The Expo was a blast (as usual) and I actually played a monster game this year instead of wandering around asking "What game is this?" and "Where/when was that battle fought?" I had the pleasure of playing The Devil's Cauldron with Gerry Palmer - twice! - during the first two days of the con. We sat down to work our way through "The Empire Strikes Back" scenario, double-checking and rethinking as we went. The first game was not a close one, but we both figured out a lot of things we wanted to try differently. So we switched sides, set up again, and took off for Round 2.
In this scenario, the Germans have multiple conditions to meet for an auto-win. Taking the landing zones was fairly easy, but I made Gerry fight for The Hill. He managed to break it on the last turn and headed for Mook, his last victory condition. I had earlier moved my Engineers into Mook to entrench the improved position there before sending them down to do the same at The Hill. So Gerry's Jerrys approached the city as my defenders were dug in as best they could be and the fight was on. Of the last handful of chits in the draw cup came out, three of the German chits came up early and one right after the other. My Allies hung on desperately and Gerry's troops opted for an all-out assault into the city. After two tense rounds of assault, my boys still held Mook. But on the last roll of the last round of the assault, they succumbed to their wounds and the Germans won the day. I felt I had quite an achievement as I had made Gerry WORK for his victory!
After that, I settled down for teaching and playing Combat Commander to my heart's content. I still enjoy teaching the game and I love playing against the seasoned vets when I can get really cut-throat and have a good time. I do feel bad that I had to turn down a few learning games with people, as I had not brought the CC:E or CC:M games with me. Chad and I were specifically playing CC: Pacific, the Stalingrad battlepack, and also debuted the new CC: Resistance! battlepack (partisans - whoohoo!).
I had a great time wandering the ballroom and the Abbey again, asking questions and checking progress on all the monster games. It was great to see the ebb and flow of certain battles as they progress over a series of days. I get a better understanding of the games I play when I can see the big picture "in action" in other games.
I think my favorite moment of the con this year came during a game of CC with my friend Mark. He had been playing another game earlier in the day and another gamer dropped by our table to ask him about it. Being the helpful and informative guy that he is, Mark took the time to share some information on his prior battle with this fellow gamer.
Other Guy: What was that game you were playing earlier?
Mark: La Bataille d'Orthez.
OG: What's that about?
Mark: The Battle of Orthez.
Generosity was the order of the day every day at the con. Ric Van Dyke printed T-shirts for his fellow Case Blue players, Nick Richardson and MMP provided great extras for the TDC players (colored dice, vanity counters and extra charts and player aids), and Lance Nielsen got a beer for Alan Emrich when he started to lose his voice during the auction. Players were sharing games, tools (dice and tweezers), advise, laughs and design ideas. We took several people out for dinners and were ourselves invited out several times.
And this is the ONLY flea market I know of where you can just leave your stuff out day after day and KNOW it is all okay and the guys who owe you money will track you down before the end of the week.
If you went, it was good to see you. If you didn't go, get there next year. You won't be sorry you did!