Matakishi's Tea House

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28th March SALUTE 09

I arrived at Salute a little worse for wear than on previous occasions. The British public transport system seemed to have closed down for the day with delays, detours and annoyances strewn  before me at every step. This, coupled with the fact that Salute came as a bit of a surprise this year because I was unaware until about a week beforehand that the date had been moved forward to March, made the whole familiar experience distinctly...odd. I'm not good with change but I soldiered on bravely.

Judging from the difference in atmosphere from last year the change of date may have had more of an effect than the Warlords hoped. The hall seemed emptier, less people and less traders. There were loads of games though, many of them outstanding, and, since I didn't plan on buying anything anyway, I spent my time ambling around looking at them.

First stop was the Frothers' table where zombie mayhem was getting underway. I dropped off my small contingent of zombies to add to the horde and hung around for a bit to say hello to some of the chaps. I thought the table looked splendid, not your usual wargames fare but distinctive and full of humourous touches. All the buildings were drawn by Rev Nice despite his tiny, tiny hands and the shadow bases were an inspired idea. Many people contributed to the horde of undead that thronged the table and the few human survivors that opposed them. Everyone that helped received a free Colonel Marbles (with chainsaw) figure sculpted by Kev White of Hasslefree Miniatures. There were chocolates and beer too.

Rev Nice surveying his handiwork.

Right, off we go around the show, no mention of traders this time except possibly at the end when I open my bags and review my booty.
First stop was the incredibly atmospheric Innsmouth table by the Glorathan Army on which they were running a multi-player participation game where the players received small missions to accomplish allowing them to enter and leave the game whenever they wanted. A great idea well executed. The lights shining from the buildings that were on fire and the general dark,chilly feel to everything else made this a stand-out table for me.

This nice little set up is from the Crawley Wargames Club. The table depicts the Lebanon in 1984 (well, part of it anyway) for their Operation Galilee team based participation game. The buildings are hand made and available from a bloke on e-Bay, I don't know if he's a member of the Crawley club bcause I didn't ask but I've always liked them and they were put to good use here.

I was please to see that The Escape Committee had added a train and some high ground to their Nomonham 1939 game making an already very inviting table even more of a draw. This is the sort of game I want to play when I think of my ideal wargame, it has the right density of troops, the right level of command and scenery that just begs to have figures pushed over it. it's a pity my photos don't do it justice.

The South London Warlords were running several games, well it is their show after all, amongst them was this SF3D participation game where lots of people seemed to be having fun. I'm not sure I'm a fan of this game to be honest, the figures are prepainted Japanese toys and the main part of the scenery is TSS terrain tiles with lichen scattered on top. I know that an enjoyable game doesn't just rely on eye candy but Salute is the Warlords' showcase, I remember when their games used to be the centre of attraction and I don't think this one measures up to the great games of the past (yes, I'm thinking Daleks here!).

I'm sorry I didn't manage to get any usable photos of the excellent Zulu game the Warlords also staged where the headband-bedecked players controlled the zulus against an umpire run Imperial force, much more my cup of tea, that's the sort of game I expect from the club that organises such an important show. That's the sort of game that gets remembered in years to come.

This is Sicily 1943 in 1/35 scale courtesy of the British Model Soldier Society. The ground sheet is sand not snow, unfortunately the camera flash has done its dastardly work again so it isn't imediately apparent. I liked the village on this table, simple yet functional with a nice rocky base.

Okay, check this out, who's buildings are these eh?

Wrong. They're not mine, they're from Jo and Ben at Black Cat Bases. These prototypes are cast in resin but the ones you will soon be able to buy will be vac-formed which will make them incredibly cheap so that you too can have your own city. They received a show outing to highlight Noire which is a game/setting/ figure range from Black Cat Bases. I do like the night time paint scheme, the light source highlights are well done and start to work on your perception after a while to really create a good atmosphere. Did you notice the fire hydrant 's shadow in the picture below? Excellent stuff.

I found two fellow Lead Adventure forum members (Overlord with the beard and Malamute without the hair) at the Geezers! game that Overlord was running.

 Is there anyone left who isn't aware of the stunning scenery that Overlord has made for this game? Real life Britain in the 70s never looked this good, the man is a genius.

These are all scratch built but you can now get resin frontages to jazz up your own buildings based on these originals from Outpost Wargame Services.

Should you want to stage your own Geezers! game and Arkwright is o-o-out of s-stock you can get the rules and figure range from Killer B Games.

Now, back to World War Two...

Chemis de Feu put on this 28mm game so players could see if they could out do Michael Wittman (a difficult job) in a fight against the British at Villers-Bocage.
Michael Wittman is famous for his ambush of elements of the 4th County of London Yeomanry, British 7th Armoured Division, during the Battle of Villers-Bocage on June 13, 1944. While in command of a single Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger he destroyed between 10 and 15 tanks, 2 anti-tank guns and 13 personnel carriers within the space of 15 minutes.

The scenery on this long narrow table was just breathtaking with loads of little details helping to invoke a sense of time and place.

At the other end of the 'realism' spectrum are these charming Napoleonic card figures made in 1/20 scale by Christopher Walker of Walkerloo Toy Soldiers .

They come printed on two sides of die cut card, all you have to do is mount them on the supplied plastic bases and fill your table (or, better yet, your floor).
I arrived at the battle a little late with my camera so here's a picture of  the Walkerloo trade stand which gives you a better idea of the effect these figures have en masse. 'Figures' isn't the right word is it? I'm not sure what the correct nomencleture is though so figures will do for now.

More snow, brrrr...
Partizans at Smolevichi.

SSWG put on this chilly demonstration game depicting warfare in White Russia with partizans and tanks and a train and other stuff too, all in 20mm.

Once again my paltry photographs do not do this table justice, just standing and looking at it made me cold. The whole thing is a brilliant modelling feat, the train is scratch built as well.
Here is the armour waiting for its next outing.

Oshiro Model Terrain staged this fictional samurai siege of Okamoto-Jo in 28mm as a showcase for the excellent buildings and scenery available from this company.

These houses have been firm favourites of mine since I first saw the range, I really like the compactness, a small footprint adds to their usefulness on the tabletop, especially if space is limited. All the Oshiro buildings are built with a neatness and attention to detail which never appears fiddly but always adds to their 'look'. Top stuff.

The Skirmish Wargames chaps decided to bring their ECW stuff with them this year. I've been waiting to see this ever since I saw some photos at Andy Duff's house. I'm glad to say I wasn't disappointed.

It looks like stone to me. These buildings, scaled to look good with 54mm figures, are big and beautifully made.

The figures aren't too shabby either.

As befits a skirmish wargame, there's plenty of attention paid to local colour and supporting characters.

 This is the Innkeepers wife, she started life as an American War of Independance Militiaman, quite a transformation.

Too Fat Lardies put on a Great War game with some impressive trenches and shell holes. They were spotlighting their new WW1 rules 'Through the Mud and the Blood'

Here are the new Victrix plastic Napoleonics.

Nice figures, nice table, nice backdrop. The 3-up masters were impressive too. If  I buy any plastics these are the ones I'll be getting.

I did a quick double-take when I saw this game, happily I wasn't mistaken, the Whitstable and Herne Bay Wargamers have indeed turned the  Escape from Colditz boardgame into a tabletop participation game.

There were so many people playing this I was unable to get close enough for a really decent photo, these will have to do.

I initially thought this was some sort of Colonial battle, lots of people with guns, no cover and high troop density. In fact it's the Battle of Jarama (1937) from the Spanish Civil War put on by Nick Eyre.

The game shows the British International Brigade on the aptly named 'Suicide Mountain'. Lots of beautifuly painted 28mm figures here, many of them about to die by the looks of it.

This caught my eye as I entered salute but it took me ages to find it again, when i asked people I met if they'd seen it most looked at me like I was mad. The Scimitar Wargames Group playing Steve Jackson's Awful green Things from Outer Space on a great 3D board with custom figures (Perhaps that should be Tom Wham's Awful Green Things from Outer Space, whatever,). Proper gaming!

This is a new fantasy skirmish game called Twilight. The design for the figures and rules is top-notch and a lot of thought has gone into the design and packaging. I like the fact you can buy a starter set and the whole 'completeness' thing appeals to me. However, playing on small boards with 3-5 figures a side makes me think I'll be micro-managing stuff and making tiny moves both of which annoy the shit out of me in games. Luckily the rules are available on the web though so I am going to have a look and not pre-judge. The style of the miniatures makes me want to like the game and spend some money on it, this in itself is a miracle because I'm old and jaded and don't like fantasy, so, good work so far Twilight people, you've almost got me...

Edit: I've read the rules, 10inch movement and a 4ft square table means no pissy little moves. Pre-planned combat tactics adjusted by luck and special abilities as well as 1 hit kills (after a saving roll) means no micro management. So umm... probably going to get this.

Not wargaming but great to see. Esdevium Games had a sizable area with tables full of people trying out new boardgames. There were knowledgeable and friendly Esdevium staff on hand to explain rules and offer help and advice. I was pleased to see the tables were full each time I passed by.

Also not wargaming, or gaming at all in fact, there were a couple of armoured vehicles at the entrance to the show. This one's a Ferret Mk1
scout car (not a Dingo, thanks Rudi) I think but I can't be bothered to check because I'm not that interested to be honest. Still, different strokes for different folk.

There were also some Action Man vehicles around, another thing I'm no longer interested in but presented here for your enjoyment none-the-less. There were some radio controlled tanks too, one in particular, a huge Tiger, trundled about relentlessly and drowned out all conversations for yards around. Annoying rather than impressive as far as I was concerned.

Finaly, here's Ali and some 24th re-enactors, a meeting and reconciling of cutures bridging the gulf of colonialism.
Or something.
The end of a good day.

Oh, what I bought at Salute (because I know you all care). I bought three ridiculously overpriced fantasy figures for my Shadowman project that I pre-ordered from Artemis Black (Artemis didn't overprice them, he gave me a generous discount, some of these figure manufacturer's need to rethink their pricing policies though) and a copy of Lunch Money, a card game about playground punch-ups that I wanted for school on Monday. Total cost 30.00, quite a cheap show.