I've been pondering the possibility of using models spray-painted a single colour to do up armies very quickly for games, so the armies would look like Risk armies or Axis and Allies forces. On the one hand, I think it would be easy and fun: buy some rules and figures at a show in the morning, prepare the armies in an afternoon, play the game in the evening! And some of my most enjoyable gaming experiences have been like that: Heroquest, Space Hulk, Advanced Heroquest, Recon RPG, some WH40K games and so on. But there is a fixed, conditioned idea that miniature wargames 'should' be played with painted miniatures. And I share it, at least to some degree. Such games do look nice. But are they better games? Does the effort expanded on even such basic set-ups as my own, never mind the works of the modellers' art that I see a couple of times most years at Partizan, genuinely repay the effort invested in created it over much more simple set-ups?
The basic reason for thinking about this at all is that I like gaming many different periods at many different scales of action. I'd like to be able to read a wargaming magazine and play any of the scenarios publised in there. Now there are many ways in which I could tackle this:
I could aim to build enough conventional wargames armies to cover most periods enough to look 'about right from a distance'. However, that commits one to a lot of painting - and although I like painting, committing to painting that many models seems just daunting. I could use proxies - but this has two problems. There is only so far a proxy can go - somehow using Panzergrenadiers as Sumerian spearmen would actually be more distracting than using pennies; but even within narrower bounds, would I unconsciously think that a load of Napoleonic French Cavalry was Napoleonic Cavalry, even if I was using them as Royalist ECW Horse? I could use counters for certin periods and buid up new armies slowly. Two problems with this: making counters can be a real faff, but secondly, using counters with model terrain is actually distracting, at least for me. I have a feeling that 3d 6mm models all painted red would look a lot less incongruous on a green felt cloth with little wooden houses and little model trees than large cardboard counters. I feel less strongly about this using Junior General pictures, but it is more of a faff making vertical counters and artillery and vehicles always look really wrong in the 3d terrain.
Or I could approach the problem another way, give myself a stiff talking to and tell myself that my eyes are too big for my belly and that the best thing to do is to concentrate on playing more games with the armies I already have: after all, not many people can play all that many games and that certainly includes me. Stop thinking about it, be happy with what you've got and just slowly add to what you've got until you can't be bothered anymore. And this has powerful resonance with me. But I do think 'Ooh it would be really interesting to re-fight Pavia, how might I do that?'
I can see that I'm not clear in myself where to go with this, I hope I get some inspiration soon. The worst thing of all is endlessly and unprofitably musing on such things...