Thursday, 16 January 2020

A short essay on self-control and focus

Me, not long ago: right, I’ve got my projects set for the year, now to scratch that cyberpunk itch with some Reality’s Edge.

Bloodbeard posts A short, informative review of Zona Alfa

Me:



So now we have this:




Initial impressions after a quick flick through are good - nicely thematic, simple enough to get into quickly but not suffering for it, with lovely presentation that’s the standard for an Osprey rulebook. I read an interview with the author this week where he said something along the lines of ‘I want to make games where afterwards you talk about the battle rather than the rules’, which I like a lot...

As well as this, obviously I grabbed a copy of the new Mortal Realms partwork, as £3 for a bunch of conversion fodder was too hard to pass up!



This does however take the Tally down to:

0 vs 13 = -13


Excitingly, my D&D group is back to playing, after taking a hiatus for the birth of my son, and our DM has been making some upgrades in the interim...









Wednesday, 1 January 2020

2019: a year in review

(Nu Gundam)


Happy 9th Birthday to this blog! There have been times I've been tempted to give it up (due to factors like the increasing difficulty to make posts from mobile devices more than anything else) but I'm glad that it's still around!

As is traditional, here is a look back at the year that was...


Tally

Thanks entirely to an eleventh hour effort as detailed in my last post, the Tally is ending up in the positive for the second year in a row (also ever).

Whilst I may not have painted that much, I also didn't buy much either! I may sell some more backlog miniatures next year to fund splurging at Salute (having missed it last year), so who knows whether I can make it three years in a row...

46 vs 43 = +3

2019: +3 (46 painted)
2018: +52 (52 painted)
2017: -14 (47 painted)
2016: -287 (56 painted)
2015: -96 (59 painted)
2014: 0 (80 painted)
2013: -416 (25 painted)
2012: -103 (68 painted)
2011: -173 (122 painted)


So, a pattern has emerged - for the last few years, I have tended to paint around 50 miniatures a year!


Posts

19 this year, the fewest since the blog began by quite some margin. As ever, Zomtober was a major pull in getting myself painting and posting! The birth of my son is the main factor in this - I managed 32 posts the year my daughter was born, but two children are an exponential factor, as anyone with children will know! As my daughter got older, we settled into a bedtime routine that allowed for Daddy to have hobby time once she was in bed, so in the next couple of years we may hopefully return to higher levels of productivity!


Challenge


  • Finish something  old
  • Finish a piece of terrain
  • Prep all of the monkeys in the monkey box
  • Build a wargames board
  • Paint all of the miniatures in a boxed game
  • Play a game of Blackstone Fortress with fully painted miniatures
  • Finish a complete skirmish force for a project (at least 16 miniatures, unless it's for a much smaller scale game like Batman)
  • Repaint something (either a miniature that I have previously painted, or one that was received painted
  • Convert a miniature and show WIP pics
  • Finish a member of the Nextwave team
  • Average at least a miniature a week by the end of the year (so, paint 52 miniatures)
  • End the year with the Tally in the positive!

So, not my most Challenge focused year, but then again it never is! I tend to think of the Challenge as something to guide me when I'm seeking inspiration (hence pulling Tabby out of the painting queue to add another to the list of painted Nextwave members) rather than a routine or stick to beat myself with...

Some people might argue that I should abandon it altogether, as I rarely hit many of my self-set targets, but where's the fun in that?


Projects (according to last year's end of year post)


Warhammer Quest Blackstone Fortress

A couple of enemy groups finished, with the next one already undercoated and awaiting their turn on the painting table. I got somewhat sidetracked trying to convert additional models for the Traitor Guard, which when I couldn't find heads that I was happy with stalled the whole project. Plan for 2020 - just crack on with them!


ASOIAF

A single wildling. It's odd, this is the project that I find myself thinking I'd like to do things for when idly musing, but it hasn't seemed to translate into finished miniatures. The thirty odd undercoated wildlings sat on my desk might be a daunting roadblock to that though... we'll see if I pick up some of the Fireforge Northern chaps at Salute though, which may jumpstart it again...


Star Wars

I managed to paint a Jedi for May the Fourth and a single engineer, which is double my usual annual Star Wars output! We're currently re-watching all the movies in preparation for going to see the new one, and I've had a hankering recently to go back and read the Darth Vader / Doctor Aphra comics, so who knows if that will translate into enthusiasm for painting...


Zombies

Zomtober is the thing that gets me posting without fail, so I'll pledge now to do it again in 2020! Maybe I'll even go back to my set of work in progress rules and give them another pass over (although they stalled last time because I started overthinking things and ended up trying to completely rebuild one of the core mechanics...)


Hellboy

The Kickstarter showed up the week my son was born, so plans to paint were somewhat delayed. The expansions have also since been delivered, so I've got plenty of material to be working on!


Back Burner
Necromunda - nothing this year.
40K - a Howling Banshee, hopefully some more odd miniatures here and there next year. There's a Sister of Battle sat on my painting tile currently for testing a paint scheme out on, so if that turns out pleasingly I can theoretically work my way through the rest of the backlog all the while resisting the urge to buy the new miniatures when they come out!
Fallout - nothing this year
ROTPOTA - As is now a long-running joke, and I've said it before, but maybe next year is the year I finally finish prepping the apes...


Projects for 2020


Warhammer Quest Blackstone Fortress




Still looks cool, still want to paint and play it. I'm fairly impressed at myself having not bought any of the expansions yet too. Maybe I'll treat myself if I manage to paint 100% of the miniatures in the set...


D&D



A lot of the miniatures I paint when the fancy takes me seem to be generic fantasy monsters, so I thought I should probably add Dungeons and Dragons to the projects list! A couple of related items have been added to the Challenge to tie into this, as you'll see later on...



ASOIAF 




Maybe if I break the undercoated Wildlings down into smaller batches and tackle them a little at a time I'll get through them... Then again, maybe I should focus back on adding to my Starks and Lannisters with the intention of making them playable forces. And then finish the rules.



Hellboy



'play a game with painted miniatures' is staying in the Challenge this year, and this is another viable contender for ticking that off! The (admittedly first world) problem with having backed the Kickstarter for this is that there is an absolute shed load of miniatures with it - I figure if I polish of a couple of hero types and then batch paint all the frog chaps that isn't an insurmountable goal...


Star Wars



I pledge to do May the Fourth again this year at the very least. Re-watching the prequels in preparation for seeing the new film gave me the urge to paint some battle droids, but I've screwed the lid down on that for now, as starting a new time period in a project is too much even for me! Although I could just do a mini project, Grievous' abduction of Palpatine from the animated Clone Wars series, hmmm...


Zombies



Zomtober is a given. If I find any bargains on the Walking Dead miniatures at Salute that might influence what the theme of this year's entries will be...


The Thing



I need to find a suitable dog head, that's the roadblock between me and motivation on this project. If I can find that, then I should have all of the bits I need to convert a couple more medium sized Things, and I've got a MacReady miniature already (that came in my Christmas stocking a few years back - long enough ago that it must have been pre-children, as I don't think I've had a stocking of my own since then!)


Reality's Edge



I've had a real hankering for Cyberpunk recently. It might have been kick-started by watching Alita, and I'm V excited (pun intended) for Cyberpunk 2077 next year although it's actually this year now! I got a review copy of the rulebook, and whilst in my mind I immediately began envisioning a huge project where I built a whole dystopian cityscape, more realistically I'd settle for painting a couple of suitable miniatures and maybe a little piece of terrain or two to start. If anyone has a blister of Bishoujo Senshi (sp?) from Rezolution in their lead pile that they would be happy to trade off let me know!


Backburner:
40K - I'm not committing to painting an army or anything, but as and when the fancy takes me I'll hopefully ad the occasional model to my Inquisitorial Warbands (maybe I'll even get round to finishing some of the Inquisitor conversions that have been sat half finished for the best part of a decade...)
Necromunda - no concrete plans, bu I still love Necromunda too much to write it off entirely...
Fallout - Weathering is very soothing, so in between other things I may squeeze in the occasional Fallout mini. Last year, I was tempted to dig out the Mass Effect project minis, but didn't get very far with that either...
ROTPOTA - Always. Never. Ape.





Next Year's Challenge


    • Finish something  old
    • Finish a piece of terrain
    • Prep all of the monkeys in the monkey box
    • Paint all of the miniatures in a boxed game
    • Play a board game with fully painted miniatures
    • Finish a complete skirmish force for a project (at least 16 miniatures, unless it's for a much smaller scale game like Batman)
    • Repaint something (either a miniature that I have previously painted, or one that was received painted
    • Convert a miniature and show WIP pic
    • Finish the last member of the Nextwave team
    • Complete the classes project (potentially adding the races from the Players Handbook to the mix)
    • Add at least 4 entries to the Monstrous Alphabet Project
    • Average at least a miniature a week by the end of the year (so, paint 52 miniatures)
    • End the year with the Tally in the positive!

    So, I've got plenty of old things to finish (there are almost certainly still miniatures sat in the painting queue that were undercoated before this blog began), and as ever I've carefully phrased some of the challenges to allow me to weasel my way into a loophole ('paint all of the miniatures in a boxed game', for example). I've already stripped something to be repainted (as I'd originally hoped to cross that off of the Challenge list last year but ran out of time). In hindsight, I should have posted my WIP pics of my Thing conversions last year on here rather than Instagram, as I could have crossed that off too! 52 minis and ending the Tally in the positive are always a doable target though I think...

    ...

    But wait, what is this Monstrous Alphabet Project you speak of, the more eagle-eyed readers cry. Over the last few years, I've painted a variety of monsters just on the off-chance I ever get round to running a D&D campaign, so I thought I'd turn it into a mini challenge and see if I could paint at least one thing for each letter of the alphabet. I'm only counting things with an actual Monster Manual entry, nothing from the appendices or NPC lists (sorry Giant Centipedes and Cultists!)

    Going back over previous blog entries, the Monstrous Alphabet currently stands at this:

    A is for
    B is for
    C is for
    D is for
    E is for Elemental (More than one)
    F is for Flameskull
    G is for Goblin
    H is for
    I is for
    J is for
    I is for
    L is for Lich
    M is for Mind FlayerMyconidMummy
    N is for
    O is for Owlbear
    P is for
    Q is for
    R is for
    S is for Shambling MoundScarecrowSkeleton
    T is for
    U is for
    V is for
    W is for
    X is for
    Y is for
    Z is for Zombie

    So, plenty of room to work with! I'm not looking forward to Q though...

    Monday, 30 December 2019

    Nobody, nobody trusts anybody now, and we’re all very tired...

    Things!



    Wondering whether I could finish anything off before the year ended that might make a dent in the Challenge / Tally numbers, my eyes alighted on a group of unpainted miniatures that have been sat on the mantelpiece in my dining room for a couple of months now awaiting for inspiration/ motivation to strike again for me to convert some more of them, and thought I’d take the plunge and get them painted!

    While long term I want to add some more to the group (including a large ‘boss’ sized Spawn akin to the Blair monster) for now we have:


    One ‘medium’ spawn - in the future I’d like to make two more, one inspired by the dog creature and one by the split face Thing that they initially bring back to the base.


    Much fun was had splattering Blood for the Blood God and Gloss Varnish over these miniatures to give them the gribbly effect that you see on screen!


    A couple of Thing facsimiles, converted from Sedition Wars miniatures with mechanical parts generally scraped or melted off and liquid green stuff used to hide it, as well as parts from the Wood Elf Dryad kit from the depths of my bits box! Their trousers were painted like bloody long johns, because as we know “I think it rips through your clothes when it takes you over. Windows found some shredded and bloody long-johns in the trash but the name tag was missing. They could be anybody's.”



    Then comes the first of the ‘partial’ Things - I envision a rule whereby if you take out a larger Thing, there’s a chance that part of it manages to escape and potentially still infect your survivors. These first two were heads from the remnants of a Wargames Factory zombie sprue (keep everything, even if it’s awful - the soft detail on these made them ideal for half transformed parts!) and a milliput mound of tendrils.


    The next couple are Warhammer zombie bits with some additions - I especially loved the idea of a leg spawning great long Thing insectoid legs and scuttling after you with a weird loping, hopping gait!




    Last but not least, we have a partial inspired by one of the most iconic scenes in the movie, the bit where Norris’ head decides to get out of dodge and runs off on its own on spidery legs. Incredibly fiddly to build (and a nightmare to photograph!), even though the eyes have come out looking a little more cartoony than I’d envisioned I’m still pretty happy with the result!

    Painting these (over the course of a couple of evenings this week while we frantically work our way through a Star Wars movies rewatch before we go and see the new one) brings the Tally to:

    46 vs 43 = +3

    Right, nobody gift me any miniatures tomorrow!

    All I need now is to paint up a Macready and convert some more Things...

    Saturday, 28 December 2019

    Tabby!

    ...is gonna steal all your stuff... (Click here for the theme tune)



    I love Nextwave, so to the casual observer it might be strange that I’ve taken so long to work my way through painting miniatures of them (8 years and counting currently). I’m getting there, slowly but surely!


    There are a couple of variations in how her costume appeared, but I used this image for reference whilst painting (although I used the more metallic design from other pieces of art for her flight belt).


    I painted the back of the miniature too, as is the convention. Not my finest work, but looks good at tabletop height!


    Which brings me to another point: I used my new Foldio photo booth that I got for Christmas, which comes with pros and cons - 

    Pros: better pictures, so you can see a truer representation of the colours (although I’m still not quite there yet with my miniature photography - according to the literature that came with the photo booth, there’s a Foldio photo editing app available that I might download and try)

    Cons better pictures, so you can see every little flaw or mistake - she looks fine at arms length, but blown up and lit like this I start to notice things like the patchy bit on her skirt, or the sloppy painting on her coat. Eh, I’m paining these for fun rather than profit, and I can live with that!

    Finishing her means I get to cross another item off of the 2019 Challenge list, which is something that’s happened very infrequently this year!

    • Finish something  old
    • Finish a piece of terrain
    • Prep all of the monkeys in the monkey box
    • Build a wargames board
    • Paint all of the miniatures in a boxed game
    • Play a game of Blackstone Fortress with fully painted miniatures
    • Finish a complete skirmish force for a project (at least 16 miniatures, unless it's for a much smaller scale game like Batman)
    • Repaint something (either a miniature that I have previously painted, or one that was received painted
    • Convert a miniature and show WIP pic
    • Finish a member of the Nextwave team
    • Average at least a miniature a week by the end of the year (so, paint 52 miniatures)
    • End the year with the Tally in the positive!


    I also picked up the limited edition Grombrindal miniature this week:



    Because as well as it being a cool miniature, I thought a Squat Tech-Priest would sit nicely in a radical Ordo Xenos warband alongside a Howling Banshee. That does mean that there’s no movement on getting the Tally into the positive before the end of the year:

    38 vs 43 = -5

    I also took the opportunity to try out my new Citadel Paint Stick, and undercounted some miniatures. Fun fact - it’s very difficult to attach miniatures on non-GW bases to it, as they have a shallower slope and the elastic bands tend to slip off of them - coincidence of planned, I’ll let you decide...



    Thursday, 26 December 2019

    Hobby Christmas Loot

    Christmas brought Hobby treats this year:



    A set of Cultists of the Abyss from my children (my wife was less than impressed at my suggestion that I’d exchange them for Escalation in order to have the same models but also have the rules to use them - at the same time, I still haven’t finished painting the main game that I got last Christmas, so adding an expansion into the queue probably isn’t the wisest move, so I’ll probably paint this set, and when I get round to picking up Escalation I can cannibalise the cultists that come with it for conversions); a miniature version of my wife’s pop up photo booth (presumably so that now I won’t ask her to get her large one out every time I need to take a picture of a single 28mm miniature); and a Citadel paint stick, as we were amused by it last time we were in GW picking up the latest White Dwarf (I’m surprised that I didn’t get a red paint handle too, although that might be as my wife’s eyes glazed over slightly as I and a Gw staffer tried to explain our joke about things getting painted faster on a red handle...)

    These treats bring the Tally to:

    37 vs 42 = -5

    Back into the negative we go with only a few days left of the year! I’m not mad about it though, my family chose some miniatures that they knew I’d like, which is more important than an arbitrary self-set target any day of the week...

    (Although the temptation to try and smash out a couple of miniatures quickly is very real, only tempered by the fact that the entrance to the basement where all my painting gear and miniatures are is currently barricaded behind a pile of stuff that we had to move to make space for Christmas Dinner yesterday... also, the fact that I’m probably going to buy the retail exclusive Grombrindal as tech priest miniature tomorrow...)

    Thursday, 19 December 2019

    Regdar, punching bag extraordinaire...

    So, Christmas looms ever larger, and life has been getting in the way of my attempts to finish 52 miniatures this year - at this point, we’ve gone from me needing to complete a miniature every other day to hit that target to needing to finish three every other day...

    Regardless of whether I hit that target or not, here’s another finished miniature:


    (still getting to grips with using my wife’s photo booth, but I think this is better than the usual late night miniature photography!)


    A miniature of Regdar from an old D&D board game - if you’re not familiar with Regdar (although you’ve probably seen him getting murdered numerous times in various pieces of art) I’d recommend giving this a read: The Many Deaths of Regdar




    I like that he’s actually equipped with a bundle of stuff, he looks like he’s prepared to go delving! Less fun was the weird blending of some details from the casting process - his helmet stretched across to meet his sword, which I carefully cut away but might have taken a smidge too much material...

    Finishing him brings the Tally to:

    37 vs 27 =

    Wait, the postman has been...


    Northstar’s Black Friday sale brought 6 miniatures, and eBay brought a classic Harlequin Solitaire (as I’d been enjoying painting the Howling Banshee in my previous post and thought that all else failing I could use it for Blackstone Fortress after rules were published in White Dwarf)

    Which actually brings the Tally to:

    37 vs 34 = +3

    Painting Regdar reminded me of an old plan (in the 4e days) to paint a miniature for every Dungeons and Dragons character class, and I thought I’d look back and see whether I could do the same for 5e, and was pleasantly surprised at how far done I was:


    Classes (as of 5e Player’s Handbook):

    I think I’ll add adding to this list to next year’s Challenge, and also may well add races to the mix... which also gives me another idea for an addition to the Challenge...