Sunday, 5 February 2023

Vapnartak - my thoughts!

 In December Robbie Roddis on his The Indepenent Wargames Group blog gave his thoughts and views on the future of Wargames Shows and what makes a good one. So whilst driving back from Vapnartak at York and mulling over what I thought of the day his post came back to mind.

The York show is, I guess the opening of the Wargames season for us Northerners and as such has always been a well attended show. I’ve always attended to meet up with people have a look around and pick up a few bits and pieces. This year, to me at least, it all felt a bit flat. I really enjoyed catching up with people and I did pick up a few bits I’d preordered but my over riding feeling was it didn’t give me any buzz. Before posting a few photos let me explain why.

I do not intend to upset any one and I have been involved in organising shows and events before so I understand the effort and work that goes into it but my first thoughts were that the organisers have got complacent! Both the website and Facebook page had little in way of updates until around two weeks before the show when the list of traders went up followed a few days later by a list of games.

The trader list was just that a list of names, no description of what they sold, no hyperlinks just the bare minimum.I’ve been around a while and know a lot of traders but new names do appear it would be useful to have an idea of what they sold!.

We arrived at ten past ten and doors opened at 10 the queue was large but it took us just over 40 minutes to get in. Previous years the organisers had staff outside prior to opening selling tickets to the queue in order to facilitate entry. Not this year. Some of the traders I spoke to couldn’t understand why it took so long to get people in. 

Each year there feels to be fewer and fewer games and this year seemed to be no exception, there wee some nice looking games but not enough and not of the quality I guess you’d expect at a show of this size and status. 

There were no re enactment groups this year now it’s not my scene but love them or hate them they create a diversion and kids like to look and hold helmets etc.

As always up until 12.30ish the place was busy and quite crowded in parts really quite uncomfortable, a positive side was that the table top sale was back and they had moved it to an area on its own. Far better.

So by 1 I’d had enough and headed home. It really has become, to me at least just a trade event and the organisers I feel have just relied on its history and have put little effort into getting games etc there. I won’t be going next year which is a pity as I do like the catch up with people.

I’ve put photos of some of the games below, sorry if they’re not labelled it wasn’t always easy to find space to get the pics.

As to my purchases no pictures but I bought some Mediterranean walls from Last Valley, bases from Warbases, Rapid fire rules from Colin Rumford and some magnetic bases from Trevor and Paula.

( As a foot note to the above in response to a comment I made on a YouTube review and from another source I have been told there has been a major fall out within the York club with the result that many of the Historical Wargamers leaving! Also it was suggested that the only reason the show took place is because the Club has a contract with the racecourse for the show to take place for a number of years, that would seem to explain and account for my thoughts I guess. )


TamsinP said...

That seems a shame that it was so badly organised. :(

DaveD said...

That was exactly how I felt last time. I have tried a couple of times offering games and I didn’t even get a reply . I won’t bother trying again or going .

Graham C said...

A great pity just smacks of complacency and a bit of apathy.

I’ve had a similar experience in the past with them not responding to offers, in your case it’s their loss as the quality of your games are first class. I just can’t work them out. I’ve never experienced it before from a club or show organisers.

Rupert Clamp said...

As a person who applied for a trade stand, it was a very different experience to those Ive had with other wargames shows - I contacted then, the initial e-mails said yes well find a space, a month later Id heard nothing so I contacted them, the eventual reply said we havent decided anything yet. It got to Dec and I still hadnt heard so I emailed and messaged, then they announced the trade stands (my name not on it) Ive still not heard from them, not even a courtesy mesage saying there was no space. Everywhere else, even when I havent got in (hammerhead etc) their communication has been fantastic and you feel like they want their event to work for everyone.

Norm said...

I Graham, as you know from my blog comment, my experience was more positive, but my previous years experiences have matched what you describe and I had become less inclined to go, so this year was a refreshing surprise.

What changed this year? Well I think the info in your post probably sets the scene. I arrived at 9.45 and got into the queue. Doors opened at 10 prompt and within minutes I was in. My main activity was in the first hour. I found it easier to shop, to get to traders tables and to visit the games in play …. I thought it was quite and the reason is now obvious …. The crowds were still outside!

It did become busy, with the usual choke points and I now know I totally missed two sellers that I wanted. We left at 12 noon, I didn’t do a final dash around, but that was due to an aching back Vs Growing crowds.

I was very interested with your post as it clearly puts my own experience in some context. I suppose we do the show as part of a wider visit to the York area , with a hotel stay thrown in to give us a couple of days, so my 2 hours at the show is just a small slice of a bigger plan.

If York simply becomes one of the big 5, where is their incentive to improve?

Graham C said...

That’s really sad and bad, I know a few people who echo your experience.
I think if I was visiting York for a weekend and had gone to the show as just part of a day out I may have mellowed my views a little but I’ve updated the blog as a result of some other comments made in that 5here appears to have been a major fall out within the club with a result that many Historical gamers have left and that has had a knock on effect.

Tiberian general said...

Cheers for your post on the show Graham, I was at PAW2023 putting on a Mollwitz participation game. Plymouth is a small show with 230 paying punters through the door on Saturday and 70 paying competition gamers plus about 80 paying punters on Sunday. It was a great weekend and I ran my game 3 times, using my own fast play rules.

What I have noticed with lots of wargame shows is lack of advertising and most seem to be on facebook and none appears to be aimed at the general public. I believe that we should encompass and welcome more non hobbyists to have a look at our hobby, maybe they may enjoy it and take wargaming up as a hobby.

Thank you for your excellent report on the show.


Independentwargamesgroup said...

Its a pity we didn't meet up Graham.For me,I really enjoyed the day out. Perhaps because you have avoided shows for a while you weren't ready for York.Last year, the queues were lengthy although not as bad as on Sunday.
Luckily it was slightly warmer than the previous year. Obviously the parking was pretty bad due to numbers. Effectively the show is a victim of its own success.I fully expect all wargames shows to be very busy this year, and knew York would set the trend for the rest.
But enjoyment is a subjective thing and for me the show was exactly as expected. I know next month at Newark will have some really interesting games on show and I will probably enjoy that day as well, for different reasons.