Today Predrag rented the Guestroom of this blog once again. This time he shares with us his thoughts about his trip to Warhammer World Europe. Buckle your belts and enjoy the ride!
Greetings everyone. Some of you probably know me and know about me either from twitter or from reading previous guest articles here on the blog, but I shall reintroduce myself and point out some things about me as they’re relevant to the article.
My name is Predrag, I usually don’t respond to my given name but rather to one of the nicknames i’ve acumulated over the years. I’m from Serbia (that’s south-eastern Europe if you don’t know where it is.).
Serbia is an old country, an ex-communist country, a slavic country, and not-so-rich country. Dodging the system and trying to stay afloat is the norm of life here, and we’re used to it.
I’m also a hobbyist, and an avid fan of the various franchises Games Workshop makes. My living location has always prevented me to visit Warhammer World as obtaining a visa is never guaranteed, but this year an opportunity appeared when GW decided to make the first ever Warhammer World Europe event, in Düsseldorf. Still a long ways from home, but no visa needed, so sounded do-able. Was is worth the 600 euros I coughed up into it?
Strap yourselves to your chair and read to the end to find out!
The Initial Organisation
I planned a holiday at about the time the WHWE was about to happen, so a little of reorganizing was needed to reschedule the trip to Switzerland to spend some time with MyLuLei. Luckily, since she could take her holidays at the same time, we decided to meet in Düsseldorf for the WHWE conference, then fly back to Switzerland for the actual holiday. However, this reorganizing costed us some time and I could buy my plane tickets and get hotel reservations no earlier than just one month up front. Turns out it was a tad late, but not too late. More on that in…
No one would expect that in today’s time someone would be cursing the invention of the internet.
While it has helped us develop as a species quite a lot, it has also provided several hindrances to people who do not wish to be exactly up to date with the current technology. Or cannot be, due to *reasons*. *Reasons* are, in short, anything from government-issued rules, country status, way of living, type of income… powers that be. You know. *Reasons*.
One of those reasons might have almost prevented me from getting a plane ticket to begin with, because ordering online is something I don’t frequently do, and there isn’t a credit card I own that has (or can be loaded with) enough money to buy a plane ticket easily. There were also unknown and totally unexpected issues, like: ticket reserving sites have this little tiny fineprint of text saying that while they accept almost all payment methods, maybe not all of them will be available for the flights you picked. Also, while ticket sites will over combos based on your location, it should not completely obscure and not over flights you know exist because someone else found them.
As my card was declined by the service, my mom’s card didn’t had sufficient funds, I had to ask my co-traveler to use hers while I pay her back later. Then we had to somehow juggle the right website link so that she could actually pay for the tickets (no, do not dictate card details over phone, webcam or whatever. It is always safer to type them in yourselves using your own hopefully secure device).
Finding a hotel was also an adventure unto itself as finding a decently priced one but still close to the venue was almost impossible. The venue itself was a hotel (more on *that* later), so we hoped most of people will book there and we could hunt for a neighboring hotel. We thought we found one, for a decent price.
With all that done, and 430 euros later (370 for 4 plane tickets, I had to take a transfer flight in Vienna, no direct one to Düsseldorf was avaiable), I packed my bags, packed my laptop and camera, and went to the airport with having almost no sleep for 24h due to early flight and a tad fright since this is my first ever plane ride, and now was expecting my trip with awe and dread in equal amounts.
My double-flight to Düsseldorf ended up being fine and on time, but MyLuLei’s was late. By 2 hours. I honestly do not want to spend another second on the Dusseldorf main airport ever again in my life, and I think the same sympathies has their sysadmin as I am no longer allowed on their free WiFi network. After her flight finally landed we also realized the hotel we booked isn’t close to the airport, but has a second building… 7km southward. Being too late for public transport figuring out it was time for a taxi. Room on the 13th floor was waiting for us, and with us being completely exhausted and the venue starting at 10am, we went to La La Land.
Let’s talk a little about venue picking for your conventions. I know this is GWs first European event, and that someone probably suggested the best conference hotel closes to the airport, but this isn’t a conference, it’s a convention. One should really pick a venue based on the nature and type of your convention, not solely based on advice from people in « higher up places ». This location not only didn’t look like it wasn’t exactly fitted with an environment for a gaming convention, its staff also showed general unwillingness to be anything more than just barely helpful, to both attendees and from what i’ve saw to the organizers as well. There were issues with the main stage, with the shop locations, with entrance to the event. There weren’t enough info posters put up around, nor were there enough security moving about. I won’t attribute these errors solely on the organizers as I’m sure from personal experience they probably arises from lack of communication (or lack of willingness to communicate) from the venue owners. I genuinely hope GW picks a better location next year.
Now with all that being said, let’s get on about the convention itself. In a few words, it was small but wondrous. Short but sweet. The Maritime Hotel where it was held was right next to the airport, a blessing and a curse combined. The location was packed but not overly packed, and everything was going smoothly(ish). The shop was overcrowded but manageable. All in all, you didn’t feel you were ripped off to enter such an event for the money it takes to enter.
There were some issues, but I will address those separately, let’s go over the timetable before I get to all that. We also managed to sneak in two demo games of AoS Champions and Doomseeker, the two upcoming licenced games made by other companies with access to the GW IP licence. I must say, both of them are awesome and fun to play. Doomseeker really got my attention as it has all the fun and randomness (and sneakyness!) of a game which you can enjoy on a saturday night at home with friends and beer (or in a bar with friends and beer!).
Day two went through without a hitch as well, and I was genuinely glad about that the lectures were doubled. We couldn’t manage going to them during day one due to shopping, so it was extremely glad I could get to them on day two. The design lecture blew my mind. I expected a talk about what inspired the designer to do Mortarion and what part of the model is made to represent what… you know, background stuff. Instead, we were treated to a very detailed description of their entire design process, from what and how they do with concepts and prototypes, to how molding was done. As an industrial designer this was like seeing how the universe works, and I am immensely grateful Maxime Pastourel gave the lecture and had the time for all our questions after it and during both days of the convention.
Sadly, not much was left to be seen that wasn’t already seen on day one, and after taking proper photos of golden demon entries, we packed up and headed back home. We kind of realized the winners will be announced at the website, and since we liked most of the submissions we weren’t exactly cheering for someone specific (or didn’t want to get back to that crowded room). WHW Europe was a blast and finished!
Culture and CultureSHOCK.
Why such a title? Because the shocks (both positive and negative) were mostly formed based on cultural norms, rather than on errors. You’ve seen a few already previously in the text (ticket obtaining), but I’ll talk about them here in more detail.
Let’s start with… Security. This is a huge culture shock for me, not necessarily an error or lapse in organization. There was no security. Well, not in a sence my eastern-european brain could comprehend. There were no bag checkups. No barcode readers for the tickets. No QR code reading for the pre-reserved lecture seats. I had a feeling several times that someone could outright rob them… but nobody did. Everyone was nice, and polite and helpful, every single one of the guests. Had this been done somewhere else I can bet my tyranid collection that there would be at least two burly blokes at the door, with Nokia networked comms and gods know what else. Now, ok, it’s a convention, everyone is of course gonna be polite to try to get to the lectures and listen to them, but there was no security at the store part of the venue. There were some staffed members milling about but it was such a huge confusion that someone could have easily snatched a box of dice or something like that. This level of decorum and sense of community was nothing I’ve seen before and it truly was a shock to me.
Lines. Standing in lines. POLITELY standing in lines without knowing what the line is for. Is this a German thing? I have to ask, because it happened on more than one occasion during the event (and by the time this article is being written i am still on holiday in switzerland and it is *still* happening periodically). To sum it up, the situation was that the merch sales part was located just after the FW and specialist games sales. But the design of the entire venue is you grab what you want and go to the till area. The line for the FW part was loooooong, so long people couldn’t see the merch area on day one. And so confusing that it seemed like you needed to buy something from FW in order to have the ability to get some t-shirts or similar. Looking extremely confused, i asked the guys at the till, and they replied that, sure, if you want just the shirts, bypass the entire line. Ok. Great. But since I wanted some FW goodies as well, I went to the back of the line and then after that stood in the line for the shirts. Or so I tought…
Me: « Is this the line for the shirts? »
Guest 1: « Dunno, I just stood here. I think it is »
Me, now confused: « Guys, I’m done with FW, is this the line for the till or for the shirts, or for something else? »
Guest mid-line: « I… dunno, I think it’s for the shirts »
Me, slightly pissed: *gets out of line, goes to front of line*: Excuse me, is this the line for the shirts?
GW person: « Yes, yes it is »
Me: « Thanks! » *goes back to his spot in line*
HALF OF LINE IN FRONT OF ME: *sighs of relief and comfort that they are in the right line*
Okay, back up, why nobody asked before me? Why did you just randomly get into a line without knowing what it is? Why did that happen 4 times during the convention and 3-4 times in the city?
Are you guys used to politely standing in line that often? I’m confused, dare say culture-shocked. I can’t fathom a society where everything functions so perfectly that you just need to stand in line without even getting full info, and by the end of the line everything will be done proper. What if, gods forbid, something went wrong?
Discount – or the lack of thereof. Items on sale were for regular prices from the website. I was kind of disappointed, I expected at least a 10% discount, it is their event after all, but when I asked my friend about it, she gave me this confused look and a question « Why should there be a discount? » Well, I don’t know, maybe because I paid to enter an event and I hope to get something out of it? Before you respond with that there were lectures, my point is that it is common practice for firm-organised events to give off promos and discounts on the event itself, to sweeten the deal for everyone there so that they feel like they spent their money on something truly special. This apparently isn’t a common practice in western-organised events, to the point that having a discount is something almost unheard of. Culture shock or not, the regular GW product weren’t bought in big numbers, whereas everyone wanted Forge World – not having to pay for shipping (or being able to buy it at all) was a discount on itself. Had the regular range had just a 10% discount too, there would be profits upon profits made.
And finally: Internet access. GW didn’t provide a free WiFi for its guests (or if it did, it wasn’t posted anywhere it did). Since this is an international convention, something like this would have been nice. Especially in a city which misinterprets the word « free ». Apparently the open Dusseldorf wifis which are advertised as « free » are free just for the first couple of megabytes, after which they require you pay fee to get access. Net costs next to nothing and providing something like this should be a common thing on conventions and events. Culture shock or not, this is the only actual complaint I have and
which I would like it to be fixed.
All in all, it was an awesome but short event. Combining the venue with local retailers of GW merchandise that can advertise their spaces for gaming would have enhanced the venue and squeezed in more stuff – and more demo games! – into the event and enhanced it. Certain lacks in organizational experience were evident, but nothing that cannot be fixed. Lectures are spot-on, and I would like more lectures like the design one (or elements from it to be incorporated into other lectures, something like the story of how the idea of range finders for Middle Earth came to be), and frankly, LESS of those preview videos and teasers. Those should be run on continual loop all day on a huge video beam in the background, starting with the opening (and the opening should be the « wow » thing), and then onward all day, every day. We can ask questions to the staff anyway during the entire event so this maybe can be done like this in the future? Some sitting areas would also be nice, I’ve seen a lot of moms and dads who couldn’t sit their kids anywhere in order to fix them up / dress them up / clean them up / relax them
(and themselves) from running around the venue all day.
Was it worth the money? Hell yes! Would I do it again? Yes, but my answer would be highly affected by location of both city AND venue next time, as well as other bonus incentives to get there other than to just scratch it off a bucket list. And with that being said, we wait for the time and location of the next WHW Europe.
My name is Predrag Vasiljevic, and I’m a hobbyist. If you want to find a way to relax, forget about your daily life issues, find new wondrous worlds, or just chat about nonsense, you can find me on twitter (Follow @PVasiljevic), reporting about the hobbies we enjoy.
Banner picture: view of the Guest Room by LeVermenarque, if you want to book it one day you can find me on social media or just summon me here.
« Genestealer activist movement » picture and pics from the event courtesy of Predrag Vasiljevic.
Picture from WHWE « by night » found on the interne.
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