My own feelings about this year show are:
- Whilst the standard of historical games was high, there weren't that many that had, for me at least, "wow" factor. That's not failing to appreciate that putting on any game at a show like this requires a lot of care, skill and preparation; I'm just saying that my gob was smacked a bit less than I was expecting. I suppose it also reflects my own interests in more unusual periods.
- The majority of games seemed to be small, single table ones, largely sci-fi/fantasy/"weird" historical ones. I joked that this was "the Salute that history forgot" because of the ratio between historical and other games. However, this may be because I paid much more attention to non-historical games this year, as the boys are beginning to get interested in sci-fi stuff. Is it time to cut the floor in half, so that all historical games are kept together and everything else occupies the rest of the hall? Or does that defeat the solidarity behind the show?
- Skirmish games have completely overtaken more "traditional" large-table games.
- The number of traders'/advert games is growing. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, but some sections of the floor just felt and looked like shop areas (i.e. more akin to the other shows that Excel host).
- To me it felt a lot more crowded, possibly more due to the layout rather than numbers - a couple of thoroughfares were very narrow and I found myself on one occasion literally stuck between two large gentlemen of "modern steam-punk" appearance; our rucksacks had caught and we were stuck.
- "The shopping's better than the games" was something else I heard more than once - see below.
- If laser-MDF terrain was the big thing last year, gaming mats were the big thing this year.
I bought more stuff than usual - subs for WI and MW (I should have done WSS whilst I was at it); some palm trees; AWI cavalry from Perry and Eureka; books on some Napoleonic "sideshow" operations (Walcheren and Buenos Aires) and a pricey Caliver uniform guide to Dutch troops 1789-1806; figures from various manufacturers for two future projects (1801 in Egypt and 1806 in South Africa). I'm beginning to think seriously about Life After the AWI now and I've accepted that I'm basically a horse and musket man who is attracted to smaller, "off the beaten track" types of things. So that's what's coming up on TQ over the net few years. I also managed to lose a bag of stuff whilst perusing the latter stages of the show (luckily it didn't contain much). A good natter in the Fox with Brendan Morrissey and Malcolm "Little Armies" Rose was extended by the Perries arriving at the table next to us. No secrets to divulge, I'm afraid - by this time we'd all had sufficient booze to simply harangue the twins on what we'd personally like them to do.
The following are the photos I took. As always, I missed some games entirely and others I meant to return to in order to take some photos, but just forgot. So apologies to all those whose hard work I missed.
Dalauppror's Fort Mosquito was a Dutch v Swedes game set on the Delaware River in 1654. This was my personal "Best in show" for me, not least because of the innovative subject-matter and stunning scenery.
The Oshiro Samurai siege - I'm sure this has been at previous Salutes, but the terrain and buildings remain spectacular:
Cambrai 1917 in 12mm from Wyvern Wargamers:
Tunbridge Wells Wargaming Society had a Eastern Front 1942 game in 15mm:
There were two mega/epic/cinematic play X-Wing games from Gravesend Games Guild and Ilford Wargames Group, with the Gravesend Imperial forces receiving an unexpected morale boost at a critical moment:
Skirmish Wargames' "Carry on up the Volga" game, the Russian Civil War in 25mm - another highlight:
This Falklands War game from Jersey Privateers Gaming Club was another boutique effort, but the terrain was pretty spectacular; the historical engagement above San Carlos Bay took place at night - but how can you do a nocturnal battle effectively on the tabletop?:
Ard Hamma had another off-beat period, the 2nd Sino-Japanese War (the green areas look a bit funny because this represents a golf course):
Stunning terrain on this game.
Samurai skirmish - Bushido?
The boys loved this photo - is anyone knows the game system please let me know!
I think this was a "Cold War gone hot" sort of game.
I think this was another RCW themed game - nice to see something fully naval.
Another American Indians v settlers skirmish
This was a large 1809 French v Austrians game in 25mm. By The Old Guard, perhaps?
Nice to seeing Neapolitan/Italian troops.
Another highlight, WW2 in the Philippines by the Crewe and Nantwich club:
There was one large 25mm SYW game, the Battle of Prague, 1757 from the Essex Warriors: