Golden Demon 2023 and Warhammer Fest – Aftermath

I’m back from Golden Demon 2023 and Warhammer Fest! After 48 hours to rest and decompress, I’m ready to share some thoughts, feelings and photos!

Golden Demon 2023

I’m very pleased to say that “Burn traitor!”, my entry to the Golden Demon ‘Duel’ category, made it through the first cut and took home a Finalist pin, as seen above! I’m really happy with this result. As mentioned in my previous post, I wasn’t seriously expecting a trophy – and I’m not certain if an LED miniature could ever win one – but it was lovely to have my hard work acknowledged in this way. There was nothing for my Ultramarine Veteran Sergeant, but I’d be the first to admit he was the weaker of the two entries, so I wasn’t overly surprised by that.

I feel like I learnt a lot from this year’s Golden Demon, both in terms of viewing other entries and listening to other competitors. Many people around the cabinets certainly had plenty of lovely things to say about “Burn traitor!”. One thing this outing confirmed for me is that 12V LEDs are the way to go if you want your lights to be clearly noticeable in the brightly spot lit cabinets. The 3V LEDs in the Ultramarines Veteran Sergeant were still visible, but only if you were nearby and looking directly at the model. The 12V filament LED was clearly noticeable from a distance, even in such a well lit space. After the first 24 hours the LED had lost a lot of its brightness, but the Golden Demon staff were very helpful and understanding, and kindly took the diorama out of the cabinet so I could perform a quick battery change. I didn’t bother to change the battery in the Ultramarine, as that one was under less strain and held up well for the entire weekend.

In the images below you can see my two entries displayed in the Golden Demon cabinets, along with Apologist’s Catachan Jungle Fighters command vehicle, and a selection of other entries that caught my eye. The cabinets were surrounded with admirers all weekend, so it was difficult to get close enough to take good pictures, but of course you can see the professional photos of the winners on the Warhammer Community site.

Right now, I feel like I will probably enter Golden Demon again next year, although it will of course be slightly dependant on where Warhammer Fest is and how long you have to be there to submit your entry and find out the results. This year it was a minimum of two days (Sunday to Monday), whereas at Warhammer Fest 2019 it was all done in a single day.

Warhammer Fest

So, what about the rest of Warhammer Fest? Overall, it was very enjoyable. There were lots of cool things to see and plenty to do.

Much of the event was understandably focused on the upcoming Leviathan boxed set release, and we got to see the ‘Eavy Metal versions of the box content in display cabinets (see above). The Screamer Killer was a bit bigger than I was expecting, and the Neurotyrant quite a bit smaller!

We also had a chance to a play the upcoming retro FPS Boltgun. It delivered exactly what it promised, which was a “boomer shooter” experience in a Warhammer 40K wrapping. A lot of the advanced marketing has pitched it as closest to Doom, but from the short section I played, it was a lot closer to Quake 2 in both feel and level design. Only the enemy sprites were in that classic pixilated 2.5D Doom style. In any case, they will get a guaranteed purchase from me!

We managed to make it into several preview sessions – spaces were limited – and we also braved the queues to play a demo game of 10th edition using a portion of the Leviathan box. It was actually only one turn for each side due to the time limits imposed by the high demand, but it was very smooth and easy to play, and overall, left me feeling very positive about 10th edition. They had Warhammer TV presenters running the demos, people like Simon, Nick and Ben, and they did a wonderful job at clearly and enthusiastically explaining the game to use – for what was presumably the 50th time that day!

There were plenty of other things to see and do. We played Orks vs Astra Militarum laser tag, got to have a go on a squigapult, and I even managed to take my Ork Kommandos out for a spin in a friendly game of Kill Team. Our group also bought tickets for the ‘Mega Warhammer Pub Quiz’ on Saturday night, and did very well, coming in third place overall, only two points behind the winning team! We were given a load of cool prizes to split between the team members (centre picture above), so now I need to start thinking about how to put LEDs in the McFarlane Blood Angels Primaris Lieutenant!

So, was it all good?

Overall, it was an incredibly positive experience, and I’m very glad I went. That’s not to say there weren’t issues. We had to queue for around two hours for the 10th edition demo game, and we heard that at some points the queue waiting time was well over three hours. There were lengthy queues for many other things too, including the computer game demos and the shop on Saturday. It feels like the queuing for the demo games could have been managed better, with perhaps a wristband or ‘take a ticket’ system that called you up when it was your turn. The shop was a bit strange too, there wasn’t enough event merch and exclusives to go around, and the Forge World section was arranged like a jumble sale, with items piled into hand labelled cardboard boxes! It would have been nice to see more availability of the event merch and items that you can’t normally buy in a Warhammer store, and less of the generic stock that you can buy anywhere.

For me, one of the biggest omissions was a lack of design studio staff, ‘Eavy Metal painters or Black Library authors carrying out meet and greets or signings. This is something I remember from Warhammer Fest 2019, and it seems a shame to have left that out this time. Another issue was that all the previews took place in an auditorium that was separate from the main hall, and only had a capacity of 750 people. What would have been better was a large stage and screen area in the main hall, where as many people as wanted to could have gathered around for the previews. As it was, the auditorium required joining the queue about an hour in advance to guarantee a seat.

All those niggles aside, I had a great time this weekend. It may have left me burned out on queuing and walking around exhibition halls, but my Warhammer enthusiasm is higher than ever! I’m already looking forward to the Leviathan release, and forming nascent ideas for Golden Demon 2023, so watch this space. As ever, thanks for reading, and please don’t forget you can also follow my work at TwitterMastodon and Instagram.

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