It is that time of year again when I make my pilgrimage to Salute at Excel. In some ways I find the show too big to enjoy, but it is the venue where many new releases appear and you can get a feel for what is ‘hot’ in the hobby. In addition, Elaine and I always go up to London the night before and take in a show or exhibition. This year we saw the Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain on the Friday afternoon. For me, Hockney can be a bit ‘hit-or-miss’; I really like his California pool paintings and his ‘Four Seasons’ video installation was spectacular. I’m not keen on his early work but I thought his recent iPad paintings were an interesting use of modern technology. In the evening we went to see Travesties by Tom Stoppard at the Apollo, starring Tom Hollander. We last saw this play in 1980 which makes me feel very old indeed! I had forgotten how good a playwright Stoppard is, particularly his early works which are crammed full of ideas, allusions and verbal playfulness. At the end you want to dash to your bookshelf and re-read the text to catch those moments you missed in the performance. Of course this revival related to the centenary of the action set in Zurich in 1917.
Salute also had a 1917 theme. There were a few Russian Revolution demo games, but I was disappointed that the theme was not as strong as I expected (especially as the Russian Revolution is of interest to me as a wargame setting). In fact, I must confess that I found the standard of demo games this year to be less spectacular than previous years. Although the games were good and of high quality, I cannot think of any that stopped me in my tracks and left me stunned with admiration. From memory the best demo game I saw was Mosquito Coast by Dalauppror, there was also a WW2 Japanese game and a large SYW game that left an impression on me. I am not going to give a photo montage of the show because there are many others who do this better than myself and a selection of these can be found via the TMP website. Small games demonstrating particular rule sets seem to be proliferating at the moment, allowing people to sample a game and observe how a game plays before purchasing. Maybe this downsizing of games reflects a degree of austerity finally hitting the wargame sphere? I did not get any feel for what is hot, or upcoming, with regard to the hobby from this year’s show. I thought that the release of FOWv4 would be dominant, but this was not the case. There was some interest around zombie cowboys, and a fantasy sports themed game (Guild Bowl?), but neither of these appealed to me. I enjoyed wandering around, chatting to friends and examining stalls, but I did not feel drawn or pressurised in to making unplanned purchases. My haul is shown below:
I did buy a copy of Battlegroup Tobruk, even though I have previously stated that the codex’s for Battlegroup were not worthwhile (see blog post: Oct 2016). I succumbed because I have some 10mm FOW armies which I want to get on the table, and none of my friends planned to buy this codex, so I cannot simply borrow the volume. I also got a copy of the new version of Blitzkrieg Commander. I have not played BKC recently, but I liked the rules back then and my old copy was getting a bit threadbare. On a spontaneous whim, I bought the fantasy version of Sword and Spear (not quite sure why), and a copy of Bag the Hun by Too Fat Lardies. In addition, I bought a 3’x3’ mousemat desert terrain mat from Deep-Cut Studios for use with my Dead man’s Hand rules. I was very impressed by these mats and a show is the place to buy to avoid Postage/Packing costs. As you can see from haul, I did not purchase any miniatures (apart from a couple of freebies) – I was not inspired. My lead pile is very low, so I will have to go online and spend some more dosh in the near future.