I set out from Brooklyn early Friday afternoon with fellow Metropolitan Wargamers club members Kimber, James, and Brian. After an easy drive through the somewhat idyllic Pennsylvania countryside in all its Fall glory, we arrived at the Lancaster Host late that afternoon. I checked in easily then roamed the halls to get the lay of the land.

Fall In! 2017, The Yanks Are Coming

I took a quick walk through Distlefink downstairs. Friday afternoon gaming was in full swing. I could tell from the tables I glanced at that it was going to be a fun weekend. The theme for this year’s Fall In! was The Yanks are Coming. As a result there were a good deal of WWI and WWII games going on. AWI, Napoleonics, ACW, and a handful of other periods were also represented as were sci-fi and fantasy to a lesser extent.

In Lampeter, several tournaments were underway as was Wally’s Basement — HMGS’ flea market. I came across a copy of Gary Gygax’s Tractics complete with the Gygax Kay mark on the white box for a mere $350. I was tempted, but I had also just arrived.

The new vendor hall was outside and down the hill. I definitely got that kid in a candy story feeling as soon as I walked in. A total of over 50 vendors were present including favorites such as Stonegate Forge, Sash and Saber Castings, Old Glory, Gale Force 9, Dave’s Baggage Train, Brigade Games, and Battlefield Terrain Concepts. Most vendors were selling their wares at convention discounts. Again, having just arrived, I kept cool. But, I definitely planned on coming back before we left.

I had signed up for a Johnny Reb III game run by Michael Wedding prior to the convention, but Michael informed me beforehand that he wasn’t going to make it this year. As a result, I didn’t have any games planned for Friday night. As I walked back through Distlefink, I ran into fellow club member Ben Rubin who was just starting to run another demo of Stonegate Forge’s new game Shatterlands. He asked if I wanted to join, and I of course did.

Ben Rubin from Stonegate Forge demos Shatterlands. Picture Courtesy of Kimber Vanry.

Shatterlands takes place in a black powder fantasy frontier setting. There are two factions; the Keshdumah, who are a musket armed analog to Europeans in North America in the 17th and 18th centuries; and the Rapani who are armed with bows and arrows and seem similar to the American Indians.

One of the strengths of Shatterlands is campaign play. Players use unique scratch off cards to track the progress of their characters. This progress includes improvements to abilities such as aim or melee strength and detriments resulting from permanent injuries. In either case, players scratch off sections of the player cards that inform them which dice to roll.

The Shatterlands character cards

The demo game at Fall In! involved two players to a side running two figures each. The rules were intuitive and, by the end of the game, I had a good sense of them. As takeaways, players were given two character cards and a coupon for a free miniature from Stonegate Forge’s booth in the vendor hall. Signing up for the Stonegate Forge email list also got players a free PDF of the rules. Once I’ve had a chance to read them in full, I’ll try to post a full review of Shatterlands here on Little Wars.

It had been a long week of work preceding the convention, so, after Shatterlands, I took a quick look around Distlefink, bumped into some other Metropolitan Wargamers members, and had a quick drink upstairs before calling it a night. All in all, it was a successful first day at Fall In! 2017.

I’ll follow up soon with a post on Saturday...

Tags: Wargaming, Conventions, Fall In!, HMGS, Shatterlands, Stonegate Forge