Thursday, January 19, 2012

GW (and other) Stores

     I have recently moved to the Baltimore area, and because of that had my first opportunity to go to an official Games Workshop store. I have been to two so far, and several other local game stores.

     Color me unimpressed with GW. I didn't have a bad experience at either one, just underwhelming.

     The first I went to was the Battle Bunker in Bowie, MD. This is supposed to be the epicenter of Games Workshop events in the greater area, and to be fair there were several events going on. Terrain was plentiful, but not up to the standard to which I am accustomed. It appeared that the only terrain available was the prefab GW table and terrain kits. Nothing scratch built or innovative, and middling paint jobs on what was available. Gamers were plentiful as was their funk as my wife noted upon entry, and the age demographic was inviting (from teens to 50's with a nice mixture). I was mildly interested in a couple of the offered events, but didn't get any information until I approached an employee and began asking questions. I would have expected a new face to at least get a "Hey my name is Bob, can I help you? ... Feel free to look around, and grab me if you have any questions." Not only that, once I had asked the aforementioned employee about the events underway and what other were offered, I had to prompt him to give me a calendar of upcoming events. Maybe the guy is new, I will cut him a break, but my experience there didn't sell me on the GW Corporate gaming environment.

    The second was the GW store in Columbia, MD. I had exactly the opposite experience with the store employee. He was friendly and out going, asked about my level of experience and armies I play, gave me information on events and handed me a calendar and facebook profile for the store. My problem here was the demographic of the store. I was easily 15 years older than anyone but the employee. I don't mind playing against younger opponents or teaching them to play, but a couple 12 year olds with their 2 tactical squads of marines is not my ideal gaming community.

     I won't even mention the names of two of the game stores that ostensibly carry GW and other miniature war gaming products. A couple of boxes from two editions ago tucked behind the massive slot car track doesn't really count.

     The most pleasant experience I had and the store I am most likely to return to was at Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie. The staff was pleasant and informative. I was greeted as soon as I walked in the door, even though there was an event in the registration phase. The staff also made sure they were available to me without being smothering. I didn't stay long enough to see if it was really enforced, but there was a policy clearly posted on the wall in the gaming area to keep language above board, and while I was there it was observed by the patrons. The store was large and well lighted and the gaming area was huge. Not only that having a variety of miniature and board games that I haven't tried was intriguing. From what the staff said they ran a 30 person GW tournament simultaneous to a 20 person FOW mega battle, and from the look of the game room that was no exaggeration.

So GW, a word in your ear, you aren't winning me into your stores on first impressions.

A shout out to my buddies in SLC, thanks for making the last several years of gaming fun. I hope I can find another group as entertaining to game with, and thought provoking to associate with as you.