Thursday, 9 June 2011

Reflections on Wappinshaw

Well given the old grey cells are in rapid decline, I'd thought I'd better give my thoughts, for what they are worth on the Wappinshaw Show (try saying that after a few alcoholic beverages!) that took place in Glasgow and hosted by the Phoenix Wargames Club last Saturday before my memory fails me completely.

As mentioned in my earlier post (here) the show was held for the first time in the rather grand surroundings of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, which is as near the centre of Glasgow as you can get and definitely a huge change from the previous venue of the last few years at the hall next to the Polish Ex-Servicemans club. As has been said by Hendrid in his excellent Warblog the old hall had a certain charm. However, it got cramped there pretty quickly and the corridor and steps leading upto the kitchen for the obligatory bacon rolls could get very crowded and lead to the spilling of tea and the whelps of scalded wargamers.

No such problem with the new venue, with the show being set up in the foyer of the Concert Hall, good sized space, with plenty of room at the entrance doors to come and go. The tables set up in the middle of the foyer seemed to have plenty of room for people to mingle round, no bashing into rucksacks while trying to peer at the figures displayed on the tables. However, it has to be remembered that Wappinshaw is a small show in the terms of clubs and traders attending, I think any more tables than were there on Saturday (there were 10 clubs with tables, the largest table being I would guess 12ft x 8ft), things could get very crowded quite quickly.

Given that there are relatively few Wargames shows in Scotland (6 in total - and yes I know that the guys in Livingstone held an event at the end of October last year but I don't know if it can yet count as regular event on the Wargames calendar), it was good to see a number of different games from those on show at Carronade in Falkirk the month before. Although, the Kirriemuir Wargames Club Participation Game "A Norse, A Norse etc etc" had already been to Falkirk, it is an impressive layout and always busy with players (some no doubt tempted by the prospect of winning chocolate gold coins depending on  how much plunder they have managed to get back to their longships.

Hmm, this longship is a bit empty of plunder !

Also, given the relatively small number of tables on display, I think it is important that as many of them should be participation games, otherwise, there won't be enough to hold the attention of the average wargamer for more than an hour or so, and fortunately at this show, in addition to the Kirrie table, there were also participation games being run by G3 Club, South East Scotland Wargames Club, Glasgow and District Wargames Society, Glasgow Wargames Club and The League of Extraordinary Kreigspielers so more than half of the available tables were participation games so that was a good result from the show's point of view.

Highlight for me though was the table put on by Dumfries Wargames Club and their "A Very British Civil War" game. A fab layout, loads of gorgeous figures and some wonderful "between the wars" tanks.

The centre of the foyer, where the club tables were set up, was brightly lit but I did feel that round the sides of the foyer were all the traders and the Bring 'n' Buy were set up the lighting was particularly dim and at times a struggle to see things properly. The guys on the Bring 'n' Buy only had a couple of tables to display the assembled goods and I think they were caught unawares by the amount of stuff that descended upon them- definitely could have done with another table at least, but then the Bring 'n' Buy can be such a fickle event that next year they might get hardly anything. Still better to have too much space as opposed to not enough.

Unfortunately for the show there were somw no shows from a couple of traders and it had already been announced prior to the show that the hoped for appearance from Warlord Games had been cancelled due to illness. Still the regular stalwarts from the Central Belt and Fife and Solway Crafts and Miniatures from Dumfries, the Pendraken Miniatures team and the ever cheerful guys from Under the Bed Enterprises were in attendance. However, from my purchasing point of view, there was little to tempt me to part with my cash and although I picked up a couple of half price Timecast 10mm buildings from Central Wargaming, I actually had to walk along to Static Games in King Street (who did have a stall at the show but didn't have what I was looking for) to pick up the 1/72nd Scale Russian Anti Tank Gun kit from The Plastic Soldier Company Limited (Yes Dear Reader, the review is coming of that particular kit).

Alas, one slightly disappointing feature about the new venue was the catering. Obviously, the organisers hands were tied by this and the only catering available in the venue was from the Concert Hall Cafe. All very nicely prepared and no doubt very tasty, but at a price way above what I would be used to be paying for catering at a Wargames Event. I want to spend my money on toys not a fancy baguette. Fortunately, being in the City Centre, the nearest Greggs is about 30 seconds away so a quick visit there for a Steak Bake at £1.09, now that's more like it!!!

Parking at the venue, was as you might expect pretty pricey, but had the convenience of being right on the venue's doorstep. Again, being the miser I am, I parked in the Cathedral precinct and paid £0.60 an hour for parking and had about a five minute walk to get to the venue, which was fine from my point of view but wouldn't have been practical if I had a pile of stuff to carry there and back.

I think it is fair to say that Wappinshaw doesn't try to compete with the 2 "big" shows in Scotland - "Claymore" in Edinburgh and "Carronade" in Falkirk. Instead, it aims, in my view to be a friendly, wee show, with enough participation games to keep the punters interested. They were let down by a couple of traders this year which was a pity, as that side of the show was a bit disappointing, but hopefully those traders that were there did well, there certainly seemed to be steady flow of bodies going in and out of the show throughout the day.

So well done the guys at Phoenix. Hopefully the move to the new venue was a success but don't try and squeeze too many moe clubs in for next year's show!

For some more excellent pics of the event (far better than my meagre iPhone efforts) you should go and visit the Wappinshaw Blog and Dave T's blog Wee Men Under the Bed as well as the Warblog mentioned above.

Next show North of the Border, will be Claymore on the 6th August and hosted by The South East Scotland Wargames Club and your roving reporter will be there.


  1. Great post, it does annoy me when at shows you have to decide to spend £10 on figures or a fancy cheese roll, that slashes the roof of your mouth to pieces. Gregg's always sounds the better option!

  2. Good review of a nice little show, we're off to a similar type show this weekend at Broasdside, we're sometimes lucky and our mate brings sandwiches.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really didn't like the old venue so I may give this a shot next year as the new one looks 10 times better

  4. A very interesting article. This may sound like a stupid question but I have to ask. Clubs attend a convention to play a game for other people in their club and it is not open to others joining in? I need to ask because I am curious. Game conventions here are for the most part open participatory games. Clubs in the US attend to put on games for the people attending and rarely play in their club's game. Many game companies have dedicated tables for demonstration games for new systems. Closed tournament events are usually reserved for members of large game organizations.

    A fascinating glimpse into gaming across the pond.



  5. Cheers guys!

    @Will - For many years in the UK, Wargames Shows were just that - Shows. They were effectively events where clubs would "display" their figures for people to look at but not touch.
    It has to be said that there are still some wargamers out there who are more interested in playing their game at a Show than engaging the public and answering questions about their table, figures etc.

    The Participation game has, however, become more and more prevalent in recent years and in my opinion, Shows are all the more better for their presence. Our hobby, being relatively small, needs to be prepared to entice newer players in, and what better way to do that than to put on a game at a Show, where Joe Public can play and touch the lovely figures.

    Against that, most Wargames Shows in the UK are 1 day events and as such, Participation Games have to keep a balance of being quick games while still being fun to play. If you get stuck at 1 game too long, then you run the risk of missing out on other things that may be going at the Show.

    Also, Participation Games are pretty hard work for the Clubs that put them on, not just in the preparation before hand of the game but the running of them during the day where you have to explain the rules of the game to the punters, keep the game moving and so on. I am always knackered and hoarse anytime I have been involved in running a Participation game at a Show.

    This year has been such a pleasant change of being able to go to a Show and see it from the other side of the "fence"!

  6. Many Thanks kp, I am now unconfused.