January 7, 2013

The importance of fluff to your wargaming

I've been struggling to get myself started on the large number of painting projects that I have backed up at the moment.  The list is very long (see blog sidebar) and covers my 7 different armies across 3 different gaming systems.  Many of these projects have been idle for sometime - my High Elves in particular - but lately the only thing I have been interested in painting have been my 40k Word Bearers. 

Why?  Because I am fully immersed in the FLUFF that is the 40k universe and the story of the Horus Heresy and Word Bearers.  Fluff wise I haven't read or looked at anything High Elf related in years (apart from a couple of Black Library novels) and my Dwarf fluff project Karak Thorinkin became idle 2 1/2 years ago. 

My Dwarven project was a fairly intense labour of love that evolved from the narrative/story based battle reports I started writing a few years back and which I really enjoy putting together.  My Dwarf army repainting project completed near the end of 2011 was driven by those stories and the fluff I had built up around my army.  It was the fluff whether from Black Library novels (the excellent Grudge Bearer in particular) and my own work (whether my other blog or narrative battle reports) that kept me focused on that repainting project and resulted in my best looking army.

FLUFF I have found is essential to wargaming because it keeps you interested in your army and the game.  It focuses you on what your doing and makes your models more than just lumps of plastic, resin or metal but characters with personality, history and a story of their own.  Painting, modelling and playing then becomes your way of getting immersed in that historical narrative becoming if you like "one with the fluff". 

In my mind if you dont like the fluff behind an army, if you cant immerse yourself in it and even write your own then the result will be an army that just sits around gathering dust.  Case in point are the 3 armies I sold over the last few years:  WHFB Vampire Counts, Fields of Glory 100 years war English & Warmachine Protectorate of Menoth.  In all 3 cases I wasn't invested in my armies, the characters or history of them and my rather extensive collections for all 3 went onto Trade Me at various times.

When your not playing an army fluff keeps you focused on that army e.g. I haven't used my Dwarfs in nearly a year but I would NEVER sell them as I just love them, the fluff and the persona that you can adopt when your a Dwarf player.  High Elves & Ogres fluff wise I am not as involved but the High Elves will also never go, and I have too much fun playing the Ogres not to hang onto them.  But if one of those 3 armies had to go it would be the Ogres as fluff wise they are just not as interesting to me as the other two.

Flames of War is the same.  Despite a lack of local games I retain all of my companys because I like the history - writing the unit history for my Fallschirmjager was a case in point.  US Paras and British Armoured represent two new companies but these I can link into the fluff of my Fallschirmjager basing all 3 around the Hells Highway source book.  My DAK company is much the same as I like the history of the North African campaign, but the LW Panzer Company will gather dust for a long time.

And finally there's my 40k Word Bearers - the fluff is just awesome.  I've already read 12/16 Horus Heresy books - although some were quite simply awful - and will happily collect, paint and build my 40k army even if I never play 40k - because of that fluff.

Some people buy models because they like the sculpts, they love to paint or they just cant help themselves.  I buy, keep and play them because I love the fluff behind them - if the fluff isnt there I wont touch the army, and if i do they wont stick around for long. 

How important is fluff to you?


Vladdd309 said...

Spot on there, fella.

Despite not getting a game of HoMachine played in the last eighteen(ish) months, I couldn't contemplate selling any of the four armies I have. I'm simply hooked on the background story of each.

Same with 40K, love the Iron Warriors fluff, so that's what I collect.

Lately, I've taken to some generic sci-fi rules (colonial battlefleet, Gruntz) which gives ample opportunity to write your own background.

Hoodling said...

It never used to matter to me at all. I did enjoy the imagery of the High Elves and their great historical struggles, but it didn't really feed into my hobby other than their character influencing which army I chose to begin with.

More recently I've started to think about it more, and am considering trying an ongoing story to tie my Empire games together. If I go through with it, it will be something very different from anything I've done before. The Empire are already the only army I've ever bothered to write fluff for, so I suspect I'm already more invested in it than I have been in any of my other armies.

Knight of Infinite Resignation said...

Great post, thank you.

John Murrie said...

Thanks for the feedback guys

@Vladdd - Iron Warriors were 2nd choice after Word Bearers for my 30k project because, as you say, the fluff is fantastic. Writing your own background to games is always fun, doing it for WHFB/40k takes me back 25+ years to playing D&D.

@ Hoodling - If there was an army tailor made for fluff its Empire, there is an amazing range of books written around that particular part of the WFHB world which Ive enjoyed reading even though Im not an Empire fan.

@ Knight - cheers for reading :)

Scott said...

You raise a very valid point John.

For myself I find there are two main issues with any army, in terms of motivation to get it painted - do I like it (Fluff as you describe), and am I currently getting any games playing it!

The fluff will certainly get you to collect/keep the army, but the gaming makes me paint it...

My problem at the moment is I am gaming several different things at once, and trying to split yourself three ways to paint different projects at the same time, is 'problematic'! ;-)

John Murrie said...

@ Scott - ah the joys of enjoying multiple gaming systems with multiple armies in each of them. The gamers curse