Salute 2018 Trip Report

Salute is the largest wargames show in the UK and, for me, a chance to visit London, see the sights, catch up with other wargamers and then escape within 24(ish) hours with a bag full of lead and future plans made. Since going to my first in 2015 as I rejoined the hobby, I’ve eagerly enjoyed going along even when I moved up north and turned 1 hour on the train up to 4+ depending on the time of day. Salute 2018 was even better as I was joined by my demo game assistant Peeb’s Gaming Nonsense who came down to see the delights, share the cost of the hotel and work together to prevent us spending way too much while at the show.


With my trip to London being kind of part of my Summer holiday (at least in the budget), I usually try to get out to some local attractions and be a tourist. Thanks to taking the morning train rather than the afternoon, I was able to do my touristy stuff on the Friday rather than the following day when my bag is filled with models. With a few hours before I was going to check in to the hotel, I headed off to Chelsea to visit The National Army Museum.

The Museum is definitely very modern, with lots of interactive displays and graphics alongside display of artefacts. I’d actually done the museum last year so apart from a quick run round, my main focus was up in the temporary gallery area with their Special Forces exhibit.

The exhibit has an entry fee (unlike the rest of the museum) which was maybe a little on the pricey side but the exhibit was well done. If you’ve read a lot of Osprey books you’ll find most of the information familiar, although I felt it was presented well.

As well as plenty of information boards covering all aspects of the Special Forces, there was lots of kit on display, ranging from WW2 up to the present day.

More of the exciting kit and one of the interactive screens

The rest of the museum was still the same high quality, with multiple displays covering the entire history of the army and tons of artefacts. Having already been here, this was more of a cursory look round and soon I was heading back to the underground.

After heading off to check into the hotel, the rest of the evening was spent in the [email protected] until it was kicking out time.


Waking up in no great rush, we grabbed breakfast at the hotel and leisurely walked over to the Excel (one of the advantages of staying close by) for about 10:15. Despite being so close to opening time, we managed to just walk straight in with only the shell of a queue to join. I think the organisation team seemed to have nailed the process for getting everyone in at a sensible speed.

First role of the day was to go round and do the Ultramoderns check – see what new things/previews were on offer for my chosen era of choice.

Kicking off with Spectre Miniatures and they had their new releases (along with what seemed like their entire range) being shown off in the usual display cases and available from the racks behind them. Nothing new in terms of previews. Every time I went past the stall throughout the day, Spectre always seemed to busy.

I did also visit Empress, despite already having the latest releases on my painting tray. They didn’t have anything new and, although tempted by a T14, I ended up saving my money. I’ll be getting one of those when my Russians get to the tabletop.

Another company whose releases are in the queue is White Dragon Miniatures. I caught up with them at Chillcon and got to have a pretty long chat about whats coming next. These guys are the foot patrol versions of the currently released Vehicle Dismounts, wearing patrol packs and some slight tweaks.

More exciting is what was on the shelf above – as well as the quads, Foxhound and NVGs, Salute saw the first showing of the Taliban figures. These guys look rather nice and I can’t wait to see the rest of the range. White Dragon have shown off these guys in some images in the Modern Miniatures group if you want to see some nicer pictures.

Not necessarily interesting for me but I known a few people play Ultramoderns in 20mm. Well, White Dragon showed off some 1/72nd scale Brits. This is one of the great things about CAD designed models – it’s really easy to rescale or make minor adjustments.

Blotz were also showing off their range. As much as I’m excited about some of these buildings (that compound especially), some of the doors and staircases seem a little small for 28mm when I was there but I think I’m gonna pick some up in a few months once I finish off the pile I already have. The minaret especially would be a rather distinctive.


After looking around for things to buy, I instead set off to take a look and take all the photos of things that caught my eye. Most of these are not suitable for my prefered era of wargaming but it’s still great to see the best of the hobby all on display.

TT Combat had a massive stand which was dominated by several bundle tables offering tons of their MDF. It does show off just how much stuff they produce. I may have had to drag Peeb away from the sci-fi desert planet buildings in the top left.

They did however also manage to fit in a few demo tables for their range of games including this rather nice setup for Carnevale. Their buildings could be quite good for building a modern Venice, perfect for some spy related shenanigans.

Blood Red Skies from Warlord Games was being shown off in perhaps the most dramatic way possible for an air combat game – with a to-scale aircraft carrier!

This wintery game of Bolt Action was packed full of details. Quite cool to bring a background element as well.

Spotted this very early in the day and didn’t see a huge amount movement on it by the time I left. However, it was a great looking WW3 game, complete with lots of helicopters and carefully hidden NATO troops waiting to spring the ambush on the thousands (or so it seemed) of Russian tanks and BMPs pushing through the area.

Something that stood out all day was the blue tent at the very end of the convention hall. Upon reaching it, I was treated to this rather impressive sight of two games using custom lighting and effects. This Necromunda game worked especially well.

Looking at more sci-fi was this rather neat looking compound.

This setup actually stopped me in my tracks. The multi-storey hab block looks like something ripped out of every cyberpunk story. I’m almost tempted to get some and start doing some near future, megacity street fighting.

It’s also cool to see the detailing pack, letting you theme the boxy base buildings to whatever type of sci-fi environment is most appropriate.

A rather nice battle going down in Florida as the Spanish raid a plantation. The board included some tall ships sat in the creek while the main force formed up for battle.

Stand To Games were showing off Forager on two different boards. This game is right up my street and seeing some really nicely made small boards was a nice surprise

The first of two Battlegroup games, this one covering The Battle of Leros. I listened to the team behind it talk about the historical battle on A Few Brits and the Hobby and it sounded like something special – FJ, Brandenburgers and Luftwaffe troops fighting against the LRDG, British and Italians on one of the Greek Islands. The board itself is something else, with floatplanes and a mix of forces battling over a Mediterranean landscape.

The other Battlegroup game saw US and German tanks clashing in the desert in Tunisia. Aside from the nice buildings, I also really like the base material. It’s sackcloth with bits of sand and shrubbery piled on but it works well and saves on carrying big chunky boards everywhere.

I always find 40mm to be a mad scale to wargame in so seeing board with a fort (constructed by TM Terrain) AND big blocks of troops was something rather special.

Finally, this was something that I was really excited about. I have a soft spot for Mechwarrior, especially the Mad Cat/Timber Wolf, so seeing a 28mm version was fantastic.


I have something to admit – I find it really difficult to spend more than 2/3 hours at a wargame show, even one as big as Salute. I’m not a major fan of playing participation games at shows (I’d rather be running it) and with my main interests being WW2 and later, most of the stuff on show is just a quick glance and moving. After a few hours of looking around and taking photos, we decided to bounce and go check out a few other things in London.

After leaving the Excel Centre I stopped at Meat and Liquor for lunch, visited an Airsoft shop to take a look at more expensive things and then rushed back to catch my train and head home to Edinburgh…. and then spend the following day assembling all my goodies.


So how did I like Salute 2018? Well it was pretty great! Not being on the London Marathon weekend meant the Excel wasn’t as packed as it usually is. Several people made comments about the lighting and, although it was reasonably dim, I didn’t find it too bad. A nice variety of stalls and games means there was something for everyone. I think Salute is without equal in the UK for sheer variety and, although you don’t get quite as much time to chat with the sellers about what’s coming next, it’s definitely worth going along to see everything the hobby has to show off.

Am I going back next year? Hell yeah.

Impressions: TTCombat Distribution Depot Set

Okay, this is a big one.

Normally when looking at buildings for wargaming, the focus is on making the outside look great. The inside becomes a second thought. However, TTCombat’s latest release is a visual treat both inside and out. It’s also ridiculously huge.

The Distribution depot is designed to be a centrepiece of a game, allowing gamers to play both inside and out, fighting through the cargo bays and across gantries. As an airsofter, it already feels like some of the urban sites I’ve played through. It’s on the more premium side of TTCombat’s releases and it’s obvious a lot of design went into it

Before I get into the impressions, you may have noticed (if you follow my Facebook page) I had an issue with the baseboard for the depot. However, within a day of telling the folks at TTCombat I had new one in my hands. Interestingly, the broken original arrived as a single piece while the replacement was in two pieces like the baseboard for the extension. I’m not sure how this happened and it’s quite possible I got something that missed QC. However, big positive on customer support.

Additionally, I haven’t got round to adding all of the cardboard detailing panels to hide the joins so excuse them missing from the photos below.

Common Parts

So the first thing I advice before building the depot is to read through all the instructions for the various bits you may have picked up. There are quite a few ways to assemble them, depending on if you want the office connected to the rest of the depot or separate, or if you want to use one or more extension kits.

As with all MDF kits – YOU NEED TO DRY FIT EVERYTHING. This is the biggest and most complex MDF kit I’ve seen (ignoring the truly gigantic galaxy building) and so there are lots of places where it can go horribly wrong. I really recommend not rushing it and taking your time as you assemble it.

Across all the buildings, the construction is primarily MDF with cardboard detailing panels. The most common use for the cardboard is covering up the various places where the MDF slots together and bridging the gaps in the roof. I think this is a very clever use of the materials but as a final step it is a little bit laborious as you slowly but surely add the straight pieces after having just assembled an entire thing. Both the MDF and Cardboard are quite securely on their sprues, require them to be cut away rather than simply “popped out”.

The Depot

The depot is the key to the entire setup – there is no reason to purchase the other two kits without first getting this one. By default the depot has two cargo bays and a double entry door at the front. There are also two other exit doors, one at the rear and one in an end wall. The internal area is about 40cm x 20cm.

As you can see while building, the basic structure is a two piece baseboard, two single part end pieces, and two long pieces made of triangular roof pieces added to wall pieces. These form the key structure with each clipping into the other and providing a good framework. From here, you start adding additional elements, fitting the sliding shutters (moveable in their rail container), adding the front loading steps before adding the shade over the bays. This shade shows off using cardboard to cover joins as well as the numbers that mark out which bay is which.

Inside, most of the floor space is left open but there is a gantry level. It sits quite high off the floor level, easily letting you fill the ground floor with containers and more. The gantry is assembled from MDF base pieces with a layer of cardboard on top. Both pieces are expertly cut out, making it easy to fit them together and allow additional elements such as ladders to be put into place. Around the gantry are is a railing, that holds the gantry’s surface up.  The gantry also include another ladder heading to the roof.

As you would expect, the roof is removable to let you access the interior. The roof has some nice details such as fluorescent lights and open panels. More importantly for something you’ll be moving on and off, they feel really solid. I don’t feel concerned about putting them down while playing.

For all the great parts of this kit, there are one or two little issues. I think the instructions are useful but there are lots of places where it took a while to work out exactly what is going on. There are also some strange issues with parts. I seemed to be missing parts of the stairs; instead having shorter stair props, I instead had duplicates of the stair with banister. This was easily fixed, requiring a quick snip to prevent them covering up the front entrances but was a little unexpected. In addition, there is a set of four holes in the backboard which look like somewhere you would normally attach the banisters to but are not used. Finally, as with other TTCombat kits there were one or two places I had to trim a part or two, most notably on the banisters where they connect to the front wall. Another reason to test with dry fits.

But wait there is more! The depot also comes with some additional bits to help fill the large interior.

I really like the fork lift included in the set. It’s just about the right height for my 28mm figures and is packed full of character. There is a slight downside in that they only really work well carrying the TTCombat pallets – anything heavier on the forklift just tips over. Even so, just look at it!

The depot also includes three shelving sets. These are really cool and help to fill the interior without blocking all the lines of sight. The gap between the shelving is perfect sized for the various crates you may buy, including a large pack offered by TTCombat.

I’m less excited about pallets. After having assembled the entirely MDF Knights of Dice ones, these are just disappointing. Rather than made out of just wood, they are instead combinations of MDF “legs” and a cardboard top. Having made a few of them, I have little faith in them maintaining their structure as they seem to flex a lot..

More exciting is the ramp that lets you wheel things up to the level of the front doors. MDF side pieces hold up a cardboard surface. It looks very cool. The only downside? It would have been nice to have a second one to allow for one to be placed on either side so vehicles could drive in and out of the depot or have them lined up at both bays.

The Extension Kit

Okay so the depot is big. But what if you need it to be EVEN bigger?

Fundamentally, the extension kit is another set of front and back walls with a slightly different layout and a method of attaching to the original building. The kit does require you to use the end wall from the Depot meaning you can’t easily switch between a single depot building and one that is extended. The new layout moves the gantry into going only along the back wall and increases the number of bays from two to three. Everything else, from initial frame to assembling the roof is made using the same techniques as the main building.

As with the depot, the extension kit also includes three shelving units, a ramp and a pile of pallets. These are the same as the main depot so check above for my impressions.

Finally, after looking over the plans (and realising how far the detailing numbers go), it looks like you could easily extend the depot to have even more bays simply by adding another extension kit in between the original depot and the kit you have assembled with the end wall. It’s a cool idea, but seeing as the depot + extension is almost 3ft in length, you will need a giant board.

The Office

Going from the huge buildings in the rest of the series, the office is a bit of a step down. Designed to give you somewhere for the security guards to hang out, the office is two storeys high but only has a ground floor. The building also has a normal door and a vertical moving slide door. The roof is also removable. On the other hand, the office does not include any interior furniture.

It’s a cool little building and I think any depot park without would be a bit lacking. It’s also a nice change of pace to build after the complexity of the rest of the depot.

If you assemble it without the back wall, and don’t install the light above the entrance to the depot, you can clip the office to the main depot. This lets you easily create a reception area (perfect if you’re trying to make a Royal Mail depot).

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m very impressed with the range. Once fully assembled, it a true centrepiece, drawing the eye to it. With the roof on, it towers over the rest of the board. Remove the roof and you suddenly have a large interior space that can easily be filled with scatter terrain to form a complete battlezone.

It also seems a decent price. For all three kits, you’re looking at around £80. If you compare it to Sarissa’s factory (around £50), that £30 difference gets you a huge increase in playable area and a pile of scatter terrain. Of course, you could just combine them to build up an industrial park, all ready for your troops to fight through.

For as much as I like it, it would be cool to be able to have a bit more depth to it, letting you have a much larger warehouse to fight through. You could try to custom build it by sawing a hole through the back walls and adding an additional depot but it would require a fair amount of bodging to get it fully working.

If you’re wanting something to make you board stand out or have a certain desire to fight through parked HGVs and shelves full of crates, then this kit is for you. Of course, it does now mean I’m terrified to see what TTCombat is going to bring to Salute next year.


I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed building it. Next weekend, keep your eyes open for a battle report showing some dodgy business going down at the depot…

STOP THE PRESS: Just as this goes to be posted, TTCombat have released a range of new sets to complement the depot, such as additional machinery and shelving units. Expect an impressions in the future!

Impressions: Scatter Terrain Part 1

Strictly speaking, terrain isn’t technically needed for a wargame – a few pieces of cardboard with labels on can play the role of buildings and walls. However, terrain makes games much more interesting, giving you something to actually fight over rather. While big buildings and rolling hills help shape the gameplay and draw the eye, smaller items and scatter terrain brings the game to life. Its makes urban streets feel like somewhere people live, adds detail to otherwise empty plains and provide vital cover in skirmish games.

There are two sets of impressions coming for scatter and smaller terrain items. This first article will cover plastic and resin items while the second will look at everything made from MDF.

Spectre Trash Piles

This set from Spectre was the first bits of terrain I picked up and they are pretty fantastic. The pack includes three cardboard boxes, three small rubbish bags and a large bag pile. All the terrain pieces have flat bottoms while the large pile also has flat back, perfect for fitting next to a building in a crowded alley. Both parts are great for adding some decoration to a street scene or terrifying your opponents by using them as possible IED sites.

Spectre Oil Drums

All games that involve shooting need barrels (especially red ones) and these are great. Each pack includes 10 barrels. They have a nice level of detail and paint up nicely. The only major issues is you can see some casting lines and a few of the barrels have some missing rims after some use.

Spectre Barricades – Alfa

Designed by The Lazy Forger, these barricades are amazing and an easy way to meet the chest high wall requirements of any mission. The pack includes six full size barricades and one partial barricade. Each one is unique and full of detail, really giving a war-torn feel to a board. The barricades are flat edged so really fit best forming straight lines.

Spectre Barricades – Bravo

Another Lazy Forger designed product, these vertical barricades provide full height cover. The pack includes six walls and once each is unique. They are also filled with evocative detail, such as the exposed re-bar inside the concrete and the masses of bullet holes. The walls have a concave edge on one side and a convex edge on the other, letting them fit together and hiding most of the join.

To add, both of these products make me really excited for what The Lazy Forger is doing next – Brick Walls! These are instantly useful and will make both building modification and board setup even easier.

Spectre Ammo Boxes

Not yet on general release, these hard cases were available at Salute 2017 and will presumably coming soon. There are a few casting lines that need trimming down but the level of detail on them is ridiculous for such a small item. These will look great when building a military outpost or wanting some objectives for teams to fight over.

TTCombat Portable Toilet Set

Most of the time your figures are answering the call of duty but sometimes they might need to answer the call of nature. These resin portaloos (coming in a pack of four) are simple and do the job, making temporary military installations or building sites slightly more realistic and also adding some full height cover. They are one piece of resin and feel really solid. Luckily they also don’t include the smell.

 

TTCombat Bank Accessories

Money, it makes the world go round. This pack is designed to add-on to an MDF building, letting you fill it with loot. The vault door and safes are really cool but the gold bars in various combinations are spot on for objective markers. If you’re wanting something more mobile the cash sacks are just the right size for using as markers, letting you know which of your troops have grabbed the swag.

TTCombat Bank Accessories 2

The second part of bank accessories are more security focused. It includes two burglar alarms, two piece security cameras (allowing for some careful placing and angling) and pieces required for a security console (such as a keyboard and a screen). Unlike the Bank Accessories 1, this one is very much focused on upgrading other pieces of terrain. However, it is very effective at this job and gives you a lot of bang for your buck.


The resin stuff is great for objects on the smaller side, but once you start using cheap laser cut MDF and scatter terrain can start doing some really cool stuff for the slightly bigger things. Come back in two weeks for part two where I’ll cover MDF constructs including shipping containers, pallets and more!

Impressions: Sarissa Precision Industrial

Sarissa Precision are pretty high on my list of favourite terrain companies thanks to their wonderfully detailed buildings. Among my favourites in the range are two buildings from their Industrial range, the factory and the office. I first saw these thanks to Spectre’s playtest report and was immediately interested in them.

Like all Sarissa buildings, both arrive on A4 sheets of laser cut mdf. In addition, they also have some cardboard detailing panels that sit inside the MDF. Unusually for an MDF building, the kit actually includes instructions which is massively appreciated to make sure no mistakes happen during assembly. For both kits, the MDF parts were cleanly cut and came away from the sprue really easily. The cardboard is a useful addition and easy to place but I’m less happy with the doors, especially the larger warehouse ones. The hinge is quite thin and just asking to eventually fall away if constantly moved. I will probably end up glueing or taping them.

Both kits include gantry items which can be combined together. As you can see above, this lets you bridge between the two buildings or just make a bridge. The gantries are simple to construct and look very effective on the tabletop.

In terms of scale, the Sarissa kits fit perfectly with the 28mm figures I have. The gantries are perfectly sized for 26mm bases (and would probably fit the 30mm bases used by Batman and other games) and the warehouse door easily fit most of the vehicles I have.

Factory – Office/Warehouse

(Please note, the metal air conditioning is not part of the kit but was added to make removing the roof easier)

This building is two stories and designed to be the perfect side building alongside larger factory units. The ground floor is slightly taller than usual and  has two large warehouse doors and a side entrance. Above it, the top floor has a side door for use with a gantry . The top floor also has a slot through the floor but I’m not sure it’s suitable for a staircase – it’s also too short for the height of the building and would block entryways in either alignment. However, a ladder or pulley system could be fitted depending on the building’s purpose.

The roof and top floor are removable with the roof resting on the top of the cardboard detail layers. Inside the building, the top floor rests in two slots in the cardboard and is surprisingly sturdy if a little fiddly to place correctly.

On both floors, the detail cardboard has lots of windows meaning the building has plenty of fire points. The outside also has a chimney or water pipe. unfortunately I managed to mess up construction of this and so on mine it’s slightly misshapen.

 

Overall, I really like this building. It works both with other industrial buildings or settled amongst more civilian dwellings for a little variation. The two floors also make it interesting to play through. As the description on the website, it could be warehouse with a storage area upstairs or an office depending on how you want to decorate the interior. This is a building I’d be interested in picking up a second.

Factory – Large

If you’re looking for a centrepiece to your wargaming board, the Sarissa factory is perfect. About 1ft square and two stories high, the factory just toes the line between “terrain feature” and “play area”. The interior is dominated by the open warehouse floor but there is also a smaller room under chimney (perfect for sneaking in through) and a second floor balcony so you can take the high ground and get a good view over anything inside. The balcony can be accessed by both a gantry on the outside and also from a ladder from within. The balcony is not removable.

The two end pieces are mirrored and both include two warehouse doors and a standard door.

A cool feature of the factory is the interior crane. This is composed of three parts – a frame, central gantry and the crane unit itself. I do not recommend gluing the frame in place if you intend to actually play through the interior as it sticks out and can prevent gamer hands from being able to place figures. Similarly, the gantry and unit can also be left unglued thanks to how well they grip the tracks which means the crane can be repositioned depending on the scenario. I’m a big fan of it. Especially if you get someone up on top of the crane, just asking to fall to the ground once he is taken out.

Finally, here are all the bits that make up the warehouse. The roof is easy to take on and off (resting on the struts you can see in the interior photo) and also feels very solid once constructed. The gaps in the roof could be filled with plastic for glazing if you want to add that extra detail.

 

Conclusion

So, overall how do I like the buildings? They are fantastic kits to build, easy to knock up over an evening. Once constructed they just look great, giving even the barest of boards a cool edge. I have my reservations about the cardboard doors but having played a few games using them, they are very gameable items of terrain letting you sweep and clear without having to carefully balance figures on strange angles.

There is however one thing to think about and that is the price. The factory is £50 and the office is £20. You get a lot of stuff for that cost but it is definitely on the higher end of MDF pricing for this size.

Overall though, a big thumbs up from me! Now I just need to go paint them…