One of the premiere wargaming events, in the US, is currently taking place in Tempe, Arizona. Organized by John Krantz, ConSimWorld Expo (put together by the gang over at the always informative ConSimWorld website) is celebrating its eleventh year and it’s bigger than ever. Over 300 gamers of all ages are gathered at the Tempe Mission Palms hotel for a week of new and classic conflict games. Decision Games, Legion Wargames, our good friends at Victory Point Games, and other publishers are in attendance as well.
Here are some early thoughts from my short time, to this point, at the event…
On Monday, I swung in for the pre-registration day and spent a bit of time peeking around. Keep in mind the Expo hadn’t really kicked into gear yet but there were still plenty of folks already battling away in the main ballroom. I spied such well known classics as that old standby, long out of print The Civil War from Victory Games, the various stripes of GMT’s Commands and Colors series, Down in Flames (which we should see those dogfights in the European Theater reappearing as Wild Blue Yonder from GMT) as well as loads of other titles old and new. The registration desk wasn’t open at the time so I spent about an hour or so nosing around as, I suppose, a so called “member” of the press should. I knew the festivities wouldn’t be in full swing until later in the week so I didn’t stay very long.
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to get back to the Expo as I bailed out of work early (thankfully, I don’t think my boss ever visits TGG) to arrive while the Publisher’s Area was open. This is where I had my first opportunity to meet the men behind the great games we enjoy from VPG. I first had the pleasure of talking with Hermann Luttmann who has two games making their first appearance right here at CSW Expo – Gettyburg: The Wheatfield, the first in the Tattered Flags series and an all new States of Siege title, Dawn of the Zeds. Hermann also is in the midst of playtesting what will be the second sports game coming from VPG, High and Tight. I’m hoping to get a chance to try the design out since, as those of you who listen to the TGG podcast may remember, I’m a huge baseball fan and I’ve played loads of different titles over the years.
As I was chatting with Hermann, Terry Coleman – the man behind TC Tennis – recognized my voice and introduced himself. Soon Chris Taylor, one the most prolific of the VPG designers, and company business manager, Joshua Gottesman, joined the discussion. It was nice to finally put some faces with the names but, seeing I understood the gents were there to talk about Victory Point releases to the uninitiated and I didn’t want to monopolize their time, I swung around the room to introduce myself to the other publishers there.
I do find it pretty amazing that VPG has five, yes, five titles making their premieres here at the Expo: Dawn of the Zeds, The Alamo Remembered, Gettysburg: The Wheatfield, Keep Up the Fire, and I’m afraid that as I write this I can’t for the life of me remember the last.
Doh! I never claimed to be a real journalist here people…
Everyone in the Publishers Area was very nice although I have to admit, I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to talk with the representative of Legion Games. I’m not sure why he or she wasn’t manning the booth but I really wanted to ask about B-29 Superfortress. Since Elliott and I have a habit of making some sort of reference to the Avalon Hill classic, B-17 Queen of the Skies nearly every time the topic of solitaire gaming comes up, I’m interested in learning more about B-29. We’ve been told it is a fantastic ode to the AH game and we’d really dig it. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to talk with Legion Games a bit later in the expo.
I did make my way over to the registration desk and said hello to the extremely kind and helpful John Krantz just to make sure it was alright that I was here at the expo since I hadn’t obtained a registration. He was extremely generous in telling me that I was very welcome here at CSW Expo and to make myself at home. I’ll look to get in an interview with him if possible but, since he’s a one man army, it might not come to pass until after the show.
I did actually have a chance to get a game in and it was the GMT edition of Down in Flames. I hadn’t played before and there is an expo long tournament running in which players can jump in at any time and get a game in. So I watched about an hour of a “flight school” game that was taking place and then when a spot opened up in the tourney I jumped in. Flying as the Japanese, and ably assisted by Josh from VPG, my two pilots were able to kill an American bomber and a P-48 Lightning. Or maybe it was a Thunderbolt, I don’t remember. But later, as I passed by the event table, I spotted my name and two kills up on the board. Hooray!
After I had a chance to say hello to such other gaming luminaries as GMT’s Gene Billingsley and legendary designer Frank Chadwick, I enjoyed chatting with the always entertaining Alan Emrich, the driving force behind Victory Point Games, and spending a good hour having a blast talking with John Welsh, who oversees VPG’s States of Siege line. Of course I met or was introduced to quite a lot of other folks involved in the hobby but their names escape me at the moment and for that I do apologize.
I’ll be spending much more time at the expo so look for more updates throughout the weekend!