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Posted on Jul 11, 2005 in Stuff We Like

Game Convention Report: Tiller Con I

By Mark Adams

This author took the time to interview a few key people at the convention in between my battles. First was Rich Hamilton.

Author: Whose idea was it to put on Tiller Con I?

Rich: Actually, Ralph Peterson discussed it with me in 2003 at the last ACWGC reunion. He was putting out ideas of connecting up a bunch of computers to play head to head and multiplayer and even went so far as to offer the school he was the principal of as the place so that his computer lab would be used. Then Ralph switched schools and his idea sort of ground to a halt. At that point, I just picked it up and ran with it.

Author: What are your impressions of the Event?

Rich: I thought it went pretty well. Generally speaking, it went as planned. There were no major calamities and the guys had fun…THAT was the main thing.


Author: What did you want to accomplish with Tiller Con I?

Rich: I wanted to make sure that all the guys had a great time. I wanted to get them together to expose them to other games. Some of them only play one era of history. This would expose them to the other eras. I wanted them here to get more ideas, to meet the others, and more importantly build the community.

Author: Did you receive any support towards putting on this event?

Rich: Hmmm, do you mean monetarily or physically?

Monetarily, yes, from both John Tiller and HPS Simulations. They are really the reason we were able to go forward with this first venture.

Physically, yes there too. Ernie Sands was a HUGE help. He showed up a day early and helped me cart all the equipment up to the site in 4 van loads. He also helped throughout the event monitoring various things and helping to make sure things went smoothly. And he was there to the very end, helping pack it all back up and get it back to my place before turning in. His wife, Elaine, also helped by manning the table for a while and also making "munchie runs". 😉

Yourself as well, helping keep an eye on things during the event, setting up, and writing this article, which is very much appreciated!

Quite a few people helped out on Friday morning getting things in place…pretty much everyone, as they arrived. Glenn, Blackie, Mike Avanzini, Rick Bancroft, Bob Weir & John Tiller all helped tear-down as well.

There was also the work you and Bob did on the T-shirt, getting the design hammered out and making sure we were ready to roll with that. Very happy with Bob’s printing company as well. Good service, and will make sure to use him again for future needs.

Joe Amoral did the design for the banner too.

Other people offered at various points to do things, but really I was pretty nervous about pulling it all together so I did most of it myself…I can be a bit of a control freak and micro manager at times. 😉 For the next event I’ll be sure to delegate more, and line up more people for the various jobs!

In closing I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to come out for the event. Almost always I feel out-of-place when I get together with a bunch of guys, but not this last weekend. I was in a room with a bunch of guys who I could easily find common ground with. I could talk about something that really interested me and their eyes wouldn’t gloss over after thirty seconds. I value that, and hope we can do it again before too long.

The next person I interviewed was Glenn Saunders.

Author: What really made you decide to make the trek to Tiller Con I? What was the driving force?

Glenn: I decided to go before John Tiller said he was going to be there…I want that known up front. I wanted to meet the guys I’ve been working with for so long. I wanted to meet John Tiller and the whole crew. Everybody from John Tiller Software.

Author: What did you hope to accomplish?

Glenn: To meet the team AND the players. I spent so much time talking to everyone that I only played one game.

Author: Did you accomplish that mission?

Glenn: I certainly did.

I interviewed David "Blackie" Blackburn next.

Author: Did you gain anything from Tiller Con I?

Blackie: Oh, absolutely. Glenn and I worked on the Talonsoft Campaign Series. Glenn hooked me up with John in the last days of Talonsoft. Glenn told me to go with John when John started working on games for HPS. Coming to Tiller Con I solidified that decision for me. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Author: What was your reason for coming?

Blackie: To meet John Tiller and the rest of the crew. We’ve been so long working together, but not knowing each other. To work all this time not knowing who you’re working with is not really normal. I also came in hopes of educating the players so that they can make more scenarios.

Author: What is in store for Panzer Campaigns….of course only what you can let me know?

Blackie: Well, I think we will concentrate more on the eastern front with the odd west front game thrown in. Also we’re looking for areas for Modern Campaigns as well.

The last person I interviewed was John Tiller, but I had to ask him the questions via e-mail as I had to leave the convention early on Sunday.

Author: How do you view the future of war gaming in general and John Tiller Software / HPS to be more specific?

John: Our future in wargame development is very good since we have a very good combination of government and commercial development. That should sustain our efforts indefinitely.

Author: What was the main purpose for Tiller Con I in your opinion?

John: I really enjoyed talking with the players about the games and getting some individual feedback on them, but my biggest enjoyment was meeting the scenario designers in person, some of whom I had worked with for over five years and never met.

Author: I know that you were given tons of "advice" or "suggestions." Be honest now, how many of those suggestions do you really think will get taken care of?

John: We have already implemented the top change requested at the convention, that being a change to AT guns in Panzer Campaigns. We will continue to review and implement other changes as time goes on. Overall most people sounded pretty happy about the game engines and so we are just looking at making small improvements at this point.


I have to agree with John’s last answer I think all of the guys sounded pretty happy. All in all, and I talked to almost every other person at the convention, although attendance was small, only about fifty, I think Tiller Con I was a huge success. I had a blast and didn’t even win a game. Thanks to Rich Hamilton for organizing the entire Convention. Thanks to John Tiller for his support of the Convention. But, most of all, thanks to each and every guy who showed up….that made it all worthwhile and the best FREAKIN’ time I’ve had in a long time.

At the close of this article Rich Hamilton shared with me that the tentative plans are to have Tiller Con II in Kansas City in 2007. No specific date or location has been set at this time. The plan is to have it be a bi-annual event so that people can allocate vacation time to it without causing family problems, and also save up some money for the travel expenses. We’re hoping to have a lot more of the community come out to this more central location, and join in all the fun they missed out this time around.

Details on AT feature for the Panzer Campaigns series:

– AT guns no longer exert ZOC, rather thay are intended to support other units with ZOCs
– AT Guns will be allowed to retreat after taking some losses.
– AT Guns will cause more disruption when firing at Hard Targets


There are a few units which do not exert a Zone-of-Control:

. HQ units do not exert a Zone-of-Control.
. Supply units do not exert a Zone-of-Control.
. Broken units do not exert a Zone-of-Control.
. Towed Anti-Tank units do not exert a Zone-of-Control.

***( NOTE – this is the Tillercon change as these AT Gun units are intended to support other combat units and this will encourage players to stack the AT guns with Inf or other combat units on the front line and not use them as IP\Trench Diggers)

. Units which have a Facing do not exert a Zone-of-Control in the hexes they are not facing.

Special Retreat Rule
Normally, units which must be in Travel Mode to move cannot retreat as a result of combat and are automatically eliminated if they are forced to retreat. There is one exception to this rule:

. Towed Anti-Tank guns (that are not immobile) suffer 50% losses to their strength after the assault is resolved, but are allowed to retreat and automatically enter Travel Mode.

*** ( NOTE – this way not only will the guns not be killed outright but they will be left in T mode so they can withdraw without drawing OP Fire by changing into T Mode)

Special Disruption Rules
As a result of being fired upon, the target unit may have to take a morale check to determine its Disruption and Broken status as described in the section on Combat Results. There are some modifiers to this effect:

. When an indirect fire unit fires on a Hard Target, either hard vehicles or units deployed in a hard fortification, then the disruption effect is twice that of normal.

. When towed anti-tank guns fire on a hard vehicle, the disruption effect is twice that of normal.

*** (Note – These changes will correctly make the AT Guns more effective against tanks massing for assault and further encourage players to use them in support of other combat units on the front line.)

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