Sunday, January 18, 2009

OPINION: On painting

This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of monthly opinion pieces on different aspects of the gaming hobby. It's kinda like Jervis Johnson's Standard Bearer column in White Dwarf. Only I'm not selling anything. And there will be, you know, actual opinions expressed.

They will be controversial, may spark some debate and will almost always include swear words. Those of a nervous disposition should look away now.

You have been warned...

Playing against an unpainted army has all the appeal of watching a naked Jade Goody eat a greasy kebab.

Surely one of the primary reasons we play with toy soldiers is the aesthetic element? Hordes of Goff Orks, replete with dags and checks, sweeping majestically over the plain of a well crafted Armageddon ash wastes table, crammed with unique terrain like ruined factories, fallen monuments and Titan wrecks. The Steel Legion Imperial Guard, led by Commissar Yarrick, furiously repulsing an attack on their hastily erected barricades. Blood Angels Space Marines dramatically crashing to earth in their drop pods unleashing bolter death upon the greenskins.

It’s not quite the same when you have a proxied coke bottle as a drop pod, second edition mono-pose Orks, bare metal Guardsmen sagging in their unglued bases and grey plastic Marines without arms. Even 3 flat colours on a model would be better than that.

Now everyone will have played with unpainted models at some point. Probably when they were eleven years old. Then they grew up.

But some people didn’t. Instead they started whining and whingeing and preparing their excuses.

I just don’t have the time to paint.


I’ve played against people who’ve been in the hobby since Rogue Trader days and they are still playing with their original unpainted lead models. Can you honestly say, with a straight face, that you haven’t had time to paint a single model in 20 years?

How come you had the time to buy 12 Nob bikers, two Warbosses on bikes and 90 Ork boyz and then glue them all together? Three weeks after that you made the time to assemble two winged Lash Princes, 9 Obliterators and 21 Plague Marines. Next month you’ll be putting together your fluffy mechanised Eldar list led by Eldrad and Yriel. And have enough time to play three games of 40k. And you’ll have clocked Half Life 2. Gimme a break.

I know this is just a lame excuse because I have an extremely busy life but I still find time to paint my models. I have a full time job which involves weekend and evening work, I’m in a relationship, I have an active social life and I have loads of other hobbies and interests. Because my time is such a precious commodity I have to plan it quite carefully. 30 minutes every other day keeps me ticking along and I’ll get the models finished eventually. Just paint all the bolters black one night. That’s all. The next time highlight them. Paint the metallics next. You’d be surprised how quickly you progress if you keep it up. Even if you’re playing games with the models in the meantime at least your opponents will see that you’ve made progress.

Everyone has the time to paint; they just choose not to.

I’m terrible at painting.

That’s because you’ve never really tried, you cretin.

I can’t play the guitar. If I threw some time and, God forbid, some effort at it I would be able to, even with my fat sausagey fingers. Okay, so it’s unlikely I’d be as good as Slash. But I’d probably be good enough to jam with my mates on a Tuesday night. Maybe I’d make it into a band. Maybe I’d write one or two passable original songs. Maybe I’d waste away in a lonely garret, my works of genius unheard by any other ears until rediscovered some years after my tragic death.

Ahem…where was I? Ah, yes.

Just because you won’t be able to paint like Mike McVey doesn’t mean you should give up before you start. We were ALL crap painters when we started out. The first models I painted would make your eyes bleed if you looked at them. You’d probably try to gouge your eyes out with rusty spoons and start crying for your mummy. But I practised. I experimented. I improved.

You’re not terrible at painting; you've given up before you've even started.

So stick your excuses, I don’t want to hear them. At least have the courtesy of not lying to my face. Just tell me you can’t be bothered to paint your models, you don’t care about how the game looks, it’s not a high enough priority for you. You’d rather be playing Halo 3 or Warhammer Online. You’d rather be watching Big Brother. Fair enough. I can take it. I can handle the truth.

If you had the stones to be honest I’d have more respect for you.

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