Thursday, 30 September 2010

UK Games Day 2010

It's taken a few more days than I'd hoped to post up my first topic; the twin evils of being a Blog newbie and suffering from the Games Day cold which appears to have afflicted most attendees like some new gift from Father Nurgle, thwarted my planned grand opening. But as I'm fond of mis-quoting a Bridge Too Far 'like the cavalry, it's bad form to arrive ahead of schedule; in the nick of time will do nicely.'

To Games Day then, this was only my second year after over a decades hiatus and I have to admit to more than a little trepidation. Last year was a big let down, I had gone along more in a supporting role to my lifelong friend and gaming mucker Paul 'Pestie' Thomas, a miniature painter of great talent who was entering the Golden Demon competition; a contest in which he has previously won two Bronze and two Silver Demons. (He does commission work so I'll be sticking a link to Paul's site here soon). We didn't enjoy the event, we felt it was badly arranged, poorly organised and after coming up empty in the competition we left quite dejected.

But time is a great healer and as Paul mounted another attempt at Demon glory, I set my sights on getting the most out of the day; I made use of Forge Worlds reservation invite after being bombarded by so many emails full of Marine Win, ordering the following pieces which I plan to convert to Blood Drinkers.

Red Scorpions Commander Culln / Magister Sevrin Loth & Honour Guard
Raven Guard Shadow Captain Korvydae

That put me just over the £50 mark needed to get me a limited edition GD piece and I was hoping for the Ork Skwadron Kommander as I already have the Reaver Titain Princeps.

So with camera batteries fully charged, a map of the LG arena in pocket and a battered, well travelled copy of the Eisenhorn Omnibus in my bag (I planned to run into Dan Abnett at some point during the day) I set out early for Birmingham picking up the rest of the crew on the way, Paul with his valuable cargo and body guard Will ,Will is an Eldar player but I forgive him that because he's the size of an Ork Warboss!

Paul's entries for 40k Vehicle and Duel

Mr Wazdakka

Wolves! Wolves on wings!
We made good time, slipping through the accursed Catthorpe Interchange at warp speed and soon had the Demon entries safely displayed in the cabinets.

Due to the already massed throng around the cabinets I couldn't get anywhere near as many photos as I would have liked but here are a couple of other entries that caught my eye and I got a half decent shot of.

Another Wolf v's Khorne Duel

More Ork Mech

A scratch built Imperial Robot...I think
 There were some truly jaw dropping pieces the standard just gets better year on year, the work is inspiring but it's also so good I couldn't ever conceive of putting my average skills up against it.

After, I headed over to the Forge World stand to collect my order and unfortunately received my big disappointment of the day. Waiting patiently for about 10 minuets I was duly served, handing over my papers and being presented with my boxed up order which I was invited to check. Everything was there and I reached for my wallet to pay, looking at the rest of the crowded stalls and thinking how much better it was that I had pre ordered, clever Bix.

Imagine my confusion and dismay as my card was waved away and my box withdrawn, the staff member nodding to the press of bodies on the other side of the table stating "Sorry you can't pay here, you have to wait over there for your name to be called, it'll be about five minuets."

But what about the limited edition figure? I asked. "Don't worry you'll get that when you pay."The cheery reply.

Crestfallen to be so near yet so far from my goodies I joined the waiting group where it soon became apparent from disgruntled curses and mutterings that the 5 min wait I had been promised was as empty as a Servitors brain; others around me had already been there 45 mins and the future looked grim as embattled staff mounted a futile defence with a paltry two tills.

I left the mob as they started to muster pitch forks and burning brands, I hoped the stall would still be intact and staff still alive to serve me when I returned at the end of the day.

To raise the spirits we then embarked on a tour of the main hall, the layout was better than last year but seemed very sparse with very little new stuff being showcased. It didn't help that somehow we managed to miss the Dark Eldar display, back to Scout training for me! Here's some bits we did manage to stumble across.

The Caestus Assault Ram

Land Raider Achillies


Ironclad Dreadnoughts

A Necron Tomb Stalker? Very Catachan Devil like
 The studio guys were great and dished out useful tips and advice a plenty, I left Paul soaking up a demo from one of the Forge world design team on weathering powder and sought an answer to the question burning in the minds of all Son's of Sanguinius, just where the blazes are our Stormravens?!

Sadly the truth was not out there, one of the team shrugged his shoulders and said "It's coming but I can't say when." Noting my obvious disappointment he pointed to the Eldar cabinet. "Have you seen the Lynx and the Hornet?"

Eldar Lynx

Eldar Hornet
 As you can see they were very nice, as all Eldar kit is, but it wasn't going to sway a hardened Marine player such as myself. Will on the other hand was sold and soon, using less than subtle questioning had found out that there were a limited number of Hornets up for grabs at the main Forge World stand; he took off and carnage ensued as he waded through to secure one.

I headed for the Black Library stand next, the authors had already bugged out for lunch but I managed to buy a fully signed copy of the Sabbat Worlds; thankfully BL had come expecting a crowd and had a battery of tills with ample staff on hand. Big thumbs up to them.

We grabbed some scoff ourselves and then explored the upper level of the Pavilion where THQ were obviously doing their best to eclipse the Codex Pictures Ultramarine Movie stand with a wall of sound; the volume of their game trailers got more than a little grating as we queued for a special GD teaser of the film but Dark Millennium Online looked suitably awesome.

The wait and constant sound barrage was worth it though, firstly and most fanboytastic for me; Dan Abnett popped by with his Missus and carried out an impromptu signing to raise moral. Out came the dog-eared Eisenhorn which Dan dutifully signed, thanks Mr A. It was only after that I realised I hadn't a photo taken to record the event. Feth!

Then we were ushered inside for the screening, after a brief intro from one of the guys from Codex Pictures where I learned with some surprise that Games Workshop had given no financial backing to the film, ok its GW so not that surprised. We we're told that a few of the cards on our seats were marked and those lucky few would get an Ultramarine T-Shirt, a freebie?! At Games Day?! Let me at it!

Both my compatriots came up trumps and fortunately Will spotted an unclaimed marked card for me, happy wargamers all round. We were treated to a short talking heads montage from the main voice talent (John Hurt, Terrance Stamp, Sean Pertwee & Steve Waddington) and then the teaser which was ostensibly a firefight between Ultras and Chaos.

Verdict, visually I wasn't blown away, the CG isn't Final Fantasy or Flight of the Osiris (first two CG films to pop into my head) but then Im getting the vibe that this was done on a very tight budget; but this is a 40k film so whats not to like? As the man with the mic said at the start, support this one and there will be more; they haven't held back on the gore and the style looks very true to the source material which is a good sign and as long as Dan's script is left fairly intact,the story should be strong and the actors they have on board are very capable of doing it justice. I have high hopes.

After the applause died down and we grabbed our free loot, all that remained was for me to venture back to the burnt embers of the Forge World stand and pick out my order from the debris. No limited edition figure, apparently they had run out, another black mark for FW, Grrr...its lucky for them they make such fine stuff.

Then we headed to the cabinets for the GD verdict, sadly it was not to be, Paul got a finalist placing with his Duel piece but the vehicle wasn't placed (a very tough category this year).

Final thoughts on GD 2010. I think GW could do a whole lot better and they really do miss a trick with this event; it could be a lot better organised and should be a lot more showy, more freebies for the devoted gamers, how about a few bargains? Lots more sneak peaks at new stuff and maybe some more effort at audience participation; after all it has been going what twenty years? You'd have thought they would have cracked it by now.

Still despite the FW debacle and our shared disappointment at the lack of a Golden Demon win, I left Birmingham with a sense of satisfaction; Games Day had not been outstanding but it had been worthwhile at least. Oh and did I mention, I met Dan Abnett? :o)


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