On the 15th October was Armies on Parade 2016 and I took the plunge and entered my Khorne Bloodbound into the Swindon Warhammer store. I didn’t place for a medal but did get 6th place out of 15 entries which I’m fairly chuffed about.
Armies on Parade 2016
Having never been to an Armies on Parade event before I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I rolled up at the Swindon Warhammer store just after 10am, lugging numerous bags and a Realm of Battle Board with me. The store had been slightly changed round and a number of the tables normally used for gaming had been re-arranged to cater for the anticipated 18 entries. Because the tables are all done on a two-foot grid it was simply a matter of picking an area to set the army up, writing your name on the back of a piece of paper which also had your voting letter on. Pretty straight forward in truth.
Because voting didn’t start until 2pm, I left my set up and wandered round Swindon for a few hours. I’d come with my brother and a mate so we did the obligatory McDonalds visit (though never again during the lunchtime rush) and headed back to the store. I discovered that the previously empty space next to mine was now taken up by a Reaver Titan, Warhound Titan and Imperial Knight, which made my very “low” army seem somewhat overshadowed.
Voting was undertaken by everybody in the store between 2 and 2.30 and each got a chance to vote for their top 3 favourites ranking from 1st to 3rd. I believe that in the case of a tie, the rankings voted for would decide who won.
So am I happy with sixth place? Hell yes! Considering this is the army I play with normally coming in the top third-ish is pretty good going. My army suffered from exactly what I’ve had when I’ve entered Golden Daemon – no big “eye catcher” to draw people into looking at the models which from a distance simply look like a tidy looking army. The store manager Matt commented as I was packing away that he’d been guilty at passing by it a couple of times, but when he did have a close up look realised how much detail I’d crammed into each model which was a really nice comment to come away with.
Coming sixth with my army, a board and single piece of scenery has really inspired me to enter again next year and has in fact inspired my brother to enter his army too.
What I’ve Taken Away
Armies on Parade isn’t a painting competition in the grand scheme of things, yes models need to withstand some very close scrutiny, but you’re not going to suffer with the odd poor blend or missed highlight. Instead your overall army appearance and composition is more important and how it interacts with your board/scenery.
The display board means everything and you can be tactical. As you can see from my pictures, my entry was very low and open round all of the sides which meant that when somebody looked at my models, their attention could easily flick to the boards adjacent to it. Something large such as a wall or building as a backdrop would have helped to frame my army and ensure that something shiny didn’t distract people’s attention.
You need a centrepiece of some kind with some feature models. The best I had was my Temple of Skulls and the flame on my Skullgrinder. Other than that everything was very similar in colour scheme. If I’d had my Bloodthirster and two pale (almost albino) Slaughterpriests, I might have got more people looking more closely.
Things I’m Not Convinced On
I can recall when Armies on Parade was originally conceived and there were a lot more rules and regulations. Over the years it appears that the restrictions have been relaxed to make it more inclusive – which is a really good thing. However I’m not convinced that they’ve not been relaxed a little too much and with it the concept has been watered down.
In my head Armies on Parade is about displaying your army for the world to vote on. At its core should be a selection of models that you can pick up and put straight onto a gaming table. An entry should either inspire somebody to want to paint their army or to play against yours (or both). Key to this is models should be on gaming bases and removable from the display board – if they’re fixed in place then what you have is a diorama; it’s no longer an “army” in the truest sense of the word.
Your army composition should make sense and be viable to play with even if it isn’t legal. I know that sounds like an odd statement, but what I mean is that I have no problems seeing an entirely mechanised Iron Warriors army – not a marine in sight. What I would have an issue with is if it also includes a Necron Monolith. I don’t care if it looks like they’re shooting at it – it’s either part of the army or you’ve created a diorama.
My last point on this subject is actually very minor, but worth saying (in case somebody does read my blog ;). I would have preferred longer than a half-hour slot for voting. Like I say it’s fairly minor, but I think it would have been easier for people to look properly at all of the entries than a rather quick scrum.