Okay, so that isn`t perhaps a good title for this opinion piece, but it sounded better then: I`m building down LEGO and returning to wargaming.
Now this might come as a shocker, but walk with me for a moment...
The "feeling" has been growing for a while now, and I have had a couple of chats with my intimates (the GF, the mother,... those people that have to live with my racing brain all day long) about what I love and what I miss when I compared my previous hobby (20 years career in wargaming) and my current one (which I now have been doing again for 5 years).
There are a couple of factors and I`m going to list them here in the pro and cons for each.
I love about LEGO the fact that I find it a GREAT medium to work with. Building my Middle Earth for example so far has been great fun, and playing in Brethren of the Brick Seas has been upping my build level. LEGO also has a far larger "hinterland" then wargames and as such is far more known, seen as far less "geeky" and you don`t have to paint for hourse before you can use a figure.
Which is also one of the con points for me looking back. Painting relaxes my mind. I painted that custom torso yesterday, and even though it was a simple, non 3 tone deal that took about half an hour to do... that was half an hour I wasn`t thinking about other things and felt mentally relaxed for the first time in a loooooong while. Focussing on line outs takes all your attention, putting green plates on a build is an automated job.
Another downside of the larger fanbase for LEGO is the internet. Far more people ae voicing opinions, and unfortunatly this often resolves in Flame Wars that tend to carry over in for example multiple Facebook groups, something I saw happening just two days ago once more. It's no secret that my club and another one in Belgium didn`t go off in a perfect start, and yes, I have "attributed" to that as well. I appologised and now am helping on improving the relationships between both "camps", and as experienced at Comic Con Brussels a month ago, it is slowly turning in the right direction.
But this has a large downside as well... it has been, and trying to put the fires down, mentally exhausting. You're occupied with all things "edgy" instead of enjoying the hobby, and this can cause a hobby burn out, which I want to avoid at all costs.
Wargaming on the other hand has rivalries as well, but those are more on a competitive level, it's height reached about 10 years ago when a lot of tournaments took place and the top players tended to eye each other... the winner mentality, or bad losers if you prefer. But this is something I actually miss in LEGO: the adrenaline of that crucial dice roll that can make or brake your charge.
LEGO has lovely and friendly conventions, and far wider and larger then wargaming has overhere. or else in Europe, compare Salute for example to the LEGO event in december in the London Excel...
But that is my gripe, LEGO conventions are static. You are standing behind your table and talking about your builds, but it just stands there, and as a former wargamer this is something my inner self struggles with. At Brick Mania Antwerp past november, a fellow LUG member, Johan, had a large force of Napoleonics facing each other. But at the end of the event, they still stood more or less at the same positions... while at a wargaming event, you would see how the flow of battle would have went and where holes in the lines and collapsed flanks would have turned up.
So that's a bit of pointing out my feelings, but how did I came to the conclusion then? Follow me once again on a short walk...
* I miss the old hobby, I`m not going to lie about that. I love the sight of moving ACW armies in 28mm, but in my final days of the hobby, it wasn`t often played. Now it is, and I always drool over the weekly pictures the club puts up of the North and the South engaging each other.
* I wanted to build a LEGO moc (well, not wanting, I`m actually building it at the moment) for the American Civil War, detailing the Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg. I call it the influence of HistoryLUG and Bricks of the Past, both doing large historical lay-outs.
* I contacted and registered my LUG for Crisis 2017, the wargame show here in Antwerp, and we are going to play Brick Wars over there, the wargame rules to play with LEGO forces. And yes, I am rejoining TSA and will try to introduce the game there as well. But that is a by-game for a lazy night, I want to get back and field my divisions.
* I was strolling through the old ACW battle pictures of my wargame club, looking for one when I was a bit, errrm, "sharper" in physique to talk with LEGO buddies. And I saw the old replica Irish Brigade cap I sported then. I dug it up the day after from my cosplay and re-enactment chest, and I got hit by a true wave of nostalgia. The idea was to wear it at Crisis for the demo gaming, but I tend to stare at it for a quarter of an hour at a time recently.
* Looking to paint some LEGO torsos, I retrieved my old paints, and when I touched the bottle of "Intense Blue" from Vallejo, I remembered how many bottles of that stuff I used for my ACW pants and long coats...
Now, one of the benefits is that wargaming is actually cheaper then LEGO these days. You get a box of 36 plastic figures for 20 pounds, good to build a regiment to play with, while on the other hand that money gets you a smaller set from the medium LEGO price range at current.
Now don`t get these musings wrong, I`m not quitting the LEGO hobby at all... but I am seriously going to cut down on it, mostly on the "stress parts" of monitoring discussions and placing deadline upon deadline for myself of what I MUST build. You see, I have the problem that I tend to see and hear about everything, and I must learn to not voice on all of it. Let it go as a certain blonde once sang...
Now, with personal life things, time considerations, a shared hobby with the GF (which I`m NOT talking about here ever), I wont be piling on more deadlines and stress onto myself. My "grand plan" is to actually do what every wargamer tend to dream off: finish a unit before buying and starting another one. That way, I will be slowly and steadily rebuild my divisions over the course of several months, even years, while popping by to play a game like once every month or so. Won`t be against my Nemesis though I fear, as he is still in fantasy and sci-fi and not historicals. But we`ll be having chatty (gossippy, yes, men gossip more then women) evenings again in the near future!
And this is also my last post for the coming 10 days... the hard job now awaits of explaining this all to the GF that paints will be cluttering the table once again...
In short: I`m back!
Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 23rd April 1937
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