Deathwing Squad Barachiel

Deathwing Squad Barachiel
Squad Barachiel with Belial

Sunday, April 29, 2018

HOW DO I GET OVER HOBBY BURNOUT?

Every other Sunday, "Uncle Atom" (Adam Loper) of Tabletop Minions hosts a two-hour live stream called, aptly enough, "The Every Other Sunday Show".  It's basically an open discussion that focuses in part on current events in gaming - whether that's an upcoming or recent convention, the release of a new game or model line, or some other topic of general interest.  But he also takes questions from viewers and these side topics often lead to interesting conversation.

One of the best questions that came up today is something I've heard many times before:
"What do I do about hobby burnout?  How do I get over it?"


Hobby burnout is something that many of us face from time to time - not just in gaming hobbies but in any of our interests.  Even when it's the ways we most enjoy spending our time, there comes a time when you just don't feel like doing it.  Could be for a short time - a few weeks, a month or two; or it could be a lot longer - months or even years.

First of all, this is normal, it's okay.  Our interests naturally wane and grow over time.  It's part of the human experience, and it keeps our recreation from feeling habitual.  Generally, we want to discover and explore new things.  Our brain chemistry is designed to reward us for doing so, which is why we participate in our favorite activities repeatedly and frequently.

But no matter who you are, we only have so many hours in a day.  Most of us have other obligations and demands on our time - whether that's work, or family, or even simply other non-gaming activities with friends.  That can be a good thing!  Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.  But it can also lend to feelings of guilt if we don't spend the free time we have left doing the things we enjoy - whether that's painting miniatures or playing a game.  And, ironically, that can sometimes make us less likely to want to do the things we otherwise enjoy.  Before you know it, weeks or months have passed.

But we're all in this hobby because it's something we enjoy - so, naturally, we want to keep it enjoyable.  But what is the best way to do so, and how do we get over that feeling of boredom or disinterest that sometimes keeps us from going back?

We have talked a little bit about this a few years back, but that was more about getting the motivation to finish a project.  Some of the things mentioned there still pertain to this issue also, so they bear repeating.

Some of these suggestions have a counterpoint - they may seem contradictory but that's just because there needs to be a balance.  Burnout usually is the result of taking something to extremes, so chances are you're at one end or the other of each situation.


Take some time off:  As "Brother Captain Arkhan" once said on the Bolter & Chainsword forums: "You cannot fertilize a field if it's Winter... wait for Spring again".  Sometimes all you need is a little time away.  Put it down for a few days, a week, even a month or two if that's what it takes.  Generally, you'll find yourself naturally drawn back to your hobby after you've had a little time to rest from it.  But what if you don't?

Look for new sources of inspiration: If you feel burned out by a game or a hobby project, put it down and do something else until that passion returns.  There are a lot of non-gaming sources where you might find inspiration - movies, books and magazines, even music.  Look for something related to what you are working on (most games have a considerable amount of related fiction - some good, some not so good) or seek out something new entirely!  

As "Brother Chaplain Kage" said on the Bolter & Chainsword : "If the spark has died, you need to find a new one."

Whether it's a new game, a different hobby, a TV series, or something else, I'm the sort of person who finds a topic of interest and immerses myself completely - thoroughly and intensely exploring everything I can about it.  After a while, I find myself oversaturated and before I get sick of it, I move on to doing something else.  But I always come back to each of my existing interests - whether it's weeks, months, or sometimes many years later.

But the upside of this near-obsessive focus is that I have discovered lots of new interests to keep things fresh.  I've discovered games I'd never have played otherwise, found new models and factions that make me want to try something new when it comes to painting them, and one other thing it's helped me to do is:

Make new friends... One of the first things I do when I find a new spark is to get on the Web and find forums, other blogs, or social media groups that share that interest.  It gives me access to a treasure trove of new ideas and discussionand helps to stoke my new-found interest.  But if you can find something local, that's even better!  Whether it's a Facebook group for gamers in your city, or a game club at a local store, you can find people who share your passion for the hobby, or your new game.

...but avoid toxic people!  One of the downsides of Internet "communities" is the anonymity and lack of accountability that comes along with it.  Some places keep things civil and polite (whether because of the caliber of participant, or the effectiveness of moderation), while others are "wretched hives of scum and villainy".  If you come across people who are overly confrontational or lack respect, utilize whatever means are at your disposal to ignore, block or mute them.  Resist the temptation to engage and fuel the flames. If that sort of behavior is more prevalent or seems to be endorsed by the hosts, look somewhere else.


The same goes for local gaming groups or pick-up games at a store.  Generally, people behave better in face-to-face situations, but we've all heard stories of "That Guy" - the one who twists or breaks the rules to his advantage, who gets his fun at the sake of yours, or just is no fun to play with.  These people can ruin a game for a new player.  The best thing to do is to pack up and find someone (or somewhere) else to play.  Soon enough, you'll find yourself with new friends who might share more than just your interest in games.  When you have friends who share other interests, activities and hobbies, you'll find your gaming time with them is even more rewarding.

Try something new...  Chances are, you're trying to grind through some project that you'd really like to finish, but you've spent too long doing too much of the same.  Of course you'd like to play that new 2000-point Ultramarine army you've been itching to try, but halfway through you are sick of so much blue and can't bring yourself to paint another Marine.  That's OK, put the current project aside and work on a different one.  Refresh yourself by painting a warband from a different game or a team for Blood Bowl or Guild Ball, or a Necromunda gang or something.  Just don't get involved in something equally as large or daunting.  That's why I like skirmish games.

... but don't get into too many projects at once!  It's all too easy when changing things up, to suddenly find yourself halfway through not one project, but three or four.  That's as discouraging (possibly moreso) than one unfinished project.  So take a moment to consider one question:

What's the "One"?  Identify one thing as your "main" project and make sure that's what you keep coming back to.  Don't be afraid to set it aside (or even step away completely) from time to time, but the feeling of satisfaction from finally finishing a squad or a team (or even an entire army!) is very rewarding.  
Okay, your hobby doesn't have to make you feel like this ALL the time,
but you get the idea.

Put aside the distractions:  While playing a video game or watching your favorite shows may be a good break to recover from your burnout, take care not to let them distract you from your hobby for so long that you just don't care to return.  The rewarding thing about this hobby is that it's interactive - even if you are a painter who doesn't play any games, you're still a participant and not merely an observer.  Some people watch TV shows in the background while they are painting - but I can't help but think that this doesn't possibly help to focus on what you're actually doing.

For instance, I find Minecraft to be an incredibly enjoyable distraction - quite possibly the most advanced time-wasting invention of its time - but my painting table is just to the right and when I look at the unfinished squad I'm looking forward to playing, I realize that breaking rocks won't get them done.  I can imagine that I'll be spending a lot of hobby time on the new Battletech video game once I get it - but there's also a very good possibility that it will reignite my interest in the game it's based on, and I fondly recall all the weekly games we played all through my college years.  I've still got some of the 'Mechs I painted 30 years ago, and they're honestly not too badly painted (I regret giving away the rest of them - more on that later).

Clear up the clutter... Many times, all that's discouraging us is clutter - whether its an untidy painting area, disorganized bookshelves, or drawers (or even closets) full of things you want to get around to eventually.  That backlog can be daunting, and might even put you off from working on your current project.

Take the time to organize your workspace and your shelves.  Put all the stuff you're not working on out of sight - stow all those unopened boxes and unpainted models and sprues.  Make sure everything in your painting area is tidy and close to hand - and that the models on your desk are just your current project, and maybe the one side project you work on when you need to switch things up.  

If you know you've got games or armies that you'll never play again, consider selling them - but don't fall into the trap of getting rid of something you'll wind up buying again when the interest returns.  I've had to sell armies (or even most of my gaming stuff) before, solely out of financial necessity - and I've hated having to pay all over again to get what I had before.  But there was also the bitter realization that if I hadn't bought all the never-finished kits in the first place, I wouldn't have had a need to sell them.  Controlling impulse spending keeps your backlog down and your money free for other things.
Off the top of your head, can you actually list all the unfinished kits you have?

Look back on your past accomplishments:  Whether it's recalling the stories of memorable game sessions with your friends, looking at (or touching up) models on the shelf from years ago, or looking over pictures of your past work and seeing how far you've come, all of these things can help to remind you why you love the hobby and all the fun it's brought you.

You can also find inspiration by checking out the work of fellow hobbyists - whether it's a blog or pictures of their work.  Sometimes you'll find new ideas to try or the motivation to return to your project - just don't get discouraged by it!  I've seen work that's so amazing that I'll never equal it, no matter how much practice I get (I know my limitations) but that's not going to be an excuse to stop trying!

Don't force it:  Sometimes, we cling to something (whether it's an army, or a game) long after we've stopped enjoying it.  Are you forcing yourself to play an army (or possibly an entire game) that you never really liked, because maybe things were different in the last edition - and now they're not, but you already sunk all that time and money into them?  Give yourself permission to make the break from it.  Sell the army to someone who will enjoy it - but if you still enjoy the game itself, use the funds to try an army that appeals to you.  Don't base it solely on how powerful they are at the moment - or you're just trading one problem for another.  Don't go all in on the flavor of the month - find an army (or a new game) that you like for more reasons than that.  Can you identify with your new faction in some way? Do they look cool? Will they be fun to paint, and fun to play?  Will you enjoy them even if they don't win every game?  Love what you paint and love what you play, and you'll find the hobby fun no matter how the dice roll.

BUT HERE IS THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO GET OVER BURNOUT...

Remember that this is supposed to be all about FUN.  If it's not fun, why are you doing it?  If it feels like work, wouldn't it be better to do something that pays?  If your army or your game (or whatever) isn't bringing you joy, find something that does.  Get out and play a few games with your friends (old or new).  Find something fun to paint and play.  Before you know it, you'll be enjoying the hobby once more.

Do you have other ways you've used to get over hobby burnout?  Share them in the comments!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Necromunda Bug Bites Again!

As you've seen, I've recently been working on my new Adeptus Custodes army, while trying to finish my Goliath gang for Necromunda.  I've spent the last couple weekends working on the skin and hair for these roid-raging slabs of beef and it's coming along nicely.  Still quite a way to go but as I've said before, even if you can only spend 15 minutes or half an hour working on something, it's still that much closer to finished!

(The other six need their arms glued on after I've painted the bodies)

But, like many hobbyists, I like to keep some variety in my projects so that it never gets tedious.  That does mean I've got a growing backlog of other projects - despite an earlier article about why that's inadvisable.  But I suppose that makes me just like most of the rest, right?

So two other projects have worked their way into the queue.  When the rules for Genestealer Cults in Necromunda appeared in last month's White Dwarf, I figured I'd give them a go.  From the beginning, Necromunda has seemed like the ideal game for a small force of Genestealer cultists to appear.  There were rules for them in Shadow War: Armageddon, and despite some players thinking that such cults were out of place in this setting, I think that an Underhive is the perfect place for an alien cult to fester and spread.

I was reading some articles and watching videos on color theory (something I recommend every painter should do!) and I thought that orange would be a striking contrast to the blue carapace and lilac skin of Genestealer Hybrids.  A couple of Cults use that color scheme - the Cult of the Rusted Claw and the Cult Hydraic.  I think orange would look great on the hazard suits - kind of like the work suits of Brokkrs in Warpath, or flight suits in Star Wars.  Something like these dapper gents, painted by Darren Latham, who also sculpted the Genestealer Hybrid line:


And to see how that kind of scheme looks when we add in the blue carapace and spot colors, these Metamorphs from GW:


I haven't given too much consideration to the loadouts or roster, though my goal is to have a team that can be used in Necromunda and Shadow War interchangeably.  As for the weapons, I plan to go for form over function.  While certain guns might be more effective, I'm likely going to use as much repurposed mining equipment as possible.  I like the idea of Hybrids that have infiltrated the work force and steal their gear from work when the revolution begins.  Mining lasers, drills, saws, cutters, picks and dynamite... it may not be as good as heavy stubbers, shotguns and flamers but it will still be fun!

It will be a little while before I can get around to them but I'm hoping to make that my next project behind the Goliaths.  My FLGS is starting a new league in a few weeks and if I have my Goliaths done, I might actually get to play for a change! (See last week's article for more on that.)

So I stopped into my local Warhammer store to pick up a box of Acolyte Hybrids, and what do I see?  Yes, House Orlock was released a couple weeks ago.  I was kind of lukewarm about them in original Necromunda - they kind of looked like a bunch of dudes who washed out of Cobra-Kai or failed auditions for Rambo.  But my friend Don played them in our league back then and did well.  All of his gangers were named after famous serial killers, which is kind of disturbing until you consider how life in the Underhive is even worse.

But these new Orlocks look badass.  They have a unique appearance that's full of character.  In a way, they sort of remind me of the '80s classic movie The Warriors.  Here's the picture from their web store:

Look at them!  Stubbers with drum mags.... Tommy guns!  The leader's got a low-tech power fist!  And who else (besides Scalies) would use a harpoon gun in the Underhive?  I am going to need to pick up more of those nifty Underhive bases though.

In honor of Don's gang from the good old days, I am going to name them The Ripperjacks.  A Ripperjack is a predatory animal in the Underhives, kind of a cross between a bat and a Facehugger from Alien.  They drop onto their prey and bite out its eyes while tearing its throat open or choking with their long prehensile tail.  It sounds like the sort of thing that would be chosen for a gang name in the Underhive - and it's also a nod to Jack the Ripper, something Don would approve.  Come to think of it, maybe that will be the name of my leader...

This is why I love skirmish games - and particularly why Necromunda remains my all-time favorite.  You can take your time coming up with background and lavish extra time making a dozen guys look great - and then have time to play.

Even though three gangs sounds like a lot of work, it's still only a few dozen models - smaller than my long-term 2000-point Dark Angels army.  My goal is to get them all ready for the table by my birthday in June - it may not happen because I'm terrible with goals and deadlines make a hobby feel like work, but I'm putting that out there as a challenge to myself (and in the hopes that you all will keep me accountable).

Necromunda players - What's your favorite House, and why?  What sort of Gang do you play?  What are they called?  Got any pictures or stories to share?  Let us know!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why I Enjoy Skirmish Games More Than 40K

This post is a stream of consciousness reply to Thor's post on the Creative Twilight blog Why I'm Enjoying Playing Specialist Games Instead of 40K .  Please go give it a read - it's a great blog, and this post will make more sense if you do.

When it comes to tabletop wargaming, there are basically two levels of games that I play:  army-level games like 40K or Warpath, where you might have 50 or more models on each side; and skirmish-level games like Necromunda, Blood Bowl or Kill Team, where your entire gang (or squad, or team) is a dozen models, give or take a few.  Games like Warmachine or Hordes kind of straddle the line, depending on the points level and your army composition.

READY FOR THE TABLETOP

I don't get a lot of time to play - and I don't like playing with unpainted models.  So my spare time is "paint first, play later".  As much as I enjoy 40K, I know it will be a while before I get either my Custodes or my Dark Angels armies ready for the table.  Even though Custodes are a little easier in terms of model count, there are still many more models than in a skirmish game.  And that means not just less time, but less money spent on your squad.

And let's be honest, looking at a pile of plastic and realizing how much time it's going to take to clean up, build and paint dozens of models is daunting and often discouraging - so one might decide to spend time doing something else entirely.  But my philosophy is that any time hobbying is progress - even if it's just priming a model or laying down a glaze or wash before I leave for work so that it will be dry when I get home.  The benefit of doing this with a small force is that you can see the progress more readily.  I've spent the weekend working on the flesh tones for my Goliaths and they already look far better than they did two days ago!

So, for someone who doesn't have as much time to spend on the hobby, skirmish games let you put a team or gang on the table quickly - because you have far fewer models, it can take much less time to paint, you have more opportunity to paint to a little higher standard.


MORE TIME TO PLAY

So you've got that small force ready fairly quickly, and now you can spend your hobby time actually playing!  When you finally get a chance to play, the games tend to go quicker - and you can get more of them in.  Or you might find the opportunity to squeeze in a game of Necromunda or Blood Bowl when you have 2 hours free, where you probably couldn't fit in a game of 40K.

Like Thor says in his article, I'm a fluffy gamer too and I also don't care to put in the effort to "git gud" at 40K.  I do enjoy playing it  - and I haven't noticed 8th being particularly unfriendly to fluffy players, but that might have more to do with how laid-back the players in my area are.  Even the guys who play in tournaments are pretty easy going in pickup games.  It's not 2nd Edition to be sure, but better than 6th or 7th for certain.

But I digress.  I've probably played a few dozen games of 40K in the past 30 years, but skirmish games got a lot more play than that.  We played a couple games a week of Necromunda for a couple years (then I moved away from my gaming group and sold my gang) and a lot of Blood Bowl (still use my 2nd Edition metal Skaven team because they look so good):







(Here's a recent addition, though I do have a WHFB Rat Ogre conversion I used until I got this one)

(My 2nd Edition End Zone overlay)


(I even have a goalpost!)


A RICHER EXPERIENCE

The extra time we saved let us really go all-in on our Necromunda league - we had a newsletter (the Underhive Press™, coming soon to a blog near you) and a special rule that let players trade randomly-generated territories for ones of their choice, as long as they built scenery to represent it.  We would never have had the time to do all that with our 40K games - although we did get in a few very memorable ones.

We used to enjoy a skirmish game by Grenadier called Future Warriors: Kill Zone and came up with a load of house rules and scenarios.  My favorite was a scenario based on John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, where my Enforcers had to hold their station against waves of Scavengers and Savages bent on killing the prisoners.  I still have my Enforcers and Troopers in my display case - perhaps some day I'll get around to rebasing them and feature them here!


And like Thor, I'm good at skirmish games.  My Goliaths were top of the league and I honestly don't remember ever losing with the Doomtown Rats™ in all the games I've played).  My record in 40K is not quite as good.  Back in 2nd, maybe - my army was dubbed "Cheatin' Space Wolves" because they did so well (I didn't actually cheat)... but when I came back in 5th it was a rude awakening.  Casualty rules meant you lost special models much more readily - the "Look Out, Sir!" mechanic replaced the more sensible concept that if your machine gunner went down, one of the riflemen would pick up the weapon and fight on.  It wasn't much fun when my Space Wolves that had given me many victories were wiped out to the man by the perfidious Eldar, after epic tales had been written of their previous glories against the "Space Elves".

So, which kind of game is a better fit for me - the kind where I need to paint dozens of models and stand a better-than-average chance of getting my butt kicked (if and when I finally have an army built and painted)... or the kind where I can take my time and show off my skill on a dozen models and not only have the chance to enjoy more games but maybe actually win some too?  It's a no-brainer for me.

One of the other factors for me is space.  I don't have a dedicated gaming room like I did years back, and the closest store with big tables isn't exactly close by.  So a game that fits on my dining-room table is a lot more likely to see play.  I don't have a lot of storage space for terrain, either - but a Blood Bowl pitch or enough terrain for a pitched battle between two Kill Teams will easily fit on the 3-by-5'ish table at home.


FINAL THOUGHTS


I love tabletop wargaming - and don't get me wrong, I do still enjoy playing 40K when the stars and planets align and I find the opportunity and the spare time at the same moment.  But when you take a look at all the factors - time to play, time to build and paint your force, the cost factor, space, and so forth - skirmish gaming is easier all around and can offer more opportunities for enjoyment, especially for a new hobbyist.

So if the idea of spending hundreds of dollars (and hours!) getting an army ready for a large-scale game is what's keeping you from really getting into the hobby, think smaller.  There are so many skirmish games to try - from the aforementioned Blood Bowl and Necromunda, to Guild Ball, Malifaux, Infinity, Frostgrave or Gaslands and the list goes on.  There's sure to be one (or more) that you'll really enjoy.

What's your favorite skirmish game, and why?  How many do you play, and how long have you played them?  Do you have any favorite stories - or even pictures of your squads - you'd like to share?  Let us know!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Custodes Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought

A couple weeks ago, I showed off the unpainted model with some added parts to make it look like a Venerable member of the Custodes.  Here's the finished work:


I'm trying to depict the ruins of Tizca when the Custodes accompanied the Space Wolves to Prospero to eliminate Magnus.  Though I'll be playing this as a 40K army, I still think the basing style is a nice change of pace from the sand-and-tufts bases I've done in the past, or citadel texture paint.

This is my first attempt at anything like Object Source Lighting (OSL) and I'm sure I'll improve with practice as well as reading up on the technique and watching some videos from painters who've got the knack of it.

I hope you like it!  On the painting table I've got Trajann Valoris, a couple of Shield-Captains and a squad or two of Custodian Guard.  Stay tuned to see them in the next couple of weeks!  Thank you for visiting!
I've just about finished painting my first Custodes model, the Vexillus Praetor.  I used the one from the Wardens kit because I wanted him to be more impressive than the standard Custodian, and as a Dark Angels player I'm accustomed to robes indicating an elevated status.

It's not really visible in the picture, but I also added a Shield-Captain's cloak from the Custodian Guards box.  It gives the model an even more impressive appearance.


After taking this picture I realized I had forgotten to attach the tassel to the helmet.  I still haven't decided how I'm going to base the entire army, but once I have I'll get this guy in the lightbox for some proper photos!

I've begun work on a couple of Custodian Guards, and hope to have some photos of them soon.

[UPDATE: I've acquired some Shattered Dominion bases and plan to base the army in the ruins of Tizca.  The Contemptor is my test, see an upcoming post!]

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

[Review] The perfect Primer

This is something that may be of particular interest to Adeptus Custodes or Stormcast Eternals players, but might also be helpful to anyone looking for a good undercoat for gold.

For the longest time, I'd been priming miniatures in black, and then using something like Mournfang Brown to basecoat sections that were to be gold.  It works okay, but you have the primer, then a couple thin coats of brown, then 1-2 thin coats of gold.

I've used Vallejo AV primer for the longest time, and I brush it on because weather and space concerns really keep me from using aerosol sprays or an airbrush.  But I've heard a lot of good things about Stynylrez from Badger.  They have a red-brown primer that looked to be perfect.  However, with the really cold weather we've had here for the last couple months, there was no way I could mail-order it and not have it frozen to uselessness by the time I get home to get the mail.  Well, the weather's finally warmed up to the mid-40s so I ordered some a couple of days ago and it arrived today.

I have got to say, the stuff is wonderful.  It goes on nice and smooth, even with a brush,  It's self-leveling like Vallejo but it dries with a matte surface rather than the shiny finish of Vallejo primer.  It's got more tooth for what you'll paint over it, and coverage is great.  And where Vallejo's ideal cure time is measured in days (one to three days was killing me to wait), Stynylrez cures in hours.  I primed a couple of Custodians before dinner, watched a little TV and came back to basecoat the gold.  They were ready to go.

Here's the best part.  Where I used to have to do three thin coats of gold to cover the black primer, Gold goes over red-brown Stynylrez in One. Thin. Coat.  And the brown undercoat makes the gold look really rich and warm.  Because you're applying fewer coats of primer, basecoat, and gold to cover, detail is preserved far better and the model doesn't look "painted".  I highly recommend this stuff for anyone who paints Custodes, Stormcast, or anything where you'll be doing a lot of gold.  You'll wonder why you waited so long.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Work-In-Progress: Custodes Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought

Just a sneak peek at something that's on my painting desk right now...

Because the Custodes are an elite army of few models (my 1500-point army numbers all of 17 models!) I want to make sure they look special.  Even the humblest Custodian Guard has ornate armor and weaponry, the Wardens and Shield Captains even moreso.

So then you have the Contemptor.  It's a pretty basic plastic kit (around 12 parts total) and there's nothing about it that makes it look like a revered veteran of centuries (or even millennia!) or warfare.
I've wondered what I could do to solve this - I've seen Contemptors from other Chapters that conveyed the image of a venerated warrior.

Then I saw a picture in the Codex and it was exactly what I wanted:


And I realized it wouldn't be difficult to do at all.  I have 2 boxes of Custodian Guard and so I have a spare vexilla I'll never need.  The parts are basically just the "wings" of the standard, with the ribbons clipped off and reapplied elsewhere on the arms.

So I studied the photograph and did exactly that.  Here's what I've got:


Visually it goes so well with the other models, and because of its size the eye will be drawn to it (and probably a considerable amount of enemy fire, as well...)

I've got two more models finished on the desk - My Shield-Captain and Vexillus Praetor from the Wardens kit.  I used one of the capes from the Shield-Captain in the Guard kit to make my Praetor look even more special and impressive. 

In my next post, I'll be featuring the characters of the army, after I've completed Captain-General Trajann Valoris as well.  Three models down, only 14 to go!