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!