Friday, 23 August 2013

What Is Your Modelling Philosophy? - Sprue Cutters Union #5

Greetings hobbyists, and welcome to my chamber of reflection. Yes, there are a lot of mirrors in here, and no they don't all show you the same thing when you look into their depths, but look up, beyond the glass of the viewing dome above our heads, and the entire universe is laid bare...

'Oooo', I hear you say. 'What the hell is he blathering on about?' Well, this is where I come to think about anything and everything, and ponder the nature of existence, and this week's Sprue Cutters Union topic called for some introspection.

What is your modelling philosophy?

I guess this isn't really something that we might conciously consider while we're painting our latest modelling project,  playing a game or deciding what to buy next to add to our collection, but I bet the undercurrents of our ingrained philosophy reverberate through our entire hobby experience.

Our task is to talk about our own philosophy, so here goes. I am of course speaking as a wargaming hobbyist, and I partake of every aspect of the hobby, from playing games to collecting to painting and even a little simple sculpting, but when I ask myself why I do the things I do, what is my answer? Why do I play the armies I do, why do I paint and model the way I do? What is it about my collection that is important to me, and most significantly: do I do these things in the same way as every other hobbyist, and if not, why?

When pressed, I think I'd have to say that mine is a philosophy of stoicism, or equally, stubbornness, depending on your point of view. Typically, I don't like my collection of models to be the same as everyone elses. I tend to go against the grain in most things, and this is evident in every aspect of my hobbying.

The acts of purchasing models, assembling and painting them, and choosing an army to command on the tabletop battlefield are all interconnected, and it's difficult to say which comes first because each influences the other. What I know is that I have a concious desire to buy and use the units I like, regardless of whether the wider community think that the unit is any good, or that another unit would be a better choice. I play certain units because they fit my idea of what my chosen army should be, and this in turn makes me determined to include them.

An example might be my Dwarf army for Warhammer, which many tournament players consider to be lacking in viable strategic options to allow a player to win consistently, and so we hear accounts about how boring Dwarfs are to play, because they just sit in a corner of the battlefield surrounded by artillery and shoot you to death. This just isn't my idea of what an army of cantankerous, bearded, beer swilling, axe toting grudgebearers is like.

They aren't depicted in the background material as afraid of the enemy, or stand-offish, they yell 'taste my axe foul grobi!' as they methodically hew their way through the enemy army, never giving ground, with the 'Old Boys Club' (my Longbeards) grumbling away at any sign of un-Dwarfish behaviour. So that's what I play. A solid shield-wall of Dwarf Warriors, marching towards the enemy and engaging them toe to toe. And with that many high weapon skill, high toughness heavily armoured Dwarfs backing you into a corner, not every enemy army has an answer for it, where they might have an answer for a straight gunline.

The same applies to my painting. While other people might scour the internet looking for schemes they like and might use on their own models, I am looking at how the majority of other models are painted so I can do something different. I play a Dark Angels army for Warhammer 40,000, which is the only army I play with specific and established background written about them, but even then I have tried to be different. The Games Workshop army is (or was) the Dark Angels 5th Company, and though I like the company markings for the 5th, I have chosen to have my army represent the 4th, despite the small and fiddly check pattern I have to paint onto each marine's kneepad.

I am a rebel. I want to do things my way, the way I feel they should be, and actively try to avoid copying what others have done. Does this make me a bit anal? Perhaps. Does it mean the models I choose to buy and field might not be the best possible option from the respective army list? Certainly. But will I give in and go with the majority? Not a chance. My connection to my models is personal to a point where they have to be what I want them to be and look like I want them to look, otherwise they barely even feel like 'my army'.

I want people to look at my models and say 'that's different, haven't seen that before', and that's what I think about when I'm working on a project. Another example for you: Vampire Counts. Many people advocate the Master Necromancer list as a strong alternative to a very expensive Vampire Lord, which makes degrees of sense as far as list building goes, but in my mind it's a Vampire Counts army, and a Vampire should lead it. That is until I hit on the idea of an army that uses the Vampire Counts book, but contains no Vampires at all and is commanded by a coven of witches. This is my way of doing something that makes sense to me, and is quite different from anything else I have seen.

Having thought about it, my philosophy can probably best be described as two things: underdog mentality and a desire to swim against the tide, come what may.

So, I hope that my rambling hasn't gone on too long, and has perhaps even got you thinking about your own hobby philosophy. What sets the course of your hobby goals and drives, and where does it come from?

If you have enjoyed reading the Sprue Cutters Union threads, and might be interested in joining the Union, look here.

The members of the Sprue Cutters Union are a great bunch of modellers with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets, but all are passionate about our shared hobby. To read posts by other members on this topic, check out the links below:

And finally, just to hammer the point home, here are some of my purple Ogres...

As always, thanks for reading.

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