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World's biggest board game convention will host Warhammer painting competition Golden Demon

New categories for The Old World, Blood Bowl and Necromunda as vehicles and large models are combined.

Image credit: Games Workshop

This year’s Essen Spiel, the world’s biggest board game convention, will host wargaming’s most prestigious miniature-painting competition: the Golden Demon. The news that the European leg of the Warhammer painting contest will make its way to Germany in October suggests a possible relocation from its longstanding home in the UK.

Golden Demon is hosted by Warhammer maker Games Workshop, which last year held the UK competition during its own Warhammer Fest celebration in May, having held it as a separate event at Warhammer World in 2022 after a three-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A separate US painting contest is held at AdeptiCon, to which the Golden Demon will return this March. Both competitions judge the painting of miniatures in a number of categories, with the overall winner receiving the Slayer Sword - an actual sword - as their trophy.

Cover image for YouTube videoRanking the Golden Demon 2023 entries #shorts
Ranking the 2023 Golden Demon entries

Both the AdeptiCon and Essen Spiel Golden Demon competitions will introduce a new category for recently released fantasy reboot Warhammer: The Old World. Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar’s unit categories - which judge a group of figures - have been expanded to allow for Kill Teams and Warcry warbands from their respective spin-off games.

Meanwhile, vehicles and large models - previously separate categories - will be combined into single “Large Model or Vehicle/War Machine” categories respectively for Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar. This is to apparently allow space on the category list for standalone categories for Warhammer spin-offs including Blood Bowl and Necromunda on the fantasy side and Legions Imperialis, Adeptus Titanicus and Aeronautica Imperialis for 40k in the combined ‘Epic Scale’ category.

Image credit: Games Workshop

While Games Workshop is yet to confirm whether the Golden Demon’s European leg is a new event in addition to the existing US and UK tournaments; the absence of any announcement for a Warhammer Fest in 2024 could be seen as a sign that the previous UK event may be moving home to the continent. Games Workshop’s blog post only references events at AdeptiCon and Spiel. Dicebreaker has reached out to Games Workshop for confirmation and further details.

If that turns out to be the case, it will mark the first time since the Golden Demon started in 1987 - not counting the years it was cancelled entirely due to COVID-19, or its replacement in 2015 by a series of smaller ‘mini Demon’ awards - that the painting competition has not been held in the UK. European Golden Demon events have previously been held in countries including Spain, France and Germany - the latter running from 1999 until 2013, returning in 2018 for a one-off at Warhammer Fest in Dusseldorf.

This year’s Essen Spiel will take place from October 3rd to 6th.

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Matt Jarvis

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After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.

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