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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Stop playing with unpainted figures

Hi All,

No terrain this week, I've been too busy with various things and don't have any progress to show.

What I'd like to talk about today is the tendency of people to play with unpainted figures. What with the spate of pictures from Adepticon shown on various places on the internet I noticed a disturbing amount of unpainted figures and even unfinished or place holder terrain.

I'll just come out and say it, this is completely anathema to Oldhammer. Let me repeat. PLAYING OLDHAMMER WITH UNPAINTED FIGURES IS JUST FLAT OUT WRONG!

If you are just having a laugh with your mates, trying out a new rule system, taking a dive into a new genre then you have a little bit of leeway. Showing up to an event with unpainted stuff? Well that's just not cricket, as they say. The other problem with playing with unpainted models is that it is a slippery slope to playing with full on unpainted armies. Eventually you can get in a game without having to put in any effort at all. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but that is not what this hobby is about. I made a promise to myself when I went to my first Oldhammer event, and I have kept it ever since. I will never bring unpainted models to play with. Period.

But some people do, and the more you let them the more they do it. Or so it seems. So I would like to suggest that there be some penalty to plonking down that unpainted model or unit. Perhaps a stat penalty, some modifier penalties, or perhaps both?

To get the ball rolling, how about a simple d6 chart, roll for each unpainted unit, character, vehicle at the start of the game after deployment.


  1. Poor Close Combat training -1 WS
  2. Poor Firearms/Bow training -1 BS
  3. Not enough PT, M is 1/2
  4. Not committed to the cause, -1 Ld on rout test
  5. Not the sharpest tool, subject to stupidity -1 Cl
  6. Anger Issues, Subject to Animosity, -1 to Ld  bonus. If already have Animosity as a trait -2 to Ld bonus.
Agree, disagree? Can the table be better? Just spit balling here. The point is there should be some tangible price to pay if you can't be bothered to put any effort into actually painting your models.


26 comments:

  1. How about:

    1-3 The unit etc got lost on the way to the battle.
    4-6 The unit has a dose of the clap and has been sent to see the MO.

    Slightly more barbaric but unpainted at a competition>>>>>>>>

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    1. Hi Bertalucci, I like the idea that they might not even show up to the battle. I think if you're going to play them though, it has to be at a penalty.

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  2. Totally agree, and really like your d6 chart to remedy it. ;)

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    1. Thanks Airborne. The point is to make people "really" want to play with unpainted figures.

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  3. I'm with you on this. Playing unpainted minis is distinctly un-Oldhammer. I'd argue that your chart is not nearly harsh enough

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    1. You might be right there Anthony. I just came up with that as a basis. I just want people to be clear that unpainted is not, and never will be, Oldhammer. I think we are on the same page.

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    2. Should be at least as harsh as the Dungeonquest "potions" chart.

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  4. Good on you mate. I thoroughly endorse this attitude.

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    1. Thanks Dai, I thought you'd agree.

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  5. I'm all for it. There's a local event I created and run, and I implemented a score penalty. Unpainted figures? That's a deduction in your game score, which could cost someone the match and the day.

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    1. Hi Thor. While I think that is a good solution, we don't always play for victory points in the Oldhammer group. So making your unpainted figures actually worse than their painted counterpoints seems to drive the point home more.

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  6. I flatly refuse to play with unpainted models. It's also why I rarely play 😂

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    1. I hear you Andrew, that can be the downside of sticking to your guns. With my 1/72 stuff I broke the unpainted rule and quickly found myself playing all my games with partially finished armies and terrain. That's why I won't do it with Oldhammer.

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  7. Just a different perspective ..... but I went to a show and a nice bloke had turned up to put on a demo game, I liked his table, his game and the way he was openly friendly to everyone who visited the table. Part of his force (WWII) was not painted. He apologised as soon as I got to the table and said that he had promised he would put on a game and had to paint an army to meet that obligation. Life had got in the way and he had not been able to paint everything, but wanted to keep his promise and support the show.

    I actually thought his stance was admirable, but also a good example for others that you don't have to paint everything to have a fun game, especially if you are starting out in a period and just getting your forces together.

    painted stuff looks nice and skills improve over time, but when I last looked, this was a hobby and I'm not sure where the rules of what we should / must do come from. Perhaps nurture is better than stick and the game really is the thing.

    Primers come in colours now, so for persistent 'offenders' why not encourage them to at least prime in a colour (red and blue armies!), I think having a figure primed reduces (at least for me) the main obstacle to painting. If I have primed stuff, I will paint most days, if I leave a gap between completing some figures and priming the next batch, then that gap just grows into inactivity.

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    1. I totally get what you are saying Norm, but let me flip it slightly. What if the guy just brought some other forces that were painted and played the same game. It might have been better. Life happens and sometimes we don't get everything ready in time, but when I see pictures of a certain event with paper terrain and entire armies that look like bare plastic, or at best, primered plastic, I think we've let things go too far. I also don't mean to say paper terrain is bad, but I'm not talking paper craft buildings and vehicles, I'm talking an actual piece of paper laid on the table to represent a terrain feature. It's crap. I've absolutely done it before, so I know exactly how crap it is.

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  8. Sean, in part I am playing devils advocate, I would certainly want my figures painted and like a table to be as nice as possible. Some people have the equivalent of beautiful professionally painted armies (I am thinking of complicated napoleonics here) and sculpted, uber realistic terrain (that I would never be able to store) and while these things can be looked at in awe, most of us sit in a more middle ground of what can be done and what is acceptable and so by default that middle ground becomes the 'right thing to do'.

    At wargame shows, some of the tables are so grand (and big), that they actually fail to inspire the visitor to dash off and spend with a trader, because what they are looking at is so disconnected to what they can do themselves at home.

    At the same time and at the other end of the scale, I see some AAR's on the internet with very creased game cloths and relatively poor efforts at terrain representation and figure presentation. My instinctive response it to slightly recoil, but then I am always somewhat embarrassed by that reaction as in the spirit of the hobby and sharing, here we have a person who is actually making an effort to get a game onto the table and then do the hard work of sharing it (which marks them up in my book) and they do that without any of the shame or pretentiousness that I would have.

    As in all things in life, it the centre position / middle ground that meets widespread approval and acceptance, because that's were most of us sit and anything sit on the outer edge of that becomes less 'core', but the anti 'unpainted figure' lobby too often is a voice of distain that broad brushes that bunch of gamers that have jumped all the hurdles in this strange hobby of ours, to get something on the table, but they face close-down and switch-off of their pleasure by an often too judgemental crowd.

    I'm sorry to have turned what should have been a couple of lines into a speech :-), but I suppose I feel compelled to put a reasoned argument up for those who do at least try, but fall short of others expectations. I suppose I am still in a certain frame of mind having just written a blogged article that looks back on the journey that many of us have made in wargaming since the mid 70's, with the question of was it better then or now. the article concludes that we are surely better now in terms of product and professionalization, but that nostalgia aside, we seem to have lost something along the way, perhaps a certain naivety that gave room for simple pleasures to abound. I wouldn't die in a ditch over it, it is just an observation and of course in truth, I would be annoyed if my passion for what I do had to face an opponent who put a raw lead army down simply because they couldn't be bothered to make any kind of effort. (I tend to have to paint both armies to guarantee against this :-) ). Thanks for letting me natter away on your blog. Cheers Norm.

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    1. Hi Norm, no worries. I totally take your point, I am not out to discourage people from participating in the hobby. I also think people need to get over feelings of inadequacy. Sure those tables at shows can seem unattainable, but you don't need to have that to have a good game. I associate with some people who are incredible artists at painting and modelling, my own efforts are terrible compared to theirs, but I don't really spend a lot of time worrying about it. The person who is new to the hobby can be given a pass. We should be encouraging more people to write up AAR's and share in the enthusiasm the hobby can bring, it's infectious. The person who does ad nauseum photodumps of unfinished figures needs a gentle reminder. The person who shows up with the bulk of an army unpainted at an event needs to be slapped down a little. But yes I'm all about encouragement where appropriate. By the way, what is your blog?

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  9. all good :-)

    my blog is https://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.co.uk/

    Norm.

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  10. Playing with painted miniatures and terrain is The essence of miniature wargaming, defining the genre. The challenge of miniature wargaming is sticking to one thing long enough to achieve it. 😀

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  11. While the only wargame I've played lately has been Frostgrave, I make it a point of pride not to show up to game with unpainted figures. The worst I've done is field a unit in a game of Age of Sigmar that I hadn't completed the bases on. The act of painting the figures is such an integral part of the hobby that I personally feel lazy if I do otherwise.

    I've also seen arguments that playing with unpainted figures is "contagious." First one guy shows up with bare lead, then a second starts doing it, then a third...

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    1. Hi Bill. Unfinished is still better than unpainted. Sometimes it might be banners or shields. I think I brought some Goblin Wolf riders that didn't have the flock or static grass added. Unpainted might infect others, but the real danger is that you yourself spiral into never finishing your own stuff. It happened to me with my 1/72 plastics.

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  12. Yeah this bugged me at batman tournaments. its a disappointing experience when most put the effort in to make it all look good.

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    1. Hi Simon. Yes it is a tad soul sucking to show up at an event and have to play against someone who appears to not care about the hobby other than winning a game.

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  13. On the other hand, if we look at the games we consider to constitute Oldhammer - WFB 2E, including its scenarios Battle at Orcs Drift, McDeath, Terror of the Lichmaster, Blood on the Streets, WH40K:RT, WFB 3E, all came with cardboard chits so you didn't have to lay-out all the time and expense of fully painted miniatures collections. There is an attitude that is more about getting the game played than spending ages on 'the hobby', a slightly more punk, DIY ethos.

    But yes, reaching a common ground with your other players regards the overall aesthetic of the game you're trying to play is a worthwhile effort.

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    1. Thanks for comment Zhu. I feel that was more of a marketing strategy than a nod to playing the game with paper chits. They give you the chits to play the games in the hope that you will be hooked and buy the miniatures to play a "proper" game. I came to miniatures from hex and chit wargames, so I have no objection to that at all. There are fantastic options for paper standee figures and card terrain these days. I would not be opposed to that either. I believe that someone brought out Forenrond's Last Stand at one of the BOYL's and had a large paper map printed out and played with the card "figures." I thought that was kind of cool. Showing up to an event, that is a table top miniatures event, with unpainted figures is just laziness and complete bullshit. If I brought my 3000 point Orc Army and somebody tried to play me with paper cut outs from the back of the WFB rule book, I'd be pissed.

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