Upon leaving the house this morning it looked as if 2015 had decided to skip past the rest of spring, and summer in that case and get on with Autumn. The sky was grey, the air was cold and the rain just kept pouring down. However, I was in a positive frame of mind because today was April 25th, and it was finally time for SALUTE 2015. I also strengthened my resolve by remembering that the event is held indoors, so rain do your worst, today was going to be a good day.
I reached Excel in good time. Crowds of people were already gathering, and as I paced down the café strewn walkway of the internal corridor, I noticed that there were in fact 4 different conventions taking place. Along with SALUTE and the annual London Marathon registration (these two always seem to run in conjunction) there was a pharmaceutical conference, and a convention for the modern BBC1 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.
As I approached the entrance for SALUTE; I noticed that unlike past events that I have been to, we were not required to queue outside, they had arranged a waiting area inside one of the hangers, and with the doors to the main event open, allowing a glimpse into the honey pot, and the golden treasure the lay inside. After half an hour waiting in my place within the queue, I was ready to gaze and new sculpts, play new games, and spend obscene amounts of money (well maybe not the latter), I was in total geek mode.
Once they had finally let slip the dogs of war, I made a head long rush, straight to the Southern Warlords stand to book my models into the painting competition. Each year I fool myself into thinking I can paint to a good standard, so scoop up my most recent pieces, and proffer them to the SALUTE judges, hoping that I might get a mention, a slip of recognition. But then I see the other entries and think, ‘Wow, I still have a long way to go.’
My next port of call was the ‘Hasslefree Miniatures’ stand to get some new Dwarf female warriors for a new work in progress, and a copy of their Female Greatsword (an excellent sculpt that would work well as an Empire Captain). I also picked up a few other models I liked because it’s got to be done really. Next stop was ‘Black Scorpion Miniatures’ they had a lovely sculpt of a witch with a cat familiar which I have wanted since I saw it on their website last year.
After this flurry of purchasing, it was definitely time for a game. I had spotted the ‘Lords of War’ stand in the corner near the entrance, and having enjoyed an introductory game in 2013, and subsequently forgotten the rules, I decided to see if someone would like to shake the rust out of my system with another game. A very friendly young lady sat me down and we had a round of ‘Templars Vs Undead’ I was happy with this choice as I had backed the kick starter for this particular version a while ago, then not played with me boxed set. The game at the intermediate level is quick to pick up, it is fun and very addictive. I enjoyed the game so much that I bought one of the special battle mats to start using my own cards upon, as it is definitely a game I’m going to get into. ‘Black Box Games incidentally are running a new kick starter, which is an expansion to their ‘Elves Vs Lizardmen’ set. After today, I think I’m going to making a pledge.
Next up was lunch, I met up with two good friends Nick and Marc. We try to meet regualry at SALUTE, have lunch and go through our early purchases, it was pleasant as always and we chatted about the demise of the ‘Warhammer Fantasy World’ among many hobby related topics.
My post lunch amble around the bustling avenues of the SALUTE arena, was a flurry of window shopping and photo opportunities. I saw Dani Abrams ‘artist. comic book creator and war gaming guru’ who does some work with ‘Beasts of War’. I follow her on twitter and asked if I could take her picture, and she kindly allowed me to do so. Next I saw Alex Huntley the creator of the brilliant skirmish game ‘Arcworlde’, I back his kickstarter a while ago and received some beautiful sculpts in return.
Then a sign caught my eye ‘Crooked Dice Game Design Studio’, I was intrigued to know what they did. I approached the stall and got talking with the wonderful Helena Nash, who told me that they make games based on cult TV programs such as ‘Doctor Who’, and ‘Blake 7’. (two of my childhood favourites). Helena told me about one game in particular, 7th Voyage which is a table top game set in the world of classic stop motion mythic/fantasy films such as ‘Arabian Nights.’ There is an expansion book available that brings ‘Robin Hood,’ and ‘King Arthur,’ into the fold. It turns out that Helena is the games developer for this particular system, and I was eager to try it out. After a game of trying to get Robin and his merry men out of a castle town surrounded by the sheriff and his men, I was hooked and bought the rule book and expansion straight away. If you’re looking for a new game to try then you should certainly give this company a try: http://www.crooked-dice.co.uk/wp/
Over all I had a really great time as SALUTE which made up for recent difficulties in everyday life. The escapism of war gaming has such a stress relieving quality, it would be good if they could bottle it up, but for the time being I’ll have to make do with shows like this.
Something else to look for in the coming months is a game called ‘Frostgrave’ by ‘North Star Military Figures’ and ‘Osprey Games’. This is a game in which wizards steadily build up a warband as they battle and search for lost treasure. A funding event for this will start in May and will be worth watching out for: http://www.nothstarfigures.com