Matakishi's Tea House

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22nd-23rd November Warfare 2008

Warfare is organised by the Wargames association of Reading and held over two days at the Rivermead Leisure complex in Reading. This year's event was the 29th Warfare show and the 30th anniversary of the W.A.R. so it seemed like a good idea to go along and sample this show for the first time.

On arrival I paid the paltry 4.00 entrance fee and received my entry badge and free figure. The figure is of a Saxon raider and was commissioned from Musketeer Miniatures. It's a decent figure but I doubt I'll find a use for it in the near future. (In case you're wondering they chose this subject because Reading is believed to have been named after Reada, a Saxon leader, who settled in the area in the 6th century. Originally Reading was called Reada ingas, the people of Reada.)

Warfare is spread over three sports halls. There is a dealers' hall, a games hall and a smaller room for the Bring and Buy. I didn't manage to get an overview shot of the dealers' room because the stands seem to have grown vertically quite a bit recently; perhaps this is due to Salute where a low stall becomes all but invisible. Regardless, the room was packed with around 70 traders doing what looked like brisk business.

The games room was massive and housed both the competition games and the display and participation games. I tend to ignore the competition games because they don't offer much in the way of visual stimulus. I did notice one game where they were using printed cloth for terrain which was quite interesting. I didn't get a usable photo to share so you'll have to take my word for it. I've filed the idea for possible use in a Monkey King project should it ever reach fruition.

The Bring and Buy was well organised and not the usual scrum that you find at most shows. Ample room had been allocated for it and the tables were arranged to give maximum browsing room. I was impressed with the organisation and there were several decent lots there but they were in the wrong scale or for periods I'm not interested in so I left without spending. Usually I leave without looking so this was a definite improvement over some shows.

The first game that caught my eye was was vast table depicting Nomonham, an encounter on the Manchurian-Mongolian border in the summer of 1939 during the second Russo-Japanese war. This game was put on by The Escape Committee from Burnham on Sea, Somerset.

The terrain was a low, undulating area mostly covered with synthetic fur 'grass' and dotted with some well sculpted shell holes. There was some very effective water and a superb bridge at one end. The game was fought out with 28mm figures and vehicles at 1:1 scale using some home grown rules. The figures and vehicles were beautifully painted (which, of course, my tiny camera and flash bulb have failed to capture) and the whole set up was very inviting; one of those games you just want to join in.

Several different 1:48 scale planes were dotted about for added flavour and to give some height to the proceedings. The one firing its rockets was my favourite because I'm easily swayed by shiny gimmicks like this.

The next game I saw that was worthy of note was this Home Guard affair staged by Battlegroup South, organisers of the Bovington show held each year in July. There was much to marvel at here; excellent scratch built buildings depicting a town (Walmington-on-Sea?), a stately home and a lighthouse as well as some well painted troops and vehicles in 25/28mm. This was another game that I'd like to have played, everyone involved seemed to be having a lot of fun. The whole set up provided me with loads of inspiration and ideas for my own Home Guard setting.

Despite the many impressive large buildings on the table it was the green house that initially caught my eye.

Moving away from historical settings for a minute I spent some time admiring the conversion work on some Black Hat Miniatures' Martians that the Staines Wargamers were using in a 15nn Principles of War game set on the red planet. I wasn't the only one either, as you can see Mike Lewis of Black Hat (on the right) was doing the same.

There was no point in even trying to get usable photos of the figures so you'll just have to imaging the Cephalopod palanquin, the lizerd mounted British lancers and the beatifully animated martian collecting machine. What you can see however is the home made tie-dyed ground cloth which I thought was a great idea well realised and the 'grey alien' mask used to make a 'face on Mars' which I fully intend to copy in the near future.

The final game for the spotlight counts as my lucky find of the show. Waterloo in 54mm showing you can have the flavour of a large battle without a huge number of figures and in a scale that took me right back to my childhood. This started my Napoleonic juices flowing, previously skirmishing was on the horizon but now, who knows?

Anyway, all that aside, the reason for this being my lucky find was that this game was staged by Andy Duff who I haven't seen for about ten years, not since he used to bring his two boys to my shop where I taught one of them to paint miniatures. Andy is one of the most enthusiastic wargamers I know and an all round top bloke so it was a real pleasure to get back in contact with him again.

Andy Duff planning the next additions to his Napoleonic collection.

The figures are from a mixture of manufacturers and the buildings are from Ertle (I think), whatever, this is playing with toy soldiers as it was meant to be, fantastic stuff!

The Duke of Wellington himself.

There were several manufacturers demonstrating their rules and figures in the dealers hall. This is the winter war table that West Wind Productions used to showcase their Weird War 2 rules 1949 Secrets of the Third Reich. I'm always a sucker for snow tables and this one had a genuine chilly feel to it.

Now for the traders. Everyone you'd expect was probably there. I visited Jo and Ben (Ben was absent) at Black Cat Bases to look at their new wares, there's quite a lot of new stuff from them so I'll be doing some reviews or features or something when I order it in the New Year. I came away with some figures to add in to my upcoming Geezers! project.

I managed to get a good look at the Victorian Science Fiction walkers and tanks from Ironclad Miniatures too. These are looming on my horizon for more than one project. I can report that they live up to my high expectations. Very clean little models indeed and at a good price.

S&A Scenics attended with their usual assortment of solid, functional terrain. I have a lot of S&A scenery items and I like their simplicity and sturdiness so it was high time they got a mention in a show report. Some rather nice deserty hills caught my eye whislt I was browsing so I shall be ordering those shortly.

I had a browse of the new items on offer from Oshiro Model Terrain who I first saw at Salute 2007. Since then the range has grown and I noticed a very nice Samurai ship on the 'in progress' area which I plan to keep an eye on.

The fine chaps from  Tablescape were also in evidence. I'm a big fan of their scenery items and have quite a few now. They do a particularly nice set of cargo containers which don't seem to be on their website but are certainly worth an email to enquire about. This is a photo I snapped at Colours this year as it's better than the one I got from Warfare.

That's pretty much it I suppose. Warfare is a good, well organised and friendly show that I have added to my list of regular wargaming dates. I prefer it to Colours which has been uninspiring for the last couple of years and I am looking forward to returning in 2009.

Finally, I only bought a single figure, from Gamers Quest, making Warfare 2008 my most successful show ever for hobby spending!