Monday, February 11, 2013

Hobby Funk!

For some reason I feel in a bit of a hobby funk at the moment... I haven't blogged much, and my perusal of blogs I follow and comment on has fallen off of recently. So I apologise to the gaming blogging community for my apathy..

The year seemed to start well with the Hobbit starter set arriving and getting me all excited to get it painted up.

I created a basic Goblin Town terrain board, and set to painting up the Goblins as part of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. I got them about half done, but seemed to lose focus and interest... and opened up my pack of PSC half tracks and their conversion kits and set to making these up (mostly sitting out in the sun trimming and gluing with beer in hand, as I find it hard to spend weekend summer time inside painting). After completing their assembly, I then set to work making the PSC Tiger I kits I got at the same time as the half tracks. These went together well, and painting was commenced on these - painting is easy, a quick base coat spray , some camo stripes and a wash and you are virtually done...

And since I've been actively playing FoW for just about 18 months now, there will always be a quick and ready use for them!

But this weekend I hit a brick wall in my FoW-ing... 

 I have never been the best player, scraping out an odd win here and there in a mass of defeats, and as Paul summed up very well, in his article here; (written I suspect for my benefit), these defeats, whilst good to learn from, can also be somewhat demoralizing over time. Even Paul admitted to sulking once after I actually managed a rare victory over him. Sadly, I end up sulking just about every week! Not good for the mental state of affairs!

After Paul kindly offered to host me to a learning game, I had the usual occur; my dice were crap, while Paul seemed to pass every save that was important. Thus crushed again by either crap tactics, crap dice, or both... I slinked off home... wrestled with my thoughts, couldn't sleep, got up and thrashed about on EasyArmy at 2am, gave up and went back to bed... Got up feeling equally frustrated and decided 'bollox', I don't need to feel this way, just give it up...

So I ended up pulling out of Pauls FoW tournie that is only a week away. Yes I feel crap dropping Paul in it like this, but I think I'd feel even worse after screwing up in the tournie, so self preservation has kicked in, for my mental state...

I'll probably come back to it in time and have no plans to sell off my collection. I still like the game, the look and feel, the rules for the most part too. I still like the look of my troops for the game, (the German 'war machine' has always held a fascination for me, and the history of its action and ultimate defeat), and the time commitment getting them done would be poorly recompensed in a sale. So they will remain in the display case until I feel my Germans are worth dusting off again... and have a hope in Hell of getting a win...

So what next?

A change is as good as a rest they say... when I think back to gaming I really enjoyed I recall my Warmaster days from many years ago... Step forward to present and we have Hail Caesar and Black Powder, both rule sets derived from Warmaster, with their subtle differences reflecting scale and theatre of action.

So having recently received the Dark Ages/Medieval supplement for Hail Caesar from Warlord Games sale, my son and I broke out my medieval collection that has been gathering dust for many years, and set to with a balanced English Barons War 'civil war' loosely themed game.

So far we've got about part way through and done a few things wrong while I try and get used to the rules, and their differences from Warmaster and Black Powder, but its been fun and entertaining.

If it goes well, I'll try and get a brief battle report up on blog, as I have taken a few pics along the way.

As for painting, well I'll plod on and try and clear the back log on my painting table, finish the half tracks and Tigers anyway, and the Hobbit set, hopefully before the deadline end of the painting challenge, and see what comes up next... I made a start trimming and assembling my c18th WSS figures for Black Powder, from Wargames Factory. There's something wonderfully romantic about this period with their tricorne hats and frills, and no nonsense warfare, no messing about with skirmishers and squares, just get up there and give them what for ol' chap!

So that's more or less it for now though it still leaves me pondering about our hobby in general, and the mix of people who do it...

It has led me to conclude there are roughly 3 types of hobbyist:

The Gamer:
These chaps know the game rules inside out and the tactics of the game off by heart, and can probably look several moves ahead like some kind of chess champ. They probably manage a reasonably average level of dice luck too making them worthy tournament adversaries.

The Player:
These folks have a fair idea of the rules, and a general idea of what will work tactically, but are perhaps far for masters of the art! Their dice luck may not the best overall, and the combination of these two factors probably makes them bottom of the pile in the tournament stakes.

The Painter:
Loves the pomp and circumstance and look of the game, rather than the game play itself! Luck is rarely a factor! Wouldn't know where to sign up for a tournament!

In these rankings I am somewhere in the middle I guess, and I assume these are over generalisations, but its been fun pondering this dilemma, and perhaps will get me part way out of this current funk!

Best regards to all and thanks for reading my inane witterings.



  1. This happens to me a bit. I'm a Malifaux and very occasional 40K player. I find myself not doing a lot for either of them, out of frustration, often on the hobby side though. I do fairly well at the games, I just get irritated when people get competitive and nasty. I just want to hang out with people I like and play games that would make cool stories.

    There are definitely times when I want to break out some Two Hour Wargames games and play either solo or cooperatively with someone. Playing against the system never makes me feel bad there.

    Candidly, I don't know that I would be very good at gaming during a NZ summer. I think I'd much rather head out and spend time with people I love outside doing great things in a beautiful area!

    1. Thanks for your response. I cannot fault the guys I play against, they aren't what I would call power-gamers, they don't act shitty, don't gloat or throw it in your face when they win. They're a fine bunch of fellows.

      Sadly it's me that seems to have the problem. As much as I like the game, it doesn't seem to like me!

      You are quite correct about the weather, is hard to stay focused on an indoor hobby when the weather is fine and the outdoors becons!

  2. You pointed out one of your problems, Scott, when you wrote "with beer in hand" . . . the beer is supposed to go in the mount, sir. I'm surprised you didn't know this and I suggest you try it forthwith.

    On a more serious note, I too find that I very much dislike tournament play (and I've generally done above average in them, winning a few). There is something a bit more intense about them that turns me off . . . and so I've only played in one over the last 20 years (a local DBA tourney to make an even number of players . . . which I won, by the way).

    What I would like to suggest to you in terms of gaming is to play some multi-player games. These always seem to be a bit more relaxed . . . and if the side you are on loses, it doesn't seem to hurt as much (the loss is spread around) . . . and I find that three players a side is about right . . . so you might want to give that a try.

    As for painting, being able to see the "end" of a project (i.e., a unit) is important. Do not have other unpainted figures visible on your painting table . . . they only discourage you.

    Also it really does help to avoid painting the same type of unit over and over. Mix it up. Paint an infantry unit, then one of cavalry, then another infantry unit (preferably different from the first one), then something else, etc. That way you don't get tired of painting the same thing over and over.

    I hope these suggestions help, Scot . . . and remember the beer in the mouth thing too . . . it definitely helps.

    -- Jeff

    1. Sage like advice Jeff, I had wondered why my throat still felt parched in the beating rays of the sun ;-) I will try your suggestion forthwith!

      I must admit the odd multiplayer games I have played, I have enjoyed. As you say, the pressure is off, with an understanding partner. A skilled partner is also a bonus as you can ride their coat tails :-)

      Not to worry on the painting front, I'll keep plugging away, but the points you mention are indeed valid and well worth bearing in mind.

      Thanks again for your thoughts and input. Much appreciated.

  3. Funks happen, Scott. I often find myself unable to conjure the willpower to paint for a month or so. This is often followed by a frantic burst of activity. I'm planning on getting the paints out tonight to try and get back on the horse from just such a slump over the past couple of weeks.
    As for Flames of War, if you are playing late war Germans then that might be your problem. I think they take a bit of playing to get 'right', unless you power game with the big cats. Mid war is much more balanced. Can you play that period instead? It might lead to a few more wins (or narrower losses).

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Nate.

      You are quite right of course, it could be in part the fine weather that is in part to blame on painting front...

      As for the FoW gaming, yes I do play predominatly Late War Germans - and as I have invariably favoured Half track mechanised infantry, these also seem notoriously tricky to get right. But things continue to go adversely for the Fritz in this setting... where we once dominated with armour, we now have US tank destroyers teleporting in, Russian mobile pillbox ISU152's that blow the snot out of any tank, and even your infantry cant hide in their foxhole from, and the brits are now sporting much improved 6pdr and 17pdr guns and fireflies thank to Market Garden...

      Perhaps in my defence I am simply playing historically - the Germans lost, ... so do I!

      We as a group have also dabbled in MidWar, but I struggle to make any competitve (to my mind) lists and can't understand how your regular grenadiers are supposed to stop a tank assault. I am used to defending with panzerfausts and 'shreks' aplenty, but in midwar all I get is a panzerknacker that doesnt have a lot reach to be fair, and the odd AT rifle, hardly inspiring...

      To quote Dads Army; "we're doomed!" ;-)

  4. Hi Scott. As a frequent visitor to your site, I've definitely noticed a lack of activity. I'm glad to find out that it's nothing serious....just a guy going through a normal down cycle.

    I certainly feel for you as a player though. I have a similar issue but from a slightly different standpoint. I rarely play wargames these days, not because I loose (which I do), but because I have trouble finding others that are similar to my play style. I play games for the coin your term from your post, the pageantry. I like to see the miniatures on the field, complete with wonderful scenery, and supported by a great back story. I'm one of those strange players that would rather "play the part" and loose rather than do what it takes to win. I guess it goes back to my roleplaying days (yes, I do name most of my miniatures when I create the roster). I'm ROLEplaying one the field instead of roll-playing to win. That just doesn't go over well with the vast majority of wargamers these days. They get frustrated with me and my insistence making moves and choices based on what my commanders would do instead of on what I ( the player) should do. So what does that have to do with your issue? Well, not a whole hell of a lot (ha!) except that at the end of the day, I end up feeling much like yourself. I come home feeling not only dejected for having lost horribly (which always happens due to my play style), but out of place as well. But you have to remember why you play these games. So lost. But did you have a good time doing it? Do you still enjoy seeing your army on the field ready to get slaughtered? Do you secretly enjoy knowing that your army, while maybe not the most competitive, is the best looking and most realistic and most coherent on the table? Maybe your funk just comes from putting too much pressure on yourself to win. Try to remember why you play wargames and enjoy the moment. I always like to say about everything - from life to jobs, to even hobbies: it's not the destination (read: outcome) but the journey that matters.

    As for the painting, I have some great advice. Try to be A.D.D. like myself. Don't force yourself to finish one project before moving on to another. Paint what makes you happy. If German tanks makes your proverbial boat float, then hit them hard. But when you get bored and it become more of a task than entertainment, put them aside and pick up something else. It's not a's a hobby. At any given time I have about 20 different projects on my desk and in my painting queue. I paint whatever puts a smile on my face that day. While it leaves an awful lot of unfinished projects sitting about, I NEVER grow tired of what I'm doing. I work on what makes me happy and eventually, I'll come back around and finish up what I was originally working on....and it will be much better in the end because the time I put into was time I WANTED to put into it - not what I felt obliged to put into it.

    Well, that was quite a ramble. If it didn't confuse the hell out of you, then maybe some of it will help. If not, I hope at least it gave you something to read while you drank that beer.

    Good luck man! I hope the funk leaves you soon.

    1. Wow, what a reply, thanks for going in to such detail!

      A lot of the time I do enjoy the game for what it is, win or lose, but its nice to get the odd win to raise the spirits too.

      My difficulty is I typically play against very competent gamers, who make very sound army lists, have a good tactical sense of the game and make few mistakes in game play.
      They also have wildly divergent playing styles and armies which keeps me off balance, one is quietly methodical with his Brit Paras or Soviets, the other 'gung ho' and in your face from the word go with his hard charging yanks.

      Yet each time I am the same more or less predicatable Germans... its difficult finding an army that is balanced enough to deal with both these foes to give me a chance to get used to any army and make it work for me. Eg., I try and make a balanced list that can deal with most things except perhaps heavy tanks - and typical my foes rolls up with heavy tanks and I get crushed, so I change my list to deal with heavy tanks and the next game they turn up with a tank or infantry horde and I am overwhelmed with numbers... I just can't seem to find an even point to work from...

      Never mind, I'll take a break and get my head back in some kind of semblance of order, and go back for another round of drubbings before taking another break, and so the cycle will repeat...

      I'm content plodding on with painting for the time being, but I'll take your points onboard :-)

      Thanks again.

  5. Highs and lows are normal in any hobby and they are normal in life as well. A break is often the best thing to do. You'll miss it, you'll feel the pull, the need to get back in full bore. You are a gamer and you always will be.

    As for blogging and commenting-don't worry about it. I'm burned out on it and don't plan on blogging much and don't really plan on doing much commenting anymore. I am painting however and painting a lot. I've found that I don't need to post the figures. I just paint for the joy of it.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, and good for you Anne!

  6. I totally understand and am in a bit of a funk right now as well. I've just moved on to doing some other things while my "minis funk" clears up. I've mostly been playing board games and card games, just for the fun of it. I know that the minis stuff will come back around sooner or later. Sure the blogging and painting production tapers off, but it's supposed to be a fun hobby, right? So just do what feels fun and you're ahead!

    1. Cheers Jerry, I appreciate your empathy :-)

  7. The majority of players go through the why am I doing this phase. A mix of the same forces, same opponents and in some cases same losing streak (though I know a guy who quit because he seldom lost).

    The way out is a rest from playing, finding a new opponent or new army or change of forces.

    You mention luck a lot as a factor. In ASL luck seems to be a major factor, lots of dice are thrown and nearly every action requires some kind of dice roll (or triggers one) but the same few seem to win the big one every time. Talking to one player his answer goes like this.

    Often we blame luck because we had a few key units break, but did we need to risk the morale check in the first place? Good players have luck stacked on their side, poor players require luck to help them out.

    What he meant was that a good player will win with a wider spread of rolls whilst the poor player needs a smaller and less likely spread of rolls to get the same result. Not knowing FoW it's hard to give an example but I would say if you need to get from A to C, if by going through B you present a target and thus risk losing troops it's your mistake not luck if you could have got there via D without risking being hit.

    Just a thought, hope you get something from that


    1. Very good points Ian and I have heard the same sort of thing in that "a good player makes his own luck"...
      Which is kind of echoed in the summary of hobbyists at end of my post.

      But I will bear your points in mind, in my future games.


  8. Put the brushes and paints away for a while Scott and enjoy this Golden Summer without guilt or recriminations as you clearly have been doing. Take the Harley for a spin and feel the freedom of the road, enjoy good beer, make up silly jokes with the kids....most importantly STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!!
    As you know my posts are erratic to say the least, especially over the Summer months because I make time for my family and other hobbies.
    Dont worry, there's always plenty of crap winter weather to reinvigorate the enthusiasm for gaming and modelling.
    I rate myself resoundingly in the latter category of gamer...the game is just an excuse to play with our pretty toy soldiers under the guise of 'reproducing history'.
    I have the deepest sympathy for tournament soon as you take playing games seriously you've kinda lost the point!

    1. You are so right Gav, and thankfully the Harley is back on the road again, just need to get it rego'd...

      I cant really get away from the computer, as, to be honest, I am fortunate in that lot of my blogging is done during my breaks at work, so its not really intruding with other 'quality time' I may have...

      I am quite sure I am not really suited to 'tournament play' and perhaps FoW is a game that whether played in tournament or not, lends itself to that feel of game anyway? It is rather 'competitive'.

      Hence I thought about the switch to Hail Caesar / Black Powder which is taken in a more 'gentlemanly approach'?

      The weather and outdoors becons and my hobbying will have to take a backseat for a while...

      Thanks again Gav.

  9. I think every gamer has a moment like this, I stopped painting for nearly a year once, I would have very happily smashed up all my painting equipment and never picked a brush up again. You've done the right thing though, take that break, leave the WWII in its cabinet, and the paints in their box, in another couple of months you'll be dying to get both back out again.

  10. I completely understand. I have been up and down for about two years now. I am very much in your third category, the painter, and played my first game on Saturday for two and a half years. The chaps at Guildford are pretty relaxed and so it isn't competitive especially, as someone mentioned, if it is a multiplayer game (which they often are). I am also totally with Blackwarden on the fact that the look of the thing is more important to me than the game itself. I couldn't bear the thought of tournament gaming it sounds awful!

    A couple of people on Saturday invited me to play some more games at the club which I might: but I'd still be stressed about it!

    For me, I stared out as a solo wargamer and have always had enjoyable solo games without stressing about remembering the rules (which I never can as I only play every two years!) So, essentially, I am painting my figures for solo play (which is why I always paint two armies which is why I never get them finished!)

    So, don't worry! Something will set you off again (maybe a film or a book) and you can waste as much time as you ever did again. In the meantime you can do something worthwhile instead!

    1. Thank you very much for your thoughts Legatus. Its good to know a lot of folks out there seem to be on the same wavelength as I am.

      I think some of my angst is the secret guilty bit in me that knows how long I take to get these things painted up (time which I could do other more 'meaningful' stuff?), to get them on the table, to play a game. When that game invariably ends in defeat, it makes you wonder why you bothered in the first place, thus 'invalidating' your hobby - so does that thinking really relegate me down the my rankings to "Painter"?

      Its all lip biting stuff!

  11. I think this affects us all at different stages. I have had breaks of long periods from the brushes and find it actually benefits when I return to them.

    As for tournaments I gave these up a long time ago, I suffered the sulks when I inevitably failed to roll anything useful in these situations and it does not help me mentally always obtaining a wooden spoon.

    Now I would classify myself as in between 2 and 3 on your gamer scale. I play regularly on a Sunday but only for fun with my mates and get a lot of enjoyment from painting.

    My best advice is to enjoy the beer and the Summer and have a break as they say a change is as good as a rest.

    1. Again sound advice Andrew, thank you very much for your thoughts and advice! The summer and a beer or two will win out!

  12. Well, I posted a few days ago on my blog that I was having more or the less the same problem as you: wargamer blues/ funk. You still love gaming/ painting, but still, you have a bitter after-taste in your mouth after your usual games. I know the feeling.

    I for one have decided to keep wargaming as usual, though not that often, pick up a very challenging army to paint and play ( you know, the one who kept loosing, but decidedly looked nice, and you don't care anymore about losing because you're meant to lose!), and finally, started a campaign/scenarios project for Black powder, meaning I'll have to buy more minis, but hoping to game multiplayer scenarios ;)



    1. Thanks for your thoughts.

      I know what you mean about 'meant to lose' - I sometimes wonder if its just in my "Karma" that I am destined to lose games!

      Perhaps in life we are only meant to have so many thing go right for us and so many things go wrong, to maintain a balance... So perhaps some things in life go right for me so therefore my gaming goes 'wrong'...

      Oh gosh I'm getting very 'deep' now... ;-)

      Bets of luck with your Black Powder-ing!

  13. chin up, the urge will come back again

  14. Scott, I'm getting ready for a LOTR SBG tournament next month and I've locked in to use an army that wins nearly 1 in 4 games. This is also an army that I've been frustrated over for nearly two years now. I've tried, though, to add units that provide surprises to the game - makes things more interesting and in the end, more enjoyable. Find a way to have fun hobbying!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Tiberius. Wheres the tournie, and what army do you play?


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