So this is a big one, the event I really started blogging and Instagramming for. I was always intrigued by Armies on Parade in years past, and finally entered last year, with satisfying results. I vowed to return this year, but not only return, but to take home the silver or gold medals, after placing bronze in 2016. I wanted to improve, and I wanted to work hard to achieve those goals.
I still had a slightly bad taste in my mouth from the Inner Circle event, and how it was handled (I still feel like I was robbed), so I approached Armies on Parade ’17 with a little more of a blasé approach, though clearly hungry for a top three placement. I even convinced my colleague and fellow art instructor to come along, he’s got an incredibly huge Ork army. His plan was to just go nuts on the whole thing and load a two foot square with every model he could cram in the space. I agreed it was a sound strategy – his models are all fully painted, but not necessarily top tier, so the “shock and awe” strategy may prove effective in getting votes!
I’d finally finished my Warhound Titan, and repainted the second of my Knights to match, and had a vast bulk of my Imperial Fists and Inquisition detachment painted to a fairly high standard, so I was relying on the strong thematic force and general aesthetic to pull some leverage here among the voters on my end. I felt confident in a top three placement, I may get bronze again, but that would be acceptable in my eyes. I’d even assumed my colleague would get a top three as well, it was an impressive sight!
This is where things got unpleasant for me. Unpleasant isn’t the right word, just, not cool. It was announced just days (weeks?) before the event that there would be no medals, no top three placements, no usual accolades of taking the top three entries based on votes earned. This isn’t bad, per se, because the new system had new, compelling categories like, “Best Monster,” “Best Board,” among others. It certainly opened up the options to earn a reward, but all you got in return was a printout. Removing the iconic cast medals was the biggest slap in the face to the event, in my humble opinion. It neutered the glory of winning. I’m not a showboat or one to boast, but for achieving a placement in 2016 and earning that medal, it meant something, and it felt good. These printouts are indeed an accolade to respect, but they’re no medallion emblazoned with the recognized logo.
So we make the trip to New Orleans, and are two of the first boards to drop down a display; so far so good! We set our boards up in a prime location and tweak some last minute positioning, and are satisfied with our odds, though I’m not expecting a win due to my mediocre board. I was banking on Best Monster for the Warhound Titan. We decided to get some pizza across the street with my co-worker’s two sons, who tagged along (and are budding Dark Eldar and Necron hobbyists in their own right!) while we kill time before judgement in a few hours.
Great boards are brought in, with some excellent entries. All hope for my own victory was dwindling by the minute, but I was excited to see such an amazing collection of boards. By comparison, I’d personally rank mine in the top three (biased, maybe, but I do make a living critiquing artwork!), which is why I was so displeased with the removal of the medals. I felt a solid 2nd place, maybe 3rd for what I submitted. But no such award would be given, it was 1st or nothing. Without getting into the specifics, and avoiding undue buildup — my colleague took Best Overall and Best Monster for his board, my board received nothing! I love my colleague, he paints very well, and he’s a great sport when playing. But I can genuinely say those categories should have gone to other people (not even counting me!) based on his entry. As we predicted, his “shock and awe” method of overcrowding the board proved effective.
I am not a bitter person, and I don’t envy my colleague, I’m happy he won! If anyone had to come out of there with some awards, I’m glad it went to one of us. He’s since framed the printouts and hung them on our shared office wall, to spite me, because he’s a hilarious guy. In the end, I just wish these events, like the Inner Circle debacle earlier in the year, had a little more predictability or consistency of judgement. It’s hard to do, believe me I know, but I’m always slightly put out when results come back like they did for each of these major hobby style events (and this is coming from someone that’s placed top three in both!). It’s not complaining because I want it to be easier, or moaning because I’m upset that I didn’t win. I just feel a lack of consistency of effort, and it grates on me ever so slightly.
All of this being said, I’ll enter next year, either way.