Something that I never understood when I first started playing wargames was why have painted models? What benefit does it have? I mean sure – it can look good, but I am such a terrible painter… etc. etc. Others have had these thoughts as well – I have heard them expressed by many new players.
When preparing for Lock & Load this year, I really wanted to go with a fully painted army. So I painted constantly for three months to get my Skorne finished in time. I felt that if I was going to pay that much money (trip, hotel, and entrance costs), I should be playing with the best I can do. So I painted – a lot. And when I was finished, I realized that I really didn’t want to play with unpainted models anymore. I had grown “addicted” to playing with painted models.
Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t want to play against others who don’t have painted models. I really couldn’t care less – I enjoy the game for the game. But I found a number of benefits from the painting process itself, as well as playing with painted models, that I really hadn’t anticipated.
Painting is Soothing
This may not be the case for everyone, but for me Painting is a soothing experience. Once I stopped caring as much that my models were not perfect (something that took a lot of effort and growth on my part), I started to really enjoy the relaxation from the painting. When I paint, I feel a calmness, and a focus on just the painting. It is much like what other people describe meditation feeling like, and it is a nice feeling.
I know this is not the case for everyone – some people find it very stressful, some find it invigorating, some find it boring. I know that I use music to help keep my brain occupied, but I often come away from painting feeling refreshed and revitalized.
Painted Models Look Good
This may seem obvious, but painted models look good on the table. It makes the game more engaging, and onlookers find the game more interesting. Given that games live or die based on bringing in new people (or “new blood”), this can be a huge factor. It also makes the game more fun for me.
Painted Models Roll Better
OK, not really. Seriously – not really. But, they do cause a confirmation bias – people are more likely to think their models do better if they are painted. Humans are silly that way, It makes a loss easier to handle if your army looked awesome while doing it.
Painted Models are Easier to Identify
This is a big one. As Viveka noted last week, it is easier to determine what a model is, and which ones are different, when they are painted. This has several benefits:
- Your opponent doesn’t have to ask NEARLY as often “is that a Bronzeback or a Gladiator?” Once they know which one is painted one way, it becomes easier for them to remember. Humans are visual creatures, and we can make quick visual associations with little difficulty.
- It is easier for the player/owner of the models to pick out individual models in a unit. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to move a unit, to find that I had moved a solo accidentally with the unit, or forgot the standard bearer, or forgot one of the models off to the side, or… I think most players have this experience.
- It is easier to determine which model belongs with which card. If you are running multiples of the same model that has hit boxes (i.e. the same ‘jack or ‘beast, or the same solo with wounds), it can become confusing remembering which one belongs to which card. If you mark the card with the arc color of the model that belongs to it, or some other distinctive feature, it can make that problematic question much easier to resolve.
Playing Fully Painted is Satisfying
There is something satisfying about playing with a fully painted army. You feel like you have really put time into it, and it just looks and feels awesome. Especially when you were the one doing the painting, having the models on the table, painted and ready to go, is just a great feeling.
Any other benefits people can think of? Anything I am missing out on? Do you disagree with my sentiments here? Feel free to comment.