As mentioned in my last Blog post, I’ve added below some of the photos from our trip to “Crisis” 2017 in Antwerp last weekend. Readers of this Blog will know that, for quite a long time, this has been a highlight of my wargaming year.
Crisis is a wonderful wargames show, with a huge amount of that credit going to the tireless members of the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp wargaming club, who year after stage a terrific event. However, Crisis is more than just another wargaming convention. It’s a perfect venue for wargamers and hobbyists throughout Europe to meet up and share ideas, experiences, roll some dice, play some games and buy (yet more) figures, terrain, tools, books and stuff.
I'm guess if you’re a wargaming hobbyist in Central France, Denmark or Southern Germany, you might well have made the trip to Salute in London once or twice. But, as a general theory, I would expect that it might be just as easy, or even easier, to make the journey to Antwerp. I certainly was able to meet up with a lot of my European wargaming and hobbying friends this year at Crisis – which I think provides some evidence that my theory possibly works!
So, before I forget – thank you very much to everyone who dropped by to say hello – including Sander (and especially Arthur), ChristopherS, Nick (Moiterei), Stefan (K), Jur, Michael (MiniMike), RobP, Jacco, DaveD, Stephen (A), Graham, Chris (G), Misha, Koen, Geoff and of course Curt (and Sarah) who I met with at the show and travelled back to London with on Eurostar. I am sure there are many people I’ve forgotten, but thanks for saying hello.
So how was the show itself?
Rich, Nick, Biffo, Noddy and myself ran two games at the show. The first, a Chain of Command game set in late May, 1940 close to the Ypres-Commines Canal. This was a terrific game staged by Rich, featuring some great terrain making skills, including a very fine railway embankment (which you can read about on the Lard Island Blog HERE).
What was particularly interesting was that the action in the game was staged around locations which we had visited on a battlefield walking tour the two days before the show (more about that in the next Blog post). Rich’s meticulous preparation of the battlefield tour meant that I had a good knowledge of the context of the battle (somewhat of a first for me in a Second World War game).
Our second game was a Sharpe Practice game, staged in the fictitious Caribbean island of Musique. British marines and jolly jack tars from a Royal Navy frigate faced off against French colonial militias a local mob of extremely angry slaves, several of which came perilously close to chopping up the local British Governor (me!).
A really fun game, and one which was busy through the day with old and new friends dropping by to play.
Rich and Nick won a well-deserved Best participation Game award at the show, even despite me doing my usual best to hinder proceedings. Well done chaps!
Other games at the show were uniformly excellent. Here’s a few of the very best (although by no means all of them):
One of the tables near us featured this stunning game of 30 Corps’ advance into Gelderland at the start of Operation Market Garden in 1944. Fans of the film “A Bridge Too Far” will recognize the scene at once. “Get that wreck off the road!!”
A wonderful game set in the Second Deluge of 1655-1661, in which Swedes and Poles were fighting it out before the gates of a small Polish town, caught my eye throughout the show. It was presented by the Kurpfalz Feldherren Wargames Club, and had some of the most lovingly painted figures imaginable. It was very good to see that the rules being used were the excellent “The Pikeman’s Lament” by fellow blogger, friend and all-round Gentleman, Michael Leck. It’s great to see that Michael’s rules are being used regularly and consistently – more of that in future Blog posts.
My good friend Stefan had, with his friends from his local club, been hard at work on this stunning North West Frontier game, featuring a great Pathan hill fort and some very creative rocky outcrops. Stefan mention this game is heading to Tactica in Hamburg in early 2018, so well worth looking out for.
There was also a game featuring a stunning, and huge, model of Breda castle from the 1580s. There’s a very fine article on this incident from the Eighty Years War in this month’s “Wargames Soldiers and Strategy” about the history behind the game, and the wargame itself.
I really liked this game of Trenton 1776, which wonderfully captured a frosty engagement in the War of Independence.
I'd really like to know more about the battle of Kortrijk in 1302, or – to give it the accurate Flemish name – Guldensporenslag, the battle of the Golden Spurs. This game, staged by the Stipsiz Hussars certainly looked great. There were multiple copies of a book for sale on the battle by the table, but sadly they were in Flemish. Clearly, it’s another language I need to learn!
And, finally, there was a brilliant samurai skirmish game by Blitz 57 using the “Test of Honour” rules and featuring Dixon Samurai figures.
I’ve quite a few of these figures painted from the 1980s and 1990s. Seeing them on this table made me keen to bring them out again. I particularly loved the imaginative basing, which worked really well for the period and skirmish theme.
And no trip to Antwerp would be complete without visits to some excellent restaurants, bars and the usual tomfoolery which accompanies our road trips.
So, many thanks again to the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp for hosting us, and to the people and City of Antwerpen which put up with us for another year. Looking forward to Crisis 2018!