What Are the Pros & Cons of Being a Multi-gamer?

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, as welcome to my Cogitarium. This is where I like to sit in the peace and quite of the tallest tower of The Eternal Fortress and consider the intricacies of existence, with a pot of tea and a packet of ginger nuts. For this article, I would like to consider briefly a topic I have had rolling around my brain more and more recently. As I get ready to start up in two more games over the coming month, I think I can say that I am truly a ‘Multi-gamer’.

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I have always leaned towards playing a plethora of games since my early days in the hobby, when I tended to pick up every new Games Workshop miniatures game that was released, and which my immediate group of gaming buddies and I often became heavily invested in. This was the era where Games Workshop seemed to bring out a new game every few months. As I was buying my first White Dwarf magazine, Man O’ War was just being released, and after that I got involved with playing (not necessarily in this order): Space Marine, Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40,000, Blood Bowl, Necromunda, Battlefleet Gothic and Warhammer Quest. This is on top of the odd bit of RPGing we used to do as well.

I have never been the kind of player to detach myself entirely from a game when I either get bored or run out of opponents, rather I carefully husband my collections of rules and miniatures until it is their time to rise once more. At my local club I was able to resurrect Man O’ War for a time earlier this year, and last year we had quite a run of Blood Bowl games. My son and I have re-organised my Warhammer Quest set and have it boxed and ready to play, and I recently reinvigorated my Battlefleet Gothic collection by obtaining some new Chaos ships and creating ‘Ship Cards’ for every ship in my collection.

I fully appreciate that some players prefer to stick to just a couple of game systems, or even just one, and there is nothing at all wrong with that, but being the hobby butterfly that I am focusing intently on just one game system, even collecting multiple factions within that system, would not be enough for me. I like a lot of variety, of scale, game type and tactical challenge. However, though there are several benefits to being a Multi-gamer in my view, there are also some drawbacks, and this is what I would like to look at today.

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I don’t think that this topic is straight forward enough to simply list the positives and negatives of being a multi-gamer, because I think that each aspect of the hobby has pro’s and con’s, so instead I will briefly cover a number of areas and talk about them as individual elements of the hobby.

#1 More Game Systems, more Opponents?

I have found that participating in a greater number of game systems certainly can make it easier to get games at my local club, whereas guys who play only one game system can find it more difficult, so this is a clear benefit to being a multi-gamer. It makes me more flexible and allows me access to a greater proportion of the gaming community.

The flip side of this however is that it is entirely possible to find yourself playing at a club where the members as a whole play only a limited range of systems, and some of the games and models in your collection may go unused for a while until you either find additional opponents in your area, or entice your club-mates to try something different.

#2 Greater Variety of Gaming Challenges?

Does playing a greater variety of game systems offer a larger number of challenges to your tactical and strategic acumen? It most certainly does. When your stable of games includes large-scale fantasy battle games, skirmish style sci-fi games, space naval combat and warband based treasure hunting games, the challenges are endless in their variety, and you will certainly never run out of options for playing a scenario or battle type you have never tried before, as you have new options being pumped into several game systems at once, rather than just one by both the producers of the games and the community.

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There are some drawbacks to the actual play side of being a multi-gamer. It would be a highly skilled gamer indeed (more skilled than I) that could excel at several game systems at once, because with your time and attention spread across several rules sets and multiple play styles, it is unlikely that a gamer like me will ever become acutely focused enough on any one game or army to become a master with it.

That’s not to say you will simply end up playing lots of games poorly, rather I don’t necessarily expect to be the best gamer in my group, and entering a tournament would be just for the fun and experience rather than any expectation of finishing in a podium position. If you are the kind of gamer who gets their satisfaction out of overcoming the best opponents at the highest levels of competitive play, then playing half a dozen different games is perhaps not the most efficient route to achieving that aim.

#3 More Miniatures!

Yep. It goes without saying that playing more game systems is likely to mean a bigger collection of models, though that will not always be the case. You could play only one game system and have either a single huge army, or several smaller ones across different factions. Rather what you will end up with is a vastly greater variety of miniatures, both to choose from for gaming purposes, for painting and modelling opportunities and for variety of scale. In my collection I now have fantasy soldiers, futuristic soldiers, fantasy sailing warships, space faring warships, aliens, humans, the undead, monsters and more. I will certainly never get bored of the models I have to choose from for gaming or painting, and the modelling opportunities are endless.

A double-edged element of the ‘more models’ factor is dealing with potentially many more miniatures manufacturers and companies. The risk of playing multiple games is that you have varying qualities of miniatures from one system to the next, and not all are of the same standard. It is, however, becoming more acceptable to use ‘third party’ miniatures across a whole swathe of games these days, so if the producer of the game you like doesn’t sell models that float your boat, it is becoming more and more likely that another company will. The online community is a fantastic source of information about new companies and producers you have never heard of.

#4 Storage

Ok, I have to hold my hands up to this one – storage can be tricky with a large collection, and it’s not just the models. If you are playing six different systems, that six sets of rulebooks, faction army books, source books and even game specific terrain. In some cases the storage you might need for a single system, particularly naval games like Battlefleet Gothic and Man O’ War, might be small, but it does add up. I am lucky enough to have a garage to store the majority of my collection in, so I can avoid the dilemma of having to negotiate space usage with my family.

#5 Financial Commitment

The cost associated with taking part in a what is considered to be a ‘premium hobby’ like miniature wargaming can, as I am sure we all know, soak up substantial funds. This doesn’t necessarily increase with the playing of multiple systems. As I have mentioned, you can play just one system and still have a huge collection, and if it is a large-scale battle game, the cost can go up even more compared to playing multiple smaller scale games. Again, whether you play one game system or several, the more different factions you play, the more books and models you have to buy, and the more frequently there will be a rules release that impacts the armies you play.

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If you play just one army for one game system, it could be years between book purchases, but if you play ten different factions across several systems, you could have a new faction book every couple of months, and even several at once. This can be good because it means there is always something fresh to get into and read, always some updated rules to enjoy (or bemoan), and often updated background info and gaming options, but it does of course mean more money. There isn’t a lot we can do about that unfortunately, apart from perhaps see if there are bargains to be had in the second-hand market.

Having said that, if you play in a relatively close-knit and familiar gaming group, or even just at home with family members and close friends, there is nothing  that says you have to update your rule sets or faction books as they are refreshed by the producer – you may not feel that an updated faction book is necessary, or you may prefer an older rules set to a new one that is released. It is your hobby and you can choose how you want to enjoy it.

#6 Hobbiness

Finish on a high, that’s what I say. I my view, the more different kinds of models you collect, the greater the opportunity for different paint schemes, whether the game is high fantasy, sci-fi, space combat, dungeon crawl or historical. There is also greater opportunity for conversions of different kinds and scales, different painting techniques, dioramas, multi-basing, unit fillers, terrain building options and everything else you can think of. It may mean you need a few extra pots of paint, but the variety of projects you have to choose from is never-ending. If you are a hobbyist first and foremost, then there is a lot to be gained in my opinion from the variety that comes with being a Multi-gamer.

In Conclusion

I think I have covered all the areas that I have been thinking about over the last few weeks or so, and looking at it all, I am pleased to be a Multi-gamer. While I may not be the best gamer at my club, I can always get a game of something against someone. I also have zero chance of getting bored playing so many different game systems, though sometimes it makes my head spin.

I’ll say that the variety of painting and modelling options means I never get stuck looking at a group of models and dreading having to slog through yet more rank and file minis, because there is always something completely different on the workbench I can switch to as a break or a reward for having finished something less exciting, and if I ever feel as though I need a change of pace, I have several other game systems just waiting for some attention. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Until next time folks, thanks for reading – Eternal Wargamer.

Warhammer 40,000, Age of Sigmar, Kings of War, Necromunda, Warhammer Quest, Man O’ War, Frostgrave, Dropfleet Commander, Bolt Action, Battlefleet Gothic, Bloodbowl…

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  • I would love to play more than one game. I agree with the benefits of doing it, and of course the drawbacks.

    Time for me is the hardest obstacle. I play 40K once a week, and I could change that to another game once in a while – in theory. However, there’s only one good day for me, and that falls on 40K night. The people there are there for 40K, obviously. Some of them could maybe be converted over to something. Once Blood Bowl gets released, my plan is to try and recruit for it.

    Still, I can’t see myself dabbling into as many games as you do. My 40K army isn’t fully painted, and likely never will be. Splitting my painting time, as little as that is, across a lot of systems just wouldn’t work. I would be too frustrated because nothing would ever be complete, in my thinking anyway.

    In the end I suppose I choose to play one game, and I try and play it well, or at the very least hobby well for it ;)

    • Frank Ford

      It seems to come naturally to me to play multiple games, but I agree, there is little enough painting time to split between them.

      It’s a good job that I plan to be playing wargames for several years to come!

      • Another pro for multi-gaming is burnout prevention. If you’re getting worn out on a system you just play another game.

        • Frank Ford

          Exactly right. 23 years and no burnout!

  • jack shrapnel

    I used to play warmachine and still have armies for malifaux and x-wing but I rarely play either. Seems I only have time to adequately play two games, so that’s Age of Sigmar and 40k for me. When I was trying to play several games it just ended up I didn’t have time for them all – especially when it comes to painting. I can certainly see the advantages though – you’d always be able to get a pick up game in something!

    • Frank Ford

      It can be a hard balancing act sometimes, but my advice is never to get rid of any of your collection, especially if you have fair sized armies for games, because sooner or later you will probably want to come back to them.

      It might be a new edition of a game that sparks it, or joining a new gaming group, or new players joining your existing group that shake up your scene and give you that bug back for games you haven’t played in a while.

      • jack shrapnel

        I hear you on that one… I bought into warmachine three times, built up fully painted armies each time and sold them eventually each time. Could have definitely saved some cash just not selling the first time!

  • I think I dabble in Xwing because it doesn’t require me spend any hobby time with it. I can concentrate my hobby time into one avenue, (40k/mini’s) and then just play xwing for fun now and then!

    • Frank Ford

      And this is something that is true of many games: Frostgrave, Battlefleet Gothic, Bloodbowl, Man O’ War – all games that require little commitment once you have your models sorted, and you need relatively few minis for each.

  • I’ve always been a multi-gamer from the start. During the biggest part of those years 40k has been the main game but nowadays it’s been put aside in favor of Bolt Action. Me and a friend in the club are starting up Epic again after some years without it and I hope there will be some BFG with that as well.

    I also play a lot of board games and some card games for variety.

    There are some ‘cons’ with that, most of them you have included in the article. The main drawbacks for me is that we are a small club in a small town so it’s hard to get new games going. So the more games we start the les players I’ll have available for each game.

    Secondly, definitely the cost. While most board games aren’t that expensive and lasts for a long time (well the good ones). The card games we play aren’t very expensive either, right now it’s Call of Cthulhu and we have a pretty big magic group (I’m not in it)(which is an expensive game).

    The bottom line is that I just love gaming and will play anything more or less.

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