Monday, 27 April 2015

Salute 2015!

Salute, hosted every year by the South London Warlords, is the UK's biggest wargaming event, or at least the biggest one that isn't a company thing. I haven't been since 2005 (I believe I said earlier that it was 2004, but I was misremembering). This year was pretty impressive!

Salute is so huge that it's very hard to cover everything that's going on -- I'm sure there were things that I missed, and there were definitely things that I was interested by but didn't get much chance to see. Friend Buzz, who went with me, took a lot more photos (and probably better ones) than I did, so hopefully there will be more to share with you soon.

The other thing that everyone knows about Salute is that people spend tons of money there, but actually I managed to get away with a relatively low expenditure -- good news for me, as I just came back from holiday. But I still got a lot of stuff. But first, the things I saw.

This Death Star trench run participation game seemed very busy. 

Infernal is a horror-y skirmish game Kickstarting this coming May. Their board
was built around a ruined Saint Clement Danes -- a non-GGWSWGG church!

This western table was put on, I believe, by North London Wargames.
The posters inviting players took the form of Wanted posters, which was a nice touch.

This lovely Samurai table was put on by Oshiro Model Terrain
I think the thing that struck me about a lot of the best tables was how they emphasised transitions. It's not totally clear in my photos, but the Oshiro table went from the walls of the Imperial city at one end, through a built-up area, to farmland at the other. The same was true of a lot of other successful boards. Probably old hat to table designers -- and of course the purpose of the board was to show off all the different things Oshiro makes -- but I found it interesting.

 Another samurai board, this one for the feudal-Japan system Daisho. This was two boards side by side, with terrain from, I believe, 4Ground (although the thatching is brush bristles). I really liked the seasonality of these boards -- the fallen leaves and red trees on the one, and the bright spring colours on the other. That's the kind of thing that most of us don't do in our home terrain -- because we're shooting for universal utility for obvious economic reasons -- but that is really eye-catching.

 This Dambusters game was a sort of pilot simulator -- players sat in a chair with a control stick and tried to pilot their plane to the dam at the end, dodging flak and delivering a bomb on target. This wasn't the game board, just one side of the display -- but I like the use of repro historical documents to support the theme.

I don't know nothin' about Wolsung, and I'm not in the market for a new exclusive game
(or any exclusive game, pretty much), but that is a pretty car, no denying.
I saw a lot of Conflix houses, most of them with the rendering in the original grey.
This English Civil War skirmish game was by Gravesend Gamers Guild

Warploque's demo game was based around a ship battle using, I believe, toy pirate ships.
With my own campaign taking to the sea, I'm very interested in this idea. 
Speaking of ships, this Cold War Gone Hot game involved a massive, multi-layered
vessel with highly detailed removable decks. That locker room!

The Warlords' Stingray game was big, simple, colourful and apparently popular. 
I too have used a broken toy sonic screwdriver as part of a piece of terrain.
I feel bad for having clumsily broken it, but it lives on.
This display for Crooked Dice featured a fantastic Paranormal Exterminators board.
There seemed to be a lot of people wanting a go on it, and who can blame them?
Hawk Wargames was promoting Dropzone Commander with this huge carrier.

It's in scale! The glare gets in the way, but there are pilots in there. 
4Ground terrain was everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. I like those patterned tiles.

Every time I see a display of Baccus 6mm miniatures, I wonder if I'm playing in the wrong scale.
They just look like an army, which with the best will in the world most wargame armies do not.
I mean, I mainly play skirmish, but still. Those are good-looking models.  

There's those Conflix houses again.
 'Ardhamma are Oldhammer types from the Northeast, and they put on this stunning 3rd ed game with a mix of models from all editions and many different manufacturers -- that's the real stuff.

 Copenhagen 1392 by Dallaupror; a beautifully-imagined medieval city fight.

 Beasts of War's 28mm Battle for Hoth was visually stunning, but I do not want to think about what it cost. There was a whole separate little battle going on in the base at the other end of the table, but it was hard work getting through the crowd of players and spectators.

Classic GW artist Tony Hough strikes a pose while showing off his portfolio. Seeing that was one of the real highlights of the show for me, and hearing about the process behind it.

I had the sneaking suspicion that this AWI battle was inspired by the Bernard Cornwell novel The Fort

If I had all the money in the world, I would buy a lot of Hydra's Retro Raygun line.
As it is, I just have a Space Chimp. I am content. 
You don't get many cosplayers at wargames shows, but they go all-out. 

Anvil Industry walked away with a well-deserved award for this table promoting their new game, Afterlife. My photos don't do this futuristic table justice; it had not only a light-up elevated train track and station but this great multi-level street/park/habitat thing.

So what about my show?

I bought a lot of stuff, which I'll get to in a moment. There were two things I was disappointed not to get -- I should have preordered a Viking shieldmaiden from The Dice Bag Lady to be part of my SAGA army. But that stall was doing a roaring trade when I got there and they were already gone.

I'm very pleased by the existence of this model because I think it shows an incredible response to a problem that Dice Bag Lady has been talking about for some time. Last year, she tweeted some pointed questions about miniature design -- I wrote a post in response, which you can read. And she began, either then or earlier, to sort of curate reasonable models of female characters and sell them through her site -- and then from there she's gone on to produce her own! I'm definitely gonna get me one of those.

The other thing I would have liked to get were a set of the lovely Breughel- or Bosch-esque chaos creatures from Eureka. In the end, I dithered about it and decided against it, but I should have gone for it. They're very reasonably priced and I could have used them in my D&D game. Well, I will get some in future!

Naturally, I got this year's giveaway figure -- an Agincourt archer from the Perrys. In fact, friend Sim didn't want hers, so I have two! I can assemble one of each variant.

I got some parts for my upcoming Deathrace 40,000 vehicle conversion from Zinge Industries (who had a big £1 bin full of wonderful conversion pieces), some wattle fencing and bases from Renedra, various 28mm animals from Irregular (via Fighting 15s), some architectural bits from terrain making from Antenocitis and Warbases (and a free bonus casualty counter from Warbases -- good eggs!) I also picked up a replacement for my Viking tent from Warbases; these are brilliant and I need to do a post about them.

I swung by the em-4 stand and picked up some of the lovely Spacelords figures that Doug is recasting (these are not available on the website, so look on LAF for the images), as well as a monster for my Cthulhu collection. I also found some lovely Hasslefree post-apocalyptic kids from the discount bin at Troll Trader (which is full of bargains but constantly mobbed). Speaking of Hasslefree, I want to give them a shout out -- I was looking for a model for my wife's character in my D&D game, and Kev from Hasslefree helped me look. I didn't actually get any of their stuff -- it's a tough character to find a good model for! -- and I feel bad about that because he was so helpful.

Another purchase was from Colonel Bill's -- this one a Belt-Fed Gaming model of Aethelflaed, the "Lady of the Mercians." Most of Belt-Fed's stuff is pin-up material, but I thought this was actually not a bad model of this fascinating historical character. I doubt she actually fought, but Aetheflaed did command armies, and I suspect she will be a Warlord in my Anglo-Saxon SAGA army. If I get the Lagertha for the Vikings, I'll need a Norman female warrior -- Sigelgaita would would be the obvious choice, although I guess technically she was a Lombard. I wonder if I can find such a model anywhere.

Finally, I bought some more Bones for the D&D game from the dudes who make DMB Dungeon Tiles.

I was excited to see that Conquest Games are putting out plastic multipart early medieval archers. I would have been even more excited before I bought all these metal ones, but I have to say Black Tree Design are very affordable. Still, might pick up a few to beef up the levies for some of my other armies.

I got to meet some people I knew only online, many at the Oldhammer meetup hosted by Orlygg of Realm of Chaos 80s. That's always a great part of shows.

After the show, I went for dinner with, among others, the proprietor of The Responsible One's Gaming Blog, and we talked about what we'd seen at the show. He bought a lot of great miniatures, including the beautiful Nightfolk from Northumbrian Tin Soldier. I asked him whether he thought we were entering a bit of a golden age for minis games, and he agreed. I feel the same way, actually: I said the same thing about roleplaying games back in January or so. Maybe it's crowdfunding, maybe it's a fad, maybe it's an increasing willingness to treat miniatures as art, maybe it's an increasing willingness to fuck around and be silly, maybe it's all of these things, but I don't know. I can't claim to understand the business side of things, but I personally am energised about miniatures in a way I haven't been in a long time.

I am not really interested in commercial wargames with attached minis lines (SAGA is an exception because it is historical), but, y'know, much luck to those that make them; they seem to be doing well, much better than such games have done in the past. And the proliferation of teeny-tiny companies ... there were actually lots in the past, but it seems much easier for them to be in touch with their customers now. Maybe it's just me being more informed than I used to be? I don't know. But I am feeling pretty good about it. I am curious to hear if anyone else feels the same way.

So, anyway, that was my trip to Salute. I will definitely try to make it back there next year; I also have one or two more shows on the calendar for this year, although real life can always get in the way.

Next post: my promised but much-overdue implementation of Silent Legions. Unless something comes along and distracts me, like, er, painting all these models.


  1. Thanks for the roundup - now I'm suitably envious!

    1. Glad you enjoyed! It's a great show, although frankly I wonder if it's a little _too_ big to see all in one day.