Barrage 2012 was a Huge Success

An early view of the gaming hall
An early view of the gaming hall

The Harford Area Weekly Kreigspeilers present our annual gaming day yesterday, 15 September in the Havre de Grace Community Center.  It was a huge success, with a number of firsts:

  • A new, larger, better-lit venue
  • A Flames of War tournament (with 18 of 24 available slots filled)
  • Expanded food service for lunch (hot dogs, drinks, chips, candy, and other snacks at a reasonable price)
  • Record attendance (which was exciting, given a new venue and the threat that folks from Northern Virginia wouldn’t drive to Northern Harford County.
  • Record number of dealer tables (Age of Glory, On Military Matters, Lost Battalion Games, and The War Store (Havre de Grace)).  All dealers reported a successful weekend and said they would return next year.
  • Record number of games for kids, including a table dedicated to kids all day
  • Record number of kids (6 or more youngsters who stayed all day and played in a wide variety of games)
One view of my War Rocket kids' game table
One view of my War Rocket kids' game table

This year’s attendance was 104, which does not include the HAWKs.  In HAWKs tradition, we pushed as many players as we could into games run by non-HAWKs who supported our convention by offering to run games.  I do not think that any GM who came to run a game didn’t have enough players to run it.  We cancelled two HAWKs-run games to ensure this was true.  There were no players turned away from games; everyone who came to Barrage was gainfully employed all day.

We think that the number, breadth, and quality of games were about right this year.  We need about 20 more gamers next year to fill all games.  If everyone brings one more friend next year, we’ll achieve that goal.

Another view of my War Rocket game
Another view of my War Rocket game

As is HAWKs tradition, we try to encourage younger gamers.  While previous Barrage game days have always features a large number of games for kids, this year we dedicated a table to kids games.  These included:  my War Rocket spaceship game, Rob Dean’s Hannibal game, Eric Schlegel’s ACW game, and Geoff Graff’s Lego pirate game.  In addition, Ken Frost ran the Lego pyramid game for which he won an award at Historicon 2012.

Rob Dean's Hannibal kids' game
Rob Dean's Hannibal kids' game

People often think the HAWKs are a much larger group than we are.  There are really about 12-15 regulars.  What makes us appear bigger than we are is the large percentage of folks who run games.  Just about all the HAWKs are active GMs in HAWKs meetings, in local gaming events, and in large HMGS East conventions.  What makes the HAWKs work is a dearth of hierarchy and bureaucracy.  Barrage is not an event run by a “convention team.”  It is a group effort in which everyone contributes to they extend they are able and comfortable.  Whether its organizing the event schedule (me), organizing the dealer area (Duncan), handling the back end logistics (Geoff), running games, setting up, tearing down, making sure non-HAWKs games are filled, donating food and supplies, working the registration desk, or whatever needs to be done, HAWKs manage Barrage in a decentralized manner with a minimum of fuss, angst, control, or organization.

Steve Gelhard's Shako Napoleonic game
Steve Gelhard's Shako Napoleonic game

As a new feature, we think we’ll offer a small number of Friday night games next year as well.

We are checking with the Recreation Center now to see when it is available for next year, but we’d like to do it a week later in September to avoid potential conflicts with Antietem and Defenders’ Day.  We’ll publish next year’s date as soon as we confirm it.  We hope to see each of you next year.
A piece of the action as Martians mix it up with the local fire brigade
A piece of the action as Martians mix it up with the local fire brigade

Two nights before Barrage, I still had people signing up to run games.  In fact, I was worried about not having enough tables.  This GASLIGHT War of the Worlds game was one of those last-minute additions.  I think this was the first time these guys had run GASLIGHT at a convention, but by all accounts it was hugely successful.

Tim Tilson's Black Powder Sandershausen game
Tim Tilson's Black Powder Sandershausen game
Bob and Cleo Liebl's Fire and Fury game
Bob and Cleo Liebl's Fire and Fury game

This was a really interesting game.  When the game began, the players’s force were on these big tiles.  Because of the fog, the players didn’t know who was on their left or right.  As the game progressed, tiles were moved, and the table was finally filled in with additional tiles.  It’s a very interesting concept from some of the nicest people in the hobby.

Mike Byrne's Force on Force modern Afghanistan game
Mike Byrne's Force on Force modern Afghanistan game
Bill Mollineau's French and Indian war game
Bill Mollineau's French and Indian war game
Heffners' perennial favorite: Aerodrome
Heffners' perennial favorite: Aerodrome

Aerodrome is popular with both kids and adults.  My kids go to conventions largely just to play this game.

Tank Nickle's tremendous Blood and Swash cowboy fight on a moving train
Tank Nickle's tremendous Blood and Swash cowboy fight on a moving train

Tank debuted this game at Historicon 2012.  He built a representation of a cowboy train that is large enough to move figures around inside it.  The game is a cowboy Blood and Swash game.  People can run along the roof of the train, fight inside, and even gamble.  This has become a crowd favorite.

Dave Wood's fantasy game using GASLIGHT
Dave Wood's fantasy game using GASLIGHT
The last game standing: Dave Wood's fantasy GASLIGHT game winding down
The last game standing: Dave Wood's fantasy GASLIGHT game winding down

We want to maintain the friendly, low-stress feel of Barrage, but the new venue provides room for growth.  In this picture you get a feel for the size of the main room.  There is a second room about half this size.  With enough growth we have flexibility to move tournament play into that room or put large, mega games in there.   We will grow slowly so as not to sacrifice the local nature of Barrage.  We need to add about 20 more games next year.

A part of the HAWKs crew that put on Barrage
A part of the HAWKs crew that put on Barrage

From left to right:  Geoff, Eric, Steve, Duncan, me (seated), Dave, Kurt (Charlie Brown shirt), Don, Chris (seated), Mike, Greg, and Tank (kneeling).  Missing from the picture are Rob, Ken, Norman, William, Don S., Bruce, and Jennifer.  My wife, who worked the food service with Jennifer most of the day, took the picture.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a more active, friendly, or productive gaming group anywhere in the world.

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