Sunday, April 7, 2019

Seven Years War Association Convention Recap Report

The 71st Frasier's Highlander at Guildford Court House.
Fife and Drum Miniatures and GMB Designs flags.

The Seven Years War Association Convention was held this past weekend in South Bend, Indiana, starting on Thursday evening and concluding on Saturday evening. The bottom line on my personal report is that I ran the Fife and Drum Miniatures dealer booth and hosted two AWI wargames - I am dog tired as a result.

I left the Chicago area around noon and made pretty good time getting to South Bend, which is some 90 to 100 miles away. The traffic was not too bad going through the Chicago Loop and so I arrived at the convention site by 2:30PM. Since South Bend is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, I had to add an hour to my clock, making my arrival time 3:30PM local time.

My car was packed like Rubic's Cube, with each piece fitted with other pieces to gain the maximum amount of storage space. I had made the critical mistake of not reserving a cargo van a week earlier, so when I visited the Enterprise car rental office I was told that there were no vans available.

So quickly turning to Plan B, I had to use our Ford Explorer SUV to carry all of the trade goods and figures/terrain for my wargames. I knew that I could not fit everything into the Ford, so I had to be ruthless in culling cargo from my proposed inventory haul. Out went the Russians and the Civilians figure ranges. The British and Hanoverians also did not make the cut. Since I was running two AWI participation games, I had to bring all of the AWI figures to the show.

In any event, I loaded more stuff into the Ford than I thought possible so overall, I was pleased with the way that Plan B worked.

A picture of the Fife and Drum dealer booth.

An "island table" held copies of AWI and SYW catalogs,
making them readily available to passers-by.

Countertop spinning racks were used by me for the first time. All of my AWI figures fit onto two spinners. Hessians and Personality figures were placed on the spinner in the middle. A fourth spinner held all of the Artillery Equipment

It took me about four hours to set up my dealer booth, which I find rather shocking. The reason it took me so long is that I decided to use spinning countertop racks for the entire AWI figure range. I had most of the bags tagged and with punch holes to hold them on the rack. However, a substantial amount of inventory still needed to be labeled and punched. I finished the dealer booth set up around 10PM that evening.

Meanwhile, there were four or five games going on thursday evening. Here are a couple of pictures of some of the games. I'm sorry if I missed taking photos of the other games, but I was still "bagging and tagging" figures for my dealer booth display.

An AWI skirmish game using Rebels and Patriots rules.

Some really, really nice figures (Perry perhaps?) and good looking scenario made this  game an eye pleaser.

A WSS game hosted by Jude Becker, using "Rediculous Vanity" rules.
By the time that I finished setting up my dealer booth, I settled in for a single malt scotch "tasting" event. Oban was the clear winner of the event. As Errol Flynn said in his Robin Hood movie, "my head was buzzing like bees" and so I decided to retreat back into the safe space of Diet Coke and Hint Water for the rest of the tournement.

The convention hall opened promptly at 9AM and a surge of wargamers in tricorn hats flowed through the doors and descended on the dealer area and the games. I spent the morning working the dealer booth. I was scheduled to run my Guilford Courthouse AWI game at 2PM, on a table conveniently located in front of my booth. Thanks go out to Ken Bunger for organizing the dealer area and the placement of the game tables. I set up my game table in a short amount of time - I find it interesting to watch how a game table starts with a plain green map and then grows into a beautiful piece of table top terrain.

A view of the vertical axis of the Guilford Courthouse game. The rebel second and third battle lines have not appeared on the table yet because the British haven't seen them.

The British are lined up for the attack.

Banastre Tarleton (left) and Lord Cornwallis (right) confer on some pre-battle strategy.

The British team prepares to launch its attack on the first line of Rebel Militia.

British 3-pound galloper guns prolong up the road to support the British attack.

The local citizens gather at the Savage Swan public house while the battle rages on and comes ever closer to the town of Guilford Courthouse.

The British are coming! They have fought their way through the two lines of rebel militia and emerge from the woods to find....

...yet another line of rebels. This time, experienced Continental troops from Virginia and Maryland.

The British sort of repeated history at Guilford Courthouse. They fought their way through three lines of militia and Continentals and won a victory. The difference? They accomplished the feat without incurring the horrific losses that Cornwallis' army actually experienced.

Some of the other Friday games:

If there are elephants on the table, that means that this can only be another one of Jurgen Olk's "Currycorn" games set in India during the SYW

Jeff Knutsen hosts a naval action featuring his beautiful hand-made ships that use card and thread for the riggings.

Once again, I was manning my dealer booth in the morning and hosting another AWI game in the afternoon. This time, my game was the Battle of Cheraw, a scenario from my 1780 South Carolina Campaign. My campaign was on its final turn (12) and so I decided to fight the decisive battle of the campaign at the SYWA Convention and let the players decide the outcome.

The Battle of Cheraw, South Carolina. The Americans must hold the hill on the middle left and the British are going to try and take it away from them. Only the history books can tell us why.

Some Loyalist light infantry work their way around the American left flank,
where they would encounter a brigade of militia.

Tarleton's British Legion hoping to saber a few of the rebels as they flee from the British onslaught.

The British light infantry brigade.

I didn't get a chance to take many pictures on Saturday, but the Battle of Cheraw went the British' way, so they won the campaign.

There were many other wonderful games hosted on Saturday - one that really caught my attention (but not that of my camera) - was Steve Dake's take on the Wyoming Massacre. He had over 300 individual Indians figures in that game! It seems that Steve's games are always scheduled for the same time as my game, so I have never been able to play in one of his games. Maybe next year!

And Finally, the 1994 Christopher Duffy Tour Reunion at SYWA Convention

This year marked the 25th Anniversary of the Seven Years War Association tour of SYW battlefields with Christopher Duffy in 1994. This was the first of three tours that Christopher led for members of the SYWA and it was a very special trip with members from the UK, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Australia and the United States all meeting together, also for the very first time. Lifelong friendships were made on that trip and it was an unforgetable experience for all.

The American contingent arranged to gather at this year's convention to celebrate the 25th anniversary. Members travelled in from coast to coast, New York to California and parts in between. It was special to see old friends again after so many years passing. We shared photographs of the trip and exchanged or compared stories. We may all be a bit grayer and wider, but it seems like we were able to pick up where we left off and bask in the comraderie and fellowship of the trip.

Needless to say, this is one of the benifits (the social aspect) that makes wargaming such a great hobby.

The tour members gathered for a group picture on Saturday afternoon:

SYWA 1994 Duffy Tour members:
Front Row: Dale Wood (in yellow jersey) and Jim Purky
Second Row from left: Dannie Fogleman, Paul Petri, Ken Bunger, Steve Carpenter and Ed Phillips.
Third Row (from left): Mike Lowry, Mike Schundler and Brian Vizek


  1. A very entertaining reading Jim and some great photographs of quite a few beautiful tables. Great to see your stand looking so full of stock and hoping that it was a much lighter journey home in terms of figures sold.

  2. A great report about a great convention. Your Guilford Courthouse game looked outstanding.

  3. Some great looking games on show and glad you all had a great weekend.

  4. That's a wonderful looking event!


  5. It's a stunning event indeed. The WSS-battle is looking impressive.