Hello everyone and welcome to another rambling article.

I’ve been musing over how to construct this article for some time, as every time I start it I’m normally unhappy with it in ten lines!

So what is burnout – simply speaking it’s when you can’t be arsed/actively dislike some aspect of anything – but in this case it’ll be more wargaming related.

I’ve experienced multiple types of burnout in different ways throughout my hobby life.

It’s ranged from recently where the idea of painting any more German infantry just disgusted me so much I sold any remaining ones.

Or how I got burnt out by the 40K tournament scene at the end of 5th edition amid a never ending array of what felt like overpowered and increasingly one sided new lists (my poor eldar then felt very unloved)

Or even when I quit playing blood bowl (still the best decision in my life lol) after the never ending league of doom which actively made me want to stop playing that have ever again – 5 years ago!

I keep trying to avoid all these types of burnout as a) I love painting, b) I enjoy tournaments and c) I enjoy gaming with mates. So how do I avoid burnout in these?

Well painting wise I every so often do something completely different – currently there is a Malifeaux starter box for when that need arises, last time it was an Eldar Flyer for 40K. Especially with large/long projects having a break every so often really helps – and I’ve also found that even after a break I’m not interested I’ll do yet another ‘something else’ as when I painting without ‘love’ frankly the results always look worse!

Tournaments is an interesting one I find. I never play lots in a year as I have many other commitments (a rugby season ticket and a girlfriend being the principle ones) I also discovered going with an army I enjoy using vs one which is ‘good’ is also beneficial. I remember well the multiple tables of grey knights I saw at one tournament, and frankly loved the mid tournament variety of lists – I sometimes fear the predominance of allied infantry will cause the same problem – so running around with axis tanks is a nice antidote! The lack of doing them regularly also keeps them fresh and fun!

As for playing the game in general – what helps keep it fresh for me is a two pronged approach, firstly I only regularly play people I like – if I’m going to spend a whole evening with someone who irritates me just for a game I’m mad! Alongside this is playing competitive game – and by that I know to bring a tournament list sometimes and a less tournament list at others.

I think burnout is a huge risk in wargaming – I don’t think I’ve heard other friends with other hobbies mention it anywhere near as much as gamers do.

So if any of you have ways you manage it I’d love to hear it.

Category: Flames of WarRambling


  1. I think the key here is as you say, not to force it. Your hobby is supposed to be fun – notice its 'your' hobby, not 'the' hobby. In such a creative and free flowing genre, so many people pigeon hole themselves. Of course, rules give a game structure, however with like minded opponents you can bend them to create a better game (a friend who wanted to take 5 dangerous terrain tests to turbo-boost an Ork war buggy over a hill only to explode in mid air springs to mind), or create new modelling projects that inspire you (watch my blog for my G.f’s pink ‘girls und panzer’ inspired tank aces Shermans…).
    A group of like minded friends is essential, as having someone help get the hobby froth going goes a long way to helping complete projects that have a deadline, but as soon as it feels like work, stop. If you really want to go do something else, then go do it!
    Doing something completely unrelated to the hobby is a good way (I find) to want to return. With the internet and countless magazines, it’s easy to over saturate, and loose the ‘spark’, the thing it is that makes the dakkadakka noise in your head when you’re painting an mg42, or the scream of sirens from a Stuka.
    One note I’ve found – refrain from selling something just because you’ve grown sick of it. Chances are, the mood/inspiration that caused you to want it will return at some point – this is true of the hobby in general, and I’ve seen many people quit wargaming altogether only to rejoin a few years down the line.

    People use hobbies to ‘escape’ real life. When you feel you need to ‘escape’ the hobby, just take a deep breath and search your feelings…. Great, now I want to watch starwars again.
    Keep up the good work!


  2. I think Fez is on the money. I think it's also important to remember that the burn-out DOES pass. There's been several occasions where I've sold off stuff due to burn out, only to regret it a couple years later when my interest rekindled.


  3. I find I get painting burnout fairly regularly. It often seems to be from trying to focus on painting one group of things for too long. It happened with my 11th AD recently. I am now painting some random tanks and things as I was not inspired at all to paint more English Uniform.

    I have a few things I try to do to prevent it. I generally don't do large batch painting. At most I will work on 4 tanks or 2-3 stands of infantry at a time. I find doing more at a time just makes it unenjoyable for me. I can't do a full platoon of boots at the same time for example.

    Another thing I do is to let my painting evolve throughout a project. I like trying new techniques and styles all the time. Sometimes I have tried to paint things the same but I just feel like it really limits me. I often change recipes and things in the middle of a platoon. I'd rather improve as a painter and paint each model as well as I can than paint exactly the same for a year.

    Like you mentioned, I also try to do some different models for a break. Paint things from a different genre or just something I am excited to paint at the time. The downside to this is I sometimes get left with unfinished models.

  4. I used the break miniature trick when I was painting at a steadier clip. I used to break up my infantry with tanks for some friends and Infinity models as well. These days I just don't see the painting table as much so I find I have to really stay committed to get to the table for a half hour each day or a project become stagnant.

  5. Good point mate and one we probably all come to every so often.

    From the creative side of the hobby I try and mix it up as much as possible having several things on the go at once – differing games and whether troops or terrain… though must admit there's always that squad / platoon you need to paint for your next desired force composition…

    Most of my burn out comes from gaming, and my mostly negative win / loss ratio… usually after about 10 losses in row, I usually scream enough is enough, mostly due to the sense of 'whatever I try I still lose so whats the point?' … and take a break… Sometimes this can be spouse imposed, if 'Mr Grumpy' comes out to play on the home front after the latest defeat…

    But as others have said I get drawn back into it, down the line, like a moth to flame…

    Stay sane mate!

  6. Thanks for the replies gentlemen – glad it's stirred up a bit of thinking and some excellent ideas which I'd not considered – hopefully this might help others in the community too

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Article by: Mark Goddard