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  Mechanic #225 - Painter's League
Posted: Jun 22, 2016

A miniatures game tournament where you earn paint pots to color your miniatures.

  Painter's League

One of my pet peeves in miniature gaming is that fact that a large majority of players don't actually paint their miniatures. I get it. It's time consuming and meandering work. Sometimes, you want to just play the game. But sometimes, the only way to get someone to paint their figures is to require them to for a tournament.

This idea was an attempt to make painting the figures part of the tournament itself. In short, you begin the game with unpainted miniatures and as you play, you earn paint pots with which to paint them. The pots themselves are the victory points, so rather than winning by defeating your opponent, you must capture and defend the paint pots. After five rounds, whatever pots you control, you get. The more colors and techniques your figures have, the more powerful they become.



Fig 225.1 - Naked Plastic, from BGG.

At the beginning of the game, all your models are in their barest form - typically some sort of grey plastic or bare metal. During this phase, your models are barely effective. They get fewer dice and have to subtract values from their totals. To get to bare minimum effectiveness, they must achieve bare minimum paint job, which in this case means dark primer + drybrushed highlight, or light primer + colored wash. So the first mission or two will have various colors of primer (black, white, gray), dry brush colors (red, blue, silver, green), and washes (red, blue, brown, black, yellow). Once you've earned a pot, you have it forever, so you are by no means obligated to use it immediately.



Fig 225.2 - White primer + Wash, from BGG

Once you have a primer + highlight/wash, you have a figure which is single colored but with some depth and recognition to it. The figure's stats are now at the base level that you might find in an army book. It should be noted that you are by no means required to use the same primer + highlight model for your entire army. Some figures could be primer black with a drybrush, others white primer with a wash, and even using a directional white spray primary on top of black primary. It all depends on what victory pots you score in the games.



Fig 225.3 - Full paintjob, from BGG

From here, the point is to gain as many colors as possible to finish your army, while simultaneously taking enemy objectives (and thus their paint) to prevent them from finishing theirs.

Ideally, there would be bonuses for achieving certain milestones. "Tournament-ready" paint jobs are three base colors, so your figures could gain a bonus for getting that. Maybe they can move an extra inch. Each base color could add an extra hit point to the model. A decent paint job is a base color, wash, then highlight, so there could be bonuses for each "finished" color on the model. Heck, you can even give bonuses for having specific colors (red makes it go faster).

At the end of the tournament, the winner is not decided by who won the most paint pots of achieved the greatest victory, but who had the best paint job at the end. A simple anonymous vote at the end, with ties broken by how many different paint pots were required to paint the figures. At the end of the tournament, everybody has played a dozen games and ended with a painted army and had fun doing it. Now they get back to winning at all cost.


For the record, I tried to illustrate this example with pixel art, but it wasn't really getting the point across. I decided to use other people's paint jobs, taken from Board Game Geek, specifically taking them from the exact same game. All three images above use Blood Rage models, and I think you'll agree that painting does make a difference.

And the handsome dude in the idea icon is Sir Duncan, lord of the Games Workshop painting tutorial. Some people like Sorastro's tutorials, but for my money, Duncan covers my heart with two thin coats of love.



Click for Prototype Note.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.