Hotlead is just shy of 24 hours worth of tabletop gaming and shopping spread across 3 days.
This year the event fell between Friday March 24 and Sunday March 26, 2023.
Ever since I have been going, it has been hosted in Stratford ON, at the Arden Park Hotel. I’ve gone for at least 11 consecutive shows. The Covid-19 Pandemic caused the 2020 and 2021 events to be cancelled.
Last year was the first time I spent the whole weekend. While an awesome and worthwhile time, it was also a little chaotic and I found myself exhausted by the end.
This year I stayed the whole weekend again. I smartly pre-registered for all of the games so didn’t have to wait in line.
My wife and 2 boys came up for Friday night session and left after the Saturday morning session.
Then my friend Matt came up for the afternoon session and evening session and then went home.
I stayed solo and played the Sunday morning session and then came home.
My boys and I started during the Friday night time slot. We played from 7pm until 10pm (our GM was running an early game on Saturday so we sensibly finished early but the hall doesn’t close down until midnight for the die-hards.
Fight For Survival Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Mech Battles. Gamma Wolves ruleset. Hosted by GM Randall Carter for 4 players.
There was an open spot at the table, and no line so I registered my boys as a player as well.
Here’s an overview of the table. I missed the faction on the far left. The scenario was basically a last-mech-standing wins type of game.
Fierce opposition 😂😂
As you can see by the size of the dice compared to the figures, they are fairly large. They models were actually 3D printed and scaled up. I think the larger models works well for a convention game. Really catches the eye.
I was wiped out as was the GM Randy. My boys. We’re the eventual winners as they had all three standing with minimal damage at the end.
We went to bed and woke up early for breakfast at the Arden Park’s restaurant. The staff there are always really friendly.
By 9am I had brought my items to sell in the Bring and Buy. The B&B is one of the large draws on Saturday. It’s a garage sale staffed by a volunteer team of redshirts (who are the unsung heroes of the day). They collect the money and keep track of the inventory. At the of the day, you pick up any of your unsold items and collect the money you’ve made. They keep 10% which gets donated to a charity. This years charity was “Soldier On” who received $2100 (I have several friends in the red shirts who said there were $19,000 in sales.) Not too shabby for an 8 hour sales day. The organizer must’ve put a few extra bucks towards the donations. But I’ve skipped ahead.
At 9:30 the B&B opens and gaming starts.
Speedfreaks! The fastest, most Orkiest race. Warhammer 40k game. Hosted by Peter Smith and Huw Powell for 6 players.
Basically the first Ork team to cross the finish line 3 times wins. But each vehicle was loaded up with weapons to blast the opponents to smithereens.
Basic table set-up. There was no room for my boys to play so I let them control the buggy and roll the dice. I helped out with strategic decisions.
It was pretty crowded at the starting line so while everyone went straight into chaos, we went left. Never said what direction you had to be going to cross the finish line. You can just see our blue wagon partially covered by the walkway in the top of the picture.
Most racers knocked each other out but we had a major combat at this point in the race. We knocked this driver out but were on our last legs.
How it ended. The only two vehicles remaining. We both had two wounds left. We caused one and they caused two on us, causing us to explode. We rolled for our explosion, getting a 6 (we needed a 7 to damage, and this also eliminate the other racer) and coming in close 2nd.
My wife and boys left and it was on to the afternoon session.
My friend Matt arrived and we grabbed lunch and then sat down for 2pm.
Khalkhin Gil 1939 1/72 scale Rapid Fire! rules hosted by Mike Manning and Nick Wesson for 6 players.
The premise is the Russians and the Japanese were occupying two hills staring at each other for months. A brave (or foolish) Japanese company commander decided to cross the no man’s land and dig in on a ridge in the middle. The Russian wanted the Japanese out of the middle ground.
Both forces raced for the centre and there was a hard fought battle as the Russians took the fortified positions only to be cleared out by Japanese tanks again and again.
I didn’t take any more photos but after 2 hours of
Not Matt rolling any dice due to the “strategy” of his team, he got frustrated, loaded his troops into their trucks and stormed the initial Japanese position. While they were wiped out, those Russians likely prevented the remaining two companies of Japanese from joining the melee in the middle.
I was flitting about as I had to cash out of the B&B so wasn’t entirely focussed on this game but it was another fun one. Mike Manning puts on very detailed and well run games.
We grabbed a bite of dinner and then jumped into the 7pm time slot.
Mongols with Mausers the Silk Road in 1920’s China era. Homebrew rules hosted by ‘Pasha’ Daniel Hutter for 8 to 16 players.
Here’s everyone sitting the table. This photo was taken by someone else and posted on the Hotlead FB group.
Part of the charm is Dan brings a box of silly hats for everyone to wear.
There are 8 forces of varying military/political alignment with overlapping objectives. Bribes, wheeling and dealing, and treachery are as much a part of this game as moving figures and rolling dice.
There is no real balance to the game.
Matt and I played a force of White Russians. Our objectives were;
- to find the mythical sword hidden in a monastery 5xD10 roll
-have as many Red Russians killed (by anyone, including us) 1VP per killed figure
-Have as much gold as possible - 1VP per gold coin in the purse
Now the Reds were on the far end of the table so we tried bribing the two forces on either side to no avail.
Here’s a close-up of our force. We had 2 leaders, a light machine gun team and 12 figures armed with rifles.
Under the mat, the folded piece of paper was one of the “bargains” we had struck.
Unfortunately for us, a horde of 20 mounted Mongols had the following objective:
1VP per every Russian (Red or white) killed. So they charged us and after a lengthy battle (cavalry have benefits in melee combat) highlights of which saw us throwing grenades into the combat at the bottom of the hill (which included our own men), we were wiped out and our full coin purse (18 VP) was taken.
However, Dan “revived” 6 figures (troops arriving late for the battle) so we could continue on in the fight. We finished with 7VP (4 gold coins and 3 dead Reds-killed by “allies”). The winner had about 53ish victory points, hard-earned by selling counterfeit magical swords.
Whenever Dan hosts Mongols with Mausers or any other of his games, I try to get in on the action as they are great fun.
Matt went home and I went to bed. I woke early, packed the car and had breakfast alone at the Arden Park restaurant.
I grabbed my box of miniatures and newly acquired Cargo ship, checked out of the hotel and went to the 9:30 an Sunday morning session.
Madness in Manchester Pulp Skirmish One Brain Cell hosted by “Pasha” Daniel Hutter and David Winters. As many players as will fit.
Now this game is slightly unique in that players can bring their own troops to the table. The premise was that the castle in the centre had some arcane technology that everyone else wanted.
I didn’t grab a shot of the table. Here’s my forces minus my tank. I brought some of my WWI late war Germans to this party.
A sea monster arrived. Luckily I had beached my ship and was in the process of disembarking. I did help the remaining boats take it out though.
On the table there were 6 teleporters (the glowing blue lights). One of the other ships, ran aground and teleported to the middle of a field and duked it out there for the rest of the game.
My forces battled it out in front of the castle trying to blow the door in as monsters spawned and got in the way.
Cthulhu spawned (around noon ie. hometime) and everyone rolled a dice for their remaining units. 1-3 meant you became devotees to Cthulhu and were devoured. 4-6 means you fled in horror (and eked out a marginal victory) both my units fled in terror.
With that, I said so long to some dear friends, packed up and made the trek home.
Thanks again Hotlead (and the organizer James, who runs the great “Rabbits in my basement” blog and staff) for another wonderful weekend.