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  • Toronto GW Games Day 2004 Review.

    Posted on August 16th, 2004 Rob No comments

    Every year, my oldest daughter and I have a day out and go to the GW Games day. This annual event is her favourite day of the year. Not so much for the show but for the time we spend together. Its always been fun with lots to do and get.

    This year however, it was inadequate. GW decided to change the venue from the usual Toronto International Center to the Centrally located Toronto Convention Center. The downtown location had the benefit of external food vendors. You could pop outside for hot dog and fries from the street vendors instead of the awful, over-priced (yet traditional) food from the inside seller.

    Lets start at the beginning though.

    Being downtown we chose to take the GO Train rather than drive. There was no way I'd fight the traffic down there and pay the horrendous prices to park. The International Center, located at the airport, dictated that we always drove but parking there is free. Anyway, getting to the event was no problem. It was when we got there that it started to feel different from other years. We arrived before opening and lined up for our ticket. But, there was a separate line for getting the program and mini? Why not have more ticket sellers that also gave out minis and programs? Oh well, time for the third line to wait to get in. Opening time approaches and passes. Hmmm… five minutes go by, security staff have no idea what's going on. Ten minutes go by and the Mothers in the line are starting to get that pissed off look. Fifteen minutes and we finally are allowed to move. Access is restricted to two escalators so the human train moves slowly.

    Lucky us, were stuck behind "The Expert". He's talking to some pre-teen boys that play 40K. Of course, he's a Fantasy player so has to tell them how much WHFB is better than 40K because of the strategy involved with moving massive units, etc. Blah, Blah Blah. It takes the line about 15 minutes to snake around the building and up the escalators so we've had half an hour of "The Expert". I'm sorry but I wanted to slap him in the back of the head. I don't understand the attraction of Card Based games like Magic because it does nothing for me but I'm not going to stand there and tell a fan how bad it is. That's just rude.

    Behind us are the 30 year old virgins that have probably never seen a naked woman talking about the women that come to these shows and how they're always with someone. At least they kept their inane observations of the opposite sex at a PG level so I didn't have to worry.

    I bring up the line because that was almost the most entertaining time of the whole day. The show was on the second floor in a big box of a room. When we got upstairs, the game tables and displays just seemed lost in the room. Right from the start, it just didnt look as busy. It also didnt sound as busy because the high ceiling ate most of the ambient noise. The International Center is a sprawling complex of smaller joined areas. This was just a big box and rather than promoting a traffic flow it just made people wander hither and yon.

    We rushed straight over to the bit box wars. Another line. Couldn't get in, 3rd year in a row that we've never gotten in. I'm sorry but they obviously need to find a better way or expand it. We were there before opening and still couldn't get in. Oh well. My daughters favourite thing was always the speed painting. Check the map. No speed painting? Grrr. Last year they had a terrain workshop. We sat, we got to use trees and bits, they supplied foam and glue and sand and hot wire cutters, etc. We made our terrain, left it to dry on a card with our name and came back later to get it. Wait, this year its a terrain "clinic" not a workshop. Lets check it out. Three people behind a table with some foam. No chairs for any visitors. The "experts" never moved so everyone was forced to squeeze in around them. No thanks, nothing for us there.

    Lets go see the painting clinic. Last year: Lots of tables and chairs, you brought a mini and some paint and sat with someone. This year: one table, no visitor chairs, "experts" behind the table with people kneeling or squatting on the floor in front of them. Nope, lets move on.

    Ummm, there's nothing else, wait. The squig pen. Some quick easy games for kids. Looks like the same ones from last year. One bored "staff" running things. Last year: take your base of four snotlings around the table to the finish line. Land on an action square and roll against the action (some good, some bad). Head for the finish line. With in 6 of the end, you had to roll exact or move past and try again. Duration: 15 or so minutes. This year: roll and move. Land on an action square and lose a snotling (no competitive rolls). Within 5 or less of the finish? Roll over and you win. Duration: 5 minutes, if that. No thinking, no fun. Didn't bother with the 3 other tables.

    Warhammer ONLINE was there. Last year: Pins and postcards. This year: Some computers to play the game on, if you could dislodge the zombies.

    Sabertooth Games? Absent.

    Oh well, lets walk around and look at the tables and displays. No hand outs. No freebies.

    We always do the store last as who wants to lug a bunch of stuff around? Wall of minis was there as expected. Tables of boxed items? Check. No Specialist Games area. Mordheim, Warmaster, etc. buried on the tables with mainstream stuff. And not much of it. They had 7 different black library novels (my daughter likes to read them). Last year, it looked like the whole collection as there were so many.

    Bits by weight was available as were the sprues. Didn't see any skeleton sprues (probably the most useful sprue in existence).

    Bulldog was absent.

    Forge World was there but there was nothing on display. No catalogues were available. Just some black and white sheets and price lists. If you wanted something, you had to know what you wanted (site unseen) and tick off a sheet. No such thing as an impulse buy here. They probably could have doubled their sales if they had some hands on pieces.

    Boring. I bought the Mordheim Annual and one novel for Shannon. Total take from me? About $40CDN. Last year? Couple of Hundred. Ill never understand why GW doesn't give better deals on their regular stuff at these shows. If I could get a $50 mini for $45 then I probably would. If I can get the same price in the stores then why bother at the show?

    Check out from the store was a nightmare. One till had a sign "cash only". Cool, I get in another line. I get two from the till and he announces, "I can't take debit or credit here". I move to the longest line and start my zombie shuffle. 15 minutes during which time at least 5 people were told the same thing AFTER waiting in the shorter line. Most had the same comment I did: "Why don't you put up a sign?!" No staff there could take the initiative to put paper to pen and fix this I guess.

    No paint singles where available either. Apparently, there was an incident last year with a kid drinking paint and throwing up "all over the place". Abandoning paint sales seems like a knee jerk reaction though.

    Time to get some over priced food. Tables were fairly empty as it was too easy to go out and get cheap (better) food. There wasn't the same level of interaction among strangers as prior years.

    So, with nothing to do and everything seen and no interest in double checking the store, we left. Feeling very empty.

    GW can give all the excuses they want (I heard one that there was a lack of volunteers) but the bottom line is that it felt like they where cutting corners. Poorly organized, badly laid out, not interactive enough. While the venue was technically nicer, I think it was not conducive to the type of event. Some soft walls (standees?) would have improved the traffic flow and subdivided things better. People wouldn't have walked in and been able to see every thing at a glance ("is this it?" mindset).

    I have to give this Games Day a failing grade: D-

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