Look out York – the wargamers are coming!

30 Jan 2013 @ 9.57 pm
| Entertainment

Fantasy miniatures in action at York Wargames Society. Photographs: Alex Harpin
Hordes of wargamers and collectors from all over the UK will descend on the racecourse this Sunday for York Wargames Society’s grand annual show, Vapnartak. Chris Geeson takes a look behind the battle-lines to see what it’s all about

Despite its focus on creating tabletop battles with miniature figures, everything else about Vapnartak is big: in its present location at York Racecourse’s Knavesmire Stand, it fills three floors and two mezzanines with tradestands, competitions and display games; whilst at more than 30 years old, it’s been around for longer than many of the people who go there.

And they come in vast numbers, from far and wide. Based on past years, it’s unlikely these devotees will be out off by bad weather.

“We will be expecting about 1500 people,” says Karl Darley, Vapnartak organiser. “Despite snow the night before last year’s show, I still found myself talking to people from as far away as Birmingham and Scotland.”

So, what can visitors expect? For collectors and hobbyists there’ll be an array of stalls selling more than enough metal miniatures to recreate any battle you’d care to think of, whether historical, fantasy or sci-fi; shelves of military history books; wargames rules; role-playing games; scenery; and every colour and shape of dice you can imagine.

But it’s not just about relieving visitors of serious quantities of cash. A whole host of games will be in action, which visitors can watch – and in many cases – join in. “First of all we have the Warmachine Masters tournment,” says Karl. “The fact that Privateer Press [who make the game] have allowed us to run it as a Masters tournament makes it very prestigous and tickets for the game sold out in a few days.”

Other highlights include an epic Attack On The Death Star (with scale model spacecraft battling out the famous scene from Star Wars); the first ever Dreadball tournment; a Doctor Who invasion and a recreation of the battle for Pegasus Bridge.

York Wargames Society's grand annual show, Vapnartak
York Wargames Society’s grand annual show, Vapnartak

“You’ll see people of all ages and walks of life enjoying the show, as well as one or two in armour and period costume.

“As for the traders,” Karl adds, “Offensive Miniatures are giving away a free figure for the first 200 people through the door – this will lead into a painting competition for next year’s show where you can bring your finished miniature back and present it to the Offensive Miniatures stand. The one they judge to be the best will win a prize.”

Vapnartak takes its name from an old Viking word for a gathering of warriors prior to a battle and it’s a gathering that has grown year on year, from a humble affair at the De Grey Rooms, and then the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall until it became the massive event it is today.

But what is the secret of this York success story? According to the organisers, it is the local members pulling together to make it happen: “Despite me having the title Vapnartak Organiser,” says Karl, “it really is a show that’s run by the whole club. Our members help out, making it one of the friendliest shows around.

“This has helped Vapnartak keep growing when most similar shows are shrinking and we can now proudly say that it is one of the best wargames shows in the country.”