A Salute 2019 triumph

08 April 2019

David Pead reports from a fantastic day for Collection Calculator at Salute 2019 

We have been working on our Participation Game, Battle of the Little Bighorn, for the last nine months. So, we were absolutely over the moon to be awarded Best Participation Game at Salute 2019.

I’m afraid we were all very busy playing our game all day. And that meant we didn’t get around the rest of the show - so we can’t offer any insights into the other 59 participation games, the 36 demonstration games or the 170 traders at the event in London's ExCel on Saturday, April 6.

However, we can report that everyone we met was absolutely brilliant. The organisers, drawn from the ranks of the South London Warlords, were helpful and friendly throughout despite the pressure of putting together the biggest independent wargaming show of the year. And everyone that came to our table, whether they played or not, were interested and enthusiastic about the game and the Collection Calculator itself.

We also had lots of help and support ahead of the show from Baccus 6mm who supplied the majority of the figures, Irregular Miniatures who provided the Plains Indians and Kallistra for their versatile Hexon Terrain boards.

Once we were all set up near the centre of the exhibition area and the doors opened to the thousands of visitors waiting impatiently outside, we soon had a full table of wargamers playing with us. And it pretty much continued that way for most of the day.

We had all ages at the table, and we were really delighted to see a lot of dad’s playing with their sons, as well as seasoned wargamers of all skill levels and ages. At one point we offered that the non-playing dads could go off, enjoy the show and shop while we battled the Battle of the Little Bighorn with their kids. 

We were always busy. That’s partly because of the way the game was initially set up by Peter Riley, who conceived and wrote the Rules for our take on the Battle of the Greasy Grass, as it is known by the Sioux. 

“I’ve seen wargamers play this, but it usually involves Custer’s Last Stand on Custer’s Hill and tends to be a skirmishing action,” he explained. “I’ve often wondered if it was possible to play out the whole Battle, and not just the elements involving Custer.”

His solution was to split the action across four boards. Each board could be played independently, but the game allowed for the possibility for players from one board to move to another and fight alongside their comrades.

On top of that, each board was formed by 100mm hexes. Players simply fired or moved a series of hexes at a time, speeding up the game significantly.

Peter has written a number of published Wargaming Rules in the past and was comfortable with all the intricacies of firing and movement modifiers.

However, as we played the first few games last Autumn, he worked hard to eliminate as many “fussy” rules as possible. By the time we were ready to play in public, all the essential rules and modifiers could be summarised on a single “playsheet”.

This meant the game was fast moving and easy for all participants to understand quickly. And this added to the excitement as strategy combined with random dice rolls to create tense action across all four boards.

We were also lucky to have the support of a bunch of our "novice" friends who have helped us from the start of the game’s inception with painting and flocking of the figures as well as participating in regular rehearsals of the game itself. 

They were there first thing in the morning to help us set up and then spent the whole day leading games on the various boards for all the participants that played with us.

Each of our helpers wore a distinctive “Collection Calculator/Battle of the Little Bighorn” shirt and were easy for prospective players to spot and ask questions.

To round it all off Peter had prepared recordings of various bugle calls and hidden a Bluetooth portable speaker under the game. As people passed our table, they were often surprised to hear a cavalry charge and other battle calls trumpeting out at full volume. 

At 5pm, Peter played the Last Post and it was time to call it a day. But what a great day it had been. And now we hope to do it all over again. Our next outing is at The Joy of Six wargaming show in Sheffield on July 7.

If you are planning to attend that excellent event, try and make sure to spend 20 minutes or so with us, playing Battle of the Little Bighorn.

And of course, whether or not you win the action on the field, you will leave with your own campaign medal to wear with pride. . .