While reading an overseas mate’s posts on the British war gaming show Salute, I was struck by a couple things. First, game shows and conventions are an integral part of this hobby, but not everyone in the hobby ever attends a show. Second, I need to prioritize my spending while at a show and exposed to a hundred or more vendors. Third, Jez has this gaming thing figured out! Head off to the Carrion Crow’s Buffet and read this post to see what I am talking about.
Jez has his head screwed on straight when it comes to gaming projects. He has a focus and determination that sees his projects completed, and keeps them on a reasonable budget. My approach has been less than satisfactory…
And this pains me. As my best game mate, and son, prepares to head off to university I realize how much gaming time I missed by having a pile of incomplete projects. We will get very little Bolt Action gaming in before he is gone for his college years. We will get less Triumph! gaming in. And no Muskets & Tomahawks. Or Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Or SAGA. Or Flames of War. Or even Warhammer 40K. Saddest part is that that I have two complete armies for FOW and 40k, but due to my flitting interests, those two games and all their attendant minis have languished in their boxes for years.
Now, this isn’t to say we don’t game. We have matched wits over many a game of X-Wing and a few of Armada. We have battled back and forth across a game board for the French and Indian War many times. The American Civil War is a favorite field of conflict for board gaming, and is a distant project of mine for minis gaming. Recently we picked up a game covering the American War for Independence, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We game, not as much as would like, and part of it is my problem.
I have lengthy posts on my gaming history, so I won’t go in depth again. But in order, my gaming interests and model collections have gone like this:
1996: Warhammer Fantasy Battles- Bretonnians and Lizardmen, both sold off long ago.
1998: Warhammer 40k- Imperial Guard and Space Marines, still have, mostly (more on that in a bit).
2000: Flames of War- U.S. infantry and parachute infantry, German Panzer grenadiers.
2000ish: American Civil War- USA and CSA infantry.
2009: WFB- Empire, Bretonnia, High Elves, Wood Elves, 3,500+ points for each army, and counting. Plus about 4,000 points of Lizardmen from a trade.
2011: SAGA- Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Irish
2012: Muskets & Tomahawks- American Provincial troops, British regulars, French de la Marne and Couers, various native tribes.
2015: Bolt Action- U.S. infantry, German Panzer grenadiers/Grenadiers, British infantry.
2016: Triumph!- Middle Imperial Romans, Early Germans
Of all of the above collections, only the 40K, FOW, WFB and Bolt Action sets have any painted models. Everything I own for 40k is now painted, as just last week I boxed up and shipped off all my unpainted miniatures, plus a few painted tanks, in a trade for a mostly complete army of Lizardmen models. I have had my eye on the Lizardmen to add to the WFB armies for a while. This trade let me part with models I will probably never paint or play with. Ever. In return I am getting a bunch of unpainted models, but at least it is for a project I have an interest in and plans for.
All of the models above started out as plans and a burning desire to play a particular game. Several, Bolt Action and Triumph! in particular, were direct results of playing a game at a convention. With my typical willy nilly approach to gaming, after playing those games at Fall In!, we headed over to the vendor hall and made some purchases. Both sets of minis resided in the lead mountain for over a year. The Bolt Action minis are approaching completion, however, my first model project completed since, oh, 2003 or 2004.
Wow. Saying it out loud is pretty pathetic. I have been buying minis on a steady schedule since then, just not really finishing any projects. Back when I started the 4 Armies Project I built and painted models steadily for more than two years. But I let the project get out of hand. My goals kept expanding and the target was moving steadily into the distance, until I literally burned out. I was painting models and trying to build terrain, but without a real, solid goal and some end to the project, I got lost.
Goals are important. My current goal, and one I am making steady progress on, is the Bolt Action models. I have three squads and an anti-tank gun to go for small models. Plus three tanks and three half-tracks for vehicles. And that project will be done. Whew. Finally. I have completed some buildings, and a few terrain bits, enough that we will be able to play some games this summer once we have a bit more time. Not enough games though…
That project was doable. I just let it sit. The buildings for it will take a little more time. Due to shipping costs from the UK, I waited to get a building order in from Colin at Charlie Foxtrot Models until I could pick up most of the models I wanted in one go. Of course, hefting a sizable package and knowing what it was going to take to build and paint everything in the box was a bit daunting. See a trend?
My projects still can expand beyond reasonableness at times. I have great intentions, but once reality sets in it gets scary.
Back to the start, this whole article was inspired by Jez discussing his budget for Salute here. He had a budget of £40, and not only stuck to it, he stayed under it. He has a specific project he is working on, and ideas for the next couple, and focuses his purchases on those projects. He admits he occasionally picks up a mini for the coolness factor, but I doubt he jumps into projects like I do.
My method is to see a new rule set, read up for a few weeks or months, then make the plunge. And a plunge for me is two armies at a time. So when a pile of minis shows up, it is literally a pile of minis. Overwhelming numbers of minis at times. Want to know how overwhelming?
For SAGA and Muskets & Tomahawks alone I have 279 unpainted miniatures. That is not counting about 60 or so minis still coming from the last Kickstarter Lance at Galloping Major put on. Those should be here sometime in May, and will push the total well about 300. The SAGA minis should paint fairly easily. I am even toying with trying out the Army Painter flesh-colored primer to save a step in painting. Not sure how it will affect the other colors, so I probably won’t. Overwhelming.
And my fault entirely.
It’s worse for FOW. I have entire companies of minis still to paint. Several hundred 15mm soldiers and three dozen vehicles and guns. WFB has at least 250 models to paint, not counting the Lizardmen I received this week. I estimated 1400 total unpainted models a couple months ago. In the count leading to the trade I lowered that estimate by at least 200. I either sold off a pile of minis some years ago and forgot, or thought I had more 40K models than I did. Still, I have over 1,000 unpainted models.
It sounds like a lot, because it is. I estimate (I’ve never actually timed myself) that it takes me an average of 1 hour per 28mm mini, and probably 2 hours per 15mm stand. If that 1,000 models is half 28mm and half 15mm, I might need 1,500 hours to finish them all…
But I know people with unpainted models in the 10s of thousands. Many, many times what I have. For years I rationalized that my pile wasn’t that bad. It was growing slowly, but I never painted more in a month than I bought. I haven’t reached that goal yet. I painted maybe 20 models last month. I picked up at least 40. This month I have only painted about 12 models. I picked up another 200…
There is progress though. I traded models for the first time ever. Last month I sold models for the first time in ten years. I have a deal in the works to trade the last models from a failed Lord of the Rings project for board games. No new models! That will cut my pile some without just replacing them.
Inspired by Jez, I am going to take a harder look at models I want, or need. Mostly need. Hi, I’m Harry, and I am an addict. To miniatures.
From now on, I am going to only buy what I need to complete a project. I have a list in my head. A few models to fill out the new Lizardmen. A couple units for the 4 Armies Project. Enough models to complete the Irish for SAGA. A few teams to fill out the Brits for Bolt Action. And whatever Kickstarters Lance springs. I’m going to list them for me, not you. Feel free to ignore this.
Lizardmen- Slann Mage priest, battle standard bearer, 15 more temple guard, 10 saurus warriors
Empire- 20 Tuetogen guard, 30 pike
Bretonnia- 5-10 Grail knights (hopefully GW models, Norba models in a pinch.)
High Elves- a bolt thrower
Wood Elves- 12 more dryads, 5-10 Wild Riders, 5 Eternal Guard if I can find the old metal models
SAGA Irish- 4 points of models. Around 30 models total.
WW2 Brits- a Vickers MMG, a 6pdr AT gun, 8 RM Commandos, a scout car, a tank, and some miscellaneous support teams like PIATs and mortars.
Fortunately or unfortunately, half these models can’t be bought at Fall In! Most of the WFB models I need are out of production so I scour Bartertown and Ebay looking for used models. I have found the Grail Knights. I am just not willing to spend $20 a model or more for them. Yet. On a happy note, some models I thought I would have to find on the secondary market were included in the Lizardmen trade.
I even got lucky on my hunt for WFB models. I found some really inexpensive lots of painted models. When they showed up they mixed really well with my painting style. A little touchup to the bases and a few minor tweaks will put fully painted units into the collection. I have been wary of painted models in the past, since I have a fairly distinct style, and many people see their models through rose-colored glasses. Your 8/10 is only a 3/10 to me. These looked decent in pics, and actually better in person, so I was really happy. Something like 50 new models in three or four new units, painted and ready to play.
The lead pile shrinks.
I probably should do a complete inventory of models owned. It would be a good place to start on planning and deciding how to prioritize projects. A detailed list would keep me from buying the same models twice, too. I have done that a time or four. I see a cool model on a site and order it. In stashing it I find the same model from two years ago. Oops. I do the same for my Osprey books. I have enough that I can’t keep track in my head anymore. If I see a good deal on TMP I jump in and buy a stack. Then realize I already have a couple… I have not bought an Osprey in a while, I promised myself I wouldn’t until I inventory what I have and make a list of what I need. I have stuck to it. Now to do the same for minis.
Sometimes I wonder if I don’t have a clinical issue with miniatures. There is something I find very satisfying about searching for and purchasing miniatures. I spend two or more hours a week looking. I buy twice a month perhaps, depending on the cost. I know that my buying will be severely curtailed by May. June starts payments for room and board to the university, and with it, much of my gaming budget. Maybe this binge buying of the last year is really a subconscious preparation for the lean years, Yeah. That’s it. I am getting ready to go a while without buying minis. Um, sure. Really though, I won’t be buying much this year. What is in the list above, maybe a couple more Pulp style minis for my narrative gaming in 1944 France? Not much more.
In that respect, I am learning. And trying. I even have my own painting competition for the year. Two units a month, plus at least one terrain piece. Wanna see my challenge?
I finished January through March. April had to get an adjustment to call it complete. I got sidetracked when some new pulp minis showed up and had to paint them. I painted enough though, to call it a unit. Excuses and delays.
From May through December these are my painting plans: x10 GIs, x18 Germans, x3 Sdkfz 251s, a Panzer IV, x2 Shermans, x10 Wardancers, x8 French civilians, x8 French Maquis, 20+ stands of 15mm Romans and Germans, x16 HE Archers, And all pf my SAGA Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. I am trying to mix it up a bit to keep my interest up. No more 12 months straight of WFB models.
Along with the minis, I will finish some bocage pieces, a Wood Elf altar, around a dozen 4-12” tall trees, six or more buildings, and some flexible roads. Any maybe some dark age scratch built buildings.
It seems kinda daunting. But by breaking it up into units and months, I can see progress, stay focused and keep moving through my lead pile. And MDF pile. And resin pile. And plastic pile. I have several piles of models.
So, I have a short list of models to buy, and even that will slow considerably.
Now terrain, and supplies, that I can’t make any promises on. I have started a bocage terrain project and have about 14 6” bases built and primed awaiting paint and flocking. I have bases for about 15 more pieces. I figure I need 50’ linear feet to do a dense 4×6 table, so this is just a start. I have the basic materials, I am just not sure how much flock and clump foliage it will take to complete each piece. I anticipate keeping Hobby Lobby and the local hobby shop without either for a bit.
I am gaining focus. I am taking hints from successful hobbyists. I am culling models I will never paint. I have written plans. I am dedicating a specific amount of time a week to hobby stuff.
I may yet see the bottom of the pile. But there will always be a new project.
Like ACW ironclads. Oh, those Thoroughbred models look really nice…