Tuesday, 18 October 2016

I Aten't Ded

Well, it's been a while. More than five months since my last post. But no need to worry - I've not fallen off the ends of the earth or been taken by dimensional horrors (yet). No, it's just been a deeper summer lull than usual for me, with little miniature hobby enthusiasm to post about. Due in parts to other hobbies, distractions and general life stuff. Including quite a few games of Netrunner, both in my local 'meta' and travelling to a couple of organised play events.

But I've been languidly back at the brushes in recent weeks, to the the point where I've actually finished something - huzzah! Yes, another two Requetes for the SCW, started months ago, sat idle for the summer and finished off over the past fortnight.

But beyond these, I've not been totally idle. After the last AHPC, I dug out all of my terrain for a good sort out, into worthy completed pieces, bits that needed some repairs or a refresh to meet current standards, and stocktake the many bits and pieces that I've picked up over the years. One of the new pieces that I built was this walled apple orchard:

This was my first dabble in using the crazy-cheap trees that can be sourced from China on eBay. While a bit uniform and of dubious colour, I tarted mine up with some paint and reckon they came out ok. As good as model railway trees on the cheaper end, anyway.

While I could have squeezed a couple more trees onto the base, I left it a bit roomy to easily fit miniatures on, giving the effect of an orchard while hopeful the trees would get less mauled with usage. I did briefly consider doing the trees separate to the main base, too, but felt it unnecessary..

I also knocked up another 'coir mat' field as more area terrain always comes in useful, and reworked a kitchen garden/veg patch that I made years ago.

And a whole host of other repairs, including re-basing and re-foliaging my hedgerow set:

In a nutshell, what I've been up to miniatures-wise. But, as they say, 'winter is coming' which means we're heading full tilt for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. For that, I've got miniatures to prep, including a new project with that brother of mine Gharak. You should definitely see more of me over the winter months!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

A New Distraction!

It's all been a bit quiet from me here since the end of AHPC VI. Reason for that is I stumbled on an active Netrunner community locally, and decided to take up the many opportunity for some gaming with cards. A new interest that came out of nowhere! 

Android: Netrunner is an asymmetric Cyberpunk Living Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games. One player plays a Mega-Corporation looking to advance their agendas while protecting their secrets and servers. Their opponent plays a plucky 'Runner' looking to hack servers and steal secrets, for reasons including profit and anarchism. It's huge fun to play from both perspectives, with the asymmetric design offering hidden information, bluffing and clever plays galore. 

This past month, I've been enjoying throwing myself into learning the game, which has a well-developed 'meta-game'. The theme and depth/complexity seems to draw an older crowd compared to its competitors, and the local players have been invariably friendly, welcoming, inclusive and generous with their time in showing new players like me the ropes. And I appreciate FFGs LCG format - no blind packs and artificial rarity of cards nonsense! 

I'm fortunate that there's two regular local meets a week, and a group of players that play over lunch at work. Those opportunities mean I've played something like 50 games over the past month - a bit embarrassing compared to how infrequently I tend to actually get minis onto the table. It's not entirely fair to compare with wargaming of course, with A:NR being a 20-40 minute game and hugely more transportable! 

A:NR is a great game, definitely recommended by me. But where does that leave wargaming? Well no change, really: I've been at it for ~20 years and it's always been a hobby that's waxed and waned with competing hobbies and pressures on time. Post-AHPC, I've been surveying my terrain collection and have been fixing and rebasing various little-used pieces to bring them up to scratch. I'll continue with that, until my enthusiasm gets fired up to paint some minis. My  fresh copy of the new version of Lardy rule set Sharp Practice is a likely candidate for that! 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Sixth AHPC - March 2016 and Final Tally

The dust has settled after the manic last week's of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. Votes have been cast and prizes awarded, as things should be. The Challengers are able to shuffle back into the sunlight for another nine months. 

My first entry in March was my Curtgeld for the challenge, for which I drew on our shared interest in the Spanish Civil War: that's what I've been painting for most of the past year, and Curt's own collection has been a great inspiration. So here's my rendition of Eric Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, from his time serving in the Spanish Civil War.

He's from Artizan Designs' Thrilling Tales range, they've managed a very good likeness.

In December 1936, Blair, a democratic socialist and staunch anti-fascist, set out for Spain to fight for the Republicans. Entering Catalonia from France, he encountered the conflicting factions supporting the government in Barcalona, and joined The Worker's Party of Marxist Unification - POUM. Sent to the quiet Aragon Front, he initially saw little action, only deprivations visited on the loyalists from lack of supplies. Having recnently married, his wife Eileen O'Shaughnessy visited him there.
He traveled to Madrid, intending to join the Communist party's International Brigades. There he was appalled at the factionalism dogging the Republican cause and denunciations of POUM from the Communist press, and resolved to return to Catalonia instead. Back at the front, he was wounded in the neck by a sniper and ruled medically unfit to serve longer. Blair being 6'2" was probably a factor, you can identify him in the photo below standing a head taller than his comrades. By June, POUM had been outlawed as a "fascist" organisation that hindered the Republican cause, and as its members were arrested and put on trial, Blair fled to France and then back to England. 
So why a "gambler, daredevil or risk-taker"? Well, I thought as a published author, setting aside his burgeoning career to participate in an unpopular foreign conflict for his beliefs was quite a colossal gamble. And actively seeking combat to fight for what he believed in was undoubtedly risky - he travelled specifically to fight, not as a writer, though he later wrote classics about the conflict. 

I painted him as best I could to fit in with Curt's existing SCW collection, choosing appropriate colours as best I could and using more subtle skin tone to my usual. The base is left bare for Curt to match. I couldn't resist giving him a patch showing his allegiance to POUM, a white hammer and sickle on red. 

For the challenge theme round, 'Gamblers Daredevils or Risk-takers', I entered a diorama of a downed Spanish Civil War Republican fighter, whose pilot managed to nursed his beloved "Mosca" into a crash-landing.

The Republican pilots of the SCW were doubtless daredevils, gamblers and risk-takers. Outnumbered, they started the war with obsolete planes and were quickly up against the German Condor Legion and Italian Legionary Air Force supplied by the Rebel's allies. The Rebels superior air power, innovative and controversial use of it contributed to many of their successes, and to Republican defeats.

The plane is a Polikarpov I-16 Type 10 fighter, nicknamed the "Mosca" (Fly) by the Republicans and "Ratta" by the Rebels. More than 250 I-16s were supplied but the Soviets to the Republican Air Force. This is a 1:48 scale kit from Czech company Eduard. I was originally looking to build a reconnaisance or light bomber, intending to do a larger plane but under-scale in 1:76. But the SCW is less well served by kits compared to WWII, so I went for this larger I-16 in quick-build 'weekend edition'. It's got a pleasingly Soviet functional look, it's snub nose making it look a bit like an oil-drum with wings. I was really chuffed to snag one for a mere £9 with delivery too! Unfortunately, the decals weren't usable, but I painted on the main markings. 

I built the kit as is, as Google-fu'd pictures of crashed I-16s seemed to be impressively whole - they must be pretty sturdy! So I just knocked some bullet holes in and had fun doing some mangled landing gear and a shrub that had been clipped as debris:

The embryo for this idea was originally to be my Curtgeld - A thought to do a SCW pilot as 'daredevil' for Curt. I ditched that idea quickly when I remembered that Curt had already put on that scenario! - http://analogue-hobbies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/worst-case-scenario-12-condor-down.html

The pilot miniature is from the SCW edition of Painting War magazine.

A really neat miniature, though much skinnier and more finely detailed than the main 28mm SCW ranges. Mine also had weird casting issue of horizontal lines all the way down the front, it looked almost like 3D printed minis do. I got most of them off eventually.


Lastly the theme entry was a gamble for myself - I only got the pilot the weekend before the deadline and ordered the I-16 the following. Very fortunate it arrived by Thursday to build and paint, and that I could find enough time to get it and the pilot done (Curt's impromptus extension bailed me out there)! 

Next came a SCW Schneider m1908 70mm mountain gun, submitted on the final day to provide some heavy firepower for my Nationalists. A squat little thing in a fine Empress kit. 

Each Spanish infantry battalion had one of these, and unlike many support weapons there were actually enough for the Peninsular army to receive their allocation.  They were typical detached and brigaded together into batteries. I couldn't find that much about them online, nor many pictures of either real ones nor painted miniatures. The camo is conjectural but a saw a B&W photo of one in a camo scheme and the green/khaki colours seemed most likely to me. It received a heavy dose of chipping and more weathering pigments than the photos suggest. 

This was a real bugbear on my painting desk. I blitzed through the crew while on holiday at the start of this month. But the gun took me ages, working at it on and off. The hassle of basing it up after painting, not my favoured method. But I'm pleased with the result. 

I then cast about for something to quickly work up for the finale. I received these Pulp Miniatures 'cowled cultists' for Christmas. As my Secret Santa got me 'evil hooded' cultists as well, I settled on doing these in a colour scheme of grey robes, and will save the classic purple for the hooded cult. I feel like these need a decal of some kind to break up their robes, and will keep an eye out for something suitable. 

I imagine that and the other half of the group will form a 'not-necessarily-evil' cult, that may work to aims that aren't so blatantly nefarious as global domination, annihilation or the attempted summoning of elder beings. Perhaps they like knitting or something. 

And here's everything assembled into a Challenge group shot, with my 'winter tools'. A small host compared to most Challengers but I'm satisfied that I crept past my target, and am delighted that the Challenge served to get a whole bunch more of the Spanish Civil War project finished.

My tally made it to: 
15 SCW infantry
1 SCW cavalryman
1 SCW crewed artillery piece
1 SCW Polikarpov I-16 (crashed)
3 Napoleonic guerrillas
4 Pulp cultists
7 GW Plaguebearers
...and 1 Curtgeld

All in 28mm - there's nothing like consistency!  

With that, I'll just repeat again my massive, heartfelt 'thank you' first to Curt, who is generous enough with his time to organise and shepherd us through the challenge over the winter months. It's a great pleasure to be able to participate once again, this time my fifth challenge. Also to Curt's excellent bunch of minions, whose amusing commentary and enthusiasm was appreciated by all and really gave this challenge some new facets. And to Resident Statistician Miles, because what isn't improved by a resident statistician. And finally to my fellow challengers, whose outstanding work keeps my enthusiasm and creativity up across the whole year. Here's to AHPC VII!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sixth AHPC - February 2016

February definitely wasn't a classic month for my AHPC VI entries. Unfortunately, the home improvements for 2016 really took hold and sapped hobby time and energy throughout the month. 

,y first entry was chosen to just nip me over the line in my tightly run race to 100 points against Juan. This pair of Quintos (conscripts) join my mountain brigade, who have green-piped gorillo caps, rather than the usual red. I picked these out because they were e quickest to paint, but alas that makes them not that interesting - lots of green and not much else to say. 

I dug their painted compatriots out for a group shot. Since then I picked up a weighty bag of lead from Empress to bulk these out to a full section with support options. 

My next entry came nearly a fortnight later: to the L'Amour bonus round. I had just the ticket in the lead pile, drawn from a stable of Saturday evening TV when I was young: the Swash and Buckle of Sean Bean playing Sharpe in the adaption of Bernard Cornwell's novels. Of course, each episode was basically the same: a dastardly villain, an incompetent or nefarious British officer, the relaxed cameraderie of the 95tn rifles, Sean Bean doing his heroic stuff....and a love interest. And sometimes a different love interest from episode to episode! 

This mini from Brigade Games in the US is the spitting image of Teresa Moreno, a Spanish partizan working to evict the (dastardly) French from her beloved Spain. She meets Sharpe on a typically unlikely errand for Wellesley with his 'chosen men'. They fight, romance and the rest, is history. Well, made-up history. 

She meets an unpleasant end at the hands of Sharpe's nemesis, Sgt Obadiah Hakeswill, freeing up our main man to woo a series of other beautiful ladies. 

I painted her to match e rest of my Napolenic era guerilla band. I also dug these two fellows out of the lead pile - the comrades of the band that I'd posted up to this blog in one of the very first posts, more than five years ago. They've languished in the lead pile since then, undercoated but unloved, for more than five years (and through 4.5 Painting Challenges!) 

These were posted up in March, but mostly done in February and as they go with Theresa above, so I'm claiming them for February. 

March's offerings more interesting, but the challenge is nearly over; less than 24 hours still to run. Still time for me to post one entry, or perhaps even two! 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Sixth AHPC - January 2016

Ah wow it's a whole month since my last post. While its halfway through the AHPC (aka Winter Festival of Paint), hobby time took a battering from a load of home improvement works from mid-January, which are still ongoing. I did manage to get a few games in, including one of Chain of Command Espana with Ian at the club way back in January, and some decent board gaming sessions.

But coming to write this post summarising my AHPC January painting, it doesn't seem as dreadful as I expected. I suppose February was when it all started to bite. Showing atypical focus for me, it was a Spanish Civil War month, mostly plodding through some less snazzy Spanish Army troops. Less colour on them, but they're quick to work through. 

This mounted Carabinero conversion came out pretty well, might have to make myself some more of them. I had envisaged just using him as a marker for a supports choice of a mounted section, but maybe a whole team of them would look great on the tabletop. Or some mounted Requetes...

I steadily turned out enough of these to narrowly win my side challenge with JuanM, restoring honour from last year's defeat. I'm hopeful I've still got enough time to hit my 300 points target and clear some more off the painting queue. 

For the Defensive Terrain bonus round I made up some 28mm scale entrenchments and barbed wire obstacles, sized of course for CoC. Fairly simple scratch builds. 

Little painting done during February so far, though I have been back at the brushes this week. I've also got a week off next week, giving me some chance to make up for lost time. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Sixth AHPC - December 2015

I managed two entries into the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge in December - not bad going considering I had some bits to finish off before it started, and the Christmas festivities with families. Well the second wasn't posted until January, but I'll claim it for adember as 95% of the painting was done then. 

First was a trio of Nationalist officers for my Spanish Civil War project. First, a figure of unknown provenance in a Germanic uniform, that I did in the khaki of the Condor Legion. Not someone who would usually grace a platoon level action in Chain of Command, though perhaps he might stray too close to the front while surveying the abilities of the Nationalist forces or the effects of experimental tactics by the Condor Legion. The uniform isn't strictly right, I think, as the tunic should be open necked and worn with a shirt and tie. But never mind. As a corpulent fellow, I couldn't resist giving him the flushed look of a man who loves his Riesling and Rioja. 

Also, a Nationalist officer who was actually was the show freebie from Partizan this year, meant to represent the actor and producer Sir Donald Wolfit in 'Lawrence of Arabia'. Sculpted by Bill Thornhill. This seemed my best use for him, as he looks a bit like he is giving a facist salute. He has the 'galetta' showing the three stars of a Colonel, so again not someone to grace the table as a combatant in Chain of Command. 

Finally, a Carlist Platoon Sergeant, hurriedly painted in a day to try to match Juan's swift pace. From Empress miniatures once again. 

The second entry was for the 'Nostalgia' theme round - a deftly chosen round with some reall touching entries. I almost entirely paint and game historicals these days, but like many of my generation, I got into this hobby in my youth via the juggernaut of Games Workshop. It has been a long time since I've had much enthusiasm for GW's products or games, but I look back fondly on those formative years, and have maintained a smidgen of interest in what GW have been producing (and perhaps perverse fascination with some of their more outlandish business practices). Personally, I  don't appreciate much of their design aesthetic, but occasionally I find they do still nail it with impressive miniatures. 

But GW's recent replacement of the classic Warhammer world with 'Age of Sigmar' has brought Gharak back into the miniatures hobby after a couple of years hiatus; certainly unexpected.  And his enthusiasm to do some kind of AoS/Realms of Chaos mashup with warband-based narrative games has piqued my interest a little, I admit. What could be more nostalgic for me than painting up some Games Workshop minis? 

So, for this theme round, I presented seven Games Workshop plastic Plaguebearers, the lesser Daemons of Burgle, Lord of Decay and pestilence. 

I didn't take the theme as far as the classic, Oldhammer style sculpts, preferring instead these recent offerings. GW are refreshing a lot of their Chaos minis for AoS, but the Nurgle stuff, which I think is a few years old now, is holding up well. I quite liked this kit for giving Plaguebearers a scarier look, as for a few years they were the naff cousins of the other lesser daemons. Though I did find it a bit light on options. I avoided the usual green-hued skin in favour of a sallow grey. 

Seven is the sacred number of Nurgle in GW's old lore, so a fitting number to paint up (absolutely nothing to do with that being how many I thought I could paint this week, and a number that didn't include the goofier standard bearer or musician).

A wildly different topic meant I could mess about with some new techniques - including GW's 'Typhus Corrosion' paint from their new 'technical' range. A bit odd, like mid-brown wash with added grit, that dries very matt. Something to experiment with in combination with pigments, sometime. 

I also tried to do some new bases, using a strange method of dripping superglue onto PVA - it dries in odd, naturalistic patterns, that I painted as some kind of pestilential swamp. It's glossy, but doesn't come out very well in these photos. 

Of the seven, this one ended up being my favourite - I liked his pose, cute chipped front tooth and the fact he has such a wide mouth you can see his tonsils. Who knew plague deamons had tonsils?!

This should just be a dalliance, I cannot see myself investing in mounds of pricey plastic kits. In fact, I've already been hard at work on the historicals...

Gaming-wise, the first club of January, Stu had his copy of 'Zombicide: Black Plague', the fantasy version of CMoN's miniatures board game juggernaut. 

It was lots of fun for a light evening's entertainment. I got to play the wizard, hilariously hurling magic missiles into my own teammates because I hadn't found, nor would anyone lend me a sword. 

The first attempt was something of a disaster, as we had to improvise a new plan when an un-killable abomination emerged very quickly. It was looking ok here, as we passed and were conducting a fighting withdrawal from the zombie spawn point, but a few card turns later, dozens of them appeared and we were overwhelmed. 

We replayed the same scenario, with a somewhat better understanding of how to play and a new plan. All was going perfectly swimmingly - I was even the proud owner of a sword. 

We were making our way to the final objective in the same bottom right corner when the same thing happened: a few spawn cards and many zombies:

Maybe this corner is where all the cool zombies hang out. 

But by this time we were tooled up and spoiling for a fight. With Dane, Hendrick and Stu heroically  sacrificing themselves/being eaten, Paul and I could fireball and hack our way to the objective and claim the win. 

Oh, and finally, Gharak's sent me an awesome belated Christmas present, which might foreshadow some of this year's gaming activities...

The Prof heads to investigate the unearthly blackish standing stones...