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"Are painted armies gatekeeping?" Topic

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Garand26 Nov 2022 4:01 p.m. PST

So here's a question I ran into.

On a FB forum for Warhammer, the question was asked "painted armies or no." Predictably it didn't go great. But I opined that if you don't want to paint your figures, fine. Your money, your hobby, you get to decide how to engage in it. But, I stated, I would probably decline to play against someone that never painted their armies. My choice in how I engage in the hobby.

I was accused of gatekeeping. I realize the culture of Warhammer is considerably different than historicals, but I disagreed with this opinion.

So is choosing to play only with fully painted figures, against opponents with fully painted armies really gatekeeping, or simply standards?


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 4:15 p.m. PST

Personal choice, but I have to say that our local group never – ever – plays with unpainted armies

Poorly painted, for sure – but not unpainted

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 4:15 p.m. PST

Gatekeeping? I'm not familiar with the term.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 4:18 p.m. PST

You are adhering to a standard.

If the appearance of the figures means nothing, put nails with troop type symbols on bases and save yourself a ton of money. The only argument for playing with unpainted figures is "this way GW gets a cut." I do not find that an adequate incentive.

Is "gatekeeping" a sin or a crime, by the way? Or am I making an obsolete distinction not applicable in the 21st Century?

14Bore26 Nov 2022 4:18 p.m. PST

I remember from day we decided to play Napoleonics it was a couple months of mad painting but any figure could be on the board but after a point it was no paint no play. Remember painting a battalion in a all night session.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 4:21 p.m. PST

Pffft. It's your preference, and it has no significance, as you're unlikely to meet anyone who plays only with unpainted armies, or play a game with them. So if it's "gatekeeping" it's at a gate to a yard the other guy isn't wanting into.

Me, I really don't care much. I've have 2nd Ed Space Hulk since the 90s. I've never painted the figures. Ditto my old Battle Masters set from the same period.
But I've painted two significant armies for Warmaster (actually more) and the figures for my HeroQuest board game. At a con, I'd expect to see painted figures. At my home with friends, I don't care. But I wouldn't see you as "gatekeeping" if you turned down playing Space Hulk with me because the figs weren't painted. I'd just say, "No problem, I get it. Let's play something else, then."

Michael May26 Nov 2022 4:23 p.m. PST

Even crudely painted is better than unpainted. If you're playing with unpainted figures, how can you tell who's who?

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 4:34 p.m. PST

In the world of soft plastic figures unpainted figures are not unusual at all. That includes both 60mm, 54mm, and 1/72nd scale. Typically the uniform and equipment is enough to tell who is who, but also they are usually molded in the color representative of that time and nation.

So ARW British would be molded in red plastic and the Americans in Blue. ACW blue and gray plastic. WWII green for allies, grey for Germans and tan for Japanese.

I have painted figures in my collection but not many. Keeping unpainted figures out of your games is a form of gatekeeping. But people say that as if gatekeeping is a bad thing, it's not.

If you play 28mm you don't allow 1/72nd scale figures or micro armor, that's a form of gatekeeping also. Some people only play specific games with a specific brand of figures, that's gatekeeping when a wizard in plastic is 10 cents and the "official" wizard is $17. USD

So what? Keep the standards you want. They are toys and play with them how you will. If others don't want to play as you play then that's okay for them.

I played baseball with a stick, a tennis ball and that tree was second base. I play for the fun and the rest is secondary. But if you want uniforms and an official baseball diamond and gear, then good for you.

What I don't like is others demanding or requiring others to conform to their way of gaming.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 4:53 p.m. PST

Exactly what gate are you keeping?

The only thing you are keeping is yourself out of a game with a specific opponent. You didn't tell (force?) the other person not to play or not to play with others. Or tell others not to play with that person. Right?

So you're only keeping the gate to your own property.

Personally, my painted figures keep the Gates of R'lyeh…

F'taghn!<br />Gesundheit!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 6:10 p.m. PST

I tend to agree that only painted figures should be on the table. I also understand new gamers wanting to play right off the bat. Also, as Bunkermeister notes, I don't hold the same standards to soft plastics. I have a large 54mm Sudan collection that will never see the table except in an unpainted state. I am also contemplating a 54mm Imaginations project that I don't have any intention of painting. So, whatever floats your boat and your gaming companions agree to.

Gozerius26 Nov 2022 6:24 p.m. PST

You wouldn't leave your house naked, would you? So, why would you make your figures play in the nude?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 7:02 p.m. PST

"…the culture of Warhammer?" Warhammer is a culture?

Arjuna26 Nov 2022 8:41 p.m. PST

I don't play with them nor against them, I have a refined and exalted taste, but I love to buy them on the cheap when the unwashed barbarians leave the wastelands surrounding the fantastic realms of my doll house beauties, squirming in shame.
Saves me from having to strip them of the atrocities some call painting before I make them properly uniformed slaves to my shiny darkness.
So I'm all for it, gatekeeping my gems and free trading the raw.
It's all in their heads anyway.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 8:55 p.m. PST

I'm with Arjuna. Well said.

Arjuna26 Nov 2022 10:00 p.m. PST

Warhammer is a culture?

Apparently in some of the rare civilized countries it is taught to particularly gifted and selected students to 'improve their engineering, arts, and maths skills'.
Word in the dark alleys of the Cities of Sigmar and the bright penthouses above the throneworld of Terra is, with it you may even achieve the Duke of Edinburgh's Award!
Which is, of course, an honor especially for any young and aspiring imperial citizen.

Warhammer Skills Development Programme

Do the Duke!

Toaster26 Nov 2022 10:14 p.m. PST

I won't play with unpainted, against is an open issue, some kid just starting out not only gets a game but I'll give painting lessons.
If your an adult gamer with more than a years experience please make an effort, or take advantage of my mates rate painting at around half or less commercial costs.

And yes Robert Pipenbrink warhamer does have culture… they grow it in a petri dish!


Personal logo McKinstry Supporting Member of TMP Fezian26 Nov 2022 11:13 p.m. PST

I would/have not had an issue with kids starting out but among our regular gamers at the FLGS, it isn't an issue because we all operate on a no paint, no play basis. We do not, ever, criticize levels of skill as anyone putting in the effort deserves respect. Among friends we do however abuse each other mercilessly.

UshCha26 Nov 2022 11:53 p.m. PST

I have played games with screws, for infantry but I did paint them. Is that "allowed". What you chose to do is your own affair. Even me the painting hater slap a bit of green on my modern russian ans and paint the train cos black (wrong Colour of course but who cares). My tanks are often what does it matter if the opponent knows it. Yes I will play with unpainted bits before I get round to colouring them. You are only nasty and antisocial if you attempt to impose your will on other folk.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2022 3:05 a.m. PST

I do not like unpainted figures on the table, just my prejudice!

Fitzovich Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2022 3:27 a.m. PST

I use both depending upon the game to be played. In 25mm or sizes painted armies are my choice, but for my more light hearted games with toy soldiers unpainted is the standard. The Dino's from the dollar store are just fine in any color they come in for me.

JMcCarroll27 Nov 2022 7:06 a.m. PST

I used to play Warhammer tournys. I would tell opponents with unpainted armies that I come here to look at OTHER peoples army not mine.

A new person with a new army gets a pass, but is told in no uncertain terms unpainted is not except-able!

Garand27 Nov 2022 9:00 a.m. PST

Gatekeeping? I'm not familiar with the term.

Gatekeeping is when long established fans of something do things to exclude new fans, "incorrect" fans (i.e. excluding women from gaming, FREX), or anyone from entering into the hobby.



Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Nov 2022 11:46 a.m. PST

You wouldn't leave your house naked, would you?

You don't know me.

You are only nasty and antisocial if you attempt to impose your will on other folk.

Attempting to Impose your will on others like denigrating people who don't think like you?

Striker27 Nov 2022 12:06 p.m. PST

Don't GW sanctioned games require painted minis? If someone doesn't want to paint minis that's fine, there's no "right" to have opponents. Personally I don't care if painted or not, especially when it's a new game, but I have no beef with people who want to play against painted minis.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian27 Nov 2022 1:35 p.m. PST

I think it i an artifact of GW/FoW type games.

'Most' historical miniatures players deal iwuth needing to paint as there are very few pre-painted options and troops are rarelt sold as complete units. GW/FoW are packaged as such and certain figures themselves are importatn.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2022 4:26 p.m. PST

Well, I'd hesitate to run down anything which might improve math skills. Yesterday I purchased a meal at a fast foodery which I shall not name. Meal was $11.33 USD. I gave the young person on duty a twenty, and got back two quarters, a dime, a nickel, two pennies and a five. I suggested that this was a little short, and she called her supervisor.
"What did he give you?" She asked.
"He paid in cash."

That was clearly my mistake.

But even Slaughterhouse in Killeen Texas, which catered to GW had the Slaughterhouse standard--three colors per casting minimum, and particularly ugly paint jobs were not to be displayed before impressionable children.

torokchar Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2022 6:57 p.m. PST

In 45+ years of wargaming I have never played with an unpainted army – to include my Warhammer Fantasy and GW Lord of the Rings games. I have played many opponents with unpainted. I have seen recently that the Bolt Action crowd sees a lot of unpainted players – converts from GW 40K??

My greatest victory was in a Lord of the Rings tournament with $500 USD+ in grand prize products from GW. The kid I played, and I ended up tied at the end of the tournament – the tie breaker – you guessed it – BEST PAINTED. The kid (15 years old) army was unpainted – I won the grand prize – I think I saw him crying……hopefully he learned a lesson.

Mr Elmo27 Nov 2022 7:30 p.m. PST

I will field no army before it's time. I have enough pride in my hobby that all miniatures must be painted.

Our hobby is multifaceted and a well rounded player should be good at all of them:

1) Modeling and Painting
2) Army knowledge and construction
3) Be able to play the game well enough make it enjoyable
4) Having enough emotional intelligence to make your games enjoyable

People may like other parts but if you aren't willing to invest time in all of them, find another hobby.

Don't like painting? Play board games
Don't want to learn rules and play the game? Build 1/35 dioramas or something

Arjuna27 Nov 2022 9:34 p.m. PST

I suggested that this was a little short, and she called her supervisor.

Probably an automated tip, or a handling fee because of short tempered and possibly dangerous customers.
I mean, who pays in cash, eh?
They only give away twenty dollar bills to friendly neighbourhood thugs in street robberies!
Everybody knows that, even here in my backwoods of the imperial provinces of Germania.

JAFD2628 Nov 2022 12:04 a.m. PST

For some of us, the fun of the hobby is in the painting, and we think of the games as an excuse to show off our armies to the admiring world. Win, lose, draw … that don't matter.

UshCha28 Nov 2022 2:03 a.m. PST

Mr Elmo, perhaps ypou need a new hobby, painting and modelling are most definitely not reqirement od war gaming so perhaps you should find a new hobby as you are so keen to deter others from my hobby.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2022 6:16 a.m. PST

Elmo, our hobby is multifaceted, and there is no reason for people to be "good" in all of the points on your list. Attitudes like that drive new people away from the hobby.

Stoppage28 Nov 2022 8:12 a.m. PST

I like Mr Elmo's list for a

well-rounded player
, but it also needs 'Good sense of humour too' added.

Perhaps Maslow's hierarchy-of-needs would help?

At the bottom (safety, shelter, food, water, and warmth) should be equated to 'turns-up to play'.

Next level – basic paint jobs – bases

Next level – Mr Elmo's list (plus GSOH)

Top level?

Arjuna28 Nov 2022 8:39 a.m. PST

Top level?

Burgundy velvet smoking gown with cap or silken dressing gown.
Pocket square and neckerchief in khaki and faded desert red.
Edwardian club collar shirt, white.
Black brushed cotton trousers with comfortable black Congress Gaiters.

Victorian and/or Edwardian, no one knows the difference today anyway.

Or a little more modest, like this well-robed gentleman:
Peter Cushing in Historical Studies of Napoleonic Warfare.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2022 9:15 a.m. PST

A well rounded gamers of any consequence would certainly own a variety of ascots and cravats. It is probably best to leave pipes, cigars, and cigarettes optional however, a good meerschaum is an accessory that always looks great.

Arjuna28 Nov 2022 9:34 a.m. PST

Cravats you say?
Isn't this an accessory that should be reserved for more formal occasions?
Like official Warhammer 40K tournaments, for example?
What do you think about exchanging some fine 45 point letterpressed cotton calling cards between the honorable opponents as a sign of mutual respect?
No cards, no game.

I absolutely agree with your opinion about smoking utensils.
Although sneaking a little opium crumb into the worthy opponent's pipe can be quite beneficial to one's cause.
Of course, you can still offer such flavored tea.

Stryderg28 Nov 2022 10:31 a.m. PST

I play solo, so unpainted minis are fine. I just want to move minis around and roll some dice. That's more fun than painting for me. Besides, I don't have the time to invest in matching the quality of stuff I've seen here or online by the pro-painters.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Nov 2022 10:57 a.m. PST

three colors per casting minimum

My ninjas are not pleased!

Nor my nightgaunts, stone golems, (earth, wind and) fire elementals, gelatinous cubes, and several others I can't think of off the cuff …


Oh, yeah … these guys.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Nov 2022 11:38 a.m. PST

I'd never field an unpainted army myself and I doubt that any of the blokes that I play with would either BUT we are all greybeards with tons of painted figures already so it isn't an effort to say that. We almost all still paint fairly regularly, just slower than we used to.

Would I play with unpainted figures outside our group ? Probably yes but it would be a rare event and I'd want to have some good reason to do so.

Youngsters just starting get a break but offer them a painted army to play with first. New 'mature' players probably get the offer of a loan army and help starting their own if they want to join the hobby 'all in' otherwise welcome to come and play with our toys.

Exclusive – no, there are plenty of places where the standards are different to ours so they can be directed there amongst those with similar ideas and enjoy games the way they want to. I don't eat McDonald's but I don't campaign for their closure either.

Mr Elmo28 Nov 2022 7:31 p.m. PST

perhaps ypou need a new hobby, painting and modelling are most definitely not reqirement od war gaming so perhaps you should find a new hobby

I'm not sure how you get an army to the table without modeling. It certainly doesn't need paint and many hold their manhoods cheap and never slay the gray.

Tabletop gaming has the four aspects I outlined and I suggested alternatives for those who don't embrace all aspects. Again, if you don't want painting and modeling, try Board Games. If you like modeling but not playing, try static plastic or model railroading.

I find your tone interesting as a hit dog will hollar. There is always room to grow in all aspects of the hobby.

Arjuna28 Nov 2022 9:58 p.m. PST

So is choosing to play only with fully painted figures, against opponents with fully painted armies really gatekeeping, or simply standards?

So, to answer the original question, standards are gatekeeping and its a good thing.
As an aside, culture is distinction.
And you absolutely have the right to say so.
Of course, you may disagree.
And you absolutely have the right to say so.

The term 'gatekeeping' is weak framing rethorics.
They could have used 'standards', but that would have meant to respect a differing opinion.

How many amateur football players think it's 'gatekeeping' if they don't want to play with a soda can as a ball?
And no, those poor children souls in some planetary shithole don't count,just because they have to do it.
Given the chance and a proper ball, they would switch in nano-seconds.

UshCha28 Nov 2022 11:32 p.m. PST

Mr Elmo – Modeling Nope, I still buy models from other folk be they STL files or 3D printed nowdays, but forally metal.
I won't insult modllers by saying I modelled them.

arthur181529 Nov 2022 2:26 a.m. PST

Mr Elmo, I didn't create the metal figures in my armies – they were created by a caster using a mould derived from master figures made by a talented sculptor who was surely the person who did the 'modelling'. IIRC, HG Wells used ready painted troops supplied by WH Britain Ltd.

Nor did I paint them; I did extra private work and used the cash to pay a professional painter who could do a far better job than I ever could, and quicker too. So I didn't paint anything. Nor did Brigadier Peter Young; Charles S. Grant used to paint figures for him when he was young. According to you, the Brigadier and I should have played boardgames instead!

Guess I'm just not a 'proper' wargamer – but then neither were Wells nor Young according to your definition, so I'm in good company.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Nov 2022 3:49 a.m. PST

This started about painted armies, not the user specifically painting them or the quality of the painting.

Extending the argument to say that a player must have painted all the figures he plays with to a high standard is quite clearly being elitist – and not in a good way.

Making an effort to paint figures that you play with is, to my mind, a part of wargaming but I can see those who lack the skill or time (or patience to learn) to do even a basic paint job may buy in painted armies. That still gets painted armies in play – which is good.

Crowing over the quality of your own paint job and disparaging others is simply bad manners, in wargaming or any other creative pastime. If a player has painted their armies to a standard acceptable to them they are painted, full stop !!

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Nov 2022 4:54 a.m. PST

Mr Elmo is the only person who is engaging in gatekeeping. He is telling others how they should play.

All the other posts advocating painted armies say they wouldn't play against an unpainted army, but not you shouldn't play with one or you shouldn't play against one.

To the OP, is deciding with whom you will or will not play gatekeeping? Np.

If find it interesting (and all too frequent) that the bad behaviour described in the OP was the person accusing gatekeeping, that is, the person who was trying to coerce someone else into their approach through namecalling.

Mr Elmo29 Nov 2022 5:39 a.m. PST

He is telling others how they should play.

If people want to engage in the Tabletop Gaming hobby, embracing all facets to the best of you ability doesn't seem like a tall order, there are other things you might enjoy. It's like walking up to some dudes on the golf course asking what they are doing they say "playing golf" when you enquire about the lack of clubs they say, "we don't have any, we throw the ball" then you ask about the baseball and they say, "those little things are too hard to throw, we use baseballs." I don't know what they are doing but it's not Bleeped texting golf!

If I roll into a store and some freckle faced kid just painted his greater demon of Leman Russ but it looks like it was painted by a blind Tourette's patient we applaud that nonetheless. He probably doesn't have pubic hair yet and has bigger balls than your two year old gray pile.

Back in the 90's if someone was making excuses about painting, we would keep them honest: What, Bob can't paint because his pussy hurt? A little shame can help you paint or pay someone else.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Nov 2022 6:03 a.m. PST

I'll bet said freckle-faced kid has more manners than you MrE and, hopefully, a bit more empathy too.

Sad, sad, sad.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Nov 2022 11:17 a.m. PST

Apparently, avoiding false attribution, the package deal fallacy, and false analogy is a tall order. It's a shame they don't teach rhetoric anymore.

Name calling, however, does point to a certain degree of class.

Sargonarhes29 Nov 2022 3:26 p.m. PST

The urban dictionary definition of "Gatekeeping"
Gatekeeping is to make your interests exclusive in order to protect them from becoming "mainstream"

This has been the catch phase in a lot of hobbies of all kinds lately, there are people new to the hobby but either don't want to participate in all the things it takes to be a part of it, or they want to change it in some way. They see people that won't change their rules or their standards as gatekeeping and making their hobby exclusionary and not letting some into said hobby.

Myself I would rather a person uses painted miniatures so if we have an identical models on the table, by it's paint we know whom it belongs to. Seriously, in mech games unpainted one mech looks like any other unpainted mech. If this sounds like gatekeeping then I am fine with it, better to exclude players that are really into the hobby than let them into your circle and find they later want to make other changes to how you want to play it.

Old Contemptible29 Nov 2022 9:19 p.m. PST

I have been playing historical miniatures since the early 80s and I have never seen anyone attempt to play with unpainted figures. I think most historical gamers paint both sides anyway so you're guaranteed that all the figures are painted.

Fantasy gaming is a related but different hobby and this is just another example of it.

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