Warhammer Armies on Parade 2016 review
Seeing how everyone had their own take on this years Armies on Parade, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring as well. I hope nobody minds if I pen some thoughts about the armies, coming from the perspective of a painter (but as someone who didn’t participate).
First up, part of me is glad that I decided to forgo this year’s Armies on Parade. This year was certainly an epic turnout, and I don’t think I would have been able to significantly compete given the run up I had. Maybe it’s because Warhammer Red House debuted this year so it was the first official Armies on Parade (not to knock earlier Armies on Parade… those were awesome too). Or maybe it was because Age of Sigmar reignited the spark in many players (so many Age of Sigmar boards, as opposed to 40k!), but whatever it was, I was blown away by the sheer quality (and number) of participants this year.
A bit of discussion about this year’s Armies on Parade was about ‘gimmicks’. Tangentially, Arissa (my wife) and I debated whether Armies on Parade was more about the Army or the Story. Arissa went in seeing Armies on Parade as a chance for the the painters to tell a story; a 2″ by 2″ diorama if you will. On the other hand, I felt that while a story was important, Armies on Parade was literally about armies on parade; that kudos should be given to technical merit. Regardless on where you fall on that ‘story versus paintjob’ spectrum, you notice that ‘gimmicks’ don’t feature anywhere on that discussion. LEDs, plasma balls, or anything else are just tools in service of the story, or the paintjob.
Take for example Rico’s Frost Raiders for example. No one can fault his technical merit. He’s one of our very own pro painters, after all, and he’s got the years of practice that got him there. His army and board was also very thematic, with the ogres coming out of the thaw using that humidifier as a smoke machine. I also really love his clear resin ‘ice’ bases. It’s one of those things I wish I had the courage to try. That being said, I did kind of wish that the humidifier was less in your face (seeing the humidifier there was like peeking behind the magician’s curtain), and even though I know the miniatures were well protected with varnish, I was super worried the moisture would do something to those simply stellar paintjobs. I do suppose that considering Rico is now situated in Hong Kong and wasn’t about to bring the board back, putting too much effort into the board would have been counterproductive. But he definitely deserved the win.
Nic Wong also used his glowing LEDs to great effect to tell a story. Two Skaven clans, coming to blows underneath deep, dark caverns lit only by the blighted green of warpstone. His submission definitely doubled down on both army and story. He even took the time to make sure his bases melded seamlessly with the base board, and that was a step that was noticed and appreciated by quite a few of the voters. As someone who’s done that before, I know that making sure the base aligns with the board is definitely an onerous task. I do wish that his verminlord wasn’t hiding so far behind though.
Melvin’s Blood Angels were actually one of my favourite armies. Sure there were a lot of people who talked about the freehand, but that’s just icing on the cake. What got me was his clean, crisp paint style. I paint orks. I can’t do clean (I do ‘screw up a part, weather and grunge like crazy and tell people I meant to do that’) and I have mad respect for people who can. His board was understated but by no means simple, and definitely served to highlight the beautiful paintjob on all the minis. Another special touch I definitely appreciated were the Space Hulk terminators placed directly on the Skyshield, the metal of their bases blending into the decking of the scenery around them. Lastly, while his Blood Angels Chaplain may be a tad hard to use during normal games, I believe everyone can agree that he really drew everyone’s attention.
Zack Ong’s Fyreslayers were definitely thematic. I do like the vertical elements in his display, and I think that the wall that was built as the background was very important. I also have no problems with the minimalist approach to colors. I think too many colours would have muddied up the ‘Molten Core’ atmosphere that Zack was going for. That being said, I do kind of wish that his Magmadroth was more integrated into the board. As you can see, I’m a sucker for integrated bases. (Still, I’m not sure if I’m doing them next year, as amazing as they are, integrated bases as SO HARD to plan for!)
Speaking of vertical elements, Azmi’s Orks definitely had that in spades. I think it was physically the largest board there. Definitely went for the (very) Ork concept that quantity is a quality all on its own. He also took the integrated base concept and went one step further, eschewing bases for planting the models directly onto the board!
I also really like Russ’ Vampires. I loved the centerpiece fountain of blood as well as the Zombie Dragon. I also liked the small touches, like the statue as well as the ladies lounging around the fountain. Part of me actually wishes that he had less models on the board, it was bit busy and I had a little bit of trouble making out the details.
Paul’s army was also very well painted. Like Melvin, he went for an understated board that highlighted his models. And I definitely noticed the kitbashing and modding that he did.
And Brian’s Necron army definitely had some huge centrepiece models. His Tesseract Vault was impressive, but I was equally impressed by his board. I wonder how many people realized it was the Necron Realm of Battle board. Very very cool.
Man, next year’s Armies on Parade competition is gonna be tough!