Tuesday 27 August 2013

Can't make Me! - Sprue Cutters Union #6

Greetings fellow wargamers and hobbyists! Welcome to my workshop.

It has been said that you can lead a modeller to a workbench, but you can make them assemble. Well, it probably hasn't, but you get what I mean I hope. Miniature modelling is a very involved and personal hobby, and any project we decide to have a go at needs to fulfil certain needs to make it enjoyable and rewarding, in order to justify the amount effort that each and every project requires.
Because we have such a vast array of options regarding what kind of models we would like to work on, from multiple manufacturers, genres, game systems and eras, we can pick up pretty much whatever the cutting, gluing and painting portions of our brains desire, but there are some kits that we simply will not (ever) purchase and modelling projects we will never embark on.

This is the topic for the Sprue Cutters Union task number 6: What will never make its way onto your Workbench?

I guess my approach to this topic will be slightly different to that of many of my fellow Union members, because I am a tabletop wargamer first, and a modeller second, so my considerations are influenced as much by how a model or army plays on the table and its background material as much as the practicalities of assembling and painting the kit itself. It is also limited by the fact that I only play Games Workshop games, and will rarely purchase models made by other companies, although special mentions should go to Mantic Games, whose Ghouls I use in my Vampire Counts army because I don't like the GW Ghouls, and Hasslefree Miniatures, who make some great models that I really love, and some I have even bought just because I like them so much! I recommend checking them out.

Generally speaking, I am not the kind of collector that will buy a model unless I intend to field it in battle. This in turn means that I will generally only buy models that can be fielded in the armies that I play, and to go even further, the models I choose to field as part of that army are down to my play style and theming preferences for the army in question.

The choice about which armies to play is one with almost infinite factors to consider, but the main ones I find tend to be a combination of three:

  • Do I like the models?
  • Does the army fit my play style?
  • Do I like the background material for the army?

I should be clear that I tend to put great emphasis on the background material that accompanies the games and armies that I play (Games Workshop games all). My armies, characters and units are named, my armies have additional background material that I have written for them, and the army as it is represented in the game setting has at least some bearing on my army (and by extension model) selection.

For this reason, there are certain armies I will play, and certain armies I won't. I have to admit that I have been tempted in the past, but no more. Of all the armies available for the two game systems I play the most (Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000), there are indeed some armies I will NEVER collect or play, and this decision is probably down to the background material more than anything else. None of the reasons are related to the practicalities of the modelling itself.

Now, onto the armies (and models) for Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000, I will never (he says confidently) collect. Let’s start by listing the ones I already own.

For Warhammer Fantasy, I collect:

Bretonnia - A Knightly army a la French Knights meets Arthurian Legend. A bus load of charging cavalry supported by archers and trebuchet. How cool is that?!

Warriors of Chaos - An army of Slaaneshi Chaos Warriors, chosen because they are diametrically opposed to my Bretonnians. These boys are really, really mean.

Dwarfs - My dad bought these originally, but they're Dwarfs, and they're stubborn as all hell, and they drink lots of ale. What more need I say?

Ogre Kingdoms - I traded away all of my Epic models to buy this army, because I like the models, and I wanted something different. An army of monsters, and the background material has been very well done. My Tribe are the Bonegrinder tribe. They'll grind your bones to make their...you know the rest.

Vampire Counts - An army of archetypal Vampires, a true Von Carstein force, lots of elite Grave Guard and Black Knights, Skeletons and Zombies, with some kick ass Vampires to lead. None of this Master Necromancer and Necrarch foolishness! The story of Vlad and Isabella Von Carstein is the best in Warhammer in my opinion.

And for Warhammer 40,000:

Dark Angels Space Marines - everyone collects Space Marines at some point, I just never stopped. Chosen because of how cool they looked in the art work on the 'Space Marine' (Epic) game box with their winged sword emblem, and then I started to find out about things like their Deathwing Terminators, the Ravenwing...stoic doesn't quite cover it, which is a big part of why I like them.

Imperial Guard - Humans, easy to relate to, the feel of all the 20th/21st century war films I ever saw, plus the sci-fi ones. And tanks. Big tanks.

Orks - inherited from my brother, then added to and turned into an army by me. I like my Orks because all the finesse and high tech gizmos and wotnots in the galaxy won't matter when there is a tsunami of mean green rushing towards you...

Dark Eldar - Spiteful aliens that just want to hurt you. And your family. And your pets. And your neighbours pets. A chance to inflict (imaginary) pain and not feel an ounce of remorse. Plus all those blades...

Sisters of Battle - Nuns with guns, hunters of heretics and traitors. I hate traitors. A traitor will find no peace in this world or the next. There is nothing as wretched or as hated in all the world as a traitor. And don't forget, the Inquisition is watching you...

Tyranids - Seen the film 'Aliens'? Liked it? How about Starship Troopers? You get the idea. There's even less reasoning to be done with the Tyranids than with the Orks. They just want to eat, well, everything in the entire Universe. And they have cool models, especially they really big ones...another army that looks the high and mighty in the eye, and bites it's face off.

So, those are the armies I collect. Of the multiple remaining armies for both systems, there are some I would consider if I ever had the time, the money, and above all the space. Empire and Orcs and Goblins for Fantasy, perhaps Chaos Space Marines for 40K, but the others?

In most cases, it's something simple - The High, Wood and Dark Elves for Fantasy for example. They're Elves, which typically means haughty and arrogant, an utter belief in their superiority. Not my cup of tea at all. The Tau and Eldar for 40K; same deal, arrogant to the point of denial. The Tau in particular. And the rules for both these armies with their shiny new rule books hasn't helped one bit. The rules back up their 'my shiny stuff is better than your shiny stuff' mentality.

I don't actively dislike the other armies I haven't mentioned, but those few - the Elves plus the Eldar and Tau - I would never play. The Tau and Eldar because they're so convinced that their way is better, and that Humanity is some kind of stain on the Galaxy, and the Elves in Fantasy because they're so sure that the rest of the world owes them, well, everything, because they managed to stave off the first great incursion of Chaos.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I will never play armies that I perceive to be arrogant in the extreme, although this is obviously subject to my opinions about the background material and my view from the stance of the armies I do play. It's not a reflection of the people who play these armies. In fact, I like playing against them, so that I can give them a taste of cold steel or blessed bolter fire, depending on which game I'm playing.

Maybe I take the fluff too seriously when I let it dictate which models I choose to collect, maybe I'm not the only one. Who knows? At the end of the day, a set of rules is a set of rules, but for me it's the game setting that gets me hooked, and ultimately that leads to me buying models. That's why I play Games Workshop games rather than any others: the setting is second to none in my book.

Feel free to let me know your views. But before you do, I am aware of the multi-layered hypocrisy of some of the reasons I've given for disliking the armies I have talked about, as if the Bretonnians aren't themselves arrogant, or the Imperium of Man does claim for itself the entire Galaxy in the name of the God Emperor of Mankind. I guess those are the breaks when you immerse yourself in the game background. The blinkered views of the absolutist! Think of this as a semi 'in character' post.

As a member of the Sprue Cutters Union, I am proud to be able to direct you to other members blogs for some quality articles. If you would like to read posts on this topic by some proper modellers, check the links below:

Once more, thanks for reading...

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