Monday 27 February 2023

Something from the bottom of the garden...

I've finished these two "Hoodie Crows" from the Statuesque Miniatures "Left at the Bottom of the Garden" range. I've painted them up to be used as creepy puppet birds working as familiars for witches, hags and fae in D&D, Pathfinder and so on.

There's a teeny bit of time left in the month, and I don't think I'm going to get the Terrain Crate stuff finished this month. The bad undercoat job has just taken all the wind out of it! I am away a lot of weekends in March, so my current goals is to finish up the Terrain Crate stuff and maybe see if I can get the Sphinx done for the Mayacast Masterglass painting competition. There's a strong temptation, still, to sack that off and focus on just getting the half done stuff on the desk sorted. With such a busy month, though, there's also the temptation to ignore both problems and paint some quick simple miniatures to cheer myself up with some success after a stalled out month.

Friday 24 February 2023

St Albans Smackdown Satellite Tournament

So, on Saturday I headed up to St Albans to play in the St Albans Smackdown Satellite tournament. I had a plan, some practice games under my belt, and two Shasvastii lists I thought worked quite well. First up was Highly Classified, and I was drawn against Rushforth1980 who was running Spiral Corps.

We drew Experimental Drug, HTV Retroengineering, Capture and Sabotage. For personal classifieds, Rushforth1980 got Extreme Prejudice, while I got Predator.

Jaan Staar impersonated up to my Q-Drone remote to take out my main ARO piece. He pretty handily despatched the remote. He got a line on my Lieutenant and went for a cheeky Discover, but fortunately was unsuccessful and got immobilised by the Slave Drone.

My Taigha charged in and got the first of the two kills I needed for Predator, getting targeted on the way in. It ran out of orders before hitting again and the Spiral Corps shot into combat and killed them both so I didn't have an easy kill.

I scored Experimental Drug and Retroengineering pretty early, losing my Engineer in a counter attack. A hefty Tohaa link then got to my HVT for the Retroengineering and blew up a scenery piece near it for Sabotage as well. I ran my other Caliban up for Sabotage but then lost it in the follow up.

The last of my Taigha berserked into an unconscious Helot but it passed it's armour save and was killed by missing AROs, again denying me the second kill to score Predator. 

I ended up with hardly any orders, tied for 3 secondary objectives each with Spiral Corps having scored Extreme Prejudice for their personal objective. I ran my mentor forward to aim to get Capture and win, rather than Predator for the draw. He went down to a hail of AROs, leaving me with a loss. So, one game down, but a reasonable score so I had a chance of still placing OK.

Second game was Acquisition, and my cunning plan of "take a TAG" was somewhat foiled by the centre objective being in an objective room. I was now up against shrikeh running Druze Bayram Security. The table was quite open, but I missed that there's a 16" deployment zone which would have helped a little bit. The Druze deployed a very heavy ARO presence, with three Pathfinders, a linked Brawler Sniper, a linked Clipper Dronbot, and a linked Druze HMG which probably shouldn't have been  out and lay down straight away.

My Sphinx had to take out a strong Repeater network while avoiding the strong AROs, and it eventually got unlucky and got wrecked. Not enough ARO pieces had gone down for the Engineer to get there, and it's suicidal Gizmokit run simply missed, and that pretty much turned into the game. A full 10-0 loss.

The final game was Capture and Protect against Thamalys who was running vanilla Combined Army. It was absolutely beautifully painted, one a very pretty new table, too...

The Sphinx had a lot to avoid this game too as there was another strong hacking network. After Thalamys' Speculo managed to grab the beacon for a turn early on where I hadn't been able to fight my way through, I pushed forward to try and make it to the objective and overextended the Sphinx, getting punched unconscious by an angry Daturazi.

To stop my Caliban Engineer getting to the Sphinx, my opponent dropped an Ikadron to cover it, and it survived several rounds of shooting, including two sets of three armour saves where it didn't roll under a 17! I just managed to get the Sphinx back up, but simply didn't have enough orders to get to the box.

With a third loss, I actually ended up with the Wooden Spoon, coming last overall in the tournament. Still, it was fun to get three games in a day, see a bunch of existing friends and make some new ones. I need to have a bit of a tactics rethink, but it's not the end of the world.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Pre-Painted Wizkids Miniatures - Some Larger Monsters

A Spirit Troll is a troll that was nearly killed with psychic energy and has regenerated as a nearly incorporeal creature whose claws and bite are actually psychic damage. It's a hefty "Challenge 11" monster that will wreck a low level party. Frankly, I'm not likely to get a huge amount of use out of it, but I thought it was such a unique critter that I might as well pick one up while it was for sale as I wasn't going to find a great model for it later.

Black Pudding. Great monster, awful name. It's a tar coloured ooze that splits into new ones when its taken more damage. Which I should sort out miniatures for, as I hadn't noticed that when I ordered it. Bother.

This mini is nicely set up so you can set someone up to be devoured by it. Here's a poor modron getting eaten by an ooze. It's got strong "Marvin" vibes to me. "Oh no. I am being consumed. What an inconvenience."

And the last big but not very good monster is this giant Dragonfly. It feels like a good thing for weird or fae encounters at low levels. The shimmery, iridescent wings look great in see through plastic and would have been super hard to paint.

All in all, a good set of purchases, I reckon.

Monday 20 February 2023

In want of a title...

Another slow week for painting. I plugged through a few more of the Mantic Terrain Crate pieces, but I'll save photos of them for when they're all finished now. I also painted up this monster nest that was a freebie with the first Oathsworn Miniatures "Heroines in Sensible Shoes" Kickstarter. I just needed a quick win, and this was the nearest thing to hand. 

I've also realised that I've been avoiding painting because the hobby room is a mess, and any time I go in there I realise I should be tidying it, rather than painting, so feel too guilty to paint. Now this week's eBay sales have gone out the door, I need to knuckle down and put a bunch of stuff away so I can focus back on the painting.

My "lessons learned" from this whole exercise is firstly that my previously established batch painting limit of five still counts for scatter terrain, and should be adhered to at all costs. Secondly, that I should avoid having two multiple figure batches going at once - the dwarves and the scatter terrain are essentially holding each other up as I switch between the two and finish neither.

The contrast paint fleeing the undercoat problem continues on the scatter terrain, and I've been re-base-coating in places to fix it. You might be able to see it on the barrels at the back. There's only a few bits left now so I'll try and get those finished up before getting back to the dwarves. I've also pulled out a couple of figures from the "Left at the Bottom of the Garden" range, and an urn Fenris Games sent me, to be my simple "single" figures I can complete for delicious endorphins.

It was St Albans Smackdown on Saturday, so I got three games of Infinity in with my Shasvastii. I didn't do particularly well, but had fun with friends, which is the important part. Hopefully I will get a little event report up on the blog some time this week.

Friday 17 February 2023

Tournament Practice

It's St Albans Smackdown Satellite Tournament tomorrow. I'm running my Shasvastii again as they're the faction I'm currently most comfortable with. I've had a few practice games to refine the lists, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts, though I'm not going to give everything away before the tournament.

The mission pack for Smackdown is "Highly Classified", "Acquisition" and "Capture and Protect". Highly Classified requires a diverse set of troops able to complete randomly selected objectives, Acquisition involves controlling midfield and having units durable enough to survive to end the game on set points of the field, while Capture and Protect needs to recover the enemy "flag" while protecting your own, which suits fast and aggressive units.

I've gone with an approach of writing one list to deal with the flexibility necessary for Highly Classified, and a second focusing on speed and violence for the other two missions. The Highly Classified list is an iteration of the list I wrote for Countermeasures in St Albans earlier in the year. Meanwhile the other list tries out some units I've not got much play out of yet, so I'll be curious as to how it performs in practice.

Practice games have become a really important part of how I practice for tournaments. I don't always get the time to practice every mission before a tournament, so each time I'll review the planned missions to decide what faction I'm taking and what missions I want to practice for.

When I'm learning a faction I'll try and develop a couple of lists for "common" missions, such as "do things with specialists" and "do violence better than the other player". I may then take these to a tournament without practice for simpler missions. I'll then focus my practice efforts on more complicated missions. Generally I don't think my first passes on lists are ever quite right, and it'll take a practice game or two to really pin down what it is I want to be doing.

So, wish me luck for St Albans tomorrow! I was hoping to paint some new models for it, but sadly, life got in the way and not everything I take will be painted. But it will be good to get in three games in a day and catch up with a bunch of my gaming friends.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Pre-Painted Wizkids Miniatures - Spooky Things

This week, lets look at the various spooky things I picked up from the Wizkids pre-painted line. Again, I'm taking advantage of the see through models here.

First up, these are three "thug" miniatures from the Ravenloft line. They're clearly ghost thugs, and they're a little less medieval than some other options. These generic "civilian" see through people could easily be used as shadows, ghosts or other incorporeal undead depending on what I need to bulk out at the time.

Here, I've got a banshee, a ghost, a skulk and a spectre. The odd one out here is the skulk, which is a human who's been drained of identity by the Shadowfell until they've become invisible. The other three are just varying takes on myths of ghosts and other folk tales. There's nothing special, but it's a good selection for me to use in games.

Finally, I grabbed a Nightmare. It's a larger monster who can work as a steed or ally to a big villain.

You possibly can't see this in the photo, but there's a couple of poor joints in this model. Fortunately the darker nature of the model conceals this somewhat. I could probably find and paint a good "evil horse" but most likely come with a rider for wargaming rather than a separate steed that's more useful for D&D.

Monday 13 February 2023

Defrosting the freezer?

It has been one of those weeks where mundane tasks, such as the aforementioned "defrosting the freezer" end up taking up more of my time than hobbying. Going out twice last week was probably A Bit Much and I had a few more restful evenings this week as well.

So, I've painted one more crate. There's more paint on other things as well, but the crate is the only finished thing...

I was also out on Sunday at an in person D&D game - a finale for a season of an online D&D game I've been playing in the past few months. It's a Spelljammer campaign with a lot of nods to awful 70s and 80s sci fi, and I've been playing an Astral Elf Bladesinger.

I also got a batch of Onyx Contact Force models back from my assembly person. They'll need the usual basing paste and undercoating, but they're currently sitting behind the Battletech minis I still haven't finished prepping, so it might be a while until you see them...

A chunk of my hobby time each week is still going on the piles of stuff getting listed on eBay, but I think I'm settled into a nice rhythm for it now. I'll be at St Albans Smackdown next week, but I then have a couple of weekends off before I have any more commitments.

Friday 10 February 2023

Trying out 9th edition Warhammer 40K

The other week, I managed to make it down to Dark Sphere to get in my first game of ninth edition 40K. To keep it manageable, we kept it down to 1,000 points. We rolled for a mission from the Arks of Omen pack, and got the Incursion Mission "Desperate Raid".

My opponent brought a Necron force with a bunch of Warriors, some Lychguard, a unit of Flayed Ones and I think some Immortals. They had a terrifying ability that meant they reduce the toughness of models they were in close combat with due to the radiation they are saturated with.

I hid most of my units away to avoid getting wrecked by Necron firepower in the first turn. The current competitive rules for 40K have half your victory points coming from the mission, and half from the secondary objectives you select yourself. To try and keep things simple, I chose the Adeptus Astartes missions Shock Tactics and the generic missions Grind it Down and Behind Enemy Lines. I realised only now when writing it up that Behind Enemy Lines and Shock Tactics are both in the same category and couldn't be taken together.

A ton of Necrons pour into the centre of the table, but fortunately only a few Marines fall to their fire, especially due to a well timed use of a Marine strategem that means that they can only be wounded on a 4+ for one set of attacks.

I use some Stratagems and a Chaplain litany to heavily buff up a unit of Assault Intercessors before yeeting them into the biggest unit of Necron Warriors, absolutely wrecking them and leaving only three alive. I could have used another stratagem to take a second attack, and chose not to. It later turned out that this was a mistake as while it would have been massive overkill, those three surviving Warriors survived the rest of the battle scoring an objective every turn for the rest of the game.

The Necrons then came up and counter attacked, wiping out the Assault Intercessors. This happened a few times as a Marine unit heavily damaged or destroyed a Necron unit, only to be wiped out in return.

The Necron player also brought on a unit of Flayed Ones into my deployment zone. Oh dear.

The Destroyers wrecked one of my Phobos combat squads in the ruins on the left of this photo...

But the Deathwatch Veterans proceeded to charge them and absolutely wreck them with a Xenophase Blade and Heavy Thunderhammer.

I still don't have a good idea of what "should" destroy something else. Some things I think will do a bit of damage, and absolutely wreck whatever they're hitting, while other attacks (particularly bolter fire) seemed completely ineffective. I suspect this is knowledge will come with time.

The Flayed Ones charge into the Intercessor Kill Team, but spend most of the game slowly trying to kill them, and the Objective Secured ability scores me a bunch of points.

The combined Necron shooting wipes out the Veterans, and then the characters, meaning I'm running out of units to do anything.

The Intercessors stay bogged down, unable to put a dent in the Flayed Ones.

The Chaplain manages to hold up the Lychguard a little, but not much.

The Vanguard Veterans arrive and absolutely delete a unit with damage to spare. This is a definite equipment issue as they'd have probably been able to still do this with only one lightning claw and a Storm Shield, while having some tiny chance of surviving the follow up fire that wiped them out in practice.

The Hellblasters took some casualties but also had trouble removing much in return. They did overcharge to remove some big walker thing.

With the game done, we added up the points and my opponent hadn't quite understood the mission and had not scored as many points as I had. But, you know, I also hadn't selected a legal selection of secondaries. I'd also run the Xenos Hunters rule wrong for the first turn, applying some rerolling 1s to shooting when it should have just been Melee. And also forgotten Marine doctrines for the whole game.

It was definitely a learning game, is what I'm saying...

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Pre-Painted Wizkids Miniatures - Some Iconic Monsters

On a whim, I've picked up a few of the Wizkids pre-painted miniatures. Broadly, I'm not a fan of them, as I really don't rate either their build or paint quality, but there were a few I thought it was worthwhile me picking up.

First up are these Eberron models. On the left, there's a Living Lightning spell from the Mourning. The other two are different types of Quori - psychic nightmare spirits who plot against the living in elaborate political schemes. The see through plastic was a big motivator for getting these, along with the fact that the monsters are all created for the Eberron setting so don't really have generic alternatives available.

I wouldn't have gotten a Modron on it's own, but because I was getting some other things and it's such an iconic Forgotten Realms D&D monster, it'll be a fun summoned addition to some combats. It's not really a monster I'll get a ton of use out of, but it's such a weird era model from D&D...

Apparently the "invisible alternatives" models haven't been particularly popular. But I have both a Mind Flayer and an Ultraloth already, so when they cast their invisibility spells, I can swap out their model to remind people they can't see them...

Finally, we have some Spelljammer Nonsense. There's a Plasmoid Adventurer, whose semi see through nature would be an absolute faff to paint yourself. He's joined by a Chwinga riding a Space Guppy - some absolute silliness that would be hard to find an alternative miniature for, so worth the low quality sculpt in case you need one.

Monday 6 February 2023

Look on my works ye mighty and despair

I'm working through a whole bunch of Dungeon Debris from the Mantic Terrain Crate. I haven't got the box done yet, but that's not for a lacky of hobby this week - I've just been light on the painting. I've got half a dozen bits finished, and there's a whole bundle still to go.

This batch has been a simple base coat, Agrax Earthshade wash, then a Karak Stone drybrush to bring stop it being too dark while tying it all together.

I'm continuing to work through the Terrain Crate bits. The TT Combat spray was still tacky days after it was sprayed, and when I tried to use some contrast with it, I found the contrast wasn't staying where I put it and really big patches were forming where you could see the base coat as the contrast pulled away from the undercoat. I'm now brush base coating everything, even where I want to use contrast over the top of it, and that seem to be clearing the issue.

The reason for the lack of painting was not, for once, my spending time listing stuff on my eBay account or binge watching some nonsense TV show (the latest guilty pleasure has been Outback Truckers, of all things). I've been playing games! During the week I made it down to Dark Sphere to play my first game of 9th edition, while I headed over to HATE on Sunday to get in a practice game of Infinity for St Albans Smackdown.

Next week is likely to be relatively slow on the painting front, too. I've got a couple of bits of real life stuff, and my online D&D game is having an in person finale at the weekend, which will take a bunch more time than it usually would. I'll plug through some bits and see how I go. This is probably a bit busier than I'd like to be, so I need to keep an eye on what my commitments are in the next few weeks and try and slow down a bit.