Overall impressions? The new ticketing system works like a dream. I arrived at 11.20am and walked straight in. The show was crowded and I'm sure that each year one sees more women and children. As others have noted, as a historical gamer my feeling was that sci-fi and fantasy games and traders are on the rise and will in time outnumber the historical ones. Nothing wrong with that in itself - Salute has always been a broach church and it's stated aim is to show the hobby in all its many guises. On the historical side, I did feel a sense of "seen that before" with many of the games (I'm pretty sure there were a handful of games which were also at last year's show). I suppose there are only so many ways you can do a large 25mm ACW game or a 15mm Napoleonic game, but I'm sure I'm not alone in responding more positively to those games which feature off-beat periods or present a familiar period in different light. There were, of course, some large and spectacular historical games. My own feelings on these are mixed. On the one hand, they are beautiful to look at; on the other, they have the feel of large dioramas rather than "games" as such. I wonder whether the much-publicised Peter Jackson Gallipoli and the Perries' Agincourt displays will have an influence on what some people try to put on at shows like Salute. As I've said before in other show reports, simply cramming as many figures on the largest table available is all very well if the "game" hangs together, but quantity doesn't always equate to quality.
Shopping was moderate: AWI British and paints from Foundry; Perry AWI, early Napoleonic British and the new Cape Wars figures from Dave Thomas; the Perry/Snook Cape Wars book; subscriptions for MWBG and WI; Napoleon's carriage from Warlord (largely courtesy of the £25 voucher that came with the WI sub); a few palm trees; various figures from Eureka. Some of those purchases are for a new project - Cape Town, 1806. More on that in due course.
Anyway, to the photos. As always, apologies to all those games that I managed to miss (particularly the Agincourt game and Dalauppror's medieval Denmark game - gutted to have missed those).
First up is the first time I've seen Maoris, courtesy of "Little Wars Australia" and using Eureka's excellent figures. This showcased some forthcoming rules for pre-pakeha era skirmishes.
One of the best in show for me was Loughton Strike Force's "Winter War 1939", precisely what I mean by a familiar period (eastern front WW2) but in a different light (Russians v Finns for a change and outstanding terrain).
Crewe and Nantwich Club had a huge ECW game, a hypothetical siege of Bristol. The scale and detail on this game were very impressive, but there was a sense of deja vu as the club did a similar siege of Worcester game in 2011.
Dave Brown, Richard Gillingham and friends had a lovely 25mm ACW Antietam game, which used Dave's forthcoming new ACW rules, "Pickett's Charge!" This game shows what you can do with a green terrain mat and lots of nice features and vignettes.
Maidstone Wargames Society's Israelis v Syrians, 1982 in 3mm at 1:1. A good-looking game from a period one hardly sees, but were all the tanks a bit too close together? I wondered whether the look of this divisional-level game would have benefited from a larger table. A terrific effort, though.
"Calvados and Chips" by the League of Gentlemen Anti-Alchemists. Platoon-level WW2 with excellent scenery and terrain.
I think this is Newbury & Reading Wargames Society's 15mm Battle of Koniggratz.
The Battle of Hastings in 28mm from either the Lance and Longbow Society or Newbury & Reading - sorry, I don't know which! Lesson for show organisers - don't have more than one version of the same battle....
Mansfield Wargames Club's Battle of Gorodetschna, 1812. Russians v Austrians and Saxons makes a nice change.
Ian Smith had a 40mm Napoleonic game (mainly Perry figures, I think), based on the fictional Battle of Adrados from Cornwell's novel "Sharpe's Enemy". For me this caught the balance between spectacle and playability perfectly.
The Sons of Simon de Montfort had this North-West Frontier game, based on the Kenneth More film of the same name.
I missed the names of these, but the scenic effects were very pretty.
This was one of my favourites -"The Adventures of Paul Drake" from Oshiro Model Terrain. The game used pretty much every 25mm 18th century civilian figure available.
There was lots of Seven Years War action this year. This is Kunersdorf in 25mm from the Essex Warriors.
Bill Gaskin's SYW set-up was much praised. There's no denying the spectacle and Bill's hand-sculpted figures were beautiful. I'm told that they did start playing the game at some stage.
An award for the most inventive game would have gone to the RAF's "Formula Minion" game. Lots of kids having fun with this one.
And my boys would have loved this superhero game from Simple Miniatures Games.
Finally, the Essex Gamesters had a customarily large game, Vietnam in 20mm. Again, I'm not sure if this was being played, but it did look good.
So that's it for another year. The blog's been a bit quiet of late, mainly because I have loads of stuff that's either being based or is near to completion. On the painting desk at the moment are lots of AWI British infantry and Pulaski's Legion (both mounted and dismounted). So lots of AWI to come over the next few weeks.