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Subject: Painting game components: Am I unique in disliking this? rss

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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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This thread about how to paint miniatures got me thinking.
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For the record, I happen to have a good deal of artistic talent, albeit I've never really done painting. (I might need someone to show me basic techniques, but I've never encountered anything artistic that I did not quickly get how to do well by all accounts.)


A number of people paint game components because they intend to keep the game and cannot realistically foresee selling it. In such cases, there's nothing to say. Others however as I seem to recall (though I'm not going to dig up such a post) do so to try to improve the game especially with a view to selling it at a higher price. Now, I know there are some people who like this and so the person might find such a buyer, but I suspect that I am in the silent majority-- although I realize I may be wrong. I actively dislike the idea of painting or painted game components. I don't play with miniatures and imagine this part of what miniatures are for, although I would think this would also tend to reduce their sellability. I would go so far as to say that I am likely not to purchase a game I would otherwise buy if I know a previous owner painted the components. If asked to explain this attitude, I suppose I would say I find it comparable to someone doodling in the margins of a book or painting a party hat on the Mona Lisa. Even if the person doing so were themselves a talented artist, I would out of personal taste be inclined NOT to buy the game.

Nothing more is intended by this post but to alert people intending to sell a game or who can potentially see themselves doing so that one aspect to consider before painting game components is that this would turn off some buyers like myself. So, it's a gamble. One might find abuyer willing to pay more, but one might also turn away potential buyers like me. The only advice I'll offer is: paint things for yourself, not for others.

NB: Yes, I own War of the Ring (First Edition) and, no, I have not painted nor otherwise modified it nor do I intend to do so. I like it as is and find it prefectly playable. Of course, in any game I usually have to touch a piece to be sure what it is.
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Wulf Corbett
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I think I'd agree with you. I actually do paint the minis for the few games I own which have them, but I have no intention of selling them on. I'd have to have some very clear images of every mini before I'd trust someone else's paintwork - and even then I'd feel it would devalue a game if the minis were painted by a previous owner.

And, by the way, I have bought a few games where people have written notes in the rules, highlighted sections, etc (it's relatively common in wargames, I believe), and I'll never knowingly do so again - it left me with the feeling the games were soiled and unpleasant to handle.
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I have some feelings or opinions about this too, but they're mixed.

I got into board wargaming many years ago, then soon discovered miniatures wargames. At first, the thought of playing games with toy soldiers turned me off, but then I warmed up to the idea. I'd always hated the components of board wargames--two-dimensional, with all that paper and cardboard. And I'd always admired a fine chess set and the like. So, miniatures started to look like a good way to improve the aesthetics of wargaming.

Over the years, I made a few abortive attempts to get into miniatures. But I came to realize some things: (1) I hated painting miniatures; (2) I didn't like the idea of having to collect miniatures; (3) I didn't like the open, unmarked tabletops that miniatures games are normally played on.

In fact, the only thing I did like was that 3D miniatures looked better (i.e., more like chess pieces) than flat, square, cardboard unit-counters.

So, I bought Battle Cry when it first came out. Right away, I saw articles advising people to paint the plastic miniatures that come in the box. And I thought I probably should, but I really didn't want to. I put it off out of laziness and distaste, then never got around to it.

Just pulled the game off the shelf a week ago and gave it another try. And as I looked at the components, I realized I'd never want to paint them. I actually like the look of the pieces just the way they are, and I don't think any paint job I could do would improve them. If I tried, I'd notice my own mistakes or shortcomings every time I played, and that would bother me.

As to the resale value of the game--well, I don't care about that. I sell games sometimes, but it's always just because I'm not playing them and figure I may as well pass them on to someone who'll use them. I don't charge much; I usually take a loss. So it doesn't matter to me.

The "bottom line" I've gradually come to realize is that I prefer more abstract art, as it were. I've always admired a fine chess set for its aesthetic value, but I'd appreciate a Staunton set more than any "themed" set. I've always had a distaste for typical board-wargame components, but I still like standard NATO symbols on game pieces more than realistically painted models. Anytime the artwork on game components attempts to be too realistic, it begins to offend my taste.

Getting back to the OP's question: I agree that any kind of customizing of a game (e.g., painting components or sculpting special pieces) is likely to appeal more to the "artist" than to anyone else. Everybody else who plays a published game will expect it to have the original published look and feel.
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At a con awhile back I saw a fully painted BattleLore. The paintjob wasn't amazing but what I noticed immediately was how easy it was to read the board. The grey minis with flags worked but they tended to blend together. But having the figures painted by unit type made them stand out really well.

People pick up colors very quickly compared to icons/shapes.
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Wulf Corbett
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Over the years, I made a few abortive attempts to get into miniatures. But I came to realize some things: (1) I hated painting miniatures; (2) I didn't like the idea of having to collect miniatures; (3) I didn't like the open, unmarked tabletops that miniatures games are normally played on.
Actually, I should have touched on this myself. My above comments apply only to boardgames which include miniatures (A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game, Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game, etc). I also infrequently play miniatures games, and in those cases I will actually seek out pre-painted minis, just to save time and get a better job done (while I do paint minis, I have no pretensions of quality in the results). I think minis wargames are a whole other category to boardgames with minis in this case.
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Wulf Corbett
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Getting back to the OP's question: I agree that any kind of customizing of a game (e.g., painting components or sculpting special pieces) is likely to appeal more to the "artist" than to anyone else.
I'm not sure that's true - an artist may well want to do his own painting, and may well not like someone else's work so much. Art is a very personal thing...
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Robert Wesley
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While I'd be inclined to "Charge" EXTRA for any! It won't pester 'moi' in the LEAST, if anyone else didn't CARE for such as this, since I figure that yet another MIGHT consider that an added "benefit". It SAVED these the cost, with any efforts, and especially the 'troubles' of doing that themselves. I'd be certain to DENOTE about that 'aspect' as well, with photos to visually stimulate their anticipation from it all on further inquiries then.
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Michael Edwards
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Interesting. I love the idea of well painted figures/miniatures. I've never attempted such (well painted or otherwise) myself.

I've often played RPGs that were enhanced (in my opinion) by having some nicely painted miniatures supplied by another player.

I've often admired various painted sets of things (Battlelore, etc.) here on the geek.

I'd be glad to own pre-painted sets for many of the games I own, but it can be a tricky thing. Firstly, there's the skill level - poorly painted figures are in my view worse than unpainted. Secondly, apart from historical figures, many such sets are subject to the artists whims for color choices and the like. If their tastes don't happen to match your own, that can turn one off to them.

The fact of things is that the time it takes to do a good job demands a fairly high price, more than I'm willing to pay. I think the prices are pretty reasonable for the time invested - I just would rather buy more games than enhance one games aesthetics, at least so far. So, all my games have unpainted figures.
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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Chanfan wrote:

I'd be glad to own pre-painted sets for many of the games I own, but it can be a tricky thing. Firstly, there's the skill level - poorly painted figures are in my view worse than unpainted. Secondly, apart from historical figures, many such sets are subject to the artists whims for color choices and the like. If their tastes don't happen to match your own, that can turn one off to them.

The fact of things is that the time it takes to do a good job demands a fairly high price, more than I'm willing to pay. I think the prices are pretty reasonable for the time invested - I just would rather buy more games than enhance one games aesthetics, at least so far. So, all my games have unpainted figures.

I actually agree with much of this. The post is prbably along the lines of "Think about why you're doing it before painting," because people who paint their figureswill have good reasonsto want to charge more but in really not everyone is willing to pay that-- evenwhen they do like such things-- and some of us don't like them in any case. I justfigured somebody ought mention this so people can make an informed choice. That's what BGG is for in many ways.
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Robert Wesley
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oh, most certainly Moshe, as that is YOUR prerogative on such matters, yet I wouldn't CONCEAL or 'deceive' anyone about this, for anything myself. Unlike Wulf, then I even don't mind someone's "annotations" as long that it were legible. For quite a few of mine, then we've even denoted with symbols, or set-up hexes & Turn Arrivals on the backs. Usually, then I'd try to make those depicted as nicely that I could for anything, but I won't deny that some would appear as 'sloppily' rendered on that.
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Steve Duff
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I'm not seeing the "silent majority" who dislike painted components.

Sure, some folks won't pay more for them (I'm in that category myself), and some would rather paint them themselves, but give folks a choice between painted and unpainted in the box for the same price, I think most grab the box with the painted miniatures. *Easily* the majority.

Just one recent thread on this:

Quote:
I think they are featuring these painted components too prominently and many people buying will not see that small notice on the box and be very surprised and disappointed when they open the box.


Quote:
Game publishers need to have a bitch-slap sometimes. When are they going to 'get' that we want prepainted figures?


http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/3621019#3621019
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Bwian, just
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I'm not seeing the "silent majority" who dislike painted components.

Sure, some folks won't pay more for them (I'm in that category myself), and some would rather paint them themselves, but give folks a choice between painted and unpainted in the box for the same price, I think most grab the box with the painted miniatures. *Easily* the majority.

Well, for me it depends on the genre. For abstracts (Chess, Go, Navia Dratp) I prefer unpainted figures, or I suppose pieces in solid colors. For tabletop miniatures games I will take prepainted figures, as long as they are better than I get done. (And I'm a lousy painter, so that isn't hard...)

In between, I'd have to see: I suspect I would prefer solid colors for games like Battlelore and Memoir 44, but I haven't tried playing with a painted version.
 
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I'm not sure I own (or play) any games which would lend themselves to being painted or customised in such a fashion. I would select against such a painted game if I ran across one however.
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I will never paint any of the miniatures I have for my games. Part of the reason I play board games is so I do not have to waste countless hours painting miniatures just so I can finally play a game. I know that there are many out there for whom painting is part of the enjoyment. I understand and respect them but I am not one of them. I also will not pay extra for a painted game, and if the paint job in my estimation is a poor one I will not purchase the game. However; if it is a good paint job I will have no problem purchasing the game.

Writing or highlighting in a rulebook is a deal breaker. I have never been able to deal with it in any book I have owed. In my view it is similar to how I imagine most Americans would feel if some wrote crib notes on the Declaration of Independence. It is unconscionable. In this I expect I am an extremist.
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Hi Moshe,

As you may know from some of the images I post, I am an unrepentant miniature painter and have painted every figure for War of the Ring, BattleLore, Descent and Memoir'44.

Having spent so much time and effort on them, I would never dream of selling them. Painting the pieces has become part of my enjoyment of a game.

The corollary is that I could never bring myself to buy a pre-painted game as it would not have my "stamp" on it.

Regards,


Jim
Est. 1949



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It seems to me people that paint their game components are doing it to please themselves, I have yet to see much indication they are doing it to increase resale value.
I buy games to own, and play, not for resale. If I want to invest my money there are better ways to do that than games.

That said, I have enough miniatures in my lead pile that need painting that painting pieces from boardgames I own never even crossed my mind.
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First of all: I would never buy a customized game, and I can hardly belive many real geeks would. I want the real deal.

But I also do not like painted minis for 2 reasons: first of all, many times people paint figures "wrong". That is not to say that they are badly painted, but that the colors sometimes don't fit exactly with what they are supposed to be. For example, a Gandalf miniature that has some red on his cape or something. That is perfectly fine for the painter/owner, but small details like this are part of the reason I am not gonna go look for painted minis.

The other reason is that it stops imagination. One of my friend has this huge collection of pewter minis (almost 2000) and not a single painted one. He has even got rid of some painted ones he had. When confronted by baffled people who ask why he does not paint his minis, he always answers: "because they will look a specific way". Take a warrior mini for example. As long as it is unpainted, it could be any warrior in the world, very easy to use and it fits with any other minis. But what if you gave him a black cloak and a red sword. He gains a personality suddenly. Is he evil? and so forth. sauron
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I do a little of each. There are some games that "call" to me to be improved upon (Talisman, Descent), or that painting them improves gameplay (BattleLore for my old eyes, and War of the Ring). There are a couple (Hellas) where having two sets requires some painting to take advantage of the custom rules available here on the 'Geek.
Then, there are plenty of games (Samurai Swords) wherein the minis are so cool as they are, I'd never dream of A) wasting "good" time mucking with the bits, and B) it wouldn't help and my skills aren't enough to really warrant any such action. The "miniatures" games, like Space Hulk, realistically don't "require" painting, but in my FLGS, its pretty much required!
So, I run the gamut, depending upon the game, really. I plan on keeping BattleLore, and WoTR, but won't dream of painting Memoir '44 for instance.
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My biggest fear is that I'd try to paint my BattleLore figures and poop out half way.
That would leave me with a partially painted set.
Arguably the worst possible outcome.


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whac3 wrote:
If asked to explain this attitude, I suppose I would say I find it comparable to someone doodling in the margins of a book or painting a party hat on the Mona Lisa. Even if the person doing so were themselves a talented artist, I would out of personal taste be inclined NOT to buy the game.


A collector of rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box. He happened to mention that Guten-somebody-or-other had printed it.

"Not Gutenberg?" gasped the collector.

"Yes, that was it!"

"You idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy recently sold at auction for half a million dollars!"

"Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth anything close to that much," replied the man. "It was scribbled all over in the margins by some clown named Martin Luther."


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Well,

Enough has probably already been said, but I'll add my two cents.

Coming from a 'miniature' and 'Historical' gaming background, painting IS part of the game. I almost commented on Duchamp's post this morning about 'painted' figures being 'creative' and it's interesting that you post this question on the same day. Because to me they are very similar questions (out of the same cloth).

In a 'miniature' game you wouldn't find yourself dead playing a game with unpainted miniatures. Those people that show up and start putting miniatures on the table unpainted or just primed are berated and if they continue some times will have trouble finding opponents. Painted figures IS part of the games. That's not true in board games.

I quit 'miniature' gaming (amongst other reasons) because I didn't have the time or desire to paint anymore. But, near the end I was buying 'painted miniatures' (BTW, I find 'pre-painted' manufactured miniatures an abomination but that's a different topic).

So, now I'm into board gaming. Many of them come with figures. I've actually started calling them 'board game figures'. There is no 'predisposition' to having to get them painted to play with them. While I can see the 'art work' that people put into some of them, they aren't doing it because of a game need and in 'general' it's not improving game play. So, for me it is not 'enhancing' the value. In fact, if it is a game with expansions or the chance for future expansions, I'd say it would devalue it as a board game to me.

Anyway that's the Opinion of one person.


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Richard Dewsbery
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I don't paint many gaming pieces simply because I'm notoriously bad at starting something and not finishing it, and a half-painted set of Battlelore figures would look a lot worse than an unpainted set.

But is someone really trying to say that a decent paint job doesn't improve a game?

Compare these two sets of figures in Turfmaster - which would you rather use?



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Mike Jones
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I'd use either one, it's a board game.
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Moshe Callen
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Great Dane wrote:
whac3 wrote:
If asked to explain this attitude, I suppose I would say I find it comparable to someone doodling in the margins of a book or painting a party hat on the Mona Lisa. Even if the person doing so were themselves a talented artist, I would out of personal taste be inclined NOT to buy the game.


A collector of rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box. He happened to mention that Guten-somebody-or-other had printed it.

"Not Gutenberg?" gasped the collector.

"Yes, that was it!"

"You idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy recently sold at auction for half a million dollars!"

"Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth anything close to that much," replied the man. "It was scribbled all over in the margins by some clown named Martin Luther."



I wondered how long it would take someone to come up with stuff like this. My comments stand. If the painter of the minis isTHEda Vinci, I might consider it.
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RDewsbery wrote:
I don't paint many gaming pieces simply because I'm notoriously bad at starting something and not finishing it, and a half-painted set of Battlelore figures would look a lot worse than an unpainted set.

But is someone really trying to say that a decent paint job doesn't improve a game?

Compare these two sets of figures in Turfmaster - which would you rather use?




Uhm, yo be honest, I'd much prefer the ones in the picture at top. They're easier to use for gaming purposes.
 
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