The Marvelous Secret Origin of Jason Murdoch

Welcome to Wargamer Secret Origins. We’re going to discover the origins of our hobby’s greatest heroes and villains. Which is which? That’s for you to decide …

What age did you get into painting and what started it off? 
Cast your mind back to the mid nineties, Macarena was all the rage, we were hitchin’ a ride, and the Presidents were demanding nothing but Peaches…

Simpler times…

A young (year 9? maybe… that would have made me what? 15 or so…) high school student was shown some painted models that a couple of friends had been working on… that keeper of secrets was pretty damn mind blowing… and he rapidly discovered there was a world of models, games, a hobby he previously had zero idea about…

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Step 1. get involved. So the first ever purchase was the old citadel paint starter set, it came with a brush, bunch of paints, and a chaos warrior with step by step instructions on how to paint it just like the box art; Goblin Green base and all.

In what would be a theme that would emerge over the next few years, that young high school student decided that he knew better than the professional painters that had written the instructions, and he promptly disregarded them and did things his own way. The results were about as expected 😉

Anyhoo – that was the start… of a very slippery slope.

Always more keen on the fantasy aesthetic, I fell in pretty hard with Warhammer back when the high elves and goblins were in the box. The box also came complete with cardboard cut outs of Grom the Paunch and Eltharion on Stormwing. I immediately got collecting a high elf army that grew with every birthday & Christmas. I raided my dollarmite account and the collection rapidly got out of hand.
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That high elf collection was repainted a number of times… generally without stripping… from the bright box art colours, to a much darker scheme when I decided that even high elves could be dark and gritty when the occasion demanded it.

I’m getting all nostalgic now, but between the mass fantasy battles, the Necromunda campaigns that went over months, and D&D sessions where none of us really knew what we were doing, but it was worth it if for no other reason than to sneak samples from our parents liquor stashes… They were good times.

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Move on a few years… out of high school… really not playing anything – there was a real drought of a few years where I decided it wasn’t worth hanging onto to everything and sold the lot. Moved on with important angsty 19 year old things like hating my parents.

Skip forward to 2007 when I caught up with good friend Pip and over a beverage we were reminiscing about games gone by… And decided that it was definitely a great idea to maybe crack out the dice, and just dip our toes in the water of Warhammer fantasy yet again.

2008 we discovered there was an active Warhammer fantasy tournament scene. Now I had known about tournaments before, but had avoided them not wanting to get caught up in making a game of toy soldiers serious business… But wanting to try something new, and not really giving two sh1ts about our success in games, we decided to pull the trigger and entered.


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Possibly one of the greatest weekends of my nerd life ensued. 100 odd players, armies painted to a standard I had never seen, epic games (of which I lost every single one and came second last), 4am super smash brothers in the hotel with some new mates after drinking waaaay too much, and rinse and repeat the next day. My first ever experience of painting in the hotel room the night before a tournament. My brand new slaanesh chaos warband finished just in time for the event, complete with the first ever conversions I’d really done – the marauder sled chariots I still have… somewhere…

That single weekend opened up my eyes to a world of hobby I never had thought possible. Conversions, scratch builds, themed armies, the overall visual impact of what people had managed to produce…

That was the weekend where I learned that I loved some epic hobby.

Over the next couple of years my little chaos army evolved from the standard models with a couple of changes (apart from my sleds) to an all singing, all dancing project… I bought a high elf dragon brand new, off the shelf and took to it with a stanley knife to make a 2 headed chaos dragon… I made my own dragon ogres from black orcs and cold ones… I managed to pick up a couple of sneaky painting awards from a couple of events… it fuelled the enthusiasm. I made new friends. I went to more events. I helped organise and run events. We started our own annual Warhammer tournament… Warhammer 8th ed brought more excitement and a fully converted beastman army, I messed around with some 40k… discovered Malifaux…

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Anyhoo-that’s how it started.
What is your favourite aspect of painting?
I really love 2 parts… the inception of a new project… coming up with the theme… brainstorming the ideas, working out how to build an army and models to create impact…the second part is having it done.

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In between those two extremes is the ours of hard work, effort, modelling, painting, trying things, scrapping it and starting again… About 2/3 of the way through any project I generally question what I’m doing and whether this was ever a good idea… but by then I’m generally too far down the rabbit hole to abandon ship. So we push on… Then I get excited about another idea…

But not doing things “stock” – it’s the customising that really gets the hobby juices flowing. How can I personalise my things so they aren’t like everyone elses.  From a custom colour scheme, to some sweet unique bases to going the whole hog with conversions and display boards…

Beyond that, getting a little more into the technical side – colour theory, different techniques, i’m never going to get to the level that some do – I simply don’t have the patience, but pushing the level of what can be achieved keeps me interested.

What are you working on right now? 
Not enough… New babies will do that to your hobby time it turns out. I swear that wasn’t on the brochure… Playing a bit of bloodbowl when I can… So small discreet projects of limited models, like a bloodbowl team really help keep the motivation alive when you have limited time…

I’m most of the way through a “kislev circus” team, all marauder parts and greenstuff, and also working on a “khorne / chaos / maybe chaos dwarf” team using some OSL techniques to hopefully generate some visually striking effects quick and easy.

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I’ve also kinda hit a stage with my gaming pieces where I kinda feel like having stuff painted is better than not having stuff painted… so working out ways to get stuff done quickly and still getting a result that I’m happy with is the constant endeavour.

Amongst that I’m getting some terrain together from a kickstarter i backed… terrain is one of those things I love. Brings so much to a game, and again, minimal effort can produce sweet results that elevate the immersive experience a whole lot…
jason murdoch guildball painted miniatures malifaux biker
And getting through my Malifaux backlog…

Maybe another 40k army… I had this idea for a raven guard force.

AoS releasing new beastmen stuff got me excited to update that army.

Necromunda was one of those games I loved. I still have a full metal Van Saar gang I was updating the paint scheme on.

This sweet new terrain would be perfect for Mordheim, I have a dwarf warband somewhere half done.

jason murdoch guildball painted miniatures malifaux

Knight models keeps releasing sweet batman stuff, I should paint the few I have laying around.

But I wanted to play dark elves next bloodbowl season, I should start that team, And I really want to slow down and focus on painting a couple of things to a higher standard. I grabbed a couple of busts for that reason that are sitting untouched.

You see how this goes.

When you are not conquering the tabletop, what do you do? 
So I’ve found I really enjoy more than just the gaming / painting side of the hobby… Communities are really at the heart of the games we play – I mean, they’re all (at least) two player – right? I’ve got so much out of the (generally thankless) efforts of people running events and producing content, that firstly, I think “If these people can do it – surely it can’t be THAT hard” (heads up – it is)… Then I want to get involved and help build the profile of games, and a community spirit that reflects what I love about gaming.

jason murdoch guildball painted miniatures

So with that in mind, running events is something I get pretty involved in – Originally for warhammer fantasy back in 7th ed, with “Rumble in the Bronx”, then Malifaux became my jam… “Twatifaux” has been my baby for the past few years.

Beyond that, running demo games and introducing people to faux is a thing I try and do.

Then there is the sneaky podcast “Unfauxcast” that talks about all things Malifaux – but more around community, the social side of the game.. there is so much more than rules and tactics (and frankly there are better people to discuss those) but attitudes, ideas, the concept of the social convention of wargaming… that I can wax lyrical about for days.

Which of your armies is your favourite? 
I have to say my beastmen. It was a massive effort over a good 12+ months that I built for the tournament scene back in Warhammer 8th ed… I always enjoy playing “lower tier” armies, those ones that the internet generally consider bad… So they ticked both that box, and the creativity box in spades. Whole concept was a beastman warband corrupted by nurgle… There’s probably about 5000pts of bulls and goats and gribblies, every model converted or unique in some way – from finding different models I hadn’t seen, through to almost scratch building some, it was the biggest hobby effort I’ve put in to date. It’s big, bright, over the top, and I’m now considering adding to it… Damn you GW releasing a new book for them.

Secret painter or loud and proud? 
Ha!! I wouldn’t call it “secret” per say – but it’s not really something I volunteer at work, or at the gym, or anywhere… Some people know, but sometimes it’s just harder to explain than I can be bothered with.
Any hobby tips or cheats to share? 
Soooo many!! But a few things, definitely surround yourself with inspiring people… just bouncing ideas and sharing works in progress is the best way to get excited and stay motivated.

Try stuff – You never know what you can achieve if you never try… It was 100% terrifying the first time I opened that high elf dragon that I’d spent way too much on, only to cut it up hoping to make something – but it worked (more or less) and I was proud, and excited to try the next thing. Same can be said for new techniques.

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Don’t get caught up in the tools – Everyone has their favourite brand of paints, or the brush they love, or they need to tell you to buy a colour wheel… I’m sure it’s all great, but realistically you don’t need the most amazing kickstarter wet palette to paint well… you don’t need a $50 brush, you can to almost anything with some craft store paints and cheap brushes… Sure, I love a good brush (and totally think they’re worth the investment btw)… but it isn’t necessary.

Good photos are the result of good lighting.

Why do you do What you do? 
It’s an obsession – but it is a creative outlet, it’s an amazing excuse to catch up with friends, it gets the brain ticking over… There are so many boxes this hobby ticks, I can’t get enough.

How do you Work? 
Messily… So I tend to work on a “project” at a time. Back in the day (pre embargos and such) I would collect everything I needed, then assembled everything, undercoated everything and then started painting… Now, I don’t have as much time, and it’s hard to not get overwhelmed by big projects… But still, assemble everything, base everything, paint everything…
You know those people that paint things in parts, then do sub assemblies so that they can get into areas they couldn’t reach otherwise..? That is NOT me. If I can’t get to it with a brush, you probably can’t see it. My hobby desk is currently covered in projects of different levels of completion… I now have a tiny area left to work with… I’ll do a mass purge and clean up soon… rinse and repeat.

jason murdoch guildball painted miniatures work space
Anything else you’d like to add?
I have zero idea whether this is interesting, exciting, inspiring, motivating, or even vaguely literate… But seeing exciting hobby excites me. sharing ideas gets me having ideas. Playing games gets me pumped for more games. Do hobby things. Involve yourself in the community… It’s seriously the best way to stay motivated. Beyond that, I have met so many friends through this hobby of ours, that getting involved is worth it for the social aspect alone. But hope to meet more of you at some event for some game *coughmalifauxcough* soon!!

Get in contact with Jason

Who’s the next super hero or villain that the #Spruegrey Nation should talk to? Let me know by email ( or in the comments below.

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