It occurred to me last weekend as I attended Little Wars 2012 in Illinois to ask just what does a Solo Wargamer attend a wargaming convention for?
Well the first and simplest reason would be to GAME WITH OTHER PEOPLE but if Solo Wargamers were that inclined to game with others they would probably join a club or show up at hobby store gaming nights to game on a regular basis. Seeing as how we don’t do that then what else gets us out of our dens and out to game conventions sometimes four or more hours away.
Well as I thought about it I decided to break it down by looking at exactly what there is to do at a wargaming convention.
The Wargames Tables
One of my most important reasons for attending any convention as a solo wargamer is to look at and “play on” the marvelous wargames tables that are usually there. As you can see above in the WWII table reenacting the Great Escape the time and effort it would require me to create a dedicated table like that for “ONE” or maybe a few spinoff games is beyond impractical. So when I attend a wargames convention I look forward to first looking at these tables and getting ideas and getting inspired. For example on the table above – which I did play on – what I was really inspired to recreate was the great German POW camp:
Not only was this something I could pull off but it was something I could get a lot of use out and store somewhat easily. It was also something I could purchase a “dedicated” set of miniatures for and play them. Notice however how for the Solo Wargamer it makes much more sense to buy a few dedicated miniatures for a multipurpose piece of terrain than it does to buy or build a lot of dedicated terrain for all the conceivable scenarios you could use your army for.
The second biggest draw for me in attending wargames conventions as a Solo Wargamer are the game scenarios themselves. Even if the terrain is nothing spectacular like at most local wargames conventions I attend the thought and execution put into a good scenario can really inspire me to try the same scenario with a twist. For example in the game pictured which was a scenario based on a recreation of the movie ALIEN one part of the scenario called for our team to get a member uninterrupted access to a computer for six turns in order to call down a rescue ship. The problem in this game with the way that was executed however was that the “Alien” players knew my objective and simply sent ALL their Aliens at my team (which was one out of four) until they had killed the only guy on my team who could operate the computer. This really broke the scenario and resulted in the rest of the game being spent with the Aliens hunting down the humans in order of threat. What I believe would have worked better would have been if there were two “known objectives” and maybe two “unknown objectives” that way if the Alien players had spent their time preventing me from performing a known objective like calling for help. I could of noticed that and moved to a hidden objective like getting to an escape shuttle or something. In a Solo game though I would simply have required the Aliens to pass some kind of test to determine if they could even distinguish the significance of someone repairing a computer terminal. Other than that their default instinct would be to hunt and kill the nearest humans.
Finally, I think every gamer Solo or otherwise attends conventions hoping to purchase products and accessories from vendors they might otherwise not have in their area or simply not know about. On top of that there is also the opportunity to meet the people behind the games themselves and have them give you a one on one demonstration of their product. In the example above the lovely wife of the game creator of the new Sergeants Miniatures Wargame by Lost Battalion Games gave me an excellent review of the game which I have had quite a bit of interest in. In fact she had me on the verge of purchasing it for $100 but I preferred to try and get into an actual game before spending that much on one game at a convention. Unfortunately all the sessions ran at the con were full and I never got to demo it. But just meeting her and hearing about the game really made me aware of what is out there and whether or not it could be adapted for Solo play – which by the way – I believe this game certainly can be as it is very card driven and the squads are as small as four or five soldiers a side.
All in all there is a lot that even a Solo Wargamer can get out of a wargaming convention.