Moments of Inertia by Rachel Crawford

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The Hobby

Saurus warrior

Reader, I paint lizards.

I paint them at the weekend. I paint them on weekday evenings. Sometimes I even paint them before going to work. Painting lizards is my new, engrossing pastime.

Part of that was a lie: it’s not really a new interest, but a revived one. The world of miniatures has drawn my attention since I was little, but I drifted away from it in my mid-teens. In the last few years I’ve experienced a growing desire to get back in, spurred on by the enthusiastic evangelism of podcasts like Miniatures Monthly and websites like Hipsterhammer.

Feeling inspired, I dug my old Warhammer models out of the eaves in my mum’s house, dusted them off, and surveyed what I found. It was a wasteland. Many were unpainted and others were painted so poorly that it almost seemed cruel not to repaint them. Which was perfect. It means I have a treasure trove of miniatures to practice on before I need to get new models.

Skink skirmisher with blowpipe

Ever since then I’ve been steadily working my way through them, painting or re-painting a few every week. The majority are Lizardmen (now dubbed Seraphon in the Age of Sigmar system that replaced the crotchety Warhammer Fantasy Battle a few years ago), but there are some Eldar, Lord of the Rings minis, and a mixed bag of others. There’s even an unassembled Space Marine tank which I have no recollection of acquiring.

I find painting highly rewarding. It’s as if the activity is opens my head up and fixes all the faulty wires. When I emerge from a session, I feel calm and energised. Since starting I’ve improved measurably and am already a better painter than child-me ever was. It’s been a joy to watch my skills sharpening as I practice and my knowledge growing as I experiment, consume tutorials, get tips and ask questions.

When I need advice, there’s a channel on The Crate and Crowbar’s Discord server which I’ve found to be a great place to hang out and share my progress. The level of skill on display in there can be astonishingly high – a little intimidating, even – but the welcoming attitude of all the patrons means my questions are always answered helpfully and considerately. I also enjoy the painting tutorials on Warhammer TV.

Old-school Bretonnian archers

Things are different now. The hobby itself is in flux, riding the wake of the recent tabletop games renaissance. Games Workshop are smarter about technology and community-building than I remember they used to be, and it seems to be paying off. They’re also experimenting with more board-gamey designs like Shadespire1, while Fantasy Flight are making inroads into the miniatures wargaming space with their own recent titles. Elsewhere on the landscape, neat-looking games like Frostgrave are making me want to grab some dice and dive in.

I also feel like the hobby is becoming a better place for women. I hope I don’t have to eat those words.

Climate change aside, the biggest difference between then and now is that I have an adult’s patience and a full-time employee’s disposable income. This thing demands a lot of time, dedication, and money. I’m glad I have them.

Thanks for reading! Have you had experiences with the hobby? Tell me about them on Twitter or in the comments below.

  1. I’m really enthusiastic about Shadespire and have been playing about 4 games of it per week since it came out. It’s excellent. If I’m lucky I’ll get post about it written sometime. 

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