Enough Figures

Recently, I mentioned idly to my wife that I was thinking of getting some new figures.

“Haven’t you got enough figures?” she said.

Now this is no thing to say to a tabletop gamer, and in the early years of our marriage might well have led to an argument; but this time I thought: “She is very often right. Is it possible that I do, in fact, have enough figures?”

That begs the question, how many figures are enough?

I no longer play tabletop wargames, partly because of scheduling problems (this job thing really gets in the way of my gaming) and partly because I’ve gone off Warhammer, so the driving factor is face to face role-playing sessions. For those, a party of six is about all I can handle, they only need one figure each, and enemy NPCs typically outnumber the party 2:1 in my games. So at any one time, there are only going to be 18 figures on the table. Let’s triple the PCs to give the players some choice; that adds another 12, taking us to 30 total – the major named NPCs can use the spare PC figures.

Like any tabletop gamer, I accept using one figure as a proxy for another, but I draw the line at using fantasy figures to represent science fiction ones. So let’s have 30 fantasy and 30 SF; total, 60. The SF figures can stand in for contemporary figures in my zombie apocalypse solo games, and although the fantasy mooks (skeletons and orcs) could stand in for zombies, I would prefer some proper zeds. Let’s go all out and say another 30 for that genre. Total, 90. Conveniently, that would fit into one of my old Warhammer cases, which have room for 108 figures each, with some room left over for dice and bennies.

I haven’t counted my collection lately, but judging by the number of boxes and cases it occupies, there are somewhere between 400 and 500 of the little devils. (I’ve been gaming a long time now.) So, in terms of raw numbers, I have to admit I do indeed have enough figures, though they may not be the right ones for my current games. I must also admit that they’ve all spent at least the last three years in cupboards, in case they get damaged, like the good china. It does seem pointless to buy more things that sit in cupboards not being used; let’s get them back on the table where they belong.

As Yakko might have said, “I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson today: Never talk to your wife about buying figures.”

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