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Friday, 26 April 2013

A great start to the year – what next?

I have done Vaparnak, Salute and the Viking exhibition at the museum.  This weekend we have an Impetus completion, on May 11th it is Carronade and we are then putting games on at the Museum of Flight!  Add in visits to Dumbarton and Washington Wargames clubs, Worlds at War and the usual Monday nights at the Falkirk club and it has been pretty intense.
I hope to keep up a good level of gaming for the rest of the year, but I suspect not to that level. I am already in a Mordhiem campaign and the Dux Brittaniarum one should hopefully restart in May.  I  also hope to get involved in a campaign of the reconquest of Majorca and WW2 naval /air fighting in the Med in the early war years.  Plus at least one game in my Peloponnesian Wars and 1513 campaigns as well to keep them ticking over.
However the other thing I need to do is focus on tidying and organising the attic where all my warming gear is – it is an absolute mess.  I also want to get some painting done.
Painting priorities are
The next game – I want to get sorted a bit in advance of each game and get to play with as many painted figures as possible
28mm 1960’s British and adversaries – I hope to buy a few more at Carronade

28mm Freikorps - once again buy some at Carronade
28mm SF – finish my Pig Iron troopers
15mm War of the Triple alliance – these are largely painted but need to be organised and magnetised as a minimum
28mm Tudor – there is a lot of work involved here but I want to try and pick these off a unit at a time
I also want to try and do Mortimer’s Cross this year in 25mm – most of the figures are painted but I need to do some research, organise the armies and probably paint up a few more
And finally
I picked up an Imprest Bradley and some28mm Iraqi insurgents and US troops a couple of weeks ago – perhaps a project for 2014 though?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Impressions of Salute

35 years wargaming – first Salute – my impressions

2013 was my first ever (and possibly only) visit to Salute.   I thought I would share my personal thoughts on my visit.  Some of my impressions were positive and some negative, but I am no way having a go at the organisers – they put on a unique event which adds much to the hobby.  It would be foolish to expect it to be perfect and no one else would share my interpretation of perfection in any event!

The only reason that I made it this year was because I was fortuitously able to combine it with a work trip, so the transport to and from London was paid for.  I arrived at Heathrow at about 7pm on the Friday and negotiated my way across London via the Heathrow express and the underground. 

As an aside I must say I found the London Underground staff very helpful, much better than I remember in previous visits, which made the cross city travel easy.   I had booked a decent room at the Excel Novotel and arrived there after 9.  It was early to bed and early to rise in anticipation of the day ahead.

The Novotel is an excellent hotel by the way and only a couple of hundred yards from the venue. I enjoyed an excellent breakfast with stunning views over the river.  I took the opportunity to check my bearings in the centre itself and found the entrance where some of the people putting on games were arriving.
The Excel as seen from the hotel - its pretty close
I went back to the hotel, packed and checked out to get to the centre some time around 9:30.  What a difference!  There were two queues one for pre booked tickets and one for cash payers.  I was in the cash payers queue for the best part of an hour.  I struck up a conversation with another two guys (sorry I have forgotten your names) and so the time passed pleasantly enough but it took the best part of an hour to get in.  Later, when talking to one of the traders, he said that the event was dead for the first hour which he found very frustrating.  I know the answer cannot be simple but the time spent queuing was the first negative.  A suggestion would be to abandon pre paid tickets, still have two queues and process them simultaneously?  Or have more stations to process people at the entrance.  Or let prepaid tickets in half an hour early. Something anyway.  Not that I am suggesting a solution is at all easy .

Once in I dropped off my case and tried to get my bearings.  My intention was to savour the experience, play some games and have a look at some of the traders.  I really started by just wandering around trying to soak up the atmosphere.  What struck me the amount of space. Most shows struggle to fit everything in- not the case here.

I looked for some of the games that I wanted to play but came up against two problems.  One was finding them.  I quickly become disorientated had to keep referring back to the (excellent) floor plan.  Then as I found them the they had all already started. I made the decision to try and book a slot at the one where the write up in the programme had attracted me the most.  This was ‘Drop the Bridge’ by the North London Wargames Club.  On inquiry the next game was due to start in three quarters of an hour, so I agreed to come back then.
This left me some time to browse traders, chat to some friends and look to see what else I might want to play later.  I even bought six Salute dice for £1- I fancied a T shirt but deliberately had not bought much cash with me and wanted to keep it for any impulse purchases.  The one trader that really caught my eye was Antenocitis range of SciFi vehicles, but I resisted temptation.

Getting back to the game I found that they had taken lunch and the next game was not going to start until one, but that they would definitely hold a place for me.  This gave me another half an hour to wander around and also grab some lunch.  I thought the in house catering was good quality, perhaps a little pricey but not bad for London.
My next negative was the toilet facilities.  Of the 3 potential ones only one was open.  I had to have my hand stamped before going to use them as there was also a car park entry/exit through the same door.  With that number of people one set of toilets is not enough.  I also object strongly to having my hand stamped.  No-one else seemed to mind so that one is probably just me.

Finally the game!  What a good one it was too.  Steve, Ray and Ian (I think – sorry if I got any of your names wrong guys) helped four of us through the scenario.  A flight of Sturmoviks escorted by LAG 3s where attempting to bomb a bridge.  A heavy concentration of flak and my 4 Bf 109s were tasked with defending it.  The rules were simplified Wings of War and we all had an absolute blast.  I failed to get my fighters on until turn three but  then raced in causing some real damage and shooting two of the light bombers down, whist losing two fighters.  With the help of the flak we nearly held the Soviet hordes at bay but Robert managed to time his bomb run precisely and boom! up went the bridge.  This game was definitely the highlight of my visit.
The Soviets begin their mission to destroy the bridge
What of the other games?  I had a chat with the chap running 'Grace O'Malley - the Pirate Queen' where the kings men were trying to smoke out a pirates lair in late 16th century Ireland.  A case of truth being stranger than fiction and I liked the simplicity and the fun of the scenario. 
The English attack the tower as a galley brings reinforcements for the pirates
There were many other games of varying quality but nothing really caught my interest for long.  There was a huge representation of the Battle of Waterloo manned by chaps in period uniform but to be honest it left me a little cold.  I have never been fond of tables set up purely for visual effect – I like wargames to involve gaming!  I also took a membership pack from the Pike and Shot Society – I will join sometime this year I promise.
Towards the end of the day I revisited Antenocitis stand and bought a power armour suited figure which had caught my eye earlier.  That, the dice and a couple of pained second hand figures were my entire purchases for the day, a grand sum of £18.99.

I did not stay until the bitter end but made my way back to Heathrow, had an excellent meal and a couple of pints and then headed back up to Scotland arriving home at about 11:30pm.
So – pros and cons.

I have always wanted to visit Salute and now I have.  That just leaves Historicon.

I liked the spacious feel to the venue.

More traders than you could shake a stick at.  It was not their fault that my wish list was short and funds low.
Lots of games to take part in- I am sure if I had tried harder I could have done more than one and the one I did play was excellent.

Enjoyable conversation in the queue
The catering was fine

Bluntly the cost.  Even with my employer paying for my flights it cost me £250, not much of which was on wargaming products.
The spacious feel came at the cost of the buzz that surrounds smaller shows

Finding it difficult to get into games

The queue, the queue. And thrice the queue.
The facilities and accompanying stamp on the back of my hand.

Overall impressions – would I go back again?
On reflection I have mixed emotions.  Salute is different to any other wargames show I have been to before, both in scale and feel.  I am glad I have experienced it so on balance a positive verdict.

I would like to end by congratulating the organisers for hosting such a complex event.  I would go back again in principle but to be honest I will probably find a better use for £250 next year. Still - never say never.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Visit to Washington Wargames Club

Washington was my first club, I joined back in 1978.  In the old days, before the internet, finding a club was pretty much a hit and miss affair.  I was actually on the top deck of a double decker bus reading Donald Featherstone’s ‘solo wargaming’ when I was spotted by Brian who came over and had a chat and invited me along to the club.
I had many memorable games there, made a lot of friends and made the transition from being a small scale collector of figures and potential solo wargamer to a fully fledged club gamer with a significant pile of unpainted lead.  I gained my lifelong interest in 25mm ancient wargaming, starting with WRG 5th, graduating to 6th and adding Warhammer Ancients and FOG.  Many other games were played including some impressive Christmas games.  We ran a local show, Warrior, for many years.  I served as treasurer, games organiser and chairman in my time so managed to put something back in to balance all the enjoyment I got out of being a member.

35 years later, having moved to Scotland, I am no longer a regular but do try and get down occasionally.  Last Saturday was actually my first visit for nearly two years but it was as if I had never been away.  It was 25mm ancients again but this time with Impetus.  Peter fancied giving the rules a try so I brought down Feudal Spanish and Andalusians.  We managed two games, with Peter winning the first game and me the second.  Guess who joined in the first game to also try out the rules – yes it was Brian.  He is hoping to get up to Carronade this year so I hope to see him again then. 
Hopefully it won’t be another two years before I get down again.

Not a particularly good photo I am afraid, but that is Brian sitting down and Peter with the tape!  Saga, FOG, Command and Colours and Heroclix were also played.  I nearly forgot - it was also great to see another mate of 35 years, Gary, playing WRG6th with Bob.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Carronade 11th May Falkirk

I have just realised that I have been lax in promoting the club show on my blog so here goes.  Follow the link for lots more details

A few highlights

More traders than ever before - we have 40 this year

30 games listed, many of them participation, with one or too more to confirm

A painting competition

A flea market to unload your unwanted wargaming goodies/ find a bargain

So if you can put 11th May into your diary and come along to see us

Monday, 8 April 2013

Fame at Last!

A few weeks ago and following on from our participation in the Viking event at the museum the local rag did an article on the club.  We were slightly nervous as we have all seen reports that have painted wargamers in as odd at best, fascist warmongers at worst, but in fact they painted us in a positive light.

They have now made us their 'community group of the week'
Warning - the link includes a picture of some of the members of the club posing for our photograph!