You may remember that I decided to go to Warhammer Fest relatively last minute after originally having no intention or thought to go.
After the last Games Day I went to was so disappointing I thought I wouldn't be tempted into going to it's replacement. I remember the reviews of the first Fest were hardly spectacular, but of late I thought it was somewhat unfair to just dismiss the event without actually attending one and seeing what it was like first hand.
I have to admit the fact it was the first big event the new Specialist Games team would be attending showing off Blood Bowl was something of an incentive in me deciding this year would be the first time I attended.
So, what did I think?
Overall I have to say it was a pretty good day.
Compared to Games Day it is a far more relaxed and chilled event. There isn't the overriding feeling of having to rush around and get things in ASAP.
It seems to be a more 'adult' orientated event, while I still miss the days of gaming groups/stores building great terrain and converting models for the gaming tables it means you don't get the hordes of screaming kids. Or what we had one year at Games Day someone running an Apocolypse game near us shouting through a megaphone every five minutes. That was somewhat annoying. And by somewhat annoying I of course mean that the megaphone was close to being rammed where the sun doesn't shine.
Even the sales area seemed a chilled place, other than a big queue for Forge World early on it seemed quiet and well set out. Games Day was always horrendous, something like a mix of the mosh pit from a hardcore gig and a 50% off sale at Next.
There was a nice spread of different things you could dabble with if so inclined. While not my cup of tea I saw many taking advantage of the computer games area and trying out a number of titles, while never packed (that I saw, though I only went in their briefly) it looked like every seat was occupied. Likewise the gaming tables (nothing special, just regular WHW gaming tables which was a shame, would have liked to have seen some themed boards) had some traffic. There was certainly a good number of people who took part in the Warhammer Quest demo games and in the Bitz Box Challenge.
While I didn't see Golden Demon as I went on the Saturday I envision it would have been a better experience than we often had at Games Day. It was always so disappointing that you just could never get to see the models in the competition due to a mass of bodies which rivalled that of the sales area. On the Saturday the Staff Armies were on display and with a more chilled and relaxed attitude - and a much smaller number of people attending you had the time to browse the cabinets without being pushed or having to squeeze yourself into gaps, every time I tried to look at Games Days I always went away frustrated and annoyed and feeling I barely saw anything.
Having the Staff Armies on display meant that even without Golden Demon you got to see cabinets full of characterful models, full of great conversions and paint jobs. It was something that was a nice touch so that those there Saturday didn't feel they missed out. It would have been very easy to just have not thought of anything, gold star to the person who thought of it.
Warhammer World had a nice stand, a couple of their themed boards were on show highlighting the sort of things you can see if you go there. Also a mock up of a new display that will be appearing in the exhibition soon, this was a nice touch as I do like to see how these displays are put together and the planning behind them. They also had a display piece based on the Warhammer Quest board. I'll put a picture of two of this at the end of the post. Was good to see Spikeyjames, aka James Karch who is part of the Warhammer World team, in attendance and as always he (as are all the staff who take part in these events) was happy to have a quick chat.
The Demonstration Pods at Fest are so much better than the similar things they tried at Games Day. It isn't that the Games Days demos were poorly run or had poor quality people doing them etc, it was just in an environment that really didn't suit them. Stuck in a big room with people pouring past, shouting coming from the gaming tables and so on meant that the demos were just overwhelmed. Here though the quieter, smaller rooms meant they were easier to attend and follow, certainly something I'd look to take advantage of in the future.
There were other things and other stands at the event but I can't really say much about them as I didn't take part, look hard enough etc. These included a stand for White Dwarf and Black Library Author Signings.
I only attended one seminar, a Forge World one but it was very good (they always are). Being in a separate, dedicated room meant these were very easy to follow. I had been to a couple run at Games Day and they suffered from the same problem the demonstrations had. They were just swamped by the noise from everything around them.
One problem there was though was getting tickets to see the Seminars. I asked around four people where you got them from and each one said something different - not one of them knew but told me where they thought you could get them. Unfortunately the tickets go quick as they are just handed out to people - these include people who aren't actually interested in going but take a ticket anyway, just in case. Thankfully I got in by going to the door and waiting, they had a number of seats free (people taking tickets and not going) so I and about ten others were allowed in. I'm just glad they ran each seminar twice otherwise the chance of seeing one would have been almost none.
The star of the event, as at every other event frankly, was Forge World.
I think from the posts I have already put up you can see Forge World and Specialist Games put on a great show with lots to see and as always they were very open to discuss things. Things months, if not years in advance are discussed openly.
Andy Hoare especially was excellent. As head of the new Specialist Games department you can imagine he had a lot of people asking him questions about what is planned and what is going to happen with 'x' game etc. Bar the Forge World sales area the Blood Bowl stand looked the busiest part of the entire event. I think I went back about four times to ask him even more questions and he was always happy to talk, even though he was probably answering questions he had already answered a dozen times.
I am sure those who work in Forge World, including Specialist Games, have many of the same strains, working environment or corporate limits as those in the GW Studio, but there is something about FW with their more open nature that is so refreshing and what endears them to many who attend the events they take part in. To see such talented people, whether they be designers, writers or painters, who are so enthusiastic about the games & models they produce and the hobby in general given almost a free reign to discuss what they have done, what they are doing and what they hope to be doing is such a great thing. Whether it is a veteran of the company like Andy Hoare talking about Blood Bowl or the new games they will be doing (some years away) or it is Emma Ayres who has only been working at Forge World for a short time talking about the first book she has worked on (the next Imperial Armour book) it is hard not to be swept up with the enthusiasm.
I remember leaving the last Games Day I attended being disappointed and frustrated. I felt that I had wasted money to attend (from memory it was £30 ticket plus £10 to park) and felt that GW were taking the piss with the poor show they were putting on.
I left Saturday feeling far, far more positive. The environment was much better, the day was far more chilled and relaxed and I felt you could get far more out of the day.
Of course it wasn't perfect. Given a choice in only attending 'Fest or the Forge World Open Day I would have to go with the latter but it would be a far closer decision than I thought it would be.
Writing this up has actually made my feelings on the event go up. Looking back with fresh eyes made me realise it was probably better than I first thought.
Good chance I'll go next year.
Ok, that was a lot longer that I expected it would be. Took an age to write all that.
For those of you who managed to get through it all, and for those who just skipped it to see if there was anything shiney here are some more pics from the day:
I think all these first ones were from the Forge World cabinets showing staff armies:
From the Staff armies display:
Specialist Games Lord of the Rings board:
'New' Forge Word Heresy Board - I say new as it is made up from pieces done for the Calth board and the World Eaters board they had at the Weekender.
From the Warhammer World Stand:
|Upcoming AoS piece for the exhibition hall|
|Warhammer Quest display|
And that's that.