Hobby Reflections – 5 years on

Hey everybody,
August is my hobby anniversary month, and I have been quite reflective over the last couple of weeks, thinking on how far I’ve come with the hobby, and celebrating the fact that I’m really enjoying myself at the moment. I’ve probably said this on several occasions now, which almost makes it null and void, but I don’t think I’ve ever been enjoying myself in the hobby as much as I am right now, playing more regularly than I have ever managed previously, and dabbling in many different projects within the ranges Games Workshop has to offer.

It’s that dabbling that I want to ramble about today, though. I read Tyler Mengel’s ‘Hobby Discipline’ post at the end of last week, where he talks about the variety of projects he has planned out, and bemoaning the fact there are so many minis, but such little time. It really got me thinking about my own myriad plans, and how I have over the years tried to thin out the hobby backlog, only to then find myself in exactly the same position after a few scant months.

Over the years, I’ve bought and sold too many forces, both large and small, and I’ve tried with varying degrees of success to limit myself to stick to projects. I think the Tau Empire army that I found myself building up, only to then sell off wholesale, was a fairly significant turning point for me, however, as it brought it home how much time, effort and money that I had sunk into a project, just to wave goodbye to the whole thing within the space of 15 months or so.

I’m fairly certain that I am one of these people who are most easily classified as a “hobby butterfly”, moving from project to project with a whole host of half-finished pieces scattered in my wake. I almost think I’m pathologically incapable of seeing an army project through to completion! My current focus has been with my Necrons once more, which is something of a nostalgia trip for me at this time of year anyway, but is greatly helped by the fact that I’m playing more games at the minute than I have for a long time, and can almost see the holes in my army lists and how I can plug them. It’s almost like the game is designed that way, right?! More than that, however, I’m also enjoying the fact that I’m spending a lot of time with the Codex of my army, poring over the available units and the armoury sections, to see what I could possibly bring to the table, how I could field a different-looking army, etc. It’s really addictive to play a game, see where I went wrong, then want to play again and make changes.

The Necrons project kinda burst onto the scene shortly after I moved house, but up until that point I was working almost feverishly on my Adeptus Mechanicus project, mostly in the attempt to get an Imperium army that I could play on the tabletop. I don’t think I’ve ever fielded an Imperium force, and the idea sort of got hold of me. Having had a whole bunch of Skitarii that were half-built and waiting for paint, I found it really satisfying to finally get round to painting them, and seeing the project that had begun sometime in 2017 coming to fruition. The only other time I have ever been able to paint with such single-mindedness was probably when painting up my Drukhari, earlier in 2017.

I mention all of these projects almost as an attempt to console myself, as I am capable of sustained interest in an army project without the need to have sidelines going on. Many people mention painting up five or ten models for a unit, then moving to something else as a ‘palette’ cleanser. Personally, I’ve taken that idea a step further many times, and have painted up several really disparate models side by side, knowing that they share colours, in an effort to keep myself interested and motivated. Deathwatch, Genestealer Cult and Electro Priests all shared space on my desk at the same time, and it proved to be a fairly decent way to make sure I kept going.

However, whether because I’m playing more, or my painting time has become somewhat limited, I’m finding myself wanting to concentrate on getting a much narrower selection of models painted up these days. My Necrons are a case in point here, as I’ve found myself wanting to get the Lychguard models finished in time for a game, so didn’t want to get distracted by painting up the Van Saar gangers or the Iron Golem warband that I could have also had on the table, because I know they all share some colours in common. Even within the same project, I was in danger of getting sidelined by painting Tomb Blades, Canoptek Scarabs, and the Triarch Stalker, and so put everything away except the models that I wanted to focus on right there and then.

It’s not a bad thing to have a number of projects on the go at the same time, and it can often be quite economical to paint up several different models at the same time if they all share a common colour/colours, like some kind of weird batch-paint session. But I suppose when there are too many projects on the go, and you run the risk of never finishing anything, therein lies the problem. It’s giving me a lot of joy right now to see my Necrons army coming along so well, as they will always be my first love and passion, though my earlier attempt at an army of them was nowhere near the sort of standard that I would like to hold myself to these days!

There is, of course, another side to the coin of playing so many games with a fairly small-scale force, and that is the number of models you end up with, through being able to change your list fairly flexibly. If I had stuck to the 2000-point list that I had outlined almost 12 months ago (even adjusting for Chapter Approved), I probably wouldn’t be staring down the barrel of so many units as I am currently, because I keep changing up the way I build my 1000-point armies. By making small adjustments, swapping one unit for another, then another for yet another, a small-scale list can see me go through at least seven or eight revolving unit types, on top of the basic battalion force that has remained something of a bedrock for the list these past few months. When playing at 1000 points, I might overlook the Doomsday Ark, or the Triarch Stalker, because it is quite a large investment for one model, whereas for almost the same price I could put 5 Triarch Praetorians in my list and see what they have to offer. But I could also swap them out for Lychguard. Or I could make a couple of swaps together, removing the Lychguard and the Cryptek HQ for Illuminor Szeras and some Tomb Blades. All of these units probably wouldn’t find themselves in the same list at 2000 points, but I might want them all ready to go for my various 1000-point lists.

It’s an interesting position to be in, and I can see myself ending up with a much, much larger Necron force than I would perhaps originally have planned because of it!

But this is where the collector in me resurfaces, and I think there was an element of this back when I was first getting into 40k in 2014. I actually had all of the named HQ choices, even though I probably had no plans for fielding them – the only one I actually liked to play was Orikan the Diviner. It’s something that has really informed my Drukhari purchases in the last 12 months, as well – wanting at least one of every model in the range. So what if a particular model looks like ass? I’m in that sort of mindset where I identify quite strongly with the army (armies) that I play, and so want to own at least one of everything.

Where my Necrons are concerned, this is something that I never used to bother with, as very early on in my hobby career I’d made the judgment that I didn’t like the sculpts for Warriors, Destroyers and Flayed Ones, and so would just ignore them in the Codex and build lists that didn’t take account of them as options for the army. I’d then proceed to bemoan the expense of Lychguard as a melee option for the army, without really taking account of the fact that I can get Flayed Ones for about 55 points cheaper. Of course, I could always look into conversions, but that is a subject for another day – suffice it to say, I would always prefer to have an official GW model over one that I had had to make as a stand-in.

I feel that my attitude towards making the most out of a Codex has really helped me to see the potential for the Necrons, but to some degree it has helped with all of the armies that I collect. My Adeptus Mechanicus army had always been centred around the idea of waves and waves of Skitarii, peppered with Onager Dunecrawlers and the like. But having looked at everything they have, I have come to some much more interesting ideas as a result, and the same is true of my other projects.

The somewhat forgotten few – projects that I’ve barely touched in years…

But this does then come back to the idea from the start of the blog, about having too many projects going on at once, and where to draw the line over what we can and cannot accomplish as hobbyists. I shudder to think at just how many projects I actually have going on right now – indeed, it actually gives me a headache trying to grapple with them all. It’s not just army projects, of course, as I also have a good amount of terrain that wants some attention, both in the box and fully built (even primed and ready for paint, in some cases). It was one of my hobby goals for the year to get at least one decent-sized piece of terrain painted, and as we say farewell to the second third of the year, I am still nowhere near realising that aspiration! But then, I’m quite far away from a number of other goals from my list, so I suppose it’s all relative.

It does feel like this might be a good place to talk about those hobby goals, though, and to perhaps re-visit the list and see if I can get rid of a few of these that definitely won’t be realised before the end of the year. I’m pretty confident that I won’t be painting any Deathwatch or Grey Knights in the remaining months of the year, and while I might buy him, Inquisitor Karamazov is probably not going to see my hobby desk, either. An Imperial tank? I was thinking along the lines of a Predator, but I suppose it’s possible that I’ll be picking up one of the new Skitarii vehicles sometime soon, so that might still happen. I do want to put some of my focus back onto the Adeptus Mechanicus, though, as I’d like to get another unit painted up before year-end there. I’m actually thinking I might try to tackle the Onager, which would be very cool! I’d like to have painted up the contents of a Start Collecting box, so that’s something hovering around my brain.

Necrons are at the forefront of my mind right now, though, and while I would really like to get the Doomsday Ark painted, there are several other units vying for my attention there in terms of playing games, so I think I will probably give them some sort of priority: Tomb Blades and the Triarch Stalker being top of the list, but also more Immortals, Canoptek Wraiths, and (a weird one), the C’tan Shard of the Deceiver. I have some vague ideas for using him in my next game, as it happens, so I would like to try and get moving with him. I suppose Necrons generally should be on this list, as I try to flesh out my army there to be something approaching the breadth of my Drukhari. I keep saying that Necrons are my first love, but the amount of models that I can field really does seem to belie that fact! Time to press on.

My Hobby Goals list was written with half a mind to reducing some of the backlog that I’d accumulated over the years, but I think the way that I’ve been approaching that backlog has changed somewhat, as I’ve been tackling things that I am actually going to be getting some use out of. I don’t think it’s going to really be that possible to ever not have a backlog, and as such I don’t think it’s something I should really try to aim for. But I’d like to try to have a couple of weeks, maybe even a month, where I don’t find myself significantly adding to the mountain of plastic that has been accumulating around me – especially seeing as how that mountain is now stored in the loft… those rafters can’t take infinite strain, after all!!

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