Hereward Wargames Show 2023

05 September 2023
The Hereward Wargames Show, an event celebrating all things tabletop wargaming, returned to Peterborough for one glorious day this September and we caught up with one of the shows' organisers to get all the details.

Hereward Wargames Show took place in early September, breaking its four-year hiatus with a triumphant bang. Run by the Peterborough Wargames Club, it included a number of clubs putting on participation games, traders, and a busy thrumb of participants. We caught up with Reuben Turner, one of the organisers of the show, at the event, about the club that hosts it, the day itself, and creating something welcoming for visitors of all experiences.

“It’s an event celebrating tabletop wargaming”, Turner summarised Hereward Wargames Show as we asked for a short description. “We have participation games brought in by other clubs and societies, and by members of the Peterborough Wargames Club, and we have external traders who come and try to sell their products.”

Though it’s now in its sixth year, running smoothly hasn’t always been the easiest. Like with many events, COVID caused a break in its running, and returning to regular scheduled programming isn’t always possible. However, the day ran successfully without a hitch, and its presence fills a gap geographically and meets a clear demand. “There’s a lot of support for it, even in Peterborough we have two clubs”, Turner explained, adding that the nearest shows tend to be around 50 miles away, and a number of the small towns surrounding it have their own clubs. 

What is the Hereward Wargames Show?

The Peterborough Wargames Club itself has its own long history and good standing. “It’s probably been around since, I think, the late 80’s. We play a wide variety of games. The main things, like most of the variants of Warhammer in some form or another, and a major part is the historical games, so we play Bolt Action a lot.

“We do play everything, that’s the nice thing”, he later qualifies. “Most nights you'll find there is a sci-fi game, a fantasy game or historical game, or something different. 

Similarly, if you go around the show, we're trying to encourage everything. There’s a Dambusters game from World War Two. A game using Playmobil knights to do jousting, which I think is great. There's a Cyberpunk game. What a Cowboy! (which is a popular game at the moment), just a big spectrum of everything.”

Indeed, at the show was Grantham Strategy and Gaming Club’s Discworld Witch Racing Game, which featured some fun miniatures, a few collisions, and a chance to quote Terry Pratchett at people. With a quick and easy system, it scaled fantastically well at higher player counts, encapsulating the quirky nature of the source text. 

A cardboard castle like structure, behind figures of witches on a racing track, from Grantham Strategy and Gaming Club’s Discworld Witch Racing Game

“Oh the Discworld one is great as well, you should try that, that's really good.” Turner enthused when it was mentioned. “It has been around a lot. But it is a really good fun game. And it's such a popular topic as well. If you're into fantasy, then obviously you know Pratchett, so you know what it's about.”

“We’re also really well known for putting on slightly crazy games, that club members come up with for other events. We attend Hammerhead most years, we’ve usually got something a bit “out there” for that, and we try to support other local shows. In the past, we’ve done things like Dead's Army, which was a take on Dad's Army, but with the Nazis raising zombies out of the churchyard... And then we've got like the Dambusters Game, today, which is about 30 foot long and is mostly a big stretch of water. You go and blow up the dam”.

Three images, the first showing a handmade pilot set up in front of a long table, a plane on it, and the damn at the end, the second a closer picture of the plane, and the final the damaged dam and the plane behind it.

The installation sat at the top of the hall as The Dambusters Challenge, a take on the famous Dambuster run, and early in the day you could hear the unmistakable music of the film playing across the hall. It sat atop a long table, unsurprisingly ending with the dam, which was impressively constructed so that it could receive the appropriate damage at the end, should you be successful. It was manned by enthusiastic members of the club, eager to teach the game, talk about the raid, and show the chunk of the dam that had made its way to them. “It’s not much to look at,” the club member said when showing it, “but it’s a real piece of history”. 

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Hereward Wargaming Show's Award Winners

Four images showing the winners of the painting competition in each category, from left to right, a feudal japanese character, a wizard, a Gretchin riding on a Squig, and a Howling Griffin Space Marine.

The day also saw awards being handed out, four for winning the painting competition (in the classes of Historical, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Under 16s), and two memorial awards, named after past members as a way to keep their memory alive. 

“Unfortunately, a few years ago, a couple of long standing members of the club died quite young.” Turner says, when asked about the latter. “Steve Frisby, who I think was one of the founding members of the club – We have an award in his honour, which we present to the game we as a club wished we'd most before off. So basically, it's the jealousy award, you know, ‘this is such a good idea that why didn’t we do that?’”

The recipient of the award this year went to Cheshunt Wargamers for “’T’is but a Scratch Sire!” which was the game using Playmobile jousting knights.

“The second is the Nick Hornby Award for the best-built game, because obviously, we do some crazy stuff like Dambusters, we appreciate a really well-thought-out, designed and executed game.”

The Lost Ark Wargamers achieved this, with “The Mysterious Case of the Steamer Uranus” which used the What A Cowboy! rules for a game featuring Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty on a steamship.

“You can make a wargame out of anything, pretty much”, he comments, having discussed Patio Wars, a previous show entry based on a two foot tall garden statue of a rabbit, with a 1:1 scale reminiscent of an outdoor chess set, including gnomes, rabbits, and footballs amongst others. 

A landscape of miniature trees, with hunter characters hidden in different spots behind them, and white stones. No turkey in sight!

Will there be a Hereward Wargames Show 2024?

As for next year? Nothing has yet been confirmed, but you can check out the Herward Wargames Show website and social media for updates. In the meantime, if you’re local to the area, you can find Peterborough Wargames Club, taking place on Monday nights at 7pm in Stanground, Peterborough. 

“Send us a message first if you'd like, but then come along, and play one of the participation games. See if you like us. The first visit is free, and then it's just four pounds a week after that, which is pretty good, I think!”

We're inclined to agree. If this has taken your interest, we'd recommend checking out Miniature Wargames magazine, our monthly publication featuring news, reviews, features and reports, or Tabletop Gaming magazine for the wider hobby. 

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