6th Annual LANstravaganza recap!

Now that LANstravaganza 6 is over and I’m well rested, it’s time to take a look at what transpired.

Several days before the LAN, my wife and I do our “spring cleaning”. This isn’t just cleaning though, it’s also moving furniture, often LOTS of it, around. This year was no exception. I overdid it though…

Friday, August 10, 2018
Our day starts early. My first guests (Paul and Brent) were to arrive 12:05 am. Yes, just after midnight. They got delayed in Chicago, so we had to wait an additional 2 hours 10 minutes. Once they landed, we hit the usual pit stop of Primanti Bros for some very early morning sammiches!

Primanti’s is a tradition for the LAN. We usually go there 2-3 times per LAN weekend. The place is a mainstay here in Pittsburgh and has famous sandwiches.

Out to the side hangs the old sign.

The front of the building has this well illuminated sign now.

The bar side of the restaurant was packed. This was at 3am!

Normally the sammiches come with coleslaw. And I ask each new guest when they try it to have it as it’s made first before taking anything off of it. Below is my bud Paul’s sammich. He’s already been here, so I was cool with him having no slaw. (I’m picky on slaw too, but Primanti Bros has the best slaw I’ve ever had, so I ALWAYS get it on the sammich.)

Paul had the Pastrami. As you can see it’s LOADED with meat and fries. Best damn sammich in the ‘Burgh!

Afterwards we headed for my home. We got in at about 4:30am. This gave us about 3 hours before I had to get up again and go pick up my next guest (Zach) at the airport.

We picked up Zach and headed back home. I made some last minute adjustments to things and we were set for the official start of the LAN at 3pm.

Below is the prize and display table. Several items came from 343 themselves, who once again were fantastic sponsors of the LAN. Other items were from my collection, including those BoomCO dart guns that would be used on Sunday of the LAN.
Also shown are the yellow BoomCo pistol and the Red and Blue Warrior Pop Vinyl Spartans brought by Mario Verrico, one of my buds from New Jersey.

These weren’t the only prizes though. Over the course of the year, I had been looking for some great deals on items I could give away for door prizes. I think this year’s was the best. Certainly the most per person.

Each person with paid full admission got a stack of gifts. Each came with a set of Mega Bloks, most also got a Hot Wheel Halo vehicle. From there, it deviated off to getting a Halo Ammo Tin or a couple of Halo Nanofigures. Each door prize set valued at roughly $20 full retail price. Not too shabby, just for showing up and paying admission.

We started the festivities a little late as there was some heavy rain and some of my guests were delayed due to that. Once they got there, we started right into Halo 5 with some BTB. After about an hour, we took a break for food which included pulled pork sliders, potato salad, macaroni salad and my wife’s own very bacon baked beans in a sweet dark brown sugar sauce. Now, I’m not normally a baked beans person, but hers is fantastic!

After filling our bellies, we moved on to the Halo Trivia contest.

This included 20 questions and 2 bonus questions. I’ll post those in another article. All was going well. I had gotten through the questions and had just begun to read off the answers after, when I got hit with a bout of heat exhaustion. Several factors were involved here. My wife and I had been cleaning up the house for the past 3 days, so I was a bit tired physically, not to mention the chemical smells from the cleaning agents always get to me as I have a breathing condition. Add to that all the running around we had to do, to pick up guests, the heavy humidity from the rain and 8 XBOXs and tvs/monitors fired up in the house along with 14 people….well…yep, just a bit much for me. So I had my wife take over the answer part while I cooled off with a towel and drank some ice cold water. That took me about 2-3 hours to get over, but we kept on going. I had the folks play Halo 5 Warzone for the rest of the night. We all agreed to move that days’ FFA contest to Saturday which actually worked out to the benefit of two other guests who weren’t able to make it Friday.

Now, normally, we go out for Primanti’s again and that was the plan for the after party, but I was just to exhausted and weak. Thankfully, everyone was okay with that. Some of the fellas went anyway, while others called it a night.

Thankfully, I got a really good night’s sleep and was ready for Saturday’s events!

Saturday, August 11, 2018
A little bit of a late start again… This time due to a couple of the guys sleeping in. It happens just about every year, so I’m kind of used to it. LOL At any rate, we played some more Halo 5 Warzone. In fact, this is one of the things I look forward too. When we have a full team, it’s always fun to go into a natch with matching emblems. Two guys hadn’t got it yet, but changed their emblems to something close and used our company colors.

I always am curious what goes through the other team’s minds when they see this.

Thankfully the weather was so much better than the day before and we were able to play the outdoor events.

Next up a returning favorite from last year’s LAN, CornHalo! (Yes, it’s Cornhole, but well, you know…)

This year, we mixed things up a little. Previously, we only had the holes on one side. We decided to go the more official route this year with the hole boards being 30 feet apart and participants throwing from both sides. That proved to be a LOT harder than last year. This change actually made for better competition.

Each pair of throwers got 4 rounds to get as many points as they could.

With me sitting in the middle and my dog at my feet, I kept score as follows: 1 point for getting a bag on the board, 3 points for getting it in the hole. The twist was if you knocked an opponents bag into the hole, not only did they get the 3 points, but you would lose a point as well. I think this only happened once during the competition.

Um…Zach…what are you doing? LOL Seriously though, it was nothing, just looks like that with the word over it. I HAD to post this!!

The two finalists duke it out. Our returning champ, Paul (in dark red shirt), versus the challenger, Chris, in white. It was a hard fought battle, but in the end, Chris edges out Paul to take over as the reigning HFFL CornHalo Champ!

After this, we took a break for food. On the menu for the day was pizza! This provided by pens_halo, one of my local buds and fellow Halo fan. Give him a follow folks. He’s a good guy and a dedicated Halo fan!

We then moved on to the FFA tournament.This year’s tourney was something very different. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before. So, I made a name for it. I called it the Halo Legacy FFA Tourney. “Legacy” because each round of the tourney took gamers through a different Halo game.

Friday we were supposed to do rounds 1 and 2 with Halo CE and Halo 2 respectively.
We made up for that by including them this day and adding on Halo 2 Anniversary and Halo 3.

Maps played were:
Round 1 (CE): High Noon
Round 2: Lockout
Round 2A: Shrine (Sanctuary remake)
Round 3: The Pit

With each round the bottom 1 or 2 gamers were knocked out. This brought us down to 5 people for round 4 to be played on Sunday.

Now, I had originally planned to have Remote Control Hornet Racing. However, the time to recharge to battery coupled with the estimated flight time per player just didn’t make this feasible. Charge time was 30 minutes for 5-6 minutes of flight. Considering we had 11 people who were going to participate in this (my wife and I and a couple others elected not to participate), the amount of time would have been way too long.
Thankfully, I had a secondary plan in place. That was i case of rain, however, it worked out for this as well. So instead, we had a Halo Ring Toss!

I posted this teaser pic on twitter a couple of days before the LAN. toss-1.jpg”>toss-1-600×450.jpg” alt=”” width=”584″ height=”438″ />

The playing field is set. Each ring had a different point value. Going left to right and front to back. toss-2.jpg”>toss-2-600×338.jpg” alt=”” width=”584″ height=”329″ />

The first four rings were close. But this was deceiving as several folks missed or hit the rings. (Hitting the rings disqualified the throw, wether you made it in off deflection or not.)toss-3.jpg”>toss-3-600×338.jpg” alt=”” width=”584″ height=”329″ />

Brent, pictured below, was the only person to get a ball through the red ring! That was worth 12 points. The red ring was 2 easter eggs in one. A nod to the old red ring of death suffered by old 360s as well as the fourth Halo ring that was being rebuilt. Originally the layout for the rings was to be a semi-circle for the Hornet to fly through, but again, that just wasn’t going to happen. With his miraculous throw, Brent won the ring toss!
toss-4.jpg”>toss-4-426×600.jpg” alt=”” width=”426″ height=”600″ />

A look from the furthest and smallest rings. (Rings 5 and 6 were smaller than the first 4 and the red ring smaller still.)
toss-5.jpg”>toss-5-336×600.jpg” alt=”” width=”336″ height=”600″ />

More general Halo gameplay rounded out the LAN portion of the day….but then…Fireteam Raven came calling and off to Dave and Busters we went!

For those that don’t know, Halo Fireteam Raven is a brand new Cabinet Arcade game by Raw Thrills in cooperation with 343. You play as a member of Fireteam Raven during the events of Halo CE. Chief even makes a couple of appearances during gameplay!

The squadmates of Fireteam Raven.
I played as the Green ODST as he looks the closest to me. Vane, I know, LOL.

First a group shot of everyone (save my wife who was taking the pic) who went to D&Bs on Saturday.

Here’s a shot of the top of the cabinet. It’s pretty freakin’ cool to see in person!

A few shots of the cabinet itself.
I really want to get my hands on that graphic for the outside of the ring!

We had enough people for 3 teams of 4. Below is team 1. From left to right (of the top pic), Brent, Zach, Mario, Kristian.

The graphics were crisp!

Team 2 was up next. From left (furthest away) to right (closest) Hilson, Jeremy, Chris, Sal (Pens_Halo)

Unfortunately, no one got pics of team 3, of which I was on….

However, we did get a couple of good group shots!

There was even a backdrop for Fireteam Raven with Chief. Um, so if that’s his true height, damn… (My bud Zach, at furthest right, is 6’3″ for comparison.)

Here’s the backdrop by itself.

Brent loves to play Guitar Hero. It shows. Look at his highlighted high score!

I’ll tell you this folks, Fireteam Raven is a BLAST to play! Definitely go in with 3 of your friends and game together. I made sure that everyone before hand got their QR codes off of Waypoint so that their scores and performance would be on their Spartan record.

The campaign take between 35-45 minutes to complete. Expect to use a few continues. I had the lowest continues at only 4, while the highest was 9 in our group. So plan your credits accordingly. Also, pro-tip, go on Wednesdays as that’s half price for credits!

While others in the group were playing Fireteam Raven, some of us ate, while still others played different games. We all had a great time. Huge thanks to Dave and Busters, the party planning team and special shot out to John Friend of 343!

With the after party complete and it being almost 2 am, everyone went to their respective hotels and homes.

Sunday, August 12, 2018
We started the day off with general Halo 5 gameplay. Warzone again for a bit. The reason why so much warzone is that we are trying to get that Achilles Helmet! Everyone at the LAN is a member of HFFL’s Spartan Company, so all stats were going toward that end.

Next up was the Boomco Shooting Gallery.

Here I chose 4 of my BoomCo Halo dart guns to take aim at some Fathead Halo stickers that we had mounted onto two plastic corrugated boards.

Uh…the effect didn’t quite go as planned. The darts are supposed to stick, but didn’t. So we made due and made judgement calls on anything close to the targets. Within the first round the BoomCo Assault Rifle jammed.
We were doing single shots, when one of the guys pumps the air a bit too much and it started into full auto. It just plain stopped working after that. Sigh…. So okay, we were down to three BoomCo guns to use (my others are stored away, so they weren’t easily available to replace the AR).
The other three BoomCos were the Target Designator, the Carbine, and the Shotgun. By far, the shotgun was the most accurate of the remaining three.

Mario, seen pictured above was our winner and received a Mattel 12 inch Spartan Fred figure.

We took a break for food after. Firing up the grill, we made cheeseburgers and hotdogs for everyone.

Gotta say, grilled burgers are the BEST!

We also dug into the LAN cookie!

The green blobs were supposed to be frag grenades and the purple was supposed to be plasma grenades, but the decorator did the whole thing in purple. Well, close enough, I suppose… BTW, it was chocolate chip.

Group picture time!

As you can see, not everyone from Saturday is here in the Sunday pic. Pens_Halo couldn’t make it back and Kristian had some flooding at his business back in New Jersey that he had to go back and attend too. Also not pictured are Joe’s (guy in black UNSC shirt with thumbs up) girlfriend and her son. Annie, my dog loves to get in the shot. LOL And of course my wife was taking the pic…

The fellas showing off their door prizes and contest prize wins! Everyone went home smiling with arms full of Halo goodies!

Next up the first of 2 raffles. This was for the following:
Halo Mythos book
Halo Warfleet book
Grunt Plush
Mega Construx Gamertag nameplate made by me.

My bud Zach was the lucky winner and even sent me a pic of his door prizes and nameplate when he got home.

After this we went into the final two rounds of the FFA tourney. 5 people had made it to Round 4, which was played in Halo 4. The top 4 from that round advanced to Round 5 to be played in Halo 5. The top 3 of those would win prizes.
Placement of top 3 and their prizes were as follows:
Chris Ferrari / 3 Halo Pops (Buck, Arbiter, Chief)
Mario Verrico / Loot Crate (Prophet of Truth)
Jeremy / Mega Construx CTF Warthog set

A little bit more general Halo 5 gameplay, then the final raffle for the Atriox Bust!

This generous prize was sent to me by 343 to be used in a raffle. All of money raised from this went to one of my buds who was present at the LAN. This to pay him back for saving my butt last year with a mortgage crisis.
Now this next part made me queasy. I mixed the tix up in a mesh small trash can (the kind used for paper trash in offices). My wife watched me mix the tix and I pulled one. No names on these as we bought tix that had numbers on them from the Dollar store near by. When I read the number, no one seemed to have it. I checked my bud Joe’s tickets and had my wife verify that his weren’t winners either. (He had to leave early) So I checked my own. As luck would have it, I pulled my own ticket. I felt elated and sick to my stomach at the same time. Happy I had won, but worried that someone might have thought I cheated. I assure you folks, no cheating was involved. As said, my wife witnessed me mixing up the tix and no names were on the tickets for me to even see, had that even been a thought.
At any rate, the bust will be here for everyone to see again at next year’s LAN. And, I’ve already picked out who gets the bust when my time comes for the “Great Journey”. That being my bud Joe, who is an avid Halo Wars fan as I am.

I’m going to have a separate article on the Bust itself. That will show several in-progress shots and I’ll talk about how it’s made, how to care for it, and more.

With that, the LAN was complete. Folks packed up their XBOXs and monitors. My wife and I still had to take Brent and Paul to the Airport for their flight back to San Jose. This at 4am Sunday into Monday. We got back from that, slept another 3 hours, then went to pick up Zach at his AirBnB and took him to the airport. He had a short trip back to Chicago.
As a parting pic, Zach posted this on Instagram.

That’s a mech made from models our Pittsburgh’s bridges. It’e really cool to see in person.

When my wife and I got hime from dropping off Zach, we took some pain meds and SLEPT! and I mean, we slept hard. I was out for 17 hours straight while my wife almost 20. Even my dog was tuckered out from all the excitement.

Folks, putting on a LAN is some work. Cleaning up your home, organizing activities, making food, getting prizes, keeping the house as cool as possible with all the electronics on, etc. It’s exhausting, but it’s a lot of fun!

So while everything didn’t quite go according to plan, it was still a successful LAN.

Next’s year’s LAN already has a date planned, that of August 23-25. It will be the 7th Annual LANstravaganza as well as the weekend of my 50th birthday!

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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