Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gen Con Review (Long and picture heavy)

Well, I am feeling better but I am still fighting the chest congestion coughs.  I am well enough to type up a report on Gen Con, but I am still not up to reading TFL’s Chain of Command as I still drift off due to the cough medicine.

Anyway, Gen Con…oh, my love hate relationship with Gen Con.  I have been a RPG’er for longer than a miniature gamer, but only by a year or two more.  While I enjoy RPGing with my group of 27 years, it still is not my “thing”, which is miniature gaming, specifically historical or semi-historical.  So Gen Con is not really my ideal gaming convention, but it where I can get in a couple of horror RPGs (my RPG does not like that genre), get to sit in some seminars for RPG companies that I like, and get in a game from the National Security Decision Making Game (NSDMG) group (which are always a blast!)  But my hate of Gen Con is the crowds (I hate crowds, not a phobia, just hate being around that many people and I heard the estimate was about 40,000+ people), the cost, and the flakes…oh, and the crowds of flakes!  OK, I know that I am not “normal” by being a gamer, but I still try to be semi-normal in appearance and manners…or maybe it is just me being jealous that I am too self conscience of my social standing that I can’t be as free spirit like them.

So, as I mention in the earlier entry that this was the third time for me going to Gen Con: 1991, 2003, and now 2013.  As before, I enjoyed parts of it, but in the end I still didn’t feel like it was worth doing on a more regular basis.  Now, part of this might because I did get a case of an upset stomach for two days (Friday & Saturday) which meant me missing some of the seminars I was going to; also the unbelievable amount of road construction in Illinois and Indiana that meant me missing my first game on Wednesday night; and running into a crazy ex-girlfriend on Saturday (and I mean crazy).   Plus, I really didn’t find much in the dealers area of interest (keep in mind, I have a very narrow field of interest when it comes to RPGs) or any really great sales.  But I am not going to let those taint some of the fun stuff/games that happen which I will type about next.

So, what I did get to do was get in four RPG games:  Two Call of Cthulhu games, one horror game, and one of the NSDMG games; five seminars; and one board game.  I was scheduled for more things, but the road construction and the upset stomach prevented the others.  In reverse order I talk a bit about them below.

The board game was “Arkham Horror” by Fantasy Flight Games.  It was the first time that I ever played it and had quite some fun with it.  The game is basically cooperative game between the players to stop the elder gods from opening enough Other World gates and taking over the world in the world of H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham and his Cthulhu Mythos.  It helped that of the six players, two where fairly familiar with the rules and helped the remaining four of us.  We won, barely!  My poor character, Joe Diamond, the Private Investigator, was shoved through several gates and forced to read the “King in Yellow” multiple times!  If you played the game before, the PI character is not the book savvy of the characters, but I had a string of luck with rolling sixes in the game.  That also meant that at the end of the game, I was the only one of the six players that still had all of his original sanity (well, one point left) and health!  I like the fact that it is a cooperative game and the horrors are all pre-programmed so it can easily be a solitaire game as well.

Of the seminars, two were from various RPG companies, another two were from the NSDMG about the Cuba Missiles Crisis, and the last one was on how to make your own podcast.  I am going to talk about the podcasting one first.  Don’t think that means that you will be hearing my voice any time soon!  There is a lot of work and $$$ involved doing a podcast.  I am just interested in the “how-to” part of it.  I think that comes from my interest in old-time radio plays and the various podcasts that I listen to now.  I don’t think that I have anything that interesting to say on a regular basis to create a podcast.  But I have thought about reading short stories that are public domain or doing a history podcast.  But so far, I have kept my feet solidly on the ground and said no.

The two seminars from the RPG companies were on Pelgrane Press’ Gumshoe system and Pinnacle Entertainment’s Savage Worlds system.  I have never played the Pelgrane’s Gumshoe system but heard some interesting things on it.  This seminar was more about how the system works and questions about the system.  After that seminar, I am very interested in trying it a couple of times.  It is more about resource management vs. skill rolls.  If you are a skilled investigator, you will find the documents, but you must determine how much time you will spend towards looking for it.  Combat is sort of different, but sounds tight.  The Savage Worlds seminar was more about what is up and coming to be release, including third party companies.  I really like Savage Worlds as a RPG system, so I am looking forward to a lot of the stuff that is coming up.  There will be several Savage World Kickstarters coming up soon, besides the Weird War Rome that is going on now (link).  There is also several novels coming out based on the various Savage World settings written by New York best sellers!  The first two of six set in the Weird War Rome setting are available now and the next six will be based in “Necessary Evil” setting. 

The final two seminars were part of the NSDMG program and ties into the RPG game that I did with them.  So I will discuss all three now.  This year, NSDMG theme was the Cuban Missiles Crisis.  All of the seminars were about the Cold War in the late 50’s or early 60’s or about the Cuban Missiles Crisis specifically.  I was not able to attend all of the seminars, but did make it to the two that really wanted to be in on: An analysis of what motivated the participants leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis; and the order of battle for the invasion plan against Cuba during the Crisis.   Both were very informative now I have a couple of books on queue to buy and read.  Now on the RPG game.  While it is called an RPG game, it really is not like what most people think of being an RPG.  Basically, you give a role with objectives to meet.  You must argue out you points (much like a debating club) and vote on an action that the group will do.  All a while, the NSDMG staff are throwing more events into the mix that means that your previous arguments maybe less effective or distract your focus.  They ran several different games and I was in the Cuban leadership one.  My role was the hardest to win and needless to say, I lost in all three objectives.  I was given the role of Major Padra (spelling? – I forgot to write it down), the lead of the Cuban Military of the Interior (the Air Force, Navy, and the 6000 man internal security forces).  Basically, I was the Cuban opposite of the US’ General Curtis LeMay.   My main goals was to prevent the USSR troops from leaving Cuba, prevent the nuclear warheads from leaving Cuba, and provoke the US in using nuclear warheads on Cuba (!!!!!) to show how evil and corrupt of a people that they were. Throughout the arguments, I was carrying on secret notes to the players running ‘Che’ Guevara and Raul Castro.  I had both of them on my side to get enough of a block to vote in flavor of shooting down the US low level recon flight, isolating Guantanamo, and shooting down any transport planes into Guantanamo.  I had both of them on my side, in secret, to seize the nuclear weapons to prevent them from leaving Cuba, but everyone was getting distracted to actually have the vote so my security troops could “protect” them from CIA-backed rebel attacks.  I almost had the player Raul Castro on my side to overthrow his brother, Fidel.  But she played the part of his brotherly loyalty too well.  Oh well.  It really was worth the expression on the kid’s face that was playing Fidel at the end of the game when he realized that I almost had a majority to remove him from power and replace him with Raul, all a while I was sitting right next to him.

The two Call of Cthulhu games were part of the Kickstarters for Chaosium.  I enjoyed them both greatly, one my luck will not hold out for me and the in the other my luck lasted right up to the end.  The final horror RPG was also rather enjoyable and is a homebrew rules heavily tied to the original Deadlands system.  My die was hot in that game!  The very first skill test for the game by me on a d8, which you reroll every time you max out on the die, was 39!  I was playing Carl Kolchak from the Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV show and I am sure Darren McGavin would have been happy with my portrayal of him.

Now on to the pictures from Gen Con!
 Looking out over the masses!
 Looking over the masses!
 In the midst of the masses!
 Even the local police are in the spirit!
A scene from Cthulhu's Horror on the Orient Express game
 Another scene from the Horror on the Orient Express game where the players had to enter into an actual Pullman's car!
 And what was in the Pullman's car awaiting them! 
...And now the purchases!
 These were actually free as part of my Kickstarter games.  I like the new 7th Ed rules from what I saw.
 I saw this T-shirt and it made me smile.
More books for the bookshelves!  
Two favorite movies, March or Die and Under the Rainbow so I can replace the VHS tapes now.  I have heard many good things about Dien Bien Phu, so I am looking forward to see it.
Dice, because you never can have enough of them!  The top two were free dice.  I got one more free dice, but I forgot to put it in the picture.
I did buy some Savage Worlds' Deadland Noir stuff (maps, bennies, cards, but I deleted the picture by mistake and will not be home again for a few weeks.
...And finally, I found a copy of the ultimate miniature rules set and I am getting rid of all of my other ones...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

GenCon or bust! And a bit of basement/game area update

Well, I am off to Gen Con Indy tomorrow morning with one of my RPG friends.  I was not sure if I was going to go as my vehicle took a crap a couple of days before my flight home for the the trip to Indy.  I was able to get a lift to the airport (it is a five hour round trip for the individual that drove me, so I could just get anyone to give me a lift.)  Anyway, I made it back and now I just finished backing for the trip.

Gen Con and I have a love/hate relationship.  Generally, I hate it - the crowds, the unwashed masses, not my favorite gaming (I prefer semi-historical wargaming), and generally too costly.  But I always find something that I really loved from my experience.  Unfortunately, it is generally not that many good things to make me want to make regular attendance to it.  This is the third time I have went.  I went once in 1991, then again in 2003.  So it is about every 10 years that I make this trip.  Last time, I was in a great RPG scenario based on John Carpenter's The Thing and ran into my old college roommate's ex-girlfriend who married a cartoonist - she was the last person I would have ever thought that would had anything to do with a geek.

Hopefully, I will have some good experiences again this year.

And as a side note, I got two more shelves units up in the basement, but I am waiting to put stuff on them as I need to have someone do some electrical wiring on the wall (I have to have a licensed electrician to install it, otherwise the city will fine me and make me take it out if I ever sell the house.)  Also, I bought two 4'x2' tables to replace my 6'x2-1/2' tables in the gaming area.  With the shelves, there would be no way around the bigger tables.  As it is, I now have 28" along the two narrow sides of the table space with the smaller tables.

I am hoping to run a game in late Sept., maybe the try of TFL's Chain of Command for my Anarchy in the UK project.  

Be seeing you


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Congo Update: How I got “Mad” Mike Hoare to read me a story!

Well, I got a pleasant surprise earlier this week when I was looking for Kindle books on the Congo Conflict and noticed that there was an audiobook of one of “Mad” Mike Hoare’s books.  After checking a little further, I found that not only was the audiobook was an unabridged version, but it was read by “Mad” Mike himself!  Then the topping on the cake is that there is a total of six unabridged audiobooks read by Mike Hoare.  I have ordered four of the five, but have not listened to them yet.  I am not too sure how he will sound as he is 92 or 93 now and I am guessing that he only did this a couple of years ago at most.

Anyway, if you can get Amazon’s (US) sister company,, you can download them at a fairly reason price at $4.95 each.  I am not sure if you can get them outside of the US, but I bet so.

The audiobooks available are listed below with a brief description from the Amazon site:

Congo Mercenary A book in which the author, Colonel Mike Hoare, tells of his part as a mercenary in the armed rebellion in the Congo in 1964. The book is intended as an accurate account of the military response to the rebellion.

Congo Warriors - Col. Mike Hoare's favorite book consisting of 21 short stories, giving new insight into the minds and hearts of the adventurers who became mercenary soldiers. It captures the spirit of mercenary soldiering.

The Road to Kalamata - Col. Mike Hoare describes how his 4 Commando supported Moise Tshombe's breakaway state of Katanga against both the UN forces, and the Baluba tribesmen who used poison arrows, pit traps, marijuana, spells, jungle drums...and even reported to ritual torture and cannibalism.

The Seychelles Affair - Col. Mike Hoare tells how he planned to overthrow the militant socialist government of the Seychelles, what went wrong at Mahé airport, and of his trial and imprisonment in South African jails.

Mike Hoare’s Adventures in Africa - Go with Mike on foot across Basutoland; by motorbike from Cape Town to Cairo; to sea in a 36-foot ketch; into the Kalahari desert - and more. In the final chapter he describes how he and his wife move to an Edenic island in the Okovanga delta, and the terrible and wonderful events that took place there.

Three Years with Sylvia - Mike and his family sail the Western Mediterranean in a 72-foot yacht - a converted 100 ton Baltic Trader. The yachting anecdotes bring out the Irish in him.