Wednesday 8 May 2024

Carronade 2024


It's the start of the show season, at least for me in Scotland.  Last weekend was the wonderful Carronade show in Falkirk - probably my favourite Scottish games show.

So, I and my younger son had risen early, planning to take the train from Helensburgh to Falkirk.  Just before leaving I checked the rail network status, only to find that there was major disruption on my local line (due to a signals failure at Partick, I believe).  This meant that at best the trains would be very unreliable and at worst they wouldn't travel at all - not good!

OK, plan B: take the car and drive.  It's a fair way to go and normally quite tiring, although on this occasion the weather was mild and the roads were relatively clear.  Not too bad after all.

We arrived just about on the show's official opening time of 10:00am, expecting to find a queue of visitors waiting to be let in.  However, there was almost nobody outside, the doors were already open and we could just walk right in.  Initially the show seemed quite empty, although I suspect this was just our imagination as there were plenty of visitors later on.

So what did we do on our day at the show?  We played some games  We met with a number of people I know, both from our home town and long-standing friends.  We did some shopping.  That's about it, really!

Game 1: Peter Pan

The first participation game we encountered was set in Neverland.  The plot was simple: Captain Hook has tied the Darling children to the mast of his ship, has imprisoned all the Lost Boys in a stockade and is making them walk the plank, one by one (boo!  hiss!).  It's up to Peter Pan and his allies (Tiger Lily and her tribe of Red Indians) to rescue them.

Captain Hook prepares to throw another Lost Boy overboard!

The Indians charge straight for the pirates, whilst Peter Pan (top, right) flies towards the stockade to rescue the Lost Boys.

The Indians make short work of the pirates, despite losing one of their number to some wild beasts which were tailing them.  Note that the crocodile is only interested in Hook; it just ignored the rest of us.

Having opened the stockade and dispatched the last pirates, Peter Pan duels with Captain Hook on the deck of the ship.  Everyone else (including the crocodile) stops to watch the fight.  Both of the protagonists are down to their last wound before Peter lands a final blow and fells the pirate chief.  Hurrah!

When we looked up the victory conditions, Peter had won a handsome victory.  However, looking at the setup and the rules for the game, such an outcome was pretty much inevitable.  Still, it was a fun little filler with a relatively unusual subject matter.

[Aside: Tinkerbell didn't appear in this game.  I believe that she could have made an appearance if the Darling children had managed to free themselves from their bonds, but would then have hounded them.  In the book, she's really not a very nice fairy, you know...]

Game 2: After Casablanca

Our second game of the day was a wonderful, star-studded, cast-of-thousands game with an extremely pulp theme.  The premise is this: after the final scene in 'Casablanca' (the movie, of course!), Rick and Louis have joined the Free French.  They've been spying on the Italians in North Africa (Libya) and must now return to the French lines.  As players, our job was to assist them to escape.

Each turn, one of the allied/French players would choose an "event" from a selection of cards.  These all had suggestive names such as "Boom Boom", "Todt" &c but we didn't know what they meant beyond that.  We did know the "difficulty level" for each event - that indicated how far Rick & Louis could move as well as (roughly!) how bad the event would be for us.

There were 5 players; each controlled a couple of heroes.  I had a Telly Savalas character with a Lewis gun (I'm not familiar with this role) and a female sidekick.  Someone else had Sid James (from the Carry On... films) and there were a number of others.

As well as the player characters, there were various forces we could command: French native troops, colonial police, Foreign Legion, Arabs &c.  Between them these gave us some numbers with which we could counter the Italian troops who were holed up in the buildings and trenches at the far end of the table.

At the beginning, everything looked quiet, so I chose to advance the French colonial troops along the open ground in the middle of the table.

Here we go - a bald American with a light machine gun and his blue-clad assistant leads local troops straight towards the Italian lines.  The Foreign Legionnaires (centre right) decided to stick to a bit more cover. 

Progress was made, but very slowly.  The French forces caused some casualties to the enemy, but mostly melted away under a hail of Italian gunfire.  Then some Nazis appeared in the nearby ruins, scaring off the local archaeologists.

One of my son's heroes had a satchel of dynamite.  He managed to sprint along the dried-up stream bed and tossed one stick into the Italian armoured car, destroying it.  Too bad for him that he dropped another stick at his feet.  This didn't kill him (just wounded), but a rescue was going to be tricky so close to the enemy lines.

Another of our heroes made a potentially game-saving dash (under fire from the Nazis) to negotiate with the local Bedouin.  Although he was gasping for breath and could only stutter a few words, they were wildly impressed with his bravery and joined our side immediately.  Between them, the Foreign Legion's automatic weapons and a handily-placed rifle grenade, the Nazis were exterminated.

At the end of the game, Rick and Louis made it back to safety, although they did have a few near misses on the way (losing the tip of a cigar, a tumbler of brandy and something else, I think)  So we won, even though there weren't many French troops on the table at the end of the game!

I haven't mentioned several other events which took place, mainly because I wasn't directly involved and don't have pictures:

  • We gained an ancient, Austro-Hungarian armoured car, which was promptly crewed by several of our heroes.  After one round exchanging shots with one of the Italian's heavier weapons it couldn't move - so it spent most of the game sitting in place and shooting up the Italian lines.
  • A French cavalry officer appeared behind enemy lines, riding a dinosaur (and with another one in tow)!  This caused mayhem to the nearest Italian troops - it seems that the feathers in their helmets didn't make them elite enough to counter such a creature.
  • The Italians gained some reinforcements in the shape of a tankette (I think it was equipped with a flamethrower).  I can't remember if this was immobilised early on, but it didn't seem to do much.

I am hard pressed to think of a game I've played at a show that I enjoyed more than this one.  The (lone) games master had put on a wonderfully exotic and adventurous event and the players all were thoroughly caught in the spirit of it.  Extremely enjoyable - bravo!

Game 3: What a Tanker

What a Tanker seems to be popular at shows these days.  This hardly surprising as the rules could almost have been made with public participation games in mind.  This isn't the first time I've played WaT, but I think it was for my friend Steve.  Anyway...

Two British tanks in the foreground (a Cromwell and a Sherman) vs a couple of Germans somewhere in the distance (both Mk IVs, I think).

One of the Germans tried to flank us.  Both British tanks took minor suspension damage and things didn't look particularly good.

...but then my Sherman got a lucky hit on the Mk IV's side armour and blew it to bits!

The other German then charged over the hill which separated us.  Although he got the first shot, it was a lousy one and missed.  My return shot was a critical; another German tank destroyed!  Go me!


Finally, the traditional picture of my acquisitions for the day

So, in no particular order:

  • The final expansion for the Firefly game: Kalidasa!  I've been wanting this for quite a while and a copy was available at the Bring-and-buy, barely used.  Mind you, it was my son that noticed it; I would have passed by that seller without spotting anything if it wasn't for him.
  • A selection of Army Painter paints, slightly cheaper than normal.  I wasn't in particular need of anything; I just felt that these were interesting colours (and cheap).
  • Bases: round, square, clear.
  • Some 28mm figures: Japanese cart drivers and English Civil War civilians.  Just a measure of my eclectic tastes!
  • Another Japanese village house from Sarissa Precision.
  • The Gangs of Rome rulebook.  I've already read through it and it has some really good ideas.  Also lots of pretty pictures, excellent background information, model-making tips and lots more.
  • Our MDF "tickets" for the show, which can be repurposed as bases.  An excellent idea that is always done at Carronade, though I've not heard of anywhere else taking it up.


Carronade is definitely one of my favourite shows.  It's relatively easy to get to from my part of Scotland, has a good number and variety of traders and a decent quantity of games.  I recommend it most highly!