Hello, TechRaptor readers! This article is going to be different than most in that I’m not writing for you at all. I’m writing for the people who are buying Christmas presents for you, are totally lost when it comes to wargaming, and have begun to panic with Christmas less than a week away. So for now, I’d like you to simply spread this article around on your social media platform of choice, close the window, and go back to getting your models painted. I know you have a decent back log of stuff to get finished.
Are they gone? Good. Now, let’s get started!
Whether you’re a parent or friend who has absolutely no idea what this weird hobby is about or you’re a seasoned Warhammer widow, trying to pick out the perfect gift can be difficult. So rather than rely on a frazzled retail clerk who may or may not be getting a sales commission or trying your hands at Google and hoping to come across something that might not be too horribly far off the mark, I’ll do what I can to help you pick out the perfect Christmas gift that fits within your holiday budget.
And before you ask, no I didn’t write this article as a roundabout way to add stuff to my Christmas list. Promise.
First up is figuring out just which game(s) the gift recipient plays. For the uninitiated, trying to figure out the names of all the different products and game systems is daunting and only adds to the already ridiculous holiday stress. Odds are, the person you’re shopping for has already prepared a handy gift list for you. If not, however, your job is a bit trickier. How can you deal with this problem without giving any info away? There’s a few somewhat sneaky tactics to employ:
- Take a look at their bookshelf and take note of anything that has the words “core” or “rule book” on the side. Jot the name down.
- Odds are they have several models in various states of assembly and painting laying around in their hobby area. Take some pics of a few of the more complete-looking models and head down to the local store to ask for assistance. This will help the store employees figure out which game you’re looking for rather than saying “the one with the big guys with guns” or “the one with the big guys with swords”.
- Find their local FLGS (friendly local gaming store, the place where they go to play) and ask what games the person plays. If they’re a regular, either the employees or other customers will be able to point you in the right direction. Unless the person you’re buying for is “That Guy.” If that’s the case, you may be in some trouble and would probably be better off with fruitcake and discount underpants.
So now that we’ve figured out which game they actually play, it’s time to figure out what to buy. The best advice I can give is to pick a comfortable price point and stick to it! Some of these models can induce a moderate amount of sticker shock, and certain stores may be under pressure from upper management to meet specific sales goals. A hard-pressed or unscrupulous employee might try to press you to go over your budget and buy something you don’t quite have the available holiday money for. Be polite, yet firm and resist the temptation to get something more expensive because it’s “cooler”.
An important point I’d like to make to people looking to go down the Games Workshop route for gifts: don’t feel too pressured to get the “right” gift this year. GW has been in business for quite some time and realizes how difficult buying for another person can be. Their stores have a very generous return policy if you accidently picked up an Imperial Knight for someone who plays The Hobbit, for example. I wouldn’t worry about this specific scenario too much, since nobody plays The Hobbit and that section of the store can be safely ignored. If you’re buying from your Friendly Local Gaming Store (and you should), be sure to inquire about their return policies and keep the receipt handy, just in case.
If you’ve decided against models, there’s still hope! The game doesn’t revolve around the models entirely (just mostly). There are still plenty of options available.
The first option is paint brushes. These can make all the difference in a model’s paint quality, and new brushes are always appreciated. The gold standard are the Windsor and Newton Series 7 brushes. For wargaming, you’re going to be looking for the pointed round brushes in sizes anywhere from 1 to 000. They may seem ridiculously small, and to be honest, those sizes are ridiculously small. But if you’ve seen the models, then you’ll know just how small and how detailed these can be. If the Series 7 brushes are out of your price range, a more affordable option would be the Army Painter line of brushes.
And if you’re going the brush route, an excellent addition would be brush cleaner. The Masters Brush Cleaner from General Pencil Company is widely accepted as the best option. It’s basically a block of specially formulated soap that not only removes dried-on paint from bristles, but they act as a conditioner as well, helping the brushes keep their points and last longer. If online purchases aren't an option due to time, find a local craft store or art store.
Another idea is something simple but invaluable: the humble laser pointer. In certain games like Infinity, line of sight is incredibly important. It can also lead to some disagreements when trying to get a model’s eye view of the battlefield. A laser pointer, however, eliminates these debates rather quickly. Any basic laser pointer will do, but if you want to go a bit above and beyond, take a look at the TARGETLOCK Laser Line from Army Painter. Rather than a traditional laser pointer, the TARGETLOCK Laser Line has an option to draw a line between two points to further illuminate what’s in line of sight and what isn’t.
One item that nearly every wargamer needs more of is dice. No matter the game, players always need more dice. Whether it’s the standard d6 dice known by board gamers the world over or the d20 dice familiar to roleplayers everywhere, dice are a staple of wargames. While you can simply buy a pack of standard black and white dice almost anywhere, it’s the holiday season, so let’s get a bit more unique. Stores on the Web abound selling unique and customized dice, though the deadline for most custom dice orders is getting pretty close. Take a look at places like Awesome Dice, Chessex, and GameScience for something above and beyond $2 dice from the grocery story.
Finally, there is always the tried-and-true gift certificate. While a bit impersonal, it does provide the opportunity for the receiver to get something they normally would put off but really want while ensuring you can easily avoid any gift-giving pitfalls.