Monday, 10 January 2011

Golden Demon versus the Open Judging System...

Golden Demon judging... oh, what fun. Golden Demon comes and Golden Demon goes. Then there's a load of us complaining about the judging. For my part it's usually that the build up was so tense that something has to blurt out afterward and it's usually complaints about the judging. I usually calm down a few days later and decide that the judging wasn't that bad after all and that, for the most part the right things won. Some of the explanations that come out as to why things didn't can be a little blunt/confusing/just plain weird but, as said, I think mostly the right stuff wins one way or another.

But this post isn't so much about the judging as much as it is about the judging system. Golden Demon uses a 'first past the post' system in that each category has first, second and third regardless of the content of said category. It throws up a lot of odd results. There's quite a groundswell, of late, suggesting that Golden Demon should adopt the Open System in one way or another. In this system entries are judged to a standard of quality. There's a bronze, silver and a gold standard and a category may have multiples of each award or indeed none if no entries live up to whichever standard. This system is used at many other major contests. Euro Militaire is a good example. It does, on the face of it, seem like a fairer system. Sounds like a plan...

Is it okay that I don't like the idea? I know a lot of the top painters are pushing for it but personally I kind of like the current system. I find an exhilaration in the unknowns of the GD system. There's something about playing the metagame of the contest, figuring out where the weaker categories will be or whether you're feeling ballsy to try and hit the heavy categories. I like that winning a demon isn't the biggest deal. It's not the demon it's what and whom you beat. I like that we discuss it at length and that we argue about it at greater length. I like that the sweetness of success is made sweeter by the times where I won nothing. I just love the whole 'what the hell is going to happen this time' of it all.

The whole contest is mad, exuberant, glorious, unfair, joyful, maddening and a hundred other words I could use in it's description. Yes I'm probably bonkers for loving it (and revelling in the few days afterward where I'll invariably hate it) but I'll probably be back this year with some entry that, in time-honoured tradition was feverishly put together at the last minute because I changed my mind a hundred times as to what I was going to paint. Maybe I should make an Ork vehicle. Haven't done one of those in ages...


  1. Nice one. Dont know much about judging systems so this was certainly enlightening to me.

  2. The only time I entered Golden Demon, years ago, my delicately-shaded naturalistic brown kroxigor didn't place. A dayglo urine-yellow shaggoth did. For a long time I blamed blind judges and an over-reliance on stacked-up diorama bases.

    Now I realise I didn't place because I was a noob, mini painting for a year or so, and the vets at the local GW egged me on to believe it was good enough. Probably affected my obsession with blunt criticism. But I digress. I wouldn't mind having another go now I'm a _bit_ older and wiser (likely more of the former). Partly, like yourself, to see what happens. Partly because this is one of the most persuasive testimonials I've seen for the contest!

  3. Last year was my first time entering and I loved it. I think I benefitted somewhat from putting off entering for years for one reason or another - it allowed me to not only mature more as a person, but also as a painter and modeller.

    I did get quite excited/nervous/involved in the whole contest thing when I saw the judges reviewing the categories I entered (Fantasy Single and Monster). It was particularly heartbreaking and rewarding in a way seeing my Fantasy Single entry be the last cut (Empire Averland captain with dog).

    I'll admit I was a bit bummed out at first but still pleased that on my first effort I had got so far in the most contested category (there were over 40 entries in the final cut before placing).

    Like you, I'll definitely be back next year for similar reasons - the prestige of the competition due to only 3 awards for each category (rather than multiple levels of placing) is probably one of the bigger draws for me. Yes people complain, its never fun to see something you've put hours of work and effort into fail to achieve your aim, but I think the judging makes the competition what it is.