NOTE: This spring and summer were very busy, as well as very eventful for me. I got way behind with posting on the Dog Blog. I am going to try to catch up, and as I do I will post events in chronological order. Some of them were a while ago but I will write what I remember.
It was a good trip before I even got to Tempe Arizona for Consimworld Expo. On the trip down I had visited Hill Aerospace Museum and climbed Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. Those are described in previous posts. But after that my drive took me longer than expected. I even got stuck on the interstate near Sedona. A semi flipped and completely blocked the freeway for about twenty minutes. I finally made it to Tempe about 5 pm. That was later than I had planned to meet my friend Ralph for our game. It worked out though because he had an early game that went longer than expected. When we play he always complains that I move way too slowly, but the next day during our game even he had to admit that I was faster than his first opponent.
Another benefit was that it had a chance to cool off. The high temperature in Phoenix was 115 that day, but by the time I got to my hotel it had already cooled off to only 113 degrees.
Ralph and I started our game first thing on Sunday. We played Ici, C'est la France, a game on the Algerian War of Independence. I was anxious to try it as I have been playing a lot more games about modern counterinsurgencies ever since my sons went into the military and deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The game has a good reputation too. I played the FLN (revolutionaries) but after initial success completely stalled out. Ralph didn't like the game even though he won but I would really like to try it again. I think I got too hung up on controlling territory and didn't think enough about influencing public opinion. I made a noob mistake - not focusing on the victory conditions.
We were playing in the open gaming area right at the entrance to the gaming hall. Randy Lein, who owns Legion Wargames (which published our game), stopped by and talked to us about the game. He mentioned that there was a new map with some corrections that was in the second edition. I told him I definitely wanted to buy the new map. Next morning when I came in I found a copy of the new map set on our game. When I asked Randy about it he said it was his way of thanking us for playing his game right at the front door on the first day of the convention. Thanks Randy!
For the next two days I was playing the Storm Over series. First I had a game of Storm Over Stalingrad with Nick M. We were both experienced at this game. Nick played well and won as the Russians. Ok, so then I was 0-2 for the convention. We followed with Storm Over Dien Bien Phu. It was my first game and I took the Viet Minh. This time history was reversed and Nick won again playing the French. That made it 0-3. Oh well. I reminded myself that it was about having fun and not about winning.
I finally got on the scoreboard the next day when I played Storm Over Dien Bien Phu, against Ken N. This time I won as the French. I guess it showed that I had been paying attention the day before.
The next day I fianally got to start my big game. Sandy bought a copy of the megagame version of Russia Besieged for me as a gift. It took her almost two years before it finally got shipped to me, but for all that trouble the game really is fantastic. Russia Besieged is a great game to begin with. It is heavily based on The Russian Campaign, one of the great classics that I played often years ago. It has lots of improvements to the map, the counters, the order of battle and the rules such that I have no desire to go back to TRC. The megagame version has an oversized map printed on vinyl, and large one inch square plastic counters. It really is a beautiful and impressive game. I figured we needed a table so I requested one for a monster game (it is called MonsterCon for a reason). My opponent, Dennis O, wasn't able to start until Tuesday. I was worried that with the table sitting unused for two days it would get taken over. But there was plenty of space at the con and our table was still waiting for us when we were finally ready to start.
I played the Germans and did well. In 1941 I was able to take Leningrad. In 1942 I took Moscow. But as often happens my offensive stalled in 1943, sadly short of Stalingrad so I didn't get a sudden death victory. I had to hunker down when the inevitable Soviet counterattack came and started to push me back. I actually think playing the Germans on the defensive in the late war is the most challenging part of Russia Besieged. I was able to slow the Russians down enough that they were still quite a way from Berlin when time ran out in 1945. So RB ended with a win for me.
I got in one more game of Storm Over Dien Bien Phu. I was able to win as the French again to even my record for the con at 3-3. Not too bad.
The game auction is always one of the high points of CSWE for me. This time I had brought some games to sell, including an unpunched ziploc copy of Korsun Pocket in beautiful condition, an old classic monster east front game. It actually sold for the highest price of any single game in the auction at $235. The gentleman who bought it had come all the way from England for the convention and mentioned that he already had a copy of the game. He was buying it as a "spare copy". I was impressed. Now that's a wargame collector!
I didn't buy anything at the auction. I hardly even bid. But I made up for it by getting a lot of stuff at the flea market tables and from the vendor room. One of the reasons that I drive so far for wargame conventions is so I have room to haul lots of new wargames home.
When I got back to my hotel I did discover a major screwup. When I made my reservation online months before I got the end date wrong. I was one night short! So the cleaning people had gone into my room expecting to get it ready for the next guest and discovered boxes and boxes of wargames that I had brought along. Fortunately the hotel wasn't full so they just charged me for one more night. I would have been really unhappy if I had come home and found all my wargames sitting in a pile on sidewalk outside the hotel!
For the drive home I decided to take the slightly shorter but much more lonely route through Nevada. I ran into major problems only an hour from Phoenix when the road was closed and no detour was signed. It took me an hour to figure out how to get around the closure. Finally I was desperate enough that I actually stopped at a gas station and asked directions. After that it was straightforward all the way home.
It had been an entire week of nothing but eat, sleep and wargames. Now it was time to focus on hiking for the rest of the summer.