Coyote, an old friend of mine from my days on the TotalModel forums, has a blog called The General’s Tent. It is pretty comparable in style to mine, although he is a superior miniature painter and does some different games than I do, but the idea–a blog where you talk about about your hobbies and post pictures–is the same.
Recently, Coyote wrote an article called “Over-indulgence is Bad“. In the article, Coyote (okay, his name is Tyler) talks about a hour/miniature/money equation in regards to budgeting all of the above. For example, if you can only paint ten miniatures a week (which, apparently, he can) then you only need to buy forty minis a month, rather than buying a hundred minis at once and then risking having them lie around forever until I sell them or something. At one point he says this:
It is true that there are gamers out there that specialize in one army in one scale and one period. They probably aren’t shoppers either. For them buying figures in bulk is like buying cans of baked beans in bulk. It means they save money and have to spend less time shopping. It’s not like there’s going to be a new scale of baked beans that they’ll suddenly have to buy. In my experience there are very few wargamers who aren’t excited about the next new thing. The urge to buy is an almost constant devil on our shoulder. However, we should be buying miniatures in order to paint and game with them. We can’t do that if we’re already drowning in so much lead that it’ll take 30 years to paint our way clear. The biggest problem with buying so much lead is that we aren’t likely to stop buying more lead later because we already have enough.
And I agree with pretty much everything he says here, but with one major corollary. Those people, the ones who only work on one period/range, they are like people who really, really love baked beans. They would be the equivalent of someone who only ate baked beans 95% of the time. And why? Because they freaking love baked beans. Love them in a way that, frankly, neither Tyler nor I seem to. If you look at Phil Olley, or Der Alte Fritz, or Damfpanzerwagon, and they derive a great deal of pure, genuine joy from miniature wargaming the Seven Years War or Flash Gordon or whatever. Phil Olley himself wrote a great essay, one good enough that I actually saved it to my computer, about controlling the butterflies that cause him to want to wander around different projects.
This isn’t to say that I (or presumably Tyler) hate our hobbies or something. But I’m constantly bouncing from project to project, getting frustrated by my lack of finding a regular game in which to play. I haven’t found my “Eternity Project” yet, and may never. I’m sure that if I somehow were to manage to play WAB or WHFB or WH40K or FoW or FoB or some other acronym more than once a month at best I’d probably settle in, rack up some Olley points, and generally write fewer entries that don’t feature photos. Tyler mentions in an earlier entry that “I’m tired of always doing my own thing. Even though I’m not a fan of 15mm I’m very tempted to buy and paint a 15mm army for FoG just to be able to participate more at the club.” And frankly I’m of the same mind. I thought about it when I discovered that the HMGS-GL game in Dayton was Age of Alexander. Playing remains one of the most interesting dimensions of the hobby; even Phil and Fritz get a game in with their favorite armies.
My point? In the paint/time/money ratio, there’s got to be a /joy element which can really tip the balance.