Settle, Settle…

As a teacher, I spend so much time in front of classes repeating that word, so much time looking at strategies to encourage that practice, and yet the art of doing it in my own life continues to elude me.

I’m talking about settling.  Not fluttering from notion to notion like an easily distracted butterfly, not sulking and fuming your way through a task you’re not really interested in, but just staying cool and Zen about the whole business of whatever it is you’re up to and getting on with something that has a degree of longevity to it.

I have trouble settling on hobby projects.  This hasn’t always been the case; eight years ago, when I came back into gaming after a self-imposed hiatus, I picked up two armies and invested a lot of time and energy into making them mine: there were tactical and thematic principles (feeding off each other, in many cases), developed backstories, semi-original conversions and a real sense of progress from the original models to the newest additions.

Proper hobbying, in other words.

Something went wrong, though.  Something changed.  I still don’t know what it was, but as I sit here looking at the Tyranids, wondering whether I really like them and whether that’s why I can’t seem to paint them to my satisfaction, and contemplating the three stalled WFB armies that have attempted to replace my long-serving Vampire Counts (dated modelling, paint jobs that embarassed me, and a playstyle that was becoming stale, but I should never have sold them; at least I cared about them, which is more than I can say for anything else I contemplate doing), I think it’s time for a bit of reflection and contemplation.  How did things come to be this way?

I envy people like Shiny; he has stood by his Skaven through thick and thin for about as long as we’ve both been playing (I did finally persuade him to abandon his beautiful, battleforcey Eldar, but he’d complained about them for something like seven years, so that’s not a huge loss), and still has every model he’s ever bought for them.  I wish I could stick to a project like that.

Maybe part of the problem is that I think ‘project’ now, not ‘army’ or ‘collection’.  Professionalism has gotten its claws into me, figuratively speaking, and it’s barring me from following my heart.  Maybe that’s a lot of hippy nonsense that leads to huge collections of stuff that frustrates one’s tabletop endeavours.  Maybe that’s a sign that you’re emotionally secure and settled in your hobby endeavours, though; that you’ve trial-and-errored your way up to proficiency (which I certainly did with the Vampires).  Maybe that’s unaffordable and insensible; why waste time and money on figures that don’t see use?  Maybe the definition of ‘use’ is at fault here, and maybe the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

This is the trouble I always have with self-reflection; too many maybes, too many possibilities, and no settling on a line of enquiry.  Maybe I’m just a restless person by nature – or maybe that’s taking refuge from important self-criticism and development.  Maybe I’m overthinking this – maybe I’m overthinking my choice of armies.

It’s certainly true that all these half-hearted here-today-gone-tomorrow endeavours have been borne out of agonising, research and consideration, save one.  I think that looking at each of my failed projects in depth might be worth a go; I also think that depth means length, here in the world of blogging, and that means I should probably pause and let those who don’t like text have a breather.

Ironically, I’d planned a whole series of entries for this month, which the thought process here is hijacking.  If only I could settle on a plan…

7 thoughts on “Settle, Settle…

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  1. >Do you ever read White Dwarf? Jervis wrote a good article on deciding on your next army, I'll see if I can find it for you.If you're looking for a 40k army and want to play some games first to get a feel for them you're welcome to borrow any of mine.What makes you question if you like the Tyranids? Is it the minis, the fluff, the faceless nature of the hivemind, battlefield performance or something else?

  2. >I think it's the facelessness and saminess of the little buggers. They're rather dull to paint, for one thing, and there's not really anything for me to latch onto and overidentify with. If I were to revert to second edition 'rainbow vomit' colours I might be able to sustain interest for longer, but the army would probably look like crap (although I can't tell whether that's actually true, or whether I've just been conditioned by prevailing trends to see 'dull and uniform, three colours, layer layer ink highlight' as 'good' and 'riot of colours' as 'crap').

  3. >Von, you should run not walk over to DaveG at N++ to read his PunkArt/Painting revolution series. It's fabulous and may just give you the inspiration you like. I see you like Skorne… why not consider CSM for 40K? There's tons of personality, lots of conversions, ample chance to come up with backstory, fluff, and fun details for pretty much anything you field- and to top it all off, there's literally no end to Chaos. I'm not saying 'Nids are bad… but if sameness and "facelessness" bother you; move on. I know what I like- and I'm doing what I can to stay faithful to it (including stripping a bajillion dudes) so I can paint them as I like.

  4. >Funny thing: Dave got me started on all this! Punk Art will be coming up at the end of the series (I wrote about four posts this morning whilst getting my head around the problem and will be releasing them over the next few days), but I've read it and… to be honest, it makes me question what I'm doing with army scale games at all.I played Chaos Space Marines for about four years and really enjoyed them; then the army book changed and the army I'd sunk all that love into just didn't work any more.They do still tempt me, but I admit a certain reluctance to armies that pretty much depend on transport vehicles. If I'm going to spend £20 on a kit I'd like it to contribue more than fifty points to my army, especially if it's something that takes up as much space as a Rhino in the average figure case.Maybe I could do something funky with a pair of Land Raiders… (now watch as everyone who reads this blog and considers themselves a competitive player vomits quietly into their own scorn).

  5. >Funny how great minds think alike, eh? I have heard (over and over) about the Codex changes that nerf or draw the fun out of CSM. However, for conversions, there's no better army IMO. If you still have the guys, can you convert them or use them as stand ins for Space Wolves? The CSM seem to work pretty well as the puppies. Revisiting your guys might give you a chance to do something new while spending almost no money. — Just thinking. Land Raiders are NOT as terrible as they are made out- in many ways they're better because no one uses them.

  6. >If I still had my Chaos boys, they would even now be looking around for some discount fur cloaks. Funnily enough, great minds continue to think alike!Auretious Taak ran a tiny, tiny Space Wolf army of elite space-barbarian hardcases, really making the most of those four customisable HQs. That really tempts me. An army of ten almost-totally-individual blokes…

  7. >Additional: the further thought occurs that I did buy all the little crappy swarmy Nids together. Maybe I'll get some enthusiasm back if and when I get around to doing some monsters, or some proper kitbashes for Lictors and Zoanthropes and such.

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