Review: NOVA Open 2016

by Massive Voodoo

Hey Jungle Painters!

Recently Roman and Raffa were invited to a fantastic event in Washington D.C. in the US again, the NOVA Open.

After being there in 2015 and having a fantastic time the two already started the plans to visit and help again. You can find more event reports like this here!

The 2016 edition of the NOVA Open
was a fantastic success again!
With seminars of great miniature artists, a much higher level of the Capital Palette painting competition and more legendary nights in the Charity Lounge both years are experienced to never forget.

Photos of this review are mainly courtesy of NOVA Open 2016. 
You can check their full Flickr account for thousands of photos. Big thanks to the team of photographers behind Chris for doing what you did. Some photos done by Raffaele or his wonderful wife may also spotted in the article.

Master in command Mike Brandt and Chief of Photos Chris Michaels.

But enough of the introduction, Raffa will talk about his experience of the NOVA Open 2016 and Roman will add a comment here and there, maybe. Ninja :)

I decided it would be best to describe my experience of the NOVA in a personal way.
If it doesn't fit to your experience, that may happen :)
But we are happy to hear your opinions about the event, so post in the comments!

After the 2015 edition where we were invited for the first time, we already planned the 2016 trip directly after the first year.

We also took more responsibility for the rules of the Capital Palette, but I will talk about this more in detail later.

Travelling from Germany to the US "just for an event" does sound a bit crazy, but returning to such good friends that some of them feel like family already is a perfect reason!
Read about our last year experience here.

The event itself is, when you come from Europe, very huge!
The NOVA Open is held over four days, has more than 1000 people attending and is held in a big hotel, the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Virginia (close to Washington D.C.).
The Hotel has everything you need, from a hot tub (we enjoyed a lot!) to a good restaurant and bar.

On the event there are dozens and dozens of things to experience and to see. From a painting competition, board games, raffles, demo games, vendors, speedpainting contests, seminars, auctions and narrative games.

A little part of the vendor hall from above.

CoolMiniOrNot also had a booth full of nice stuff.

 Some of the armies in the charity lemonade raffle.

Something that was the main reason for us to come was the painting competition called Capital Palette. Roman and I try to help to push and promote the contest, introduced Europe styled rules and open system judging which worked out beautiful this year.

Interesting pieces in the silent auction.

At the NOVA you will also have the chance to grab one of the precious 'Swag Bags', a nice collections of useful things and goodies!
Show me your swag!

At the end of each day you could relax and celebrate at the Charity Lounge, a lounge in the hotels highest floor where live music, games, nice talks, fantastic people and drinks awaits.

There were also some special guests :)

You just feel welcome and as a part of this family... you notice that the event is a non-profit, charity event run by a family and everyone attending there is becoming part of the family. It feels a little Monte San Savino vibes, but overseas.
Mike and Laurie Brandt - Family business :)

We are not gamers, but it was everywhere on the

 Now that's a huge gaming hall!
With tournaments and events for almost 20 gaming systems the NOVA is impressively sized.
Strolling through the gaming halls was impressive, even for someone who forgot how to play tabletop quite a while ago.

 Big games, big armies, big minis...

 Seeing the big and lovely designed gaming tables ranging from Lord of the Rings, Malifaux and Star Wars to completely lit night gaming tables.

I loved the lit gaming table, just cool!

I would have loved to bring my Butchers and take part in the Guild Ball tournament, but my time was too little :(

A giant Star Destroyer 'terrain piece'

One of the many rooms...

Smaller rooms were also full of tournaments and gaming tables.

Alien space ship is shooting mech in a second.


Not so sure :)


What a table. C'mon this is crazy!!

Hehe! Somebody is up to something somebody else does not know yet!

Let's climb the ladders! To the walls!

Look how they try to climb ladders with bases attached to their feet. Stupid. 
They will never make it.

Meanwhile behind the wall.

Blood Bowl was played too.

Some relaxed card games going on too. I bet these gentleman are waiting to take part in the next seminar...

For people interested in painting, converting and building terrain the NOVA offered over 50 Seminars over the four days of the event.

What is a bald Roman doing with a box full of hairdryers? Preparing for speedpainting!

Roman and me were each giving classes about freehand painting, painting skin, converting miniatures and much more. You can find some already written reviews here and here. But other artists like Jessica Rich, Caleb Wissenback and Justin McCoy offered their knowledge too. Doing the seminars was a lot of fun, even when it meant getting up early after a night in the Charity Lounge or a long night of judging.

The classes were great, with awesome students teaching is just a breeze!

Teaching is one of my biggest passions and at the NOVA everyone seems to listen and learn so eagerly. A true joy!

The format for those seminars is normally two hours, so it is not like most seminars in Europe that go over two or three full days. But this year we managed to sneak in a couple of four hour classes that everyone enjoyed a lot!

Dante and Roman - the Seminars are a good chance to get new inspiration and techniques.

It's all about focus and joy! 
And the knowledge about contrast of dark and light.

Jessica in demo mode.

This - my fellow hobby friends - is a great tool!

It makes pfffttt ... and pffftt pfffft.

John. Deep focus. In Zombiemode.

 Seminars are always fun. 

 Even when some serious teaching by Caleb Wissenback is going on.

 In seminars you can find moments of true meditation.
 ... but mainly people have fun and learn something.

The master of weathering himself.

But with all the other things the NOVA offers I think it would keep a lot of people from playing their tournaments, so it's fine :)

It's all in the eyes! Ouchy!

The Capital Palette is the NOVA Open's own painting competition.
It is still small compared to many of the big European painting shows, but this year, the level of the entries was already much, much higher than the last year!

Roman making the Capital Palette's cabinets nice and shiny!

There were quite a lot of entries that impressed us.
With 'us' I am talking about the judges, Roman, Justin 'MrJustin' McCoy and myself.

Roman, Justin and me.

We were working the last year to change some of the rules of the Capital Palette to make it more open and rewarding, changing it from a "best of three" to a "open" system. That means this year it was possible to have more than one gold/silver/bronze medal winner in each category.

With over 200 minis in the contest it was also not that small and we decided to judge the competition not on Sunday morning but on Saturday Night. I think it was one of the most hardcore decisions we ever made as judges. Judging from 11:30 pm to 5:30 am was definately not kids play :)

But we gave our best to do each of the fantastic entries justice and honor every painter that took part in the Capital Palette.

 The Bobs! Great helping hands for running the Capital Palette.

Full cabinets.

Some of the best...

Thanks to CJ for taking photos of all the Capital Palette entries. You can see them here!


The award ceremony was held in a smaller side room, but compared to last year we had the time to congratulate and celebrate all the winners.

This year we had our own little award ceremony :)

Melissa. Well deserved!

The 'Best Of' winners were also celebrated on the main awards and ending ceremony.
 Us with Mitchell, congratulations man! Love that shirt, bro!

 The final ceremony, such a big crowd there.

Caleb Wissenback, well deserved!

I hope to return next year and see even more miniatures on a even better average level in the Capital Palette! :)

My most favorite part!
Meeting all the fantastic people again, hugging friends you didn't see for a year and having great talks with new faces.

The evenings in the Charity Lounge were a blast!

Meeting up with friends you do not see very often is just wonderful!

After each day many people meet in the Charity Lounge, a place to celebrate set up by the great organisation of the event. Behind the bar work some of the most friendly "barkeepers" I've ever met!!! And charity means that you drink for charity. Is there a better reason to drink a cocktail with your friends?

We had a blast there, having drinks, enjoying live music by Mike, his wife Brittany and the cool band!
Fantastic live music, what more do you need to get a party started?

Also, seeing Laurie again, the 'Mother of Geeks', as Roman 'baptized' her.

Laurie enjoying her gift by Roman.

We had fantastic evenings there, giving German presents to Mike including a Jodel Machine and a stone beer mug was pure joy :D

Ohhhhladaitiiiiii!!! Oans, Zwoa, Droa! Umba! Umba!

If you haven't been there and experience the love and passion by everybody helping in the organisation of the event you can't really believe it. Some impressions of everyday night hangouts in the Charity Lounge.

                                                                   Drinks anyone?

 Or just a smile.
 Or a song ...
A Jodelmachine, c'mon!

Now what's in there for the birthday kid!

Another drink? Mmh ...

 I am just supercute ... everywhere I go.

From Dylan, Nick, Dewey, Owen, Marti, Bob & Bob, Barbara, Cris, CJ, Joanna, and many, many more... everybody does what's possible to ensure the NOVA runs as smooth as a clockwork.

 Dylan and Charlie's Angels :D

Nick, without him and Owen, judging the Capital Palette would have been a nightmare!
Thanks for the support on seminars too! Everytime we had a question Nick appeared like a spell to help.
Geek-talk: "And on a 1+ I summon Nick to help out!" Hah!

Double thumbs up is a good sign!

CJ and Laurie.
 NOVA Open Staff ladies.

More than deserved :)
Wait for it ... 

Tournament explanations.

 Painting explanations.

 Window cleaner, barbarian version.

This one ... the yellow one. Such a cool Orc Army here!

 Yellow and orange NOVA Open Cakes.
Also seeing Caleb, Jess, Jen, Justin, Mitch, Mike 'Shades', Nadia, Melissa, Damon, Jeff, Devon, ....... and many, many, many, many others was just fantastic.
It is a pity that there is an ocean between us all!

 We had many good talks in the Lounge!

Duck Faces. #onpurpose.
  Superman's haircut needs now hairblower. Look on the highlights. That is a good
example on how to paint black hair. True story.


I can absolutely and one-hundred percent tell you: You have to see it to believe it :)

I could write more and more about every single one of the people we met there, but I would do no one justice.

Overall I can just say one thing: I'll be back!

If you want to see more photos of the NOVA Open, make sure to check their official Flickr album where we also got most of our photos from!

Or check out the interviews we gave before the NOVA.

Don't forget to post a comment if you were there!

And make ready for next years NOVA Open 2017, happening on AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 3rd, 2017

Save the date!


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