I've been doing a little bit of soul searching for the last week or so, should I branch out and try Warmachine?
With this in mind I searched the web looking for a local independent retailer that stocked this game so that I could find out more about it, and maybe if I thought it was worth it start building a small force to try out.
During the course of this search I found Waylands Forge now from the look of the website I thought it was going to be a small outfit which would be more than happy to welcome a new customer and help to point me in the right direction, how wrong could I have been.
Now it may just be that I went in on an off day, but to say the service was bad would be a serious understatement. It could possibly have been because I had the wife with me, but when I walked in the member of staff sat at the counter didn't even say hello, or bother to look away from the computer screen he was sat in front of! It may not seem like much but a simple hello is the least you expect when you walk into a shop. Not a grunt and then to be completely ignored.
I made my way over to where the warmachine stuff was "displayed" (I use this term very loosely, it looked more like it had been fired at the racks by a small and very inaccurate cannon), there didn't seem to be any real order to the way anything had been placed with all of the different factions and units mixed up that much you would need a GPS and a very accurate map to locate anything you wanted.
Having stood in this area for about 15 - 20 minutes with no response from the staff, I decided it might be a good idea to go over and initiate a conversation about the above mentioned game and try to get some information about it. The rather scruffy looking individual working there turned to me and basically told me nothing of any real relevance, he just seemed to quote the basic blurb from the website.
I asked him what I would need to start playing which again lead to nothing as he waited until I had walked back over to the "Warmachine display" before announcing that they didn't have any copies of the rule book before turning back to his computer and ignoring me again. I may be a bit slow here but surely if somebody walks into the shop in which you work and asks for something that you know is out of stock the first thing you do is tell them this instead of waiting until they go to look for it.
By this time my wife is stood next to me with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp (not an attractive look!), we spent a little while longer looking simply because neither of us could quite believe that this was happening to us.
I know I have probably been unfairly harsh but to be quite honest my wife and I were made to feel unwelcome by the staff and the general state of the shop. OK GW staff can be pushy at times and their forced cheerfulness can really grind my gears at times, but to go to a shop which is at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum is quite unbelievable. I wouldn't have minded if the shop had been packed to the rafters but it was that quiet even the cockroaches were whispering (me, my wife and 1 member of staff).
If I were to rate this shop I would give them a 0 for service, -2 for cleanliness (last nights dirty coffee cups still out on the painting tables), -2 for organisation and -10 for satisfaction. On the whole it was a wasted journey resulting in me coming to the realisation that you get what you pay for. GW may be expensive but at least you get treated like a human being and my wife can walk in without being made to feel that she is not welcome.
If this is what independent wargames retailers have now become it's no wonder that GW have been able to completely monopolise the market in the UK.