UK Games Day- The Cynic’s Perspective

 Hi all,

On Sunday I had the pleasure of
attending the annual UK convention for Games Workshop- Games Day. Now, for all
the US readers out there- you guys know how to do conventions. You tend to be
quite good at it- enthusing people for the coming year, knowing that the
biggest fans of whatever product is being shilled are all in one place. In the
UK, it’s now the same; conventions tend to be roughly equivalent to a big club
night. 
 
As result I went to UKGD2012 with… expectations. I expected to
queue in the rain for 2 hours before being let in. I expected for no new
information to be forthcoming. I expected to waste a full half of the event to
wait in line to buy the Blood Angel Captain (Fantastic! I now have a limited
edition model of the most redundant entry in the Codex….) Yes indeed, my cup
runneth over.
So what actually happened?

I’ll start at the beginning. I went up to Birmingham on the coach
with the local store. This was- quite good actually. I was surrounded by
genuine hobbyists, rather than screaming kids. Yes indeed, the children in
attendance were genuinely interested and could carry a hobby conversation
-special mention to Adam, who was talking on the way about how cool his new
Chaos toys would make his army. The whole experience was made even better by
the on-coach entertainment. no quizzes, no chanting “Waaaagh”-
instead, we were treated to Transformers- the Animated Movie, which remains one
of the top 5 Geek Flicks of all time. 
When we got there we queued- in the warm. They actually let us inside.
They didn’t confiscate our food or drinks, we got through the doors quickly- it
was all very civilised. Apparently, the lessons of the past have been learned.
Once we got inside the hall, it was a short stop until the hobby was in
evidence- ForgeWorld had a decent sized hobby stand, showing off their kits-
some old, some new. I grabbed a Seminar ticket (more on that in a second) and
snapped a few photos. Then I went running off to the Sales stand….
Which now had its own room, was organised, and took about 15
minutes to get in to. It was all laid out fairly well, and the new till system
worked well. All told I was in, grabbed what I wanted, and out in the space of
30 minutes. In all, I was impressed by the new system. No, the Chaos Codex
wasn’t on sale.
There were a few tables which
deserve a special mention. One Lizardmen table had a real-life water feature.
There were some truly enormous tables where people could take part in one of
two “theatres” for a central objective- one of these was Moria, with the
Watcher at one end, the Balrog guarding one end of the centre, and the hills at
the other end. This was an epic table, but unfortunately I couldn’t get close
enough for a decent shot.
On to the event itself. In the past, I’ve always had a sense of
rush and hurry-up and Games Days. Not so this year. I was able to walk around
at leisure and take in the bits that I wanted to. Some of the games they put on
were impressive; some were the same-old same- old. Anyway, enough with the
introduction, here’s what I got up to after spending my money!
ForgeWorld Seminar:
Yes, I got in to the Seminar. Tony Cottrell was speaking, and told
us all about the very few things coming out for Fantasy over the next few
months, but that we can expect the Black Fire Pass book at some point- complete
with Empire, Orcs and Goblins and Dwarves. I’m quite looking forward to this
but there was, of course, bigger news. Yes, the new Imperial Armour book will
be out in the near future, and will be the wet dream of Necron players
everywhere. There was also a firm promise that FW is not abandoning the current
series of books- they will continue to provide support to Xenos races. Finally,
there is a new Imperial Armour coming out, detailing the Imperial vehicles in
all of their glory and updating the existing rules. 
They also had this nice little diorama to show off….
I also had the chance to talk to a few of the Studio guys. In no
particular order:
John Blanche I spoke to about his personal hobby journey. By which
I mean going from an artist, to a modeller, to a sculptor, to a gamer. It
transpires that this may well feature in a future Blanchitsu, so I’m
deliberately not going into a hell of a lot of detail here- but I do enjoy
talking to the old geezer about his art, and he remains one of my favourite GW
illustrators.
Brian Nelson had a long chat with Mr. Harris (who was in
attendance) about sculpting eyes, hands, and the use of different putties in
sculpting, as well as building armatures. I asked him about how to treat Green
Stuff, and he suggested using it as thin as possible. The reason? Green Stuff
heats up as it dries, and so it expands- the more you have, the more it
expands. They use Fimo for the base and Super-Sculpey for the larger details, and
then finish off with Green Stuff. Handy hint for budding sculptors.
For budding Games Designers, Jervis had this little gem:
“Artists steal; Plagiarists copy.” In essence, there are a million
different games mechanics out there, and you probably won’t come up with an
original idea. However, the mix of ideas into a finished product is unique, and
if done right is a work of art in its own right. The catch is that taking an
existing ruleset and simply shuffling a few bits around isn’t creative, it’s
just a different method of coming up with House Rules. I found this quite
useful, but I’ll let other people disagree in the comments….
Whilst on the subject of Games Design, the Chaos Codex was on
display. Yes, I managed to look at it. No, I’m not going to give you any
spoilers- that’s the job of other people online, and you can all see it in a
few weeks. 
I gushed over the White Dwarf team. I LOVE this new edition of
White Dwarf, it has a feel of old editions about it and I am now hopeful that
the magazine is going to go back to being one of my regular purchases. Decent
painting articles, a good-length battle report, good quality photos. If they
bring back Chapter Approved and Olde Weirde’s, then I’ll be ecstatic- and it
was hinted that this will be coming, along with more hobby articles. The
overall ambition is to get White Dwarf back to a hobby magazine rather than an
advert- fingers crossed. 
 
Finally, the digital team told me that they are aiming to get the
products onto other digital platforms (specifically Android and Kindle
platforms) within the next twelve months, but no promises could be made. 
I had a browse around the Golden Daemon entries, and thankfully
the standard was up this year. There were some truly inspirational models
there. Unfortunately, I still have the same bug bear with GD as always- they
insist on sharp, bright highlights. Don’t get me wrong, this really suits some
models, but others I like to see in darker, more natural, earthy tones. The
judges, on the other hand, immediately discount these entries- for me, it’s
like saying Picasso isn’t a great painter because he doesn’t paint natural
forms naturally. But anyway.
On the note of painting, Armies
on Parade- the best entries were the ones where people spent time painting
their armies, and not building the most elaborate board. Part of the reason,
probably, is that most of the 2’ or higher boards were obviously rushed- you
make something that big, it has to be made well. Just a passing observation.
All told though, I had a great day. I caught up with some old gaming buddies, possibly made a few new ones, and got a big ol’ injection of Hobby Crack over the course of the day. The day went a damn sight better than expected, and I find myself, rather bizarrely, wanting to congratulate GW on a well run, well-organised event that didn’t seem like it was just aimed at 12 and unders. If this is the track they follow for next year, then I heartily recommend it to GW lovers (Haters, obviously, can just join me at the giant car-park which is Salute…)
Hmmm, is there anything I’ve left
out….?
Oh, yes, the Horus Heresy. (You thought I was going to leave it
out, didn’t you 😉 ) Yes, there will be more than 1 book- the next one will
deal with Istvaan 5 (the first part) and will include Salamanders, Iron hands,
Word Bearers, Iron Warriors and the Mechanicum (not a full list, just a few
units.) The next Primarch will be Fulgrim- however; the Primarchs will be
interspersed with Diorama’s of characters, the next of which will be Abaddon
and Loken.
Abaddon and Loken WiP
What else…. They will be dealing with all of the
spheres of war eventually, so there will be a Blood Angels vs Daemons book, a
Prospero book, a Calth book etc. Robots will probably feature, but be Legion
specific. Imperial army factions will feature, but will be a runner-up to the
Space Marines. There is, apparently, a desire to increase the Titan range and
do Knights, but they haven’t completed the basic 3 yet (the Imperator doesn’t
count.) They aren’t going to be supporting Epic/ Gothic any time soon, so don’t
hope for a copy of Heresy in little scale.
And the final snippet which I am willing to divulge…..
Mr. Cottrell revealed that there will not be, in no uncertain
terms, any model for Leman Russ.
Comments, as always, are welcome.

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  • What a brilliant review of games day, pretty much exactly how I felt about the day. Everything felt a lot more relaxed this year, in a good way, like I was being treated to a hobby event rather than just a sales pitch.

    Having the four areas open meant there was less people around everything so I could actually see things withought being elbowed constantly. I missed the forge world seminar so thanks for the details but did manage to catch the black library one.

    Nice coach to sleep on, interesting people to talk to, models to see and news to hear. All in all a very successful games day. I've put a photo bomb on my sites if you want to see any more photos http://www.thestaticlibrarian.info/

  • What a brilliant review of games day, pretty much exactly how I felt about the day. Everything felt a lot more relaxed this year, in a good way, like I was being treated to a hobby event rather than just a sales pitch.

    Having the four areas open meant there was less people around everything so I could actually see things withought being elbowed constantly. I missed the forge world seminar so thanks for the details but did manage to catch the black library one.

    Nice coach to sleep on, interesting people to talk to, models to see and news to hear. All in all a very successful games day. I've put a photo bomb on my sites if you want to see any more photos http://www.thestaticlibrarian.info/

  • Von

    Sounds like a nice time, if you're into that sort of thing. To be honest, I was bored to tears at the last Games Day I went to, though admittedly that was a few years ago now.

    So, these new WD battle reports: do they talk about either rules or tactics at any point?

  • @Static- nice set of photos on the site. that pretty much sums it up for me too- it was a hobby event, not a sales event. Although that may be rose-tinted glasses- I expected it to be worse, then when it wasn't I was impressed!

    @Von- yes, they do discuss a few rules and a few tactics- however, it is still the old WD quality on these. That said, they are looking at improving the quality of information in WD, so it MIGHT get better over the next few issues- time will tell.