(There’s a lot of rambling text here – over 2,300 words in fact, what is my life? – so I’ll not be offended if you just scroll through the pictures!)
The 1st of January marks the 1st birthday of the blog, so I wanted to join the tradition of plenty of other bloggers out there and take a look back at what I accomplished in our first year of operation.
It’s fair to say that the first half of the year was more productive for me on the hobby front. The pressure to give this blog a proper shot had me pumping out hobby content every week, but that perhaps inevitably proved unsustainable (I don’t know how Col does it!), and I had a bit of a slow-down after the summer. Still, 40 posts over 52 weeks isn’t too bad a record.
January saw me hit the ground running with my Sylvaneth, starting with my rather ambitious (for me) Branchwych conversion.
It took me the whole month just to rattle out this one model, and had me playing around with some interesting texture and basing materials and generally making a mess. While I was super chuffed with the result, I knew I’d need to speed up a bit if I actually wanted to get an army out of it.
Firmly committed to speeding up, February was a much more productive month. I managed to find some kind of philosopher’s stone that allowed me to convert and paint up 16 Dryads in about 2 weeks; a feat that has not been seen before or since on my painting table.
I harvested all the extra branches left over from the sprues to give them extra arms and spikes and make them all-together more feral and suitable for the Realm of Beasts, and gave them the same texture treatments as the Branchwych I’m aware there’s a Sylvaneth Shadespire warband on the horizon too, so I’m keeping a close eye out for them.
I also became aware of BigBossRedSkullz’ Nestorian Infested Population invite, so I decided to have my first go at Inq28. I dug into my admittedly limited bits box and cobbled together this motley crew of maintenance workers, emerging from the sewers to find their world overrun by aliens and traitors. They got a pretty positive response, and I’d love to dabble more in Inq28, but there’s isn’t much interest in it in my group so I probably won’t get much of a chance to focus on it. Check out how they look beside the rest of the entries here!
In March I batched out two units of Kurnoth Hunters, again in surprisingly short order. I remember having a painting evening with Aaron and Mark and showing up with them nearly finished and feeling very smug about it indeed. Again, these guys look pretty rough up close, but the Sylvaneth are one of the few armies that perhaps look better for this kind of approach.
I also managed to throw some paint on the Nestorians. I was going for an Alien space suit vibe at the time, but I’m looking forward to getting them back so I can have another crack at that fabric and tidy it up/tone it down a bit.
April was all about House Orlock for me. I think they’d just come out that month, and I was champing at the bit to get stuck into them. Necromunda has always been my favourite GW game, and while it’s had a somewhat rocky start this year, with the compiled Rulebook and Gangs book and all six of the core gangs it’s now in its final form and in a position where we can hopefully do a whole lot of gaming.
The Orlock models are gorgeous creations and I really put a lot of effort into making them look as good as I could. I’ve yet to pick up a second box of them, but I’m thoroughly looking forward to adding some more gangers to the Hellfire Club.
I also put together my first painting guide, which I’ve probably read more than anyone else! It’ll be super handy to look back at though.
In May I finished off the Orlocks (bar the last Champion, who I was saving until the FW weapons packs came out). This gang is probably my favourite thing that I’ve done all year. The models have so much character to them, and the few little kitbashes I’ve done with the GSC bits help them stand out from the crowd.
I also painted a butt-load of trees and some rock things. Our AoS Skirmish weekender was fast approaching and we needed a lot more terrain. This was very much a quick drybrush job over a couple of evenings, but I firmly believe that if you’re painting terrain with anything smaller than a #3 brush then you’re doing it wrong.
To top off the month I threw together a guide to photographing miniatures, as well as a some experimental rules for using RPG-style non-combat interactions in Necro/Inq28. I had a fun doing these and didn’t go into too much detail with either, but they were well received so I guess they had some useful info in them!
June was kind of a big deal on the blog front, despite no models actually getting painted. GW had sent Aaron an early release copy of Soul Wars with the agreement that we do a review of it, and I jumped at the chance. Soul Wars is a fantastic set, and little did I know it at the time, heralded my decent into servitude to the Great Necromancer himself. I like to think I was pretty thorough, and the review ended up being one of the most popular posts on the blog in terms of views. Looking back at it now, there are things in the big book that I’d forgotten about, and now has me excited for what might be coming in 2019.
June was also a bumper month of battle reports as both Col and I recounted our warbands’ exploits over the course of our Skirmish weekend. I had a lot of fun writing up the battle reports and I’m hoping to do more of that kind of thing next year.
Then, to cap off the month, I published my second painting guide. After doing the Soul Wars review I liked the look of the Nighthaunt so much that I painted up one of the Chainrasps and it went down a storm on Twitter. So I decided to do a full Nighthaunt painting guide, and it has since exploded! It’s been the most popular post on the blog by far, racking up over six and a half thousand views. It’s certainly encouraged me to think about doing some more painting guides. Of course, getting views was never a core aim of the blog by any means, but seeing that many people come looking certainly makes me want to bring my A-game.
The month of Caesar saw me embark upon my most ambitious terrain project to date, namely these big rock things. After the Skirmish weekend we realised that we still didn’t have enough terrain, or rather, we had enough terrain but every battle looked the same. So I spent the month mashing together these big spires and cliff faces from cork bark and a whole lot of expanding foam and filler. They make great impassable terrain and LoS blockers for both AoS and 40k. Continuing the undead theme, I also started painting the Sepulchral Guard from Shadespire.
A bit of a slow month for me, I finished off the Sepulchral Guard…and that’s about it. I’d played Shadespire once or twice and very much enjoyed it, but none of the warbands had particularly jumped out at me. I’d painted Garrek’s Reavers back at the end of 2017, but I still haven’t used them. The Guard are a beautiful warband though, and it was them that actually first got me thinking about doing an Undead army, and painting them really improved my weathering and metal painting skills. They haven’t seen much table time since Nightvault, but I’ve been meaning to get one of those bell jars just so I can stick them on a shelf and admire them. They might see some action in AoS Skirmish as well, if we get around to doing that again.
September saw me swing back to Necro. The Orlock weapons packs came out, but I was initially unimpressed with them (although I’ve since come around to them) so I decided to just convert up a heavy bolter from the plastic heavy stubber in the Orlock box. If you scroll up to the rest of the Orlocks you’ll probably see the difference between this guy and the others, especially with the skin, so I’ll need to be careful about that in the future. Still, it’s really only noticeable in macro photography like this, and you’d never notice when they’re on the table.
I then painted up a tester tile for our Zone Mortalis tiles. We’ve got a full set of 16, but we’ve been humming and hahing about a paint scheme for a while, and we’d actually painted up about half of them in a red and brass palette, but we weren’t entirely happy with that. In the end I decided to just base it on the cardboard tiles in the Necro boxed set. The turquoise walls still need a bit more work, but I’ll get the floors done on all of them first and then maybe come back to them (ha, how often does that happen!).
Nightvault came out around the start of October, so I of course wasted no time in picking up the core set to get my hands on the Thorns warband. Again, this bunch was great fun to paint, and really let me push the boundaries of how I painted cloth. They’re a great warband to play too. I’ve only had them out once or twice as Shadespire has fallen out of favour in my gaming circles, but they are another little group of miniatures that I’d love to display in some way. They feel wasted just sitting in a box.
We also had a bunch of our friends over for what was supposed to be a Kill Team weekend, but turned into a “bit of everything” weekend. I painted up another three of the ZM tiles so we could use them for KT and small Necro games. I did get one game of KT in, but I wasn’t that impressed with it (Necro is king!). I had a couple of games of Shadespire and a game of AoS28/Skirmish as well vs Sander’s awesome Undead warband, which we’ll have to show off on the blog some time.
In November I painted a mad amount of AoS scenery. After the fiddly fine detail work of the Thorns of the Briar Queen I felt the need to switch back to a giant dry brush and just really make a mess. The Shattered Dominion tile is a tester tile for a new board, because after the Skirmish weekend I wasn’t happy with how the green Ghur board looked. I’ve since done a second RoB tile in the same scheme, one of the hill ones, so the second/new AoS board is slowly getting there.
I also painted up the store anniversary Nighthaunt model, which was a fun little experiment. I think the colours got away from me and it ended up a bit garish with the purple, blue, green and orange, but it was a learning experience and helped me get better at fabrics and that non-metallic rust effect. Lots of people commented on the cool glowing effect on the tombstone, but it was actually just my camera blowing out the highlights!
December was a slow one for me, I’ll admit, but only because I’m doing a lot more actual gaming for once, which is no bad thing. I’ve been doing plenty of table-top roleplaying recently, and I’ve started a weekly two-player Necromunda campaign with a mate. And between that I still squeeze in plenty of board games. I’ve had a couple of goes at Blackstone Fortress (which is excellent) so I’m tempted to paint it up as is, rather than chop them all up for Necro NPCs and hired guns, as was my original intent. I’ve started painting the traitor guardsmen, and I’ve converted one squad of them so I don’t have any duplicates. I’m not going to rush it though, and wait and see if I actually play any more of it first before committing to painting all those models.
Right at the end of the month I finally finished off my Steelheart’s Champions, and I’m happy to report that they’ve got a lot of love in just the past few days. So I’ve finished the year on a pretty high note, which is always nice. No pressure for 2019
The State of the Blog
All in all, it’s been a great first year for the blog. I wasn’t sure about doing this at all at first (I don’t really do social media), but it’s been a fun output, and I’ve received some very nice feedback from people. The blog has had nearly 78,000 views across more than 25,000 visitors from every corner of the planet, which is quite something for a few guys just painting toy soldiers, so ‘hello’ and ‘thanks!’ to you all out there. YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram seem to be the big platforms for hobby content these days, but it’s nice to see plenty of interest remains in blogging. And just as a heads-up, I’m thinking about updating the logo and the visual theme of the blog for the new year, so don’t be surprised if it gets a bit of a face lift in 2019!
Happy New Year!