How to win Army Awards (Almanac of Ming) – Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2! If you’ve not read the first part, you really should go back and read it first.

Note that in this article, only two models were painted by me (Jules le Jongleur & the Questing Paladin). Reason being is I have no examples of my own for certain areas!

1)      Conversions and Centrepieces

Most painting prizes aren’t separated by technical ability or coolness factor. More commonly, they are player voted and the rule-of-cool usually reigns supreme. You get at most a few minutes looking at an army on display and usually can’t pick up the models to admire fine detail. What this means, is that the army needs two key things; 1) to attract their attention and 2) to look good from a distance and as a whole (which we’ve covered in Part 1).

The best way to turn heads, is by having centrepieces.


           Converted Lammasu by Jon Kerr

People may argue about the need for this, but more often than not, an army with a stunning large centerpiece would pick up more votes.

Does this mean you need to include a gribbly? Not quite. I’ve seen some finely done models in the midst of a duel (often with one in the air for height), or perhaps unit fillers that stand taller than the rest of the army.

So now you’ve brought them over. They’re admiring your paintwork (remember, it’s how good it looks as a whole, not what fancy, high level techniques you’ve used) but are ready to move on to the next army on display. Besides painting skill, what else makes an army stand out? Conversions.

It’s another of my weak points which I’m trying to work on (so proud of Sir Quest-a-Lot below!), but a few models or units converted here, some cool kit-bashes there, really does help to make an army memorable.


People will spend more time looking at the models, thinking, wow, how was that made?  Good conversions also help reinforce the theme you’re going for.

2)      Appeal

Another thing I noticed that helps wins votes is whether it resonates with the voters. This changes from tournament to tournament and player to player, but a few common trends I’ve noticed:

Ol Skool – OOP models in modern paintjobs, or specially converted models to resemble discontinued favourites. The response is huge, people love to see it done well, it’s like meeting an old friend all over again.


Artwork/References – managed to replicate a piece of well-recognised art in the army books? Instant fame!


                                 Grimgor by Jon Kerr

Fits in the WH universe – this one has a strong weighting at WHW tourneys and among purists, but is contrasted by…

Wacky themes (e.g. movie, game or comic references) – like Marmite, this can be a love/hate affair, but it can swing votes drastically.

3)            Go for tourneys.

Such an obvious point really! I never thought I’d enjoy tournaments but it’s such a great social event. Getting to see other lovely armies in the flesh is great and playing against them is even better!

4)            Feedback

At all stages, constructive criticism goes a long way in improving your army. The hard bit is actually applying it. Improvements can often take a lot of effort and sometimes you may feel that your way is better. Try not to be stubborn and remember that if others have an opinion, it’s likely that a fair number of others will share it too. This means you could lose a number of votes if you don’t rectify it.

A little tip would be to fix the main things first and try not to worry about the fine detail. Again, army painting is about the overall effect and any feedback received would likely be about the obvious things.


So to recap, once you’ve got a good strong idea/theme and know how to paint it well, add some conversions and eye-catching centerpieces, ask around whether it works or doesn’t. Then bring your completed army to the tourney scene and hopefully you’d snag some prizes! I’ll leave it here for now, but stay tuned for Part 3 where I add a final few tips and random bits. Thanks for reading!


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