Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fall-In 2014: day one: The Hunger Games!

Friday morning brought an early but pleasant drive up from Maryland to Lancaster, with only a slight detour for the scenic route. The gents and I spent some time in the car chatting and speculating about bringing in some additional content and changes to This Very Blog. More on that as it materializes.

Got in right before the deadline for their Flames of War doubles tournament. I had... ample time before my first event so I stuck around a bit to check it out.

The tournament was in the Showroom this time, a large theater with high ceilings. Actually really nice! Never seen the room in use before, very strange. I am positive full reports will be up on WWPD before too long, and do a better job of talking about it then I could even begin to do.

Look, tanks and stuff. (I am not a historical gamer.)

After hanging out at the tourney for a bit, took to the halls to check out some of the other early games in progress.

One of the highlights of the show as a whole was the positively massive "Speak Easy & Carry a Big Stick" game on Friday night. Blocks of roaring 20's action lovingly rendered in 28mm scale. I formally regret not playing in this one, because wow. (Unfortunately, it conflicted with my game for the evening. Had I known how this one would look, though...)

For some closeups, check out Brooklyn Wargaming. For more pics, check out Mr. Olsen or Buck Surdu or Lord Ashram's and pretty much anyone who wandered near Fall-In the whole weekend.


Another drive-through at the FoW tourney. We were amused earlier that there was even a table set up on the stage, and sure enough, the dynamic duo were playing on that vaunted platform.

Aaron on the left, Maurice on the right. Action!

As noted above, I had lots of free time on Friday, so I ended up getting a table at the Friday session for Wally's Basement. Usually, I just stick with the Saturday morning session (the most popular one) but figured as long as I could make a few bucks past what I paid for getting another table, I would come out ahead. This turned out to be a great decision, as I ended up making more than I expected over the course of the weekend. Yes, I might have sold some of those items on Saturday instead, but it all comes down to the count of passers-by you get who might want to buy your things. And I was priced... aggressively low. So bonus! Don't think it'll be a regular thing for me (the actual selling is very draining, especially working the table solo) but glad I phoned in for the extra this time around.

As seen last year, they had the massive "Attack on Fort DeRussy" game set up again.

Again, more sweet pics over at Mr. Olsen's gallery.

All Quiet on the Martian Front is becoming a staple of cons, as well. Looks so good all prettied up. But why would anyone want to play anything but the tripods?

After a day of eating junk, I needed some vegetables in me to help balance things out. Sadly, the best I could do at the Host was a chicken caesar salad. I'll leave complaining about the location to others more qualified, but I really wish there were healthier food choices available.

On the other hand, the bar now has cider on tap, so let's just say the meal was not a total loss.

My game for the evening, and in fact the first thing I signed up for at the con, was The Hunger Games!

(Oh look, if you squint at this pic from Buck Surdu's gallery, you can see me sitting behind that guy who is standing up. Internet famous!)

Using the Blood and Swash rules with some modifications, each of the players got two characters, one male and one female. Each player was given a number. When that card came up in the deck, we got to active one character and take an action. The players informally decided that those were the districts we were from, because, well, that was kid-of a no-brainer given the setting. Plus, I was #10, so go farmers?

As you might notice above, the figs we used were some Doctor Who/pulp figs that were borrowed from one of the HAWKS gamerunners. Perfectly serviceable, but I note that it would have been pretty fantastic to have a bunch of miniatures of kids. You know, for theme. Speaking of...

Now, I hate sounding critical of anyone running a game at a con, especially a game I had a lot of fun at. But There was definitely room for improvement here. I always enjoy gaming down in the HAWKS area; the games are run very well, the figs and terrain look great, So, uh, sitting down to the above, which looks more like a playtest walkthrough than anything else, was a bit worrisome. Toss in some random figs, and yeah.

I do hate being critical, here. I don't run games at cons because I really don't think I have the patience or temperament to deal with that many players at once, and for a few hours with no break. This game just didn't have the presentation I was expecting. Certainly good for a playtest, though, even if that wasn't what it was billed as. And like I said, I did enjoy the game, and am glad I showed.

OK, back to business.

The game start, and the rush for the cornucopia's treasures is on.

Another surprise was that the ten players included four children. Kids at a con are always a crap shoot, but this group was great. They were all familiar with the setting, and were in pretty good spirits pretty much the whole time through. 

And remember how I said we all decided our numbers were our Districts? Since the kids all sat together, and the gamemaster started counting in that order, they were all in the lower numbered Districts. Couldn't have planned it better if he'd tried.

Much like in the books, the rush for the weapons and supplies (here represented by those chits and scraps of paper) turned into a bloodbath early. I sent in one of my tributes, but the other hightailed it for the seeming safety of the woods. 

This was, naturally, a terrible idea. See those colored dots surrounding the water above? Each was paired with a corresponding color dot at the table edge, dividing the area into... yes, just like the 75th Hunger Games, a giant clock. In addition to the cards used for player activations, there were cards in there that triggered the special events. The majority of which were terrible: poison gas, killer bees, some troll-like monster, etc. The player whose card came up after the event card determined which 'clock facing' wedge it would appear in, most of them being something bad moving in from the table edge towards the center, forcing all the contestants closer together. 

Panem forever.

For some reason, all my activation cards kept showing up at the bottom of the deck. The other random trend was, oddly, I also kept being one of the players triggering terrible disasters. It was amusingly strange luck.

Cotton balls representing poison fog and wildfires roll in from above. Not coincidentally on the side of the table opposite me.

More comedy from the random chance of dice and cards were crazy strings of 'kid luck,' which I am now convinced is a scientific principle. See those tentacles above? The beast behind them had seized the tribute of one of the kids. And after a couple rounds of getting pulled under, she needed to roll like a 19 or 20 just to survive. Triggering her straight up rolling nothing but 19s and 20s for the next few rounds, without fail.

If Troi meets the Doctor on the road, kill him.

In the end, it was a fun beer-and-pretzels game. The rules were simple enough that we all had them down within a couple turns. And it was able to handle ten players, each playing two characters, no sweat. So there's something to be said for that. I'd love to see a prettier presentation, but the game I played in was good times.

Hopefully will have day two up within the next couple days. Stay tuned!


  1. That speakeasy game set-up looks stunning, simply stunning. I love seeing stuff so well crafted like that at shows. :)

    1. Agreed. I am not big into making nice terrain, but I love playing on other people's lovely stuff like this.

    2. That kind of stuff shows off the hobby at its best and often gives the greatest satisfaction for attending shows IMHO (besides spending too much money!). :)

    3. Yeah, I've been working on the 'spend too much money' side for years...

  2. Some good looking games there dude!
    The speak easy table looks stunning.