Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Trouble With Triples

Sheffield Triples Wargames Show was held a week and a half ago at the English Institute for Sport and for the fourth year in a row, I was there for the weekend. Some of you may have seen the chat on TMP about the failings of this show, in particular the lack of attendees and a handful of traders. Well, I have been pontificating on the matter and to coincide with Andy's take on the matter, here are my thoughts.

Previously held in May, this year saw the move to the original timeslot for the show. This was given as one of the reasons for the perceived failure of the show, a change in date combined with a lack of advertising. If you don't tell people, how will they know? Well, sorry if this is a tad blunt, but GOOGLE IT!!! Seriously, it's a five second search and there you have it. It's not rocket science. Do people have to be spoon fed everything? Is it beyond a person's ability to discover information for themselves? Or has wargaming dumbed down to the point where if it's not delivered with the force of a four by two across the back of the head, it doesn't register? As I said, a tad blunt. It is true the event should have been advertised more, but the information was out there. Lack of communication from the organisers has also been blamed and, regardless of whether it is 100 percent factually accurate, that needs to be addressed by the organisers.

Some have blamed the venue, too large, too soulless, not the Octagon. Well, sorry, but if you like your venues with space, decent lighting, easy access for traders and public and decent grub, the EIS has it. What is the obsession with atmosphere at venues? OK, so as a punter, funky venues are a nice touch, but spare a thought for the traders, the lads and lasses who have to cart their gear around these places. And if that doesn't make you consider your view, what about this: Shows only happen because traders table fees pay for the venue. From personal experience, I'd take a sports hall over somewhere like Kelham Hall any day of the week.

Others have questioned the need for a two day show and one that falls close to two other reasonably sized shows in the calendar. If you made it a one day show, which day? Saturday, and risk clashing with sporting/public events (during the weekend of the show, there was the derby soccer game, Six Nations and a beer festival in the building opposite the venue); or Sunday and have the usual busy at 11, dead by 1 syndrome. What if the venue will only hire out for the weekend so you have to take the block booking? Weekend shows also give more time for competition games, greater scope for demo and participation games, and give a more relaxed vibe to the show. So, for me, they have their place.

So, mini rant over with, where does that leave me on Triples 2016? The show was not as well attended as last year, at least it seemed that way. There were fewer games on display and fewer traders, so the move to just having one hall next year may help. At the very least, it would fill the place up. Having said that, it may be in the interests of the organisers to publicly answer some of the criticisms/observations of those who attended the show. Not a mea culpa though. As Andy points out in his post, if traders or demo gamers decide not to attend, that's not the fault of the organisers. If they didn't know about the show, then better communication possibly, but bear in mind the second paragraph above.

I'll end on a question for you. I mentioned Kelham Hall above, and Partizan has moved venue to the same location as Hammerhead. In addition, 2nd Partizan is now in August. Since the shows have moved both venue and date, what would you expect the effect to be for this year?


  1. Well, I'm flummoxed to be honest. The show wasn't properly promoted so potential visitors ought to consult an oracle or examine a goat's entrails or something (assuming they've realised, possibly by lucid dreaming, when the Triples are due or even if the show is to be held at all)? Of course we can Google it, but let's look at the other angle. The 'Triplers' run the show for whatever reason, maybe even habit. However, in order to put the show on (for who's benefit?)they need punters and traders, both of whom need to be sold on the idea and encouraged to support the show one way or another. The most effective way of doing this is to get up on your hind legs and make sure people know everything there is to know about the show and do everything you can to promote/advertise/beg/threated/weep blood to make sure it's a success. Yes, it's their responsibility.

    It's got to be a win-win for the punters and the traders. Many traders will crawl naked over a mile of broken glass for the chance of turning a nice profit just as many punters would willingly sell their children into slavery to buy the latest shiney thing. Look at a handful of established shows:

    As a building, Kelham was full of character, but a pain in the backside for traders and punters allike, yet they all came again and again. Why? Because Partizan has chutzpah. Will it be a success in its new home? Course it will, because people want it to succeed and because the organisers care enough about it to work like Trojans to make it so.

    Salute is (and always has been) just Tesco's for wargamers, held in a characterless aircraft hangar, but organised and promoted with an attitude that verges on arrogance. And people arrive in numbers cos they love it. The organisaers have worked hard over the years to get it to its prime position. I imagine it's on many a wargamer's bucket list.

    The Derby show struggled for a short while; change of venue etc., etc. However, it's bounced back and grows in strength. Can't accuse the various organisers of being unresponsive.

    Phalanx has struggled off and on over the years and, like Triples, is held in a sports hall, but one which shares accommodation with very active sports people (who seem to have lots of cars). Plenty of atmosphere and a decent show.

    There are many other shows, including some up and coming fledglings and they'll thrive or die simply because they live in a Darwinian environment. A two, or even three day show can survive if it's approached in the right way. Americans and Australians are famous for travelling often hundreds of miles get to a show, but evidently Triples struggled to get punters to catch the local bus. So, no, sorry old son, I don't agree at all with your argument. Triples has been on the skids for a while and (other than taking the time to hurl serious abuse over the net at a wargamer and supporter who had a genuine complaint a couple of years ago)the organisers seem to have ignored advice and suggestions from erstwhile supporters for the last two or three years. That's not a case of wargamers being too thick to search out the details of the show, that's the organisers being too complacent or inefficient (or maybe both) to promote the show effectively in the first place.

    1. It's good to see a counter point, and a well argued one at that. The lack of communication from the organisers towards the gaming and public (as opposed to the traders who were well aware last year) was a common theme over the weekend, but my point is that if you want to find out something about a topic/event you are interested in, there are ways and means. That said, you are right, the promotion could, nay should, have been far better. The organisers have a lot to think about and as you (and I) have noted, their dealing with criticism, both good and bad, needs to be better handled.

  2. I recall the whining that went on when Triples changed its dates to May. There is now whining that the dates have changed back again. Hmmm - still trying to work that one out.
    Triples WAS under promoted this year compared to previous years. Yet I had my best show for as I said around 3 years . Paradoxical or what?
    As for Googling well yes and no. The show does have its problems no doubt but the venue is not one of them .The oldOctagon was a pain in the arse to get your gear in and out -was spread all over the place like a pavement pancake and in parts was as dim as a kelham light bulb the EIS is far superior no question.
    The proximity of other shows? -Which I'm told WMMMS was utterly dire this year but I don't know 'cos I don't go.Sop the show does not- for me- exist. I've also been told that triples is "too close to Salute" - How Temporally or geographically? - neither holds water factually. But of course mere facts are not the problem here. It is as always perceptions. There is a perception that Triples has problems therefore it has problems and as the perception take hold then the problems increase.
    Personally I struggle with the idea of "atmosphere" - at the old triples that mostly meant the smell of stale beer and curry and burning clutch cables of van trying to load or unload. At Kelham it was usually blokes getting in the way with the games tables crammed too close together
    The only ACTUAL problem from the organisers standpoint I can see is lack of advertising and promotion for this year.

    1. A common theme all round, the lack of promotion/advertising, and one that can be easily remedied by being more approachable to comments/criticism and having a more visible communication to all and sundry, be it via a dedicated website/club website/TMP whatever. The big question is will that be enough to change the perception from this year's show?

    2. As it happens the Sheffield club have a website and dedicated triples pages. But the downside of instantaneous communication is that nobody actually communicates ......