On February 28th and March 1st the Hamburger Tactica 2009 wargaming convention was taking place in Hamburg, Germany. I went there on Saturday with two fellow Pirates from my weekly Legends of the High Seas gaming group, Jens and Peter.
There were tons of gaming boards with amazing scenery, display miniatures and shops that offered everything a tabletop gamer could wish for. There was so much eye candy that I felt like gaining a pound with every new showcase and board I came across. I was delightfully surprised to see Foundry Pirates by Tom Weiss displayed among many other superbly painted miniatures.
Amongst the most impressive scenery pieces was undoubtedly the gigantic Elven Port by Wolfgang Jädtke (of Mordheim board fame, amongst other amazing works). I had seen photos of the port before and it was great seeing it in reality. You can see more photos of this beauty on Gidian-Gelände.
Another diorama that really stood out to me was Frank Bauer's medieval joust scene:
My favourite gaming board at this year's Tactica was Rux' stunning Tortuga Island, where stunning games of Legends of the High Seas were held. I saw the board at last year's Tactica, where it was used for Legends of the Old West. It was already incredible then but the port section was missing and this time it was even more spectecular. You can see lots of photos of the table from the 2007 Tactica here.
The first game we played was from the amazing "Oh, wie schön ist Panama!" set-up held by the "Kurpfalz Feldherrn". They had three tables dealing with Henry Morgan's assault on Panama in January 1671. The outcomes of the two smirmish scenarios (one of them also using the Legends of the High Seas rules) could affect the large 15mm battle (Crusader rules) on the third table. We played one of the skirmishes (not the LotHS one, because we already play that every week), which was a mix of role-playing and mini skirmish, designed and excellently game-mastered by "Wraith" (of the Sweetwater Forum). He explained to us that he originally wrote the rules for the gangster era but they were easy to ammend to the swashbuckling setting.
Each of us controlled one pirate figure and our mission was to gather information on the whereabouts of one of the enemy's captains so Morgan would have an advantage in the battle on the other table. The gathering of information was abstracted to collecting cards and the first to have a full house or flush would win the game. If we failed to achieve this within 8 turns we'd all lose the game. So we quickly went to talk to the townsfolk of the little seaport. Peter was threatening a noble Lady just to get his ass whiped by her swashbuckling fiancé and later he was pushed from the docks into the muddy water by a longshoreman. Jens went straight to the tavern - probably a reflex ;P We all had our ears talked off by a zealous priest and tried our luck at the brothel.
Despite quite a number of cards drawn we failed to accumulate a winning hand and it looked as if we were all going to fail our mission, when, in the last turn, I found the missing piece of the puzzle in the treasure chest of the tavern's guestroom (which Jens ironically opened for me after stealing the keys from the barmaid, but he was busy duelling the upset inhabitant who had been... "talking" to a, uhm, lady when the door was opened). So I got to draw two more cards and won with 3x Joker, 2x Queen.
We all had a real blast playing this scenario. Capt'n Morgan was generous and awarded me with an extra ration of his finest rum for my victory:
The second (and last) game we played was a slightly amended version of the Pit Fighter rules from issues 1 to 3 of Games Workshop's short-lived "Fanatic Magazine". The rules used to be available on the Specialist Games website, which was taken down recently. If you are interested, you can still get the PDFs from the files section of the Mordheim Yahoo group, though.
This game was a 6-way with one gladiator per player. The game lasted for around two hours which was quite exhausting for all of us (more so probably for Jens who managed to die very early on). Maybe we were too many people, but it was definately also due to lots of 1s we rolled in critical situations where a 2+ would have meant the death of an enemy.
Nevertheless, the game was really fun. I had always wanted to play the game because it seemed quite interesting from reading the rules in Fanatic Magazine. I was fourth to leave the game, closely missing the grand finale. I think I will build some kind of simple arena some time in the near future and paint up some gadiators (I have a bunch of Foundry ones burried in my lead mountain). This is a really cool game system, ideal for spending an evening with friends and having some board game fun.
I had made a list of things I was going to look for and I didn't bring much more money than I would need. Anything else would spell bankruptcy for me on such an event.
I had pre-ordered a few things at MiniaturicuM as they had a considerable discount on pre-ordered stuff. This allowed me to get the Old Glory Brigantine for less than I would pay if I ordered it directly from Old Glory UK. An opportunity too good to pass, especially since my pirate crew is still waiting for a proper vessel.
I also purchased a copy of the Gloire rulebook. I have been wanting to try these rules for quite some time and I have only heard the greatest of praises concerning Rattrap's products so far so I figured it was time to check it out.
Battlefield Berlin was offering a 15% discount on all pre-ordered products so I took the opportunity to acquire some miniatures for my Gierburg project.
I have been wanting to acquire the incredible Assassins from Freebooter Miniatures ever since I first saw them. They are really awesome sculpts with a very unique style. Browsing Battlefield's online shop I came across the range of a small company called CustomMadeMinis. I really liked their rogue model, which will be great as one of the less reputable characters for my Gierburg project. Lastly, Battlefield was having a special 50% discount on Rackham's Cadwallon range. Althoug the miniatures are on the larger side the Cadwallon Militia box was too tempting to not add it to my pre-order.
And as always I couldn't resist stopping by the stand of Pardulon and buying a bunch of useful bits. I had wanted to buy their cellar entrance buy sadly they didn't have any left.
Lastly (and indeed certainly not least) I stopped by the stand of Grey Funnel Line. I had been waiting to buy miniNatur ivy for weeks so I was glad to finally acquire it. It is what I need to put the finishing touches on my first Gierburg house so I am glad that I will now be able to complete that one.
Those of you who frequent the Gidian-Gelände Forum will know that Wolfgang (see Elven Port above) is working on a new Imperial City board. This means that he doesn't need his old Imperial Village anymore and I, well, I volunteered to help him get rid of it :)
Unfortunately Wolfgang couldn't make it to the show so I was given this huge package and bag by the organizers:
When set up (on my kitchen table), the remains of Wolfgang's village look like this:
Check out this tavern with removable roof and floor:
Many many thanks to Wolfgang for giving this cool board and the houses away (for free!). I very much look forward to restoring this terrain and making it a full-fledged gaming board again
There were many more very impressive gaming tables at the show and I took very few photos. There will be more photos up soon on the Hamburger Tactica homepage, so look out for that!
With all these new acquisitions I made I will have enough to do for the next couple of weeks. The first thing I will do is finish the Blue Wolf Inn, the first building for my Gierburg table. Then I will tend to the Brigantine. I can't wait to have my pirates sail the seven seas on that vessel.
Finally, I have to say thank you to Jens and Peter for coming with me to the Tactica, and especially to Peter for chauffeuring us, as I have no idea how I should have taken all this stuff home by train.
It was a great day and I hope I will be able to make it to the next Tactica in 2010!
EDIT: For more pictures check out the Tactica galleries of Unfinished Armies, Westfalia Chris and Thorbjørn Nielsen (of Lead Adventure Forum).