This year, the Cardboard Wars in Tempe, Arizona will begin on June 25th and run through July 1st, 2012

Last year, as long-time visitors to "Map and Counters" may remember, a lack of advance planning and unexpected health problems conspired to keep me from actively participating in the many exciting events that were offered By Kranz and company at the 2011 Consimworld Expo. Thus, instead of a week of non-stop wargaming, designer seminars, play test sessions, and other hobby-related activities, I ended up having to settle for a couple of hours — spread over three different days — spent mainly quietly observing others (the lucky sods) having a great time. Needless-to-say, this experience left me both disappointed and frustrated, and I vowed that, come next year, I would not allow my CSW Expo 2012 convention plans to be derailed as those for 2011 had been.

Of course, intentions are one thing, but actions are quite another; for that reason, I am happy to report that — barring some completely unforeseen occurrence — it looks like all of the necessary arrangements have now been made for me to attend the entire Consimworld event, from the first day to the last. This is particularly gratifying because this year I plan on doing something that I have never done before: "live blog" my experiences while I am actually at the convention. And if this approach works out at least moderately well at this year's CSW Expo, then I may even try it when I attend the World Boardgaming Championships Convention in Lancaster, later this summer. In the meantime, I want to invite any of my readers who are planning on attending this year's CSW Expo to look me up. Speaking for myself, I know that I would be delighted to at long last have the chance to meet some of my blog's long-time visitors, face-to-face; who knows, we may even be able to get in a "classic" game or two.

It’s hard to believe, but winter is limping to an end and it will soon be that time of year again. What time of year, you ask? Why, CSW Expo time, of course. On June 25th, the first convention arrivals will kick-off the early festivities at what will be — in my view, at least — one of the most enjoyable and unique wargaming events of the coming year: Consimworld Expo 2012. This year’s convention is the direct descendant of MonsterGame.Con which, thanks mainly to the vision and hard work of John Kranz, first opened its doors in 2001. And after more than a decade of event additions and enhancements, this once-a-year gathering has become a truly must-attend event with some of the best and most affable players from all over the country, along with some of the leading figures in simulation design, all coming together for this week-long celebration of the wargaming hobby. The CSW Expo is still hosted by John Kranz and company; and convention attendees, as they have in years past, will again meet in the heart of the Old West at the luxurious Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, in Tempe, Arizona.

The feature which really sets the CSW Expo/MonsterGame.Cons apart from other wargaming conventions is that, along with presenting its participants with a bevy of traditional game-related activities, it also opens up unique opportunities for interested convention-goers to compete face-to-face in their favorite monster game titles, both old and new. Moreover, in addition to providing attendees with a rare chance to indulge in six and a half days of non-stop monster gaming, Expo 2012 will also provide attendees with, among other things, prize tournaments, game demonstrations and play-test sessions for new titles, seminars with well-known hobby personalities, a game auction, flea markets, breakfast-meeting speakers and After Action Reports, and even door prizes. Thus, when all is said and done, participants’ options at this year’s CSW convention — whatever their individual gaming interests — will be limited only by their personal tastes, the number of hours in the day, and by their own stamina. Hence, in spite of the CSW convention’s long-time support for monster games and monster game fans, competitive play at Expo 2012 will not be focused exclusively or even predominately on “super-sized” games. And although many players do make the annual pilgrimage to the Consimworld Expo/MonsterGame.Con specifically because of the unique opportunity it affords them to actually play, rather than — as is too often the case — simply admire their favorite "super-sized" games, almost half of the Expo’s attendees will, if previous conventions are any guide, spend most, if not all, of their competitive “table time” at open-gaming in the several excellent (comfortable and well-lit) playing venues set aside specifically for this purpose.

Tempe Mission Palms
Finally, it is also probably worth noting that this summer’s gaming at the Tempe Mission Palms will not be restricted only to traditional “map and counter” conflict simulations. Quite the contrary, dozens and dozens of old and new titles (from CDG, to “block”, to Euro-style) will — as they have in years past — all be a part of this year’s CSW Expo experience. This means that the convention is both large enough and varied enough to offer players a broad menu of both conflict simulations and multi-player social gaming that — new attendees will quickly discover — should suit virtually any visitor’s taste in games. Nor is the convention aimed strictly at long-time (hard-core) participants in the hobby. Instead, players who make the trek to Arizona this coming summer will find that there are abundant opportunities for the young and not-so-young, and for both inexperienced and seasoned players to enjoy their favorite titles in a matchless gaming environment.

The CSW Expo only comes around once a year; so, if you can possibly find a way to get to Tempe during the last week of June, I strongly recommend that you do so. Of course, I may be a little biased since the convention site is only a thirty-minute drive from my house. Nonetheless, if you enjoy both congenial company and lots of gaming, I'm pretty much convinced that you won’t be able to avoid having a great time.

To find out more about CSW Expo 2012/MonsterGame.Con XII, or to register online for this year’s convention, visit the website:


  • I look forward to seeing you there!

  • Greetings Kevin:

    Likewise, I'm sure! But are you going to bring your sons slong to Tempe so that they can also get a taste of what a wargaming convention is like?

    Best Regards, Joe

  • As one JCB to another, I hope your first *full* con is as enjoyable as all mine have been there (I've been to all from the 2nd one on - missed the first year, unfortunately). I spend most of my time over at the Down In Flames table, helping Mike Lam run that game, but do break out for other stuff occasionally. Come by the DiF table and, if you've never played, I'll be glad to run you through "flight school." No one I have taught has ever failed to shoot me down!

    I'll be bringing a few laptops as I always do that will be near the main ballroom doors, so you will be able to do some blogging from there if need be. Many other guys post from there, or use the computers to stay connected via email.

  • Greetings Jack:

    Thank you for your interest and for the invitation; I'll definitely stop by for a visit at the DOWN IN FLAMES game area.

    Unfortunately, I must confess that, when it comes to "Combat Simulation Card Games", I seem to have virtually no aptitude for this genre of games. Whether it is UP FRONT, or ATTACK SUB (the last of these games that I actually tried), or even the hobby's version of the "Arms Race", MAGIC, my skills as a traditional "map and counters" type of player (however meager they may be) just do not appear to translate to these types of simulations.

    Regarding my plans to "live blog" this year's CSW Expo (and, if it works out, the WBC Convention, as well), I actually got the idea for this project from the people at last year's convention who were there with their laptops.

    In any case, I look forward to seeing you (and a number of others) at this summer's Expo.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Preston McMurry said...

    Hey Joe, I signed up for your old Avalon Hill games event ... :-)

  • Preston McMurry said...

    p.s. Jack ... I'll have you in my sites this year. I was actually leading after the first day. (Not bad for a flight cadet!)

  • Greetings Preston:

    That's great. When the event's start date gets a little closer, maybe we can then make arrangements to actually schedule a few specific games (both Avalon Hill and SPI).

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Joe,

    DiF is far less complicated than Up Front! (which I have played, and is a good game, but takes a lot to figure out at first). Can't speak to Attack Sub. But take a look - cadet McMurry was leading the competition after day 1! If you can imagine yourself in a dogfight - which I'm sure you've seen dozes of in film/TV - then you can play DiF.

    I will also be at WBC this year, primarily in Speed Circuit and possibly a football or baseball game - I am fortunate enough to have some regular, local opponents for wargames, but not for those type games, so it's often my only chance to play then FTF.


    Glad to see you'll be returning to the DiF tables. I seem to be a popular target every year.

    And just so you guys don't think I have never heard of map and counter games, I will be playing SPI's Fredrick the Great at the con this year with one of the other attendees. We played via email many years ago, and decided to try it FTF this year.

    I will also be playing in a game I have been playtesting for Greg Smith, to be published by Consim Press (but sadly, not in time for the con) called "The Hunters." In this game, which has mechanics based on the old AH B-17, you are a U-boat commander, attempting to sink as much tonnage as possible before the Allies get you (and they almost always do, eventually!). The game is done, except for the actual publishing. Greg will be running the game with playtest components, but it's still a lot of fun. You can check the game out at if you're interested.

  • I also signed up for Greg's playtest. I'm not sure I'd ever want to design a game, but testing is something I enjoy. (I helped Mark Simonitch on a France 1940 game last year, and have been waiting to see it make GMT's list ...)

    Btw, what was that kid's name? There was a 10-year old there was a really good player, and not at all immature or intimidated by us old folks. He ended up winning some kind of "best new player" award. Hope he's back this year as well!

  • Greetings Jack and Preston:

    Well, whatever happens, I will certainly come around to give DiF a look at the very least; although -- when it comes to these types of games -- it is possible that one of my blog's wittier critics is actually correct when he commented that, in his view: "the blogger (me) long ago filled up his blackboard, and is now out of chalk."

    When you talk about Davis' and Curran's, FREDRICK THE GREAT, on the other hand, you are dealing with a game that is "right up my street". This brilliant collaboration is a truly marvelous game that -- whether because of the obscurity of the period or the unfamiliarity of many (but certainly not all) of the major historical actors -- never really developed (whether in its original form or in its bigger Avalon Hill version) the kind of following within the hobby that I think its genuinely innovative and surprisingly glitch-free game system actually deserved. A great game then and now.


    If you're going to assist with play-testing and/or development then, at some point, you might as well try your hand at designing your own game. If nothing else, just going through the process of translating broad "real world" concepts into narrowly-defined game parameters will teach you to have a lot more sympathy for those who actually manage to produce successful (and playable) game designs. I know that it certainly did for me.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • I did a computer translation of B-17 Queen of the Skies awhile back, but never anything from scratch ...

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