A trip down memory lane … my first Games Day

Games Days (the predecessors of the Warhammer Fest) were a format of an event, organized by Games Workshop for the first time in 1975, originally in London, and covered the broader range of products that the company imported and distributed, like role playing games or miniature boardgames. Later the event was moved to Birmingham, to the NEC and the focus changed according to the company's range towards tabletop wargames.

With Games Workshop growing internationally, the Games Days were not only held annualy in the UK, but in many European countries like Germany, France and Italy, and on other continents, like Australia (Sydney) and North America (Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago) as well. The first German Games Day was hosted in 1999, with many of the international events joining in the early 2000's.

Games Workshop - Golden Demon Games Day 2003 Ticket

I went to my first Games Day exactly 17 years ago on August 24th 2003. But why do I write about a Games Day that was so long ago? The same day I found the tickets from my first trip to Warhammer World, I came across my ticket from the 2003 Games Day in Cologne.

Back in the day, the German one was held in Cologne, at the Gürzenich. Quite an impressive location for such an event, as the Gürzenich is a representational building in the heart of the city, which was first opened in 1447 and has a classic late Gothic façade. And is it used as a festival theatre, it easily covers enough space for a wargaming events.

From what I remembered, there were multiple variants of the tickets you could buy. I went for the regular one, which should have been around 15 EUR and granted you access to the show. Another 10,95 EUR would give you the "limited" Games Day miniature, a Space Wolves Wolfpriest. I put the the limited in quotes as a Games Day miniature is far from being limited, the circulation of those, that were sold on every Games Day all over the world probably surpasses the casted copies of many regular sold miniatures. I think there was a Games Day package or so, that would give you miniature + T-Shirt for a certain price, but I am not entirely sure about that.

The entry was on the side, with an incredibly long queue and brought you in a large hall, with tall pillars and long staircars leading you in the main hall. Games Day was always combined with Golden Demon, so the ones that weren't there for shopping or the previews, were either participating or enjoying the painting competition, hoping to win one of the demon trophies or even the slayer sword. The pictures bellow are from my 2010 visit (I'll cover that one on its 10th anniversary in october), as my 2003 camera was some 0.8 MP potato that I didn't even bothered to bring along. But I found a bit of coverage on Sphärentor (german hobby page) and at Lapismont.

Games Day Germany 2010 - Köln Gürzenich
Games Day Germany 2010 - Köln Gürzenich Games Day Germany 2010 - Köln Gürzenich

The Slayer Sword, shown in the cabinet, was the trophy for the best entry of the show, the king of kings. I didn't remember who won these. But there are archives online, for example Golden Demon FR and the large wooden board from the Warhammer World exhibition, which revealled that it was Florian Kniep who took away two Golden and one silver demons that year, along with the Sword. Well done, mate, well done! For more recent Demon Winners and entries you can look them up on

Games Workshop - Warhammer World Exhibition Centre Games Workshop - Warhammer World Exhibition Centre

One of the things, that I took with me from that day, was the brochure from the UK Games Day 2002.

Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002

I captured the whole thing, incl. the winners and dioramas. Quite the interesting read.

Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002 Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002

And while I was browsing through the pages, I came across a familiar face. Michael "Mike" Anderson, yes that's him, the later sculptor for Games Workshop who covered among other sculpts for the Empire in the 6th and 7th edition, and works nowadays for the Oathmark range.

Games Workshop - Golden Demon 2002

Interesting coincedence, the Golden Demon trophy that I got for my collection is from Games Day 2003! The very year I went to a Games Day for the first time.

Golden Demon - Silver Demon 2003 40k Unit

I have only rough memories of that day. There were quite a lot people, but it wasn't overcrowded, as the venue is quite large. I remember large banners, painted by the different Games Workshop stores. The Forge World booth was crowded, but not of interest for me, as their range was out of my budget back then. And I didn't went for the Games Day miniature either, as the design of the Space Wolf didn't appeal to me, neither did I have any purpose for it. I remember that parking was quite expensive, as the garage near the Gürzenich did charge us around 15 EUR for half a day. 17 years ago, especially for young people like us, quite the call. A few visitors were cosplaying as characters from the Warhammer universe, something that was more present in the following years and seeing people in Space Marine costumes would expand onto other events like the RolePlayConvention or GamesCom.

Of course, this was German Games Day, a pretty cool location and I would return after a few years, as it was part of my must-visit schedule during my time as editor-in-chief. It was a bit sad, that the event was cancelled after 2013, but due to the politics and interaction with fans, there was less and less to see at the show anyway. Fewer teasers, the only novelties would be leaked from the traders presentation, and other painting competitions got more important compared to the Golden Demon. It was interesting to see that idea of a community event return with Warhammer Fest in 2018, and I still stand by my conclusion, that is was a decent re-start, especially if you count in that it was an entirely new crew and had to be organised remote without a local HQ to draw from.

When did you go to a Games Day for the first time? What did you like about it and what is it you miss the most?

Posted by Dennis B.

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