The organisers like the idea of a "History Zone", so we were buried in with "Lance and Longbow" and the like. We were covering the Northampton Battlefield Society, the Naseby Project and the Society of Ancients (Battlefields Trust were there in their own right). Consequently we had quite a spread, and could have done with more volunteers. Above you can see our participation game and the NBS "shop"
Due to the layout our weapons display was on the opposite side of the zone. Not ideal...
..and the Naseby display was on a separate island of tables. Personally I do not like the History Zone. I prefer to have things a bit more mixed up, with traders, Societies and display games all mixed in for variety.
We had an odd day. Last year we ran the game 12 or so times (although a good proportion of those was Jerry from WD). This year it was 3 or 4, - people did not want to stop and play. Of those that did we had a high play to sales conversion rate, which is good.
As we're in the 28mm lead belt the production of the display games was of a uniform standard. There's a way of doing these now, - carved terrain, figures painted in a certain way. The team running it in uniform t-shirts, or even in uniform. It all looks lovely. When I was small most holidays included a trip to a model railway display, and I always wanted to play wargames on the beautiful terrain boards. That's where the public side of the hobby now seems to be.
I may be being unfair but I didn't seem a lot of innovation in game design or mechanisms used. Anyway, on with the eye-candy.
Across the way from us Blitzkrieg Miniatures had an epic D-Day landing game. They took terrain to a whole new level by embedding the landing craft into the game board, so retreat was not an option. They had matching t-shirts and seemed to be having a great time.
On the other side was this big chariot game. The players all had coloured hats to identify what chariot they were driving. The game seemed to include alligators and the odd pitch invasion to liven it up. My initial thought was that if you need to do something to liven up chariot racing you're probably doing it wrong anyway.
Also near us was this game. It's a set of rules to play with primitive people near Earth's Core. Or something. The two you lads running it did their best but had very few takers, despite it having Warlord Game figures.
It was fun to see a tie-in game for the classic "Wild Geese" movie, with a nicely beaten up Dakota on the corner of the table. I put this in as it's a more "traditional" piece of table lay out, obviously using pieces that can be re-used for other games (look at the road) unlike the D-Day game above.
The Sheffield Boys were there doing their excellent 6mm game, based on the British army's 1940 tactical manual. If you get a chance to play this you should.
The FOW WW1 game was being peddled by a local group. One of our team got suckered in for a game. His conclusion: "It's all right".
Simon Miller's "To the Strongest" always makes me wish I had the time to take part in a game. I like how he does the game board so you can't see it's being done on squares. I don't like the cards. He should use those little tiles I have for Op14.
This game intrigued me. They've done the unit stat cards as a customised professionally printed deck of playing cards. Looked great. Shame they didn't texture the mdf unit trays
And then there's this game with a big submarine. Who doesn't like that?
In addition there was the usual collection of "Very British Civil War" games (Why?), the Discworld Witch racing, and several games with 40mm figures, although they looked more like 45-50mm. Is there no scale with scale creep issues?
As ever it was also a chance to catch up with old friends, including MR Peter Berry of Baccus 6mm (the only true 6mm figures. He told me so himself). It is always good to chew the fat with Pete and admire whatever he has recently been up to. Truly, if he made 28mm figures he'd be spoken of in the same tones as the Perry Twins.
Alas Pete had some sad news. I've known Pete for nearly 40 years now (!) since I met him at University, just as he graduated. His year had a strong group of wargamers, and together with several from my year we all went on to join the English Civil War society. Although I haven't seen many of them for a long time, I still look back on that group really fondly. Sadly, one of that number died recently. That's a shocker. Pete is only a few years older than me, and to lose someone of the same age is a great sadness. The person concerned, Ian Lewis, was a keen wargamer and cricketer, and one of those I always intended to look up if I had the time. Now it's over 30 years since we last met, and now I won't have that chance. As John Donne said:
No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;it tolls for thee.