Anyone who follows me on Twitter would have seen pictures going up of my House Terryn Imperial Knights army as it slowly progressed to completion.
Some of The Chaps and I were heading up to Warhammer World at the start of May and I wanted to take a fully painted army with me.
Something of an encore to getting the 5th Company of my Ultramarines done the year before.
However, having learned my lesson from last year, I gave myself a little longer than 6 weeks to paint a 3,000 point army. This is old 7th edition points you understand. Fuck knows what the armies will cost out now.
This time round, having already decided back in January to make a return pilgrimage to Warhammer World, I gave myself 12 weeks.
12 weeks to build and paint 7 (because one was already painted) Imperial Knights ready for May.
If I’m honest, I barely finished in time.
But the point is this: setting deadlines focuses your mind.
I’ve been doing the hobby a very long time and in that time I have collected, for Warhammer 40,000 alone (in no particular order):
- Dark Angels
- Eldar (thrice)
- Space Wolves
- Tyranids (twice)
- Chaos Space Marines (twice)
- Imperial Guard Armoured Company
- Imperial Guard Deathworld Veterans
- Tau (twice)
- Grey Knights (sort of)
- Ultramarines (1st & 5th)
- Imperial Knights
- Dark Eldar (new project)
Of that list none but the Ultramarines, Knights, Deathwatch and Dark Eldar survived. The latter three are all new in fairness so hardly count.
The other armies, however, were all sold or given away as the projects ground to a halt either because I didn’t like the way they played or I just lost momentum with collecting the army.
That is a lot of abandoned projects. Although one or two were sold because I was flat broke and it was that or starve.
But I did what a lot of gamers do: buy too much, too quickly and then not paint any of it. Eventually the prospect of painting that much grey would become overwhelming and then my head would be turned by the latest army and that would be that.
So what changed?
I still get new army syndrome like I did what I was a kid.
I still buy too much, too quickly. You just need to ask The Chaps to verify that one.
But now I’m setting myself targets. Last year I gave myself 6 weeks to paint an army.
This year I gave myself 12 weeks to paint an army.
Starting mid June, having taken a couple of months off to defrazzle my brain, I’m planning to paint my Dark Eldar by November for the next Black Library event. So that’s around 24 weeks.
Why so long?
The reasons are very simple:
- Setting reasonable deadlines keeps you focused but avoids burnout
- It allows you to plan your project and allow time for doing cool stuff like bases
- It accommodates having a life outside of the hobby
- It allows for time off to do something else of any evening
- You don’t rush
Whilst, all are important, the last two points are really important. Painting a battle company in 6 weeks is hard. The churn was roughly a 10 man (Marine) squad every 3.5 days from undercoat to done. Obviously there were some tanks in there as well but that was the average.
It meant no time off and no doing anything else. I was writing a novel that I had to put on hold because I simple couldn’t do both.
Each Knight averaged 12 days which included building, painting (including hand painting the heraldry from the Codex) and building scenic bases. The reality was slightly less but the real life regularly encroached.
And that’s why you need to give yourself 5-6 months to paint an army. Because it’s allows for you to power up the Xbox one evening or actually leave the house.
It allows you to go to bed at a reasonable hour or not feel guilty because you turned the desk lamp off at 11 rather than when your eyes start to sting.
Most importantly it stops the hobby from feeling like a chore.
Setting deadlines absolutely works. Probably because we’re all used to working to them in our day jobs. Regardless, it gives you the motivation you need to progress your armies at a steady pace, seeing regular improvements – which of itself spurs you on – and at the end you get to play with a fully painted army.
Who doesn’t want that?