Monday 26 July 2021

If you can't be an example, be a cautionary tale

If, on the eve of a forecasted heatwave, you are looking for a very specific model to put into a commission batch, you observe that your hobby boxes are badly organised, may I gently suggest you don't start trying to sort them then?

Everything is boxes. I'm not taking a photo. Mostly because so many of those boxes have addresses on and I'm not daft enough to post my address all over the internet.

After simply lying in a cool room for several days avoiding everything, I realised I'd had a good amount of time to actually Think About Stuff, so you're getting another rambly post today. And hopefully not just because I can't get to my painting desk.

So, I settled down, filled up my amazing Fenris Games mug with the good tea, and had a think. I find these sort of blog posts super useful because it also helps me actually sort them out in my head as I try and get them organised to make them into coherent sentences.

So, I'm pretty happy with the progress I'm getting on my Shasvastii. I had my second vaccine today, so I'm looking forward to getting out to some in person games in the future. In the meantime, I've signed up to another short online league to get a bit more practice in with them.

I'm writing up a big spreadsheet of how I find all the different units, both to help remind myself and with the ambition of maybe writing some tactics posts for them in the future.

My fluorescent NA2 forces have some more models away at the painters, but I'm not sure when I'll next pick up painting them. The focus is really on the Shasvastii right now, but a couple of fun brawls with my "previous season" armies is definitely on the cards at some point. I also have White Company being slowly worked on to pick up in a future season once enough models are ready, but there's no rush. I'm also looking at the new Nomad models coming out, but they're very much for when the current project I'm painting myself is finished!

Rather than expanding the Sisters, I decided it was better I get my Deathwatch sorted next for 40K, which did lead to a revelation of quite how many Marine kits I have kicking about my house. This one is a simple "once I get out, play a game and see what I'm enjoying and what I want to do next".

The next project that I'm looking to paint myself is a Stormcast Eternal force for Age of Sigmar. With the new edition out, the Stormcast are a low model count army that should be forgiving to learn with, and will be having an updated Battletome for the new edition pretty soon.

And the thing here will be trying to just focus on the one project. There isn't a specific deadline as such, beyond "try and get a playable force by the time the Battletome is in stores". I'll still pick up bits and bobs of things as palette cleansers in between Stormcast, because I go just as fast on the project and end up with more things painted in total by the end of it.

And that said, I'm going to try and be a bit more sensible with my palette cleansers. I'm hoping to one day run an D&D campaign with miniatures, and also to try out Frostgrave and Stargrave, so that can give a little more . . . structure to models I'm painting because I like the look of them.

With all that in mind, you might see the painting speed slow a little on the blog as I put more time into clearing out the stuff I definitely don't need any more. The flat is still super cluttered and knowing what I can do when "flat out" now means that a lot more projects move from 'the future' to 'I'm really not going to get around to this, am I?'... An army box of Ad Mech has already been swapped for some more Marines to flesh out the Deathwatch, and they're all going straight back out the door to the commission painter...

So, it's really more of the same, hopefully with a little more focus and less stress. I'm pretty happy with how the hobby year is going, despite the world's best efforts. The real challenge is avoiding over-committing to things, which I am a master of...

Monday 19 July 2021

Finished Shasvastii for Organised Play at Home


I'm pleased to say that I managed to get all ten models I committed to for the Corvus Belli "Organised Play at Home" painting competition finished in time for the deadline. It was a bit rough at times, but we made it!

Here's some extra photos of the more recently finished ones. I'm sure I'm going to spot all sorts of bits I missed as I go over the photos that I'll invariably need to go back in and touch up. But in theory, they're ready for varnishing!

The model on the left here is the Mentor with Shock Marksman Rifle. I already had the model with Boarding Shotgun painted up, but got some advice that sometimes the extra range of the Marksman Rifle was worthwhile in later turns. I've definitely had that come in handy from time to time.

In the centre with have Sheskiin. Her background is that she was a Cadmus trooper, whose specialist ability is to scan the physical abilities of nearby enemies and copy it - and she was able to do that to the Aleph recreation of Achilles. She was ridiculously good in third edition, but has toned down a bit in N4, while still remaining an absolute beast of a model.

On the right, another stalwart of the attack pieces, a Caliban with Spitfire. Basically a forward deploying attack piece with a squad support weapon, he can be an absolute terror, although I've not used him enough yet to really get him dialled in.

The second batch include a couple of older models, whose level of detail is variable, while still having some rather fiddly to paint areas.

On the left and the right are the old and new "Spec Ops" models, respectively. Used mostly in campaigns, they're also widely accepted as proxies for other models as needed. In this case, as both have hoods similar to the released Shrouded model, and you often want two or three, I'm expecting they'll both most regularly see service as another mid field specialist . . .

In the centre is the old Speculo Killer model. Weirdly, I've already spent some time today talking about how she plays in a Facebook group as a returning player found her Impersonation skill A Bit Much. With the ability to deploy as a marker anywhere on the board, sometimes even in your opponent's deployment zone, she's a really deadly assassin piece who can absolutely wreck an unprepared opponent. Broadly, though, I find she's more commonly a disruption piece, forcing my opponents to try and dig her out before she has an opportunity to cause mischief.

With another ten models painted, I'm spending a bit of time reorganising the hobby room before launching into the next project. I haven't timed it well given the current UK heatwave, but I'll get it done. Eventually.

Thursday 15 July 2021

A pause for reflection

While I was focussing all my hobby time on getting ten Shasvastii done for the Corvus Belli painting competition, I noticed how much stuff was building up elsewhere.

Now, when thinking about hobby, I've realised I'm very bad at keeping track of how long it all takes. I end up just thinking about the painting, but not realising how much time prep, assembly, basing and undercoating takes at one end, and photographing and varnishing at the other end.

Thing is, I have shown myself that I can get a nice chunk of a painting project done in about a month and a half.

Now the rush is done, I'm planning on clearing the decks, having a bit of a tidy up, maybe doing a couple of simple figures as a change of pace, then settling into a new project.

Monday 12 July 2021

Forty Percent there isn't quite as catchy

With the Corvus Belli Organised Play at Home painting competition deadline bearing down on me, I've been focussing in on getting my entry finished The good news is, I've got four of the ten models totally finished with three days to go!

So, as a bit of a preview, here's what's finished so far. First off is the M-Drone. This is the utility remote for the Combined Army, getting the usual suit of Sensor and Forward Observer that all the similar models in other armies get.

Meanwhile, the Combined Army's Total Reaction remote, the Q-Drone, is a little infamous for gaining Mimetism -3, and a second profile with an option for a Plasma Rifle. This is an excellent piece and I've been using it extensively online. In fact, I think I need another one . . .

Less commonly used, we have the Haiduk. Which is a shame, because it's a lovely model. With a combination of a Multi-Spectral Visor Lvl 2 and the ability to dig foxholes, it's a fascinating profile I want to play around with a bit more to get used to how it works.

I love how the model is crouching behind a ruined bit of wall. It was great fun to paint.

Meanwhile, in the category "definitely good but I don't know how to use yet" is the Malignos with Boarding Shotgun. With Hidden Deployment meaning I can just write down where it's hiding until I want to move it, rather than deploying the figure, it's got a lot of potential for the deception games that Shasvastii do so well at.

He's just quite a few points and I've not found the space for him in many lists yet. I should fix that.

Anyhow, I'm writing this post on Sunday evening, scheduled for Monday evening. The other six models for the competition are all done, less their bases, and I'll be blitzing through what's left to do on those on Monday night so I complete the competition goal with a day to spare.

Wish me luck!

Monday 5 July 2021

Looking back on June

While most of this month was hijacked by the Corvus Belli painting competition, it turns out that a ton of other things got painted at the same time while I was sitting at the hobby desk. Definitely a lesson for making sure I spend time at the hobby desk because tons gets done.

First up is the Kickstarter preview I got sent by Bad Squiddo Games. I've not yet heard when the Kickstarter is, but I definitely promise to let people know when its announced...

I also managed to get the Pneumarch HVT model for my Shasvastii off the "half finished" pile. It definitely made me feel really positive about finishing anything for my army, which is good, because I'm trying to get a whole bunch done!

I am super happy with how Brath the Stag came out. It's such an excellent sculpt and it was remarkably easy to make him look this good. You can get your own from Fenris Games in the UK or Barbaric Splendor in the US.

I also knocked out a quick "Sheriff Drumfasser" which is a Reaper Bones Black model. Not super in love with him, but he is another finished mini.

And finally . . . finishing the month as I began with a Bad Squiddo miniature. This was an impulse purchase at a show. No, still don't know what I'm doing with them . . .

Looking forward - I'm trying to get my Shasvastii done for the Corvus Belli painting competition. Also, Age of Sigmar 3 has now been released, and I really really need to get a playable force for this edition, having missed the first two editions without managing to get a game in . . .

Thursday 1 July 2021

Gamer's Grass Battle Ready Bases as Infinity Terrain

Proving once more I have a Bad Squiddo habit, Annie recently announced she was starting to stock Gamer's Grass Battle Ready Bases, and I bought some. I'd been planning to for ages as an experiment in getting "ready out of the box" Infinity Special Terrain areas.

I went for the Oval bases in 170mm, 120mm and 105mm, using the Winter and Arid themes. I felt that these were the best options to very clearly represent "Mountain" and "Desert" terrain respectively. There are five terrain types in Infinity overall. I don't think that Battle Ready have good options right now for "Aquatic", "Jungle" or "Zero-G".

Shown above are the two 105mm bases. These are, I think, the smallest I'd go for scenery pieces. They wouldn't have much of an impact on the game if used in isolation due to their small size, but careful placing around other pieces of terrain could get you some really interesting tactical challenges.

This is the Arid 120mm. Size wise, I think this is the sweet spot in terms of interaction with the table and price. While not much bigger than the 105mm in theory, the extra space really feels like it makes the difference for only a small difference in price.

Infinity "special terrain" has three impacts on the game: Difficult Terrain, Visibility Modifiers, and Saturation Zones. For me, these bases are intended primarily to count as Difficult Terrain. I don't think that they instinctively look like they'd make it hard to see things through them, or catch some of the shooting going through them, which would mean that a player might have trouble remembering that in play.

I want any scenery I put on a table to immediately make sense to a player (and preferably, have them able to guess without you telling them). This is why I went with the "Winter" bases over "Highland", because while both, out of the options available, say "Mountain", the snow makes it far easier to guess. Easier to guess means easier to remember.

Then we get to the 170mm bases. These are amazing. They're really big. Too big, as you can see, for shots in my photo box shoot without going outside the backing material. They're big enough that they'll be a difficult choice to move around or go through if you don't have the appropriate Terrain skill.

That said, the step up in cost is significant. I'd not recommend them to a gamer on a budget - you get more coverage, in practice, from two 120mm bases for a comparable price. But if you can afford, then they give you a really big chunk of area to be Difficult Ground.

I'd also take a moment to nod to the 100mm Round base as an option for terrain too. I am personally not a  fan - while using bases at all is a bit of a compromise in terms of realistic looking scenery, I feel like a circle is more likely to "stand out" to the eye than an oval. That said, it has nice table coverage for the price, and if you're looking for variety, it could work quite well mixed in with ovals to give more variety to the space.

Now, obviously I haven't had a chance to use them in anger yet. That means that the current review is missing two key things. I can't tell you how they've worked in actual games. And I can't tell you how sturdy they are with regular use and transport. I think I'm going to be putting them individually in bubble wrap pockets for transport, as they look pretty tough, but I'm worried about chipping and smaller rocks getting knocked off.

I tried putting a few figures on, as you can see from their photo shoot. There are a few places that models won't rest nearly on because there is texture, but I'm happy with that compromise for the sake of looking pretty. Infinity already has a rule that you can't finish your move anywhere your base doesn't fit, so if it doesn't stay where you put it, you can't finish your move there. I did use plastic bases for this test, so a solid resin base with a completely flat bottom might have more problems.

With those warnings in mind, I would definitely recommend these to anyone who is willing to spend a little bit more money for something that's table ready. If you've got more time and less money, you'll be able to put something together yourself quite easily. I don't think either approach is wrong - they're based on your own personal circumstances, and you'll need to make a decision based on your own balance between available funds and free time.