I went to the Minnesota Dawn Patrol Mini-Con last weekend and had a blast. I had planned to go to the Twin Cities for the Michigan-Mnnesota football game with my friend Mike Carr, who is a Golden Gopher season ticket holder. After these plans were made, Andrew Priest made arrangements for three days of Dawn Patrol at a game store called Monster Den. Thank you Andrew!
I arrived in Minneapolis on Friday afternoon. My buddy Troy Denning and his wife Andrea picked me up at the airport. We went to lunch at the Mall of America and spent the afternoon hanging out. I hadn't seen Andrea in about five years, so that was nice. We spent about an hour making the 20-minute drive to my hotel in downtown Minneapolis. All over the city there were these odd lane closures where one block would be close in one direction, seemingly at random, that would force all traffic to detour 2 or 4 blocks to get around the lane closure. As it was rush hour, the traffic was already terrible. In hindsight, I should have jumped out of Troy's truck and walked the last two blocks the first time got close to the hotel as we circled in.
I was rooming with Jim Barber and we got a terrific room rate at The Hilton Marquette at Marquette and 7th. It's the nicest Hilton room I've had in a long while, and I highly recommend the hotel.
I liked the atmosphere in Monster Den. Friday night they had about 40 people playing Magic, another 15 playing various video games, and two tables of Dawn Patrol (FitS) players. It's been a long time since I've been in a game store with that many people in it at one time. The store sold soda pops and snacks, which was GREAT! They also had nice displays of a variety of upcoming collectible games. It's a big store, with lots of tables for gaming. I would love to have a Monster Den here on Bainbridge Island.
September 1918 I got a big block Fokker and flew Viz. Adolf Eirman. It was his 24th mission! I scored 15 hits on the first two turns and took zero damage. I pilot hit Mike Carr on turn one and he rolled a no effect would. Because of the criticals he took, he decided to dive out of combat. No one chased him, assuming a critical wound. So that was a pretty good start.
November 1916 and I flew a Nieuport 11. The Germans also only had a single gun. I only got off one long burst and only took 3 points of damage. The mission was abbreviated by a dinner reservation. Mike Carr, Jim Barber, and I went to a restaurant for which Mike had a coupon. It was only OK.
November 1918 again. This time I rolled up a Fokker DVIII. I don't have a pilot specializing in this plane, so decided to fly Viz. Eirman again. It's his first flight as a double ace. I scored another pilot hit on the first turn. It was a short flight. I dished out 11 damage and took 12.
Saturday we went to the Michigan-Minnesota football game. It was a strange game. Michigan outscored Minnesota and won the game, but both teams seemed very flat to me. I had come to the game fully expecting a loss for the Wolverines, so I was surprised by the outcome. I got a lot of laughs for the shirt I had made for the game, "Oh Lloyd Wherefore Art Thou?" This was the first time I'd seen pre-game warm-ups. I'm not sure how Rich Rodriguez recruits anyone. I know that if I were 18 years old and saw those pre-game drills on a visit I would be out of there. RichRod has the players line up into a heart shape and then run by each other for a "low five," at the end of warm ups. What is this a marching band or a football team? Michigan has always had a huge edge recruiting brainiac players. RichRod coaches as though every kid is a dummy. We can't fire him fast enough. But I digress.
After the football game we returned to the Monster Den for more games. The next was a barnburner. The allies were on a bombing mission over the North Sea. I was flying one of the two British D.H. 9's carrying bombs. After several turns of dogfighting I got clear along with the other D.H. 9 for the bombing run. I flew low and slow and got maximum modifiers, and missed. My wingman made a much slopier bombing run and also missed, but the "miss" scattered and still hit the destroyer. So I had a 20% better chance to hit, and the other guy won the Distinguished Flying Cross.
As we climbed out of our bombing run we were in another dogfight. My pilot took a light wound. I was able to disengage and fly to shore where I put down immediately on my side of the lines. Because of the light wound, two rear fuselage criticals, the road that was in terrible condition, and landing with a crosswind, I only had a 10% chance to land. I rolled an "11," then the worst type of crash. My 6/2 pilot was killed instantly while my rookie observer was thrown clear and survived.
January 1918 on the Italian front. I flew my 3/0 Italian Hanriot pilot. It was an uneventful 8-turn mission.
My most frustrating mission of the weekend. I flew an SE5a in an 11-turn game. I missed 4 of 5 shots, only did 3 hits total, and took 4 damage.
A very quick 7-turn mission. I flew a rookie in an Alb DVa, only doing 7 damage, and taking none.
On Sunday morning we got together for one more game before flying home. It was a fun one. We were on the Italian front again and I got an Italian Nieuport 17 with only a wing gun. I successfully tailed Jim Barber four turns in a row. He was stymied. The good news for him was that my wing gun was out of ammo for two of those four turns. So when I was taking my tailing cards, I only took maneuvers that would allow me to get in my five straight moves sometime during the turn so that I could attempt a reload. So while successfully tailing while reloading doesn't do much damage, it was still fun.
The flight home to Seattle was uneventful, and I was able to get home in time for Sunday dinner. I had a lot of fun over the weekend.