Well after a few days in Antwerp enjoying the sites in the city and celebrating Carolyn's birthday, Saturday morning arrived and after a continental breakfast of yogurt and croissants, I set off on my half hour walk across the city on a bright sunny but rather crisp morning, headed towards Waagnatie Expo and Events, Hanger 29 on the banks of the River Scheldt.
Arriving at about 10.10 am I was able to join the queue that had formed for doors opening ready for another Crisis show organised by the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp.
As you can see the venue is a rather large ex shipping container storage unit situated on one of the wharfs in Antwerp docks and even as a 'Brit' abroad I felt very much at home in the company of other wargamers chatting in a variety of languages; interspersed with the occasionally recognisable 'skirmish gaming' and 'Plastic Soldier Company' which told me all I needed to know, wargamers indulging in pre-show banter about the day ahead.
The weather was not what you want to see when you are spending a day indoors wargaming, but at least it made the twenty minutes wait to get in much more pleasant had it been otherwise.
Crisis is on the larger end of the spectrum of UK shows and was busy when I arrived with plenty of gamers coming in behind me. That said the venue is ideal for this size of show with lots of nearby parking to facilitate getting there as well as being on the outskirts of the busy city centre.
My usual routine at shows is to get round the traders and check out the ones I am particularly interested in, getting my purchases sorted out, before changing roles from punter to reporter and getting the camera in hand and just enjoying the show.
Warlord Games have been very much in the news lately with the release of Cruel Seas and their range of 1:300th plastic WWII coastal naval forces.
I was interested to see how good these models were compared to the pictures I had seen on the web and various other media and I have to say they are very attractive models.
I grabbed a couple of quick snaps of the ones made up and in the perspex display cabinet, which I think give a good idea of how nicely these models look once put together.
|The new range of Cruel Seas ships from Warlord Games|
With shows in the UK I usually do the usual quick scan through the traders list readily identifying those I would need to call in on, but Crisis was a bit different with a lot of traders I was less familiar with.
Indeed some were names I only recognised from the web and have never seen at a UK show, so I spent a bit more time than usual checking out those traders I was new to.
Perhaps two of the biggest revolutions to have hit the hobby in recent years alongside the rise of gaming mats are plastic figures and 3D printing.
The Najewitz Modellbau stand really brought home how the latter new development is likely to become a bigger part of our hobby going forward and I was amazed at the variety and quality of the model buildings and aircraft they had on display.
|An amazing range of 3D buildings and vehicles from Najewitz Modellbau|
|The level of detail and turn out on these DC3 models was remarkable|
One plastic manufacturer I am really indulgent in is Victrix and their figures are easily up their with the best the hobby has to offer.
I have been patiently waiting with others for the release of the Imperial Roman auxiliary cavalry and mounted commanders and the former will be available in about two weeks, with these pre-production made up models on display at the Victrix stand.
As I expected, the detail was astonishing and the models allow for constructing auxiliary or Praetorian Guard cavalry.
|The lovely new Roaman Auxiliary Cavalry from Victrix - I can't wait!|
|Simply gorgeous models|
Having made my tour of the trade stands and adding to my Perry collection of Wars of the Roses figures I switched roles and got the camera out ready to see the games on show at this year's Crisis and spend some time chatting to other gamers.
As with my usual format I have gathered pictures of the games that grabbed my attention and shown here in no particular order.
Militia Brabantia club - Italian Renaissance
The first game up just caught my eye simply for the stunning terrain modelling as well as the very nice figures that accompanied the display.
I think, if the sign captured in the background of one of the pictures is a clue, this game is from the Militia Brabantia club and is set in the Italian Renaissance.
League of Augsburg, 'Give back what is ours!', Croatia - Bosnia 1705
These chaps always manage to put on an eye-catching display game and in this case the new Ottoman range was getting a run out in a Donnybrook game recreating a Beneath the Lilly Banners scenario, both rule sets produced by League of Augsburg.
This game was a skirmish between the Ottomans and a small Hapsburg force trying to take back some monks and their possessions recently captured during an Ottoman raid.
Crete 1941 - James Morris and the Lenton Gamers from Nottingham
I featured this game on my post covering our trip to Partizan in May this year and since then I seem to recall James has had an article published in Wargames Illustrated showing how his game easily breaks down into smaller scenarios covering the fighting around Maleme airfield in Crete in 1941.
Even though seen previously, this game easily merited another couple of pictures to include in this post as well.
The Battle of Matz 9th - 12th June 1918
WWI is not really my bag, but I couldn't not but notice the passion poured into this rendition of the Battle of Matz 1918 with some lovely terrain complimented with some excellent looking figures and vehicles.
Hattin 1187 - La Grande Armee
This was an absolutely stunning rendition of the closing moments of the Battle of Hattin complete with blazing wood piles wafting smoke over the hapless crusaders with blinking LED lights giving an extremely effective flame effect among all that smoke.
Rotterdam 1940, Barrage Miniatures and May 40 Miniatures
I had never seen the fighting in and around Rotterdam modelled in the UK so it was really great to chat with Anton and the chaps who had put this amazing model together depicting the charge of the German armoured spearhead on the key bridges in Rotterdam only to be frustrated by the valiant Dutch defenders led by the Dutch Marines nicknamed by the Germans the 'Black Devils'.
The Heinkel sea-plane seen below was produced by the chaps for the game and was a 3D printed model that helped show how the Germans used the aircraft in an attempted coup de main to take the bridges.
The Dutch marines seen below defending a tower block overlooking the bridges were the small professional force holding together the mainly conscript Dutch troops and proved a tough opposition for the German troops to deal with trying desperately to break through and make rapid progress in support of their paratroops landed close to the city.
Although a replica, the uniform and helmet below on the May 40 Miniatures stand illustrated the look of the Dutch marines in 1940.
Operation Dynamo, Dunkirk - Dortmund Amateur Wargamers
WWII was a common theme among the games I ended up including in my show roundup, but with modelling such as this from the chaps in the Dortmund Wargames club it was not surprising.
The attention to detail with the modelling of the evacuation, to the abandoned French and British equipment in amongst German troops trying to break through the perimeter was excellent and produced a stunning looking game.
The Battle of Bakhmach 1918 - Prague Wargames Club
I had never heard of this fascinating action before meeting the chaps from the Prague Wargames club who explained to me about the history of the Czech troops forced to fight their way clear of the Germans on the eastern front in WWI when the Russians decided to drop out of the war and seek peace terms.
The battle depicted, using Chain of Command, was a vicious battle fought between the Czech troops and the Germans as they desperately attempted to hold open a vital rail junction to allow their forces to escape the German pincers approaching them.
After a very round-about campaign the Czech forces managed to escape the Germans in the closing months of WWI to eventually find their way to Marseilles in France.
The Elephant Victory 273 BC - HQ Gaming Club
I had a very nice message from one of the organisers of this game to come and say hello during the show and Wim very kindly explained the delights of using 'To the Strongest' with his 15mm ancient collection which included some very old Minifigs that I have to admit that I instantly recognised.
Fortunately he excused me from trying to interpret the explanation about the game and I don't think Google is good enough to rely on to allow me to even have a go so you will just have to work with the pictures.
Fantasy Game - Club Unknown?
This blog is not exactly known for its coverage of anything fantasy, and apologies to the organisers of this game but I couldn't see who was responsible or what exactly was going on.
That said the modelling on display was superb with great terrain and figures and I guess you can put this series of pictures down to the fact that I am reading J R R Tolkien's Silmarillion at the moment which, along with the 'Prancing Pony Podcast, I am thoroughly enjoying.
You just have to love the modelling that has gone into this game - anyway back to normal!
The Siege of Oosterbeek, September 1944 - Old Pikey's
The Old Pikey's hail from Bournemouth and had put on this simply amazing portrayal of the fighting in and round Oosterbeek during the terrible battles endured by British 1st Airborne Division so memorably portrayed in 'A Bridge too Far'.
The chaps had gone the extra mile by identifying on the table with little Winged Pegasus flags exactly where the Victoria Cross recipients in the battle performed their deeds of extreme heroism in the face of the enemy.
The table was a brilliant graphic display of the battle as a whole and really helped to put many of the small battles with the larger one into context seeing how they related one to another in different parts of the overall battlefield.
The chaps were intending to make the most of their trip over to Antwerp by taking some time to revisit the Arnhem area and the key sites depicted in the game.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed attending Crisis and the continental touch to the show really added something to what was a really nice few days for Carolyn and I to enjoy the city of Antwerp.
If you haven't been then I can highly recommend to other UK wargamers to jump on the train or ferry and pop over next year as Belgium and Antwerp is great place to visit and the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp put on a well organised and highly entertaining show.