Once every twenty years, a playwright, street performer and suspected werecreature is unleashed upon UK Games Day...
This year I managed to attend Games Day for the first time since I was teenager. I accompanied Chris 'Frogprince' Kneller and Michelle 'Geekgirl' Steele who go along every year! Mr Flibble came with us too because there aren't enough penguins in the Warhammer universes. "Too busy killing Batman", offered one of our coach-going companions. We travelled from the GW store in Poole. The coach ride wasn't unpleasant. There were only a handful of youngbloods among the local warband of Warhammer nerds. I can tell you a lot more wild youths went in 1992! What are kids doing these days for Sigmar's sake?
[Left to Right] Werekin, Mr Flibble, Geekgirl, the FrogprinceTickets are priced at £30 which covers entry and a free programme. I found the handout to be fairly pointless on the day because the excellent layout explains itself. There is way too much to look at and do in a mere 6 hours of open time. I can't stress how short the day is! The ambitious schedule is suffocating. Once you deduct rest breaks you're left with too little time to pack everything in. A couple of additional hours opening would relieve retail congestion considerably. There is a lot more going on than a single report can hope to divulge. Read on if you care to hear of random activity nobody else would think to write about!
Upon arrival we hunted for tickets to attend the Forge World and Black Library seminars. Attendance is restricted to 150 places on each of 2 seminars for both. Being as the slots are 11am-12pm and 2pm-3pm there isn't much scope for flexibility. There were less than half-a-dozen places left for each seminar by the time patrons from our store's coach were being admitted. Oddly a lot of folks didn't turn up for the Black Library seminar at 11am. And why that might be? *drum roll* FORGE WORLD
After we grabbed seminar tickets we wandered through the main exhibition hall and gaming hall littered with battlefields into the trade hall. There was an enormous queue of hobbyists lined up to get to the Forge World trade stand. I've seen a scrum of punters before at the Salute trade fair last year in London. That was carnage. Nothing like this! The queue was sheer madness. Snaking all over the trade hall like some giant serpent out of a mythological legend! Suffice to say we did not join this nerdcade. Depending on whose version of events you have listened to the wait was anywhere between 1-3 hours. Nobody seems to care because the miniatures are just that damn good! One far-fetched account being relayed was that a disabled woman had waited 3 hours to be served her Forge fix. The smell of freshly forged resin warriors, vehicles and monsters is intoxicating.
I had a nose around the bazaar of books and made a couple of choice literary purchases. I was hoping to get a copy of new Time of Legends novel Neferata but the rumour it was going onsale in advance was a falsehood! It took the aged clerk some ponderous amount of effort to get Bill King's new hardback release for Sword of Caledor to ring through the till. I had exact cash in my hand by that point.
Fantasy Flight Games were demonstrating their full crop of associated cards and board games in the main hall. Nobody appeared to be playing Blood Bowl this year yet there were fantasy football computer games demonstrations aplenty. What caught our interest was a display of Warhammer Quest and Talisman apps under development for iPhone and iPad being demonstrated by Rodeo Games and Nomad Games. According to the representative these games are being produced exclusively for Apple platforms. If it can now be wielded like Ghal-Maraz then perhaps this makes my otherwise hopeless iPhone useful for something, at last... Suck on my gromril warhammer Samsung Galaxy users! The release date on the App Store for Warhammer Quest is being advertised as Spring 2013.
Observing volunteers playing the demo quest game, we recognised vintage rooms tiles being trodden. Visually the game looks great. Politely declining an offer to face the dungeon as interpreted by Rodeo Games, Chris & I queried why there was a River Troll facing off against one young fellow (beating his warrior to death as it goes!) in the game. The demonstrator explained that in keeping with the greenskins army theme they had substituted the original large monster (it was Minotaur) with the aquatic foe. While it makes perfect sense to employ a Troll we weren't in agreement with the rationale behind this particular breed of troll, even if the well-rendered graphics are based on one of the latest funky Citadel miniature releases. The developers stated that the adventures will include unfamiliar new room tiles alongside classic favourites from the original game. According to the rep we can also look forward to new artwork for Rodeo's quest-room boards becoming available next year to download, for use with original Warhammer Quest board gaming. This means tabletop games of Mordheim-Quest can be further expanded too.
Burrow Town Collapsing: Strigany River Pirates converted and painted by Michelle Steele penetrate the Marienburg Grand Sewer Network using a Warhammer Quest junction tileArmies on Parade is a recent feature at Games Day events around the world. The competition is scored based on attendees votes. There were a couple of fantastic ogre armies entered into the contest. One was an Ogre stronghold...
Another entry was a beach party...
Competition is stiff when there's great attention to detail for so many entries. One particular detail which tickled me was the rider of a Thundertusk wearing a diving helmet! While the idea of an ogre wearing a diving bell might have come from elsewhere in the market place it was a neat touch which I mentioned in passing to the sculptor of this miniature Seb Perbet when I passed by the designers display stand later in the day.
The winning army will be announced on the GW web site at some point. We wandered the gaming hall to check out what battles were being fought. Tilean paparazzi agent Chris 'Frogprince' Kneller grabbed pictures of unusual sights to his liking. Following the coastal theme our treasure trove led us to a cliff-top stronghold populated by ratmen (from Clan Skurvey we presumed)...
And a gigantic magical construct dominating one of the many battlefields...
Plus two ships (Nurgle Man O'War & Imperial Barge) that were sighted by me from the crow's nest...
The afternoon seminar was hosted by guru Tony Cottrell who runs Forge World and lead writer Alan Bligh who conjures most of the new gaming material. Both staff were present to explain all the latest developments. This session was packed out. Tony has a dry wit to say the least, making this presentation a joy to behold. His sense of humour provided me with plenty of laughs. Alan is lead author of those perfectly profane tomes for the Warhammer Forge. Most of the fantasy battle talk was geared towards Monstrous Arcanum up until the guys started spilling beans about Blackfire Pass which is their next lavish campaign book. We saw previews on the projector screen for more new monsters, a Dwarf command group sculpted by Steve Whitehead (more on him shortly) followed by talk of new Orc and Empire army releases. The seminar is unmissable! If you ever get the chance to hang out with the Forge World team you have to take it.
Towards the end of the day I conversed with some of the hired swords who help breathe new life into modern day Warhammer. Seb Perbet from the Citadel design team was my first victim. He is the sculptor of latest editions to the Ogre Kingdoms range including the mighty Thundertusk/Stornhorn kit which I keep calling the 'Stonehoof' in error. When I explained to Seb that I purchased this kit just to use the heads of the crew in my Mordheim warband conversions his response was indescribable.
Forge World sculptors Edgar Skomorowski and Steve Whitehead were available to discuss their work. Both gentlemen have provided Chaos Dwarf fanboys with plenty of reasons to rejoice in the past 12 months. Edgar's impressive Bull Centaurs were among the recent releases on display. He'd also brought along WiP versions of one of the centauroids. Whoops I forgot to take pictures of the concept sketches Steve had on display for his new Empire sculpts. They were characterful and very much in the vein of art from the source book Blood On The Reik (A Journey Through The Old World). Steve was responsible for producing the new Fimir warriors featured in Monstrous Arcanum, freely admitting to being a big fan of the one-eyed fiends since olden days! It's uncertain whether there will be more Fimir releases in the future. Any fellow Fimir enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear it would seem unlikely based on the political response my question prompted from Tony Cotrell (yes I posed a question using the F word!) in his Q&A session. As a consolation, Tony was admiring my hat in a very vocal way! Steve himself is blissfully unaware of what quantities of which of his miniature designs are selling like hot halfling hot-pots.
The creative imaginings of Edgar Skomorowski are well known to my friends and fellow hobbyists Joao and Cianty. Make sure you check out this link to Edgar's personal web site. It contains some stunning quality sculpting. Both of the miniatures designers were friendly gentlemen.
Which leads me onto my final port of call. The Black Library authors stand. I failed miserably to greet novelist (and self-proclaimed hack!) Joshua Reynolds at the Black Library Live 2012 due to overindulgence (mine not his). The sands of time were running out but I located Josh before departing the event for a brief exchange. He is one of the few authors right now who is writing about subject material which really peeks my interest! Josh has launched a new blog on Wordpress which you can check out here.
With the day drawing to a close there was no sign of storyteller and guitar-hero Darius Hinks. I've finished reading his book Orion: The Vaults Of Winter, detailing the exploits of Athel Loren's god-king alongside elves, faeries and polecats! It's part one of an unwritten trilogy meaning I had to find something else of its equal to read last week. Warrior-Priest, also by Herr Hinks, staring at me from my bookshelf seemed like the best story to consume next. With any luck I may catch up with Josh at a future Black Library event and eventually meet Darius along with my guitar-buddy Ed 'Skarloc' Morgan. For reasons known to the likes of us we wanna bug Darius about his academic skills in rock power and elven lore! Because the two things that matter most are talismanic tattoo ink and decibels.
Coming Up Next: The next adventure sequence in Marienburg happens below the city. A team of daring Mordheimers have been hard at work playesting an underground scenario for the MiM campaign. A copy of the detailed scenario and a battle report will be published on Liber Malefic in the coming weeks.
[Left] Witch Hunter Capt. Dave play-tests 'Burrow Town' with Webby's Criminal Cartel [Right] Canada Steve's Cathayan Monks fight a turf war verses Skyre Warp-Engineers led by Frogprince