Well, I'm back from the "Connections" conference at National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, and things went VERY well. http://connections-wargaming.com/
I got to Washington late late on Sunday night. Monday afternoon I went to NDU, first to the Metro station (what is it about every subway system I've ridden on that they all smell the same? It's a hot, dusty smell that must come from the engines on the trains or the stale air down there) and then a few blocks to Fort McNair (a small Army post named after a general who was killed by friendly fire in July, 1944 in France). Met up with Skip Cole, late of the US Institute for Peace, and reunited with Rex Brynen, the McGill professor I mentioned (http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/233392.html
), after thirty years! That night Joe Miranda and I went out and looked over Washington at night - we saw the Washington Monument, and the White House, both from afar. We wanted to have a beer at the bar of the Watergate Hotel, but apparently it has been pulled down - there is still a building called The Watergate but it is full of condo apartments and dentists' offices.
Tuesday: first day of the conference proper. Keynote speakers were James F. Dunnigan and Peter Perla, both great figures in the development and history of board and professional wargaming, and they spoke well. The panel on which I was presenting came right after. I was third, and was sitting at the end of the table waiting to go, and James FREAKING Dunnigan walked back into the room and sat down next to me, muttering that it was "standing room only back there". I told him I thought he could sit anywhere he wanted. I went up and made my presentation, which went well but was a bit rushed because I was third. My presentation was called "Ploughing in the COIN Field" and was about the series of seven counterinsurgency/guerrilla warfare games I had designed since 1995, very different from each other in topic but using the same basic system.
I went back and sat down, fielded questions and that was it for the panel discussion and then JAMES freaking DUNNIGAN shook my hand and said, "I like what you're doing".
Anyway, that's certainly my brush with greatness this year.
That afternoon were game demonstrations, my Guerrilla Checkers was a hit! (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/71035/guerrilla-checkers
Ya know, sometimes Value Village will give you just what you need... I had found a bag of 1,358 little red buttons, 1 cm across with a "handle", just in time for $2.99. This made up 20 sets of 66 guerrilla pieces, and I used some miniatures from an old parts copy of Risk for the 6 counter-insurgent pieces for each set. I copied a grid and shortened rules onto a card, and gave those away for free. I got some cotton napkins from VV as well, and had an 8x8 grid silkscreened on them, and got some large and small stones in contrasting colours from Michael's to make up another set of nice copies.
I started showing someone how to play, and within five minutes the free copies were flying away and there were five or six games going at once.
Rules, in case you're interested, at: http://www.islandnet.com/~ltmurnau/text/Guerrilla%20Checkers.rtf
. Next thing to do is make some kind of Web or mobile app for the game; I had a couple of discussions with people on this.
Tuesday night were some more playtests, Wednesday was devoted to more presentations and working group work. Interesting discussions, including some talk on how to involve non-military people in military wargaming. I suggested we should call ourselves "ludic futurists"!
Wednesday night Joe and I went out to Georgetown. It started to pour rain the moment we stepped outside the Metro station, and we walked and walked. I was absolutely saturated but it was quite warm, so we dried out a little bit at a good Italian restaurant staffed by Filipinos.
Thursday were some final discussions and meetings, promises of further action, and the long flight home. I still think it's pretty remarkable that I could travel over 5,000 km and visit three coasts of the continent in less than a day. I got home at midnight on Thursday. Security wasn't too bad, only one pat-down in Seattle and I lost the little snow-globe of the White House Lianne asked for - apparently those are verboten, in any size, unless you drain them yourself first. So remember!
All in all, a good week - I made a lot of good contacts and plan on going back next year (it will be at NDU again).
Oh, and I also found that the article I wrote on the Dieppe Raid (http://ltmurnau.livejournal.com/225987.html
) was nominated for "Best Historical Article" in the Charles S. Roberts Awards (http://charlesrobertsawards.com/results.php?theYear=2010
). But it didn't win.