Friday, April 30, 2010

London Excel (part 2)

More of Salute

Well, with all those wonderful ancient and medieval games to look at I thought it best to put this 'best of the rest' collection in a separate post. Here is a photo tour ...I'll not say much, but these caught my eye.

Not everything was 28mm, of course ...

(Skirmish Wargames ... 54mm Sudanese scenario)

But here's something for the Dr Who fans.

(A Rig Too Far)

I loved this simple naval game. It genuinely reminded me of Charleston harbour.

(Naval Wargames Society's Fort Sumter game)

Of course, Fort Sumter just survives as a single layer of casemates, these days, as my pictures from last year show. A great chance to contrast photos from the place with the place depicted in a game. Thanks.

Some more big figures - swinging from the chandeliers, per chance? They're behind you, of course ...

Best Game overall was this Kamikaze fest ...

(Whitstable & Herne Bay's Divine Wind)

A couple of different games followed the current interest in the War for America (this is what Facebook terms trending, I believe ....)

(Peter Pig's Washington's Army game)
(Miller's Crossing, Philadelphia 1778)

I liked the ships riding on tumblers in this sub aqua game ... there's just something interesting going on ...

And even though it was fantasy, this game was on a table that was not rectangular (think about it).

Some more interesting planes ... over the Eastern Front ...

and delivering a coup de main three decades later ...

And on a couple of lighter notes ...

To the Frothers, size isn't everything ...

No, seriously, stop - size just isn't everything ...

And I just couldn't resist including this shot of some youngsters commanding the Greeks in Phil Sabin's game ... Something is clearly wrong here ...

Well those Kamikaze pilots have clearly completed their mission and gone top heaven ... they're playing an ancients game!

Great show - thanks to everyone ... especially the exhibitors who put on a gave us a great showcase of the best that's around.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

London Excel, 24th April

Salute 2010

A busy Spring this year ... just a week after Triples and the BattleDay weekend, it was off to London's Excel and Salute.
Slightly less of a burden for me - this is 'A team' show, rather than Shows North, so my duties are mainly making sure we have all the latest gear available, shifting some stock around ... then going down to London and meeting and greeting. With plenty of back up on the stand, there was ample time for a walk round too.
And how great that was. There are a few things I want to say about Salute 2010. Overall, as I said to the host team (at least, those on the Command table), it was excellent... Absolutely massive, in terms of content, and barely a make weight in it. Full of excellent games. Good, broad range of mechanisms and styles ... a fair mix of figure styles ... and a really good showcase both of historical games, and wargames in the ancient and medieval period in general. A reflection of where I think 21st century historical wargaming is that I'd be proud of - and a show on which I think we can allow ourselves to be judged. Well done Warlords - a really cracking selection.
(Newark Irregulars' Punic Wars game)
Next thing I'd like to say ... more and better ancients games than ever and a wider choice of mechanisms (I saw Lost Battles, C&C, Crusader, Armati, Impetus, WAB, Warlord, to name more than half a dozen that spring immediately to mind ...).. 2 Zama games fresh from the BattleDay and one further Punic Wars display - so not just a real flavour of the fantastic variety that ancient and medieval historical wargaming can offer ... but also strong sense that the Society of Ancients and the BattleDay in particular are helping support if not set that agenda. Great stuff.
(Fresh from the BattleDay ... Reading & Newbury's 15mm Zama)
I'd also like to say that I thought the quality of the games was exceptionally high. All of them looked good. Most of them were being played (if not getting visitors to play them, which has always been a strong point with Salute) ... most of them had good supporting material to help the casual onlookers ... and generally, I thought very few had been abandoned just to look pretty like the bad old days. I had plenty of interesting chats with the various display teams ... Generally, the games I thought interesting were being backed up by helpful, well-informed people who were happy to answer questions and explain what was going on. Just as it should be - and thanks to everyone who took the time.
So not just lots, and lots of what I like .... lots of what I like done really well.
So much so that I'm splitting my Salute blog into two parts ... this the Ancient and Medieval Salute (obviously the feature episode!) ... and another which will round up the other photos I took of the rest of the show.
(the MHM Zama game won the 'best troops' trophy)
Next door to the Society stand was Muswell Hill Militia's massive Command and Colours Zama game. This was a real treat for me as, being on duty up in Sheffield the week before at Triples, I missed its BattleDay appearance (so had followed the build up on Simon's blog ... but missed the opening night!). Unfeasibly big - but a great spectacle, and very cleverly put together. It attracted a crowd all day, and was played through as a proper game. Just as it should be.
(close ups of the Zama game ... click on the images for a bigger picture)
I played in the Command and Colours Cynoscephalae game at the BattleDay a couple of years ago (more modest affair back then) ... and found C&C translated very well to a figures game ... had a good feel to it but didn't approach the same old problems in the same old way.
(Aylesbury's attack on a British Hill Fort)
Of course, there's been a lot of activity on the 28mm figures market of late ... plastic and metal from a near bewildering array of new and old suppliers. (Gripping Beast's striking Norse scenario - the pictures scarcely bring out the dramatic landscape)
(Lance & Longbow/Curteys Miniatures Leignitz game)
A great deal of it doesn't really move me ... I've rehearsed my view of scales here before - and you really do need to be working on the level of the MHM Zama or our own Sabin/Cruttenden/Waller Lost Battles game to make this scale really work.
Nevertheless, I thought the Perry's Wars of the Roses battle was exactly the sort of thing that proves me wrong. Very good. Good balance of size and content.

(the Perrys' Tewkesbury game)
Manageable but convincing. I still prefer the look of 15mm but this was 28mm plastic at its best. Here's more ..
(Crawley Wargames Club's impressive 15mm Tannenberg)
(Dark Age costume character playing possum?)
(The Society of Ancients Lost Battles interpretation of Chaeronea)
(close up of the Hoplites at Chaeronea)
Well, as if that wasn't enough to fill a wargames show, another episode will follow on the rest of Salute 2010.

Sheffield, 17th - 18th April

Triples - The Show ... Saturday/SundayTriples was a at a super new venue this year .... Gone all the parking issues with the Octagon. Gone the dispersed spread over the rambling complex. The English Institute of Sport was excellent from the start. Full marks.

For the Sunday we relocated like a regular Society exhibit - right next to the Lance & Longbow Society. We reverted to this year's theme Participation Game 'Greyhounds in the Slips' - the Anno Domino combat game set in the Siege of Harfleur ....

Given the problems I had with the DBA post, I'll give you a photo tour of an excellent show in a very smart and efficient building ...

There was lots to look at, as ever with Triples ...

(Greyhounds in the Slips - 90mm Anno Domino)
(Lance & Longbow Society)

(Costume Societies used the famous indoor track)
(Ilkley's Piquet-based Granicus game)
(defending a river line with cavalry, that is ...)

(The Rather Large Towton Project did Blore Heath as a warm up)

(WAB demo game)

(Wargame Developments)

(Big Tank)

Thanks again everyone. Like I said, great venue, great show ...

See you next year.

Sheffield 17th April

Society of Ancients DBA Northern Cup

Saturday at Triples has become the established venue for the Society of Ancients sponsored DBA Northern Cup.The format is straightforward: the organisers provide preset play boards appropriate to the matched armies also provided ... the players just need to turn up (and hit the ground running as it were). So that allows broadly historical battles (within the parameters set by the DBA lists) and fairly quick start ups ... no terrain set up etc. although there can be a certain slowness while players get to know with unfamiliar armies (or there certainly is if I'm playing!).
A new feature for this year was Paul powerpointing the draw and standings onto the wall rather than printing out and pinning up lists. We were all very impressed, but it strikes me this also saves paper, ink and removes the need for taping/pinning and its related annoyances.

(the players at DBA command with the draw projected in the background)
Not sure how it might work for a multi category event like Britcon, Warfare or whatever, but it was a neat and tidy solution for this event (well I liked it anyway).
This everything provided formula is the similar to that used for some Armati events, and certainly benefits anyone with complex or longer travelling plans - and in this case, despite the clouds of volcanic ash from Iceland, players flew in from as far afield as the US and the Balkans ... Old friends and new, good to see you all ...
(Game on)
The format also means the organisers can achieve a certain conformity within the tournament and a good standard of presentation ... a few examples I hope will suffice to show how pretty the armies were - a feature which I know always enhanced the enjoyment of the players, and is well worth the effort.
(preset terrain and armies)
(II/5c - Theban)
(III/74 - Fanatic Berber)
The quick set up allows a reasonable shot at the 5 games played in the day (and that includes an hour off for lunch and shopping) - one or two did get 'timed out' for the benefit of the majority (but the intention is to maintain a certain imperative to get on with it and encourage decisive play ...)... Five games, of course, makes it important to get a good start.
After some last minute changes due to players being stuck at airports etc. 12 players fought it out for the title (against an effective limit of 16 I think). The lead changed hands several times, but eventually Scott Russell established himself firmly at the top of the table. Well done, everyone. Last year's winner, and Shows North stalwart, Graham Fordham finished in a respectable mid table - continuing the tradition of the Northern Cup (which has never successfully been defended).
The Society stand spent the day attached to the DBA event (before relocating to the main Halls for Sunday) ... and in keeping with the BattleDay happening simultaneously down in Bletchley and the DBA theme of our own day out, I brought along my 'Double DBA' work in progress game (for a Zama workshop) ... this got played through a couple of times and was a focus from some useful discussions of the historical battles/DBA topic (if you want input on designing a DBA scenario, take it to a DBA event) ..
In Northamptonshire, we've been doing a couple of Zama related projects in the build up to the BattleDay, and I will collect these together for a dedicated post.
Thanks on behalf of the Society of Ancients to Paul Murgatroyd and Tony Morley who do all the work to make this event happen (and to Pete Scholley for finding the extra tables!) ... Thanks also to Triples for kindly hosting the event.

A trip round the rest of the show follows.