Games Workshop (GAW): Share your experiences

I have often thought that one of the best uses for a forum like this is to share customer experiences and general scuttlebutt on companies. I thought I would start with Games Workshop. It is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most successful businesses. But I have a hard time understanding the franchise. My personal experiences are as follows:

  • On holidays as a child we used to play Dungeons and Dragons which is a precursor I think to Games Workshop.

  • My nephew bought a few Warhammer models but quickly gave up the pastime.

  • The store in Shrewsbury has moved to newer premises and appears to offer a good experience with a good manager.

The hard part for me is that I have never really met anyone who is into the hobby in a big way. So it is somewhat hard to understand. @rhomboid1MF on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/rhomboid1MF) went to one of their major events at Nottingham and that helped him understand the franchise.

But I am wondering if anyone here has more experience with it than me or knows anyone who is really into Warhammer and can discuss what they say about it?

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Hi Andrew,

Sadly my personal experience of GAW is even more limited than yours!

I did visit GAW’s HQ years ago and spoke to then chairman Tom Kirby, who explained some people (mostly males) are “hardwired” to playing these games, in the same way that some people (mostly males) can become obsessed with maintaining a classic car, or following a football team up and down the country (or I guess studying shares to find the next Microsoft!). I did take some comfort from Mr Kirby’s view that a steady flow of new players will always emerge.

I wrote about Hornby recently for SharePad and I did think then about a local model shop and, were I interested in Hornby’s shares, visiting the shop and quizzing the owner and paying him for his time.

Visiting the Warhammer stores is probably where I would begin for (proper) scuttlebutt. But a quick search also led me to my local wargames society, which might offer a wider view of wargaming in general.

I believe @Richard and @cockerhoop and possibly @Philip_Hutchinson are GAW holders and may be able to add further insight :slight_smile:

Maynard

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Hi Andrew,

I’ve held GAW since their ‘smash it out of the park’ TS from 1st December 2016 and it is currently my largest holding. I had a vague prior knowledge of the company from Richard Beddard’s & Maynard’s earlier reports of the business and my sons brief dalliance with the hobby. It was only in the subsequent I months I realised the company was undergoing a fundamental change.
Since holding I’ve attended 3 agm’s (no agm’s in 2020 or 2021) and have established regular contact with staff (and customers) at my local store who are very helpful with my hobby queries.
For reasons I can’t quite fathom I’ve a real affinity with the business so it’s been no chore to carry out pretty extensive research into the transformation from the Tom Kirby days to the company it is today along with continuously monitoring the day to day drivers of the business expansion.
Whilst I don’t personally play the games I have built & painted models for my son and I do understand the variety of games the company now produces from short form squimish games to 2000 point WH 40k or AoS battles.
If you have any questions, I’m happy to try and answer.

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Hi @FundHunter ,

@MaynardPaton is correct that I hold GAW shares (although not as many as I should do, which is a big error of ommission on my part unfortunately).

I’m also a former employee of the company and long-time hobbyist myself, so I’m fairly well placed to answer questions on the company. It’s a bit misunderstood even by investors who’ve made a lot of money on the stock.

I’ve written in detail elsewhere on the company in the past, so I’ll dig that material out later and then give a more in depth response.

In the meantime you could do worse than spending £10 on the first two novels in the Horus Heresy series - Horus Rising and False Gods (read them in that order, as Horus Rising is the first). They’re genuinely good science fiction but more importantly they will give you a good sense of the enormous depth of GW’s setting. (These novels are a form of history for Warhammer 40,000 that detail key events in a civil war that happened 10,000 years earlier).

Regards

Phil

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Thanks. I guess I meant does anyone know anyone who is really into the hobby personally and can they explain how they got into it and what they get out of it. I went to one of the stores and the manager said I think that about a quarter of people just buy the plastic figures to pain them and don’t play the game. So I find it hard to understand.

The profiles of say 5-6 players of the game might help.

this is exactly what I used to do in the 90s. I found the game (warhammer 40k) a bit slow, clunky and beset by rule after rule, but I loved collecting the little figures and building an army and painting them. Back then they were mostly lead moulded figures ( I have long since lost interest) but I undrstand they are now 100% plastic.

I worked with someone back in 2015 - 2017 who would go and spend £00s on these in their lunch break from work… I remember looking at the share price bobbing around £3-£4 I think at the time but never bought in. What a mistake!

I still ahve all the figures in the loft and I gather osme of them are particularly sought after. Time to dust them down perhaps…!

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Well yes, I can explain this (I’m into the hobby myself), but I still think that if you really want to understand properly, you’ll need to do some actual reading or other research yourself, otherwise you’re just listening to someone tell you why they like something they like…and it won’t mean much to you.

I think if you read one of those novels (or some of the others - anything in the Eisenhorn or Gaunt’s Ghosts series for example) then you’d get a better idea of Games Workshop’s IP, which is comparable in scope and depth to Star Wars and Star Trek, to cite two very well known Science Fiction franchises (I mean, in a lot of respects Warhammer 40,000 in particular has got more depth to be honest). And you’ll understand that far better than if I were just to tell you it’s the case (like I just have done). Another approach would be to buy a subscription to Warhammer+, which is their streaming / subscription service (recently launched) and which has some animations. I’ve not actually watched those myself though so I’ve got no idea if they’re any good. Whereas the novels are definitely very good (well, some of them anyway - the majority are pulp fiction, but there are a good few real gems in there).

It’s far more than just miniatures!

And then just on the point about why people would collect without actually playing - even for people who play the game a lot, a high percentage of their collection (like probably over 90%) won’t see the table very often. But then there are people who are into historical / contemporary scale modelling and obviously there’s no gaming aspect to that hobby, so it’s not much different to that.

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I got into Games Workshop whilst at school (30 years ago!)
At the time I’d say it was even more niche than it is now - out of my entire school (around 1000 kids) there were only 5 of us.

For me it was initially just the painting side - I’ve always had an artistic streak, and being into science fiction etc it fit quite well. But I did play the games once or twice - they often put in mind of a complex game of chess as they are very strategic.

I stopped the painting & collecting for about 20 years, but I’ve bought many of the fiction books since - they have quote an adult (violent/bloody/graphic) theme, and so in many ways they represent the ‘grown up’ side of GW.

The universe itself is split largely into 2 areas - old world fantasy (think lord of the rings) under the Age of Sigmar & Middle Earth brands, and futuristic/dystopian under the Warhammer 40k and Horus Heresy brands. These two different worlds cover a vast subject area with very developed histories and rich backgrounds - with little reason to believe they will run out of ideas any time soon!

I recently started painting again as my children got to an age where they are started to become interested, and the games themselves have become much simpler, which I think has helped widen the fanbase.

They also have a number of licensed computer, mobile and console games, with many more in the pipeline. Finally they have just started a new subscription service that includes animations, painting guides and a back catalogue of their monthly magazine - this is early days ( 6 weeks old ) and is a bit lacking, but I can see how this will become a great service for the streaming animations alone.

I’ve been following a reddit Warhammer thread and what I will say is the user base is largely loyal - many see no problem with forking out hundreds of pounds on figure sets & games. I often see posts of people’s collections showing box sets stacked high (20 or 30) - which each cost around £100 a pop!

In recent years they really seem to have stepped up their game (no pun intended), which is of course shown in the share price. (PS I have shares and they are one of my multi-baggers!)

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