As a Warhammer fan living in Tennessee I’ve always been relatively lucky. My orders ship very quickly, shops are usually well-stocked, and there are a lot of hobbyists to create a pretty good community. Part of this is because the Games Workshop North American Headquarters was located in my state; Memphis to be exact.
I live a fair drive from Memphis but not too far. Not so far that it’s excusable that I’d never before visited the Memphis HQ and gaming site “World of Battle” over the last couple of years. I was suddenly motivated to do so when they broke the news on their Facebook page they would be effected by the Games Workshop restructuring (they are centralizing their operations back in Nottingham rather than maintaining multi-employee shops and several international HQs) and would be converting the epic World of Battle gaming hall into a single-person store on the day this post goes out, March 26th 2014. With that news I knew I’d be heading to Memphis before that occurred so I could see the World of Battle while still in its epic-scale format.
A couple of non-Warhammer folks came along for the ride, and even they were impressed and became interested in the hobby just being in the environment.
I’m not a Games Workshop hater. They are a publicly traded company, they are beholden to make a profit for their shareholders, they do things for business reasons certainly, etc. They have also create a GREAT gaming system, painting systems, and as I said in my Kharn post, one of the best “worlds” I’ve seen in fiction. Some of their decisions, however, I can’t see as being positive. I had a ton of fun in the Woodfield Mall store while I was in Chicago. I went two nights in five days and just swapped war stories (“The Little Commissar who Could” one of the clerks told me was terrific) the same was true for World of Battle. I got a chance to chat with Price there about Imperial Knights tactics, the benefits of the new Crimson Slaughter Supplement, and creative use of bits to make unique terrain. He never tried to sell me anything. Just discussed it. I just wanted to BUY everything.
Even my two friends came away interested, just being in the environment and watching the massive Last Stand battle going on.
I think this is the kind of place GW needs to retain. It brings people in. Gets them started. Just being in the presence of this kind of World of Battle sparks fascination in everyone, Warhammer fanatics, neophytes, and outsiders.
I’m hopeful that as Games Workshop completes its restructuring and rebuilds itself as in a modern economic environment World of Battle will rise from the ashes and opens its epic gaming hall tables for North American Hobbyists.