Thursday, 3 December 2009

A New Approach to Wargaming

For years, I have been a butterfly – flitting from one enticing project to another before its completion, darting from period to period and scale to scale. However, of late, I’ve been considering my approach to wargaming, and I’ve realised a few things:
  1. Fiction Over Reality – I prefer either ‘imagi-nations’, fantasy, or SF wargaming.
  2. Scale Dictates Engagement – 40mm+ squad-platoon, 25-30mm platoon-company, 15-20mm company-battalion, 6mm brigade-division, 2mm division-corps.
  3. The Joy of Skirmish – forces of no more than perhaps 30 figures a side, and often much less? Yes please!
  4. Completion Is Vital – I must become more of a Stillmanite* than I have previously been.

My main problem, as I see it, has been an inability to finish painting forces. I merrily buy a load of figures, start painting them, and then move onto the next one. There have been a few exceptions, but by and large these have become unfinished as I’ve added things to them. A good example would be one of my 40K Imperial Guard armies, a mechanised force of Valhallans called the Darendaran X.

Originally they were a 1,500 point army, completed, painted, done. No problems. Then I decided to add some mortars, and a special weapon squad, and ... before I knew it, I suddenly had a plethora of (unpainted) extra infantry and heavy weapons. Now, of course, they need extra Chimeras to accompany them, and a repaint of two spare Leman Russ MBTs I have sat in a box somewhere.

And then there’s the Hellbitches – a massive Necromunda Escher gang, almost – note the word almost – fully painted. I ‘just’ have about 4 more to do, but my enthusiasm for them has vanished. One of them, in fact, is sat in my To Paint box at work.

So, what to do? Well, the answer is simple: Plan, Purchase and Paint! From now on, all my projects will adhere to the Three Ps. I will carefully plan my purchases, taking account of the sorts of games I’m likely to play, whether I need OpFor, and so on. Then I will purchase the models at a show (I’ll come to this in a bit), preferably all in one go, and then – paint the damn things!

In the meantime, I’ll be working on my Unpainted Mountain, selecting one or two old projects and working on them until they’re finished. If there are models still to be bought for them, tough – nothing’s happening until the rest are finished.

Talking of purchasing, I’ve decided to forgo mail order or impulse buys from GW for the forseeable future if it can be avoided (as some GW models are Mail Order only, for example). Instead, each month I will put between £30-50 on one side, and then, in April each year, I will go to Salute! with a purchase list. I will buy what’s on it, and that’ll be that! Plan – Purchase – Paint. As Che once said, “There can be no victory without discipline.”

To give you a rough idea of the size of my unpainted mountain, here, from memory, is a list of the armies, gangs, and other forces that I have more than a few models for (note that not all of these ‘armies’ are actually army-sized, many are little more than skirmish forces or overstrength platoons, and further, that a sizeable minority of these are painted):

All figures are 25-30mm scale unless otherwise stated:

Warhammer Wissenland/Drakenhof Empire Army – 6th edition models (GW)
Warhammer Solland Empire Army – 7th edition models (GW)
Warhammer Lahmian/Von Carstein Vampire Counts Army (GW)
Warhammer Bretonnian Army (GW)
Warhammer Dwarf Army (GW)
Warhammer Wood Elf Army (GW)
Warhammer Slaaneshi Chaos Army (GW, Hasslefree)
Mordheim City Watch Warband (GW)
Mordheim Vampire Warband (Reaper, GW)
Mordheim High Elf Warband (GW)
Song of Blades & Heroes Warbands and Characters (various)

Science Fiction:
40K Righteous Fists Space Marine Army (GW)
40K Ultramarine Army (GW)
40K Sisters of Battle/Witch-Hunters Army (GW)
40K Daemonhunters Army (GW, Hasslefree)
40K ‘Valhallan’ Mech. Imperial Guard Army (GW)
40K ‘Tallarn’ Imperial Guard Army (GW)
40K ‘Steel Legion’ Imperial Guard Army (GW)
40K Stormtrooper Imperial Guard Army (GW)
40K ‘Cadian’ Imperial Guard Army – 2nd Edition metals (GW)
40K ‘Catachan’ Imperial Guard Army – 2nd Edition metals (GW)
40K ‘Catachan’ Imperial Guard Army – 3rd/4th Edition plastics (GW)
40K ‘Vostroyan’ Imperial Guard Army (GW)
40K ‘Imperial Army’ Imperial Guard Army – RT era metal/plastic (GW)
40K Chaos Space Marine Army (GW)
40K Ork Army (GW)
40K Dark Eldar Army (GW)
40K Eldar Army (GW)
40K Tau Empire Army (GW)
6mm Epic 40K Ork Waagh (GW)
6mm Epic 40K Space Marine Chapter (GW)
6mm Epic 40K Titan Legion (GW)
Necromunda Escher (GW)
Necromunda Goliaths (GW)
Necromunda Orlocks (GW)
Necromunda Ratskins (GW)
54mm Inquisitor Warbands (GW)
Gangs of Mega-City One (Mongoose Publishing, Hasslefree)
Dropwing/Future Wars Rioters and Rebels (GZG, Copplestone, various)
Dropwing/Future Wars Police and Paramilitaries (GZG)
Stargrunt II Mechanised Mercenary Company (GZG, Old Crow, Denizen)
Stargrunt II Force Generica (GZG)
Stargrunt II ‘New Israelis’ (GZG)
15mm Dirtside II European Federation Mechanised Force (GZG)

Pirate Crew (Foundry, Redoubt)
Very British Civil War – Skye (Musketeer)
Very British Civil War – Police Action! (Musketeer)
Back of Beyond – Chinese Warlord Troops (Copplestone)
20mm Vietnam (Britannia)
20mm Russian Civil War Bolsheviks (IT Figures)
15mm Vietnam (Peter Pig)
15mm AK47 Republic (Peter Pig, QRF)

There’s other stuff as well, such as the Skaven Grey Seer or Savage Orc Shaman for armies yet to be built, or the collection of models for a now-shelved plan to build a Slaaneshi temple with cultists, worshippers, and worse to adventure through (you start outside, with grounds staff and the odd worshipper/cultist to fight, then move inside – the whole thing was going to be a hexagon with six distinct zones, the closer you got to the central zone, the darker things got, with the Big Bad Boss being a Greater Daemon!!), or, indeed, the one-off models such as the 13th Company Wolf Priest or the handful of Blood Angels.

All in all, it’s a pretty impressive tally, even if a lot of the ‘armies’ are nothing like an army, or in some cases, even a skirmish force! However, it’s not as daunting as it appears for the simple reason of ‘out of sight – out of mind’. I only have a few models at my house, and they are:

  • 1,500 point Chaos Space Marine army (The Pantokrator’s Fallen) – 33% painted
  • Necromunda – all of them. Unpainted Orlocks, Hired Guns, Goliaths, Ratskins and Escher as well as painted Hired Guns, Goliaths, Ratskins and Escher!
  • Inquisitor – all seven models. Only one’s fully painted and he’s not been based!
  • Gangs of Mega-City One – essentially a complete project, only one model needs finishing off and then all I really want to ‘complete’ the game is a Judge or two from Wargames Foundry.
  • Stargrunt II – New Israelis. There’s 12 or so of these I think.
  • Mordheim – City Watch, High Elves and Vampires. Only the City Watch are at a playable size and they need four Henchmen models finishing off.
  • Random – This includes some Eldar, my VBCW stuff, some Back of Beyond characters, the aforementioned Grey Seer, two Minotaurs, and some other bits and pieces.

So that’s my current block of Things to Paint. Not that many compared to what languishes at my parents’ house! I’m hoping to get as much as possible painted up before my first 3P project (currently a secret) gets underway in the New Year.

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