A Fall IN! 2019 Travelogue

Convention Director Dan Murawski, the big dude in the Blue Shirt. conferring with staff people

As I’ve mentioned on here and elsewhere, FALL IN!, the Fall/Winter convention of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, was last weekend. The location was a return for the society to the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. We were last there in 2010 and 2011, then we moved South to Fredericksburg after the Resort decided to become a Casino and cancel our contracts. They later rescinded rescinding our contract and said they’d welcome back HMGS for a reduced footprint a significant discount. Swell, huh? The place looked the same from the outside.

Raddison Tower
The Casino.

The drive up was about four hours more or less from the DC area with about 14 bucks in tolls going Northward. As in going North to CW or Historicon, we had to follow our age old traditions.

54mm civil war hijinks

I stayed in Radisson Tower end for the most part, that’s where most of the events were happening. We had 300 plus game events, about a dozen seminars and about 3 dozen Hobby University teaching events.

Returning to the Valley Forge Location

The Facility isn’t a bad time or anything– it’s certainly aged, but has been built upon over the years so the footprint is more stretched out than it was in 2011. We had access to a lot of tiny little rooms for events that were all over the place, and the layout was confusing to try to explain. This gave the convention a kind of sparse look in terms of attendance. Lots of events were in the schedule, and although there were a few cancellations on site and a couple of GM no-shows, there were definitely a lot of events going on all the time. It just didn’t seem very dense. There was a long tunnel connecting both wings of the facility which was a little under a quarter mile stroll (according to the app on my phone). A feller could certainly get his steps in at this convention.

There were a lot of fun events being run all over the place.. it was hard to pick any single standout game. Except, maybe the really excellent Wild West Game being run in one small meeting room, featuring a railroad, an Indian camp, a town, and a lit up mine which was also playable. There was a lot of fun to be had.

A Cruel Seas game of McHale’s Navy. Yes, you read that right

I worked Thursday night with set up, and gave out tickets. Friday, I had promised Dan Murawski I’d do some shifts at the events desk (he was very low on staff). Unfortunately I was on shift from 8-1, and had to run a game at 2PM. I was running Mad Maximillian 1934, which was a replay of this event from Historicon:

So this adventure, “A Hot Day of Death” would be easy to set up, and I’m grateful to the HAWKS for hosting me in their space at the convention, and letting me setup a table the night before. I even got a pass to leave a half hour early to set up.

Running Mad Maximilian 1934: A Hot Day of Death

So, yeah, I might have more than enough vehicles for this game. Ya think?

I only had space for 12, I might point out

The game is set in an alternative universe where a big ill defined apocalypse had occurred right after World War One. As in the Gaslands universe, brutal automotive combat competitions are on the rise. As I have been given access to the campaign expansion in advance, I am going to run some of the campaign scenarios from that book at conventions. A Hot Day of Death.. is the race in Fascist Italy, but not the one you remember. In this version, the Catholic Church and Mussolini (a low rent political schemer who has recently seized the Presidency) have colluded to flatten a large industrial area and construct a giant coliseum called La Cavalliere del Strada.

The Black Flame of Australia (bottom right), the Hillbilly Blitzkrieg, the People’s Collective, Touch of Class, Large Singular and Brutarian at the start of the race…
Explosions from rockets, mines, grenades, blown up spar torpedoes, etc. cause big dust clouds which provide cover and can’t be seen through. In this shot, the Large Singular races ahead to keep from getting killed. Behind him are Red Hot, People’s collective, Black Flame, unnamed motorcycle, A Touch of Class (Green Bentley), Brutarian, Blues Magoos and HillBilly Blitzkrieg tailing the race
The Black Flame in Foreground, going Speed 3. The Flame can fire a flame blast in a 45 degree rear arc, which its driver, John Montrie, tried a few times during the race. Behind him, the Brutarian (with the heaviest ordinance in the game) is tucking in to the People’s Collective.
People’s Collective making a challenging turn using the turning gizmo. At speed 2 (see the green marker), turning in the Red zone, he’ll need to roll his Driver’s Skill in Fortune Dice versus 3x his current speed for 9 Fate Dice. A snap!

The terrain was the same as at Historicon, with an addition of a couple of ooze pits on the far side which made navigating very tough.

Red Baron throws a dog head at the Motorcycle. I know. I know.. it’s a long story
A lot of ordinance getting expended on the track! Plenty of cover to avoid gunfire now!
It’s no easy trick to cut a corner when you are driving an extra long car, but Red Baron manages it.
Scott Landis, piloting Brutarian 999 fires a heavy round at Touch of Class (Green Bentley 8) and misses, generating a big dust cloud
Virginia Remsburg has discovered the best defense for Motorcycles in this game.. go really fast!! Speed 5 is barely manageable for a car, let alone a two wheeler. Imagine if she had to take a red-turn She managed it though!
Mussolini Approved, as did his Propaganda Ministry

We were pretty much shoved off the table at 6 PM, so unfortunately the game ended on a more anti-climatic note. It was still a great event, though, in my opinion. I had a full house and people said they had a blast! I literally had someone frantically “help” me pack up while people were finishing a turn at the other end of the table. No worries! I didn’t really declare a winner as we were kind of given the bum’s rush and I didn’t have time to declare one. Maybe at Scrum Con. The last Coliseum of Carnage game will be held there. I will be running the Berlin game at Cold Wars. For More Mad Maximillian 1934 fun at Fall IN, VISIT THIS GALLERY.

Okay, Okay! I”M LEAVING!

I had ambitions to play a game in the evening, but I confess, I was starving, and didn’t want hotel food. I got back after my game had started. No worries, though! I found something to do. I went to the late night flea market, then my steps brought me here:

The Bar was just okay, but Friday

Saturday was fine.. I pulled a shift at events that pretty much petered out by 11:00. I’m not getting a vibe that Fall IN! was well attended.. it didn’t seem that way to me but Pre-Reg numbers were great. I think part of the problem was that everything was so spread out it all looked kind of sparse. Like most conventions it seemed like it was a seller’s market.. many of the games were sold out in pre-reg. Mine wasn’t but it got full up from the walkups.

Fellow Scrummers Joe Procopio and John Sears ran some games. John ran his Star Schlock game twice and Joe ran his Conan game once that I could see. All of us were in the HAWKS room.

Sadly I didn’t take any of Joe’s Conan game but the past five were Star Schlock.

Having some time to myself I wandered back to the flea and dealer’s area to see what I could wantonly spend money on. The exhibitor’s hall was full, but it’s getting to be a bit of a disappointment. There were many lines I was looking for that are only mail order now. Brookhurst Hobbies used to come to the show, and they were the only guy in the US to buy Peter Pig from.. I haven’t seen Brookhurst in years. Likewise I find things I thought were being distroed by American vendors who didn’t bring it with them. For me, I was looking for Minairons 20mm Spanish Civil War. Easy to find mail order, and I haven’t had a problem with them in the past, but I couldn’t find a single infantry pack at the show, and I would bought at least a company’s worth of nationalists if I could find them.

I did buy some Crooked Dice miniatures (shhh,it’s a secret), some more Eureka Mad Maximillian motorcycles, and 1 pack of Bilbao armored cars from Minairons I found in the Flea market. Other than that there were some onesies and twosies. NO giant pruchases.

55 Minutes at Peking

Saturday night I got involved in a big 28mm Boxer Rebellion game in the HAWKS room. Bill Molyneux was running it. It was quite a spectacle. I played the French and Japanese contingents, the guy next to me the Germans and the Italians. I felt the game system was shockingly unbalanced in favor of the Chinese, as the Western players were wiped out almost to the last man standing. The only weapons that even gave us a slight edge in close combat got destroyed by magical Boxer rockets early in the game. The guy across from me was constantly whining for me to send the Japanese over to support his Russians. I tried that.. and the Japanese got massacred by Chinese artillery. The Russian guy avoided my gaze for the rest of the engagement. Things went from bad, to worse, to pear-shaped pretty quickly.. The remaining Japanese were killed by artillery (where did the Chinese get these weapons, anyway? They were deadly accurate!). The French held out until the last turn, gradually whittled away to nothing. The GM, Bill Molyneux, gleefully reminded us that our session held the world record for doing the worst as the Western powers. Well, that was comforting.

GM Molyneux setting up

For (Lots more) pictures on 55 Minutes at Peking, you might try this album

That was the last bit for FALL IN. I didn’t feel like singing Karaoke which had taken over the bar from Friday onward. So I packed the truck for departure and was ready to hit it in the morning. One last cruise through the vendor hall and I was gone. Heading south past familiar climes

Oddly enough, this being King of Prussia, I took a slight detour. I had always wanted to visit the THIRD Compleat Strategist, having been in the one in New York and the one in Falls Church, VA many times. I tracked it down and it wasn’t very far away!

He was even open! Shocker!

Even more fun! I consulted my esteemed colleague, Mr. Waze, and he took me on a roundabout route to head South, bypassing 95 for several miles, sending me down to Route 1 and eventually merging back on to 95 near Aberdeen Maryland. The tolls going home were only four dollars. Point Taken, Mr. Waze.

So How Was Fall IN! 2019?

Altogether, it wasn’t all that bad. I didn’t have high hopes for this facility. Some things were impossible to manage, like the layout. Other things were somewhat easy to avoid, like the food. I got to show up, I had fun, I rolled dice, and bumped into the people I rarely see except as on online presence. It’s a rare pleasure to hang out with these people thrice a year. Thanks, Dan Murawski, Paul Trani, Heather Blush, Jeffrey Simmons and Bill White, as well as my fellow staff droogs, for working really hard to put on a great show.

I’m awake NOW, damn your eyes. Point your camera elsewhere, or I’ll sing an aria!
Sam Mustafa and Howard Whitehouse

It’s all about the people…

Being a short travelogue of my journey to attend HMGS Fall IN! 2019, at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, in King of Prussia, PA

Coming up: SCRUMCON 2020

Need we say more? Why don’t you visit the Scrum club regulars this February? We’ll be in a much bigger place with more tables, more opportunities for gaming, and a pleasant convivial atmosphere. Right in the heart of Silver Spring, Maryland!

Visit TABLETOP EVENTS to pre register for your games! Both kinds, no waiting!

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