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SALUTE 2017 S.L.W.

Saturday 22nd April at EXCEL in London and the South London Warlords have put on yet another superbly laid out wargaming/gaming event. 
Every year around Easter time thousands of gamers from all over the UK and from Europe visit the vast warehouse-like aircraft hangar known as EXCEL to savor the delights of some of the best participation diorama games anyone could ever expect to see/play.

My sincere thanks to the way the organisers who had created the aisles between the traders and games tables to ensure it was relatively easy for myself and other wheelchair users to be able to manoeuvre to virtually every stand.

SALUTE was always known as the top wargames show in the South of England and the role-players and fantasy miniatures games players and manufacturers and publishers used to steer well clear of it. Then early in the 1980's SLW split into two factions, the South London Warlords, who were, and still are (to my knowledge) heavily into serious wargaming, and the Old Guard who took their gaming a little lighter and also didn't mind the odd fantasy excursion.

Nowadays, with companies like HAWK, Games Workshop, Mantic Games, Warlords, Modiphius and many others, SALUTE welcomes all manner of tabletop gaming. Fantasy gaming itself has come on leaps and bounds so that even hard core wargamers are looking at the miniatures they being designed for fantasy games and realising that perhaps it's a good idea, once in a while, to put the figures for the 44th East Essex and the Carabiniers-à-Cheval back into their formed foam cases and break out an army of Goblins, Orks and Skaven, even if just for some light-hearted fun. The trade stalls at this year's SALUTE certainly seemed to be leaning towards a good even split of historical and fantasy, often on the same stand.

  9.45am. Last minute preparations are still underway. Meanwhile thousands of gamers are forming orderly queues at the gates.

SALUTE opens its doors to the general public at 10.00am and runs throughout the whole day, well into the late afternoon. Tickets bought prior to the event (online from  cost just £12.00 for an Adult and under 16s gain free entry. Tickets on the door are £20.00 but kids still get in free which is a splendid way of allowing families to bring their younger members along and get them into the hobby at an early age without it costing an arm and a leg. With the cost of putting on the event SLW should be commended for keeping the entry charges so reasonable.

If you are a non-grown up adult, visiting SALUTE is like being let loose in your favourite toy shop. As you slowly make your way from stand to stand the quality, style and sheer excellence of the painted miniatures and models on display encompasses your gamer being and makes you want to reach for the acrylic paints and a thin sable brush so that you can turn the fairly lifeless grey plastic, resin or metal moulded marvels that you get in each boxed starter set or single blister pack, into the works of art you see before you. SALUTE doesn't stand in your way, nope! It has retailers there ready to supply you with all the materials you need to make a unit of detailed grey source material into lifelike representations. All you need is to buy the paints and brushes and have more skill than it takes to paint your garage doors on a sunny weekend. Tragically most of us do not have such arty skills, but once again SALUTE comes to our rescue because there are always informed people there to tell you how to turn blank canvas (ie miniature figures) into colourful troop units. SALUTE is not just a place to go and buy or play games it is an experience that all tabletop model gamers should try.

   Readying for the off, a gorilla-based creatures leads his tribe in a fantasy version of the Haka

Many of the companies displaying and selling their wares also have games tables set up with willing and knowledgable helpers to describe the games, the accessories and, of course, the differences between the various myriad of rulesbooks for the same period of war. Tabletop games are for players to enjoy and be entertained, not always to have fun but to achieve satisfaction. SALUTE has so many different games available for you to join in with, from the sands of Iraq through to the dusts of Deadwood, that it is impossible to sample every game. This is not a bad thing though, this is a good thing because that means if a game you like the look of is currently holding its full number of participants there is always another game not far away where you can find a seat (and at least one of htose willing helpers I mentioned earlier). For example I was looking to play "Exodus" (a game with Wild West settings) but it was busy each time I went past. Then as I wheeled around the Mantic Games stand some people were leaving a demo table and in I rolled. There I played a good fun game based on the TV programme "The Walking Dead" which included several of the known characters from that show, and yes even though it was fun it was also satisfying.

 Some of the excellent miniature model painting on show and sale

Apart from the games and the figures you can also buy some amazing tabletop scenery to transform your dining room table (or the tables at your clubhouse if you belong to a games club) into virtually whatever period of time, past, present or future or fantasy, that you want. There are amazing buildings made of folded card, trees and houses formed by 3D printer, laser-cut mdf wooden structures and a multitude of plastic skylines and dark deadly dungeons in resin. Most of these products can naturally be bought from your local games store or found online, but SALUTE brings them all to you at the same place at the same time and all under one roof.


Here are just a few quick snap-shots of some of the scenery available on sale and on display in participation games

SALUTE is an annual event but wargames and fantasy games clubs meet all over the UK. If you are interested in playing some new games or making new friends in one of the world's most friendliest of hobbies then locate your local game store and ask them if they have details of any clubs in your area.


Go online, check out the South London Warlords website ( and find out when next year's SALUTE is to be held and then ensure you have the day free. Come up to the EXCEL (it's really easy to get to, especially by train but also by car - you can even fly into City Airport) and discover what SALUTE is all about. There's a world of gaming for you to look for, and it isn't so very hard to find now.



   Games Workshop's mega something or other towers above every other model on the table (but it moves really slowly....)




© Chris Baylis 2011-2015