As a lifelong video game player I never quite understood the draw of tabletop games and had no concept of miniature/war games. Video games are convenient, the rules are programmed in, and you have access to thousands of players at any time. So to me, it seemed backward, to go to a store, find someone else willing to play, and play 2-3 games at most for a night.
My first introduction to the tabletop world came in 2015 with X-Wing: The Miniatures Game. After moving to Dallas my wife was looking for ways to get me outside of the house, and she saw Common Ground Games right by where we live. Conveniently timed with the release of the debut of Star Wars The Force Awakens, the game was an easy sell at first sight. It also helped there was a flyer for a game night every Tuesday.
From my first game, I was hooked. There’s a sense of theme and immersion from the tactile feel of moving a miniature around that simply doesn’t exist in a virtual setting. What started as a game night to play a Star Wars game quickly turned into hanging out with newfound friends, and years later we’ve traveled to play at large and small conventions all around the country. Eventually, this lead into other games like Imperial Assault, all sorts of board/card games, and most recently, A Song of Ice and Fire the miniatures game.
The hobby aspect of miniatures gaming still confused me. In X-Wing the ships were prepainted, and affordable. You just opened the package and you were ready to play. In games like Infinity, Warhammer, etc. you had to spend time and money preparing the miniatures just to play the game. By this point, I had amassed a large collection of unpainted figures, so at the behest of my X-Wing friends, I tried my hand.
My first attempt was the Stormtroopers from FFG’s Imperial Assault game, the most simplistic paint scheme I could imagine. Four hours later, I understood. Despite my attempt being lackluster at best (thin your paints!), I had an extreme sense of pride with what I had created.
I didn’t want to play with not just any figure, I wanted to play with my figures. The coats are uneven, the dry brushing didn’t really come through, and you could say I didn’t do a great job staying in the lines, but at the end of the day I created them and seeing them on the table felt incredible. I had never felt that connected to any X-Wing ship, swapping them out almost weekly, but these figures were going to see play no matter how bad they were.
Nowadays I don’t spend as much time at the game store, but I keep going back to work on my miniatures. It’s relaxing in ways I didn’t expect, and as an avid baseball fan, it’s the perfect activity to accompany an Astros game on television. Working with my hands, improving my skills, and the sense of ownership associated with creating/customizing a tangible miniature is something I had never experienced before, and I suspect it will keep me in the hobby for years to come.
– Nam-My Le
Nam-My Le is tabletop convert most known for his work with the Carolina Krayts X-Wing podcast. He spends his spare time trying to work through his Kickstarter backlog and spending Zoo Days with Kris Sheriff.