Sunday, 20 November 2016

Warfare 2016 - Wargames Association of Reading

Excellent modelling displayed by the Earlswood Wargames Club and their Ardennes themed game
This Saturday I spent a very pleasant day in the company of Steve M and Mr Steve attending Warfare 2016, the annual show put on by the Wargames Association of Reading.

This is the third visit to the show which has grabbed the end of year spot in my wargaming calendar and as well as having some interesting and inspiring games to see also boasts a good turn out of traders and new products.

The show has from my experience also been well supported by visiting gamers and the pictures below shows a very crowded and busy trading hall when we arrived at about 10.30 am.

Crowds fill the hall, great for traders not so much for the crowds in a limited space
This level of interest is obviously great for the traders but as an attendee not so much, as the sports centre venue seems to me to fast becoming a not so ideal site to stage this popular show; as getting around amid the crowds, many carrying rucksacks and bags, me included, is not a pleasant retail experience, to use the parlance.

Not only that but the car parking, in a very busy sports centre, on a weekend, is not really adequate for the added pressure created by the wargaming visitors and we like many others were forced to drive around a nearby trading estate looking for somewhere to park.

If the internal tannoy was anything to go by some visitors didn't bother looking too far away for parking opportunities and I heard several calls for owners of various makes of vehicle together with identifying registration plates to come to reception to move their said vehicle.

I should say that the crowds fell off dramatically after lunch and it seems to me that shows like Warfare may need to come up with ideas like the Penarth club with Crusader, where guest speakers are invited to present on historical subjects that encourage punters to stay on and potentially spend more afterwards which is really important for traders who, with some I chatted to, had travelled as far away as Lincoln and Hull.

I offer these comments in a constructive way as I know a lot of work goes in to organising shows like Warfare and ideal venues with plenty of parking, particularly in the London area are not easy to find, but the problems described are not likely to decrease over time and I would be keen to see shows like Warfare prosper going forward.

Prototype MDF Roman Villa buildings on show at the Warbases stand
Any way on with a look at what was on show at the show, together with as usual the games that caught my eye.

The first item on my must see list were the promised examples of some 28mm Roman Villa style buildings being developed at Warbases that I believe should be available next year.

The precision of these laser cut masterpieces was something to behold and with the Dacian War collection in mind something that would really grace the table for the games I have in mind.

I didn't linger to long in the traders hall, fearing falling over would likely mean I wouldn't be getting up. However I picked up some much needed magnetic tape from Coritani and the AWI Scenario Book 3 from Caliver Books, plus a dice bag and some mini dice.

Wargaming supplies replenished I headed for the game displays and was immediately attracted to a fine model of a Typhoon laying it on thick with the 60 lb rockets, I'm sorry but I didn't note the organisers of this game, and I am assuming from the list of displays that it was the Huntingdon and District Wargames Society.

There was a distinct 1066 theme at the show, rightly so, given the 950th anniversary of that momentous year in British history and the Malvern Old Wargamers had a very fine table representing the Battle of Fulford, using the Armati rule set.

Hordes of Vikings seen in Reading yet again, very fitting in memory of the Great Heathen Army tying their boats up in the town in previous times.
I am currently starting a Dark Ages collection, based with our club Dux Brit. game in mind, but being the typical wargamer that I am, it is the big clash of shield wall kind of game that interests me most and a decision on what basing to what rule-set will need to be made going forward, so I like to see what others folks do in this respect.

What follows and heading up this post are the pictures of my game of the show, this fantastic Chain of Command game by the Earlswood Wargames Club representing the 505th/101st Airborne Division's, Easy Company's attack on the town of Foy during the Ardennes fighting and so memorably staged by HBO in Band of Brothers.

The attention to detail in this game was something to see, including the use of spray can tops covered in material to represent the classic snow covered hay stacks as portrayed in the TV show.

Screen shot from the series to remind you of the detail captured in this game

The attention to detail in the terrain was matched by the figures with some great snow cammo effects achieved on vehicles and men.

Some of these pictures make me cold just looking at them!

I think you will agree, a superb looking game, and having featured a few on this blog over the years, well up there with the best.

Spot the LMG team in wait in the roof cavity
Next up yet further inspiration from another presentation I don't have details for, even in the show guide which has three clubs showing games not confirmed by title or period, so I can't even make a guess.

I do know from Steve M that two of the chaps running the game were former "boot-necks" otherwise known as Her Majesty's Royal Marines and therefore having spent some time down in our local parish.

With my own 28mm collection for the Dacian Wars percolating in the background this scene could quite easily replicate a Dacian War struggle on the Danube frontier with the Roman navy and the Limes frontier post.

Lovely looking game chaps, and great inspiration for us fans of early Imperial Rome.

As announced in the preceding Wargaming media, Gripping Beast were rolling out their new set of ancient/medieval rules 'Swordpoint', demonstrating the game with a nice little display of Teutonic Knights going at in a suitably snowy set up.

These rules are a possible contender for my Dark Age big battle set and I found the interview about them on the recent Meeples Podcast most interesting as well as recent magazine reviews . However I am not in a hurry to be an early adopter so I will wait to see what further reaction develops about them.

Did I mention 1066? Well you would be surprised not to have seen the 'Hastings Set To' not represented and here is King Harold's line in all its glory facing off multiple attacks from Duke William's Norman cavalry and infantry.

Having just reviewed and enjoyed our own game of 'Over the Hills' Napoleonic rules it was a pleasure to meet the authors in person, Adrian McWalter and Quinton Dalton, putting on this Austrian vs Bavarian display game.

As you would expect there was plenty of information detailing the game and Steve M got himself a mint copy from Caliver Books whilst we were at the show.

This little 'cribbage board' caught our attention as these were the first prototypes of a potential option for recording brigade,/divisional/army morale other than just writing the scores down.

We had a discussion about potential price points going forward, and with the some ideas forming on doing some Talavera scenarios with the rules I really like this way of recording fatigue hits.

With all the chatting about the rules, I nearly forgot to share some close ups of the game, which would have been a shame as the chaps had brought along some nice figures and terrain to show how things get played using 'Over the Hills'.

If want to know more about the rules you can also go to the Over the Hills Facebook page, join the group and see what others are doing.

Continuing the Napoleonic theme, close by was this very nice Napoleonics in Egypt game presented by Steve Deeprose.

I am sure I have featured Steve's game on another show report, but for me you can't have too much of the look of this early period in the Napoleonic/Revolutionary war as the uniforms are great especially against a desert  style background.

And last but by no means least I present this participation game about the Raid on Schweinfurt carried out deep into German territory by the US air-force on October 14th 1943 which finally disproved the idea of the self protected bomber group making deep penetrating daylight raids without fighter supremacy.

Again I am guessing this was put on by the Staines Wargames club as they are the only game down as a 1/144 aerial combat game, although I fancy the bombers were closer to 1/300th.

I really enjoy getting the planes out on the table and have a large Battle of Britain collection stored at JJ's Towers but 1/144 scale models only add to the fun. The German fighters were particularly attractive and the terrain board was simple but very easy on the eye designed to represent the terrain from high altitude.

So there we are another Warfare seen and enjoyed.

Thanks to all the folks at the Wargames Association of Reading. I could see everyone involved yesterday were busy helping the visitors have a good day out and looking after the traders .

And thank you to Steve M and Mr Steve for their company on the day.

Next up, well loads of stuff, as the day job has been getting in the way of posting. So we still have Vikings to come and the Spanish 2nd Cavalry Division which is now finished awaiting parade pictures together with the last regiment of Dragoons, the Almanza Regiment, and a special project announcement.


  1. Thanks for some lovely pics of the show. I completely agree with your comments with regards trying to park at the show and to get comfortably around the traders. I'd add in that it's a bit of a sod to get to from Bristol compared to Colours at Newbury. In fact my friends have given up attending this show for these very reasons:(

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for your comment. Yes I am sure the guys in Reading are aware of these issues but my fear is that more of us like your friends might stop coming if the venue situation is not addressed which would be a shame because quite clearly from the numbers there yesterday this show is popular and good for the hobby.

      I feel your pain on the travelling. We came up from Exeter and Mr Steve from Cardiff and the journey back seemed to go on forever. We thought Newbury and Colours was just about on the right distance in a day.

      I'm sure our American cousins must think we are soft moaning about a three hour drive up and down when they have to think about booking flights and stay overs.


  2. I can't really think of another venue in Reading that would be suitable unfortunately. It used to be held at the big theatre in town (The Hexagon) many many moons ago, which has a much bigger car park, but the venue wasn't the best. It wouldn't have had the space for all of the demo tables for starters.

    When I got to the table with Over the hills on, there wasn't anyone around to talk to about it sadly, otherwise I would probably have caved in. The table and models were certainly very nice

    1. Hi Paul,
      I thought it was Colours (formerly Armageddon) that was at the Hexagon and they have moved to Newbury Racecourse which is a superb venue, with plenty of parking and trader space. I think perhaps the Reading group might have to think of something similar but outside of Reading.

      Shame you missed the guys on the OTH table as they were more than happy to chat in between rolling bones and were sharing ideas on future plans around the game. I will be doing a Talavera Pajar game at the DWG in January and will post another report on the game system then.

  3. Cheers for an excellent photo report JJ, sadly personal and family stuff got in the way of me visiting Warfare this weekend and very much appericate your post.
    Parking sadly appears to be the curse of us wargamers especially when held at sports centres.


    1. Hi Willz and thank you, glad I was able to partly compensate for you not being able to make it this year.

      Yes finding the right venue is critical in show organising and changing it if it no longer is able to provide the facilities to cater for a successful show is just as important to maintaining that success.

      I hope you get to the next one

  4. Great photo shoot of some really nice looking games - thanks.

  5. Hi,
    I am the trade organiser for Warfare and a committee member, I thought I could offer you some insights into the location and parking at WARFARE.

    The rivermead centre is not perfect and we would love to move to a "better" venue. Trust me we have looked. There are NO venues anywhere near us able to handle a show the size of Warfare, in case you only looked in the busy trade hall we also have a huge bowls hall where the demo games and tournament games were. But there are also over 300 tournament players playing games in the squash courts and on another level upstairs. If anyone knows a venue that can handle this size I genuinely want to hear from you!

    Car parking is a problem, It could have been worse. Some of you will have noticed that the centre have put in an awful vehicle registration parking system which is very slow to use. We were so worried about the queues that would build up trying to get registered for parking we "bribed" the centre at considerable cost to switch off the parking meters for the weekend, that cost us dearly and we are going to review whether it was worth it.

    My heart really does go out to anyone who struggled to park. My only suggestions are either come early on saturday, OR come about 2pm when people have started leaving.... OR come Sunday when it is much quieter...

    Is this perfect? NO! Is it the best we can currently do YES! Seriously if anyone has good ideas let me know at warfare at watkins-family dot co dot uk

    Andy Watkins

    1. Hi Andy,
      Thank you for taking the time to post an 'insiders' perspective of the issues raised.

      As you can see from my comments, I suspected making alternative arrangements with the current venue were very likely problematic and your comments confirms that.

      I hope you are able to resolve the issues discussed in time and that other options present themselves that enables the show to become even better.

      Thank you to you and the Warfare Committee for your efforts in putting on the show and the hard work that goes on behind the scene.


    2. Excellent of Andy to respond. As a member of an exhibiting club it is good to see explanations of why certain things are as they are.

    3. Absolutely. It is very easy for me to write up my obsevations and comments but I know from experience that it is a big job getting these events together and the solutions don't seem that simple when you are dealing with the problem.

  6. Some beautiful games Jonathan. Romantic building look superb

  7. Thanks to share photos. Foy scenario was very great.

  8. Thanks for your comments chaps. This year was a particularly good one for the games on show.
    I just love chatting to the guys who put these games together as our hobby is renowned for people sharing their ideas and I came away with lots of new ones as well as some great pictures.

  9. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful photos! Cheers!

  10. Wonderful looking games, I especially appreciate this spectacular winter atmosphere...Great pics!

  11. Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed the read