Sunday, March 17, 2019

Two big "Big River" events coming up

Spring is just around the corner -- and so are two back to back events for Monroe St. Press in the same location. 

We will be participating in the first Big River Steampunk Spring Faire Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31 at the Admiral Coontz Armory in Hannibal, Mo. Two weeks later, on Saturday, April 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., we will also be among the vendors at the first ever Big River Comic Con. 

At the Spring Faire, our table will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Additionally, we will be presenting a workshop at 12 noon both days on Victorian Desktop Publishing. 

The first commercially successful "desktop publishing" device was introduced in 1874 -- the manual typewriter. Today, the typewriter is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in an increasingly wired world. Writers are even gathering for events known as "type-ins" in order to experience a more tactile, distraction-free method of composition. 

In this presentation, Elaine Spencer of Monroe St. Press will discuss the history of the typewriter and give participants an opportunity to try out some writing exercises on vintage (pre-electric) typewriters. All participants are encouraged to bring their own portable typewriters; there may be extra machines available if you do not own one, but this cannot be guaranteed. 

Many other seminars and workshops will also be presented at the Spring Faire (indoor) event -- the first of two steampunk-themed events planned during the bicentennial year of the city of Hannibal. The 6th annual Big River Steampunk Festival (primarily an outdoor event) will still take place on Labor Day weekend as in previous years. More info and tickets for premium events at both festivals can be found at this site

The Big River Comic Con, meanwhile, is NOT affiliated with the Spring Faire or Steampunk Festival -- it is a separate event with a classic "comic con" format featuring the best in comics, sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero art, books, costumes and memorabilia. Admission is $15 (free for kids 12 and under). Tickets may be purchased online here or at the door (cash only). 

Since Monroe St. Press will not be participating in the Labor Day Steampunk Festival this year, we invite all our customers and fans in the Illinois, Iowa and Missouri Tri-State Area to come visit us at either or both of these events. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Winter War 46

Our first event of 2019 was Winter War 46, the largest independent gaming convention in the Midwest, held in Champaign, Ill. 

As always, Winter War features a wide selection of tabletop, miniature and role-playing games in a variety of genres. They include well-known games popular from the 1970s to today, as well as newer games and game systems of more recent invention. Many are based on fictional worlds (e.g., Firefly, Conan, Honor Harrington) while others recreate battles from every phase of history, from ancient Greece to World War II. 

In between stints at the vendor table I got to try out one tabletop war game. Dubbed "Etna Erupts!" the game pictured above is a recreation of a little-known Civil War battle near Etna, Missouri, in 1861, utilizing the Brother Against Brother tactical skirmish gaming system. 

Using a scale model of the battlefield (which consisted of a farm, several dirt roads, open fields and a stand of trees), players may move their soldiers a fixed distance forward in inches on each turn; how far they may move is determined by a dice roll. Players may also use their turn to fire upon enemy forces, with another dice roll determining how many (if any) enemy soldiers are felled. Card draws at the start of the game determine the level of experience of one's respective units and the type and firing range of weapons they will possess. Card draws and dice rolls during the game introduce elements of chance, such as "morale points" that determine how much impact casualties will have upon one's unit in subsequent turns. 

The Brother Against Brother system is particularly useful for games based upon Civil War battles that aren't nearly on the same scale as Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam, etc., but require no less tactical knowledge—and luck—to win. The outcome can be quite different from the historical outcome; I played the Union side and got thoroughly wiped out, whereas in real life this battle was reckoned a Union victory. But I enjoyed the game since it was challenging without being too complicated. 

Many thanks to Mark Lueckenhoff (pictured at left) for hosting this game and for all his work in creating the scale model battlefield. 

Some of the other games featured included: 

All Quiet on the Martian Front, which portrays a second Martian invasion of Earth after that depicted in H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. This particular game is set at Arsenal Island near Rock Island, Illinois, which the Army is preparing to defend from a Martian force advancing up the Mississippi River. 

Here's a real Winter War — a reenactment of Napoleon's retreat from Russia in 1812. 

Formula De: Watkins Glen is among a series of tabletop recreations of famous auto races to satify your need for speed....

....meanwhile, Hedley Lamar and his band of gunfighters run loose in Rock Ridge looking for anything they can grab in the 1st Annual Blazing Skedaddles Scavenger Hunt! 

Thanks to everyone who planned and staged this event... it's one we look forward to every year. 

Next up on our schedule is the Big River Steampunk Spring Faire in Hannibal, Missouri, March 30-31. Be advised that this year, Monroe St. Press will be vending at the Spring Faire instead of the larger Big River Steampunk Festival on Labor Day weekend. More details will be posted as they become available.