Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fall-In! 2016 AAR

The leaves are changing, the air was nippy, and the political ads on TV were getting toxic.  It must mean that Fall-In! was right around the corner!

After a Friday morning of putting out fires at work, I signed my seven-year old daughter, Maja, out of school, and we embarked on a road trip to Lancaster to spend a Daddy-Daughter weekend of painting, games, and whatever demands a little girl wants.

And.... we're off!

The drive down was rather uneventful, although I caught the early edge of rush hour traffic around the 222 exit.  I had convinced Maja that it was too early to check into the hotel (and go swimming) so we found a place to park at the Host, picked up our badges in 15 seconds, caught up with a few friends I hadn't seen since last year's Fall-In! , and descended upon the Tennis Barn for a few "must have items,"  before my scheduled "kid-free"  shopping time on Saturday.

At least point, I cover my two disappointments that went wrong at the con:
  1. While I fully understand the Host is going through some massive, long-term renovations, the air quality in the convention areas are absolutely stifling.   I have spent the last two weeks on the fifth floor of an office building that had no HVAC at all and varied temps from 52 to 89 degrees on different days, yet I could tolerate that better than the Host.  I tried to walk in some of the side rooms to check out games, and the stale air smacked me in the face like opening up a thousand year old tomb.  I felt tremendous pity for those guys and gals who had to tough it out over a four hour session.
  2. I know I didn't get into the Dealer's Hall until 4pm on Friday, but the idea that I couldn't fill half my shopping list because vendors had already sold out of numerous items was a bit disconcerting.  This has nothing to do with hot new releases and it's not one particular vendor, but five.  The good news is that all were apologetic and made an effort to be accommodating, but I left the hall on Saturday with $200 in my pocket and now I need to make online orders and pay shipping. 
After snagging a few items, we drove across the street to check in at The Continental and meet-up with our friend Brian, who was splitting the cost of the room.   Maja and I then ventured over to the indoor pool for an hour.  Nothing like having a giant pool to ourselves (and a hot tub for Dad's back).
Friday Afternoon Gnome Wars Game
We cleaned up and ventured over to the one place that has never had a line on a Friday night: IHOP.  It's cheap, it's fast, and when we left, the same people waiting outside Texas Roadhouse when we went in were still out there.  
Frostgrave in the HAWKS room
70's Action on an oil rig?

A Very British Civil War

More Very British Civil War

Star Wars
Upon return to the Host, Maja decided that a Gnome Zombie game sounded like a better option than what we had planned, so we headed down to Distelfink with minis (and a lot of water) in hand.

Despite collecting and playing with the gnomes for eight years, I had never played in the Zombie (Znombie?) game.  Each player got a team of five random gnomes, or could bring their own team if they had one.  Melee weapons and silence were at a premium.

Some experienced players came prepared...

The scenario was quite simple: Get your five-man team across the far end of the table with as many resources that you could collect.  Random pockets of resources (food, ammo, explosives, and gas) lay scattered across the board.  Of course, the small town in the center of the board, filled with zombies, could be problem. 

Two years after I completed them, it was time for the first appearance of the California Imperial Guard to hit the table at an HMGS event.  Maja took the Officer, NCO, two riflemen (with two shots), and a healer, Sister Una.   I grab an assortment of pickaxes, halberds, and swords... and the California Imperial Guard's drummer, Ulrich.  I got a few odd looks until I explained that the drummer was expendable, making noise and running in the opposite direction, if need be...

Between Maja, myself, and fellow next to us, we had a plan to engage/wipe out the small zombie herd in front of us, and that gave us a clear path to get halfway across the board.

Turn One:  The other fellow and myself move towards the horde.  Maja's group proceeds to bolt behind us and run away. 

Good thing she didn't stab in the back with a butter knife at IHOP.

"Eek, they aren't lawn ornaments!"

The experienced players dashed forward, found gas, and fueled up a few well-placed trucks to speed off the board. Our right flank was a bit more inquisitive, searching for loot in a nearby graveyard and angering a skeleton lord and his minions.

Never get resources out of a graveyard in a zombie game.

Our assault on the herd was costly.  I lost my halberd and my comrade in arms lost four gnomes, leaving "Joey"  an ex-pirate with two unloaded pistols.  We swapped some resources so he could reload and we dashed towards the edge of town.   My drummer found a small tank, fueled it up, and started moving forward.  Joey tried to follow, unloaded all his ammo into an undead Kraut, and died alone to a surprise horde.
Joey fought alone.  Joey was scared.  Joey got eaten.  #RIPJoey
Maja needed a bathroom/snack break, but gave surprising orders for her group, sending them directly into a house to search for supplies and hide out from the zombies.  She uncovered a treasure trove, a supply cache, and best of all, NO ZOMBIES INSIDE. 

Sister Una and Sergeant Wilbanks find a treasure trove
This lay between us and the relative freedom of the bridge on the far end of the board:


We were plotting our moves into the inevitable slaughter when we overheard some conversation across the board.  Apparently, the fountain was the source of the cultist's powers of generating zombies (and immediately raising the recently fallen as new troops).    Holy water in the fountain might stop it... and we had a Roman Catholic nun on the run.

The fountain is the key...

But first Maja stole my phone and took some pictures around Distelfink....

Maja Pic #1 - abandoned camp

Maja Pic #2 - Random gnome groups

Maja Pic #3 "It was soooo pretty"

Maja Pic #4

Maja Pic #5

Maja Pic #6 - Another Award for Jim Stanton

And second, my drummer in the tank was going to crush some zombies and run over the fountain.

The tank crushes the fountain....

That went nothing like I planned it.  The fountain cracked open and the magical waters spread out six inches further, turning the recently deceased AND all of the cultists into zombies.   

Some other bands panicked and ran towards the bridge....

Some odd warbands flee!
Maja's warband charged out of the building, each soldier intercepting undead as Sister Una dashed towards the overspilling fountain.    Just one vial of holy water was all it took to stop the zombie curse. 

Of course, it did nothing to solve the existing zombie problem.   With all the cultists turned into zombies, there was no one to stop the drummer from coming out of the hatch, standing on the tank, and playing the drum part of the popular Lords of Marionettes.  His sacrifice (?) kept all the zombies at bay while at least a dozen more gnomes could escape.
Just Keep Drumming, Just Keep Drumming

The California Imperial Guard Escapes!
After clean-up, we headed back to the hotel, where an exhausted Brian offered to watch Maja while I returned to the bar and catch up with the Gnomies.    It's not Mad Elf, but the Troegs Doublebock was pretty good.   New gnome details should be forthcoming, but I can say, that you'll be seeing a continuation of the gnomish history of North America on this blog in the coming weeks. 

We woke up and managed to miss this early rush for The Continental's breakfast buffet.  Maja ate enough for five grown gamers and demanded a trip to the playground.  I easily conceded.  

After swings, slides, and tetherball, we checked out and walked across 30 with our luggage.  We had gotten a primo spot in from of the Host after dinner, and between that and the late night libations, I had no reason to move the car.

First activity of the morning was the Beginner Paint class for Maja at Hobby University.    Remember the stifling air?  Even with an attentive teacher, a box fan, and a neon-green cave troll, Maja started to falter.  Copious amounts of water and a quick walk to investigate the kid's zone gave her enough energy to finish up. 

We then grabbed a snack and ventured down to the flea market.  

Fun fact:  Between the flea market and dealer hall, seven year girls get a bunch of free stuff.  Maja quickly accumulated an eccentric collection of figures, toys, and odd pieces just for being a girl excited about wargaming.  Don't know exactly what sort of game we're going to play with everything, but thanks to everyone for being so awesome.

HAWK's Santa Game

It was soon time for my Hobby U class on cheap roads, but due to a logistical snafu, it was replaced with shanty building.  I got the best of both worlds out of it, as I got an hour of therapeutic building with balsa and crimped postcard,  mixed with the teacher also going over the roads class without practice materials. 

I then dropped Maja off at the HAWKS room for the fabulous Lego Pirate game.  Once they were settled into the murderous rampage of childish glee that only Danish blocks could create, I ran off for some more pictures and "Dad" shopping. 

HAWKS Pirate Game

When all your stuff is painted in camouflage, this might make it easier to find everything.

Gnome Wars Saturday Afternoon Game

Gnome Wars Saturday Afternoon Game

I came back to a tired Maja, who only wanted to collect her free gnome she won at the Zombie game, pet the bearskin from the Polish Lancers, and head to dinner at DJ's Taste of the 50's, before heading home.

All in all, it's exactly the weekend we needed, even if the actual atmosphere was a bit stuffy.  As much as I'm game for the "Father's Day Away" weekend at Cold Wars, I'm much more excited by Maja's enthusiasm...  especially since we have a local con to attend this weekend.

The Spoils: 
For all the misses on my shopping list, I'm satisfied with my haul. 
Number one on my listed is a GDW hardcover copy of Space: 1889.    Second would be a nice visit to the infamous TreeGirl  (between the cookies and terrain, there must be a nefarious purpose from such a wonderful girl.  Perhaps this election was getting to me...)   Some Egyptian and Fantasy stuff from Windsword, some neat laser cut things coming From the Basement,  Brigade Arabs for an upcoming scenario plus the Hillary and Donald figures (already primed!), North Star African bearers, Pulp Figures heroines, and Maja's freebies.

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