The Independent Characters podcast recently put out a buzz-worthy episode where the hosts tackled the Five (quickly amended to Six) Pillars of the Hobby. As you might imagine, these are the essential activities around which our hobby revolves. And while the Independent Characters discussed them within the confines of Warhammer 40,000 (as is their wont), the Pillars are entirely applicable to the larger wargaming hobby.
This prompted a lively email thread among the members of my local game club. We took turns ranking the Pillars according to our own personal interests and tastes. Some players preferred building models over painting them. Others prized list-building as the consummate gaming activity. I found it completely fascinating to read their thoughts on this topic.
Which brings me to my own contribution. What follows is an expanded version of the email I sent around to my game group. The Pillars are numbered in order of my own priority, with #1 being the most important to me, et cetera. Where do your Pillars rank? Be sure to leave a comment and tell me.
This is a social, hands-on hobby at its core, otherwise we’d just be playing video games. I think its no coincidence that most of our game nights begin with 30+ minutes of chatting and table-talk before the dice even hit the table. In fact, I observed that most of my group ranked “socializing” fairly high on our lists. This suggests to me that we should find more opportunities to hang out! Paint nights, terrain building nights, worldbuilding/lore hangouts ….. even non-gaming stuff like dinner or brews (or both).
In addition, I’ve also found that I *love* teaching new players to play various games, everything from Magic: the Gathering to Song of Blades & Heroes to Smallworld. I love running convention games, too, although I doubt I’ll do much more of that for the foreseeable future (kids and all). Gaming really is a social outlet for me and I will probably draw positive energy from it for the rest of my life.
As I get older, I derive more and more enjoyment from painting. Particularly since my job is focused on media and technology, it’s really valuable to me to have an hour or so each night to unwind, listen to some music and dab on some paint.
I’ve adopted a somewhat “punk rock” attitude toward my own painting capabilities — I feel that my painting skills have more or less plateaued, and I’m not particularly interested in learning advanced skills or techniques. I’m perfectly fine reaching the “good enough” stage and stopping there. What I may be lacking in terms of skill or technique, however, I try to make up for in sheer output. I love speedpainting and painting on a deadline (often with a game night looming). I’m doing less of that now (kids and all) but hope to return to it. But I’ve painted hundreds of miniatures (probably something on the order of 1,000 or more) over the last 10 years, which gives me a sense of deep satisfaction.
In closing: I have made peace with my boundaries as a painter and am now focused on getting toys onto the table.
What can I say — I’m a writer and I love telling stories! I’m always attracted to the lore behind any particular game system or fantasy world. Gaming in a narrative vacuum is an absolute non-starter for me. In the absence of a well defined setting or world, I’ll build one myself. I tackled this topic a little bit in my earlier post “The Games In My Head” … basically, I need something to latch onto outside of the tabletop, because gaming, for me and probably for you as well, occupies a slim minority of my actual hobby time.
In addition, I love sharing my ideas with others. Having a blog is a huge creative outlet for me in this respect. I’m always full of gratitude when anyone reads, comments or otherwise appreciates anything I share on Comrade’s Wargames.
Over the years I’ve managed to parlay my love of lore into some actual paying gigs freelancing for the game industry. In particular, I managed to fund most of my wedding about 10 years ago by editing some of the raw manuscripts from Fantasy Flight’s Dark Heresy RPG book series. That was a fun batch of work and I was pleased to play some small part in that game’s success.
Well, we’ve come to the end of my take on the Six Pillars of the Hobby. This was a really interesting retrospective for me, and it also helped me gain some clarity about what I like and what I want to do more of in this hobby. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how your Pillars rank.
Thanks for reading!
Interesting post, thanks for sharing!
I’m not a gamer so 3 and 5 don’t really apply to me but I can relate to the other pillars.
Thanks! I think that’s really cool that you and i are able to share the rest of these pillars, even though you’re focused on the modeling aspect of the hobby.
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an interesting challenge, although I’m not sure my ranking would be constant over time. The top 3 would remain the same: social, painting, gaming; followed by the others: lore/history (for historical), assembly, collecting. cheers.
This is a good one. I’d probably say: socialising first. assembling and lore as a joint 2nd (I love building miniatures and get an almost childlike joy in it. With regards to lore, that was probably my main beef with the switch from Warhammer to AOS, the loss/complete change of the lore of a world I had 25+ years invested in, I still think it’s the most well developed game world and why I still revel in it. I also love the 30/40k world and Starwars even if they retconned all the original novels that followed RotJ).
Gaming is next, though this ties in closely with socialising and it’s rare we finish a game if only due to prematch chats (I can be quite competitive but I don’t take it seriously and don’t mind if I take a spanking if I have a fun game and in fairness the games where it goes horribly wrong are sometimes the most fun),
Collecting and painting are at last but not least. I love being in a position to pick up some of the older metal models I admired years ago (and fully admit to being a Warhammer horder).
I don’t dislike painting and have reached a stage where I’m comfortable with the level of my painting (which is fairly tabletop) and although I much prefer to field painted armies it is the one I find the hardest to fit in.
It’s funny how some of the best games are the ones where we only make it to turn 2 or 3 before we have to wrap up. Obviously we filled the time with chatting and table talk and general socializing. Sounds like you can sympathize with that!
I share your appreciation of the older metal models, too! It’s really satisfying to track down some of the older metal models that I ogled in the pages of White Dwarf as a kid.
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I’m a painter first. Probably a collector second, though that doesn’r exactly do me any good.
Socialising is an odd on nowadays – I catch up with gamer-friends roughly once a week but they’re not really miniatures gamers – my old group sort of broke up years ago and now live all over the city, and I don’t really have the time to catch up with them anymore, so I rarely get to play miniatures games anymore, except with my regular gamer-friends, who tend much more towards multiplayer videogames, boardgames and RPGs in that order – miniatures being an occasional thing at best for them despite my best efforts.
So gaming fits in oddly. I’d like to do it more, but I’m not keen on going out to games stores or clubs anymore – nor to inviting strangers into my home. So you see the dilemma!
I like the lore, but I don’t have time to read novels (again, despite best efforts to fit them in). Sure, some of it is wonky or worse, but overall I still greatly enjoy the 40 and Old World Settings. I’m stil indiffernt at best to the AoS lore. I’m also WAY too busy to always be reading new rulesets andteaching them, which unfortunately seems to be my role with new miniature games. So it ends up not happening all that often.
These days, I pretty much hate assembly and building models. Can’t stand it with the result that I have a pile of huge kits that haven’t been assembled yet.
So there ya go!
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Interesting comments, Azazel. I share your thoughts on gaming — I’m not the sort to pack up my toys and head down to the local shop to grab a game with just anyone. Much prefer to put in the work required to build a local game group where we’re friends first, gamers second.
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Yeah, it’s largely a time thing in a lot of ways. When I was younger, at uni, shared accommodation, I thought nothing of going out for a game once or twice a week. I went out into the city for study anyway, so the routine was already there, even if it was me heading into town at 3pm for a Friday night game.
Now? That ain’t happening! I prefer to kick back in my home and have friends over, even though we end up playing board games or LAN-style videogames instead of minis. And with the fatigue that comes from having a real job, gaming twice a week is like a pipe dream!
I wonder where terrain building comes in? A combination of painting and assembling maybe?
Terrain Buildign would have been 2 or 3 for me with socializing being #1.