Salute in Review: Aftermath

Salute 2014

This was my first time at Salute and I didn’t really know what to expect. Especially as my last experience of an event at London ExCel had been a pretty average Star Trek related event. So when I rolled up and saw the crowds it was kind of amazing.

Salute 2015 pic shellcase
That wasn’t even half of it!

I’m glad to say though that Salute didn’t disappoint. Though a bit overwhelming at times (not helped much by the map, which seemed to be a bit off on some of the stands locations) it nevertheless managed to combine the feel of a big event with the friendliness of a much smaller one.

Marking themselves out as I walked in were Hawk Games, whose Dropzone Commander large-scale model drew the crowds in with its elegance.

After that I had a bit of a ramble around to get myself acquainted with the layout of the place. What caught my eye was the diversity. Though admittedly the mainstay was futuristic military sci-fi games and the fantasy hack and slashers that every wargamer loves, dotted around were some more unusual fares.

From the Dark Age skirmish game Valhalla, to a strategy game about building a bee hive and making more honey than anyone else, there was plenty of variety if you were willing to look.

In typical wargamer fashion, more people were interested in the foam dice than the board with colours beyond red brown and metal.
In typical wargamer fashion, more people were interested in the foam dice than the board with colours beyond red, brown and metal.

Then it was time to meet up with the rest of The Shell Case team, who had bravely risked their lives trying to collect orders from the Forge World table during the peak time of the day. Plunder in tow we stopped to chat, grab a bite to eat and stare at all the pretty miniatures.

The standard was so high this year with an appearance by Mierce Minatures, though it seemed everywhere you looked there was something new and wonderful. Black Scorpion being nestled away in the corner with some fabulous models were another highlight, along with West Wind’s Secrets of the Third Reich line.

Then it was off to look at the KR Multicase stand. They were great guys and more than that, they had chairs available to the public – “And there was much rejoicing amongst The Shell Case Crew”. [Dogs were starting to bark by then. -Ed.]

What did surprise me was how inventive the folks running the stand were, constructing all manner of things out of the blue foam, including their banner, which could be clearly see from the other side of the hall.

DSC00149

I managed to grab myself some deals too, topping up the gangers I already have with some reinforcements from Heresy Miniatures, some very solid resin terrain from Simple Box Miniatures and a couple of rule sets that caught my eye (you’ll hear more on those in the future).

My thanks go out to all the #warmongers who met up with us on the day, the traders who were happy to chat and the many, many people running intro games, especially Christina, who graciously overlooked me calling her Selvig by accident after looking at the name on her t-shirt. You made Salute 2014 a great day and I’ll be glad to see you next year.

Now, where did I put that pen and paper? I have armies to plan!

The Shell Case visits Colours 2013

Or rather, I, the dopey, head-in-the-clouds member of the Shellcase did*. Due to an invite to help demo a game of a buddy of mine**, I ended up at the Colours Wargaming Convention in Newbury.  I managed to grab a few pics with my camera phone, due to me forgetting to charge my actual camera before the event so they will be spotted throughout this post.

Cards on the table, I’m not really a con person. Being an awkward social misfit the idea of paying lots of money to walk around a large area and be sold things, all the while being surrounded by strangers, never quite gelled. My past experiences at the UK Games Day and Destination Star Trek London never really changed that opinion.

My usual reaction to cons

Yet, coming out of Colours, I want to go to other cons and I feel really refreshed in my enthusiasm of the wargaming hobby in a way I’ve never quite experienced before. So what makes Colours different?

The location for a start I guess. Colours is based at Newbury Racecourse. An odd location for sure, but one that works well, as it splits the event over 3 floors. The bottom floor is Traders alone. The middle floor is a mixture of demos games and a few traders and the top floor is an explosion of demo games and a small historical tournament.

The layout of the place means that it’s a large event, but it feels very inmate. People stop to chat and just talk. Traders run back and forth between competitors tables and compliment them on their banners or displays. It’s a very different feel to Games Day, where there’s always a feeling of separation between you and the people running it.

Colours is quite different to a lot of the other events in the UK, in that its dominated by historical gaming. Not that it stopped a lot of Fantasy and Science Fiction based wargames from popping up. But the absence of any GW or PP games did feel odd. In a very good, healthy way though. All the people who visited (make no mistake, A LOT of people came to Colours) were looking to expand the borders of their wargaming experience and knowledge.

So day one, I arrived nice and early and helped Marcin set up his demo table, whist checking out everyone around us. Between munching on bacon butties, to watch a slowly evolving tapestry change and grow from its foundations each day was something very enjoyable to my eyes.***

Whilst on breaks I got a chance to pop upstairs and see what was happening there. It was quite phenomenal really. Dominating one corner was Crucible, which must have been spread out on at least a 16 foot table, not to mention other games like the large-scale Napoleonic game.

Thats not me zooming it with the camera, thats real size!

I managed to play a game of Dead Mans Hand by Great Escape Games too. They had a great board set out for it and I marveled at the terrain by 4Ground and models that was all made by them, including dead horses, dogs and even a chicken!

A gang of desperadoes face down a sheriffs posse.

Thats just to give you a small idea of the variety there. I saw card games being played, a large-scale Indian warfare scenario and this beautiful table.

If you think thats impressive…
…check out the details!

There was a bring and buy over the weekend which let me grab some cheap stuff (Some Sov City Judges, a Dark Eldar Razorwing and the Hoards Rulebook for under £30 total). There was a charity raffle as well, which raised over £1000!

All in all, it just such a freeing experience, to know there was a large section of the community out there that were quite happy doing their own thing, free from larger companies machinations. It was a good weekend, where I experienced the wealth of gaming that’s out there outside the GW sphere, chatted with like-minded people and met an online friend for the first time. Then I introduced him to cider…

Oh and I met a cat.

Yes. Really.

I dunno about you, but I’ll be at Colours next year.

*I’m listening to a mixture of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie and Atari Teenage riot whilst typing this. You may start throwing insults of ‘Fucking Poser’ now.

**That will be another article all together, but for now, check out PMC 2640, it’s a good 15mm game.

***As I said, fucking poser.