The Home Guard by Andrew Ovel

24 Jun

In the film Gladiator the General Maximums tells us he is “Father to a murdered son and husband to a murdered wife”, and then promptly runs about getting into lots of fights. Luckily for me however my wife and child are very much alive, but this does mean I’ve considerably less time available for epic sweeping warfare.

If you, like me, have responsibilities, and tournaments have to take second place to school plays, or your “games room” is really the “guest bedroom” and your plans for that new super unit will just have to wait because your daughters feet just won’t stop growing, then you my friend are part of the Home Guard. The Home Guard are busy battling in the spare bedrooms of Great Britain right now, unknown and unseen from their battle brothers fighting in the frontline at tournaments. No one knows for sure the true number of Home Guard, or how many plastic soldiers are laying down their lives every night in spare rooms up and down the country, but believe me they are out there.

My friends and I have been playing together since we met when we were about 17, and I myself have played since I was 11 years old (who remembers heavy bolters with following fire, anyone?). This has given us plenty of time to build up several armies. We try our best to get together a couple of times a month and play, but the biggest issue is time. Now that we all have jobs, families, very understanding wives, and even some of us have kids finding the time and the money can be a real issue. I would love to take part in some “active service” at a tournament but it just never seems to happen.

So what can I do to improve my gaming experience with my friends, and fit as much hobby time round my work life schedule?

1.Listen to podcasts, I may not have time to search the internet for rumours, and grainy photos of the latest miniature releases, but I can listen to a podcast on my commute to work. Let someone else do all the hard work for you and listen to a podcast, this will keep you up-to-date with all the developments in the community, and the commute is pretty mush dead time anyway; what else would you be doing?

2.Prioritise hobbying when you have limited time. Firstly if you have a game at the weekend and you haven’t got that great new unit painted then maybe you should concentrate on finishing that unit first. However secondly it can mean keeping your passion for the hobby going; you might have a unit that you should finish for your next game, but you really want to paint your new exciting model. The hobby side of the game should be fun too, if you’re so tired that it feels like it’s a chore then you should paint what you want to paint, or maybe you should give it a miss altogether that night and just relax. My friends and I like to have painted models, and try to use painted models whenever possible, but if we really need to we can use unpainted models, and we don’t penalise each other for it, that’s one of the benefits of gaming at home with friends.

3.40k is not as expensive as you think…but it’s not cheap. If I had to choose between feeding my family or Blood Angel terminators it would not be a difficult choice, however it is seldom as dramatic as that. There are all the costs for running the house and family expenses that add up, and sometime there just isn’t the spare cash at the end of the month to buy the latest releases. One way to save some money is to use the popular online auction site that I think we all know (rhymes with dBay!); you can rescue some badly painted models from a 12 year old for a surprisingly small sum. Often whole armies can be bought for roughly £100 pounds, and these larger sales tend to offer better value. I have heard of individuals buying models, repainting, rebasing them and then actually selling them for considerably more than they paid! Conversions can be a cheap alternative too; could you remodel your Dark Elder warriors as Wracks with some prodigious use of green stuff and some bits? Conversions need not be inferior models, this is the part where a real artist can collect a load of random spare parts and make something truly amazing, maybe even better than the original models. Another benefit of being a member of the Home Guard is you’re playing with your friends, and the last thing your friends want is for you to waste £30 on a unit that you hate. So why not politely ask if you can use proxy models to test out that new super unit, before you go and buy them? Also if your friends are collecting the same army why not share models; when my friend Saul comes over and plays his IG he borrows my Leman Russ models it’s just easier that way.

4.Campaigns can be a really good way to build up tension between games, especially when they are spaced out over a few weeks. With all the time between games you can take your time to develop really engrossing story lines, maybe even write a short story between each battle using the characters taken from the armies? Why not use a map, or work out some crazy rules or refight historic battles from the 40k Universe? If you only have time for one battle a month then you should make it a great one. You can take advantage of all the technology available these days and friends can hold games in different locations and email you the results turn by turn, you could even link the battles. Why not have your friends’ games of 40K affect what’s happening in your 40K game even thou their playing in another city? Put stuff online, take photos, and make a video maybe even write a blog?

5.Make the most of events, if you have a local event then try and go as a group and make a day out of it. Me and my friends attend Salute every year we look forward to going and seeing what’s available. I usually budget myself and pick up a few bits (I bought pirate Ork Heads, bionic bits, big guns, and craters for my destroyed tanks this year) that I wouldn’t normally get at my local store. Find out when it is and put it in your calendar, then everyone can plan around it. If you don’t something will come up and you won’t be able to attend, so plan ahead if you want to attend. Some events give a nice discount if you book far enough in advance so this can be a double bonus.

6.Time is a big problem, but if money is no object (which I’m afraid for me it is) there are plenty out there who are willing to help for a small fee. You can find many companies that will sell you painted scenery, miniatures and even build and paint them to your specific needs. Now for me half the fun of the hobby is painting and modelling my army, but I know that a lot of you wish you could buy them already painted so this could be a real option. For me it’s important to play with painted models, I use this as the driving force to make sure they get done for my next big game. There are lots of tips out there on speed painting, and how to get some good looking models quickly with out too much pain, but remember not every model has to be a Golden Daemon winner (how much time should you spend painting that unit of grots you’re using as a meat shield, and die to the first round of shooting?). Look online there are loads of painting guides, and maybe you will just find that tip on using washes that will half the time you take to paint your models.

7.If it isn’t working fix it. If you can’t meet on a Thursday then move games night to Friday or whichever one works for you and your friends. When everyone has responsibilities it is important to keep things flexible or things quickly fall apart, and then no one is having fun and that is what this is all about.

This is by no means an exhaustive list (nope just 7) but I wanted to get you thinking about how you can use your time productively, and work together to make your own little group of Home Guard work a little bit better.

Me and my friends have been playing for a long time and that’s because we work together to help each other have fun. What it really comes down to is there are ways you can still make sure everyone can enjoy the hobby without interfering too much with all those other things that have to be done that we call life.

If you have any tips on the best way to economise the hobby but still keep it fun (Fun-onomise?) please let me know?

Till next time keep rolling sixes for your cover saves.




3 Responses to “The Home Guard by Andrew Ovel”

  1. Del Stuart June 25, 2011 at 19:52 #

    Great article mate and I completely undertand where your coming from. I hjave 3 kids a full time job and I like my wife most of the time so I have to spend time with her as well .

    My wifes quite happy to let me game once a week on a Tuesday as she knows pretty much every other night Im around if she needs me and if she wants something I might be let of the leash a little bit more.

    I keep costs down buy buying things from the bay and from forums , also the wife is more than happy to accept shopping lists at Xmas and birthdays. I probably spend more than I should but my wife isnt too bothered as long as the kids have everything they need pkus i dont smoke and I dont drink much so I save a bundle there.

    My one hope is that when my youngest is at least a teenager I can attend more than 2 tournaments a year 🙂

  2. Gravidian June 27, 2011 at 14:11 #

    Great post dude, my little girl is nearly a year old and i have had to adapt and use some of the methods you mention, i’m definitely part of the Home Guard, and proud of it.

  3. Saul July 3, 2011 at 20:46 #

    Dude, I promise that, at some point, I will buy my own treads!

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