Monday, June 26, 2017

The WEEKEND Review

With strains of Loverboy jamming in my boss' car as we drove to the corporate offices on Monday, I was constantly reminded that this week, I was indeed working the The Weekend.

The Weekend is a small annual convention at the Continental Inn in Lancaster, PA, born out of the fiery chaos which was Historicon moving out of Lancaster.  Preferring a con in the heart of Amish country, and without the masses of volunteers and politics that keep HMGS cons afloat (or adrift, depending on your interpretation), organizer Otto Schmidt keeps it simple: a $20 donation to the cause gets you in, or simply stay at the Continental over the weekend, and get in for free.  It's a weekend of fun, camaraderie, and old dudes telling stories around the munchies pit.

No actual dealers, no memberships, no con t-shirts, no frills, and that's the way most con attendees like it, dagnabbit!

Thursday, we loaded the whole family in the van, and despite Construction Season being in full swing, arrived at the Continental in perfect time to grab my badge (and one for my eight-year old daughter Maja) and hit the pool.  Wednesday and Thursday, the early birds get to game in the "Card Room" and boardgames are usually broken out and general shenanigans occur.  However, with a wife and two little girls (6 and 8) with me, fatherhood trumps all.  In fact Thursday was pretty much a wash, as we swam, hit Golden Corral before all the buses arrived, and went back to the indoor pool until close.

Friday I let the other comatose bodies lie, grabbed the always solid breakfast buffet at The Continental's restaurant, and went downstairs.

I immediately gravitated towards Bob and Cleo Liebl's "And The Ladies Come Marching Home Again, Hurrah, Hurrah!" for two reasons.  For starters, it's a great set-up, but more importantly, it was the first time I could see and hold the Hinterland female figures I've had on my want list for some time.

I took command of the women, who were moments away from being beset upon my bandits, savages, slavers.  My relief was on the far side of the board looked like they were going to have an equally bad go with it.
Most con games are 10% strategy, 10% tactics, and 80% outrageous dice rolls, and for me, this was no exception. Insufficient buffers between my scouts and the main units, mixed with dervishes and wooly-bullies who were "wildly enthusiastic" to meet the British women led to me falling into square far too late to be effective.
The ladies, trying to maintain square before attempting to break out.
I would like to say for the sake of the AAR that my female cavalry remembered that they had horses to shatter the bandit flank and have a few survivors ride off into the desert "to be continued" but with my die rolling, it probably would have failed anyway.  Regardless, a great game, and I've never argued about free cookies at a game.

After my game, I ventured back to the room to get the whole run down from the girl's trip to "The Farm."  Their trip to see domesticated animals (and for Millie, age 6, 'Where Bacon Came From') was diverted as the site had a "Please Touch"  museum and the girls were quite occupied with that for 3+ hours.
Sandwiches from Wawa properly devoured, Maja said those words that melt a father's heart.

"Daddy, I want to go game."

Now, I believe The Weekend is not designed to be your child's first con experience.  The men are old, the conversation many times is blue, and the rules can vary from daunting to "anything but a six".  However, Otto has printed off a very conversational wargaming FAQ towards parents whose children wandered down to the ballroom and marveled at the toy soldiers.

The good news for the con attendees was that my eight-year old is an old pro at cons (she technically was at Historicon in Valley Forge, but her first badge-wearing event was Fall-In! 2015), so we fell into the Blood and Plunder pirate game getting set up by Mack Tuck and Ken Hall.
The pirates fare poorly in game one.
Two things I like about Blood and Plunder, from a Dad with a gamer in-training.  Another version of playing card initiative from how we use it was great, and as someone trying to introduce Song of Blades & Heroes into our household to try to use all the fantasy figures, she definitely picked using multiple activations/actions, as her Spanish militia stayed in their fortification and picked off pirates.
Maja's militia (lower left) 
After that, I took the kids to the pool, a late bite at IHOP/Sonic, I made a quick walk-through for late-night boardgaming, and like frat boys on the weekend, no one remembers when we really passed out.

The Hatfields vs the McCoys
Saturday was going to be  travel day for us, as the girls leave with relatives for the shore on Sunday.  A quick breakfast with Maja, a jaunt down to ballroom to show her the Hinterland figures (and cookies!), and some high-risk tetherball action by the playground and we were ready to go.
The L'Art de la Guerre Mid-Atlantic Regionals were held Saturday and Sunday
I consider the weekend to be a success, play some games, shoot the breeze, and perform fatherly duties in gaming and non-gaming capacities. Great games, no swag (the bring 'n buy table was filled with a lot of near retail items, or items meant for a real flea market or auction), and Maja learned she like Strawberry Kiwi Snapple.

If there's another Weekend next June, we shall be there!

(Edit:  For more commentary on the Weekend, and better yet, more pictures, check out Colonel Bill Gray's article here.)

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