Goonhammer Historicals: Lard America at HistoriCon 2023

HistoriCon, an annual convention put on by HMGS, just happened last week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is one of three yearly cons – the one that happens in the summer. I took the opportunity to attend this year because my brother was interested in it. My family came along with me and we made it a summer vacation – stopping at Fort Ligonier, Gettysburg, and other cool sights on the way there.

Our online club, Lard America, hosted a ton of games. If you’re unfamiliar with HistoriCon, most games you register for are participation games – a GM shows up with all the minis, all the terrain, sets up, and guides 2-6 or more players through the rules and scenario. There are a few tournaments where players bring their own minis and play, but few compared to some other cons.

I’ve been to Fall In, the fall season HMGS con, twice. It was in the Lancaster Host hotel that was at that time, very dilapidated. Electricity didn’t work in some rooms and the roof was falling off. I’ve heard it’s since been renovated but I have no idea. HistoriCon was held this time in the Lancaster county convention center in downtown Lancaster. It’s a beautiful, modern hotel with modern ballrooms to play in. I’d like to cover the whole experience broken down in sections so you can get an idea of what it was like. I tried to get photos of every Lard America game that I could to include here.


Registration happens at a few months in advance. Game masters are requested and submit their games. I submitted mine through our club liaison, Ed. He did a great job of organizing and making sure we weren’t stepping on each other’s time slots. Once we had all sent our games in and they were checked etc., HMGS put up a list of all the games, and then opened registration.

Sharp Practice 1812 by Ed B and Patrick B. Credit: Michael O “mugginns”

Registration is fairly cheap as cons go, and you actually get free downtown parking included, so it’s a deal. Unlike AdeptiCon, you don’t pay per game – you pay a con fee then register for games for free. This seems nice but it feels like a lot of people sign up for a ton of games and lock others out, then sometimes don’t show. I only managed to get into two Lard America games as they filled up very quickly.

I wish the registration site had a way to filter better. You can look at games by day and time, but I really want the ability to filter on rulesets. I generally only play TooFatLardies games at conventions so I want to be able to filter by Sharp Practice, Chain of Command, etc. Otherwise the list of games is humungous and very difficult to read. I also want to do this in the app so I can try to show up for games I couldn’t register for and get a spot.

I don’t generally get event t-shirts but I had to get one this year because it had a painting of the Mexican American War on it and I ran a game in that time period. Plus it was only $15, a super deal.

Showing up and getting my tickets to games etc. was incredibly easy. They print it off right there really quickly and then give you a parking validation ticket. Props to HMGS volunteers for making it easy.

The Place

The downtown hotel that HistoriCon is in is very nice, modern, and clean. The Con itself had three main rooms – the vendor hall / gaming hall on the first floor, 2nd floor hall, and third floor hall. There were other rooms but I generally didn’t go in them. There were some hallway games as well.

The entrance to Lard America. Credit: Michael O “mugginns”

To be honest, they were convention center ballrooms. They’re very similar to others I’ve been in, especially AdeptiCon. The third floor rooms were very well lit while the second floor room was not. The vendor hall was very nice and well lit. Elevators were working well and didn’t take forever.

Senno Chain of Command game by Tim M. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

The one major issue I had was that the parking garage needed more maintenance. Friday morning I came in with a drink in each hand (one for my brother, one for me) and the stairs were wet. I slipped on a garage step and fell down probably six stairs on my back and rear end. It hurt a ton, but luckily I didn’t hit my head or break anything. I stank like coffee for the rest of the day. It was pretty humiliating but could have been worse. I’m 40 and out of shape but I’m glad it didn’t happen to an old timer.

O Group game by Andy B. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

I really wish we had more space – it was impossibly loud in our room on Friday and Saturday. Gamers were butting through chairs because tables were pretty packed. It would have been super nice to have extra tables available to do some club games – games where we could do just private Lard America games without guests. I hope we can get that figured out for next year.

Overall I give the venue an A. Much better than previous HMGS cons I’ve been to, where the venue seemed like it should have been condemned. Food was decent but expensive but not insanely. Plenty of stuff nearby to eat. I drove in from an AirBNB and didn’t have troubles parking in the garage, plus parking was free. A++.

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My Game

I ran a Mexican-American War game using Sharp Practice. I’ve been furiously painting for this game for months and ran into a HUGE f-up just two weeks before the convention. I went out to the garage to spray clear coat on 60+ US models that I had just finished and based. Instead of painting matte spray, I blasted them all with white primer. It was devastating.

Light infantry pour skirmisher fire into the advancing regulars while the lancers attempt to move around. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

I somehow spent every late night and finished them just before we left for the con, but I couldn’t paint the Mexican cavalry I had intended on using. I ended up painting the cav in the AirBNB but it meant that I didn’t have prep time for my What a Cowboy game and ended up cancelling that game. My Sharp Practice game was on Saturday so I had time to finish the cav, but just in time.

Regulars form line. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

The game involved two forces – a force of US regulars advancing after Cerro Gordo and a force of Mexican light infantry attempting to guard the retreat of the main Mexican force.

Mexican Level 3 Leader (9 pts)
2 Groups of Mexican Light Infantry, Regulars, 18 points (24 models)

Mexican Level 2 Leader (6 pts)
2 Groups of Mexican Light Infantry, Regulars, 12 points (16 models)

Mexican Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Light Infantry Skirmishers (8 points, 6 models)

Mexican Level 1 Leader (3 pts) 
Light Infantry Skirmishers (8 points, 6 models)

Mexican Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Line Cavalry (5 points, 8 models, Lances)
American Level 4 Leader (12 pts)
2 Groups of US Regulars, 12 points, (16 models)

American Level 2 Leader (6 pts)
2 Groups of US Regulars, 12 points, (16 models)

American Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Regular Skirmishers 6 points, (6 models)

American Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Regular Skirmishers 6 points, (6 models)

American Level 1 Leader (3 pts)
Light Artillery Piece 8 points, (5 models)

I made up all my usual unit and commander cards and printed them out. Setup was quick for the game as it is mostly buildings and trees. I think the table came out really nicely and showed the period and location pretty well.

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Besides blasting my minis with white primer, the only other hiccup I had was the sabot movement trays. My buddies printed them for me on a 3D FDM printer and they came out great. The issue is when I flocked them sometimes the flock would go into the tray slot and make minis hard to get out. I have to go through and carve a bit on the sides to fix them.

Overview of the battlefield near the end. Credit: Michael O “mugginns”

The game itself went pretty well – we had three people brand new to SP and one who had played plenty of TFL before. It was harder for the Mexican command because their troops have poor quality musket fire – I told them as such and tried to help them to the best of my ability but I feel that in the future I’ll give them more troops to help compensate. I think a second deployment point will help as well, to help them spread out a bit and flank to one side with the cavalry.

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The Mexican infantry deployed in the town while the Americans deploy on the edge of the battlefield. Their goal is to capture the town (the Mexican deployment point). The Mexican infantry did well in hugging cover and shooting their skirmisher rifles at the approaching regulars, but it wasn’t enough. The American artillery performed well (like they did in the war) and moved them out of the buildings while skirmishers ran up to take the DP.

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On my list for future games – add another Mexican DP, give them more line infantry (I actually have to paint these, heh), and paint up civilians to interact with the officers. I had planned to but didn’t have time because of the primer incident.

2mm Strength and Honor by Mark H. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Other Lard America Games

Lard America is an email/Facebook group of individuals all over America, Canada, etc. We collaborate and meet up at conventions to run games together. I was impressed by the number of games we offered this time. See below:

Of specific note are the more deep cut games offered – Kiss Me, Hardy, and Coastal Patrol. Strength and Honor was a huge setup that took a ton of effort to make and looked great. The Chain of Command games were huge draws since we were right at the front of the room. I think next time I’m definitely running my Sharp Practice game at least twice.

I played in my brother’s ACW Sharp Practice game, Black Flag on the Mississippi. We had six players – three Federal and three Confederate. I played on the Confederate side as I had no inclination for either, really. I commanded the guerilla elements – hill people – and had to slow down the enemy Federals as they moved into town. They had to burn the homes and also prevent us from evacuating a wounded leader who was in a house in the town.

I had some initial success with a cavalry charge, sending back a few groups of infantry, but then got shot to pieces. I took a ton of shock and casualties but in the end it was worth it – I successfully screened our infantry so they could move up into line and also evacuate the leader. The enemy burned two or three houses but didn’t make it to four. We actually took them to zero force morale after a few unlucky breaks for them, some do to officers being wounded. Overall it was a great game.

I also played in a Pickett’s Charge game that day. I’ve had Pickett’s Charge for a long time and have read through it multiple times but haven’t really figured it out. I also don’t have any small scale stuff painted so I just focused on Sharp Practice. Richard J ran a great game and really helped my brother and me figure it out. I felt like after we played it I knew pretty much everything about how to play.

I was Federal division commander Brigadier General William French, commanding the division that attacked the Sunken Road at Antietam. I managed to put a ton of pressure on the Confederate line and moved up enough to eventually take the Sunken Road with a little help from the Irish Brigade on my left. It was a great game, bringing back a ton of nostalgia from when my brother and I were 12 years old playing with stands of tons of plastic small scale infantry. To put it frankly, I loved learning the ruleset and can’t wait to play some more.

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The vendor hall was pretty well stocked with tons of stuff I wanted. Many of the vendors I hadn’t seen before so it was cool to get their stuff – and some only do shows.

15mm Blue Moon ACW minis bought at HistoriCon for Pickett’s Charge. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

I had to grab a brigade of pewter 15mm dudes to get started with Pickett’s Charge. I imagine I’ll be doing mostly 3D printed guys, but some characterful pewter guys will also be nice to put in there.

28mm War of 1812 US regulars from Brigade Games bought at HistoriCon for Sharp Practice. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”.

Brigade Games has recently done a whole line of 1812 minis so I was really happy to grab some. This will be my next Sharp Practice project, likely in late 2023. They also had some great Deadwood minis that I picked up for WAC and Gunfighter’s Ball.

28mm Sash and Saber ACW minis bought at HistoriCon for Sharp Practice. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Sash and Saber make my absolute favorite minis and I was really happy to pick up their newly released Berdan’s Sharpshooters minis. These’ll paint up nicely and maybe even make an entire force for Sharp Practice as I have some from Perry as well.

Boot Hill Mexican minis for Sharp Practice and DMH goats for various eras bought at HistoriCon. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Badger Games always has amazing selections of minis – I grabbed some goats from them for all my games and then grabbed some Boot Hill minis from Brigade as well. I need an extra artillerist and another deployment point, so the cart will work well for that.

Couldn’t resist this subtitle. Absolutely amazing.

I couldn’t leave this book on the table – look at that subtitle!

Earthworks from Battlefield Terrain Concepts bought at HistoriCon. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

These earthworks were one of my favorite pickups of the convention. They’re resin and will look really great on my ACW / Rev / Mexican American / FIW etc battlefields. They’ll paint up really quickly, too. Super excited.

Et Sans Resultat rules bought at HistoriCon. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Like most 40yo gamers I couldn’t resist the siren call of Napoleonics. I grabbed ESR as I’ve been eyeing their stuff at AdeptiCon and HMGS cons before. They produce high quality stuff.

28mm flags bought for Mexican American War from Flag Dude at HistoriCon 2023. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

The Flag Dude makes some amazing flags and I had to grab two for my Mexican American War forces. I had some printouts already but will replace them with these.

I haven’t played chit type wargames before and really wanted to give it a shot – I picked these up at a very affordable price and I’m super pumped to give them a try.

I’m dipping my toes into chit games, bought at HistoriCon 2023. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

I also grabbed The Night, a chit game based on Night of the Living Dead. I absolutely adore NoTLD and Walking Dead so I couldn’t pass it up.

I grabbed these from Winged Hussar Publishing. They’re great uniform guides with a ton of info on when uniforms changed, etc. The plates are all nice and show the different uniform pieces as a great way to understand for painting.

Monster Fight Club had a bunch of new stuff on sale, including these rocks and containers. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Monster Fight Club does some really amazing stuff for trees, bushes, scatter, etc and I couldn’t pass these up – the rocks were $10 and the crate was $5. They have a brand new package of a bunch of shipping crates that are pre-painted that will work for anything modern. The rocks will look great on historical boards and won’t chip like foam.

I picked up some tokens and trackers from the Phalanx Consortium. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

I had to grab the tokens for PC after playing so I can run it in the future. I didn’t need another force morale tracker but I like Phalanx a lot so I grabbed it and will paint it for future use.

TFTB had a booth right up front and these brand new Wild West / Mexico buildings painted lovnigly. I had to grab them – bought at HistoriCon 2023. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Things from the Basement make unpainted MDF terrain that looks great. The Adobe Stables grabbed my eye as soon as I walked into the vendor hall and I couldn’t walk away. It’ll look great on my Wild West and Mexican American War boards.

We’ve been doing WAC at my house and my daughter always always always asks to be a girl, now I can oblige her – HistoriCon 2023. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Badger had these and I didn’t have them yet so I had to grab some. Women gunfighters are a lot less common in pewter and my daughter wants them to use so they’ll be great for WAC.

Not a HistoriCon purchase, but I bought this CDV of Fuss and Feathers at The Horse Soldier shop in Gettysburg and had to frame it up for my desk at work. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Last but certainly not least, I grabbed this CDV while we were in Gettysburg. It was only $25 but I thought it was immensely cool, and mega relevant to my current Mexican American War project.

Overall Thoughts

I really enjoyed HistoriCon 2023. The venue was great and my stay, besides falling down concrete stairs, was easy. I was really impressed by how good the volunteers were at making everything run smoothly. If our game room was spaced out a bit to cut the noise quite a bit, and we were able to get extra tables for club games, it’d be amazing. HistoriCon is a nine hour haul for me but I hope to go for the next few years, as long as it’s in the same location.

If you’re on the Eastern seaboard it’s well worth a trip. I love using cons to try out new rulesets or learn rulesets I have but haven’t figured out yet. The comradery is great too – we email, Tweet (xeet?), and post on Facebook for months then show up and get to see everything we’ve been working on. The con is well-priced, with free parking, which helps you save money for cool stuff in the vendor hall.