Friday, May 24, 2013

Now With 50% More Navel Gazing

As I mentioned previously, I was going to put some time examining the unpainted pile of miniatures.  I've been pondering whether or not having a backlog of material - specifically miniatures - makes sense.

Lately, I have noticed that with a backlog comes pressure and not the fun kind.

There's a demand, self-inflicted mind you, to paint figures I'm not interested in painting, rather than working on my zine, world building/game prep, painting something I want to paint, or  playing a game I want to play (and for which those figures aren't necessary). What was supposed to be fun, now includes some measure of stress and guilt.

I know I am not alone in this - a quick web search for the terms "wargaming lead pile" returns ample evidence. The affliction is ubiquitous in the wargaming world. 

Everyone approaches it differently - some people, seeing how others have, in fact, lead mountains, not piles, feel better and stop being concerned, others make pie-in-the-sky promises to not buy another mini until the pile is painted (this is like going on a strict diet on January 1. By January 3rd you're probably cheating), still others thin the herd.

The last option is difficult; it means admitting you will never get around to painting them and that the purchase was probably a mistake. 

The problem is, simply unloading some or all of the pile probably isn't going to cut it in the long run. I need some kind of guideline for future purchases, and let's face it, I have Gamer ADD. 

As i mulled this over, I recalled advice my father gave me when I was a kid and collected coins, comic books, and baseball cards: specialize. 

I'm not sure if he had put a lot of thought into it. I'm not sure why he would have done so, since he didn't collect anything, or if he was just trying to keep his kid from blowing allowance money on passing interests, but when I finally took his advice, it changed everything.

Instead of buying every comic book that looked interesting, I bought only those that had the Silver Surfer in it. Instead of collecting random coins, I focused on Buffalo Nickles. Instead of buying grab bags and unopened packs of baseball cards, I collected Bobby Mercer cards.  It gave me focus that made visits to conventions and shops more interesting as I sought out particular items. With the money I wasn't spending on everything that caught my eye, I  could afford better examples of whatever it was I was in search of. And, of course, my collections were the better for it in that they had a sense of cohesion.

So, I sat down and did some thinking and identified the periods and scales, that I will focus on:

The TL; DR summary:
After much thought, I'm limiting myself to the Great Northern War in 1/72, WWII Europe and Eastern Front in 1/32 and  Pacific Theater in 1/72, leaving open the option for North Africa in 1/72 or 6mm.

Despite the beautiful 15mm figures available today, if I add a new period (other than North Africa), it will probably be 1/72 (25mm) or 1/32 (54mm).

I will keep, but make no further purchases for my 15mm VSF/Lost Worlds/ Colonial/19th C. Imaginations collection. Ditto for the 15mm Near future/Sci-Fi and 28mm Fantasy (which consists entirely of Reaper Bones Kickstarter minis).

I admit that 15mm Fantasy and 6mm Kursk are not going to happen and away they will go. I intend to sell or give away a fairly significant number of the Reaper Bones Minis 

Finally, on a tangential note, I don't need anymore rule books for any of the mentioned periods/genres.

For those of you with more time, and mostly for my future self:

1. The Great Northern War - As I get further into The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough, I realize more and more how much I like this period. This is the largest amount of unpainted anything in my pile as I am well set for my initial foray into the period. All of it is 1/72 Zvezda. 

Once I have gotten to the point where I can play some small games, I may expand both the Russian and Swedish forces with more plastic and some lead (Irregular Miniatures 25mm seem to mix in nicely), after I identify what I need more of (cavalry, I'm looking at you) as well as add other participants.

2. WWII Land - There is a great deal of nostalgia here, and primarily it pertains to 1/32 figures and green plastic "army men". Despite not having nearly the wide selection of other scales, especially in vehicles, I have decided that the figures are too much fun not to use for my gaming. I use 20mm-28mm ranges for movement and weaponry and have a blast. So, for Eastern Front and Europe, it's 1/32. Not coincidentally, it's the 2nd largest unpainted collection, coming in somewhere around 120-150 or so figures + 4 tanks.

For the Pacific, I have a nice 1/72 force for both the USMC and Japan, painted at that, and plan to expand both sides with armor eventually (I've already started with the Marines), possibly at some point adventuring to naval and air combat (in smaller scales). I did pick up another box of plastic Marines, solely for the MG teams, as they worked out cheaper than metal minis. Picking up another box of Japanese is only fair.

North Africa is always a possibility - possibly in 6mm - but at the present, I have no plans for it.

Closed Until Further Notice

1. VSF / Lost Worlds / 19th C. Imaginations / Colonial - This is the first period I really got into, primarily owing to the French Foreign Legion and the fact that I could legitimately put them against Lizard Folk. I consider this collection in 15mm closed at present, I really don't need anything (some Lizard Folk cavalry would be nice, and maybe more Brits, but I have played many games without them just fine) and don't feel the need to expand.

I have 8 Chasseurs d'Afrique,  10 or so FPW Zouaves, and 2 Western Gentlemen unpainted. If you count the distinctly medieval Dark Elves and Amazons, then there's slightly more (15 more to be precise).

The only expansion might be into 2mm with knitting canvas, which I already own. I believe I can make up some fairly nice sized forces for my 19th C. Imaginations of Sauvignon-Blanc and Reisling , as well as some other nations, rather quickly. 

2.  Sci-fi / Near future. I have enough painted minis to play small skirmishes with systems like CR3: FV and Gunstorm! to make further purchases unnecessary. As it stands, very little remains unpainted in this group - just a pack of Khrussan Vespulids.

3.  Fantasy 28mm Skirmish- This collection really doesn't exist yet*, but with 200 Reaper Bones minis, that will change, with no further purchases.  I have no intention of fielding any big battles, but instead will use systems like Songs of Blades and Heroes or even combat rules from RPGs like USR, to fight small skirmishes. Mostly though, i'll probably just paint the minis for the fun of it. Even so, I won't be keeping all of the minis I get - some have no appeal to me and frankly, I don't see ever getting around to painting them all. I fully expect to get sell or give away 50% of them.

Abandoned Before They Started
1. I have a small pile of 15mm fantasy of some 70 or so minis, but mostly they will be unloaded in the not too distant future. The remainder will find their way into Lost Worlds/VSF games. The Splintered Light Rat Warband and the Badger Warband will probably be the only figures I keep from this group, along with 4 adventurers and a mule from The mule can work with any group of adventurers in a Lost World.

2. 6mm Kursk project. The idea was to use the scenario presented on the Junior General site which requires a very small number of vehicles. I have abandoned this idea. I love the tanks, but I don't see this as being something I"m really into making happen anymore.

The biggest take away, besides feeling some sense of relief, is that despite the proliferation of amazing 15mm sculpts, I'm done purchasing them for the time being. They don't take up any less space on my table - my WWII Pacific and my 15mm collections are all mounted on pennies - and they take as long or longer for me to paint usually.

Oh and relatedly, I do not need any more rule books for either of  my two periods.


  1. Hard decisions but they seem rational. I was unaware of the VSF etc you do. I'm still trying to stick to my guns of everything 1/72. I will salvage my 1/32 army men in the coming weeks and I am looking at diving back into my old GW minis for some Oldhammer. Stress and guilt is my middle name.

    1. Hi Sean,

      I admire anyone who can stick to primarily one scale of figure! On more than one occasion I've thought about moving my VSF / Lost Worlds games into 1/72 and I may yet some day. Fortunately, jungle terrain, at least to my eyes, works for many scales - a palm tree for 1/72 of good height is a giant in 15mm, but that works out fine given the setting.

      The difficult part, I find, is sharing terrain/scenery between the 1/32 and, well, anything else.

      Oh, speaking of VSF / Lost Worlds, on my Campaign tab are the links for entries for my Helvetica campaign. It was a 19th C. imaginations game on a fictional island, Helvetica. Also, if you search my blog for Wellslandia, you'll see a lost worlds write up with some very simple rules I put together on the fly.