Like a child excited for Christmas morning I woke early and made my way into the centre of Manchester. The fact Warhammer Fest was held at Manchester Central was perfect for me, but there were plenty of hotels and transport links for people who had to travel in as well. I hope it keeps the same venue next time. The Saturday tickets were sold out, so I expected a crowd. I wasn't disappointed! A legion of people attended the first day. It was encouraging to see so many people interested in the hobby, it’s come a long way from when I was a child and it was only spoken about in hushed whispers for fear of being teased. Now it’s in the mainstream and thriving (I partly thank Henry Cavill for this).
Walking into the venue for the first time was impressive, and it was hard to know where to start. However, as the main 40k announcements were at 9am, I decided to head to the auditorium to get a seat. The reveals themselves were all I could have asked for. It was great to see the announcers I’d seen on twitch in person and have them play off the reaction of the crowd rather than just the twitch chat. We finally got to see the launch box for the 10th edition of 40k, Leviathan, an epic battle between Space Marines and Tyranids. While the Space Marines were certainly imposing figures, the Tyranids really stole the show with their new bioforms. I don’t collect Tyranids, but even I’m tempted by some of these models. I especially like the Neurotyrant and Screamer Killer models.
Once the announcements were over I got back into the convention itself. There were plenty of things to do, 10th edition demos, the shop, golden demon entries to oggle, Hang out and Paint, all the third party games on show, and much more. However this is where some poor planning started to show. While anyone expects queues at events like this, I think they underestimated the sheer volume of people wanting to do each thing. There were only four tables set up for the 10th edition demo and the queue was half way down the entire venue. The same was the case for the shop queue, not ideal if you’re trying to pick up one of the limited edition models before it goes out of stock (though they did well on this front, keeping the shelves filled the whole weekend). And the most ridiculous was the long queue for the Hang out and Paint area, essentially meaning you had to queue to relax!
That said, these kinds of things are expected at conventions and I’m hoping that the other two days will have much more reasonable queues. Meanwhile, I had a great time with everything else. I completed the first part of a Scavenger Hunt they had set up, played several games by third-parties and guessed how many Gryph-Hounds were in a cage (you can win a Gryph-Hound literally as large as a sofa…I’m not actually sure what I’m going to do with it if I win). My favourite game of the day was the video game Battlesector, which is as close to playing actual 40k on a computer as I’ve ever seen. Definitely will be playing more of this on the following days and likely purchasing it afterwards.
So that’s Day 1 at Warhammer Fest, a generally good day with some epic reveals, brought down only by some bad planning. But that’s ok, on to Day 2!
Returning for Day 2 was a breath of fresh air (metaphorically of course, it's a convention after all). There were still lots of people but nowhere near as many as Day 1, and everyone felt a lot more relaxed. The queues were much smaller and the shop basically had no queue at all for most of the day. I did finally dive in and buy a few things. A Hekaton Land Fortress for my Votann, as well as Chief Librarian Tigurius, Trazyn the Infinite, and the books Avenging Son and The Arkanaut’s Oath, for the book character project (I’ll share this once it gets going a bit more).
Most of my day however, was spent doing the Hobby Challenge event. This was an extra event you had to pay for, but it was well worth it. You were given an event exclusive miniature, a theme, plus access to a mountain of sprues, and asked to create a model or diorama. Everyone sitting around me was friendly and we had a good laugh throughout the day, geeking out and giving each other advice on the models. I started late and am a slow painter, so I didn't paint mine in the end, but a lot did and they looked fantastic. I didn't win, but am very happy with the model I've created. Now, to paint it!
Another shout-out I'd like to give is to the Titan Owners club. Now, anyone can play with Titans by playing the Titanicus game, and it’s definitely something I’d like to do when I get the chance. But that's a scaled down version. These people have titans to the scale or the normal 40k game, ranging from the size of a football to the biggest being somewhere between a child and a teenager. They are truly a sight to behold and their owners are always happy to answer questions. They were playing a big game too and every so often when they took one of the mighty beasts down we'd hear "Engine Kill!" echoing throughout the hall.
With Day 2 down, on to a more relaxed Day 3 where I can just tick the last few things off my to do list. Oh, I made sure to do the Scavenger Hunt too, can’t forget that!
By this point I was plenty tired, but I wasn't done yet! While I didn’t stay more than a few hours, I spent quite a nice relaxed time wandering round the convention, revisiting my favourite things, and, of course, completing the Scavenger Hunt. I made sure there were no interesting models in the shop I’d missed, checked the progress of the community diorama (which had been struggling up to this point as everyone wanted to keep their painted models), then spent a fair amount of time on Battlesector, the standout game of the weekend.
After it was all over I was happy to come home, relax and review my Spoils of War….hammer Fest. It was a long, tiring weekend, but all 3 day conventions are. I had a great time and look forward to attending more Warhammer Fests in the future. I think I would only go for 3 days again if it’s in Manchester, otherwise it might be too much.
Games Workshop did a great job with the event, especially as it was the first one they’ve tried since lockdown, and the biggest they’ve ever done. They could however make some improvements. The queues were really bad on the first day, which is partly expected and they were nowhere near as bad on the other days, however I think they could organise this better, even if it’s just more queue barriers and more “X hours from this point” signs. The Hang out and Paint area was just not big enough for the demand and ended up with queues all weekend for something that’s meant to be somewhere to take a break. And finally I would like to see some more of their games being demoed. Only Kill Team and Underworlds were there (1 table each), as well as 10th edition 40k (5 tables). I’d like to see more MESBG, Titanicus, Blood Bowl and Aeronautica Imperialis. I’d have likely bought models for these on the day if they’d sold me on the games with a demo.
So without further ado, onto the scores!
Food & Drink: 4/5
Value for Money: 3/5