Monday, 12 March 2012

WMMS - Show Report 11th March 2012

The gaming show year has officially started now for us.. WMMS:

WMMS is generally the first propper wargames show, ie predominantly wargaming, unlike the South Cheshire Militaire which is in Feb. And being only one hour down the road from us and fairly accessible its has been a regular on our calendar for a while.

This year we had the added benefit of borrowing Micks works van, which meant, a less cramped trip down for the four of us (Me Mick, Tom, and Paul). We arrived a little later than planned and were lucky to find a parking spot. The one down side to the venue.

So.. here are some shots of the hall from the balcony, on the way back from the bar in the morning.

The IPMS and modelling stands. Some lovely pieces on show.

The near end of thehall, looking toward the entrance.

The long view from the near end, down the hall.

A couple of the demonstration games etc at the near end.

Some more of the demo / participation games. Some with varying levels of information available.

Looking down the hall from the balcony just above the hall entrance.

There were somewhere around 40 - 50 traders. An empty table in the centre suggested someone was unable to make it. But on the whole there was a a wide spread of gaming periods, scales and terrrain available.

The mix of periods etc was fairly wide spread. The bring and buy down the far end fo the hall of was not the usual treasure trove it has been in the past. Which was sad. I guess the reccesion is starting to bite now truly.
Here are some shots of some of the various demo games and display games etc;

30 Years War game from Above.

Warmachine Game, with nice paper buildings. Some lovley models.

Some of the paper terrain and figures in the warmachine game.

The Warmachine game. Some lovely figures and nice paper terrain buildings.
War machine is not a game I have tried. I nearly did years ago. Liked the concept and the small game size. But in recent years they seem to have suffered an arms race like GW.. where now the figures are bigger and bigger and you wonder where it will end.
30Years War game. Lovely figures.

30 Years War Blurred. Always nice to see an info board with a game.

A naps game.

ACW Game, with a difference. A lovely table. And some great figures.

Thinkgs hotting up in the town centre.

A great mix of figures and buildings. Really like it.

Not looking too good for the towns defenders.

American/French Indian Game if I recall. No info board sadly.

American War of Independance Game
French crossing the bridge
Skirmish in the centre

Indians approaching
 Whilst I was moving between games, I spotted a new trader. Four A Miniatures. With a small stand. And some very lovely 28mm fantasy and scifi figures. The figure range is sculpted for them by a couple of different artists, but the character and detailing is quite something. Well worth a look if you have not seen them before. Not the best website, but I am told it is very early days and they are still working on new photos etc.

A new miniature company : Four A Miniatures

Some of their horror range

Four A Miniatures - Golblins range. Very nice figures.

More of their fantasy goblins

Snow Troopers  - perfect for the thing games!

The central area, with Ainsty and their expanding range and 7TV Rules Set
 Right, back to the games.
Battle of Rocoux 1746

Battle of Rocoux 1746 - By The Border Warlords

A nice crisp and clean table and lovely figures.

Information sheets and boards are always a winner with me.

I was not able to find out how this game went in the end sadly.

The battle of Fishguard. An interesting game.

Lots of info on the units and game.

Those welsh ladies leading the supply train.

The french on the advance

Clear, concise and the players/organisers were very helpful.

The back of the Boder Warlord Info Board and Re-enactment group beyond.

The Welsh side of the battle of Fishguard.

ACW Game.

The inspiration it appears for the game or supporting info.

Hexxon terrain in good use. Seems to suit the smaller scales better.

The table looked interesting.

The bridges in question.

Not sure what rule set was in use sadly.

View from the other end of the table.
 A few years ago I nearly bought a large set of Hexxon Terrain Tiles. I thankfully with my terrain cloths. For 28mm I found the hex pattern a bit intrusive. For smaller scales it appears to be less obvious and for the game above, this is a great solution. But for my 28mm games, I have found the cloths to be cheaper and better looking. Strange how a scale change can make such a difference to appearance.

WW1 game. Looked very interesting.

Another clear info board.

Nice table. I liked the trenches an the atmosphere of the table.

oops.. just crank your neck over.. it could do with the exercise ;)

A 54mm French Indians game. Loved the setup. But too big for me choices.. 28mm is large enough for me. :)

Agains some more clear info on the game.

Nice scene in the 54mm French Indian Game. British Village fleeing as the french approach.

The french column approaches with indian scouts in the lead.

A fun participation game.

Yep, side tracked again by the Elheim Stand.. only 20mm, but still pretty nice figures.

If only they were in 28mm.
 If you are after 20mm moderns and Taliban, then Brittania and Elheim miniatures have some nice pieces. Tom and Mick spent a good while, raiding the Elheims 40p single pot on the hunt for snipers and other bits. And Mick and Paul also grabbed some discontinued sniper sets whilst there too.
I am always impressed by the detailing on these figures, given their size.

Hougamont game. Lovely table and looked fun. Lovely figures. I have a hovents set, lurking somewhere that I will have to dig out sometime if I ever get into the period.

The french surrouding the the mansion and out buildings.
 I bought the majority of the hovels hougamonte set many years ago for a WW2 28mm Rules of Engament Normandy Game I ran at Gauntlet one year. As miss casts, yet easily repaired and perfectly usable for a very reasonable site. So it was nice to see the hovels set in use here.

French closing on the walls from the tree line.

The buildings were nicely painted.

British in the gardens, defending the walls, shooting from the firing ports. Not sure why the reserve was at the centre, and not at the wall helping increase the fire rate. But I wasn't playing it.  Still asthetic wise, impressive.

The french in the distance approaching the british out side of the walls.

View from the french side.

French casualties in the open area of the road.

The British appeared to be in firm control.

Pirates! - I loved this table. The painting was excellent but the figures and scenese just set it off nicely.
I really wanted a boat like this for my pirate collection. One to keep an eye out for.

Sadly no clear obvious info on hand, but was a lovely game.

Not sure what the objective was, but the british appeared to be holding off a pirate attack.
 I recently bought a copy of the Warhammer Pirates rules from Warhammer Historicals, and yet to put them to the test. Pretty sure they are not what was in use for this game. But somewhere I have a set of pirates and even a painted pireate ship.
Some lovely boats.

For for King.. let the scum swing!

I loved this scene.. as the residents flee to the hall.

Flags and banners can really help a unit and game come alive.

Pirates attacking from the rear of the town.

British line, preparing to fire a volley at the advancing pirates.

Chaos of battle..

The scenes were just lovely. An impressive set of figures.

A larger shot of the table from the other end.. impressive.

Across at the boats.

Nearby, The usual re-enactors with the WW2 Jeep and truck. A display table of ww2 weapons on show for punters to pick up and hold is always popular.
I really want a Jeep or Truck.

Critical Mass 15mm Sci-fi.

Warlord Games - Operation Squad game. Pretty but shame about the rule set.

A lovely table and nicely painted figures. 

The buildings were nicely made and some good effort had gone int the table.

Victorian murder mystery game. Not sure on the rule set in use. Very nice atospheric table.

The canal and the gas holder give good feel for the period.

A victim on the street and the investigators approach.

No signal - I bet these days, people would think it was something affecting their phone!

A very strange Future War Commander Game. But did show, you can use any figures you like for it.

A real mix bag of minis, showing how Future War Commander really is an system you can use anything with.

Ainsty casting selling Captain Scarlet and other notable minis.

New 7 TV pulp rule set. Pricy at £25, but have heard good things.

And thats it folks!
So there you have it. A day out in photos.. so now some comments and time to climb upon my soap box! (Sorry)

Firstly.. ask your self why you go to shows?
My answers are;
1). To hunt for bargains, at stalls, traders or on bring and buys.
2). To look at demo and participation games to get a view for new rule sets and periods and figure ranges.
3). Its a day out looking at things of interest with friends.

And I guess I am not alone in those.

Now the hall was busy when we got in just about 10am. I hit the bring and buy and dumped a few bits on it to clear. By 12, the numbers in the hall had dropped and it was not the usual exodus for lunch. The numbers were seriously down.  By two o clock the hall was pretty quiet and bordering of very quiet almost dead.

As we ate our lunch and had a break in the bar, we were discussing in our group the reasons. Firstly the rugby game was not going to help, but I also felt that that lack of show deals may be hitting. And that many of the "games" being run, just appeared to be there to provide entertainment for those running them and really for the show go-ers as such.

Apart from Eric at figures in Comfort who had a running discount on the new 15mm range of WW2 he is stocking only at shows, which is only available at the shows.
I didn't see (though there could have been some) any real show deals. Why bother with a show if you can get the same deals over the net? Years ago, I recall seeing, one time show offers. Buy X & X at Y price only this weekend etc and they changed at each show.. and frankly that is why I have such big piles of lead in places. I know times are tough and traders are struggling, but when you over hear three traders bellittling us punters because we haven't spent much. Or bought hardly anything at all.. they should probably look at it from our point of view.. Why should we invest at a show, when we can likley get it on the net at the same price? If you don't offer something slightly different at shows, then the attraction for people to go to a show, diminishes. Thus, attendances diminish and thus spending diminish. Round the circle it goes.

Am I right? Or wrong.. well I am not sure. But it is the way it feels to me. Last couple of years, the "bargains" and "deals" to be had are harder and harder to get and so the justifications to get into a new period and scale drop heavily. And that surely can only mean less sales over all surely?

So that aside. Back to the games. Some were excellent. Many had interesting info board. But few told you opennly if you were invited to take part or if it was for display only. None seemed to state clearly what rules were in use, or the miniature range in use. Why not?

And display only! - Ok, so they look pretty often and sometimes you see a battle or period you know etc and it catches your interest. But thats it.. why bother.? I think "demo only" games should be banned. Participation games encouraged, but then this is my soap box and I can rant as much as I like. 

I know it is easy to be picky when I haven't gone to the lengths and efforts of painting the scenery, figures and boards etc. Very true. But a little more info would certainly help and public involvment/participation would be even better. I don't like disturbing people when they are playing a game, to ask questions, so if the info is not there to read, I tend to walk on by and look for the next shiny object or pretty table.

It was encouraging to see new business's mind, such as Four A Miniatures there. But it was not good to hear that Lancaster games are apparently about to close. I guess the economics of the recession are starting to bite harder now. It certainly felt like it.

Was it a good show. Yes. Will I go again, certainly. But did I have a thoroughly exciting time. No not really. Everyone likes to go home with somethign they bought that made them feel the trip was worth it. Big or small, but the last few shows, that is happening less and less.

Anyway enough of my ranting and waffle. If I have misslabled a photo etc or got the info wrong, please let me know. And I will gladly correct them.
But hope you enjoyed the shots.


Anonymous said...

I gave it a miss this year. When the show was held at old Alumwell venue it was heaving - in fact sometimes unpleasantly so.
Unfortunately ever since it changed venue it's a show that's been in a slow steady decline. Several of the top tier traders no longer attend and many of the ones that still do have openly discussed dropping the show as "it's not worth it".
The location is poor - the parking is horrendous ~(good job it doesn't get busy) - to be fair the hall well lit and generally quite good - the catering can't cope.

Goose on the loose said...

I never went to the old venue, so cannot compare. But will grant, that the carparking is tight. But generally never failed to find parking somewhere yet.
A little wait may be needed.

Will agree the bar does take its time with food. I am used to that now, so try to get in just before the lunch rush or wait till after it.

Not sure I would agree on the top teir traders not going. Warlord, FIC, Majister etc were there. I think with petrol costs etc, being so high, less people are prepared to travel on a whim and less traders are preppared to push the distances etc. All leads to less attendances. I do think also, the lack of show deals is not helping. If its cheaper to buy online, why go to a show. So yep, I guess ultimately unless somethign changes, we could sadly face the end of many shows.

Zombie Ad said...

Sounds like a good day out and a great show. You are right, thing are tight for traders and punters alike, but we should be looking at things from each other's perspective. Shows should at least have offers or exclusive new releases.

Volleyfire! said...

Would have to disagree with you about it being the first wargaming show of the year, surely that honour belongs to Vapnartak?
Have to agree though about 'demo' games, which are set up and then nothing happens for ages whilst the participants all vanish leaving one spotty and looking disinterested Herbert to bat away any questions you might have. All games should involve participation I think to some degree. Some clubs might get sniffy about strangers using their lovely figures and fighting over the terrain they've spent hours preparing mind, but why put up a game which does nothing besides look pretty??

Goose on the loose said...

Volley fire - I think penarth is probably the first.. but thats splitting

Yes totally agree.. If I had my way.. "demo only" games would be banned from all shows. But I would rather see something than nothing, though. Empty tables never look good at a show.

Anonymous said...

With the best will in the world - Warlord aren't really top tier traders they're suppliers who go to shows and compete with the very shops they supply (to be fair they don't undercut them like some). Magister would go to the opening of a gate - if it meant making a few quid - my guess is they don't have lives ;-)
FIC - apart from KR's who the competition?
This thing about Show special discounts - why would traders want to? Unless your going to spend £200-500. It's cost them to extra to do the show (diesel, van hire, stand hire, never mind paying themselves). They mostly get 35-40% discount from their suppliers (obviously it's a bit better if they manufacture but often they are paying others to make the stuff) so they need to take around £1000 -1200 just to break even - I think you'd have a serious shock if you knew how little some traders take.

Goose on the loose said...

Well, in terms of business size/turnover etc, Warlord are about as big as it gets before you head to the likes of GW.

As for show deals. If traders don't do something different for attendees, why bother going to a show at all? OK there are other reasons to go to shows. But a big one, is the hunt for a bargain.

Going back a few years you used to see them. And they tended to change between each show. So one show it would be x for x and get y free.. or other shows, get 20% off x if you bought y. They encouraged people to spend more cash. If you only needed a pack of x, but suddenly could get three packs of x, and have y thrown in, then often peopel would cave and buy the extra to get the y..

Its about reasons for shows. What is the reason for a wargames show?
The more reasons you remove, the less people will go to a show. Simple motivation and reward.

With rising petrol prices, people are less inclined to go to shows. Spending more on the petrol means, they are less inclined to spend once they get there.
Then add in the fact they can order from home over the net for 99% of things. Then you only leave, seeing pretty participation games and demo's, seeing figures in real life and having a day out with your mates. Oh and maybe selling stuff on the bring and buys.

The real loosers are infact the traders. If shows loose their "special" ness then there will eventually be less of them.

Some might argue, mind that there are too many now.

Keeping in mind this is just my point of view and I am sure others will have contrary or conflicting ones of their own.

Time will tell I guess.

Volleyfire! said...

Just to add my bit about why I attend shows, and I only attend those within a certain radius due to time constraints as I have to work 7 days a week normally, so anywhere further than 2 hours drive away is a non starter.
Basically my show year is Vapnartak, Partizan I & II, Derby and, er thats it.
Went to Sheffield once many moons ago, and it was such a crush that you couldn't see anything, and the parking was awful, so I haven't been since.
This year I've been to Hammerhead for the first time, partly due to not getting to York because we were snowed in and thus missing flogging some items on the B&B there and Hammerhead was running one as well, and partly because all the games were participation ones, and although there wasn't the same choice of traders you normally see at Partizan there was still enough to make it worthwhile speding a bob or two. One thing I miss about Partizan is it not having a B&B anymore, so if I want to sell anything I have had two chances in previous years, York in Feb or Derby in Oct. Not much of a choice is it?
Anyway, having been to Partizan for most years over a 25 or so year period until last Sept I had never ever actually been involved in a particpation game there. The problem always seemed to be that such games were/are thin on the ground, not just at Partizan but at shows generally. If there was one I was interested in there always seemed to either be a queue to join in, or I was always passing at the wrong time when everyone had just got started.
However, last Sept at Partizan I had a brilliant game of Hammerin Iron, thanks to mine host for indulging me and my opponents, and such was the overall gaming experience that I easily persuaded my fellow club members that it was worth investing in, and so it has proved with an excellent game a fortnight ago and everyone having a great time. Which just goes to show that participation games can sell models just as well if not probably better than demo games can IMO.
And since that game last Sept it whetted my appetite for more participation, so my colleague and I had a game on the Mansfield Outlaws table with their excellent FIW game (which won Best in Show and I'm not surprised in the least), and I have to say it was thoroughly enjoyable and our hosts were some of the best, most affable guys I've met in the gaming world. Although we weren't BP novices we were completely whupped by the opposition, but that didn't matter as it was played in such a light hearted way, plenty of banter and all good fun. Plus the Outlaws generously invited us to visit and have emailed various bits of BP rules
addenda and game tokens which is really generous of them. Now if only all other games were run by similarly minded people and in such good spirits what an excellent day out it would be. I get the impression sometimes that there is a'them and us' class system in Wargaming. There are the upper classes such as the Perry's, Mr Priestley, various Editors, authors, and figure purveyors, who your average club gamer such as myself can barely recogize since we don't move in their exclusive cirlces, let alone actually converse with them on a normal one to one basis, and people such as myself who belong to a small club and feel excluded from the hobby to some extent because we aren't treated as equals. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Goose on the loose said...

Volleyfire - My own experience is pretty similar. With petrol prices and costs etc. 3-4 of us from the club tend to share a car to cut costs. We also have a 2hr drive, imposed limit.
Our show calender, tends to be, South Cheshire Militair, WMMS, Triples, Phalanx, Gauntlet, and finally Derby.

The distance is a big thing. But also, the traders who are present. We also like the bring nad buys.

It would be interesting in a way to do a survey of some sort on the motivations and primary reasons of why show go-ers attend.

I know we do have a lot more shows now on the circuit.. a lot of smaller ones. And many traders do think there are toomany. But if we had less.. would people travel futher? I am not sure they would.

As for the them and us attitudes. I think at times it can exists.

Volleyfire! said...

Thanks for the comments Goose on the loose.(Maybe I shouldn't ask how you came to choose that name BTW? :) ). I have been wondering whether to put something on TMP re the them and us and see if any others feel the same way. I think that WS&S mag has helped slightly by putting drawings of contributors on articles, at least you can see who they are and if your memory is good or they are pretty much instantly recognisable such as Rick Preistley you might be able to clock them at a show and buttonhole them for a quick discussion. Perhaps a 'rogues gallery' of faces in the industry in one of the mags one month might help! But then again maybe these people prefer to remain largely anonymous to the great unwashed. Who knows?

Goose on the loose said...

Well I think you might find that a lot of the perception is one generated by the press. So though it may exist at times, it might not be a case of intention or reciprocated attitude.

But then, I think everyone tends to nucleate around interests/friendship etc and we tend to have our own areas of interests.

I suspect if you were to talk to some of the community "notables" you might find a mix of attitudes and personalities.

Volleyfire! said...

Oh yes I have to agree with you there, in every hobby or aspect of life there are those who are introvert, shunnig the limelight, and others who are extrovert, and some who are very choosy about who they mingle with or talk to. However, if you are amongst the hobby's notables, either as a rules author, figure sculptor/manufacturer, book author, magazine editor or famous simply for being a well known gamer I think you have put your nose above the parapet and should expect to have to interact with the rest of us in a soccial setting such as Wargames Shows.
I suppose I would have counted Peter Gilder in that last category above for in my youth his face and name was everywhere in magazines (and on Battleground on TV) and he was, apart from Messrs Grant and Featherstone, the most instantly recognisable and someone whose collection of figures I aspired to owning along similar lines. I think if you are to encourage youngsters away from Sci Fi and Fantasy gaming into Historical gaming then interacting with the people who really make the hobby tick by gaming with them in participation games would be a good way to go.

Volleyfire! said...

What puzzles me to a certain extent is why when rules publishers and figure manufacturers have a somewhat captive audience at Shows that they don't put on, space and time permitting, seminars where for say half an hour they can demonstrate their wares in action and talk the audience through the mechanics of the rule sets. This would help to sell the rules, also with a Q&A session at the end, or during suitable pauses between rules sections such as at the end of movement, firing and combat etc, gamer could ask about certain parts they didn't pick up or understand. If this was tied in with some new figures that had just been launched for said period or rules then it would be a win win I'd have thought for whoever was doing the demo. And by demo I mean proper seating arranged around the table and the demonstrator actually engaging with the whole audience.

Goose on the loose said...

Volleyfire - I think your right in the main. Though I do think you have to also keep in mind. Some of our "notables" are not full timers. I mean they have perfectly ordinary other jobs etc and like us, they got into the hobby for the fun. Thus I guess there is a chance some would just like to go to a show and wander around without being harrassed etc.. but they may be in the minority amoungst their ranks.

As for the talks etc.. Yes, our US cousins, do shows and "conventions" far better in some ways than us. And they do have talks, siminars, lectures. I guess its a size issue with our shows. Ours tend to be one day small affairs where a few hundred people walk through the doors (excluding triples, salute etc).

The US shows, draw much bigger crowds and are more like our salute and triples. But there is also a difference in gaming attitudes and business structures.

The US conventions have alot of participation games. And I are about actively encouraging peopel to try new things.

Would it work in the UK. I don't know. I guess it might if you did it at a bigger show where the numbers would be there. And it had a suitable area/venue.

Volleyfire! said...

I think that we are seeing, as in other industries at the moment, businesses being bought out or taken over by others, and so there are going to be some empty spaces at shows where some of these traders used to be, as the ones that do go can only take a finite amount of wares to display and also cover the cost of the floorspace they take up. Therefore at some point we are going to see more space coming available perhaps? If you deicde as an organizer to fill it with another game, why not make it a participation game or same but with accompianing lecture/talk? You say above about seminars in the US, and in my industry which is poultry farming we are seeing more and more of these seminars occuring at shows as they help keep the visitors interested, helps to raise pertinent points of discussion and gets them interacting. I think it could happen in wargaming.The phrase in your last comment that caught my eye was ' a few hundred walk through the doors', and in particular the walk through the doors part. What do they do the vast majority? Walk in, walk round, and walk out again. If you can hold them there, and lets face it a lot of them have travelled a long way and want a day out, a whole day out in my case as I don't get many, and we want value for money and entertainment (well I do) and if there is something that adds that little bit extra then I'm all for it.

Goose on the loose said...

I think you have a pretty good point there about, holding on to people by having talks etc.

It was planly obvious at WMMS this year, than lots of people dashed in and dashed out. The rugby may not have helped. But I felt a lot of people came, looked and left. I did see trade going on, but I definitely didn't see, as I have in previous years people queuing patiently to take their turn to pay/talk/haggle with shop owners.

I think some talks etc might just pursuade people to stay longer.