28 January 2008

I can't sleep because I'm thinking about Fantasy Baseball. Specifically, I'm trying to figure out the best way to make up my draft spreadsheet so I can keep track of player statistical projections and my teams' specific needs during my drafts without becoming bogged down with too much information on the paper.
About half of my Easterlings are started and I'd probably push through to finish basecoating the rest tonight, but I have to pick up my wife from the airport in the morning and can't afford to stay up late and sleep through my alarm. I severely underestimated the amount of time it would take to paint he metallic basecoat on these figures. They're wearing a scale-type armor that is a pain to paint. I considered slathering paint everywhere on them and using inks to fill in the gaps for me, but couldn't bring myself to go through with it.
I probably would've made a lot more progress on them this weekend if yesterday hadn't been one of those days that I couldn't keep track of my brain for anything. Early in the day I went and bought food for the dogs. While I was out I figured I'd stop at Hobbytown as I had a little extra cash to spend. I looked at the Warhammer 40k Ork Battleforce several times, as it was heavily discounted and that new Wartrukk kit is way awesome. But I decided against it as I'd end up having to get the new Codex and open up a whole can of worms that I don't need to open up right now. After looking around some more I went home without buying anything. I sat down to start on the Easterlings and realized that I didn't have any new blades for my hobby knife. Every blade in my possession was dull. I also couldn't locate my plastic model cement. And the color I wanted for my Easterlings required Chestnut Ink, the only ink color I didn't have. I was reluctant to buy plastic glue, as I knew I'd find my old bottle as soon as I got home. But I searched my desktop and all my drawers and shelves multiple times, so I resigned myself to the necessity of buying more. So I went back to Hobbytown and got there just before they closed. I made my purchases and went back home. When I sat back down at my desk I realized that I had only purchased knife blades and Chestnut Ink. At the store I had been distracted while in the glue aisle by an extremely angry man yelling about something or other that had happened in the back of the store. Then I picked up my other stuff and looked at the Ork stuff again, completely forgetting about the glue. I searched my desk and drawers some more but didn't find any glue, so I got back in the truck and drove to Wal-Mart, where they've always had a little section of model car kits and supplies. I walked through the toy aisles approximately fourteen times looking for the right shelf, but it was gone. The section had been shrinking steadily over the last couple of years, but I'd always been able to purchase model cement at Wal-Mart. Finally I saw a couple of model kits and paints in the clearance aisle. There wasn;t any glue there either. The craft aisles had glue for everything except plastic. Super glue was in abundance everywhere. I went home, opened my desk drawer, and found the glue sitting right out in the open. I was still able to get the mold lines cleaned up and prime the minis before bed, but I had planned on getting a lot more done last night. Today I was able to get some of the basecoats done, but I had to use some of my time to clean up a bit in anticipation of my wife's return tomorrow.
In an interesting stroke of coincidence, just as I started thinking about DBA and Vikings a notice popped up on The Miniatures Page announcing some new 15mm Vikings from 50 Paces Games. In response to inquiries the owner of the shop made up some DBA army packs of the figures, and I ordered a set of them. I'm looking forward to their arrival, and I'll probably have to pick up an opponent for them once I get the DBA rulebook in my hands. Without the rules in-hand it is difficult to decipher exactly what makes up each of the armies. From what I hear, though, the rulebook doesn't really clear anything up until you've had someone translate it into plain English for you. We'll see how it goes.

21 January 2008

The Orcs are Finished

I am done painting the Orcs, but I still need to attach the shields for the rank & file and the drums for the musician. My glue all dried up and I didn't feel like going in to the store tonight to get more, so the shields and drums aren't getting attached tonight. It's probably better that way for these pictures anyway, as the shields would just get in the way of the paint jobs on the figures. I am not entirely happy with them, but they are good enough. The straps, belts, and wristbands ended up a little too pink. I'll have to darken up my mix a little on the next batch.

I'll probably paint a bunch of Easterlings from Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings line next. I've got a box of infantry already, and I'll probably order an army box of them soon. My primary reason for choosing them to paint next is to pad my Pledge numbers a little. They look pretty easy to paint, and hopefully I'll be able to use them to get ahead of my target number a little before I start on the next batch of Orcs or Skaven.

17 January 2008

Orcs W.I.P.

I haven't posted a picture for a little while, so I thought I'd do a little work-in-progress photo to show what I've got done so far. You can see that several parts of the figures are unfinished, and there is highlighting and whatnot to do on some of the block-painted areas.

16 January 2008

Not much time for posting lately, as I've been pretty busy between work and the military. I have been making slow progress on my Orcs. Not as much as I'd like, but I've been grabbing a few minutes here and there to get them further along. I think everyone will be disappointed when I finally post photos of them becasue with the amount of time I've taken on them they should be masterpieces. I assure you that they are not, but the more work I put in the happier I am with the way they're turning out. I think I will be sick of painting Orcs by the time I get done with this army.

My Warhammer 40k Battle Sisters army has been a thorn in my side for a long time. I'd really lost all desire to finish the army out, but I had a couple of units partially painted and felt some sort of obligation to finish the army. I found a way out when I saw a post on The Miniatures Page offering a leather-bound collector's edition of the Warhammer 40k rulebook in exchange for various figures. I offered up my Battle Sisters in exchange and the other poster accepted. So now I have a nice little book that I can set on my shelf, and I've rid myself of some excess lead weight. I really don't have any need for the fancy rulebook but it doesn't take up much shelf space.
I've been looking at the website for Tactical Solutions, the convention I plan on attending this year. Based on the list of games that will be played there I am considering building a few armies for DBA, as that seems to be a pretty popular game. It helps that a full army for the game can be purchased for $25-50 and only contains 12 stands of figures. DBA Big Battles are mentioned as well, which I believe are games in which each side controls three or more allied armies. There is also a Fantasy version, Hordes of the Things, which I've been interested in for some time now. I may have to grab up a couple of armies for that as well. One scary thing about this new plan is that adding it to my list of projects will mean that I am planning Viking armies for two different games in two different scales. I've got the 15mm DBA version and the 25mm Warhammer Ancinet Battles version.
The other day I was digging through my binders trying to find the binder containing the CAV 2 rules and I realized that I have a lot of rulesets in book form or printed out in binders. I don't consider myself to be an all-over-the-place sort of gamer, but the piles of rulebooks tell a different story. Rulesets and supplements just seem to multiply when I'm not looking. Just in the area around my desk I've got Battletech, Arc of Fire, Blood & Swash, Song of Blades and Heroes, Warhammer 40k and several army books, Warhammer Fantasy and several army books, CAV 1 and a CAV Recognition Guide, CAV 2, Mordheim, Warhammer Ancient Battles and the Armies of Chivalry supplement, a couple of Skirmish Campaigns books, Reaper's Warlord main book and a couple of the army books, and a whole shelf of various RPGs. That's a lot of different games, and I've got plenty of other books I'd like to accumulate when I've got some extra cash. I know there are plenty of old-timers out there who will look at my list and then laugh as they look at the several bookcases that hold their rules collections. Part of the wargaming hobby seems to be an uncontrollable compulsion to accumulate books about toy soldiers.

06 January 2008

No painting for me again today. I was pretty darn tired after work, and spent most of the day hanging out with the wife and dogs. We did our grocery shopping for the week, and I cleaned house a bit while she made dinner. It doesn't make for a very exciting blog post, but that's how it goes sometimes.
I have been doing some internet research on painting, as I know what I want my Orcs to look like but I just can't get my brush to get the look I'm going for. I think most of my problems lie in the areas of brush control and not being courageous enough with my highlights and shadows. I really like the look of these Holger Schmidt minis, and you can see that he uses a large range of colors across the spectrum to get the highlighting right. Just in the cloak on the vampire at the top of the page I can see black, white, purple, and maybe some pink. Of course, these are single character miniatures by a Golden Demon-winning painter as opposed to my mass-painted army, but I think I could make the colors "pop" a lot more if I just paid more attention to where the light hits various features and had a little less fear when it comes to going really bright or really dark on the highlights and shading. He has a good tutorial for painting a Dark Elf Rider figure on the site, and I'm going to have to look at that a little harder to see what I can pick up from it.
Another source for me as far as painting advice is the Games Workshop website and White Dwarf magazine, which is the magazine Games Workshop puts out to advertise their games. In just about every issue they have one or two painting articles or step-by-step tutorials, which I find helpful. Even if I'm not painting the exact figure they show, the techniques and color combinations apply universally. I also use the painting guides on the website as a start for building a new unit. I find the advice for painting skin and fur tones for the various races especially useful.
Another topic on my mind lately is the question, "Why does the idea of bringing an unpainted army to a game offend me?" I think there are a lot of reasons ranging from aesthetics to a lack of respect for your opponent's efforts to paint his army before showing up, but I don't really want to turn on my rant mode at the moment so I'll leave it at that.

04 January 2008

Change Happens, Whether You Like it or Not

It's often said that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and I don't think I'll quite reach my goals as set forth in the last post. I sat down and projected out my purchases for the Big 5 Projects, and I don't think I'll even have all the figures I need for those projects until February of 2009. That's if everything goes according to my plan, which it probably won't. There is also the question of whether I can paint 11 minis a week for the entire year. With the way these 8 Orcs are going, I have my doubts. I really don't have much left to do on them, but I find myself bogging down every time I sit down to paint. With Skaven I had a pretty clear sequence for painting that I could just follow and get quick results. With these Orcs I feel like I just can't get things to look right. And I ran out of the little craft sticks I use to stir the paint and transfer it to my palette. I think that if I really push hard I can finish this batch tomorrow night.
I would like to get some more painting done this weekend (maybe something easy like a unit of skeletons), but after this week I switch from a Tuesday-Saturday schedule at work to a Monday-Friday schedule. That means I have a one-day weekend this week, with next weekend being taken up by military junk that I have to do. With some other military stuff I have to do this year, I may end up losing almost two months of free painting time. I just don't know if I can paint 560-odd figures in a regular year, let alone a shortened one.
With all of that taken into account, I think my new goal is to focus on my Skaven, Orcs & Goblins, and the Mordheim figures. I will also try to finish as many of the Warlord and Lord of the Rings figures as I can, but I will be satisfied if the first three projects get done. I will still have to really push to get things done, but I will hopefully be able to get those three done and still have time to do other things between sleep and work. Maybe I'll try for a figure a day for the year. I have a similar system to the one used by Grimsby Mariner, in that I count some miniatures as more than one figure. Infantry count as one figure, cavalry count as two, and anything else gets evaluated and assigned a number of figures based on the effort I think it will take to paint it. Some war machines (such as a Goblin Bolt Thrower) count as only three figures, while a Skaven Screaming Bell may count as ten figures. So my new goal is to finish my three big projects, with a secondary goal of finishing 365 figures for the year.

01 January 2008

2007 Results and 2008 Goals

There has been a lot of focus in hobby blogs and forums lately on the progress made on projects this year and goals for next year. I guess I'll do the same here. Last year on The Miniatures Page I posted that I wanted to:
1. Finish my Skaven out to 3000 points.
2. Purchase and paint 3000 points of Orcs & Goblins
3. Paint 3 Reaper Warlord armies.
4. Start my Eastern Front WWII project.
5. Paint Pirates and build a tavern for them to brawl in.
Well, I didn't finish any of those projects. I got up to about 2350 points on the Skaven army, still haven't fully painted any Orcs & Goblins, only have 10 Warlord figures painted, didn't do anything for the WWII project aside from buying some scenario books, and still don't have a tavern for my pirates (although I did paint a barkeep and a serving wench to act as staff for the tavern).
Unplanned projects that I worked on include a half-squad of Space Marines and a fair start on a Moria Goblins warband. I painted a couple of one-off figures, including a toxic orange bodybuilder superhero.
So what do I want to do for 2008? I've got a whole lot of projects I'd like to do someday, but there isn't time or money to do everything in one year. I've made a list of projects I think I can get done this year, as well as some stuff I'd like to start on once I get this list cleared out a bit.
1. Finish Skaven out to 3000 points and then some. Around 50 figures total, I think.
2. Orcs & Goblins out to 3000 points. I have to retool my list somewhat because of some figures recently released that I absolutely have to have in the army, but this should run around 230 figures when it's all done.
3. Mordheim Sisters of Sigmar and Witch Hunter warbands. This is a pretty small project, around 30 figures. I already have most of the figures I want for this project.
4. Finish 3 Reaper Warlord armies. I've got most of the figures for these, and I really like the sculpts, so I'd like to finish this up even if I don't end up using the ruleset for anything. I figure I can work them into a game someday. This project is around 75 figures.
5. Finish 4 of my 7 planned Lord of the Rings armies to 500 points. I've nearly finished the Moria army. I'm probably going to do Easterlings, Dwarves, and Gondor armies as well. This should be around 180 figures, but they are smaller minis and seem to paint up faster than the 28mm figures.
Those are my top 5 projects for 2008. They total out to around 565 figures. That's 47 figures a month, 11 per week, and 1.6 per day. I think I can do it but I have to keep up or I'll get bogged down like I did in 2007. Having a good portion of them in the smaller Lord of the Rings scale will help immensely. After I've made good progress on these 5 projects I'd like to start moving into my other planned projects. This secondary list is all subject to change, of course.
6. Build a Pirate tavern and fill out the ranks of my pirates with a Foundry Pirate Horde, civilians, and the Town Watch/Governor's Troops.
7. Warhammer Ancient Battles project. I've ordered the rulebook and a couple of sourcebooks. Not sure yet what I want to build, but more than likely it will involve the Foundry Viking Army and an opponent for them. They offer some nice 1500-point package deals, so that is probably the game size I'll build for first. I am extremely unfamiliar with the period, so I need to do some research to find out exactly who the Vikings were fighting.
8. Reaper CAV - I really like the look of these miniatures, and I have the rulebook and stat cards for the armies. I need to look through the catalog and build some big stompy robot forces. This project can wait a bit, as Reaper is still deciding whether or not they want to support this game.
9. Warhammer 40k - I've sort of shelved the idea of building a full Chapter of Space Marines as the time and money could be used for a lot of other projects. I would like to build a full Battle Company, though. I also really like the new Ork figures and fluff. So I'll probably build those up as opponents for the Space Marines. I have been going back and forth on finishing up my Sisters of Battle army, and I just don't think I want to do it. Space Marines and Orks are much more exciting to me.
10. WWII Eastern Front - I still want to do this project, but I need to do a lot of reading and research. As much as I am interested in the period, I've really not done much reading about it in the last ten years. And I need to decide on a scale and a set of rules to use.
11. American Civil War - I'll probably use GHQ's 10mm figures for this. As with all my other historical projects, I need to do some reading and research if I'm ever going to do this project. I've got a couple of general history books on the war, so it's at least a start.
12. GW Lord of the Rings - After the four armies on my list above, I'd like to keep filling out the various factions until I can field a whole lot of figures.
I think that about covers all of my wargaming ambitions for now. I think that finishing these projects will take me a good couple of years, then I'll probably expand each of them further. I don't really plan on starting any new Warhammer or Warhammer 40k armies, as none of the other armies really grab me. Maybe Wood Elves or Dogs of War for Warhammer, but really I could see myself just expanding my Skaven, Orcs & Goblins, Space Marines, and Orks forever. There are two or three other Mordheim factions that interest me, and plenty of options for Warhammer Ancient Battles and the other historical periods I'm interested in. But for now I think I'll focus on these current projects, with an eye toward finishing the Top 5 this year.
On another topic, the Fantasy Football season is over. I finished with an overall record (including playoffs) of 41-23. In the ultra-competitive TMP Fantasy Football League I went 13-3 overall, but lost a key playoff game and dropped to 5th out of 14 teams. Last year I was 6th out of 14 teams, so I'm moving up. In my Public Leagues I continued my less-than-stellar playoff streak and went 10-6 for 4th place out of 10 teams, 9-7 for 3rd place out of 10 teams, and 9-7 for 2nd place among 10 teams. So I got two trophies, a disappointing finish in the TMP League, and the Denver Broncos didn't come close to the playoffs. Not a great football season for me, but next year will be different. I'm looking forward to the Fantasy Baseball season, and my Fantasy Basketball teams are doing okay.
And I think that about covers it for today.