Saturday 29 October 2011

Wargaming Phases

It has come to my attention that not everyone understands that wargames are played in phases. Heaven forbid I thought that this was a truism that everyone knew about, but clearly not as evidences by this recent'ish thread on the Pendraken forum.

So let me review the phases of wargaming...

1. The Acquisition Phase

This is the ooh shiny I must buy it when I see right now phase that is common to all wargames. Triggered by seeing something new, generally in a shiney metallic material that grabs one's attention.

2. The Maturing Box Phase

The acquired shiny toys are placed in a suitable place for painting later, usually some sort of shoe box equivalent, but it can be a cupboard. Neither is considered superior to the other, except that cupboards tend to be larger and therefore more stuff can be maturing at the same time.

3. The Inspiration Phase

Once one has bought new and shiny things for painting one can become inspired to dream about how one is going to paint them and the the great games that one is going to play with them? This is often call the the Daydreaming Phase, and much time can be "usefully" spent here while the shiney toys mature.

4. The Planning Phase

After daydreaming, sorry being in the Inspiration Phase, one then moves on to the Planning Phase where one finds that one needs to find out more about the subject and how to paint the shiny toys. This is not a do-one-thing then do-the-next-thing model so the player can then interrupt the cycle to go back to the Acquisition Phase, so as to get the necessary extra shiny toys to meet the requirements defined from the Planning Phase. In a clever game mechanism this can result in the whole project entering the Maturing Phase for another round before going back to the Inspiration Phase.

5. The Painting Phase

Shiny toy miniatures are now prepared for painting by being placed on the work bench. Depending on the demands on the wargamers spare time, this phase can stretch out and lead to more planning. This is especially true if a new set of rules are purchased that require a re-assessment of the basing requirements, and therefore the number of figures needed for the project, which can result in another round of going through the Acquisition Phase.

6. The Playing Phase

Once the shiny toys have been painted, based and varnished they can then be lovingly deployed onto the field of battles where the likelihood is that the you will lose the game you are playing. This will cause you to reassess the need for further acquisitions of new shiny toys that will add more flexibility to the deployment of the forces, and it's ability to deliver a satisfactory victory by roundly thrashing one's opponent, or not as the case might be?

And that in a nut shell is why wargames have phases.


  1. I have had an army of Mordian Iron Guard sit in the Maturing phase so long they were finally put up on Ebay for auction. Most were still in the shrink wrap. It was generally understood by everyone in the house (except Dad) that Dad no longer played the game and, in fact, had not since the late 1990s.

    There are others - mainly plastic models - whose maturation has gone on so long (due to feature creep, mostly) that the actual schematics for their internal electronics have been lost.

    They now represent a limbo of sorts - too pretty and obviously useful with their electronic niftiness out there for all to see, but with no one actually to sit down and figure the thing out to the point of heating an iron and finishing it.

    A corollary to this is the mountain of parts, still in the shipping envelope, which represent other Maturing projects that never left the box - as if the act of purchasing the parts shorted out the completion of said project.

    I have a lot of Limbo in my house. And now I feel kinda sad. Thanks, Pink.

  2. It's okay to feel sad about about the realisation that era has come to en end. Heraclitis would say that a man can not step into the same river twice. OTOH, just think if you had painted all those figures and sold them because you weren't using them, then not only would you feel sad, but you would've spent all that time on them that you have actually spent on other projects that inspired you more.

    For me my core hobbies are, in no particular order, reading, writing, photography and model making. As long as I have time do my hobbies I'm happy.

  3. This is so true! Surely only the most organised wargamer can say that they acquire, paint and use the minis they buy without buying more, re-planning, new rule sets to be tried..... you have nailed it-I thought it was just me!

  4. Ashley, so true, so true. I spent yesterday morning sorting and labelling my "maturing" boxes of lead. Funy how they rarely seem to empty fast than I end up buying new stuff!

  5. LOL, this is soooo true. I'm currently in 4 and 5 right now. =D

  6. I'm glad that I have been able to spread the word about the meta game that is the maturing Cupboard. :-)

  7. Think you have missed out the phase at the end where it is returned to a box for several years in order that the miniatures don't gather too much dust and are taken out every now and again when you are looking for something else.

  8. That is just returning back to the Maturing Phase. :-)