So Saturday was Baltimore Games Day. I had a lot of mixed feelings heading toward this particular show. First, it was the 15th Games Day Baltimore that I have attended. I began going to them in 1994, and I haven't missed one since. Second, this was a show that I knew would be facing some challenges. The constant changes at GW US and various friends who have been let go would make this show "interesting" to say the least. Finally, I decided to compete in Golden Demon for the first time as a regular customer.
So let's talk about the good first. I did OK for my first attempt at Golden Demon. I entered five categories and I made the first cut in 3 of those. So in all, I think that is pretty good for my first attempt against the big names in the painting world. I am going to try and get pics of all my entries done this week to show you all. I didn't paint anything specific for the show either, I just pulled out various models that I was really proud of and entered those.
Another good thing at this year's GD was getting to see lots of old friends. It's the one time of the year when tons of people I have met through this hobby are all gathered together, so it is always great to catch with them.
Finally, I participated in the Armies on Parade event and displayed my Shadow Hawk Space Marines. It is an army I am really pleased with and something truly original, so it was nice to show it off. I received a lot of nice comments on the army, and I thank anyone who stopped by to say they enjoyed seeing it.
Unfortunately, that's about all that I have to say on the good front. Overall, I was hugely disappointed in this year's show. Let me preface the rest of this with a few things though. I have run Games Day myself (the 1998 show and all the shows in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 - around 16 events) and I know they can be a total nightmare of logistics and other hassles. So while I am saying I did not enjoy the show overall, it has nothing to do with the hard work that I know many of my friends at GW put in. It has to do with the upper management (both UK and US) and their overall attitude toward Games Days in general.
GWUS has seen massive upheaval this year in staffing and focus as a company. Due to those things, Games Day was kind of left by the wayside. The upper level folks at GW have always looked at it this way. They want it to happen and they want it to be good, but they think that should happen with pixie dust and goblin magic. They don't want to devote the resources, time, and overall effort to make the show great. "Just make it happen." Because of this, the show suffered.
As soon as you entered the hall, you could tell things were not the same this year. There was massive open space (it was a bigger hall than in years past as well). They didn't bring ANY of the 100+ Games Day Tables that the hobby teams of yesteryear spent months and months of work on making. The only gaming tables were supplied by clubs. While that is a great idea in principal, you never know what you are going to get from the random hobbyists out there. Some do fantastic work (the remote control super heavy battles were great), while others slap a few models on a table and call it a day. So by not having something there for GAMING (and let's face it, that is a huge part of Games Day) that was completely under GW control, it left a lot to be desired. Heck, bring the tables and use them for open gaming, since most people would kill to play on fantastic terrain with their own models.
Another area greatly lacking was the Studio Guest area. There was only 1 model there that hasn't been seen online for weeks now. There were about 10 things on display period from the Design Studio, and there was nothing at all about Planetstrike (which releases in less than 2 months). The UK guests also did not have even a PowerPoint presentation to show. That kind of attitude is a slap in the face to dedicated hobbyists who paid $25 each to get in. Games Days were always the hotbed of excitement about upcoming releases and cool stuff. That was not the case in Baltimore this year.
The Games Day store was dismal. Sure Forge World had a few great new things to buy (after waiting in line for up to 4 hours), but the regular GW store had nothing new. Not even this coming week's releases were there. I was hoping to pick up a few things like the IG Advisors. Not the case. I did purchase the new FW Khorne Daemon Prince and Herald, but that was it.
Even to check out in the store took forever (and if you waited in the FW line to get your stuff you then had to go to the regular GW store to pay and wait in another line). Not fun.
Finally, GW made the decision to not use outside help from Outriders/Kommandos this year at the show. For the first time in 15 years, those great hobbyists were not present to help out. I have a special place in my heart for the Outriders. I started as one, I ran the Outrider Program for GW for a year, and I worked closely with them for 4 more years in running the events). These guys truly love the hobby and helping make a great day for the customers. Not utilizing this talent was a shame and it was noticed. There was an overall feeling in the air that just lacked excitement.
So in all, while anytime to get out and talk about toy soldiers and see friends is great, the event itself was not very good. I commend the GW staff that are in the trenches for working hard to make the best of what they had, but GW management needs to decide once and for all what they want Games Day to be and devote the proper resources to make that happen.