Saturday, 21 January 2017

Looking Back at 2016...

My last post was a little past the  middle of November, and given the gap I must apologise, gentle reader (note that 'reader' is singular), but it has been a busy time.

Aside from the general business of the festive season, with family to visit, drinks to imbibe and food to relish, we have also been busy moving castles. Moving castles is not the most streamlined of processes, it is messy, tiring, and a lot of wandering around wondering which box contains the thing you want in any particular moment. Even having been in the new castle now for around a month, much of our lives are still hidden in some box or tub, probably under some other box or tub.

So the first post of 2017, in the true spirit of the Roman goddess Janus after whom this month is named, I shall be looking back at 2016. 'How quaint' I hear you murmur, 'nobody does reflections on the previous year in January' I hear you stutter, almost spilling your muscat down the front of your velvet monogrammed pajamas.

While you may think it true, careful examination of the interwebs will clearly show that this time of year typically sees bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, geeklist makers and people of all stripes create lists of those things that were best about 2016, and what they are looking forward to in 2017. Who am I to buck a trend?

In all honesty 2016 was an ugly, drawn out, painful and generally turgid affair. If it was a Beast, even Belle would have been urging Gaston to put the bastard down. But it is done, and while 2017 promises (on a global level at least) to be worse, it is here, and so has to be faced with whatever sense of optimism you can muster or whatever banal aphorisms will help you through.

But, I am not here to moan relentlessly from the comfort of my first world life about how tough it all is, I'm here for the gaming! Well, mostly.

At the start of 2016 I wrote a post covering some of my hobby goals for coming year... well, the end times have come and it is time for a reckoning.

The first of my goals was to play at least 100 different games over the course of 2016, which, surprisingly, is something I managed quite comfortably. I ended 2016 having played 115 different games. For those interested the geeklist I used to to keep track of them is here.

Some of my favourites from the year include Battlelore, which was nice to get back to the table again, and Shadows over Camelot, which is also an older game, but a thoroughly excellent one. The best 'new-to-me- game I played in 2016 was probably Codenames, which was a lot of fun, and something I am looking to playing more of in 2017.

In terms of miniature games, and aside from Spartan games such as Dystopian Wars (which I have worked on), I would have to say I was most excited to play Heavy Gear Blitz and Mordheim. Both games were new to me, and while Mordheim is an old game, it is truly a wonderful game. Heavy Gear is something I am hoping to get to the table more this coming year. The minis are great, and I am really enjoying it.

The Scions of Erasmus... my Mordheim warband...

A Hunter Squad for Heavy Gear Blitz...

My next goal was to reduce the number of unplayed games in my collection. This is a goal at which I failed, I'm afraid. I ended 2016 with several more games unplayed than I began it. Hopefully I will have better luck in this department in 2017!

I'm looking at you Sekigahara!

My next goal was to spend more time playing games with my family. I would say this goal has been achieved, I still want to make sure I take the time to play more with my wife and kids in 2017, but the grounding in 2016 was a starting place.

Song of Blades and Heroes with my son...

I had the goal of playing more RPGs in 2016, something I did not manage to do I'm afraid. I really hope that 2017 picks up in this regard... we have a maiden voyage planned for the coming week with the upcoming Star Trek game by Modiphius, so hopefully this is something we can build up!

I had a painting goal of getting a Squadron a month painted, and surprisingly I think I came close. Between my Covenant models, my Mordheim Warband and some Heavy Gears, I am pleased with how much I managed to get done...

Lots done by my own low standard... fingers crossed that I manage more in 2017!
My blogging goal was to write at least two blog posts a month. I think (if I've added correctly) that I managed some 36 posts over 2016, some months I was quiet, some silent, but overall I am happy with my blogging output. My posting is too haphazard in both regularity and subject matter to ever accrue many views, but writing is my goal, not building up my views stat!

My podcasting goal, of recording and posting something at least once a month, turned out to be impossible. With the Element 270 podcast winding up due to scheduling difficulties, and On Minis Games struggling this last month or so due to the move, I just haven't had the time and opportunity. Here's hoping that 2017 sees On Minis Games get going properly!

Lastly, I had a goal to read at least a book a month. Without a doubt the stand out book I read in 2016 was The Martian, by Andy Weir. It is an absolutely wonderful, totally engaging and brilliantly executed book, and I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone. If I was to include the books I had read to my class, this goal would be a shoe in, but considering only books I read for my own pleasure, I fall short of the mark. Again, I hope to make amends in 2017!

And that about sums up the obligatory reflection on 2016. at some point I'll get around to formulating goals for 2017, so until then...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Northern Hunters...

To continue my spurt of painting inspiration, after having completed my Averlander Warband for Mordheim, I decided to tackle some of miniatures for Heavy Gear Blitz!

Since the box of goodies, fresh from Dream Pod Nine's Kickstarter, arrived, I've managed to put together all my Northern Heavy Gears, play a couple of games, and plan my next set of purchases to round out my Northern Force. Of course, it's always nicer playing with painted miniatures, and being on something of a roll (by my low standards at least), I was keen to get some paint on these guys to see how they came up.

So far I have managed to paint my 8 Hunters...

I based my Gears on 30mm round lipped bases.

Using a palate knife and some wall putty, I added some detail to bases to both fill the base slot and give it the appearance of uneven ground.

After the bases were done and dried, I painted the lot with a slightly watered down PVA, in the hope of making sure the putty stayed put...

The miniatures themselves were a joy to put together, a dab of superglue worked almost too quickly. I wrote about the assembly a while ago here.
Wanting to cut down on prep time, I decided to try a Dunkelgelb spray-on undercoat. It looked good enough on my test model, but I left it a week or so to see if any started flaking...

No flaking? Good to go!

All sprayed (some a little heavily).

Some base coating done. Pretty simple scheme: dunkelgelb base, with white sections and metal for the engine and most of the weapons.

The first base coat and a wash with Army Painter Dark Tone (black wash essentially).

Highlighting complete with skeleton bone over the dunkelgelb, white over the white, plate metal and shiny silver over the gun metal and lastly red and blue for the missiles and 'eye' or lens.

All done, except for some basing material like static grass...

I'm still waiting on some basing material to arrive before completing the bases, including some highland static grass and winter grass tufts. Combined with the transfers (which I'm still deciding whether I'll use), the ensemble should be finished nicely.

Overall I'm happy with the scheme and think they came out well. Some simple colour variations mean they are not too bland, and they fairly well copy the paint schemes in the book. I think they'll look nice on the table.

One sour note to this endeavor was the fact that the sealant I used afterwards (paint on matt varnish), softened the putty I had used as basing material. When I pulled the bases off the painting stands I use several of the Gears broke free of the bases with clumps of putty on their feet. These Gears were fairly easy to glue back in place, and you can't tell the difference now between those that did and those that didn't, but... If I hadn't already based my force I'd be changing the material I used, and I don't think I'll be using wall putty again. Having written that, I do have to concede that with the lightness of the miniatures, I can't see it having any impact in the future, but just to know the bases are a little weak is annoying. Still, ce la vie!

Now, I am really keen to get onto my Jaguars... but I have school reports to finish and some work for Modiphius, for the Infinity RPG, to complete, so they'll just have to languish a little longer! Hopefully I don't lose my desire to get things painted over the next week of not painting!

Incidentally, for anyone keen on the Heavy Gear universe, Fushion Core Studios has just launched their Kickstarter for Heavy Gear Dreadnoughts! The game is all about the land ships vital to the Heavy Gear setting. The miniatures look great, and I for one am very excited!

If you're a fan of the RPG, Heavy Gear setting or Blitz, this is well worth checking out!

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Scions of Erasmus - Painted!

Getting paint on models is usually something of a small miracle here at the Castle, and playing with a fully painted force, virtually unheard of. However, I have been pushing myself to get my Warband for Mordheim painted, and lo, this passed weekend it has been achieved!

My Averlander warband, The Scions of Erasmus, consists of a Captain, a Sergeant, two Bergjaegers, a Young Blood, four Moutainguard, two Marksmen, and three Halflings. They are quite an archery focused warband, and I have found them a lot of fun to play.

I have managed to play about half a dozen or so games now, and the campaign is in full swing with multiple games played every club night. There are about 7 or 8 warbands involved in the campaign, and it has been an absolute blast.

In any case, on with the painted figures! First off are the latest and final addition, my Henchmen group of Halflings.




The Scions of Erasmus...

Young Blood, Captain, Sergeant





In all I am extremely happy with how they turned out. I was nervous about painting the yellow and the black, but overall I'm thrilled with the results. The miniatures I used (Perry Miniatures plastics), were great to work with and a joy to paint. Makes me want to grab some more, but I'll need to go looking for a game to play them in!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Averlander Reinforcements...

Well, this is a real turn up for the books, I have managed to get some more painting done. Along with the election of Trump, I'm sure this unforeseen jump in my painting productivity is somehow linked to the End Of Times (TM).

I have managed to complete four more members of my Averlander Warband, as well as get a bunch of games in - which has been great fun.

The two on the left are Bergjaegers, while the two on the right are Marksmen

Bergjaeger: Gislerus

Bergjaeger: Hildiger

Marksman: Albrecht

Marksman: Oswald

It has also been a lot of fun seeing so many games being played at the local club. I have managed to get two or three games in recently, and have been having a lot of fun seeing my warband grow and develop.

One of the club games - Carnival of Chaos vs a Vampire warband...

Another club game feature stout Dwarves against Skaven...

My Averlanders waiting behind this church for the enemy to advance...

My Bergjaegers take a bead on a particularly large enemy Troll...

My Halflings on the right flank looked in trouble as Orcs and Goblins moved down, my Sergeant, Captain and a Mountainguard moved in to refuse the line as the Halflings moved back. There was quite a battle on this flank shortly afterwards with my Averlanders lucky to come through.

4Ground scenery is amazing...

Playing against the Carnival of Chaos... They had to break through, and I had the advantage of placing my archers in high scattered positions. Missile fire dominated this game, and I managed a few lucky shots that swung it my way.

Lots of fun had by all. It's funny how over the progress of games, by dint of both careful painting and the campaign development of the Warband that you get quite attached to your force. I'm nearly through the painting, all that remains now for my Averlanders is my group of three halflings. To be honest I am quite looking forward to painting them, and very much looking forward to being able to put a fully painted force on the table!

After the painting is complete, I have some scenery to assemble...