Saturday, August 16, 2014

Overheard at GenCon...

His bike was too speedy for me. We also saw Darth Vader. Apparently the chow's pretty good in the Death Star cafeteria these days, 'cause I don't know if the Sith lord could pass the Imperial Forces PT test anymore.
So, we're walking toward the exhibit floor at GenCon, which started out as a convention for tabletop wargames* back in the day before morphing into the general station of the cross on the nerd party circuit it's become. Threading our way through swarming gamers and cosplayers...
Shootin' Buddy: "So, where are the games with the maps with hex grids and the cardboard counters with numbers on them?"

Me: "In the 1980s."
First card games and then computer games put paid to the classic games of SPI and Avalon Hill from the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Although, I do find it interesting that a couple of publishers are doing revivals of the old intellectual property; there are reboots of Panzer Leader and other classics out there, and Advanced Squad Leader has been in constant publication by Curt Schilling-backed** MMP since Avalon Hill went moribund and got bought by Hasbro. As the nerds of Gen X reach our peak earning years and start having midlife crises, I predict a revival of the old style of games: Nostalgia runs on 20-to-30 year cycles, after all.

I will also note that crowds don't come much more peaceable: They were bandying about attendance figures of around 50,000 souls, and we didn't see a single uniformed cop anywhere in the convention center. I'm sure there were a couple, but we never saw 'em.


*If anything, map-'n'-counter wargames are even farther outside mainstream pop culture than pen-'n'-paper role-playing games. They never did a Saturday morning cartoon based on Wooden Ships & Iron Men or Drang Nach Osten!, after all.

**Yes, that Curt Schilling, who is apparently a big ol' fellow nerd.
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39 comments:

Don M said...

Ah, the old days of sitting in barracks on the Fulda Gap playing Panzer Leader, Kriegspiel, Squad Leader, and our favorite, Panzerblitz.

We would set up the two teams in different rooms, and run field wire from each to a third room with the umpires. We would thus be able to play blind, give our orders, and receive 'intell' from our umpires who got overlays from both US and our enemy.

We eventually got a dedicated room in the Bn HQ, and some miniature vehicle models. As Bn S-2, I got to play the Soviets, and routinely taught my cohorts to respect Soviet methods. They weren't going to come in dumb!

Glad the real war with the Soviets was political and economic, rather than involving massive casualties.

Phssthpok said...

Was Vader having Penne All' Arrabbiata?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0n1iaHywMI&feature=player_detailpage#t=22

*snerk*


Mulliga said...

Old [grognards] never die; they just fade away.

bluesun said...

I admit that I just used the Gencon Hype as an excuse to buy into Dropzone Commander, that I've been eying since it was released a couple years ago.

greg said...

I've still got a box of 'Technical Manuals' for Battletech out in the garage, for something to do on Saturday afternoons after the computer stop acting friendly and start trying to kill us.

Ratus said...

"You'll need a tray." :D

Tom the Impaler said...

I helped Kickstarter the re-release of OGRE. My names is on the box in VERY tiny letters. I am looking forward to the Car Wars reboot on kickstarter as well.

Texas Sean said...

Other than year long D&D campaigns in seventh and eighth grade, high school was all about Traveller and hour upon hour of designing starships. Somewhere in an unopened box from twenty plus years ago I think I still have the plans for my Free Trader.

drjim said...

Only game like that I ever played was called "Oil War".

Just never really got into board games, as I was too busy with Ham Radio all those years ago.....

Anonymous said...

I too remember Traveller, and Twilight 2000. And knowing Tam knows these games makes her even more wonderful. I mean, attractive, drinks beer, shoots and wargames? It would be hard to get better than that.

Anonymous said...

The cops were in their play outfits. I mean, you saw Stormtroopers, right?

Antibubba

Robin said...

Actually, the paper board game business is still active, albeit in small print runs. Companies like GMT Games, MMP that you mentioned, and others are publishing games.

Some of the old guard designers like Richard Berg, Mark Herman, John Butterfield are still around. Plus new generation of wargame designers.

TBeck said...

The latest iteration of The Players' Handbook is being released in just a few days. I'm surprised they didn't release it this weekend.

Ian Argent said...

OGRE kickstarter here too. Note, that was SUPPOSED to have been a small print run. He ended up shipping, what, 4K copies of something he thought he'd be lucky to sell half a K of. And I think the retail order is yet more.

I've gotten 2 games in, total, wiht that set - it's got back scheduling juju for me

I was amused when I realized that one of the big backers was Thirdpower of Days of Our Trailers; big enough to have backed a counter sheet (Empire of Nippon)

Echo said...

@Tom, I came to the comment section JUST to ask about the OGRE re-release!
Is it happening?

Tam said...

TBeck,

They were selling them there.

Anonymous said...

Blackhorse, sir!

The Old Man said...

"Strategy and Tactics" is still being published, albeit on a reduced scale.
And I subscribe, but not to the game version...
I DID get the original magazine version of "Oil Wars". I may have to see if I still have the bag of "Operation Olympic"...

heresolong said...

Panzerblitz
Richtofen's War

Hours and hours when I was in high school.

Kristophr said...

I should walk into a Gencon with the game Diplomacy under my arm.

Wooden counters, written orders, lying, and backstabbing for the win.

Ken said...

Army Burgundy to Belgium.
Army Picardy supports Army Burgundy to Belgium.
Fleet MAO to NAO.
Good times.

drjim said...

@The Old Man

THANKS! I couldn't remember who published it.

I might still have it around here, but it would be buried in the garage if I do.

RandyGC said...

I was hoping to take a mini-vacation this year and accompany SWMBO and Darlin' Daughter but work happened.

Kriegspiel was the only one I actually owned but spent some long snowed in weekends in the dorm lounges re-fighting Barbarossa.

Tam said...

Kristophr,

Who hasn't played diplomacy? The game's only downside was finding seven people to play.

Steve Skubinna said...

Back in '77 a college friend and I worked the summer con circuit for Flying Buffalo, Inc (anyone still have an edition of Tunnels and Trolls?). Somehow Richard Loomis managed to get exclusive convention sales rights from Metagaming MicroGames, so we were the only table with OGRE. We also sold adhesive magnetic tape the same width as the counters, so you could stick the map on, say a fridge, and play.

Well, dunno, it seemed pretty cool at the time.

GenCon was still held at Lake Geneva then, at the Playboy Resort, and vendors all got guest memberships in the Playboy Club. So it was a heady experience for a couple of nerds.

Ian Argent said...

Play by email diplomacy - all the backstabbing you want, with none of the icky personal interactions that might make you think twice before burying the knife of your fatherland in the back of your allies...

(Though I did feel almost bad for the guy who played Turkey the last time I played - with no actual coordination between myself (russia) and the guy playing Austria, by turn 3 or thereabouts Turkey had basically been wiped from the board. I never did figure out what angle he thought he was working.)

Greg F said...

Oh wow, Flying Buffalo, I haven't heard that name in decades. Somewhere in a box I've got a bunch of stuff from a Starweb pbm game.

Jennifer said...

Please tell me you've got lots of cosplayer pictures!

Kristophr said...

"Who hasn't played diplomacy?"

A lot of youngsters just waiting to be victimized.

Ian Argent said...

Ahem - those youth are waiting to be EDUCATED in the simple and brutal lessons of Diplomacy. EDUCATED

Robin said...

Diplomacy? Heck, last year I got my clock cleaned by a gang of high school kids in "Sword of Rome"...

Andrew S. said...

The only cops I saw in all four days I was there were directing traffic on Georgia St. so the hordes converging on the food trucks didn't get kersplatted. Gen Con really is a special time. No other con I've been to is so relentlessly inclusive. It's amazing how many new friends you make while spending a stack of generic tickets in the indie game rooms. Next year I'm going as a MHI agent and hopefully catching Mr. Correia for a john hancock.

Atom Smasher said...

My basement shelf.

http://www.dmancini.com/pictures/games/games-pics.html

kfg said...

I cut my teeth on Blitzkrieg and Afrika Korps. I think I might still have an original OGRE somewhere around the place. I know I've got Richtofen's War.

If it becomes a fad with the youngins I might even end up finding someone to play with again.

Kristophr said...

OGRE was great as a tabletop game, using miniatures.

Tom the Impaler said...

Echo, previous comments are correct, the KS edition long since shipped, the Pocket game started shipping recently. God you guys are bringing back the memories! Richtoven's war, Air War 80, Cosmic encounter, Traveler, Star Fleet Battles, Car Wars. Anyone Here Play Paranoia? I mean before Obama got elected and it became real life?

Ken said...

Heh. Remember the SFB Doomsday rulebook?

Tom the Impaler said...

God, I got the Star Fleet Battles pocket edition for a friend for Christmas. I probably owe him an apology. It morphed, as you recall, into a law degree over a 6-7 year span. Holy crap. First 3 expansions, then this, and that, and the other thing, then file folders 5" thick of rules and what the hell is a hellbore?

Anonymous said...

The Russian Campaign was one of my favorites from the '80's. My kids played that Warhammer 40k stuff.