(First an apology for the delay in posting this article. This is the second draft, the first having been held on the hard drive of a laptop machine belonging to a friend, that some dirty scrote decided to steal during a burglary on her home. Hence the delay, also I no longer have my notes taken during the day, and so I am unable to provide titles for some of the pics, so I would be very grateful if anyone presenting those games could mail me with the details and I will credit the pics)
Year of the Three Caesars
Speeding along the M6 at 8.30am on a Sunday morning I reflected on just how efficient our wonderful motorway systems can be. Even the numerous roadworks and contraflow systems imposed no delay to my journey. Oh happiness!
ECW Siege staged by the home club
I was on my way to the W.M.M.M.S. show at Alumwell. I visited it in 2002, and enjoyed the trip, and so I had high hopes for a happy few hours before I had to get home to allow my dear wife to go to work to earn some much needed dosh! I was setting off early in order to avoid the parking nightmare that I has witnessed in 2002, and which were threatened to be repeated this time if rumours were to be believed.
Bloody Business at Towton from the Lance and Longbow Society
The venue of the show is not imposing, a grey concrete school or community college built on the edge of a housing estate. The trade car park was full when I arrived, and as I drove past the trio of guys in yellow jackets putting out traffic cones. Another chap directed me past the school building into a playground where there was additional space for cars. This was OK for me, but the transit loaded with a display game echoed with swear words at the thought of the long haul around the building. Similarly a guy loaded with boxes bound for the bring and buy was not happy at the trek he faced.
Action from the "45
The main hall was a hive of activity as I went over to Lancashire games to confirm my arrival, and to check if my order of Vampire Wars blister packs had made their way to the show. They had, which is as well as Peter Rowley was planning to collect them from me for painting, so that is my boy's birthday present sorted!
The games were still being set up, and so I wandered upstairs to the cafeteria, a bit tatty maybe but the scene of a decent bacon buttie and mug of tea. In the upstairs small hall, I was impressed by the display from Touching History, of an SAS raid on a German desert airfield. I was also slightly disappointed though as I was hoping to see their French Indian Wars display, but maybe next time. I am not sure if it was coincidence or warped humour that placed the rival TM Terrain on the next table, not the Dave Marshall seemed too worried, and he tells me that order books for buildings, terrain and figure painting are healthy at the moment.
On a nearby table The Stoke wargames group presented a game based around the early WW2 desert campaign with a British motorised column assaulting at Italian garrison in Cyrenieca. The Terrain was simple but well executed. The figures were lovingly and immaculately painted, while the vehicles were simply wonderful. The game, and the models were inspired work and for me formed one of the real gems of the day.
At the end of the room the table were laid out for the bring and buy, and the crowds were already gathered around the slow trickle of lots appearing on the tables. As always it was very frustrating, why is it that the box you want to have a look at is always deposited at the other end of the stall, and by the time you get there the stuff you want has gone. This time it was a collection of Blandford uniform books labelled at £2 each, I asked to see them but I was in the wrong "zone", and by the time I got to the right "zone" a trader had snapped them up......*snarl*! Still such the joy of bring and buys, and I must not complain as I eventually came away totally skint and loaded with goodies. I did overhear a strange conversation though, something to do with wargamers deliberately not washing so their BO would drive away other buyers, ..... cheeky blighters!
Meanwhile in the main hall Vietnam was suprisingly popular, with two neighbouring tables carrying different displays. The first showed a US mechanised column pressing into Cambodia, and featured some exceptional models. The other, featured an extensive rural area with paddyfields, villages, and an American firebase, over which helicopter gunships boldly patrolled, a very impressive piece of work.
One of the pleasures of going to this show is that you get the chance to see the games presented by RAF Stafford. Last year it was the Slave Revolt of Spartacus, complete with galleys. This year it was a Darkest Africa game, and who ever had devised it obviously enjoyed reading boys own adventures. I have copied the game scenario below, as it illustrates an intriguing slant on the scramble for Africa and may remind some that wargaming can just be fun!
RAF Stafford's Colonial fun and games
The year of the Three Caesars was a superbly presented game, with huge armies of excellently painted models clashing across the tabletop. Tell me is it only me who finds that there is something remarkably impressive about imperial roman legions. I don't know what it is but they just look.....well so invincible! And I am not an ancient gamer.
Looking round the traders I noted a pile of new releases, and put in my usual plug for review samples, I will just have to see what arrives. Lancashire Games are about to release a range of 28mm 100 Years War, and the samples that I saw were really very good indeed, and of course extremely cheap. Alan also gave me a glimpse of a couple of the new Westwind releases, fantasy Dwarf Wars which are excellent.
Guards' Magnificent D Day Landing
I was also able to have a long discussion with Newbold Design, whose ads I have seen in Wargames Illustrated, but whose figures I had not had the opportunity to see close up. I have been given some review samples to I will detail our discussions in the write up.
Shrewsbury Wargames Society staged some post apocalyptic engagement with a brilliantly constructed ruined city inhabited by monsters and mutants of various kinds including Westwind Pumpkin Heads! I was also struck, again, by a Magnificent Seven western Gunfight, which had gangs of Mexican peasants chasing bandidos hacking at them with machetes. Loads of dice, groans of disappointment and chers when a bad guy bit the dust.....and lots of youngsters playing, thats what I like to see!
There was a superb display of models from local military modelling societies, including the "adult" figures mentioned last year. I was especially impressed by a collection of flats. I have always liked this style of model, well painted they are true works of art, and when I was a lad beginning in wargames I thought they were the ultimate figures to own. Sadly my own painting skills did not match the fine detail of the engraving, not a problem for the guys at Alumwell though.
There were rumours prior to the show that it would be cancelled, and some of the Internet chat rooms warned folk that the show may not happen. Happily I think these rumours had little or no effect on the attendance. They arose from problems with the local council who decided that they did not wish to rent out the venue at weekends. Luckily the Headmaster thought differently, and with three weeks to go agreed the hire, but it was touch and go. And I am told that problems still exist for the future.
This would be a pity, because Alumwell is a good show with the potential to become a great one. It is at the right time of year, it is in the right place both for access by road and geographically, and it has a large number of gamers in the immediate area. Unfortunately the venue itself is limiting the expansion of the event. car parking is a nightmare, and the internal layout causes problems. For example I noted a wheelchair user totally unable to move down one aisle for a long period of time, because the narrow passage between stalls was blocked by customers. This chap also told me that he had given up trying to get to the Bring and Buy as there did not seem to be a way upstairs (although I later discovered there is a lift, but it was not clearly marked). If the organisers can find a new venue in the same area, I think that this show could become one of the best in the country.
So long as the show is on, God willing, I will be there, Alumwell is a show well worth the visit, even if the trip back on a crowded motorway is a lot slower than the trip down!
Return to Wargames Forum Return to Around the Shows Return to What's New