I’m going to break my “rules” and show an actual WIP this week. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I need to stop varnishing one or two figures a week as it isn’t efficient. I like showing you only finished work but I hope that seeing minis twice isn’t too much of a bother. In the case of Codsworth, I do actually want to show him before weathering as I’m proud of specific parts of the paint job which will be a bit obscured once some rust is applied. Since Codsworth is one of my favorite companions in Fallout 4 (the early scene where you reunite with him after many years have passed is moving, poor robot!), so I wanted to make him look as nice as I could. To be frank, he is a tough character to paint to match the style in the game. Most people use metallic paints and weather Codsworth and that doesn’t look quite like he does in the game. I decide to go NMM instead and really challenge myself and I’m so glad I did. He looks great and more realistic than if I had done TMM!
I used every trick in the book on this guy, OSL lighting, glazing, layering, etc. to get him painted up and to be honest, it is a tough sculpt as there are some tiny details which are hard to paint. I do think the computer designed sculpts which Modiphius and many other companies create are inferior to Games Workshop in this regard as they have details on them that are very difficult to paint or are too fine for even my skill. As always, there are a few things I might have done better with (and I see a thing or two I’m going to fix before I varnish so I’m glad I didn’t rush ahead and do that now!) but I figure he is about as good of a Codsworth as I’ve seen painted. I’m really proud of how he turned out and I look forward to adding some weathering and finishing up his base. He should be a great companion to have in my Fallout gaming adventures! With him nearly done, it also means I finished off one of the three boxes of Fallout minis I bought right as the pandemic hit. It always feels good to know you’ve finished a box or set of something you purchased too.
That is all the WIP I have this week but I do have a lot of hobby musings to share and I hope you don’t mind indulging me in them. Since many of you follow this site because of my MESBG content, I think a lot of this will be of interest to you and of course, I look forward to your thoughts as well.
MESBG is not as solo friendly as I would like – Just to be clear, playing the game is very doable solo. There are a couple of challenges to this. The first is that when you have a lot of models with special rules, it is hard to play both sides and remember everything. There are plenty of scenarios where this is not an issue but I’ve already played one where the rules were too much for me and it has truthfully scared me away from taking on bigger and more complicated scenarios. I don’t want go into tons of depth here about the solo-ability of MESGB because this isn’t the point of these musings but it is something I’ve been thinking about for a while.
MESBG (and anything that is not a low model skirmish game) is not friendly to painting quality over quantity – A big realization I’ve had recently is that I really enjoy taking my time and painting Fallout minis. Why is this? There are a couple of reasons. One is that every model I get done goes a long way towards playing a scenario or giving me options for that “army”. Take the Super Mutants for example. They’re bigger minis and take me a week to paint but there are roughly 20-25 different super mutant sculpts I can own and if I own every single one, I have as close as you can get to having a super mutant army. I probably would never need every single one but at least it is reasonably achieved. Compare that to MESBG and indeed, most wargames where you need 30 models or considerably more to really get going and even that might just be one troop selection in your army. I am simplifying this somewhat but the army-based model that Games Workshop mostly follows and other popular games like Bolt Action leaves me feeling a little disillusioned and doesn’t match my hobby goals very well.
What this really means in MESBG is that you need to paint quantity over quality to be able to have many gaming options. As you all know, I love to paint each mini to the highest standard that I can. I’ve done that for the entire time I have painted MESBG, because I don’t enjoy painting any other way. The problem is that I always felt like I was behind where I should be in my projects or was taking too long to hit my gaming goals. So I felt compelled to work even harder at painting to try and make as much progress as I could. This led me to get burned out more and more until I finally broke down and got Fallout. Painting quantity is not something I want to do and I will be wary of taking on projects where this is required. Sure, I’d love to recreate Helm’s Deep on the tabletop but I can’t do it, in the way I want to do it (with really great looking terrain and minis) unless I chip away at the goal over a really long time. I’m finding that due to both space limitations and just how much those kind of projects test my patience, I should start looking for other gaming options.
The need for unique terrain complicates collecting and playing MESBG – This might just be specific to me (as I am a stickler for having terrain that matches whatever scenario I’m playing) but I think playing MESBG as a narrative game is made much more challenging by the fact that you need unique terrain for so many locations in Middle Earth. It not only takes up tons of room to store everything, it is just really difficult to make all the terrain you need for the game. I drove myself insane twice making trees in a short amount of time because the work required is a bit mind-numbing and repetitious and I’m not well suited for that kind of thing. I enjoy variety in my hobbying and I don’t want to keep putting myself in situations where I need to marathon terrain so that I’m able to play any games.
What will I do with the MESBG projects I have started? – In thinking about all of these things, I’ve finally started to get some clarity around my goals in MESBG and what I want to do with it. I currently have two projects I’ve been working on so I’ll list them and describe what I want to do with each.
Scouring of the Shire – This project is like a lifelong dream from me. I remember when the original book came out and I thought it would be amazing to having my own Shire terrain. I really enjoyed the Farmer Maggot scenario and I’ve gotten about half or maybe more of the painting done for the entire campaign so there is no reason to walk away from this project. I need storage space for Hobbit Holes and there is at least one scenario (which requires Bree terrain) which I will probably just not be able to play or at least not for a long time since I don’t have the space for it. Playing the full campaign may be a challenge in the near future but I should be able to get more gaming in the Shire done.
An Unexpected Journey Campaign – This project has nearly killed me. From making all the trees (16 to be exact) to painting Hunter Orcs on Wargs, the scale is huge. I really just need to paint up another set of Goblin Town terrain and I can play the Goblin Town scenarios. I will absolutely do this and I can easily find room to store more of this terrain so this may be the thing I do next in MESBG. The other scenarios require eagles and more Wargs and even Radagast on Sleigh. All of these models create storage issues for me, especially the eagles and Radagast so I probably will not be doing any of those for a long time. Maybe never. The rest of the Hobbit scenarios beyond An Unexpected Journey require tons of models and terrain and that is something I don’t know that I will ever want to pursue.
In a perfect world, I’d have a hobbying friend or two or be in a club where I could play all the narrative scenarios and not need to do all of the hobbying work myself but that does not exist. I’d love to try Gondor At War or Rohan At War but I know that just isn’t realistic for a single person painting in the way I enjoy painting to accomplish so I will stay away from those tempting paths in MESBG.
What will I do while MESBG hobbying is mostly on hold? – With those two MESBG projects more on hold than not, I will obviously be going full speed ahead with Fallout on the gaming side but I’m thinking that I can and should put my painting and hobbying skills to use in other ways. I’ve always been enamored with dioramas and yet, I’ve barely built any. MESBG didn’t help with this as I frequently felt like, I don’t have time for other projects because I have X number of models to paint (and often once those the previous X models were painted there was X of this and X of that also waiting to be done too) but I have a couple of ideas for MESBG dioramas that I’d love to build and they’re with models I will almost definitely never game with so I might as well, right? This could also be a great way for me to add some variety to my hobbying as I can always dip into Fantasy, Historical, Sci-Fi or whatever else I want as I have time. There are lots of skills that I need to learn that making dioramas could help with too. So in that sense, I’m not saying goodbye to MESBG by a longshot and I have a deep affection for the game. Parts of it work well for me gaming wise and my love for Tolkien’s work is just about untouchable so I’m looking forward to pursuing some new plans and taking on some projects I wouldn’t have had time for if I continued to focus on gaming in MESBG.
This was a lot longer than I intended but thinking and writing about this really helped me sort out how I’m feeling about the hobby and find a path that I can pursue to maximize my enjoyment which is really what it is all about. I look forward to sharing more painted stuff next week and I have a lot of exciting projects on the horizon too!