Painting motivation: Escalation projects

Ramble time! I’m prone to squirreling. Chances are at any moment I’ll have at least 4-5 partially painted or assembled projects on the go. It’s easy to blame the sheer preponderance of awesome games out there, but let’s face it, I’ve got a magpie mind and without something driving a specific focus – working on a project that has a hard deadline, for example – I’m likely to get distracted and jump from project to project, from game to game. I mean, it really doesn’t help that Games Workshop is pumping out nostalgia magnets like Necromunda and Adeptus Titanicus at the same time Steamforged is making sweet new Guild Ball teams, Relic Knights 2.0 is about to drop, and of course, after visiting Privateer Press at GenCon, I walked away with Cyrenia and Severius0 along with the Monsterpocalypse shinies.

One of the main things that’s worked in the past has been Privateer Press’ Journeyman Leagues, where you start with a small force, typically a battlebox, and as the league increases in (typically weekly) increments, you paint additions to your starting list, bit by bit, until in the end – bam, you’ve got a fully painted army. We’ve done a few major events like this in the past at Lost Hemisphere, including the Clash of the Titans series and the WarmaHordes Challenges. Each has been a struggle – the word “challenge” is 100% appropriate – but they’ve also been incredibly rewarding when the dust settled and the participants can look at just what they’ve managed to muscle through.

When I was looking through the Nighthaunt book for Age of Sigmar I noted the Path To Glory campaigns, which start with a hero and his retinue of units, and then as the campaign continues you add new units based on random rolls. The end result looks to be a lot of silly fun, but imbalanced as heck. The fact that your starting hero’s point value can range from 80 to 140 is a little wild in variance, but when you consider that a Flesh-Eater Courts list could include an Abhorrent Ghoul King on a Terrorgheist as their hero for 400 points, it’s hard to see any real balance. As you play games, you earn Glory Points, which can then be traded in for rolls on tables to add more units to your retinue. Sweet narrative, but unbalanced.

Both of these allow for you to start small and work your way up to having a decent size force, all fully painted, and with the added motivation of a social circle of opponents to keep you focused, you’d be surprised what you’ll achieve.

Same theory applies to Necromunda gangs, Company of Iron forces, Malifaux crews, and more. It can be really easy to get overwhelmed as you build a collection of models, but the key is to find bite-sized chunks to start with, and then to build with purpose.

You have 80 models for an army? Great! Find some friends willing to engage with you. Start with a project that only uses half a dozen of them. Get it painted, and play some small games. Add ten more. Paint. Play. Add ten more. Paint. Play. Keep at it. Use things like the #HobbyStreak challenge to keep you working. Use Paint The Target to help you select models. You and your friends will soon find yourself making progress that, before it all started, seemed like a pipe dream.

You can do the thing. I believe in you.

Now, with my Monsterpocalypse Planet Eaters done and only one model left in my starting gang of 8 Orlocks, I need to choose my next project… Who wants to participate in an online painting escalation challenge? 😉


Sidebar: The common problem with both of the escalation variants – the Journeyman League and Path To Glory – is that whoever plays the most games wins the grand prize. I’d never want to discourage play, but the fact remains that some people can get more games in than others just based on the demands on their time. Finding a solution that will work for all participants can be tough. For Journeyman leagues it’s often been only allowing a certain number of games to count for scoring. For Path to Glory, one fairly elegant solution I saw was to, rather than spending glory points which will rack up based on the number of games played, the players start at an agreed upon point level, and then each round, roll a d6, with +1 to the roll if they’ve won more games than they’ve lost this round. On a 1, they add 25 pts to their list. On a 2-5, 50 pts. On a 6, 75pts. So there’s a benefit to winning, but not such a hideous discrepancy that any players who haven’t performed as well will be completely unable to win future games.