The topic of today is collecting for games, which in our case usually means miniatures.
I think it's safe to say that nerds generally like to collect stuff. We all end up with extra stuff we don't quite end up doing anything with, whether its half an army for a game that didn't take off, a few packs we got for cheap at a convention but never opened or a couple of characters in a scale we don't collect and for a conflict we don't game.
It's common enough that people coin the term Pile of Shame to describe their unused stuff. Board gamers and RPG'ers have a similar thing regarding unplayed games (usually called the Shelf of Shame). Curiously while a lot of miniatures gamers do buy a lot of rules they don't get around to playing, I rarely see people fretting over the number of unplayed game rules in the miniatures hobby. Maybe a reflection that the miniatures are the primary investment?
In the last few years I have rooted out a lot of old stuff and ended up getting rid of a lot that I had bought and never gotten around to using (and more importantly knew I wouldn't get around to using). I weeded out my board game and RPG collections along similar lines: If I was going to keep a physical copy, it had to be something I actively wanted to play again.
A lot of this was miniatures stuff that didn't add up to anything playable: A handful of 2mm ACW blocks, some 6mm scifi that I had no terrain for, a couple of true 25mm scifi figures that match up with nothing else I own at all. You can probably look at your own shelves and find a lot of similar remnants. Worse was that I realised none of these were projects I wanted to finish.
The whole thing gave me plenty of time to sit and think about the hobby in general and formulate a few thoughts:
* If you are going to start a project, consider starting with a pretty decent chunk. If you are collecting for a specific game, buy enough that it will add up to at least a small army for that game. Having figures you cannot play games with can be really demoralising.
* However don't over do it up front either. Yes I know "Do this but not too much". Some people will realise that they will just shut down if they are looking at painting 300 infantry figures, so if that is you, take the "small army" part seriously.
* Be sceptical if you are considering buying something in a scale you do not normally collect. Are you going to build potentially a couple of full armies and the terrain to go with them?
* Consider whether you actually want to have a playable army or if you are just after painting a few figures or a couple of units for the shelf. Deciding this up front can relieve a lot of stress.
* Don't underestimate the need for terrain. Some things are universal of course (rocks!) some things are usable in a pretty wide range of settings (old fashioned European farm house) but your sci-fi landing pad probably won't see a lot of use outside of science fiction games. If you do not own any suitable terrain, it makes an additional hurdle to get over.
* Are you going to provide both armies or only one? If you are getting into a project with someone else, coordinate with them so it does not turn out you both decided to do 1940 French. If you are doing a project for solo gaming, then you are of course free to do anything you like, but you also need to double the amount of work.
* Consider setting some time frames. Remember things take longer than you think they do and they often take longer if you are not pushing yourself. Can you paint a squad per week? How long will a tank platoon actually take? Routines work well and having a regular painting night is also a great way to de-stress.
* Be suspicious of the human urge to "buy it now because then one day I might want to use it". You probably won't.