The show was pretty packed on Saturday as you can see from the following snap. The traders were doing good business, but manoeuvring around the trading floor took some patience and dexterity. Even without moving a few inches there was a fair chance of bumping into folk busily purchasing or chatting. Luckily, patience seemed to be in good supply on Saturday morning.
I managed to pick up some 10mm Pendraken Great War figures for the Indian Army and Cavalry, which I’ll paint up next year when I finish of my 10mm British forces. Three years on since doing the 10mm Germans and most of the 10mm French we still have not graced the table with them, mainly since we’ve been knee deep in either Dux Britanniarum or Chain of Command at my local club. Hopefully he advent of the Great War’s anniversary will spark some games, as I think 10mm is a perfect scale for First World War Brigade and Divisional sized actions.
I had a long hard and loving look at one of the fantastic modern Afghanistan ranges on display. These did look super figures, although we’ve now plumped for Afghanistan 1919 with Empress Miniatures for the St Albans wargames club's foray into Afghanistan, Waziristan and Baluchistan next year.
Turning to the upper floors of the venue, there was a good leavening of re-enactors in the building, as well as outside. I know some people have mixed views on whether re-enactment and wargaming go together. Personally, I like the interaction between the two. Talking to any re-enactor always gives me an insight into a living part of history. And I don’t think that can hurt when you’re trying to create an atmosphere and a context for any wargame.
As for the games, there was a very splendid game depicting Thapsus, which was card driven and featured some wonderful troops, including elephants. The waterways at the end of the board, with the boats drifting by, really caught the eye.
Next up was a brilliant little participation game of Pickett’s Charge, by the Staines Wargamers. It was so crowded that the game was very difficult to photograph – proof of its well-deserved popularity and skillful design.
There was a very clear introduction to the game on the display board, setting the scene for the action on the table (which I think was actually a folding board optimized for carrying and transport). The Union defenders were run by an umpire, while the participants played the commanders of the confederate battalions charging from Seminary Ridge. The aim of the game was simply to get to the stone wall defended by the Union troops, the first confederate commander doing this being the winner.
As a game it looked simple, imaginative and a whole lot of fun. Players advanced through the turn of cards and dice. I particularly liked the way the whole game was optimized for a wargames show: easy to pick up, play and enjoy, but with a great feel of the history of the engagement itself. I thought it was a great example of how to put on a top class game for wargamers and public alike at a leading wargames show.
Other games catching the eye were a beautifully presented game from Russia 1944 by the Loughton Strike Force featuring some excellent destroyed buildings and terrain….
……a snowy Fraustadt 1706 board caught the eye and looked very fine indeed, the bight uniforms showing well against the snow…
……a very fine demonstration game using the Battlegroup Overloard rules, presented by Warwick Kinrade who very kindly answered all our questions…
….but the crown jewel of the show for terrain and presentation was Bruce Weigle’s wonderful game of Rossbrunn 1866. Bruce’s terrain is well known for its high quality and it was a great honour to see it here in the UK. How Bruce got all that through customs and across the Atlantic is one question I didn't ask him about, but it was great to see it (and him) in person.
As terrain goes it looks very effective, catching the undulation of ground through carved expanded polystyrene, a layer of felt and a cloth airbrushed on top. The trees are sponge, dipped in PVA, flocked and pinned on the board. It all sounds straightforward, but it takes a real craftsman to get these results. The figures are all 6mm Heroics & Ross, and complemented the game perfectly. Here’s a shot of the terrain, the players, part of the accompanying display and Bruce umpiring the game. My photos which really don’t do justice to what an excellent all-round presentation it was.
So, all in all an excellent day out.
Thanks, as ever, to the Newbury and Reading Wargames Club for hosting another top-notch show.