Home Forums General Conventions and Shows The end of EU conventions as we know it?

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    Avatar photoPhil Dutré

    I talked yesterday to 2 con organizers in Belgium. One of them has been organizing CRISIS for the past years, probably the biggest (miniature) wargaming convention in mainland Europe.

    Wat they both said:

    Conventions in mainland Europe as we know them are over. 2 main reasons:

    • Covid inserted a discontinuity on volunteer effort, and it becomes much harder to recruit volunteers from the organizing clubs;
    • Many British traders won’t cross the channel anymore due to Brexit and the associated hassle.

    Sad news indeed … 🙁

    But anyway, we made plans to revert to small-scale gaming events again. But the big “shopping mall-like” conventions such as CRISIS seem to be over, at least for miniature wargaming.

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Sad, but not unexpected.

    Hope the smaller scale events take off and maybe grow with home grown manufacturers/retailers taking up the slack.

    Beyond that I feel myself unable to say a lot, and there is a lot to say, that doesn’t plunge deep into politics. So I won’t.

    Post Covid ennui appears to be having similar effects here, with some smaller shows not picking up again.

    Good luck and best wishes.

    Avatar photoJim Webster

    I think Post Covid ennui is a good term, covering a lot of things. Looking around wargames shows, a lot of people were probably supposed to shield at one point or the other. A lot of charities and similar have lost volunteers at the same time.

    But also I suspect most of us are old enough to know what the world is like with high interest rates. Most of my working life was with an overdraft rate where 7% was cheap but it was often over 1o% or even 15%

    I  suspect a lot of us are looking at gas and food prices and are decided that it might make sense to do something with the lead mountain, rather than just adding to it 😉




    Avatar photoPeter Berry

    Strangely enough, a small number of those very traders who now find it impossible to visit shows on the mainland actually voted for Brexit and were vociferous in its support.

    Sums up Brexit really…

    Avatar photoMike

    No politics please.

    Get yee to Twitter, FB or TMP for that!


    Avatar photoTony Hughes

    I can see the problems that large shows have in getting the manpower to set up and manage a show. I can see why attendances by traders have dropped off, particularly those who have been in the business a good while and are ‘getting on a bit’ like me. Both these make it more difficult to rebuild and sustain enthusiasm in the organisers who are getting less out of the shows for all their much appreciated efforts.

    My problem with shows at the moment is that I can’t reliably plan getting to them. I don’t drive and train services have been in a total mess since coming out of Covid so I have gone from 5 or 6 shows a year down to one. With rising fuel prices driving any distance isn’t much of a better option either.

    The loss of EU shows would be a blow, even to those of us in the UK who never go to them. The growth of EU wargaming has certainly widened the market and brought suppliers from there, with all their new products and ideas, into the wider wargaming world. Shows always tended to encourage the newer ventures and give them a ‘face to face’ opportunity that the internet lacks – but I’m an old fogey, maybe they are not as valuable in that respect any more.


    Avatar photoSteve Johnson

    Not surprising really, for the reasons already stated. Pre-Covid some traders had already given up on attending some shows as it was no longer economically viable for them to do it, when factoring in petrol, accomodation, hiring space versus the takings on the day and that was even for a one day show. Yes it’s good publicity and all that but it is a long day for at times little reward.

    I hope local shows do continue but Penarth has stopped and I hear the WMMS might be going too, alongside those that have already gone to the wall.

    I try to go to a few a year but like many, the cost of getting there makes one really have to think to justify the expense, when one could buy a full 10mm army for the same price. Whilst I enjoyed Colours this year the quality of the games was by and large below par compared to other years, which is a shame. I know the cry os well put on a game, which I’ve done many times in the past, but this is no longer an option for me at the present time.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    I sort of wonder how much of this is due to other factors? purely from personal experience, small UK shows have been fading away and ceasing for some time and others seem thinner and thinner in attendance. Me, I at least partly blame the interwebbby.

    Avatar photoJim Webster

    I sort of wonder how much of this is due to other factors? purely from personal experience, small UK shows have been fading away and ceasing for some time and others seem thinner and thinner in attendance. Me, I at least partly blame the interwebbby.


    Certainly it’s easier to find stuff and buy it. And a lot of the suppliers of interesting stuff are small producers who couldn’t afford to get a table at a show, with all the other expense, anyway


    Avatar photoNorm S

    Shows have their own character. York for example is a shoppers show and the games seem to sit as poor secondary. By contrast, at Hammerhead, all games (and there are plenty of them) have to be participation, it makes games central to the day and instead of customers abandoning the building by noon, punters seem to stay on later into the afternoon, the trade side (also plenty of them) seems to benefit from a customer base that has a presence that is spread throughout the day and also customers inspired by games they have just played – go and spend.

    Both these shows are big, I wonder whether one style will prevail over the other?

    In the middle sits the wonderful Partizan, plenty of traders and plenty of games, certainly something for everyone and this year saw high numbers of visitors.

    The show scene in the UK has always been strong, but many visitors are multiple visitors, travelling rather than being just local, supporting several shows. Most of the shows I attend involve at lest a 200 mile round trip, so each person who becomes disengaged from the show scene can quite likely impact on 4 – 6 shows a year.

    The reality of a show is that punters spend and traders trade, if that relationship is weakened by non-spending, then the show is doomed and the current financial climate set against the fact that many of us already have lead mountains, does not bode well in the near term for spend at shows.

    Avatar photoMike Headden

    The problem I have with many of the big shows is that they seem to be focussed on 28mm scale games and traders. A scale in which I have very little interest these days.

    Couple that with the fact that I don’t drive and the cost/ reliability/ availability issues with public transport mean attending many shows would involve arranging accommodation too.

    However my trusty bus pass has seen me attend not just the local Edinburgh Claymore show but, in previous years also Carronade in Falkirk, Targe in Kirriemuir and even the renascent Glasgow show which Covid sadly shuttered the following year! I hope to get back to regular attendance next year.

    I did manage to get to Joy of Six again this year – small but perfectly formed 🙂

    Bring & Buy stalls were a big draw in times gone by but the interwebs in general and EBay in particular seem largely to have replaced them for both sellers and buyers.

    I go to shows primarily to meet the people I only meet at shows, to see the games on offer (and pillage ideas for my own) and to see in the flesh (well metal, resin, plastic or card) things I might buy … but probably not at the show where I have to lug it home.

    There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data

    Avatar photoNorm S

    If trader revenue drops, they won’t attend and the show will only remain financially viable by loading that loss in table rent onto the admission ticket at the front door.

    Would that work? I’m not aware of any show in the UK that uses that model.

    In those shows that sit on a critical knife edge between cost and revenue, any loss in trader contributions to the show might be made up by some bring and buy tables being added into the mix. They would pay a table rent and be staffed / managed by the seller, so there is no additional  burden on the show organisers, though I imagine that once this slippery slope is reached, the lifespan of that show might be limited.

    Mike’s point about failed diversity at wargame shows in relation to scale is also my own experience. Pendrakem, Baccus and Kallistra are still regular supporters of the show scene, but by far the presence of 28mm smashes the sense of scale diversity.

    If one accepts that the game tables inspire impulse buying from the traders, perhaps shows could use a quota system or some other form of encouragement to increase the number of demo / participation tables that show scales of 15mm and less being played.

    I thought the whole Warlord Games Epic thing might have made a bit of a difference to smaller scale coverage at shows and in magazines, but that does not appear to have materialised.

    I know many years ago, quite a few wargame clubs would put on open days, showing off some friendly games and hopefully recruiting new gamers from the locality – perhaps this sort of model, maybe with a local trader supporting, might start to make a return.

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Playing only 1 genre and 1 scale at a time, very very few shows hold much interest to me.
    I would be interested in a 10mm show and or a Warhammer fantasy show.
    Ideally a Warhammer 10mm show, but that would be too niche.

    Though themed shows were viable, such as the few years I did Blast-Tastic! the sci-fi themed show, sci-fi games and traders selling sci-fi shizz.

    When I was considering doing 28mm fantasy in the style of Mordheim, then any show was of interest as you can be sure there would be some 28mm stuff that to buy.
    But with that no longer being the thing…

    Avatar photoPhil Dutré

    W.r.t. diversity of games at shows:

    I have been running games at shows for over 20 years. Sometimes proper participation games, sometimes more demo-games whose purpose was to get people interested in a  period, or just as a starter point for chatting.

    I have never been asked by show organizers what game I would run, in what scale, etc. I could literally decide the day before the show what I would run 😉 So, any mix of games at shows is mostly ‘by accident’, since any gaming group or club basically decides themselves what to run.

    Don’t forget that many of these games run by groups are labours of love and pure fun. If someone would tell anyone what game to run, chances are such a gaming group might not run a game at all. The exception is games run by traders, or sponsored by traders, to highlight a specific ruleset or range of miniatures.

    It all depends what is expected of the games at a show. It’s fairly realistic to say that most games are simply there to create “buzz”, to show “the best the hobby has to offer”. Participation is a bonus, but difficult to enforce in practice.

    As for scales: 28mm or bigger are very suitable scales to use at shows due to excellent visuals – also for scenery. 6mm or smaller isn’t noticed as easily.

    In the end, a show is all about the social aspect, giving everyone the feeling that we all belong to a bigger community.

    Avatar photoTony Hughes

    In many ways I’d agree with what you say Phil with the exception of smaller scales being less noticed at shows.

    Some of the most busy show games that I have been involved with have been using small scale figures. At our local show we put on a massive Napoleonic game, Zulu War & a fantasy siege, all in 6mm (the group also did other scales at other time too). Lots of interest & many encouraging comments. Probably the most successful was a display stand showcasing small scales in land (2-10mm), sea (1/1200 – 1/6000) & air warfare (1/900-1/300) – three of us were kept busy right from set-up to closing time.

    At recent shows there has been a lot of interest in some new developments in 2mm (1/900) and some superb 6mm games on a small board superbly modelled. The punters were three deep and full of praise.

    Put small games in shows and see the reactions; I suspect you would be surprised.



    Avatar photoMike Headden

    As for scales: 28mm or bigger are very suitable scales to use at shows due to excellent visuals – also for scenery. 6mm or smaller isn’t noticed as easily.

    Joy of Six enters the room and begs to differ 😀

    I played Mark Backhouse’s Strength and Honour 2mm game at Deep Fried Lard and at Joy of Six. Both games looked pretty impressive to me.

    There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data

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