Monday 20 May 2013

The Trouble With Triples

So this weekend was the Sheffield Triples wargames show at the English Institute of Sport. I go to this event every year as it's local, and this year's purchases are:

  • 3 Zvezda Opel Blitz 3-Ton Trucks (along with a Panzer III that came as part of the deal)
  • 11 Smoke Markers for games against Pete's tanks
  • 6 US Riflemen - I always pick up something for a War of 1812 project I've never started
  • 'The Kid' from Crossover Miniatures - bears a striking similarity to the Boy Wonder
  • Roof tile sheets from Warbases - to cover the roofs of my warehouse

I'm certainly not unhappy with any of my purchases.

However, I returned from the show somewhat perturbed. Each year I'm finding Triples less and less inspiring. It's a feeling that seems to come from a range of sources:
  1. The move to the E.I.S. from the Octagon a few years ago. I find the big open spaces distinctly 'un-wargamey'. I remember the Octagon from when I attended the Northern Militaire there and all the nooks and crannies made attending a wargames show exciting and full of discovery (I get a similar feeling at Vapantak in York). The sterile atmosphere of the E.I.S. just doesn't work.
  2. The lack of traders. Key traders for me like Peter Pig, Gripping Beast and Sarissa Precision simply don't attend Triples. I know that there are other traders, but for the specific genres I'm interested in, I actually find it tricky to spend money at Triples.
  3. The demo and display games. This isn't just Triples, but I'm just not inspired by the games on show. I think it's a combination of the lack of ancients (which seems to be a growing issue) and the lack of inventiveness on display. I'm just not seeing anything that grabs me. Even a Mad Max game with blaring speakers and outrageous costumes was remarkably similar to a demo game I played as a kid 25 years ago, just with more fanfare.
  4. The ever more corporate nature of the industry. More and more of the stalls are carrying the same stock and it's entirely possible to plan your purchases online before you go (and then get disappointed that the company hasn't brought them). There used to be a veritable cornucopia of small traders which took an age to discover. It's just less fun.
It seems to me that Triples is just not as exciting as it used to be. It may just be me, but it feels that some of the quirky spark has disappeared. I'm going to go to a wider range of shows this year to see whether smaller shows still have the oddball quirkyness I remember.


  1. I hate to say it, but I think what you're experiencing is mainly old age/burnout. I feel much the same. I used to love going to wargames shows, fighting my way through the Bring & Buy, and playing as many participation games as I could cram into the day.

    Now though, I've seen it all before. The age of internet mail-order has all but eliminated the need to go to shows to make major gaming purchases. I don't generally want to pin myself down for an hour to a participation game with strangers who may or may not make the experience an enjoyable one. And after many times having to fight down the urge to commit blue bloody murder on inconsiderate and/or oblivious ****s in the crowds put me off struggling to get to bring and buys.

    Now I go with some friends, I buy a couple of little things that catch my eye. We point out shiny things to eachother and we go ooh and aah, I maybe chat for a bit with the folks running a demo game that catches my eye, or maybe even one or two of the traders (especially those producing VSF stuff). It's an enjoyable afternoon... but it somehow doesn't recapture that sense of excitement any more.

    So yeah, it's just you. But it's not just you, if you get what I mean.

  2. Very clever post title! :)

    Can't say I agree about Triples - I'd actually say it's my favourite show - but that's because I like the big open plan venue. At York I feel like there are too many people there and I struggle to see much on the stands.

    However, apart from the lighting rig and costumes element (and I'm guessing a fair bit of work on the vehicles) for the Mad Max table, and the little Toytown battle, I didn't see much that was inspiring in the demo games. Which obviously means I need to put one on myself...

  3. Actually the Mad Max game was the same one you played 25 years ago. The guys decided to revisit it to raise money for charity, they last ran it in 1996.

  4. I think there are only about 21 games this year, looking at the plan. There seems to be a lot of unused space for 2015. I'm not bothering and I can see the venue from my window...