To start a series of articles on tournament scoring, I thought I'd get the basics out of the way.
Tournaments are in general won or lost by adding up points from four categories: Battle, Painting, Composition (Comp) and Sportsmanship (Sports). Not all tournaments give scores in every category, although there is always a Battle component. There is a fifth category of Incentives - these are points given out for handing a let in on time.
Battle measures how well a player defeats each opponent they face. Points are given for achieving the primary objective, usually with bonus points for secondary objectives, or how well you win by. This is always an objective score.
Painting actually includes the gamut of hobby skills, from basing and modeling to painting, and can include extras like display boards and props. Scoring is usually based on a number of specified criteria but can also include a subjective component that is judged.
Composition is a handicap score that is designed to encourage soft lists by giving them bonus points. It can be subjective or a list of rules, or a combination of both. This is the most controversial of the scores - a bad Comp system punishes already weak armies and is rife for manipulation.
Sportsmanship covers all sorts of behaviours that effect how enjoyable it is to game with you. Are you polite? Do you know how to play? Do you cheat? Did you bring the necessary equipment? Usually a subjective score from your opponent, but can be a checklist with questions like the above.
Most tournaments have several prizes up for grabs based on these scores. There might be a best painted, best sportsman or best general, comparing scores from a single category. You will also see combinations of scores. Judgement Day (2010) rewarded best general based on a combination of Battle and Comp, which takes into account your ability as a general despite the army you have taken. Finally there is usually a best overall score that combines all the scores in order to determine a single contestant who has won the tournament.