Sunday 7 August 2016

Claymore 2016


The largest wargames event in Scotland (Claymore) is held in early August.  In other years, we've often been away on holiday at this point, but this year I had arranged for our family vacation to be in the middle of July instead.  The 6th of August was free, so we were able to go to the show!

Although all of my children (and wife) were offered the opportunity, only my younger son ("A.") wanted to come with me.  He's extremely keen on games days such as this, so that made up for the (mild) disappointment from the more general lack of interest.

Our Day

It takes us just under 2 hours to drive from Helensburgh to north-west Edinburgh.  Let's just say that it's a tedious, though not particularly difficult, journey and leave it at that.

We arrived some 10 minutes before the official start time, but the doors were already open and many visitors had entered before us.  It's nice when you don't have to queue!

As always, what follows is a record of what A. and I did on the day.  It is not a comprehensive record of the games, traders or people present at Claymore, but rather just a description of our experiences.

SSFSA Tombola

Very near to the entrance, there was a tombola stall being run by the SSFSA (the armed forces charity).  We decided to spend some money on this and were surprised to find that both of us had won a prize.  I received a book on U.S. Rangers, whilst A.'s ticket matched a 28mm officer of Australian Light Horse!  I'm not sure what either of us will do with such items, as they're both quite a long way from any games or periods that we play...

Game 1: Wings of Glory

There were players needed in the first participation game that we came across, so we sat down to play some of the very popular Wings of Glory.  We were using 1916 aircraft; A. and I took a pair of French Morane Saulnier N monoplanes, whilst a couple of other young boys took some British clunkers to our right.  Opposing us were a mixture of German 2-seaters, eindeckers, observation balloons and the like.

I had enormous difficulty in working out the effects of the manoeuvre cards for most of the game.  I understood the mechanics easily enough, but found that my predictions of where my plane would end up were hopelessly adrift.  Consequently, I spent most of the game flying about pointlessly on the extreme left hand edge of the table.

Meanwhile, A's Morane was set on fire and eventually crashed.  He was given another, identical aircraft, but after tangling with the German 2-seaters, this was also set on fire.  A. flew off the table before burning to cinders, so perhaps his second plane survived?

Just as I had (almost) figured out how to manoeuvre and had lined up a good, tailing shot on an eindecker, I was hit by flak and killed.  Bah!

Game 2: Pancho Villa

The next game we encountered was a Bolt Action skirmish set during the Mexican civil war and presented by the Glasgow and District Wargames Club.  We took a bunch of Villistas (?) whose goal was to overpower the Federales in a small town and rob the about-to-depart gold train.  Sounds straightforward enough; we were told that we had about a 2:1 advantage in forces.

The game started well enough, as our American mercenary flier dropped a 75mm artillery shell onto one of the government machine gun positions.  He didn't hurt any of the crew, but he scared the cr*p out of them!

Our opponent in this game was a very young girl, with her dad and even younger brother watching from the sidelines.  She seemed to have a particular antipathy to my cavalry and shot at the horses on all possible occasions.  I thought that little girls were supposed to like ponies?

A. and I quickly found out that it was very difficult to advance with units that had PIN markers on them.  This led to our attacks going in piecemeal as each unpinned unit would charge forwards on its own, only to be gunned down by the defenders.  My glorious, flanking cavalry charge that was supposed to take us over the walls on the left was met by some particularly stubborn resistance; even though I inflicted 6 hits on the defending unit of 7 men, they all hit in return and routed my force.

At the end of the 6th turn, when the gold train departed, we hadn't managed to get even one figure over the sandbag wall...


I'd taken a packed lunch with us, since I've been dismayed at the quality (and price!) of the food offered at this and some other shows before.  The sun was shining and we were able to sit outside in the courtyard; it was good.

Game 3: Operation Retribution

Blue dice for low-medium altitude, white dice for medium-high.

The Blue Bears put on a massed WWII aircraft battle, based on Operation Retribution (the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941) and using their own rules.  Each of the 6 players took a flight of 3 Yugoslav fighters, which were a mixture of Bf-109s, Hurricanes and their own, homebuilt IK-Z.  The goal was to shoot down as many Luftwaffe bombers as possible.

A rather cluttered table near the end of the game, with altitude and damage dice all over the place.
This we proceeded to do in style; it was something of a "turkey shoot".  The game was enlivened by small amounts of karaoke and the occasional group chant ("On, no!  Not the purple dice of doom!").  Luftwaffe fighters flew overhead, but too high to see what was happening, so we rampaged through the bomber formations and devastated them.

I have to admit that I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the resulting massacre; it was very one-sided and quite a long way from what really happened in 1941.

Game 4: Kings of War

One set of rules which has been on my radar for a while is Kings of War.  This seems to be gaining a great deal of popularity, indeed it is perhaps the "go to" set for large, fantasy battles these days.  We had the opportunity to learn some of the mechanics in a little demonstration game, umpired by a very helpful and friendly representative (thanks!).

So, A. took a small force of dwarves, whilst I attacked him with an undead warband.

The Necromancer steps in to prevent the large unit of Dwarves from attacking the zombies in the flank.  Amazingly, he survives, at least for now!
The dwarves' cannon proved to be spectacularly useless and I don't think it hit anything in the entire game.  However, the stunty warriors proved to be very effective; they carved their way through my ghouls and skeletons in short order (groan!).

My leader, the necromancer, was forced to get involved personally in a messy melee to try to prevent the Dwarven rampage.  Although he eventually succumbed, he did allow the zombies time to fight back.

One after another, the Dwarven units fell to the all-conquering, but heavily beaten-up, zombies.  This was a complete surprise to all of us; when we called time on the game they were facing just the Dwarven warsmith and their cannon.  I'd say that it could have gone either way after that...

Game 5: Custer's Last Stand

In the dying 30 minutes of the show, just as we were tiring and wondering whether to depart, we came across the Leuchars Veterans' game: Custer's Last Stand.  I've taken part in some of their games before and they are always great fun: short, simple, effective and usually with excellent props as well.

I took chief Gall of the HunkPapa Sioux.  My son A. had Hollow Horn Bear of the Brule Sioux.

Each of the 5 (or was it 6?) players took a band of Indians - and yes, we did all wear headdresses with feathers in them.  The measuring sticks were modelled as arrows and our goal was to be the one to scalp Custer.  Note that there wasn't a whole lot of doubt that this would happen as the Indian forces were considerably larger than the remnants of the cavalry!

Between us, A. and I were first up onto the hill.  I may just have positioned my warriors to block some of the other players ("Oh, sorry, Crazy Horse!  Am I in your way - I hadn't realised?"), but all's fair in love and war...

Despite being the first to attack Custer, Hollow Horn Bear (A.'s chieftain) just couldn't kill the general.  Indeed, Custer managed to kill A's horse and thus dismount him!  My leader (chief Gall) was also in early, but failed to make any impression.

At the end, Custer was surrounded by no less than 5 chieftains.  It became a lottery as to who would strike the killing blow; many dice were rolled only for the owner to sigh in disgust at the lack of any of the requisite 6s.  Eventually, the flag-bearer was slain by someone and the very next Sioux chieftain killed Custer.  Suffice it to say that it wasn't either A. or myself who took the honour!

Return Journey

Another tedious trip in the car, this time with the driver (me) somewhat fatigued.  I really wish that public transport was a plausible alternative, but the Granton venue is just not suitable for this if you're coming from outside of Edinburgh!


Between games, we did a fair amount of shopping.  I say "we", but in reality it was just I that bought things.  We did have a few casual looks at the bring-and-buy, but it seemed especially crowded this year.  The bring-and-buy tables also looked to be stacked high with items, thus making it hard to see what was on offer.

So, just traders, then.  Here's what we came home with:

  • The newly-published (and much anticipated, at least by me) Congo rules.
  • Several packets of Darkest Africa figures: Ascaris and Tribal warriors.
  • Into the Breeding Pits (the latest expansion for Frostgrave)
  • Matt varnish.  Always useful, especially as some mail services either won't accept aerosols any more or charge an arm and a leg.
  • 2 x MDF Land Rovers.  28mm-compatible Land Rovers have been something of a Holy Grail for me, so I was delighted to see that Warbases are now producing some kits.  I'll report on these more another time.
  • Operation Retribution rules, handed out to participants in the game.  Whilst of casual interest, I don't think I'll be investing anything into WW2 air combat games.
  • US Rangers and Australian Light Horse officer; winnings from the SSFSA tombola.  I still don't know what to do with these, as they don't fit into any period or genre that I play.


  1. What a wonderfully enthralling and enjoyable posting Hugh, many thanks for putting this together. Obviously being South I've little hope of ever attending, so I do enjoy seeing what other shows are like. This one sounds a lot of fun, and you've brought back plenty of loot too I see.

    1. I'm sure you could think of a reason to come to Edinburgh if you really wanted :-) . Yes, we enjoyed it a lot.

      Mind you, if you look at other people's reports, you might be left wondering if they were for the same show! I've noticed this before; people take most note of the things that interest them, oddly enough...

  2. Great show report. I went twice to the show some 15 years ago and it was nice to read that is still doing well.



    1. Thanks, Pete. Claymore is undoubtedly one of the best shows around, at least in Scotland.

  3. Look forward to seeing those land rovers Hugh, sounds like a fun day for you and A

    1. I built up one of the Land Rovers yesterday (Sunday) and am considering some conversions for the second. All in good time.

      A. is, I think, thoroughly hooked on games conventions now. He's been to one Salute, a couple of Carronades and 2 (or is it 3?) Claymores now and shows no signs of losing interest.

    2. I did one of the Warbases armoured cars and was pleasantly surprised at the end result.

    3. That looks very nice, Jim!

  4. I will be interested in the "Congo" game. From what I have HEARD IT REALLY COULD BE JUST MY THING. (Bloody Caps lock!)

    It looks and sounds like a good day out. Some of the games do look excellent!

    1. Congo is something I've been waiting for for a very long time. Some 30+ years ago, I devoured all of the H. Rider Haggard books that Newington Library in Edinburgh had to offer (and there were a *lot* of them). Also, about that time I obtained a copy of Avalon Hill's "Source of the Nile" game and made an abortive attempt to computerise it. Since then, I've had a considerable, though somewhat suppressed, interest in Darkest Africa.

      There were a large number of beautiful games on display at Claymore, but not so many of these were participation games. Indeed, some seemed to be more displays rather than games, as there seemed to be no change in status all day.

  5. Sounds like a cracking day was had by all. I have not made it to a show this year so far. Very much looking forward to the Derby World Wargames show in October as planning on going to that at the moment.

    Nice loot haul second time this weekend Congo has been mentioned I will have to look it up.

    1. We tried to fit in as many games as we could! I was very tired by the end of the day (A. slept in the car for a bit of the way back.

      Congo is very recently published; it's been available for less than a week, if I understand correctly. I think you'll be hearing a lot more about this soon...

  6. Save for the aeroplanes game they're all games I'd have like to have participated in too. It's been many years since I last attended Claymore but it still looks as good as ever.

    1. Well, I'm willing to try most anything, but I have to admit that the aircraft games were my least favourite. Hmm, surely Edinburgh is not so far from where you are that you couldn't visit occasionally :-) ?

  7. Nice tour, its interesting to see shows though others eyes!

    1. Thanks. I find it amazing how some show reports will talk about the mega-game of Gaugamela, or the large sand table that I have barely noticed or the time spent catching up with acquaintances, whilst my son and I have spent our time playing games.

      As long as everyone enjoys themselves then however you spend the show fine, of course!

  8. I wonder if I passed you fine fellows while there? I saw the spiffy Indian head dresses from a distance and had a good chat with the Kings of War chap too. When I passed Wings of War there was a Zeppelin under attack by Snoopy!!

    1. It's entirely possible that we passed, Ragsta. However, since I don't know what you look like and (presumably) you wouldn't be able to identify me, we'll never know :-) ...

      As well as Snoopy and the Zeppelin, the Wings of Glory guys had an Angry Bird. It was on fire when I saw it.

  9. Cool report. Great to have A. following Daddy's hobby love.

    1. Thanks, Cedric. Having children (even just 1 of them) show real interest in the things that I enjoy is very pleasing.