A Look at the Nexus Game Fair

If you’re a large plains-roaming land mammal, or a driving cat, and you just can’t make Origins, there’s always the local convention  ~

Jim Owczarski, 31 May 2017

Milwaukee has missed GenCon since the day it changed lodgings in 2003.  I know.  I’m from here.  The mass of local gamers that were left behind have created other events and some have seen remarkable success, but none have approached the grand madness that is the mother of all American gaming conventions.

Still, I love the convention experience and was looking forward to checking out the Nexus Game Fair when it rolled into town late last week.  Most importantly, I was wondering if there would be anything at all for a grognard to do.  What follows are a few thoughts and a fair number of photographs documenting the experience of Friday and Saturday.

Hosted primarily at the downtown Hyatt, evident on the Milwaukee skyline by the spaceship-like restaurant perched at the top, Nexus seems to have kept its ambitions modest.  Attendance ran to the hundreds rather than thousands and there was rarely a press of crowds despite the smallish space.  It was, however, a professionally-organized operation with a well-designed program and a strong staff of workers managing registration.

Two beautiful days and I’m going indoors to play with little soldier men. (That’s the new Bucks’ arena going up.)

 

This is at the N. 3rd St. entrance to the Hyatt.  I did the research on it, including digging up the newspapers, in a past life.

 

This must be the place.

 

I shudder in horror to think what would happen if they tried this at GenCon.

 

The main gaming hall was regularly bustling with people playing in demos, events, or pick-up games.  The dealer area, which included the nigh-ubiquitous Chimera Hobbies, was small, but did seem to be getting a fair amount of trade.

 

And no one playing La Bataille…I checked.

 

One portion of the dealer area

 

The bulk of the heavy lifting for gamers of my own persuasion was done by the fine folks of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS) Midwest.  I confess I do not know why they don’t come to Origins, but they were certainly trooping the colors here.

 

The quality goes in before the name goes on.

 

Attention to detail matters!

 

Gaming I understand.

 

Acetate targeting overlay so you know it’s serious.

 

This was a terrifically fun game.

 

Mssrs. Gygax and Arneson would not have recognized the quality of the figures or the basing.

 

A “Saving Private Ryan” game

 

Every gamer wants this shot at least once.

 

An Operation: Bagration scenario for Flames of War

 

It is not a proper con’ unless somebody older than I am is playing this.  It’s even more exciting when someone younger than I am joins them.

 

Axis and Allies: D-Day blown up to use with 54mm miniatures and 25mm tanks.

 

The Wehrmacht’s reinforcements

 

Not as granular as I’m sure some would like.

 

Special mention should be made of John Bobek who brought several of his Games of War games to the event.  Mr. Bobek eschews fancy minis and terrain in the hope of getting at the game.  He can make the rivet-counters faint, but I’ve always admired his passion for fun.

 

Those are not lead figures lads.  Look away if you must!

 

Nexus is ultimately more of an RPG-facing convention so, unsurprisingly, there was a fair amount of cosplay going on.  As is often the case, some more elaborate than others.

 

Yep.

 

As I’ve said many times in the decade-plus since its departure, GenCon is not coming back to Milwaukee.  I’m glad though that there are events like Nexus keeping a bit of the fire alive.


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