Every year member of the Lardy community will sense a ripple of excitement sweep across Lard Island. As October leaves fall and the nights draw in, our thoughts turn to our last, and the best, gig of the year, Crisis in Antwerp.
We’ve been nipping across the channel for nearly ten years now. In the early days the plan was to make the trip every couple of years, but we got bitten by the bug and now it is an unmissable annual pilgrimage. But what makes Crisis so unique as a wargaming show? We thought we’d give a a few tips to those possibly making the trip across for the first time so that you can get the best of your visit. So, here’s the Lardy List of Do’s and Don’t for attending Crisis.
1. Plan Ahead
This one is obvious, we thought we’d ease you in gradually. DO plan your purchases in advance. Crisis gets bigger each year and it now ranks as one of the largest shows we attend. It’s easy to miss out on a trader you’d like to hand your cash to, so check out the on-line floor plan in advance. It’s something to do on the ferry or on Eurostar.
2. A Smorgasbord to Choose From
DO keep an open mind to new traders. Used, as we are, to the usual round of UK traders, you’ll find some new faces here and some very different products. Take some time to check these out. you’ll find that French language books in particular are very high quality and often with an accompanying, if abbreviated, English text.
3. Have Fun with a Game
DO try to take in a game at the show. Crisis is more relaxed than most UK shows and there are lots of games you can participate in, not least the fantastic and often very unique games run by the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp. It’s a great chance to check out a rule set you’ve been hearing about.
4. Don’t Fail to Plan
DO plan your route, especially if sailing into Calais, Dunkirk or crossing on Eurostar. This area isn’t called “the cockpit of Europe” for nothing. Battles have been fought here since time began, and you will never be far from somewhere interesting. Plan a visit into your schedule, read a couple of books, then turn off for a quick diversion and see the battlefield. By taking a crossing home a couple of hours later, you cna really add to your visit.
5. Love Is…
DO it with friends, or even a loved one! My wife is about as likely to attend a wargames show as she is to do five rounds with Joe Frazier, but I would certainly take her to Antwerp with me if I didn’t have a car full of fat blokes. Antwerp has sufficient culture, couture and confecture to keep her busy while I play with toy soldier on Saturday. The you have a couple of days to enjoy the city together. Wargaming and Brownie Points combined. What’s not to like?
6. An Holistic Experience
DO NOT think of Crisis as just a wargame show. It’s also a great opportunity to visit a really vibrant European city. Antwerp is, to me, Brugge without the tourists. You will find a beautiful historic city centre with architecturally stunning squares and a plethora of bars and restaurants to sample. DO NOT sit in your anodyne multi-national chain hotel; get out and see the city.
Sampling the local culture. A 14th century Inn in the city centre.
7. Beer, Naturally
Yes, we have got to point 7 without mentioning the B-word. DO sample the beer. Leffe is a fine brew and you’ll find it in your hotel, BUT you can buy that in your local Sainsbury’s or Tesco at home. Antwerp’s De Koninck brewery produces some excellent pale Ales and you should always sample at least one “bolleck”, the local name for a glass of their favourite tipple, when in town. You’ll find De Koninck where you see the sign of the Red Hand.
Sidney, about to sample a couple of “bollecks”.
8. A Very British Problem
DO NOT try to speak the local lingo. The locals ALL speak English, many do so better than me. Taxi drivers, bars, restaurants will all welcome you and assist with any translation. Indeed, most food outlets will have their menus in English.
9. A Leisurely Itinerary
DO NOT rush. As can be seen, there is LOADS to do in Antwerp and en route. As you are paying for the crossing, why not extend your visit by a day to make the most of your trip. We usually travel across early on Friday so as to miss the rush hour on the Antwerp Ring Road and then get a later crossing on Sunday in order to visit a battlefield. If you’re taking the other half, an additional day would allow you to give Antwerp the attention it richly deserves.
10. The Final Word.
DO avoid an excess of sobriety. Antwerp is a a great city in which to eat, drink, be merry and talk wargaming. Crisis is a great chance to let your hair down. Even if, like Sid, you no longer have any.
Its been a year since Chain of Command was published and what an exciting 12 months it’s been. We’ve certainly had a great time playing our games as well as getting forces assembled for the Spanish Civil war and modern variants. Of course, Chain of Command is a “platoon plus” sized game and like all