Misc., Wargame Shows, Falkirk
The start of May is Carronade time – the second-largest wargame show in Scotland. it’s held in a school, and despite having dreadful parking and some of the unhealthiest food on the show circuit its always a fun event. My favourite part is the way you can’t move more than a few yards without bumping into people you know, and the place is full of little knots of wargamers chatting away amid the display games and trade stands. I really like the friendly atmosphere of Carronade. Besides, being the first of the three annual Scottish shows I regularly go to, it also represents a sort of coming out of hibernation. Sure, you’ve seen some of these people earlier in the year at York, or Newark or even London, but this is on home turf, and all the more enjoyable for it. It was staged by the Falkirk Wargames Club, and the venue was equidistant from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Gamers from the United States will be a little surprised by shows like this. For starters they only last a day, rather than a whole weekend. So, you have to chat to people, but what you need, look at all the games, chat to people a little more, eat a heart-attack inducing plate of pie, beans and chips, then repeat the process – apart from the food of course – one plate is more than enough! Then you head home, clutching your purchases, and all enthused by the sights, the conversations and the prospect of new projects.The emphasis is more on the traders than the gaming – while some of the games on view are participation ones, most are demonstration games, showing pretty tables, or at least interesting ones. So, here are a few pictures from four of my favourite games.This one was a Retreat from Moscow game, featuring one of the prettiest-looking tables I’ve seen in ages. the Emperor in his Marbot sledge, guarded by his escort, were racing for safety amid a winter wonderland, chased by wolves and Cossacks. I loved the attention to detail here, like the little snowman with the bicorne on his head, and the way frozen water was dusted with a layer of fresh snow, but you could see the ice underneath. Great stuff. Next up was Dave Imrie’s offering, helped I think by Ian Macdonald from Flags of War. This was an English Civil War battle, with a Scots Covenanter army fighting – I think – an English Royalist one. Both the terrain and the figures were superb, and the guys were actually playing the game – or at least pretending to. Certainly each time I came past things had moved on a little. The last two games I’m highlighting are naval ones. The prettiest was the one set in the Russo-Japanese War (1905), a fictitious clash set amid an archipelago of little islands. The models – from Old Glory I think – were lovely, and impressively big. While no sea captain in their right mind would manoeuvre an unresponsive pre-dreadnought battleship in such treacherously shallow coastal water, let aloe fight a battle there, the whole thing was so impressive that you really had to suspend disbelief. The last game was The Battle of Jutland, played out a century after the big event. The game was staged by the Falkirk club, and while it lacked the pretty scenery and fantastic models of the other naval game – they just had a faded blue mat and basic 1/3000 scale ship models – what was lost in aesthetics was made up for in enthusiasm. They were keen to chat to people about the battle, and the rules (I think they were using Fleet Action Imminent), but they were also actually playing the game. They were conducting destroyer torpedo attacks, dueling with battle lines of dreadnoughts and generally having a blast. Sure, I’m biased – my own book Jutland: Twelve Hours to Win the War comes out in a few weeks, the centenary commemoration takes place at the end of the month up in Orkney, and so the battle is very much on my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to the guys, savouring the vibe .. and pitching pre-sales of my book. That done it was off home clutching an odd assortment of purchases – 10mm figures for Bismarck’s Wars, 28mm ones for The Italian Wars, armfuls of scenery that may come in useful, samples of new figure ranges, plus bases and grass tufts, paints, rules and more than a few books. All in all Falkirk was a great day out – and all less than 40 minutes drive from civilisation.