Games Workshop’s UK Games Day 2013.
Let’s get the basics out first. I didn’t really enjoy this year’s Games Day. Not nearly as much as I enjoyed Games Day 2012.
Not everything was bad at this year’s Games Day and I see why some of the changes were made – in theory. The most change, of course, was to drastically shrink the Games Day, notably (but not only) at the price of real gaming.
Many people will remember UK Games Day 2013 for… the arguably first UK Games Day where not a single game of Warhammer or Warhammer 40K was played!
On Twitter & elsewhere, the event is often described as “Sales Day”. That is not wrong. A Games Day without games is a poor concept any way you look at it.
Smaller? Yes! More Leisurely… ?
Was the Games Day better 10 or 15 years ago? I can’t tell you, because I wasn’t there.
What I can tell you is that the Games Day was better last year. UK Games Day 2012 wasn’t a flawless event, but it had a hectic, noisy and rambunctious vibe to it, that the only half-filled NIA of this year’s Games Day was sadly missing.
#1 – Painting Competitions
Last year, the Golden Demons and Armies on Parade were squeezed into the same hall as the “display booths” (Forge World, Design Studio, White Dwarf, etc..). This year, the painting competitions were “outsourced” to the “cellar”, away from the exhibits and sales area.
On one hand, it made visiting the Golden Demons a more orderly affair. One went down the stairs and got carted around a circuit with all entries on display. Fewer people also meant it was far easier to get a good look at all those beautiful miniatures.
On the other, it very much separated the Golden Demons from the event itself. I did my circuit in the basement, and left it at that. Last year, with the entries in the same hall, it was far easier to hop back and forth: Have a chat with the White Dwarf team, look at the Golden Demon entries for Warhammer 40K, head to a Fantasy Flight stand, back to Armies on Parade, etc.. .
#2 – The Sales Area
The sales area was clearly the dominating “thing” at the center of the entire event.
I might be wrong, but I believe the sales area was bigger, and the queues actually longer last year. Either way, the sales area at last year’s Games Day was off in a separate hall.
It was crazy, as it was this time around, with people trying to grab a Forge World Primarch or other goodies, but it didn’t feel like the entire event was built around the sales-area. In 2012, it was easy to just gawk at Golden Demon entries, chat to game designers, admire Cosplayers or play a game (!), and never enter the sales area. People only went there to shop, if they wanted to shop.
This time around, the sale area was constantly in your face. Unavoidable. Inescapable. Always there! It was the monstrous heart of the entire affair. Sales Day indeed.
#3 – No GW Games. Not One
I know I am repeating myself, but can’t stress this enough. It was – IMO – the worst change, and not just for the semantics of the event being called Games Day.
I remember that in 2012, an entire hall was given over to playing Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. And not just any game, but really unusual scenarios on beautifully made tables.
Those were the kind of games your “average” GW customer will rarely be able to play at home;
- Warhammer armies clashing on temple-bridges the size of your regular gaming table.
- 40K armies clashing on a table made from a wrecked Forge World Titan cut to pieces.
- Vertical fortress terrain with 4 or 5 levels.
- Etc.. .
It wasn’t perfect by any means. The hall last year was too loud, too dark, too noisy, etc.. But it certainly was better than nothing.
Can Games Day Be Better Again?
I think so.
The danger of writing a more critical post like this one is that it ends up sounding the entire event like a bleak, apocalyptic affair.
That was not the case.
I did have fun, a nice chat with the Digital Editions team and with some of the sculptors, a nice (if brief) chat with Dan Abnett, and enjoying all the nicely painted Golden Demons entries is always great.
The event wasn’t all bad. Still, it leaves me with a bitter taste to be charged £35,- to enter what is – in essence – a temporary super-sized store, with some exhibits crammed into the margins.
For a ticket that would buy me a week of prime-time cinema, popcorn included, GW could and should (I think) put more effort into setting up some entertainment along with the cashiers.