2nd Annual HFFL LANstravaganza RECAP!

HFFL 2014 LAN logo

This past weekend saw the 2nd Annual HFFL LANstravaganza come and gone. It started Thursday night when I went to pick up my first guest from the airport. That was ‘Dij’. He’s one of my HFFL gaming group buds. He came up form Texas. There’s a few photos of him in the recap below.

Lots of fun was had, so take a look and read on about a great Halo weekend.

Friday PrimantisAbove is the Pittsburgh famous Primanti’s sandwich. It’s piled with meat of your choosing, coleslaw, fries, cheese, and a tomato on Mancini’s Italian bread. We went there Friday morning after picking up my longtime friend, Zach (TheHal0Array). He came in from Chicago. I had been teasing Zach since last year’s LAN about Primanti’s. He couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into a sandwich again.

Below are various pics of my collection being set up for the LAN. The Mega Bloks table represents about 80% of my UNIQUE sets. I have many more extra sets for example, like the ghost and wraith. I chose to only show one of each, with exception to the Warthog which has so many cool variations. (Click on pics to show the whole view and make bigger)

The other table hold just a small sampling of my other Halo collectibles including, McFarlane, Jada, Play Arts, Bearbrick, and Minimates. As well, you may notice the pipe cleaner figures made by HFFL’s own Rythmic Warrior. The only thing pictured in the gallery above that isn’t mine is the Master Chief Halo 4 statue. That was brought by HFFL’s PensHalo.

The LAN started as schedule right at 1pm Saturday. Pens had brought some pizza form his dad’s pizza shop (DiPietro’s in West View). So we all scarfed that down in preparation for the gaming that was to come.

I chose to have the consoles set up in my sun room as it was a great day for weather. The temp in the room was pretty mild.Sat LAN GAMEPLAY 1Sat LAN GAMEPLAY 2
Above in the middle is ‘Dij’ with a snarky look on his face. Heh, he was making funny faces (and sayings) all weekend. To the left of Dij is Brent (HFFL Big Cheese). Brent came all the way from San José, CA.Sat LAN GAMEPLAY 3
Above shows Zach (seated) with Brent and Dij watching. This was the championship match of the FFA tournament. Brent was the only one present who wasn’t 21 or over. As you can see he has a Coke in hand. I made sure he did not imbibe any spirits.Sat LAN group shot 1
After the FFA tourney, I had fellas come outside for group photos.Sat LAN group shot 2 HFFL GG
Above are the HFFL gaming group guys in attendance. L-R: Cheese, Pens, Dij, Me, Zach, Tetra. I need to make two HUGE shootouts here. First to Pens. He was the biggest contributor to the fundraising event. Next is Cheese. Not only did he contribute, but his father did too. Thanks fellas, you really helped ensure the LAN went on as planned!Sat LAN group shot 3 local guys
Above were the local Pittsburgh guys. L-R: Pens, Darren, Me, BMoody, Joe (D_Town_Ninja) Oh and let me make a shout out to Joe here. He provided the tables that we set the consoles up on.Sat LAN group shot 4 podcastersAbove are there of us who podcast. To my left is Drew of Podcast Evolved. Then there’s me and Zach, both of whom are co-hosts of the Spirit of Fire Podcast.

Sat LAN group shot 5 tourney 1-2
The winners of the FFA tourney. BMoody-winner (L) and Zach-2nd place (R). Both sets above were donated by Brent’s father Paul. MANY thanks Paul. You were the biggest sponsor for prizes for the LAN!Sat LAN contest prizes 1
Joe won this Mega Bloks donated Wombat Recon Drone set. He won it through a rather convoluted game I concocted. It started as a “headhunter” game (Really it was like an easter egg hunt, but using Mega Bloks mini figures.) Then people used their figures to bid on 3 secret prizes. One of which was a ‘whammy’, while the other two were Mega Bloks donated prizes. The second prize was the whammy. It was a foam ‘Enema Man’. Yes, you read that right! LOL. Darren won that and took it in stride. When I offered to give him back his figs for Enema Man, he decided to keep it anyway. If I recall, I gave him the figures back anyway. Sat LAN contest prizes 2Above are two of the prizes Tetra won. The left one was actually won via a contest on the blog. He opted for me to hold onto it to give to him at the LAN. The right set was for winning a game of ‘Snipe-A-Mole’. That game is a LOT of fun with a lot of people. We play this regularly every Friday, during HFFL Community nights.

At 6pm, we took a break for my homemade grilled burgers and hot dogs. We shared Halo stories regarding gameplay, lore, the future of the franchise and so on.

After this gaming resumed, but instead of continuing with Halo 4, it was decided to play Halo 3 for the rest of the night. Team Slayer was the game of choice for most of the rest of the night.

Personally, I only played one game. (Which is actually one more than last year). Not because I didn’t want to play, rather to make sure everyone else got to play. Besides, my enjoyment was watching everyone else have fun during the event I planned.

The one game I did play in however was a doozy. I chose CTF on Sandtrap. At that I called an audible to Zach who was on my team, saying “RM Special”. He knew exactly what I meant. I briefly explained it to Tetra who was also on my team. The RM Special is the tactic where I race to the enemy’s Elephant with Zach covering me. The other two fellow use themselves as distractions. In the meantime, I drive off with the Elephant back to our base, while Zach lays down cover fire for me, either with his BR or one of the Elephant’s turrets.

We briefly were stopped by Cheese, who was desperate to end the plan. However, we picked right up where we left off at. Dij was the fourth member of the team. He was using a Brute Chopper to circle around the Elephant picking off guys who dared challenge, again while Zach covered for me on the Elephant. Tetra, meantime, was on top of long base picking off guys as well. This made it extremely easy for me to drive the Elephant all the way back to our Elephant. Just before we got there, Zach pulled away from shooting to cap the first flag. By this time I had driven right up behind our own Elephant. Another flag was capped. I was waiting for that cap, then picked up the victorious 3rd cap for the win.

The other team never came close to capping. It was so fun seeing that years old plan still work, and darn near to perfection. Especially given that two of the guys had never played that before.

A few more games were played by the fellows, then it was time to pack the gaming stuff away. While Dustin from GameOn LLC was packing his equipment away, my guests and I chatted a bit.

Next up was a planned viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy. I won’t give any spoilers. But I will say, the movie was freaking FANTASTIC! As good if not better than the Avengers. (Which for me is saying something.) We went to Primanti’s again after the movie, then settled in back at my house.

Sunday morning’s plans were for a tour of Pittsburgh, through my eyes. This meaning going to several locations where I either grew up or went to as a kid.

First up was Mancini’s Bread. Yes, the same bread used on the Primanti’s sandwich. The tradition in my family is to go there early with a cutting board, butter and jelly. This so that we could slice up a loaf of fresh baked bread right then and there and eat it.

Sun PGH tour 1Sun PGH tour 2
Above is just the entry way into the store. There is much more bread available inside. Once you open the door to Mancini’s the smell of fresh baked Italian bread hits you like an avalanche. It’s pure heaven! My wife was kind enough to pack 6 types of jelly. Normally as a family in my childhood we’d only have one, maybe two. My wife hooked us up well with the jelly.

After Mancini’s we went o Mount Washington. This is not only a scenic overview of Pittsburgh, but a great Pittsburgh neighborhood. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh during the 4th of July, this is the BEST place to watch the fireworks!Sun PGH tour 3

And of course, we couldn’t go a day without Primanti’s again…LOL
Sun PGH tour 5Sun PGH tour 6

After Primanti’s we went to yet another ‘fine food establishment’ (Said in HEAVY sarcasm). This is the Original or as we locals call it the’Dirty O’. It’s a hot dog shop that is arguably more known for it’s large portions of fires than it’s dogs. Below is a SMALL portion!Sun PGH tour 7All 5 of us were able to eat from this. Admittedly we were all pretty full form Mancini’s and Primanti’s before…

After this we went back to my home. It was late afternoon.

When we got back, I had planned for us to have a podcast with all 5 of us talking about the LAN, reveals from Gamescom and more. While the plan was for only an hour podcast, it stretched to nearly two hours. (What can I say, I love to talk…) It was getting late for Tetra so he had to leave to go back to his family home in Virginia.

We said our good byes to him and the rest of us moved on to the next phase of the LAN. The Halo Mega Bloks Diorama!

Again, click on pics to see the whole pic and make bigger.

We started this at about 8:30 pm. First came the planning out of the baseplates, mountains and caves. Then each base side was chosen. Dij and Brent took on the UNSC base building, while Zach and I put down the Covenant Invasion force. Zach and I placed down the vehicles of the Covie forces, then started placing the mini figures. Brent was in charge of building the outer wall of the UNSC base, while Dij built the inner structure of the base. After this they too joined in own placing figures. As you can see in several of the pics above, we put some in funny positions.

The shot over the shoulder of the Orange Spartan is supposed to be Brent’s Spartan sniping the Covies. The Silver Spartan is supposed to be recreating the Chief ‘nade plant in a Hunter from the Forward Unto Dawn miniseries. As well, note Master Chief himself holding a plasma grenade while a Brute is holding him up. This of course is a direct homage to the “Believe’ diorama of Halo 3.

We didn’t finish until 2:30 am. Mind you, (with exception to Brent) the rest of us were enjoying some microbrewer beer. We weren’t concerned with going fast with the diorama. The point was to have fun, bond, and chat about Halo and the future of HFFL.

Ah…Monday was now upon us. This meant the rest of the fellows were all going back to their respective homes across the country.

Before I forgot, I took a pic of Dij’s Grifball. Man, I REALLY want one of these!Mon 1

Tetra sent me a pic of the winnings he had from the weekend as now displayed in his home.Mon 2

One final group shot in front of my house before we set off for the airport.Mon 3Mon 4
As hosts, my wife (Emily) and my dog Annie and I were a bit exhausted. Mind you though, it was a LOT of fun planning the event and watching it all go off without a hitch.Mon 5This last shot of the weekend is that of Pittsburgh’s own ‘Transformer’ that is located in the airport. Yes, it’s a mech made out of most of our downtown bridges.

I did get texts from the fellows when they got home to tell me they had landed. And with that, the LAN was officially over.

I know I had lots of fun and everyone else had thanked me many times during the weekend for all the fun they had.

I’m already planning for next year’s LAN. So folks, if you want to have a fun experience with fellow Halo fans, consider joining in on HFFL community nights on Fridays. Maybe even join in the gaming group itself. And better yet, coming to the LAN in person.

HFFL is not just a blog by one person. It’s a community. The blog is the spearhead, the podcast is the voice, while the gaming group, community nights and the LAN are the family that makes HFFL what it is.

If you’ve made it through this to the end, you deserve a cookie! Too bad I’m on my diet again though. I ate so poorly over this weekend…

-Sal

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About Sal

I’ve got tons of experience with Halo gaming and collecting. I feel I have something to offer to the greater Halo fan community. Posts along the way will be about tips and tricks in the games as well as collecting and many more Halo related things. I’ll also repost interesting articles from the official site, Halowaypoint.com, or from fellow Halo fan sites. As I continue this blog, I hope to help gamers who want advice on the games, as well as any collectors with regards to where to find collectibles as well as deals, coupons and so on. You can also follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/HaloFanForLife or Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/halofanforlife11. Welcome to my blog and I hope you’ll come back again and again. -Sal

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