Monday, June 17, 2013

Rapier Con 2013 Report

Well this weekend I had the good fortune to attend Rapiercon 2013 affectionately titled "Not our 10th Anniversary" after a brief change around in shirt designs. For those of you who do not know, Rapiercon is held at the Jacksonville, Florida Clarion Hotel which is located just outside of the International Airport. The hotel itself had some good points this year including food and such but overall I was not pleased with the hotel. This year I only ran one game and mostly played.  It was great to see everyone again and I am already looking forward to Ancient City Con in July and Hurricon in September. For this report I am just going to give a review of the games I played and some pictures with a brief after-action report. Let's get down to it!

The Hotel
First let's start with the atmosphere. The gamers themselves are very pleasant bunch that I have gamed with going on lots of years. Seriously folks, I started gaming with my pop long ago and have never stopped. I played my first game around 5 1/2 6 years old. Granted I probably was not super genius tactics guy back then but the microarmor ww2, American Civil War, Ironclads and Sailing ship miniatures were so cool to me as a kid that by the time I was six I had my own gaming stuff including books, dice, paints and miniatures.

Kinks in the Hotel
Well I have never been to a convention that there were not some issues with the hotel so it's to be expected that something happens. So I was not surprised to hear that the hotel AC went out on the sixth floor and they had to move some stuff around. At least the elevator worked this time around. The hotel was pretty cool about it and the con guys were very professional about notifying everyone involved that there had been some switches.

Traditionally the hotel has been cold and luke warm when it comes to offering munchies for us gamers. A few years they even decided to not have anyone at the food bar area. This might be a problem except that there are so many food places within a short drive nearby that also deliver that it's not really that bad. This year I was pleasantly surprised by the concessions. The hotel also had a nice food area setup and while the five dollar for two hotdog combo was really great Friday I was not pleased that they had raised it by a dollar by Saturday. Seriously. If you are a business owner don't do that in the middle of a convention just to raise your profits a little bit especially when you decided to raise it because there were more people coming than you thought. Just seems greedy and wrong somehow but I digress. My buddies and I decided to go to Zaksbys and get chicken there due to the price hike on the food.

Where they were good with the food area they failed on breakfast. The Saturday morning breakfast was subpar at best and you had to literally beg to get a refill (or a drink in the first place) with your buffet. My brother put it nicely "This is where people go who think McDonald's is too fast." I tend to agree. Apologies to both McDonalds and those who work there but his joke was both funny and apropos. Also as an aside, I've been to McDonalds that were way better than some sit down restaurants. Also, it's a joke so lighten up. I mean if I were an orange and I expected to want a long shelf life I would probably volunteer for their kitchen because odds are that I'd never end up as orange juice. There was, however, bacon and I took to that nom nom nom.

The Games
Now to the good stuff! The games! Since I decided to drive to the convention and not stay at the hotel each night I got to the convention rather earlier than expected by not necessarily early enough to get into every session. They have both Wednesday and Thursday sessions including a golf tourney for those interested btw. The airport is just over the Damespoint bridge and a short thirty minute(ish) drive from my house so it seemed silly to stay the night at the hotel and besides it was hot like I said.

WW2 Arcade - By Mad Mitch
Friday I was excited to play in Mitch Mitchell's (Mad Mitch) WW2 game featuring the first person shooter WW2 Arcade minigame. As an aside,  Mitch's games normally feature those and I have noticed for his game it tends to make it even more flexible and generate better overall playability and duration for enjoyment of the rules. This is a World War 2 simulation of a first-person shooter game and includes frags, respawn, death traps, weapon crates, red barrels and everything in between. It's basically playing something like Team Fortress Classic or Call of Duty. The game plays like a first person shooter too.

Mitch brought out his Stalingrad terrain for the game. Guys this setup is literally fricken gorgeous. The entire thing is set on about two by two on a board with buildings built up around the sides and a courtyard in the middle. The buildings themselves are open-faced doll-house style on the outside so as to be able to move around and get into windows and frag your buddy.

James by the red barrel...
We all started off randomly. Jason, myself and James were on the German team while Neal, Mustache Dave and Mitch were on the American team. Mustache Dave had the handlebar mustache and I kept making boxing references so obviously they decided the scenario was "Kill Rob". I was strangely OK with that and welcomed the challenge.

I started off with a SMG and a hope and a prayer. My first turn I got to business and heavily wounded Mitch's guy. I didn't take him out and laughed as he crawled around the house trying to get away from everyone. Later he got me with a frag so I guess turn around's fair play. Still, it was fun watching him crawl all over the house as Zombie Mitch until someone finally fragged him. In the game you can exploit it a bit by only doing a heavy wound but this takes some luck as most rolls are either miss, light wound or frag (headshot).
zombie Mitch crawling up the stairs...

Dave Neal plugged his son James with a few rounds as James tried to cross a beam between two buildings only to end up taking a half gainer off the three floors of scaffolding into a burning schwimwagon. Jason and I teamed up and tried a few times to take out Mustache Dave but his luck held out and even my character armed with bodyarmor was no match for his epic rolling.

zombie Mitch...
In the end the Americans won with 30 + frags to our measly 12 + and surprisingly Neal took the trophy after fragging his son over and over and over... Ahh family.

Rules Score: +++
Playbility: +++
Fun: +++++

The second game I ran a massive Battle of Hoth game. Mitch, Joey and my daughter Madison played Rebels while my son Faelan, Jimmy, and myself played Empire. The mission was simple - destroy/protect the base generators. The game used Warengine rules that I heavily modified to make a fast fun convention game. We played the game in about two hours with the Empire winning due to the fact that the Rebels had lost all of their firepower that could harm the atats. The highlights of the game featured Mitch almost getting a full wrap around the atat with his tow cable but then being force choked by vader (played by me and he was playing luke). My son saying "tehehe" when he was told he could shoot his sister's troops and her responding with "all right" when she was told the same. My kids seemed to have a really good time and I will be running it again in about two weeks at the local gaming store which is literally called FLGS.

Rules Score: ++++
Playbility: +++
Fun: +++++

FOW - Vietnam - LZ Xray
I want to do a more detailed report on this but we played a game of FOW using the Vietnam rules. I played NVA with John and Jacob and we played against his dad and two other guys who I cannot remember their names (sorry guys). The game itself was fun. The players were good. There was some gamesmanship that took place during the game that I neither appreciated nor liked as a gamer. Apparently in FOW you can intersperse your platoons and the enemy will not attack a stand from another platoon even during a follow up. This keeps your troops protected. My personal beef with this is really why would the NVA (or anyone) give a hoot about which platoon or company or even army group someone was in if they were wearing the wrong color and on the opposite team? The other thing I didn't like is that there were no spotting rules and the US (and us too) were able to put pie plates down wherever they did the most damage without having to spot first. Granted, there is a zeroing in roll but honestly every other game I've played in Vietnam (FNG, Ambush Valley, Charlie Company, Where's Charlie, Gung Ho, etc) has required a spotting check AND a honing in (or radio) check. Just seemed cheesy to me.

The game itself went well. We played LZ Xray from We Were Soldiers Once and Young.  The US had to guard the LZ and to try to find a downed helo. They didn't bother with the helo but the game is won on victory points so they tried to keep theirs secure. The players immediately dug in and did that cheesy platon thing I told you about earlier coming in a blue team at a time with different stands from different platoons in the same landing. It sounds cheesy even writing it. The NVA had to come in randomly and not always with the same strength. It was a random roll and the GM, Webb did a good job of working up some suspense to the game by having us do this. I did not mind the random placement or reinforcements. We used the Born in the North Died in the South rule at least once and replenished a platoon without giving the US a victory point.

The highlights of the game were on turn one when the US brought their FO to our platoon that we just put on the table and used the pie plate where's the rpgs tactic and placed the template down and killed lots of NVA. Jacob responded to his father's attack and downed their FO chopper with one roll (he needed 6s and got a 6!) The rest of the game the US weren't able to use their 105s so that kind of stunk for them but hey you fly over Charlie expect Charlie to fight back! Later in the game, John took out their Hog when they attacked him and stayed around the same spot and then I took out the third with my Sappers after moving onboard near John. I honestly think that the choppers were easier to kill than they should have been but the only good rolls we got were those choppers so it was probably balanced anyway.

We spent the rest of the game maneuvering our troops into position to make an all out assault. By the time we finally got around to making the attack the US were so dug in we had to dig them out with our mortars. They were in there like babies in a nursing blanket! Luckily our mortars did their job and pinned the US. One funny thing that did happen to the Americans were that they got hit by mortars and were pinned and it affected everything under the template so all of their units got pinned as they did that cheesy unit splitting thing so that made me laugh a little.

The end of the game had us winning due to the previously scored VP of taking all their choppers out and holding our own where they were on the verge of losing theirs. Had we played out the last two turns I think it would have been a decisive victory for the NVA despite the fact that they were using cheesy tactics. In the end it was a good game played by all. My gripe was with the game mechanic and not with the players. Good fun game and I will play it again albeit without that rule.

Rules Score: ++
Playbility: +++
Fun: +++

Pig Wars - The Whale
the dice tower is the whale...
By far the most fun at the convention was a silly game of Pig Wars with HORRIBLE terrain ran by Kel Sowers. This game was a riot! I love this game! The game was that our side (the green side with cool viking names) had to take on the blue side (with cool viking names). A whale had beached itself on our lands and we owned the whale but the blue team thought they owned the drift rights - hilarity ensued!

burn her!

The victory condion was described as whoever had the whale at the end. So, after some funning around about sheep, pigs, daughters and vikings I cocked up this plan and suggested to my team that we burn the whale. They agreed and after speaking with Kel we got torches. It was daytime but that really didn't matter to vikings. The blue team was coming in boats too so the other two guys decided we'd set the whale on fire and then steal the blue's boats. Since this is a stab your buddy game I decided that yes they'd do that and after I'd toss some fire onto their boats too as they left. muhahaha.
run away!

This is exactly what happened. The guys had a riot of a time. My guys were super sneaky and no one knew what we'd do. At first everyone was scared of the burning whale and thought it would explode and tried to leave but after a while they joined in tossing torches on the whale. The blue team tried to use harpoons to pull the whale with their boats. Really guys? Well that didn't work and it also turned their boats around when we cut the harpoons and threw them back at them. Oh it was a fun game. In the end, the blue leader decided to defect and join our green team. One green team clan was dead. His boat had mysteriously caught fire by my viking Hagar. Unfortunately no one knew where Hagar had gone. Hagar would be spoken about in the annals of history for many moons!

Rules Score: What Rules?
Playbility: +++++
Fun: +++++++++++++++++++++++++

I got to play a great game of Starmada with Joey, Steve and Kelly. Kelly is from a site I am on called Fans of Christ and it's a gamer/nerd/geek/cosplay group that is into all things gaming and geek but are very out and out Christian too. She actually walked up to me in the cafe as I was expressing my distaste at their business practices and I said she should come check out the miniature room as she had never played minis before. The Starmada game was a lot of fun. Steve ran his traditional battleship and missileboat combo and Kelly played a Mimbari where Joey played his Jabba fleet and Jacob and myself played some throw away ships that were designed I think to take out Steve's missile boats. I lasted four turns before all of my ships were destroyed. I was overly aggressive but I really enjoyed the game. I also came up with a game while playing it. It's a space game and will be part of a series of 10-15 page gamelettes that I will put up on RPGNOW for cheap.

Rules Score: ++++
Playbility: +++
Fun: ++++

I was supposed to play in Hillbillies game that Rick and Dan were running. This is the same Rick and Dan who inspired ICFBTS but they were not using my rules because they came up with their own. This is a good thing. Dan and Rick come up with some great fun rules and I was excited to play but by the time everyone got around the table people had bailed. They decided to cancel the game. They had played the day before and had a good turnout. Beautiful table I must say!

I ended up watching a short game of Battlefront and little bit and Star Fleet Encounters before I left. I also caught up with Jim and some other friends from long ago over a Blue Moon and had some great conversation before I went home.

A large part of the reason I was tired before the Hillbilly game was that I ran a huge table at the fleamarket and must have been in there for several hours. I was able to sell off lots of my gaming stuff that I didn't want anymore and made some good money in the process. I also traded my Attack and Attack Expansions games that I picked up years ago for a fully intact beautiful copy of Hero Quest. Both of us were VERY pleased with the trade!

Ending Comments
This year we had more people than ever! The ballroom featured historical and science fiction miniature games, the boardgame room had about sixty people playing games, the roleplaying room had about twenty people, the upstairs Flames of War tourney had some fifteen players, Sea Krieg had fifteen players or so and there were dedicated rooms specifically for Tombstone Frank's roleplaying madness!

My brother's Fairy Meat game (traditionally ran every Rapier) went well from what I heard. The theme this year was Spy vs Spy with a television and usable props in the game. Bob Moon ran a really cool Ironclads game and he said I was the inspiration for the game when he came over and played Ironclads last year. Mike Baker ran Dystopian Wars (I still have not played that game) and Starfleet Battles. There were ACW, AWI, Napoleonics games including a massive CLS (traditional) in the miniature room.

I would like them to fix the air conditioning. Really fix it. Yes the thing 'worked' but it did not keep us cool. The convention director and staff did an excellent job of keeping fans on us and of trying to get the place in a good condition for gaming.

I have nothing but praise to Chip and the crew of Rapiercon. Overall great convention for anyone who enjoys gaming - miniatures, roleplaying, boardgames, etc.


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