Tricon '98 Sets New Standard for Excellence
By: Byron Champlin
What can we say about Tricon '98? It was exciting, inspiring, thought provoking, exhausting! In short, everything we hoped it would be!
For starters, the weekend weather was perfect. Crisp, clear, sundrenched days that filled central Concord with hoards of tourists and locals, creating just the right bustle to complement the activity in Memorial Hall. Once again we have to thank the gentlemen of H.M. 10th Regiment of Foot for turning out in uniform to post sentry duty at the entrance of the con and give it just the right period flavor. A huzzah also goes to uniformed representatives of both the light company (AWI) and grenadier company (SYW) of H.M. 40th Regiment who also attended the con.
Registrations started briskly shortly after the doors opened at 7 a.m. and continued into the early afternoon. An unscientific headcount about mid day counted 120 bodies in the main hall.
Tricon '98 was graced by a number of first-class games, with strong (and welcome) support not only from Northern Conspirators, but from our brethren of the Northern Exiles, Battle Group Boston and the Connecticut Game Club, as well. Top honors went to Ted Roy for his breathtaking "Eyes on the Prize" 1/300 naval game, winner of the Pour le Merite Award and $50 in gift certificates. Ted's fully-rigged sailing ships, complete with 6mm crew, sailed into a masterfully-crafted harbor set off by a village, bluffs, sand dunes, shore batteries and local shipping. The little semaphore station by the lighthouse particularly impressed me! "Eyes on the Prize" was also recognized with the best painted naval unit award.
The Admiral Byng Award for the best naval game and $30 in gift certificates went to Phil Spera’s "Red Sky in Morning, Sailor Take Warning" conflict between French and British SWY squadrons in the East Indies. The Pour Encourager les Autres Award for the most inspiring game and $30 in gift certificates was presented to Jim Dirmaier for his "Armies that Go Bump in the Night" Marlborough game. Jim replicated the confusion of the Duke’s preferred tactic of crossing enemy lines at night by placing units and terrain on individual 2x2 tiles. Units that moved off one tile were never quite sure on what other tile they might appear. Nicely done!
Painting awards were also given to Peter Landry, for the 15mm French Revolution troops in his "Rivoli" game and for Ray Andrews’ classic 25mm AWI figures in "Blood Hounds in the Valley: The Battle of Klock’s Field."
Other games of note included Earl Richards' "Bloody Tomahawks III" FIW game in which significant terrain pieces (such as a fort!) only appeared on the tabletop when one unit or another stumbled upon them, as well as Mark Nichipor and Greg Symko's "Brandywine" game, played on two tables to represent both the British pinning attack and flanking movement on Washington's position. Fred Hubig graced the con again with one of his 28mm megagames, "French Invasion," while Peter Landry's "Rivoli" game featured the nicely painted figures mentioned above as well as attractive sculpted terrain boards. Not to be outdone, Ralph Gero put on (as one wag put it) his "usual oustanding game" with "The Battle of Bergen." Who but Ralph could make being outstanding a commonplace occurrence?!
Lectures at Tricon were well attended and set a new benchmark for excellence. Brent Nosworthy, author of "Anatomy of Victory" and "With Musket Cannon and Sword," attracted the largest audience with his carefully researched analysis of the evolution of small-unit skirmish tactics in Europe during the Seven Years War, but noted AWI expert George C. Neumann gave the most dramatic presentation in detailing how George Washington's leadership shaped an American army to win the "unwinnable war." Nigel Marsh, author of "Carnage and Glory," held both history and computer buffs spellbound with his overview of 18th century tactics and description of how he translated them to the new "Wars of Frederick the Great" module for his computer-moderated rules system. Gen. John Sullivan's grueling 1779 campaign against the western Indian tribes was detailed by Robert Mulligan, former military curator of the New York State Museum at Albany. Bob and his well-researched lectures are fast becoming a staple of Tricon, and it was good to have him back for another year.
Not to be outdone, at mid day Steve Taskavick graced the convention with a superb demonstration of 18th century military fife music, as well as a brief talk on military fashion of the period. It was a fascinating and informative interlude in the day's events.
Tricon '98 was well supported by vendors, with nine attending and a number more donating products or gift certificates so that every game awarded at least one table prize. Significant support was received from Two Tin Soldiers (Steve Keyer) and TCS (Leo Walsh), so please consider giving them your business. Also attending were Renaissance Ink, On Military Matters, Lincoln Hill Books, Change of Command painting service and John Durant Bookseller. The prize for traveling the farthest to attend Tricon was split between Outland Games and Dayton Painting Consortium, both from Ohio. For most of these firms this was a repeat year at Tricon, so please consider them when ordering books, terrain, unpainted lead or painted figures.
If, as Napoleon said, an army travels on its stomach, wargamers must get extra mileage on theirs! Fortunately, Tricon '98 attendees were amply supplied by the professional efforts of Carol Zanni, Beth Symko and Beth's sister Patty Jo, who are becoming something of an unofficial women's auxiliary after supporting three Tricons. Thank you ladies!
On Sunday, another perfect fall day, more than 20 stalwarts braved the vagaries of our return to Eastern Standard Time to meet Mark Nichipor near the North Bridge battle site for an absolutely absorbing recounting of the events of April, 1775, which set off the War of Independence. Mark, what can I say? You are the greatest! To cap it off, Mark arranged for a number of uniformed reenactors to join us and demonstrate militia and regular firing drill of the period. We retired to the Lexington Minute Man National Park visitor center where we were treated to the new multi-media program which, I must say, is the best I've seen at any National Park. If you haven't yet seen this program, you owe it to yourself to do so.
Finally, hats off and a loud huzzah! to all the Northern Conspirators who made this year's Tricon possible. You continue to show the rest of the hobby how it should be done! I in particular want to thank scheduler Ralph Gero, registrar A.J. Wright, venue coordinator Greg Symko and floor general Bob Rodgers for sterling service above and beyond the call of duty. Also to committee members Mike Coppinger, Tom DiGiuseppe, Leo Murphy, Mark Nichipor, Phil Hammond and George Zanni. Thank you gentlemen. And thank you Northern Conspiracy!