Wednesday, December 12, 2012

17th November, Reading


Sorry for putting Glasgow ahead of Reading in this rush to catch up all the late autumn shows and events.

I was only able to do the Saturday, and, without my camera, we have illustrations from Richard 'BattleDay' Lockwood's new-fangled mobile phone ...

The good news is it's new tech ... so a lot better camera than my old 'pure camera' camera.  The bad news is Richard is even less a photojournalist than me (so just photographed a few things we both liked when I reminded him ...) ...

(28mm war elephant from Eric's collection, photographed on RL's mobile phone)

The show was its usual splendid self - whilst many a show has declined over the years, Warfare seems to go from strength to strength.   It has all the boxes ticked ... popular competition, lots of splendid games - some to play, some to admire - a very big and diverse trade show, a well-supported B&B at a venue we are all used to (and which has both public transport connections and adequate parking*) ...

The catering used to be excellent, and there were long queues - these days it is not what it once was, and that has cured the queues.   That's the only real decline - but the SoA shows teamsters do like their full breakfasts, so no extra stars, I'm afraid.

(Agema cavalry from the Raphia game)

Saturday saw the Society represented by Phil Sabin and the Eastbourne display team (Eric and Alan) who put on a good looking 28mm version of the battle of Raphia played with Lost Battles.

28mm ancients fans will have enjoyed the show, as elsewhere we enjoyed a splendid Armati Crusades game put on by the Warfare regulars from Malvern and a stylish Warlord Lite demo from former SoA President Trevor Halsall.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle by Saturday mid-afternoon as the organisers sought to straighten out some of the issues with display games and Societies 'trading' from their 'game' pitches.   An oldie but a goodie.

The Society of Ancients, of course, takes a membership stand along to shows as part of its public face.   Although I was told we were not seen as presenting a problem it is probably as well to be open about this ...

(resplendent massed Christian infantry from the Armati game)

Most of the modest 'commercial' activity the SoA engages in at shows (both by volume and by value) is signing up members.  Second is a low level of transaction with our members who save some costs (on both sides) by picking up odd items when they see us at shows (it is handy for them and another reason for visiting the show) ...

In addition, there are a small number of casual transactions with non-members.  Mostly these will be copies of a Society game or a back number of Slingshot.   These are 'sold' below a commercial margin, and we have always looked at them more as self-subsidizing samples.   They are surplus from our print runs and are much more use to the visitor than a business card or a flier ...

None of this amounts to any sort of commercially viable 'trading'.  The Society does not make anything from attending shows.  Nobody gets paid or gets any freebies: the volunteers manning the stand do so purely out of their regard for the Society; the authors of the games or publications get no royalties, and any funds raised through them go straight back into the fighting fund (mostly that means fuel costs these days).

(Byzantine cavalry close-up from the 'Warlord Lite' game)

The Society does not compete with any traders and none of our 'amateur' publications are available from other sources.  We only carry material published by the Society, written by our members, and made available through the publications scheme.  Our accounts are not secret and there are no profits being made.

I must admit if I have any 'beef' about any of this, it would be the current trend for traders taking demo tables and displaying their products or promoting their rules/games.   These are basically adverts, and I think they ought to be paid for as such, rather than allocated free in the same way as they are to clubs and Societies (who sometimes are, indeed, sponsored - but there is at least a partial stage of separation there ... ).

It has happened on occasion that advert games of this sort get set up and then not actually played (as the traders themselves are to busy selling the product and will not underman their stand just to play the game).   The game is therefore just a free display cabinet.

Not that I am pointing fingers or making rules.  For many years I ran the Society of Ancients AGM (back when it was a show and had hundreds of visitors.  We had other Societies, we had trade stands.  We never charged a penny (like the explanation says, we aren't commercial, we don't trade, we don't make profits - we never did!).

(more close-ups from Richard's trip around this year's Warfare show)

At the shows we attend, we are guests of the clubs who organise them.  We play by their rules and we always hope that if there any issues arising, people will simply raise them with us and, generally, any confusion will be covered.  My comment re the free advertising game is to illustrate that there are always two sides to any story.

My Saturday at Reading was well worth the trip - I met lots of fellow enthusiasts, old friends and new.  I solved a number of issues, set up some great new initiatives - and as ever (where would the shows trade be without the bundles of cash spent by the Society and Club shows team?) picked up plenty of wargame gear to last me over the cold months of winter ...

Hope you liked the guest photographer, too :)

*of course the parking is not great and you need to avoid being late ... it isn't free, but there is a refund deal ... etc. etc. (so, again, something we're used to ...): all of which means it gets an 'adequate' rating, and I'm sure we'll all manage to soldier on ...

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