We Arrive in Heck
While the Hilton was a pleasure to say at for only a few dollars more, complete with cooked-to-order breakfast buffet for the both of us, the convention hotel was an absolute disgrace of a building let alone a hotel. I'm surprised Double Tree (aka Hilton) is even trying to renovate it, though I was told they are dragging their feet on the project. Bottom line, this was the worst hotel I have ever seen outside a third world country. The folks on Tripadvisor are correct in their negative reviews.
After finding a parking space in the parking lot--which is way too small, badly designed, and cluttered with containers and construction equipment--we made our way through the hotel to the con's registration desk on the building's far side. It was an interesting trip to the desk, full of strange (possibly toxic) smells and interesting "under construction" sights of exposed ceilings and walls.
Thankfully, the folks at the con's registration desk were friendly. We picked up materials, paid for Jeremy's con t-shirt, and went into the miniature gaming hall. Since it was about 1pm on Friday, not many people were there yet. Dealers were still setting up. We had registered for a game at 1pm, a WWII bombing game, and saw it set up already.
|A panoramic shot of the con on Saturday afternoon. My first attempt at trying out the feature. It came out pretty good for indoors and not knowing how to take the shot.|
And It's as Hot as Heck
We walked around a bit, checked out the numerous door prizes, and then checked out the dealers booths. Within a few minutes I had worked up a sweat! I mentioned to a fellow that it seemed a bit warm in the room. He replied that the AC was barely working and that the hotel was "investigating" it (we all knew this was corporate speak for doing nothing). The temperature in the room wound up in the low-to-mid 80s, which was downright unacceptable and uncomfortable. From what I was told, it was the same way last year. As Jeremy commented, it felt better outside--and this is Florida in the summer! I should have known something was wrong when people were bringing electric fans!
Sweating to the Oldies
Since I literally was dripping with sweat and rushing to get to the game, I was having a hard time thinking through everything. If I had time to really look through the stacks of White Dwarfs, I would have bought even more. Still, I did get a ton of WDs from 1992 onward along with some of the brand new issues each for the price of a stick of gum. All said and done, I spent $23 at the booth. Later, Jeremy got to load the big box of WDs and rules into the car! I also got a bunch of Axis &Allies 15mm armor at 2 for $1 from Cool Stuff, a 3mm sample pack of Modern Early 80s Pico Armor, and the 15mm AP-Team pack from Odzial Osmy. (I'm mail ordering the rest of the line!)
Though I got to the game late, the fellow running the game didn't mind at all. He had been shopping as well, getting some good deals. It's all part of the fun. So let's get to the game!
A Hot Time Over the Arctic
Black Cross/Blue Sky rules. Jerry was a great guy with the right attitude for a convention game. He made it fun and simple for newbies like us, who just wanted to try out something new. We had a blast playing the game, even though the room kept getting hotter and hotter. Jerry just was a swell guy with a good sense of humor. It was the highlight of the con and turned into the only game we played that weekend, though we didn't plan it that way.
The premise was based on an historical battle: British convoy PQ 18, escorted by carrier Avenger, is heading towards Russia with much needed supplies. Taking note of the carrier, Herman Goering orders, "Ignore the convoy, get the carrier."
Jeremy and I played the Germans, while Jerry and another fellow named Bob played the Brits. We had a flight of He-111 bombers. The Brits had Hawker Hurricanes and flak from their ships. So we had a Jeremy, a Jerry, and two Bob's playing the game--what are the odd of that!?
In the end, we fared worse than the actual Germans did in the real battle. For a while, it looked like we were winning, but a few lucky critical hits on our planes made sawdust out of our plans just as we were getting close to dropping our torpedoes. One bomber had no damage, took one hit, and blew up due to a fuel line hit! Rats!
Last year, I had seen Cool Stuff and Miniature Market blowing out the game on deep discount sales. I knew little about the game and feared it would sit on the shelf untouched like most of the games that I had been buying. Plus, I had Wings of War if I wanted a flying game, though that was sitting unused as well. I liked playing the game so much I checked into buying it online later that evening. Sadly, the only place selling it is the publisher, but it would cost $105 for the base game. That's a bit out of my price range at the moment.
Literally right before the con I had bought a new camera off of Amazon, finally ditching my 10 year old Lumix. This time I bought an Olympus Stylus SH-50 iHS along with the the fastest and newest SD card on the market, a Samsung Pro SDHC MB-SG16D/AM. The card writes blazing fast and the camera is da' bomb!
These are the very first photos I shot with the camera, so they were a learning experience. All I did was set it to Automatic and let the camera do all the work. I didn't even need macro. The flash never went off once. I was amazed, even considering how poor the lighting was in the con. The photos I took outside are fantastic. Plus full 1080p video was great--I shot some trains later in the evening when we did some train watching up in GA. I think this will take far better photos of miniatures than my old camera.
Ok, enough blathering! Here are the photos.
|The British convoy and escort. That's not the USS St. Lo. It's really the Avenger. You just need to squint a bit to see it. :)|
|Our He-111 bombers heck-bent on the carrier.|
|"The kid" waiting for me to take my seat after taking the obligatory photo for Mommy.|
|Jerry did a great job on the planes and bases. We were impressed.|
|His homemade cards for the planes. He put them in 'hardbacks' so we could write on them using Vis-a-vis markers.|
|A close-up of some He-111's. We used to die to track how many hexes each plane had moved in a straight line.|
|The bomber's card.|
|Each card handles three or four planes. This is the back of the He-111.|
|Jerry helps Jeremy make a hard decision, while Bob watches as he contemplates which bomber he'll shoot down first. Hey wait a minute! The kid is getting "help" from the enemy!?! LoL.|
|Bandit! 3 o'clock!|