Fall Painting Competition!


As is what’s looking to become a tradition, I’ll be running a painting competition this fall at the store. I’m following the same format as previous competitions in that the divisions will be based on model size not genre or game system. This means that Warhammer Fantasy, 40k  and Lord of the Rings models will all be competing directly against each other (and also means that every entry can use bits from all GW’s lines without fear of disqualification / no recognition for winning).

Also following my previous competition formats, Forge-World-produced models will not be allowed entry into the competition UNLESS the model has rules for it in a current GW army book or codex. I choose to do this as the shop doesn’t have the storage or display space to accommodate huge models, and it’s easier for me to nix 90% of the Forge World line than it is coming up with crazy-specific height/width entry restrictions.


Here’s the rules as I have them so far:

A maximum of THREE models may be entered across both divisions (Single & Large models). Also, no more than TWO entries may belong to the same game system (Warhammer Fantasy, WH 40k, Lord of the Rings).

If entering the Neophyte Division, only TWO models can be entered, and no models may be entered into the other divisions.

All entries must be a Citadel or Forge World miniature that is usable in any current GW army book or codex.

Models that have been entered in a previous painting contest will not be accepted.

Conversions are allowed, but should be consistent with the atmosphere of the game world and spirit of the miniatures.

Overall, the judges are looking for entries that adhere to the imagery and ethos of Games Workshop’s different fantasy universes.

Models that do not fit into the above criteria cannot be entered nor even be put on display alongside the competition’s other entries.


There are three divisions, with entries divided according to model size. For the sake of fairness, model size is determined according to the type of base originally packaged with the entered model.

Models that come packaged with cavalry bases (25x50mm), Terminator bases (40mm round) or any base smaller.


Models that come packaged with bases larger than 25x50mm or 40mm round bases. By default, ALL tanks, vehicles and monstrous  creatures that do not come on cavalry bases (or on any base at all) automatically count as large models for this competition.


This division excludes experienced painters. Only young painters and those who have been painting for about a year are allowed to enter as a Neophyte. Only TWO models may be entered into the Neophyte Division, and entering a model in any other division automatically disqualifies one from the Neophyte category. Model size and base size parameters in this division follow those of the ‘Single Model’ division.


Models may be mounted on a base larger than their conventional base, but must be on a stock Games Workshop base.

Whereas scenic elements on bases are encouraged, for storage reasons  DIORAMAS ARE NOT PERMITTED (the term, “diorama,” refers to the creation of a scene on a base larger than is game playable and where the scenery is the focus as much as the model is).

ALL models must be entered on fully painted or flocked bases (tanks and the like are exempt from this).

Conversions (the modification of stock models) are allowed and encouraged; but in this competition, more points will be scored according to paint job than to conversions or sculpting, so it  is prudent to focus one’s effort accordingly.


Painters have the option of displaying their entries at Great White for an additional 2 weeks after the competition, BUT All winning models must be left at Great White for 1 week, to be kept on display in the store’s showcases.

Great care will be taken with every entry, but Great White cannot accept any responsibility for any models accidentally damaged or broken. Entry into the competition gives Great White the right to display, photograph and publish images as they see fit. The Judges’ decisions are final; no correspondence or debate will be entertained regarding the judging process.


Staff Tournament!

SO,  I’ve been playing woefully few games of fifth edition since it came out (has it been a year already?!?); thus, at the end of summer I thought I’d try to do something about it. In the game store I manage, we’ve all been a little lax–for the most part– on getting 5th Edition games in, what with us having spent the spring focused on getting our War of the Rings armies up and running. I decided I should initiate a staff tournament for the fall.

I had my doubts about how well a staff tournament would go over, what with the way that we all suffer from magpie-shiny-object syndrome (made exponentially worse by the myriad other hobbies forever enticing us on the sidelines: board games, comics, Lego, new armies, new models, more boardgames…you get the picture). We’ve only attempted staff campaigns in the past, all without much of what could be called “success.” Previous attempts have all died prematurely due to our inability to stay focused long enough to get our full armies completely painted for the campaign (I’m a firm believer that painting builds excitement to play and playing builds excitement to paint; too much of one or the other risks crippling the ability of a regular person to finish their army in a timely fashion). As soon as one person falls too far behind and drops out, the others’ interest would also soon follow.

This time around, I decided to have an escalation-style tournament that would run three rounds over a long enough period of time that would allow games to be played at a more leisurely rate–and allow adequate time for us all to build up our armies and get them painted. As enticement, the prize for winning the tournament would be a (coveted) full weekend off  in November spent playing at the upcoming Conquest 40k/WFB tournament being put on by some of the store’s patrons–and the store would take care of that person’s admission into the tournament.

The points limit of the first heat would be only 700 points (and require the armies to be a minimum of half painted); the second one would be 1200 points (and half painted), and the third heat would be 1700 points (that had to be three-quarters painted).  The winning player had to PROMISE that the army would be fully based and painted before going to the tournament if it wasn’t 100% completed by that time already otherwise the next runner-up with a fully painted army would get to go to the tournament in his place.

The first two heats would be made up of three games apiece: a staffer would play three different opponents in the first heat, then play the three staff he hadn’t played yet in the second heat. Players could score a maximum of three points per game played in the first two heats:  one point for having played the game (provided their army list was submitted on time), another for having their force completely painted, and a third, freebie point, simply for bringing all the needed materials to play the game (if ANYTHING beyond glue needed to be borrowed during a game, this point was lost).

Heat 2 concluded this week, and only one player has scored full marks.

Heat 3 will be played as a round-robin tournament; each staffer will play each other once. There will be points awarded for army paint job, army composition and sportsmanship as well. The total points for the third heat will be 52, making the total tournament points out of 70 (which means all the easy-to-score points from heats one and two will count 26% towards the final tournament points total.

So how am I doing? Well, because I’ve been a little bit lazy and a WHOLE LOT busy with store stuff, right now my running score has me in dead last –due to not being organised enough to get my lists written up in time and because for four games, I kept forgetting to bring templates (which I’m really embarrassed about, because I’ve always made it a point to bring everything I’d need to every game I play).

Farseer Balangaur: leader of Craftworld Fir Mathedyann's war council.



Heat 1:

Game One Opponent:  Tyranids

Swept and destroyed the alien menace. An early gamble with the Genestealers failed to pay off, and the Gaunts were never able to bring their numbers to bear, meaning I was able to take them on piecemeal.

Game Two Opponent: Thousand Sons

By the mid-point of my second round of shooting, I had managed to eradicate the Chaos lord who, up to that point, been the scourge of all the other staff armies that faced him. Guardians proved their mettle by never failing a single Leadership test (and there were many!) caused by shooting casualties. Solid victory, only three of the Thousand Sons lived to tell of the battle.

Game Three Opponent:  Space Orks.

I don’t remember much for details other than I was FREAKED out about playing against orks because, on paper anyway, they look like they trump Eldar in every way. They’re cheaper, they’re tougher, they assault better, they shoot better (their shuriken catapults are better than mine, thus making that BS of 2 not as much of a drawback as you might think), their leadership is higher (in their own orky way). On paper, Orks destroy Eldar.

So thank God we use miniatures. I pulled off a pretty big win–which I attribute to the game being played at a low points level (we’ll see how I do once we’re playing 1700 points).

Heat 2

Game One Opponent: Space Marines

What a grind. Narrowly lost the game. Highlights include the Marine Scout snipers who missed nearly every shot taken every turn. Vibro-cannon caused the most reliable amount of wounds…followed by very few actual casualties. Ten Storm guardians outperformed 6 Striking Scorpions (with Exarch).

Game Two Opponent: Sisters of Battle

Fought to a draw. Eldar outnumbering the Witch Hunters almost two to one definitely a factor in their good showing. Striking Scorpions all killed in round two: all shot dead or set on fire by the Sisters’ Seraphim squad; the Scorpions’ 3+ save may as well have been a 6+ save. Champions of the game was the squad of Guardian Defenders who, after sustaining 60% casualties, charged a Battle Sisters squad and held them up for 3 combat rounds before the Wraithlord joined the fray and helped destroy the enemy squad.

Game Three Opponent: Necrons

Kill-Point mission. Dawn of War set up and Necrons seizing the initiative resulted in 75% Eldar casualties among the two squads and HQ that deployed at the start of the game. Highlights include: Farseer Balanguar assaulting the Monolith by himself, the Warwalker squadron decimating the Necron Destroyer squad. Low points include: Farseer Balangaur unable to do more than immobilize the Monolith despite 3 penetrating and 5 glancing hits, the Striking Scorpions being eradicated by the Monolith’s ordnance blast, the Wraithlord failing to sweep the Necrons after losing combat, despite the Necrons rolling a ‘2’ to retreat from the assault. That failed roll was the difference between a loss and a draw for me.


I decided for the first two heats to build my army with a focus on numbers and to not necessarily worry about making ‘hard’ lists.  In the first heat’s battles, the list I chose focused on numbers with some mean back up: a tooled-up Farseer, two Guardian Defender squads (10-men each, a Conceal-Warlock with one of them), a six-man Striking Scorpion squad (with exarch who had the Scorpion’s Claw and both Exarch skills) and a Wraithlord to cap it off.

The superior numbers and shots factored hugely in both games played, whereas the Guardians’ inherent fragility never came into play to undo my whole army (which is a risk at all times when using a goodly amount of Guardians–or Re-tardians, as I like to call them).

In the second heat, my army list, with its low regard towards being a ‘hard’ list paid off in spades for my opponents! Though I decided to use some units that I tend to skip over, my thought had been to counterbalance them with units that had traditionally performed well for me.

The 1200-point list retained the same Farseer, two Guardian squads, Striking Scorpions and Wraithlord and added to the mix:  ten Storm Guardians (with one flamer and a Warlock with Destructor), a Warwalker squadron (two scatter lasers and two starcannons), a Vibrocannon battery (two guns) and six Swooping Hawks (with an exarch with both skills but no other upgrades).

This list was a train wreck. The more reliable elements of the army (Aspect warriors and Wraithlord) accomplished only cultivating disappointment from me. The Guardians and Guardian-manned equipment proved far more reliable.

Unfortunately, as good as Guardians can be in their ability to dish out damage, they tend to get eclipsed by the enemy. It’s not too noticeable in smaller games at 1,000 points or less, but it’s painfully obvious in games over that. What happens is that the Guardians just get picked apart, despite any decent damage they deal out. Ideally, this is where the Aspect Warriors come in; but that’s not how it worked out in my three games.

I’m going to have to rethink my whole army for Heat 3.

September Salvo Results

September Salvo: September 19, 2009

True to form, I’ve been unable to post a tournament summary until weeks after the tournament was played. My lame excuse is that this time around, I was unable to run the tournament on the actual day and had to get others to run the show (thanks, Kat and Duncan!). So, yeah, it’s hard for me to post any specific thoughts and reflections concerning the day of the tournament when I wasn’t able to get there until the event’s last half hour.

That out of the way, I was pleased with how the tournament went that day: all the players were having a great time, all the custom missions were well received and all the the armies present were painted to an amazing standard!


Another successful turnout! Sure, there was only ten, but I’m ecstatic that we filled our tables and want to thank all that played that day.  Also, the tournament was comprised entirely of first-time attendees, which also makes me pretty happy. (And by the sounds of it, all those who played would return for another tourney!)

The Armies

I think we got a good mix of armies. Sure there were lots of Space marines present with 60% of the armies being of the Marine persuasion; but, that said, it’s not as bleak as it first looks: there was a Chaos Marine army, Grey Knights, and four different Marine Chapters (Salamanders, Relictors, a custom White Scars army called ‘Khan’s Lightning’ and a custom Space Wolves army called ‘Ravenborn’). So, really, only 40% of the tournament was made up of  Space Marines–and for a ten-man tourney, only four marine players is pretty awesome. As for the rest of the armies present, there were Witch Hunters, Necrons, Imperial Guard and Tyranids. Pretty good variety, all in all.

The Format

This tournament followed what’s looking likely to become my standard with Southcentre mall: a one-day tournament held in the mall’s community room, with four games being played and the ‘fluffier’ elements of tournament scoring being given a more equal weighting alongside generalship. I’m not going to reiterate the entire player’s pack here; if you’re curious about points totals and all that go here and download the pdf attached to my initail post announcing the tournament (but to do so you’ll have to register with the forum). That said, I will at least reprint the tournament’s scoring breakdown:

Battle Points: 40% (80pts)
Sportsmanship: 20% (40pts)
Army Selection: 20% (40pts)
Presentation: 20% (40pts)
Most SP Votes: +2% ( 3pts)
Most Paint Votes: +3% ( 5pts)

Having heightened emphasis on such heavily-qualitative elements of gaming as player sportsmanship, army composition and army paint job and awarding them quantitative scores is tricky: the concern is that good and bad scores can be politically motivated (in that some players give good “soft” scores only when doing so will have little impact on their own standing in the tournament).

To minimize the the effects of such scoring (should it indeed happen), the tournament organisers were called upon to score each player as well, with the judges’ scores for Army composition counting for 32% of a player’s total Army Selection score and 40% of the total Presentation points awarded a player.  I tried to make the judges’ scores be influential enough to counter any possible shenanigans on a single player’s part but not wieghted so much as to render inconsequential players’ scores they awarded each other.

So far I’m satisfied with this system.

The Results








Mike Tyranids






Jason Chaos






Anthony Salamanders






Jeff White Scars






Scott Ravenborn






Davey Imp. Guard






Justin Relictors






Benedict Necrons






Trevor WitchHunters






Daniel Grey Knights






Best Overall

Mike D. – Tyranids

Best Sportsman

Jason H. – Chaos

Best Painted

Davey G. – Imperial Guard

As the stats above show, the tournament was hard fought and closely contested, with a couple of ties among the mid-ranking players. I think the nature of the missions being played and how they were scored “helped” lessen the points spread: all custom missions were used for each round; and more importantly, the battle points scoring system made it especially difficult to score a massacre against one’s opponents. At the same time the scoring system in place made it (somewhat) easier for the losing army in a battle lessen the points gap.

Last Words

Those are my thoughts for the moment (if anything else comes to me, I’ll update this post accordingly). I want to express my thanks again to all the players who made this tournament a success, and I hope to run another tournament in the final few days of the year: I’m hoping to do something during the week between Christmas and New Years. I’ll post more info as I get things in order.

War of the Ring Goodness (plus diatribe!)

Warof the Ring-logo

I was pretty excited to be finally playing more games of War of the Ring. A long-time fan of all things Lord of the Rings, from the moment I heard this game was coming I was excited. I really liked GW’s Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, but my enthusiasm for it could never completely overcome what I perceived were some of its shortfalls.

For the uninitiated, the scale of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game calls for armies around twenty-to-fifty strong.  Though the game’s mechanics are SOLID, the size of battles always tended to feel awkward to me: like it was placed uncomfortably somewhere between Mordheim and 40k with the number of models present in each battle.

What’s unfortunate about the game is even though its battles use smaller amounts of models than in 40k, Lord of the Rings feels like it has LESS overall detail than does 40k –which IS weird, seeing as how LotR has waaaaay more tactical choices during a game, due to each model being its own unit. The upshot is that the majority of the models ( ie: rank and file troops) don’t feel significantly different from each other, and so any games not using a large amount of hero models (which, coincidentally, is my preference of play) end up feeling un-engaging and a little stale.

I think, ultimately, the  Strategy Battle Game wasn’t a very good fit for “wars” gaming in Middle Earth: it should have been designed to use either quite a few more troops on the board with only a little extra detail added to the amount  already provided or less models and loads more detail concerning the troops involved. My opinion, for what it’s worth.

What little advertising there was for War of the Ring very much hinted that the game would upping its scale of battles, thus fixing this perceived “problem.” Not only that, but it looked like it not only was going to substantially increase the amount of troops used but was also going to add noticeably more detail in some areas of game play. Yeah,  I was very much looking forward to the arrival of the new rules set.

When I finally got my mitts on a copy of the War of the Ring this last spring, I was NOT disappointed. Fast forward into summer, and I had built an Angmar army with the Witch King and orc hordes at its core that was only about a dozen models away from being completely painted.

Early in August, I heard about a WotR tournament being held at the Games Workshop in Chinook mall, so I decided to attend. My aim was to meet new players, see what they were fielding, support the (very) fledgling –some might say struggling– War of the Ring community and maybe even get some new people into the game. Perhaps a bit much to hope from a first tournament, but there’s nothing wrong with setting the bar high….right?

Tournament Day: August 29, 2009

Labeling this a “tournament” is a little misleading: only four people signed up for it….and unfortunately, only me and one other person showed up on tournament day.  I decided such was the occupational hazard of tournaments with no entry fee: even the people who DO sign up will only show up on the actual day of the event if their whim fancies it. So as it turned out, I got to play against one of my regular opponents for my first game and against one of the staff working that day for my second game. But I guess things could have been worse: the whole thing could have been called off.

I’m not going to do (much of) an in-depth play by play of how each game went; overall I did quite well. In my first game, there were a couple rounds where the game could have turned against me pretty easily (but thankfully didn’t), and I managed to squeak ahead and end up with a major victory: my Angmar forces secured a very solid victory against the Mordor army led by the Undying One on Fell Beast (and backed up by the Mouth of Sauron, another two orc shamans and Gothmog). This army has made me sweat every time I’ve played against it.

My second game was much (MUCH) more challenging: I was up against a Gondor army that had Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir and Gandalf in its ranks….and two trebuchets. And the mission was played going lengthwise down the table instead of the usual width wise.I thought my goose was cooked before I even started the game.

The second game had me on the ropes easily for the first half of the game; only through clever (if I do say so myself) use of my unit of Barrow Wights –and an equal measure of good luck– was I able to grind down the unit with Aragorn and Gimli in it.  That,  and my Wargs who usually flee in every battle (not Warg Riders, mind you, just the dogs themselves) and NEVER rally were filled to the brim with horse shoes: not only did they never flee, they managed to live for several combat turns against a Gondorian unit backed up by Gandalf and Boromir (though it was with the help from a mob of orcs).

Through sheer attrition I managed to wear down the Gondorian player, and he conceded defeat. Another full-fledged victory that was hard fought to the very end. Lucky for me, my opponent held my view that despite it not being written explicitly in the rules book, a natural roll of  ‘1’ always counts as a failure (just like in every other GW game) unless, of course,  Might Points are used to increase the die roll.  (This has a HUGE impact, considering how broken Gimli’s Epic Rampage would be if naturally-rolled ones didn’t count as automatic fails).

The end result of the afternoon’s gaming was two major victories for me, both were hard fought for against excellent opponents. I had a great time, and with only two players to go up against, we were able to play our games at a more leisurely (and strategic) pace –which helped lure those shopping that day closer to the table to stop by and check out the action.

So did the tournament meet my expectations?

(A) Meet new players. Technically, I guess I met ONE. I also played against my regular adversary….so does that maybe count as 50% success?

(B) See what others were fielding. The staffer I played pulled a Gondor army out of the store’s cabinets, which left me doubting they were his real army. So I guess it’s a technical ‘fail’ for this goal, BUT my army (with more troops than heroes) took on and came up on top of an army heavy with heroes –and said heroes were definitely some of the heavier hitters in the entire game. That fact makes me love WotR even more. Despite the prevalence of heroes, Hero-hammer it is not!

(C) Support the fledgling WotR community. Veni vidi vici–though I’m not sure it counts (sound of a tree falling in the forest and all that). That said, all rock slides begin with a single stone.

(D) Maybe even get some new people into the game. I think I was most successful here. Too many players think that anything Lord of the Rings automatically sucks. The games I played turned a few heads…and possibly a few opinions too. Time will tell.

My only disappointment was that I forgot to take more pictures: the pictures above represent just over half the total amount of pictures I took that day; the majority were taken before the second turn in my first game….and without a flash (flashes tend to wash out the picture); my apologies for any blurry photos.

So that was my War of the Ring gaming day, waaaay back at the end of August. All in all,  I can’t stress enough how glad I was that the guys over at Games Workshop in Chinook mall ran the event–and kept it going despite the abysmal turnout; kudos to them is certainly in order. Here’s hoping that next time we’ll get DOUBLE the turnout. I’d be satisfied with that much.