“Warfare" Showcase 2022
Updated: Feb 13
With last year's trip to a bitterly cold Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire already being something of a distant memory, I was rather looking forward to attending the Wargames Association of Reading’s forty-second "Warfare" Show at its new location inside the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre. Frustratingly however, I once again failed to follow my own (good) advice of checking the organiser's precise directions to the venue, and instead trusted in my iPhone's satellite navigation to 'get me to the church on time'. This was undeniably a mistake, as although I arrived directly outside the building just in time for the event's start, Gate B was only open to pedestrians, whilst the required Gate F (for motor vehicles) was actually still quite a drive away and then required a bit of a winding trek through the grounds of "Europe’s leading business airport" before I reached the designated car park.
Happily, once I had alighted from my ride, it really was a short walk up to the entrance of the Conference Centre, and I was very quickly offering my wrist up to a gentleman who helpfully attached my entrance band around my arm. Now, whether the price of entry provides value for money in my mind usually depends upon how long I spend at a show, and in this case, it cost a tenner for two hours of solid mooching about - as well as some enjoyable small talk with the likes of "Strength & Honour" rules set author Mark Backhouse and one of the people behind "Tablescape" scenery. I was though rather perturbed by not receiving even the most rudimentary of show guides, which meant I had absolutely no idea of what was where, or even where 'where' ended..?
Foremost of the draws to "Warfare" for me is their excellent Bring & Buy section, and once again I was amazed at just much stuff was up for sale. Of particular interest was the sheer amount of "Flames Of War" merchandise being 'moved on' - whether it be painted "Battlefront Miniatures" figures and vehicles, books or numerous miniatures still in their blister. To be honest, I was a bit concerned that the World War Two wargame had suffered some calamitous loss in popularity. But that didn't deter me from picking up a still-sealed copy of the "Hungarian Steel" and "Brave Romania" Mid-War expansion sets for half their RRP.
Having finished slowly shuffling my way along the second-hand stall - which rather neatly ran the breadth of Discover Hall, it was on to the traders and several distinctly caught my eye. One of the first tables I spotted was the self-published "Bot War" as sold by "Lvl Up Gaming", which quickly recaptured my childhood with its fantastic display of 10mm 'transformers' from "an alternate reality on Earth in the 1980’s." These figures were super-colouful, and it was clear that the Bournemouth-based store plans to support the game with enthusiastic earnest. Surprisingly though, especially for someone who loves giant robot models, I didn't actually pick up a starter box, thinking instead that I might first explore whether I could find similar miniature STL (Standard Triangle Language) files on "Thingiverse" or some such for a fraction of the price.
This distinct change in my buying mindset continued throughout the show. and only stopped once I encountered "Triple Ace Games" in the Main Hall and discovered that their eye-catching "Ironclads" miniatures were available digitally as supportable 3D prints. Now, in the past I have no doubt I would have walked away from this booth at least clutching the ship-vs.-ship wargame's £80 starter set. However, the knowledge that I could get my hands on the somewhat cartoony-looking flying battleships online and therefore print out as many as I wanted for a fraction of the price, instantly stopped me from making an impulsive physical purchase.
Resultantly, I soon found myself just being interested in the scenery on sale from the numerous vendors rather than any actual gaming figures and made my final purchases at the "Tablescape" booth. I already own a sizeable number of this company's Industrial, Dugout and Middle Eastern/North African ranges, so decided to take the plunge into their Fortress buildings for my imminent "Horus Heresy" tabletop. Somewhat shockingly, I soon discovered that they had already run out of some of the pieces I was after - bearing in mind the stall was only two hours into a two-day show - and ended up picking up a few slightly battered display pieces at a reduced price...