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Golden Demon UK 2022 Review

This weekend just gone was Golden Demon UK 2022 hosted at Warhammer World! Sadly, team Sprues & Brews didn’t manage to snap up tickets fast enough – but our roving reporter (and former Golden Demon winner) Pete Allison was there at the show to get the lowdown on the event!

If you are thinking about picking up models to use on next year’s Golden Demon and would like to support the site then why not order through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too?

So I’ll hand over to Pete who will give us the full report!

Golden Demon UK 2022 Review

Over the weekend of the 1st & 2nd October, after an almost 3 year break, Golden Demon returned to the UK – 35 years after the first one was held. I was fortunate enough to attend and put some entries in and Sprues and Brews has kindly allowed me to pen some words together!

Just on the off chance you don’t know what it’s about, Golden Demon is a painting competition run by Games Workshop. You enter your painted entry into one of 13 categories (this includes an under 16 Youngbloods category and Open category which Games Workshop staff can also enter). There are 3 Demon trophies awarded in each category for the respective best entries (Bronze, Silver & Gold). There is also a “best in show” prize in the form of a Slayer Sword (which is a life-sized replica sword). Each category has its own restrictions on what can be entered (for example 40k Single Miniature) and you can only enter each category once.

The actual logistics are also worth going over because it’ll explain what people mean when they talk about pins, commended cards and stickers. When you put an entry in, a ticket is written – you get one half and the stub half gets put into the cabinet alongside your entry, this allows staff to identify the owner without revealing it on the miniature. As the day progresses, the judges will mark entries they consider of note with a green sticker – this will reward the painter with a finalist pin badge at the end of the event and is often referred to as the “first cut”. Once the submission deadline has been passed, the judges will then look at all the entries that made the first cut and mark a small section as having achieved a “final cut” – these receive a blue sticker in addition to their green one. These entries are contenders for one of the three trophies and normally represent the top 10% ~ 15% of a category, they all receive a Commended Card to indicate this achievement. The final cut normally occurs during the evening and the cabinets are rearranged so that all the commended entries are placed around eye level. The winners are then announced as part of the main awards ceremony – nobody apart from the judges (and a few staff) know who’s won until that point!

Now, no event is ever truly complete without some controversies and “elephants in the room”, so it’s worth addressing some of them up front relating to Golden Demon UK 2022. To set the scene, this year was different, rather than being held alongside a Games Day / Warhammer Fest type event, for the first time ever Golden Demon was held at Warhammer World as its own event. This meant that there was a hard cap on the number of tickets available. The event dates were mentioned much earlier in the year but tickets didn’t go on sale until 2 months prior to the event and were sold in two waves, a week apart. This wasn’t advertised on WarCom and you needed to go onto the Eventbrite website to find it out and if we’re honest, 2 months to paint a competition level miniature is for most people nowhere near enough time – it felt especially harsh considering that most events at Warhammer World tickets go on sale 3 months in advance.

As you can imagine there was quite a bit of frustration when tickets did go on sale. Numerous well-known painters didn’t manage to get tickets and a number of people who did get tickets without any intention of entering felt really awkward in doing so afterwards – some even ended up passing tickets over to painters to allow them to enter. From this there was also a murmuring that this Golden Demon was going to be a “lesser” event and viewed as not a proper Golden Demon in comparison to others.

I’m really happy to say that this last point had absolutely no legs to stand on. There were at least 8 previous slayer sword winners in attendance and dozens of Demon winners. Without being hyperbolic, this was probably the toughest Golden Demons that anybody can remember, the standard of models in the cabinets was truly breath-taking. At a guess I believe there were around 500 people attending and based on sequential numbering on the ticket stub, there were over 900 entries across all of the categories. Rather than being known as a lesser demon I think this one will go down in history as being the toughest to date.

The event was held over the Saturday and Sunday, but on the Thursday and Friday people were able to put entries into the cabinet early. The main hall was given over to the cabinets and desks where you handed over entries. Sunday things were moved around to make an area for the awards ceremony and collecting your entries. The staff canteen area was used for a special “35 Years of Golden Demon” display, some tables and the “hobby challenge” area. We’ve seen this sub-event being refined for a while – a ticket gets you a miniature and access to a load of sprues and paints. Your challenge is to put together and paint a really cool entry in a day and the best one gets awarded with the Scrap Demon trophy. Everybody who did this thoroughly enjoyed themselves – it’s not every day that you get access to such a plethora of bits in the quantity they have available. When advertised, I felt this sub-event was a little out of place when you consider that many of the painters attending could spend an entire day painting half a leg on a model. However, it was enjoyed by everyone I spoke to who had attended, so although it didn’t appeal to me, it appeared to be a good addition to have.

One thing I realised over the weekend is how much Golden Demon relies on the underlying structure of a Games Day / Warhammer Fest event to give people content in the form of seminars and such like. Warhammer World hosts the exhibition hall (which I spent a good three and a half hours going round last weekend), but beyond this the event didn’t have any additional content beyond the “35 Years of Golden Demon” display. In my head this would have been an ideal opportunity to be able to speak to ‘Eavy Metal, the sculptors or even the boffins behind the paints – now I will add that this has been the case for every event held this year, my suspicion is that this is Games Workshops way of keeping their staff safe from catching Covid by mingling with other people and wiping out an entire team, so it would be unfair of me to truly complain about this. What I did think could have been done was a special Loremasters episode talking about Golden Demon which could have been put on repeat somewhere and then released to the general public at a future date.

My last true grumble is that Warhammer World and Bugmans shut at 6pm every night rather than the normal 10pm or 8pm. The justification given to me on Facebook was this was to allow staff to safely set up cabinets (having seen them do this with Bugmans open I can understand this), however the cabinets were set up ready to roll on Thursday, so that justification felt a little flat. It would have been nice to have Bugmans stay open, even if the event hall and store were closed – this happens for gaming events (occasionally with a quiz) and meant that people attending were hurled out to find their own way in the evening, rather than allowing the painting community a rare opportunity to mingle in a safe and familiar setting.

Minor gripes and grumbles aside, the event was fantastic. There’s always something special about being at Warhammer World and being part of the 35th year celebrations was an extra privilege. The staff are always excellent, but it’s even more humbling when they ask what models you entered and tell you how impressed they were with your entry when they saw it in the cabinet (and not feigned either – they had seen it!). Just being in the same space as some of the true legends of the hobby is both intimidating and inspiring – especially when that includes the legend that is Mike McVey who we all owe a debt of gratitude to from his work on shaping the style of ‘Eavy Metal and input to the early Golden Demon events.

I’ve said this previously, but I’m going to repeat it. The quality of the entries was stunning, miniatures that would be trophy winning in other years were up against multiple exceptional entries.

One side benefit of being held at Warhammer World is that the staff had access to their normal photography room, so the quality of photographs looks like it’ll be better than normal. It also meant that some of the winners were kind enough to put their winning models directly into cabinets in the exhibition for us to look at! I’d guess you’ve 6 months before they get collected, so if you’re able to get to Warhammer World I can thoroughly recommend seeing these miniatures in the flesh – Chris Clayton’s Sword Winning mega-gargant is even more mind blowing when you look at it up close.

During the weekend I did take a small number of photographs of entries that stood out for me which I’ve added throughout the article. Not all of these received a trophy which I think underlines how high the quality of painting was.

If you’ve made it this far through my ramblings, thank you! We’ll find out this week the format of next years Golden Demon – my suspicion is we’ll return to the familiar format of it being part of Warhammer Fest, which opens the competition up to even more people to participate in. This leads me neatly into my final point. If you’ve considered putting a model into Golden Demon, stop pondering and just do it. There’s no shame in putting something in and not receiving a pin, you’ll have learned a huge amount on the way and have taken your first steps into a huge family of painters. Also don’t be afraid to share your work in progress photos on social media, I honestly don’t think that it reduces your chance of winning something any longer and you may receive some invaluable feedback.

-Pete Allison

Thanks Pete! Sounds like you had an amazing time at the event and I’m really hoping to have an entry myself for next year. Excitingly it seems that next time this will be a full blown Warhammer Fest 2023 rather than being hosted at Warhammer World, which should address some of the issues that Pete had!

If you would also like to share some insight into the hobby or write an article yourself then please reach out to us at spruesbrews@gmail.com and we will be eager to share your work!

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