Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
Garfy: Ricoh Arena is a sports facility with conference and convention capabilities. Lots of motorways nearby if you drive (it's about two hours drive from London). There is a train station nearby and the nearest airport is around 60 miles away (Luton Airport).
Stahly: We found out that Coventry itself is a rather daft place to spend time. Apart from some pubs, there isn't much to do in the evening. At least they have a Nando's.
Parking, toilets, lifts, escalators, lots of helpful staff, coffee, food, programmes etc.
Garfy: Not much to say apart from everything you expect to be there was there. Free parking was a nice touch.
Stahly: When we entered, we were welcomed by an enthusiastic chap who instantly recognised our t-shirts :) There were free programmes handed out, too. The venue itself was alright, not too fancy but clean and it served its purpose. The different areas were spread over three floors, and the event was far from being sold out, so it didn't feel too crammed. I think one thing they could improve was the signage. A couple more waysigns would have made orientation easier. We didn't buy any of the food, so we can't really comment on the quality or the prices they were charging.
Design Studio Area
Hobby gods, models and art
Stahly: Located on the first floor was the design studio area. On the left hand they were some mounted artwork of various pieces on display, from Black Library cover art to codex book art, which was available for buying as well. There were also a couple of display cabinets showing the various editions and iterations of Space Hulk, the Dark Eldar race and the Undead, along with some nice oldschool miniatures. On the right hand were the booths of the actual Games Workshop designers. There were display cabinets with the 'Eavy Metal painted models of the recent releases, as well as some staff armies to watch. You could have a chat with 'Eavy Metal painters, hobby team painters, game designers and artists. I remember seeing Phil Kelly, Simon Grant, Matt Holland, Kevin Chin, Nick Ho amongst others. And last but not least, there were Dan and Jes from the White Dwarf team.
Garfy: Regular readers of this blog will know I've contributed to six issues of White Dwarf (who's counting? Well, I am actually). We couldn't go to Warhammer Fest and not say hello to the White Dwarf guys. Dan was deep in conversion so we nabbed Jes Bickham for a chat. One of my questions to Jes was "is he worried about running out of material for their Golden Demon feature in Warhammer: Visions, because the UK was hosting the only GD competition in 2014". He said they have no worries about that and they have plenty of content, so that's good news. He then asked me if my hobby mojo was back after having a bad time painting those Mirkwood Spiders. He said he followed the blog and enjoyed it. We caught up with Dan later as he was running around taking pictures, he was having a good show and we chatted about how much we were enjoying the show.
Now for possibly the greatest hobby experience of Stahly's life. I was chatting to Phil Kelly about the new Dark Eldar codex and we were talking about the new direction of layout. Then he started asking us what we thought of the Games Workshop painting guides. We were honest and frank and gave him feedback. He then looked at our (awesome) Tale of Painter t-shirts and asked "Which one of you is Stahly?"... With both our minds well and truly blown, I pointed to Stahly and then introduced myself as Garfy. Phil Kelly reads the blog (hi Phil if you're reading this).
Demo Pods and Seminars
Forge World & Black Library talks on what's coming up and a Q&A session. A collection of interesting talks and demonstrations with a relaxed, intimate feel.
Garfy: One of the first things Stahly and I did was to organise what demo pods we wanted to see. We quickly agreed on the following: How to paint well and at speed with Steve Buddle, My Army - Tau with Matt Holland, My Army - with Seb Perbert, Basing Clinic with Darren Latham. Each was a gathering of between 15 to 25 people around the Games Workshop employee who would talk about their subject in detail and open it up to questions for the group. Stahly telling Darren Latham (ex 'Eavy Metal painter and sculptor) that it might be easier to paint your bases first was hilarious.
Forge World also had Demo Pods running throughout the day. These covered things like painting faces, zenithal highlighting, battle damage, heresy gaming etc. We didn't go to any of the Forge World demo pods because neither of us collect Horus Heresy models. We both agreed we needed to go to both days to fit everything in though. The Forge World Seminar was great. It spoke about things in the pipeline and gave good information on these things as well as pictures and concept art. We didn't go to the Black Library Seminars.
Stahly: Yeah, sadly we couldn't make it to any of the Black Library talks. As Garfy said, there were so many interesting demo pods and seminars, it would have been really worth to attend on both days to catch more of them. For the Forge World seminars, which were located in a larger conference hall near the design studio, you needed to fetch a (free) ticket early as the seating was limited. As usual, the seminar was one of the highlights, there was such good humour from Tony and Alan and it was the only place where you could catch a glimpse of future things to come. There were no design studio seminars actually. I think the main studio could really take a leaf out of Forge World's book.
Extra special mention for these guys, they had their own stands, demo pods and incredible displays.
Stahly: The Forge World area had three mind-blowing Horus Heresy display boards, all of them huge. There was an astounding level of detail, and you could easily spend half an hour or more looking at them. I'm not really into Horus Heresy, but these were one of my Warhammer Fest highlights. Also there were quite a few Forge World designers to talk to, I remember seeing Andy Hoare, Simon Egan, Darren Parrwood, Mark Bedford, Matt Murphy-Kane, Alan Bligh and graphic artists Rachel Pierce and Rhys Pugh. Being a graphic designer myself, I found it very interesting to observe Rachel and Rhys working on their Wacom displays, creating digital composings and artworks for the Forgeworld books. Another thing I liked about the Forge World area was that each designer had a small stand-up display with a short biography in front of them, so you could easily recognize whom you were talking to. Something that was missed in the design studio area.
Garfy: Stahly had a nice chat with Darren Parwood about some of his Eldar models. I got to congratulate Mark Bedford on his shark like Tyranid models that were in the recent issue of Warhammer Visions. I'm also a graphic designer and thoroughly enjoyed watching the forge world artists create concept art in front of our very eyes. I even picked up a tip about photo stacking which i'm looking forward to trying out.
Sales area, the Humbling of Settra, including bring and battle boards, licensed products and the new Warhammer App.
Stahly: Located in the main hall on the ground level, there was a huge sales area (probably a bit too big for the amount of people who actually went to the event). In one area you could find a couple of fairly regular Realm of Battle tables for pick up games. There was also a large display table were you could join The Humbling of Settra scenario from the Warhammer Endtimes: Nagash book. The table was the same as the one they had in the book, and you could play with the studio models. It seemed to be quite popular, even though there was so many other stuff going on apart from gaming. There was no Citadel event only miniature like in previous years. Forge World did have three event only miniatures: Hamath Kraatos of the Minotaurs, Chaos Dwarf Daemonsmith and a Navigator. Forge World also had event only merchandise in the form of t-shirts, mugs, hoodies etc.
Garfy: You could also get demonstrations on the new Warhammer App. A news based app that will give you push notifications on the latest news and releases. There will also be free DLC such as excerpts from novels, missions and painting guides. Sounds promising. The tablet/smartphone gaming scene was also represented. They had tablets you could play on and were giving out free codes to get extra DLC for your games including a rather nifty Space Wolf character for Carnage! I don't remember seeing Fantasy Flight or any of the other franchisees at the event, which is a shame. Demonstrations of Talisman would have been great.
A painting competition with numerous categories. 2014 was the year that Golden Demon was only hosted in the UK. The level of painting was high as people from all over the world entered.
Stahly: On the first floor, in the same room as the Forge World area, you could find a multitude of display cabinets, waiting to be filled with Golden Daemon entries. Garfy and me brought a couple of models each. We had no illusions, the competition was fierce and we were just entering some random models from our collection for fun, with a small hope to maybe make first cut.
Garfy: After the first round of judging we walked around the cabinets looking to see if we had what it takes to make the cut. We could see entries with no stickers, entries with a red sticker, entries with a green sticker or even entries with both... rather confused by it all a kind onlooker explained to us red stickers mean it's been photographed for possible inclusion in White Dwarf. Green stickers mean it's a 1st round winner and it's made the cut for the final.
We were absolutely delighted to discover my Ultramarine Centurions had both red and green stickers on them. Stahly's Escher gangers didn't have stickers on them so he went to collect them, only to be told they were still being considered. When we came back later he too had a red and green sticker. We'd both made the finals and received certificates! No finalist pins this year, but that didn't dampen our spirits.
Stahly: Just before the event was closing, there was finally the award ceremony, hosted by a rousing Nick Bayton and the awards were presented by Alan Merritt. The winning entries were projected on three screens and trophies were given to the successfull and happy painters. All in all, I felt the award ceremony was a bit rushed. Especially with the Slayer Sword winner, he entered the stage, got his sword, a picture was taken and then was already over. Maybe something like triumphant music for the next time?
Ultramarine helmet artwork by broutefoin
Stahly: If you read this far, you might have guessed it: Garfy and I really had a blast, time flew by so quickly. If I have the chance and if they keep the format, I would like to attend on both days next year. Just to catch more demo pods and talk to more people. I've never been to a Games Day, so I can't really compare, but I felt the format was really suited towards people like me - veteran hobbyists. In case you are wondering, actually we've seen rather few kids and there was no silly "Waaagh" shouting or the like. All in all, I had a killer day of geekness, and just found very few faults (like Coventry being a rather daft place or that Forge World's presentation overshadowed the main studio's efforts like so often).
Garfy: I have been to a Games Day back in 2007 (picked up two finalist pins, yes I'm counting those as well). so I can say this with 100% certainty: "Games Day is dead. Long Live Warhammer Fest". I can't wait to go to the next one, hopefully with Rev, Xoxtile, Sigur and ThirdEyeNuke as well!
Do you like our tutorials, reviews and reports? Here is what you can do to support us: Check out the websites of our sponsors, place your next orders at Wayland Games by clicking here or on the banner on the right. Thank you very much, we appreciate any help to keep us going :)