Monday, November 9, 2015

Fall-In! 2015 AAR

We have survived Daddy-Daughter weekend in Lancaster!

I had planned on taking my daughter, Maja, to our local convention, Mepacon, next weekend, but that interfered with the children's theatre production that she and her little sister Millie were in.  In a stroke of luck, my wife decided that I should take her down to Fall-In! instead.

I love my wife. 

After a deliriously good day of pizza, cake, and a company paid chair massage, I managed to leave work early to get Maja off the bus. A few dogs walked, a house straightened up, and a packing of the car later and we were off.
What am I getting myself into?
We stopped for a sit-down bite to eat at the slowest Wendy's in recorded history (outside Indiantown Gap), and still got to the Host with plenty of time to walk around.
Even with a blurry picture, this was the talk of the con....
Lighted buildings?  These guys were crazy in the most awesome way.


Who knew zombies loved soft-serve... brains
Friday night's event was the Gnome Joust. Team Jacobson went a combined 3-4. Maja did gain some notoriety (and a bounty!) by unhorsing one of the “Canadians.”
Maja versus the Gnome Guy himself, Jim Stanton.  Jim eeked out a 5-4 victory
The Canadians were planning on running a sci-fi game using some of their products and I would have loved to jump into that but Miss Maja insisted we go to the hotel (The Continental across the street). My buddy Brian got a room for the week and allowed us to crash. A little hotel wi-fi for a show and we both passed out. Good call, Maja.

We woke up early for our 9am game, got a good spot in line for breakfast, and outside a jelly disaster on an chair, we dashed over to the Host to squeezed into the last parking spot before the roped off(?) overflow lot (It was reopened when we left that night). Picking up our badges at pre-reg took a whole 38 seconds, most of that was Maja talking about the Santa game.

First game was an Attack on Santa’s Village using GASLIGHT in the H.A.W.K.S. room. It was one of their multi-use tables, as a WW2 game was run on an almost identical table later that afternoon. Figures were a nice mix of Eureka Toy Soldiers, Brigade Game games, GW goblins, giant toys, a collection of evil and good snowmen, plus an assortment of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer collectibles that were perfect scale. My personal favorite were the Misfit Toy figures with umbrellas (as they were dropped into homes at the end of the special) who were treated as paratroopers that could be dropped anywhere on the board.
Even Santa's hiring illegal gnome labor to support the elf shortage
The objective for the evil players was simple: blow up the bridge on the other side of the board (no further explanation was provided nor necessary). Maja took dibs on Rudolph and two giant mechanical Minion toys. I got Yukon Cornelius and the Bumble.
The Giant Purple Minion Toy emerges from the factory
With few defenses on that flank, Yukon and the Bumble charged right at the bad guys, Yukon diving into a horde of goblins with berserker rage, and the Bumble stalling the Giant Evil Lego Tyrannosaurus Rex. Both did considerable damage, Yukon slaying goblin flunkies and the Bumble stalling and damaging the T-Rex before both heroes succumbed to the onslaught. I did my job, holding a good chunk of the evil horde at bay before reinforcements could come.
The hordes of evil storming through the town to blow up the bridge
The opposite side of the battlefield was far more vicious as snowmen and goblins clashed across the North Pole cemetery (!?!) Even with King Moonracer’s paratroopers dropping in, the good guys barely held on. Thanks to Herbie and Rudolph, the last of the wolf riders were routed and the few survivors could direct their attentions to the town square.
Pay no heed to the melted snowmen or slain misfit toys, it was Rudolph who routed the goblin wolfriders.
The evil doers took advantage of a confused defense of the town square and their overwhelming force managed to breakthrough down the main road to the bridge, a cave troll and a unit of evil penguins supporting from the flank.
The Purple Minion pops a gear....

So close....
It took the late appearance of Santa to stall them, but a clockwork gnome barely got its way onto the bridge and blew it up. Christmas might be slightly delayed this year.
Santa and friend finally show up and neither are Ho-Ho-Happy.
By the time the big fight at the bridge took place, Maja had already entertained herself lining up some of the good snowman with an unused Grinch toy on the set-up table. Three and half hours is an eternity for a six year old, so I give her credit for lasting as long as she did.

I like the way GASLIGHT goes, the only issue I had with the game was that the younger kids handed units of troops slowly, while many of the adults took on special characters. One on one combat seemed find, but mass combat with firing and melee felt a bit tedious and the kids did their best to stay interested and excited. The adult-commanded goblin units against the snowman with kids controlling special characters and smaller units fared better and played faster than the kids controlling armies and adults with specials/small units. The GM did do a great job interpreting the dice rolls of the damage/failures for all the mechanical units/giant toys/ Lego dinosaurs.

Since the H.A.W.K.S. room is the closest spot to the Tennis Barn, we then headed over to the dealer hall. Maja was completely overwhelmed and easily distracted. Luckily there was room for her to run-walk around like a kid in Willy Wonka’s factory. An impatient Maja and a limited time frame to boot, did not allow me do my normal shopping routine, so although there probably was someone with the Zap-A-Gap and the spray primer I wanted, I had no time to peruse some of the probable booths. She did pick up a necklace (which almost immediately broke) and a Hello Kitty dice bag. With a precocious six-year old and the clutter of some booths fighting against me I grabbed what I felt was necessary and we dashed back to grab a hot dog and go to Maja’s high point of the day, her “school”.

Strange jaundiced fellows on an MBA table.
We ran up to the Hobby University to take Hobby Painting for Complete Beginners. I’ve always stopped for the Paint-and-Take at Hobby U and seen every scheduled class booked solid, so I was surprised to see openings for this class. It was great to see families attending together, and I’m pretty sure everyone left picking up a number of tips of technique, brushes, or paint. The instructor provided a very detailed handout breaking down the different facets of painting. Maja did very well with the tiny mousling she picked up, although I’ll probably have her keep working on her Egyptian terrain or some 54mm figures to practice what she learned.

We had to cut class early to return to the H.A.W.K.S. room for Maja to jump into the Lego Pirate Brawl. This was much smaller than the Santa’s Village game and Geoff the GM was perfect at keeping the six or seven kids in line and entertained at the same time.   
Lego Pirates!!!!
The game allowed me to dash out for fifteen minutes for the bathroom, a giant meatball sub, and a five minutes in Wally’s Basement. There were a few items left that were deals, but nothing that inspired me to find an ATM with money in it. I snagged up a random card game for a dollar and two plastic horses to fulfill my younger daughter’s request for “a pony.”
The Requisite Gnome Pic


I was questioning why no one was playing on this Soloman Kane board

Then I noticed this (for the same game) on the next table.

I returned to the Lego Pirate game for find it filled with back-stabbing, hooliganism, and outright chaos.

The kids were having a great time.

I spent the last half hour talking general wargaming with the other spectating Dads. It was a nice affirmation that we were all in the same boat (and loving every second of it). I also was given a great new game concept that I’m going to steal, if I can find a Russian sub…. or just use one of the Gups from Octonauts for a kid-friendly version.

Maja was invited to jump in, but she declined.  I knew it was time to go home.
Although Maja wanted to wait until the Toys for Tots Chinese auction, I felt it better to saddle up, check back at Brian’s room to recover a bit and charge up the phone for the ride home, and sneak into IHOP for some dinner. For the second straight Lancaster con, I avoided a place with a line out the door and had a great dinner. How great? I actually called the number at the bottom of the check to compliment our server, Heather. I know people love their steak, but I swear the same people in motorized scooters were outside Texas Roadhouse when we left that were there when we pulled into the parking lot.  Chain food isn't that good, folks.

Finally, to top off a hectic, but memorable weekend, we stopped off at Sheetz for gas and a bathroom break and I discovered these:

The flavor is spot on, although it's obviously missing the texture of dip. Still, it made an uneventful drive home quite enjoyable.

Site: The Host is the Host. I got relatively easy parking both days, the rooms were temperate, and rumors of leaks were in areas that didn’t affect me. On-site food ate away at the cash budget (Maja’s bottomless pit of a stomach is right after her Dad’s when he was six), but the meatball sub was oversized, overflowing, and strangely delicious.

Lodging: The Continental is not a brand-new La Quinta, but it does what it needs to do and their hearty breakfast powered us through the day. I’m tempted to take a Daddy Day Off and travel down for The Weekend in July in lieu of Cold Wars next year (more on that in a second).

Events: Lots of events, but very little interested me. Add in Maja’s dictates and we had a limited schedule. Historical or not, we definitely need more kid’s games. Using Maja as a guide, most of the pictures were what piqued her interest in our limited time walking around.

Gnomes: I had near zero-time with my fellow gnomies, and I will be missing Cold Wars next year fulfill some marital demands. Blake Shelton in Pittsburgh does not equal Wargaming in Lancaster, but I failed at procuring tickets for the local event. We did get better seats at a cheaper price, and free lodging, so I’ll take a weekend with the wife but away from the kids nonetheless. I also promise to read my emails from the fellow gnomies right after I finish this.

Dealers/SWAG: I have a LOT of online ordering to do, thanks to an impetuous Maja. I never got to some booths. A couple of packs of Pulp Figures for some upcoming games with the girls, some “green army guy” foliage that will work well with my jungle terrain on the workbench, and a couple of Windsword items for Maja to paint. (Plus the previously mentioned flea market swag…. Millie loved her ponies by the way).

Maja: The convention pace is certainly faster than game pace at home, but she hung in there. She was friendly to the right people, and avoided the rest. She could be easily distracted and was still subject to a “SQUIRREL” moment, or two, but I must remember she's only six. She’s growing up faster and faster, but she's definitely at an age where we can do "stuff" and best of all, she wants to do stuff with me. Apparently, my wife and I may have done a decent job raising her. Can’t wait to take her again…

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