Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming has been an active club for over seven years, with over seventy game nights and many conventions under its belt. Throughout that time, the idea for a multiplayer game simulating the hunt for a Great White Whale has been talked about, hinted at, and toyed with. We've heard about or played in or seen some games come close, but never committed and made it happen as a club game night event ourselves.
Until now. March 2017 has seen it suggested and seen the beginnings of a real commitment, both financially and organizationally, to finally see the reality of a club game designed to allow players to hunt that monster of the depths, Moby Dick.
This also marks a bit of a first. While we have all contributed our own existing toys and ideas to the formation and enjoyment of many of our club games, we have done so with little real planning and true forethought about the shared construction of those games. This project marks perhaps the first time then that many of us are prepared to commit to collecting a set of figures (in this case one or more whalers and their crews), painting them up, and bringing them out to make the game a true reality and a good time for everyone.
So how did we get to where we are now? What's the background or history that got us here?
Way back in March of 2010, Sandy raised a query, asking via blog post:
"Does anyone have a copy of the whaling rules from Millenium or HIstoricon?????? Good fun for all if we can find a set."
I managed to find a photo album with pictures from one of those MillenniumCon games.
A few days later, Sandy posted a comment to his original blog entry:
"Moby Dick has been sighted and will soon be in our hands on an Inner Library Loan for an undetermined amount of time. This is a MAJOR score for us and will prompt a pop-up game sometime soon!"
Unfortunately, like many plans made by men with families and jobs, we've never had a chance to run said rules at a Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming game night.
Two years later, during OwlCon 2012, Rob came a little closer to the dream of a Beer and Pretzel Great White Whale event when he ran his "Greenpeace/Save the Whale" wargame. The few times in the past when he has run a game like this his table has been full and everyone has had a great time. Unfortunately, we apparently have never run this whale of a game at one of our monthly game nights either!
Much more recently, at Texas BROADSIDE! 2016, Andy B. surprised everyone when he ran the latest addition to our Rootbeer and Pretzels Wargaming stable with his:
"Thars the Beast, Row Boys, Row! " game, as ye man yer oars, laddie! You'll be crewin' and harpoonin' for the greatest whale in history, the legendary Moby Dick, arrr. Players each run their own boat to hunt down and harpoon the white nemesis. It's cooperative and competitive at the same time as you're all aiming for the same goal but greater glory. You be heedin' the perils of the sea, though, as she's a harsh mistress and she's full of dangers that lurk beneath.
Andy says he started out by building the whale using Lego and soon found himself building everything in Lego! The game looked great and it appeared that the kids that played it had a great time. You'll find the three page rules' synopsis and order log file available for download from the sidebar.
A search on The Miniatures Page (TMP) reveals that Chris Peers wrote an article on this subject way back in Wargames Illustrated #99 (December 1995), which our good friend Mark has managed to acquire.
To make a wargame of this whole idea a reality, we, of course, have to decide on a set of rules, or develop our own. More than likely we'll now need to review Chris Peers old rules, look over "Thars the Beast" and make a group determination which we'd like to try out. I wonder if there are any other rules out there.
Rob and Sandy have really recently resuscitated this effort and now a number of us have committed to buying boats from Eureka Miniatures .
Once these figures arrive and we get them painted, Sandy has committed to build the whale.
Stay tuned to this special projects page as our work on these miniatures and the play testing and games that spring out of our efforts unfolds.
Rob found photos from Historicon 2009 when he and Sandy played the Moby Dick game in Lancaster PA.