5 activities for busy wargamers

Are you too busy to wargame or to make the time for your favorite hobby?

Sometimes real life prevents us from indulging in our favorite hobby. You probably know what it’s like, especially if you’re an adult. It’s true, our hobby can be quite time consuming with all the painting and terrain crafting. Plus, tabletop battles often take up a whole evening our afternoon.

That being said, it’s a hobby, not a job. It’s something that you do at your own pace in your own free time, even if you don’t have much of it.

That said, try to get a sense of how much time we spend on mind numbing activities like watching TV or scrolling on your smartphone. You might be shocked.

So, apart from gaming, what other sub activities can be incorporated in the wargaming hobby?

1. Reading

If you like reading, be it novels or nonfiction, try to be selective in your reading material. Obviously novels set in the world of your gaming franchise are ideal to immerse yourself in these worlds. But also more generic fantasy and science-fiction novels can be a source of inspiration to further flesh out your hobby experience. It can in fact influence the activities that follow. If you are into historical gaming, there are plenty of excellent books and magazines out there covering every single period in world history. Flipping through art books and photography anthologies is another great activity requiring no effort on your side. If you are into comics, feel free to read them. But try to stay mindful or aware during reading. It helps to better “absorb” the information.

2. World Building

Your fantasy and science fiction battles happen somewhere. Sure it’s OK to play out generic Red vs. Blue army set in a generic world. But wouldn’t it be nice to set your battles in more or less fully developed imaginary worlds? If you feel inclined to invent these worlds, get a notebook and a pen that you keep on hand at all times. Instead of mindlessly scrolling your apps, while waiting for your train, take out your notebook and draw maps, write down snippets of fiction, imaginary places, artifacts, people, etc.. It doesn’t  have to be perfect. Just write or sketch something. You can always further develop or modify it later or erase it altogether, if you don’t like it. These little exercises are not only fun, but enhance your imagination and writing and/or sketching skills.

3. Army Design

Instead of building and painting a new army or warband, that you’ll ultimately won’t use, try designing it first. Develop a concept on paper. Try out different points and equipment variants. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your units? Ponder whether you’ll focus on shooting, melee, cavalry, artillery, etc. Think about what the army will be like: background stories, potential kit bashing ideas and paint schemes. Research miniatures online. I know this might involve scrolling on Pinterest for example. But it’s done with purpose in that case.

4. Scenario / Campaign Design

Similar to world building and army design, might be designing your own scenarios or even fully developed campaigns. I suggest you to read books like Jon Lambshead Sci-Fi Skirmish Scenarios and Henry Hide’s Wargaming Campaigns to get your creative juices flowing. There we go. There’s the reading part again.

5. Record and share your thoughts and ideas

I wrote the main bulk of this article on a 40 minute train commute to a business meeting. Instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone, I decided to write the very text you’re reading right now. Whether you use your phone, laptop or hobby journal to record your ideas, doesn’t really matter. Use what feels right for you.

Maybe you’ll post your thoughts and ideas to a blog. Or maybe you’ll keep a photo diary online. Instagram, Facebook or X might be a good place to start.

Try not to stick to a regular posting schedule and don’t be afraid to publish something in the works or unfinished.

And most importantly: Don’t feel obliged to publish anything! There’s something magical in unboxing your old sketches and notes sometime in the future. I do the same from time to time. Read Nostalgia and Escapism to know more.

All these activities together tie into each other and will yield something bigger eventually.

Use your time wisely.

This is only a non-exhaustive list of things you can do within the wargaming hobby, when time is limited.

In the end, you don’t have to abandon the hobby, just because of a lack of free time. I’m sure there will be moments when it’s again more readily available. Even if you’ve got only a little time at your disposal, use it wisely.

Don’t try to be perfect.

Most importantly, don’t force it, and don’t beat yourself up if you really don’t have the time. After all, it’s a hobby and it should bring you enjoyment and relaxation. If it fails to do so, please take a break from it, or simply look for another activity or hobby that better suits your lifestyle.

Too busy to wargame?

Let us know in the comments if you know other “micro activities” within the hobby. We’d love to know.

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