I apologize for this being late; I didn’t end up taking a lot of pictures and was with my son for this one, so much of the usual activities, including late night imbibing, will not be present. Sorry!
My son Garrett and I went up to Fall-IN! 2013 on Thursday evening and checked in with no difficulty. The registration lines were longish during the two hours of operation, but not impossible. Everything was the typical chaos of the first day of a convention with people running about setting up boxes of t-shirts, making sure the computers worked, using and training the staff to use them. There were problems with the new registration system; I believe that they were connected to bandwidth being pretty terrible at the Host.
Garrett and I did a little ship maintenance Thursday night as we would be running Big Danged Boats, my newish 15mm fantasy naval rules, the next day. Fortunately, the ships weren’t too smashed up from being in storage and everything looked pretty good. I even added a couple of new factions to the game– O.R.C., the Micro-Vikings, and the Empire of Stahlheim.
Unlike my usual performance at a miniatures convention, I was responsible and didn’t stay up late ANY night I was there, and only had one beer the entire con. Shocking! Odin, look away! The Men of the North are not as they once were.
Friday was pretty frenetic. Had a nice long breakfast with my my friends Steve, Art, Todd and Drew, and wasn’t looking at my watch to assiduously. I was going to hit the dealer’s area for a few items in advance of Friday night’s game but that didn’t happen. Since I had redone my ship charts to make them tinier than the one page affairs I was using, I ended up making a run to Staples to get them printed out in color (since color is important for conveying damage taken).
Setting up for Big Danged Boats was a bit of a fiasco. Somebody was using my table when I showed up at it. Turns out THREE of us were scheduled to use the same tables at the exact same time, and I had to skeeve the next table down, which displaced another guy, causing all kinds of havoc. being able to read the map in the program would have helped; I even had difficulty making out table number in Guidebook, so I’ll have to break the graphic up to Distelfink North and Distelfink South for next show. The sad truth was that there wasn’t a decent map of the Distelfink table layout, nor were the tables numbered anywhere I could see. That would have helped a lot!
Ran BDB, I won’t belabor you with a description of that game, click below if you want to read my two events that I ran.
I ran it Friday night and was so exhausted after putting it away, I kind of fell asleep in my chair when I got back to our room.
There were some great games being run all around the con, but a lot of empty tables on Friday. I even saw that little room behind the Hopewell being totally dark on Friday. I hope this isn’t indicative of a waning interest in running games. There were plenty of empty tables in the Distelfink on Friday as well– not as a vagary of scheduling, but for long periods of time.
My son Garrett has developed into something of a Battletech fanboy, he got into three games over the weekend and loved it. He is now seriously jonesing for the Catalyst Games Battletech starter set. Nobody had one in the vendor hall; apparently it’s due for a re-release soon. That would account for the inflated prices of the current one on Ebay.
Finally had a chance to visit the dealer area briefly on Saturday, and I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. We did not fill up the Exhibitor’s Hall. I’m certain this is just a fact of economic life; shows are expensive propositions for the smaller vendors and bigger retail store operations, and there has to be a payoff they can measure or they won’t come. The economy still being in the dumper, it doesn’t surprise me that there was some empty space in the back of the hall. What did seem fairly glum was the lack of innovation in the vendor community– and I can only speak for myself here. The really off-beat stuff that I use to make games with is usually found in Vendor halls. My game “The Magi” uses 54mm Wizard figures, predominantly manufactured in the 1990s– when was the last time a company made affordable 54mm fantasy figures? I totally get that a vendor would have to be nuts to cater to every taste, but if you’re not into the flavor of the week, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to shopping for miniatures at a show. With that said, there’s definitely some vendors out there making some great things that I am coveting. Like Alien Dungeon, for instance…
It was good to see On Military Matters back, I had heard they weren’t doing shows any more at HISTORICON. Guess that was BS. Other players were conspicuously absent, such The War Store, Thoroughbred Miniatures, etc.
Jeff Wasileski’s awesome “Steampunk Roman” game was being held when I was running THE BIG DIABOLICAL DUKEROO. Too bad, so sad! It looked excellent.
So 1400 loomed on the clock and we made yet another dash to the Staples and printed out yet another batch of charts, frantically. Please. No lectures about preparedness. That’s how I roll.
The Magi is a lot easier to set up than Big Danged Boats; The rules fit on an index card and the spell index is one piece of paper you don’t need constantly. We pulled it off and it played all the way through; no need to reprise that here, as I covered that in Part 1. See below.
After wolfing down a light repast from inside the hotel…
… I really wanted to (finally) get in a game where somebody ELSE was the GM and I can just have fun playing. I couldn’t find the RAMMING SPEED game (who knew what the table numbers were? not me!) but I definitely didn’t have a problem finding the “Street Riots in Ancient Rome” game, GM’d by Cy Taylor and friends. This was shockingly great. I didn’t have a ticket (duh) and had to take a Roman mob role. Roman mobs, in these rules, tend to be speed bumps for factions who are better armed. Thus, my game was a long series of “Go out in the streets. Meet a better healed and armed faction. Have them start a fight. Die. Go back to the slums. Restart” That is, until I noticed that the Forum and Temple of Jupiter was mostly untended. So I raided the temple, looted the state treasury, and my mob moved South to start an Olive Oil business. That’s a happy ending.
I had a great time, but only played one scenario. I did want to keep half an eye on Little G and also see how the Toys for Tots auction did.
The “Wednesday Night Painting Group” from Erie, PA (I think) ran the Toys for Tots auctions and activities. This was handled very well and the undisputed totals follow:
“Total raised for Toys for Tots: $5,562 USD (New Record)
Total number of auction items: 61 (New Record)
Percentage of vendors who said “yes” when asked to donate to the Raffle: 100% (We have never had a dealer say “no”. They are fantastic!)
Money raised by John Newman alone: $1,834 USD
Tickets sold for the Raffle: $1530
Amount raised for Toys for Tots by the Wednesday Night Painting Group (WNPG): $25 USDK+”
Not bad at all!
So I poked my nose into a few other games running Saturday, just to kibbitz. There were some fun things happening, but I didn’t want to start a new game after 9 PM.
After packing up and hanging out with G for a bit in the room, I felt a strange lassitude. Rather than go down to the lobby bar and sip beers with my fellow blowhards and yack all night in loud voices, I guess “too much Fall-IN!” had caught up with me at last. This fellow sums it up rather nicely…
So I found myself untangling from the gentle caresses of Lethe Sunday morning with a plan. We were going to pack our crap and get out in time to really have a good look at the dealer’s hall and Flea Market. And so we did. Still couldn’t find the Battle tech starter set for Gar, but I bought a few boats from Joel G., some nifty buildings for my War against the Cthonians project, and some various other bits and bobs here and there. I only purchased things that supported EXISTING projects, and for that I deserve a commendation, thank you very much.
And with that, we were in dire need of coffee and a breakfast, which we found just a few miles down the road at Jenny’s Diner.
And that was our Fall-IN!.
Observations, and this comes from the constructive part of me, I’m not just slagging. Events were pretty jacked on Friday. Tables not marked. Map not readable. NOBODY around to resolve issues. Angry GMs, puzzled gamers. I can’t really comment on the lines that many were complaining about as I didn’t see them. The food at the hotel was much the same as it ever was, I wish the menu would change up. Attendance SEEMED light, but that might be misleading; I do know I never had a problem parking, not even one time. And that hardly ever happens, even at FALL IN.
I worked the GUIDEBOOK app before the convention (and during). For the very first time, we actually used so much of the FREE package that Guidebook.com offers us that we just about ran out of downloads the weekend of FALL-IN. As in we were 5 downloads away from doing that. I’m not saying everybody’s sold on the idea quite yet, but it’s clear we’re making some headway. I attribute this to the Guidebook being ready right about the time of the first PEL, and generally updated as we got closer to the convention. Good idea (on Dan’s part) to push to make that happen early. It really made a difference.
With all that said, a weekend at a gaming convention usually beats a weekend NOT spent at one, MOST OF THE TIME. So I’m glad I attended, and I know I’m glad I took my son with me. He had a blast with the Battletech guys. Passing the torch, you know..
Thanks to Dan and all the Convention staff, particularly Paul Trani, Heather Blush, Scott Landis, Christin Sciulli, Cliff Brunkin, J.T. Thomas and every single one of the poor saps who had to work a registration desk computer with a long line of irate gamers getting angrier and angrier with them. Sometimes we forget that these shows wouldn’t happen without these volunteers. I appreciate them quite a bit.
See you all at Cold Wars 2014.