A general review of the Warhammer Fest event is in order! I know that more than a week has passed already, and that we had Hussar and Soldat de Plom this past weekend and they are much more news that the Fest, but I still had not said much about it! I wanted to wait for some days before I wrote about Games Workshop last event, to get some nice rest and to see things in perspective. So now is the right time to so!
Warhammer Fest as you know is the replacement of our old beloved Games Days, which, as you also know, have been decaying in the last few years. This new proposal came in the form of a 2 day event, with activities very similar to the ones already common to Games Days in the past. We decided to attend only on Sunday, because Golden Demon took place that day, and to be fair, that is the only reason that maintains my interest and my reason for going to these events. The rest of the activities are nice, but quite frankly, I don't think I would travel from Spain just for those.
Warhammer Fest (Sunday) felt very much like a Games Day, a very well organized but quite small Games Day (compared to the huge Games Days of old in the Birmingham NEC). Most activities delved around the usual meet&greet the artists and professionals in Games Workshop. The company is divided between Citadel Staff and Forgeworld Staff, and seems like Citadel is under a huge load of secretism, so there was nothing new from them (sad compared to the old years where tons of new stuff was released and you could see interesting things). Forgeworld on the contrary is all about sharing, you could meet and talk to all of the artists and designers and see latest and soon to be released new models. But all in a much intimate manner than what we were used to in old UK Games Days. The venue is not small but segmented, so it's less stressful for activities like these, which is something good. New proposals included workshops and talks from Games Workshop staff, and there were interesting sessions around painting, basing, modelling and so on. In my opinion, the best thing from Warhammer Fest this year. Sadly, I missed the classic scrap demon contests, the basing contests of the Speed Painting competitions. You would not find those on Warhammer Fest on Sunday (I believe not even on Saturday).
Of course, shops would not be absent in Warhammer Fest, but I have to say, the ambience looked less aggressive than the one we saw last year: "you come here to buy! BUY BUY BUY!". The shops (both Citadel and Forgeworld) had their own area, separate from the rest, and you would find the typical GD shop queues that you would always find in GDs. I'm still quite impressed by the amount of people that decide to buy stuff in events like this. As far as I know, GW stopped making interesting sales and offers for quite some time now, but still shops seem to have neverending work in these events. I wonder why people find it so interesting to buy during this day instead of just buying any other day of the year, at the same price. I understand Forgeworld (you get to see the resin and you save on shipping), but Citadel?
Last but not least, our favourite and most importante part is of course the Golden Demon contest. Much less participation than previous years (seems there has been a big decline in UK in the last few years). Level of entries though is very high, I would say that you can see much less low level entries, but more or less the same high level entries. It seems to me like Golden Demon has the bar set very high in general! Being the only Golden Demon in the world in 2014, I would have expected many more participants, but on the bright side, this meant more comfortable viewing of the miniatures in the cabinets and less queues in general. To me, in terms of size it seemed like a Golden Demon you would find in Germany, France or Spain a few years back, something much more manageable in terms of numbers and size. Good, in my opinion, but with only one Golden Demon per year, competition is bound to be FIERCE!
Apart from that, you get the usual Golden Demon fluff, controversy and unexpected decisions. But what is a Golden Demon without it? :D Slayersword winner Richard Gray's Knight came as a big surprise to many of us, who would probably have bet on Angelo Di Chello's Nagash, or Lan's Beauty and the Beast duel. Especially designed for the task seemed Di Chello's entry, following the standards of what many would call UK "Slayerable" entry: quite big and noticeable, painted in a super high quality 'eavy metal style, and most importantly a new release, complying with the other times reliable commercial criterion for GW. But not this time! Judges surprised us, giving both Best of Forgeworld and Best of Show to the same miniature, something I believe has not happened before. Congrats Richard Gray! Well done sir! (Stay tuned because Richard will visit the blog very very soon in our section "Painting with..." and I'm sure he has very interesting things to say!).
The only thing that was very different in Golden Demon was the award ceremony. Since the area for the event was much smaller, it lacked the grandiosity of previous years. It was much more like old Golden Demons in Europe, and I really miss the epicness of the Slayersword ceremony in a big stadium. At least it was all much more familiar!
The question now is: is Warhammer Fest here to stay? Is this what we should be expecting from Games Workshop in the years to come? Will there only be one Golden Demon in the world every year?
While on the event, I heard some rumours which sound interesting to my ears. Games Workshop is currently remodelling the Warhammer World building (quite unfortunate for us this time since we went to Nottingham just to see it). Could it be that Games Workshop is thinking of hosting events there? Would it be possible to see Golden Demon contests in the new Warhammer World? That is certainly something I would love to see, maybe a Golden Demon completely separate of Games Days/Warhammer Fests? Who knows... But in my opinion, Games Workshop is not fully using the huge potential of Golden Demon. This circuit is so well known and well regarded all around the globe, that promoting it in the way it deserves (better marketing, merchandising, competition fluff, coverage, press and so on, much like videogame or board/card game companies do with their competitions) would be hugely benefitial for the brand. I really can't understand why they insist on relegating it to the basement! Oh well...
Until next time Golden Demon (whenever that may be ¬¬)!