27 May 2022
The Editor of Miniature Wargames goes to the 2022 Hammerhead show
I took a trip to Hammerhead 2022 in March and great fun it was too. Sure, I originally thought I’d be there a year ago but... well “slips happen” (or words to that effect). What was fantastic was that – despite the travails of the last two years, and other shows still being cancelled (in the last few months we’ve certainly lost Cavalier and Salute from the itinerary) – what is nowadays probably my favourite show was back on the wargaming calendar. And it was going great guns!
Spread over the two halls – the capacious main George Stephenson Hall and the Gamer's Lounge – were 55 traders. Well almost (sadly there was the odd cancellation but nothing like Salute had experienced six months before). There was a good retail mix and you could buy pretty much anything you needed for the hobby, irrespective of period or style. I had reports from traders whose feedback I trust who were kicking themselves for not bringing more stock so... a good time for all, I think. There was also a small Tabletop Sale area for gamers to unload material that was excess to their needs.
This is the bit I like the best: all the games at the show are (in theory, at least) participation games. Or ‘Party games’, as they are usually called (at least one table was taking that to the ‘party max’ with several bottles of wine but... hey: each to their own!). There was a fine selection of games and generally very well presented. Sure, there was a DBA competition area in the Gamer's Lounge (I’m not sure how that qualifies as a ‘party game’) and some of the games were a tad ‘club night’ in appearance but not many: almost all were up to pretty high standards. Not quite Partizan, perhaps, but they also weren’t demos or static displays: these were games folks could play! So what caught my eye?
First off there was the odd trade game. A nice looking (but largely immobile) layout from Mierce Miniatures; some outings from Gripping Beast; and a fun pair of small (but highly detailed) layouts (Egyptian and Mediaeval high fantasy) from 7TV/Crooked Dice were all in evidence and well worth a look in. After that I was very taken by When you have to shoot: shoot, don’t talk (by the Harrogate Wargames Club) which was a very pretty western shootout game with great scenery; and the same club also ran a What a Tanker game that looked rather nice.
When it comes to WWII games, however, I was very taken with an impressive game by the Forest Outlaws called Villiers Turkey Shoot in 15mm using Kallistra hex tiles and some very nicely built and finished MDF buildings and it was a very good looking effort. There was also a fun 54mm Western Desert game using old Airfix models (for the most part) by Peterborough Wargames Club.
When it comes to SF games there was a lot to chose from: from a Judge Dredd game (by COGS); to a superb Zombie Game (by The Zombie Boys) with some of the best looking scenery I’ve seen in years, there was quite a variety: Aliens in 54mm by The Werelords; through Battle of the Bridges (subtitled: “The Daily Slaughter”) by the Very Civil Forum group; to Repel the Tripods by Lancaster Wargames Society; and Star Wars: rescue General Veers by the Forest Outlaws Wargamers (with a lot of 3D printed models) there was quite a choice. But it didn’t stop there! There was a fun looking (and literally illuinating) game called These aren’t the plans we are looking for by Lincoln Miniature Wargames Society which was good, if a little static; plus a duo of Gaslands games: Gaslands in Mexico by The Sons of Simon de Montford; and Big Game Hunter: Gaslands Refuelled by Q&T. It seems driving cars with violence was a popular – and very pretty looking – alternative for the day.
Other historical high points were a splendid looking Battle of Prague by the Like a Stone Wall club. This used 40mm semi-flats and it was very ‘toy soldierish’ but in the absolute best way with loads of figures and stark, but well presented scenery. There was the Last Stand of George Thomas by the Boondock Sayntes with great scenery and models (not much movement but a smashing looking game); Ambush at Millican’s Pass: an Arab for affair in 28mm with camels, a ‘Beau Geste’ style fort and so forth by Leeds Night Owls; a great looking Indian Mutiny game by Falkirk District WC; and Tigranocerta by Steve Spence which wasa large ancients outing. There was also and a Sails of Glory and Wings of Glory duo.
Finally – in almost historical – there was a great looking (and very large) 28mm Blood and Plunder game from COGS with a pirate town, boats and more; WWI football by the RAF group; and a viking themed Midgard Heroic Battles by James Morris and Friends. James often seems to do this kind of ‘transitional’ fantasy game (last Hammerhead he did a Tolkien First Age game) and they often skim the borders of fantasy and historical, as, indeed, do Pirate games, I guess, (often being more Pugwash than Blackbeard!).
Along with ACW, Pony Wars and the 100 Years War, this was a very wide selection of playable games with something for all tastes.
ATTENDANCE & ORGANISATION
While I can’t say with any authority how the day went from the organisers perspective, what I can state was that – as an attendee – it seemed like a very busy and successful day. And that’s despite the price of vehicle fuel rising by the hour as I was travelling north from Kent. There’s no point in me saying how much fuel was when I started out and what it was when I returned as – by the time you read this – we’ll probably all be laughing at how cheap the petrol was “way back in March” but... the important thing for a show with, frankly, rather poor public transport but excellent parking and access for private motor vehicles, was that it didn’t seem to affect attendance one jot. For that matter, nor did any residual concerns about face masks or hand sanitizer. Which was nice.
As for organisation, the show was it’s usual top-notch event: the team have it well choreographed.
It was a great day out. My only concerns are small: the Gamer’s Lounge is a drag to get to across the car park when a howling wind (and rain) was sweeping across the capacious car park (as it was on several occasions on the day) but – short of laying on a shuttle bus – I’m not sure what the organisers can do about that. Additionally, when running so many party games at the one show, I did note that some clubs were struggling to attract ‘participants’ even when there were as many gamers present as there were. But – if the alternative is too many pretty demo games – let’s just ignore that... I think the balance is pretty good.
I’m looking forward to 4th March 2023 for next year!