NoVA Open 2012 – Part 1 – Overview

I had a great time this weekend at the NoVA.  As expected, I was unable to repeat last year’s ridiculously successful showing, but I still did okay for myself and– more importantly– had a really great time.

Seeing as how I’ve got a lot to write about, I’m going to break things up into a few posts: an overview of the weekend today (obviously), followed by the usual game-by-game breakdown (actual pictures in that post, I swear!), and then finally a post where I’ll look at how what needed improvement from last year’s convention shook out, plus some comments about what did and didn’t work with this year’s.


I had nothing going on on Friday save two hobby seminars run by MisterJustin from Secret Weapon Miniatures.  They were (relatively) early in the morning; ideally, I’d have done the other sessions, but there was just no time: these were basically the only slots that didn’t have me up at the middle of the night or conflict with the GT.  Fortunately, traffic (and an unhelpful GPS) made me only 10 minutes late on the drive in from Manassas.

Anyway, Justin ran three seminars: airbrushing, weathering powders and basing.

The airbrushing seminar was very, very inspiring. I’ve needed something along these lines for a while: getting into airbrushing is hard, and while YouTube helps, it doesn’t quite compare to having someone three feet away from you walking you through what they’re doing and why.  I’m going to do more airbrushing, now.  It’s gonna happen.  I think I’m going to start with some Dark Vengeance minis.

The weathering powders seminar was interesting, but exciting to me.  It doesn’t help that I’m simply not all that nuts about having things super-weathered… or that I just had a lot of trouble getting the powders to behave the way I wanted them to.  Still, it’s a neat technique, and nothing compares with having an expert walk you through what he’s doing from feet away.  I wish I’d had a project that was ready for weathering; I’d have gotten a lot of mileage out of bringing it with me, I think.

What was far more interesting was the realization that doing decent weathering requires a holistic comprehension of the reality you’re trying to replicate on the model.  Since the preceding example was probably barely English, the example he brought up a couple of times was: you need to understand that mud dries differently on the the hull of a tank (inside-out because the vehicle’s engine makes the hull hot) than on the treads/wheels (outside-in because, hey, that’s how mud dries).  Weathering requires far more thinking than just drybrushing Calthan Brown on your models’ feet and calling it a day.

I passed on the basing seminar.  On reflection, I think I’d have gotten more value out of it than I would have from the weathering seminar.  I certainly had nothing keeping me from doing it.


This was the first year NoVA did a full-on, big deal painting contest.  At the last minute (Thursday night), I’d remembered this, so I read the rules (more on that later), grabbed some entries (my Dark Heresy character and a D&D antagonist that I’m really proud of).  As usual, nothing painted specifically for competition, just a, “Hey, there’s a painting contest, I have no excuse not to enter something.”

Although I couldn’t tell you who won four out of the six categories (see: feedback, later), it was plain that there were a good couple of fistfuls of stronger entries than mine.  No shame in losing to competition that fierce.

The Tournament

I’ll do a detailed breakdown of my games in my next post, but the short version is: I went 2/3/0.

I started the tournament on a great foot, and ended it on a great foot.  Five games total, three really great games, four really fun games, and one game that wasn’t all that great (but hey, could have been a lot worse).  That’s fabulous for a GT.

I won best fantasy single mini with my Ruby Ring of Ruin Warlock Engineer, which I was quite pleased with. As with the standalone painting contest, there was some really amazing competition.


I got to catch up with a good handful of IFL guys that I haven’t seen since probably last year’s NoVA.  That was nice (even if it did have me up until stupid late on Saturday night).  Also saw a mess of other folks, like Bob that are great to hang out with that I only ever see at things like NoVA.

Between that, and meeting some new folks at the gaming table has really motivated me (as did the last tournament I played in) to get out and play with a wider selection of folks.  I’ve very much settled into a rut over the past year where I really only play against a small handful of people: I really need to change that.

The rest of the weekend: