By early evening on Sunday, I was in York and ready for some food and a beer or three after a pleasurable day filling my loot bag to the gunnels at Vapnartak 2017!
This was my third visit to the annual show hosted by York Wargames Society and once again I was accompanied by my brother-in-law, Ironman John, who’s fascination with buying bags of assorted dice and tokens at wargames shows still hadn’t abated. As soon as he’d paid his entry fee he made his customary beeline for the Dice Shop Online stall. My argument that no matter how many ‘special’ dice he employed during his gaming he’d still claim they were ‘rolling against him’ only elicited the standard one-finger John salute. Although, apparently he'd been researching the whole subject of dice, mumbling something about casino dice and square edges. But by then I was already distracted by something ‘oooh, shiny’ nearby and set about making my first recce circuit Vapnartak 2017.
The venue was at the York racecourses' Knavesmire Stand and the show had many of the 40+ traders located in their familiar spots, split over three levels with a café and a bar and great views, unsurprisingly, over the racecourse. Ironman John opted to drive us down the afternoon before, staying two nights at the conveniently located and inexpensive B&B (Holgate Bridge) we’d used previously. It was only about a 15 walk from the show and about the same to York city centre. And with York being such a fascinating city, packed with historical sights and many, many taverns it was only right that we decided to sample many, many of those delights after the show. Hence the two-night stay!
By the time I’d completed my first reconnoitre and earmarked a list of shinies to start filling my loot bag the main contingent from Falkirk District Wargames Club had arrived. They’re a hardy bunch, having got up at ridiculous o’clock that morning to get on a private hire coach in Falkirk to make the 220+ mile trip, arriving not long after show opening. And they were returning back that very afternoon! One long, long day! That’s wargaming dedication. I wussed-out of course, declining one of the perks of being a Falkirk club member - a totally free trip to Vapnartak. The lure of a leisurely start after a full English breakfast proved too much. I'll be wearing a cardigan next.
Vapnartak followed pretty much the same successful show format as previous years, with a good mixture of familiar trade stands, club demonstration and PP games, wargaming and painting competitions. John and I tend to split up early on at the shows to do our own thing, occasionally passing each other on our circuits furtively eyeing each’s growing haul. Or in Ironman John’s case, bulging hoodie pockets. I mechanically follow my typical wargaming show regimen – mostly spent on circuits of the stands to check I hadn't missed some bargain or impromptu ‘must have’ shiny. I guess this will be familiar to many of my readers. You know the kind of thing – loitering near a crowded stall like some geek stalker waiting for a chance gap to open up amongst the wall of dark fleece and t-shirts so you can dive in and start rummaging through the racks and boxes, hoping your knees won’t give out as you crouch awkwardly to investigate that unnoticed container on the floor.
Once my immediate wargaming craving had been temporarily sated, it was a wander through the halls looking at all the elaborate demonstration tables and enviously watching accomplished gamers rolling the dice in the competition area. After a bite to eat and a quick examination of my loot bag for any usable space, it's was more shopping. By mid-afternoon, the bag was pretty much crammed and my budget near its limit. Starting to flag a bit and with a few farewells to the Falkirk contingent, John and I headed back to the B&B for a regroup before a long evening enjoying the York’s pleasures.
Later, in the16th century Pivni tavern we discovered our latest ‘best ever beer’ - Titanic Plum Porter from the, ah, Titanic Brewery. Much, much later, after we’d sank a fair few, we set off back towards the B&B but it began to dawn on us that we were heading in completely the wrong direction, resulting in a rather comedically disorientated blunder through the many narrow mediaeval lanes and terraces of central York. More often frustratingly finding ourselves back at the same intersection provoking yet another spirited exchange of insults regarding our respective navigational prowess! I mean, how can you get lost in an ancient walled city? Somehow, eventually, we stumbled across the right castle gate leading to a bridge over the river Ouse and a relieved trudge back to the warmth of our B&B.
We didn’t fair much better the next morning either. A thick, freezing fog had descended giving York a Stygian mood. With thoughts of our blundering adventures the previous evening to mind, we were decidedly more circumspect as we headed back through the city walls towards the Minster area. I had discovered, via a bit of Google-fu over breakfast, that there was a recommended comic and gaming shop near the famous York Minister. Even we could find that, surely? With a huge cathedral, hundreds of years old dominating York, finding a shop on its peripheral isn't an onerous task. Well, hmm…
It was the fog. That's our excuse and we're sticking to it. We couldn’t find the Minster! It had vanished! We knew there really is a massive cathedral; we’d passed it repeatedly the evening before. But in this icy and gloomy winter morning, it was nowhere to be seen. Even the tourist signs only vaguely pointed towards the ‘Minster area’, as if even the locals weren’t totally sure where it was either! What a shambles! By now were cold, footsore and concerned that the thick, lingering fog could make our northwards drive back over the Pennines difficult, we decided to head home.
So, apart from proving how navigationally inept we were, what was the haul? That’s’ all you’re interested in really, isn’t it!? Typical gamers, one track mind…
|Warlord: 6 French Indian War Iroquois Warriors (28mm), Warbases Sharp Practice Assets -
Semaphore arms of the Chappe style, Signal Brazier, Pigeon Loft, 3x D20, Warbases French Baggage Wagon 2, bag of 5mm dice frames from Pendraken (Minibits)
That's it. Not a bad haul for my first show of the year. A bit of a theme running with the scenery, paints and miniatures - Sharp Practice projects to the fore! And another enjoyable and adventurous trip to Vapnartak and York completed. Well done to the York Wargames Society for hosting another successful event. It's becoming almost a permanent fixture on my wargaming calendar. And it's a show I would recommend any wargamers to make the effort to visit – especially if you haven’t been to York before. An excellent opportunity to make a weekend of it. Bring a city map.