Sunday 26 April 2015

Salute 2015

As you may or may not know (although as you're here reading this I imagine that it might have crossed your radar), yesterday was Salute, the annual pilgrimage to the Excel centre to look at upcoming releases, see some awesome displays, and stock up on little metal men to last us through the next winter...

Breaking with tradition this year (as I was travelling up with different people than usual) we hit up Ed's diner for breakfast, which unfortunately seems to be American food served with English portion sizes... A milkshake at breakfast is always going to be a winner though...

What follows is a series of photos, in the meandering order that they were taken as things caught my eye, so be warned, if you're after a direct or narratively-sequential account of the show you've come to the wrong place!

As ever, there was a multitudinous throng of humanity between me and the doors, but the queue did tick along at a fair old pace. I will admit though, I was disappointed at the end when the queue dissolved into a stampede, despite the opportunities for 'hold the line' references that such an occurrence affords...

A pretty cool looking 'Frotherheim' table, complete with some subterranean tunnels action:

I forget who put this Agincourt table on, but remember being jealous of so many painted medievals, many of which I have tucked away awaiting a future paintbrush assault...

Studio Miniatures had previews of some of their upcoming not-Monty Python miniatures (I mean, zombie apocalypse at a Ren Faire range, of course), as well as some rather nice contemporary urban resin scenery that I hadn't seen anywhere before:

Beasts of War (I think) put on a huge Star Wars battle of Hoth table, with literally bucket-loads of figures, which made me somewhat envious:

As it just goes on and on...

And includes a full on AT-AT assault!

Doubly awesome is the fact that although I had originally assumed it was just a display table on my first circuit of the room, when I swung by again a while later I realised that it was actually a needlessly large participation game, which is pretty cool!

Whoever put this series of games on, there was a lot of cool stuff, from the wicker man, to the ye olde Judge Dredd, to the sheer number of painted factions on display!

This may have been Spartan Games' fleet scale Halo game. I'm not sure right now, at the point of writing this I last had 5 hours sleep 18 and a half hours ago, so some details are a little hazy... [id originally aimed to get this post up last night, but that turned out to be a somewhat ambitious objective. This also explains any contradictions between the use of the past and present tense that you might find in the rest of the post!]

This was an amazing oldhammer table that in hindsight I really wish I'd gotten better pictures of! There were a load of Dogs of War pikemen facing off against various greenskins and miscellaneous nasties, hopefully someone else in the blogosphere took some pictures of the other end of the table!

A man in a funny hat told me when this game was set, and I probably have a flier somewhere, but I have so many fliers from yesterday that I could make my baby some sort of terrible papercraft suit of armour. There was a cool little market in the corner of the board though, which I plan to steal heavy inspiration from should I get round to gaming the Ned vs Jaime duel I've been meaning to do for a while now...

There was a Space Marine, and I managed to capture on film the true use of the Imperial Guard (or whatever we're meant to be calling them these days) - as a sweat mopper for the real warriors!

This table was awesome, and I have less than no memory of which game it was for! There seemed to be evil gribblies pouring onto the earth, and the table even had lights inside so that it looked like lava (or hellfire) was glowing out of the cracks in the shattered pavement!

This is a terrible, terrible picture of a really nice Arkham Asylum board, taken over the shoulder of the manager of my local GW, who I had assumed would burst into flames if he set foot in a non-GW only event.

Frostgrave (Osprey's upcoming new game) demo table, using the spectacularly nice Secret Weapon tablescape tiles. I was too late for a demo this time, but vowed to return...

Simon de Montfort table put on by Wargames Illustrated? 

Had a look at the Terminator Genisys miniatures to see if I liked them any more in person, but they still just don't sit right with me. I'm not sure what it is, I just can't put my finger on why I don't like them! They look a bit anaemic and flimsy, maybe that's it...

Killing time before a Frostgrave demo spot opened up, I had a nosey at the Osprey stand, who as well as having a printout copy of the rulebook available to leaf through (and I'm now super excited to be getting a copy of this) had the various wizards painted as well as the 3ups of the forthcoming plastic henchmen that I can but imagine I'll be getting a box or two of:

After missing my chance to get a demo of Frostgrave in, I was ready for the next slot and dived in as soon as it became available (which resulted in me being otherwise occupied when I would normally hit up the bloggers meet up for awkward small talk and purchase comparisons). Unfortunately, no one else seemed as keen so it took a little while to find an opponent, but eventually one appeared and we were away!

For the demo, we were using small warbands and scaled down rules, I believe - I found myself in charge of a necromancer and some lowly henchmen.

The game started well, I thought, despite my appallingly low rolls (as it was a third of the way through the game before I managed to roll in the double-digits on a d20), making a grab for the objective.

Unfortunately, I was soon to discover just how deadly critical hits are in Frostgrave, as my gold-grabbing henchmen discovered when he was decapitated after falling to minus 14 health (and he only had 12 to begin with). Despite all seeming lost at this point, I managed to turn the game around with some carefully placed necromantic magic and the heroic actions of my remaining soldier henchmen, who managed to, after shrugging off arrows, sword blades, poison darts and curses, score a crit on the enemy that had taken my other henchmen out of action with a crit! At one point, we discussed the idea that he might in fact be the leader of my warbands, with the guy in the robes and mascara being a patsy (which is entirely possible, as my tactics largely revolved around trying to use my frail wizard as bait to lure the enemy away from the objective while my soldiers made a run for it!)

A few swingy turns later (and some cunning positioning to have one model fire, then step out of the way so that the model behind could also fire), I'd all but wiped my foes from the board and won myself a pair of chocolate coins as a prize! 

[side note - I don't normally get involved in playing games at Salute, normally contenting myself just to watch or buy things, but Frostgrave looks really good, and I thoroughly enjoyed the demo game, so I'm glad I did, even though it meant I missed the annual bloggers meetup!]

I think this was called Stalagbites? There was no-one at the table whenever I was nearby, so I don't know if they were demoing something, or just showing off their weird eye rock thing...

Across the Dead Earth! I thought I'd taken a bigger picture that showed off the ruin-strewn game table that they had on display, but apparently not, so you'll unfortunately have to content yourself with a close-up of some scenery and this sign that I took a picture of solely so that I'd be able to remember to properly label what table this was when I came to write this post:

I'm currently playing through the Mass Effect series, so it brought me great pleasure to denote this sign as a meeting place!

And it just wouldn't be a geeky event without Darth Vader appearing to stomp around and pose for photos would it?

And now finally the part that I'm sure you've all been waiting for, seeing just how much Salute loot I came away with after last year's really quite restrained purchases:


  • A couple of the freebie miniature, because it has a choice of sets of arms and heads and I'm often riven with indecision when it comes to these things (although you may notice that there's actually 3 in the picture, because I bought one as a present for Uncle Johnny who wasn't able to come to Salute this year) as well as a couple of Salute dice and a fire arc template
  • Hasslefree pre-orders of various bits and bobs, some acrylic rod, some Jedi-sequel figures, some miscellaneous other figures, and some shields of the type that I use for my press-moulded House Stark shields...
  • Fenris games pre-order, which was mostly some sculpted bases, a few scatter scenery bits and a zebra (or zorse, eventually...)
  • A box of the new Perry Miniatures Light Cavalry, because everything they do is beautiful and there are plenty of bits in the box to plunger for ASOIAF project conversions
  • Some Knight models Batman miniatures and some laser-cut crates, as the latest flash in the pan project that I hope to get a game of (let's just say that I bought enough to get a free limited edition Red Hood model) 
  • Random werebear because it was a pound
  • Some snow flock because it was mega cheap and at some point I may get round to modelling some Night's Watch and Wights...
  • A blister of Gripping Beast revenants, for use as generic fantasy zombies or Game of Thrones Wights, and being told to 'get lost' when I asked after the sporting wizards, as is my tradition...
  • A Frostgrave badge
  • Some Judge Dredd guns as a present for Uncle Johnny (as he is generally displeased with all the miniatures currently available, and plans to convert his own, so I thought this would be a good gift as he can make things easily look more Mega City 1 with these distinctly 2000AD looking weapons!) and a freebie judge for myself
  • An issue of Wargames Illustrated, to get the freebie Simon de Montfort miniature with his lovely lion-sigiled shield (he may get painted up as a Kevan Lannister stand-in)
  • A dice set and the promo card pack for Firefly the board game
  • Some simians from Lucid Eye, because they look perfect for intelligent apes for the planet of the apes side project I have tucked away
  • A free sprue of ghouls from Mantic for signing up to their mailing list again
  • A Foundry black paint triad, because painting black is a real struggle for me (my highlights go too light, it looks chalky, I hit it with a dark wash to try and mute it a bit, it looks flat black again, I give up and move on to painting something else)
  • An infinity ninja, for a Mass Effect project conversion
  • A not-future Amy Pond from Crooked Dice, because I try to buy at least one thing from them every year and I'm sure I've got a couple of 28mm scale handbot figures somewhere that she could fight...
  • And the Westfalia Miniatures halfling sample figure, which is absolutely gorgeous:

I almost missed out on grabbing this figure, as despite having posted on Facebook a message along the lines of 'I have a particular set of skills, I don't know who you are but I will find you and I will take you up on your kind offer of a free sample miniature' I didn't find the guy from Westfalia miniatures until just as we were planning to leave, as trying to find one person in a black branded t-shirt at the event is a bit like trying to find Wally in a crowd of similarly dressed people! 
The chap from Westfalia miniatures asked me if I was a good painter when he gave me the mini too, so I alas had to disappoint him, leading to a funny conversation about being an enthusiastic rather than skilled painter!

All in, my haul for the day takes the Tally down to 

18 vs 80 = -62

Not insurmountable, and definitely not the biggest haul I've ever brought back from Salute!