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Posted on Oct 10, 2008 in Boardgames

Historical Miniatures Gaming at GenCon – Waxing or Waning?

By Paul Glasser

Yanks and Rebs clash in desperate hand-to-hand fighting at GenCon 2008.

"They’re very happy to have us here, but we are seen as an adjunct, and rightly so.”

Editor’s note – has always covered wargames in board and computer format. After members of our staff saw the increased number of miniatures games at Origins and the packed house at Historicon this summer, we made the decision to begin coverage of historical miniatures gaming where appropriate as well.

In the past, we have not generally covered miniatures because they are not "out-of-the-box" games. However, the advent of such out-of-the-box titles such as Axis and Allies and Wings of War (Miniatures have to be purchased separately for WoW, but even using the cards that come in the game box provides an essentially miniatures-style game.) broadens miniatures appeal. From time to time, we will also look at more traditional miniatures games. To begin, ACG asked regular contributor Paul Glasser to report on the state of miniatures gaming at GenCon.


The diversity and popularity of historical miniatures games at GenCon has waxed and waned since the event began more than 40 years ago but presently is enjoying an upswing.

Colonel Lou Zocchi, a long-time exhibitor at GenCon, recalled how one of the first annual meetings – then held in Wisconsin – included a large Ancients battle with Persian, barbarian, Greek and Roman armies. The eight male players were about to begin a bloody free-for-all when a “cute young girl” walked up with seven cigar boxes full of Amazon warriors, Zocchi said.

“She rolled them up (the eight male players),” Zocchi said. “They all came out long-faced.”

In 2008, GenCon, which has been held in Indianapolis for several years, included 130 historical miniature events among its activities, including World War I, World War II, Civil War, Ancient and Napoleonic battles.

Kevin Carroll, a member of the Indianapolis-based group Game Korps, hosted a Civil War miniatures game using the Fire & Fury game system. He said the popularity of historical miniatures has grown at GenCon in the last few years although the number of vendors selling historical miniatures at the exhibit hall dropped to almost zero this year.

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  1. Miniatures gaming is the fastest growing segment of the hobby, while boardgaming is dying out (literally). It would be foolish not to leverage the potential of both.

  2. Having attended Historicon, GenCon, and Origins each at least once in the last 5 years, I prefer Origins because of the War College. The lectures by people like Carlo d’Este and Pete Panzeri are well worth the price of admission, travel, etc.

  3. We run Skirmish Games Day in Plano,Texas annually. It’s for historical and a smattering of non-historical games. We’ve packed the house each year we’ve run it, expanded the space, packed it over and over. We’ve got games on waiting lists. don’t know what would make one think because vendors don’t choose to attend one could extrapolate the hobby is dying. That’s a stretch.
    Later…gotta’ go paint!

    Steve Miller