Armies & Legions & Hordes is a 176 page hardback book, authored by Dave Taylor, former American editor of Wargames Illustrated magazine and the top quality painter behind Dave Taylor Miniatures.
The Contents page and Introduction outlines the purpose of the book, acting as an inspiration to other painters and gamers through describing Dave’s own journeys into army creation and the hobby.
Each of the sections looks at a different aspect of the hobby, embracing the need to set suitable aims, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, planning, managing your expectations and putting all of this into practice. Along the way, Dave’s thoughts are echoed through examples from others, people who have come up with their own approaches or used those expounded by Dave. This is all useful stuff, helping to turn the reader’s attention to the usefulness of the approaches offered.
This all leads to the section on Motivation – categorized by keeping it all going, perhaps through approaching a new technique, rewarding yourself, attending classes, researching your army project as a tabletop force or entering a tournament to give you a focus and deadline to work to. Having achieved that objective, the review process is explored. In many ways, the book to this point is similar to current thinking on educational progress, including managing your own learning as an experience, the ‘Learning For Life, Lifelong Learning’ approach.
The book then focuses upon a number of projects that Dave has completed, whether creating an army based upon sci-fi, fantasy or history. In each project section is a guide to the inspiration behind it, the key units created, the conversions and scratch building done and, most of all, plenty of really fantastic photos taken before, during and after the event. The ‘eye candy’ level is supplemented by the advice offered to the reader, and such techniques as bringing a cohesive look to your collection or using a particular technique not always associated with that type of project.
The next few sections explore terrain, tackling deadlines, large scale projects and commission painting, again through the medium of specific projects undertaken. So, the purpose of good terrain is exemplified by Dave’s involvement with 4Ground’s Fabled Realms building and figure releases, the best way to approach deadlines and batch painting through a Bolt Action US Airborne force, taking on very large miniatures such as a Forgeworld Titan and adding that post-apocalypse feel to his gaming via This Is Not A Test. Each section has a lesson or three to learn, again showing some great images of very well painted miniatures.
The book continues in a similar vein, using some of the excellent looking projects that Dave has undertaken as a focal point for ideas and thoughts on your own, whether painting, sculpting over existing figures, kitbashing, focusing on learning history to create a historical force, making the most of boardgame miniatures and using the ‘fluff’ behind a game universe to extrapolate your own army.
This is a book that is akin to the ‘self-help through personal example’ theme found in many book stores. The fact that it is focused upon the world of wargaming makes it unique. This book would perhaps work best for those gamers who find themselves falling into that familiar painting ‘rut’ or motivational ‘funk’ that so many find themselves in. If nothing else, it is the personal celebration of just how involved Dave Taylor is in his own and ‘The’ hobby, with plenty of eye candy to inspire and amaze.