My son and I travelled up through South London and decided to complete the journey via the Emirates Airline cable car over the Thames... this neatly brought us a few minutes walk from Excel and remarkably quiet. We had thought about doing the same on the way back, maybe combining it with a boat down the Thames, but there was a mahoosive queue so we reverted to Plan B and the crowded DLR. Well worth trying out the cable car if you're in the vicinity of the Excel or the O2 if you get the chance.
We arrived about 11-ish, having planned to get there earlier but still found a huge queue making it's way through the central concourse...rather cruel making wargamers take that much exercise we thought! Despite the length it all moved pretty quickly and we were in... I discovered this'll be the last year I get away with not paying for Callum...I'll have to leave him at home from now on!!
First thoughts were that it seemed busier this year... whether it was an increase in numbers or a change in layout, I'm not sure but there did seem to be a lot of people in the hall. I'd brought a camera along but, as usual, forgot to actually take many pics! Looking at other people's blogs they've been much more diligent than me. I'm also always struck by how many games I seemed to miss despite wandering around all day...maybe there comes a saturation point where they stop registering in my brain!
|The hall later in the day... it seemed even busier earlier on|
The games on show were of a universally excellent quality. Not too many seemed to suffer from my pet peeve of being overcrowded with figures. Games that stuck in my memory include the huge Waterloo game complete with a 1:1 scale Napoleon, the cloud-shrouded Victorian game where only the rooftops were visible, the Planet of the Apes game with the enormous (I'm guessing) Washington Monument and the Martian Skyships. Apologies to the various groups that put them on as I can't remember who did what! The range of laser cut MDF buildings seems to be growing rapidly and parts of the hall reeked of woodsmoke (which, lets face it, is a big improvement on the usual aromas!).
My shopping plan this year was (relatively) modest. I'd pre-ordered the In Her Majesty's Name rules a couple sets of figures (the Servants of Ra and the Scotland Yard set plus the assorted freebies from the 'Nickstarter' funding plan) from North Star and some 1:600 ACW ironclads from Peter Pig. I also picked up the latest Force on Force supplement which deals with Special Forces ops but had no other great plans. I nearly bought a box of the new Gripping Beast un-armoured Dark Age troops but eventually decided that, tempted as I was, I didn't really need them right now (I know...heresy... the Wargames Police will be round for me later!). I did, however, succumb to the temptation of Ironclad Miniatures lovely tunnelling machine which will be ideal for the IHMN steampunk style games.
Callum was also lured by the whole VSF steampunk thing as well but, having sensibly decided that the Northstar figures were a bit pricey, bought some of Ironclads Sanwar figures... these are apparently designed to be some kind of subterranean people/strange cultists/post-apocalyptic survivors ie. pretty useful in a range of games and really nice models. The whole VSF range that Ironclad produce are really nice and, I suspect, will become a handy addition to my Northstar figures. The range can be found here.... Ironclad Miniatures
I wasn't tempted by much more however and so managed to keep the spending to a reasonable level.
Sarissa and 4Ground have both turned out some really nice Victorian buildings for the impending Steampunk boom but mostly out of my price league I fear... I'm looking at card modelling as a more affordable option. The houses were very nice though, especially the Police Station which would be ideal for my Scotland Yard figures. The humongous Thanes Hall on display was also very impressive but waaay beyond my purse!
|The Police Station from 4Grounds Whitechapel to Baker Street range...|
lovely model even though it's in an odd shade of pink
|The mahoosive Thane's hall from 4Ground... |
how many teddy bears died to make the roof???
So, all in all I was very impressed by the day. The games were impressive as always.... The level of creativity is always inspiring and the games seemed better this year at avoiding my usual gripes of lack of 'punter engagement' and too much figure clutter on the table. The participation games were pretty chockablock so we didn't manage a game but neither of us minded too much.
|The excellent terrain for the 'In Her Majesty's Name' game... |
I missed the flying car overhead!
Somehow I managed to completely miss the Bloggers Gathering at 1pm... I think I was distracted by a very tasty Salt Beef Bagel out in the concourse... maybe next year!!