FI 06: A great, albeit exhausting, weekend
FALL IN! 2006 TRAVELOGUE
I pointed my aging Thunderbird north rather late after losing the classic man (using logic)/woman (totally ignoring logic) argument and headed up to Gettysburg. Traffic was vile on 495 at 630 PM (vice the 3 PM I was trying to leave at, instead of taking my daughter to Girl Scouts..) so it was past 9PM when I arrived atthe Ike. Almost immediately, I had to dump my stuff in the hotel room and jump into a BOD meeting where we would finalize and fix some items in the CW07 budget. I though my portion of the meeting went well– perhaps they were all tired at that point and didn’t wish to argue.
Afterward, I bumped into Del at the bar, working on John Drye’s French and Indian rules on his laptop. We had a few beers, but I was exhausted and so was he, and I had a CONOPS breakfast meeting first thing next day, so no hanging out until 3AM for
The next day (Friday) opened with a CONOPS breakfast with Pete and James. We discussed HMGS shirts for staffers and convention leads. I’ve been a big fan of this idea for a long time, and tried to put it together for CW06 but it ultimately would have had to come out of my budget and I didn’t have the money for it. Anyhow, we’re taking steps to implement it and I like the idea, esp. the color scheme that Bob and I agreed upon in advance– blackshirts for CDs, blueshirts for staff leads, redshirts for staff (following the Star Trek theme). Having Bob be such a strong proponent of this idea really helps. I think the cons will look much more professional with staff shirts and it’s not a waste of money to spruce up the look and feel of the cons. We also talked about a three con table rental contract that looks to save us about a buck less per table than our previous vendor. I’m all for that.
Stopped in at the Painting area and chatted with Heather for a bit, to get numbers for CW07. Once again, a resounding success. WHO was the genius that started this at his convention? WHOOOOOOOO?
Did the bulk of my shopping in the morning on Friday, since most of Saturday would be caught up running errands for COLD WARS. I picked up some plastic cossacks from Strelets for my Russo Polish War Red Army. I got a QRF South African armored car for AK47 Republic. I looked long and hard at FAA’s WWI Germans to make up my Freikorps a little bit down the road but decided against it for now. Ditto for the awesome new 40mm musketeer package produced by EUREKA. I have too many projects going right now. I picked up some Shadowforge cow girls on sale from Brigade,and found some large scale spooky figures for my 54mm Wizards game. I also picked up AGE OF RIFLES on CD (again) and few less than serious items in the Flea.
FAIR WARNING ON THE SLIDESHOWS (you will need to have a Flash Player installed. Seems not to work too well with Firefox).
Failed to get into an early game Friday (lost the ticket and he put in an alternative), so hung out a bit and took a nap, then sallied forth with dinner in mind, and the notion to be back in time to get in an 8PM game. Went to a truly wretched Chinese buffett right next to General Pickett’s. It wasn’t the absolute worst chinese food I’ve ever had, but it was in the neighborhood. Since I went to dinner with Howard Whitehouse and Mitch Osborne, at least the company was pleasant and we could joke about the food.
Got back in time to play CLASSICAL HACK (Game F046 “Play the Author”) hosted by Phil Viverito. This was a Romans versus barbarian field battle, and I had a blast. I own Classical Hack but this was the first time I had played it. I found the battle damage a bit confusing at first but once Phil took me through a few combats it was tres simple. Unfortunately the dice weren’t with me on this one. I rolled miserably, although our side one by the timely arrival of reinforcements. I quite enjoyed talking with Phil and got him to run a lecture and big theme game for CW07: THE ROAD AND THE WALL theme. I’d definitely play Classical Hack again. Here’s some piccies:
Another day, another horde…
CHARGE distance?? Why are you measuring that again?
I suppose a parlay isn’t acceptable at this stage.
Son, when playing Romans, do NOT, repeat NOT, emulate this man’s example…
Uh, Phil? That seems like an awful lot of Casualty Caps…
After that, hung out a bit and kibbitzed on some games winding down and then we got the idea to go watch BATTLESTAR GALACTICA up in the hotel room. With some beer. So our group went from Rich Low, Mitch Osborne and myself to include Andy Turlington, Otto Schmidt, Patrick Berekebile and a couple other guys. (Recap is elsewhere). I started getting sleepy when Doctor Who came on, so headed back to bed.
I slept through the “Sense of the Membership” meeting and got up and about late (for a con). I drove up to the post office and bought some postage for Neil to mail out vendor packages with (that is, if the vendor didn’t wish to take his/her packet directly at FALLIN). Then I schmoozed some exhibitors with the COLD WARS 06 flyers.
Mike Hillsgrove went to the Lincoln Diner for dinner, which is worth visiting. I had the archtype diner meal– meatloaf, mashed potatoes, apple pie ala mode. Drey’s meatloaf can kick their ass any day of the week, but it was still one of the best meals I had up there.
Got back in time to participate in Bob Leibel and Cleo Hanlon’s 55 DAYS AT PEKING, and really enjoyed it. I will break this out separately as a pictorial, as there really is too much. Afterward dropped in on Ed Watts and Jeff and talked for bit until I was mumbling. Took off and went to schmooze Duncan MacFarland to get a Cold Wars advert in Wargames Illustrated– which turned out to be an easy task after I purchased a few beers. Rick Etvedt relieved me of that pressure and obligation as it was his unofficial wetting down– he will soon be a bird colonel. We all congratulated him resoundingly (all the beer helped too!).
This being SATURDAY night at an HMGS con, we couldn’t take being thrown out of the bar at closing time lightly, so Del, Mitch, John Snead, Andy Turlington, Pete P. and myself hung out a bit until I was on the verge of nodding off. And so to bed, to oversleep hideously the next morning.
I packed my crap, checked out, and did some budget cleaning up on my laptop in the lobby (they actually do have a wireless zone in that hotel, btw). Clarified a few items with Bob and Heather, and then ran over to do a final walkabout in the Exhibitor area at the All-Star. And thus, homeward.. I always feel like a HMGS convention is a series of opportunity costs wasted when I’m driving away.. Well, if I had been done with this a little early I could have sweet talked my way into that, or if I’d gotten my lazy ass up an hour earlier I could have gotten into THAT.. etc.
Don’t let anyone snow you with that “attendance was light” crap. Parking was at a premium all Friday and Saturday, and I saw VERY FEW unplayed games. There were fewer games in evidence but almost every single one had an audience.
Hotel comparison: I love the Gettysburg location, but there’s definitely a different vibe at the Ike than the Host. The rooms are far nicer at the Ike than at the (unrefurbished part of) the Host, which is nice. There are far more nearby eateries at the Host than at the Ike, and many more nearby hotels. There also seems to be more to do with families at the Host than the Ike. My opinions only.
Onsite Food is far more plentiful, affordable, and available at the Host than it is at the Ike, no matter what we tell them. It routinely puzzles me that the hotel won’t take the hint so they could take more of our money. I’m used to food being available until 11PM any given night at the Host, and the bar closing when the last gamer falls down. Not so at the Ike.
I (for one) don’t mind the hike to the ALL STAR complex, it serves a purpose right now. However, I wonder if we really need to include the extra 10K in facility cost to FI after they added all that space to the main building. I think FI would be far more financially healthy if we 86’d the ALL-Star (which several exhibitors complained to me as being “dead after 4PM”) and just moved everything up to the main building. It might be more crowded but I think it would save a lot of money.
In general, it’s the people that make a convention great, no matter where it is or whatever amenities are present or absent. I had a great time meeting with old friends I rarely get to see, and that’s what made FALL IN a great time for this wargamer.
Finally… “nothing says ‘I belong’ MORE than when you get stuck with Judging duty!”
Postscript: For excellent, zoomy detail shots, I recommend THE ALBUM MITCH OSBORNE MADE of Fall IN! miniatures games.
Another Postscript: For my Fall IN! Shopping list, go HERE.
AARs of John Camarano’s and Dewey LaRochelle’s FI06 games. See the slideshows, above, for a couple of pictures.