Sunday, 6 October 2013

Games Day 2013

Games Day returned to its old venue of the National Indoor Arena for its 2013 event – a change from the usual venue at the NEC. I heard it was a simple double-booking, but considering how far in advance these kind of things are put in place, it’s more likely this was a cost effectiveness exercise.

As well as the venue change, there were considerably fewer tickets released for the day and participation gaming was taken out.

So what affect did these changes have?
Some good and some not so good.

The main floor of the arena was separated into two main sections – Sales (containing Forge World, and unnecessary space given to Black Library and normal GW products) and the rest (the main stage, Fantasy Flight Games, a section showing off the new line of digital releases and various groupings of GW staff with whom to have a chat).

At one end of the balcony above the arena floor were more licenced games for PC and tablets and in a separate area of the building about 47 flights of stairs down, was the Golden Demon and Armies on Parade entries.

Let’s start there – the level of painting was as high as ever in Golden Demon and the fewer people ensured that it was less of a struggle to get to see the models up close. Opposite the cabinets were the Armies on Parade. There were some terrific entries here, although some treat it as an excuse to put a load of miniatures on a tray and others to add flashing lights that make the war torn battlefields of the 41st millennium look like Christmas.

Back up to the arena and it was evident Games Workshop really wanted to give their customers access to the staff. It was much easier this year to get to talk with the painters, graphic designers and sculptors this time around and even when larger gatherings existed around the likes of Phil Kelly and Jervis Johnson, it was still possible to get through and ask your questions, have a chat or get something signed.

The food hall at the NEC – while basic – is spacious, organised and offers a good deal of variety. The NIA took basic to Favela-like proportions. Based in a seemingly purpose-built-that-day hut, the “Food Village” saw long queues, badly organisation and was running out of food left right and centre. I gave it up as a bad job and went outside to find a takeaway up the road.  On a side note – going outside was one of the main highlights of the day and I don’t mean just to escape the unwashed odour of your average hobbyist. Beside the arena runs a lovely canal and the surrounding area is all nice-looking pubs and Italian restaurants. Under a blue sky, I perused the barges that made up a floating market, selling herbs, spices and handmade jewelry.

But I digress…..
Back inside the arena I spotted Warren from the Beasts of War website and spent a few minutes talking to him about the event. If you aren’t familiar with the site already, I definitely recommend you check it out for great coverage on Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and other games like Infinity, Mercs and Warmachine.

The day ended with the usual presenting of the Golden Demon awards and with an impressive high definition screen and smaller, darkened area infront of the stage, it made for a much better closing act. And so Games Day was done for another year. Will we see the same venue again in 2014? Will gaming tables return? Only time will tell.

With fewer attendees, getting a chance to speak with developers and artists was much easier and was a real highlight of the day, but the absence of gaming tables and the triumphant cheers and bellowed “Waaaarghs” that come with them, made for a noticeable lack of atmosphere and fun. Improvements can certainly be made and I’m not sure the event is going in the right direction, but Games Day 2013 was well worth the visit and I’ll be back next year.


  1. I'm glad someone else picked up on the insane amount of LEDs on show in the Armies on Parade area. Seemed more like a school tech project than anything!

    A really nice round up, and glad that you'll be going again next year after this years failed meet up

    1. Haha! Yeah, I didn't mind a bit of mood lighting, but some of them were twinkling like Blackpool illuminations!

      Enjoyed your two part review. Glad you got what you wanted.