Gamer Milestones

As tabletop gaming becomes a lifelong hobby, there are increasing levels of investment in the game as we get older. Here's mine.


Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

Buying Your Own Rulebooks​

As lifelong Dungeon Master for my group, I was always the one who had the core rulebooks. But it was telling who invested in those books and who didn't. Players who owned the core rulebooks were more engaged over the occasional players who borrowed books.

With the exception of the D&D core rules and anything I've published myself, I've moved to anything that's available electronically to PDF. I have two sturdy bookshelves to handle the rest, but if I buy anything else that doesn't fit on those shelves, I have to get rid of a book. This has definitely slowed my print RPG purchases.

Investing in Miniatures and Terrain​

Not everyone invests in miniatures and or use them in play. Terrain is similar, but tends to be limited to game masters. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons never required miniatures to play, but we always enjoyed the idea of having a miniature to perfectly represent a character. I was given a miniature as a gift to represent one of my favorites.

Buying a miniature is one thing, painting them is another. In the era of painted miniatures this isn't nearly as important as it once was, but it's still relevant as it goes beyond the initial purchase. Painting takes money (if you hire someone else to do it) or time (if you paint it yourself). My painting hobby increased as I got older and learned more about painting techniques.

I was a backer for every one of Reaper's Kickstarter campaigns but finally stopped because I couldn't keep up painting them all. After a certain point, I had so many miniatures and so much terrain that I had to put a limit on it. I bought a rolling tool case to hold it all, and if the miniatures don't fit in there, I can't buy more. This now takes up a significant amount of space in the game room (more on that below), but it's awfully convenient for games where I can pick out any miniature I need in a few minutes. Also, because I now have a 3D printer (also below), it's rare there's a miniature or terrain that I can't print the day before, thereby saving significantly on space.

Buying a 3D Printer​

If you're willing to paint your own miniatures and terrain, a 3D printer essentially frees a game master to make anything they can dream of. There are limitations of course; the miniatures may not be as detailed and the terrain may not be as sturdy. But the ability to 3D print obscure creatures or bizarre terrain is hard to resist. That said, 3D printers are not cheap. The price continues to come down though, enough that in a few more years they may be the next logical step from collecting miniatures/terrain to printing them.

I have two 3D printers and use them constantly to make everything from large miniatures to terrain. I've found they don't work well for smaller PC miniatures (I can't get nearly as much detail as I'd like), but for cultists and goblins it works just fine. I printed almost all the monsters from Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, many of which have no plastic equivalents for sale or are impractical to buy in bulk.

Building a Game Room​

A dedicated game room is something that implies a lot of other firsts: owning (or at least renting) your own place, having enough rooms in your domicile to set aside one for gaming, and being able to furnish it specifically for gaming such that it's not just a dining room or a kitchen.

Inherent in the creation of a game room is the assumption that a lot of gaming will take place there. This may be easier to justify if there are kids in the household who will also use the room for other games (like video games) or for family game nights (like board games).

It took me decades before I was able to create a game room; when I finished my basement, I designed one of the rooms for this purpose. Even after it was finished, it took me another year to furnish it so that it was truly a game room.

Buying a Game Table​

All of the above steps can be done incrementally, but investing in a gaming table requires a significant upfront investment that not everyone can afford. Tabletop gaming can work with dining room tables, but it's not quite the same (the table typically needs to be wider and a different height than dining tables). Many gamers make their own tables while others purchase their table outright.

It occurred to me that in the gaming world, this is like buying a car -- it's a significant commitment that really forces you to face just how much you value your hobby. It also might require a serious discussion with your significant other when you spend that much money at once on your passion that might normally be spread out over months and years.

My original plan was to build a table according to plans of a Kickstarter I backed years ago. But increasing demands on my time made that impossible, so I decided instead to ask my contractor to do it as part of the game room redesign. But as he was nearing retirement, my contractor was less interested in completing the table, which was more complicated than he realized. He admitted to me later his son's friend had accidentally broken it in the shop. My contractor soon after left the country to retire and I never saw him (or the table) again!

I instead decided to invest in a table that could adjust to the room's size. I'll review Transformer Table 3.0 in a future article, but suffice it to say that even buying a table is not as simple as ordering it (or in my case, backing it on Kickstarter).

I've since played on the table with my kids, but the very concept of investing in a table during a pandemic (or even a game room) now seems quaint. Here's hoping that in the future in-person gaming won't seem like such a risky investment.
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

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A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Now, this is what I was thinking about. I will look more into this. Thanks.

Blue Tack should be in any gamer's kit. Great to hold condition markers on minis without harming the paint, great for holding terrain in place in case the table is bumped, great for putting up posters temporarily, great for holding down maps in place (very important if you keep them rolled up normally), great for cleaning airpods (press the speaker end into a gob of blue tack and when you pull it out, it will get rid of any dirt, ear wax etc.), great for rolling up and throwing at player who makes a bad pun or does something stupid, great for holding web cams in place if you don't have a proper camera stand, clean your keyboard with it, make minis on the fly, use as a pencil eraser, and on and on.

So, is it strong enough to hold a projector, well, with enough it can hold a person:

Some other uses:



I bought into the Group Backing for the Games Theory Tables Origin Game Table. Looking forward to finally having my dream table to play on. I have been very fortunate to have a supporting spouse to build my dream game and home theater room. I rarely go out to movies anymore (even before the whole COVID limitations), as I have a 109" screen. It is actually more affordable than people think. My home theater cost less than $1000. Admittingly, I did spend twice that for the game table that shows up next month, but considering these were several thousand for the low end tables just a few years ago, I consider this a good deal for a 4 x 6 table with built in cup holders and a removable table top. We entertain a lot (pre COVID), so I am certain the table will see heavy use to justify the cost.



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