Monday, 18 April 2011
Salute 2011: ExCel Centre
Another year, another Salute. I'm sufficiently old enough to remember Salute as being a lot smaller big show rather than the ginormous big show that it has grown into today. I had my advanced ticket and was going to go around the show with Trevor and his son Oliver, but sadly Oliver was too ill to come. Arrived nice and early and stood in the queue, and passed the time chatting to Trevor, looking through the goody bag and shooting the breeze. As always the queue was long and winding, but once the doors opened everything moved along at a fair pace.
One of the things I noticed this year was that there was a dearth of MechWarrior stuff for sale, probably because I bought it all last year! For me a wargame show is a chance to look at the wares, buy stuff I want and catch up with friends on the fly. This year was no exception to the rule. Met up with Martin Buxton, a friend who I play airsoft with who gave me box of 10mm building he no longer wanted (Fieldwork's out of production building to boot too). We then bumped into Graham with his new girlfriend Allessa (I'm guessing on the spelling). Missed out on bumping into another couple of friends I know were going, but hey it's a big show with lots of people milling around.
I didn't buy a lot of things on impulse, largely because I had made a large pre-paid order with Fieldwork's for what turned out to be three carrier bags full of building. I was lucky in that I scored their last examples of some buildings that are no longer in production, which was well pleasing. I also added four more new buildings that were released at the show to my swag bag. Had a chat with them about the current plans on expanding the range and upcoming stuff. There was a very nice re-issue of the Stalingrad GUM building in 15mm, which has now been re-sculpted to be moulded in three sections. That should make production easier for them (BTW no pictures of the new stuff as of yet on their site, so ask them what's new?).
I also spoke to Dave at Caliver Books while he grabbed a quick bite to eat. Again, I've known Dave for more years than I care to remember as we were all part of the Southend wargaming fraternity back in the day. I queried Dave about the Minifigs 10mm Vietnam models and he very helpfully confirmed that they are available to order via the website under the 12mm Modern banner. Doh! Well it's almost needless to say that I ordered Huey Hogs and Cobras when I got home. No excuse now, I've committed myself to Vietnam whole hog... gotta play Charlie Don't Surf don't cha know?
Said hello to Jon and Mel and the rest of the gang at the GZG stand, and then bumped into Alex Stewart (aka Sandy Mitchell), one of my oldest Southend friends who was relieved not to be signing books, and therefore able to get out for a bite to eat and a drink. He had brought Hesta, his daughter along, who also plays, though I must admit I hardly recognised her as she has grown so much in the last two years. It's good to see youngsters being exposed to the hobby though. I've promised to teach her how to paint next time we visit.
Bought some decals, from the QRF stand, for French tank markings (not actually going to be used on French tanks per se, rather on my SF French Foreign legion force instead), and three cans of the new spray weathering dies from another stand we passed. Also bought the latest issues of Battlegames and the relaunched Wargames Soldiers & Strategy. Then it was off to see the TooFat Lardies and play in a game of Terrible Sharp Sword, which is the ACW supplement for Sharp's Practice.
Rich Clark umpired the game, which introduced me to the underlying game mechanisms and and how they are used to play the game. I'll admit that I'm not an American Civil War fan. To sum up some very complex arguments into a pithy one liner: No tanks, No thanks.
Anyhow, I got to handle Lt. Justice T. Lovetrain's force who had been tasked to escort the lovely Confederate spy Miss Angel Delight off the field and to safety. Actually, I imagined myself as playing Miss Angel Delight whose job at hand was to give a tug in the right direction to Lt. Justice T. Lovetrain, and so achieve the victory conditions by escaping the clutches of the Damn Yankees who wanted to subvert the rights of citizens to be ruled by laws of their State, by imposing Federal control, thereby increasing taxes and lowering property values by undermining free trade and democracy... all said in my best Alabama accent of course.
The game was well, nay over subscribed with players, and rattled along at a reasonable pace. It was clear to me that the Yankee players were really into the whole deploy the troops and shoot at things, to the extent that that they actually fired at Miss Angel Delight's escort party. Falling back into my Alabama accent, they were clearly not gentlemen, and fools to boot, as their victory conditions were to capture Miss Angel Delight alive. Seriously though, the card turn sequence was interesting and I learnt some new ideas about how to play games, which I will now steal for my Mummerset campaign.
One observation I will make though. If this game is indicative of TooFat Lardies rulesets in general then I'm not surprised that Rich is finding it hard to get the right sort of reviews in the wargame magasine, as to my way of seeing things what I played was very much a role-playing skirmish game. It reminded me of the original D&D Chainmail, except the TFL books are better written, better produced and the game flows better too, but the look and feel is more RPG skirmish than traditional wargame. I also see that Rich has released Platoon Forward as a mini RPG campaign supplement. Perhaps he might consider doing a core mechanisms rule book and then period add on rules and market them as RPG skirmish rulesets?
After all this fun and excitement I was fair tuckered out by all the walking around and went home before the rush. Another year, another Salute, and I salute all those who made this show such a good time for one and all.