A Damn Expensive Hobby… – An Interlude

Through this series we’ve been talking about the many alternatives to Games Workshop that you may or may not have been aware of and have been attempting to show that many of the game qualities that Games Workshop fans extol the virtues of exist in other systems as well and sometimes they even exceed them in those areas.

Before we move onto the next game system I thought it was worth spending a little time discussing why we pick the systems we do……

Though I’m sure there are some people out there who pick a game system they know other people are playing, search for the most broken or unpleasant combination of models or units, buy those and promptly ruin the game for every they go near. Generally your lucky if these people even put paint on the models. I’ve been to several tournaments where I’ve seen armies that stretch the definition of Games Workshops old ‘three colours’ specification though I’m sure the comments section will have something to say about that without me needing to give you examples of some of the travesties I’ve seen personally…

So other than the odd WAAC fuckwit who’ll use anything I think most of us have our introduction to a new system via the visual medium. Or more specifically by use of the initial phrase “That’s *insert your favourite swear word here* awesome…what’s that from?

On an entirely personal level my priorities go like this…

“Those models are fucking awesome…is the system any good?”
“So the rules are al-right then?
“How MUCH?!?!?!?”

…I might read the background material as well…eventually…

Though if the models are nice enough the ‘How much?’ part can be eventually bypassed by virtue of me convincing myself that it’s not that expensive after all…which is then followed by the slightly trickier ‘Convince my girlfriend that’s it’s not that expensive after all…’

Of course aesthetics are a very personal thing. Whether it’s a preference for a certain style, era of history or hair colour there will always be somebody who believes it’s the greatest thing ever and another who..well…doesn’t…

Personally I think they’re all just fine…

I recently had a debate with two fellow hobbyists over a game system they were trying out. They both seemed to think that the models were nicely characterful and well detailed whereas I thought they were poorly detailed and crappy looking and though we both agreed the rule-set was quite well done I can’t see myself ever buying models that I hate to use in any system no matter how tight the rule-set…

…though I’m much more likely to play a system with a crappy rule-set if I like the models, the models quality will need to be directly proportional to the inadequacies of the rules and eventually there would be a tipping point. For many hobbyists that tipping point with Games Workshops two main systems was cost but to be honest for me it was actually the rules. I still have a lot of Games Workshop models that I’ll probably never sell because I put a lot of effort into painting them or converting them and I still genuinely enjoy their aesthetic qualities but I have trouble foreseeing a future where I’ll actually play with them…using their own system at least…

Of course we as hobbyists are currently fortunate to find ourselves in a golden age of hobby where there are an unprecedented number of quality game systems to choose from and there’s some wiggle room in the ‘counts-as’ department. Games Workshop’s ‘Fantasy’ range interchanges pretty much flawlessly with Mantic Games ‘Kings of War’ (though it’s unlikely to be acceptable in a tournament environment) and I’m reasonably sure that the same will be true of their ‘Warpath’ system and 40K when the former is relaunched next year (or so I’m informed). Skirmish games are another area where cross-over is becoming increasingly common and I have a number of none Wyrd Games models in my Malifaux crews from a number of other companies. I have models from Freebooter Fate, Guild of Harmony, Hasslefree Miniatures and even (you may be surprised to hear) Games Workshop, though those are heavily converted and also push the boundaries of ‘counts-as’ somewhat…

Yes it’s a Hellraiser crew…for Malifaux…using Games Workshop models…

So we’ve established that personally (even taking my near sociopathic need to win at things into account) I couldn’t play a system where I didn’t like the models no matter how tight the mechanics of it were and I doubt that any of you reading this are much different (except for the sociopath bit…possibly). I’d be entirely willing to use another systems models that I did like should there be any that were compatible but even then there’s a limit to how much converting and re-basing I’d be willing to do to make that work given the fact that we’re not exactly short of quality systems to choose from at the moment.

Cost isn’t as big a factor for me as it might be (not because I’m rich but because I’m willing to save-up if it’s something I really like) if it’s a reasonable investment and you get a usable product (I’m becoming quite a fan of companies that do starter boxes) though the price of a 2000 point Warhammer Fantasy or Warhammer 40K army would give me pause for thought even if I still enjoyed the systems themselves…which I don’t…

I was (not so very long ago) in the position where if some-one suggested a none Games Workshop system to me I wouldn’t even consider it as my environment for hobby was a Games Workshop store which for obvious reasons limited my exposure to anything else. If your reading this as some-one who still lives in their private bubble of GW then I emphatically suggest finding a FLGS…

This is my FLGS ‘Titan Games‘ as you can see if you pick the right hobby environment then there’s plenty to choose from…there’s even some Games Workshop stuff there…

…or games club with some wider tastes and I’m sure that the people there will be more than willing to walk you through their favourite system and from there you can make up your own mind. Hopefully this series of articles will also give you some further options and I’ve tried to be as objective as possible as I’m not a ‘hater’ of Games Workshop in general…it just doesn’t push the right buttons for me any more…

So that turned into a bit of a jumbled ramble so I’ll try to get back to the point with a final question to you all…

What actually captures your interest with a system?

Is it the models, the rules, background or do you just have an eye for a bargain?

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

My Facebook page also has regular posts on various things (not just Malifaux though I write about it a lot) and for more of my barely coherent rantings feel free to check out my blog here.

Or drop me an e-mail at [email protected]

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