Painting Matters: In Defense of Hobby Standards

(Editor's note: This week's post is written by Karl, a prolific gamer, terrain builder and painter, and also one of the founding members of Chicago Skirmish Wargames. He wanted me to point out that the opinions below are his and his alone ... but if you perchance happen to game with us, you won't find an unpainted model anywhere on our battlefields. Also, a portion of this article appeared in Dakka Dakka.)

I frequent a number of forums, and periodically discussions arise regarding painting and whether or not it is a necessary part of the hobby. This often comes up among players of popular games like Warmachine, where players are rewarded for buying entire factions at once just to have a competitive option against every opponent. Similarly, Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 require a player to buy many dozens or hundreds of miniatures just to play the size of game most people at the local game shop will enjoy.

Some folks inevitably chime in with "it's just a game" or "it would be just as fun with chits." In the end, the discussion usually settles around a philosophy equivalent to: "Those who don't choose to paint their models have a different approach to the hobby and it's just as valid as yours."

Balderdash, I say! Pish posh and poppycock!

I will endeavor herein to make the case that painting is an essential part of the hobby, and a standard not to simply overlook. Like many here, I have a "live and let live apart" attitude towards folks who don't paint their miniatures. My philosophy is generally, "That's fine for you, but you'll have to find someone else to play against," though I'm wiling to make exceptions for folks whose painting is in-progress.

Still, I'm not so relativistic as to be willing to give some sort of tacit approval to those who don't paint and say that they're involvement in the hobby is just as good as mine. It's not, nor should we delude ourselves to think that it is so, simply for the sake of good feelings and avoiding offense.

Like any activity, there is a hierarchy of involvement. In the tabletop wargaming hobby, those who play with painted miniatures bring more to the table, and those with grey hordes bring less. It may sound elitist or harsh, and no one seems to like the word "hierarchy" anymore, but consider that every other hobby activity has standards by which they judge a member's degree of involvement and commitment to the hobby.

Why should wargaming be any different than other hobbies that require painting?

  • If you're a part of a car club, but don't paint or keep your car up, you're going to be viewed differently. 
  • If you're part of a fine-scale modeling club, but just assemble and convert your models, and don't paint them, no one is going to think that you've "finished" them or want you to display with the club. 
  • -If you show up to a train club with a bunch of ready-to-run "Bachman" models with plastic wheels, eyebrows may be raised.

And holding to standards is not unique to hobbies requiring painting. They exist in every sphere of life.

  • In sports, it's the better players who make the varsity team. 
  • In music, it's the better musicians (or better promoted musicians) who get the gig. 
  • In business, it's those who get results and profits who become executives. 

Likewise, if you show up to the table with grey hordes and aren't actively painting them, you simply "aren't there yet." You have neglected an important part of the hobby, and I'm not going to applaud you for your personal "approach" to the hobby.

That does not make you (or me) a bad person. It does not reflect on your character, your behavior outside of wargaming or your worth as a human being.

However, make no mistake, painted models are part of wargaming and have always been. If you're content to repeatedly bring your Bondo-patched Camaro to the car show, that's your choice, but don't expect the same degree of esteem and approval from your fellow enthusiasts. Like any hobby, there are loads of people out there ready with tips and techniques to help you get your stuff done, and many more are willing do it for you for a price, but it's up to you see that it gets done.

I do not hold myself apart from these same standards and fully realize that they apply to me as well. I paint most of my minis with fairly quick block paint schemes followed by a Minwax dip. It's a standard I'm happy with and looks good on the tabletop. I even have a few prepainted miniatures that have been rebased and dipped!

But I don't ever expect to get the same kind of props or respect as someone who paints their miniatures to a higher standard any more than I would expect a best-painted award at a convention. In fact, sometimes I'm actually a tiny bit disappointed when I receive kudos for my fully painted figures, because it means that so many gamers are used to seeing hordes of unpainted models at their local game store.

To sum up, the hobby has standards. If you choose not to meet them, or your local game scene chooses to ignore them, then that's up to you and them. However, they do exist. Pretending they do not may give a warm fuzzy feeling to a few people, but it lowers the the hobby as a whole and does no one any favors. As one of the thousands of players who was attracted to wargaming by the spectacle of painted armies clashing on a battlefield of beautiful terrain, it's simply not a standard I'm willing to let go. Nor should any of us.

-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

(Photos from the four-year history of CSW and the many games we've played during that time)

49 responses to “Painting Matters: In Defense of Hobby Standards

  1. I agree, wargaming minis should be painted. It doesn't have to be to a prize-winning level–I paint my minis to a good-enough-for-the-tabletop standard myself–but it should be more than a coat of primer.

  2. Wise words. I agree wholeheartedly.

  3. I just wanted to add one small postscript to all of this. To those of you thinking of at some point visiting CSW, don't think that you have to have painted miniatures of your own. CSW always endeavors to have enough painted miniatures on hand to share with guests and newcomers for whatever game we are playing. This is something that is stated on the club yahoo group, but not as clear on the blog.

    Unpainted minis may not be welcome at our tables, but everyone is welcome at CSW.


  4. So I will disagree with the theme of the essay. Since the author doesn't grasp that they aren't the overall judge and jury in the hobby. Having seen the corollary to the overall concept that the hobby has standards, is those folks with amazing skills. That they make others feel afraid and ashamed of thier limited or lack of skills. Seen it in scale model clubs and gaming clubs that I have belonged to over the years. Where we have new folks who are either returning after years of not being in it or are brand new. So they first few attempts and show at meetings or events isn't met with informed criticism and congrats; but that minor subset of folks in every hobby club (the "pro-am", of which the author appears to fall in) that rides folks for the mistakes or failure to maintain a certain standard of realism. That destroys folks want to be part of this hobby (or any hobby) since these cutting remarks from the folks that have better skills or better research, time and whatever else to get those figures right.
    So after a while there are folks who will take the easy way out. Not paint and just get harassed for not painting or simple paints instead to doing the details like the "pros" in the club do. Since either way they will catch flak. The question you need to ask isn't why can't folks bring painted minis to a club meet or gaming met. Instead ask why won't they do so and see if you can't reform your club to better help and bring up the skills of the members. Don't let those who have the most awesome skill push the newbies out for the lack of skills or fear of being trashed for not having perfection on the table.

  5. I think you're missing the point of the essay. Nowhere does Karl talk about how he criticizes paint jobs. Instead he talks about how he encourages people to paint and therefore embrace the hobby to the fullest. That's all! No browbeating, no snickering at beginner's paintjobs, just encouragement.

    Thankfully the numbers speak for themselves. Since the three of us started Chicago Skirmish Wargames four years ago, we have seen an ever-increasing number of players who are attracted to our style of gaming. We now host meetings all over the Chicagoland area attended by a diverse array of players from all ages and walks of life, including more than a few total newbies. And nary an unpainted miniature in sight on the battlefield!

  6. Southern Air Pirate,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the issue. You raise some very good points about dynamics that could arise from the maintaining of standards. I definitely agree that we should not let the best intimidate the newbies and every club -regardless of standards or lack thereof- should strive to be a welcoming and encouraging place. Not allowing more skilled members to push out newbies is important.

    However, here at CSW we've never had to ask "why they won't" paint or attend because our members have always brought painted minis to the table and and those who haven't been able to do so have always been welcomed and presented with painted minis to play with so that they can fully participate (see my earlier comment).

    Standards do not equal elitism and excelling does not have to result in intimidation


  7. I would like to add that all painted minis are welcome in our group, whether they are from a first time painter, or an expert. We always complement and encourage everyone.

    I think that if you are ever gaming with a group that criticizes so harshly, and makes people feel bad about their abilities, then perhaps it is time to find a new group to game with.

    When I started gaming with this group, I had painted minis, but they were barely a 3 color "tabletop standard" with almost no detail or shading, but seeing all the fantastic work, as well as hobbying alongside my fellow gamers has really improved my skills. I am not sure this would have happened had I not stumbled upon CSW.

    However, had I not felt inspired by my peers, and continued to keep things simple, I would not have been turned away, and I would still be an active member of the group.

  8. Actually, Patrick read his essay again and he does make the comment on the slight that skills not up to par are not worthy of my time to game against unless I have to. The Chicago Gaming club maybe different, I don't know haven't been near Chicago in well over a decade. I actually came to this essay via a link from "Wargames,Soldiers and Strategy" magazine as part of a larger debate about what makes the hobby and hobbyist. Again, I base my own experience on clubs from Florida to Virginia to California and Nevada in the hobby a that interest me. Which are mini gaming and scale models. There was always one in clubs or at conventions or such mets that would snicker and cut about paints, kits, skills. The attitude presented made it hard for new folks to get involved or stay around.

    Is painting and assembly of the minis and terrain and such important? Oh by all means. It is also important to do to your skill level and work on improving it. Have folks contribute towards teaching others how they do X, Y, Z in this hobby. I also think the hardest part is that you have folks who come to this hobby and realize it's a couple of C notes just to get started and that's before you even begin to paint. Yet, they want to play and be involved with thier army and not someone elses. So at what point do you as a player or a club say what is acceptable and what isn't as the "standard"? How do we teach new gamers where to start and how to effectively budget into this hobby? That is some thing else that kills this hobby that I have seen. People dive head long in with the most expensive and often largest armies they can not afford before they realize there is more to this than just the minis in the beautiful scenes on the box.
    One more thing one of the best clubs I ever belonged to was in Japan for scale models. We had folks of all sorts of skills and during club meetings there was always a class and a show. What was great about this was that we had superior guys showing the new guys technical aspects to improve skills and the club would at the mini show award folks for other only outstanding figures, but improved skills. That gave confidence to the new folks. There was also work behind the scenes where some with great skills would set up meets and help those starting out to be tutored privately to work on skills or techniques.

  9. Recently I was at a rather large event held in Taunton MA at Captain Con. It was the Warmachine/Hordes team tournament I was running demos at it. I was utterly AMAZED at how many people had unpainted/unprimed minis during the tournament as I looked around. I get that not everyone paints to the same standard. I do agree with the author that painting is part of the hobby just as much as having your chrome polished on your classic car, or the brass on your instrument before a concert. No oine says it has to be golden demon quality, but put a little effort in….

  10. We're definitely in agreement on accommodating newbie players, Pirate. We take a few specific steps to accomplish this in Chicago, including focusing on skirmish games that require only 8-20 figures per side. We don't play any of the traditional commercial-market wargames like Warmachine, Warhammer or Warhammer 40k, nor any games that require miniatures from a particular product line. Some of my best warbands have been pieced together from flea market finds for just a few bucks.

    We also spend time at the beginning and end of each club night discussing painting, hobby tips, terrain building, etc, very much like your Japanese club does. So our entire club is structured around making it as easy as possible to get up and running on the tabletop, with fully painted miniatures.

    I understand you are focused on accommodating new players … all I can do is point you to the comment from Josh down below. He is one of our newest members, and has jumped in enthusiastically as a painter, modeler and terrain builder, having no prior experience! There's nothing out of the ordinary about his experience with us (except for his ravishing good looks). Having standards is the water that lifts the whole boat!

  11. Karl,

    I appreciate the acceptance of a counter view. I do agree with some of the author's premise that painting is part of the hobby. I just wonder at times if folks understand how much this hobby has as a time sink. I don't live in Chicago haven't for over a decade now. Never really used minis to game was always a chit/paper/dice guy. As I got into minis I realized how frighteningly expensive it was to have minis and even harder to have some from all of the same line to field armies. That said I have detected at times that elite feel at clubs other places I have lived and in other hobbies I do (mainly scale models) where folks do cut for not accurate paint jobs or mistakes that were missed in the want to finish a 12 or longer month build.

    I just wanted to mention this dynamic of club politics. Since it does strike from time to time and how do you get folks involved that are only "weekend warriors" in the hobby (to quote a phrase from a friend of mine about the casual gamer) to keep coming back to meets and sessions? Since it is painful to hear that the three months of Saturday and Sundays on the kitchen table or office desk painting up a Bolt Action company or a 40k Eldar raiding party is not up to snuff to game with someone else at the next month session.
    Are all the experiences like that? I would say no, but it is something that needs to be watched for and a club should work on helping and improving folks skill. Whether that is having tutoring sessions during meets to maybe even giving awards out for those that are improving thier skills during a discussion at a meeting or convention.

  12. I wasn't totally trying to kick up a Hornets nest. It is just that as I myself get back into this hobby after 20 years of not doing it, the whole idea of what makes or breaks the hobby and makes a true hobbyist has been something that has come up all over the world as I have been to clubs and had post meeting discussions over beers.

  13. Pat's correct. I am a good looking dude.

  14. Southern Air Pirate,
    Just to clarify, I am the author of the essay. We are very aware of the time/cash/effort sink that Wargames can be, hence our willingness to always provide for those who don't have painted armies.We also do such things as bulk buys and trading amongst our selves to save $.

    We have never had to set any kind of quality standards for painting. Whether 3 color, 80 color, or just rebasing some prepainted clix figs, it's all fine with us. The testament to this is that in 4 years since CSW's founding no one has ever tried to break the "spirit" of the club by doing something ridiculous like splashing paint on figures and trying to play them or spraying them one color and claiming them to be painted.

    As for club dynamics, We are all mostly weekend warriors. The club only meets once every other week and I think it is the guaranteed spectacle of fully painted figures and great looking terrain, as much as the friendly welcoming atmosphere that has kept the club so vibrant. When folks make the effort to show up on a Thursday night, they know they'll get good people an Great looking games, and that's proved to be a successful formula.

    You could say that only playing painted miniatures is not just a good standard, but it's a key to our club's success.

  15. No worries, Pirate. These are important topics of discussion. Welcome back to gaming!

  16. I don't think any CSW member would tell anyone who puts effort into something that their minis are not up to snuff.

    In addition, we frequently host hobby days where we paint or build together. We also have many blog posts detailing our projects, and are happy to answer any questions that come up.

    I am sorry to hear that you have experienced so much of that elitist attitude, but I don't think our standards make us elitist.

  17. Karl,

    That is an awesome attitude with respect to take and accept all manner of attempts to have figures and basing to have gaming with. As I discussed with Patrick above, I came to this article via a link from "Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy" magazine. Again as part of a larger series of topics they were having over what makes the hobby and hobbyist. I guess what got my mind engaged with this was your writing and how on one hand you say "at least make the effort" to have assembled and painted figures, then you go all Alec Baldwin "Glengarry Glen Ross" and the "Coffee is for closers" speech, by bringing up that if you show up all the time with less than a game material you don't play.
    There are folks I have meet in my life in this hobby and a few others that make it thier life to paint the best ability possible. There are others that paint just enough to get resemblance of the idea so they can play the game. Which is the difference in my mind between a diehard hobbyist and the weekend warrior. The guy that goes home after work and his stress relief is radio on and the smell of paint with a touch of super glue from after dinner until late in the evening. All that versus the guy who finds three hours free from that thing called real life and works on his figures and terrain and markers as he sees fit.
    I also think and in the club I am in now near the Seattle area have tossed the same around thought, that the latest and greatest hotness in games also causes this whole mass of grey or base metal/plastic on the table. We just saw a big shift in out club from FoW to Bolt Action and into the latest rev of 40k as well as SAGA come in to challenge FoG. So it's hard to keep up as game dynamics change. Which again asks to me does it matter what we game and how we game it as long as we game?
    Should we accept the folks who just moved here from Edwardsville or Chester and have some grey hordes of mecha-star-troopers intermixed with some quick brush and dipped figures? Or just reject them because the complete horde isn't painted. It's hard and to me accept them and game.

  18. It is a fine line to be sure. We strive to have standards, but not more standards than necessary. Simultaneiously we want to make accommodations for those who can't meet the standard without compromising the standard.

    Put simply, its accommodation without compromise.

    We do make a redline of painted minis don't play, but as you've seen, through loaning of minis we also enable every person to play.

    As for the club you're a part of, I don't have any answers. It's clear that club is more interested in gaming a new game than in having painted miniatures. Not likely to be a group of gamers that's going to have a "no unpainted" rule. Not much you can do about that, but I have a feeling they wouldn't want to anyway.

    It's just not a problem that CSW has as we've never been a group to chase after the latest anything. Further the generic nature of the rules we play means that we've likely got figures for most any Post apoc, sci-fi or fantasy game we might decide to play. Not that it stops us from painting more….

    For myself, I would still say that it does matter how we game to those for whom painted minis is a priority. If you it right, you can have painted only and still leave no one behind.


  19. Best view on painted vs unpainted comes from those who don't game. Outsiders who see what's going on and make a comment.
    My wife saw some unpainted stuff and said…'What's the point of playing with those'.

  20. Very interesting comments. For what it's worth, my opinion is that as long as your group/ opponent agrees; painted or unpainted – go for it. The hobby, is, after all, about fun and to be frank, life is too short and time is precious in our ever increasingly busy lives.

  21. I would just like a detailed explanation of each picture and what is being played.
    Because, they all look awesome.

  22. So the idea is if we don't paint then we shouldn't play…sorry but you sir are full of crap. Your article is total BS, and here is why. I play to have fun. If you are telling me that I have to spend more time painting and building the army or mechs or what not just to play a simple game verses having fun, meeting new people and making new friends, then you yourself need to find a new hobby.

    The idea of painting is great and for some they excel at it others, well a a two year old with magic markers could do a better job and some folks just want to play the damn games vs doing a lot of extra work. Prior to Warhammer most games had cardboard counters, simple ease and you could get into playing the game vs extra work.

    Maybe you need to look at things from the idea of hobbies are for fun and enjoyment for each person, not the masses.

  23. The idea is that we as a club decided early on that we wanted painted miniatures on our battlefields, and so we have built the club around making that possible, by loaning out figures, pitching in to help paint, building terrain, etc to reach that goal. Even from day one, it was unbelievably easy to achieve this goal. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a like-minded group, but it works for us.

  24. OK, are you ready? There are blog posts for each of these battles, just search the archives to find the posts (and more pics)!

    Pic 1 – Kings of War, undead vs. chaos warriors
    Pic 2 – Warhammer 40k 2nd edition
    Pic 3 – All Things Zombie
    Pic 4 – Tomorrow's War
    Pic 5 – Song of Blades & Heroes warband
    Pic 6 – Song of Blades & Heroes warband
    Pic 7 – Post-apocalyptic warband
    Pic 8 – Apocalypticum playtest
    Pic 9 – Panzer8 10mm mech combat
    Pic 10 – In the Emperor's Name

  25. I think this article was written by someone with a completely different hobby than you.

    Nobody is telling you what to do. If you want to play with unpainted minis, go ahead. I'm sure you can find like-minded people to game with.

    Also, miniature wargaming began long before warhammer. Here is a timeline of wargaming's history you may find interesting:

    Thanks for your comment.

  26. Thank you. Best comment in this thread. I hope everyone reads it.

  27. Thanks for that link Josh.
    Not to gang up too much here, but I would just piggyback on the idea that an examination of the miniature wargames hobby (which stretches back much further than Warhammer!) shows that painted miniatures have always been a fixture of the hobby and an accepted standard. The grey hordes that have appeared so widely in the last decade are an aberration, mostly confined to certain games and should not be taken as a new standard or negate the old.

    You're of course free to reject the standard and play your way. Do what you want, but that doesn't make the standard disappear or change the fact that you are rejecting a long-held standard of miniature wargaming.

  28. Thank you for this article!

    I happily acknowledge that people are absolutely free to play with unpainted minis. It's a free country, after all. In fact, some of my regular opponents lack the time to properly paint up a force, and honestly the older and busier I get, I'm just happy to get a game in.

    But that's all it is: a bit of dice-rolling and model-pushing over beers essentially for old time's sake. In more serious company, I expect to see a painted army because that is a big part of what I enjoy.

    An unpainted army screams "rules lawyering power builder" to me, and its owner is generally not someone I'm interested in playing against. Exceptions? Absolutely – work-in-progress armies, armies built by people who don't have the skill to bring an army to completion, mismatched poor-man's armies, and of course, the rare exception for the gamer with 3 kids and 2 jobs who gets one night out per week – I'm always happy to play these guys and gals.

    For the most part, I feel that miniature wargaming is a hobby that requires a balanced and forgiving mindset. So often the rules are "wiggly," and even the most popular and successful companies feature disclaimers in their books (like 40k's "First Rule") saying that these are not finely-tuned tactical simulations. Well painted armies, to me, reinforce this paradigm of fun, and of not taking the thing too seriously.

    Bare metal / plastic / resin armies, on the other hand, signal that the person opposite me is there to compete for fabulous cash and prizes, which just really seems to miss the point of the hobby altogether.

    As for the implicit (and in some cases, explicit) question of "who am I to judge?" I'm the guy on the other side of the table, and I reserve the right to take my ball and go home :).

  29. I disagree completely, but in a different way.

    I *DO* prefer painted miniatures, they look better. Nicely painted are better than crappy painted. Who wouldn't rather play a game with nice miniatures?

    I also think the same of terrain, and *hate* seeing nice miniatures on horrible looking terrain. Battletech often has this issue when playing on hexes, as there is no good 3D hex terrain outside of heroscape, and even it leaves a lot to be desired.

    HOWEVER, while I do prefer that, it doesn't make the game, not one bit.

    I also play many games with .5" cardboard chits, and have just as much fun with them. I would be 100% fine playing 40K on a flat table with pretty counters, just as I would enjoy playing it on a computer screen. Perhaps my use to computers allows me to enjoy that more, but a VASSAL/Cyberboard game can be just as enjoyable.

    Now, for my main disagreement. I do NOT consider painting "part" of the hobby. If it was, we wouldn't see so many pre-painted games coming out lately (like x-wing). Thing is, we all like the miniatures, but not everybody has the time, nor desire, to paint them.

    I usually try to buy painted ones, or hire somebody to do it. I couldn't care less about sitting around for hours painting, I have better things to do.

    I don't buy miniatures to cherish like they are collectible dolls, I buy them to represent a combat unit on a tabletop.

    To say that you *must* paint to be part of the hobby is obviously the opinion of a biased person who loves to paint.

    The analogy of a car club is fine, but lets change that to a RACING car club. It doesn't matter what your car looks like, but how you drive it and whats under the hood.

    *VERY* biased article, but probably feels very accurate for a subset of gamers out there. It isn't the opinion of the community overall, or even the predominate one.

  30. I'm glad to hear you try to buy painted miniatures and/or pay for a painting service. Really, that's the whole point of this essay. You can hate painting all you want, and insist that it's not an essential part of the hobby, but at the end of the day, we are in agreement that gaming is at its best when using painted miniatures and lovely terrain.

  31. Nice article. I enjoy seeing the work that people put into their models and hope they appreciate the work I do on mine. I do, occasionally, play with models that are not fully finished, but most of the time that is because I'm working on them but needed them for the game that day, so I usually consider it a "test" for the unit/model to "earn" its paint job…perform well and I'll give you some extra painting attention lol. Although the next time I play (which is rare enough), the model will be either done or farther along the process.

    My biggest issue is not the people who use unpainted or just primed minis, but the people who play with those same minis on a consistent basis, sometimes even years later. I know a couple guys like that…one in particular is a good Warmachine player, but his models are crap. Most of them he buys used online and never does anything with them…some of them aren't even fully assembled anymore, because if a piece breaks off, he never seems to glue it back on. This has been like this for 4 or 5 years. Honestly, I really don't enjoy playing against those people who don't invest some time in their models because I lovingly build and paint mine. It's a respect for the game, the hobby, and the opponent.

    Like the author, it may not win me any awards, but my paint jobs are important to me and often I will devise my own schemes for my figures, which makes it even more personal. For my 40k Space Marines, I even went so far as to design and print my own chapter decals as well as devise my own color scheme for them that ties into their backstory and history and I'm also working on the same thing for the Tau minis I've started. My Cygnar, Menoth, and Circle all have their own look that isn't just a copy of the "studio" models.

    I do agree with the poster that talked about "paint intimidation" because I've seen that happen. I would tell new painters or those who don't think their skills are up to par to do the best they can, maybe ask someone about their technique, but most of all, be proud of your own work and learn new things and over the years you will see how your painting evolves. I've always kept a few old models and minis I painted long ago and while they aren't great, they remind me how new techniques and skills have changed how I paint. 🙂

  32. Thinking those with unpainted forces are "less than" purely on that reasoning is extremely arrogant and damaging to the hobby.

    Miniature games are *not* just about painting and collecting regardless of how your opinion may differ from that.

    If it was just about painting, why would any company release pre-painted figures?

    If its just about painted miniatures, why would we have so many games out there with nothing but chipboard?

    Play the game and have fun, quit thinking it is serious in any way.

  33. Syntax, the fact that companies release prepainted figures actually bolsters my argument. They want us to play with painted figures! Full stop. It couldn't be more clear-cut than that.

    Note that this blog post doesn't say *you* have to *paint*, it just says that *painted models* are a good standard for our club. Prepainted, paint-for-hire, whatever, it doesn't matter as long as there's been an effort made to take them beyond grey plastic hordes.

  34. "standard" is the key negative thing here though. Aside from simply aesthetics, why does it matter if a miniature is painted or not? What if I actually prefer the bear metal look on my miniatures, are you going to think less of me?

    You may as well say "if you ain't pretty, don't come play with us".

  35. It seems we disagree that having standards is a negative thing. I don't think it is. I think it is a positive, and the last four years of our club's growth has shown that to be true. We've never turned anyone away at the door for not having painted minis.

    What we actually say is "If you don't have painted miniatures, we'll happily provide you some from our large shared collection of models." When you think about it, that's pretty awesome.

  36. Well if you still allow folks with unpainted stuff, thats fine, it is when you turn them away because it is not your "standard" that you become a butt. I offer up my own painted miniatures often, but usually get turned down. Then I'm like "heck, mine were painted" but it isn't what that player wanted. Sure, it doesn't look quite as good, but I'll be damned if I'll judge him based on that decision. I guess standards are fine, as long as exceptions to the standards are also fine.

  37. Unfortunately, that makes us "butts". As elaborated in a different comment, we do allow new folks, but NOT their unpainted stuff. The club always makes sure to have enough painted miniatures for newbies, guests or club members who aren't invested in a particular game.

    Newbie's are always welcome, but you're minis will have to stay off the gaming table until they are painted. The upshot is that every time someone comes to the club, they are guaranteed to see nothing across the table from them but painted miniatures and great terrain, and most folks seem to think that's worth showing up for.


  38. I would feel horrible to tell some 15 year old, who just bought a boxed set last weekend and put it together, that he can't use it because its unpainted or just primed, and none of our folks brought the same things already painted. That'd make the top 5 a-hole things to do on a gaming table. If I saw that, I'd go buy a box, and superglue it as I played him because I don't want him to think all gamers are like your group.

  39. And I would feel horrible if some 15-year-old stopped by one of our game tables and saw a pile of shoddily assembled, unpainted plastic toys, and wasn't treated to the glorious, visually stunning spectacle of two painted armies squaring off on the battlefield.

    I started gaming as a 15-year-old, and I can assure you, it wasn't a clump of superglued space marines that got me to the table.

  40. Bad Syntax,
    Now you're stretching. There are lots of activities where that 15 year old (or any newbie for that matter) is going to be greeted with enthusiastic welcome, but not allowed to play with his new toys/models/equipment/vehicle/etc until a specific amount of work/preparation is done first. Look at the list above in my essay if you want some examples.

    Treating him like any other member of the club, passing him a tray of painted models, welcoming him to the table, sharing painting tips, etc is far better than pandering to him just because he bought some new models. Putting the models on the table is a privilege you earn by painting your models, but in the meantime, pull up a chair and game with these figs. It's good policy for the club and learning that delayed gratification and effort brings a reward is a pretty good lesson for a youngster in an age where just about every other form of entertainment centers around instant or rapid gratification.

    Being welcoming and encouraging does not mean you have to abandon standards, and it's ok that there are some things in this world -even in hobbies- that you have to work for.


  41. You're very welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    I'm not sure that my impressions of bare-model-players are quite as extreme as yours, but I definitely resonate with the idea that it is often a clear signal of a very different approach to gaming.

    Correct or not, I too see bare armies and feel immediately that this person has an approach to the game that is going to be more centered around competitive gaming. I'm likely not always correct, but it does seem to be an impression that plays out often.

    It's also true that I'm likely to have much less in common with this type of gamer. For lack of a better term, their approach to gaming is missing much of what I value about the hobby. Put simply, by their actions, this person has likely demonstrated that they are OK with neglecting the visual aspect of the hobby, and what's left is not a hobby that I want any part of.

    This is not to say that there aren't power gamers who paint their armies and gamers who love the narrative aspect of gaming while neglecting to paint their armies, but it does seem to be an observable phenomenon.


  42. Activities? He wanted to *PLAY*. This whole "no unpainted on my table" just stinks of elitism and arrogance, and is totally against the entire principle of PLAYING A GAME. To lay that level of judgement on people when playing a game, I truly cannot comprehend that kind of class system. "No Bob, you can't play with us because your miniatures are only primed. Go over to the kiddie table and learn to paint first".
    Painting for competition is cool. Painting on the tabletop is great, nothing beats a bunch of sexy miniatures on sexy terrain. But *requiring* painted miniatures for a freaking GAME?
    Who says if a miniature paint job is good enough, the elite folks? The amount of bias is sickening.

  43. Bad Syntax,
    You're repeatedly disregarding things we have stated earlier and throwing up straw men. To once again restate earlier points made:
    -We never send newbies to another "kiddie" table. Everyone games with us.
    -We have never had to "judge" whether a miniature was good enough.
    -Painted miniatures have been part of "Miniature Wargaming" since the beginning, we are merely upholding those same standards.

    As I see it, our divergence has two main parts. You seem unable to grasp the fact that most activities (yes, even games) have rules and requirements for participation. Also, you seem to deny that firm standards for participation can be maintained alongside friendliness, goodwill, encouragement and genuine respect. As you appear otherwise un-convincable, I will simply point to our 4 year history of both holding fast these standards while at the same time providing the as-described environment of welcome and inclusion.

    I am quite convinced that what seems to you to be crass elitism, would be -if experienced in person- revealed to be the very opposite.


  44. I disagree mate.

    If I play table Table Tennis once a month against a wall, am I a lazy player? If I play music and only play a few versus here and there (as opposed to the whole song?) am I a lazy or useless magician?

    No not at all. The reason you are wrong is its all circumstantial.

    You mentioned business for example. Well if someones profits and success is limited to the population of his audience, does that make him lazy businessmen? Of course not. If someone has found a comfortable work to income ratio and doesnt keep expanding his business, is he a lazy businessmen? Of course not. The above are either limited by external factors, or have reached a comfortable limit on what they choose to do.

    If you dont like some wargamers limits on what they want/can do with their time, then thats nobodies problem but your own and its nothing to demean or look down upon someone for. It doesnt make you any better involvement wise in the hobby.

    It simply means you are, through circumstance, are able to paint your minis to a standard you enjoy. If someone doesnt have the same circumstances as you, theres no reason to think your input to this hobby is any better than the guy who hasnt painted his army.

    Whats easy or doable for you, is not the case for everyone else. Some empathy and humility would be a good trait to learn.

    I personally pay people to paint a lot of my models. I dont have the time to paint. But not all wargamers can pay someone to paint models OR have the time to paint them. So I wont look down on them, or think my involvement is for some reason worth more than theirs. Just like how sporting stars dont look down on a bunch of kids who play sports every so often for their "lack of commitment" to sporting compared to themselves.

    Unless you can prove to me, that all wargamers are able and bodied to paint all their armies and models to a reasonable standard they are happy with, your point is crap.

    In short, I disagree. But hey, at least you have people with the same view point as you. Which is the cool thing about hobbies, its full of people who like and do things differently. Which is one of the many reasons some people have differently painted models.

  45. Thanks for your input Jayden,
    I take your point about it not being a matter of laziness, rather it's mostly a matter of folks choosing to spend their time one way rather than another. However, to be fair to myself, I don't think I discuss laziness or accuse anyone of such anywhere in my essay.

    Really, we sidestep the issue of able-ness to paint, desire to paint, time-to-paint, etc with the simple standard that our wargaming is painted, (almost) no exceptions. Whether it is done by the player, a pre-paint production line, a commission painter or a friend, the only standard is that it gets done.

    Your point about empathy and humility is well taken. I completely agree with you and it's part of the basis for our open door policy to all gamers regardless of experience and our policy of always having additional painted miniatures on hand to provide for those who don't have them.

    You don't have to have painted minis to play with us. We've got plenty to share!


  46. Fair enough karl. You are right, laziness wasnt really on the topic above, I just somewhat felt like it was implied. A lot of posts I have read tend to imply laziness, so your rose above the rest it seems!

    Everything you just said is well and fine really, and as I said, you have like minded players with you and thats all that matters. But just remember that is your version of the hobby (I guess is the way to say it) and the same standards cant, and shouldnt be held everywhere to everyone. Diversity is always nice, and more importantly, its welcoming. How would you feel if a golden demon winner looked down on you and replaced your models with his for a game because you cant paint to the same level as he? Probably not very invited and even less compelled to play as a result. (of course, I could be wrong here, but I think most would feel that way).

    Anyway, keep up the good modelling work, some nice looking stuff you guys have!

  47. Paining minfigs look so awesome. No matter what others say, there is a reason the minis are painted and they look good in colors. Though, it’s a free country and everyone’s free to be they wish.

  48. Just wanted to add a link to a discussion about this article on the "Wargames Soldiers and Strategy" magazine facebook page. Interesting to see that the discussion takes a similar arc, though with more individuals offering their opinions.
    To the best of my knowledge no CSW member participated in the discussion.


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