This weekend saw the biggest independent one day wargaming and table top event in the UK: Salute 2015! Created by The South London Warlords and held at the gigantic ExCel Centre in London, Salute showcases the greatest games companies, traders, participation games and demonstrations to be seen this side of the Atlantic.
I attended the event for the first time, as a live blogger and new hobby enthusiast. Wargaming and table top gaming is an incredibly challenging and rewarding hobby, one that is growing in popularity year on year, thanks to celebrated internet shows such as Will Wheaton’s Table Top and the growth of cult entertainment conventions and board games based on mainstream TV shows. Another favoured source of Wargaming culture news and reviews is BeastsOfWar.com, the website for whom I was live blogging the event. Beasts of War had a heavy media presence at the show as well as their own huge participation game based on the iconic scene in Star Wars, The Assault On Hoth. Having teased us of its progress in the run up to Salute via vlogs and social media, the game itself was over-run with eager players and fans all day long. A participation game offers a massive, often beautifully decorated and adorned table in which to play a large scale wargame with strangers and games designers alike, and Salute was full of them!
On offer to ticket holders were titles such as Spartan’s Halo, (based on the video game franchise)Hawk’s Dropzone Commander, sneak peaks of Prodos’ AVP and many custom games created by independent gaming clubs and communities.
One of my highlights of the event was discovering the wonderfully weird The World Of Twilight, a unique fantasy game that inspires memories of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal in its aesthetic. It’s a small skirmish game that can be scaled up to multiple players (at least 5 if I remember correctly!) and supports an interactive turn order. The two most striking features, to me at least, was that the demonstration game was set up on a beautiful round table and there were children playing! I love any games that encourage younger players into the hobby. The World of Twilight looks utterly gorgeous, with a bright, saturated universe to explore.
Another title that has been recently released to massive demand and increasing hype is Guild Ball by Steamforged Games. Guild Ball is a mob Football game set in a fantasy medieval world which boasts easy set up, deep game play and modern game mechanics. I was so lucky to chat to the creators over what was left of their stock after fighting my way through an actual mob. Mat Hart, whose expertise has shaped many acclaimed console game titles, took some time to describe Guild Ball as ‘the perfect second game’ – easy to pick up with many aspects to master. Their stand was truly one of the hot spots of the convention and the game has its loyal fans already despite being a relative newcomer. I am sold!
As well as demonstrations and participation games from some of the most exciting IP’s and developers in table top gaming at the moment, Salute offered many traders stands, terrain builders, independent clubs, miniatures companies and a painting competition. There really was something for everyone – novice to veteran. Being of the former persuasion myself, I felt like a kid in a toy shop!
Live blogging the event meant I got chance to find exhibitors I wouldn’t normally, chat to clubs I might not have approached if I was just browsing and meet so many new people I might not have had the chance to. I was so inspired after the days events. Inspired to paint, inspired to play, but mostly, inspired to continue down my hobby road, on my own terms and for my own enjoyment, yet surrounded by people of all walks of life who enjoy the same.
Wargaming is truly a friendly, fun and social pastime and nowhere was that more evident than at Salute 2015.
GS Blogger: bintykins /@bintykins