Salute 2015 – Full Metal Report!

Salute is, without doubt, the largest and best attended Wargames Show in the UK. Despite all the problems such as the noise levels and aircraft hangar venue, it is also one of the best organised and remains friendly despite its size.

It is because of this, and our experiences of IHMN here over the last two years, Charles and I decided to launch Daisho at this enormous show. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans of mice and men are oft to go awry – the rulebook was not available. This is mostly due to Charles and I being complete novices at publishing so we did not factor in enough time for layout in our schedule. However, it shall be available in May.

So back to the show…

Charles, Bill and I set off at sparrows’ fart and ventured the London Orbital Motorway/Car Park (the infamous M25). Despite there being far too many road works, and a section of road whose harmonic frequency filled the car with a eerie and ear-splitting whine, we arrived in good time at the Excel Centre near the old East India Docks.

Negotiating the labyrinthine back stage areas, we eventually gained access to the venue and unloaded the camels. Now, when you attend the show as an ordinary punter you are surrounded with people and noise, because of this you really do not get a sense of the scale of the place. The hall in which Salute is held is truly enormous. You could easily accommodate a monster truck show in it and when we arrived it was full of vans and pickups offloading trade stands and participation/demonstration games.

What immediately impressed us was the efficiency and friendliness of the South London Warlords who organise and run the show. Volunteers to a man they work like trojans throughout the whole event. We were immediately greeted, guided to our table and our needs assessed and met. Later on a SLW organiser dropped by to make sure we were OK.

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Being one of the smaller teams we had our table set-up and ready to go in under half an hour so had an hour to spare before the show actually opened to the masses already queuing in an adjacent hall.

Our neighbours were the nice lady and gentlemen of Oshiro Miniature Terrain. They set up an entire 6’x12′ medieval Japanese town which made us feel a wee bit inadequate with our little rustic villages. Anyhow our layout consisted of the two Daisho boards that Bill and I had laboured on over the last few weeks and that are documented at length on the Daisho blog and IHMN Facebook page. Photos of the final layout can be seen in this report.

Once set-up Bill disappeared and then returned in a very nice Japanese costume. He was worried he might get too hot during the day but soon discovered that the loose-fitting robes were designed for a warm and humid climate like Salute when full of thousands of gamers.

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Within minutes of the doors opening, we realised that what seemed to be a brilliant location on one of the main aisles quickly became a bit of a nightmare. Opposite us was the mighty Forge World, who seemed to be running a number of special show offers. A humungous queue formed winding from their stand and down the main aisle completely blocking us in. Quite a few gamers who eventually found us said they had walked straight past not realising we were behind the wall of black-clad, Warhammer 40K players eager to part with hundreds of pounds for models that would probably be obsolete in the next edition of the rules. C’est la vie…

Despite this we soon became busy with a constant stream of people who wanted to try out Daisho on our participation boards. Right up to the last few minutes before the show closed we then had people learning the game. As with IHMN it took about two minutes to explain the game then start playing. By the third turn, we were able to step back and just let the players get on with it.

We had gamers of all ages from a nine-year-old to chaps of my great age playing. One chap (Carlos 13) brought his non-gamer girlfriend who got stuck in and handed him his ass in great style 🙂 Well done Lucinda!

All through this there were people coming to take photographs of the boards and many were kind enough to compliment us on them. At one point a ‘delegation’ from 4Ground appeared to take a look at Bill’s non-standard thatch on his 4Ground village. Like myself, Bill had eschewed the use of teddy fur (we both oppose the killing of teddy bears for this purpose) and used brush bristles to create a very effective and realistic look.

We also met and chatted with lots and lots of IHMN players from newbies to stalwarts. There are too many to mention here by name but I would like to say it was a particular pleasure to meet Mike, aka Skrapwelder, from the Lead Adventure Forums, who had travelled from California to attend. Apparently they do not have trade shows like this in the USA, most shows being much smaller and concentrated on providing games rather than sales opportunities.

The East End Boys, Martin, Steve et al., dropped by. Looks like they are sitting on their laurels this year having picked up the Bill Brewer award at last year’s Salute for their excellent IHMN table.

A member of the South London Warlords came over to us and explained that IHMN had taken their club by storm with regular games being played at their club meets. That such a large and prestigious club is using our rules was a real compliment and I couldn’t stop grinning for ages.

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Other games

Although there were only three of us, we did rotate our duties so we could each get some time to take in the show. On my wanderings I was able to track down a number of people including the splendid Guy Bowers – who was running a participation game of his first published game, Black Ops (soon to be available for Osprey Wargames).

black ops

[Note that this photo has been stolen from my friend Legatus’ report as I forgot to take one].

The stalwart chaps of the White Hart, who in previous Salutes had run huge IHMN games, this year were demonstrating the new Frostgrave game. This is written and published by Joe at Osprey and there is an extensive figure range (metal and plastics) from North Star Miniatures.  It looked an absolute hoot, and I shall certainly be getting a copy when it arrives in July this year.

Frostgrave

Over in the far corner Dave Wise and his merry band from the Games Club Network were running yet another of their unusual and interesting IHMN participation games – Judge Dread 1895. As in previous years he shall be showing this up and down the length of the UK. So, we have had IHMN participation and demonstration games at three Salutes in a row, not bad for a little game eh?

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Our friend and fellow small publisher, Simon Miller, was running another impressive game using his ‘To the strongest!’ ancients and medieval rules. The battle of Cremona was incredible if only for the sheer number of excellently painted figures, never mind the superb terrain. He even dropped by and gave me a copy of said rules which I shall read and write a review on sometime in May.

TTS Cremona

At the end of the day the Warlords were trying to usher the remaining throngs out of the door and we had to say goodbye to our last players, who had to have the dice practically prised from their grasp. They had just got into close combat and wanted to know who would get the upper hand.

It is only once you have packed up and the adrenaline retreats that you realise just how absolutely knackered you are. My vice had been reduced to a subterranean rumble that would make James Earl Jones jealous and my poor old knees were going sideways. We managed to drag our stuff back to the camel and set off into the sunset.

Lesson learned

We learned a lot from the event that we shall carry forwards to others we shall be attending this year. Not least was a complete overhaul of the player’s buntai rosters. What looked completely logical to us confused a few and we spent a lot of time pointing to stats and bonuses. A detailed listing of skills and powers was completely redundant as the players relied on us to explain them rather than read them – which is fair given that they were sat down for just half an hour or so.

The game balance for both scenarios though was pretty good with each of the buntai winning in equal proportions. That said in my game the Sohei Monks have two archers, yet the Samurai Clan Patrol have none. This shall be rectified by adding a single Samurai Bushi with Daikyū. I shall also be opening up a few more routes across my board by removing a couple of fences.

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So what’s in the book then…?

Daisho Contents

Here is the lean, clean contents page from Daishō.

For those of you who have played In Her Majesty’s Name some of it will look familiar, but look closer – what are Ki Powers, To the Victor the Spoils, and Victory through Honour?

Note that there is a full campaign system and an extensive bestiary (with eleven normal creatures and twenty magical ones) in the core rules. Something we only really got into in the second IHMN book.

Also, look at the page count… Osprey’s IHMN books are 64 pages. With Daishō, there is 90 pages of content.

As we get closer to the launch we shall be expanding on much of this so you have a clear idea of what we have to offer with Daishō. So watch this space.

The Battle of Himeshima

Himeshima sits in both a fortunate and unfortunate position on the border between the Toyoda and Meji clans. Fortunate in that a lot of trade passes through the village between the two clans. Unfortunate when the two clans are at war.

The Meji clan’s Daimyo has sent an emissary to the village to deliver an important message. This might be the last chance to prevent war between the two clans. The villagers have shut themselves in their houses and barricaded their doors and windows.

Toyoda Hiroki, the Steel Fox, and the clan’s premier swordsman has been sent to meet and escort the emissary back to his Daimyo. It is important that the emissary is unharmed and treated with the utmost respect.

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It seems likely that the abbot of a local monastery might try and cause trouble so Hiroki has brought a clan patrol with him just in case. Hiroki was wise to do so. As he approaches the village he can see monks in their distinct orange robes flitting between the buildings.

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Salute cometh…

So, a week to go and it’s all hands to the pumps.

The village of Himeshima is complete, but I have seventeen figures to complete. One Clan Patrol Buntai, one Sohei Monk buntai and their quarry, a certain dignitary. They are half painted and just need the finishing touches and basing to match the village. It is worth pointing out that I am no Kev Dallimore or Golden Demon standard painter. So what you shall see is what I hope will be a decent but not sparkling set of paint jobs 🙂

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My colleague, Hong Kong Bill, has another settlement in hand utilising those excellent 4Ground buildings, but using the brush bristle thatch system – no teddies were harmed in their production, and there shall be more buntai for you to choose from. These shall include Ronin and a force of the Shogun’s own special Troubleshooters.

With such forces at hand we can be sure that blood will flow and honour shall be earned.

Charles and I are putting the finishing touches to the buntai rosters so the players can get straight into the game with minimal instruction. We have seen at various shows featuring IHMN games that new players usually take about five minutes to get the hang of the core rules system. By limiting the buntai to about 200 points and giving them a realtively simple objective the games will not take long so not eating into the players shopping time 🙂

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We are really looking forwards to seeing all of you that can make it, and for those that can’t I shall produce a full report of the say’s activities.

The Village of Himeshima

Well, it is done. The builders have packed away their tools and left on an oxcart bound for Kyoto.

You can see a full display of pictures of the completed village in the new Bonus Materials page, but here is a taster:

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If you want to examine it in person, and perhaps play a game or two on it, we’ll be at Salute 2015 – table GF16.

Picking up the pace

This weekend, with my family away, I have been able to pick up the pace on the creation of Himeshima.

Down in the man cave I have finished all the fences I shall need for the village:

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Although I had initially intended to only do 6″ lengths of fencing, I have had to create a number of 3″ lengths to fit the village layout.After painting I have dipped the bases in the same flock I shall use for the baseboard.

And here we have a number of buildings on the painting board:

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To make things easier I undercoated the building walls in the same brown I wanted for the wooden posts and beams. Then all I had to do was carefully paint the panels in the white plaster colour. To follow this will be tidying up where I have incompetently got white on the beams and posts, then the addition of a few details to individualise the buildings.

Then it is onto the fun of thatching…