SALUTE 2018

Hello MoD’ers,

It is three days now since SALUTE 2018 finally took place and as always it was an excellent show. I arrived early as usual and nabbed a ‘decent’ place in the queue. From here I planned my day, the first stop was to be the ‘Badsquiddo Games’ stand then the ‘Northumbrian Tin Soldier’ and ‘Warploque Miniature: Arcworlde’ stalls to make some early purchases. I eagerly eyed up the speed painting tables at the front of the hall, but quickly struck that idea from my list, as I was wearing my new ‘Dr Who’ T-shirt and it is white, I don’t want any paint flecks on that quite yet.

When the doors officially opened our horde of game obsessed hobbyists swept into the arena ready to spend our hard earned pennies on small plastic figurines and any available accoutrements. I made it to Annie Norman’s ‘Badsquiddo Games’ where they were still setting up and yet mobbed by eager enthusiasts. Eager both to chase up a mail order for her delightful mounted shield maidens, and to purchase some more that I had not noticed when I had made my initial purchase on their website, I was greeted by a friendly lady that was assisting Annie. They allowed me to take my mail order away with me and gave a great show price for the amazing mounted hearth guard models I had found, they are really lovely models, and my current photo does not do them justice.

Whilst speaking with the helpers at Annie’s stall I learned of a game that they are developing, one that I know my little girl will absolutely love: ‘Gunnypeegs’ a rather intriguing Bunny Vs Guinea pig war game. I believe there is going to be a kickstarter for this, I will keep you posted. I bought a pack of the pigs and bunnies that are currently available.

After this I went on the hunt for the ‘Northumbrian Tin Soldier’ and promptly, somewhat fortuitously got lost, finding instead the ‘Macrocsom’ stand. These guys recently completed a kickstarter for a wargame that involved skeletal Dwarves Vs skeletal Goblins, finances stopped me getting involved but I could not help but notice some fully fleshed dwarves, in WW1 Russian uniforms riding upon sturdy looking ponies. My eyes then drifted from this shelf to one just below which was populated again my troops from WW1, the were Goblins resplendent in German uniforms and Halflings representing the British ‘Tommy’. I just had to have a pack of the furry foots Brits. These minis come from their Weird War range, when I spoke with the stall holder (I apologise as I have forgotten his name) he told me that they hope to have a kickstarter for this range, it will be called ‘Mud Fields’ along the line of their previous campaign. He also said that he hoped to include a fourth race, possibly Turkish Orcs. This is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

SALUTE is a very popular convention, I go whenever I can, work has a habit of getting in the way, but I am glad I made it this year. However this makes it a very busy tiring day, and the temptation to spend is everywhere, within the first hour and half I had spent £116.00 on various stalls, including ‘Barwell Bodyworks’ and ‘Coritani’ for basing and scenery goods. By midday I felt ready to leave, but with still so much to see and do, I stuck it out and I glad I did, as I watched an interested demo game of ‘Drowned Earth’ as dystopian future skirmish game, and spoke with the developers of ‘Death Match’ and gladiatorial game which entails fighters from several races fighting each other (naturally) but also working together to take on large monsters that are released into the arena, such as the wonderfully sculpted ‘Sky shark’.

I meandered through the central aisle looking at the wares at various merchant stands, when I noticed the ‘Crooked Dice’ 7TV stall and gaming tables. This is a games system that is based upon cult TV series. I played this a couple of years ago at Salute when the game on show was a variation on ‘Robin Hood’, this time the game based upon ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and I just had to get involved. The last time I played this system I bought it straight afterwards, but sadly failed to play it again which is a shame as it is a really fun system with some innovative game mechanisms that can really turn events upon their head. During this game I had control of Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo, I managed a difficult jump with Raphael placing him in a crowd of ‘Foot’ warriors with ‘The Shredder’ but Raph had a disguise kit and could not be attacked. When the Foot warriors left the vicinity Raph removed his disguise and charged Shredder, using his character skills of ‘Temper’ and ‘Ninjitsu’ he stunned the and put shredder out of the game. It was a bold and unusual move which took an otherwise dangerous opponent off the board. This is the 2nd edition of 7TV it runs more smoothly than the previous version and needless to say, I bought the new version then and there.

By the end of the day I was really exhausted, the soles of my feet felt bruised and battered, as did my wallet, now I face the long wait until SELWG in the autumn, which may be the next time I can get my hobby on.

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Four have fun in Chelters…

I had the recent opportunity to take a trip down to Cheltenham to visit my older brother Daniel and his wife and child (Ruth and Oscar). Daniel and Oscar both enjoy a bit of fantasy gaming, and have a small collection of Warhammer Fantasy figures. I had toyed with the idea of taking a small force of Dwarfs from my collection to put their armies to the test in a three way skirmish. However I remembered that I have been trying out some alternatives to Warhammer, and decided to carry something that is quite a bit lighter, but still loads of fun; Lord of War.

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In my earlier posts I have spoken about this card based skirmish game, as I have backed the kickstarter campaigns that they have launched to get the game of the ground, and make improvements. There are currently three box sets that feature six races Dwarfs, Orcs, Elves, Lizardmen, Templars and Undead. There are also some booster sets and other accoutrements that assist with and enhance game place, such as the foam battle mat. The basic rules to the game are really easy to pick up; and as you improve the advanced rules and boosters sets come into play, maintaining the enjoyment of the game.

On my first day in Cheltenham; Daniel took me to a local pub called ‘The Sandford Park Ale House,’ which an excellent establishment, that serves a wide variety of beers crafted around the UK and beyond, they also serve some really tasty food; specialising in a great selection of cheeses. They are also wheel chair friendly which is good for Daniel. We found a free table, ordered our first round and I cracked out the card, I had opted to take my ‘Templars Vs Undead’ card to the pub as they are in plastic card protectors and I did want any errant spills damaging my game. I read the rules to Daniel, and then showed him how to play, as I had been shown by the ‘Black Box Games’ team that were at SALUTE this year. After three pints of ale, a large plate of cheese and a bowl of chips, we had played about four games in three hours. We used both races twice each, and I beat Daniel each time, although I have to admit having played on two occasions previously, I had a bit of an advantage.

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When we returned to Daniel’s home, Oscar was back from school; Ruth was cooking up a roast pork meal, the smell of which had me salivating when we entered the door. Daniel went for a rest, and I offered Oscar a couple of games with the ‘Dwarfs Vs Orcs’ pack, we got one and a half games in before Ruth wanted to serve up, I won the first but the unfinished game was declared a draw as we had both eliminated 10 cards including two characters. Oscar enjoyed the game so much he wanted to go and buy a set on our way to the coach station the following evening.

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The next day Oscar showed me his largely unpainted figure collection, he has some lovely rare metals in there, finds at local auctions apparently. I suggested that we could do some painting that morning, and upped the stakes by challenging Daniel, Ruth and Oscar to a speed paint session. We all chose a figure we wanted to paint, I set up the table, and after Daniel finished having a natter with our Mum on SKYPE, the hours painting session started. As usual with these things the time flew by, Oscar finished his figure (A High Elf Sea Guard) before the time limit ended, while the three oldies were left wanting more time.

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In all I though good efforts were made by everyone taking part. We all had a look at the figures and discussed them, and then it came down to me to pass judgement. Daniel came 4th with his Wood Elf Scout, Oscar was awarded 3rd place for his High Elf, Both Ruth and I had that little extra detail on our figures that made them stand out. However, given that I have more painting experience, and was judging; I declared that Ruth had won with her Chaos Warrior. So my Orc (Whom I had decided was a Chaos Orc) took 2nd place.

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So I had a fantastic weekend visiting family, and got some hobby time in too.

I’ve had some really nice beers since my last post, the dark ales I drank at the ‘Sandford’ were beautiful, but my pick of the most recent ones has to be:

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A nice strong dark ale, perfect for a slow drink whilst you paint you figures, but at 6% make sure you don’t imbibe too many.

My day at SALUTE 2015

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.

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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.

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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

Events update…

Hello MODers,

Yes I know, I seem to have gone post mad, this being my third in April.

I just wanted to say that having missed SALUTE 2014 because of work, and having being told ‘No,’ when I asked about going to Norwich for the day for ‘Diceni’ my wife not the most understanding about anything Geek related, I am all the more determined to make it to SELWG 2014 on October 12th 2014, I’m not scheduled to work and it’s London based.

I missed SELWG last year and although it is not as big as SALUTE; I feel that it is somehow warmer, friendlier than its counterpart. There are a good number of traders, demo and participation games and of course the bring and buy sale. It is held at Crystal Palace in the National Sports Centre, between 10:00 – 16:00 and only costs £6 entry fee, so if I manage to sell some old gear, I can cover my costs easily. I am totally focused on trying to make this event, if I get there you can expect a post and plenty of pictures.

Here’s some from 2012:

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Kickstarter up-date

Hello MODers,

I had a nice suprise waiting for me when I got home today, my ‘Lords of War’ kickstarter reward arrived, a pack of the new ‘Templars Vs Undead’:

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I first played this turn based, strategy card game at Salute 2013 with the ‘Dwarf VS Orcs’ set. This was fun but I did not get around to buying a set, since then ‘Black box games’ have release a ‘Elves Vs Lizardmen’ set and now the kickstarter set. Sadly I don’t get to game very often these days, but hope I’ll get some use out of them. In the mean time feast your eyes on these cards:

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Events of note

Hi MoDers,

Hope all is well.

Just thought I’d drop a quick post about some rather good fantasy / historical / gaming type of events planned in the UK this year. This is not a concise list, just four that I either attend regularly, have attended in the past, or plan to attend in the near future.

The first up is not too far away, and I may not get there due to work commitments. However Saturday 12th April 2014 see SALUTE 2014 at London Excel. I have been to Salute since about 2004, when my very dear friend Nik Green of ‘Grumpy old tin’ introduced me to the convention that is a huge mix of stalls, participation games, demo / display games, people dress as all sundry characters from Storm Troopers to Cybermen. Salute run organised and staffed by the ‘South London Warlords’ is a heady mixed of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, with a good pinch of historical for an all-rounded atmosphere. There are painting stands and the official painting competition. And I should not forget the bring and buy sale good opportunity of making some dough or picking up a bargain or two. This will be the first Salute that Nik does not attend as he has moved to Austria, but if I can go I should be able to catch up with to other regular attendees and good friends Nick and Marc, this is them at a previous Salute:

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http://www.salute.co.uk/salute/salute-2014/salute-2014-tickets/

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Hot on the heels of Salute comes DICENI on Sunday 4th May at the Forum in Norwich. I have not been to this one yet, so cannot wax lyrical about it, however it seems to have the same reliable mix found at Salute and I’m sure is just fun to attend, I really want to go, Mrs Mug ‘O’ Dice might think its too many conventions to close together and I’m already too much of a Geek already, apparently:

http://www.diceni.co.uk/

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Next up is less a games convention an more of a live action experience involving knights, cavaliers and world war soldiers, there is a good mix of games and competitions and what best is it takes the whole weekend, I am ofcourse writing about the FAYRE TIMES FESTIVAL 2014 held on September 20th – September 21st at The Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey. As well as the usual mix of vendors and hobby displays you can watch battle take place and take part in an Archery contest. It is a great family day out so work had better not get in the way this time:

 

http://www.fayretimesfestival.co.uk/

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Finally we are back to the indoor conventions with SELWG 2014 which is held at Crystal Palace on 12th October. I have been to this and although it is not as big as Salute, I feel it is somewhat more cosy, there is still a good amount of traders and demo games, but at the end of the day you will have done the rounds a few times and not have the feeling that you are somehow missing something that can accompany your departure from Salute. The bring and buy is here too as it is the South East London War Gamers who organise it:

http://www.selwg.org/

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There are of course other conventions, events and tournament that I’m sure are equally as much fun. If you can think of any then please feel free to comment.