Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dressed for the Occasion

A comment in relation to my last game of Warhammer sparked a thought or two with me last week.  Paul, the Grimsby Mariner considered that my Orc army had beat another similar Orc force as it was 'Dressed for the Fight'; that is to say painted.

 What you want to look at across that table...

Now I'm personally a hardliner on the subject of painted models on the gaming table; all my models should be completed, or at least close enough to it that at a cursory glance from a distance they appear so.  If you are a regular, you'll have rarely if ever seen a battle report on the blog without one fully painted army on the tabletop.  Mine. 

What you often get (nice retro models though)

However I can't enforce my own standards on my opponents, otherwise I wouldn't have many.  The hobby of course is different things to different people, but where I first started playing, painting your models was mandatory.  Unpainted figures were, and still are to my knowledge, not allowed on the table.  It's a strict policy I know, but one I still apply to myself, and certainly the best motivator to get paint on.

And to be fair, GW maintain much the same standards, if not so rigorous, as a demand of using models in their stores (aside from them only being GW models, natch) is that a minimum of three colour paint jobs be adhered to.  I think their ulterior motives for this can be challenged, but I'd rather play against badly daubed models than a sea of grey plastic, given the choice.  At least their owner has tried.

Actually, this demeans us both

The competition is all to some of course and matters such as painting their models or building scenery are secondary.  But really, if that is all you are into, why not play video games?  I mean if you are going to the trouble and expense of buying a bunch of toy soldiers, isn't it at least an idea to make them look nicer?  Moreover, do it well and unlike buying a new car or sports kit or whatever, they'll be worth more when you sell them than they cost.

And anyway, unpainted models are just soulless lumps of lead or styrene; painting them infuses them with character, makes them yours.  I'd rather wait to field my collection than chuck it straight out the box onto a board.

Besides they obviously fight better.

Sure, it takes time, and ability; but few painters got good on their first model; as the old adage goes, to get good at painting, do 500 bad paintings first.  And the rewards are there; it need not even take that long if you use the right techniques...

It's just a matter of sucking it up and doing that part of the hobby that takes a bit more effort.


  1. Years ago the game store I worked for hosted regular Saturday afternoon gaming sessions at the local Youth Center.

    We had only one rule regarding miniatures . . . "if it isn't painted, it's dead!"

    The paint jobs didn't have to be fancy, but it did help get the kids started right . . . note: we also held painting tutorials for them.

    -- Jeff

  2. Good post with several valid points. I bugs me to see unpainted figures on the table. I always think that people who play with bare, unpainted miniatures should just stick to playing chess or draughts.

  3. We've always tried to run "No naked" miniature type house rules with an ingame benefit to the opponenet of someone who disregards this rule... i use the term naked lightly and brown primer is being accepted far to often as acceptable...

    The argument of "i wanna get a feel for the army before commiting to the paint as i don't know what miniatures i gonna include yet..." is fairly common, but logical excuse :)

  4. At our home games the only concession we make is along the lines of, it's ok if the base isn't finished yet and that is generally only for a few models. Painted models make the hobby so much more rounded. Loosing to a well painted army is an honour, loosing to an unpainted army sucks! :)

  5. Thanks Dean. Yes the rule still applies and is enforced. We spend hours painting figures so to have an opponent not bother is demeaning and, to my mind, disrespectful.
    Good post well argued.

  6. Hi Dean
    I agree with Paul and wouldnt see the rule relaxed at Grimsby EVER however the Tuesday night section when GW and fantasy are played dont have the same rule and seem quite happy so its horses for courses. I dont see the point of setting up really nice scenery as provided by our club and then putting unpainted figures on it!
    It really isnt difficult to block paint and use Armypainter to get a nice effect and to me is part of the fun of the hobby

    good post Dave Tuck

  7. I certainly understand the desire that the forces on the field are resplendent in their finest uniform,but, I feel that the penchant for war gamers to impose a penalty of either social or mechanical nature on those who do not paint their models as damaging to the growth of the hobby. I could go on and on about why people don't paint, all that is really important is that they should not need to to be included. I completely understand such a rule being in place for tournaments as this is a large part of the hobby and tournaments are as much show as battle.

    I would rather gladly welcome a gray plastic army to my table than oust it's general and thereby loose a valuable opponent.

    Don't mean to be soap-boxy :) I've seen some very harsh statements in regard to this very topic though. (Not on here obviously)

  8. I can't recall an army of mine appearing in one of your battle reports unpainted.

  9. I suppose we are lucky in that we have painted armies for most periods and will always invite newcomers to join in a game or arrange one especially for them so they can experience the joy of playing with painted armies rather than counters,and hope from that we can then show and encourage them to paint and bring along their efforts and give them short cuts, tips etc to get a unit on the table.Painting isnt that difficult if you are told how to do it and we dont ask for more than basic colours and basing Thats always been enough to keep a new player interested, but I take your point its just we encourage the player and try to enthuse them to dump the gray plastic look and as we never do tournaments thats not an issue.I dont think the club website would have registered 65000 hits in the first year if it was full of pictures of unpainted figures? My vision of the hobby in the future is one of colour not monochrome and I dont think I would have started if the first game I d seen had involved 2 gray armies fighting each other it would seems a bit too like the axis and allies boardgame to me. Anyway thats been a club rule at Grimsby since 1971 and we are still here so it works for us but probably not for everyone.

    Dave Tuck

  10. Eeore: indeed not, and it's always good to have some old-shool gamers around to whom unpainted models are an anathema.

    To all; I accept the gray or undercoated models as the opponents perogiative, but they can expect teasing over them, if it's the same week after week. And I guess I gravitate to games where the other side is likely to be painted.

  11. Hmm. I saw the Orc battle report on your blog and was shocked, frankly. Wargaming to me is a two part hobby: painting and gaming. Just as I can't understand people who just paint figures ("collectors" I think Foundry call them)and don't game with them (if you want to just paint buy bigger scale figures)I can't understand those who can field unpainted figures. I also can't understand those who get other people to paint their figures for them. I would never, ever field unpainted figures because its cheating. You haven't done the work to get your army on the field! I could field loads of unpainted armies so that I could play more often at the club but I wouldn't dream of it and I have never seen an unpainted army at Guildford Wargames Club. We don't have a rule (we don't have rules, a committee or any of that nonsense anyway)but it's just not done. I am imagining a Bateman cartoon at this point. As for encouraging youngsters...well, it doesn't take much to undercoat and put on some flesh tones at the minimum as long as every time the army is fielded it has progressed paintwise but I agree that maybe gentle ribbing is the answer to shame someone into painting their figures.

  12. I've really hardened on this over the years. I used to be very easy going about whether an opponent had painted their army.

    However these days I will actively seek out the opponents I know will field painted armies, and when arranging a game with someone who has both painted and unpainted armies, I will politely request to play against their painted force.

    I get one game a week at the most, and the aesthetics of the game are as important as the game. I want my one game per week, if at all possible, to look good.

  13. I agree with adeptgamer. I think unpainted minis are ok in some circumstances. When I first started playing at the age of 13 I remember playing with unpainted minis, and my opponent used the card cutouts of High Elves from the Warhammer box. Was that third edition with the Goblins and Elves? We were so green, we played lengthways rather than across! As I was playing Chaos Dwarfs I was bound to lose. Anyway, I don't get on my high horse about it because if I had waited till I had painted my army I would never have got a game! And playing does motivate me to paint... Now I always paint my minis, but there are people out there with less time/experience who just want to play.

  14. I know that I am guilty of not having fully painted armies, and buying models for my next project before I finish painting my previous project.

    I think a lot of it for me boils down to not having painting time, or space. This is something which I am looking to change within the next few days.

    I will happily admit that painting is the part of the hobby that I enjoy the least, but I do find a sense of calm and achievement once I have been sat painting for a few hours... which brings me nicely to my next point about how I paint. I tend to do a lot over a very short periods of time, with massive gaps in between. I think I painted a whole 2,000pts Dark Elf army in a week or so. I used to book a week off work to paint, sounds odd I know, but it was a nice Holiday.

    Currently I'm torn between painting my Dwarfs, or my Ogres next... too many models!