Seventeen years ago, on a Black Friday morning, Harvey Mossman woke up from a food coma to an empty house. His wife and three daughters had set out at 2 a.m. in pursuit of deals on what, at the time, was still the biggest shopping day of the year.
Mossman capitalized on the calm and invited some friends over to play some historical games.
Historical board gaming is a large but somewhat unrecognized hobby, Mossman says, that uses traditional tabletop board game mechanics to simulate different geopolitical, economic or military historical events. These games tend to be less abstract and allow players to assume positions of the leaders and commanders of a respective era.
“You can step into the shoes of Napoleon at Waterloo, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee during the Civil War, Alexander the Great while he conquers Persia, Julius Caesar trying to decide whether to cross the Rubicon, General Patton during the Battle of the Bulge, General Douglas MacArthur as he makes his famous landing at Inchon during the Korean War and other innumerable examples,” Mossman said.
The event — which Mossman named FaTDoG for “Friday after Thanksgiving Day of gaming” — became an annual affair and soon outgrew his East Northport basement.
This year, it garnered so much interest that Mossman is taking it to the UpSky Long Island Hotel in Hauppauge where more than 150 historical gamers from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are expected. Play typically starts at 9 a.m. and runs past midnight. Mossman provides games such as The U.S. Civil War and Twilight Struggle, a geopolitical and economic contest that uses cards to simulate the Cold War.
There is no age requirement to participate on Friday, but Mossman says anyone younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Guests are invited to bring their own games to the event, which has grown to include local store owners and vendors such as Game Master Games in Bethpage, Legendary Realms in Plainview, J and D Hobbies in Massapequa Park and Against the Odds Magazine.
Mossman, whose collection includes more than 5,000 games, said FaTDoG is an extremely social event where people are always willing to teach interested players.
“The social aspects are important as it is quite different than sitting in your living room playing a video game,” Mossman says. “Here, you get to interact with people from all professions and all walks of life who have a keen interest in history.”
FaTDoG also includes Euro games such as Settlers of Catan that have simpler game mechanics and historical themes as a general premise but don’t depict specific events of history. Also popular are historical miniatures — where players act out historical battles using highly detailed and painted miniature figures on a 3-D board with a modeled terrain.
“They all have in common the general thread of teaching history through problem-solving in the historical context of the events they are simulating,” Mossman said.
Mossman hopes to make FaTDoG a multiday convention by spring.
FaTDoG GAMING CONVENTION
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. Friday, UpSky Long Island Hotel, 110 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge
INFO fatdogcon.com, email@example.com
ADMISSION $20 ($15 advance)