Army Sharing: the Way of the Future?


This somewhat sensational title refers to something I’ve been thinking about lately.  Frontline Gamer has been worried for a while about an up-coming crisis in the way our hobby grows, and I think I’ve come up with some food for thought on that score.  This is going to be a long one, I’ll warn you now – I decided against splitting it up into parts because who knows when I’d finish it, if ever?  Here is the gist, in case you aren’t in the mood for reading the whole thing:

The way we collect and play in the miniature wargames hobby is traditionally focused on individual army ownership.  I collect the miniatures I want, I build them, paint them, and meet you to play against your miniatures.  But there are a lot of problems with this way of doing things.  Some people only enjoy some parts of the hobby.  Others may have more time than money, or vice versa, and the ordinary way of doing things is very demanding in a lot of ways.

Imagine a club where no-one in particular owns the armies.  Each member pays a fee, and the grown-ups with more money than time buy the models they want to use or see.  They are then stored at the homes of whoever wants to store them, or at some central location.  The folks who love painting, the teenagers and the students with more time than money paint the models, and people simply arrange which armies they want to use on any particular game night.  No-one has to have a house full of stuff if they don’t want to, and there’s nothing stopping or forcing you from participating (or not) in any way you like (or don’t like).  If like many keen gamers you love to buy, convert, and paint armies, instead of sticking them in your shed or selling each one off to fund your next one you simply donate it to your local club.

Sound strange?  Maybe even crazy?  Allow me to explain a bit more.

Right, so I’ve been reading this book “What’s Mine is Yours,” about collaborative consumption.  Basically the book is about new models of consumerism that don’t rely on individual ownership.  So things like peer-to-peer selling, sharing, and renting.  Our hobby already has P2P selling via things like eBay and Bartertown, and the Buy Swap Sell forum on Wargamerau.  Kickstarter is another obvious one that gamers have really taken to.  What I’m suggesting here is the application of one of the other collaborative models to miniatures gaming – namely, collective ownership and resource sharing.

These consumer models bypass what companies traditionally want you to do, which is buy something it would probably be smarter for you not to buy, and then have it conveniently become obsolete so they can convince you to buy something else.  This is obviously a shocking waste of resources, and means that we all have houses full of crap we hardly ever use.

So all over the developed world people are starting to use the internet to create circles and collectives that rely on renting, sharing and reputation systems to function.  It’s already working with things as huge and expensive as cars (zipcar) and farm land (landshare).

There are three criteria that make a product really suitable for collaborative consumer models as opposed to traditional ones: large set-up costs, large maintenance requirements (including storage) and the fact that it is used only every now and then.  So think of a lawn mower.  A good one is a few hundred dollars at least.  It needs to be stored and maintained by someone who knows what they’re doing for it to last, and you only use it every now and then.  It’s not like a coffee cup or a pair of shoes.  It makes much more sense for ten people on the same street to share one mower than it does for each of them to have one sitting in their shed for twenty nine out of every thirty days.  Especially if only one of them likes fiddling with engines.  All it takes is a little trust and co-ordination, and that shouldn’t be a problem right?  they’re neighbours after all.

You can see where I’m going with this.  Warhammer 40,000 (or Fantasy Battle, or what-have-you) is a perfect example of a product that fits these three criteria.  It has a (perhaps) prohibitively large entry cost, armies require storage, constant expansion and care, and you only use one of your armies at a time for a few hours maybe once a week, give or take.  I strongly feel that a collaborative model of gaming that focuses on sharing and work distribution is more efficient and better for the consumer than the current model.

Back when I was an undergraduate I would have loved to be part of a club which allowed me to paint all the latest models without having to buy them.  Conversely, there are a lot of people in the hobby who I’m pretty sure would jump at the chance to have someone competent who loves painting paint their army for them for free.  And when I was a kid I loved assembling models.  I could do it for hours.  Now it’s an onerous chore.  There is a clear market to be tapped right there, and what better recompense than sharing the army?  Better than money, in most cases I think.

Now it could be argued that this would kill the companies.  After all, they rely on sucking in new players in a constant turn-over and gouging older players by changing the balance with every book right?  Surely having people sharing collections would put them out of business?

Well firstly I think good riddance, if the only way they can stay in business is by using such unsustainable 20th century business practices.  Secondly, why should it anyway?  My gut feeling is that the same amount of armies would be sold in the end.  Only so many people are interested in table-top gaming after all, so the way I see it all these kids being suckered in and then quitting are illusionary hobbyists anyway.  They make it seem as though way more people are interested in the hobby than actually are.  And anyway, a sharing model makes it easier for people to get into the hobby by removing the entry cost (in time and money) almost completely.

If you’re not convinced by that, here’s another analogy.  Being an Aussie, I’ve been a member of many sports clubs over the years, and being a geek, many martial arts clubs!  Some of the activities I’ve done include rugby league, athletics, hockey, cricket, Muay Thai boxing, kendo and (very briefly) fencing.  None of these clubs required the members to bring their own cricket bats, boxing bags, fencing masks, javelins, etc, although you could if you wanted to of course.  The clubs sustained themselves through fees and providing a social space for people to play/train.  And the existence of clubs of people sharing boxing equipment doesn’t put boxing bag manufacturers out of business.  Come to think of it the chess club I was in didn’t expect me to bring my own chess set either.  I really think this could be the future of wargaming, if we make it so.

Obviously, there’s one major hurdle to overcome, and that’s people’s learned love of personal ownership.  But that’s learned, as I said. I for one would give my armies to a club like this tomorrow if I could.  I wouldn’t have to store them any more, and I’d know that instead of two and a half 40k armies and an Infinity force I’d now have access to many many more.

And that’s the huge advantage here.  We don’t really want to own these armies do we?  We maybe just want to build them, and paint them, and play with them, and all of that requires merely access, not ownership.  It’s all about access.

As I said before, some collaborative models have already infiltrated the hobby.  And in Australia stores like Good Games are popping up, which seem to make a good chunk of their money from charging for a place to play rather than selling stuff.  The community play-space aspect is certainly the focus rather than the shop aspect.  This is a perfect example of a store that is less like a store and more like a club or a gym, and I think it’s great.

Here’s a final thought.  The Games Workshop Studio practices army sharing.  So do Forgeworld.  Do you think they could come up with such impressive displays and epic battles if it all had to owned by one person?  Maybe, but it’s pretty unlikely.  If that’s how the people who invent the game actually play, with access to large numbers of armies and terrain that they can mix and match as they need to, then why should they expect us, the player base, to be any different?

This is all a bit rough around the edges at the moment.  If some group were to actually try and put this sort of army sharing club into practice it would take more than the hour or so of thought I’ve put into it.  But it’s an interesting idea don’t you think?  If you think so, please let others know so we can see what sort of reaction the online community has to it.

Until next time, thanks for reading.  Comments greatly encouraged as usual!

26 responses to “Army Sharing: the Way of the Future?

  • Headologist

    Interesting stuff, and generally I think it’s an excellent idea – as you say, that’s how the studios work, where the White Dwarf battle report armies come from for the most part.

    However, for me the key to the fantasy/sci-fi side of the hobby is creating the fluff, for characters, factions, worlds, and then reflecting that as best as possible with the modelling, painting etc. I think much of that would be lost in a group-owned army. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that fiction by comittee tends to be pretty weak. As long as I’ve played GW stuff I’ve rarely played an out the box faction, for me that is utterly pointless, I don’t feel any sense of connection (for want of a better, non-new-agey-crystally sounding term). All my tabletop factions have a lot of effort put into them fluffwise (too much) and I’d lose that side of the hobby. And after doing all of that, I’d be reluctant to donate it permanently to the club. As I said I’m completely supportive of the idea, it just means that I can’t wean myself off the plastic crack that method yet.

    For historicals I’d be much more welcoming of the idea – whilst I prefer certain historical groups or units, I’m not quite as fussed about what flags I can see on the table.

    In something of a midway point, there’s a few of us doing collaborative projects/swaps at the moment (doesn’t save you any money, but it’s an interesting thing to do). My mate’s blog here has a bit more info on it

    Hope this makes some sense, I’m rather sleep-deprived at the moment…

    • James S

      Excellent comments as always! I’ll reply in turn, although there’ll probably be some overlap.

      First up @Headologist, thanks for that quick and thoughtful response, and yes, it does make sense! Also, seeing as I just posted up a picture of a green planet earth with the word “sharing” on I don’t think you need to worry about coming off sounding like the hippie in the room…

      You make a good point. It’s all about compromise I suppose, but I must admit I don’t feel the same way as you. When I imagine a club like this, I don’t imagine creating armies by committee so much. I imagine donating my existing armies (which I’ve worked hard on to make original), and the people in the club thinking “oh, this week I’m going to try James’s Sisters of the Revenant Maiden, or Bob’s Nurgle Skaven.” Sort of like a group of friends who rely on trust, only larger and with a touch of formality. As opposed to a communist state that evenly distributes resources and votes to decide what armies there will be and how they are composed. If you’re not happy with the club choices available, then you make what you want to see and donate it. Of course you can still have your “own” army if you want, just don’t make it available to the club. But people who do donate armies or time spent painting or modeling will get a rep as being good members of the community.

      It’s a more subtle shift in mindset, not so much “my army is no longer mine and I can’t control how it looks any more” but “everyone is my friend now and we’re all working together to help each other out.” Does that get it across a bit better? I have a feeling I’ll be repeating myself a bit anyway when I respond to Frontline and Chris.

      That idea of swapping units with one another is a fun one. I’m actually going to help my mate Capn Stoogey out by painting a wrecked Wave Serpent in Iybraesil style on the base of his Reaver Titan. We’re hoping the different painting styles will give a really good impression of Eldar and Imperial tech being totally alien to one another.

  • Ray

    WOW. Just WOW. I would totally do this. I agree with everything you have said. over my 15 year in the hobby my interest in different aspects of hobby has changes so much. I’d love it if all I did now was convert cool looking stuff and hand it over to someone else to paint and play with. Hell I’d donate all my armies to younger guys to play with or repaint. – its not really giving it away its just sharing. We all could get over this ownership issue if we did it in small steps.
    Start setting this up and give me a message and I’ll help make it happen!

    • James S

      @Ray, I’m glad you seem to get what I’m saying. This is going to sound like a cop-out but I’m waaay too busy to actually do this. I don’t really even get to play much at the moment. But I’m happy to put some thought into it. I could think up some ground rules and send them to you to act as a framework maybe?

      And if a club like this does emerge in my area I pledge to donate my Imperial Guard 🙂

  • Frontline Gamer

    Collaborative ownership is something a local club near me has actually tried with a number of games. It didn’t go down too well for a number of reasons, but the primary reason was that an army or force on the table says something about us as gamers, and most gamers I know do like to personalise things. Collaborative purchasing only works where the things being purchased can be used equally by all, and more importantly are standard and none specialised. You mention large set-up costs, large maintenance and infrequent use. Our hobby is specialised and you omit that from the analysis, we all have our quirky forces and want that personalisation… even if not all of us have the time to do that, it is the ‘dream’.

    There’s also the sustainability side of things. I agree with you, and have had long and in-depth discussions with many gaming buddies and industry types over redundant purchasing. Our hobby is based around the redundant purchase. People buying more than they actually need. So whereas you think the same mount of armies would be brought, I’m not so sure they would. Unlike you I’m not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing… I’m leaning towards saying if you’re not sustainable without redundant purchasing for the sake of the environment you should go to the wall. But it is this behaviour that keeps our hobby fiscally sustainable, if not environmentally sustainable. the later point is also something that worries me about our hobby. Just how wasteful it is.

    In short I don’t think it’s just a learned love of personal ownership that you have to get past with hobbyists and their armies. Genuinely there is the experimentation element, that personalisation of your force that says this is my list… “what you take two Oniwabans?”, armies as I said are personalised. Not just in paint jobs but what we all want to put in them. I’m not too sure how sharing would cope with that dilemma. Does a club buy extra mounted units just because one guy wants an all mounted High Elf army? Sharing armies might ironically have to increase redundant purchases on some things to keep everyone happy, and lower them on others. Plus all the examples you mention are standardised equipment. Armies shouldn’t become standardised, and I fear that such an approach with our hobby could lead to beige armies… like that club I mentioned.

    It’s an interesting idea, and one that does warrant further thought, but I still don’t see how it would tackle the concerns I have about the longevity of the hobby and its ability to attract fresh meat, actually from a visibility of hobby standpoint it could make things worse, although on the flip side it could ease the cost entry point into the hobby.

    • James S

      @Frontline Gamer, as always great to hear from you. You make a few good points so I’ll try to meet them.

      First up, as I said to Headologist, I’m not really envisaging group purchasing. That’s too formal and sort of misses the point I think. That would be to make the same mistake communist states made, taking everyone’s resources and then distributing them “fairly.” No, what I mean is we each still collect our armies exactly as we would before, but if you’re a paying member of the club your army is available for others to use/add to whatever. Hell, you could even make the club fees a slush fund for replacing something if it gets broken. Exactly like you would in a group of friends, but open to the public for a fee.

      So imagine we have James, Bob and Jenny, all paying members of the Warp Signal Warriors. James liked converting and painting and working up fluff, so he has two quirky and original 40k armies. He no longer has time to paint or build due to other commitments. Bob plays Fantasy and has an army of High Elves. He really wants some Nurgle Skaven because the idea appeals to him, but he sucks at painting, hates it, and can’t be arsed. He has a good job. Jenny really likes painting, is good at it (excuse the gender stereotype!) and is a student with not enough money to buy an full army anyway. She plays Fantasy too but has only collected a few models.

      James donates his two armies to the club. Bob donates his High Elves and buys the Nurgle Skaven boxes and Jenny assembles them and paints them for him. The resulting army is a club army. The club now has two 40k armies and two fantasy armies, each of which is an original and appeals to at least one club member. True, Jenny doesn’t have an army specifically that appeals to her yet, but in the future she might. Or maybe as a thank you Bob will ask her which army she’d like and buy it so she can paint it, and bam, another club army, which is good for everyone. Oh and now James can try Fantasy and Jenny and Bob can play 40k whenever they like with no entry cost. Maybe Jenny tries out 40k, likes it, and buys a few models within her budget that she’d like to add to James’s Guard army, then paints them to match as best she can.

      The point is to get around the idea that money is the only currency. Time and effort are equally valuable. True, you won’t arrive at the club for the first time and find an army that is *yours*, but then you have an incentive to make one. Or just make your own and don’t donate it, as I suggested to Headologist. But if you want to do that, the idea is you’d contribute in other ways, by helping out making terrain, or painting, or buying models for someone else.

      Your point about the standardized equipment is fair enough. Although I will say that students at my kendo club started out with standard equipment owned by the club and then eventually bought their own personal swords, tailored to their needs. Now, there’s a whole etiquette that you can’t use another person’s sword, but that’s just a quirk of kendo. It need not have been that way. Maybe in a free lovin’ kendo club everyone would swap swords for fun. Swingers 😉

      As to environmental sustainability, that’s a whole different kettle of fish which I’d prefer not to get into here, but suffice to say that army sharing couldn’t hurt.

      Finally, yeah, I don’t think army sharing would increase visibility. But I think it would invest people more heavily, creating a situation where clubs are truly important and if you game, you really game. You don’t buy half a Skaven army, turn fourteen, realize you can’t afford it any more or be bothered painting, and flog them on eBay. It’s definitely arguable though what the effect would be long term.

  • Ray

    but surly you would be fine with storing your minis at a club accessible location. And you wouldn’t have problems with other people using them. And surly you wouldn’t have any problems with me adding a few men and painting them. I, and everyone, loves your fluff and I think it would be great to share it in a club.
    I think this is really the main issue with setting it up. If you initially let people own their miniatures – but share them and allow others to do things with them, it will get around that mental baggage of ownership. Maybe.

    Ray (Col. Ackland)

  • Chris

    But, and I think you have missed this, they are mine my precious. We horde, nearly all wargamers do it. We have a great deal of sentimental attachment to our models and yes as has been said above we personalise them. My Epic marine lander has magnitised Rhinos to be deployed into battle, my bloodbowl terrain has slogans that amuse me painted on them.
    Conversely virtually everyone I know is happy to lend stuff to others. But we wince when the odd broken spear happens or missing infantry man turns up. In the shared club toys I have known this happens a lot more. It doesn’t help that an army might have thousands of 6mm models in it, or a boardgame 100’s of components. Shared ownership seems to dilute the care taken and you simply can’t replace some of this stuff.

    • James S

      @Chris, I see your point, but I think my point is that it doesn’t have to be like that! Like I said to Headologist and Frontline Gamer, the idea is that you still have your army, you just share it.

      Granted, things will get broken when sharing toys, but you don’t blame your mates if they accidentally break a spear. And if they’re decent people they’ll buy you a new one. An army sharing club would work like that, though like I said the fees could maybe be insurance for breakages.

      Also, you need some sort of reputation system to kick out troublemakers. eBay couldn’t work without rep. Trust and reputation are the protective methods of collaborative enterprises, as opposed to isolating your goods like with individual ownership.

  • Headologist

    In my sleep-deprived daze I seem to have missed a chunk of my post out.

    I don’t think my issue is so much ownership in the capitalist sense, in that they’re my toys and you can’t play with them lol. At my old club, and I’m sure it’s the case with most, everyone used everyone else’s miniatures pretty much all the time.

    Some armies/gangs/factions whatever I’d be more than happy to have based in the club for some time. For most I’d be more than happy with that. But the Mawdryn Marines… it’s nothing to do with time or money invested, otherwise that would be an nearly equal factor to precluding me putting my other stuff into a central store. This is going to sound far too soppy for what are essentially bits of plastic and metal, but they’re something that I have too much of a personal attachment to, or rather interest in I suppose. I have played games with other armies before, as I said above, and that’s all good and fun. But with the Mawdryn stuff it’s different, it’s beyond the private ownership of models, it’s a real interest in their story (to summarise it simply) that I don’t have for anyone elses army and wouldn’t expect them to have for mine. (That’s an extreme way of putting it because you all have characters, armies etc. that I enjoy following the exploits of :P) Saying that I’m sure that interest is something that you could develop if you used another faction long enough – but I’m not sure it’d ever be the same as it would be if you’re the creator of said army.

    I’m clearly a conflicted Buddhist hippy anarcho-communist 😛

    But then as I said, I think it’s all in all a great idea to be more co-operative – I think having club armies where everyone provides a unit or two would be the way I’d rather go about it than that sort of sub-letting approach. Maybe with club fund purchasing the bare essentials / core needed to play. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe it depends on the particular club, its size and its particular membership.

    @Ray, if this was a standard club where private ownership is the norm lol, and you specifically asked if you could use my Mawdryn Marines one week, I would definitely say “of course you can” – and I’d probably say the same to most people, but somehow that’s one I wouldn’t really want in the central store, even though I’d be happy to do it with most other stuff. I feel like a terrible person for saying that lol.

    There was more I was going to waffle on about and elaborate on but I think that’s enough for now lol.

    • James S

      @Headologist, fair enough. I mean it’s not like anyone would have a gun to your head, coming around to your house to make sure that ALL your models were part of the collective! And I don’t think that makes you a terrible person at all, that you wold like to reserve some for yourself. As I said to Frontline Gamer, you could easily contribute in other ways to a club.

      That’s the thing with all of this collaborative stuff, it’s opt-in. You can participate as much or as little as you like. All I’m saying I suppose is that there is a workable alternative to the standard way of doing things. I just want to get people thinking about it. And it seems from people’s comments that a lot of clubs already do what I’m suggesting to an extent.

      Feel free to keep waffling if you have more to say…

  • Kamui

    I could see this working in a well organized club that had shared real estate for storage or amongst a group of friends who agree to keep their armies at the one person’s house who usually hosts. In fact I have a few friends who come to play at my place and borrow my models to do so. In my mind, anything that allows people to participate for free is good for the hobby as eventually most of them will become hooked enough to want at least a few models of their own.

    I also think this could work as a rental model for shop based clubs. In the FLGS I frequent the terrain is already essentially a collaborative ownership. Most has been built and is repaired by the more available and involved regulars. The store willingly contributes models to be assembled and painted the these regulars, but many players have contributed from their own resources as well. I’m sure this same core of players would gladly donate time to build a set of shop armies from kits donated by the store. These could be signed out, possibly for a small rental fee, for use within the store. It would be a great way for people to try new armies or even test new units in their own armies. It would also be a great way for people who’ve only managed to collect a couple of units to field them in a full army without having to wait to collect the entire army.

    I believe most people would still ultimately want to build their own army. But anything that reduces the cost of entry into the hobby will help increase the player (consumer) base. And anything that reduces the cost of army experimentation will help keep current players (consumers) interested.

    • James S

      @Kamui, thanks for that, your thoughts are very helpful. A rental model is another great idea, although Frontline Gamer thinks that in his experience collaborative purchasing doesn’t work well in terms of creative satisfaction. And I wouldn’t know as I’ve never seen it done.

      Also as I keep saying, there’s nothing precluding people from being in a collaborative club but also having their own personal armies.

  • Chris

    Well, it all well and good, but frankly I would bar half the average members of the clubs I have been in from the shared resource as they are too destructive (not on purpose, just clumsy mostly).

    Looking at the shared resources I’ve used it is normally boards and terrain and there wear and tear is accepted, but also no-one really cares about the mdf cut, painted green, 2 layer hills all that much…

    Also reminded me of this thread on TMP on mixing scales
    This chaps post I think sums up the majorities view!
    Just buy opposing armies in both scales like most of us do.
    It’s the excuse we use to get more toys.
    He who dies with the most toys, WINS!

    I get the joke.

    So yes shared resources make sense, I just think they would end up as limited as the sharing that currently exists (that reminds me I leant a friend a marine lander a year ago and I don’t think i have got it back yet!).

    • James S

      @Chris, I suppose this idea is a bit heretical. But that’s why I like it 😉

      You could be right, although I guess my hope is that with a set of rules and some protective measures in the form of fees and perhaps a reputation system, the limitations could be overcome. I think the social possibilities of the internet make large scale collaborative ventures like eBay possible that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago.

  • sinsynn

    No one touches my models.
    And I’m not sharing, except with the closest of friends, who are well aware of the punishment that will occur should they break something.

    • James S

      Hey @sinsynn, somehow I knew you’d be one of those no-touchy people! Fair enough.

      Although people get a bit precious about it I think. I met a dude once who said “if anyone touched my models I’ll physically hurt them.” Which is a stupid thing to say, as he’s either a) mistakenly under the impression that saying stuff like that makes him seem like a tough guy, or b) telling the truth, in which case he’s a fricken psycho.

      What I should have done was reached down and booped his Chaos Lord’s nose.

  • Von

    I don’t hate this.

    I don’t think I’d feel entirely comfortable not having an army that’s ‘mine’ in the classical late-capitalist sense, but I don’t know if I can gainsay the idea without basically flagging myself as a wrong-headed obsoletist with an ownership hangup. I think part of it’s that I’ve moved around so much and so I want to take gaming stuff with me as I move, and it’d be a bit awkward doing that if the last gaming club felt they had some ownership of it.

    That said, I’d definitely donate my Skorne and Mercenaries to something like this, like a shot, and I’d love to establish something like this for Malifaux, where broad and substantial collections for list tailoring appear to be very much part of the fun.

    I wonder how much of this comes down to the old chestnut about GW creating bigger, sketchier worlds with more emphasis on you making your army yours – materials that encourage conversion, ranges with deliberate gaps, background that’s left broad and general for the most part. It’s a lot harder to think “that Vampire Counts army where I converted everything according to a highly personal vision belongs to everyone” than it is to think “so, who wants to use the Bad Seeds this week?”

    • James S

      @Von, your right, my main reservation (which I didn’t mention in the post) is what do you do when you move on from a club? Anyone who’s lived in a share house and made the mistake of collectively buying a TV or a washing machine or something knows the grief it can cause.

      I suppose the only real way to get around this is to actually enter into the spirit of the thing completely. If all the armies are collaboratively produced, then feeling a sense of personal ownership over one you helped out particularly with is perhaps natural, if misplaced. Maybe a good analogy is with a work project. If you’re a programmer collaboratively writing code for a company or a part of a team of researchers, the work you produce belongs to the company or research unit, irrespective of how much blood, sweat and tears you put in. You don’t get to take it with you when you leave, and while you might be sad, it’s appropriate to let it go.

      If you donated an army but then have trouble letting go later, you probably should have thought about it a bit more before you gave it to the club!

      It’s an interesting question as to what would happen if a club completely dissolved.

  • Headologist

    No not at all, and I know you weren’t suggesting it was this way or no way 😛 But as you say, this is in effect what I’ve done at clubs and with groups of friends (more so the latter as I’m not a club gamer at the moment) for quite a long time.

  • Kamui

    As to creative satisfaction, I dont’ think it matters whether you’re creating for yourself or for a group. In most cases the goal of an artist is not to have their creations stashed in their basement, but to have it displayed as publicly as possible to be appreciated by others. There are some fantastic boards the the shop I frequent. They were built by the regulars. Pretty much everyone knows who built which pieces and the creators get many more compliments on their work than they would if they were only used in their own houses. If anything, this has opened up creative opportunities for players in two ways. First of all, the shop is willing so subsidize these pieces so it becomes possible to build terrain projects they you might not otherwise be able to afford. Secondly, the shop has more space available than most of us have at our homes. Where you might only have room to own one set of terrain a shared space opens the opportunity for you to build several sets.

    The key to this model, as James S has repeatedly pointed out, is voluntary participation. You can build as you are inspired to do so, and if there are common funds/tools/materials to draw from this could open even greater creative opportunities than you may have on your own. Sure, there will probably be a list of things that need to be made and someone will probably chose to work on those things. But there’s also the opportunity to build something you’ve been wanting to build but can’t fit into your own army. As long as the group involved doesn’t try to dictate who participates and what is built.

    There is great satisfaction in fielding an army that you’ve molded to your personal vision. There is also great satisfaction is seeing others lives enriched by your work, and seeing new people be able to participate in the hobby because of your help. And there is no reason that you can’t have both.

    • James S

      @Kamui I really like your artist analogy, I was thinking something similar. The armies of a club like this are best thought of as collaborative art projects I think, not sterile group-think compromises.

  • Porky

    I’m surprised at the degree of resistance to the idea, the power individual possession still has. Of the commentary, my thinking is probably closest to Kamui’s. Von also makes a good point, reinforced by what Headologist says about the Mawdryn, that games more like GW’s may have been more protected from this so far by the open nature of the worlds.

    In general, I’d highlight that the essence of this idea is a pretty basic aspect of everyday life. Most people at least pay taxes and share the resources and services paid for, and we accept in many cases that some solutions may be better organised at a higher level than the individual. Why not in gaming too, where the gains are clear?

    As suggested, this can be less about giving up a beloved creation than a gaming group planning the creation from the beginning. The members discuss the goal and the division of the modelling and painting between them, for the each successive batch of units at least. This kind of thing already goes on, not least because of starter sets that contain more than one faction.

    In the case of games in which alliances between factions are officially possible, like 40K again in sixth edition, the argument may be even stronger, for the greater flexibility the resource offers, even when each player has a personal army too.

    My feeling is the time is ripe for this kind of step-change in approach, and that the economic logic will prove persuasive for many people. This shoud be especially true if prices in a given area of the hobby are felt to be rising unreasonably or people would otherwise be kept out.

    • James S

      @Porky, I was also surprised. I think I expected a lot more responses like Ray’s. As you said, this sort of thing is a part of everyday life, it’s just a question of shifting people’s perspective so that they accept the application of it to gaming.

      To be honest I expected people to maybe take issue with the financial aspect, that it wouldn’t be “fair” for one person to buy the models and another “just” to build them and paint them. I would expect that many people would have a vague idea that whoever actually shells out the money owns the stuff, no matter what anyone else puts into it. No-one said that though.

      Instead the resistance came from what I guess we could call pride in personal accomplishment – building a unique army and then feeling as though it is quintessentially personal and yours. I think that’s very interesting.

  • Headologist

    I hope I didn’t come across as resistant to the idea because it’s one that I’m very much in favour of on the whole as I hope I got across, and already do a lot of collaborative work, whether with fluff, joint/pooled armies, scenery etc. Even with the more individual projects, there is always the bigger picture of the joint setting and the joint story with our gaming group. Kamui put it very well about how rewarding it can be.

    Generally my thinking would be more along creating an army from the ground up as a club, with everyone bring something to it, whether models, paintining, fluff, whatever. Whilst it could have it’s flaws, I think it’d be a great club project as a whole. But as has been said many times, this needn’t be the only way, nor compulsory.

  • Headologist

    And definitely agree with Von, other than historicals I don’t really play anything but GW stuff, Infinity is the only one I’ve been tempted by so far and wouldn’t have a problem with donating any of that stuff to a club because there isn’t the same opportunity for personalisation. This is also the reason I’ve never played Blood Angels or Cadians, or why I’ve never really played any other sci-fi/fantasy games which take a more prescriptive approach. I just did a post about forums to blogs, where I made the analogy of forums occasionally being a little like a one night stand…

    My resistance to this in very specific cases (such as the Mawdryn Marines) can be likened to being a gaming monogamist: it’s not that I don’t want to give up my army more than I don’t really want to use anyone else’s – I could absolutely fall in love with your army, the modelling, painting, fluff etc., love creating the shared fluff that comes out of playing games against them (as often happens) – but still not really want to use it.
    But of course, this is all still going to be optional, but just thought that was a slightly better way of putting what I was waffling on about.

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