Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Winter War Preview: Sunday Morning

For those of you just tuning in, I've been spending some time giving my chatty opinions about the upcoming Winter War gaming convention. In its 34th year, Winter War is Illinois' oldest local boardgame, miniatures, and roleplaying convention. About 300 souls gather for a long weekend of dice-slinging and general fun. This year Winter War will be from Friday, February 9th to Sunday, February 11th at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign, IL. If you like cons that focus on games and gamers, not publishers and celebrities, then Winter War might be your kind of thing.

Today I'll be talking about the events on the pre-registration schedule for the Sunday morning of the con. For earlier events, check out my previews of Friday afternoon, Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening. And don't miss this update to the Friday and Saturday events.

Sunday, February 11th, 9am

Sometimes at cons (including Winter War) the Sunday morning events can be a little underwhelming. Alot of people game or debauche heavily the night before. But there are several good events on the schedule for Sunday morning run by straight shooters who will show up on time and run a fabulous game despite any festive activities the previous evening. As mentioned in every previous installment, the Advanced Squad Leader and Living Greyhawk people are expected to still be doing their respective things. Personally I can't play the same game for 2 and a half days straight, but different strokes for different folks.

The boardgame area features three guys running five games. Clark Barthel offers newbies a chance to try out Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix, a racing game that is totally new to me. Tom Hendricks (I really need to find out if this is the same Tom Hendricks I used to game with. That guy is cool.) offers another session of the chesslike game Feudal and also a board full of Shogun. My brother-in-law Jim will be running both Mississippi Queen and Puerto Rico. Both these games are good, clean fun and Jim is a great guy to have running a game. And I'm not just saying that because he's my wife's brother. Jim's great. Both of Jim's games are listed as 'newcomers welcome' but if you're new to both of them I suggest going with Mississippi Queen. While Jim can handle teaching Puerto Rico to newbies, that game takes longer to really grasp. Pick Mississippi Queen if you're going to the event to play a game, but go with Puerto Rico if you're there to learn a game. If you already know how to play Puerto Rico, then that's my pick for the Sunday morning boardgames. Great game, excellent game moderator.

Over in the miniatures depaartment we have six games on tap. '40K At Its Finest' is billed as a game where you show up, pick an army, and smash it against an opponent. This no-frills straight-to-the-point action is provided by Mr. Jake Welch. (I first read that name as Jack Welch, the ex-CEO of General Electric. I bet he'd play the Imperial Guard.) If you like your elves without lasers, then look to Russ Hartley's 25mm Victors of the Realms session, which promises hot human-on-demihuman action. Ron and Shawn Ralston offer a second session of Starmada Compendium, once again in a slot that makes the game unavailable to me. SC is one of those games I enjoy so much I bought an extra copy of the rules so that multiple people could reference stuff during play. Not that Starmada even requires that much page-flipping. The mechanics are simple and rock solid, delivering fun space-operatic capital ship shoot-em-ups.

Ken Vreeman, subject of much praise in previous installments in this series, will be offering an Advanced Civilization game. Advanced Civ is a much-beloved boardgame, but this event is slotted in the miniatures area. I presume this is because Mr. Vreeman will be using one of his large, elaborate custom boards with 25mm figures replacing the counters. If you like the idea of playing out some alternate history, consider 'The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming', a 6mm micro armor look at a speculative Russian invasion of West Germany in 1948. The rules for this scenario are Cold War Commander and the referees are Steve Massey and Terrance Haas.

In my opinion the most intriguing event in the miniatures area would be Chris Fawcett's French Foreign Legion event, 'The Last Remake of Beau Geste'. An emphasis on player interaction and secret agendas makes this event look like one of thos proto-RPG things that usually make for a great con game. If I wasn't running a game Sunday morning I'd probably be at the Starmada game, but don't let my personal obsession with exploding starcruisers keep you away from 'The Last Remake'.

Speaking of me running a game, as I type this I have the entire RPG room to myself Sunday morning. The RPGA folks will still be doing the voodoo that they do, but they usually get their own room. My event is entitled 'The Revenge of Obiwan Shinobi' and will be run using something resembling S. John Ross' faux retro sci-fi/fantasy freak-out, Encounter Critical. I ran EC last year and we all had a frickin' blast. If you like wild gonzo games with things like elf ninjas and robots that worship Satan, come and play Encounter Critical with me. This year Obiwan Shinobi, the newly-rebuilt robodroid warlock IG-666-A, and a new crew of adventurers will attempt to infiltrate the Crawling Chaoskeep of Darth Viraxis!

Okay, folks, only one more preview to go. Next time I'll go over the events scheduled for Sunday afternoon, the last session of Winter War.