Fall In 2005

My Gigantic Fall IN! 2005 travelogue

First of all, since I was upbraided by some folks who didn’t appreicate my pithy journalistic writing style after HISTORICON, here’s the obligatory disclaimer:

The following travelogue and recap represents WALTER O’HARA’s opinions, observations and experiences from FALL IN! 2005. It should be considered his personal opinion, and not any official commentary from HMGS East or any of its officers

Thank you.

Moving on.

I had opportunity to visit FALL IN! this last weekend. My plan was to be up by Thursday night; unfortunately my truck ONCE AGAIN decided to communicate its disapproval of HMGS cons by throwing a serpentine belt Thursday morning on the way to the VRE parking lot (remember the radiator hose incident the night before Cold Wars?). Fortunately, my mechanic, Lonnie, worked wonders overnight and I was set to go by oneish or so Friday.

Arrived late afternoon Friday. The Eisenhower has greatly improved (facilities wise) in the past few years; the hotel has doubled in size, as has the meeting space. Our new registration area was up in Ike 2 (the new area), where I was placed immediately to work on a cash register.

You could have cut the air with a knife, the tension was so high at FALL IN BASEOPS ONE…

Wake up, Lindsay!

Fortunately, Alex Bagosy dropped by and we shot the breeze between the hordes of registering gamers.

I had ONE meal at the Host, that night… beef with lots of gravy, mashed potatoes and corn, for something like ten bucks. The one oft-repeated complaint about the Ike was that the people running the hotel had an incomplete picture of the nutritional requirements of the modern miniatures gamer. Food was served during set hours (including in the restraunt) and then food sales (including the restraunt) was either closed up, packed up or hauled away. A far cry from the Host, which will try to sell you food right up to midnight or thereabouts. Oh well, different locations, different priorities I guess. The Host is cheerfully forthcoming about how much money they take in from food sales (lots!) but the folks at the Ike might have other priorities that come first. I certainly think the facility itself has greatly improved with the additions.

After 8, and a few panicky meetings with some of my COLD WARS 2006 staff leads, I browsed around the gaming area a bit (it being too late to get into any game)…

One thing I noticed is that the Whizkids PIRATES OF THE SPANISH MAIN line is becoming HUGE with minis gamers. There were tons of events using the little ship cardstock models (and justifiably so, replacing their game rules with something homegrown and a tad more complex).

A highlight of Friday night was bumping into my friends John Camerao and Dewey LaChapelle. That John Camarano is a real pip. I haven’t seen him in a year and the first thing he says is some nasty crack about gamer dress codes.

Just say no… (and no, I’m not revealing the Grand Canyon’s identity.. it’s just better that way, isn’t it?) However, I did anonymously slip a tube of this invaluable product into the gentleman’s backpack when he wasn’t looking.

Maybe he’ll pick up on the hint?

Trench Wars is a “heavy hitter” at HMGS cons these days and there was a real beaut of a tank assault game going on in one corner.

Here is a very fuzzy shot of James Mattes, HMGS VP in charge of communications, running “It’s Elementary! Pirate of the Crimson Coast for Kids & Those Young at Heart”. Again, using Pirates of the Coast constructable minis. The kids looked like they were having a heck of time. James bears a striking resemblance to Captain Feathersword here.

Here’s an interesting alt-history thing run by Martin Fenelon, called “Grief Comes to Long Island”, using Luftwaffe 1946 rules. Here, the game posits what would happen if the resurgent Luftwaffe had tried to bomb NYC.

tavern brawl one

tavern brawl two

I was shocked at all the drunken brawling my fellow hobbyists got up to. Shocking! Two tavern brawls going on simultaneously!!! What has this hobby come to?

The tournament chappies had one of the large meeting room areas in the OLD Ike. The tempo was usually busy, but it was hardly crowded in my observation. Here’s one of the nicer DBR games going on…

The usual Friday night schmoozing and gladhanding at the bar, during which I actually bought Lindsay Gauld more beers than he could drink (and this is a first! I swear by the blood of Christ!)…

This young lady (face obscured by her request) proved to be quite the bar room bon vivant, having roughly the same effect in a bar full of lonely males that she would have if she were distributing free crack samples at a methadone clinic.

(She was actually a lot of fun to talk to, don’t get the wrong impression here)

I actually DID GET IN A GAME ON FRIDAY. In this case it was WEREWOLF, the multiplayer party game where two people take the role of werewolves,one takes the role of a seer, and the rest of the people are villagers. I was routinely lynched, but I actually won a game as a werewolf, which is hard to do!!! Jake Strangeways was running this in the lobby of Ike 2, and I really appreciated it, because Mister Nizz can PLAY a game of werewolf… straight up, old school! Uh huh!

Saturday dawns…

I went up to the Registration area, where I was superfluous on a cash register, so performed COLD WARS 2006 liasion stuff (and there was a ton of this kind of thing to do.. meeting with staff leads, making sure people have the information they need, going over promotions with Mattes, etc.). On the way through IKE 2, I noticed a lovely Ironclads game going on with Toby Barrett’s Iroclads:

“The Arkansas runs the Union Fleet” GM’d by Michael Ivancic using Under Both Flags rules, pits the mighty Union Fleet under Farragut…

.. against a single monster Confederate ironclad, the Arkansas.

in search of James Mattes (in the background), I bumped into some of my dangerous droogs, Nigel Clarke, Harry Morris and Howard Whitehouse. Breakfast buffoonery had its limits; the restraunt had limited hours…

I also bumped into fellow NOVAGii Dave Luff and Jay Mischo, putting me to shame because I forgot MY fez and they didn’t. That fez idea is still great after all these years.

I promised Jay I wouldn’t get him with spinach in his teeth.

Here’s our diligent awards committee (Peter Panzetti) hard at work.

and right next door, our hugely inflated, overworked events staff

Seriously, I heard no complaints from the attendees about either area, which allegedly went smoothly.

There were many Johnny Reb III and Fire and Fury games going on in the breakout rooms. I believe this was part of that Featherstone Cup idea.

I have no idea who won the cup, but I saw NOVAGii Roxeanne Patton in there dutifully waving the flag for NOVAG.

One of the more obvious features of this convention was the presence of a BBC camera team, here to film a travel show. This particular episode features American battlefields. They requested we put together a diorama, wargame, or something to film on the cameras. The convention organizers got a Lee Reenactor and a Meade Reenactor to play their respective parts for the cameras, using a wargame to illustrate the battle of Gettysburg.

In this grainy shot, Lee converses with an onlooker with Meade in the background. They are waiting for the film crew to arrive.

Here, “Meade” talks with Rich Hasenauer.

Using giant 54mm in 15mm terrain was sort of heretical, but it definitely was easy to follow!

It may be hard to make out, but that bottom photo is Buford engaging Heth on the first day.

The Bad Old Glory Pose series…

Met up with Howard Whitehouse and Nigel Clarke at the All Star (my first visit to the dealer’s area was quite abrupt as I had to go schlep a giant order of Cold Wars fliers from the nearest Staples (many miles away) in the back of my pickup. On the way back I stopped to ‘talk shop’ with Nigel and Howard and hopefully commission him to paint my dead jockey zombies. For educational purposes, Howard demonstrated the various bad extra poses you get in a pack of Old Glory infantry.

Bad Pose One

Bad Pose Two

Bad Pose Three

I appreciated the opportunity to learn.

After wasting the hours driving north to some town.. which really wasn’t a waste, since I found a Dollar Tree there next to STAPLES. I can’t pass these up willingly Sure enough, my curiousity paid off and I found hundreds of sugary sweet little gingerbread dudes packaged up in a Lennox Christmas village style presentation… I was struck with inspiration for our (the TNGG group in Chantilly) Christmas game… “The Dark Secret of Santa Town, or a a Holiday Ho-Ho-Holocaust!

They’re just begging to be in a game, don’t you think? I hope so, since I bought a legion of them.

I schlepped the fliers back, did about 30 minutes of shopping before the dealer’s room closed, and went to dinner with Bill and Cornelia Rutherford, Del Stover, and a host of other folks. At some crab shack in the middle of a cornfield. A good meal.

Back at the con, I kibbitzed Pete English running his Ironclads game

Oh no, you didn’t, girl! Please don’t maneuver into me, we’re on the same side!
Talk to the stigmata, girlfriend!

Meanwhile, our friend from the previous evening was being the social butterfly.

The Lee estate has cautioned me that there is NO truth to certain rumors….

I caught Bob Giglio’s wonderful mobster game “The men were all out of control…” (which is always too full up to play, dammit), and would have taken more pictures, but was floored by the sight of…

Who’s that???

The terror of the HMGS Issues and Answers list, Rick Nance! We were introduced by Neil Brennan and hit it off so well we decided to pitch a buddy cop show pilot to the WB next Fall!

Buddies for life!!!

Here’s a few gentleman closely associated with COLD WARS 2006. That’s Mike Hillsgrove, in charge of CLUBCON, on the left, and GEOFF GRAFF, in charge of event scheduling and table allocation.

There was an amazing Wild West shoot ’em up going on one table over, with some great buildings by Merrimack. I’m at a loss as to what it wad called… perhaps Event # S-121: Life in Windy City? I didn’t see Brian Whitaker running it so that doesn’t seem right.

Another interesting period in one of the breakout rooms.. this time a Conquest of India game using a variant of FIRE AND FURY

Green Jungle Hell

George Callinan was running a Vietnam game in Ike 2 saturday, using some hodgepodge of AK47 and THE MEN OF COMPANY B. I shot the breeze there for a while.

(the Americans stream out of the jungle trying to root out “Gomers”),

(George and Big Dan Murowski confer on the finer points of strategy),

(Heather Blush’s brother, Pete English, George)

Here’s another face that will be essential to COLD WARS 2006

Jim McWee, Cold Wars 2006 promotions

Personally, one of my favorite convention high points was when the Army of Central Maryland engaged in a off-the-cuff Roman Oration contest. You don’t see that every day!

Back to where the business of HMGS really gets done

This sign seems sadly ironic…

Here are the BBC camera crew and General Lee sharing a pizza. Who knew the General liked Italian food?

Hee was the only MINIs game I got into during the entire con.. and I kicked ass! It was the Battle of Midway, and I controlled the dive bomber wing… Unfortunately it started at 2AM so I was barely coherent when I stumbled back to my room at 5AM.

And so to bed…


I was awakened by a frantic call by Bill Rutherford… “uh, Walt, we want you to stand on your hind legs for the BOD concerning COLD WARS 06 as soon as you can”. That lasted a while, then I fetched wood and carried water for COLD WARS a bit, then a quick last trip to the dealers hall. I was pleased– I found lots of little bits to support my current gaming projects:


1 giant bag of zombies, bought by WEIGHT at Ral Partha. What a great sale.


I had a good time, far better than I had at HISTORICON. The hotel has some issues about how to service this market, but I think they can be worked out. We’ll see!


  1. Guilty as charged! Yes the model for my Pirate Admiral was in fact Capt. Feathersword! My kids are 7 and 5 after all. Could not get the coat at the post Halloween sale as they locked up shop and were gone from the sale by noon on the first of November. I was pleased at how well the event went and am considering doing two, two hour events for kids at Cold Wars. We will see. I am at the point I can not do too many things at a convention anymore. It is hell getting old. Yes you are correct I counted five or six games using the system and I did see several pick up games with the system as well. One group said they liked my rules adaptation better then the published rules and asked for a copy!
    James Mattes

  2. It would also appear, General Lee has a penchant for “Marlboro” 😉

    Sorry I missed the con … looking forward to Cold Wars 2006, though!

  3. Hi Walt,

    I need to meet you one of these days seeing as how we live and game in the same area. I’m especially interested in your Holiday Ho-Ho-Holocaust.

    Great travelogue of Fall In! I played in JonPaul’s pirate bar brawl (and on Sunday picked up the Blood and Swash rules he was using) and hung out with the other pirate brawl guys. I’m also glad I got to meet Howard and bask in his insanity for a bit.

    Chris V.

  4. Hey, Chris V., I saw your puppetry page. Do you know of a source for materials to make Marionettes? My wife is bugging me to resurrect an old “act” I used to do with hand puppets for the VA REN Fair. I kinda want to do it with Marionettes.

  5. Don’t want to steal anyones thunder – the 15mm ACW pictures aren’t of the Featherstone Tournament. My terrain set-up wasn’t that detailed. Must be those dreaded JRIII types(;-). Does look nice though.

    John Snead
    2005 Featherstone Tournament Director

  6. Sorry about that. They are roughly one quarter their original size, I thought that might help.

    Next time, I’ll break it up into three posts, one for each day.


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