Sunday, June 28, 2009

OPINION: Dividing my hobby time

In the latest issue of White Dwarf (UK 355) Jervis Johnson talks about pies. Hobby pies.

His theory is that gamers are into their hobby for five main reasons; playing games, painting and modelling, collecting models, the background material and camaraderie. Of course not all gamers are as enthused by each part of the hobby equally so each slice of their hobby pie will be a different size.

I thought it might be fun to show you my hobby pie as it stands at the moment.

As you can see the biggest slices of my pie are background and painting and modelling. I've been enjoying my painting a lot recently so it is not a big surprise that this is a major part of the hobby for me. Immersing myself in the background is probably the thing I find most enjoyable, though. I love reading gaming novels, campaign and source books, codexes and rulebooks. I also create my own background material and link this into my armies and games. I've even gone to the trouble of creating my own sector to set my games in!

Gaming comes in third for me. I do like the tactical challenges that games throw up but I much prefer to play the game in the context of a scenario or campaign which in turn links back to background. I also won't play games against unpainted armies. The aesthetics of a well painted and modelled army are very important to me. I think this is why it has been relatively easy for me to stop playing games at all in the last few months because the games I was playing were simply not been satisfying my deeper gaming needs. If these things weren't important to me I think I would play computer games more often.

Camaraderie and collecting come low down on my list. My small collecting slice might sound strange given that I own so many models and armies but they are only there to facilitate my painting, to develop my background material and to play interesting games with. I've never been one to get obsessed about completing a collection - I've never collected stamps, collectible card games or anything similar and I don't view my models as a collection which needs to be completed.

That leaves camaraderie. This is quite small at the moment given that I'm not playing games, I rarely visit my local Games Workshop store and I don't go to many tournaments. Most of my camaraderie at the moment comes from online forums and this blog. This is one slice of pie that I'd really love to increase in size.

I'd love to be around a group of players who are into the same aspects of the hobby that I am. I want to play long, involved campaigns, develop story driven scenarios and play great games with beautifully painted models on characterful terrain. I want to swap painting tips, tactics and discuss background material with people who are as into it as I am.

Maybe it's my age; perhaps as I get older I want deeper and richer experiences from my gaming. Or maybe I've just been outraging my true nature for ages and I'm now finally realising it.

So how do I go about satisfying my gaming needs? Well, for starters I could get more out of this blog and the forums I browse. I could join some other blogger groups and take part in more forum threads discussing background material and painting and modelling.

I could also (re)start going down to my local Games Workshop store to try to build up some relationships and play some campaign games. The problem here is that many of the players are quite immature, play with unpainted models and don't have the commitment to see a campaign through. That's one of the reasons I stopped going in the first place!

There is a club called the North East Wargaming Association but they seem very tournament orientated and predominantly play Warhammer Fantasy battle rather than the 40k I love. Transport is an issue - they are about 40 minutes away by car and I don't have a car! By bus it would probably take closer to an hour and I reckon the times between buses could be an issue. I wouldn't want to miss the last bus late on a Tuesday night! Not ideal.

Another way to get some games in and to meet like minded gamers would be to attend more events such as the GW grand tournaments, campaign weekends and even Games Days and independent events. The good aspect of this would be that they would be held once every month or two so even though they may be in remote parts of the country, they would still be viable. Many events last a whole weekend so I could immerse myself in the hobby completely for two or three days, play half a dozen games and have a good laugh with my fellow gamers. The downsides would be the cost of accommodation, travelling and ticket prices, getting time off work and getting time away from my girlfriend. I'd have to have some serious brownie points in the bank!

Well, there is a lot to think about there but it feels good to have laid out my thoughts. I'll let them percolate through my brain in the coming weeks and might return to the subject with a real plan.


  1. I feel your pain, Pilgrim,

    I've often found the GW stores rather stifling and usually full of either spoilt kids or grown men with apparently profound socio-hygeine issues, and I've never been tempted to play in competitions.

    Whilst I lived in Norwich I was wary of joining a club, and now I live in the middle of nowhere in Devon (likewise without a car) I've suddenly embraced my geekiness a little more and am willing to join clubs that are way too far away.

    And my sprawling army takes a lot of transporting.

    What gaming I do these days is mostly on Vassal - to test things out - and I'm thinking of trying a campaign on there. Sad? - Or a necessary evil? - I don't know, but until some more old mates visit in the summer holidays I'm unlikely to get another real game in!

  2. Gaming and camararderie must make up 80% of my enjoyment. I've almost stopped collecting now (except for new Nautican type miniatures) and I've almost given up trying to motivate myself to paint :(

  3. I get it. Some days, the staff are the only people in my local GW I like, although rarely. I find most forums aren't as friendly as they ideally would be, which makes for an inferior experience...although Heresy isn't my most frequent haunt through coincidence. My biggest problem with Vassal is that TLOS is impossible - playing Eldar, I take full advantage of trees etc to hide entirely, and Vassal doesn't facilitate this...

  4. How funny! I don't get White Dwarf, but I have recently been thinking of doing my own hobby pie chart. Mine was going to show the different kinds of projects I work on, rather than motivational factors.

  5. Well Drax, I don't think Vassal is sad I just don't think it's for me! It wouldn't allow me to savour the aesthetics of two well painted armies playing on great terrain and as you've seen this is a big part of the hobby for me.

    @Sigmar - That's the beauty of this type of thinking; there is no right or wrong answer. I still think yopu should paint your models though ;)

    Mmmm, pie...