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Posted on Oct 10, 2008 in Boardgames

Historical Miniatures Gaming at GenCon – Waxing or Waning?

By Paul Glasser

“I think it’s a combination of things,” Carroll said. “GenCon is held very close to (the date of) another major historical event, Historicon in Pennsylvania. I think many of them (miniatures dealers) choose to go there instead because of the price of gas.”

Carroll said that at Historicon historical events dominate the schedule, but there’s more diversity at GenCon because the convention is overall more diverse, including science fiction and fantasy games.

“That’s one of the benefits of attending a convention that is primarily sci-fi and fantasy based,” he said. “People like to try games they wouldn’t necessarily play at home.”

However, that also means historical miniatures are less in the spotlight than at events like Historicon and Origins, the latter held in Columbus, Ohio, each summer. Carroll said there are probably about the same number of historical games at Origins, but they make up a proportionally larger percentage of the total number of events.


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

However, not everyone’s happy with being relegated to a secondary position at GenCon. Sean Hixenbaugh, of Dayton, Ohio, said for a convention that draws more than 28,000 people, GenCon has a very weak historical gaming presence.

“It’s one of the biggest events of its type but I don’t think historic miniatures get the due they deserve from GenCon,” Hixenbaugh said.

His gaming group is part of the Great Lakes chapter of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society and for several years they did not attend GenCon. Hixenbaugh said they had problems at the convention before but returned last year and had a good time. His group ran several sessions of Aerodrome, a World War I biplane combat game, in 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, the games were hosted in a room near the main exhibit hall but in 2008 Hixenbaugh and his group were relocated across the street in the Mariott downtown hotel.

“We had a lot of walk-in traffic last year,” he said. “We filled every table for every game we had.”

But, this year, the remote location eliminated the chance of any walk-in players although most of the games were still full. Hixenbaugh said many of the participants were return players from 2007.

“I am not turned off to the convention itself,” he said. “I want to come back next year and hopefully things will keep getting better.”

All photos by Paul Glasser.


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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