NOVA 2016

NOVA OPEN 2016 Logo

Despite having what felt like the most harried build-up to the convention yet, this was probably the lowest-key NOVA I’ve had.  My schedule was pretty light, and I didn’t stay at the hotel, so most of the convention ran only about 8 hours a day for me.

In some ways, this was good: I didn’t really push myself hard, didn’t do much in the way of scrambling from one thing to another.  In other ways, less so: there was a lot more to do that I simply didn’t.

Initial registration was for nothing but Capital Palette and Jessica Rich seminars. I didn’t know what game to commit to, and although I gotten a lot out from the other instructors in the past I hadn’t met or had the chance to take any classes with Rich before.  Then, just about a month ago, I decided to throw in on the Wrath of Kings event(s).  Capital Palette looked like it was going to be a waste: between my heartburn over the change in format and my lack of hobby time leading into the convention (still adjusting to the new job’s schedule and what hobby time I’ve had I spent painting Wrath of Kings), I simply had nothing to enter a week before the event.

In the end, I ended up with 3 CP entries, 3 seminars, 1 speedpainting entry, and 1.5 tournaments.

Capital Palette

Up front: I did have heartburn about the new format, but I think I was probably wrong, which is good.  I don’t know what’ll happen to the format next year, but at least 2016 wasn’t the problem I feared it would be.

How bad was I about taking pictures this year? So bad that I don’t even have pictures of my own stuff in-cabinet to post here.

The weekend before NOVA started on my entries. I didn’t expect them to go anywhere, but figured I’d paid for the pass and more models in the case is better for the event. I ended up entering a Trenchworx A7V (previously documented here) and the Konflict ’47 M5A9 Coyote Walker as well as, after some consideration, a selection of my Frostgrave Cultists as really the only new minis I’ve painted over the past year that I think hold up well.

In the end, I made final cut with the Cultists and got a Bronze with the A7V.  This exceeded any reasonable expectation, I think.  This isn’t false humility or self-deprecation: this is, I think/hope, a realistic assessment of the level of my skill, my work, as well as that of the other folks who compete in these things…. and my game was pretty weak this year.

Anyway, despite some work into tarting up the display block, the Coyote, frankly, was unfinished.


That the Cultists made cut but no more is on point: I do think they’re good models, but hey: they’re gaming minis and I painted 7 of them in a weekend.


I think there’s a lot of cool stuff going on with the A7V, but it, too, feels less than fully complete to me so that it got a medal is a huge, pleasing surprise. Unfortunately, the CP photographer doesn’t know what an A7V looks like, and so photographed it backwards.


The best thing about the new format: they did a separate awards ceremony before the closing ceremony.  Everyone got to see every entry that won a medal and got to put faces to names. Keep this up for sure.

Here are all the photos I took. (Don’t ask me why I photographed these and not any of the other, 100+ entries.  I LOVED Daenerys and the Mobile Brigada, but there was a lot of other great stuff.)

CP 2016 (4)

CP 2016 (1)

CP 2016 (2)

CP 2016 (3)

Grex Speedpainting

Speed Painting 1

I’d considered doing it, then decided against it.  Then, while shooting the breeze, John convinced me to sign up for it after all.  I’m really glad I did: I had a great time with it: it was a lot of fun, I’m proud of my entry, and I liked it enough to consider doing it again at 7:30 Sunday morning to take advantage of my lessons learned. (I didn’t, but maybe I should have: those 7:30 entries swept, I think).


Given where I was with an airbrush this time last year, this is amazing.  Heck, given where I was with an airbrush this time last year, that I freaking medalled with an airbrushed vehicle is freaking amazing.

Anyway, I will definitely be doing it again next year.

Wrath of Kings

File Sep 06, 3 05 35 PM

As previously mentioned: I did it.  I got a WoK skirmish list painted up in time for the con.  The format calls for two sideboards: I only had the one, but it was enough.

Now that I’ve gotten some more, focused games in, my opinion of the game hasn’t changed: it’s got some depth/complexity but not too much depth/complexity. There’s not enough there for a primary game to play week after week, but it’s definitely worth having around to break out every now and again. CMON has been relentlessly aggressive in getting a starter into the hands of pretty much every man, woman, and child in America at this point, so there’s no reason not to put the models together, paint them up, and push them around.

The Friday tournament was small: 6 people, but tight enough to be a good time. I ended up going 1/1/1, with two good games and one okay-but-I-think-we-were-both-tired game.

It was light enough that I decided to pass on the Battle tournament, thinking that if Skirmish only got 6 players, Battle (with a larger model count) would get fewer.  I was right: only 3 turned up (though 2 of them hadn’t played on Friday).

I did end up playing in the Sunday tournament, but that was a mistake.  It appeared to have a different format: “WoK: Skirmish Level Tournament” vs, “WoK: Skirmish Battle Royale“, there was a smaller window (3 hours vs. 4 hours), but ended up as a regular matched play tournament (like Friday) and because we started late and were ending early (I had a hard-stop at 2) I only got a hair over one game in.  A little disappointing, but at least it was inexpensive.

The CMON booth and game room was humming pretty much all weekend. I expect they sold quite a bit, so hopefully it’ll have a bigger presence next year.

Unasked-for-but-hopefully-constructive feedback:

  • The Conquest of Kings format time limits were probably invented in a vacuum. It’s plausible that the game’s designer is able to finish skirmish games in 1 hour or less, but for the rest of us… especially people who potentially just did a build-and-play the morning before.  Of four games, I finished one in time.  They need to pad that time out.
  • The tables were not-great.  Not bad, but not great. They were on par with the 40K tables, but I find those merely adequate and they have to have 800 of them. One of the lessons I think I’ve learned from HMGS & TGS is that beautiful tables have a greater impact than beautiful miniatures. Great example of this: Hobbit / LotR sure as heck feels like it’s a dead game to me, but it has the most beautiful tables at NOVA and so is humming with activity all weekend long.   If CMON only has to schlep 8 4’x4′ tables out, I’d recommend considering punching them up.
  • I missed them announce the winner. I stepped out to use the restroom and came back and there was a plaque on the table. When there are enough participants to count on less than two hands, I think it’d be worth making sure everyone’s there when you do that.


I have to admit that I went into NOVA a little down on it.  I had stuff that I was going to do, but not a lot, and it’s too expensive to just putter around. I had a great time, though, and I’m pumped and motivated and looking forward to next year.


Next year I’m definitely doing Infinity.  I’d had heartburn over the (lack of) painting requirements at Infinity events in 2015 & 2016 and, as with other my other heartburn, I don’t think it was born out.  I cruised through the Infinity room a couple of times to see what people were running and although that’s hardly a scientifically sound polling mechanism, I think I saw one or two unpainted armies and that was it.  The average quality of the models there was hundreds of times higher than could be said of the 40K room.   Definitely in the cards for 2017.

(Can you tell I’m happy to say “I thought this would be a problem.  It wasn’t.  I was wrong.”?)

Games Workshop

The big rumor mill was about Games Workshop and it’s involvement in NOVA.  It was such a non-secret that I honestly hope nobody expected it to be.  They provided a ton of prize support and are apparently going to be much more involved in NOVA 2017 0in some way or ways that have not yet been articulated. I’m cautiously optimistic. The only reason that’s ‘cautiously optimistic’ and not ‘fully glad to see’ is I do have some concerns about how it’ll impact the Capital Palette.

One of the rumors was that this might herald a return of the Golden Daemon to the US.  Although that would be great, the CP has had quite a large number of non-GW entries over the past several years.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the minority.  Any move that would exclude the sorts of models that have been getting submitted (especially now that there’s effectively a whole non-GW category: busts) would be a bad thing.

If this happens, what I think needs to be the case is a parallel/sub contest.  For example, Historicon has its categories: Sci Fi/Fantasy/Historical, etc… but there’s a whole two categories for Flames of War, and there’s a Warlord Best in Show award that’s done independent of the 10 categories people can submit to.  If you’re going to do a Golden Daemon at NOVA 2017: follow the Historicon model and either have separate, GW-specific categories or (better yet) simply have the GD awards selected from GW models entered into the existing categories.

Closing Ceremony

This was the best closing ceremony yet. For most events, they handled awards announcements and prizes within the context of the specific events: just as they did with the Capital Palette. This shaved down something that at one point took hours and hours and hours to something really lean that hummed along in great time.

NOVA has solved the closing ceremony problem.  Let the bells ring.