Tuesday, September 2, 2014


The NOVA Open was incredible. I entered the Narrative event with my Sons of Horus army, and despite a grueling early morning/late evening game managed to help humanity loose the earth. We lost, and had a blast doing it. It is hard to describe how good the Narrative really is. It plays the way I want games to play. It is a sort of a "bring what you've always wanted to see on the tabletop" and let's make a scenario where it is fun.  The event is about camaraderie, and using story elements to ensure that everyone has a good time. The organizers, Owen and Steve, did an outstanding job. Will Nick and Kramer lead the forces of humanity to victory in space next year? How many desperate boarding actions will there be? The sky is the limit for the Narrative event. As players we dove right into the role playing aspect, and I think it showed. Hopefully next year we'll see  team missions, side boards, and asymmetric battlefields and missions. Sometimes winning means loosing ground more slowly than the other side expects. No-win scenarios can be fun. Maybe we'll even see fewer games and more strategy.

The NOVA Charitable foundation managed to earn 20k for Doctors Without Borders. The winner of the Ultramarines force was even a member of my favorite warhammer 30K forum. I was supposed to play a game with Terranraida, but the narrative schedule left me panting for breath between games. Hopefully we'll see a Kreig supported Imperial Fists force from him at next year's event.

I met a load of people this year. Todd Sherman and Greg Hess both of whom I have either blog-stalked or chatted with online were a lot of fun to hang out with. Both are great painters. Greg took a huge amount of photos, so if you want to see the huge breadth of painting at the NOVA Open, he is your man. Todd has one of my favorite Eldar armies. His stuff looks great in photos, but when you see it in person it is an order of magnitude better. Brian Ballard and Jeff Jenkins might even convince me to go to Adepticon for some 30k action. Jeff already has EC's so maybe I'll have to paint up another legion.

The Capitol Palette was a turning point for my painting. It still does not seem real to me.  My "Imperial Knight stomping on an EC contempter dreadnought" won Best of Show. I hadn't even considered that possible.  The German panthers won another gold, and the SoH land raider won a bronze. Even typing this right now it does not seem real to me. When I entered this year my primary goal was to get painting feedback. Last year a combination of seminars and paint judging by Justin McCoy spurred me to change my painting style. After last year's seminars I embraced weathering in a totally different way.  I even started chasing the military modeling community in order to learn their techniques. I can't think of a better endorsement for an event. I entered a competition, took a class, and that pointed me the right direction to push my painting. I am lucky so many people kept posting encouragement on this blog and in person. That helps more than you know.

It has been a great journey so far.

Thank you


  1. All your work was truly amazing, John, the Panthers were my choice for fan favorite. I'll probably be playing in the Narrative next year; you guys really looked like you were having a blast.

  2. Absolutely awesome! Congrats on the painting wins - well deserved, man!

  3. Congratulations man! well-deserved.

  4. Hi John. I did not meet you at the Narrative, but your models looked great. Thought it was really cool that they won a bunch of awards and recognition. I was actually hoping to play against you in the Narrative, but didn't get the chance.
    Your blog is awesome and I love coming here to check out the great pictures. It is, for me, like looking at the official pictures in a codex. Gets me excited to paint my models.

    Maybe next year my Ultramarines and your Wolves will face off :-)


  5. Holy crap you used my photos. Nerdgasm.

    Great work, I was wowed from the second I walked around the corner and saw them.

  6. Thanks for the compliment John! Make me all beamy with pride...of course now I have to sell off most of my army and start them all over, so all the new techniques look similar across my army.

    I'm pretty set on a ork dread mob list. There was not enough ork walkers at Nova. I want to cover an entire table at the narrative in a ramshackle group of rusty, beat up, can't hit anything dreadnoughts!

    Your display left a lasting impact on me, and many at the show. It was truly an art piece and a reflection of your vision.

    Now...get to work writing some oil articles :). (if you already have, and I've just missed them, I'll get to work reading them!)

  7. Congratulations on the painting wins!

    I too have started looking more in to what the AFV and aircraft modeling community do on their models and it has been eye-opening. Not only do those guys do amazing work, they have been doing things for years that are only starting to make their way into wargame painting/modeling.

  8. It was awesome meeting you this year. Hope to see you again, and hopefully we won't keep sending you to Space next year.

  9. Congrats on the wins - well deserved! Always enjoy seeing your latest work. Thanks!

  10. It was a privilege to be able to face an army as beautiful as yours (even though it was a little one-sided). Certainly gave me something to work toward to for next year!

    ~ Craig Valvano

    1. I look forward to a rematch. We have to build all new armies now right? ;)

  11. It was awesome to meet you and to see your work! It was amazing! You deserved the win and I was pulling for you 8) .. Thanks for the compliments on my Eldar.. 8)

  12. Replies
    1. If you could throw me a shopping list of sorts for the insight you were giving on how you painted your Sons of Horus army army, I would be forever in your debt. You said lots of great things, but unfortunately, my retention ability was dead.

    2. I'll do this as a whole post. Until I get that all written up, I do have the techniques written down for a blue color scheme.


      I think the pin wash was the next step for your tau (if I am remembering properly)

      1) satin varnish the models using krylon spray paint. Let that set for a few hours.

      Using AK-Interactive dark brown for green vehicles (that would work with your red) thin it a bit with AK-White spirit, and then using a synthetic brush (cheap) touch the brush to each piece of detail. This is a pin wash, so only let the tip of the brush touch, and let the oil do all of the work.

      Let the wash dry a bit till it is tacky. Then using a clean brush dampened with white spirit, you can erase all of the excess wash, or drips etc.

      Seal the model with matte varnish. I use vallejo's matte varnish through an airbrush.

      Once all that is done, I would use oils to add streaking effects on the tanks/suits. Oil is easy to push and pull around.

      If you have a blog, I'll follow along and see how the progress goes.

    3. I was the guy with the Revenant, though my next project will be a Nurgle daemon army for myself and a Tzeentch daemon army for my wife (with a pair of display trays that will fit together).

    4. Hah Cvalvano, that is part of John's charm. Once you start him, great things simply will not stop flowing out of his mouth.

  13. Hi John, you might have mentioned that you have a blog :) It was great to meet you and to fight along side your most beautiful of armies. You best believe we will take them next year.

    I hope to see you in Chicago!

    1. Only if you wear the medal! :)

      In Chicago we eat Gino's East. I really can't wait to hang out again.

  14. Your Virtue conqueror has arrived!

    NOVA was great, but Horus solo-ing a Seneschal before getting stomped into paste was almost as awesome.

    See you next year!

  15. I really wish I could have been there with you. You need to get to BFS or Mechanicon! Even though I won't have a shot at best army! :)