Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Crisis of Game Faith, Contemplating a Change

Welcome back scratch build fans!  I'd like to take this time to be a little selfish and explain my current thoughts on the blog's namesake and what I'm currently debating with myself.  So hopefully you stick with me to the end and maybe give me your own thoughts on the topic at hand.

Two Chaos Land Raiders, built from scratch

When I began playing 40k around the year 2000, I had a lot of income to spend on whatever I wanted.  Everything was new and shiny, and gosh darn it if Warhammer Fantasy didn't scratch an itch I had!  That's right, 40k wasn't my first Games Workshop love.  I really loved the story behind the Lizardmen (and just about everything else) and had a blast playing it.

One of my first Fantasy models
However, the players of Fantasy started to dwindle and move on to other games, one of which was Warhammer 40k.  Again, we had a lot of fun playing the game, but it was pretty obvious which armies were stronger than others after a few months, but by then it was too late.  The lack of balance often caused arguments and frustration for the players.  Most of us put away our models at this time (4th edition) and happily stuck with console gaming.

The first army I bought for 40k, Iyanden Eldar

When 5th edition hit a group of friends were really excited to play again, building tables and bringing their armies out of storage.  We even played some Apocalypse games.  A few years ago, though, we started to realize people were getting frustrated again.  Some armies were left behind (Black Templars, Chaos) while others we owned were way ahead of others (Grey Knights).  Friends stopped having game nights and no one really wanted to get together anymore.

Warhound Titan I built from scratch, gave away as a SB40k Prize

So, I've been waiting.  Waiting for the game to rekindle their interest.  Waiting for that itch to need scratching.  I was certain eventually my main playgroup would want to dive back in again.  I've had a couple 6th edition games played, but for the most part it's only been hobbying, which I share here.

And while I understand a lot of people are excited by the changes which have come for 6th edition, I'm not really thrilled.  I don't want to play a game dominated by gun line armies.  I hate the idea of taking tons of screamers and heralds in the hopes of getting a 2++ reroll so I can survive against 140 shots.  To me, that's not fun, and I've seen a lot of others who feel the same way.

So many Daemons!  No reason, just wanted to add them

What this means, however, is my own joy in the game, and hobbying for it by extension, isn't what it used to be.  You may have noticed I've struggled to continue delivering posts on scratch building for 40k.  Posts are short and I don't put as much effort into the writing as I used to.  I'm just afraid the thrill is gone.

This is not to say I don't have joy in hobbying.  Far from it!  I've just felt my interests drifting toward board gaming and X-Wing in particular.  I began building a X-Wing game board and repainting the miniatures of the game.  To top it off, I've been playing Android Netrunner, Eminent Domain, A Study In Emerald, and tons of other games which my current board game group has been playing like crazy.

And what I've learned is this- I don't have to play and build for a game which has bad rules.  I don't have to wait 8 or 9 months for a FAQ which doesn't answer the questions the community wants answered.  In essence, I don't have to play a game where the company who makes it continues to blame players for not playing the game 'as they intended'.

Ok, so where does that leave Scratchbuilt 40k?  Honestly, I don't know.  I love blogging and sharing with you fine folks all the weird stuff I'm building and what I've done.  Most of all, I love talking about games.  The main problem is when I began this blog I sort of focused on a very narrow topic- building from scratch stuff for Warhammer 40k.  Right there in the title, fairly self explanatory.  But if I start blogging about other stuff here, I'm not being honest about the site and what I'll be providing to those of you who have stuck with me for so long.  And that's where I am now.

I haven't pulled the plug on SB40k yet, and I don't know if it will come to that.  I've done my best not to allow my negative feelings about 40k to seep into the blog, instead focusing on the hobby aspect.  For now, though, it feels a little overwhelming and I just don't know if I can keep up appearances.

Anyways, thanks to all for reading this far through my rambling novel.  You've all been great and given me so much inspiration to continue hobbying and blogging about my efforts in this crazy game.  While I don't know exactly what will happen, I'll be sure to let you all know what I finally decide in regards to Scratchbuilt 40k.  Till then, take care and keep hobbying.

(Brian Paasch)

P.S.  I'd be thrilled to hear from you fine folks on your own thoughts on the game.  Are you enjoying it more than ever?  Do you turn to other games in the meantime because you're not thrilled?  What would you do in my shoes?  I'd love to know and I'll happily respond to each one of you.


  1. I have certainly felt the same way, but fortunately I also game in a group where nobody seems to bring anything overpowered (no superheavies, one flyer per army etc) or feels the need to buy the next big thing. My enthusiasm has not kept up with the release schedule, however, despite being at a point in my life with time and money to spare on the hobby. Currently I am converting and building what looks 'cool' rather than building unit and weapon configurations based upon the rules set at the time, and this has kept my enthusiasm going for the hobby.

    One thing we all need to remember is not everyone games with 2++ rerolls and the like. Look at your local area, not the internet, to drive your own enthusiasm. I have just as much fun building and painting one model for a painting competition as playing three games a week at the same store.

    With skills like yours, I wouldn't let the blogosphere drag you down, with the rate of releases, allies, super heavies, dataslates, forge world rules and fortifications all "legal" we are in a golden age of scratchbuilding, with nearly 30 years of fluff to draw on and the rules to make practically anything game-worthy!!

    Cheers, and good luck!


    1. Thank you Matthew for your kind words and response. Where I sit now is almost everyone in my area has abandoned Warhammer 40k, whether it be due to the price of upkeep (rules are crazy expensive), family commitments, or rules changes. I just can't convince people to spend the money or time to play it anymore, which is disappointing.

      You're absolutely right about how we can make a pact with our opponents not to bring the broken units and combinations. At this point, though, I just find it easier to play a game where I don't have to add additional limitations. And really, if we each spent $125 on rules, shouldn't those rules work well?

      However, I can get people to play skirmish games, which is why I find X-Wing so exciting. I can get non-mini gamers to play X-wing, which is a huge bonus.

      I'm thinking I'm probably going to put the blog on hold for a while until I am inspired again. I'm not going to remove posts or anything like that, but I don't think new content will be coming for a while.

      Thanks again for your support and viewpoint! It was a great read and has given me a lot to think about.

  2. Hello Krisken,

    I've always enjoyed your blog and have even made a couple of scratch-builds using your templates - and have since started dabbling more in scratch-building and home casting using your blog as inspiration. It also inspired me to keep myuown hobby blog:

    I'll therefore be sorry to see this blog fizzle out, but understand that if inspiration isn't with you then there's nothing you can do. I've had hobbies which I've fallen in and out of love with over the years: I still tabletop RPG, but after 6 years of weekly play I got quite few up of D&D 3rd Edition and I needed several years away from Doctor Who before coming back to it with the Christopher Ecclestone series. When you ain't interested you ain't interested, and unlike some other hobbies the cost & time involved in amending a 40K army to suit rules changes or meta shifts is an awful big investment when you could instead pick up another game you're more into.

    As for the game itself? Well, undeniably there's some systemic issues with regards to balance - some Codices just have it better, and others only operate well within certain point costs. I've had a couple of miserable games - in particular an encounter with Blood Angels at 750 points where my opposition had a token 2 squads of 5 troops plus Predator, Land Raider and Dreadnought proved to an exercise in frustration.

    However, I enjoy playing with my regular opponents and have mixed things up lately with some weirder games - 2 vs 2s, kill team, zone mortalis and apocalypse. My chums and I share a fairly light attitude to competitiveness with no stupid netlists of 2++ rerollables or what have you and that's a big part of it - I similarly enjoyed playing Magic: The Gathering in the past but I would only play people with a similar style as me rather than some of the more hardcore types.

    My recommendation to you would be that taking time away from 40K isn't a bad thing - you might need time away to recharge your mojo. A few months focusing on something else and then perhaps after a bit you'll have the urge to paint or play again. The 40K RPGs might also be a boon if you still enjoy the world but not the mechanics.

    Perhaps you could also try to pick up a few new gaming chums who have new armies and whose enthusiasm might help cheer you up?

    Good wishes nonetheless, and hoping for more scratch-built Land Raiders and the like in the future. :-)

    1. Thank you for your comments and sharing your opinions on the matter George. I think you're probably right, I need to take a break away from the game and hope my inspiration returns.

      I wonder if I had a consistent playgroup whether I would have a greater desire to continue. Most of the people I game with now are dead set against large scale miniature gaming and would rather do small skirmish gaming they don't have to paint (prepainted minis) or other board games.

      Right now I'm contemplating starting a new blog, a more inclusive one. One which can include all of my hobby loves without feeling like I'm not staying true to the purpose of the blog. I just need to come up with a name...

    2. I definitely found that with RPGs my game was improved by doing it with changes of pace and pauses inbetween rather than straight runs. Right now I alternate between three different RPG campaigns, which run for a couple of months each - by the time i've played games 2 & 3 I'm excited to get back to game 1 again in a way I might not be if I did game A every week for a year.

      Kill-Team might be a good way to tempt some of your chums back to 40K: if they still have figures, or if they nab some of yours, it's easy to get 200 or 300 points worth of guys for a daft wee game. You're still using 40K rules so they may hit some issues if they just odn't like the underlying system - but as most of the crazy stuff isn't available under the points and rules you can avoid fretting about land raider armour value or whatever.

      Another blog to showcase your other work would be cool. Scratchbuilt !40K would be my nerdy choice of name but I suspect that might not be clear enough to others.... Scratchbuilt Universe, say, or Scratchbuilt Miscellany?

      Alternatively might going back over some of your older material here to keep some content appearing be a way to keep the blog alive? You picture your titan, for example, but I don't recall if you shared the specifics of making it...

    3. Further to our discussions you've prompted me to post about you and my experience of your scratchbuilds on my own blog:

    4. Alternating does sound like a good plan which will allow me to continue doing scratch builds while focusing on the many other games I've been enjoying lately. I don't think I'm done with 40k completely (is anyone really done cold turkey on it?), but a break is definitely in order.

      I've definitely thought about Kill Team, but again it would require me to spend money on yet another rule set. I have heard good things, however. I think the set of friends has given up on the game for a good few years. The new set of gamers aren't interested in table top miniature games.

      What I might do is just keep posting on the blog here and add a by-line to the title to include other games.

      Thank you so much for the blog post! I hadn't realized I made such an impact on anyone! I am truly humbled!

  3. You mentioned that you don't like playing an edition that is dominated by gunline armies. There is really no denying that shooting has definite rules advantages over assault in 6th ed, but I'd be interested to see what your gaming table looks like. The more terrain you have the more "tactical" the game becomes. I definitely see a difference in the "fun" level depending on terrain density. When I play on my buddy's table it sucks. He plays Tau/Eldar combos while I primarily play GK and his table is pretty sparsely adorned with terrain, especially LOS blocking terrain. On the other hand my table fits stelek's (from YTTH) ideal terrain layout and our games are typically very close. I think a NOVA setup would be good too. for thought.

    1. Very true that more terrain would help deal with gun line armies. Unfortunately it does nothing to stop the 2++ and reigning deathstars. There is so much in this game which is contrary to what I enjoy in playing a table top game I find it hard to overcome.

      Thanks for your thoughts and opinions on the subject. I'll give your suggestions consideration for the next time I have the opportunity to play!

  4. ok, time for someone else other than "The Quail", :D, to pitch in on your current conundrem.

    A) with everything you say about 2++ and deathstars, it sounds as if your friends are more for competitive play rather than friendly play, and trust me, that is one way to very quickly lose interest in the game. we have a couple of peeps at my FLGS who just don't seem to understand that always playing the same list and beating everyone in the store makes for fewer and fewer games as people no longer want to play against them. Allthough, one of them seems to finally be getting this point.

    B) Games Workshop, (enter dramatic voice: "Oh, the horror") is not a gaming company as many people think they are, and are therefore not interested in selling a balanced game. GW is a MODELING company, that is interested in selling you the current flavor of the month models, at the time of this comment, that flavor is $140 worth of plastic called an Imperial Knight Titan. sooo, there will always be power creep in, Almost, every codex they release. it does seem that from codex to codex, certain armies(coughEldarcough), do not get power creep but instead get a fairly balanced codex, if not outright nerfbatted to the face (IE:Howling Banshees). the reason for this is simple, Space marines are GW's baby and the armies they sell the most of, and therefore they will always receive the best of the best of the best. this is inevitable, and while annoying, simply makes it more enjoyable for those of us who play Xenos armies, yours truly included, when we get new stuff, and then shove that new stuff up the nether regions of SP armies. there is a silver lining to this, but your Farseer is the only one that can find it, and that is that eventually GW will push themselves out of the market and one of their competitors will buy them out, hopefully Privateer Press, and then we will get a balanced game of 40k in the first time since....well, ever.

    C) Enthusiasm for something is a great thing, and leads to all kinds of inspiration, but when enthusiasm is lacking it's a sign of burnout. you've done so much, for so long that you just can't bear the thought of sitting down and doing it again, and again, and again. hence the reason that over 3/4 of my 20K+ pts of Eldar are still not painted, even after ten years or so. You've helped alleviate some of this by turning to other armies the same as i have, but the underlying problem still exists, and eventually even new armies can't inspire. poorly written and badly thought out rules books don't help with this either.

    So to sum it all up, lack of players, especially friendly play types, bad rules, worse codices, and lack of money, gives plenty of reasons for a change of pace. Note though that running two blogs, will also be time consuming and eventually lead to a different kind of burnout. you'd be better off hanging onto this one and changing the title. you can run two blogs in one so to speak, every time you do an X-wing or some other entry, title it as such, and when the inspiration hits you for 40K, title that entry as for example Scratchbuilt 40K: Exodite Dragon Riders or what have you (I chose Exodites as that is currently my next big project, after i finish up some eldar terrain pieces and buildings). my FLGS is doing a three way faction campaign setting. Quail does have a point though, to fill in some of the scratchbuilt stuff until you get something new, you could go over older material, and provide more in depth how to's. so do what you have to do, and remember the first rule of any game, "Have fun". if you don't have fun playing, it ain't worth playing.

    1. Hey Synn, thanks for responding :) I'll get to each of your points and explain where I agree or disagree and explain my reasoning as best as I can. I mean no disrespect in the points I give and hope I don't give that impression! So, on the my responses-

      A.) I'm not sure how competitive my group has been as we haven't had a game in ages. A local store (30 minutes away) tried to get 40k going but often the conflicting rules and unanswered FAQ's left people frustrated. No one wanted to search through the rulebook for 10 minutes for an answer which wasn't present, and I really couldn't blame them. Truth be told, there is no such thing as a take-all-comers list anymore, which is a real shame. Extreme big models, extreme fliers, extreme death stars, and extreme gun lines all lead to a rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock environment which makes me wonder what the point of building is. That's on me, really, and I should find enjoyment just in the building, and I hope to someday.

      B.) I just don't buy that argument. If GW isn't a game company, they shouldn't sell rules. If it's up to us to regulate our games and add extra rules to them, why should I spend $125 on a rulebook and a codex? If they aren't a game company, why are there so many pages of rules in their books? If They are more interested in selling extra miniatures rather than build a community and convincing players to purchase through brand loyalty rather than a 4 year bait and switch tactic, why should I or anyone else support this hobby? The story is good, the minis are good, but they're not THAT good. That's where I am regarding GW. I don't think they respect the players, whether it be a competitive minded player or even the casual player. And if they don't care about their game, they should pay someone else to write the rules for it. Then they can devote all their time to being a modeling company and stop being a bad game company which hates their players for playing the game as it was written.

      C.) You're absolutely right about my enthusiasm and how doing the same thing over and over has sort of led to burnout. I'm sure I'll be inspired again, but I don't think it will be very soon. You're also right I've turned to other armies to help inspire myself and keep things fresh, even to the point of remaking and entire army from scratch.

      You're right that I should probably stick with this location and simply rename the blog, adding other content to it and then title anything which is specific to my 40k hobbying with the Scratchbuilt label.

      Thank you for your ideas and thoughts! I appreciate your guidance and point of view on my situation and I hope I can entice you back here whenever my addled brain returns to the 40k posts!

      With much respect,

  5. i take no offense at the perspectives you have that differ from mine, but to be honest, they are not that different. i understand perfectly the rock paper scissors atmosphere of the game, but all too often i see the newest imperium codex come out and terrorize the gaming tables, and this is GW's fault (you have no idea how badly i really want to say Matt Wards fault). the constant power creep is what leads to the rock paper game. for me though the challenge is in taking my codex and beating those ultra lists. For you that's another story. the constant bad rules, believe me i understand that as well, ever since 5th edition BRB came out and scattered template shots, i've griped about the nerfbat to the FirePrism that made our one heavy hitter almost useless, so i was very pleased to see the fix for this in 6th. anyways, as for building your right, you build just for the enjoyment of building. that's what i do, and one of these days i will have built everything eldar there is from Epic, to 40K, to forgeworld, and fan made, simply because, while i hate painting, i love building. that might not be enough for you, or at least not anymore, i mean, after all you make a good point and that is why should you continue to build into something when you will never get the chance to play it.

    i agree with you on point B on everything but GW being a games company, but again that's a difference in perspective, but the underlying issues are still the same, bad rules, lack of thought in the writing, lack of customer support ( i was really pissed off when i bought a very crappy finecast necron lord, showed my FLGS all the faulty issues in it, and then hear that GW told them they would not replace it when the store called them on the product.) then there's all the internet sales or not sales really, that GW is forcing on stores and other retailers, the lawsuits on small peeps who are making things for us that GW did not have the foresight to make before selling us a new set of Codices, etc, etc, etc. all in all, yeah it seems that GW is doing the best the can to not have any customers or players, and that's why i said they will eventually screw up so royally that someone else will buy them out. there's no dout of that because of the amount of 40K players out there, it's just too much potential revenue, that no company will pass up the possibility of acquiring the 40K franchise after GW runs it into the ground.

    as for point C, no arguments or difference of opinion there whatsoever, as for me, i think i might be able to help build a bit of Eldar enthusiasm with the Exodite builds. I've picked up 4 different Exodite codices and all of them have things that i disagree with in them, and having someone like you to bounce these issues off of for a fresh and new viewpoint, could help in making a much better Exodite codex than the ones out there. then theres the modeling portion of all of that as well. be assured though, that while i may be gone for a while as i was previous to your Jetbike project, that at some point i will be back, and will see something that will be worth commenting on in some way shape or form.

    in the meantime, all i can leave you with is this, "Blessed be, and may the spirits of the ancestors watch over you and yours and guide you well along your new path."

  6. I wholly agree with your thoughts here. I have a difficult time keeping interest in the game for the reasons you go over, especially when players feel pushed out because their army has been downed in power. However, we all have an economic and emotional investment in the game. Because of the new book release schedule, the imbalance is exacerbated. I just wrote about this here:
    You could invite your group to get back together and either make an official comp for how you play together, or just have a gentleman's agreement to not bring the cheese. I enjoy your conversions, keep them coming!