I am slowly recovering from my Enfilade convention. This post will deal chiefly with the convention from the standpoint of Kevin Smyth Convention Director, which is a lot different than the perspective of Kevin Smyth attendee and game host. That will follow in a subsequent post.
This will also include some opinions that are strictly impressions based on conversation and observation, have no basis in numbers and facts, but they are honest, so please forgive me if I seem to paint with an overly broad brush.
I’d like to say it was a normal convention with the floor packed, and games galore with attendees packed in the aisles. It wasn’t. We had 135 attendees and some 80ish games. There were 41 pre-registrants who were no-shows and 50+ walk-ups who registered at the convention.
I can’t say why people stayed away. I don’t have evidence except for anecdotes. One didn’t attend because we didn’t require evidence of vaccination. Five didn’t come because of the masking requirement. We had nineteen pre-registered Canadians who couldn’t come across the border. The majority, however, felt with infections spiking, mounting breakthrough infections and the ultra-transmissable Delta variant dominating it was too risky to a family member or important future plans to take a chance on getting sick. I was the contact for those who canceled for 2021, and those were the stories I heard. It’s not a complete record.
Look, I don’t want to be a downer. It was a weekend filled with happy, enthusiastic gamers. I hosted or co-hosted four games. All but one of them were full. As director, there were no significant complaints. Everyone I spoke to, and I make an effort to contact as many as possible, things seemed to be good. Vendors seemed to be selling products and the B and B was abuzz all weekend long.
Attendees seemed to know we were in a precarious financial condition and they were anxious to help. A few donated cash. Others supported NHMGS with purchases from a fully stocked Bring and Buy. One of our vendors–Games Plus/Stonehouse Miniatures sponsored a Magic Tournament with profits going to the convention. Eight gamers took part. Not bad.
While it would be super if Enfilade 2021 was like 2019, that simply wasn’t going to happen. The virus was spiking at precisely the wrong time. We missed those who chose not to come, but those who did had a good time.
Planning a convention is always a chore. I’ve done it before. It takes some time and diverts attention from what I really like to do which is running games. But someone needs to do it and I’m willing to be that guy periodically.
2019 is significant to this discussion because it was important for a couple of reasons. First, it was the last successful Enfilade. That was run by Alyssa Faden and Vic Cina. It was terrific. It was the most crowded and loudest convention ever in Enfilade’s nearly 30 year history. Tons of great events. They fully implemented digital game online registration for events, which I never had the courage to do. It was a blazing success, it was possibly the best Enfilade ever and I’ve been to all of them and had a hand in running many of them . We had every reason to look forward to simply getting better-though we also worried about out-growing our space.
Needless to say 2020 didn’t happen. I was in San Diego March 6th when my cruise to Mexico was canceled, but in the days before I came home I received an e-mail from a friend letting me know the president of NHMGS was gravely ill and would I be available to help. I was newly retired, with time on my hands. When I came home, my first job was to stay in contact with the convention hotel and in the end, due to the strict lockdown of the economy and social distancing, Enfilade 2020 became a footnote rather than an event.
In the months since the virus has ebbed and flowed and spiked and mutated. The NHMGS Board has really grown and fostered an air of quiet competence. We’ve met monthly, updated our by-laws and formulated a process for regular elections. But at the heart of everything was returning some sort of Enfilade, even if it is a rump get-together, not as big as its former self: understanding Covid would likely deter many from meeting in large groups until a more permanent solution began.
By November 2020 we were plotting. We needed to replace our registration website. This fell to yours truly retired guy. Mistake. The best, easiest web-building platform in the world still takes me three times longer to do than your average six-year-old. We looked for a February opening for our website to serve our normal Memorial Day weekend convention.
Covid spiked again in the winter. By late January vaccines were becoming available but they were rolling out slowly. At our January board meeting I pitched the idea of moving the convention to September assuming hotel availability. The Board approved, and I inquired. Labor Day weekend was available, and we agreed to plan for a different Enfilade.
We, were thrilled. Plus it allowed me some extra time to deal with the registration website fortifying my natural inclination to procrastinate.
Winter wore into spring. I was vaccinated in February and was raring to go. Played some games with friends in basements and began eating in restaurants. I was still carefully masked in public places. My friend David and I leaped into the Vietnam period, and became regular customers with Gringo 40’s. We adopted a Saturday night Zoom session so those interested could hang out and paint together while discussing whatever came to mind. We wisely avoided politics.
As Memorial Day weekend approached and vaccination levels were still increasing, we were feeling pretty good. Washington State was getting ready to fully open. No more phases that seemed to favor the Seattle area. No more capacity limits. We were poised for an awesome Enfilade comeback. But there was a troubling trend: Seattle’s vaccination rate was about 70%, but in Pierce County, where I live, at less than 40%. And that was a worrisome trend line the followed into the summer. Some parts of the state were doing really well with vaccinations, others were doing very poorly.
By the end of June, the Covid numbers were still quite good, but there was news of the Delta variant making its appearance. The numbers multiplied, spiked and spiked again. For those brave enough, naive enough or foolish enough to plan a convention for Labor Day, we sucked in our breath.
I have no illusions about those who attend Enfilade. Good people all. Wonderful people. Incredibly kind, helpful and generous people from all over the Pacific Northwest. Great gamers, wonderful modelers some of the consistently best painters I’ve ever seen. Fire and Fury gamers from Centralia, Armati players from White Rock, and my friends from the Puget Sound area who are just too busy with too many things to identify. I love them all truly.
But we are divided by politics. We’ve resisted the call for verification of vaccination. Though we believe the vast majority of attendees would be vaccinated, we estimate a good many would not. We held the line. No vax mandate. Maybe that was wrong. As the numbers mounted registered attendees began to dribble away. Not in droves, but maybe ten. Things in Olympia were rotten.
Even more worrisome were conditions at the border. No, not that border. Washington is a border state and documentation of the misery the border closing had was a popular topic since the March closing. Stories about loved ones who visited each other at Peace Arch Park, marriages at the park, and the odd case of Point Roberts and its unique geographic location are constantly in the news.
But Enfilade has a border problem too. Between 30-40 Canadians regularly attend Enfilade. They are great guys. They host wonderful games and an annual Saturday night party. They rent rooms. They are integral to the convention paying its bills. Despite what seemed to be clamoring by Americans to open the border and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeming to be the obstacle, we were pleased to hear in July that there seemed to be movement. Of course, this was all dashed when the Biden Administration followed a scheduled Canadian opening of August 9th with an announcement the US border would remain closed, confirmed on August 19th until at least September 21st. My Canadian friends would remain locked out of the convention.
Two weeks ago a crowd of 25K at an outdoor concert at the Gorge suffered over 200 infections. Vaccinations suggested, masking for those not inoculated. Sigh.
We’ve always held we would follow state Covid mandates reflected in our hotel rules. August 14th the State of Washington issued a mask mandate requiring that people wear masks in public areas including grocery stores, gyms and other public areas. The governor also announced required vaccinations for state employees, which is another story, but shows the requirements ratcheting up. When I asked the hotel about this they replied that guests would be required to wear masks out of their rooms and public spaces BUT NOT in the ballrooms and gaming spaces.
A mask mandate was going to be problematic. From my point of view it was desirable. The ballroom in a normal year would be terribly crowded. If Covid was present, if the unvaccinated were present, a mask would probably be a smart move. At least in theory. Of course wearing a mask to the grocery store and wearing a mask for three game periods of four hours each with an hour’s break in between, that’s a different problem.
With Covid cases skyrocketing and increasing evidence of breakthrough cases, the idea of requiring masks in some places in the hotel, but not where most of the people seemed to be congregating was a disaster. The chief response on our sizable Facebook page was one of outrage. We were sacrificing safety for the cover of misapplied rules. A trickle of non-attendees threatened to become a flood. I was on the verge of asking for an emergency board meeting to extend the mask mandate to the game areas, when we were saved–by the governor
Jay Inslee is a polarizing figure in Washington state. I have never been an enthusiastic supporter, but voted for him three times. Let’s not get into why. But he’s done a great job of protecting the state during the pandemic. Remember, the outbreak started here and he acted immediately. If you live in a state like Florida or Texas that has taken a lot of hands off measures, Inslee is the opposite. He locked the state down quickly and has only gradually let go of mandates and lockdowns. He’s earned a lot of enmity from conservatives, business organizations and the tourism industry, but was easily re-elected in November.
On August 18th he extended the mask mandate that forced the hotel to require masking in all public areas in the hotel including the ballroom and game spaces. The reaction on the Facebook page was almost a universal sigh of relief. Some didn’t like it and made plans to exit, rolling over their registrations to May 2022. Others claimed the crisis was hoax and others refused masking very pointedly. Though these issues have since been addressed and we are moving on, it made for a very uncomfortable 24 hours.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share the financial implications of all this to the convention, NHMGS and to the hotel . Like all conventions, we contract for services with the hotel. Both sides have to perform. The hotel provides services included in our contract, we promise to rent rooms, eat food, and be nice. We’ve been at Olympia Hotel (formerly the Olympia Red Lion) for twenty years and have never had difficulty exceeding our promises. It keeps our ballroom rental costs low and hence registration costs low. It’s a really great space, and our long relationship has been mutually beneficial.
It’s unlikely we’ll meet our obligations this year. As the Delta variant and rate of infection has mounted, we’ve shed room nights like rain running off a roof. We aren’t clear about attendance. All numbers are in jeopardy and the the convention and NHMGS are exposed to considerable loss. We can likely meet the number, but it’s going to be a tough year. And just to be clear, the effects of a down year are mutually destructive. The hotel puts on extra staff to provide service to us, prepares food for anticipated guests. They will likely share the pain (which we will need to make up.)
To date, August 25th, we have 43 cancellations. Of those 19 are Canadian attendees. I put them in a special class of attendees who don’t have a choice. They simply can’t get here. That doesn’t include a number of Canadian regulars who always register at the door. There are 12 attendees who have asked their registrations be rolled over to 2022. There are a further 11 attendees who are not going to attend but will donate their registrations to NHMGS. The last group is significant. Those donations are appreciated, but their loss also represents room nights lost at the hotel, not just dollars at the door and it complicates our obligations to the hotel. Two weeks ago we’d met our room night obligations. Today we’re in the hole. We’ve had a number of supporters who have donated significant funds to NHMGS in anticipation of our losses. I can’t thank them enough.
There is no blame that goes with any of this. Unfortunately it is what happens in the middle of a pandemic when infections spike. We seemed like such geniuses a couple of months ago when things were looking good. I certainly don’t feel quite so smart today. Hey I’m not looking for pity, dear readers, I’m just sharing our story with you. If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for listening
I’ll write a follow-up to the convention in a couple of weeks.
We’re about to start week two of Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay at Home self-quarantine. I confess to feeling cooped up, but I am painting for Enfilade which is only fifty some odd days away. I check the coronavirus numbers on the Washington Post that are updated regularly. Though the curve is bent somewhat, cases in Washington state continue to increase regularly. Though we should get an update for the governor’s ban on gatherings Tuesday, it’s hard to imagine the convention comes off. There simply is no good news.
Even so, I am planning as though the Enfilade is still a go. That means I have to finish my projects. I still have a couple of irons in the fire. The first is the Ploesti project. I hoped to have them finished by Sunday the 29th, but I just don’t see it happening. All the tedious lining is completed, but there is still lots of detailing to do–plexiglass panels, nose art, exhaust plumes, lettering and numbering and decals. Everything is a bit slow, because of the size of the miniatures. I’m hoping for Tuesday.
The other big project is the the Philippine-American scenario. This is one that still needs work. I finished the last of the American units today. There are still 32 more bolo-armed Philippine figures to paint. They’ll go fast, once I get started on them. I will have painted a considerable number of figures for this in the end. That’s great, wrapping up this project is high on my list. When the figures for this scenario is complete, I will still have plenty left to paint, but it’s a project I really want to wrap up.
In addition to the figures, however, is still a fair amount of stuff to do. I have a pair of 4Ground buildings to complete, plus some additional terrain bits to make that are central to the scenario. I’ve actually made a lot of progress in this area, but I still have a ways to go.
I’m far more concerned about a lack of opportunity to play test these games than I am finishing the work. The Stay-At-Home rules make things tough, both for places to play and gathering gamers together to play them. I think the Ploesti game will be fine, but the Philippine game has some moving parts that really need a couple of walks through.
In 1943 the Ford production line in Willow Run, MI wasn’t making cars, it was producing B-24 bombers for the USAAF. They went from producing autos with a couple of thousand parts to producing planes with about 1.5 million parts each. Workers could produce about 1.5 planes per hour. Not one Liberator completed from beginning to end in less than an hour, but once and a half planes rolling off the assembly line every hour. Pretty amazing.
At this moment I am also producing 1/300 B-24D’s for my Enfilade game. I don’t have nearly as many parts per plane, but I’m a lot slower. These are for the Ploesti game Dave Schueler and I hope to be running May 23rd. The game calls for 18 planes for six players, but I hope to have 24, so we can take a couple more just in case more players are interested.
One of Phil Bardsley’s most excellent B-24’s for the earlier iteration of Ploesti with Paul Hannah. No, mine won’t be nearly as nice.
Before I proceed on my how-to, I need to make it clear that Ploesti has been done before by two dear friends. At least a fifteen years ago, Phil Bardsley and Paul Hannah worked with Dave to run Ploesti using the Mustangs rules. They were both superb painters and their B-24’s are excellent. Their planes were painted in USAAF “Desert Pink.” Not an official color, this was actually USAAF Desert Sand that oxidized in the North African condition to a lighter, pinkish color. They mixed their own colors for their planes and did a fabulous job. Phil passed away a few years ago and I bought his bombers. They are little pieces of art. My planes won’t be Desert Pink, they’ll be USAAF olive drab, and while they’ll be well-painted, I’m simply not as good as Phil. There were plenty of both on the mission.
The Ploesti bombers flew B-24D’s with the big plexiglass greenhouse in the nose. Later Liberators had the big nose turret. Not many B-24’s available in 1/300 and Scotia makes the only B-24D. Thankfully, it’s a really nice miniature. The dozen I ordered were are very nicely scribed, well-cast, and didn’t come with their very long wings tied into a pretzel. They were reasonably inexpensive at only four pounds (4.61 a whack at today’s ridiculously low exchange rate.)
What you notice looking at them is, again, the long thin wings, the chunkiness off the fuselage, and the size of those twin tails connected by the large horizontal stabilizer. It will become a big deal for the modeler because they feel unbalanced, and holding them or maneuvering them around a paint brush is challenging.
When I started working on my planes the first thing I had to do was prep them for paint. Wings had to be straightened. It wasn’t severe but took some time and second looks. The twin tail and stabilizer likewise needed some time. Just apply counter-pressure and there isn’t a problem with breakage. There are some mold marks to deal with, especially down the fuselage. I scraped those off with a sharp X-Acto knife, but you could also use a needle file or sand paper. The latter might give you the best result, but I’m impatient. Paul always used to sand his planes, which eliminated pits in the castings. Again, I probably should have done that, but I’m kind of a loser.
Before moving on and priming, I decided to drill out locations for the flexible machine guns that festooned the early Liberators. I not-so-carefully identified the sites for these and drilled them out with a Dremel tool and a wee, tiny bit. You could use a pin vise, but the pewter is kind of resistant to slow turning drills. After I was done and cleaned out the holes I glued in toothbrush bristles, cutting them to size with a pair of floss scissors. Used CA glue for the adhesive
Moving on to primer, I used the Army Painter white spray primer. It’s a little spendy but it really covers well and a can lasts a long time. However, after the first four planes are completed I’ll be topping the white primer with Vallejo’s USA Olive Drab Primer. It will make working with my preferred paint so much easier. If it isn’t available at your local bricks and mortar store, you can order it from Amazon in a 200ml bottle for less than twenty bucks.
The paint scheme is pretty simple: olive drab over gray. There are lots of different colors you can work around. My preference is to use the Vallejo Air Colors series whenever possible, because they are matched most clearly with the historic colors. USAF Olive Drab is included with the American CBI Theater set. You get six bottles in each of the many sets available for about twenty bucks. It also includes an USAF Light Grey, which is also a great color for the undersides of wings and fuselage.
The first four B-24’s in base Olive Drab, awaiting dry brushing. The journey begins.
But I don’t you to go grab these and not know the risks in using them. These colors are designed for use with an air brush. The pigments are ground very fine and they simply don’t cover very well. I believe there are four coats of USAF Olive Drab on each of the first four bombers. I’m super happy with what I have, but it wasn’t easy, and I ordered two more bottle at almost eight dollars a whack to make sure I had enough to finish my project. I ended up not sticking with the USAF Light Grey and switched to Vallejo Sky Grey just because of the coverage issues.
I spent lots of time getting the base colors down, lots of coverage, lots of drying, then a the first of many shots of Dullcote. Painting planes this large means handling planes, and I didn’t want to rub anything off. I decided early on the big planes needed some weathering, so I mixed 50-50 olive drab and Vallejo Light Grey to get a nice lightened, but not too bright color. Then I carefully dry-brushed the wings, engines, tails, stabilizer and fuselage. More Dullcote.
Next up the lining. I used a charcoal rather than black over the olive. I used Vallejo light gray on the underside. Yes, it’s tricky but not impossible. You can always paint over egregious mistakes. Paint the motors and then it’s on to the black leading edges. This was actually a bit trickier, and I had to paint over some mistakes. The tail fin edges were particularly difficult because there is no scribing to give me a clue. In the end, I think my lines are too thick, but I’m gonna live with it. Dullcote again.
How much more detail do you want to include? From here it’s probably safe to paint the metal spinners on the propellers and proceed directly to decals. Because Phil’s planes include nose art, I decided to try my hand. His planes have such legible, clear hand-lettering and there is no possibility I can pull that off, hard as I might. I did some research on B-24 nose art, and tried my hand at Flak Alley, Doc, Hard Hearted Hannah, and The Goon. Are they great, no, but they’re good enough. These are all painted on the left side of the nose in front of the cockpit. On the right I painted the symbol for the Flying Eight-Balls, which are really hard to make out. I left room for a two digit number on the right.
On to the decals. Phil used the red-bordered star roundel with bars, which was a Pacific insignia. Pictures show just a roundel, often in pretty mangled condition with the yellow “Torch” band. I bought the latter from Flight Deck Decals. They are fast, reasonable and do some great work. Oddly, these American planes use an RAF tricolor tail flash. I had zillions of these from I-94 Enterprises. I stopped there.
That left just the numerals to paint and the tail letter for each plane. I painted the numerals white and the letter in Vallejo Golden Yellow, per the photos I’ve seen. That wrapped up the first four of twelve planes.
It was a terrific learning experience. I started the four before I left for San Diego, and it’s really taken most of the rest of the week to finish them. Hopefully I’ve learned some lessons along the way and I might be finished with the remaining eight by the end of the week.
Enfilade, for those not in the know, is the flagship miniature gaming convention in the Pacific Northwest. It’s hosted by the Northwest Miniature Gaming Society (NHMGS) at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia and welcomes 350+ guests from Northern California to British Columbia, from the Olympic Peninsula to Montana each Memorial Day weekend.
Because there are rental spaces and room reservations, it involves money which creates a certain amount of risk and reward in a typical year. Sometimes we make a few bucks, sometimes we lose a few bucks, but we have an extremely capable treasurer who has made an art form of effectively managing our funds. Our contract with the Red Lion is quite fair–as long as everyone shows up in a typical year.
This is not a typical year. Or maybe you haven’t turned on the news lately. Or noticed that traffic is down 30% (in the Puget Sound area.) Or been surprised that you’ll have to clonk some poor old lady on the noggin in the parking lot in order to snaggle some toilet paper. I went shopping yesterday and could not get these items: hand sanitizer, ketchup, rubbing alcohol, tp, soup, or olives. Weird mix of items. Nobody seems to be stockpiling fresh vegetables.
But I digress. Unfortunately in this age of the Covid 19 pandemic, NHMGS finds itself confronted what is truly an existential crisis. To cancel our convention in the face of what is a real health crisis, would force NHMGS to pay severe penalties in the tens of thousands of dollars, and force us, a small non-profit, into bankruptcy. Many of our members on Facebook have expressed an interest in attending in the face of the illness. However, others have fairly expressed their view the convention is too great a health risk, a danger to their families should they attend, and we should fold. At this time that’s not an option. NHMGS is between a rock and a hard place.
However, there is a potential rescue on the horizon. No NHMGS won’t be included in the federal bail-out package. It is the government in the form of Governor Jay Inslee’s social distancing proclamations that offer our best hope of weathering this storm . At the present time Enfilade would not pass muster against the state social distancing requirements under the current state of emergency. In the event of government regulation, contract canceled, we can plan for 2021. Yay, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, that proclamation expires on March 31st. Back to gloom and hopelessness.
However it’s inconceivable Inslee won’t extend the ban. The virus shows few signs of relenting as time progresses. States are erecting strict “shelter-in-place” laws further limiting social interaction, and I fully expect it is simply a matter of time before Washington does the same. However, despite anticipation of a future extension or deepening of the current proclamation, it’s unclear how long it will last. Until April 30th? May 15th? That would be the worst, being in limbo until two weeks or so before the convention. We’d have few attendees, thus little revenue, and we’d suffer penalties under our contract. Not only that, but the penalties for canceling the convention ramp up the closer we get to our Memorial Day weekend dates. Bigger rocks, worse hard places.
I recently accepted the NHMGS interim presidency after our elected leader fell quite ill. Of course I wish him well and a full recovery. Unfortunately the convention is foremost on my mind. The good news is that I work with a group of really great people, friends for many years. We’ll find a way to make it work.
In fact it’s been two weeks since I began this post, so Enfilade is even closer than it was. Yes, still more than five months away, but time is marching on.
I’ve written before that Enfilade usually guides my projects and 2020 will be no different. In fact, as the convention becomes more popular, with more people attending and more folks hosting games, Enfilade is no longer left begging for games at that last minute. When the website opens on January 1st there is a stampede of hosts rushing for the best times and best tables. He who has no plan is lost.
I refuse to be lost. I have a plan
Enfilade has six game periods and I’ll be running games in five of them. Some are finished, play tested and ready to go. Others still need a lot of work and I’ll offer more about them later.
Here in the order of game periods is my plan:
Friday afternoon: Mad Wet Max. This is the armed version of Thunderboats! It’s kinda cute. Lots of fun between missile launches, mine laying and the occasional shore-bound audience participation. Good way to start the convention. No, I have nothing left to prepare beyond a review of the rules.
Friday evening: The Buffalo Hunt. Another just kinda rollicking good time. I’ve run two of these games now, and I’ve picked up some very good suggestions both times. Players pick it up okay, so I shouldn’t have any residual headaches. All figures are painted, so aside from one more playtest, I shouldn’t have a lot left to do.
Saturday morning: Nothin’. I’m taking the morning off. It’s a good time for me to be lazy, look at games, yak with friends, maybe do some shopping or run down to Rainy Day Records . . . or not.
Saturday Afternoon: The Race to the Dan/ Rebels and Patriots. David Sullivan and I were interested in running another R and P game after the success of last year’s Retreat From Concord game. We both have a love of the Southern Campaign so I suggested a scenario that might fit with Green’s retreat to the Dan River and preparation for the Guilford Courthouse Campaign. It should be good, with about ten units per side. Some are painted, many are not. David is wisely hoping for several playtests so I’ve already begun painting and am making progress. But I do have minis on order from the UK, and it is Christmas time, so I’m hoping I don’t stall out.
Lee’s Legion foot (in purple) and three small units of Tarleton’s British Legion dragoons are four of the ten our so units I’ll be providing to the Race to the Dan game.
Saturday Evening: Ploesti/Airwar 1940. This will be a six-player cooperative game as U.S. commanders try to brave the flak, and each other, as they bomb the oil refineries in Romania. It will be modeled on the scenario that Phil and Paul created for Mustangs! many years ago. Again, playtests are in order. I have 11 B-24D’s to paint, so some work to do, but not a lot. A great way to end a day of gaming.
Osprey released its book on the Ploesti attack at the end of November. I think I was first in line to buy.
Sunday: My Philippine-American War figures will make their official debut. I have an idea for a six player game that will involve about ten units per side. There is still a fair amount of painting to do. Five units for the Americans, two for the Philippines and some miscellaneous weapons. More daunting is the terrain that will need to be built. While I have the bamboo forests and rice paddies finished, there is still some miscellaneous jungle terrain I’ll need to do. Not my long suit. Like Rebels and Patriots and Ploesti, this will require some playtesting
Fridays at Enfilade are always exciting. There are buddies to greet, treasures to find at the B and B, and then there is the early set-up.
I have a routine I like to follow: arrive by 11:00, check into my room, grab lunch in the restaurant with my friends, and decide if I want to play in a game during the first period. As more of game registration becomes electronic, the latter gets more difficult. But I knew I could race hydroplanes in Thunderboats!! Should I . . .?
I decided against it, and let Al Rivers run the game. I knew he’d be great and I could check in as the period went on to be sure it went well. That meant I could wander, take photos and catch up with friends as they rolled in. Oh, and keep track of the B and B of course. Here’s what I saw in the early period.
Chris Craft’s excellent Guilford Courthouse games using the Black Powder rules.
Nobody knows Lyn Bodin’s Imperialism rules like Bill Vanderpool does. Friday afternoon Bill ran Isandlwana, a full game with excited participants. Bill holds me responsible for his obsession with miniatures. I don’t think he needs me as an excuse for his good work.
Spencer Fisher’s Isola Della Bella game using the Lion Rampant rules
Colin Wilson prepares players for his spectacular Omaha Beach game.
Siege of Vicksburg using All Quiet on the Martian Front rules
Dean Motoyama’s lovely Winning Toulouse scenario, using the Black Powder rules
Gary Griess’ Winter on the English Channel using the Cruel Seas rules. (Stop staring Kevin, you can’t have them.)
Bruce Smith’s Battle of El Obeid game using a variant of the Rampant rules.
These are one-off photos of games deserving far more attention. From the upper left, Kevin Burke’s Auerstadt using the Shako rules; M.D. Preston’s Blownaparte’s Battalions game; Will Thompson’s Assault on Pacifica-12 using Galactic Knights; Mike Clinton’s Two-page Tanks scenario; Henry Thompson preparing for Wooden Oaths using Saga 2; Pete Fry’s Weitzel’s Mill using Rebels and Patriots; Al Rivers hydroplane racing, using Dave Schueler’s Thunderboats! rules; The Battle for Ravenna using Lion Rampant.
400 people crowded into a relatively confined space. They sought out their friends, and gathered together in their designated spaces. They became animated, told tales of what happened over the past year, their voices rose to barely below a shout. It was a very good day.
No it wasn’t the first day of school, it was the first day of Enfilade. The participants weren’t 16 year-old boys, they were 40, 50, 60 and 70 year olds, with a growing smattering of women and young folks. But, most, like me, were a bit stouter, a little less hair on top, and maybe a little creakier than 2018.
There was a pile of great-looking games. Most were historical, but also some great sci-fi and fantasy to meet the 2019 theme of Winter War theme popped up. Some I have pictures of, but others I don’ t. I’ll follow up in subsequent posts with reports and those photos.
But for this post I simply want to make the point that the most important part of Enfilade, for me, is seeing old friends, gaming with buddies, catching a beer or a meal with guys I admire, but only get to see once or twice a year.
Maybe as I near my 64th birthday and retirement, I’ve just gotten soft. Many of my wargaming buddies I’ve pushed figures with for 25, 30, 35 years and more. Some of them are like family and our relationship extends well beyond the game table. It is not an accident that I ran four games with David Sullivan and Dave Schueler, ate in the bar with them three times, even though I spent each of the previous two weekends with them. They are two of my dearest friends.
So, this weekend, which included hundreds of games, beverages with friends, and a purchase or two (or more) made in the B and B, they were made that much more poignant with the three estate sales hosted by friends and families of those we lost, the most concrete example of the passage of time and the graying of our hobby.
Not to seem too maudlin, Enfilade 2019 was a great convention, with lots of terrific games. It was a convention without major problems. It was a little like an annual class reunion. And to that end, for this entry, I’m sharing pictures just of the guys, doing what they love, playing games on Friday night. To all those pictured, and those who aren’t, I look forward to seeing you in 2020.
Thomas Moore navigates Gary Greer’s First Newbury game featuring Armati 2 rules.
Matt Rocco makes his plans for Knights and Lords, while GM M.D. Preston offers his insights.
Two young gamers prepare their impis to assault a thin red line in Bill Vanderpool’s Isandlwana.
Sometimes game turns take too long. Hurry it up guys!! Siege of Vicksburg game.
The Order of the Fez makes its appearance at Bruce Smith’s Battle of Obeid. Bruce, Bryan Shein and Damond Crump are all fezzed, while Dale Mickel wonders why he didn’t get the word.
Sorting out the where’s and whys of Spencer Fisher’s Isola Della Scalla scenario from Lion Rampant.
This collection of ne’er do wells played in our Skulking Way of War game. I’m the goob with the Mariners cap.
Ack! Enough already. I think everyone paints something that makes them crazy and for me it’s British grenadiers of the American Revolution. Red coats, bearskins and their front plates. Straps on straps on straps, lace, facing colors brass buttons or silver. Spare me.
I have 36 figures to finish, ideally before March 23rd when we do our first Concord run through. I have twelve figures about 85 percent complete. I’m ready to slit my wrists. I’d rather paint an army of Philippine soldiers in rayadillo.
Maybe it is the deadline element. Maybe it’s just that there are so many bits that need attention—like the musicians, I forgot to mention the musicians. Gah!! Maybe it’s remembering how great the late Phil Bardsley’s grenadiers looked when we did our Guilford Courthouse project back at Enfilade II in 1992. Great figures and mine . . . not so much.
In any case, I’d almost rather be painting anything else. Some F-8 Crusaders need my loving attention. I have a dozen Philippine infantry all picked out-in rayadillo, of course. It’s almost time to start painting some adversaries for the Philiippine Republic and I have those too.
One thing that I have learned from all this. When I finish the 36 grenadiers, that will follow 36 light infantry and 72 militia figures, all for the Concord game. I started working on these in Octoberish, and I think this is the last time I’ll paint for an Enfilade project. Rather, I’ll continue painting troops for Daniel Mersey’s games, or Airwar C 21 or Regimental Fire and Fury, but the game will have to find what I have at hand, and we’ll call it good.
One of my Enfilade projects will be to assemble and paint these 1970’s era hydroplanes courtesy of Sean McEvoy. It will be fun.
I’m a planner. Always have been when it comes to convention games. Last year I helped Dave with the St. Nazaire game, and ran a pair of sizable Lion Rampant games. They both required some prep time, but I made plans early and didn’t have to rush, except to get in a last minute play test. It involved hundreds and hundreds of miniatures and a car load of stuff.
I’m already making my Memorial Day plans and I’m aiming for a much smaller carload of stuff.
Here is what’s on the docket and what I’ll need to do to prepare
At least one session of Thunderboats!
This is my hydroplane racing game and I already have dozens of painted boats. But a couple years ago I bought the next generation of boats–all picklefork hulls and cab forward designs from the 1970’s from Sean McEvoy. I’ve been working on assembling them today. There are seven of them, and I’d like to get them all done for the con. Likely will run this game on Friday night.
May run a second session early Friday using the older boats. I have a couple of older boats to paint, including two drop sponson hulls and the huge Thriftway Two, which is one of a kind.
The Channel Dash 1942
This game will be modeled on the flight of the two German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisnau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen from the Breton port of Brest to German North Sea ports. Likely a Saturday afternoon and evening game.
This is probably a two session game I’ll do with Daveshoe. Dave is going to tackle the big ol’ models of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen. There are also some auxiliaries. Don’t know how many will need to be done. I’ll focus on painting some Royal Air Force planes. It’s shaping up to be a bunch of Spitfires, Whirlwinds, Beauforts and Swordfish. I may opt for a few more planes including some Wellington bombers just for the hell of it. Maybe two dozen planes in all.
The second period will be the attack of the British light naval forces on the forces screening the large German naval units. Not quite sure what my painting responsibilities will be here. I do have a great model of a German torpedo boat to assemble and paint.
A big ol Ironclads game
I’ve been negotiating with David Sullivan about dragging out some of our 1/600 scale ACW ships for an Ironclads game. I know, we mostly play Sail and Steam Navies around here these days, but I still have a fondness for the old Yaquinto rules. It’s going to be mostly hypothetical, though the ships will be mostly historical. It will involve forts and reversal of roles. I’m hoping to persuade David this should be a Sunday game, but I have more flexibility than he does.
Doesn’t look like my painting responsibilities should be too bad. I’m thinking a big Bay Area Yards star fort and a couple of ships, one of which I don’t own. Not sure, there may be more I have to pick up, but we’ll have to see.
What’s On Your Painting Table?
Stalled out painting the Volunteers of Ireland today. Will make progress this week.
With the Baueda tent safely painted and tucked away . . . somewhere, I moved on to working on my next project–Perry’s Volunteers of Ireland. Haven’t gotten too far with them. I worked on them for a couple of hours on Saturday during the Huskies apocalyptic failure against Oregon. Bleah. Made progress. Got very little of anything done today (Sunday.) Just not feeling great. Nursing some sort of weird virus that is giving me some nasty headache action.
Rather than paint, I decided to start working with the resin hydroplanes I’ll need to do for my racing game. These are all blank resin kits. They mostly require some sanding, but they also had much different tails from the hydroplane minis from the 60’s, so there is some assembly required-not my long suit. I’m not quite sure what boats I’ll be painting and I’ll definitely need some reference photos but, I’m leaning toward the following: Miss Pay N’ Pak, Atlas Van Lines, Squire Shop, Oh Boy Oberto, Miss Bardahl (checked version) and others.
And Now For Your Listening Pleasure
In 1986, the New Wave, the New Romantics, and disco had passed on. The Police were breaking up, and U2 was getting ready to record one of the best records of all time. The musical scene was fluid and and was fertile ground for an American band called The Smithereens. Especially For You was their first record and it is quite good. If you are of a certain age, remember the British Invasion, or have a fondness for bands like The Beatles (early phase,) the Kinks, or the Hollies, or even early Elvis Costello, you would recognize their influence in the music. It tends to be up-tempo and instrumentally straightforward, with lyrics that are anything but happy and carefree. There aren’t any throwaway tracks, and my favorites include “Strangers When We Meet,” “Time and Time Again,” and “Blood and Roses.” I’m actually interested in trying Green Thoughts, their second record. Definitely worth a listen.