Saturday, 10 October 2015

Weird Wild West, Basing Dilemmas, Painting Purity vs Climbing the Lead Mountain

Weird West
Small warbands hunting for magic stones in a ruined city - sound familiar?  No, it's not Mordhiem, but MalifauxMalifaux steals cheerfully from so many games and genres (weird west, gothic horror, steampunk, fantasy) it becomes (sort of) original.
Demons     Zombie hookers   Zombie dogs    Gunslingers    Man-machine Hybrids    Possessed Puppets Ninjas    Ghosts    Clockwork Spiders   Frankenstein   Samurai Chicks   Golems  Gremlins  
 ....Their 'kitchen-sink' approach inspired me.

Why not dig out all my Steampunk/Wild West minis (or ones that fit the period) and see what I have?
The answer: I had quite a lot.  Pictured is a little under half my collection.  The rest is unpainted.

I discovered quite a few models suitable for the Weird West...
(In this pic you can see the downside to using a sand table - the marks made by the bases in the sand)

To Base or not to Base:  Slotta 25mm vs 30mm Lipped Bases
I much prefer the Warmachine-style lipped bases, which both frame the base and mini nicely, and give you a good place to grip the mini when moving it.  But many game systems use the standard 25mm slotta popularized by Games Workshop. 

25mm Slotta
Lord of the Rings
Warhammer 40K
Infinity the Game
Perry Historicals
Empress moderns
SAGA Vikings (WGF, Gripping Beast)
French-Indian Wars (Warlord Games)

Empire of the Dead (West Wind)

Basically, any "realistic" scaled models which stand 25-28mm.  I'm using Perry historicals and LOTR models together for "gritty" fantasy.  Any models used in historical games which fight in "ranks" are also kept slotta size so they can fit in my War of the Ring movement trays, as well as any modern/sci fi.

Black Scorpion make my favourite western minis - but good luck getting the heroic 32mm+ models to match up to normal 28mm historicals....

30mm Lipped Base
Secrets of the Third Reich
Black Scorpion (pirates, wild west)
Artizan Designs Pulp

Heroic models which stand 30-32mm+.    This means I have "two" fantasy basing standards, but the chunky Warmachine models were never going to work with LOTR stuff (which is more like 25mm) and fits far better alongside Malifaux heroes or the big Black Scorpion models.   In short, any heroic-scale pulp/fantasy/steampunk minis.

My only concern is that there are some monsters (such as GW demons, or werewolves) which can work in both basing scales.  Anyway, having finally bitten the bullet, I started to rummage through the lead mountain and either paint or rebase old models at an impressive clip.

Bonus points if you can identify which models come from which manufacturer....

A gang of female gunslingers and swordswomen defend a demon attack on the church.... again, there are models from at least 3 manufacturers in play...

A bunch of townsfolk defend the saloon front....
While some lizard-hounds* corner a bunch of roughnecks around the back....
(*are they some sort of OOP Chaos/Dark Elf model?)

If you do a job, do it properly...
 ... or is half a loaf is better than no bread? 
I've been very quickly painting models (barebones basecoat + wash) as well as rebasing old paint-jobs.  My aim is to simply get models out of boxes and blister packs and onto the table.  I'm cringing somewhat at the paint-jobs, but I'm eroding the unpainted lead mountain at an impressive clip - I figure I can go back and highlight/detail/touch up them at a later stage. 

This approach neatly encapsulates my philosophy:

1. It's never OK to field unpainted models - it shows a disregard for your opponent

(if your opponent also has unpainted models, you may as well both give up miniature gaming and take up boardgaming)

2. Paintjobs do not have to be amazing, as long as you "tried" (aka any paintjob is better than none)

I did a post on "naked miniatures" years back, which also has some amusing responses in the comments where someone simultaneously attempted to accuse me of being an elitist paint nazi forcing others to paint at an impossibly high standard (reading comprehension much?) at the same time as claiming bare metal models are better....

I rather like these creepy "grave ticks" (Heresy Minatures) which are being taken on by the local undertaker and some undead-hunting "Death Marshalls."

Test Your Knowledge:  DilemMa or DilemNa - which is the correct spelling? I always find it interesting how the wrong way feels right, yet there is no dictionary that ever spells it that way.  It's a bit like the use of the words fUrther and fArther. In Australia at least, we always use the former word for both meanings - which are both rather different.


  1. I think both forms of dilemna are acceptable today, in fact, my auto spelling is trying to 'correct' the above as I type. The original Greek is spelt dilemma so who knows where the n came from.

    As for painted vs unpainted, what people do for their hobby is their business. However, having said that, my hobby involves painted miniatures on painted scenery so don't come to me with your bare metal and attempt to force your crappy standards onto what I'm doing. Rest assured I shall never come to your hobby and try to foist my ideas on you, I expect the same consideration in return.

    (I will happily advise and help if asked of course.)

    I agree that painting effort trumps no effort, regardless of results, we all started somewhere.

    1. I reckon the "how dare you force your standards on me" is an emotional smokescreen.

      It's a CHOICE to paint or not paint models. Sure. I agree.

      But this also means non-painters aren't special snowflakes/victims of circumstance, but are simply CHOOSING not to bother.

  2. I'm always a bit conflicted when it comes to the unpainted mini debate. I am an excruciatingly slow painter so I have fielded bare figures in the past. I feel it's acceptable to do so, if you warn your opponent and both parties agree. I have been asked to not use unpainted models before and have done so with no complaints or ill feelings.

    That said, you can't beat the look of nice painted figures on a great board, so that is my preference. Which is why I gravitated towards games like infinity, malifaux etc. I know I will be able to field a painted force.

    I do think it's odd how much vitriol the topic can bring up though. After all, life gets in the way of things like hobbies. If a friend came over with a few unpainted models in the rare free time we have to game I'm not going to turn him away. For me it's all about meeting up with people for a fun afternoon of rolling dice and chatting.

    A hobby can be different things to different people. Unpainted miniatures aren't necessarily a slightly against your opponent, and getting offended at such seems a bit childish (and I cringe slightly at saying that about playing toy soldiers, which is inherently childish anyway).

    It's your hobby, play how you want, some groups like a strict painted policy, some don't, but to tell people to go play board games instead is elitist and only serves to drive people away frm an already somewhat fringe activity. More encouragement, less negativity is my point really. Besides, everyone knows painted miniatures always roll better, so they will soon what to get some colour on their models!

    1. I think there's a difference between the odd unpainted game, with friends, and consistently fielding them in club play. I remember going to a few all-day sessions where the same guys would not bother to paint there armies, week after week...

      ...admittedly sometimes it would be a different army, as they swapped often to be the "new best" army (Warmachine, 40K)....

      I always wondered why they had the time to repeatedly go to all-day gaming events but none to actually prep their miniatures.

      I don't have any vitriol or deep feeling for the topic, but a great deal of cynicism.....

    2. Let's do an analogy.

      It's a bit like a football league - where everyone is expected to wear some form of uniform. Yes, it's OK to play in your backyard or in the park in bare feet and singlet, but consistently turning up in your pajamas to the local B division league is pushing it.

      "Everyone can play the sport the way they want", or "how they play football is their own business" or "football can mean different things to different people" but... ...if you play in a club competition, some sort of uniform is expected.

      While this may vary from place to place, we can agree it is a general expectation, that in organised play, football players wear uniforms.

      But does that automatically mean non-uniform players are somehow a disadvantaged group, who somehow do not have access to the same uniforms or resources the rest have? That they are victims being picked on by 'elitist' uniform wearers?

      What if you realised the guys playing in bare feet week after week had the same, or more time/money than the rest? Are they really victims of circumstance, or is it a choice they are making?

      Are the teams in uniform 'elitist' to expect a level of dress which is normal for that activity?

      Is it "driving them out of the sport" to point out (in an online blog) there are other sports available which have no uniform expectations?

    3. To clarify, I'm not accusing you of harbouring particular vitriol, just that the subject brings it up in a lot of people.

      There is a difference indeed between league/competitive or organised play and casual. which is why nearly any even I've attended have a strict painted models only rule in the entry requirements. I fully support this.

      While I understand what you are getting at with your analogy it isn't a great one. Uniforms and the protective equipment that often forms part of them, serve a purpose greater than looking pretty. To apply your stated opinion on miniatures to your analogy it would be that it is never acceptable to play in anything but full uniform not even in the park with friends, as it is never acceptable to put bare models on the table.

      Perhaps my comment was badly written, you seem to have taken it as somewhat of an attack on you, which it wasn't.

      I agree with nearly all of your sentiments, but there was more than a pinch of elitism in there. To give you an analogy. If you came down to my kickboxing class and had a great time, but wasn't quite getting it, or wasn't quite fit enough to keep up with the exercises, and couldn't make all 3 weekly sessions. What would you prefer I did (remembering that you did actually enjoy it and wanted to carry on)?

      Support you in improving, giving you tips on how to build up strength and techniques, or tell you there's a different sports clubs down the road that would suit your ability/schedule more? You would feel pretty unwelcome very fast if someone did that to you, especially if they are also refusing to pad or spar with you.

    4. I haven't taken it as a personal attack at all. It's just I feel this is a topic where emotion is used to cloak a... ...well, a decision not to bother? This is the way I view it:

      "Hey guys, any paintjob, no matter how dodgy, is fine - just have a go cos anything is better than bare metal. Not trying at all isn't fine, unless you're at your own house"

      "Elitist! How dare you expect us to paint our models in a hobby where this is normal! You set an impossible benchmark! Do you want to drive us out of this hobby?!"

      Please don't take any of my responses as a personal attack, but I just don't see a great deal of logic in the "anti paint" arguements as they tend to boil down to "couldn't be bothered because xy".

      I went into the topic in more depth here:

      Addressing your comments:

      ....uniforms and 'protective equipment' <- the latter is what I'd call a "straw man" argument - extra info added to make it easier to refute.

      My stated opinion is "no bare models in public" but it is clarified in the post as at the local gaming club and not... ..."in your garage with mates"

      Conversely, the kickboxing analogy, to me, is flawed. It incorrectly suggests sporting (or painting) ability is the issue at stake. Whereas I said "any paint job is acceptable" - or any level of ability is acceptable.
      Ability is not the issue, rather: effort - e.g. not trying at all.
      E.g. if I came in to the clubhouse but declined to spar. Or I sign up at the club then chose to never turn up.

      Even then, I think kickboxing ability/fitness is more tied to ability to actually play/win the wargame, and attendance mirrors attendance, as opposed to paint/unpainted and uniform/no uniform).

      E.g., if I turned up to a martial arts class week in, week out, in a pair of pajama pants and fluffy slippers? Expecting me to wear a uniform - is that elitist, or conforming to an expected standard?

      Q: Why do people field unpainted miniatures?
      A: Because they decided to do other things with their time instead.

      Q: Could this diminish others enjoyment of the game?
      Q: Are unpainted miniatures "the norm" for the activity?
      Q: Can this indicate a lack of effort/commitment on their behalf?
      Q: Does this mean they somehow have less spare time than everyone else?
      Q: Would it be considerate to others to at least attempt to paint miniatures?

      This is not aimed at you, but I am keen to highlight the tendency for those fielding the unpainted models to portray themselves as the injured party, harrassed by "elitist" "master painters."

    5. Haha, yes, again I find myself agreeing in the most part with you. There certainly is some moaning on the other side about being forced to paint, even though that is a large part of the hobby we choose.

      You make a fantastic argument, in fact the reason I read and enjoy you blog so much is because of your intelligent and thoughtful insight into a hobby we both clearly love. Perhaps I don't agree wholeheartedly with everything you say, but good discourse of different views is the spice of life! I'd never take any of your comments as an attack, your writing shows you to be the type of person above silly arguments with strangers online. I'd certainly plonk a (painted) army in front of you and roll some dice anytime.

      Perhaps my analogy was not great, but analogies often aren't (by the by we only require uniform at events and accept members with no wish to ever spar, but then we are a laid back bunch :-) )

      As you say often it is about excuses, and you did clearly state any paint job will do. I think I differ in that I have seen some truly bad jobs done out of haste (rather than lack of skill) and would infact rather play against bare metal in these cases. This may sound counter intuitive but once you've seen a Dragon with a pot of gloss paint up ended on it and declared finished (a real life example from a friend of mine, who I'm sure would find my mentioning of this incident humorous) you sometimes conclude no effort is better than the very minimum!

    6. My main aim is to kick away the excuses of non-painters. Get out there and slap some paint on (maybe not upend the bottle on a dragon....)

      That said, here is a defence:

      I often think painting is harmed by glossy magazines like White Dwarf, where impossibly high standards are shown - and people think "why bother - it may as well be bare metal in comparison"

      ....e.g. I am always frustrated by my Infinity paintjobs, which are no worse than my usual (which I class as "acceptable tabletop standard" as I am a reluctant painter who goes by the quick-and-cheerful method), but they just look so... shabby compared to Angel Giraldez's work.

      I loved the old LOTR magazines which showed "normal," achievable paint jobs. Rather than "normal" being set as some impossibly high Golden Demon standard...

    7. I know exactly what you mean! I too aim for a neat table top standard. I don't feel spending too long on a miniature, which will be looked at from a few feet away, and will invariably take a tumble off some terrain at some point, to be worth it.

      I learned the basics of painting from Eavy Metal articles in the late 90s. Things like dry brushing and using inks (always the first thing I teach a new comer looking for painting advice). Soon after that the articles got ridiculous with 8-10 steps to do one colour. How they expected someone to paint an army of space marines in any reasonable time when it takes almost a dozen coats of paint to end up with blue armour according to them.

      I always found the staff of GW the most helpful, happy to demonstrate new techniques, using the store paints on a free starter pack model (they taught me to paint white and yellow armour many years ago) but I haven't been in one for a long time, having lost interest in playing the Warhammer games, so not sure if new players get the same support anymore.

    8. The painting in White Dwarf and on the official sites has been criticized lately, with others pointing out that the painting standard has been made much more realistic.

  3. Weird Wild West sounds really fun. However, I would rather make it hunters/normals with a flavoring of Weird. I bet In Her Majesties Name could do this well. Hmmm.

    1. I agree with the "normal with a flavouring of weird" - the models are 80% standard wild west gunslingers and townfolk with my Malifaux, Heresey and Confrontation models mixed in, with a dash of heroclix and maybe some Dark Age....

  4. For your sand table, set up your ground as desired, then spray it liberally with water from a spray gun and leave it overnight if possible. The sand will harden on the top and reduce the base indentations that you don't like. It will break up easily after your game

  5. I was digging through my rules and found I have the Legends of the Old West rules. Maybe I can mod those for Wierd Wild West.

    1. Would be easy as they are simply rebadged LOTR:SBG - a rather clean ruleset that has been adapted for 101 uses.... ...theres probably already a good list of weird units for other LOTR variants...

      (in fact, the West Wind game Empire of the Dead uses the same mechanics but with d10, and is set in the same time period)

  6. What about the Savage Worlds Deadlands setting? I think you've mentioned this, and I've noticed a lot of supplements for it, but am confused by the sheer profusion of them, can't work out which is the essential one. It may also be too specific for my taste, but the information is hard to find. (I'm awaiting my copy of The Savage World of Solomon Kane, by the way. I'd had my eye on it for some time, but reading your review clinched it).

    1. If you like fluff, it's fine. It's a pretty standard Weird Wild West, with not a lot to make it stand out from its competitors (except it was one of the first of the genre)

      My 10c - get the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition. For a mere $10 you get a rules toolkit that allows you to play everything from fantasy through pulp to sci fi. I'd class it as a "must have" rulebook.

      Then you can get whatever you want for fluff purposes (i.e. Players and Game Masters Handbooks are a good place to start).

      If you want to hold off, I may get around to reviewing Deadlands (if I haven't already?)

      It was OK, but not "wow shiny" like Solomon Kane.

      Have done the wargame

      ..but not the RPG apparently

      Wild West Exodus, Black Scorpion and Reaper all do minis but at least the two former are quite large.

  7. Thanks. I have the Explorer's Edition, and even an older hardcover (probably 2nd edition) of the main rules. The only supplement I have is Tour of Darkness (weird Vietnam) but am awaiting Ripper Wars in addition to Solomon Kane. There are other books for the latter setting, I've noticed, including Foes. Oh yes, I also have Realm of Cthulhu, published by someone other than Pinnacle. Their Weird WWII setting doesn't get much attention, I've noticed, perhaps because there's more competition (well, about equal with Cthulhu, with which there is of course a lot of cross-over).


      Back before Deadlands was Savage Worlds, they did a Savage Worlds conversion.... might save you some $$$