Brant Guillory, 11 April 2022
While the BIG conventions are a smorgasbord of activities – huge vendor halls, massive tournaments, celebrity guests, and more – the smaller ones are much more gameplay-focused. With that in mind, we set off to Buckeye Game Fest for the first time 2007, back in the BayonetGames days.
While not a big convention, BGF pulls in several hundred people for a long weekend of gaming across a few rooms.
One big advantage of BGF is that they bring along the CABS library. This gives you access to the same board game library as the Board Room at Origins, but with a fraction of the cost, and without other players fighting you for the same games to check out. Yes, you need a panoramic photo to get it all into the picture, and no, that’s not all of it.
click images to enlarge
The War Room actually opens on Monday, whereas the rest of BGF doesn’t kick off until Thursday. This gives the monster game folks a few extra days to get those big games set up and ready to play, as well as the ability to get 6 hours/day of play while still leaving some time to explore other events at the convention.
This year, the La Battaile-series game covering Dresden camped out in one corner of The War Room for the week, and OCS Smolensk held down it’s own table for a few days, too. Song For War didn’t go up for a few more days, but it’s not a true “monster” because while it takes up a big table, it plays in under 4 hours.
Obviously for us, The War Room was the primary attraction. Somehow, Ardwulf lost a bet or accidentally unleashed an ancient curse or something, as he ended up in charge of The War Room event programming. Where The War Room usually attracts 3-5 monster games during the early part of the week, this year was still a bit light on those events as several of the key participants are not yet fully comfortable returning from COVID absences, or had schedule conflicts with a Spring BGF (it had previously been in the Fall).
With 2 full days on-site (Friday & Saturday), we saw and/or participated in games of (deep breath): OCS Smolensk, Successors, Tank on Tank, Fire in the Lake, Brief Border Wars, Conquest & Consequence, C&C Medieval, C&C Napoleonics, Liberty or Death, Napoleon’s Last Success, Cuba Libre, Song for War, Salerno ’43, Roads to Gettysburg, and Pax Pamir, at least. In addition to Ardwulf, Grant & Alexander from The Player’s Aid were there, as was designer (and friend-of-the-Dragoons) David Thompson. Many of the gamers were CABS regulars that I knew from my years of living in Columbus.
Song For War was one of the highlights. We saw this back at Origins 2021 for the first time, but didn’t get a chance to play because we were running our own Wargame HQ. But we kept in touch with the designers, hosted them on a pair of shows at the January ACDC, and will have them with us at Origins this summer. Our game featured me and Seth (one of the designers) against Chris (the other designer) and his son. Seth & I played the allies and pulled out a win with at least 2 turns to go, thanks to a feint out of Alexandria towards Italy, that turned toward the Balkans at the last minute and was able to wrest control of Athens from the German occupiers, thanks largely to air/sea cover coming out Crete (which we’d previously reconquered). We gave up Malta early in the game to focus on Sicily instead, but were later able to recover it while the Axis focused on retaking Sicily and trying to defend Tunis. It was a fascinating an fun game with some wild swings of momentum.
We snagged a quick interview with them, too, that you might’ve seen over the weekend.
Of course, there’s more than just wargaming going on at Buckeye Game Fest.
There is a very stacked raffle table of prizes.
There’s a small vendor room that still seemed too big for who was in there. Truthfully, the ones we’ve seen at MACE were larger / busier.
There was a main gaming room that wasn’t too full on Friday morning, but by Saturday afternoon was packed with games. Here’s just a smattering of what we saw on a pair of walk-through’s and even this isn’t everything that was on tables during those trips, as some of them were tucked against walls where it wasn’t easy to go get a picture. The giant racetrack is Thunder Alley writ large.
And a live look around the room
— The Armchair Dragoons (@ADragoons) April 9, 2022
Finally, the Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator was present, and unlike Origins, didn’t cost an extra $15. Ardwulf hopped into it at least 4 times that we know of. Here’s some footage from our event, with a bad cell phone angle from having it popped up on our monitor, plus a view of another crew operating their ship.
Live action! Ardwulf was doubling as the helm, plus the captain. I was manning the weapons station, with Lee behind me us engineering and another player on the science console out of frame on the left. The system operator was handling comms for us.
Big thanks to Ardwulf for hosting us in The War Room, and look for a wrap-up podcast with him later this week.
And yes, we’re coming back next year.
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