No not the horse racing but our experience at the new venue for Derby Worlds this past weekend and what better way to get back into doing the blog after a prolonged absence – too busy, too tired. too everything.
Now we are well aware from the gossip on the day and tweets since then that the traders were not happy but this is written from the perspective of a gaming club who put on a demonstration game and briefly got to wander around the show as a break from pushing figures around.
Before we got to the show we have to say that the level of organisation was impressive; multiple e mails with maps, times, bring & buy sheets, do’s and don’ts, etc; all very professional so high hopes.
A taste of potential problems was when we came to set up on the Friday night; the table area allotted was wrong and the other games did look a bit close. But table size sorted after a little bit of tension and the closeness of the other games was perhaps just a reaction to the abundance of space at Donnington?
Saturday morning and after the drive through the countryside we arrived into a spacious car park, parked up and got ourselves in. We didn’t park in the over spill car park where gamers & traders were meant to park because it was a field in October and anyone whose been to events where you’ve parked in a field and the weather turns bad knows what fun it can sometimes be to get out! I don’t think shunting the trade off into a field was a particularly nice way to welcome them to the show. Is the middle of the countryside a problem? It seemed to us that where ever you were coming from you were going to have to do the slow drive through the country lanes – I wonder how the actual paying customers found the journey?
First impression once we entered was “shit, this is an awful lot of people in a very small place” and the paying customers hadn’t arrived yet. At our table we got to know the gamers to our left, right and behind very well as we all politely took turns to slide chairs back and forth and squeezed past each other. This did mean though that the public who came to look at, photograph and chat could only really get to the game from the one end that was the passage past the trade stands so at busy times it all became a little bit ‘snug’. Once the customers were in it really did feel a bit over crowded, thankfully everyone seemed to have had a shower!
Going round separately as punters we all came to the same conclusions; too densely packed so it wasn’t clear where one trader stopped and another started, the close proximity also made it confusing to know exactly where you were going – I’m sure I missed some traders, the close proximity also made it difficult to chat with a trader if you were aware of several people wanting to spend money and you’re occupying the limited space available.
By contrast the bring & buy seemed to have plenty of space and was run very efficiently – perhaps too many rules about what kind of containers different types of sale items could be in but so what, we managed to get rid of some of our excess. One issue that does need to be addressed though is the rule that if on Saturday you want to cash up what has been sold so far you have to book everything out and book back in again. This is mad, you are essentially denying the seller the chance to part with his cash at the trade stands who would be delighted to take it off him – needs a re think.
The table sale area, which is a good idea, didn’t seem to be fully utilised (maybe it was?) but it’s location seemed to be wrong, slotted between trade and games. This needs to move.
Talking layout, it seemed to us that despite the overcrowding in the main hall, some areas were significantly under utilised. The main foyer was the most glaring example; putting a few games here seemed to marginalise them from the rest of the gaming community and didn’t use the space effectively. To us it seemed a better use of this space would have been to put some of the trade who traditionally take more frontage at shows – Warlord, Dave Thomas, Old Glory, Last Valley. Alternatively the bring & buy, table top sale area and society stands. We didn’t really think the tent on the end for the catering really worked but given that there is nothing else there we guess the organisers were stuck with it?
The thing about the layout that nobody wants to really consider of course is that given the size of the venue can we all be accommodated? The competitive games are an integral part of the ‘Derby’ brand, everyone one wants to spend money at trade and it isn’t much of a wargames show if there aren’t any wargames to look at. Should a cap on the number of games be considered? Perhaps a cap on the size of games might work?
All this said we had a good day, met some nice people, spent some money, moved figures around and yes we would come back. Special mention to Sarissa http://www.sarissa-precision.com/ for the discussion about our Sicario venture, hopefully something will come of this as time goes on and we’ll put on a game based around this. Also to Pig Iron Productions http://www.pig-iron-productions.com/ for just being an all round nice guy and helping us into a near future wars skirmish – more painting!!
This has gone on way too long now but hopefully is has got us back into blogging on a more regular basis.
Bye for now!