At least I think it was fun. After two days of shifting tables and walking the floors to make sure everything ran smoothly the team are doing their normal shell shocked shuffle as we once again try to work out why exactly we do this.
To be fair that is one question that rarely arises these days, particularly after a show like we had on Sunday. Okay so the door was down a little on last year. But the unavoidable proximity of Hammerhead, some bladder kicking on TV and some Eastenders' couple getting hitched the day before (at least I think that was what it was) probably all conspired to keep some of our regulars with their families this particular weekend.
Still the numbers of paying visitors was well north of 800 and, with all the gamers and traders, the hall already had a good buzz before the doors even opened. We will leave it to others to pass judgement on the show overall though we do reserve the right to gloat a little if people write nice things about us on their blogs. And to use a magnifying glass to set fire to their MDF buildings if they don't.
But the one bit for which we bear absolutely no responsibility and so are able to praise to the well lit rafters are the games themselves. Sixty of them in total at this show. Sixty little (or in some cases quite large) gems. As always I am in awe of the time, effort and money that people dedicate towards presenting these brilliant games at the shows. Whilst we are aware that, with the great help of the wargames magazines, we have built a reputation for hosting some good looking games, year on year the standard just gets better and the games ever more inspirational. For that every single person coming to the show to put on the demonstration and participation games has our huge and heartfelt thanks.
When we moved to the Showground we made a few changes to the show beyond just having more space and better lighting. One of the changes was the introduction of prizes. We had always resisted these before because we felt - and continue to feel - that every game that comes to the show has made a huge amount of effort on our behalf and it seems wrong to pick out one or two particular examples to reward when in fact every game deserves a prize.
Anyway, for some reason that I cannot quite now remember, when we moved to the new venue we decided to stop being so damned equitable about these things and start giving out some trophies. It was at this point that we realised that our carefully cultivated impartiality was actually a smoke screen for our utter inability to make a decision.
So we made a decision.
We decided to get someone else to make the decisions for us.
Enter stage left the editors (as they were at the time) of the three main wargaming magazines.
Dan Faulconbridge of Wargames Illustrated
Guy Bowers of Wargames, Soldiers, Strategy
Henry Hyde of Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.
Their credentials? Well as well as being editors whose job was to spend all day looking at wargames and photographing them for magazines (oh and drinking coffee), they are also three fine fellows who we knew we could trust to be impartial, honest and forthright in their opinions. And even though Henry has now moved from paper to Patreon, this is our team who we call upon at each show to decide who deserves to be awarded the bright shiny engraved resin thingies we call trophies.
Like all good things they come in threes.
The Best Participation Game award is the Pete Gill Shield named in honour of one of our staunchest supporters down the years whose games with the RAF Wargames Association brought joy to so many at shows up and own the country.
The Best Demonstration Game award is the Macfarlane Shield named in honour of the man who started Partizan (and, incidentally, both Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated).
Finally the Best in Show is the Editors Shield - mostly because they said they would only do it of we named something after them.
Of course the point of all this rambling is to get to the bit where I tell you who won each of the trophies. With Guy being absent on a European jolly we relied upon Dan and Henry to do the honours.
So without further ado...
The winners of the Best Demonstration Game were TooFatLardies with their What a Tanker game.
Listening to the deliberations it is clear that this was a tough decision in a very good field. But what finally swung it was the sheer amount of fun being had by the participants as evidenced by the loud cheers that escaped the table at regular intervals. Well done to Richard Clarke and all his crew.
If the Participation award was tough, the Demonstration award was near impossible to judge. Henry talks about this process a bit on his latest podcast but the number of fantastic looking games meant that any decision was going to be incredibly close. In the end the award went to the absolutely gorgeous "La Gorgue Airfield" WW1 game by Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews. It was absolutely stunning and you can see a lot more detail of it as well as the history behind it on Aly's blog
Finally we come to the 'Best in Show' Again this could have so easily have been one by any of more than a dozen games but in the end there was one game that stunned with its incredible attention to detail. Anyone who has listened to the interview that Laurence and I did with Henry will know that the best games for me have both height and depth. Height means being three dimensional rather than just played out on a flat surface whilst depth means depth of detail. The winner of Best in Show had both of these in spades.
So in the end the Editors' Shield was awarded to the Earlswood Wargamers Club for their magnificent Stalingrad game.
We will have lots more pictures of these and all the other games in forthcoming blogs and on the website.