Matakishi's Tea House

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24th April - Salute 2010

Salute 2010 was organised by the South London Warlords and held at the London ExCell Centre on April the 24th.

Unlike last year the journey to salute was speedy and event free. Until we arrived at the venue of course. Hopefully clutching my advanced ticket I joined the back of a 200m queue, the extent of which was marked by a fairly sheepish looking chap holding a big sign that read, despite the contradictory evidence all around him, 'Q Busters'.

My friend Mark Bush, having the correct money in his hand, walked straight in, I swear, there is no justice in this world...

The Fire Marshal had apparently closed the show doors because some traders weren't finished setting up. The Warlords adapted and coped remarkably well, pre-loading queuers with the goodie bags and stamping hands so that the line soon disappeared and I found myself in the familiar expanse of the ExCell Centre once again.

Right off the bat there seemed to be more going on than last year, more people, more activity, more...Saluteness.

There were a good number of games that attracted my attention; some were inspiring, some were remarkable, all but a very few were just extremely good examples of the wargaming hobby.

I haven't posted pictures of games I've already covered elsewhere or that I'd seen before, even though many were of the highest standards. So, if I've missed you out, that may be why. Some games I just missed entirely even with numerous circuits of the hall. Their exclusion is my own fault, nobody's perfect and there's a lot to see and take in at Salute, it's a real assault on the senses.

In no particular order then, the games I saw and liked:

This is the Flames of War Arnhem table. There was an article on its construction in Wargames Illustrated 268 and it was nice to see the actual terrain. Unfortunately I can't find who was responsible for it in the show booklet, I assume it belongs to the Flames of War folk though.

The Loughton Strike Force staged The Battle of Busaco – Peninsular War 1810, winner of the Best of Show Scenery Award as it happens. A whole mass of 28mm figures on a great sloping table with some lovely atmospheric Peninsular buildings as a centrepiece. My little camera doesn't do it justice and I recommend you search out other, better pics of this one elsewhere.

Click on the picture below for a bigger version.

Oshiro Modelterrain made their customary appearance with James' table gaining a magnificent oriental mountain. Obviously I failed to actually photograph it, oh well, just imagine it if you can while you look at the photos I did take of the great buildings he makes and sells. I personally hate him for his preciseness and attention to detail, you might hate him for his painting skills that he demonstrates every year with his 28mm samurai armies, I don't want to limit your options.

I bought an excellent acrylic paint brush holder from Oshiro too, just the job to house my new, improved sable brush collection.

Here's Nick Futter (Malamute) of Boot Hill Miniatures guarding the Oshiro table for the day and overseeing the game. (He's the one on the left, I've no idea who the other chap is).

The Hornchurch Wargames Club put on this good looking Musketeers participation skirmish game. Big figures, sturdy terrain and an enthusiastic crowd made it a good spectacle.

I can never resist well modelled water and the canals in this 20mm Pegasus and Morsa Bridges game called to me almost as soon as I entered the hall (this game won the Best Demonstration Game award on the day). Although the bridge and a few buildings are kits the rest was scratchbuilt by the Honington Wargame Group. Most of the work done by Mark Smith (I think that was his name, someone will correct me no doubt if I'm wrong) He was a charming chap, enthusiastic about his work and managed to give me a fairly comprehensive run down of what was what without, and some of you need to take note here, without being at all boring. Great looking game, great bloke.

Republic to Empire is a new set of Napoleonic rules produced by the League of Augsperg. There can't be many people who aren't familiar with the great looking games these chaps have put on in the past. They chose Waterloo, the La Haye Sainte part mainly, to showcase the rules and managed to cram a huge amount of extremely well painted 28mm figures on to the table.

The rules are every bit as pretty as the figures, well laid out and with plenty of colour photographs and diagrams. I love rules like this, luckily Mark Bush bought a set and I was able to look at them later in detail.

Is this the right place for ans aside about wargames rules? Yes, I think it is. Recently with Black Powder, Republic to Empire, LaSalle and several sets of Ancients rules (I don't play the period so I can't be bothered to look up the names) wargames publishing has been dragged, screaming and kicking, into the modern age and finally has started to have decent presentation and good print quality. I think this is a great move; reading a set of rules should inspire you, make you want to start assembling huge armies for the period and enthuse you enough to tell all your friends about how great it all is. I find that a beautifully produced (preferably hardback) volume, crammed with colour photos and written in an engaging and clear style does this better than some hideously photocopied, badly written, illustration-free tatty booklet, regardless of the actual rules. I'm probably going to change the rules anyway so why care?

Some people disagree and moan about the cost (get a bloody job!) or complain that there's too many diagrams (I kid you not). These people can do what they want of course and are free to not buy any product that doesn't lower itself to their subterranean levels. The rest of us will continue to enjoy ourselves playing with our brightly painted toy soldiers, reading our pretty books and ignoring their miserable forum whining.

Now, back to the show.

The South London Warlords put on a couple of games as usual, this one, a Battle of the Bulge demo game was big and spectacular.

I have no idea what was going on on the table, all I could see were the planes. I mean, just look at them! Brilliant! I had to make the attack noises as I stood and admired them, and I wasn't the only one.


The Tin Soldiers of Antwerp had this multi-level Vietnam War tunnel rats participation game on show. A good idea well executed. I particularly liked the bamboo legs which made me feel as if I actually was in a sweltering southeast Asian jungle. Okay, they didn't really but it was a nice touch and illustrates the level of thought and attention to detail that went into this game.

A Small Town in Germany, an introduction to the WW2 Crossfire rules put on by the East Grinstead Gamers. It had lots of terrain and silly hats and it introduced people to Crossfire. Good job.

This was an eye catching table by the Armies of Arcana Players' Guild.

The Ilford Wargames Group put on this massive Battles of the Dark Tower fantasy game using Mantic Games' figures amongst (many) others. Great big monsters are always eye-catching on a game layout and this one had them in spades.

Once again the weird and wooly Frothers Unite! forum members pulled together and outdid all previous efforts by creating a massive Mordheim participation game using modified Song of Blades and Heroes rules. This was all the more remarkable if you consider that it was organised over the internet with everybody making and painting their contributions (after the snarling frenzy of deciding what game to do was over) and posting WIP threads on the forum. Many of the Frothers are stalwarts of our hobby (some are just warts), a fact that often goes unrecognised because of the often coarse (but honest) language on their forum. I like Frothers, I find it a refreshing and interesting place to visit and it is always first on the list when I check the forums of a morning.

Not content with the marvellous efforts above, some Frothers decided on a different game and produced this innovative WWI Christmas football game. Yes, you're not mistaken, it's Subbuteo with metal miniatures on specially manufactured bases.

This game was also very popular and the table was busy all day. One of the organisers was Hastati who'd come over from Belgium for the day bringing chocolates and good cheer. The picture shows him on the right with Alien Surfer on the left (tiny pic because the original is blurred but he was such a top bloke I wanted to show it anyway).

This is an alternative lord of the Rings game staged by the London Gamers using the Armies of Arcana rules. Nice looking giants and a scratch built fortress based on a Crusader castle in Syria.

This was pretty much all I got to see of the prize-winning (Best Participation Game Salute 2010) Doctor Who game by the Crooked Dice guys. Their pitch was crowded all day (with good reason) but there are many photos of their wonderful oil rig and table elsewhere on teh Interweb so a ,little digging will sort you out if you're curious.

Overlord's Geezers! Terrain was pressed into service for some London Who action as well on the other table. This was equally as crowded throughout the day. I hope all those involved are justifiably proud of themselves for their sterling efforts.

Right, this was the table of the show for me. Jed at Antenociti's Workshop has been working on this for a year or so along with a range of figures and vehicles in the same vein for their Governance of Technology game. This is a proper sci fi city, none of your stupid gothic ruins here. Clean lines, bright colours, good designs and plenty of added greenery; perfect really. It's made from foamed pvc which is light and tough and very cheap. I have some and will be trying it out on my own (differently styled) cyberpunk buildings as soon as I get round to starting them.

Here you can see the interior detail of the buildings as the top two floors of one of them have been laid next to the board.

The man himself (on the right).

Scimitar Games put on this large Robo Rally participation game with some lovely characterful miniatures. Robo Rally is an excellent game and lots of fun to play. A figure version was a great idea and it seemed to involve a lot of happy players.

Another South London Warlords game was this Star Trek skirmish using the Art Asylum 6” action figures (some converted). I have a collection of these figures myself and it was interesting to see them as gaming pieces. There were tiny cameras around the sets transmitting pictures to screens around the table and the bridge had a working screen and illuminated displays with flashing lights and authentic Star Trek sound effects. Still photos can't do it justice so I took a couple of very short movies to give you an idea of the terrific work that went into these sets.

This was the setting the Freebooter folk prepared to demonstrate their new, card-driven skirmish game. Very nice scenery, Werner Klocke (of course) figures and a decent little game. I'm still not convinced that I like playing these 'tiny table' games but others seem to take to them fast enough. Can't fault the presentation whatever your preferences.

The Malifaux game I saw at Warfare seems to have gained a snazzy new archway so it gets featured again. Simon Webb tells me this is a great game and who am I to disagree? Another card driven system and a distinctive flavour to the proceedings thanks to the excellent Wyrd Miniatures that accompany it. Again, like a lot of newer boutique games, Malifaux has a lower figure density than I prefer but I'm fairly sure this will be the wave of the future as the time investment in preparing to pay is short and the whole prospect of gaming may prove to be less daunting to the beginner.

Another popular game that I thought used few figures is Warmachine. However, having said that, I've noticed recently that the number of miniatures on a Warmachine table can get quite large so maybe it's changed.

This good looking boat was part of a Warmachine game where you won a prize if you beat the resident Warmachine demonstrator. I think this was part of the Wayland Games set up,  they seemed to be demoing a lot of games but it was hard to tell, there were a lot of people in similar shirts running stuff nearby. If they were all from Wayland Games then good on them, they are clearly intent on being a major independent retailer for our hobby and, since they were all pleasant and knowledgeable when I spoke to them, I wish them well.

Warmachine was run by Privateer Press, not Wayland Games, I really should pay more attention to these things.

Incursion is a game I'd like to get at some point, this 3D version of the game was very atmospheric but a little dark to get good photos from. It looks like a fairly simple game to build a board for so I've moved it up my list of possible projects.

Infinity is another game I like the look of, well, I like the figures even though they are fiddly to assemble and tiny which makes them very difficult for me to paint. Consequently I've spent quite a bit of money on Infinity lead and painted none of it.

Anyhow, that aside, here's an Infinity game in a rather unusual setting.

Black Cat Bases were staging their Raiders of the Lost Egg game again, I missed taking photos last year so rectified that this year.
I do like this table, it's interesting and makes me want to play on it so I can push my miniatures through the verdant growth (ooo-errr) and explore the temple thingies.

As usual Jo and Ben were fantastically generous and I came away with some samples of their new releases to add to my lead pile and a set of their new Cthulhu dice.

Hasslefree Miniatures also had a participation game this year. The Breaching of Complex Alpha was a good looking set up with Hasslefree figures (of course), Fenris vehicles and some decent terrain that looked very gameable and also had real lights. It was run by Akula and Bungle using Akula's Zombie rules that the Frothers used last year. There were, as an added incentive, prizes for the winners as well as free rules sets if you wanted one.

There were several dice sellers at the show, this is part of The Dice Shop selection. I managed to resist buying any this year having sworn off public dice buying after the embarrassment of  excitedly rummaging through the Chessex bins previously only to find, when I looked up, that I had a rather large audience. I talk to myself you see, comes of working long hours on your own, and I don't stop doing it when I'm out and about (or at work come to that). It's eccentric (not mad) and part of my charm.

Otherworld Miniatures had their usual wonderful assortment of figures on display including the brand new and very impressive giant. I often wish I  played dungeon games again so I could start a whole new collection with their stuff. Luckily for my wallet this soon passes. I have a few of their miniatures even so and the new giant slug is on my list to get.

This is Accused! Getting Away with Murder the board game. Beautiful artwork on what looks and sounds like an entertaining game. It's kind of Cluedo in reverse where the players have to establish alibis for the murder that's happened in the town. The designer, Theodore Aitken (on the left here being distracted by Mark Bush so I could snap a photo), was very helpful and explained the game in detail while answering my endless questions. I was particularly taken with the victim silhouettes printed on acetate which could be used for loads of games.

I'm sorry I didn't buy a copy at the show but I'll be getting one come payday.

This card model of Hougemont is in scale for 20mm figures but would work for larger ones on a wargames table. £15.00 for the whole deal seems like a bargain even though I'm personally not taken with paper or card modelling. The two chaps who make and sell it, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Smith, were very understanding when I explained why I didn't want one. However, it's a great model and I'm sure they'll reap the financial rewards their work deserves once the wargaming world sees their products. Consider this my tiny contribution towards that end.

Artemis Black made a welcome return to Salute this year after an extended absence from the retail scene. Sadly the volcano meant a lot of his stock was still lost in the post or delayed. Never mind, it was nice to see them again.

These fine people are the folk behind Kingdom Death. Normally I wouldn't be that interested in limited edition resin figures but when the figure in question is a giant demon made from crossing an elephant and a baby and it's on sale at a special price of £25.00 I can rapidly change my mind. Consequently these people were responsible for my first purchase at the show.

Tablescape were present also with new additions to their Peninsular range. At the moment I think I'll be using their buildings for my Napoleonics instead of making my own, pantiles are a real pain.

Well, that seems to be it. There was much, much more to see and do I've barely scratched the surface. Salute is a show that it's worth travelling for.

I did have a couple of disappointments; I didn't get to meet the Ancible chaps who I was hoping to have a chat with and I didn't meet Andrea Sfiligoi the genius behind Ganesha Games who publish the Song of Blades and Heroes family of rules.

Other than that, I had a great time this year, I didn't spend a lot, the internet has stopped that, but I got enough to remember it by. Altogether, including £3.00 for some coffee and water but excluding the train fare, I spent £56.50. (The paint brush holder isn't pictured as it's already being used.)

click on the picture for a bigger, annotated version

Finally, here's a picture of me at Salute (buying the windmill) taken by Joe Dever (and used with permission). Joe's excellent photo journal of this year's Salute can be found here.