Wednesday, October 10, 2012

6th - 7th October, Donnington Park

Derby World Wargames 2012

New venue this year, of course, and like everyone, the Society of Ancients Shows North team has opinions.

I have been doing Society stands and participation games at Derby shows for years, and fondly remember those truly international events back in the Assembly Rooms.   Of course, I also remember the £20 per day parking fees (back in the days when £20 was a lot of money ...)..

I had no problem finding the new venue - I have used the Motor Racing circuit, watched bikes there, parked in 'Airparks' when flying out of East Midlands etc. so I'm afraid I have no idea about signage.   

We downloaded some instructions in case it wasn't really in the Donnington Park circuit compound (but it was, just as I'd assumed, so no problem ...)..

(Ambush!: Call it Qids by the Society of Ancients)

This year we were running the little 6mm Participation version of the Society's Call it Qids: we played a lot of games over the weekend and had no problem getting players once the venue had started to fill in the mornings.  I'll include a few photos as the game does not involve big figures or sprawl over several tables and so doesn't feature on many a bland photo report.

(the game uses 6mm figures by Baccus)

The game is a quick but highly variable rendition of the Battle of Kadesh ... broadly as depicted in Egyptian monumental records.

The movement system is designed to reduce the Hittite player's control of the treasure hunting chariot waves, whilst the game's built in sequence clicks through the battle's key phases.

(a quick but unpredictable game)

We continue to be surprised at how variable such a simple system can be and every game is different.

I think one of two of the shows team have stumbled upon a winning formula - but I'll not share it and anyway, the dice need to support the play solution (so it doesn't really break the game) ...

(Pharaoh Ramesses towers over the Hittites sacking his camp)

Some of the players had come particularly to try out the game, whilst others were looking for a game to play as they enjoyed the game - and picked up a copy (which we like to think meant the game had worked for them).

Then again, SoA games don't exactly break the bank  (Society of Ancients Games).

Nevertheless we appreciate player feedback: 'excellent - it works really well' ... 'yes - I like it' ... 'very good, thanks' ... and 'awesome little game' ...  Thanks to everyone who played and thanks for the kind comments.

Many thanks to Baccus and Warbases who supported the Call it Qids project.

In terms of games played, members recruited and Slingshot issues handed out, it is worth saying that the Society stand was 'up' about 15% on the last couple of years at the Derby University venue (not a patch on the old days, of course - but this is the age of the internet and historical wargaming subsists in a much watered-down version and so positive trends are nothing if not good).

(Splendid 6mm game)

(Sudan: one of the better 28mm games on display) 

Whether the good turn out and positive response is a result of people trying the new venue rather than approving it will show up in future years, but it was certainly a good trade show with lots of depth and variety.   I topped up with gear (2, 6 and 54mm) from Irregular Miniatures and was delighted with the 15mm geese I found at Museum.

(excellent RAF club night bomber game - great searchlights ...) 

(another good 28mm game I saw ...)

There were some good games on display elsewhere in the hall: though disappointingly not too much for the ancients enthusiast (big money has moved on from our turf lately and wants you to buy 28mm WW2 etc these days).   Scales and styles were well represented, from 6mm to 54mm and there was a huge battleship.

(some flavours of Derby 2012)

For people are less interested in wargaming I understand there was also quite a lot of fantasy, Sci-Fi and Zombie games.   There were also some nice tables of period equipment laid out by the various heritage societies (though not very much 'walking around in costume').

Out and about, I got a look at some of those new Adler 10mm Celts and had a very informative chat with the designer.   These are very fine little figures and I am now awaiting with enthusiasm a range of Macedonians (one day, maybe ...) ...

(really good 10mm Celts photographed on the Adler stand)

And it was great to see the Glasgow lads who were down for the Armati competition.

In all, a good and productive weekend, and 'activity' up compared to the last couple of years.  On the plus side, the venue is really easy to find and accommodated a lot of variety in single hall.  I didn't have any of the A38 grief that often accompanies a Sunday evening trip back from Derby .

Most of us did not really take to the venue - dark, soulless, seen better days etc. being the common comments.   With the uncarpeted concrete floor and no big windows, I expected the venue to be cold ... but it wasn't (unless, I guess, you were near an open door - it is October, after all), and I didn't find the noise as bad as some of our team.  I was disappointed with the muddy access and parking.

The venue is currently poorly managed.  The toilets were not presentable, the venue was tawdry and the food, despite its top price, was not up to the appropriate quality standard.   Anyone who knows the back story of Donnington Park will not be surprised.

However, there is nothing to say the facilities won't be better run in future.   There could be quite a good venue currently being hidden by the poor management and poor maintenance.

That said, it will always have a Motor racing Circuit and Airport adjacent, so it will never be quiet.   It is not Kedleston's beautiful atrium, nor is it Newbury or York Racecourse (today's best wargames venues, to my mind).

Next outing for our Shows Team will be SELWG ... and fantastic venue but a terrible drive (for me at least) - and although Phil Sabin will be doing his Lost Battles as the ancients game, manning issues mean it will be my shows North stand that will be there for membership support.

But I always like SELWG ... great show - come and join in!


Trebian said...

I agree with your analysis of the venue Phil, - except to say it was very cold when it first opened on the Saturday and two layers of clothing are recommended.

Despite the problems with the venue I'd say that we had a better footfall than previous years and stands were much more accessible. You lose the thrill of finding stuff tucked away in odd corners that was such a feature of previous Derby feature but everything being close together helped.

And being 10 minutes off the M1 is a big plus.

SoA Shows North said...

Thanks ...

The bit about the cold? yMaybe I feel it less - buy also you got there a bit earlier I think (where as G and I were rushing about a bit to get things set up on the stand) ...

Re the general shabbiness, I seem to recall that Donnington had the British GP franchise for a while until ultimately Formula One declared itself terminally unconvinced and did a new deal with Silverstone.

As a facility, since we used to race there in the 1980s, it has always seemed 'half finished'... and I can see why Bernie Ecclestone wasn't impressed.

A decent manager and some well-trained staff could have done wonders to the place without needing a bank loan.