Saturday, 2 August 2014

Show Business - Warlord Games Day 2014

Last weekend was the second in a row where I completely shirked my duties as a father to two small children, and ran away to look at toy soldiers instead (obviously, this makes it sound like there was much less grovelling than was actually the case).

This time, the event in question was Warlord's Games Day. This was (I think) the second Games Day run by Warlord, but the first I've been to.

You did get a free policeman, but he didn't quite look like that.
Obviously, I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, but the event did remind me of a much smaller scale version of a Games Day I attended many years ago put on by another Nottingham-based company, but Warlord's affair didn't suffer for that.

When we arrived, we joined a big queue, and nothing seemed to be happening. There were a few re-enactors  chatting to the punters, and I somehow ended up holding an English civil war musket (lighter than I thought it would be). Eventually, we made it through the doors and were able to collect our "free" figure (yay!) and wristband (boo!). At this point we were able to sign up for the various seminars that were going on - it was a good job I'd looked these up on the website before going, as the forms only listed the presenters' names and not the topic of each seminar.

From then on we were free to look around. There were a few very nice looking games in the first room, including a Spanish Civil War table by Empress Miniatures that looked especially pretty.

The only photo I took all day. Obviously, this is an August 1914 Great War game being played with Black Powder.
Following some other people, we then found our way into the main room, which contained more tables and a few traders. Surprisingly, it also didn't contain that many people. According to one person we spoke to, last year the place was packed, but Warlord had limited the number of tickets this year, which went some way to explaining the ticket price (£10 (plus p+p!) for a ticket makes this the most expensive show I've been to).

We joined (or more accurately, "started") a Bolt Action tank battle being run in one corner of the room. I think I might have enjoyed this more than Wes, largely as I'd destroyed 5 of his tigers by the end of the first turn with a ridiculous run of sixes on my dice.

Before I could complete Wes' humiliation, though, we had to move across to the seminar we'd signed up for, hosted by Dan Faulconbridge, editor of Wargames Illustrated. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from this, but what we got was pretty good - a run through some of the history of wargaming through the lens of WI, delivered in a very dry, witty style that I quite enjoyed. And some advice on how to turn your bed into a wargames table! Can't complain about that.

We went back to the main hall and poked around a bit more before joining a tour of the factory. This was quite interesting, I've never actually seen in detail how miniatures are made before. This also included a freebie model that was still even slightly warm (having just been cast) and will now, of course, require me to start a 28mm ancients army to get some use out of a druid.

We stuck around for a burger and some light shopping before getting back into the car (which had now been superheated) and heading home.

So what did I think of the show?

Well, on the plus side, there were some very nice tables, the seminars and factory tour were interesting, I got a couple of free minis, actually enjoyed playing a game at a show, and there weren't too many people there.

On the other hand, the tickets were pricey, and really we felt like there could have been a bit more organisation. Having the sign up sheets for the seminars on the door resulted in the big queue to get in, and we weren't sure what the seminars were. There was nothing to tell you where to go for the seminar either, so we had to ask for directions. It also wasn't clear which (if any) games were intended as intros to the different rules sets, so we ended up not trying out any new games while we were there. It was sheer fluke that we found the cafe at all. Really, I think I'm just asking for signs, which would at least be an easy thing to change.

All in all, I'm glad I went, and I did enjoy the day. Unless I find I'm playing more and more of Warlord's games next year though, I don't think I'd necessarily go to the next one, but let's see what it looks like when the tickets show up in Warlord's newsletter... 

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