GW Grognard: 3 Color Minimum Should Actually Be 3 Colors

Hey everybody! Adam, from TFG Radio, back again this week to explain why people are wrong and I’m right, no matter what the facts say.

If only it were that easy

As many of you know, I’ve been playing in tournaments for almost twenty years now. In those early days, Games Workshop basically dictated how the Rogue Trader Tournaments were to be run, no matter the game system. Their rule packet was very detailed on how to build your army, and how to paint your army. When Games Workshop dropped out of the tournament scene, a lot of those aspects fell by the wayside. Larger attendance to 40K tournaments recently, due to 8th edition, has cause many, if not all, competitive events to institute a 3 color minimum. Frontline Gaming has a 3 color minimum, however they count wash as a color.

More numbers than I realized

As I mentioned, I’m a bit old school. I spent many countless nights getting my army to a proper 3 color minimum for a tournament the next day. I have had this discussion with people before. I do not believe that a wash should count as a color. As a judge for the Las Vegas Open, I have had to closely inspect a lot of armies over the years. There are a lot of times where it is difficult to tell if there is a wash on the model or not. Now someone can put on enough wash so you can clearly see it, but then it may as well be paint. In the time you add the washes to your army, you could have added a third color. I am not saying that you just put a dot of color on the model, mainly because that wouldn’t count. You only need to paint that pouch, belt, flesh, or any other small part of a model to make that third color. It’s really not that much effort to add a real color to your models, yes even for a horde army.

I know life happens and there are times we don’t have enough time to finish our armies. Not all of us(me) don’t have the extra income to hire someone to paint an army for us. There are, however, many shortcuts to getting your army to a proper 3 color minimum.  You could try batch painting, if there are a lot of models in your army. If you happen to have an air brush, you could easily base coat your army, at a minimum. There are even a line of base color spray cans you can use to both base coat and prime your models. If you space marines, you can easily get 2 or more colors on your models if you are able to paint them on the sprue, Space Marines are a good candidate for this. So there are tools out there to help you get those 3 proper colors on, because I am warning you now that I will try to make it so that wash will not count as a color (don’t tell Reece).

That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know your thoughts, and if you have any tips or tricks to paint your army quicker, in the comments section. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook, Twitch, and Patreon pages to stay up to date on what we’re up to and when episodes drop!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Adam

Adam, aka Latin Gandalf, has been gaming since the early eighties and has played 40K since Rogue Trader (among a number of other games). He listens to more podcasts than any healthy person should and is currently the host for TFG Radio. He also is judges for LVO and head judges other major 40K Grand Tournaments.

12 Responses to “GW Grognard: 3 Color Minimum Should Actually Be 3 Colors”

  1. vybert October 13, 2018 1:45 am #

    While I respect the concept of coming off against the flavor of the month meta chasers and those who don’t care… this comes off and kind of elitist and exclusionary. the minimum bar should be set low to welcome as many player as possible at the entry level. Maybe a different level for those who have been around a season or two. As soon as you say “sorry, that doesn’t cut the mustard” to a noob, you have alienated a new player and reduced the future player pool.

    What about a different standard for players who have been to a GT/Major for a second season?

    Honestly guys, this is the second elitist article in the same day. I get the point, but if we don’t see to the future, this is a declining player pool. As a seasoned human, I’ve been in several competitive gaming systems that have peeked and died over my lifetime. the pattern is the same despite the decades

    • Rob Butcher October 13, 2018 10:25 am #

      I totally disagree.

      Painting should be painting. I’ve spent over 40 years learning to paint at a higher standard. Three coloUrs is actually pretty easy to achieve, just look at the Citadel paint app. Most Space Marine models have four or six separate coloUrs. Look at the FLG painted models; all exceed a basic minimum of three coloUrs.

      The new Warhammer conquest magazine has already released six separate coloUr paints in the first six issues … with two dark washes in issue seven !

      And for the official GW tournaments this is still the reference document – Now look at the pictures; one is done but embarrassingly poor (I would hate to play against it.). The second has a good start and the third is at a good standard. That should be the basis we aim towards. GW are now firmly back in the USA and I see painting standards improving as more TOs want that magic, official sticker. Afterall, GW are a model company first; rules/tournaments are simply a way of using these.

      With elite armies it’s easy to paint the few models required … unless we’re being a butterfly and changing our army every month copying interweb lists. So follow the system- basecoat, wash, layer, highlight, technical paint – and you’re easily past 3 coloUrs.

    • WestRider October 13, 2018 7:47 pm #

      Even when I was 16, I could totally manage proper three colour minimum. It looked awful, because my technique was crap, but it was still clearly painted. It’s not that hard. Lay down one main colour with a spray or something, pick out the weapons in another, hit one area of detail with a third. I could paint 20 Orks in an hour like that back in the day. Spray brown, slop green on the arms and head, metal on the weapons.

    • Ujayim October 14, 2018 10:03 am #

      My child could paint 3 colors without much issue.

      Most competitive hobbies have some barrier for entry, beyond initial contact.

      MTG? You better have sleeves.
      Any sport? You better have x or y gear.
      Esport? Better have x or y headset or keyboard/whatever.

      Painting grey models is shitty, and painting purposefully shit models some rushed because they only care about one aspect of the hobby is also kind of annoying, and trying to spin that as some form of elitist narrative is not only not genuine but it’s blatantly a farce.

      Because you know what casuals, people who don’t play tournaments often, tend to do more than anything?

      They paint the models. This gives the a reason to show up for best painted, and now hobby track, to show what they can do as well.

    • happy_inquisitor October 16, 2018 11:37 pm #

      For two years I helped with a local team in the Schools League with organisation and stuff. Every single one of those schoolkids managed to turn up for their matches with fully painted models. Every one of their opponents in every team managed it, some of them were rather badly painted (by adult standards) but they were painted.

      Honestly the only legitimate reason for not having a fully painted army is having a chronic, relevant medical condition. I am sure that any TO would make an allowance for those circumstances. Other than that if schoolchildren as young as 12 can manage it so can you; no excuses. If you think that “can be achieved by pretty much any schoolchild” is an elite and exclusionary standard then you do not even know what the words mean.

    • Adam October 17, 2018 7:39 am #

      I don’t see why upping the minimum in a very small way can be considered elitist. As others have mentioned, its not that hard.

      I suggest you don’t read next weeks article if you’re worried about being elitist 😉

  2. David VanOoteghem October 14, 2018 6:37 pm #

    I have never entered a tourney with anything less than a full painted army. I am ok with the small local tourneys not enforcing painting requirements. RTTs as they are referred to. This is the entry point for new players. But if you are going to attend a GT and I prefer to call these flag ship events then get your paint on. I always wanted to attend a Warhammer grand tournament and when I looked at the requirements back in the day they expected a fully painted army. I only get to one GT a year and I roll in fully painted. The one i attend is WarZone Atlanta. They have a specific hobby rubric for points and in 2 years going I have only lost 1 point. Final point: I paint my own stuff.

  3. Kevin Lantz October 15, 2018 4:43 am #

    I remember making a similar argument in a group in Knoxville TN and one of the older players being very angry and arguing that his primer black was really three shades of black and get over it….

    • Adam October 17, 2018 7:30 am #

      We had someone try to claim that the colors UNDER the one we were looking at couted as 3 colors

  4. William Brice October 17, 2018 8:17 am #

    My biggest problem with the three color minimum is that, for the level of paintjob I eventually want to get, I have to do things in distinct parts, get all the layers done for one part before putting the next part on.

    So what ends up happening with three colors is that I basically build something for the tournament, rush to get three colors on it, hate how it looks, strip it, and then have to do it all over again.

    Eventually it has gotten to the point where I just say “Fuck it, I aint going” because the stress of it makes it so I have more anxiety about going to the event than I think I will gain from actually participating. I know my NOVA open was almost ruined on day one because someone tried to DQ me mid game for having a few unpainted models(I had buried my mom two weeks earlier so was a little preoccupied) and ever since then its been hard to attend events.

    • WestRider October 17, 2018 11:13 am #

      The key is to find a way to get three colours on that doesn’t block further work, so that instead of stripping them and starting over, you just do some more details, add some more highlights, that sort of thing, and then end up with something that feels genuinely finished to you.

  5. Petey Pab October 17, 2018 11:11 am #

    How about you enforce whatever rules make sense for an event to succeed and move on? I don’t know why hobbyists always get so personal (and yes, elitist) when it comes to other people’s enjoyment of the game.

    Enforcing painted models at a premier event is (imo) now mandatory for that event to be taken seriously in our community. Though I don’t agree with the notion that that’s the way it should be, I understand that that’s the way it is and accept it.

    I also understand that you need a level of preparation to compete and participate at a certain level. As someone already pointed out. The thing I don’t like is when people type similar messages to “Painting is easy, lazy scrub! Painted models or GTFO!” but also don’t bother to learn the rules, bring rulebooks (waah GW keeps printing me more options for my army), or respect their fellow gamers. All things that should also be compulsory for TO’s to enforce. But I digress.

    Basically in short, if you want to play 40k tournaments follow ALL the rules, vote with your wallet and attend events that reflect your 40k ideologies, and leave other people’s lives out your judgements. Everyone is different, and we should be more accepting.

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