As I walked around the hall, all these games were busy with the public having a go, which I thought was pretty impressive. A lot of young, ie teenagers seemed to be having a great time, which was great to see. No digital stuff in sight at Salute.
And then we had the historical games, some good, with well painted figures and informative handouts etc, and then we had the majority, which were alright. Absolutely nothing wrong with any of them to be honest, but lacking that little bit extra, that something that makes a game 'sing'.
Not I'm not here to slag any of the wargamers off, but I look to Salute to show where things are going in the wargaming world, and its pretty clear that games that can be put on a small table, with figures that either don't need painting or can do with a simple paint job are on the up.
Will this trend be sustained?
A lot of these gamers will drop by the wayside, a few will stay the course, but very few will make the cross over into historical wargaming, and why would they.
An exception at Salute, a table top game being played by people under the age of 30. Hosted by Henry Hyde. It looked a lot of fun.
And what of the trade? As I strolled around the numerous traders, the majority were selling figures, accessories and rules for these small games. Most were beautiful models, in fact works of art. A lot were eye waterenly expensive, but the stalls were busy. As usual Forge World was handling long queues all day and their stuff is very expensive. All in all things looked on the up, but it was clear to me that historical wargaming is on the wane.
Now things aren't all doom and gloom, but there are so many issues that are causing my type of wargaming to shrink in popularity.
Education, and the lack of actual knowledge.
Lets be right, anyone who is interested in war runs the risk of being a social outcast at the best of times, but in this new world of ' safe' areas etc, a wargaming could be ostracised very easily.
God forbid that one should be interested in Man's most successful invention. We are very good at killing each other.
Wargamers suffer from a poor image, we are usually male, normally older than most, and we never do ourselves any favours because frankly we are in the main, a tad different from the common herd.
And yet wargaming is a wonderful hobby, on so many levels, the skills of model making, figure painting, historical research, social interaction etc, etc.
And the elephant in the room, we are getting older. But we cant do anything about that, and I'm not wearing skinny jeans for anyone.
But I'm afraid that at Salute it was very clear that Historical Wargaming as I know it is now very much a subsidiary to the fantasy/ sci fi world, and without it, Salute would fail big style. So it looks like an uneasy co existence for the near future, or until wargaming is banned for being 'unsafe.' Personally I would love to see any historical wargamers hosting a wargame at a show, to up their game, big style, just to grab a few of the young attendees.
So did I 'enjoy' Salute. Yes and No.
The show is very well organised, the Warlords listen to their customers, and brought back seating inside the hall which was great for me.The venue is not ideal, but where else could you put 5000+ plus people and all the trade stands etc. I enjoyed meeting up with other wargamers, I enjoyed buying stuff that I probably will never paint, but what the hell. I saw some games, that may encourage me to try out a different period, but the logistics are personally becoming a big struggle to manage.
Visiting one's capital city is stressful at the best of times, but I am really beginning to dislike the whole experience.
Just to show its not all doom and gloom in my world, Simon Millers excellent historical Raphia.