Saturday, March 28, 2015

On Unpainted Miniatures

Over on The Miniatures Page there was a recent  topic titled "In Defence of . . .  Unpainted miniatures in a game." The original post challenged the community to post its defense of using unpainted miniatures during a game. The majority of posters responded that they were indefensible. They claimed that a big part of the appeal of miniature gaming is the "spectacle." In another topic, one poster claimed that pre-painted miniatures would eliminate "90% of the hobby" because miniature wargaming "is not just playing games." It just struck me that the TMP community in general is into the modeling aspect of the hobby.

In contrast to the majority on TMP, I am a heretic. My response was that a game with unpainted miniatures is better than no game. I cannot fathom that anyone would reject a game without painted miniatures. Obviously, that is not a choice I would make (for example). It is also why I thoroughly enjoy boardgames.

Anyway, I pondered the debate and theorized that there is a spectrum between those who are "gamers" (those primarily interested in the game) and those who are "modelers" (primarily into the "spectacle"). The spectrum would look like this, and I would be on the "gamer" end of that spectrum.

I thought about it some more and decided that this model is a little simplistic. Someone could be a staunch modeler and still be into the gaming aspect of the hobby. Instead, I realized that "gamer" and "modeler" could be two separate axes such as this:

One could then be plotted both axes. Someone who only collects and paints figures would be high on the x-axis but 0 on the y-axis while someone playing with unpainted minis would be 0 on x and high on y. 

Although I occasionally like to build and paint stuff, I hate having to hold up a game for it. My primary interest in the hobby is the games themselves. Thus, I am high on the gamer axis but fairly low on the modeler axis. I think that TMP in general, because it is primarily a site about miniatures, is fairly high on the modeler scale but can span the gamut on the gamer scale. A plot of me vs. TMP might look like this:

This would explain why there is such intolerance of unpainted miniatures on TMP whereas I am far more ambivalent.

Of course, this raises another question. If I'm not much into modeling, why do I even bother with miniatures games? I think I'll save that for another post.


  1. You missed the Z-Axis which is for people who go to TMP to either whore blog posts or to see what the latest editorial eccentricities are :)

    Or to see if the archaic system has finally collapsed under its own weight ...

  2. Very interesting way of looking at it! Though I'd say the average TMPer would be about 8/10 modeller and or 3/10 on the gamer. I'd rate myself about 80% gamer and 20% modeller. :)

  3. Perhaps I should suggest a TMP poll.

  4. I am with you after all our hobby is wargaming not warpainting!

  5. It is frustrating when you see a set of rules you're interested in, and all a search turns up is people painting figures for them, with no actual reviews of the game, or battle-reports.