A Blog about Wargames and wargamers. Discussion of rule sets, painting techniques, different models, figures, links to manufacturers, reviews of all of the above, and other gamer resources. Not all Gamers, not all modelers - a blend of both! You are at http://tabletopgamer.blogspot.com Your hosts are Bwana Bill, Krazy Keith, and Consul Scipio. Thank you for visiting our little slice of the World Wide Web!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saying "So Long" to Gettysburg; The End of an Era - the Death of the Hobby?

I attended the HMGS-East Fall In convention in Gettysburg this weekend and have since been deep in thought about several gaming-related issues. Please excuse me as I drop a few braincells here for mutual contemplation.

Apparently there was an issue that precludes the HMGS-East from returning to the Eisenhower Hotel and Convention Center, which is located right next to the Gettysburg battlefield. Although the hotel is old and the amenities are minimal and rather expensive, the nearness to the battlefield, where so many Americans fought and died for their causes, seems to lend a special feel to the Fall In convention.

In the past, I've had poor experiences with several of the staff at the Ike; though most to try to provide good customer service. Several were true gems, shining stars of friendliness and service. This year, as always, the staff was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the attendees. That, and dealing with folks irritated by any myriad of issues, doesn't make for a pleasant work environment.

I'm not certain of the reasoning behind the move to Lancaster, PA, but I'm sure that the convention will still be a good one, though I am saddened by leaving Gettysburg. The last Fall In (for the foreseeable future) at Gettysburg was appropriately themed, the Beginning of the End. The theme was related to the end of WWII, as the allied forces made advances into the home territories of the axis forces. For me, it was the end of an era. I hope that one day Fall In will return to Gettysburg, perhaps at the Ike or at a different venue. There are few things as awe inspiring as a slow drive through the battlefield on a crisp fall morning, monuments rising out of the mist like soldiers of old, giving one last hurrah for the final charge!

Another issue that impacted many gamers, including myself, Consul Scipio and the Black Knight (not to mention about 40-100 other folks!) was that the Ike overbooked a large room, which was to be used for several early Friday games, and the Flames of War Mid-War Tournament. The result of the overbooking was that many of the earlier games, one of which I was supposed to play in, were canceled, and the FoW Tourney was postponed for several hours.

That was most certainly not a good way to start the weekend. That early morning game I had signed up for, was the only game I was able to pre-register for. My weekend was beginning to look bleak before noon on Friday!

I was able to get into a couple of games this weekend, though literally only a couple! For the expense and hassles involved, it is hard for me to justify attending a convention, if I am only able to play a game or two.

Shouts and salutations, and my deepest thanks for a good time go out to Jim "Gnome Wars" Stanton for an amazing game that was entertaining in so many ways! Jim is the co-author of Old Glory's "Trench Wars" rules, along with John Spiess. The two colluded on the table set up for an East Front World War One game. Later, with minor adjustments, Gnome Wars, which is basically a WWI game using fantasy miniatures produced by Brigade Games, took the tabletop and more wanton death and destruction abounded! The game is learned quickly, and is very easy to play, although at times adjusting tactics to various surprises tossed in by the game master can be a challenge! There were a lot of ladies and young folks playing the game. I'll take a wild guess, but I'm thinking that three primary factors attracted younger gamers and the rare lady gamers: ease of play, enjoyability, and very "cute" miniatures. I mean, how threatened would you feel when facing a German Lancer Gnome mounted on a bunny? Really. :-)

Another issue, though not related to the Ike, was the rather slim pickings at the Flea Market.

Based on the experiences of Bwana Bill, Consul Scipio, and myself the Flea Market was below par this year. There were a lot of folks selling nicely painted armies or figures at high prices; some of us selling a lot of cruft and clutter, and very few folks really spending money. This year I sold perhaps 1/3 the amount I usually sell, and had to drop my prices to the point that I couldn't buy all the things on my shopping list. This is a very bad sign and presents a potential danger to my own home. After selling all that lead and not replacing it, combined with all the hot-air from Washington, D.C. in such close proximity to my home, I'm afraid my house may float away. (That was a non-partisan, "I dislike politicians of all types" sort of poke!)

Finally, I heard a lot of commentary from fellow gamers about "the death of the hobby". As the economy continues to tank, the priorities of many gamers have had to shift to simply keeping food on the table or a roof over their heads. The snowball effect is, of course, in play. Lower sales and higher production costs lead to higher prices, and thus lower sales. It's a self-licking ice cream cone. I don't believe this cycle will continue. If it does, some miniatures manufacturers will simply go out of business. However, not all will go out of business, and there will be new ones starting up. The economy will rebound, and the world will be well again. Or as good as it ever is.

Aside from the obvious economic issues, some gamers were concerned about the poor turnout and the aging gamer population.

I didn't see that.

What I saw was a good turnout at Fall In, with good participation by gamers of all ages.

In fact, one of the highlights of Fall In, for me, was watching some young men and women play in the "Under 18 years of age" Flames of War Tournament. I was amazed to see young folks playing a fairly mature game, rolling bones, pushing lead - and rarely, if ever, referring to a "cheat sheet".

Death of the hobby? I think not. With young folks maintaining an interest in games that are not "easy" to play, aided by folks who run fun games or fun tournaments, or create simple and enjoyable games that provide an entry level experience for potential new gamers, and I think the hobby is safe enough for now.

Overall, I had a very nice time, though the best part was, as usual, seeing friends, rolling bones, and pushing lead!

No comments: