On Saturday I went to Salute 2010 at Excel with a few of the other members of the TooFatLardies. This was the first year since 2005 that we’d put on a game, mainly I think because after 5 years of participation gaming we fancied a break this time round.
I can’t deny that this was a pleasant change for me after preparing the terrain for the “Through the Mud and the Blood” Western Front game last year. So, with no last minute terrain making and miniature painting deadlines I was really look forward to the games on display and the fantastic show that the Warlords always put on.
If you’ve never been to Salute in its new docklands setting, I would highly recommend a visit. The space is open and light, there’s plenty of room to move around and just about every wargames manufacturer, terrain maker and rules writer either has a stall or is playing a display game. Sure, people still have some legitimate concerns – the expensive car parking, the fact that the UK’s biggest wargames show is still in London and not somewhere more central, the perception by some people that the atmosphere is not quite what it was at the multi-level Olympia venue. While I appreciate the concerns, I still think that the Salute shows at Excel have never been less than memorable and enjoyable. A huge thanks here is due to the South London Warlords (thanks, guys), but “A Big Pat On The Back” is also owed to every participator who’s games bring the whole event alive and make it a great day out.
OK, so what did stand out this year for me? I have to admit a certain weakness at this point. Over the years I’ve gamed dozens of periods, but I tend to be pretty impressionable and get drawn to the games and periods which reflect what I’m doing at the current times. So my digital photo albums from the early 2000s are full of display games from the 17th Century while I built my Williamite armies. And then it was Samurai and fantasy games I focused on when I was building my Medieval Japanese army. So, this time around, it wasn’t perhaps so surprising that I made headlong for a very attractive game set on the first day of The Great War, the spectacularly named “My Feet Hurt, Mum” which was put on by the Gentlemen of the splendidly monicker-ed South East Essex Military Society.
From what I could see from a few visits to the table, it was an opening engagement between German and Belgian forces on the edge of a Belgian town. The excellent terrain was scratch built on a builder’s board even harder than the Styrofoam I’ve used, and complemented by some fine buildings from Grand Manner.
The figures were, I think, mainly Brigade Models’ line of Early War Belgians and Renegade Early War Germans, but the trucks and wagons were scratch converted and supplemented by some very nice vintage Matchbox cars from the “Models of Yesteryear” range.
As you can hopefully see from the photos, the whole effect was a really awesome table, with plenty to catch, but overwhelm, the eyes. My favourites would be the lovely 1/48th scale monoplanes, the limousine of the Belgian Colonel (carrying his Mistress whom I was informed by the South East Essex chaps was called 'Mademoiselle Tottie') and the vegetable plots to the rear of the houses featuring some great miniature cabbages made from Wedding cake decorations (hmmmm....must search those out).
One of the nicest things about the game was the spirit in which the game was being played and also the friendly, warm welcome the South Essex chaps were giving to everyone visiting the table. It was a relief, though, that Richard and myself were not offered a sample of the Belgian Officer’s hip flask on drawing the “Time for a Snifter card” at 10.30am on Saturday morning.
A few dozen light years from the setting of “Through the Mud and Blood” is the new boardgame of “Incursion”. This is set in a Weird War Gibraltar with dozens of zombies and Weird War stormtroopers attempting to massacre hyper-armoured GIs in the tunnels under the Rock of Gibraltar. Hey, it may not be The Great War, but what’s not to like about that setting !! Wandering over to the “Incursion” game table at Salute I found a Lardy chum, Mike Brian, shaking dice like a demon and running one of the games on an absolutely awesome table which looked just perfect and fitted the mood of the game brilliantly.
Mike’s long time visitor to Lard Island Games Days and despite being a bloody good bloke and all round top guy is just about one of the most unlucky gamers you could ever have the privilege to play against. I declined to ask if his zombies had blundered into a minefield as most of his troops seemed to do whenever I played him, but he looked to be having a good time. Hope your zombies had some brains for lunch Mike...
After wandering about the rest of the show and making a final visit to Great War Belgium with the South East Essex chaps, we headed off to the pub for lunch. The photos, I think, tell their own story.