A little after dawn o’clock Charles, Lorna and I departed our secret lair in the leafy suburbs of Surrey in a car laden to the rafters with our equipment. The M25 was eerily quiet, like in a post-apocalypse movie and the mood in the car was subdued. It was silently agreed that there is not enough caffeine for this time in the morning.
By the time we reached the Docks the world had woken up and it was time to get our war faces on.
As we have found before the Warlords team are cheery, helpful and, above all, efficient. The car was in and out of the hall in under five minutes and, while Charles went to stable it, we set about unpacking and getting ready.
We were soon joined by our friend Matt and the serious business of assembling Billy’s latest masterpiece – a cemetery in old Budapest – was accomplished.
The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare had been planning for Salute for several months. Charles’ organisation and checksheets ensured that nothing was forgotten and, that everything was in its assigned place.
The set-up included:
1. The village of Kattegat from the TV series ‘Vikings’, for Blood Eagle,
2. The Shrine of Dog-e-bite for Daisho, and
3. The old cemetery in Budapest for IHMN Gothic.
Three battlefields, three masters of the games (cough) and our Maitre ‘D, Lorna on front of house.
We stood back to admire our work but only had moments before the starting gun was fired and the horde descended upon us.
Over the next seven hours, we ran at least nine games of Blood Eagle, seven of Daisho and six of IHMN Gothic. This may not seem much until you realise that each game took 30-45 minutes, required us to instruct and entertain forty-four people from eight to seventy years old, in a hall with the acoustics of an aircraft hanger and several thousand people in.
Some players were already aficionados of IHMN but most were playing their first games. The preparation we put into the figure cards and reference sheets really paid off here, making it much easier for people to get their heads around the rules. In most games people were up and running by the end of turn two, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Indeed, some of those manning adjacent tables were rolling their eyes at the amount of laughter and shouting going on in our small portion of the arena.
As before the youngsters and the non-gamer partners really gave their regular gamer parents/friends a good run for their money. Every battle was closely fought with many going to the wire. We still had people playing when the Warlords began gently ushering everyone out.
It was really great to meet new people catch-up with old friends. Here are just a few of those we met:
- Viv Chandra of the gamers YouTube channel Rubbish-in, Rubbish-out. He came all the way from Australia to see us (and friends, family and others).
- Mark Byng, the creator if the IHMN Boardgame, and his friend Richard.
- Craig Thompson of Tiny Terrain, who provided so many great photos for the Blood Eagle book.
- Annie Norman of Bad Squiddo Games. A young lady who has a growing reputation as a trader and figures manufacturer.
- Simon Miller of To the Strongest! An old friend and fellow independent designer.
- Karl and Mick from the White Hart Gamers. The original gang who demo’ed IHMN at Salute 2013.
- Nick Eyre of Northstar Miniatures, our friend and distributor of our rules.
- Dave Wise of the Games Club Network, the man who has put on more games of IHMN, at more shows, than anyone else on the planet.
- Tony Yates, friend, artist and all round good egg, with his regular opponent Alec.
- And in the dying moments of the day Ben and Lloyd from Beasts of War.
There were so many other excellent ladies and gentlemen who stopped by to chat, ask about the games and even ask us to sign their copies of the books. This, I assured them, would double the value of the books should we suddenly and tragically die.
Each of us managed to get a few minutes away during the day and do a quick walkabout. I must admit mine was a bit of a whistlestop as I rushed between the stalls selling Blood Eagle. Two fo the three sold out by lunchtime and even Northstar only had a handful left by close of play. I did not see much in the way of steampunk going on despite the theme, but that is more because I was rushing than any actual lack.
We eventually made it back to the lair around seven and collapsed to partake of too much pizza and wine. Despite feeling like beaten men we agreed that we’re coming back next year.
So a heartfelt thanks to all of you who managed to make it to Salute and say hello to us. It means a lot to us talking face to face with players. To those that didn’t we hope that this report and the photos, help give you an idea of what a frenetic and wonderful experience it is.