Friday 30 December 2022

Plans for 2023

2022 was a pretty solid year for my hobbies. I got a bunch of stuff painted, I attended some tournaments, and I got back to LARP. I struck out on not buying more models than I painted by a long way, but I have realised how much of the clutter in my flat is stuff I've bought since I got back into the hobby, not my stash from way back when.

So first up, I'll be getting back into selling stuff I'm not using. As well as the stuff I never started, I intend to go through all my painted miniatures and pick out any I'm not using or don't love. I think this will be a good "end of year" tradition to start. Similarly, I'll be checking both the pile of half finished projects I put to one side at the end of 2021 as well as going through anything that's part finished this year.

I am pretty happy with where I'm at with Infinity. I've got White Company, Druze, Ikari and Dahshat commission painted, and I've painted a bunch of Shasvastii myself. I have the rest of the Combined Army, O-12 and Nomads to paint too. For the coming year, I want to get a "teaching force" of O-12 painted that I can run people through a game of Code One if they're interested. I also want to finalise my Nomads paint scheme so I can line up to get started on finally painting my Nomads, the first force I bought for Infinity.

I really need to get some of my Malifaux painted. It's just embarrassing now. I like the game and like the minis, but just haven't managed to get paint to model.

A small, tabletop quality project I'm looking forward to is getting a viable lance or two of Battlemechs painted. I've got the "Game of Armored Combat" box to paint, along with a couple of Urbanmechs. I'm currently tempted by getting an Atlas and King Crab for my Lyran Guards, the Alpha Strike starter box for a good Mech selection, and the new Beginner box for the variant Mech in it. But first, painting what I have!

I've been having fun with the test scheme for my Alpha Legion, although I have learned about not fully assembling models with cloaks the hard way. I'm still faffing about what I want the base scheme to be, but we'll get there. Starting with a small "Zone Mortalis" style force seems to be a sensible way to build up my army. I've not managed to have a force where I build it up a unit at a time rather than buying way too much all at once.

I've really enjoyed painting an assortment of general fantasy miniatures with a general intent on building up a collection to run D&D with, and play games like Frostgrave or Rangers of Shadow Deep. Right now I've got a massive pile of models to paint that I've picked up on a whim, and while I want to paint through those, I want to be in a place at the end of the year where I'm picking up D&D miniatures with a purpose and some kind of structure. I've been kicking around an idea for a world setting for a while, and I'm also keen to find miniatures suitable for Eberron, my favourite among the published settings.

I also really want to put together some solid options for playing Stargrave and other generic sci-fi games. I've heard some good things about Xenos Rampant, but I should probably still start small and work my way up.

With 40K, my real goal for next year is to actually play a game of the current edition. I believe 10th edition is probably coming, but I can still have some fun with the current edition. I'm also deeply excited by the Boarding Action rules, as they seem like a sensible size of game, and would be a good terrain project for home.

The Stormcast Eternals are also ready for a game, though they're lagging a little behind the Deathwatch in my enthusiasm stakes. The problem might just be the army - Stormcast aren't an army I'm excited about, I just had a bunch cheaply from a variety of sources and I thought it best to commission someone to paint what I had rather than buy a whole new army when I had one already lying around.

That's certainly plenty for me to be getting on with. I'm not sure how much of this its possible to get done in a single year, but its worth pausing and taking stock so I can keep an eye on my progress.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

ITS Objective Pack Alpha Review

I recently picked up the "ITS Objectives Pack Alpha" from Corvus Belli, intended for use in Infinity (but quite easily usable in other games). I bought my copy from Shae Konnit Games, but any hobby shop that stocks Infinity will be able to order it in if they don't have it on the shelf.

Price wise, it's a hefty £50 and change. To be clear, you don't need it. You can just use a base or token, or if you want cheaper scenery pieces, you could use some Mantic Terrain Crate or Reaper Bones scatter terrain on a base instead, especially if you don't have different pieces for each different kind of objective. Micro Art Studio also do a "premium" Objectives set, which is in the €80 range, but has more components.

You get 18 different widgets for your money, with 6 different sculpts, ranging from 2 to 4 of each.

They come quite neatly packed in the box, with the usual "Raffle Ticket" packing codes that help process any mis-packs. Corvus Belli have always been excellent when dealing with these, but the numbers help them work out what went wrong, so always include them when mailing them for replacements. As you can see, you also get enough bases for all the pieces in the box.

The pieces themselves are cast in Siocast, and I couldn't see any significant issues. The detail was all there, without much in the way of mould lines. There are quite a few large gates that will need cutting off, but quite a lot are in spots where you won't end up seeing the point of contact, as it's where they glue to the base or another component. Some are single piece, and some need as many as three components.

I haven't yet assembled these models, but my initial impression is positive. They are definitely a premium product with a hefty price tag for "objective markers", but you do get quite a lot of them for the cost. As an optional luxury, they're just fine.

Monday 26 December 2022

Tis the Season for Rampant Capitalism

I wasn't expecting anything for Christmas this year from a hobby standpoint, but did get some Christmas money which I spent on a few bits and pieces. First up, I decided to get the ITS Objectives Pack Alpha so I have some nice looking objective models. They should be a nice quick and simple hobby project.

Next up, I have a few extra models for my White Company, that I'll be sending off to That Mr Shy to paint. The Karhu are apparently excellent so I want to give them a go, I definitely wanted an EVO remote, then I've got the last civilian models I need along with another CSU and a Bashi Bazouk, which you get free in some missions in this year's ITS rules.

I made a bit of an impulse purchase last month, picking up Hollow Press' "Bone Forest". This is a weird skirmish wargame which takes advantage of the sculpting style of Helge Wilhelm Dahl. It's a bunch of rough "folk art" fleshy monsters that plays out a wargame on a large board marked out with squares. There's a bunch of models that form three viable starter forces included in the box, making it an interesting self contained hobby project.

Alongside Bone Forest, I also ordered "Vermis" on even more of a whim. It's a weird art book, done in the style of a computer game that has never existed. I've not had time to settle down with it, but I'm curious to see what its like. I was sold on the concept alone and I'm curious to see how its been enacted.

And finally, the thing I'm really excited about. Voodoo Forest is a collection of John Blanche's artwork from the past decade or so. It's another art book, and as a massive John Blanche fan for years, I'm really happy to pick up one of these. This is definitely one to settle down to have a browse through over the Christmas break.

Friday 23 December 2022

A Christmas Present for Myself

I noticed Anjuli, or "Geek Girl Book Worm" was encouraging people to buy stuff from her Ko-fi shop. I decided to grab a couple of painted miniatures, as I have plenty of unpainted ones already.

First up, I grabbed this giant snake, which should have plenty of use in D&D and similar.

I also got this lovely Displacer Beast that Anjuli painted. I love the star effect, representing where the beast is "phasing out". If you like it, there's still one left in the shop! There's a bunch of other painted minis, an opportunity to pick up a random selection of Wizkids blisters, or a phys rep "Deck of Many Things". Maybe something to look at spending a little Christmas money on...

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Work in Progress Wednesday: Morats

I've got a few more Morats ready for painting. From left to right, we've got an Oznat, a Suryat HMG and Kornat Gazarot, a special character.

The Oznat is typically taken in Morats leading a link of Hungries - cheap bitey aliens that provide cheap orders - but I'm wondering if it might have some use in Vanilla as there's a profile that works with a single Preta as an attack dog that looks quite interesting to try.

The Suryat HMG is a solid, violent Heavy Infantry with a big gun. I didn't have much luck with him in the one tournament I've run him in so far, but I suspect that's lack of experience rather than a problem with the profile. He's also a valid profile for Onyx Contact Force.

Finally, Kornat Gazarot is a special character with a good range of violent options, who can be a Lieutenant in Morat Aggression Force. He's excellent in that role, with Strategos and an option with an extra Lieutenant Order that really benefit Morats a lot, especially as the proliferation of Veteran in the faction means Loss of Lieutenant isn't much of a thing.

I've realised that of late I've been being a bit of a faction butterfly in what I've been thinking about playing. Rather than try and "knuckle down" to a single faction to improve my play with that one faction I've decided instead to just lean into the hobby butterfly aspect and jump between the factions I have. It likely means I won't be improving my tournament performance any time soon, but I'd rather just go with whatever seems fun at the time.

Monday 19 December 2022

Heresy Work in Progress, Disappointment and Getting Boring Tasks Done

I've now settled on the colour scheme for my Alpha Legion. It's following a Warhammer TV tutorial, with metal base, then a coat of Gryph-Charger Grey over everything, then blocking in the panels with Akhelian Green. I started trying an alternative scheme using Kroxigor Scales to block in the panels but it was far too green for my liking, so I stuck with this option.

Also, I was an idiot for fully assembling this miniature. Base coating the cloak was an absolute nightmare. I'm now going to drop in the rest of the colours to get him finish off, then move on to the Terminator.

The bases, however, I'm not loving. The crackle paint isn't as robust as I'd like, and the colours I've gone for just aren't appealing to me. I'm going to base up a whole bunch of 25mm bases and blitz a ton of colour options until I see one I like.

I was hoping to get out for my first game of 9th edition 40K, but a combination of circumstances including not being able to find one of my Deathwatch cases from where its been tidied to meant we called it off for now. It's frustrating, but it's highlighted to me how much there is still to do at the flat.

I've also started on the not at all photogenic job of tidying up the black undercoats on all the remaining O-12 I have that aren't ready for paint yet. There's a lot of half finished jobs lying around I'd like to finish up before the end of the year if I can, and this is one of the biggest.

Friday 16 December 2022

Product Review: D&D Frameworks Mind Flayer

I wanted to look into the new Dungeons & Dragons "Frameworks" line and picked the Mind Flayer as my review / test model. My logic was that my picking an iconic D&D monster, rather than one that was a bit more generic, I was giving the Frameworks line its best chance by picking part of the D&D IP rather than a generic monster like an Ogre or Orc, or a common adventurer.

The models come with some "rocky" bases, which I am unsure if they are intended to cleverly match with the bottom of the models. I was trying to match them up and at times it felt like there was something clever going on, and at other times they didn't. I decided to glue them onto some of my own bases because I'm not a fan of the thin plastic discs Wizkids use for bases (and they don't match anything else I have).

The plastic is board game style, has some notable mould lines and some pretty chunky connection points into really obvious spots, detail, and fragile details. Managing all three of this trifecta of sins is disappointing, but perhaps its because of my experience with more experienced companies in the field doing much better in this regard.

The Mind Flayer did have alternative arms and a head, giving an option of a more open tentacle mouth, and letting him hold a brain instead of a staff. The other arms had less flappy bits hanging off them as well. I was sure I took a photo of that, but now can't find it. Whoops!

The Intellect Devourer wasn't heavily advertised on the box (the front says "1 miniature"), but a second free "themed" monster was a nice addition that isn't a complaint. The two halves of the brain did not connect at all well, leaving a really quite significant gap between the two sides. Do real brains have that? I don't want to google it, I'm squeamish.

Some of the connections were also quite dubious. The arm connectors were tiny and flat, meaning there was nothing to make sure they properly lined up. I'm used to this, but if these models are being picked up by a "new" hobbyist, it isn't the most user friendly.

I added some basing paste around the sides of the rock bases to create a more realistic basing set up. I then spray undercoated them with an off white, with the intention of painting them with contrast.

The Intellect Devourer was a nice quick job - I used a flesh tone for the legs and a light purple for the brain meats. The large gap / line in the middle of the brain looks fine, I guess. The forward foot has a bit of a mould line still visible on it if you look closely, and feels a bit blobbier  and less defined than the foot that's resting on the floor.

The Mind Flayer was painted with contrast then a little drybrushing and washing. The detail was unfortunately a little shallow and inconsistent. The head was lovely, but then loads of the layers of the cloak were soft and blended into each other. This meant that Contrast didn't do as good a job as it could have, and the drybrush wasn't enough to really save it. The paint job is OK, but I've painted minis that took contrast, drybrushes and washes much better.

So, would I recommend Frameworks?

That's not an easy question. I'm definitely not singing their praises and buying all the kits. For character kits for D&D, these kits are pricey. This character cost me £13.49 from a bulk retailer - I think he's £15 RRP. The higher prices really impact boxes like Kobolds or Orcs, where you need a bunch - so that will add up fast!

As an example the Frameworks Kobolds are £50 RRP for seven models. But you can get nine painted minis through the Icons of the Realms Kobold Warband for £45, or twenty unpainted with nine unique sculpts from the Epic Encounters Shrine of the Dragon Queen box.

For the Mind Flayer, the quality is only a small step up from the Wizkids Nolzur's line, and you can get two Mind Flayers for £5. There's a massive range of 3D printed miniatures you can have printed for you on Etsy for well under £15, though that's likely less accessible to someone starting out. Reaper do a wide range of metal options in the £7-9, and some Bones options for under £5 to compete with the Nolzur's line.

In short, my experience with this Frameworks model is disappointment. It's marketed as a premium option for hobbyists without having the quality of sculpt to merit the cost. They paid attention in getting the detail of the IP specific head right and really quite nice, but then much of the rest of the model seems to have been phoned in, both in terms of the detail on the miniature, but also the attention to detail that leads to the quality of life you expect around ease of assembly and choice of material on a premium product.

I would have been fine with this model if I'd paid half the price for it, but when you compare it to the older Games Workshop character figures you can pick up for the same money, it's a disappointment that doesn't compare. I drafted and deleted a longer rant about this, but I think it better to simply finish with "Hasbro could and should do much better".

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Work in Progress Wednesday: Unidrons

A few more models I picked up during the Defiance Kickstarter. They're Unidron Remotes for the Combined Army, and the Onyx Contact Force. They were part of the Onyx Contact Force "Reinforcement Pack". I sold the Umbra on as I still intend to get the Combined Army Starter Pack it came with, and I've already got the Fractaa and Xeodrons ready for paint.

Unidrons have received a moderate boost, at least in terms of reputation, from the recent FAQ that confirms that you can Enhanced Reaction them - and the sniper is going to be the one you'll want to do that with. But I have heard from at least one podcast that it's likely that Marksmanship may still be better statistically. If I start playing Onyx competitively, I'll have a nose into that.

Monday 12 December 2022

Weekly progress: Egg Car, D&D, Horus Heresy

With a lovely relative visit in the past, my huge "what I've been working towards" goal is gone. With an awful lot of worry about getting things tidy in time suddenly evaporating away, a bunch of stress related chemicals had nothing to do any more other than make me feel bad for no logical reason.

I decided to try and cheer myself up with painting. It was marginally successful, but time and some other bits and bobs worked together with it to pull me out of the slump. I've finished the Frameworks Mind Flayer and will be writing a longer review post of Frameworks in future.

Needing a little "quick win" to give me a boost, I gave this egg car a quick paint job. The model was made by the sadly no longer trading Antenocitis Workshop. I was playing around with Magmadroth Flame contrast paint for the orange and was very impressed by it.

I didn't get everything right on this model - there's a couple of splotches that I've spotted since I did it. But I played around a lot more with blending and highlighting while painting this model and really felt like the regular painting I've been doing has helped me get better. Sometimes, I instinctively know how much paint I want on my brush or where to move it to get the effect I want. Not always, but its not something I've experienced before. It made me feel like I'm really growing as a painter.

The other "non project" model I'm working on at the moment is this griffin I picked up from Iron Gate Scenery at Salute. I carefully blocked in the basic "skin" fur and the warmer longer fur. I've then wet blended a sepia and a dark brown for the feathers. That's turned out really well on the top of the wings, but with three layers of feathers on the underside of the wings, that's going to take a little more time to get done.

My big project, however, is the Alpha Legion test paints. Because they require layers of contrast, and the next stage involves carefully painting the inside of panels, I haven't got very far with them, but I'm enjoying the process I've done so far.

This has really highlighted to me the importance of having some "easy" paints lying around to do alongside any complicated project. There's going to be times when you're tired and aren't up for doing a detailed or fiddly job, and having something else to do means that the time isn't wasted - and I've got three models finished this week as a result!

Monday 5 December 2022

November Review - Nearly the Year End

Like October, I managed to get ten models painted in November, although four were some rubbish orcs and four were some crates, so its slightly less impressive than last time.

On the table at the moment are my Horus Heresy test paints and the Frameworks Mind Flayer. This does mean that I finished off all my "half done" stuff from last month - it feels reasonable to aim to do that again!

With the crates finished I don't really have any "simple" paint schemes lined up for projects. I've got test paints for Horus Heresy and O-12, along with my Viktorias crew for Malifaux, which I haven't worked out the paint for either.

I might drop into painting a Shasvastii or too if I want a painting project that doesn't require thinking. I'm working on prepping up a bunch of Battlemechs which will be nice simple paint jobs, and I might try and get the Defiance doors and other accessories prepped up so there's a few simple options amid the more complex stuff.

I did manage to get the hobby room cleared in time for it to be used as a spare room, which was excellent. It has, however, really highlighted I have too much stuff, and that the pile of things I intend to eBay is actually huge. With Christmas coming, my plan for now is to list stuff scheduled to go up over Christmas weekend so I can post it all in the New Year.

In some ways, this does all feel a bit over-whelming. I've only been looking at "getting the hobby room clear", and looking up from that to see both how many things need doing and also the choice of things I have to do can cause a little bit of panic. I need to work out in my head what "next thing" to focus on to get that done rather than panic at how much there is to do, and in turn not do anything.

Friday 2 December 2022

Last of the Stormcast

This isn't quite everything, in truth, because a couple of models still need some repair from transit, but I've photoed everything else before putting them all away. First up we have twenty Judicators I picked up from the Mortal Realms magazines.

I wasn't sure if the bows or the crossbows were good, so in the interests of classic indecision, I got ten of each painted. It will mean I can do a bit of experimentation to find out what I like by playing some games.

You know, when I actually play some games.

The Aetherwings are some nice visual variation from chunky armoured warriors. I hope they do something useful on the battlefield so I can use them now and again.

These are Vanguard Raptors, and I understand the Longstrike Crossbow version is super good, so I had them all made up the same.

I think the Exorcist was one of the first models I got from the Mortal Realms Magazine.

I haven't quite learned all the names of all the massive assortment of Stormcast characters yet. This one is a Knight Zephyros who does some . . . fighting stuff? I do worry GW have made slightly too many slightly different Stormcast characters.

This is a Knight Incantor, I think from a "Getting Started" pamphlet or something?

And finally, this is the Mortal Realms exclusive Knight Incantor model with a head swap, because I wasn't a huge fan of the original head.