Twenty-three years ago fifty-six people attended an unassuming 1 day war gaming event held in Stratford Ontario. By 2001 the event had turned into an annual gaming staple for Southern Ontario, and made its first modest donation to a Canadian War Museum.
Two years later and the donations had multiplied by ten with some portion going to the Red Cross. This past weekend Hot Lead turned 23 with a whopping $23,519 raised for charity over its lifetime.
Luckily for me I was there to live it up!
I liken Hot Lead to a wine tasting tour. Ambitious attendees can sample up to 5 distinct war games over the course of the weekend. Each game is refereed, or game mastered. This lubricates the learning process. Games can be under way within moments of sitting down.
If I could assign an elementary-school-virtue-of-the-month to the event it would be 'Open Mindedness'. With the exception of a LOTR tournament being held at the back, and some enthusiastic Bolt Action players, attendees left their miniatures at home.
The venue was a Best Western. Great breakfast on site, dinner buffet, bar; couldn't get much more convenient.
There was also an efficiently run 'Buy & Sell' which was worth the price of admission alone.
Attendees sign up for games they want to play 1 hour before start time. This is great because it allows for a nice stroll through the hall to discover what looks interesting visually.
I arrived late enough on Saturday morning to miss the first sign-up. In the afternoon I landed myself a bolt action scrap. Ross and Jay had sprung up this "Snow Globe" table in a pinch.
They had only just met, Ross and Jay, but we were all excited for battle. Today it would be Fins vs Russians. The interesting story here is that the Finnish force is using two pieces of Russian armour scavenged from their enemy.
I'm not sure if it was on purpose, but our table was erected directly beside the beer lady.
As we deployed our figures, Ross (my co-general), talked up a big game about his cavalry's performance in close quarters.
At the end of the first turn we decided to run our horsies directly up the center. The idea was to pick first dice in the following turn.
Unfortunately the Finnish pulled out the first 3 or so dice. Our gallant charge toward the enemy front-line was devastated by a failed pinning check. The Finnish did pull a victory out of this one. Good game to Ross, Jay and Greg!
When the final sign up of the day had opened I had peeped something in the hall.
"Flint & Feather is a tabletop game and range of quality miniatures designed to capture the excitement and colour of warfare in this era of dark forests and silvered waterways!"
The game utilized a fun card based combat system which allowed me to perform a miraculous come back (to tie the game). Otherwise it is very similar to other warband-campaign games (not a bad thing).
It turns out Flint & Feather can be a bit dicey, because Adam rolled over my warband in roughly (including learning time) 15 minutes.
I introduced myself earlier in the day when I spotted him stomping all over some dwarves with his beautifully painted Smaug.
Saturday ended with a game of 'Bear Trail', or something. If I could remember the name of the game I would link it because it was great fun. Midnight rolled around very quickly!
There were also some fantastic vendors present.
Here we see a barely middle-aged grognard shmoozing with the higher-ups of the event. He is game-mastering a customized version of 'Dead Mans Hand'; a spaghetti western mini-game from Great Escape Games.
It features an added Black-Jack game each round using a miniature deck of cards to determine turn order.
On the Sunday previous I was given the honour of play-testing this custom scenario. My gun-slinger ran through town terrorizing as he went. He recruited a journalist to follow into the dusty streets, and record his dastardly deeds. I proceeded to commit murder and gain 5 victory points.
This well crafted experience has opened my eyes to a new way of playing with miniatures. I will come back to this in the future.
I can't wait for next year!