Saturday, April 5, 2008

Little Wars 2008 Convention Report

Colin Petri demonstrating the famous Prussian dice stacking maneuver during our Seven Years War BAR game at Little Wars.

HMGS Midwest held its annual Little Wars convention this weekend (April 4th through 6th, 2008) at the Marriot Lincolnshire resort, just north of Chicago. This year's convention theme was "Artillery - King of Battles". There were approximately 200 game events and 42 dealers attending the convention, so this gave me plenty of opportunity to watch some innovative participation games and to spend a lot of money in the dealer area.

Among my shopping "finds" were some Black Scorpion 32mm Pirates and Royal Marines that will eventually become a part of Milady de Winter's band of henchmen and cut throats in the mid 18th Century. I also purchased a fair number of George Nafziger's studies on Napoleonic warfare to use in my development of a Napoleonic version of Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules. I also stocked up on weapons packs from RSM95 figures. RSM figures are THE figure range of choice for many of my Old School Wargaming compatriots.

RSM95 figures were sold at the Dayton Painting Consortium booth all day.

Sash & Sabre 40mm SYW Austrians were mighty tempting figures and reasonably priced by this particular dealer.

Portsmouth Miniatures was selling pre-painted Tall Ships suitable for 18th Century and Napoleonic naval warfare. This is a very attractive product, extremely durable and easy to assemble. I was tempted to purchase a fleet or two for out SYW campaign.

Without further ado, let's take a look at some of the games at Little Wars:

Greg Novak's Battle of New Orleans game showing the battlefield, and all of the morning fog, from the perspective of Andy Jackson's army.

Giant Zeppelin and other seacraft converge on the Antarctic in Mark Feldman and Mike Clarkons' game "Springtime in the Antarctic".

Who knew that there was a tropical jungle crawling with dinosaurs beyond the ice shelf of the Antarctic?

Pirate games were in abundance at Little Wars, arrgghh, matey. Who doesn't enjoy a little bit of buccaneering and treasure hunting?

The award for best use of artificial plastic plant scenery goes to the game shown above. The top picture shows a close up of one of the islands on the table.

This massive 25mm ship to ship Pirate game was run continuously throughout both days

The game judge looks the part with his sailor stripes.

World War II continues to be a popular theme at Little Wars and there were a number of nice looking games, including the Last Square's game (shown below) and a series of Flames of War games depicting scenarios from the Normandy campaign (Ste Mere Eglise, Pte du Hoc, Omaha Beach, Sword Beach, and Orne River Bridge).

The Last Square's WW2 game feature superb terrain and modeling, as shown in the two pictures above.

The team of Jeff Cohen, Mark Pawelski, John Reed, and Kevin Seward hosted 5 Normandy scenarios throughout Friday and Saturday. The group used Flames of War rules and each game featured excellent terrain that was a visual treat to behold. A couple of pictures are shown below:

Omaha Beach game using Flames of War rules. This was one of five scenarios hosted throughout both days.

Ste Mere Eglise, one of the Flames of War Normandy games in 15mm.

Aerodrome returns once again. In fact there were two different tables running the same system.

I have always thought that the WW1 dogfight game shown above is one of the more innovative games that I have ever scene. It has been a staple of Little Wars conventions. Each player has one plane and his own control panel. Little holes are drilled into the panel and you stick little ammo shells into the board to depict the amount of ammo that you have in your guns. The judges run this game numerous times throughout the day and it is popular with kids and adults alike.

Charge of the Light Brigade game hosted by Paul Petri and Brian Vizek. Bill Protz (center) leads the brigade into the Russian guns.

Paul Petri and Brian Vizek hosted an interesting scenario featuring the Hollywood version of the Charge of the Light Brigade. They even had Errol Flynn and Harry Flashman figures. The Russians received bonus points if they could pot old Errol or discombobulate old Flashy.

It just wouldn't be Little Wars without one of Uncle Duke's splendid games. This year he brought a medievil seige game and the usual assortment of lights, cameras and action.

Last Stand At Beaverton - alternative history game with US Marines defending Beaverton, Oregon from the invading Chinese army. Hmm, I hope that a few good men could turn the tide. Semper Fidelis. Nice looking terrain.

Bill Protz, Randy Frye and I hosted one of our big battalions SYW battles on Friday night. The game featured Bill's Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules. I will provide an after action report of the game within a couple of days, but in the meantime, here is a little teaser to tide you over:

Initial deployment of the French (left) and Prussians (right).

More linear warfare in the BAR game as the Prussians advance in perfect order.

The armies converge in the center to capture the all important town.

Saxon Rutowski Cheveau-legers (left, in red) hew their way through some Prussian dragoons (right, in blue). After they were done with the dragoons, they doled out a few whacks on the Prussian Black Hussars and ran them off the table too.


  1. Excellent report, thanks for posting

  2. Thanks for the overview of the convention, and of the game. I really wanted to be there, and your report confirms that!

    Your sharing your gaming experiences is truly appreciated. I await the battle report.


  3. Jim
    thanks for your reporting upon the convention,I await with interest the BAR report.
    best wishes

  4. *sigh*,

    I wish that I could get to large gaming conventions like this one . . . but I'm out in the hinterlands (on an island yet).

    Thank you, sir, for giving us some glimpses of these games.

    -- Jeff

  5. ....can't tell you how this has wetted my appetitie for Salute, which happily is just a mere few weeks away!

  6. Thats the best report on a US convention I have seen. It really gives a flavour of the days.


  7. Thanks for a very enjoyable report.

    The S&S 40mm SYW Austrians look dangerously and surprisingly attractive, but my eye is drawn most of all to the pictures of the BAR game, of course, of a style which I never tire of seeing - wonderful.

    Steve Gill

  8. There is much to say but each photo is equivalent as the saying goes to 1,000 words. Here are some small extras:
    1. At the end of Day 2 of 3 attendance was in the mid 800s.
    2. One clever thing of many about the Charge of The Light Brigade game was the increasing speed allowed for British cavalry. Turn 1 4D6 = inches, Turn 2 5D6 = Inches and so forth. By the time I crashed into the Russians I was up to nine dice and I think a 32" move. I only needed a couple of inches to hit after having raced down about 14' of table to get to the target being shot at on the way by Russian cannons on the hillside flanks.
    3. The BAR game kept people busy and happy. Jim set up a very appealing table and well, you see the rest.
    4. Next stop: Historicon and three games there.
    Votre Serviteur,

  9. Bill and Jim did a wonderful job with the BAR game. Everyone that played said they had a good time, even those player who comanded troops that where treated harshly by the opponent. The game ended on time with a fairly certain conclusion. This is good proof of the design that Jim and Bill used. We even had a father and son team playing in the game! This tends to make me believe our hobby is not as grey as we allow ourselves to believe.

    The entire convention was filled with wonderful eye candy. I picked up several ideas lokking at different table designs around the convention.


  10. Excellent report about the event.

    Did you have any more details about the 'tall ships' models?

    I am looking at them and trying to figure out what scale they were?

  11. I have found the Portsmouth Miniatures site and they are 1/900 scale.

    Expect some to appear on the MurdocK's MarauderS site!

  12. Hello

    The Ste Mere Eglise Flames of War buildings look great, who is the manufacturer ?

    Laurence from England