Wargame Projects and the Wargames Tart

I’m a tart, a wargames figure tart. I like figures. I like painting them and I like playing with them. Painting is not a chore, just another facet of a fascinating hobby that includes reading and researching different histories along with considering how to interpret those histories into table top wargames.

That then also extends into the realms of fantasy and science fiction. Currently I am reading Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet Series of books. It has me imagining space fleets combating away in the nether reaches of the galaxy and that in turn has me imagining how to interpret that on a two dimensional wargames table where time is effectively standing still1.

I try and approach each of the bright, shiny new periods as projects. I will therefore spend some time working out what rules to use, which figures to buy and paint and then collect them. I then have a number of projects that are in planning; planned; in the build stage; in the painting stage; in the basing stage; and completed (although there are not as many of these are I would like).

Enter Trebian and Prufrock. Trebian is a wargamer and blogger based in the UK (I guess) and Prufrock in Japan. The posts below were the result.

Trebian noted that he was painting some 20mm plastic figures and Prufrock commented:

Nice job. Wish I had your ‘just get started’ attitude. I tend to fuss and worry about primers/colours/what other figures I might need for six months before I even think about laying a brush on anything!

Trebian then commented:

Well, I do the planning as well. If you go back to my very early postings I wrote about the painting technique I use. That may help.

I did a lot of project work when I was working. That means I’m goal focussed, and the goal is “put an army on the table”, not “paint toy soldiers”. I once wrote on a TMP discussion where people discussed what they most liked about painting figures “finishing them”.

If it would help I could do a blog post about how I plan and organise a project before I start painting.

Prufrock then commented:

If you get the chance to do a post on this I’d certainly be very keen to see how you go about planning your armies. It’s always good to get some insight into how prolific people do things!

The three blog posts above were the result.

I must admit that reading these caused me to think through the process I use, especially as I have a 15mm American Civil War Army (Union) finished all but the final basing and last varnish. At the same time I have a 6mm early Soviet World War 2 army on the table at the moment with just 27 bases of infantry and cavalry to complete before that phase is complete (27 bases is not much to do in 6mm).

The planning question then becomes “do I wait for some more tanks on the way in to complete the Early Soviets or start the Hungarians who will be their opponents? Do I instead paint all the Russian tanks and infantry that I have to paint and completely finish the Soviets (early, middle and late war) – or do I paint those spaceships that I want to paint as well?”

Trebian then lays out the issues of being a figure tart which he correctly identifies as an addiction to bright and shiny new wargaming things akin to the addition of smoking for example. Trebian seems, as a bottom line, to work on the principle of one project at a time (novel concept that) along with not purchasing for the next until this one is complete. He also sets regular times for painting so the family knows when his painting time is and seems to apply that discipline well.

Prufrock on the other hand tends to have a huge project (early Mediterranean wargaming) of seasonal reasons not to paint. Like Prufrock, I find it difficult to pick up a brush again when I haven’t painted for a while.

This had me thinking again about those projects I had successfully completed in the past – the 15mm Sumerians I painted in Norway, the PacFed Future War Commander Army, the 6mm Danish Cold War Commander Army and many of my DBA and Hordes of the Things Army. Thinking back on it I noticed one that that was consistent across all of those completions, and that was the discipline of painting at least one colour on one figure every night.

I really used that effectively when painting the DBA armies for Cancon 2013. Each night I would paint at least one colour on one element and both armies were soon completed2.

I’m now starting to think of applying more project control. That is, keep at the project until it is finished. or at least break it down into manageable sub-projects first and work on completing each of the sub-projects before leaping off on the next project.

Nah – I can’t see that – there is something bright and shiny over there. If I look closely I can see it is 6mm Japanese for a Khalkin-gol project … still, arguably, it will provide for a nice opponent for the early World War 2 Soviets.

1. Campbell makes much of the three-dimensional form of space combat along with the twin difficulties of speed (where fleets are moving at 0.1 times the speed of light or around 30,000 kilometres per second) and time (where fleets may be spread over several light minutes or hours, remembering that it takes 9 minutes for light to travel from our sun to earth – have some ships around the sun and some around the earth and what you see of the other fleet/ships is what they were doing 9 minutes ago. If they are friendly, send a message and they will receive it in 9 minutes time so the message may be related to something that is 18 minutes old already).

2. They were the Koguryo Korean and Later Hungarians – a pleasing painting project.

13 thoughts on “Wargame Projects and the Wargames Tart

  1. Anthony 16 October 2013 / 2:57 pm

    I suggest you finish your Union first…otherwise my CSA is going to drive you very quickly from the field in a few weeks. Which would be awesome…a victory with Rank and File 🙂 (a first for me)


    • Thomo the Lost 16 October 2013 / 3:24 pm

      It’ll only take an hour or two to knock up enough regiments to keep your current Rank and File record intact 😛


      • Anthony 16 October 2013 / 5:56 pm

        Cool you bring your brigade, I will field my corps and I can then blog with a smug smile of victory on my face. 😛


      • Anthony 16 October 2013 / 7:18 pm

        But that doesn’t mean you will get it based 🙂


  2. Doug 16 October 2013 / 3:06 pm

    I have been trying the ‘at least one colour a night’ approach. I don’t always get to it but at least I have a goal. The other thing I have been doing is smaller scale projects.. so entire DBMM army. no, but BKCII Battlgroup.. easy.


    • Thomo the Lost 16 October 2013 / 3:33 pm

      The BKCII Battegroups are manageable – that’s why I bought another one – Japanese! Mind you, I forgot an old method we had until trying to fill out some of the missing vehicles – GHQ/CinC vehicles wherever possible, Heroics and Ros infantry. The Japanese will be a mix.

      The Early Soviets – Mk1 – will be finished by the end of this week. I have some earlier Soviet tanks (especially BT-5, T-26 and T-35 tanks to replace the Valentines, T-34s and KV-1s) and some early armoured cars to make a nice matched set for the Soviets vs the Japanese. Then switch in the valentines and T34s and I’m ready for early war Europe. I can then consider what to do with the other 3kg of Soviet armour 😦


  3. Anthony 16 October 2013 / 5:53 pm

    Ohh and I don’t think tart is a strong enough word to accurately cover your love of the shiny.


  4. Trebian 16 October 2013 / 8:52 pm

    Yeah. I’m based in the UK. One of the other things I should have said in my original blog was to identify previous behaviours that have given you results you like and repeat them. The flip side of that is to identify behaviours that give you results you don’t like and stop them. I am mostly a one project man as I didn’t like the results when I tried to do more than one big thing at a time. Of course wargaming is more than painting so in addition to painting I also design games. At the moment the games I’m working on (a WW2 bombing game and an ECW “special ops” game) are nothing to do with the troops being painted.

    And I do like shiny too.



    • Thomo the Lost 16 October 2013 / 11:07 pm

      I will admit to getting better and once focussed I can generally keep focus at least until about the 90% mark 🙂

      But then I start to think about the next project … like the Aeronefs just there on the shelf that need some painting!


      • Trebian 17 October 2013 / 12:13 am

        The next project is the reward for finishing this one. The thing is you don’t have to paint everything, – just enough to give you a game. The other units you do as “one offs” when the main project is getting a bit dull.


      • Thomo the Lost 18 October 2013 / 6:35 am

        And I think I’ll be starting my next project this weekend 🙂


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