Tuesday, August 11

The paints of mini war games


Gideon with his collection of Warhammer miniature figurines. — Photos courtesy of www.games-workshop.com

WHILE essential workers were allowed to continue working during the Movement Control Order (MCO) over the past couple of months, others had to stay home and could only go out with valid reasons.

Those homebound and idle since the MCO came into effect on March 18 had to think of something to occupy their time and while some kept busy with housework, others picked up new hobbies or indulged in those they had little time for when they were working.

Gideon paints a Warhammer figurine.

One person who now has more time for his hobby is trading recruiter Gideon Nanang.

The 35-year-old only goes out when necessary and while confined to the home, he paints miniature figurines, Warhammer figurines to be precise, to pass the time.

Warhammer is a tabletop miniature fantasy war game with a medieval theme simulating battles between armies from different factions.

Although people could now buy and play Warhammer war games digitally, Gideon said the physical tabletop version was more flexible, enabling players to come up with their own backstory of their armies.

“I guess it gets very personalised to your taste and preference, including the colours to paint your armies.

“You could say this tabletop game is more social gaming whereas computer games are geared towards the stories they tell and the graphic effects that represent the actions of your armies.

“In essence, the mechanics are similar except for computers, the dice roll calculation is done by the software whereas for tabletop, you get to roll the actual dice and consult the rulebook.”

A mixed bag of painted and unpainted Warhammer figurines belonging to Gideon.

According to him, while based mostly on medieval warfare, Warhammer war games incorporate fantasy elements such as wizards, dragons, and magical spells.

As the game developed, a new universe or branch of Warhammer started coming up, incorporating sci-fi for both tabletop and computer.

For the physical tabletop game, players use miniature plastic models or figurines as warriors. The playing field is a model battlefield comprising plastic models of buildings, trees, hills, and other terrain features.

Players take turns moving their warriors across the battlefield. The outcomes are determined by a combination of dice rolls and simple arithmetic.

Warhammer was the first commercial miniature war game designed to use proprietary models. Before this, the rule-sets were designed to use generic models that could be bought from any manufacturer.

Not part of package

A starter kit sold on Warhammer’s official site.

Gideon pointed out that painting of Warhammer figurines was actually not part of the package when the battle game first came out in 1983.

He said just like those toy green soldiers, the figurines are of the same colour of the plastic they were made of — dull dark blue or grey.

“Players then got creative and started painting their figurines to make their game pieces more attractive and also somewhat more intimidating.

“And because of this, Warhammer figurines painting became a popular hobby — and still is today.”

Gideon said although it was not necessary to paint the figurines, he wouldn’t play with unpainted ones, adding that a full-fledged painted army was something to behold.

But he was quick to mention it isn’t just that as putting in the hours painting miniatures allowed hobbyists like him to hone their skills, which could also be brought to painting other miniatures such as the popular Gundam plastic kits and dioramas.

How it started

A painted miniature figurine of Archaon, the greatest champion of the Chaos Gods.

Gideon’s interest in the hobby was kindled around 2018 while passing a Warhammer store in Kuala Lumpur.

“I walked past a sign — ‘Paint A Space Marine and Keep It For Free’ — outside the store. I was already reading some of the Warhammer novels at the time and figured I should finally try my hand at painting which evolved into collecting, building, and playing,” he recalled.

Asked why the passion for miniature painting, he said he finds it a great way to relax and destress.

“Besides, it not only gives me a sense of accomplishment once I finish painting a model but also challenges me to get better and better.”

Gideon said he did his best paintings on the miniatures of Archaon and the Varanguards, which are some of the most powerful characters from the fantasy Warhammer universe.

“Archaon is one of the main characters in Age of Sigmar. He is the Everchosen (the highest title attainable by a chaos champion) that brought about the ‘End Times’ and is solely responsible for the current state of the Warhammer world. He is the greatest champion of the Chaos Gods.

“The Varanguards are the chosen personal bodyguards of Archaon and each is a chaos lord in his own right.”

Many complexities

A painted miniature figurine of Varanguard, the personal bodyguard of Archaon.

On comments that collecting and playing with plastic toys were kid’s stuff or a nerdy hobby, Gideon said he was unfazed by such a comparison. And so far, nobody has poked fun at him.

“There are many complexities in not just painting the miniature figurines but also playing both versions of the war games — tabletop and computer,” he said.

“To each his own. I was one of those who thought playing with miniature figurines was immature but when I tried it out, I started to enjoy it.

“I can say the games are more than just playing with toy soldiers. There are quite a few layers of complexity in terms of tactics and strategies — kinda like chess. Lots of decision-making involved.”

He said although it wasn’t all that pricey upfront, he ended up spending a lot, delving deeper into the hobby as his interest grew.

“But it’s worth it.”

According to him, basic paints that come in small bottles are RM17 each but some stores sell them in sets or kits complete with brushes and other tools for RM150 each.

As for the figurines, it depends on what you want — RM60 for a single miniature figurine or a box of 10 for RM120, depending on the stores.

Tabletop game starter sets cost RM150 each — again depending on the stores. These include some basic miniature figurines, dice, cards, the tabletop board, and a rule book.

He advised those interested to research on the Internet first, starting with Warhammer’s official online store.