I finally got around to changing the calendars from 2019 to 2020 and – goodness gracious me! – realized I already have a number of gaming events lined up for the first two months of the New Year. Ten years ago I had several conventions I’d attend, primarily running roleplaying games. I’ve had to cut back on cons, particularly those farther afield. But with a son with an interest in history and gaming as well as my greater involvement in historical miniatures wargaming, I’ve settled into a general routine of regional conventions and events we can both enjoy. As my schedule shows, however, I’m not above testing the waters with new events to possibly add to my slowly growing repertoire of conventions.''
My first event this year comes on Sunday, Jan. 26, at the NOVAG Game Day at the Centreville Library. Games begin at 1 p.m. and generally run until 4 p.m. or a little beyond. Located at 14200 St Germaine Road., Centreville, VA, the library is near the intersection of I-66 and Route 28, a little over an hour’s drive for me and quite reasonable for folks in the Metro-DC area. The club has nine games scheduled ranging in historical periods from the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars to World War II and even modern conflicts. I plan to run my usual Panzer Kids desert skirmish, a basic introduction to wargaming and an easy event people can join mid-game. The game day usually attracts a host of NOVAG club members and other area wargamers as well as parents (wargamers or otherwise) bringing their kids to give them a taste of the hobby. If you’re in the area and curious about wargaming I invite you to stop by for an afternoon of engagement with some great-looking games.
Valentine’s Day weekend brings my second gaming event, Williamsburg Muster, a wargaming show I’ve been attending for years now. I usually schedule a series of kid-friendly games with this year being no exception: I plan on running a historical Panzer Kids scenario in the North African desert, a Lord of the Rings skirmish between Rohirrim and orcs, and a Wings of Glory scenario at Pearl Harbor my son inspired me to create. The convention hosts a friendly crowd, some good dealers, and a Sunday morning flea market. Past shows have attracted a number of younger players, though you’ll also find plenty of die-hard wargamers along with events to suit their play style. We’ve made Williamsburg Muster an annual father-son tradition. This year, besides running games, we’re taking some time Friday before the con and Sunday after the flea market to do some history related sight-seeing, possibly some time at Jamestown, Yorktown, or Colonial Williamsburg and definitely the Maritime Museum in Newport News with its exhibits devoted to the USS Monitor as well as an extensive “War at Sea” gallery, including a four-rotor enigma machine.
I haven’t run a convention roleplaying game in a while, so I decided to challenge myself this year and volunteer to run a Star Wars Roleplaying Game scenario at Scrum Con in Silver Spring, MD, on Saturday, Feb. 29. This one-day event features both roleplaying games and miniatures games, but had no room for the latter when I contacted them with my interest in running a miniatures wargame like Panzer Kids, Pearl Harbor, or the Lord of the Rings games. (I also get the impression it’s more for die-hard gamers than the more impressionable casual gamer or newcomers to the hobby.) The convention features a guest list with such gaming luminaries as Dave “Zeb” Cook, Bill Slavicsek, and Ted Stark. This particularly well-organized con has had the game schedule and online sign-up live for a month or two already, so many games – including those of the aforementioned guests of honor – are already filled. As of now my game still has a spot or two open and plenty of other games have spots free, too.
We’ll see how Scrum Con goes. With my greater involvement in wargames lately – along with my increased participation in wargaming conventions – I’ve curtailed my efforts to bring my roleplaying game scenarios to cons. I no longer have the patience to drive four hours each way to a gaming convention, nor the means to spring for the necessary hotel room at more than a handful of events. (The Williamsburg wargaming cons have some of the most reasonably priced hotel rooms around, with no additional parking fees and a reasonable entry fee.) Wargames certainly require a bit more baggage and set-up/break-down time, but they run themselves with few hassles; hosting a four-hour roleplaying game session, even for a system and scenario with which I’m familiar, takes a great deal of energy for a gamemaster. Wargames also minimize the strain various gamer personalities can create at the gaming table, particularly when compared to this issue in roleplaying games (and sessions frequently among complete strangers at that). My role as dad has also changed how I participate in convention games. Although my son has dabbled in some of my roleplaying games – notably some Hero Kids and a few Star Wars roleplaying game adventures – he’s not as absorbed by it as I once was. And if we both go to a convention, he expects to play in all my games; a far easier challenge with wargames he understands and can help run than in a roleplaying game session. Every game I run also takes away from the time we indulge in other activities, more of an issue at fan cons with gaming tracks than at purely gaming events. So my appearance at Scrum Con not only gives folks a rare opportunity to game with me in the Star Wars universe but offers me a chance to gauge the con scene for roleplaying games.