Rules as Intended: Balance

"The ground is hot lava... the ground is hot lava..."

Tony here again, and today I’d like to talk about Balance.  I’m not talking about balance between firepower and assault, or the balance between fluffy units and competitive units.  I’m talking about how you balance the game in your life!  There are a lot of aspects to our game, painting, collecting, assembling, cost, and playing.  Each piece of our hobby can take up large chunks of your time.  Some may be in a utopian gaming world in which you only attend school and are able to dedicate a lot of your time to gaming.  The rest of us have jobs, wives, children, and any number of other major distractions (or addictions) that require more focus.  10 years ago my Speech teacher in High School said “Life is like an upside down barstool.  You have to make sure each leg is the same size or you’ll tip over.”

Let’s start by completely ignoring the section of gamers that have the ability to do nothing but game.  Get off the internet right now and go find a girlfriend.  Don’t read the rest of this article, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Now that we’ve cleared that up, we’ll move on to the rest of us.  I’m going to use myself as an example throughout.  I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to an extent.  First of all, I’m in the military and that alone eats a lot of my time.  Sometimes I work 9 hours and I get to go home.  Sometimes the power goes out on a large part of the base, and I work 18 hours straight.  Then there are the trips to Iraq, Afgahnistan, etc.  That being said, I’m also married, but I don’t have kids.  I do have a dog, and he’s awesome.  The wife isn’t much on jogging with him, and he’s a dog that needs a good run every now and then.  Where do I find time to do all of those different things that our hobby requires?  It’s all about time management and priorities.

By revisiting the different aspects of the hobby it simply becomes a question of priorities.  First of all, collecting & cost.  The economy doesn’t affect me because we’re in two wars and going on three.  Cost isn’t a major issue for me, but money is a major factor for a lot of gamers.  There are a lot of things to consider when dropping a lot of money into our hobby.  First, is it truly disposable income that you’re spending?  The very first thought in my mind before I swipe that credit card or hit “Buy It Now” is: “Do I still have enough money to do anything my wife wants, money for emergencies, bills, and all of the TRULY important things?”  Before we go on, I’m going to make it clear that our hobby means absolutely nothing next to anything real.  These are little plastic army men and will never be half as important as spending one extra hour with my small family.   That being said: do I have $100.00 to drop on a new Stormraven and Furioso Dreadnought?  Priorities.

The next piece of our hobby is assembly.  Some of you may not have a major issue in this area, but my attention span isn’t what it used to be.  After my 12th Daemonette, I looked at the other 18 and took a deep breath, and walked away until the next day.  Clipping them from the sprue, cleaning the flash, and gluing them together can take alot out of me now.  This all goes back to time management.  10 Daemonettes would take about an hour, and that’s about all I have per day.  When I get home from work, I’m generally in a “don’t talk to me at all costs” kind of mood.  After that hour I’m good.  That hour is usually the one I spend doing the upkeep, painting, assembly, etc. that my armies require.  That also means that for the hour I spend messing with my armies, I’m also in a rough mood and if things don’t go right I have to put them down.  Needless to say, Daemonette arms took a while and so did the Stormraven (which wasn’t THAT bad but it is a massive kit.  See above for my attention span).

Painting is another area that can take massive amounts of time.  All of my jump pack wearing assault marines (40+) have a faded thing going on as if they have made thousands of drops from the sky.  I start with a basecoat of black, paint Red Gore to almost the edge of each armor plate, then make two more successive coats of Red Gore but not as far up the armor plate each time.  Then I use Blood Red  and go up even less than the last coat of Red Gore, and do the same with Blazing Orange.  Then it all gets washed with Baal Red.  That’s just the armor.  It actually looks pretty cool, but it’s not exactly a basecoat and dip!  I’m not a fast painter either.  I’m not even a good painter.  It is the second best part of the hobby though.  It relaxes me (hence the 5000+ points of painted BA..) and keeps me busy if I’m bored too.  It might take a week or more to do 5 marines at an hour or less per day.

Image from

Finally, playing!  Ah the bread and butter of the hobby.  Games can take anywhere between 2 hours to 9+ hours!  That takes a lot of dedication!  Before my last deployment I spent most of my Friday nights gaming, and then about half of Saturday, and sometimes Wednesday after work!  Life has a way of showing you where you need to be paying attention, and Iraq was mine.  Hopefully you’ll just listen to your mom or something, but hey, to each his own.   Now that I’m home, and a little more appreciative of what I have, the actual gaming portion of my hobby has taken a real hit.  I used to spend 14-20 hours a week just gaming.  I’d spend 2-3 hours a day searching forums, painting, assembly, and shopping for 40k related items!  Wow!  Speaking of World of Warcraft (see what I did there?  Wakka wakka..) maybe some of you should take what I’m saying into consideration with that game as well!  Obviously the area that was easiest and hardest to cut at the same time was the actual gaming portion of 40k.  Unfortunately I just can’t make it down to the comic store to play on Wednesdays, and spending all day Saturday playing 4 times a month just isn’t appealing anymore comparatively.

If I didn’t have a more than full time job, I wasn’t married, and money was no object, then I’d love nothing more than to spend all my time messing with little action figures.  A lot can be said for balance though.  Balance keeps you in sync with what’s important.  Perhaps those of us that are out of balance tend to be the same ones that argue that there immobilized Librarian Dreadnoughts can still fly around using their libby powers!   Remember folks, there are a lot of crazies out there.  If one of them decides to unleash a nuclear holocaust are your miniatures going to be the first thing on your mind?  Take a step back and review – maybe your next rules argument won’t be as disagreeable if you find the balance in your life, and realize that other people have more important things to consider in theirs.

11 comments on “Rules as Intended: Balance

  1. Well said. Not only does balance keep the wife, family, parents, whatever, happy, it also lets you appreciate the hobby all the more. If I spent all my time doing nothing but 40K then I’d no doubt become burned out at some point. However, by balancing it I look forward to it more, enjoy the games more, the painting, etc. For me Wednesday night is 40K night at the LGS and I attend religiously. It’s my one day a week, my few hours, to just hang out and play a game and I look forward to it every week.

    • Good point! I talked about my attention span earlier, and after reading that I think I would get burned out too if I could play as often as I used to.

  2. A great off topic post. I think sometimes it’s easy to become jealous of the full-time hobby types but that’s a little short sighted really.

    There’s a time for everything. What they don’t tell you at school is that there’s not much time for everything…

    • Ah full time gamers…It might be a bit of a stereotype that most gamers don’t have girlfriends, but come on… is it really a stereotype?

      That being said, I don’t get too jealous of full time gamers. I remember the days when I had a lot more spare time. I filled them with drink and… well a lot of other less than wholesome things!

  3. Real life has cut down my hobby time to about an hour a day as well. Sometimes I miss having more time to build and paint, but sometimes I think I’m lucky to have the time I have with my family. It’s definitely a balancing act so I can really relate to this blog.

    • Then there are the anniversaries & holidays! Most areas gaming stores close down on the days I have off during holidays! I worked retail for 8 years, wtf, I don’t remember ever getting the day off for anything except Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter days! Then again, comic stores are locally owned and generally have owners with family values.

    • An hour a day? I wonder how that rates compared to other gamers… I don’t
      think I spend an hour per day on 40k or 40k related things, but if you
      consider that I get a game in most Fridays for 4 hours, I’m probably around
      7 hours per week… It’s an interesting thought–and, more than likely, our
      next poll question.

      Thanks for the idea.

  4. i see what you are saying. i finally managed to get a full time job recently and instantly realised some other stuff was going to have to give. one of them was 40k. i still spend a lot of time playing, because a lot of my friends do it, and its my main hobby. it is also my main motivation to get stuff built and painted, but i guess, as you say, its all a matter of priorities.

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