I have said it before, so I may as well say it again, I like the Sheffield Triples. Oh just like everyone else I have my gripes, the overpriced pasties, the labyrinthine scattering of traders and displays over two multi floored buildings, and the very real problems finding a parking space on Saturday. But that said, there are always an excellent range of display games on show, a mass of traders old and new often displaying scores of new releases, and of course it is a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and opponents to discuss table top campaigns.
I was supposed to have been helping put on a display game for English Computer Wargames, and when I arrived the table was already set up thanks to Dave, Simon, and Paul who had stayed overnight on the Friday. The scenario was the early days of World War One and a German infantry company was advancing through the open fields of France, wondering what awaited them. The game could not start until the opposition, in the form of a BEF platoon arrived, so I was free to wander the show for the time being.
Actually my first action was to buy a cooked breakfast at the nearby café, which was excellent value even though it was heart attack on a plate. While chewing away I met up with Dave Lanchester from the Lance and Longbow society, who had arganised a display based on the battle of Shrewsbury 1403, where the forces of Henry IV met and defeated the rebel army of Harry Hotspur and his welsh allies. As always the display was very colourful, with the models displaying accurate heraldry and banners. I have in the past decribed Dave as “indefatiguable”, because of the number of shows up and down the country he attends on behalf of the Society as well as running the organisation as a whole, I will stick with that description until someone come up with a better one.
On the next table was a small but very nicely presented fantasy game, based on the Call of Cthulu stories of H P Lovecraft. If you have not read any of these stories, they are gothic horror of the darkest kind with overwhelming evil and dark monsters threatening mankind. In this game, presented by Wessex Wargames Club set 1928, a unit of US marines and Treasury Department agents raid the town of Innsmouth, after reports of smuggling, kidnapping, and strange occult ceremonies. They are in for a hard time as the townsfolk, mutants formed by inbreeding with evil sea creatures, and fanatical followers of the Order of Dagon fiercely oppose them, and they are supported by a Shoggoth. If you want to know what a Shoggoth is, read the books, or perhaps join the club that is based in Winchester and meets every Tuesday evening at the Badger farm Community Centre.
Over in the corner was another Fantasy game, this time a Warmaster conflict, with masses of Orcs, Dragons, and warriors hacking away at each other over a large table. The club, Copmanthorpe Conscripts , had pooled all their available models to produce 34, 000 points on table, producing a striking battle.
On the neighbouring tables were two reenactment societies, both of which presented displays that I personally think were a credit to them. One was a medieval group, the other was a Greek Hoplite society. Both spent a lot of time talking to customers, and especially with children, who were thrilled to be dressed in shirts of mail, or a closed hoplite helmet. These re enactors were friendly, and knowledgable and I feel added a interesting facet to the show that makes it slightly more “family” friendly than many shows, an important consideration as I have a couple of young kids. Now I know some wargamers hate reenactors, and see no benefit from them at all, and I am not going to engage in any sort of fruitless debate with them except to say, that you are far more likely to attract new members to our hobby by taking an inclusive view of military interest, rather than a small minded sad old git who plays with toy soldiers approach!
Travelling into the next room I spent some time wandering amongst the Traders, as usual Amazon were drumming up trade for their extensive mixture of the unusual and the exotic. They are still working on their new Araby range….think 1001 nights, flying carpets and genies, if up to the normal Amazon standard they should be worth waiting for. Across the room Fieldworks resincast buildings had their impressive display. I have tried in the past to get Fieldcast to advertise on Wargames Forum, but have been told that being a one man operation a large increase in sales is not yet sought. I understand this, you create a demand, but to meet it you have to increase your production costs, and if demand drops off big losses can ensue. This is a pity though as the models are first rate and a number are now available in painted form, at a very reasonable price, full details are available from J. T. Shuker, 3 Beedles Close Aqueduct, Telford, Shropshire, TF4 3AQ
Passing the exciting new releases from Vendel, as fast as I could (should have left My wallet at home), I met up with Trevor Dixon who passed me a selection of his new releases for review. I was also very taken by the excellent 1/76th scale metal models produced by MMS Models (check them out at www.mmsmodels.co.uk).
There were a number of games on display in this room all of which had some point of interest, and all had attracted the attention of visitors who happily joined in. I was taken by the Danish hero holding the bridge at Stamford, and the roulette wheel that replaced dice. Doncaster gamers presented Mars Attacks, based on the spoof sci fi film of that name. The models used were cheap looking toys and the terrain was basic, but all the players seems to be having great fun. The best game in the room though was the eye level English Civil war game presented by Brompton Bankers. This game saw a force of cavalry and infantry trying to force a river crossing. The game was interesting, fought in a relatively short time, well balanced, and featured lovely models and terrain.
The main hall was packed with games and traders, and it was good to see Lancashire Games displaying their latest 28mm Medieval range, the Front Rank Russians and Austrian Napoleonics, and Gripping Beast who always have a stack of goodies on display. (My credit card was really under pressure by now……then I found the Chelifer Books stall…then Pendraken with their 10mm 7 Years War…Oh Hell!) .
Despite the poor lighting in the main hall, there were plenty of fine games to be seen. A shining example was the beautiful Crimean War 28mm presented by Derby Wargames, with superbly painted figures and excellent terrain. COGS (Chesterfield Open Gaming Society) presented a Warhammer 40k game as I wandered past, although they were also offering another fantasy game throughout the weekend. The terrain and models were fine, but what was outstanding was the way in which members of this group actively encouraged youngsters to join in and to enjoy themselves (and some not so youngsters).
There were two massive 28mm Seven Years War games, the first a refight of the Battle of Lobositz 1756, where Frederick the Greats Prussians defeated the Austrians under Marshal von Browne, presented by The Ilkley Lads. As usual with these chaps the figures were superb and the terrain very realistic. The rules used were their favourite Piquet, and they were even running a free raffle to win a set of these rules.
The other game was presented by the Mossborough Wargames Club, and although the individual figures may not have been as finely finished as the first but the game itself was to my mind more exciting. This maybe because it was a refight of an action from a club campaign in which a heavily outnumbered British and Prussian force are cornered by a French Austrian army. Can the British and Prussians hold out until relieved by their Russian pals? Good question, and it certainly made for a superb display, fought out with gusto by a team of players who did not forget they were putting on a display, and were happy to brief the curious about the game details.
The Napoleonic Peninsular period was well represented by L’Ordre Mixte Club, who presented a 28mm refight of the battle of Sabugal, while close by The October Club from the West Midlands presented the Battle of Vittoria in 15mm fought using Tom Penn’s Principles of War rules. And Tom and Sue were present to see Wellington’s crowning glory turn into a bloody rebuff as the French threw the Allied columns back (yes I did say columns).
I was also drawn to the small Wargames Development 2 minute Trench warfare game, which seemed popular, and fun. And of a similar period the Senussi revolt was again being refought with IT models (stocked and produced by Lancashire Games), and it looked just as good as when seen at Reading! There was also a nice 15mm Vietnam game, but with no indication on the table who was presenting it, and no one available to tell me when I visited.
I did not spend much time in the Bring and Buy on the Saturday, it was simply too crowded when I got there. But I did visit on Sunday, and found the ladies as delightful as ever, and the men’s shirts a glaring crime on humanity. Unfortunately I had a slight contretemps with Mark the stall holder, but it seems that tempers were a bit frayed following an incident of harassment against one of the staff and a spate of petty thefts. Both are of course totally unacceptable. Harassment and discrimination of any kind is a disgrace, and I reckon should be dealt with immediately and effectively by show organisers, ejection from the show and a ban for the following year is a reasonable first step. As for theft, and apparently a number of the stallholders suffered in the same way, well it is a very sad that our hobby contains a number of criminals in our ranks who decide to steal from their colleagues in this way and bring show, organisers, and stall holders into disrepute.
To be honest I did not explore the other rooms in the basement area, which I should have done, and meant to. But having been loaded down with purchases from the Bring and Buy, I just had to go back to base. So along the corridor, up two flights of stairs, along the corridor, then another corridor, through the hall, through another corridor, and back to the table, (Where it was still all quiet on the Western Front).
I did make a point of going to the upper display rooms especially as that is where the Italian contingent were based, and I had made a point of contacting them in advance of the show to introduce myself. And it was a real pleasure to meet them, Lorenzo, editor of the wargames magazine …………….was my initial contact and it was very interesting to compare notes on the Italian and UK wargaming scene. The figures that were on display were fascinating, and I will be reporting on them in detail in a separate article. I was glad to see that their stalls had a slow but steady stream of visitors despite the far flung location.
Sharing the room were a few interesting games, there was a Napoleonic action, no particular battle I think, and a very interesting WW2 game. This was an action on the Russian front, a snow covered scene with a group of Soviet partisans and Red Army attempting to delay a German assault. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this game was the bottle of vodka which was used to provide fortifying shots to the players from time to time. I was on tenterhooks looking out for alcohol induced casualties.
For me though the most interesting game in this room was a helicopter borne special forces assault on a container ship containing terrorists. This attracted a steady stream of players and the Chesterfield Army Cadets, Bolsover Detachment are to be congratulated on their efforts.
While wandering around I bumped into Stephen Lloyd, a wargamer from Oldham, and a man with an admirable mission. His intention is to refight the Battle of Waterloo. So what, I hear you say, it’s been done before…..yawn yawn! BUT Stephen intends to fight it in 54mm. To this end he has been collecting 54mm models from a host of sources for years and he is getting closer and closer to achieving his ambition. I am hoping that I will be able to visit Stephen’s home during the summer and photograph a battle in his garden. In the meantime if you have any unwanted 54mm Napoleonic figures, especially cavalry Stephen would love to hear from you, and he can be contacted via the Forum using firstname.lastname@example.org
In the main upstairs room, there were a number of traders to be found, including Andy Dumelow, who relieved me of more cash for 15mm Napoleonics (sigh). The couple of games on show were sci-fi, and although no particularly attractive to look at certainly held the interest of the excited players. My apologies for not investigating the plastic modelling display, I only spotted the sign on the last day as we were packing up.
But the real jewel of the show was hidden away in the furthest room from the entrance. In here along with a couple of nicely presented sci fi games was to the found the simply astounding Monte Casino game presented by the Sherwood Wargamers. Deservedly this game won the best display of show trophy, and it has been the subject of a separate article in the Forum.
And did the action start on the ECW game? Yes indeed, the figures arrived on Sunday and the umpire moderated Kreigspiel ended in a total bladdering for the German Company who thought that column advance on a town defended by Lee Enfield armed Brits was a good idea!
New from Shell Hole Scenics, the Byzantine Church is superb!
So all in all a great weekend, slightly spoilt by a few little niggles. Triples is a terrific show, and a great place to meet up with old friends, so make sure it is in your diary.
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