Held in the massive ExCel Centre London over one day, Salute is the biggest wargames show in the UK with over 150+ traders covering the full gamut of tabletop gaming from sci-fi to fantasy to historical to steam punk and everything in-between.
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of making this event for the first time in my nerd career.
The journey from Dublin, Ireland to the ExCel Centre in itself was epic.
My flights itinerary was as follows:
Dublin T1 (DUB) to London (Gatwick) (LGW)
Sat, 12 Apr, Flight FR 112, Depart DUB at 07:40 and arrive LGW at 09:05
London (Gatwick) (LGW) to Dublin T1 (DUB)
Sat, 12 Apr, Flight FR 119, Depart LGW at 21:25 and arrive DUB at 22:45
I really didn't help matters by going out on the town the night before and not going to bed until 2.30 am.
Anyhow this epic journey started at 5.30 am with a sore head and a mild hang over. The GF dropped me off at the airport. I had already checked in online so I stumbled straight through security in my drunken zombie state.
I grabbed a cuppa and a croissant at Starbucks and had a close call when the girl at the till spilled my tea and nearly scowled me with hot water. That woke me up a bit.
I then proceeded to the gate and met my fellow adventurers, Greg and Brian. Both are seasoned Salute raiders and were kind enough to allow a noob like me to tag along with their PUG. They were well equipped with legendary gear including the ubiquitous Bag of Holding (i.e. rucksack) to carry their loot.
The flight was uninteresting. Praise be to the Omnissiah and Ryanair's vigilant Tech priests. I snoozed all the way to Gatwick.
Upon arrival Greg informed me that we will need to get 3 trains to get to the ExCel Centre. I groaned audibly.
To make things interesting, the queue for the train tickets were massive to the point that security decided to open the gates to the terminals to alleviate the human traffic that was quickly building up. With the prospect of either queue for tickets and wait 30 mins for the next train or make a dash to the train that was about to leave in 3 mins through the now open gates without tickets; we decided to chance our arm and ran for it. We made it with around 2.3 seconds to spare. Nice.
Our first leg of the train journey was on the Gatwick Express from Gatwick Airport to the station at London Bridge. Here we wandered around and found a ticket booth to buy our day trip tickets (which we should have bought earlier at Gatwick).
|Gatwick Airport to London Bridge via Gatwick Express|
|London Bridge to Canning Town via Underground|
|Canning Town to ExCel London via DLR|
|ExCel Centre London - comparable to Mt. Doom in dimensions|
|The Salute Trading Hall|
Now I took loads of photos (badly) which I will dump at the end of this post but what impressed me most with the event is the bewildering array of miniatures and game systems on show. Like most gamers/hobbyist I started out with 40k and then later branched out to other systems. Salute has stuff on display that I have never knew existed from fantastic laser cut terrain to miniatures from numerous scales and genres.
In addition, some of the demo boards on display were outrageously good. The other thing is the quality of the paint jobs. I have never seen so many models painted to such a high standard in my life. This event was an extreme exercise in self control!
We had 6-7 hours and I spent all of it ogling the display cabinets and throwing cash at the overwhelmed traders. One thing I didn't do was to get in some demo games on those gorgeous tables but with so many stalls I didn't want to miss out on any of it.
So for me the event was more of a glorified shopping trip then a miniature convention. However it was interesting to see some of the upcoming products that either had a release at Salute or were previews of soon to be release products.
I wasn't sure what to think of it at first given the expense and effort involved in getting there but looking back at my loot pile I felt like I had completed a very difficult dungeon, defeated the end boss and nabbed the loot that dropped. And I wanted to do it again!
|My loot pile|
Now if you're curious as to how much this all cost, here's a brief summary:
Flights - circa €90
Train tickets - circa €11-€12
Ticket to Salute - circa €12
Loot - as much as you want
So it ain't cheap especially if you had to travel from outside London. You can grab bargains at Salute but when you factor in the costs of getting there they aren't really bargains at all. Therefore if I were to go next year I think I would stay the night and make a weekend out of it. London is always a pretty cool city for a piss up anyway.
Before I leave you with the photos of my journey I like to thank Greg and Brian for letting me tag along. Cheers bros!
Here are just some of what was on offer at Salute 2014: