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Author Topic: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK  (Read 3201 times)

Offline Yarkshire Gamer

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The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« on: December 04, 2022, 02:57:47 PM »






https://yarkshiregamer.blogspot.com/2022/12/wargames-shows-do-we-still-want-them.html

I've put together a blog post following my display at the Recon show in Pudsey yesterday, there are 20 or so pictures on the link above.

I'd done a full post on the Siege of Forli (What If) game not that long ago so I've taken the opportunity to discuss the future of Wargames Shows in the UK.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Me I'm hearing rumblings and it's not my stomach after a bacon butty. It's not like there hasn't been a perceived "crisis" in the hobby before just look back at old copies of your Wargames Magazines for the previous portents of doom, even a few years ago the cheery "Your all dying, Wargaming is F@*#◊d" video from Little Wars TV asked a similar question.

Give it a read and tell me what you think.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer
"Glittering prizes and endless compromises,  shatter the illusion of integrity"
http://yarkshiregamer.blogspot.co.uk

Offline vexillia

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2022, 03:39:38 PM »
As you say: an age old problem.  The post pandemic issues, energy costs and rampant inflation do make the current period one of the worst in recent memory.  Businesses will vote with their wallets and will do so quickly once the numbers don't add up.

Having said all that, when I was running a small wargames business I was always asked "why don't you do shows?".  My answer, as a retailer of imported goods, was two fold:

  • For large shows, I would have to sell all my UK stock (and I do mean al) to make enough profit to cover the costs of attending the show (= break even, at best).
  • For any other shows, I was unlikely to sell enough to cover the cash I'd have to pay to run the stand; Never mind the sold stock.  In plain terms: I'd make a loss and still have to spend more to replace stock.

Now if you sculpt and cast your own stuff, or sell second hand goods bought for buttons, your margins are better so some shows may be profitable.  Plus any loss could be written off as "advertising". 

Sadly, the latter is a spurious benefit at best.  But for out & out retailers shows are near certain way to lose money.

Offline nicknorthstar

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2022, 03:49:06 PM »
As soon as you wrote Nottingham Mafia I was out mate.

Offline Yarkshire Gamer

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2022, 03:59:21 PM »
As soon as you wrote Nottingham Mafia I was out mate.

Why Nick, haven't you got a sense of humour ? It's a joke. You have really lost me with your comment, is that really offensive ? Surely it's better to be in the hub of the Wargaming World

I've just read the comment again (it's right at the end of the piece) and you really have totally and completely lost me with what I've said wrong  :-[  I am clearly commenting on the lack of press for anything Norrh of Nottingham, seriously mate let me know cause I look like Mr Puzzled doing the world's most difficult puzzle at the moment !


Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer
« Last Edit: December 04, 2022, 04:11:19 PM by Yarkshire Gamer »

Offline Overrevdsquat

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2022, 08:04:45 PM »
Thanks for your thoughts. I recently was considering something similar on my way home from Warfare in Reading (sort of).

I am a punter. Until having to move in 2019, I lived in the southeast, just outside the M25. It was a great place to get to shows from, so I could enjoy lots each year, from Salute, to the joy of 1/2 a dozen stalls and a cuppa at the Blackwolf scout hut in Hitchen.

I go to shows to buy, mostly. At shows I can get either little bits I need without having to pay postage; or  I can get great bargains off bring and buys or very often, off retailers who are remaindering stock, or selling slight seconds. Filling stalls with the latest big company sets at 15% off does little for me. Seeing a new producer with a new niche is a bonus. If the show entrance fee and parking/fuel/ etc is more than maybe 3 lots of postage, its a disincentive.

I also, then, go to see new stuff that hasn't crossed my online radar. It does seem to be getting harder to keep across all the news, now that forums are old hat and I don't want to be signed on to hundreds of social media groups just for the odd snippet.

I do play games too. We played a fun aliens game at Warfare. I enjoy looking at the eye candy games too, but there is so much mdf etc out there now that the creativity and inspiration feels really diluted. Dislike games put on by manufacturers with the sole intention of selling me stuff. Leave the sales pitch at home - pique my interest and make it fun.

My thoughts after Warfare were mixed. It was the first time I had been on a Sunday, and it felt dead in comparison to the Saturdays I used to enjoy. It was a good venue, but the show felt a bit squeezed considering the huge empty hanger the competition games took a small part of. It did make me wonder if 2 day shows are too much for traders and volunteers alike - by Sunday they are jaded. I noted the mix of stalls too. My son has recently moved out and wanted to get some bits to replace my easily borrowed ones - simple stugg like a modelling saw and some x-acto blades, oh, and a cube of d6. We found the saw in the end. Blades were unfindable, and so was that sort of box of dice he was after. Where has all the creativity gone out of wargaming where we no longer have a selection of modeling tools at a show??? As for not having someone with a box of dice, I was staggered. So many stalls seemed to be just another couple of guys with a laser cutter making the same sort of stuff as other people with a laser cutter.

I do wonder if some clubs are downsizing - like Blackwolf, and Penkridge, maybe others. Going back to cheaper church and school hall like venues with just a few stalls or big bring and buy.

I used to love the Pudsey show when I was in Yorkshire. Really friendly. Was massively underwhelmed by Fiasco last time I went. I really enjoyed it when it was in the ground floor of the museum, but in the dark hall over the square it was horrible. Even meeting up with some old friends barely lifted it.


Offline Doug ex-em4

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2022, 08:17:37 PM »
ÖÖ.As for not having someone with a box of dice, I was staggeredÖÖ.
Iím surprised  as well. Obviously, I retired to soon ;)

Doug

Offline Yarkshire Gamer

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2022, 08:45:09 PM »
Thanks for your thoughts Overrecdsquat,

Sadly with the Leeds Show we no longer can rely on the exhibition hall inside the museum, we nearly didn't run the show one year because we got booted out as some guy called James Bond turned up with his cars.

We repeatedly ask the Museum for better lighting in the current hall but we are largely ignored it's been designed as a night time Concert and Party Venue, our once a year show doesn't even register on their radar.

We have searched for years for alternative venues but the Internationally renowned Museum is the best we can come up with.

The lighting is definitely not our choice.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

Offline fred

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2022, 09:32:52 PM »
Interesting post.

Iíve never been a big show attendee typically 1 or 2 a year (and being based in the NW of the UK  none are that close). And as I mainly game in 10mm much of what I want to buy isnít available for ad hoc purchase at shows, so a Ďsmall carrier bagí is often what I come away with.

But I do like a wander around, to see games, and to see what is on offer to purchase. Especially the smaller bits and pieces that are a pain to buy online.

I noticed in the comments that Battleground in the NE was mentioned as getting better than pre-pandemic numbers though the door, and this is what Leon from Pendraken has shared as official numbers. You also mention about manufacturers taking over shows, and this certainly seems to have worked for Battleground - so perhaps a chat to Leon on the podcast would be good?

Offline Ninefingers

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2022, 07:07:04 AM »
Salute and Warfare seemed dead last year - but in the case of Warfare it could have been the horrible venue. Hopefully it will grow into Farnborough. I think after a year fallow, Salute will bounce back.

The main 'sleeping' crisis for our club is that it is top-heavy age-wise and there are no members under 35. In a few years time we may not have enough members to afford the venue we've been in for 40 years.

Offline Yankeepedlar01

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2022, 07:24:13 AM »
Some context: I have in my time been a show organiser(WMMS); a Demo gamer (WMMS, Partizans, Midland Militate); helped on Trade stands (Duncan's); and been a Punter (back in the day up to 20 shows a year from Salute in the south to Claymore and Carronade in Scotland). As a geriatric-in-waiting wargamer I'm now a mere punter at shows, but I missed them badly during the Plague and was so pleased to get back to them this year. Undoubtedly there will be issues ahead centred on the cost of living issue alone for some punters and traders but I'm convinced that shows will not only survive but will prosper, for in tight situations hobbies become more, not less, important and spending rises not falls as it represents better value for money than a pint in the pub, which is just gone when the glass is empty after all. This year I've been to both Partizans, Hammerhead and Penkridge TT Sale and enjoyed each one. Why? I saw great games and many traders, I bought stuff I didn't know I wanted as well as what was on my List! I got a bargain or three. I met friends old and new to chew the hobby fat. All of which rejuvenated my sadly aging hobby mojo and brought me great joy. I'm convinced for these reasons shows have a future and will go on from strength to strength, riding out this storm as others before.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2022, 01:35:43 PM by Westfalia Chris »
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Offline ithoriel

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2022, 07:38:02 AM »
As background, I don't drive anymore so show visits are dependent on public transport which has been somewhat erratic recently. Also, if I bought not a single figure more (As if!!) at current rate of painting my lead mountain would last me a millennium, at least! I have two figures bought in 1978 that are based and undercoated but not yet painted.

I made it to Claymore (local show) and Joy of Six this year. Both excellent. Plans for Carronade, Battleground and Fiasco were scuppered by rail disruption or illness.

Purchases from traders and Bring & Buy are largely things I donít need, bought with money I donít have for projects Iíll never finish. 🙂 Iím on my own, I have the cash (more or less) and the space (for now) so f*** it, why not?

Biggest draw, for me, of shows is a chance to meet the people I only see at shows Ė traders and punters alike.

Next is the chance to see things in the flesh (well, in the lead, plastic, mdf or resin) and plan online purchases for the future.

Finally, I photograph every game, or at least intend to, which I rummage through from time to time if Iím looking for inspiration for figure colours or a piece of terrain or whatever.

Downside of shows for me is that there seems to be an emphasis on 28mm and I am drawn to ever smaller stuff as my eyesight and hand/ eye coordination get worse. Doh!

Next year I hope to do better in attending shows than I managed this year.
There are 100 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data.

Offline nicknorthstar

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2022, 09:57:50 AM »
As soon as you wrote Nottingham Mafia I was out mate.

Sure we'll meet at a show next year, we'll have a chat about it then, it's too long to go into here.

Offline Yarkshire Gamer

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2022, 12:27:00 PM »
Sure we'll meet at a show next year, we'll have a chat about it then, it's too long to go into here.

Will do Nick, I have no idea how or why it's caused offence and it certainly wasn't meant in any other manner than the joking  way I write and Podcast.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

Offline SJWi

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2022, 04:47:47 PM »
If I look back to why I go to shows I guess the answer has changed over time.  Back in the '80s before the Internet, apart from odd ads in the wargames press going to a show was about the only place you could see many traders or their shiny new products . Many/most companies now have decent websites, so that rationale has largely disappeared. Yes you save on postage and packing by buying at a show but you can get a lot of P&P for the sometimes £10 entry fee plus transport etc etc. So there must be more to a show than a shopping expedition. Probably my main motivation for attending a show nowadays is seeing a good demo game of a period that I haven't thought of before, or which uses a set of rules that may be of interest. Being able to talk to the authors is something I particularly value. This year I have only managed to get to Warfare at Farnborough and was less than overwhelmed. I've seen a thread in the "Medieval Adventures" section regarding the recent Reveille show in Bristol. What I saw there ticked most of my boxes. Big doesn't make it beautiful!

Offline Daeothar

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Re: The Future of Wargames Shows in the UK
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2022, 03:45:41 PM »
I've long realized that things are wildly different in the UK as opposed to the Mainland when it comes to shows. And stores for that matter.

In my experience, the wargaming landscape in the Netherlands has always been a very bleak desert indeed. I saw my first gaming table at a show called Ducosim back in the early nineties. It's when I bought my very first copy of White Dwarf too, and those two combined were my first glimpse of a much larger wargaming world than I could ever have imagined.

Now mind; Ducosim was a twice-a-year event, by and large focussing on boardgames. I went there with some mates to see if there would be any more roleplaying books and maybe some expansions for Hero Quest, as that was about the extent of my exposure to miniature gaming at the time. And then there was this single large table full of scratchbuilt terrain and miniatures that drew my eye.

The game in progress was probably Rogue Trader, and I was gobsmacked. The guy I talked to there, who built the table, has never known how much he actually changed my life by staging that demo game then and there. Thanks, man!

But at future iterations of the show, no more tabletop gaming took place, much to my disappointment. My contact with the gaming world at large was through my very well read copy of White Dwarf and the very occasional visit to Antwerp with my parents, where there was a dedicated wargaming store called The Lonely Mountain (which I was allowed to drop in for a few minutes while the rest of the family waited outside).

It was not for over a decade later that I finally managed to go to a dedicated wargames show, coincidentally also in Antwerp, called Crisis. The venue was still at the Metropolis at the time and it was JAM-PACKED! Again, it felt like I had arrived at Valhalla, and my funds were well and truly depleted afterwards.

And that show became a fixed feature on my calendar. In fact, bar Poldercon, which is a completely different beast (sign up for 4 participation games and have fun, as opposed to gawking and punting), it's been the only show I've ever attended (also I'm not counting GW Games Days here).

Crisis was the way I could buy cheap 2nd hand minis and pick up all the new goodies I'd been craving. It was my yearly spending fest, and I looked forward to it each year. That, and the fact that thre were always amazing displays and games to admire and even a few friends to run into.

But then the combination of Brexit and Covid killed the show. It's been cancelled two years in a row now, and I fear it will never come back again.
True enough, the last few years I didn't spend nearly as much as I did back when I first started going, but it was still sort of the highlight of the wargaming year for me.

The closest show now is Tactica in Hamburg, and that will require a lot more in terms of logistics, as it's literally 10 times farther away from where I live. But I will probably go there at least once, simply because of the lack of alternatives.

So you UK guys should rejoice, really, as there at least still are shows over there, no matter how meagre they've become ;)
Miniatures you say? Well I too, like to live dangerously...
Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face - Mike Tyson

 

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