Starting to get back to normality

It has been quite a while since I last managed to write a post and it has been for good reason as for the last few weeks I have been helping my better half with her business. Our house has been extremely busy and I’ve not been able to stop for any sort of free time, let alone hobby time. Anyway that’s over for now and it’s just the Christmas period to get through. There is some light at the end of the hobby tunnel.

There are still a few hobby updates to share though. The biggest is probably X-Wing. I’ve not played a game for over 12 months, but the new Star Wars trailer must have awakened something (geddit?) in me and I’m back listening to X-Wing podcasts, reading websites and buying expansions. I’m not interested in any of the really large ships as I am just interested in simple dog fights if I’m honest, so I’ve been ordering ships from the releases that I missed in my time away. Frustratingly I found that buying expansion packs is still nigh-on impossible and I’ve got months to wait until the new ships actually arrive. At least it will give me time to dust off the stuff that I already have. I suspect that my general Star Wars excitement will build exponentially over the next year until the new film is released.

I’ve not been able to get in any games of tabletop Blood Bowl and have not even been able to find time to schedule FUMBBL matches in the Twitter Beard League (TBL). I have though got my Meiko Miniatures Ratmen and Underworld teams through in the last week. They look really nice and I can’t wait to paint them. I don’t know why but I was really shocked that they were all metal miniatures. They feel really nice and weighty compared to the plastic that I’ve been playing with recently. Sadly they’re still in the packaging and the box has gone straight on the shelf for now. I’m still waiting for the three teams that I purchased through the Impact! Miniatures Kickstarter which is a shame. I’ve also been picking up 2nd and 3rd edition GW goblins and have enough now to make a full team – another project. The plastic Nurgle and High Elf conversions that I started a while ago are still in various states of assembly and are currently sitting on a tray on a different shelf. I’ve also been looking at sideline counters, tokens, figures, and dugouts. I quite fancy making some generic items to support my teams. Another thing on the (long) list!

I am signed up to three tournaments in the next 6 months, the first of which is at the end of February. I have no idea what I want to play yet, just as I have no idea what I want to play in the new league season. I am also strongly considering stripping and repainting my 2nd edition metal Human team so that I can take them to the NAFC in May. Now that my painting has improved a bit I think I could do a better job with them.

I have also been skirting around the fringes of Epic. I’ve catalogued the collection that I have and have found myself looking at lists and the bits that are missing. I’m caught between selling it all or spending a little(!) bit to be able to make up some forces. Still not sure. It’s third on my list of game priorities anyway.

It is still going to be a couple of weeks until I fully get back into things. I hope that until I get time back in the cave, I can make some decisions about what teams I want to play and what I want to focus on. I can then crack on and get things done.


Quick hobby update

I’ve just looked at when I last posted here and it wasn’t that long ago although for some reason it feels like it has been months. I’ve got a few things that I want to share shortly but thought that for now I’d briefly update on the progress that I’ve made.

Since I last posted I have primed nearly 70 Blood Bowl miniatures ready for some winter painting. There’s an undead team as well as dark elves, chaos dwarves and norse. They join the dwarves on the shelves ready for some painting. I put dark elves in that list but I have since painted them! I’ll do a separate post with some pictures but they were done very quickly using some classic Blood Bowl colours. I don’t have a plan for playing them in the near future so they have gone back on the shelf but this time with paint on.

Talking of my shelves (interesting I know), I needed to buy some more of the little plastic display cases that I have been using but saw that they’ve massively increased in price. So much so that I started to look elsewhere and found a really cheap glass display case from Ikea. I picked it up last weekend but haven’t put it together yet. It’s going to mean a little rearrange of the cave again (which I love anyway).

I’ve not been paying any FUMBBL but quite fancy playing a game or two again. I’ve been spectating again which is a good start. Gaming and tabletop-wise I am playing at the Exiles tournament next weekend and will be taking my Ogres. I was hoping to be able to take my custom pitch but am waiting for the final version to be printed following the changes that I made. The changes were minor and the kind of thing to expect when printing a large mass of colour on such a large scale on a slippery surface. I am still hoping to be able to get a pitch to the winner of ExeBowl which is now only a few weeks away. I’ve not played any other games; summer is a quiet time at the club.

On the hobby side of things I have made a decision to try to get better a painting. I’m never going to be brilliant but would like to try to improve given the amount of time and money that I spend on the hobby side of things. I have been watching some painting tutorials online and am using my Warhammer High Elves (remember them?) to practice on. I’ve done one and numbers two and three are underway. So far I am really pleased with my progress. I’ll going to share my experiences here and will post more regular updates. I hope that we’ll be able to see improvement between posts 🙂 I’m enjoying the process so much that I am probably going to paint a whole High Elf army and have been looking online for nice miniatures to paint.

That’s enough for now. There are likely to be more posts over the winter as I get back into my evening routine of football on the radio and NFL on Sunday evenings.

Blood Bowl: Custom markers

Ever since returning from my first Blood Bowl tournament (yes, I am still going on about it) I have been buzzing with Blood Bowl hobby ideas. One of the things that I did like were custom markers for turn, reroll, score and casualties. Not everyone uses them but I did like them and given that I’m working on some custom pitches an dugouts that have smaller squares for each of those game elements, I thought I would have a go at making my own.

The simplest of all are these casualty markers. They are tombstones from the Warhammer Fantasy Vampire Counts army that I found on a Bits site. I’ve stuck them to a standard 20mm square base, given them a simple base using some grit and some static grass and painted very simply. In terms of game play they can be used to show on your own sideline/dugout whenever you cause a counting casualty.

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Still simple, although with slightly more effort are these custom markers that I’ve made to use on one of my new pitches.  Very simply these are sections of a wooden drinks stirrer glued with wood glue to a section of match stick. I’ve then filled in the slot of a 20mm square base and pushed the matchstick in. Let this dry and then base and paint as you like. I’ve free-handed the lettering on each marker. This was only a quick project and if I make some more I think I would weather them more – cut some gaps in the main board and maybe score it to bring out some extra wood grain. I’m going to fill in the underside of the base as they are very light and I’m used to playing with metal miniatures that have more weight to them.

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Hobby Goal Update

In October 2013 I wrote a short post outlining some of my medium and long term hobby goals. As with all goals the purpose was to give me something to work towards and something to keep me focussed when I do get a chance to spend some time in the hobby cave.

The winter months are always good for my hobby time and I made a good amount of progress when the nights were cold and dark. Sunday nights watching the NFL and painting minis are a particular favourite. Now that the sun is out and the days are longer I prefer to be outdoors and progress tends to slow significantly.

Firstly, let’s remind ourselves of the initial goals.

  1. Play in the local gaming club’s winter Blood Bowl league 
  2. Play a game on FUMBBL
  3. Join an online Blood Bowl league
  4. Collect and paint a tournament team for every Blood Bowl race
  5. Attend at least 1 Blood Bowl tournament in 2014
  6. Play each Blood Bowl race at a tournament
  7. Build and paint 1000pts of WFB High Elves
  8. Play a 1000pt game of WFB in 2014

Now for the updates.

Well I’ve just finished my first season in the local tabletop league (I hope you’ve read the match reports and the season report) and I enjoyed it immensely. I’ll be back next year to try to better my finish from this season. Also at the end of last year I started playing a little bit of online Blood Bowl with FUMBBL. Initially I had a lot of fun playing this especially in the Rookie 145 league that I took part in. I’m going to do another one of these in the near future. I’m counting this as being in a league but I know that it’s not a full organised and structured league. I still think they are a bit of a challenge for me to participate in because of my other commitments. But I will find one to join.

As for the Blood Bowl tournaments, well I have been steadily collecting some more teams, adding chaos dwarves, norse, ogres, dark elves, dwarves and vampires to the list of those that I already owned – elves, humans, orcs, halfing, skaven. I’m also working on necro and undead. So I am making progress on getting the teams, playing the teams on the other hand is much more difficult. My personal circumstances make it very difficult for me to attend them. I have worked to get around this though by setting up my very own NAF sanctioned tournament – ExeBowl. It sounds counter intuitive but it means I can sort things out at home well in advance and hopefully in a few years time when the tournament is established I will have one on my doorstep that I will be able to play in. So those goals are being worked on, they’ve just taken a slight change of direction. I still want to play the 24 but have come to the realisation that I’ll be starting and finishing the challenge as a much older player than most.

I’ve also started to construct some pitches and some stands and dugouts. This is a new direction for me and is a really nice change of pace from painting. I’ve enjoyed the more ‘crafty’ nature of the work and am looking forward to adding to these over the coming months and years.

Warhammer is the game that has fallen to the wayside. I’m not sure what it is but I’m not ‘feeling’ it at the moment. I’ve got a 1000pt of high elves based and primed. I just need to start painting them. The various Blood Bowl pitches are taking my time at the moment and I’m just staring at the elves on the shelf. I’ve also stopped listening to all but two of the Warhammer podcasts and have stopped following most of the Warhammer talk on Twitter. It’s just not gripping me enough.

One thing that has flown in to take its place is X-Wing. I’ve built up a decent collection on miniatures (although store stock levels brought it to a halt) and have enjoyed the couple of games that I’ve played. I’ll try to play more over the summer, although I do intend to keep up the Blood Bowl scene at the local club to keep interest high for the tournament. It’s a super quick game with lots of fun and interesting strategy. I can also pack the whole thing into a small box and keep it in the car. I’ve also got DeadZone sitting on the shelf and DreadBall too, but they don’t seem to have gained much traction locally and I’m happy for them to stay there for now.

That’s my update. Overall I am pleased with progress and I’m personally interested to see how, if, this changes over the summer but I am not too concerned. There is a World Cup with late night games so that may up the evening painting time considerably.

I hope you’ve made some good progress on your hobby goals and that you get to work on them as much as you want to over the summer.

The 100th Post Let Down

It’s true. This is the 100th post on my little blog. Thanks for reading 🙂

It’s been a little while since I last posted here and that is partly because I wanted to do something special for the 100th post. I’ve been putting it off trying to think of what to do and it always came back to a review of the last 99 posts. As it happens though I am not going to do that. I’m just too excited and on a hobby high to write something retrospective. I’m forward thinking and I’m just going to write down what is getting me going at the moment and what I am working on.

Well firstly, I’ve finished the background work needed to setup and publicise my Blood Bowl tournament – ExeBowl. It is now NAF approved and although it too early to have my first paying customer, I am really pleased that there has been a good level of interest. I’m hoping that we’ll have a great event and that we’ll be back next year. I will write up a little post in the future about what I’ve done and how I’ve approached the Tournament Organiser role. I’ve not had a Blood Bowl league game for a few weeks but have 2 in 2 weeks coming up and overall I am really hyped by Blood Bowl. I’m slowly trying to get back into FUMBBL and the Cyanide game but there’s no rush.

I am really enjoying writing the Blood Bowl match reports and the good feedback is really appreciated. I think in part this is a big factor in my hobby high. Through Twitter and the blog, I feel part of a little group of like minded readers and social-media friends. It’s not a pressure to write or paint, it’s now a nice part of my life that I am pleased to be able to share with people. When I first got back into the hobby, I was obviously an outsider, but feel that I’ve been able to contribute rather than consume recently. This is very rewarding. I hope that over the coming months and years that I will be able to meet many of you either in person at gaming events or online via Skype of Google Hangouts (get in touch if you fancy some Skype painting or a chat).

As a result of all of this I have started painting again and have lots of plans for new teams to paint and model – more on that soon. I feel that I’ve found my balance of life and hobby-life; I’ll do them in my own time to the best standard that I can do and I’ll be happy. Sometimes when you consume everything via podcasts, blogs, forums and Twitter you can (well I can) get overwhelmed and a little envious. I’m not in a position to travel to tournaments every week, I can’t buy every army out there, and I’m not the best painter. I’m just a normal guy with a pretty normal life who occasionally likes to paint and play with little toy soldiers. But it makes me happy and at the moment it makes me really happy 🙂

Blood Bowl is and always will be my main focus, but I am also looking into other games and other miniatures. Infinity and Malifaux are both of interest and there’s always X-Wing in the background. I’ve found what I like, I’ve found what I don’t like and I’ve found my voice really. It’s exciting times.

So this 100th post is about the present and the future. The journey has been a good one. I have learnt a lot and met some interesting people along the way, but it’s the future that I’m looking forward to and I’m doing it with a smile on my face.

Now I’m off out to the cave for a spot of painting. See you soon.

Fatigue, Summer or Something else?

Something a bit different from me today; not the usual match reports or painting table update.

There have been a couple of high profile KickStarters that have taken my interest, namely Guild Ball and DreadBall XTreme. I ran the rule over Guild Ball and decided that it wasn’t for me and I pledged $75 for DBX that I then increased to $100 when I saw that that level was the starting point for most of the stretch goals.

A couple of days ago though I cancelled the pledge altogether and I’m not regretting it one bit.

There are a few reasons that lead to me cancelling the pledge and at the time they all came from Mantic’s handling of DreadBall and the KickStarter campaign itself. I was getting fed up with new season teams being added to the KS and the value of pledge’s reaching $500,000 and in my mind the nature of the KS changing. I know they are still a small company but I couldn’t help feeling used by Mantic and when combined with my general apathy for DreadBall I decided to stay away. I like DreadBall, but don’t love it and it’s not my go-to game; it’s been completely overtaken by X-Wing as my second game to Blood Bowl.

It’s easy to take this cancelled pledge as a single event, but I think it’s actually part of my evolution in gaming and the hobby.

Before I got back into the hobby I was lucky to have money to spend on luxuries. Since my family’s life-changing events of the last few years and me getting back into the gaming world as a distraction, money – although not gone altogether – has been shall we say tighter. I’m able to give myself a little monthly spending budget which I mainly put towards hobby stuff, but the days of getting what I want, when I want have gone. Cancelling the pledge is partly due to me looking at the return that I’m going to get out of my pledge in terms not just of models and rules, but in game play and fun. I’m not going to play enough to justify the expenditure, especially on models that I’m not fond of anyway.

The 18 months or so back in the hobby, including a full summer and winter with a hobby cave, have allowed me to work out what games I play, how frequently and how consistently as well as how I work the other aspects of the hobby around my responsibilities as a father.

I’m a winter gamer. As soon as the sun comes out, the family and I want to be outside and in particular I want to be out in the hills running. It doesn’t stop me reading and listening or buying, but it does dampen my desire to paint and play when I consider other activities. I have to consider that over the next few months, I am going to play less, paint less and model less. It’s all about determining which projects I want to complete and then planning and preparing for those that I want to do at the end of the year.

I think too, that my focus is therefore on my real passion of Blood Bowl and my growing love of X-Wing. I’m a Star Wars child, so X-Wing will always have appeal to me and with new films coming out and my son reaching an age at which he can appreciate such things, it will stick with me for a long time.

Warhammer Fantasy and Epic are therefore always going to be sidelines for me. If I ever have to choose between those or one of the other two games to play then the other two will win. If I’ve got some money to spend then it probably won’t go towards these. Time to play games is a factor but the cost of building armies is prohibitive. I’ll still listen to podcasts and keep as up to date as I can on the community, but it’s never going to be my thing. I’ll still keep and paint up what I have as I like the models and with Epic in particular I like the connection to my childhood. Warhammer Fantasy too will always be of interest to me as I look to use and convert the models for use in Blood Bowl.

One struggle that I do have is that I want to go to tournaments and get involved in the community more. There are several reasons that I can’t get to tournaments at the moment, so I just need to suck it up. There’s no shame in it. There is a lot of focus on the tournament and competitive play world in podcasts and Twitter, but I think that that’s for a certain type of gamer only. There are hundreds of thousands of people that still enjoy the hobby and never play tournaments of have any desire to. I’d like to play as I’d get lots of games under my belt and more importantly I’d get to meet some of the people that I interact with on Twitter. I don’t help myself by reading Twitter, forums and listening to podcasts as much as I do. I find them all invaluable, but they do increase my desire to go and take part. As I said, I just need to forget this one for now.

Therefore, I think I’m evolving. I’m gaining perspective on where and when I want to focus my efforts and I’m happy with it.

We all have our daily lives and pressures to deal with, that constrict and define the shape of our hobby. We all have different things that we take out of the hobby too from painting, to modelling to playing. I’m just pleased to be well on the way to finding what the hobby means to me and how it plays a part in my life.

The White Dwarf I remember

With all of the talk about White Dwarf now that the new versions are out, I’ve been thinking back to when I used to buy it as a kid. A quick internet search later, and I’ve now got quite a few PDFs that I’ve been looking through with my teenage eyes. Well I say teenage as the period that I remember most seems to be 1988 when I was 11.

Issue 105 was a particular favourite. I remember spending a whole school term (10 weeks or so) drawing harlequins. My drawing skills were good enough for me to do a pretty decent copy of what was in the magazine but weren’t good enough for me to create anything of my own.

I’m not going to get into replicating the issue here, but the whole thing is jam packed full of rules, and amazing articles. It’s a really fun magazine made by people that love games and the games hobby. The sheer number of words is astounding. Pages and pages just full of words, tables and the odd illustration. Fantastic content across a really broad range of games. Enough that I got interested in everything. It was around this time that the Eldar/Elf in me came out as the Eldar imagery really stood out for me against a backdrop of dungeons and fantasy.

For me in particular, I loved this issue as there is a lot of Blood Bowl content including sections from the Blood Bowl Companion (Red) book that you can cut out of the magazine and add to your 2nd edition rules book. The pages even have the little hole-punch marks on them!

I’m going to go back and try and work out the time frame that I would have read the magazine but Blood Bowl 2nd edition was released in 1988 and 3rd edition was 1994, so that’s probably as good a guide as any. Especially since not long after I went to university and I had left the scene by then.

I’m going to keep reminiscing now 🙂