Wargaming Tradecraft: Saving Money, Time and Convenience


Saving Money, Time and Convenience

Written for the House of Paincakes while Dethtron works on a super secret project...

"Snatch back your life!"
For some of us, the time investment into a hobby like tabletop wargaming can be just as costly as actual out of pocket expenses. Rather than talk about saving you money in this article, I'm going to talk about saving time and other things. Younger gamers may not fully grasp this, but people with significant others, children, jobs and other responsibilities will probably agree - and younger gamers, maybe this will help free up time to do homework, get a job (and afford more minis / supplies) enjoy other things like video games, movies, friends and RL.

In the end, your sanity may thank you the most.

Alternate Battlefields

You're going to need somewhere to play if you don't have a dedicated war room:
  • Dining room table. (not always an option for long running games)
    • A great option if it's a good size. Setup and teardown is usually required for every use, but saves you having to buy another table and find somewhere to put it.
  • Folding tables
    • There are plenty of cheap tables that can fold up and be stored away when not in use, allowing you and yours to go about your days normally when you're not gaming. You'll just need somewhere to put them.
  • Level an uneven surface
    • You can turn an uneven surface such as a bed or a carpet into a gaming board. If you look at your local hobby, craft or business supply (Staples / Business Depot, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc) you'll usually find foam board - large sheets of foam covered with smooth bristol board. Not ideal, but it works.
  • Hardwood / Concrete floors
    • While this can be underfoot, and somewhat uncomfortable to bend around, it works. Just beware of pets.
  • Local Gaming Store
    • Hang out at the local scene and use their tables, terrain, etc.
    • Bonus: You get to socialize!

Clean out your RSS Feeds and Favorites

Yeah, I know, as a website this is somewhat counterproductive to suggest, but you might not realize how much time you lose reading things that don't interest you. I started reading just a few sites like everyone else, but kept finding more and more great sites until I might've had over 100 posts a day to flip through.
  • Decide what it is about the hobby that most interests you.
    • Playing games, painting, conversions, etc.
    • Some sites are basically just galleries, and while inspirational, don't have any or much specific information.
  • Any site that talks about anything you're not directly interested in, place in a new folder labelled "Delete"
  • Don't read any of those links for at least a week.. leave them alone. Put off reading them as long as you can.
  • When you finally review them, you have a few options for each of the sites:
    • Delete it
    • Leave it and review it in another week or so
    • Move it to a new low priority folder that you'll only check every once in a while.
      • It takes less time to read through a bunch of low priority information at once than to keep up with it daily.
    • Move it back to your normal site list if you miss the content.
* Sites that don't update often, but contain information you're interested in might as well be kept or moved immediately to your low priority folder.

To reiterate, I didn't cut back because the quality was poor, but that I realized I was wasting a lot of time reading information that wasn't directly what interested me.

Spend Money, Save Time

This is another area where you need to determine what it is about the hobby that you enjoy. If you simply don't have the time to spread out between every aspect of wargaming, then delegate the other aspects. Before the comments blow up, I realize there are some people who are passionately against some of these suggestions - but honestly, should someone be excluded from a hobby completely because of things they're not interested in? (I'll remind you of the best pro-outsourcing argument I've ever seen, which is to assist handicapped gamers)
  • If you don't enjoy cleaning or building minis, hire someone or buy a used army you can strip and repaint.
  • If all you're interested in is playing the game and still want an artful presence on the field, then buy an army painted by someone else.
  • Makes me wonder if there's a market for renting armies.
  • If building terrain doesn't interest you at all, then hit up your local aqua/terrarium (fish / reptile) store and buy tank decorations. You might be able to split this cost with your buddies.
* Just remember to give credit where it's due - I don't see a problem with people using minis painted by someone else, AS LONG as they don't try to claim (or withhold) that the painting/modding is their own.

Gamers Supporting Gamers

Many forums, (and you could easily do this with your friends) have areas where people can submit their weekly goals. By challenging yourself to achieve these goals, it will help to keep you on track when that video game is calling to you.

You can even just create your own list of goals. Maybe you won't allow yourself to field something until it's painted... or create a list of the current stuff you're working on / would like to work on and see if you can write "I want this done by then." (Don't write down everything you have to paint, just your current works... you don't want to create a scary list)

Avoid Distractions

I often like to put TV shows and movies on in the background while I work. Sometimes I catch myself paying more attention to what I'm watching than what I'm painting. (As we all know with bad habits, we only catch ourselves a small portion of the time we're actually doing it)

Solution: STOP IT.

Recognize what's distracting you, be it video, chatting, texting, etc and find a way to remove or manage it. Nothing or some easy music can be the best background for people easily distracted. If you are going to watch video, make sure it's something you've seen 20 times or is mindless.

Schedule Your Time

I'm not saying that a hobby is more important that family and friends, but everyone needs their hobby/relaxation/down time and you may just have to schedule in a time(s) every week that is for you. Maybe an hour a day when you get home or before bed or an afternoon every weekend that's dedicated to you. It's not selfish - people need time to relax. (Keep in mind that hanging out with people isn't always "relaxing" - sometimes relaxing can be hard work)

Stop Hobbying

When you're banging your head against a wall, you aren't accomplishing anything. If painting a series of models feels like you're dragging your feet through mud, it's time to put the brush down. If you don't have any will or inspiration to continue painting, it's time to recharge. We all hit burnout points during our painting careers - there are often posts about it, and if you keep pushing, you'll hate the hobby more and more. This will often happen in the middle of a large project such as a diorama / scene or while painting up a bunch of squads or models at once.

Recognize these periods and shift gears. It might be as simple as a sci-fi painter doing some fantasy for a while or painting terrain / vehicles instead of minis. Other times your hobby has turned into your job - now is the time to pick up the remote control or a video game and tell yourself it's OK to take some time for yourself. Let your brain and your body relax.

The IMPORTANT thing is you set a goal for returning to the painting. Schedule some time in a week, or the next weekend, or some other time SOON. It's easy to fall into the routine of ignoring the hobby during a break, so don't let it happen to you.


Sounds obvious, but not always. I'm often guilty of this... you get into a groove while painting late at night, and all of a sudden it's 3 am and your alarm is set for 7. That's not 4 hours of sleep... that's 4 hours - time to finish up your section on the mini - time to clean your brush / work area - time to get ready for bed - time to fall asleep - your natural alarm clock waking you up before your alarm. All told, maybe 3 hours of sleep - 3 and a half tops.

The energy and productivity gained from a full nights sleep often makes up for the extra time you gain by delaying your bed time. Proper rest will allow you to get more done in less time.

Use a Netlist

Personally, not a fan of this option - but if you want to compete and don't have the time to tweak your list into the juggernaut that it deserves to be, you can always try something that works online. KEEP IN MIND that many netlists are going to be regional. That means that a Footdar list that wins all the local tournaments because the local players all use similar Tyranid lists isn't going to work as well when it's against players from your city.


  1. Great advice for life, not just for gaming.

  2. I read that a couple days ago and didn't even notice that it was one of your articles ^^;

    Lots of great advice here. I'm definitely guilty of the sleep thing, but in my defense it's not always by my choice that I don't get enough sleep. If I try to hobby when I'm tired I tend to have a lot less patience and motivation to get stuff done than I would if I were well rested. I could easily lose more time by not sleeping than I would by just getting some sleep even if it's just a power nap.


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