2018 Year In Review

Saturday was  Dave’s Annual Naval Game, or DANG for those who are not Dave aware.  It’s always a lot of fun, scheduled in the week after Christmas.  It’s also the last game gig of the year, and signifies the time is right for this post.

2018 was a great year for a zillion reasons.  I painted a lot of miniatures.  I started two new projects (doh!) I finished a project (yippee!)  My wife and I agreed I should retire at the end of this school year (yeaaaa!!)

Lots of fun in 2018.  I always set goals most of which ending up being fairly pointless.  But one thing I’m super proud of is sticking with my plans to complete my Malta project.  I really want to thank Dave Schueler for suggestions, encouragement and playtests. Doug Hamm sent me a couple of great articles on Malta that shaped my thinking.  Thanks too to all my friends willing to play some AirWar 1940.  Finally I would be remiss if I forgot David Manley for lettin’ us mess with his rules.  They are super.

The Malta project is finished-188 1/300 scale planes EXCEPT for painting some 1/600 scale merchant vessels, i.e. target convoy and escorts.  There will be seven merchant ships and three escorts when it’s all over.  The Malta project will make its appearance at Enfilade.

I also took on the small Flint and Feather project with David Sullivan.  I always envisioned this as a small project.  24 figures.  I might add to them if the early 17th century Dutch types make an appearance.  But I would definitely keep it to ten or fewer figs.  I’ve come to enjoy the Song of Drums and Tomahawks rules.  I also see the value in this entire range of skirmish rules by Ganesha Games.

I also began work on my 1898 Miniaturas figures for the Philippine Insurrection.  I picked up a load of figures in August, and have begun painting, but simply haven’t gotten very far.  Further, my progress has stalled because I’ve fully embraced the Retreat From Concord Project that I’m doing for Enfilade with David Sullivan and Dave Schueler.

Lights 1

My first unit of British light infantry for Concord.  These are Front Rank figures.  Those in the foreground are Marine light infantry.  Those behind will be 23rd Foot.

That, brings me to Concord.  Dave, David and I met yesterday over lunch to chat about any number of things, but ostensibly to discuss this project.  We made some agreements about a suitable map, and some general agreements about figures.  But we are stuck until the the Rebels and Patriots are released by Osprey later this month. Expect I will continue focused on this project until every conceivable figure is painted. I have high expectations for this game, and expect it will be the “last new project.”  Yeah, I know.

Goals

We all set goals for the new year.  But 2019 will definitely be different, because I will be jobless after June.  I do plan to work for my student journalism program this summer, but for the most part I will be more in control of my own time.  I have a couple of goals around time and gaming.  One is simply to play more games.  All kinds of games.  I hope to be more involved with the Olympia gamers who play Tuesdays nights, as well as some day games with my fellow retiree George Kettler.   More time during the week means I don’t have to put off lots of chores for the weekends so I may have more availability there.

Unfortunately, retirement also means less income.  I will have income from savings and my pension, but I’m two years ahead of collecting Social Security.  That said, Lorri still has a good job. and even when we’re both retired-still a ways off for the missus- we won’t be broke.  But I’ll have to be more careful with the money I do have, and lavish spending on figures, records, anything really will keep us from doing some of the traveling we hope to do. I still have my monthly allowance I can use as I please and it will allow me to add figures to projects, but keeping from doing anything major that is new.

One goal I have is to keep close track of figures bought versus figures painted.  I don’t have zillions of figures stashed away, but I definitely have some.  So I’m hoping to post each time I finish a unit, and that will help me track progress toward completing some of my figures.

Painting is something I really enjoy, so I do it as often as I can manage.  My goal for 2019 is to finish at least the equivalent of one figure per day, so at least 365 figures (including planes, ships, etc.)

Enfilade

Our 2013 Tirpitz raid scenario will be rerun at Enfilade 2019.  We’ll use the Airwar 1940 rules instead of Mustangs.  Fewer headaches and more action for everyone.

Already made our plans for Enfilade.  Dave Schueler and I will reprise our Tungsten Raids on the Tirpitz with the Airwar 1940 rules.  We used Mustangs when we ran the game five or so years ago, and this will make it a bit easier on the players. We’re also going to run a Malta game, though I think we’re less clear what that looks like.  The good news is all the planes and ships for these games are complete, so we are ready to go.

David Sullivan and I will run two games.  We’ll run a Flint and Feather game.  Again the figures are done for this, so little needs to be done. We are also doing Concord, and I’m hoping Daveshoe takes an active role in the planning and running of the game.  He’s already offered a workable map, and suggested some valuable scenario ideas.  There’s tonnes of stuff to do for this game, including terrain and lots of figures to paint, so you’ll be hearing a lot, dear reader.

Thanks for reading all this dreck in 2018.  Hopefully I can convince you to stick around for 2019.  Happy New Year.

 

 

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The 48 Figures of Christmas

48.4

With lots going on in the world–as I watch my retirement savings dwindle with the stock market collapse-it is also the first day of my Christmas break.  The district, in its wisdom, has seen fit to give us an extra day of vacation today, December 21st, and I am set to enjoy it.  On my list of to-do’s are dog-walking, some extra walking at South Hill Mall, holiday chores for Lorri and lots of painting.  As much of the latter as I can stand.

My vision for Concord has only gotten more grandiose as time has passed. David and I divided up the British forces.  I’ll take six light companies, which I think will be 36 figures.  I’ve also got six or seven grenadier companies, which will likely be 36 or so figures.  Not bad.  There are 42 companies of American militia at Concord, or therabouts.  That’s a bit more painting, I’m afraid.

I’m beginning to have some serious thoughts about how best to execute this scenario, which is always dangerous.  A lot of it came to me this morning during one of my frequent bouts of insomnia, and I think it might work, but it may just be a case of needing to take more meds.  I’ll need to run it by my colleagues to see what they think, but there will be more to follow.  This is all more complicated, of course, by the fact that the rules we want to use, Rebels and Patriots, isn’t actually available for a month, so I’m shooting in the dark.

48.3

Since there isn’t a ton I can do about rules until I have some to actually look at, my Christmas break will have to be about painting. I’ve blocked out a lot figures I’d like to get done.  First on my list are some Front Rank American militia.  These figures will be grouped into 6-figure units and will likely fight as skirmishers according to what we’ve read in beta test accounts of the rules.  I have 24 of them, and have gotten a good start on them.

48.2

I also hope to get a couple of British companies done.  The first is the light company of the British Marines.  They didn’t receive their royal designation until after the War of Independence.  This is kind of a cool unit with a unique hat and facing plate.  I’ve already gotten a start on them.  The second unit will, for our game, is only a half of a unit, the company of Marine grenadiers. Pretty straightforward-red coat, white facings, square lace.  Life is good.  Not talking about a lot of figures here, just six of each. That brings me up to 36 figures so far that I need to complete during the my Christmas break.

481

Last, but not least, I began working on a unit of Philippine insurgents about a month ago and stalled out on them.  They sit patiently on my painting talbe waiting to be finished off.  Half of them are in Rayadillo, the rest in white, or blue. Need to knock these guys out.

There is a chance I may wrap all 48 of these guys up with time to spare, and that would be great.  I did receive a significant order from Front Rank this week that should give me all the figures I need for the British at Concord, less a couple of command figures.  Also got a handful of militia types, so I can work on those.

I think I’m gonna watch the two Hellboy movies today and see what I can get done.

 

 

Concord–Getting Started

As explained in my last post, David Sullivan and I have settled on the retreat from Concord on April 19, 1775 as our big Enfilade game for 2019.  I see it as a pretty challenging scenario if for no other reasons than we can’t get our hands on the rules for the next six weeks, and I need to start painting immediately–unit sizes may be different than we suspect, but we’re going ahead anyway and doing the best we can.

Thanks to some interesting sources, we’ve been able to pin down the correct units for the British and made some decisions about their sizes–making some assumptions about the rules.

We have agreed on a 1:5 scale.  Yes 1:1 would be nice- but there is neither time or space for 700 or so British or 4,000 angry Americans. Even at 1:5, that would equal some 800 painted American militia, which seems a little excessive.  We’ll almost certainly rotate units in and out of the action

Militia 1

Twelve completed figures and twenty-four more that I’ve just begun.  Hope to have them all finished before the first of the year.

I’ve agreed to take on the painting of six British light infantry companies (36 figures) and seven British grenadier companies (42 figures.)  I have many of these, with more on the way from Front Rank.  I also have FR figures for five militia companies (60 figures,) and I’m willing to do as many more as I can stomach. The militia companies are by community locale, which I think is really super

We’ve managed to rope Dave Schueler into the planning for this game.  He is really good at scenario.  Though the thrust of the game is maneuvering the British from Point A to Point B through very adverse circumstances, it becomes more complicated as the American pop up unexpectedly, and as the British flankers (skirmishing light infantry) try to engage them, while avoiding traps themselves. I feel like this has the potential to be a really interesting game.  Of course, I’ve been wrong before.

Militia 3

My first twelve figures of militia.  Future units will have more interesting basing, but honestly I’m thrilled just to have them done.

Finished my first unit for the project.  They are almost all Front Rank militia with a few Old Glory guys thrown in for good measure.  They’ll do.

With every new project there are acquisitions that must be made.  I’ll be looking for useful terrain pieces–hills are always an issue, and there are some key hills on the retreat route. There are houses, taverns, fields and woods.  The Battle Road is bisected by a couple of streams with bridges, but I have the streams and bridges covered.

All of this excitement for the action also comes with the requirement that I learn more about it. I’ve been trying to amass some books and websites, and have my nose firmly thrust in them.  Here are a few suggestions:

Let’s start with a web source, Jeff Berry’s Obscure Battles blog.  He has a great web post on Lexington and Concord.  It boils things down to basic elements, but not devoid of useful context.  He has the all the units and strengths present on April 19th, some maps as well as advice to wargamers. Nice. Thanks to Dave Schueler for hunting this down.

Phillip Greenwalt and Rober Orrison wrote A Single Blow: The Battles of Lexington and Concord. in coordination with the Minuteman National Park sites.  There is some good stuff here, with good maps, but probably lacking the detail most gamers would want about the battle.  Some interesting black and white photos of historical locations.

You might know Arthur Tourtellot’s Lexington and Concord: The Beginning of the War of the American Revolution by its original title William Diamond’s Drum.  Published in 1959, this book is a great read.  Full of context, its tough for me to put down.  There is considerable space devoted to events on April 19th, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.

I’ve ordered two additional books, because I can’t help myself. Brendan Morrisey’s Osprey Campaign Book, Boston 1775 will end up focusing more on Bunker Hill, but an overview of Lexington and Concord is included.  I’m hoping for a great map or two. Finally I’ve ordered  Nathaniel’s Philbrick’s Bunker Hill.  Philbrick is a terrific writer who offers great context to his subject, in this case the conditions around Boston in the first year of the revolution, including the events of April 19th.

 

 

32 Decals

Spitfire 8

Last night I sat down, watched a couple of episodes of Netflix’s Last Kingdom, and finished painting the final planes for my Malta project.  They were eight Spitfire V’s.  I’d already painted four of these, and this was the last of them.

Spitfires figure prominently into the final eight months or so of the Malta siege. By this time, most of the attacks on the island fortress were performed by Germans–mostly Ju-88’s accompanied by Me-109’s.  Some of the German fighters are Jabos-bomb carrying fighter bombers attacking British airfields to the west of Valletta, and targets in Valletta itself. Everything is in short supply as German submarines and aircraft slowly strangle the island of its war supplies, including spare parts and fuel.

I really wanted to have fun with these planes.  They are Scotia miniatures and unfortunately lack the large tropical air filters mounted on the Spitfire Vb’s that were Malta-based.  But they are still nice miniatures.

Painting them offered an opportunity to do some different things with color.  I put four in the standard Mediterranean Dark Earth over Middlestone.  Yawn.  I also went with a flash of color with Mediterranean Blue, a striking color, over sky blue. This is not the predominant scheme for Spitfires however, so I only painted two in this fashion.

The U.S. Navy delivered 94 Spitfires to Malta.  They flew them off the decks of the U.S. carrier Wasp to land on Maltese air fields.  While shipped on the Wasp, it is suggested the Spitfires received their blue paint job.  American Intermediate Blue, standard color for the Navy F4F Wildcat fighter was sprayed over the Spitfires’ Dark Earth/Middlestone dressing creating a middling gray over blue gray effect.  So I went with that.  I gave a Vallejo dark grey blue base, and then mixed in some black for the darker pattern. I’m not sure if it’s quite right, but I can live with it.

My dozen Spitfire Mark Vb’s, by Scotia Miniatures.  Wing roundels by I-94 Enterprises.  Fuselage markings by Dom’s Decals. Lettering by Old Smyth. Remember, each planes is little more than the size of a quarter.  Not bad for an old guy.

Tonight I’ll be applying decals on the planes.  I’ll do wing and fuselage roundels and paint on some white call letters.  Four decals per plane.  I’ll pass on the tail flashes.  The I-94 flashes I have are just too big.  32 decals, that’s it.

The Spitfires are the end of this project.  I really have enjoyed paint through it.  I’ve learned a lot about the period and the planes involved, and I’ve started playing with some of the planes.  There are lots of things I’d like to try, such as convoy raids (but first I need to paint up my ships.)

Here’s what the finished project includes:

Luftwaffe

12 X Ju 88A4’s,  12 X Ju 87D Stuka, 12 X Me109E7, 12 X Me 109F, 6 X Me 110D=54 planes

Italian

9 X SM 79, 3 X Cant 1007 bis, 12 X BR 20, 6 X CR 42, 12 X G. 50, 12 X MC 200, 6 X Re 2000, 12 X MC 202=72 planes

British

2 X Blenheim Mk. 1, 6 X Blenheim Mk. IV, 6 X Wellington Mk. I, 6 X Beaufighter Mk I, 6 X Fulmars, 12 X Hurricane Mk. I, 12 X Hurricane Mk. 2c, 12 X Spitfire Mk Vb=62 planes

Total=188 planes.

No current plans to add to this collection, but I could see it happen with a few odds and ends–reconnaissance seaplanes and adding a few Stukas to the Italians.  Perhaps also filling out the Sparvieros to twelve planes and three more of the large Cant bombers. But no urgency.  I’m ready to move on to Concord.

 

Shifting gears-the retreat from Concord

battle_of_concord_retreat

The Malta project is winding down.  I’m wrapping up my last eight planes, all Spitfires.  Spitfires in various shades of blue.  I love that. They will give me 188 planes completed for this project.  I hope to be finished with them by Friday, if not sooner.  There are still some bits to do for Malta, even a few more bits to buy.  I have four merchant vessels to paint, and three more to buy along with some escorts, but no rush.

But today, December 4th, I am a mass of anxiety, because I’m excited to start on something new.  Daniel Mersey’s new rules, Rebels and Patriots is due to come out at the end of January.  I’ve written about my fondness for his rules in past posts.  David Sullivan and I agreed to undertake a project using these new rules in a game for Enfilade.

David and I both have a fondness for the American Revolution in the South, and we initially agreed to stage the battle of Blackstocks Plantation after the fall of Charleston in 1780.  But truthfully, it’s not a battle many folks know well, and I feared it wouldn’t be very exciting.  The only thing it had going for it was I had a lot of the figures.

When we met to play our Malta game at the Museum of Flight, David reminded me of  Thomas Fleming’s wonderful book, Now We are Enemies, about the battle of Bunker Hill.  While I wasn’t too excited to recreate that battle, I considered that some of the early war might be interested and persuaded David to at least contemplate doing the retreat from Concord on April 19, 1775.

The good news is I do have a pile of the figures needed for this battle.  The 700 British soldiers are all grenadiers and light infantry, except for a company of marines. The Americans are all, of course, minutemen militia types.  I’ve had many of these figures, all Front Rank miniatures, unpainted and largely unused for years.  Ironically I purchased them from David about 25 years ago.

There were 10 light infantry companies-six figures each-at Concord.  There were 11 grenadier companies, plus one company of Royal Marines.  They will be represented by six figure units.  It’s not clear if we need all of them or how many would be necessary.  There are lots of militia that will be needed in 12 figure units, and again it isn’t clear how many will be required, but they likely will appear and disappear randomly.

[Painting+by+A.+Lassell+Ripley,+The+Paul+Revere+Insurance+Company]

Interesting terrain bits will also be required-16 feet of stone walls, hills, streams bridges, woods, buildings and fields.  It should be fun.

But, I’ve got those Spitfires to finish as well as a unit Philippine insurgents before things can get started.  Hope to be done no later than December 19th so I can start working my first unit of Sudbury militia.

 

 

Folgores and insurgents

Only a few more hours until the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is over.  Alas and alack.

It’s been a great weekend, starting with Thanksgiving at Chez Smyth.  Good food and good company.  But it was also a great weekend for painting, and I made sure to get in lots of it.  Though Thursday night’s weather knocked out my DirectTV, I listened to both the Apple Cup and the Sea Hawks game on my trusty Pioneer receiver while getting some stuff done.

Macchi Mc 202 Folgore

 

I finished, 13 planes this weekend.  I wrapped up six Scotia Me 109E’s, but I’ve written about these before.  I also wrapped up seven of the dozen Italian MC 202 Folgore’s fighters I need to finish my Malta project. Yes, seven is a weird number.  I thought I had a dozen, but mistook some G55 Centauros for the more slightly constructed Macchi fighters, and had to order some more.  The good news is the remaining five arrived yesterday.

Folgore 2

The big challenge was to figure out what to do with the Folgores.  They represented the next generation of Italian fighters after the open cockpit Fiat G50’s and Macchi 200’s. The Folgore’s were a big performance upgrade with its use of a new inline engine.  But, it also suffered the weakness of many Italian fighters, an inadequate armament of only two 12.7mm machine guns.  The Folgores appeared over Malta in December of 1941, and though many of them were diverted to North African airfields in the spring of 1942, about 60 remained in service over the embattled island throughout the Spitfire spring and summer of that year.

Folgore 1

Italian planes of this campaign do not lack for something interesting and different in the way of camouflage schemes.  One of the more interesting is the “smoke-ring” or “cigar ring” camouflage.  The Folgores get a base top-side paint scheme of a mid-brown with a slight red cast.  I used German RLM 79 Sandgelb.  Not quite right, but I don’t think anyone will notice.  The underside was painted German RLM 78 Hellblau in accord with the article I read.

Folgore 3

The tricky and tedious part was panting the smoke rings on the plane.  According to photos and the article I consumed, the rings had to be vaguely circular and elliptical and generally irregular.  Got most of this done during the Apple Cup.  It gives a nice effect, and definitely something different. The rings are painted a Ceramcoat charcoal.  I used one of the very last Blick Master Kolinsky size 0 brushes that exists.  These were produced after the Kolinsky boycott a few years back and were made with way shorter than the 15mm tips promised.  These were more like 10mm, but very fine with small but useful tips.  Generally speaking it required patience and persistence.  Seven down five to go. This plane also had a very wide fuselage band, appearing just behind the canopy. Italian marking markings, without the white roundel backing them were hard to identify.

Philippine Insurgents–Rayadillo Pt. 2

It took me a long time to wrap them up, but I finished my first unit of Philippine insurgents.  You’ll recall I finished a unit of Spaniards, whose rayadillo uniform appeared pretty gray.  I promised myself to try something a little different with my next unit and I did.

Insurgents 1

insurgents 2

These figures started out as Vallejo Blue Gray and highlighted them a couple of times before moving on to attempting the stripes.  I was much happier with the effects, but the uniforms still seem very blue.  I’ll try to get them lighter next time.  The Philippine fighters are accoutered differently than the Spanish, and in some respects seem “busier.”  Even so, the figures are quite nice.

It does seem like I’m learning by process, and I’ll want to try some things differently with the next batch.

I did try something a bit different with the basing.  I’ve been looking at terrain bits for the jungle shared on The Tactical Painter blog.  He has some great suggestions for making jungle terrain, and also rice paddies which were a regular feature of the Philippine War.  One of his ideas I adapted over to terraining my bases for this unit.  He suggested the use of tea and some spices mixed together and put under jungle plants.  I used them on my bases.  I found some aging tea bags and slit them open into a bowl.  Then I sloshed in some bits of oregano, tarragon and rosemary.  I think it looks different and interesting.

Next up

Just a lot going on miniatures-wise right now.  I’m closing in on the last of my Malta planes.  I have a good start on some Regianne 2000’s.  They’ll be followed by the last of the Mc 202’s, Raiden planes freshly arrived from I-94.  Then I have 14 Spitfire Mk. V’s, both B’s and C’s that will wrap up the project. That’s 188 planes painted since spring of this year. I also have started on one last unit of Philippine insurgents.  My hope is that all of this is completed by Christmas break, about four weeks away.

After that, I’ll be getting ready for the Next Big Thing.  Rebels and Patriots, the next Daniel Mersey game is due out at the end of January.  David Sullivan and I have already committed to this rules set, and we plan to have a game for Enfilade.  We’ve talked about a number of actions for this small unit game.  Today we settled on the retreat from Concord in 1775. We talked about other battles, but agree that if we do this right, this will be a signature game. I’ve been taking stock and I have some troops I can begin with immediately. More to follow

Museum of Flight 2018

Today was the annual NHMGS day at the Museum of Flight.  Today’s event was a little different in several ways.  First it was hobby day at the Museum and we shared space with the are RC Modelling and IPMS groups.  I didn’t make it around to the RC guys, but I did get photos of some of the fine modelling examples on display.

I’m not sure I was thrilled with the outcome.  I proposed sharing, but our half of the sharing was certainly the lame half.  The IPMS guys got all the tables around the SR-71, which we’ve held as our space for the past decade or so.  We were kind of out of the way, which I wasn’t wild about.  Not much walk through came our way.

Unfortunately, I also suffered a domestic crisis when the morning session was over, and I had to dash home to solve it.  Lorri and I were car shopping yesterday, and when the dealership borrowed her keys to do a walk through of our Crosstrek, they neglected to return her keys.  It was critical, with Thanksgiving at Maison de Smyth on Thursday that she get out for errands, so I had to connect the missing keys with my desperate wife.

Dave and I re-ran our President’s Day game with seven anxious players. The cannon-armed Hurricane IIc’s were flown by Gary, Tom and Bill.  The German escorts, Me-110’s were fun by Scott and David.  The Italian Cicogna bombers were run by Al, Arthur and myself.

We actually had a pre-game conference.  I persuaded my colleagues to fly up the left side of the map to attack the strategic floating dry dock.  They would get the fighter escorts.  I would fly up the right side, hoping to draw off  at least some of the interceptors. Well, at least it was a plan.

Things didn’t turn out quite as I envisioned, as all six of the Hurricanes were on my buddies like nobody’s business.  But cannon-armed or not, the head on pass is just not a high percentage action.  Even so the Hurricanes and Me110’s took it leading to some quick damage.  One of Gary’s caught fire-never a good thing in a mostly wood and fabric airplane. Even as the opening moves moved on, with fighters blasting away at each other,  the bombers lumbered on rather effortlessly toward their target.

In the next few turns things got wild.  A few of the British fighters tried some special maneuvers that left them far in excess of their max speeds, leaving them open to damage.  Unfortunately one Hurricane had its wings torn off and things began to look questionable.  Another Hurricane took a batch of light machine gun fire from a bomber group suffering engine damage and oil spray on the windscreen.  The defenders were rolling slovenly dice and suffering considerable damage.

Malta 6

Meanwhile, Smyth’s trio of BR 20’s were strolling toward their objectives.  The chianti was shared around and there was commentary on the pretty, but ineffective flak bursts, but I was unhindered in the empty skies over Valletta.

On the left side of the board, the skies were a little more crowded.  With the six bombers, several with a little damage, approached their target, Bill’s lone Hurricane caught up to the attackers.  Two of Arthur’s planes were forced to jettison their bombs. But Al’s planes led the way to the drydock.  Each plane rolled two dice for bomb hits.  They needed four hits to inflict minor damage to the structure.  Unfortunate they only got two.  Boo. Hiss!! Even so lots of Hurricane damage as a trade for a little scare on the dry dock.

My three bombers choogled quietly over their target and dropped their loads.  I also needed four hits to inflict minor damage on the supply dump that was their target.  I got three, so close but no cigar.

Ours was not the only game at the Museum.  Damond Crump ran a very cool looking game of Thuds Over Hanoi using the AirWar C21 rules. I was especially impressed with Damond’s jungle canopy.  With Vietnam on my radar, I definitely took note of the canopy on legs effect.

Tom Condon hosted a Wings of War game.  It always attracts drop-in players including some of the Museum visitors.

DSC_0304

Jeroen Koopman hosted an really interesting looking micro-armor game that featured a Soviet air drop.  Looks pretty impressive to me.

DSC_0302

I’m hoping the rest of the day went as well as the morning seemed to.  I had a good time, and can’t wait for next year.