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Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Visit to Cannon 2015

Today was a visit to the Cannon show at Retford. This is mine and Daz's second (I think!) visit. The weather was a suitable start to some school holidays - very wet!

The show is an example of one of those small enterprises which have a calm, gentle feel. The number of traders were low by normal show standards, and some of those traders are ones you don't regularly see on the mainstream show circuit.

Likewise, the number of games for viewing varied. There was a good balance between demonstration and participation, with a good mix of themes.

As part of the show there was a small, but for myself, little gem of a bring and buy. I purchased the best find ever! Four blockgames by Columbia Games; Eastfront, Westfront, Medfront and Eurofront for the princely price of £20!

There was also another personal little gem from the past; a box of 'Silent Death' miniatures. In the box of delights was found over 100 miniatures (both plastic and metal). Admittedly, there were many repeats and examples of miniatures from the first edition. However at £30, another real bargain.

The space fighter miniatures will add nicely to my existing collection. The sense of nostalgia was a perfect reminder of some of my early adventures in gaming. I bought the original, first edition game in 1987 (as far as the memory recalls) from the Virgin Megastore in Nottingham.

How times change! The Megastore was at that time one of the few places which sold miniatures and boardgames, alongside the growing video and CD market. It's opportunities for something new was always an incentive to jump on the train for a visit. Now the store is long gone, along with some of the other independent retailers of that time.

The final purchase of the day was a copy of GMT's 'Europe Combat Commander'. Ironically I bought a copy of Avalon Hill's 'Advanced Squad Leader' from the aforementioned Virgin Megastore and have superfood memories of playing and buying the relevant extensions for the system. Combat Commander seems to very much have a similar flavour, with the addition of card driven activations - a current favourite mechanic of mine.

ASL for me had that magical quality of creating a new twist and turn literally with every dice roll. The learning curve (especially for friends who I 'positively encouraged') was steep. But the results were rewarding. Likewise the core mechanics were stable and allowed the integration of all the national variations of troops and equipment easily. I certainly felt that an infantry assault or armoured breakthrough played well in my mind's eye when considering the tactical choices which are needed in a fluid combat environment.

Another thing that I liked, that you now see more often in games, is the part that fate plays. The use of particular dice rolls to activate snipers, or malfunction equipment, always seemed to play havoc with those well planned strategies. Similarly, the role of battlefield integrity showed how the better trained troops could maintain some level of co-ordination, as other nation's troops began to fall apart and disintegrate. Maybe Comvbat Commander has a lot to live up to!

So Cannon may have been a small show, however it certainly provided the right level of interest for an old gamer. And it also encouraged Daz to buy some Victrix Greek mercenary hoplites for a fantasy Greek mythology skirmish game, now let's hope there are some fan made Saga boards with Centaurs and Harpies...


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