Friday, 19 August 2016

Keeping it Real:

Nicely Laid Out Terrain from a Club Game of  WWII Bolt Action:
I read it all the time! I see it all the time too: I read about it and I observe it said over and over again, many times.. ad infinitum: “The terrain and the modelling are as important as the game itself.”  Actually I take exception to that statement as, who has the right to set the standard of what is good and what isn’t. I once actually watched one guy (an older fella, approaching his sixties) painstakingly painted his entire army. He had come along one week to the club I used to attend, with a mind to taking up wargaming: something he had wanted to do all his life, and now his wife had died, he wanted something to immerse in. It took him months, meticulously learning how it was done, and he painted his horses, and his artillery train, all his little generals and staff officers, command elements, and line infantry, dragoon mounted foot, all the flags.. individually, and wow, he stuck at it; and over the winter he managed to paint it all (I had helped him to pick and choose his collection in September, and by the following summer, wow, he has finished the lot: about 400 figures I think). He looked so proud of himself. The Summer came and he was excited, and bought his finished army to the club hoping to get a game or two....... because, this guy, eager not to be a burden on anyone, had even taken the time to find out the popular rulebook and supplement manuals used by the club, for the era he had chosen to collect in (Black Powder Napoleonics): and then he purchased that set of rules and learned them as thoroughly as he could, without actually playing.
The Proud Collection
But then something happened I hadn’t expected. It had not even occurred to me all the time I had watched this lovely elderly gentleman work away on his models. I had encouraged him throughout and was so proud of him for sticking to it. But at the club the guys looked at his collection with what I can only describe as petty disdain. And for the first time I saw it... they were comparing their own amazingly painted works of art to his first time at it, barely average miniatures, with no ink wash, no fine line detailing,  face shadow or dry brushing to speak of, and I l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y could see it going through their minds: “I`m not putting MY miniatures on a table near THOSE” I even heard a whispered joke about: “Put your men too close to that lot, and they may come down with a virus or something.”  Suffice to say, this poor man could not find a willing opponent to play with, as everyone avoided playing against him like he (or rather, his collection) had the plague. After some weeks, he just stopped coming to the club. And my heart broke for him. Next club meeting, I stood up and told the guys what I thought of them and where they could stick their club, and I took my stuff and walked away, and never went back again.
Every gamer should try attend at least one of these big game conventions every year if they can: it will open your eyes to so much within the hobby.
I went back found the man, and I played games with him for a while, twice a week. It would make his day. It wasn’t really my subject, but I had a blast with this man, because he was so lovely and the games ended up being amazing fun. In the end I found him an opponent (someone else who had just gotten into wargaming, and wasn’t sure what to go for). I introduced them to one another. It turned out both their wife’s had gone, but their women had known each other through local social community activities. So the new guy (Bob) decided he would collect Napoleonic French (as Jake had been collecting mostly English) and Jake and Bob became close friends, and found a deep passion for the joys of gaming, and a new friendship that was obviously going to last for life.

Super Dungeon Explore: it really is a super game.

They did an amazingly lovely thing for me, even though I had, by now, stopped playing and left them both to it... the next Christmas, they both chipped in and bought me Super Dungeon Explore, which is how I ended up owning my very own boxed set, and developed such an intense love for chibi/anime gaming. It was so sweet of them and so very appreciated, and they should not have, but I thought it was lovely of them, and every time I get the game out and enjoy playing it, I think of those two lovely gentlemen. I still go visit them sometimes for “a game of Napoleon and Welly” as they both seem to call it hehe.
 Pulp Fiction Narrative Adventure: Our Heroine Actress is just being told "And ACTION" as the camera man prepares to shoot. But suddenly an Intruder makes an unwelcome appearance though the jungle tree line.

But anyway, I`ve done it again, like a Bill Connolly sketch, I`ve gone all round the houses to get back to the point where I began. “The terrain and the modelling are as important as the game itself.”   Assuming you set out wanting to make your games look amazing, and let’s face it, sometimes it IS nice (especially if you are a solo gamer) to spend time to make your table top endeavours look absolutely amazing to the eye.
A Solo Girl Gamer
 The solo gamer is unfettered by the problems facing the more gregarious hobbyist.  The man (or nowadays,  woman too) who has to consider an opponent, or multiple club opponents all the time, barely has time to think outside the box, as he is struggling just to make the club meetings, or the scheduled weekly game with his good friend Joe Blogs: all his attention is focussed on making regular time, and making sure he has what’s needed, for the next game session.
A Club Game Laid Out and Ready For the Evening`s Game.
However, the soloist has all the time in the world. He or she can play, scheme, cogitate, and get lost in intricate details and minutia that simply isn’t usually possible for the ordinary non soloist to achieve.. probably due to time restraint alone (a strange thing happens to the human mind when it is forced to meet time tables, like weekly meets: give a man responsibility he feels beholden to commit to and fulfil, and he will actually tend to get less done than if he can work at his own pace. Any good wife will work this one out for herself in time, I am told by Hil, hehe).
But there are two types of hobbyist, and it’s actually fairly easy to see which of these categories you fall in. Your work space. Does your work space look like this:
If you are now wincing in pain as it’s a little close to the bone, then you probably recognise something of yourself here. The scruffy hobbyist is far less likely to get things done in an orderly fashion: “I have A B C and D to complete for the next game, so I need to get on with it” this type of gamer usually works in a tidy space and yes he does make his personal goals the majority of the time. The hobbyist who works in a clutter is more likely to have piles of unpainted lead, cupboards and boxes full of half finished projects and collections he simply lost steam with, half way through. He usually never makes social functions (like club games) and is content to wallow in non productivity *grins*  Nothing wrong there, just you won’t achieve much is all.
Make a tidy work space. KEEP it tidy. You are far more likely that way, to feel motivated to complete the task in hand, whatever that personally may be for you.. only you know that one. Work systematically. Set yourself goals, and try achieving them. The rewards will bring in dividends for you.
The Ideal Game Board... no clutter, neat and tidy. Conducive to PLAY.
Doesn’t take much to make your own hobby more fulfilling for yourself. It can be as simple as being inspired by something you read on a blog.
Article by Tarot.


  1. Well said, Tarot! Some great eye candy photos on show along with a sound piece of writing. I was especially pleased that the story of Bob and Jake had such a happy ending. I certainly would not have wanted to part of a club that treated the old man so dismissively. What a bunch of arseholes they were. They did the hobby and themselves no favours. But I take my hat off to you for the way you acted. It shows what a good person you are - a veritable angel!

    When it comes to the assertion that terrain is every bit as important as the figures you are preaching to the converted. This is something I feel very strongly about. When I publish a batrep on my blog I always strife to make it look as best as I can. Indeed it is thanks to my ATZ batreps that so many bloggers decided to give it a go themselves, only to find it takes hard work, patience, skill and a lot of time.

    By the way, my painting desk is a tidy desk and if I start painting a figure I'll make sure I finish painting him before moving on to something else. I couldn't work any other way.

    1. Never change Bryan, we love you J-U-S-T as you are.

    2. Bryan, it was your ATZ articles first made me want to do blogging. I had been doing game websites for ages, but knew nothing about google blogs. YOU changed all that.

      Those ATZ articles you did, remain... classics!

    3. Thank you SO much, your kind words are always greatly appreciated (if I deserve them I mean... oh gosh I mean, I don't deserve them now just... oh help I`m getting lost in circles now hehe).

    4. It was your ATZ articles that got me blogging again and in a more interesting way B, plus the solo gaming - never did that before! Cheers dude

    5. "If I start painting a figure I'll make sure I finish painting him before moving on to something else." - Me too, Bryan, me too... ;-)

    6. you are like Andy, you create an endless source of new things all the time. Its remarkable actually.

  2. Every so often, a post comes along which strikes a poignant chord. It is interesting what you say about modelling in a tidy work space. With Stevie`s soon to arrive MASSIVE new project hehe, I have seen him tidying his hobby room and clearing up his paint table in preparation for this; and this in turn this has led him to sitting staring at the wall for hours, while he works out his entire paint schedule up to Christmas and then into the next year and right up to Eater. But you know what; I actually believe he will do it. There is a new intensity and focussed purpose to him lately, which is usually a sure sign indication that he`s truly a `man on a mission. `

    This infectious enthusiasm always rubs off (if you live in a gamers` home like this one, it always does) and it has inspired me to want to focus on my Horror Clix and get to grips with this collection and get playing again. Your re-written Clix Redux is almost finished I know as I have been playtesting them with you quite a lot recently, and they excite me because you really have taken the essence of Hero/Horror Clix and turned it into a new game, but one that still FEELS right. Very much like the old game, only smoother and easier to handle. And I love how you have redressed and dealt with the age old problem of Powers only appearing on the dial after the figure has taken a wound or two, only to vanish again just as quickly, as the base gets turned again. What you have done to alter that is masterly.

    I knew the man you spoke of in your true story, and yes I too was somewhat disgusted at what I witnessed, and it reminded me just how cruel and uncaring people can be. This is the 21st century and we seem to have learned nothing. But you do give me hope, knowing you and seeing how you are with people: you may have a tongue as sharp as a razorblade when riled up (but usually when you are right or feel unfairly cornered hehe), but you are a champion of all that is right and good in this world, and that`s why we wuvs you so hun.

    Thank you for another cool post, little darling.

    Hil xx

    1. Oh wow, thank you so much Hil, you are amazing.. always. If there is anything good in what I do or am, you probably helped make me so :)

      By the way though, in truth the new Clix Redux are mostly Stevie`s work. I just played about with them a bit and completed them, when and he put them down and moved on to other `real` work.

  3. true excellence tar`. Yet another really interesting post, full of nice eye catching picces too.

    1. Bless. Thank you Mr Stevie :))

  4. It sounds like the best thing you did is tell those idiots where to stick their club, how dare they!! Hearing that has left a nasty taste in my mouth. My first efforts all those years ago were basic, MORE than basic in fact but I was proud of them and played with those minis until the shoddy paintwork was worn off! (I still own some of the models, repainted the wyvern recently) it has taken me 25 years to reach a standard that I can be really proud of and use techniques that are a bit more risky and yes I love the terrain and having lovingly crafted boards and layouts - because I've got the time to do it! I would never, ever criticise someone else's army and to not play against it is obscene!

    Sorry for the rant guys, but that really upsets me to hear of that kind of thought process, good on you Tarot for telling them to go do one! My heroine x

    1. Oh and my work space is a disaster zone, I now paint on a converted hostess trolley.....

    2. *courtesies gracefully and smiles softly*

  5. {{Oh and my work space is a disaster zone, I now paint on a converted hostess trolley.....}}

    Oh I was only generalising.... obviously am wrong though hehe, as your work is AMAZING and you`re so prolific with your creations.

  6. Interesting article, Tarot. I have to say that I am impressed with your actions and attitude regarding your two gentlemen friends and the members of your previous club.

    I seem to be in a little bit of a minority here - I do not receive support for my hobby from my family ( I think they're hoping I grow out of it - fat chance of that!), so my 'work area' is always temporary and the time I spend on my hobby has to be offset against doing 'proper jobs at home. Therefore, hobby time is a rare and valued commodity - it's surprising that I manage to get as much done as I do! So, yes, not every figure will get painted to completion and my terrain currently consists of homemade buildings and a bucket load of HeroScape hexes. However, it has made me pack as much into the time I do get as possible and become rather creative when it comes to rules, figures and gaming in general.

  7. you are an inspiration to me Jez. The way you conduct yourself within the hobby, how you utilise your time so constructively, and your amazing sharp wit.. and yet (despite no support in your hobby) your generosity of spirit takes my breath away. You give so much to others, yet seek so little in return. When Hil hinted (on behalf of both of them) and tried to get you to tell her what you needed in the hobby a while back (intending at the time to send you lots of goodies in a big box), you smiled and cottoned on and told her “don’t need anything”, so you give without thought of reward. And to top it all, your blog, your hobby-ing, what you have to share with everyone is interesting and outstandingly colourful and skilled.

    As Hil said to Bryan recently, “Don’t ever change”.

    Keep an eye open on this blog too. I know Stevie and Hil are planning giving away a ton of stuff soon as they cull some of their collections... really GOOD stuff too (on a first ask, first get basis). Only thing they will be asking is that people pay the postage.

  8. And I'm not bad looking, either... *tee hee*

    Seriously though, thank you for your kind comments. If I can inspire people to look at their hobby in a new way, encourage them to NOT blow their cash on the next 'big thing' and provide a little bit of pleasure and fun along the way, that's reward enough.

    However, pints of stout are always appreciated...

  9. {{If I can inspire people to look at their hobby in a new way, encourage them to NOT blow their cash on the next 'big thing'.... that's reward enough.}}

    Then we share a common aim, dear Jez. Not, as it can so easily seem to come across) to be a dog in a manger and be down on everything, and go "bah, humbug" at everything new: but to open our eyes (if only sometimes) to the fact that NEW doesn't a-l-w-a-y-s mean best. Sometimes all it takes is the ability to look at what we already have, and learn to appreciate this by looking from a different angle.

  10. So, no Birthday presents for you then, in a few days time?

    *writes a line through the present list*

    ..... and thinks to himself: *hmmmm, I know, I`ll give her that old packet of Eski Romans I`ll had sitting in the cupboard for years*.

  11. no, no , no, no noooo!! me wants new shiny things, sealed, in packets, unopened, new new new. *stamps foot and nods furiously and smiles impishly*

    pleeeaaaaaaase? *winning smile*

  12. *looks at him and sighs resignedly* you know what, she probably WOULD be just as happy with that old box of Romans love. I don`t think you will win this one lol; she has it covered both angles hehe.

  13. *chuckles*

    you may well be right Hils. Maybe we should stop feeding her so much sugar?

    gruel, yes that's it. That's the answer, we should start feeding her bowls of gruel from now on: she`s too full of beans all the time lol.

  14. *Poing.. poing.. poing.. poing.... POING!!!!!*