18 April 2014

Event Coverage: Crisis - A Wargame Convention Report

Eddy Sterckx heads to miniature wargame convention known as "Crisis" in Antwerp, Belgium to get the inside information on the latest wargames and goings-on.

Published on 8 NOV 2011 4:14pm by Eddy Sterckx
  1. convention coverage

“Crisis” is the name of a historical miniature wargame convention held every year in Antwerp, Belgium and which is organized by TSA, the local wargame club. The central location of Antwerp, together with the excellent organization has ensured that this convention has become the premiere wargame convention on the European continent with traders, clubs and gamers from all over Europe attending and with only Salute in London topping them in attendance numbers.

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The Main Hall

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Setting up the paper battle

“Vibrant” – that’s the word I would use to describe the atmosphere – this is not a small and dwindling gathering of old geezers pushing around tin soldiers, all the while reminiscing of glory days gone by. On the contrary: this convention shows that wargaming is alive and kicking, with plenty of young blood picking up the hobby. A hobby that has become increasingly affordable with the introduction of good quality plastic miniatures and with publishers who have realized that playability has become the major requirement of a new ruleset or system.

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 The Next Generation

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Strategy Talks

The show basically stands on two legs:  The first is 40 wargame clubs which set-up games and vie for one of the three trophies available : best presented game in show - which is all about the visual splendor, best participation – which rewards the game that manages to attract the largest crowd to play or watch and finally : most original game, the one game that manages to stand-out. The result is that the diversity of games on display is staggering - from large Rome vs Celts battles to tiny Viking Age skirmishes, from dreary WWI battlefiels to the Alamo and from Lace Wars to Mad Max.

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Romans go home

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Saga

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Storm those trenches

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The Alamo

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Charge!

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Scratch build

Over the years I’ve come to know a lot of people there and I always make it a point to visit the various clubs, see what they’ve come up with this year, hear what they think about other displays and pick up on the “buzz” of the show. It’s always hard to tell what the judges are going to pick in any given year, but this time I hit the trifecta in predicting all 3 winners. Should have put some money on it.

The best presented game in show trophy went to the Newark Irregulars (UK) with their absolutely fabulously looking game on the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

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Newark Irregulars

Best participation went to Too Fat Lardies (UK) with a tactical East Front game that attracted a good crowd all day long, so the trophy came as no surprise to anyone.

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Too Fat Lardies

Finally the most original game trophy went to the local Schild & Vriend club which had put up an English Civil War battle using nothing but black & white paper miniatures.

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S & V Paper Battles

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S & V  Phil & Bart holding the trophy

The other leg are the 65 traders, most of them from the UK, with the remainder from France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium. These traders are the main focal point for many of the 1600+ attendees of the convention. Shop ‘till you drop seemed to be the watchword of the day and for many traders, even the UK ones,  this is their major sales event of the year. Crisis? What crisis? Wargamers still act like mad alchemists - turning their gold into lead in huge quantities. And they’re not afraid to travel a bit to spend it either, with even a Swedish contingent making it all the way to the show this year. A lot of Frenchmen and Germans too with English, as the lingua franca of the wargame world there to tie them all together.

Over the years the show has grown and this year it really looked as if it was about to burst at the seams with every square foot of the convention centre put to use – there  was a trader in every nook and cranny and I was half expecting some trader to have a shop set-up in one of the bathroom stalls. It felt extremely crowded at times and so the organizing club, having had to refuse a good number of traders and clubs because of lack of space, has decided to move to a bigger location next year.

I experienced a funny moment half an hour before the show opened to the general public. With all the clubs and TSA members already present there were already 200-300 people there, and as most of them are veterans of the show, they know that they need to use those last relatively quiet minutes to get some shopping of their own done before the crowds overrun them. So I was picking up the second edition of the Uncharted Seas ruleset from a first-time German trader who remarked that he thought the show was “well-attended”. That’s when I told him that the convention centre hadn’t even opened up its doors yet. He visibly needed a second or two to mentally grasp what this meant. I swung by in the afternoon again to pick-up Dystopian Wars - I had resisted buying that for about 4 hours, which shows that, contrary to my wife’s opinion, I do know how to restrain myself – and the guy was sweating and smiling from ear-to-ear when he saw me. I think his application for a booth next year is already in.

And finally, no convention report would be complete without some more pictures – enjoy:

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Article written by: Eddy Sterckx, Contributor