How to win Army Awards (if Ming can do it, so can you!) – Part 3

Welcome back! For those who’ve just joined us, here’s Part 1, where we covered the basics and Part 2, where your army can be polished further. In this last session, I’d finish up with some points that didn’t fit in the earlier ones.

1) Go for GTs

You may have won a prize or two at your local tourney, but the awards only really count if they’re at a GT! (especially crucial if you’re trying to get into the Painting Masters).

Even if you don’t win, you’ll get to see first-hand what makes a stunning, award-winning army, and better yet, stalk the winners to steal some ideas/inspiration/techniques from them. As they say, better to be a small fish in the ocean, than a big fish in a small pond.

So you’ve brought your great army to one and got a nomination (which is a prize in itself). Here are a few tips that could help you win some prizes.

Location location location

Get yourself a good spot which isn’t too crowded. This is usually the end table on the first row closest to the stage/TO booth/empty area. Until we develop a sushi conveyor belt for displaying armies, it’s a sad truth that armies can be overlooked purely because they were hard to get to.


If the prizes are determined by votes, there’s an element of popularity like all beauty pageants. I’m not encouraging you to go around canvassing for votes or by sucking up to everyone, but being friendly always helps. If you’re willing to answer questions or point out little details people might miss, people may remember your army more.

Themed terrain

If the tourney requires you to bring a couple pieces of scenery, most armies would benefit from similarly themed terrain. This definitely helps armies where the basing scheme is completely different from the often-green board you’d be displaying it on.


Display boards

Strangely, this one backfires quite often! It can often dominate the army, is hard to do well, and there’s a negative view on them (at least in the UK). Done well however, this can really grab the votes. I’ve not attempted one, but you’d be able to find great examples over in the States.

2) You can teach an old dog new tricks

Subjectivity is a huge part in the hobby awards, so don’t expect to win a trophy each event. Instead, use it to continuously improve. Learn something new from each outing and work it into your next army.

Over time, your skills will improve and your previous work can look quite different to the latest unit you’ve painted. There’s nothing wrong with repainting an army. More often than not, you would only need to touch it up rather than strip and repaint.


Simply repainting the shields changed these Men-at-Arms (one of my earliest minis) into something worth displaying.

If you do find yourself hitting a wall/slump, a break from painting can do wonders. My biggest jumps in technical ability tend to occur after disappearing for several months. I don’t know why this happens, perhaps it’s muscle memory loosening making you do something different, or perhaps you’re fully recharged upon return.

3) Painting Projects

Apart from repainting, one way to improve quickly is by painting other models not in your usual army. You’re likely to learn new techniques, be it paint styles or conversion ideas, which you can add to your existing army. It’s also a good break from the monotony of painting skavenslave #235 and can refill your creative juices.

Archaon_Left Archaon_FrontArchaon_Right

A painting project could also lead to the start of a new force, which then often snowballs into the next point.

4) Start a new army

As expensive as this sounds, it’s probably something you’d have to do eventually. People can get bored of voting for the same army (though it does happen) and rather than adding minor changes, it’s sometimes better to do a whole new one. Different armies also encourages different techniques which will make you a more rounded hobbyist.

Priest_F Priest_B Dragon_Isles

(My small LM force for Doubles)

If money is an issue, trading or selling old projects is sometimes the answer. Look for bargains and ride the bandwagon trends, lots of people dump their collection if a new book hits and they don’t like the way it plays. Also, by buying more armies, you’d end up producing a great bits box, which will be helpful for future conversions.

And in the meantime, keep working on that favourite army of yours and bring it back when it’s revamped and jazzed up!


Well, I guess that’s it from me. Hope you enjoyed reading this “tutorial”, even if was common sense or rehashed points. Please let me know if there are any topics you’d like to see in the future! (@Thornshield on Twitter)


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