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" The current trend to use unpainted miniatures " Topic

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Easy Eight Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 12:40 a.m. PST

Why do so many gamers insist on putting unpainted miniatures on the game table? They are doing this in public.

Is this hurting the hobby?

God forbid you point it out when they are doing this foul thing. They call you an elitist or snob for pointing out that they should paint their models. You get the standard; I paid for them I can do whatever I want with them mantra. I say it's fine to do whatever you want with your unpainted minis at home with the shades closed, but not in public.

This used to be a problem with kids you know the whole instant gratification thing. I now see more and more adults committing this heinous act. I hear a lot of I don't have time between family and work to paint. I have a job and a family and have no problem getting my models painted. Sure it may take a while, an hour here and there but they do get painted. What is up with this lack of dedication when it comes to painting?

I'm not asking for masterpieces just a basic no frills paint job. It's not that hard to do.

Am I really expecting too much?


geudens Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 12:49 a.m. PST

No it's not too much to ask, but there is very little you can do about it. This issue falls into the same category as the question "should I (because I'm a wargamer) be preaching the gospel of the hobby (and convince half the world to join in)?".

Though I can see your point (I simply HATE unpainted armies or below standard terrain (chalked in roads etc), I tend to concentrate on trying to make my own games look as best as I can. Often (for a demo game on behalf of the club) I have to paint long hours the last couple of days prior to the event, but… it's either that or the figures not appearing on the table. Well, anyway, let's face it: we work best under pressure!


Kayl MacLaren Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 1:00 a.m. PST

I can't really say from a wargamer's perspective, but some of the people that I roleplay with refuse to paint their minis because, and I quote, "…I'd be too afraid to use anything that I'd spent that much time working on…" So, perhaps fear of damage to any hard work they had done painting their army could be one of the reasons?


Midway Monster Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 1:16 a.m. PST

Never allow an unpainted figure onto the tabletop.

We have it written into our club constitution that on an official club night or event no unpainted figures are allowed. It brings the hobby down and lessens the impact of the painting part of the hobby.

People spend their entire lives developing painting skills and most of us desire to continuously improve. Why should that be denegrated by the unwashed hordes appearing on the tabletop?

The public should see the hobby in all its glory not the shady activities of the living room carpet when we kids.

Steve Pugh Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 1:17 a.m. PST

Heavens forbid that people that actually play wargames, enjoy themselves and have a good time.

People having fun is a much better advert for the hobby than a bunch of painted miniatures.

Sure, in an ideal world people would always have fun and always play with painted miniatures but as that's not always possible there's nothing for it but live and let live.

Personal logo Gungnir Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2006 1:20 a.m. PST

I don't mind badly painted figures (like my own…) cause everybody works at their own level, and I hope they (and me) try to improve their skills. An unpainted army should not be allowed on the table – but all help should be given to such a gamer to field next time a simply painted but at least painted army.

stealth841 Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 1:23 a.m. PST

NO unpainted minitures on my table. I have let people use undercoated & faces done but metal. No bloody way.

maxxon Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 1:40 a.m. PST

As a sidenote:

Not too long ago I read a fan-written intro for Rackham's game Confrontation.

It had a specific mention "you can still play even if you can't paint to the quality you see in the pictures."

I've also noticed that GW has switched to giving advise on decent, basic paintjobs insteads blended-12-times masterpieces.

And I've heard more than once the excuse: "I don't want to paint because I can't paint as well as you do" — and I don't even paint all that well!

Maybe the Dallimores and Golden Demons are scaring away new prospective painters?

Coyote Fezian27 Feb 2006 1:51 a.m. PST

Then I'd say new prospective painters are very timid and flighty people. Though for sure, there should be a mix of levels, from amazing to adequate, with no shame is adequacy when coupled with large numbers.

Calico Bill27 Feb 2006 2:36 a.m. PST

Since I'm mostly interested in the tactics of the game, how well the mini's are painted (or unpainted) is far less important than being indentifiable. What I hate most is the guy who undercoats his troops flat black. Very hard to make out who's what. Bare metal is far better.
I prefer to see painted armies, but its the tactics and the fun that I'm most interested in. "If the game is good, no one has time to notice the minis paint job. If the game is bad, pretty painting won't save it."

Cyberwolf1971 Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 2:44 a.m. PST

You guys do realize that
1) some of us have a "Real Life" (TM)?
2) not eberybody is interested in the painting aspects of the game?

Just for the record: I try to paint my miniatures, but *of course* there are still a few hundered unpainted left… for various reasons (time, preserving the value, "The mini deserves better than my painting standard…", etc. ).

@Easy Eight: You would be satisfied if some poor lad would soak his nicely sculpted minis in thick blobs of paint just to make it more appealing to you? Excuse me Sir, but I'd rather see the details of pure metals than a poor paint-job.

Turning away people from games (unless it is a big tourney or something YOU pay for) because of "pure metal" is like refusing to talk to someone who has a slight accent – after all he could have improved to satisfy YOUR standards.

I am in favour of nicely painted minis and beautiful crafted terrain – but I very much against imposing some silly rules.

Teach by example and try to inspire your fellow gamers, don't try to act like the a member of "Miniature Thought Police".

Easy Eight Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 2:51 a.m. PST

10 years ago, no one would have used unpainted minis in public.

I grew up in this hobby, and even as a kid I would have never thought of using unpainted models. It was just a given if it aint painted it doesn't get used.

This PC tollerence stuff has gone too far. I am interested as the next guy in having fun and a good game, but part of that is playing with painted armies.

I do everything I can to help new players get into painting. I give free lessons and/or loan them a painted army to use while they are learning the ins and outs of painting.. There are just so many people out there lately that do not even want to try.

Easy Eight Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 2:55 a.m. PST

cyberwolf it appears your are part of the tollerence brigade. More power too you, if it does not bother you

I would much rather see the care and effort of a poorly painted blob then bare metal.

1) some of us have a "Real Life" (TM)?
Full time job and a big family never slowed me down

2) not eberybody is interested in the painting aspects of the game?
Then play a board game or something prepainted.


ghostdog Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 3:51 a.m. PST

I hate to paint, but I will never put an unpainted mini in the table.

In my rpg club, Sometimes we used unpainted minis for a rpg evening. An unexpected combat calls for chits, coins, dices of diferent colours, unpainted minis if we donīt have any painted mini at hand, or anything else to show the situation.

BUt I will never use unpainted minis in a wargame. I donīt see the point, after all, if you use unpainted minis, why not use any miniature, painted or no painted, even if itsnīt suitable? by example, using fantasy minis for a WWII ("the goblins are germans"); or empty stands, or white sheet pieces whith a drawing of a tank…

I have seen warhammer fantasy games where a player deployed a 16 chaos warriors unit, but as he only had one chaos warrior, he put one mini and 15 empty stands

Cyberwolf1971 Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 3:53 a.m. PST

Easy Eight: If I understand you correctly, you opinion boilds down to: Either play with fully "painted" – for a given value of painted – minis or don't play at all!

Is my understanding of your mantra correct?

Company D Miniatures27 Feb 2006 3:55 a.m. PST

In my opinion-Lead by example. The more excellent looking armies fielded the better.

I prefer to see nice paint jobs- the odd time I have used unpainted figures during a solo game they are designated as 'inferior troop types'

hurcheon Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 4:04 a.m. PST


My name is Colin and I play with unpainted minis.

That way I get to play a game now and again

Curiously as I progress fewer and fewer minis are left unpainted, but I have other calls on my time, such as an ill wife, keratoconus in my left eye which means my right eye is often tired after compensating for the bad one and occasionally, bvery occasionally, a social life.

Neither yet do I have the spare cash for a painting service.

So excuse me if I actually play the game with less than painted figures. Against other guys whose armies are in varying states of paitnedness.

Displays are an exception. Games between friends at the club are something else.

Sheesh. The things some folks get exercised about

ioannis27 Feb 2006 4:14 a.m. PST

I believe that if both sides agree to use unpainted figures, that should be considered "case closed"! Having said that, I have been refusing pleas to allow unpainted lead on games I organize.

advocate27 Feb 2006 4:35 a.m. PST

I am very much in favour of painted figures on the table, but appreciate the time needed to get a reasonable number done (I am neither a fast nor a good painter). I also consider myself more of a gamer than a modeller.

There are ways of encouraging the use of painted figures. Organising club games where everyone can contribute a unit or two is a good way to get people started (especially if you go for inexpensive plastics). Emphasise the need for painted figures, but that quality is not an issue. It does mean that people can play in a big game without spending a year or two getting their figures ready. Starting with skirmish games with a view to building up larger and larger forces is another way. Just saying "You can't play until you have a painted army" will turn people off the hobby as a whole.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2006 4:43 a.m. PST

My two cent worth.

At our conventions (Recon and Hurricon) I have seen a few games run with unpainted figures.

One successful attempt was by a GM who put on a game for kids. It was actually run on the floor, used the large plastic 54mm figures and were unpainted. The kids had a ball! Did that hurt the hobby? Far from it.

I have seen other games where either the figures were unpainted or, in at least one game, just sprayed a single color, in this case German tanks a grey and I believe US in green. The game didnt have many players.

I think players, especially at conventions, are drawn to some of the better looking games though, ultimately, the quality of the game matters most. A good GM, who does only a mediocre painting job will find a good following over one who is a superb painter but runs boring games.

It is like the market place, let the players decide by playing.

Scurvy Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 4:45 a.m. PST

what rules you put on your own table is your business. I loathe unpainted figs (and seeing as I usually supply all the figs I also hate crap paint jobs on the table, some of my stuff is sub par and I won't let it be used.)

That being said, if someone told me what to do on my table with my figs. I would tell them nicely to go Bleeped text em selves sideways with a barge pole.

Dave Crowell27 Feb 2006 4:46 a.m. PST

Hvae seen and played against some armies composed of the following: "dire wolves" in an undead army that were actually horses spay painted white, "miniatures" consisting of legs and torso glued to a base, because it was too fidly to bother with the arms, plasticine "models" because the real thing was too expensive, and any and everything proxied in as troops that you can imagine.

The aesthetics were terrible, but some of the games were still fun.

For myself I prefer painted minis and landscaped terrain. But I will use unpainted minis at home. It inspires me to get them painted faster.

I don't think thetrend is all that new. I can remember folks who would do this 20 years ago. Perhaps its just becoming more visible as more people have the opportunity to play in shops, clubs, and Cons?

No Name02 Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 4:50 a.m. PST

I am on with project to help with basic painting – to be put onto the net – however will not be of use to people who won't even try.

Cosmic Reset Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 4:54 a.m. PST

I don't care if others want to play with unpainted miniatures, more power to them. But I play miniatures, rather than boardgames, because of the visual appeal. A big portion of the game is about the appearance of the figs and terrain. Actually, the terrain is more important than the figs. Anyway, if the other player is working on them, intends to work on them, that is fine. If there just isn't enough passion to care, it takes something away from the game for me.

mad mac Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 5:21 a.m. PST

I think we need to look at this with some kind of perspective.

Clearly gaming for the public (and other gamers) at conventions and displays should not attract bare metal, or plastic, on the table unless the aim is to show what can be done for kids, where painted minis would detract from the aims of the game.

At then end of the day what you accept on your own table is your own affair, and although I have never had to game against someone with an unpainted army it wouldn't put me off having a game with them, at then end of the day, the games the thing!

Frog God of Team Frog Studios27 Feb 2006 5:30 a.m. PST

I'm not sure where he's getting this "current trend" garbage, as its been going on forever…

When I managed stores and we had gaming, I enforced a rule that figures should be painted *or in the process of being painted*…which meant that you couldn't field the "silver legions", but the "ghost legion" (white primer) was okay week one, and then each time we saw it afterward, we wanted it to look more and more painted…we had a bunch of folks at various levels of ability, so we didn't have the "its not Golden Daemon so it sucks" problem…but we really encouraged people to get them painted eventually…oh, and I managed stores 10 years and more ago…:D

nycjadie Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 5:51 a.m. PST

Some things never change…

Mike Ryan Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 5:51 a.m. PST

Wanting painted miniatures in your miniatures games isn't unreasonable. Being draconic about it, especially in a public venue can be. It can also be bad for the hobby, as it could very well drive people away. I know it kept me from committing to miniature gaming for a long time. I don't like to paint. Fortunately, for WWII naval, I don't have to paint all that much.

There are reasons other than the visual spectacle to play miniature games. I play them because the game play tends to be different than boardgames.

The best responses that I've seen so far were Frog God's and to lead by example. One thing to think about is the psychology involved. Putting painted figures on the table is opening a player personal criticism. It's the same as if they were to read a poem that they'd written. And yes, they may know that they'll get criticized for playing with unpainted figures, but it's a known quantity and mostly objective. The best thing to do is to give them time and show that they don't have to be perfect, or even close to perfect.

runs with scissors Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 5:52 a.m. PST

This "thou shalt not" stuff really winds me up. As does the "if they can't be bothered then I'm not playing with them" approach. Look, some of us live and breathe this hobby. All well and good. Others are less committed – it's just something they like to do. Fair enough. My advice to anyone who gets upset about unpainted figures would be: get a sense of perspective, learn some tolerance and cheer up. I remember playing with unpainted figures from the 40k boxed set in my early 20s – those orks and marines had great fun stalking each other around egg boxes and odd bits of polystyrene packaging. If some bully had spoiled my fun by telling me I wasn't allowed to play I would probably never have continued with the hobby.

SirGiles71 Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 5:54 a.m. PST

I prefer to see painted miniatures on the table. In your local club, whatever it takes to get new players understanding the rules, I have no problem with unpainted minis. At a Con or such … better be painted. I also have no problem what-so-ever helping the non-painter and newbie paint those bare metal figures. Show them the time saving techniques to lay out basic colours. How to do a wash, how to drybrush. Show them how to use cheap alternatives to expensive paints and additives. You don't need to use X paint … Walmart sells $1 USD acyrlics and don't forget to pick up a bottle of future while you're there. Take the mystery and frustration out of painting the figures and you get alot more people putting a decent quality figure on the table. Painting guides are fine and dandy but nothing beats seeing a good demo where you get to participate.

desaix Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 6:22 a.m. PST

Poorly painted figures are not a sin.

Unpainted, on the other hand…

BrianW27 Feb 2006 6:23 a.m. PST

Since I do AOS naval, it's hard to find a venue where there are unpainted/unassembeled miniatures on the table. I have been in some games where the hulls were painted brown, and the sails white. Did it stop me from playing and having fun? No. Did it convince me to try and run a game at the conventions next year, thereby bringing out my own stuff? Yes. Since I said when I got home, "I know I can do better than that…", it seems only fair that I should step up.

Goldwyrm Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 6:24 a.m. PST

To each their own.

desaix Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 6:32 a.m. PST

[This "thou shalt not" stuff really winds me up. As does the "if they can't be bothered then I'm not playing with them" approach.]

It cuts both ways.

table top gaming is a collaborative effort if the final look is to be achieved. If a visual tabletop is irrelevant then we'd all be playing computer games. Those folks that do paint their armies invariably spend countless hours getting them ready. To compliment their efforts by insisting upon throwing a pile of raw lead on the gaming pitch is, IMHO, very disrespectful to the efforts of those that do paint their armies.

Gaming with raw lead is, to me, analogus to refusing to wear pants in public. "hey I'm too busy to put pants on…. its really hot anyway… clothing is getting so expensive… what do you have against the human body anyway? (etc…)

Just my take.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2006 6:41 a.m. PST

This is stretching my recent "all opinions are valid" rant to the breaking point.

Really, we are talking about two different approaches to what is not really a common hobby. 8^)

Some people are totally into the game, and have to use miniatures to play with. I think that they could not care less if that particular lump of lead is an Orc or an Old Guard grenadier.

Me, I primarily paint, and like to play games with them. The better painted, the more I enjoy it.

Are both approaches equally valid? Hell no. Mine is right, and theirs is wrong.

Big Mean Elf Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 6:42 a.m. PST


Super Gibbon Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 6:46 a.m. PST

When I see people playing with unpainted lead I don't make judgements about them as a human being or bother to wonder about the impact on the hobby. Its a big world and people should use their toys however they see fit. As far as how I'm going to spend my time, I'll never be bothered to play with or against unpainted lead. The visual aspect of the game is what pulled me in and constitutes 70% of the enjoyment, followed by 20% for hanging out with good people, and lastly 10% for getting to be a general or warband chief for an afternoon. If your goals are different then we'll part ways and agree to disagree.

Sane Max Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 6:47 a.m. PST

Like most sensible people on this thread, I would like to see all painted figures on a table, but will not start screaming if my opponent uses unpainted.

At our club, many players use unpainted armies. We will rib them for it, and encourage them to paint. That's that.

I have used some unpainted figures in a game before.

I do draw the line at stand-ins – though again I will not get mediaeval about it. At a tournament I was faced by a Fall of the West army with Dwarves standing in as Romans and WHFB Flagellants as Barbarians. I said nothing, just played the game. But I was miffed. Not because I wanted to see perfection, simply because i couldn't keep track of what was meant to be what.

As for '10 years ago nobody played with unpainted figures' that's just not true. I have been seeing dragons with the wings held on with bluetack (and falling off into the middle of one of my units the bastard) since I started wargaming over 25 years ago.


nazrat27 Feb 2006 6:59 a.m. PST

I paint a lot of miniatures, and I prefer to see games with everything finished. It does indeed look a lot better, and it gives people something to aspire to. That being said, the "NO unpainted miniatures" rule some advocate here is pure crap. At our local tournaments we allowed unpainted armies, but gave ten extra points to those with everything done. You'd be amazed how many got their stuff completely painted when they saw they had lost the big prize by just those ten points! So we helped a bunch of guys get motivated instead of being snobs and acting like they had commited crimes against nature by the having the temerity to actually have some frikking fun with their models.

Cyberwolf1971 Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 7:09 a.m. PST

Nazrat – I really like your approach. Instead of penalizing the "offenders", giving a bonus to those who try to put some effort into their army.

The Hobbybox Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 7:12 a.m. PST

I didn't want to get drawn into this but I feel I have to make a few points from personal experience.

Do I have a huge lead pile which need painting? Yes
Have I gamed with unpainted/undercoated minis? Yes

Why? Because for those of us who find painting difficult (in my case a fear of messing it up or it not being 'good enough', and the fact that I have to be in a very relaxed state to paint or I may as well smash the figures) painting can be a very daunting experience.

I ended up having a 2 year break from miniatures and modelling about 4 years ago due to people at my club critising my lack of painted minis. I felt that I had been driven away from something I loved.

So I would urge those in the 'no unpainted' camp to think long and hard how this attitude affects some of us. Having seen too many people pick up a basic painted figure/badly painted figure from someone new to painting and then launch into a 5 minute diatribe as to what's wrong with it, I can say that a person's confidence and urge to paint can be destroyed in an instant. Please bear that in mind and offer support not criticism.


McKinstry Fezian27 Feb 2006 7:15 a.m. PST

My choice is to play with painted miniatures only. I prefer those minatures to be painted to the best of anyones ability and to be on a solid attempt at good terrain. The hobby is, for me, all about the visuals. If the game alone was the thing, I'd ditch the lead and just stay with the computer.

That said, I don't care what others do and if folks are happy with unpainted or primered units, it certainly is no skin off my nose.

geudens Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 7:24 a.m. PST

There's a very old wargames proverb: "If you don't love your troops enough to paint'm, don't expect them to love you back enough to perform well on the battlefield".

Reading the above comments, you have people (like my group) who will not use unpainted lead of books for hills and you have those who "are in the process of…", but want to play games, even if their armies aren't fully painted yet. Well, that's up to them, I can live with that and understand their eagerness.

People declaring that painting armies is a snobbish luxury should indeed better play computergames (more – and painted! – figs in there for the price…) or some of the very nice hybrid games now on the market (Memoir 44, Battlecry and more come to mind). Painting your armies is just part of miniature wargaming as a HOBBY rather than a bought-from-the-shelf game only.

Mr Elmo27 Feb 2006 7:31 a.m. PST

Actually, I had thought that the trend had been toward more PAINTED figures. Games Workshop's Rogue Trader Tournaments and the painting portion of the score seemed to drive many people to paint.

Now it could have been than I simply hung around people who painted and the non-GW crows paints less, I dunno. Perhaps the gamers that are drifting away from GW are painting less or the Clicky gamers who are used to getting things painted are to blame.

One thing GW is good for is promoting the paitning part of the hobby.

nazrat27 Feb 2006 7:34 a.m. PST

Nobody said that painting the armies was a "snobbish luxury". It's only snobbish if you REFUSE to play with somebody else because they have an unpainted army. Playing the game might be just what that person needs to help them get excited about painting their stuff. Lead by example, not by a bad attitude.

Oh, and there's also a gaming proverb which says, "That freshly painted unit is sure to die to a man, or break at the first chance, or let you down utterly somehow!" 8)=

Cosmotiger Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 7:39 a.m. PST

I don't really get it myself. I like painting and playing with painted miniatures. If you don't like painting and/or don't want to paint the miniatures you play with, why not just play board games or video games?

geudens Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 8:00 a.m. PST

Yeah, Cosmotiger, that's what I wonder too…

hurcheon Inactive Member27 Feb 2006 8:39 a.m. PST

There is a difference between "Not wanting to" and "don't have the time to"

I supect for most of us evil offenders it's a time/money issue (where money equates to someone else's time)

I wopuld love to be able to plank down fully painted unit afterfully painted unit, but to be honest I don't have the time. Assembling and basing the swines can be enough some times.

So i paint what I can, when I can and if the game lasts at the club long enough more and more get painted until I can field a fully painted army

But until that rare date unpainted is a reasonable option just to get a game

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2006 8:42 a.m. PST

y a- I can't seprate the visual appeal with the game but gamers and modeler/hobbyists are not necessariy the same people … I really don't have anything to say that hasn't been done above.

Our group just doesnt use unpainted minis. It', mostly, just never occured to us. It's like to say, "i'm gonna watch a movie." and then sitting in the car while it plays in the living room.

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2006 8:44 a.m. PST

I'm with Cosmotiger and geudens, I don't care what people do, but I just don't see the draw to miniatures if you don't want to see them painted.

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