Friday, February 21, 2014

One of those Revelations That Happen Every So Often

I posted this picture yesterday on G+ - noting that I might have a small addiction now to W. Britain figures.

Other awesomeness in the picture: a d20 stamper, Wally Simon's Solo Secrets of Wargame Design and Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1.
In addition to the soldiers pictured (all birthday presents), I have a US MG crew and 3 more infantry en route (also b-day gifts).

I think I am most surprised by how much I love playing even the simplest scenarios with them (I've played a few tests of some rules I'm tinkering with). 

Maybe because they were gifts? Maybe because they're Britains? Maybe because it feels like I'm tapping into the same inspiration that brought forth Little Wars?

When I began miniature gaming some 7 or so years ago, I used unpainted plastic cheap army men. This was followed by home-made 1" counters (for Adventures in Jimland), and  finally unpainted 54mm plastic cowboys and Native Americans for some 1st ed. Six Gun Sound action.

I had a blast with all of that, but I kept seeing the pictures in blogs, and TMP and other places of painted forces, so when I moved into WWII, I decided to go to 1/72, and slighlty later, for Victorian Sci-Fi, 15mm, painting the figures seemed the obvious choice,  in both cases.

It's been a love-hate relationship with painting ever since. It is, mostly, relaxing. I find it enjoyable to research uniform colors and try to come up with something close. It's satisfying to paint a complete unit and see them arrayed before me on the table. 

But it is not quick, not for me.

If miniature painting was my hobby, this would be of no concern. After all, if painting is why you are doing it, then if it takes a long time, who cares? That's the most enjoyable, fulfilling and satisfying part. When you are finished, you admire it, and then paint the next figure that strikes your fancy. 

But painting has at best only been half of the equation. For me, it's the game that matters, at least equally, and generally, more so.

(to be sure, I could break "the game" into at least three components: research, rules tinkering, and playing, but let's keep this on point)

The inevitable delay between inspiration and the time the force takes the table means a waning enthusiasm , which makes the continued painting necessary a chore, not an enjoyable respite from chores, until the enthusiasm returns. But who is to say when or if it will return?

Witness so many gamers with partially completed forces tucked away in shoeboxes for projects that might never see the light of day.

I don't know why pre-painted figures (either from the manufacturer or others) never really occurred to me. But now that I have experienced the joy of getting the mail and being able to field a painted unit that night, I will expand my pre-painted forces.

Put down your pitch forks, please, I'm not abandoning painting. 

For one, I don't want my other 1/32 figures to feel badly about themselves when fielded with the Britains! 

Second, even painted plastic isn't cheap - this is not a grand scale approach, but rather, something to increase my enjoyment of the hobby when I can take advantage of it.

And, I do enjoy painting, for all of the reasons I listed above.

But, I can field units easily this way (we only have so much time to do the things we want to, do we not?), thus allowing me to spend that time on other things - like scenery construction, rules tinkering, research, painting figures (wait? what? Yes, but I can paint less of them!) and of course, actual gaming.


  1. John,

    Have you had to paint any of the Britains at all, or are they fine as is? Years ago I acquired (can't recall how) a G.I. that was cast in the most bilious light green I ever saw. At the time it didn't occur to me that I could paint him (!?!), so I never did anything with him. The figures in your photos look ready to go, however. Did Britains change their color schemes, or have the figures been repainted?

    Just wondering.

    Best regards,


    1. Hi Chris
      Both the US and Germans are straight out of the box. It sounds like you might mean their Deetail range. I only have the kubelwagen:, but while looking for that, I saw the U.S. GI's and they are practically day-glo! I hadn't thought about repainting them but that's a great idea (they have some decent poses - and I like the firing mortar).
      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I must admit, I used to paint all my figures when I started gaming about 35 years ago. But about 15 years ago, I realised that I much prefer gaming to painting and since then have acquired lots of pre-painted figures, and have painted very few. But recently I have felt the urge to paint again but free time is against me - with not that much time, I will get a game in rather than paint!

    There are plenty of us that enjoy the gaming side more than the painting, and there seems to be just as many that prefer the painting that the gaming.

    1. Hi Shaun,
      Thanks for the comment!
      I agree - if I don't have much time, I often find rather get a game in than paint. I feel like in many ways, I'm still in the early days of my enjoyment of this hobby and I'm trying to find what works best for me.