This last weekend, Salute happened to happen.
As usual (or as usually as I can manage) I prodded along with a friend and walked around... and around.... and around.... and around! After a few hours, sore feet, a sore wallet and a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge grin!
You see... I am not into Wargammes. I have tried a couple of them and I feel most of them are just glorified sets of chess and soooooooo slooooooooooowwwwwwwwwww to advance I can alsmost feel the years getting heavier as the game progresses. Also I don't have the patience (or the talent!) to painstakingly paint all the figurines and create all the diorams. So wargames have little to offer me.
So why do I go, you'll ask.... No?... you weren't wondering?.... Oh well.. I'll tell you anyway.
Until this year there were two reasons. This year, there are three!
The main one is that I LOVE the atmosphere. Most of the people there are true profesional anoraks and mega geeks with few hours of sun exposure, a distinct disregard for champoo and glasses that should be in a museum for the retro lover. In short, their appeareance could do with a make over so radical Ken Wok would die to attempt. Quite frankly there were a few that, if I had seen them sitting on a bench in a park, I would have thought they were homeless.
Yet, it is the friendliest and kindest atmosphere one can think of. Make the slightest comment and people will be only so happy to chat to you. Surprisingly enough, though, if you talk to them, they actually listen!
Also love to see the dedication and conraderie in their gaming associations. It is amazing how they get together, set up the games, paint together, play together (monkey business or otherwise!) and in general have a rich and fulfilling social life that plenty of people in the "real world" who snear at us for being gamers would envy. As a people observer, for me it is a true feast.
Second reason are the traders. Although there is the internet shopping experience and now we have a couple of shops in Brighton that sell games and are getting better and better stocked all the time, it is great to have so many traders and see games I didn't know existed, or just be able to grab the box and feel it. Maybe even make use of the previously mentioned atmosphere and friendliness to ask someone about the game and get an opinion. Makes for a much better shopping time alltogether!
The third reason I have found this year is the second hand counter. Some 30 feet of tables full of goodies people want to sell at prices that are extremelly affordable. Bought a game, still sealed, at 1/2 price and if I had had more money, I would have spent even more in more games (maybe a good thing I didn't have more money!). All and all, I am one game short of my board gaming budget for the year ahead. As soon as I get Horus Heresy, I will have enough games to keep me busy until Xmas.
So for all those reasons I loved Salute.
Now.. is Salute a great show?.... err... no.....
Salute is a show made by amateurs and for amateurs. That has its charm, no doubt, and it is remakable that it is bigger than GenCon ever was in the UK, but it doesn't make for a good show. The distinctive lack of big sponsors is heavy on the pocket to buy tickets. £11 is a lot of money that would be better spent in a game. For the amount of traders they have, I would expect to pay £5 to get in. Funnily enough, if WOTC, Games Workshop, Paizo and people like that were present, I would be happier to pay more money.
Also it is a one day show, which means you have to be VERY careful with what you spend your time doing. Choose the wrong game to play (wrong in the sense that you'll end up not liking it) and you'll have wasted hours (one or two maybe) you could have spent playing something you'd enjoy. So not enough time to play enough games.
Would making the show a two day event make sense?.... well.... yes if you're going to play games. If not, no point. Would I pay £22 to get in during the weekend?.. indeed not! There are train and tube tickets to add to that too!
I guess they need to diversify a bit. Bringing more CCGs (I mean some!) would be a good thing to attract more public. Maybe more RPGs too... but then, we have Dragonmeet for that, I guess. Maybe something to tell them at some point!
Still. A very well spent day and a worthy trade show that left everyone excited by the end of the day (and that was measured by the faces I saw and conversations I heard in the train...).
Next year, more please!!!!!!