Cold Wars 2007 – some random thoughts

I attended Cold Wars this past weekend in nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Cold Wars is one of the three flagship miniature wargaming conventions presented by the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society‘s East Chapter. This was my fifth Cold Wars, and, as usual, it was fun to catch up with old friends in the gaming hobby and to see the array of visually appealing wargaming terrain layouts. I missed several friends who could not make it for a variety of reasons. For personal reasons, I did not serve as a gamemaster this year (not enough time to properly prepare, and I have been focusing on my historical books versus my wargaming activities).

Some random observations and thoughts:

* Attendance seemed fairly strong this year, despite a rather nasty snowstorm on Friday afternoon that dumped over six inches of fresh powder on south-central Pennsylvania and turned U.S. Route 30 (and the hotel’s parking lot) into a vast skating rink. A few gamemasters and several players had to cancel, as they could not make it into town. Virtually all the dealers were there, as they had arrived on Thursday before the storm hit.

* Rich Hasenauer’s Regimental Fire & Fury is nearing completion. He hosted another great 15mm ACW game on Saturday night, presenting an interesting scenario based upon the Battle of Kernstown. RNFF is gaining in popularity at conventions and has a cadre of devoted followers. However, not having the rules yet in print limits the overall acceptance, and there are way too many versions of the rules floating around the Internet. Still, Rich is to be commended for his efforts, and we at the American Civil War Gaming Society look forward to his finished product. Tony Figlia, who often co-hosts the RNFF games with Rich, is a great gamemaster who keeps things entertaining for the players.

* Jim Kopchak of the Northern Ohio Gaming Society (NOWS) debuted his new rules, Civil War Commander, which are a new regimental-level set. Jim is an old pal from when I lived in Cleveland (he used to drive out to Lake County and play Johnny Reb 3 with Doug Rogers and me). Jim’s new rules should be in print and for sale before too long. He showed me a proof copy, and they look easy to understand. I will keep the readers of Charge! blog updated on his progress. Jim’s game was a nice depiction of the 1862 Battle of Corinth. He scratchbuilt a number of fences and abatis for the layout.

* I played in a Mexican-American War scenario, the Battle of Cerro Gordo, presented by Jon Coulter of Old Dominion GameWorks of Virginia, publishers of the American BattleLines rules set (which can be used for the Civil War as well). I was Santa Anna, and we had a blast. The Mexicans held their own and denied the miniature Winfield Scott’s advance on Mexico City. The Mexicans did not take a single casualty for the entire first hour of the game, while the Americans by then had three regiments wrecked and two more routed. Once Gideon Pillow’s division arrived and unlimbered its artillery, Mexican casualties started evening out, but, by then, it was far too late for the Americans to seize the Mexican camp and open the road to the capital city.

* Doug Kline’s Battlefield Terrain Concepts was quite busy during my two-hour book signing session (I only sold one copy – disappointing, but I understood. Gamers prefer to spend hard-earned cash on wargaming supplies and figures. I have MUCH better success selling my books at bookstores, museums, and ACW gift shops in Gettysburg, as well as on amazon.com). Doug’s hot new product was cast resin tree bases (about an inch and a half in diameter), which sold really well. They look quite good when flocked and finished, with the tree attached! Doug’s new terrain tips booklet (published by the Johnny Reb Gaming Society), This is Good Ground, also sold well. This new digitally printed booklet offers lots of color photos of Doug’s layouts, as well as many of his “secrets” for a marvelous looking gaming table layout.

* Sash & Saber’s 40mm figures are outstanding! If I had to start over, I would buy  them and get hooked. My friend and fellow JR3 gamemaster, James Mattes of Maryland, has started collecting and painting 40mm figures and plans to run a major JR3 game with them at one of East’s conventions later this year.

* Speaking of JR3, the only Johnny Reb 3 game on the schedule this year was a 15mm four-player game of the Battle of Overall Creek presented by gamemaster John Breslin. Unfortunately, this game was cancelled, so, for the first time in memory, there were NO Johnny Reb games at an East convention. I plan to run at least one game at Historicon, and perhaps  we will see games from some combination of James Mattes, Curt Daniels, John Breslin, Larry Morris, Bob Grosse, Doug Kline, and/or P.J. O’Neill (all are leading JR gamemasters who have graciously presented their talents in past East cons).

* John Michael Priest (a Maryland high school teacher and the author of interesting books on Antietam, South Mountain, and Gettysburg) was back at Cold Wars with his 54mm skirmish level wargaming rules, Fix Bayonets!. Both of his Battle of Carthage sessions were well attended. John’s games always remind me of my youth of playing with toy soldiers, as he uses commercially ready-to-play soldiers from Britains, Marx recasts, and an array of other figure manufacturers. His rules are incredibly simple and uncomplicated, yet are great for a fun afternoon’s entertainment.

* I spent so little this year – $15 admission for a “day tripper” wristband, $6 for a pair of painted 10 mm farm buildings, $2 for a nice McElfresh color map of the Chancellorsville battlefield (I used his maps of Gettysburg and Antietam as a major source for the maps in my wargaming scenario books), $2 for a large pack of 3/4″ x 3/4″ metal bases from Outland Games’ bargain bin, and $8 for food and beverage for the day, plus a quarter tank of gasoline for the round trip from my home in York over to nearby Lancaster. I just didn’t see much else that really tempted me. I have been spending more on Civil War music and books lately than on wargaming.

What were your impressions of Cold Wars this year compared with previous years? Please leave your comments and thoughts!

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Categories: Civil War wargaming, Conventions, Johnny Reb 3 | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Cold Wars 2007 – some random thoughts

  1. I picked Rich’s brain on how he sets up his terrain. During the conversation some people asked about the Regimental FnF publishing schedule. From what I could gather, Rich has another year at his real job before he retires (and then he may relocate). He also sees how people like Flames of War do their rulebooks with history intermingled in the rules so he wants to go in that direction with a lavish production.

  2. Larry Morris

    Well 1st Me and Jeff Corbin will be running a Johnny Reb Game Friday Morning of Historicon. Honestly if I noticed there were no Johnny Reb Games, I may have put a small one together for Cold Wars. But i didn’t check as i try to play games at cons different than what we play back in the club.
    Attendance was better than i expected as the weather was bad Friday. The main dealer hall only had a couple of noshows.
    What I played
    Friday- Raced in Patrick Chambers Grand Prix and a Darlington Nascar Game. If you are going to race cars, Nascar has less strategy.
    Saturday-Played in a Naval game, honestly a primer on How to Not run a game.Enough said
    Then 55 Days in Peking. Great to look, I got stuck in a corner with a few guys and we had a blast. Chinese won, partially thanks to French inaction(insert joke here)
    Purchases- Some spanish american war ameicans. some more Militia that i probably could use in AWI or in early civil war. Since i can’t paint well, i have to look at painted figs, and “reasonably” priced at that.
    Larry

  3. Larry,

    I look forward to your game! They usually draw strong praise from the folks who play in them.

    I used to be able to paint fairly well, but, following a pair of cataract surgeries, my painting days are behind me.

    I’ve tried a couple NASCAR games at past shows; they are usually a hoot. I was never a big NASCAR fan growing up (being an Ohioan, the ONLY form of racing was Indy cars, which ran at both Cleveland and Mansfield, as well as over at Indy itself).

  4. James Mattes

    Scott it was good to see you if only for the day. You are right I did pick up 140 or so more 40mm ACW figs from Sash and Saber. I also got 24 mounted Union Cav. What I will do with those who knows! I also picked up a few packs of GMB flags and six indivdual flags from Flag Dude and one 25mm ACW Building from the old Scenic Effects line. I did not get a chance to buy anything from Doug this time. I STILL need to pick up some back issues of Charge, along with I try and buy a terrain piece or two from him.

    I am looking at running Falling Waters in 15mm (JRIII) at Historicon. Hope to do Hoods Assault for Fall In! in 40mm. Will see you over on the JRIII group!
    VR
    James Mattes

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