Sunday, 26 April 2015

Salute report - The Dambusters Challenge

Left Peterborough at 7:15, for once not in my car, as all the bulky stuff was being brought by Andy M from Huntingdon. Made it to the Excel at a  pretty respectable 9 am, to find Dan, Andy and Grahame already there and the game pretty much set up.

And there for the most part I pretty much stayed for the entire show!

For those who weren't there, our game was "The Dambusters Challenge". If nothing else, it could probably have won the award for "most featureless gaming table", as it simply consisted of an 18 foot by six foot roll of blue lino, with a 6 foot wide model of the Möhne Dam at one end and a Lancaster cockpit at the other. The former was made of painted hardboard, bent into the required shape and held there by art, nails and Andy's  wizardry: the latter was built on a spare speaker stand, and basically involved a lot of wood and a piece of bent plumbing pipe. Both of those looked much better than I describe them.

To that we added an Airfix Lancaster kit, fitted (by club member JamesB) with a bunch of LEDs and a USB socket and held in the air by 150 quid's worth of engineering stand. To be honest, this was the one frustration of the day, since the USB socket was supposed to be connected to an Arduino, and that controlled by an Android tablet by Bluetooth. It worked fine with James's phone in a test run on Monday, but refused to talk to my new tablet at all, so sadly the LEDs to indicate damage to the plane didn't work. Ah well.

The game will run with two (very busy) people, but we found four or five very effective: one person guided the pilot, one person measured and moved the plane, one person sorted out the flak, and a fourth (and often fifth) person effectively managed the queue. We had a display table by the side of the game which included assorted facsimile memorabilia as well as four genuine pieces of a crashed Lancaster, and the extra people spent a lot of time explaining the history and the game to the spectators.

The rules are childishly simple. Every time the Lancaster moved, you could adjust its change in speed, its height and its sideways travel by one "click" in either direction: simpler than it sounds. The flak was placed in a semi-arbitrary fashion, and had various effects ranging from taking out an engine, the blast knocking the plane sideways, and so on and so forth. Basically we tried to be entertainingly fair, since after all the object of the game is for people to have fun, not for us to win.

Did people enjoy it? I strongly suspect so, from the fact that we started playing at 10 AM and finished our last game at 5 PM. I think in that time we had over 40 runs - we certainly gave out something like 60 stickers of a Distinguished Flying Cross and 20 or so facsimile logbooks to the kids. Next time, I'm printing some Victoria Crosses for the exceptionally heroic pilots, and maybe some DFM's for co-pilot/bomb aimers.

I think what got me the most, was the fact that every time someone sat down to play, the stand was suddenly two and three deep with 20 or more people watching then do it. Brilliant fun.

Other than that, I made it to the bloggers meet up, visited the TFL stand twice to admire "Fighting Season" and pick up a set of IABSM markers. That was the sum total of my Salute loot and visits to other stands!!

We were clear of the hall by 5:30 and home by 7:30, clutching our award. According to my pedometer, I walked over 5 1/2 miles. This may explain why I was worn out last night!!!!

Photos to follow tomorrow: mostly they're on my new Android tablet, and I haven't figured out how to get them off yet!!! (and they're also, it appears, out of focus, as its camera seems to be rubbish)


  1. It looked like an excellent game and was always busy when I passed. Somehow I missed the Fighting Season game which I'm annoyed about. :(

  2. I have a couple of nice pictures of your game that I'll be posting soon. Looked good fun to play too.

  3. I completely missed your game Mike???

  4. It looked like an intriguing game, nice job!

  5. You seemed to be cycling people through at around one per ten minutes, which is a piece of genius - I generally don't spend all day at Salute, and I don't want to spend an hour or two of the time I do have on a single game.

    Congratulations on the award too!

    Some photos, cc-by-sa if you want them, are on my own blog report at .

  6. It certainly looked like a fun participation game Mike. Will you be running it at any other shows?

    1. Milton Keynes in two weeks time. Also possibly the other partisan, and definitely our show as well as the festival of the 40s here in Peterborough.

  7. I took part in the demo as a co pilot/bomber, we cracked the Dam! Brilliant fun, so well thought out and executed. Thanks


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