April 18, 2024
Warhammerfest is a brand new event for Warhammer aficionados; how was it for a long-term 40k video game fan? A Finger Guns feature:

I rarely travel to cities, I absolutely hate them and find them difficult to move about in. Mostly due to my own brain, but sometimes literally because it’s so crammed with people. There are few reasons I would subject myself to this, but Warhammer? Well, that’s definitely a reason I would do so…

And do so I did! Held at Manchester Central, Warhammerfest is a new event that is a celebration of the myriad of tabletop wargaming and beyond served up by Games Workshop. Boasting grand tournaments, painting sessions, beautiful models on display and a huge community united by their love of their setting, Warhammerfest is one of the biggest events of its kind. It’s hosted over three days (April 29th – May 1st), and there were various types of tickets available in advance with options to enter tournaments, painting contests and so on. I went with a standard one day ticket (provided by Games Workshop) on the Sunday with one of my best friends and my girlfriend, and we had a great time.

WAAAAAGH!

First up, the Warhammer community were amazing and friendly – I was able to chat to many people at the venue who were there with their armies, playing both casual and competitive tournaments. It was great fun to watch people play 9th edition Warhammer 40k as well as other offerings such as 3rd edition Age Of Sigmar or 2nd edition Horus Heresy. From watching corrupted ad-mech take on the Astra Militarum in 40k, to Loyalist Emperor’s Children against corrupted Night Lords in the Horus Heresy, there were some really fun games I was able to witness. Speaking to the various people directing these titanic armies was great and really showcased just how much the various Warhammer brands are loved – I’ve been getting back into collecting again recently as well and I really look forward to playing some of these games personally.

There were various tournaments on offer, for casual and competitive fans alike. A particular favourite moment of mine was when an Ork Killa-Kan, showered in Plasma from a relentless barrage by a Space Wolf Dreadnought, then gave back just as good as it got and battered the Dreadnought in close combat with some really strong rolls of the dice. Stories like these are what make the hobby enticing to me, and there were plenty of them at Warhammerfest.

Plenty Of Variety

Warhammerfest also boats display cases chock full of extremely well painted minis entered into the Golden Demon tournament held each year, with some really beautiful pieces on show. From neon cyberpunk Orks to Horus Heresy-era super heavy tanks, there was some seriously impressive craftsmanship to be viewed. I wasn’t able to quite catch all of the minis, as the queues were massive, but what I did see was incredible and really highlights how impressive people’s skills can be in the hobby.

There was also the opportunity for many to practice painting some minis themselves in the hang out and paint area, as well as lessons in various painting techniques such as blending and basing for those with the relevant ticket. I wasn’t able to take part in this personally, but it looked really fun and those who did were able to take their free model or diorama home with them afterward which is a nice touch.

As well as tabletop wargaming, there were a few video games on offer at the event which peaked my fancy. Focus Entertainment, publisher of several great Warhammer games such as Battlefleet Gothic: Armada and Necromunda: Hired Gun were present, showcasing their upcoming DOOM (1994) like game, Warhammer 40k: Boltgun. Slitherine Publishing was also present, showcasing their excellent strategy games Warhammer 40k: Gladius and Warhammer 40k: Battlesector, both of which I’ve had extensive time playing in the past. There were also several card games present too, namely Warpforge and Warhammer: Combat Cards. A nice mix of games was on offer and its good to see other avenues of Warhammer than just the tabletop setting explored and celebrated.

A Time Of Heroes

There were some fun activities too, such as the Squigapult and Kill Team live, which people could enter for amusement. The latter was like a big game of lasertag, pitting the Astra Militarium against Orks in an atmospheric setting, with people running around with Lasguns and Shootas. The former required you to hit a target with a Squig attached to a big elastic belt by pulling it back and letting it fly; I didn’t see many people who were particularly successful at this, however!

The next big thing on offer at Warhammerfest were the announcements, and over all three days there were various things to get excited for. The big thing was the launch box set for Warhammer: 40,000 10th edition being detailed, centred on the fourth Tyrannic war between the Imperium of Man’s Space Marines against the relentless, all devouring hordes of the Tyranids. There is plenty on offer in the box set, with new models for both factions, but the big thing for me was new Terminators! My favourite childhood models are going to get an update, and I’m super excited. As well as 40k though, there were announcements for Kill Team, the upcoming Old World setting (which will bring back classic Warhammer Fantasy minis) and more. Overall, there were some really cool announcements, although I’m a bit sad there won’t be a full new starter box for The Old World for new players exposed to the setting from Mordheim or Total War: Warhammer.

As The Emperor Protects, So Must We

Finally, there were plenty of cosplayers at the event and they had some incredible costumes to show off. From a Necron Lord to an Imperial Infantrymen, there was a vast variety of cosplay that was showcased. Space Marines in their imposing power armour were present and looked fantastic, but my favourite was definitely some of the Astra Militarums infantry on offer, especially those in the Tanith First & Only, Tempustus Scions and Cadian shock trooper armour. I had a great chat to some of the cosplayers from Funhammer, and even got to hold a few of their guns too. Thanks guys!

Overall, Warhammerfest 2023 was a wonderful celebration of all things Warhammer and it was an excellent event to visit. I had a great time, as did my companions, and if there is another event in 2024 I will definitely be making my way over again. The creative communities on offer in the various settings continue to astound me, and with the launch of 10th Edition 40k coming soon in the summer, its going to be a great time for new players to get onboard soon. Warhammer may be a dark universe full of dystopia, but it’s also a haven of incredible people sharing their love and creativity, and for that it continues to hold a special place for many including myself.


Disclaimer: In order to produce this article, we were provided with a press pass from Games Workshop. For our full review policy, please go here. If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.

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