Monday 29 June 2020

The Great Beyond

Last night I watched "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond". I'd seen it before, but had forgotten. It's a documentary about the filming of Man on the Moon, the biographical film about Andy Kaufman. Rather infamously, Jim Carrey did not drop character on the set.

Near the start of the documentary, Jim mentions doing a lot of the "envisioning a thing and then getting it" mental self help thing. As the documentary continues, the interviews with Jim keep referring to Jim being unhappy and unwell. First, the characters Jim is portraying in the 90s talk about their perception of Jim. Then the interviewer asks if it was him talking about how he was, and they talk about that. Then, near the end, Jim says that it was devastating stopping being Andy, because he could no longer escape into being Andy.

In parallel to this is the Andy Kaufman narrative, of someone discovering they had advanced cancer and dying young. Kaufman died at 35, younger than I am now.

The pandemic is a traumatic event, for all we make light of it. For me, I don't cope well with things I can't control, particularly unexpected ones. It's put lives on hold, but then you realise you've never envisioned anything. You don't fail if you don't try.

I'm usually pottering about in the psychological levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Even this blog is more about my need for esteem, and my painting provides a feeling of accomplishment for completing something rather than a creative outlet.

I suspect for many of us, our escapism is the wargaming hobby. I also have LARPing, or rather, I usually do, when I'm allowed to go places and meet them.

But there's a healthy balance. It's healthy to escape from stresses and relax. It's less healthy to try and escape from a lack of ambition to make things better for yourself.

This is a lot of words to say "I painted some barrels. Fenris Miniatures make them, and you should check out their site and support their company."

Friday 26 June 2020

HATE Isolation League Round 5: Show of Force vs Ariadna

The HATE Isolation League is nearly done (whatever is going on with lockdown itself). This time, the mission selected was Show of Force. As this gives bonus points to scoring with a TAG, I took another Szalamandra list. This time, I took the Haris link of Perseus, Raoul Spector and a Forward Observer remote.

I'd picked them because I was up against Ariadna, and I was worried about mass camouflage. I was not wrong. They managed to advance up, discover a Chasseur Minelayer and his mine, and neutralise him, but left themselves rather exposed when I ran out orders.

Some big gun or other had a bit of a go at Perseus, but he successfully dropped smoke.

So instead, they sent in a pack of werewolves . . . which I now couldn't shoot . . . as they used my smoke.


Perseus was reduced to a small red mark on the floor, although he successfully killed one Werewolf on the way. Some guns managed to pick off the rest of his mates, though I forget what.

The Szalamandra cautiously wandered up the left flank and shot everyone he could see. I didn't want to overextend, so I set up the Lunokhod and the Reaktion Zond on the right flank to stop myself getting flanked and wiped out.

As it was, Ariadna managed to counter attack pretty effectively. It ended up in mutually assured destruction, with a dead Grunt and Dog Warrior, but the Lunkhod and Reaktion Zond similarly wiped out. The second Chasseur was all that was left on the flank. The rest of the Ariadnan turn was spent carefully moving things around so my Heckler Jammer couldn't take out their Blackjack.

For my last turn, I pushed the Szalamandra up onto the objective and put it into suppression fire. He took a wound from a mine, although he gunned down the midfield skirmisher (a Foxtrot?) that put it down. The Heckler then pushed up to be in the most awkward spot possible for anyone to deal with it.

Sadly, it was not to be. The Heckler was taken out, then managed to get a lucky pistol crit on the Szalamandra to leave it on a single wound. The Blackjack was much happier with those odds, and managed to put another two wounds on the TAG, taking it off the board, and allowing it to advance at leisure to take the console.

All in all, it was well played by the Ariadnan player. It wasn't a great match up for Tunguska but I think I gave it my best shot. Being forced into going first was super awkward, but I wasn't comfortable deploying first and then taking second turn - I was seriously worried about being mobbed by infiltrating troops and werewolves!

The weird Haris was interesting but I'm wondering if a different set of models would have been more useful. With no speculative fire weapons, I think Tunguska needs to look at finding suitable drop troops, Climbing Plus or Super Jump models to deal with rooftop nonsense.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Work in Progress Wednesday: Aenor Miniatures Goblins

As well as the trolls I picked up during the Aenor Miniatures Kickstarter, I also ordered a whole ton of goblins. While Aenor do both metal and resin, I'd picked metal to go with the rest of my planned goblin army at the time. I've since seen sense and am offloading a lot of goblins, but some of them were just too characterful to go, so I've kept them as a little painting project.

Here's the brains of the outfit - a goblin wizard. He's definitely the brains because he has both a book, and a big fancy stick.

This adorable bell ringer was going to be a musician in my Oldhammer style goblin Age of Sigmar army, before I gave up on the idea. But I had to keep him. He looks so put upon. Unfortunately, the metal chain attaching the bell to the rest of the mini fell off as soon as you sneezed on it. The bell is now firmly pinned to the hand of the goblin, because life is too short.

Goblins are mean little beasts, and these three, I think, really sum up that aspect of them. Sword goblin really looks like he wants to be hiding behind some big orc or something, shaking his fist from behind the big guy. Crossbow goblin is one of the bigger goblins, and has both a fancy crossbow and much bigger armour. He's clearly some sort of bully who isn't afraid to beat up the smaller goblins. And bow goblin is a nasty little sneak who doesn't just want to shoot you from range, but in the back as well.

These two are clearly on guard duty. I think they remind me of some Fighting Fantasy illustrations of goblins, all long and thin, but also massively different creatures one to the next, like Froud's work. They are sad, and bored. And probably a little damp. It's dark and there's a dripping noise around them.

So, that's my little tribe of Aenor goblins. They're in the queue to get painted one day . . .

Monday 22 June 2020

An angry Amazon

I finished up Delphine, the Amazon berserker from Bad Squiddo Games. She wasn't part of the original Amazon and Dwarf Kickstarter, but a part of a small release to expand the range that I picked up at the start of lockdown.

I'm particularly happy with how the face and eyes turned out. My experience with the Amazon Princesses I painted a while back was super painful, but I'm feeling like I'm getting better at faces. Though my current fancy brush is starting to wear a little and is probably soon not going to be a good eye brush.

Please do remember that a lot of small companies will still be struggling from all the recent pandemic related woe. I put together a short list of wargames companies for people to consider buying from, and I thought now was a good time to remind people of it. Even a small purchase can really help!

Friday 19 June 2020

HATE Isolation League Round 4: Firefight vs Combined Army

For Round 4 of the League, I was up against my Combined Army Nemesis. I think I ended up drafting 12 lists before I settled on how I was going to play it. Firefight is a pretty straight forward mission, but I know my opponent likes bringing some of Combined's heavy hitters, including the Avatar, Sphinx, Charontid and Anathematic, supported by swarms of effective warbands.

We were playing on one of the White Noise tables, which has a lot of water at ground level and a lot of elevated gantries and building rat runs. It felt to me a lot like one of those laser tag venues where if you know the layout you get a massive advantage.

Fortunately, neither of us knew what on earth we were doing.

First up was the right flank, where a Zerat Red Fury was sitting right by one of the Panoplies, and needed to get killed rather than letting it go on a rampage. My Heckler ran up, tried to kill it, and died to an unlucky shot. Mary Problems then came up and quickly gunned down the Zerat, but in it's dying breath it laid a mine. I ran a servant remote up and made a play to heal the Heckler, but while I the healing worked, the mine killed him stone dead.

I then ran my Puppetactica up to the alley on the left flank I was pretty sure that the assorted angry impetuous warbands would come down.

I was right, and the first puppet took an angry clawed beastie to the face that then died to a hail of bullets from the other puppets. This was super convenient as I had a classified objective to repair something, so I ambled up the repair remote and stuck the puppet back together.

The puppets then wandered up and did some light murdering of warbands, but they didn't quite have the orders and the dice to kill the Sogarat with Feuerbach. The counter attack put a big hole in them. In the midfield, I tried to push a Reaktion Zond up, but again, the shortage of orders meant that while it caused a little damage, it was quickly put out of commission.

Going into my last turn, it was time for a Cunning Plan. I ran my Killer Hacker up the field under Cybermask (which I always think of as broadcasting fake signals for the advanced Friend / Foe systems in the far future). Once she found a spot out of sight of the Noctifer covering that fire lane, she unleashed her Fast Panda, which ran forward next to the Sogarat, before stopping and becoming a happy little hacking node. Mary Problems them hacked through the Fast Panda to freeze the Sogarat in place, before the newly healed Grenzer Missile Launcher fired a missile right into it's chest.

Of course, at this point, my opponent simply passed their Reset in reaction to being shot at, unfreezing themself, and refused to roll anything lower than a 15 on their armour save. And I was out of orders to do anything about it.

I still had a pretty good defensive . . . oh, no, wait. He still had a drop troop. I think it was actually a Morat Diplomatic Division, but we didn't have a representative of the model. But yeah, it dropped down and murdered the missile launcher and the doctor, and a few other people . . . but it was plenty to give the win to the Combined Army.

So, a 7-2 loss in the end. My nemesis swears blind I've beaten him at some point, but I genuinely don't remember doing so. The good news was that the list was good, the game felt close, and my opponent reported being pretty terrified of the list's potential for most of the game. It's likely to be a strong basis for Tunguska when I start playing them competitively, but for now I'm staying pretty casual with a new edition coming.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Work in Progress Wednesday: Aenor Miniatures Trolls

One of the longer-standing items on my "to do" list has been an assortment of models I picked up from the Aenor Miniatures Kickstarter.

I really should have finished these last year and frankly I only got to start assembling them last week.

They're gorgeous miniatures with tons of texture that I think is going to really take well to both Contrast Paints and dry brushing. I played around a little with Games Workshop crackle and texture paints on their basing, and gave them all a skull from the GW Skulls Pack to give a bit of character to the bases, and because I can't find my bag of rocks since the move.

I gave them a black undercoat with a spray can, then caught a few bits that were missed with black brush on undercoat, before giving them a heavy zenithal spray with Wraithbone. I would recommend undercoating these with an airbrush if you have it available, though, as making sure you get the paint into all the nooks and crannies of the model is much easier if you're holding it in your hand and have an airbrush's trigger control.

Still, they're now sitting on the shelf ready for painting, which is a good step forward. If you're tempted to get them yourself, they've been available for sale outside the Kickstarter for absolutely ages.

Monday 15 June 2020

Good things in small packages

My week off was excellent and rather relaxing. A lot of it ended up being assembly and other prep work, but I'm happy to say that both Queek and the Amazon Berserker got finished. I'm saving the Amazon for next Monday's post to try and get a little head on the blog posts, though.

Sadly, this week wasn't quite as relaxing to many of my friends who saw attacks on their rights in both the UK and the US. If you can, please consider making a donation to an organisation like Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence or The Trevor Project. Alternatively, write to your local political representative, stating your commitment to trans rights and asking them to do what they can.

Thank you.

Thursday 11 June 2020

HATE Isolation League Round 3: Supplies vs Onyx Contact Force

For game three of our Isolation League, I was down at the bottom of the table after two major losses, and up against Onyx Contact Force, who'd been having some similar luck. The mission was Supplies, where you try an retrieve crates from boxes in the middle of the table. I decided to run the Hollow Man fire team for this game. They're fast moving robots who are tough and can jump ridiculous distances.

I also love their background. They're the heavy security for Tunguska's banks. To make sure they stay loyal, they're actually piloted by people who are now basically brains in jars kept in the bank's vaults to ensure their loyalty.

The link advanced up the table and happily murdered everything that got in their way. I also got to use Pitchers successfully, which pleased me. The Hollow Man team fired a Repeater into the building where Bit was hiding out, and my Interventor Killer Hacker then hacked through it to target Bit and melt her brain.

Ko Dali went to clear one of the boxes, but ran up against a Heckler with a boarding shotgun who had other ideas. The Onyx Contact Force were rapidly running out of hit pieces! A Noctifer Missile Launcher made another valiant attempt to cause damage, but while it was super hard to hit, the Hollow Men took the "quantity has a quality all of it's own" approach and put so many bullets in the Noctifer's general direction that one took it out.

A final brave attempt by a Malignos could dislodge the link team. The Noctifer Lieutenant did manage to gun down the random specialist holding the third box, but then died trying to kill a second box holder to bring the game back to a draw...

Not too many lessons to learn from this game at this point other than "That Hollow Man fire team is a bit good, isn't it?"

Monday 8 June 2020

A much needed week off

While I'm still working from home for the foreseeable future, I decided to take a week off. Work has been super busy and stressful of late, and it's reflected in how little hobbying I've managed to get done. While my focus is on relaxing, I definitely want to get on with some hobby. So here's a quick review of where we're at.

Queek and Delphine the Amazon berserker are both nearly done. The idea is to work from "right to left", finishing up projects and pulling in new ones as I do.

The finished Bad Squiddo Amazons need a coat of varnish before they go away, but I spotted a chipped base edge that needed a tidy up before I did that. So we're just waiting on the base edge to dry before they get their protective coat.

Gnawholes. They remain Gnawhole like.

I've washed the much overdue trolls from Aenor Miniatures ahead of assembly. I really love these sculpts and am excited to get some paint on them.

The scaffolding for the gnawholes is a bit of a chore, but I'm determined to get it done.

I also ordered a case for my Skaven, once they're assembled, from Frontier Wargaming. I really like what they've delivered, and I got them to add the club logo on the side as well.

The idea is that I'll be magnetising the bases of my Skaven and fitting them onto the shelves. There's a couple of small draws at the bottom for tokens, dice and so on.

I've also farmed out a few random metal miniatures to some of the club. This should solve the problem of not being able to assemble metal miniatures at home, but I better get painting to make sure there's space for them when they get back!

Thursday 4 June 2020

HATE Isolation League Round 2 - Hunting Party: Tunguska vs Varuna

In Round 2 of our TTS Isolation League, I was up against the new hotness - Varuna. The mission was Hunting Party, where you try and stun and immobilise the opponent's lieutenant and specialists, with a side helping of secret objectives and pushing buttons.

Varuna's two strong points are a brutal defensive MSV2 Sniper in a link, and Camouflaged Jammers. To address this, I took a Securitate link team with the new Spec Ops Veteran with a Sensor for the Jammers, and a Kriza Boracs HMG along with an Interventor friend to deal with the MSV2 Sniper.

I then deployed the Securitate link opposite the Sniper and the Kriza Boracs opposite the camo markers. Mostly because I was panicked about the amount of cover on the left flank.

I weathered the first turn fine, then brought on Raoul Spector to take out the Sniper. I successfully hit the Trauma Doc, then threw a "Drop Bear" (a throwable mine) before turning the corner to shoot the sniper . . . 

The sniper was just out of the area effect of the mine, and easily gunned down Raoul at his bad ranges. This was not going well for me.

A Croc Man Hacker then came up and tried to hack my Lieutenant Kriza Boracs into being immobilised. He succeeded, but due to a misunderstanding of how the mission scored, he unfortunately used a programme that wore off before it forced me to change Lieutenant. This would have provided him more scoring options, but fortunately (for him) this didn't really change the outcome of the game.

The Kriza unstuck, shot the Hacker, and then shot up a whole bunch of the reaction / guard pieces.

My Heckler then made a heroic run down field, threading between various guard pieces to place a massive E/Marat template down in a speculative attack on his Lieutenant. It succeeded! I was momentarily in the lead! The Hecker survived to the start of my opponent's next turn, at which point he swiftly reduced the pesky meddler to a fine red mist.

I could feel my opponent nearly going 'on tilt', but he paused, thought about it, and came back swinging. He was well ahead in terms of game positioning - he just needed to get the score back to match how everything else was going!

In the end, he swung it to the point where I couldn't fix things. He glued specialists, glued my Kriza properly this time, completed a classified and pressed a button. While I managed to bring the specialists back to evens, swinging two points back to me, my Engineer simply couldn't make the run to the Lieutenant to free him and save the game, and Varuna firmly took a well deserved win.

Monday 1 June 2020

End of May Hobby Progress Check

May started off well with the assembly of all the Battle Systems terrain I'd picked up.

Unfortunately, I then stalled out, getting stuck on the amount of detail on the classic Queek Headtaker model I picked up from the "Made to Order" service. Spending the bank holiday weekend sending people stuff I wasn't using hit the hobby progress itself, but did manage to clear out a whole ton of stuff I just wasn't using.

I have realised in the meantime that work has been stressing me out and that I'd been cancelling all my holidays because of lockdown. I've now booked in a whole bunch of holiday for June to get some 'me' time, and hopefully part of that will be getting some models painted!