Salute in Review: What Happened To All The Spending?

Salute 2014Must…buy…toys…must…buy…toys….  No it’s not Mat, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Instead it was me wandering around aimlessly trying to find shizzle to buy at the end of Salute on Saturday. I went in with a good idea of what I wanted but after picking up my hefty (and heavy) Forge World order, purchases were unfortunately few and far between.

The day went largely as expected in accordance with the pre-Salute post – far more business over pleasure and the vast majority of my time was spent engaged in conversations with gaming companies old and new. It was a very productive day on that front with some downright fantastic agreements made with several major companies and numerous encouraging discussions with others, who were also showing signs of following suit.  Despite the dedicated focus we still ran out of time at the end and missed out on several stands we wanted to visit, there just weren’t enough hours in the day in truth.

The walks between the companies we wanted to talk to was where I attempted to find the things I wanted to buy.  Some bits for my Warhammer Empire army were high on the list but there was an absolute dearth of their products available, being limited to just boxes of State Troops and the occasional Greatswords.  I know Games Workshop removed many of the items I needed from the list available to independent stockists but I thought given the scale of the event some would still be available from the three I wanted: Demigryphs, Helblaster, Pistoliers/Outriders. But no.  I did grab an absolute bargain in the form of a brand new metal Marius Leitdorf for just £4 – yes you read that right. Just £4.  A pricing error? Who knows, but I didn’t wait around to ask.  I also bagged a pack of Purple and Gold dice to go with my Emperors Children, very fitting I thought, and a ruined building from Amera Plastic Mouldings (review to follow soon). But that was it. I had still spent a hefty sum on my Forge World order, but I went home with £160 still burning through my pocket and now charring the flesh of my thigh.  So here’s what I got (because most of my stuff came as bags of parts, which aren’t very exciting, I’ve used images from web):

LEGION SICARAN BATTLE TANKEMPEROR'S CHILDREN PHOENIX TERMINATORS

Marius Leitdorf36 PEARL DICE - 6 SIDED & 12mm SIDES - PURPLE !!Z214 - City Block Ruins

 

I think you’ll agree that if any Imperial Tank could ever be considered sexy, the Sicaran would be it – with it’s sleek profile and…er…armour plates. Backing it up with a pimp set of Phoenix Guard means I should have one good looking army once they hit the table top alongside one of last years Salute purchases, the Emperors Children Contemptor Dreadnought (with twin Kheres and a back up Power Claw, of course).

At the time of writing I have just ordered a variety of the magnets I wanted and now have to further resort to trawling the web to satisfy my hobby cravings and try to find things that can convince me to part with my cash – but it’s not the same.  When your there and it’s in your hands something almost takes over you, and you just start throwing money in peoples faces and running off before someone’s mind changes. Still, at least I’ll get a free Space Marine Captain if I order from Games Workshop direct.

Until next year, the sound of Neil singing the Salute theme tune will remain a memory.

 

*The Salute theme tune goes as thus: Saying the word Salute repeatedly to the tune of Black Adder (writing credit: Rob Mossop).*

Dreadball Chromium Chargers – A Review

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When Phil asked me to join The Shell Case team he did so saying that I could look after the Dreadball content seeing as I’m a bit mental for it. Oh how he’ll rue the day… If for no other reason I find myself reviewing the Chromium Charges and I know how much he, and most of the other team members, wanted to get their hands on them.

The Chromium Chargers are a team of robots built by some very bored scientists who wanted to see how good a Dreadball player can be, and backed by some large Corporations, keen to show off their newest robotics which can transform at will into whatever type of player the situation calls for. Now, transforming robots aren’t the most original idea for anyone that has owned a TV or been to a cinema over the last 30 years but, but let’s be honest it’s fun and therefore it’s a good one. And as they say “if an idea ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. From a manager’s point of view the way the team works is certainly interesting; having an entire team of Jacks and changing their role throughout the game can lead to a very different and reactive style of play compared to other teams.

Chromium-Chargers-Robot-TeamThe Chromium Chargers box contains 10 models – 6 Jacks, 2 Strikers and 2 Guards, and whilst this is more figures than other teams get, [Unless you count the mispacks. -Ed] it actually only gives you 6 playable figures as all have to start as Jacks, but with the Chargers 6 is all you should need. Like all of the main teams it would be well worth picking up the team expansion as unfortunately all 6 Jacks come in the same pose. That said it is one of the better poses Mantic have done and I am pleased to say the same can be said for the Strikers as they are really dynamic and the Guards do look like they could dish out some damage. Plus with a whole team costing less than £15 it is hard to be anything but positive about them.

The Chargers have been designed really well and with a high level of detail on each one, they do genuinely look cool. They are a much better design than I would have imagined; sleek, thin and they look like they would be mobile and capable of moving at pace. Mantic have done well managing to make the robots look as though they were built for sport without looking so solid that other races would just bounce off of them. This is important in making the models appear believably competitive but not invincible. I am also pleased that Mantic were also able to make the transformations look like they actually work and the great looking diagrams in the Season 2 rulebook helps to support this further.

The models were also surprisingly easy to build, and this is coming from someone who is very much about the gaming first and the hobby second. Just like all the Season 2 teams, there was far less flash on the models to contend with than the Season 1 range. This made the building process a lot quicker and a whole lot more enjoyable, plus with each model being made up of only 3 parts, it further speeds things up but obviously limits your ability to make the figures in any way individual without conversions.

Once the Chargers were built, I couldn’t wait to get them on to the neodurium [Neeeeeerd! - Ed.] and see how they played, and the fact is the team plays really well. The team has the all-round qualities you would expect to find in the human teams but their ability to transform them gives them a real feeling of flexibility. At the start of a game your team is obviously slightly hampered by having only Jacks and you will feel like you are missing out on the big tackles and tough shots, but with the Quick Change Artist special rule that will swiftly change. There is something extremely satisfying about watching an opponent’s face as without warning two of your players transform into guards and smash a hole through their line then a second pair change into strikers steal the ball unchallenged and score to take the lead.

Despite this once you have played that one obvious tactic, throughout a whole game they are not always the easiest easy to play with and the Chromium Chargers do pose a truly enjoyable challenge to use. They would suit a gamer who is tactically aware as it is vitally important that you always have the right mix of players on the pitch for each situation that comes up and that you conserve some actions for changes at vital times. They are a great addition to the Dreadball Universe and are fun to play both with and against.

The Chromium Chargers are available from Firestorm Games priced £13.49. This team requires the Season 2 expansion book available from Firestorm Games priced £8.99.

FaQs are dead! Long live the FaQs!

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One of the immediate hot topics of conversation (OK hobby rage) after the launch of the new Games Workshop web site was the notable absence of the FaQs section. Any attempt to access them via saved links was met with a pretty clear message:

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Well it would appear that all is not lost. People are reporting receiving a common response to their enquiries to Games Workshop customer services about the missing FaQs which looks like this:

Thanks for the email regarding the FAQs on the new website.

Currently the FaQ’s are not available on the website, as the design team are taking this opportunity to fully update all the FAQ and Errata articles. This is only temporary and these FAQ’s will be made available again in the very near future. 

So, really it’s a case of “good news everyone!” as it would appear that not only are the FaQs not dead, they aren’t even just sleeping, they are getting a full refresh! Hopefully that’ll see some of the more glaring issues with some of the newer codices and army books dealt with (Lizardmen, I’m looking at you with your skink characters on terradons not being able to join units) and a nice fresh set of random rules (undead crumbling randomness, you know what you did) for us all to pore over.

 

Mierce Miniatures’ Darklands

Visiting Salute this year we saw some pretty amazing things. Genuinely original games, very patient girlfriends and wives who clearly weren’t gamers but still willing to feign interest as their other halves dragged them around the hall – girls in the room at all is always surprising (which says a lot), Boba Fett wandering around and models that defied belief in their quality and detail. One such range came from the Mierce Miniatures stand. The whole team fawned over the plain resin and painted models, cooing approvingly at dragons, chimeras, minotaurs and other creatures of myth and legend.

As one would expect, premium models come at premium prices. But Mierce Miniatures are running a kickstarter. Whilst it’s fully funded this is very a sexy looking range it’s worth a punt.

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Mierce are looking for money to fund their latest version of one of their games. In return, you get a sweet deal on some models. They’ve already reached their target of £20,000 and are well into the stretch goals. With 9 days to go, you can invest in a great new game. Plus minis like this:

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As Matt would say- “PRETTY TOYS”

Whilst at The Shell Case we avoid pledging on Kickstarters to retain objectivity, if we were going to put our hands in our now distinctly empty pockets, it’d be for this. The Kickstarter runs until April 23rd. Just follow this link and check it out yourself.

X-Wing Miniatures Game: Battle Report 4

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

The asteroids drifted slowly in space. Spinning and twisting in an endless orbit with a planet no longer possessing the gravity well strong enough to keep them in place as its rings. By any measure of interstellar navigation it was a hazard, but every other measurement it was suicide. Which was why smugglers used it to hide out until the heat died down. Han Solo scoffed at himself. Five minutes with the Rebellion and he no longer thought of himself as a smuggler? Was that really all it took?

He flicked a series of switches overhead to bring the Falcon’s systems from dormant up to standby. It had been 3 hours since the last Imperial sweep. They had to move and that waiting for the possibility of another patrol or taking a chance. And Han wasn’t one for waiting around. As the familiar hum of energy flowing through his ship turned to the comforting bass noise of the engines powering up he heard a familiar voice and even more familiar tone echoing down the corridor leading to the cockpit.

‘Are you crazy?’ Princess Leia barked. ‘What if the Imperials are waiting for us?’ She stormed onto the bridge. He couldn’t help but stare. He braided hair was scooped up around her head which only accentuated her noble bearing and elegant neck. The flush of checks only enhanced the rouge of her lips and her dark eyes flashed with annoyance. Something else he was familiar with.

‘Listen, your highness,’ He never knew why he did it but he always managed to make ‘highness’ sound like an insult, ‘we can’t sit here forever. This place is a death trap and we need to find somewhere to repair the Falcon and resupply.’

‘It’s too risky.’ Said Leia folding her arms. ‘My ship, my call sweetheart.’ Han turned and brought the ship up to full readiness and started to feed energy to shields and weapon systems.

‘You work for me.’ Leia blurted and instantly regretted it. Han’s contribution to the Rebellion had been small but vital – albeit unpredictable. He had saved lives and won victories and all for a cause he never really bought into and all, she suspected, for her. He didn’t respond well to authority and he sure didn’t respond well to orders.

‘Is that a fact.’ Leia wanted to apologise but the fire in his eyes told her all she needed to know. She sat in the chair behind his and strapped in. Han dropped into his command seat, and shoved the throttles wide open.

***

The Falcon surged towards the edge of the belt, her engines singing as Han danced her through the spinning ship sized lumps of rock. Just as clear space lay before him the proximity alarm sounded. Chewie and Han exchanged worried looks as the Falcon’s sensors brought back signal returns and a familiar silhouette appeared on the display.

‘What?’ Shouted Leia from behind Han. He appreciated her resisting the urge to say ‘I told you so.’

‘We’ve got company.’ He managed as he pushed more power to shields and the Falcon’s primary turrets.

‘Imperial?’

‘Worse.’ He said and Chewie let out a mournful cry. Han worked the controls, reversing course in an aggressive turn that, for a moment, giving a glimpse of their attackers and the familiar for foreboding shape of a Firespray 31 attack craft. ‘Chewie, send the signal.’

‘What signal.’ Leia was borderline hysterical. Not that Han could blame her. Few escaped Boba Fett’s clutches once he was on your trail. Ignoring why the Empire had resorted to using bounty hunters, it was a serious business.

‘A little insurance policy. You’re too important to the Rebellion to go anywhere unescorted.’ He pointed out to port to two bright flashes of light that materialised into the familiar shape of two X-Wing fighters. ‘Let’s get this over with…’

***

Our fourth battle report sees us using the scenario included in the Slave 1 expansion pack. Boba Fett is on the hunt and the target has to turn and fight of face a certain doom at the hands of the galaxy’s greatest Bounty Hunter.

The Rebels got 150 points to spend to the Empire’s 90, however one ship had to be the bounty and would cost double points. They did, however benefit from 10 points worth of free upgrades with the further bonus of being allowed two command upgrades. Which, if you choose right is horrendous. As it was Slave 1 we agreed that the only right and true bounty be Han Solo commanding his ever trusty Millennium Falcon.

The Rebels had to deploy in the middle of the board with the Imperials tucked behind that at extreme range. It was going to get tasty from the off…

Imperial Navy

So I finally get to take Slave 1 for a spin! And for this one we have a Bounty Hunt scenario so we have Slave 1 chasing down Han “I didn’t shoot first” Solo. So I’ve tanked up Slave 1 with enough ordinance to take down a small forest moon and its pointy stick waving indigenous population.  I had just enough points left to take a TIE advanced with Maarek Steele with some Cluster Missiles. Between the two I had the firepower to bring down the Falcon I just had to be wary of its turrets, even with Boba Fett behind the stick.

Rebel Scum

So the Fett-man had tracked down Solo and was out for his hide. Just another day the office for the Rebellion’s most loveable scoundrel. The fact that he cost double points was a sting and left me just enough points to take Wedge Antilles (I never leave home without him) and Luke Skywalker once again proxying for a member of Rogue Squadron. The first upgrades for the Falcon were a welcome addition and allowed me to take Marksmenship, Veteran Abilities, the Falcon upgrade and Chewbacca but sadly had nothing left for the plucky X-Wing pilots.

The plan was simple. The Falcon was the target so I’d use that to my advantage. I’d try to lead Slave 1 and whoever else on a merry chase whilst making full use of its 360 degree field of fire, leaving the X-Wings to gang up on targets of opportunity. I just had to hope that the Falcon’s resilience would be enough to fend off the, no doubt, juiced Slave 1.

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Turn 1:

M: It was time to give that scruffy looking nerf herder the hiding he so richly deserved. With only a couple of ships on the board the turns would be flowing pretty quickly. And as I spent fewer points than Phil…because he was forced to…I had the initiative. In short I moved both Slave 1 and the TIE Advanced in sweeping turns to starboard in preparation for attack run on the Rebels.

P: Right, so I had the galaxy’s greatest Bounty Hunter and a TIE Advanced fighter ace on my arse. This is not a brilliant state of affairs as things behind them is what tended to make X-Wings die. With my plan in mind my moves were simple. I made a hard turn to port with the Falcon with the intention of drawing Slave 1 out . It was hard not to hide my relief when I realised my move would take the Falcon out of fire arc for Slave 1. As the X-Wings were going to be hard pressed to make a move out of fire arc of the TIE Advanced I resigned myself to taking some damage in exchange for making a green move to port, removing the stress tokens they were forced to start the game with.

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The TIE Advanced targeted Rogue 3 (being played by Luke Skywalker in this game) but the Rebel danced his way through the volley, coming out the other side unharmed. The Millennium Falcon opened up on Slave 1 thanks to its 360 degree field of fire. 3 hits were scored of which none were evaded, stripping 3 out of its 4 shields.

Turn 2:

M: So Phil’s a dick. Who rolls three hits in their first shot of the game? Bloody no one! Jammy bastard. Losing 3 shields right on the off was not part of the plan. Although neither was finding myself out of fire arc to be fair. Still, no use getting upset about it. I put Slave 1 into a sharp turn to port, bringing the vessel back in line with its prey. Equally my TIE Advanced made a gentle but fast move to run down the X-Wings.

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P: Okay so the first turn was pretty good. Giving Slave 1 a bloody nose would hopefully make Mat a bit more cautious but I doubted it. I had to resign myself to taking a hammering this turn so but the Falcon into a slow turn so I could shake off the stress token. The X-Wings performed a Koigan turn to front off against the TIE Advanced. The Falcon could handle Slave 1 on its own for a couple of turns but if the Advanced was allowed to make an attack run as well it would be a different story.

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The shooting phase opened in earnest with the Falcon stripping away Slave 1′s final shield. It should have been much worse but Mat rolled incredibly well for his evade rolls. In response Slave 1 fired a volley of homing missiles. All put powerless to stop them, the Falcon losing 2 of its shields.

On the other side of the asteroid field Wedge Antilles proved to be just out of range of the TIE Advanced so instead the Imperial and Rogue 3 exchanged fire, stripping taking down each other’s shields.

Turn 3:

M: So my fleet was without shields. Not great. But my homing missile had knackered two of the Falcon’s shields. I had a bit of sinking feeling that my TIE Advanced was about to get seriously ganged up on by the X-Wings so I needed to get a kill in. Or, at the very least, damage the Falcon. Slave 1 continued its turn to port bringing it directly behind the Falcon. Maarek Steele made a turn to starboard, taking him to the other side of the asteroid to take a pop at Han Solo.

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P: The TIE had to die and the Rogues were the ones to do it. They moved dead ahead. The Falcon was done running, making a Koigan turn of its own facing down one of the most lethal killers in the galaxy. What could possibly go wrong?

The Falcon fired first landing two hits against Slave 1 but the Bobe Fett managed to evade one but the second found its mark inflicting critical damage. In response the he fired Slave 1′s Ion cannons inflicting a single hit, removing a shield and fixing the Falcon’s course for a turn.

With Wedge, this time, out of fire arc, Rogue 3 opened fire against Maarek Steele in his TIE Advanced scoring three hits, two of which were criticals. The Imperial pilot failed to evade any and was destroyed in a billowing cloud of flame.

Turn 4:

M: Well cock. As in Phil is a. With Maarek Steele dead I didn’t have much hope that I could deal with the still undamaged Falcon and two X-Wings. But I had to try. It’s what Boba Fett would do. I moved him forward but I rather forget that the Falcon had no choice but to do the same. The result was the two ships ended up in base to base contact and therefore unable to shoot at each other.

P: With the X-Wings now free of their distraction they performed another Koigan turn to bring them round to make an attack against Slave 1 whilst it moved past the Millennium Falcon.

Wedge opened fire scoring a hit but Boba Fett once again evaded. He didn’t fair quite so well against Rogue 3 who scored 3 hits, including a critical. The Fett managed to evade 1 but it took Slave 1 to within an inch of doom.

Turn 5:

M: There was nothing much more to do but play for spite. Slave 1 dropped a seismic charge and then high tailed it out of there. Unfortunately I couldn’t move the ship far enough and Boba Fett finished his move passing the two X-Wings. This was going to be…messy.

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P: The Fett was making a run for it, but not before dropping a seismic charge. Unfortunately for me the Falcon was performing yet another Koigan turn to chase down the fleeing bounty hunter which placed the transport ship right next to the charge. Fortunately I got off quite lightly, only losing another shield.

The X-Wings did little more than adjust their positioning as they closed for the kill.

Annoyingly the Falcon was a whisker out of range leaving the work to be done by the Rogues. Wedge Antilles finally got to shot he was waiting for delivering three hits against the Firespray, none of which were evaded destroying the ship and Boba Fett in the process.

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Live to Fight Another Day

Well that went well. I was able to lead Slave 1 around the board easily enough as the Falcon had a large bullseye painted on it. Where I got lucky was catching Mat off guard with my first turn of movement and some utterly jammy dice rolling which made Slave 1 and the TIE Advanced vulnerable. A combination of green and red manoeuvres meant my X-Wings were able to beat the TIE Advanced at his own game and then see off Slave 1.

Ultimately the Falcon, despite the X-Wings seeing of the TIE and Slave 1, was the star of the show thanks entirely down to its resilience and prodigious fire power. Next game it’s all toys or bust.

Prize Denied

Well fuck you Han Solo. That’s pretty much all I can say about the matter. I think I would have been better off not taking the TIE Advanced and taking 2 normal TIE fighters instead, that or concentrate fire on the objective. My plan was to use the TIE Advanced to distract the escort using the Cluster Missiles to remove the shields and leaving them open to shots from Slave 1, whilst he hounded the Millennium Falcon. But that slimy Nerf Herder pulled it out of the bag again [Does he mean me? - Ed]
Oh well next time a full on fight and hopefully I can get to see exactly what Slave 1 can do.
Wedge Antilles feathered the throttle, cutting speed. Rogue 3 dropped in next to him, killing his own, speed.
‘Nice of you to join me Tycho.’ Wedge said as the two X-Wings cleared a transport sized asteroid in a slow turn to starboard.
‘Just giving Fett some encouragement Rogue Lead.’
‘You hit him?’
‘Oh yes.’
Wedge could hear Tycho’s smile through the comm link. Ahead of them he saw the Millennium Falcon execute an inverted loop manoeuvre that it had no business being able to do. He smiled at Commander Solo’s piloting skill as the Falcon’s engines flared bright blue and powered back the way it came, laser cannons spitting. It was met by flickering bolts of blue ion.
‘He’s coming your way Rogue Lead.’
‘Roger that Gold Lead.’
‘Make it good, he’s fried half our systems.’
A moment later Slave 1, an object of fear the galaxy over, screamed into view, smoke and flame trailing tears in its outer armour. At such close range Wedge didn’t need to do anything other than let the Firespray cross his path.
Slave 1 was already part way through a reverse turn when the laser bolts hit. The ship shook as the bolts chewed through the rear plates and engine manifolds. Flames belched and the running lights flickered and died, the ship losing power and slowly tumbled away.
‘Your clear Gold Lead.’

Calas Typhon Unboxing

I’m back from my adventure to Adepticon, and I brought home lots of goodies! One of my favorite pieces came from Forge World, the fearsome Calas Typhon [So much want - Ed]. I’ve unboxed him so you can get a decent look at him.

I haven’t been too keen on a few of the Horus Heresy character models that Forge World has released, but Calas really strikes me. He may move to the top of my painting queue. He’ll certainly be assembled this weekend.

Also in that queue are several other Horus Heresy characters including Angron, Fulgrim, and Abaddon and Loken. I eventually plan to have the whole set of HH characters, which is getting harder to do as they release them at a faster pace. Originally, I had just planned on getting the Primarchs, but the other characters have been such interesting models that I decided to go for them all.

My wallet weeps.

I hope you enjoyed getting to see Calas Typhon!

Salute 2014

Salute 2014So tomorrow the big day will have finally arrived. And it cannot have come soon enough. These last few years I’ve pre-ordered my ticket as soon as possible. Not because I’m worried about missing out but because when I wake up the day after Salute I’m already looking forward to the next one.

For me Salute is the most important date in my wargaming calendar for the simple reason than it’s a room full of people, all passionate about ‘the hobby’ which has many facets to it that go far beyond genre, scale and metal vs resin vs plastic. For a day no one cares who plays what or how much crap we got painted from the year before. Or how much of the stuff we got from the year before we even still own. It’s a coming together of community behind the most inclusive and welcoming hobby there is. And then we walk, talk and breathe toys. And then we spend all of our money on all of the things.

It always tickles me that every year, and I include myself in this, there is a frantic burst of eBaying, Twitter bartering and the chucking of stuff on Amazon Marketplace in an effort to push the budget as far as possible. Because taking £100 isn’t enough. Oh no! £150, that’ll do. But if I sell this or that, or borrow from the savings and promise to put it back, I’ll have £200! And so on and so on. My budget this year is a little less than I’d have liked. The weight of home ownership has rested heavily these last few months. However, it has made me more focussed on what I want and what I need. The difference being that I don’t need the Praetors from Forge World but want them so I’m getting them anyway. But I do need a few bits to round off my X-Wing fleet until the next wave of stuff drops.

I also need to remember to take lunch money because walking around with a satchel or backpack all day is a pain in the arse.

Tomorrow is going to be a brilliant day. And not just because of the buying of all the things. Okay, a little bit that. But because it’s an opportunity to explore the parts of the hobby I haven’t seen, haven’t had the chance to look into or are totally new to me. It’s a chance to make new friends and get reacquainted with old ones and generally embrace this wonderful hobby of ours.

I’m really looking forward to the #warmongers Meet Up, as is the rest of the team. We’ll be meeting at 1pm outside the hall at which point we’ll find somewhere out-of-the-way and compare swag. The last couple of years it’s been a recessed section opposite the hall so we were nice and visible to any late comers.

Finally, we will have The Shell Case pin badges to give away to the first people who come and say hi to us on the day. We won’t be hard to miss, the entire team (apart from our beloved Ashley who is stuck on the other side of a very large bit of water) will be there in shirts. And just in case, they’ve got our names on them so you can tell us apart.

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See you all tomorrow.