It’s two in the old ante meridian. I’m staring at the hobby desk, looking at my Vampire counts, and I don’t quite know what’s happened here. Questions throng my tired mind, and they demand answering.
Somehow I’ve gone from “wouldn’t it be nice to have my old Vampire Counts army back?” to “I have forty-five new Zombies and thirty new Ghouls and three new Corpse Carts and three new Banshees to paint on top of all the repainting and repairs and I need two bags to carry the army as it is and even then it seems to demand over £150 in new pieces just to join in with eighth edition effectively…”
… and that feels like work, kids. Worse, it feels like work I have to pay for, and work I don’t want to do. In my hobby time. Which is supposed to be my time, damn it.
I’ve been going about this all wrong. I’ve fallen into trying to keep up with the eighth edition Joneses, maintaining a place in a disposable income arms race I know I can’t keep up with, rather than just getting my old army back, fixing it up, and playing it now and then.
What used to be over 3000 points has, through the realignment of value that always occurs in these cases, and through some pieces flat-out disappearing (Where did my Abyssal Terror end up? Who’s nicked off with my Bat Swarms? Did I really decide I didn’t need all those Dire Wolves?), now worked out as a 1500 point army that has a few options for its non-Core selections. And that’s fine. I like 1500, it lets me put my stuff on the board and it doesn’t seem to encourage too much of the craziness that I’ve seen happening around eighth edition at the encouraged larger game sizes.
So why have I been playing 2400? Why haven’t I even been making a case for smaller games? Why did I think that trading for a whole bunch of generic pieces that don’t fit the whole ‘Undead Empire with wolves and bats’ aesthetic I was originally driving towards was a good idea? Why have I ignored what I’ve said, time and time again, about not being able or willing to afford or assemble a new army, and let myself effectively do that and oblige myself to rehabilitate an old one at the same time? Why, basically, have I been playing other people’s Warhammer so uncritically, when the one great attracting factor in the game is the extent to which it can be owned and invested in by a committed hobbyist?
Have I run stark staring mad? What else is wrong with me? I don’t have my trousers on my head again, do I?
I think it’s the desire to fit in. The lads at Clapham play 2400 points, the prevailing discourses are all around the same size of games, and it’s easy to just reflexively go with that because it’s what everybody’s doing, and you think it’s better to play a game that isn’t quite what you want than to play no games at all.
No. Sod that. It’s expensive, it’s frustrating, it makes for an abundance of work, and it’s not what I got back in to do. Why play a game if it’s not a game you want to play? Isn’t that the sort of thing we have to do when we’re getting paid for it?
It’s questions like that that woke me up in the wee small hours and left me so restless that I had to sort out my Vampire Counts before I could get back to sleep. So I did. Went through everything and asked myself “is this mine? do I actually want this, or do I have it out of some deranged sense of obligation or nostalgia?”
Right now, I’m looking at a shelf full of undead models that I actually want to keep. Only two are unpainted, although many need some repair work and almost all need some retouching – those paint jobs go back a long way. Almost every single one has been converted or kitbashed in some way, and even the ones that are just substitutions are pretty groovy. Oh, and there’s a brand new unit of Blood Knights on the right – four of my old, busted-up Black Knights, now sporting suitably vampiric Mantic Ghoul heads and a new flag and sword for their command group. And I feel free. I feel free of the obligation to paint those Ghouls and Zombies because I need more Core models to enter into a 2400 point game, and have spares for raising, and free of that nagging feeling that the army ‘needs’ £140 of expensive monster kits to be competitive in that 2400 point arena that I’ve already busted my proverbial balls just to qualify for.
(Admittedly I’m still looking at these Skin Wolves and thinking “I want some of those for Crypt Horrors”, but hush. I’m only human. And in a wee little 1500 pointer it might be sensible to field three Crypt Horrors – you never know! The point is, I’m wanting, not feeling like I need.)
It’s five a/m, I’m looking at my Vampire Counts, and I want to do something with them. That has to be a good thing.
And now I’m going back to bed. Because seriously, two a/m. That’s crazy.