So this year's Little Wars convention is over and I have to say that it was one of my best game judging experiences that I have had in over 30 years of running games at conventions. The HMGS-Midwest staff, led by Kevin Cabai, were great and they helped make the running of three games run smoothly. Game judges were also given a goodie bag of candy, chips and homemade brownies to tide them over whilst running their game. That sugar jolt of energy was a good thing.
I ran three games: Thursday evening, Friday morning, and Saturday morning and I was honored to receive the Duke Siefried award for Best Game at the convention. More importantly though, all of my games were sold out with 12 players per game, which really made me happy. I extend my thanks to everyone who played in the games, fine fellows all, as well as the many folks who came up to me just to talk about the terrain and figures and how I put everything together. I also reconnected with a number of gamers that I hadn't seen in quite awhile and phone numbers and email addresses were exchanged, leading to more wargames in the future.
|Old Fritz (on the right) recieving the Duke Siefried award.
He's looking a little bit "alt" rather than "jung".
I packed up my wife's Volvo SUV the day before so there was no panic or hustle and bustle to get my gear packed. When we ran several play tests of the game at Kieth L.'s house it had taken me two trips to haul everything to his house. I was going to rent a larger vehicle to get everything to Lisle, but the car rental company wanted $200 per day, or $1,000 for the whole long weekend. Yikes! So I turned to Plan B:
|Mrs. Fritz loaned me her Volvo SUV
I looked at all of my packing containers and saw that they were a melange of different sizes and shapes that would inefficiently fill and overflow the available storage space in the vehicle. So then, drawing on an idea from the Gribauval System of French artillery, I decided to only use stackable plastic containers of the same size. This was more efficient because it reduced the amount of "dead air" space in the various containers. The next step was to purchase a couple of the large containers at The Container Store (the smaller containers were stackable on top of these as well. Finally, I put all of the empty plastic containers in the SUV and worked out an optimal arrangement of the various boxes. I decided that if something couldn't fit into all of these boxes then it wasn't going to go to Little Wars. The extra storage in the roof pod was also a necessity.
I arrived at the venue for Little Wars (Sheraton Hotel - Lisle, IL) around 2PM and found that the hotel staff were still setting up the game tables in the main gaming room. I was the first person in the room to set up my game and it was a good thing too because I had three 4ft by 24ft tables and I needed the tables to be 6ft wide. So I did a little refiguring of the tables and the hotel staff brought in three extra tables so that I ended up with two 6ft by 24ft tables and one 5ft by 24ft table (as a staging area for the Dervish troops, so it didn't need to be 6ft wide.
|The game hall prior to setting up all of the table.
|All of my terrain and figure boxes on one table.
It took me about three hours to set up my terrain and place all of the figures on the various tables. It was getting a little tight on the time because my game was scheduled to start at 6PM. Fortunately I finished the set up with 30 minutes to spare. Phew!
|A view of my tables showing the aisles in between each table.
This allowed access to the inside of the city of Khartoum, which I split into two halves.
|The main part of the city on one table...
|...and the front walls of the city on the middle table. In the distance (upper right corner)
you can see a part of the third table which was the Dervish staging area.
|A full view of the vast expense of area over three table. The Nile River is on
the end of the tables on the left side.
|A little bit of marketing promotion can't hurt either. A full size reproduction
of the original movie poster from the Khartoum! movie.
|The Dervish dhows sail up the Nile towards the back side of Khartoum.
|The Dervish attack begins. They instinctively focus on the corners of the fort,
which is the most vulnerable part of the wall.
|The Dervish have made it over the wall and now they will pour through in great numbers.
|The Dervish blow open the main gate with a powder keg.
|The Mahdi makes a triumphal entry into the city to the cheers of his followers.
|The Egyptian paddle wheel boat comes to grips with on of the dhows
while the other dhows head towards Khartoum.
|It's about over for the garrison and Gordon as the Dervish run amok through
the streets and alleys. They break through the windows of the Governor's Palace
to enter the building.
|Small groups of Egyptian soldiers gravitate to the Governor's Palace, where
they make a last stand. Alas, Gordon died with all of his men.
DAYS FRIDAY & SATURDAY REPORT - TBD
This blog post would become way too long if I included the full report of the rest of the convention on Friday and Saturday. So stay tuned and come on back here in another day or two to hear the rest of the story/