Saluting trade exploration

Posted by  | Sunday, April 17, 2011  at 3:30 PM  

The annual wargaming event Salute was staged at London's ExCel exhibition centre on Saturday 16th April.

After hauling my bony butt from the comfort of my quilted coffin, I met up with Frogprince and Geekgirl before beginning our expedition to attend this prestigious trade show widely considered to be a calendar highlight for everybody in the wargaming industry.

Aside from Black Library Live last month it is the first event I've attended in a long time. It is the first trade fair event of its kind I have ever been to. I have not made it to a Games Day since the 1990's. UK Gen-Con is an event which I have participated in maybe as recently as 7 or 8 years ago, but assuredly none of these experiences has been quite like Salute. Funnily enough Black Library was present. As were a myriad of British merchants and manufacturers from around Europe.

Our product exploration was a spur of the moment decision. I have known of the event for quite some time and always fancied going. An old friend of mine and his fiancee said they fancied it too so off we went!

One of the big attractions at an event like Salute is new releases. There are a number of exclusive items available for the first time on the day. Some manufacturers go so far as selling items that have been produced exclusively for the show. I should have liked to mention something of it in advance as a few folk have since indicated they'd have liked a few exclusive show items if we had been able to pick them up. One to consider for next time.

The organisation of online sales for retailers is questionable! Some have what I consider poor web pages or site that are unfriendly to navigate. I spoke to a couple of companies who either admitted to having no web presence or they had poor web sites. There were too many flyers being handed out. One flyer was for Citadel components and the company name was Bits Box who (in their own words) don't have much stock right now. Time wasters! They don't have a webstore being as this was a different firm to Bitz Box who do have a great web site and periodically update their stock.

What was brilliant about Salute was viewing all the magnificent stuff close-up for real and wrestling with decisions over what to buy and whether to buy it or not. For instance I went to one trade-stand with the intention of making a purchase, then ended up being blown away by another tradestand ran by some very talented Polish guys. Micro Art Studio make bases that are so characterful that they stand a bloody good chance of upstaging the miniatures that you would be sticking on to them! I picked up some samples to work with for my upcoming gang projects from their Battle Bases range. Browsing through their online store I am now being tempted to order some graveyard themed bases in addition to these wood-planked ones. While at the stand I even joked to MAS staff that we could try fighting opponents using just these attractive bases with no warriors on them!

For sure there is a varying amount of (crap!) detail on a number of these Micro Art Studio bases. They are open to a lot of interpretation when being painted. For instance there is a futile amount of effort that has gone in to painting the bases which were on display at the show. It does not help buyers that there are no miniatures planted on them because that leaves zero impression of their end value. That is stupid guys, really stupid!

We didn't attend the show for any of the games being ran. A few hard-sellers were cajoling me to invest time on games demos and part with my gold crowns on their products but nothing new has peeked my interest in that sense. There are trillions of games in the market to investigate and a lot of interesting ideas. Convention marketplaces and online shopping trends have loosened the hold of the ivory tower presence Games Workshop commands from the high street. The gaming giant has to perform like never before to maintain its market share with serious contenders chomping at the bit.

There were a couple of marvelously sculpted ranges of pirate miniatures featuring tasty tricorn-hatted femme fatales and swashbuckling freebooters from Black Scorpion and Freebooter miniatures respectively. Unfortunately a lot of these high fantasy products come across as being too cheesy for my gritty tastes, and by that I mean fantasy formats where comedic license fails to balance itself. A lot of the work I saw was cute. It lacked in edge.

I did bear witness to camaraderie between artists when one miniature designer stood present 'swapping' his latest releases with the staff on another traders stand! That was a cool moment from the event.

The contrast between real and unreal factions at Salute really stretches the brain. Alongside established historical publications are a mind-boggling array of fantastical realms to keep up with. Weird looking creatures packaged in boxes or blister-packs fill the many racks of vendors. Menageries of strange imaginary beasts being referred to by differing titles, some worryingly familiar, some not at all. We failed to find any Fimir and there was a zero count on Werelions.

While there were a number of really impressive historical gaming set ups, I was not awestruck by any of them. Certainly not after reading reports from European events such as my co-conspirator Cianty's experience at Hamburger Tactica 2011. You can see read his report here.

There was a severe lack of decent terrain on sale of any kind. While disappointing this saved me a lot of money. I have already amassed a quantity of custom built scenery on top of cobbling together some of my own items for my Marienburg adventure. Maritime accessories were few and far between. Between the crest of the waves I did spot some handy looking crates and grain sacks to decorate a wharf on Luydenhoek Isle.

Ultimately, my existing back log is wicked enough that I resisted the urge to go crazy around Salute snapping up all the shiny releases I liked the look of from a few of what I considered the best quality producers. Acting on impulse I did walk away with the new Marienburg Land Ship though. Frogprince eventually bagged himself the Chaos Dwarf Hellsmith after braving the horrible queues in the mad scrum which signifies the arrival of Forgeworld.

Fire dwarfs

Posted by  | Monday, April 4, 2011  at 9:15 PM  

As introductions go, this isn't going to be very good, for which I apologise but I would just like to set the scene. I am currently sat in Stu 'Werekin' Cresswell's flat typing on his laptop while he is in another room with my fiancee (Michelle 'geekgirl' Steele) and a mutual friend of ours from Canada. Imaginatively* he is called Canada by all his British friends. The reason I am saying this is because they are all settling down with toy soldiers and dice to play the bar room brawl scenario Last Orders! from the previous supplement Border Town Burning, and patiently waiting for me to finish typing up this post and geek out with them. This, along with the glass of rum sat here with me, might explain a lot about this post.....

*The trend was set by Eddy 'Skarloc' Morgan.

As an avid fan of Forgeworld miniatures, word has reached me of a certain show only model for this years events trail. A certain Chaos /Black/Fire Dwarf Hellsmith .

Fire Dwarfs have a certain amount of nostalgia for me as not only were they the first real, new warband I had the fortune to be playtesting (The Black Dwarfs for the BTB campaign previous) but also my first attempt at contributing some serious writing to the Mordheim tapestry (I don't think the aborted Snotling Freedom Fighters warband really counts!) in the form of the Hobgoblin Wolfrider Hired Sword.

Roll back time a little bit to September and a certain event at Birmingham's NEC. Once again at the Forgeworld tradestand (or to be more specific, Warhammer Forge) and a number of models catch my eye. The second of which, surprisingly, are the Dwarfs of Chaos. First, though, is the Marienburg Landship. It's a big model so was pretty hard to miss! Having been suitably impressed with this nautical themed resin artefact I noticed a number of smaller models around it. These were much smaller, being dwarfen in stature, and bearded but not the common kind. These were braided and they had distinctive silly hats on!

Now I have been in the hobby for some time. About 15 or so years (on and off) behind the paintbrush, so I remember the Chaos Dwarfs of old. Unfortunately due to lack of forethought stupidity on my part I no longer have any of my miniatures from way back then which did include some plastic, once piece Chaos Dwarfs and a Sorcerer, who may even have been a Lord, so the opportunity to get my paws on a small armies worth without the excessive cost some Ebay sellers charge for the privilege is most welcome! It also means I get the chance to use them again in my games of Mordheim, as I no longer have my original warband used for playtesting.

Now I am known for my love of ratkind in Mordheim, however, I will say that the Black/Fire Dwarfs warband is probably one of the most fun I have played with. Especially using the Bull Centaur, he is a close combat monster! There is something about the warband when you are playing a game that really draws you in to the feel of the game and that, for me, is the sign of a great warband.

Now I really must go, a Cathayan Dragon Monk has just spilled a Strigany River Pirate's drink, there are strange squeaking sounds coming from the latrines and the Elven Minstrels have stopped playing their music while our glasses are refilled...........

Popular items

Posted by  | Friday, April 1, 2011  at 1:30 AM  

Beta-testing for an exciting selection of new warbands is happening now. There have been some fantastic suggestions made and recommendations submitted. Thanks for sending those through to us. There needed to be a lengthy gestation period for determining various new factions due to ongoing research, plot development, and the planning of accessible new rules which tie everything neatly together for the ultimate campaign experience. However, the wait to find what warriors are hot property is finally over. Subject to last minute corrections I can reveal what the new warbands are, which is easier than informing the community one by one when replying to PM's and emails. It is officially time to spill the beans on the maritime crew which proved to be the most popular. These are the gangs of Marienburg.

River Pirates: Some attractive looking gypsies, these exiles of Strigoi appeared on Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum this month courtesy of Eliazar and more Strigany gypsies are being showcased courtesy of Shel 'geekgirl' Steele. Strigany river pirates already look set to become a popular choice in Mordheim and Marienburg campaigns for many years to come.

Fimir: Denizens of the fens surrounding the port-city Marienburg. Marsh dwelling daemon-cyclops recently returned to fore in the latest edition of the Warhammer rulebook! Fimir are the only creatures to have their own Warhammer Armies category on ebay under selling options which aren't represented in the contemporary range of releases (see screen image above detailing 'popular items' on ebay). Start collecting now before they retreat to the murky depths of their natural habitats for another twenty years! Oh, and check out this warband WIP thread on Tom's.

Fishmen: Aquatic mutants are not uncommon in the Old World. It's just that the numerous official reports (of octopoid-women and men-with-gills) made by river patrols along the Reik have since been treated as 'classified'. If you fancy converting a Hero with a large pair of tentacles then this is the warband for you. Another warband WIP thread is up for your viewing pleasure.

Albioners: Men from Albion keep to themselves. Heck, there was only one Albion warrior-wizard sociable enough to make an appearance in the Dark Shadows campaign. With continued interest in the distant shores of this mystical island it was only a matter of time before these alcoholic barbarians became ambitious enough to set foot on Imperial soil. Bringing the finest malt whiskey in the world with them from Loch Lorm.

Gnomes: There is a ton of lore on them! Expect to see toadstool guardians popping out of the ruins and all kinds of dangerous gnomic experimental weaponry being sold on the black market.

Zoats: An old favourite amongst collectors is a rare scaled centauroid. Zoats never really went away. They've been hidden in plain view all along what with their possessing an uncanny knack of blending in with any terrain found packed away in shoeboxes at the bottom of wardrobes.

Stoats: Waterfront-weasel warbands featuring aquatic cousins to the Skaven. These otter-like alternative beasts of Chaos are being referred to by one pie-eyed Imperial scholar as 'Skroats'.