Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New year, new plans

Happy New Year! With the turn of the year, it's time for me to look back on what I accomplished last year and what I hope to do this year.

Prior to moving in November, I was running games for two roleplaying groups and playing in two more. I was painting miniatures off and on, usually more off. I was still getting some things done, though. I was playing minis games about every other week and hex-and-counter wargames once a week or so.

When I moved, I thought the end of the year was going to be turn into a long list of failed projects. The amount of time required for work and commuting and the shift across time zones put me out of sync with most of my old gaming groups and left me little time to paint or play. Initially I worried about being able to do anything gaming-related around my work time.

The last couple weeks I have been working on ways to fit gaming into my schedule. I have started finding ways to save time in other areas of my life to allow time for the things that I really enjoy. I've seen the challenges that my health and full-time work are creating, and tried to find ways to work gaming and painting around that. In short, I am making my gaming as much a priority as some other parts of my life. Hopefully, that will make some of the other things more enjoyable too.

In order to do that, I have had to be much more deliberate about scheduling time to game and to work on gaming projects. I get up early every morning. That way I have enough time to get ready for work and
still have a little time to paint and work on miniatures. Fortunately, working at game stores years ago taught me to be able to paint quickly and efficiently for a short period of time and interrupt my painting and walk away at a moment’s notice. I’m putting that to good use now.

I always have a couple of projects going on my painting table at once, and I make sure that I have the paints and brushes or tools I need for the next step laid out before I go to bed. Once I get ready for work
in the morning, I sit down at the painting table and get to work. I have my phone programmed with an alarm that is set to go off every weekday ten minutes before I have to leave the house, and I make sure that I drop what I’m doing as soon as the alarm goes off.

Having scheduled time like that forces me to get right into painting and do concentrated work. I feel bad if I slack during that time or don’t try to maximize the painting I’m able to get done. So far, in just a couple weeks, it has paid off with a lot of old unfinished models finally getting finished and ready to use for gaming.

Another way that I have been planning my gaming time is with lunch. I take a lunch to work and eat in my office. I lose a little time socializing with some of my coworkers in the break room, but I am making up for that by reading and doing campaign prep for games instead. Because I carry game books and notes with me, I also have something to work on if I get to work early or get stuck at the bus stop after work. I can use the downtime for reading, making notes, and doing the prep that would otherwise not be possible because
of other life demands.

In terms of actual play, I had to give up all of the games I was running and playing in prior to the move. Changing time zones and my daily commute keep my schedule from working with those games, so I had to drop them. In their place, I am going to start playing in a game every other Saturday and running a
game every other Sunday. I plan to make up for some of the game time during the week by playing some solo wargames in the evenings. Eventually, I will start playing some more games through Vassal as well.

My schedule during the week is incredibly tight, and I am usually exhausted by the time I get home. Having the option to take my time reading and rereading rules, planning moves, and sometimes just delaying a turn makes it possible for me to play without the pressure of coordinating schedules or the immediacy of face-to-face gaming. Eventually I would like to play more face-to-face games again, but that is all dependent on coordinating them with my schedule and my need for sleep.

In the end, it’s all about expectations and meeting challenges. In the past, I expected to have the rest of my life limit or preclude my gaming, and it did. I saw the challenges in trying to schedule everything and got overwhelmed. Now I’m changing my expectations and seeing the challenges as something to work around. And it’s paying off. Strangely enough, now it seems like I have more concentrated gaming time than I did before. I find that I am more focused and deliberate because I have had to be specific about scheduling that time. Since I have to work to make gaming happen, I’m a lot more into it when it does.

So looking into the new year, I’m giving myself a couple of deliberate goals, positive challenges to work toward rather than around.

First, I am going to try to play at least one game a week. For that I consider a two-hour game session (roleplaying, wargaming, or board gaming) to be a game. If the game takes less than two hours to play through, then at least one complete play-through counts. For most weeks, I’m going to try to play one roleplaying session and one other game, but I’m not going to force things too much. One game a week is the main challenge, and everything else is gravy.

Second, I am going to curb the urge to buy new games until I have played through the ones I have. I have a ton of games that have not seen any table time in years, and I am going to play through them before I dump a bunch of money on new shelf-sitters. Hopefully I can play through everything on my shelf and trim out the ones that I don’t enjoy anymore.

Third, I am going to paint at least one miniature a week. So by the end of 2013, I’ll have at least 52 more miniatures painted. Obviously, if I can get more done, that would be great, but finishing at least one a week is my minimum. I’m still sticking to finishing the partially painted models in my cases first, painting each of them as I uncover them in the cases. So I should be able to really get a jump on this goal with some partially-painted models early on.

Fourth, along with the painting goal, I’m going to stick to my rule of not buying any more models than I can paint. I bought some models at the end of last year that will add to the pile in the short run, but those are the last I'm going to buy for a while. Hopefully by the end of the year, I can finish the backlog of unpainted models I already have and be back to only buying things as I paint and use them.

Fifth, if I don’t use the models in games, I’m going to start selling them. I don’t like having a bunch of models for decoration, and I don’t want to store stacks of cases. So any minis that don’t get play time on the table after they get painted are going to get sold. I’ll probably offer them for sale here first, but after that they’re going to eBay.

So those are my goals for the year. Play more games, paint more minis, buy things as I plan to use them, and get rid of the stuff I don’t play or use. Anybody want to join me?


  1. That sounds like a great idea. Let's see if I can follow that lead.

  2. That sounds like a great idea. Let's see if I can follow that lead.