historicon, Fall In, and Cold Wars (other than the obvious times of year and that they now will be in different locations)? Is there a difference to the style of games, number of games, etc…

My understanding is Historicon is the biggest and Fall In the smallest but am I missing something else in the differences?

One other important difference that I don't believe anyone has mentioned thus far is that Historicon is Thursday, Friday and Saturday (and Sunday morning, sort of) while both Fall-In! and Cold Wars are Friday and Saturday (and Sunday sort of). So you get an extra day with Historicon, which means more games, more time in the dealers hall, more flea markets, etc.

shthar25 Nov 2018 4:19 a.m. PST

Do Little Wars. Better hotel, better food, better airport.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2018 5:11 a.m. PST

Do Little Wars. Better hotel, better food, better airport.

Little Wars is a fine convention.

Hotel better than the Lancaster Marriot? That's debatable. Both suffer from no free wifi in the rooms and no free breakfasts. I stayed offsite where I got both. However, free parking gives an edge to Lombard.

Better food? Again debatable. Both have good dining options.

Better airport? O'Hare? You'll still be at the carousel waiting for your luggage while at Lancaster you're already in the cab whisking off to the hotel.

I'll still recommend Historicon in 19.

KPinder25 Nov 2018 11:43 a.m. PST

What is the average attendance at Little Wars?

rmcaras Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2018 6:01 p.m. PST

What is the average attendance at Little Wars?

I can't answer what the average attendance is, BUT Little Wars 2018 was reported to have:

"LW2018 has shown another increase of attendance, to
700," Their convention report indicates 36 vendors.

They have a very nice [format AND content] newsletter available on their website:

Given the first hand reports I've received from friends who have attended [yes the hotel is first rate – surprised they put up with gamers], I am planning on going in 2019. Its half the distance [for me] than Lancaster, later in the year [better weather] and seems to offer that CW does, scaled down of course. But it offers flea market, paint classes, etc.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2018 6:22 p.m. PST

That is a nice newsletter and I'm looking forward to going next year. Now is "Judge" HMGD-Midwest-speak for "GM"?

yes the hotel is first rate surprised they put up with gamers

Adepticon was held there for years.

KPinder25 Nov 2018 10:21 p.m. PST

Some years ago we had a Cold Wars at a country club just west of Baltimore. Talk about culture shock. Saturday in their formal dining room with people coming from the theater in their finest finery, and us, in our Blood Bowl T Shirts. It was a mistake they only made once.

capncarp26 Nov 2018 10:30 a.m. PST

Bowman: "Better airport? O'Hare? You'll still be at the carousel waiting for your luggage while at Lancaster you're already in the cab whisking off to the hotel."
Unless the cab gets behind an Amish buggy….

mindenbrush26 Nov 2018 7:47 p.m. PST

Historicon is where I would put my dollars, weather is better than Cold Wars or Fall In ;-)


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