Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 Year in Review

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Year in Review

Looking back on 2013, I can’t quite tell if it was a hobby failure or not.  So much of the year, looking back, feels like wasted opportunities… and yet I feel like I was hugely successful in a number of places. This should have been the year of 40K for me: the three armies I have painted each got new books (almost) one right after the other.  Despite that, I only (and barely) managed to update one of those armies and that by the shorted path possible.

  • January: I started the year still working on Orks, which feels like it was a million years ago.  I still want to come back to them; I’ve got the army assembled and in transport shelves. I also started doing Wednesday Workbench which, while not necessarily the most useful content, is kind of handy to look back on.  Also, they do it on Tale of Painters, so surely there’s something valuable to it, right?
  • Not much interesting went down in February.
  • In March, work threw me a significant curveball that I’m still riding out and settling into.  While this has been great, it’s brought a lot of free-time uncertainty, which in turn has cramped my hobby momentum. Significant to the blog, Google killed off Google Reader; an nefarious act that I remain super-pissed about and motivated me to transition the blog from Blogger into WordPress.  Overall I’ve been happy with the move… though I still need to make time to tweak the theme quite a bit more and I’m not entirely pleased with the performance.  I also began developing a lot of frustration with Kickstarter… which has persisted through the year.
  • Precious little exciting happened through April through June besides some unpleasant health issues.
  • I made it out to Historicon in July, and had an amazing time.  The Historicon trip began a major shift for me: out of pew-pew and zap-zap land and into historicals, which is something I’d been building up to and looking forward to for a while.  Historicals (specifically Saga) would go on to dominate the second half of 2013 for me. Also: I had an excellent showing in the Historicon painting contest.  I only entered to help ensure Dave’s contest was a successful one: I certainly didn’t expect to take two awards!

    Historicon 2013 Awards

  • August was spent traveling a lot and somehow managing to prepare for the NoVA Open: my third time there, my first playing 40K.  Although I lost about as many games as I won, I did amazing in terms of hobby competition, placing third for overall army (and out of a field of 200+ competitors that’s a tough field).  I’ve been to three NoVA Opens, now, and have walked away with an appearance award from each one; it’s hard for me to not be pumped about the event.

    2013 NoVA 40K Hobby Ace

    More importantly, I took Silver in one of the painting competition categories (with, let’s face it, the first mini I ever painted specifically for competition).  I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success in a number of competitions, but I account that my greatest achievement yet.

    02-2013-08-30 09.51.43

  • October and November were spent assembling and painting Normans for Saga and dragons for Dragon Wars.
  • December was more of the same, but with the added excitement of what feels like every outstanding Kickstarter starting to finally start delivering.

Also significant: back in early September, I said, “So, I think I’m going to try to see if I can go until 2014 without buying any new minis, period” (and then immediately added a disclaimer that finishing out my Norman Saga warband would be okay), because I had more than enough to paint and was on target to have three major crowdfunding campaigns deliver before the end of the year.  In this, I was actually pretty successful: I put in on Reaper Bones II, yes (but had I foreseen it running before 2014, I’d have included it in my disclaimer), and I came pretty close to buying a By Fire & Sword, but ended up not.  Besides that, though: nothing.  That’s an accomplishment.

Hobby Activity

Brood Horror

You should know, by now, that I log all of this hobby nonsense. I’m glad I do; I was ready to lament how my hobby activity was down this year from 2012 (which was, in turn, down from 2011)… but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

2013 - Points per Year

That’s a (slight) uptick from 2012!  I have no idea how that happened.  My only theory is that a lot of my work over the summer was with conversions, which end up being worth more points.

2013 - Points per Month by Year

At this point, after tracking this data for four(!) years, I think it’s safe to say there’s a bit of a pattern: lots of activity with the new year (I suspect this comes is partly due to digging into Black Friday sale loot and partly motivation from this very sort of post), springtime doldrums, renewed, frenetic activity leading up to and coming off of off of the summer’s tournaments and plugging away into the end of the year. Here, have some more charts:

2013 - Points by Month

2013 - Points by System

2013 - Points by Army by Month

2013 - Points by Army  

What’s really surprising to me about all of this is exactly how much of my hobby time was spent getting stuff ready for Saga. I know it’d been my focus for a month or three, but I hadn’t anticipated how it had dominated my year.  

Site Activity

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I always dump this stuff int to charts, furrow my brown and make noises as if I know what I’m looking at.  Frankly, I don’t; this might be on the same street as my profession, but it’s not my profession.  The numbers are there, and they’re easy to dump into chart, and it’s nice to know someone is looking at my stuff… but I have no idea what these numbers actually mean beyond going up or down.  I suppose I’m okay with that.

Anyway, these numbers are going to be weird, I think, due to the big move to WordPress. Some broken links resulting from the move probably didn’t help either.  I’ve broken them out into WordPress and Blogger, but that’s not entirely accurate: I stood up the domain in late 2011, not simultaneously with my platform switch.  Still, while I was on Blogger the vast amount of my traffic came through the Blogspot address and not the address so I think it’s a fair breakdown.  It’s distressing to see that I still get hits off of the Blogger address; I suppose/hope that’s primarily due to Spambots.

2013 - Lifetime Unique Pageviews

That spike in activity in August?  That’s me doing something I don’t usually do: post stuff (specifically my Marker Drones) to Reddit. Like, that page got more traffic than the root. That’s crazy.  I probably should do that more often, but since I haven’t been painting GW stuff, I don’t know where I’d put it.

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In terms of my top five individual posts this year:

  1. The aforementioned Marker Drones.
  2. The Brood Horror (also put on Reddit).
  3. My Herald of Devastation (also put on Reddit).
  4. A non-hobby post about implementing the XKCD Substitutions strip. (I put this in a Newsblur comment in addition to all the ways I usually syndicate out my posts.)
  5. 2010’s Walkthrough of how I paint my Khornate Daemons.

This is probably the first time the list hasn’t included those Skaven conversions I did a million years ago.

2013 - Posts by Month

I was fairly consistent in terms of posting, save for a dip in May (when I really wasn’t doing much of anything) and November (when I was too busy doing stuff to post about it).

2013 - Posts by Month Comparison

But I’m clearly down overall, even with those Workbench posts (which, let’s face it, are essentially filler).  At least I’m getting more consistent?


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2013’s goals:

  • FinishSuccess.  I got a 40K army updated to 6th Edition in time for a GT.  I got several dragons painted in time for Dragon Wars.  I got a Saga force 100% painted.  I fully expect that I’ll have a Deadzone force 100% painted within a week of posting this.
  • PaintTechnical Success. As usual, I painted, but less than I’d have liked.
  • CompeteTechnical Success. I competed, but just barely.  I’d call this a failure except for how successful I was with the few competitions I made it out to.
  • GameFailure. Yes, I rolled dice in 2013, but you’d hardly know it.  My wife’s working situation’s changed so that Tuesdays aren’t the only night I get to see her, so I have no excuse for this besides inertia.
  • Pace MyselfTechnical Failure.  I think I did okay overall here, but the stuff for a Tau update hasn’t seen much attention, and Kickstarter starting to produce deliverables has obliterated any chance I might be able to claim to I’ve painted more that I bought.
  • HistoricalsSuccess.  Historicon! Saga! Not quite the success I wanted to have (still hungering for ECW), but I definitely got into Historicals this year.
  • Continue Dumping StuffSuccess.  I sold off some stuff and made some room.  I have a lot more work to do here, though.
  • Post More to CMONFailure. I don’t think I posted anything whatsoever to CMON in 2013.

2014’s Goals:

So, we’re going to keep the now-standard…

  • Finish
  • Paint
  • Compete

… carry over a few from last year…

  • Game – I still need to make “Get out to the FLGS regularly” a priority. It clearly isn’t going to happen on its own.
  • Historicals – Gotta keep on keepin’ on!
  • Continue Dumping Stuff – When Deadzone showed up, the wonderful and tolerant Mrs. Rush started making noises about the Hobby Closet only being so big, and she’s not wrong. I need to start shaving down on the stuff in there that I’m simply never going to use.

… and add a couple of new/more specific ones:

  • Finish a Deadzone warband – This is almost cheating, since I’m 1-2 days away from accomplishing this. I don’t care: low-hanging fruit is still fruit.
  • Finish a Muskets & Tomahawks warband – This ties into a bigger picture that I haven’t really gone into great depth on… but it’s something I really, really want to do.
  • Post more RPG content – When I moved over from Blogger to WordPress, I conflated my mini hobby blog (that a few people, like yourself, actually read) and my RPG blog (that, as far as I can tell, nobody read); but I don’t really do much RPG posting. I probably should change that.
  • Organize a Charity RTT – Or not, and just make sure one happens.  Our group used to be badass about this, with a big Toys 4 Tots event every December and one (or more!) Susan G. Komen fundraiser every summer. For the past few years, though, we haven’t been as great. I want to see that change.

I hope all of you had great 2013s and that your 2014s are only better!  Happy new year!

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

Norman Archer Levies

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

You ever paint a model that you kind of hate, but you need to run it so you just power on through it, hoping it’ll be over with?

Yeah, I had to do that 24 times with these bastards.

I don’t like these models.  I just don’t.

The flash was crazy town on these guys.  Not quite so bad as with the Crossbowmen, but certainly in the same neighborhood.

There are too many of them, and they’re too mediocre to sink a lot of effort into, and I feel like it really shows.

There’s also a weird sculpting choices here that probably wouldn’t bother a lot of folks, but I’m a fussy pain in the ass so they bother me.  The greatest of these are the eyes: I ended up painting the eyes on half of them and not on on the other half.  The result: half of them look like they’re insanely constipated and the other half look like they’ve been stung by bees.  Bees.

Anyway, I had to get two units (12×2) painted.  It is accomplished.  That was a lot of painting, so they’re going up here, by gum.

Norman Archers 1

Norman Archers 2

Norman Archers 3

Norman Archers 4

Norman Archers 6

Norman Archers 5

Next: to paint 8 mounted warriors so I can swap them in for either the foot warriors or one of the levies.  Then, I begin waiting for Fireforge to release their Mongols, which look holycrapamazing.

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

Norman Warlord

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

Before/after/during painting the dragons, I’d been working on wrapping up my Norman warband for Saga.  I painted this dude in late October, but didn’t get around to photographing him until now.

Although I’m very happy with the horses I painted for the Hearthguard, horses aren’t quite so uniform.  I especially wanted to do something different for my Warlord, who should naturally stand out as much as possible (despite my having him on a normal cavalry base).

Somehow, I ended up settling on this coloration:

Dorian Gray Conformation

Not a huge departure from the horses I’d been painting, but enough of one.  He’s lighter, and has some color transitions on his tail.

Norman Warlord 1

Norman Warlord 2

Norman Warlord 3

Norman Warlord 4

Norman Warlord 5

I actually did some wet-blending on the tail and mane that I’m pretty satisfied with.  My wife though the mane looked odd: I painted it to match the tail (because it’s not shown in the reference picture I was using).  She pointed out that there’s probably a very good reason that the tip of the tail was brown, and that mane probably wouldn’t have that problem.  I told her that was horseshit. :rimshot:

She’s not wrong, but I remain content with the results.

Deadzone – Arrived

Deadzone Kickstarter Image

Deadzone showed up today! It made shockingly good time: the tracking number was generated last week, hung around Nottingham until yesterday afternoon and then, bam, across the Atlantic and in Manassas this morning!

Deadzone Box

It’s an enormous box; over 22 lbs. Mrs. Rush gave me a bit of the stinkeye when she saw it, along with an (entirely fair) admonishment about the lack of room in the hobby junk closet.

Overall, the sculpts look alright. Better than the Kings of War disappointments by far,  Some of the Plague guys are a mite dodgy, but that’s not entirely inappropriate. The Marauders actually pretty solid, as are the Enforcers.

(In fact, I’m about halfway through Enforcer, and the idea of doing Arbites with the Enforcers is something that’d occurred to me.)

They’re in restic, which makes me want to pants the chucklehead who put “DEADZONE CONTAINS ALL THESE STUNNING PLASTIC MODELS” along the side of the box along the side of the box.  Restic ain’t plastic, it’s garbage. I’d like to say that if I’d known Deadzone was going to be in restic and not hard plastic I wouldn’t have backed it… but I don’t remember if I’d pledged Deadzone before Sedition Wars delivered.  (Sedition Wars is the font of all of my restic hate.) Jake Thornton asserts that it’s not all that bad; Casey‘s already fiddled with some and says that it’s not great, but is better than the Sedition Wars trash, so I’m hopeful.

Certainly, I’m not feeling a lot of Kickstarter remorse over Deadzone yet.

That said: the box was a mess.  Terrain sprues and model bags were tossed into the packing peanuts, which meant that fishing stuff out was non-trivial. All of one of the terrain sprues (Scenery 5.1) had stuff broken off of them (not catastrophically, but broken sprues < unbroken sprues).  Then, I got to the packing slip.

I have to admit that I had a bit of a freakout: what I selected in the survey doesn’t look anything like what’s on the packing slip, and what was on the packing slip didn’t look anything like what was in the box.  Although they’ve got a helpful “Here’s what should be in each bag” post, when it’s completely unclear what bags you’re supposed to have it’s not as helpful as it could be.  Fortunately: if you end up in the same boat, I’ve got your back at the end of this post.

Here are some examples (this is not all of the inconsistencies):

  • The packing slip says I’m supposed to get the Rebs Faction Deck and the Marauders Faction Deck. I’m supposed to get the Enforcer and Plague Faction Deck also, but they’re not on the packing slip.  All four were in the box.
  • It lists out all of the Rebs and Marauder bags I’m supposed to have. It also calls out one (just one) Plague bag, and none of the Enforcer bags. I got the Rebs and Marauders I’m supposed to have, all of the Plague Bags (and an extra of the one they listed), and the Warpath Enforcer bag (and not the Deadzone specific bag).
  • Not everything’s supposed to be in this shipment. Some of those things (like the Forge Fathers Starter) are listed. Others (like the Forge Fathers Booster, or the Enforcers Booster) are not.
  • Bonus Accessory sprues (from the extra Battlezones) are on the packing slip… but it’s been crossed out and “- Dwill ship 2014” is hand written next to it. They’re in the box, though.

You can see how confusing it was.  Are Wave 2 contents listed? Or not?  Are things baked into the Strike Team level listed? Or not?  What about the add-ons I pledged for that should be in this shipment that aren’t listed? Or in the box?

I had to put together a freaking spreadsheet to get my bearings.

In the end, I’m missing a good couple of things.

  • DZ Enforcers bag – missing entirely
  • Hardcover rulebook – missing entirely
  • Connector sprues – I’ve got 6 of the 14 I should have (57% missing)
  • AI Deck – This might be for Wave 2
  • Printed Compendium – Probably for Wave 2
  • Resin Rebs Commander – I assume Wave 2
  • Enforcers Booster – Wave 2
  • Forge Fathers Starter & Booster – Wave 2

Some of these things I’m probably not supposed to have yet, sure. The flat-out missing stuff cheeses me: of all the minis, the Enforcers are the most interesting to me, I’d rather have the hardback, and I’ve got a lot of terrain that I can’t assemble ’cause I don’t have the connectors for it!  Also, the stuff that I’m not supposed to have that isn’t on the packing slip makes me antsy.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to working through the rulebook tonight.

After the break, I break out my best reckoning of what bags constitute what starters / boosters. It might seem self-evident, but while I was trying to work through what I had and what I was supposed to have I really could have used this.  Hopefully someone else will get some use out of it.

Continue reading

Norman Warband – Fully Painted

Norman Warband

I can now play Saga fully painted.

(Or rather, I’ve been able to play Saga fully painted for a month, but only just now got the chance to take pictures.)

Wyrmgear & Pathfinder Red Dragon

Clockwork Dragon Face

I only had about a week total (yay, procrastination!), so I had to do a model that would paint quickly. That meant not Kaladrak or Nethyrmaul. It’s gotten to the point where I can bang out metallics like nobody’s business in very little time, so Wyrmgear was top of the list.  Plus, it’s a clockwork monstrosity and, um, Skaven, so it’s not a big leap.

  Clockwork Dragon 2

Clockwork Dragon 1

Drybrushing, more drybrushing, washing, etc. This guy went together stupid easily, and painted up almost as easily.

If I’d had more time, I’d have cut the wings: along the top of that thickest “spine” and angled them outwards ~45°.  It’s entirely too flat a model.

This is the model with the screwy legs.  I did the best I could but, in the end, even that wasn’t good enough.


Those feet are all over the damn place. Fortunately, the basing sch eme I’m using here is pretty bland, so nobody noticed it until I pointed it out.  (Which, of course, I did to everyone who commented on how good the model looked.  “Thank you but look at these stupid feet!”)

If you do work on this model: be careful with the wings: they’re not Bones; just sheet styrene. That’s good for detail, but it means that trying to melt them will ruin them.

Pathfinder Ice Dragon Face

Did I say “Pathfinder Red Dragon?”  I lied.

I planned to run it as a Young Frost Dragon, so I figured I’d paint it appropriately.  Plus, this is the model that got gunked up by being painted on without primer and then stripped, so I kind of didn’t care.  It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that I kind of hated this specific figure: that’s why it basically got a couple of drybrush coats, a wash, and done.

Pathfinder Ice Dragon 1

Pathfinder Ice Dragon 2

Obviously, this guy would have benefited from a lot of things: some color variation on the belly and or the wing membranes would be at the top of my list. More around the face wouldn’t be inappropriate.

But, like I said, screw this model.  Ugh.

Dragon Bones

Clockwork Dragon Face

I’ve been very quiet around here, but not inactive.  We had Dragon Wars a month ago, and prep for that occupied a good week’s worth of hobby time.

Fundamentally, the tournament’s about dragons.  Every army can (and must) take one and scenario rules are always built around them.  This is the tournament I built the Ratwyrm for four years ago (and painted two years ago).  This has shifted from folks taking dragons if their army allows it and taking a generic dragon if their army doesn’t… to everyone getting a Storm of Magic Dragon for free and then being able to spend some portion of their points on Storm of Magic Scrolls of Binding (which is a thing we do with other tournaments that I love).

Anyway, this year the rules encouraged taking as many dragons as you possibly could, which is great.  Except I only have the one painted dragon.  Fortunately, this is a problem for which my poor judgement and tub of Reaper Bones has me well-prepared. I figured I’d definitely knock out a second dragon and, if time permitted, see if I could squeeze in a third.

So, I started painting some Bones.

I tried painting them unprimed.  This was a disaster. I’ve read that you’re not supposed to use primer on them… fine, but unthinned Citadel base paints on them were a runny, ugly, tacky mess.  Days after getting a basecoat on, the paint was still tacky.  Gross, and not acceptable.  This led to me learning two things:

  • STRIPPING – Yes, you can strip Bones with Dawn Power Dissolver… for the most part.  It got most most of the paint off, but no amount of soaking and scrubbing could get paint out of the deepest cracks. Vexing, but better than nothing.
  • PRIMING – The key to Bones not sucking is priming them with acrylic gesso.  Gesso is a parchment primer; you slop it on (no, really, goop that junk on there) and it dries with hardly any loss of detail… while leaving you with an excellent surface to apply paint to.  As a bonus, the acrylic gesso I picked up way back when is black; I vastly prefer painting over a darker surface than a white one.

So, I ended up stripping a dragon and, while that was soaking, prepping and gooping gesso all over another.

Really, the way the figures paint with gesso is so different I want to say that painting Bones without it is probably doing it wrong.

(We’re getting a bit long here, so I’ll throw up the actual painted dragons in another post later this week.)

Casey‘s noted he’s had some issues with model integrity and temperature: specifically that his Fateweaver went all weak-in-the-knees after a hot Virginian afternoon.

This tracks very closely with my experiences: the legs on one of the dragons I painted were all over the damned place: yes, you can use hot water to reshape things, but 1) that doesn’t work as well as it could and 2) that’s easier said than done when working with four separate things you need to get to line up.

So, I said screw it and used Apoxie Sculpt to make the ground meet the feet instead of the other way around.  Needless to say, I was nonplussed to learn that the legs shifted/bent/whatever between that sculpting and actually gluing the bastard down.


Salty language was used.