Monday, 16 September 2019

Red Planet BASE! - If in doubt - BASE!

An update of some WiPs, it should be a small mid-week post but access problems to the standalone laptop means this is the only post I have to share 😔 With the Ravenwing Dark Shroud done and my recent review of 'what's on my palette' I just needed to 'flashback' these pics of how I got here. The Dark Shroud out of the way it just made sense to get some basing complete too so I had options going forward. As you can see the Redemptor Dread, Abberrants, Iconward, Rippers, Devgaunts, HIve Guard, lone Tyranid Warrior and even started the Geneestealer Familiars.

Various highlights later.

The Redemptor Dreadnought getting ready for Dreadtober. I know, I know you're supposed to make and build it wholly in the month but I know my speed and even getting to this stage it'll be a challenge for me to get it all done only in October...

One of the key drivers for this was the Ferron Fire Firs, which I've already covered but it's important to reiterate that tagging on another set of similar processes to existing task means you're adjusting your mindset only a little and the outcomes far outweigh the extra effort needed.

I have to be careful now though as I'm eager to move along with so many of these things but in reality I should be preparing for winter. With difficulties to prime models the more that's ready to go the better and the using up my 'stores' could be problematic... Luckily my project planning should keep that from happening. In the mean time I get a Great Big Galactic Big Build Basing Stamp of Approval! I probably deserve more than one for this, but it's difficult to decide, do I get 1 for 40 trees, 1 for the lone Tyranid Warrior and 1 for the two Hive Guard? So best just award the 1 and move on.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Whats on my palette?

Bless me readers for I have sinned, it's been over 6 months since my last confession! I've had quite lot of structure to what I've been doing so it didn't really require and overview to keep track.

But with the new hobby season I Feel like I've got a lot on my plate, but not stuffed with things I don't like - a huge buffet of delectable treats that I want to sample and gorge on until my plate is empty! So where am I at? Having just completed my two sets of Ferron Fire Firs and then varnishing the original set I already feel like I'm off to a great start, even though their potential use is thoroughly limited. Now I'm still using my Trello list which is a little odd as covers most of my To Do List but has extras/missing elements. However, it's nice to have a variety of tools to keep track of what's what, this is another one afterall! I'm even considering deploying Post-It notes in the mancave of each job and creating a tactile physical representation of what is being done/completed.

Anyway I had shared a Guardian article about how to tackle your To Do List, with the primary rule being doing attempt more than 3 jobs at a time as any more can be overwhelming. However, I'm currently in a position where my painting project amount to six items:
  1. Genestealer Abberants
  2. Genestealer Iconward
  3. Genestealer familiars
  4. Blood Bowl Humans
  5. Callidus Assassin
  6. Extra Knight weapons
There's a disparity in the amount of work in each of these and some are almost complete but I just can't/won't push that final furlong with them. But reconciling the issue of just 3 asks is based on shared elements. The Aberrants had some grey areas to do, so I slipped in some quartering of the Blood Bowl Humans. I hate doing that job but once again I'm using the crest of my current positive hobby mojo to motivate me to get these bits done. Any time I feel it's tedious I just stop and go on to something else. 

This has all made me think quite hard about the variety of rules and tips I've lived by to keep hobby momentum. I really think I need to formalise them to help. I think they could be like a set of commandments [but more like guidelines] but then the more I think it feels like a process diagram with if/and/or states because there are no hard and fast rules to keeping busy. From my experience sticking to just one approach is one of the hardest ways to maintain your hobby. But, there are loads of people ho would swear blind that a systematic strict way of working is what gets them results - so you see no single solution to this varied hobby.

Now on top of that painting list I've also sculpted, yes the Tyranid Void Shield Generator has had some DAS clay added to it. I had been putting it off, for over 3 years now, purely because I wanted to video how to do some of the tendon bits. I finally did a clip and I desperately want this complete , so there's quite a competition for my limited hobby time.

What I have realised is that by attempting so many jobs simultaneously I'm actually making inroads into my Big Build from last season, when in reality it would be best to have those to do over Winter - I really need to build more now, which I suppose makes the VSG a good fit. But I also have the remaining GW Manchester painting challenges to do, as well as Dreadtober and that means there will be a lot of chopping and changing in these priorities. Whether that kills momentum n some of these tasks has yet to be seen but I hope not.

One other key observation I've made is setting a task for the evening and completing it is a real buzz. If you really want that hobby high then that's a definite tactic, for instance I set myself the tasks of  matt varnishing some of my Ferron Fire Firs, painting the bone elements on my Abberrants and some small colours elsewhere. To set that goal, go out and achieve it felt so great. Progress is always a key motivator and sometimes the tasks we set are a little difficult to perceive in isolation on a model, but when presented as a task and that task is ticked off at the end of the session it becomes immaterial what it was, just that it is complete. Once again it's mind games and tricks to keep going when you might start to lose confidence, hence why I switched in the Post-Its. I could have easily used a tick-list but by mixing things up it feels fresh and organised in a different way.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Personal update

Just a quick update on how things are personally, so please disregard if you're only here for the hobby. The headline is that things are 'good'. We had 4 nights away at Ribby Hall Village just outside Blackpool. It's a small holiday village filled with Tim Burton-eque pastel coloured villas/lodges. We managed to go a week with the worst outbreak being the good natured banter between the four of us. We played, Catan, Dobble and Jenga and I was routinely the butt of everyone's jokes which I'll take any day if it puts a smile on their faces.

I have become the Beta male!

We had a visit to Alder Hey the week before for Oscar's latest MRI scan, alongside his hydrotherapy. Then we got to see the Oncologist later the day. I have to say leading up to the day it was horrible. I knew it was going to be like that - inbetween scans you [mostly] forget, and get on with life but as a scan date approaches you suddenly become fearful and it all comes pressing in on you. The scan showed everything was 'stable', which is the next best thing to signs of reduction. The Oncologist is happy with that so we're as happy as we can be. The radiotherapy damages the cancer cells and because they're 'foreign' cells the body doesn't repair them because it can't identify what they're supposed to be. So if they're not getting bigger they're hopefully dead and will eventually be absorbed/discarded. At least that's the way we understand it.

We took Oscar fishing, his first time ever and after countless tiny Rudd, landed this 4-5lb Carp off sweetcorn!
He's happy though and due to go back to school full time [will have gone back by the time you read this]. There are still challenges, he gets easily worried about any illness being something more sinister than it is and despite still taking daily anti-nausea tablet he has had a number of bouts of projectile vomiting. The next scan is in November, these will be every three months and then six months for the next 4.5 years but as we approach the 1st anniversary of discovering his brain tumour I'm keen to keep this clock moving. I don't want a situation where we don't appreciate the progress, the things we've done despite horrible bits.

We also went to Ormskirk Motorfest and we had to get a pic of Oscar with a Traffic Officer vehicle and a roll-up banner that I made for them. So things are good and we'll keep moving on until November and the next scan.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Terrain is everything - Ferron Fire Firs

My last update on these was April 2018. They've essentially sat in a box untouched until now. Other projects take priority and terrain often falls by the wayside. Frustratingly not a lot needed doing to complete them - the Red Planet BASE! and some additional highlights on some of the trees for variety.

I did my Red Planet BASE! highlights, I also did all the Genestealer Aberrants, Hive Guard, Rippers, Termagants, Tyranid Warrior and Redemptor Dreadnought while I was at it - you see that's the advantage of the Big Build programme, it allows you to get them ready for basing.

I then did the extra highlights of the mid-yellow [lemon] and then threw on some white for super hot streaks of combustion. Hopefully they'll fit in with the other set I've done previously, although the very reason for the extra highlights is variety so not sure how 'fitting in' is supposed to manifest itself as I've expressly painted them different...

Wraithbone chips next and then a quick varnish. I actually have once of those cheap spray-can car varnishes so I decided to give it give a go. It seemed the easiest way even if the soft cover makes varnish almost redundant. The red trees are from the first set I bought, where I didn't paint the big trees because I thought they were too big - this was before LoS for Knights was needed, so I'm finishing these off too.

The clear lacquer did alright and the 'bottle brush' feels slightly more substantial know because of it. 

However, it is glossy, which for the trees I actually like.

But for the bases I don't.

Protection wise I'm satisfied but I'll be painting all the bases with my Winsor & Newton Matt Varnish. Not only will this add more protection where this terrain is prone to damage but also supply the finish I'm after.

It'll be dull 'drone' work, that I'm not particularly looking forward to but it's just the one last step and I can tick it off my To Do List as a great start to the new season - terrain ✔️, quantity ✔️, long time in production ✔️

I also picked up a couple of extra art acrylics, so I've got my infra-red spectrum going here. I need another can of clear lacquer to varnish up my first set of trees to the same level of protection but typically Home & Bargain is out of stock.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Bolt Action - Battle of St Vith

I know, I know this is 40k addict and this is clearly not 40k. But Ben and Otty are fans of Bolt Action, have all the stuff and a deep interest in the history of WWII. I had told them I'm not investing in another system, which they'd reassured me was unnecessary as they had sufficient  and wanted as all to have a go to see if we liked it. Not having gamed for a while and with no financial risk I was totally up for it. Otty was gaming with a new friend who'd just got back into the hobby while I was against Liam with Ben teaching us the rules.

I was the Americans, Liam the Germans. As you can see St Vith was replicated using Otty's winter Citadel Realm of Battle Board but full of his own WWII terrain. The scenario had some specific rules in that all terrain was treated as difficult [which meant reduced movement] and there was poor visibility which meant you had to roll each turn to determine how far you could see/target. Unfortunately it was bad from the very beginning and we had only 14" range. The mission was for Liam's force to exit off my board edge within 6 turns, scoring points for each unit. My goal was to score points for every unit still alive in my deployment zone in turns 3 and 6. We'll come on to the fairness of this scenario at the end...

I set up spread across the battlefield, I also had a hidden minefield alongside the church, just next to the crossroads. Another 'known' minefield was in front of my dug out at the top of the pic, while  my howitzer on the hill had good field of fire - except for only seeing 14" in front of it! I had my tank parked up in the middle next to a burnt out tank.

Liam proudly announced he would be sticking to one side of the board and try to puncture a hole through it and then set up on my left. The game plays with order dice for each unit in a bag. You blindly pick out a dice and the owner gets to choose whichever order on a facing and apply it to any unit. Therefore each player gets to activate units as and when they draw their dice. The turn ends when all dice have been drawn. Liam drew a lot of dice first and got to move his half track up with a Lieutenant and infantry squad, disembarking behind this house, I think this was the end of the second turn. Regardless they could move around unmolested because visibility was so poor.

Another squad moved up the roads - which did avoid the movement restrictions but Liam had opted not to use it to fast track his tanks because he rightly figured I'd mined the road at some point. At every opportunity I move my own units from the right flank towards the left, which prompted streams of protest from Liam because he said I was only doing that because he'd told me what his plan was. I pointed out that my allied forces had intercepted his plan using our Enigma machine - so served him right! 😝

By the second turn his Panzer tank had made it into shooting range of my own tank. However, mine was a light armoured reconnaissance tank which meant when fired upon I had the option to move out of the way. I think chose not to, suddenly convinced that the various modifiers to hit for moving and the weather would cause the Panzer to miss, which it surely did. I on the other hand got to fire back, point blank  needing two successive 6's to cause damage but then fluffing the effect to just making the crew stunned. The Lego. These can be removed if you spend a turn rallying, or remove one by passing another order test at the beginning of your go. The Panzer took 2 pins and the red marker is where my Howitzer was indirect firing [which would get more accurate in successive turns].

My units on the right continued to hoof it over to my left flank, annoyingly my Bazooka unit was shot and killed at the now maximum visible range of 22" by the German machine gun squad that had moved off the road into the cemetery opposite the church.

Another squad with my flamethrower moved out of the church to my left flank.

My light tank moved and shot point blank but was unable to damage the Panzer. Liam's flanking squad managed to get their flamethrower into the building on the left - incinerating the entire squad inside. Subsequently I would return the favour with my own flamethrower unit. Down to just two men they would then cut down the left side of this building and roast another unit too.

Sadly no more pictures but as the game progressed a number of things became evident. The 'difficult terrain' rules for the scenario made the German goal of leaving the battlefield almost unachievable. Liam would have had to drive right down the central road or not stopping at any point with his tanks. Perhaps if he'd not disembarked the half track and just carried on going the Germans would have broke through my line.

Me scoring in both turns 3 and 6 meant Liam had little chance to score points. With so few casualties due to the fog I already had a double figure lead by the middle of the game. Lastly, Liam's dice rolling was shockingly bad, while mine was significantly better than it should have been. It became a joke by the end and although I would normally feel sympathetic to his plight the usual mate's banter meant I had far too much fun laughing at his appalling luck to let him off lightly 😂

My conclusion was that I liked the game, thankfully not enough to invest in, not that I need to. I like the narrative missions and it's clear the battle report pics all look truly cinematic. Those image almost look like stills from Band of Brothers/Saving Private Ryan, something which is much harder to capture with 40k I think. However, the scenario was fundamentally flawed, now that might be to replicate the historical context but it's no fun if you're on the road to a loss from the get go. Ben did say that there was some historical mirroring of what happened in our game, I'm not sure which, I think the Germans had figured it would be an easy break through but somehow the outgunned Americans managed to hold them back for longer than planned...

Anyway, a lot of fun and great to see the guys again.

Monday, 2 September 2019

'nids part 271 - Genestealer cult - Acolyte Iconward - Big Build TO DONE!

Full disclosure - this is technically a 2018/19 season Big Build TO DONE! However, aside from the Sanctum Imperialis showcase I really wanted to move onto the Season. The Big Teal Stamp of approval has challenging connotations that I'd rather move on from. Anyway the Acolyte Iconward has been built a long time but I only just added it to the base and used cork for the first time to represent shattered rockcrete [like all the big kids do!]. It also adds another few millimetres of height which is never a bad thing [except when you're packing the model away].

I'm hoping he'll be a Character choice in one of my Battle of the Brush challenges. September is the next one, which is too soon but it might be a nice way to close out December. I've actually got a couple of Genestealer Familiars built and based too that could go with him [although technically he doesn't get them]. Regardless my first Big Build Galactic Stamp of Approval. 

Friday, 30 August 2019

Terrain is everything - Sanctum Imperialis - TO DONE!

Aah the Sanctum Imperalis… It's taken a while to get the opportunity to take pictures but I needed some to add to last season's hobby review.

It's a big piece and so it's a struggle to fit it into my homemade light box but I got there in the end.

As you may recall this was a project not without challenges, in particular the 'bold' choice of full verdigris on buttresses, supports and skirting boards.

The red glass lighting also suffered from a lack of contrast that I repeated on my Ravenwing Dark Shroud - sometimes Tamiya Clear Red X-27 is too good.

But the colour choices were made to stretch me, to do something more challenging than just the weathered brassy bronze and as you can see the Ferron Proxima background finally gives it the context it needed.

On the full red/orange background the verdigris provides the ideal framework to break up the monotony of the red rockcrete walls.

With the cream interior adding another dimension.

I can't wait to eventually see these used on my Realm of Battle board, although that could be a long time hence.

I had plans to add some creeping yellow flock up the walls and around the buttresses but didn't get round to it.

I did get the occasional propaganda poster in though ;)

And the white background pics, which aren't totally without merit.

At least it matches the interior a bit, there's consistency and sense of reason that grounds the turquoise.

But as I've maintained buildings in real life are not always colour-matched and consistent.

They often have elements that are incongruous and garish. So whatever the result I committed to the aesthetic and executed it.

Better late than never the [last] Big Teal Stamp of Approval for 2018/19 and completing some terrain!