You know, it’s nice to want stuff. That lovely feeling of anticipation when you go shopping, especially when there’s a big sale on – you now have less reason to not get that thing you’ve had your eye on, that you’ve been promising yourself.
On Saturday, I got an e-mail from an online store called Slave to Painting, from whom I bought my first lot of miniatures for the Infinity tabletop game, announcing a 25% off sale across their whole catalogue. The sale ended early Monday morning, New Zealand time.
I went to the site and filled my virtual shopping cart with enough miniatures to get me a discount of over $40 (which, if you’ve a quick mind for maths, will tell you that I’d be buying over $160 of stuff).
Scary, huh? The scarier thing is that, due to a change in financial circumstances, I could afford it.
Yet instead of taking the opportunity, I decided to let it pass me by.
Okay, so I’ve established that the usual reason to not spend money – not actually having any – isn’t a deal here. Yet I haven’t said as much about why I want to get my mitts on more in the first place. And yes, want is the operative word here. I know full well that these are not a necessity by any stripe.
Why I Want More Infinity Miniatures
One of the neat things about Infinity is that you don’t need an army’s worth of miniatures to have a good game; I played a game against Scott Collingwood and his son one day where each of us had three miniatures apiece and it was still very entertaining.
Still, a starter pack of six miniatures is worth around one hundred and fifty “points” (Infinity ensures its matches are fair by giving each player the same amount of points to “buy” miniatures) and from what I’ve read Infinity sings at the three hundred point level.
Game reasons aside, though, what I really want is these:
Not those miniatures specifically – oh, al right, not just them. The point, though, is that I want to create a result on par with the work in that photo.
While I could do it with anything, there’s just something about Infinity’s sleek future styling that’s right up my alley - I love taking an awesome sci-fi shape and adding glorious technicolour (even though stereophonic sound isn’t an option).
On top of that, since my wife introduced me to the miracle that is a pair of +2.5 magnification reading glasses a week ago, I’ve been really enjoying the painting experience for the first time in years; I can see all the fine detail that I couldn’t quite make out when painting before, and I only get nauseous after putting in a good couple of hours painting, instead of within ten minutes.
And I thought it was the fumes from the water-based paint…
The point is: I’m enjoying the process of getting good at painting miniatures.
It’s a great feeling to look at a crap paint job like, oh, this one:
… and know that not only can I fix it, but also that while this is the best I can do right now, I’ll do better if I keep at it.
I’ve felt like that recently when I was painting the feature wall in the living room and when trying to be present in the moment when Vickie and I are sharing conversation. (Come on, fellas, you all know about the spousal tune-out mechanism. I’m working on beating it.)
The Chief Slave managed to kick his sale off at just the right time, too. I’d finally painted my Aleph Starter Pack up to what hobbyists call “tabletop quality” – painted well enough so that they look acceptable when placed on a game table but not quite suitable for a display cabinet. While I could keep working on them, it’s also not a bad idea to switch to a different set of challenges so I can learn new painting techniques.
“If so, Rob,” I hear you (or the voices in my head – maybe that paint is doing something to me after all) ask, “Why did you not drop the dollars on that sweet, sweet kit?”
So why didn’t I splurge?
Well, you potential real people, I’m glad you asked:
1. I want to support the local guy.
Slave To Painting is the kind of business I’d like to support. The Chief Slave is passionate hobbyist and rabid entrepreneur who’s using the site to make his work life more about the things he loves. I even interviewed the guy for (an as yet unpublished episode of) The Paid to Play Podcast. On top of that, he’s a Kiwi, so I’d be supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of the folks next door.
Yet there’s another guy who’s also making his work life about the things he loves. His name’s Mick, and he recently took a big risk by opening and running a Friendly Local Game Store right here in Cairns. He called it, The Wicked Goblin. (Ignore the Coming Soon bit; the shop opened on 22 Lake Street a couple of weeks ago.)
Mick is making his store more than just a place where folks can buy board games or miniatures. He’s a community noticeboard up and given half his floor space over to playing tables, where people can play and even paint.
Yes, I’ve done both. The one thing I’m yet to do, though, is spend money on more than a can of Coke there – because:
- Scott Collingwood bought the only Infinity stock Mick had – the rulebook (which is optional; Infinity makers Corvus Belli have every rule and army list up on their website),
- while the Warmachine miniatures look good, they’re not a “Hell Yeah” purchase (I still dig sleek future more than steam-powered fantasy), and
- while Mick has a lot of decent looking board games in, he doesn’t have King of Tokyo (yet).
Still, I could split the bill; order some through Slave to Painting and the rest through the Wicked Goblin. Even if I went half and half and factored STP’s postage charges, I’d still be saving a little over $10.
2. I want to stop spending money I don’t have.
To paraphrase Han Solo, I’ve got the money; I just don’t have it with me. Long story short, the cheque is in the mail and I have every confidence that it’ll arrive.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life is bigger than one person. Or two people. Or one person and one company. Shit, as they say, happens. Heck, I’ve burned myself by spending recklessly enough times to know that by now.
So rather than splurging over $100 on ALL THE THINGS – okay, fine, all the things I really, really want right now - when I don’t have the cash in hand (or in bank account) yet, I’m going to hold off… just in case.
3. I want to avoid burning myself out.
But let’s say I did decide to throw caution to the wind (we’re ahead on enough bills at the moment that I could) and got all the stuff to bulk my force out to 300 points – which, based on a friend’s recommendation, would be:
- The Aleph Support Pack,
- Either a Garuda Tactbot or an Ekdromos (I prefer the latter),
- Atalanta, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Agema, and her Spotbot, and
- A Naga Sniper.
Plus the things I want to get my hands on for their own sake, like
- The aforeseen Posthumans,
- The Steel Phalanx,
- A pair of Rebots, and
- A Marut (because giant robot, damnit!)
I know from past experience – said past experience being Warhammer 40,000 - that it’s very easy to turn overenthusiasm turn into overwhelm by BUYING ALL THE THINGS. See, when your first attempts at painting result in something that looks worse than the picture of the Asura right underneath that pic of me with the glasses, all those boxes of unpainted stuff stop exciting you with their potential and start intimidating you with the probability of fucking them up.
Here’s what I’m talking about. This is a Space Marine Strikeforce for the Warhammer 40,000 miniatures game (let me stress to the un-initiated that it’s a completely different game from Infinity, by a different company).
It costs AU$350. You get thirty-six miniatures plus a giant robot, a tank and a piece of scenery. According to its makers, Games Workshop, it’s “… a great selection of miniatures whether you are starting a new collection, or adding to an existing one.”
I’ve tried starting a new collection with a little over half as many miniatures. When you’re learning your way around, there’s nothing more scary than that huge volume of stuff you haven’t assembled, let alone painted yet.
I can’t think of a better way to kill someone’s enthusiasm.
I’ll take peace of mind, and trust in developing my painting skills slowly and steadily, over saving a little money.
Speaking of, though…
4. I want to keep some money aside for other things.
Even discounting the aforementioned King of Tokyo, there are some other fripperies I wouldn’t mind splurging on. Like maybe a Blu-Ray player. Or…
… well, if I pushed it, I suppose there’d be Elder Sign, and the Pacific Rim DVD (or Blu-Ray) when it comes out. But right now, there’s not all that much else I want.
Aside from getting out from under debt and shoring our emergency savings up further, two things which are never bad.
Enough for Now
Ultimately, I know that the thing I’m really fighting is the urge to Buy Happiness. With something like Infinity, there’s not only the urge to collect, to assemble, to make pretty, but there’s also the social aspect – the getting together around the gaming table with one or two other folks and sharing not only the product of all that hard work but also testing each other’s tactical skills and just having fun.
But when it comes down, I’m realising that Buying Stuff is never a guarantee of a good time with someone, and that it’s better to get together with someone whose company I enjoy than to put my miniatures down on the table opposite someone for whom I don’t care, or whom I actively dislike.
Even though I’ve passed up the opportunity to get more stuff on the cheap, I know that neither the money nor the work are as important as making sure I’m sane. And I’d rather help a good guy out, get control of my finances and continue to enjoy my hobby instead of turning it into a(nother) guilt trip and finding out the hard way – again – that splurging was not an optimal idea.
The (already broken) Rule of Three
To make sure I keep from going off the deep end wit the hobby, I’m limiting my purchases to either three miniatures or one “pack” (like the original starter set or the Steel Phalanx pack) at a time, and not buying another until I’ve assembled and painted the most recent lot of purchases to a standard I’m happy with.
In this case, I’m going to go with the figures my friend suggested as a way to get up to 300 points, which give me two options – Atalanta, the Ekdromos and the Naga Sniper or the Aleph Support Pack.
You know what? I think I’ll be a little naughty – I’ll put an order in for the Aleph Support Pack and the Ekdromos, simply because I really love its look!
Even though I’ll still splurge some, it’s good to know that the price of peace of mind is time and patience. Cheap at thrice the price.
Are you satisfied?
When did you hold off on buying at discount something you wanted? Why?
Aleph Starter Pack maquette image sourced from the official Infinity website. Image from Star Wars sourced from The Frumanista web log. Image of the Space Marine Strikeforce from Games Workshop’s web site.