SLAM 2011 was held at the Teater Replica, an old Commedia dell'Arte theater, in Stockholm on the 17th-19th of June.
I went with my daughter Michaela who had an anime convention she wanted to attend in Stockholm on the Saturday.
We set off on the first leg of our long journey by catching a train at 07:00 from Woking station on the Friday morning bound for Victoria and a coach to Stanstead airport.
The coach journey was longer than the subsequent flight, but, it's all an adventure. Soon we were whisked skywards by Ryanair and headed out over the North Sea towards Sweden. I think that's Denmark below us in the photo.
We landed at Stockholm-Västerås Airport in torrential rain and settled in for another two hour coach journey to the city proper.
On the way we saw some great Minecraft trees.
Finally we disembarked at the Central Station where we were met by Owain who took us via metro to our apartment and then, after we'd dumped our bags, by bus to the SLAM venue. After nine hours of travelling in seats that were mostly too small for comfort we were finally here!
The main room was full of atmosphere. It was lit by theatre lights and had a reflective ceiling. Several games were in full swing and everyone was friendly. I found Sonny who had been so helpful in organising our accommodation and travel and he showed us around. Both Michaela and I were shattered and found chairs pretty quickly.
I really didn't have the energy to do any gaming but there was beer, cake (and later a burger from a place over the road) and plenty of people to meet so as far as I was concerned the first day was a success.
Day two, Saturday, started mid morning and after I waved farewell to Michaela who was off to enjoy herself at her anime convention it was straight into the games for me. I opted to play the British on the wonderful Pirate table as my starter and was soon beset by two groups of ravaging freebooters intent on looting the waterfront.
There were six booty markers scattered around and whoever claimed the most would win (I wasn't looting of course, I was 'rescuing' the goods and taking them back to the main garrison). I started in the town and spirited two arm fulls of booty away before the unwashed hordes even reached the docks.
I managed to overcome my pathetic musketry rolls and retrieve a third booty marker under fire, hard pressed all the while by the beardy-weirdies. Things were looking up on the loot front but looking decidedly dodgy on the troops front as my Marines started dropping like flies without managing to inflict many casualties on the enemy (weakened by yellow fever I suspect).
I gained a moment's respite when one pirate crew spent a little too long in the brothel.
But the pressure was soon on again.
Eventually I was reduced to only a couple of men and my Captain was trapped in this house with a fourth booty marker.
Luckily for me the pirates fell to squabbling amongst themselves once they'd finished off my last Marine so my Captain jumped from a top floor window and escaped with the winning booty in true dashing, swashbuckling style (or maybe they just let the silly foreigner win out of pity, we'll never know for sure).
The scenery, figures, players and spirit of the game were top notch, a true Lead Adventure which I enjoyed greatly. I wasn't a fan of the Games Workshop rules we used, I felt the scenery and figures deserved much better. Sonny said he'd give Gloire a go later and maybe even Savage Worlds to see if they would inject a little more 'adventure' into the proceedings but it's early days for this project and what we had here was certainly up there with the best of them already. The board is due for a major expansion too which will make for an even more impressive gaming environment in the future.
While I was amusing myself with rum sodomy and the lash others were indulging in their own brand of gaming goodness. There was a 40k set up with oodles of nicely painted figures, I particularly liked the Ork Volkswagen here.
Now, of course I wouldn't normally care about a 40k game, I'm not a fan. But the folk playing this one were the most enthusiastic and happy 40k gamers I've ever seen and this alone ensures its inclusion. If only all 40k games could be this good-natured.
After the pirates I went to see the chaps from Gävle and their huge Mordheim set ups. They had two Mordheim offerings; one was the traditional city and the other was a modular dungeon.
The dungeon was played on a 3x3 grid with warbands starting in each corner. As you moved to an exit you grabbed a new random tile from a tall stack and placed it in the grid.
This is a great idea that I'm going to copy. I've already been drawing up plans for different tiles but I haven't decided whether to make a fantasy or a sci fi setting. Either way it was very inspiring.
Their city was every bit as good. Mostly scratchbuilt and mounted on base boards that allowed for canals to be formed in the gaps between them.
There are real bells in this one.
A very helpful and friendly chap whose name I forget because I'm old and stupid explained the rules to me and let me play against him in my first Mordheim game ever. I was entertained as his orcs proceeded to attack each other with gusto rather than going for me.
Eventually as you can see from the photo above and this close-up we did come to blows and I spanked him proper (as we Chaos spawn like to say) and he ran away. Another victory to me and another enjoyable, interesting and yes, inspiring game.
I was taken through the post game campaign and warband improving system which was pretty well done and interesting enough to do. I do like games where your forces get better, it's the role player in me. I thought Mordheim was a great idea let down by the crappy Games Workshop mechanics. However, combat systems are easy to change so I've downloaded the rulebook for further perusal. I particularly like how the atmosphere of the game and drawings in the rule book hark back to when Games Workshop were a fun company with great ideas and a proper sense of irreverence and anarchy about them. Sad how they've changed.
The dreaded Evil Empire were also represented by a Space Hulk game (another one of their better offerings) utilising some great Hirst Arts corridor and room sections and a set of Genestealers with some of those resin 'Cthulhu' conversion heads.
I didn't get to play this, there wasn't enough time sadly. I also didn't get to play Firestorm Armada which a couple of guys from a local games shop Arcane brought along. It had some surprisingly large (and well painted) miniatures.
What I did play a couple of times was Wings Of War. I own this game, I've had it for a few years now and it's still in its cellophane. Now I've tried it it's going to be unwrapped and added to as soon as funds allow.
It's a great little game, easy to understand and fun to play. We had a couple of six player games on Saturday which everybody who played enjoyed. More than one person declared that they'd be buying it in the near future.
Much of the appeal is the wonderful prepainted miniature planes you get. They are so much more fun than counters.
The rules are so simple to pick up that even Michaela who doesn't game had a go after she returned from her convention.
She won too, here's her triumphant Sopwith.
Saturday's gaming came to an end at around 22:00 and some of us headed off to a local Tex Mex restaurant for some frankly wonderful food. Michaela had some fajitas.
And I had a bacon wrapped tenderloin steak.
After the meal it was back to Sonny's apartment building for coffee in the garden under the stars. Except there weren't any stars! The bloody sky never got dark enough, here it is at 02:00 when the birds were already starting to make a racket.
We went to bed anyway, this is our apartment generously supplied by the SLAM organisers (we cleared up before we left, honest!)
Sunday morning was spent waiting to begin our long trek home. I stayed with Sonny and had a coffee and a chat in a local cafe. Saturday when we were inside had been lovely and sunny but now that we were due to move around again the rain fell with a vengeance. Here's the view from beneath our awning.
The man himself:
While I was whiling away my time before departure Michaela met up with yet another Swedish friend and taken a walk around the Old Town area of the city. Here are some of her shots of the place.
This is the Palace:
This is the Parliament:
Right, enough of this culture stuff. We headed back home around mid day, enduring another nine hour marathon of different transport types. Eventually we sighted Merrie Olde England through the clouds.
I'll just add this photo of some nice art we passed in London.
Well, that was SLAM 2011. Michaela and I returned exhausted but happy. We would like to thank all the SLAMMERS who made us so welcome; General Roos, Evanion, Galland, ugsome, Willypold, Kalle, Cormac, the guys from Arcane and the Mordheim chaps. If I've forgotten your name it doesn't mean I've forgotten you fell free to add yourself to the comment box to remind me who you are, I'm really bad with names but I'm good with faces.
Once again I was amazed at the great people and the great gaming that has been spawned by the Lead Adventure Forum. Who'd have thought a little internet forum would lead to all this.
I'm already looking forward to next year.