September 19, 2017 by crew
“Three colours minimum”
As an old-time “40ker”, we had this phrase drummed into our core.
Throughout tournaments in earlier editions of Warhammer 40k, we had to have a base coat and some effort at detail as the minimum. The skill level was irrelevant and basing standards could be extremely varied, but ultimately there was a minimum standard which was at least met and often exceeded.
For a variety of reasons, many of which I will explore in this article, I feel that the requirements have been stretched and, more often than not, ignored for a number of years.
“Oh AJ. When did you become such a grumpy old git? Are you really going to wax lyrical about the good old days when Space Marines were Space Marines and Roboute Guilliman was still dead?”
Some people have accused me of being a painting snob, and honestly, maybe I am.
I have always refused to use miniatures in my games that are unpainted, but, I don’t expect the same of my opponent.
That being said, I would rather play against a painted army. I find myself wondering if I am in fact in the minority.
The Hobby Element
40k, and by extension all Games Workshop games, have long been considered a hobby. The hobby element has been considered primarily as the residence of the casual gamer. But what about the dedicated tournament gamer… do they HAVE to paint?
Why have Warhammer tournaments relaxed this requirement over the years? Here’s what I think…
40k has seen a rapid increase in the speed of releases.
There are new rules almost weekly if we count FAQs & Errata, and this has forced tournaments to reduce the amount of time before the tournament for lists to be submitted. Ultimately this has put pressure on events to relax painting requirements as gamers wish to tailor their lists.
Attendance at 40k events had been falling.
Naturally, when this happens the perceived barriers to entry are reduced in order to boost numbers. Is someone who has neither the time nor inclination to paint, going to go to an event that has strict painting rules? Perhaps not.
Should they though? In my mind yes, but then as I have said I am an old blowhard, sailing against a tide of instant gratification.
GW Removed Themselves From Events
It has been spoken about at length. GW went away from tournaments.
They hid in their mountain halls and shut out the presence of organised play. This meant that there was nobody governing the quality of miniatures placed on the gaming table in any more an official capacity than the Tournament Organiser (TO).
With the decline in numbers, they were not about to shut out any player and the money that came with them.
Why We Need A “Fix”
The main reason I believe this needs to be ‘fixed’, is simply for the general well-being of the hobby.
The whole hobby is designed to allow the hobbyist to build, paint, personalise and create a force, which they use to fight miniature battles against others who have gone through the same experience.
Someone who has built their army, and lovingly crafted the units, devoting the utmost time and effort that they can afford, deserves to fight against an army that has received the same treatment.
Should gamers be ostracised for failing to paint their army? Some hardliners would say, “If you don’t want to paint, play x wing!”. I don’t think so.
It’s everyone’s right to join in, gamer or painter, casual hobbyist or tournament champion.
A large part of me, however, feels that if you choose to go to a tournament, you should have to show commitment to the hobby. This should not only be through your gaming experience but also your painting and modelling too!
This part of me does get larger and more vocal when I am tabled by a grey hoard made up of the latest spam hotness, I must admit.
So What’s The Answer?
How do we get back to the heady days of sleepless nights before tournaments, feverishly dry brushing our way to absolution from the TO’s wrath?
I think the best solution is through a slow process of reminding all gamers of why painted armies provide both players with a better experience.
Supporting our Hobby scene locally, providing incentives at events to have a painted army and generally maintain a standard on a personal level.
There are so many hobby tools and paint ranges designed to make painting quicker and provide a great table top finish without the need for the skills of James Wappel or Dave Taylor, that there are fewer excuses for not having a fully painted army.
On Beasts of War alone, there are copious amounts of painting tutorials, never mind on the wider web.
Not everyone’s cup of tea…but it is painted. Max Soft score!
Soft scoring and providing ways for hobbyists to gain points towards the tournament standings also brings the hobbyist into a system where their talents can be measured on an equal footing.
This has caused much contention in my own local scene, with players claiming that I am elitist and that I only want this because I am a painter, the word painter being spat at me like ugly venom that had encroached their palette.
I do not believe that simply wanting to encourage both sides of our hobby equally is in anyway elitist, but merely inclusive of all aspects of the system.
So do you have a solution to this problem? Do you consider it a problem? Am I being a hobby snob, forgetting that real people have real jobs and real lives that take up their time?
Or do you wish to see a return of a minimum requirement for tournaments? Does the sight of a grey mass lining up against you turn your heart to stone?
Answers on a postcard! (or comment below, your choice)
Written by commissaraj
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