Behold! The Eye-Beast!

May is Monster Month, and I’m getting a bit of a late start because I’ve had a hellish few weeks at work. (I had to finish painting some more cowboys, too.)

But enough about that. I bring you…the hideous BEHO-uh…the EYE BEAST!

Ah, who am I kidding? Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Dungeons and Dragons can identify this handsome fellow as a beholder, no matter what Reaper calls him. (At least I assume it’s a him. I don’t claim to understand the gender identity of beholders.)

From Wikipedia: The beholder is a fictional monster in the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Its appearance is that of a floating orb of flesh with a large mouth, single central eye, and many smaller eyestalks on top with powerful magical abilities.

I was going to paint him last May, but I didn’t get around to it in time. After priming him black, I added a layer of Vallejo Red-Black, followed by highlights of Privateer Press’s Skorne Red and Citadel’s Wild Rider Red before applying a glaze of Citadel’s Bloodletter. The eyes were undercoated in Reaper Vampiric Skin, with various colors for the irises.

The focal point of the model is its mouth and big, pointy teeth. The mouth was painted with Citadel Daemonette Hide and highlighted with Bugman’s Glow, then a final highlight of bright pink. The teeth were undercoated with Citadel’s Steel Legion Drab before getting the full Reaper Ivory triad treatment. The main eye’s iris was done with yellow ink. I’m not really thrilled with how it turned out; I feel like something’s missing.

I gave the teeth, mouth and eyeballs a coat of gloss varnish to look wet, and that’s about it.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 58

Miniatures Painted: 117

Total: +59

Yeoman Rand

One of the characters I missed in the Modiphius TOS Crew set was Yeoman Janice Rand. Although she only appeared in eight episodes of TOS, I always felt like the character had a lot of potential beyond what she was allowed to do, which was mostly be “eye candy”.

Sadly, Grace Lee Whitney, the actress who played Yeoman Rand, passed away on May 1, 2015 at age 85. She didn’t have an easy life, particularly after her departure from Star Trek; but she returned to play Janice Rand in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). She was also a regular on the Trek convention circuit. A recovering alcoholic, she spent the last 3 decades of her life carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers, helping others with alcohol and substance abuse issues as a counselor in California.

I discovered Heroclix makes a Yeoman Rand (above), so naturally I bought it to repaint and use with the Modiphius miniatures. (Not having any use for the dial I rebased her, too.)

Here is my finished repaint. Hardly perfect, but better than factory direct. I had a hard time getting the black nylons to look right, so I just went with bare legs instead. For some reason, her eyes look much more pronounced in this picture than in real life.

Heroclix is due for another Trek release later this year, and I have to say some of the miniatures look very promising, particularly as the Modiphius TNG bridge crew was such a letdown. I’m hoping the ‘clix set has better versions of some of those characters.

Up next: Monster Month returns!

No Patience for Plastic

In preparation for this post, I was going to count all the unassembled plastic troops I still have on sprues for various armies/projects I have yet to start. I meant to count just 28mm foot soldiers, not vehicles and/or other models (like terrain). I came to my senses and decided not to, both because it was too much effort and because the number would be quite depressing..

Put simply, most of the unassembled plastic currently awaiting my attentions is never getting assembled, at least not by me.

Like many wargamers, I have put together more than my share of plastic soldiers over the years, most (but certainly not all) from the manufactorums (manufactora?) of Games Workshop. I have also put together Wargames Factory zombies and shock troopers, Mantic dwarfs and Dreadball teams, and most recently, Modiphius Star Trek miniatures, among others. Plastic figures (unless made by GW or Modiphius) often cost less than metal or resin; most hold detail quite well; and they’re light and easy to transport and repair, should that become necessary.

And yet…I now realize with absolute clarity that I fucking hate putting together plastic models. As I get older, I simply don’t have the patience for it any more. “Well, gee, Piper,” you may be saying, “you sure picked the wrong hobby.” To which I reply: “Hunh.”

As you may recall, Santa brought me the TANKS game for Christmas last year. This week (at work), I finally got around to assembling the three tanks (2 Sherman, 1 Jagdpanther) that came in the starter set. (Being self-employed has many disadvantages; sleepless nights, probable alcoholism and a crippling sense of responsibility for those I employ, to name but a few. But one of the good things about being my own boss is that no one can tell me that I can’t put together my toys at work.) It took me about an hour and a half, just long enough for me to realize a couple of things.

First, the tanks are small, about the scale of a Matchbox car. Which means you could easily buy any number of painted, ready-to play tank variants  without the need to assemble and paint anything, simply by visiting the toy car aisle of your local dollar store. (From left-right, Sherman 76mm, Sherman 75mm and Jagdpanther, all from the TANKS game; a Corgi Panzer from the toy aisle, which cost $3.00, no painting or assembly necessary.)

Second, as evidenced by games such as Space Hulk, high-quality, single-piece sculpting is possible. If they can sculpt a Terminator that looks like this and mold it out of a single lump of plastic, I’m 100% positive they can sculpt a tank that requires ZERO assembly.

This is vastly preferable to me at this stage of life.

Let me be clear: I don’t hate plastic models. I just hate assembling them, which is not the same thing. I don’t know if it was ever fun, exactly; but it’s definitely not fun for me anymore. As I get older, I just don’t have the time or inclination to clip, file, sand, fill, fit and glue miniatures together, especially if (as in the case of the Modiphius Star Trek miniatures) they’re fiddly as hell and don’t seem to WANT to fit together. I just don’t enjoy the headache of countless hours of assembly, along with the glued-together fingers I will certainly have to endure.

The point is certainly valid that model-building is part and parcel of the miniatures wargaming hobby, as much as collecting, painting and playing games is. It’s just not the part I enjoy anymore. I think I might have enjoyed it once upon a time, but nowadays the inverse correlation between my age and my overall patience level has made that no longer true. (I also can’t see shit anymore, which has made the wearing of reading glasses a necessity for painting and, well, reading.)

Painting, as opposed to gaming, has now become my primary hobby. I play far fewer games today than I used to (like when I regularly assembled plastic armies). While there are exceptions, I am unlikely to ever use most of my miniatures for gaming anymore. Am I really going to ever build and paint an entire 40K Ork army, at this point in my life? Probably not. What would be the point? It might be fun to paint them, but it certainly won’t be fun putting them together first.

I guess at this point I prefer my miniatures to require as little assembly as possible, and I prefer my games require fewer miniatures to play. This is why I prefer skirmish games, and why sprues of plastic soldiers are becoming less and less attractive to me.

If only I could bring myself to part with them…

Classic Dragon Lords Dwarfs

In keeping with my 2019 Resolutions, I recently painted more old school miniatures! This time, it’s a classic Grenadier Dragon Lords boxed set: Dwarves of the Gold Mountain.

As anyone even casually familiar with me or this blog knows, I have a disturbing obsession with all things dwarfish. These stocky fellows were sculpted by Nick Lund, venerable artisan and famed sculptor of Dwarvenkind. Mr. Lund is my second favorite sculpteur des nains (Bob Olley is number one, IMO), so I was happy to finally paint up this set.

These fellows have uninspired names, i.e. “dwarf with spear, dwarf with warhammer”, etc. Unfortunately for me, my “dwarf with mace” is an annoying miscast, so without him, this is only a 9 dwarf set. Bummer.

These Dragon Lords sets came out during the later Grenadier heyday, so they’re not quite as old as the “Gold Line” boxes I love so much. I think one of those is next in my “old-school” painting queue. I just need to decide which one…

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 53

Miniatures Painted: 109

Total: +56

Star Trek Adventures RPG: The Vanished

Throw another of my 2019 Resolutions in the “done” pile. I got my friends together and we played an actual game!

One of my best friends lives on the other side of the country and doesn’t come back here very often. Usually he makes it home for the holidays, which doesn’t leave much time for gaming. But this time he made it back for a vacation. We made a point to set up a game night, and I managed to get three other guys together too! The game: the new Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius.

Being the Game Master, I decided to set the game during the Original Series era, and the players would take o the roles of Kirk and the Enterprise crew. Since we only had a few hours to play and only one copy of the rules, making original characters would have been silly and would have eaten up a huge chunk of our time. With this in mind I also decided on using a published adventure…but rather than use any of Modiphius’s adventures (many of which are quite good), I chose to adapt an old FASA Star Trek module to suit my purposes.

I chose The Vanished, by Guy McLimore and Greg Pohlein (credit where credit is due) which was actually designed with the Enterprise crew in mind. To my knowledge, none of my friends had ever played this adventure (we never played the old Star Trek RPG back when), so they would be unfamiliar with it.

Here’s the plot as originally written: The Enterprise passes by FDR 39, a deep space research station in the midst of a magnetic storm. They hail the station a a courtesy and get a bored response. In the middle of the conversation, communications abruptly cease. But the call isn’t dropped; the person who was speaking just…vanishes! Naturally, the Enterprise goes over to investigate…

What happened? Well, one of the corporations aboard the station was doing some research on a brand new kind of transporter. It just so happens that during a test of the transporter beam, some unknown aliens with an unpronounceable name (let’s just call them space amoebas, because that’s what I did) gained access to the station and caused a power short. This resulted in the transporter beam sweeping through the entire station, disintegrating all the people aboard. Lucky for them, their transporter signatures are still contained in the computer, so they can be restored…if the Enterprise crew can figure that out and deal with the aliens…

While this gives the landing party some clear objectives (investigate the station, deal with the amoebas, restore the transporter patterns), there’s not really much for the crew aboard the ship to do. At least not as the adventure was originally written. So I decided to add some of my own touches. First, the magnetic storm increases, making transport and communication between the ship and the landing party impossible for part of the adventure. This happens right around the time the landing party first discovers the aliens. (Too bad they can’t warn the Enterprise…)

To make matters worse, another ship arrives, filled with Orion pirates disguised as corporate employees. They’re here to steal the transporter tech with the help of an inside man, but they weren’t expecting to find their man disintegrated and the Enterprise in orbit around FDR 39. Still, they try to bluff the Enterprise while sending their own team to the station to retrieve the tech.

Once aboard the station, the landing party and the Orions have to deal with the aliens. But the Orions only want the tech, and seize the first chance they can to steal it and get away. Without it, the transporter patterns of all the people aboard the station can’t be restored, so the characters need that tech too…

Meanwhile, in orbit, a couple more of the aliens gain access to the Enterprise. Since the crew aboard have no idea about the aliens, they’re in the dark about how to deal with them. While the ship’s crew tries to repel the space amoebas, the Orions on the station either get control of the transporter tech and make a run for it (cue starship combat), or fail to get the tech, but still try to make a run for it (cue starship combat).

So how did it turn out? Obviously, I’m not going to blog a seven hour rpg session, that would just be dumb. But I will share some highlights…

The landing party was made up of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and two uncontrolled supporting characters, Lt. Suvek and Crewman Ramirez, both security officers (redshirts). This left Sulu in command of the Enterprise, along with Uhura, Chekov and Nurse Chapel, as well as several supporting characters, most notably Chief Specialist J’Zhara, an Andorian female engineer.

As you might expect, the security officers met with misfortune. Lt. Suvek wandered off to investigate a noise and fell prey to one of the space amoebas early. This prompted the crew to investigate, and in so doing they discovered the aliens for themselves. While fighting off a bunch of them, one of the amoebas was about to engulf Spock, when Crewman Ramirez somehow got in the way…

Of course, Kirk and the Orion pirate leader (disguised as corporate employee) had a romantic flirtation pretty much throughout the entire evening, which annoyed Bones and made Spock’s player delight in ruining the moment by constantly interjecting his scientific observations and theories at inopportune times. (I suppose I should clarify that the Orion pirate leader was female, but not an Orion. Still, she led a bunch of Orions.) Fun stuff.

The most surprising moment of the night was when the Orion ship finally fired on the Enterprise and made a run for it, Kirk and the landing party was still aboard the station and Sulu was dealing with the aliens in the Enterprise shuttle bay. This left Lt. Uhura in command of the Enterprise, as she was the ranking officer on the bridge! She wasted no time in pursuing the Orions and locked a tractor beam on them, preventing their escape! Considering she never did anything remotely as interesting on the TV series, this was pretty awesome!

Speaking of the shuttle bay, Sulu and company were having a hard time with one of the space amoebas. They opened fire on it and failed to do any damage at all. Then Nurse Chapel, of all people, stepped up and vaporized the alien without any problem whatsoever.

Finally, as any GM knows, your players will throw a wrench into any plans you are foolish enough to make. In this case, you would expect the story to unfold something like: board the station; discover the transporter accident; deal with the aliens; deal with the pirates; fix the broken power relay; save the station personnel by restoring their transporter signatures; capture the Orion vessel. The end.

Instead, it was: board the station, encounter the aliens, flirt with the Orion pirate captain, fix the power relay, inadvertently help the Orions steal the transporter tech from right under your nose, discover the transporter malfunction, chase the pirates, capture the Orion vessel, get the transporter tech back, and (eventually) save the station personnel by restoring their transporter signatures. The end.

I like Star Trek: Adventures, although I will say there’s a lot to keep track of. Seeing how it was my first time running the system, I’m pretty sure I didn’t do everything right. It was a fun time, and it was great to see some of my old friends around the gaming table again. (One of our players hadn’t played a game in over twenty years!) I’m hoping we get to play more often, possibly with original TNG-era characters. Fingers crossed!

“Oh, Frabjous Day!”

It’s been a while since I did a Heroclix repaint, and this time it’s another of Batman’s rogues gallery: Jervis Tetch, aka the Mad Hatter.

From DC FanDOM: Jervis Tetch, formerly a research scientist, is completely smitten with the works of Lewis Carroll. As his criminal name indicates, he takes the appearance of the Mad Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He is an insane neuroscientist and developed hardware that can control the brain and induce hypnotic states, and often uses hats or other headgear for mind control.

Originally, the Hatter was a villain who committed robberies using his mind-controlling hats; nowadays, his motivations are a lot darker, as in addition to hats, he seems to be obsessed with kidnapping little girls named Alice. (Yep. It’s exactly what you think.)

This version of the Mad Hatter comes from the original DC Heroclix Hypertime set. He’s a redhead and he looks like a leprechuan; a bit too colorful for my tastes.

Here is my repaint. The Hatter is flanked by two miniatures from Lucid Eye’s Beast of Birchwood line, the “Sleeping Hare” and the “Sleeping Field Mouse”. I gather this game is a Victorian horror-themed skirmish game, so they fit right into Tetch’s Wonderland obsession as the March Hare and the Dormouse, thugs in his employ; or perhaps, more fittingly, under his mental control. What tough guy is going to willingly dress up as a bunny, after all?

Worst. Birthday Party. Ever.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 47

Miniatures Painted: 100

Total: +53

“Kirk to Enterprise…”

I finally finished my three sets of Modiphius Star Trek miniatures with The Original Series (TOS) bridge crew. This is my favorite set, hands-down. Good sculpts, all (even Scotty, questionable “run-for-zee-hills” pose aside).

I’ve been binge-watching TOS lately, and I’ve noticed a couple of things. First, Captain Kirk is damn rude. He rarely lets anyone finish a sentence without interrupting them, even if they’re answering a question he just asked them. Kind of a dick move.

Second, when I was a kid, I couldn’t stand Dr. McCoy. I really don’t know why. Now he’s unquestionably my favorite character on TOS. Maybe because he’s crabby most of the time and not shy about telling Kirk to piss off when Kirk gets too lippy.

Onto the miniatures. First, the big three: Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Good-looking miniatures, worthy of the main characters.

Next: the guys driving and fixing the ship: Lt. Sulu, Ensign Chekov, and Chief Engineer Scott. Looking at this picture, I think I need to clean up the eyes a bit on Chekov and Sulu…

Finally, the ladies: Lt. Uhura and Nurse Chapel. I love Uhura’s miniature. I would have preferred Yeoman Rand was included rather than Nurse Chapel, but no one at Modiphius asked me for my opinion before casting the set. Here’s hoping for some individual releases from Modiphius in the future, much like Fantasy Flight does for Imperial Assault.

I posed the ladies with a power cell from Tiny Terrain, available at Miniature Market. At $1 apiece, I bought six. They’re cool-looking generic sci-fi set pieces that can be used for a lot of things, even in different scales. That being said, as 3D printed terrain, they require a lot of cleanup and they aren’t exactly perfectly formed; but for a buck each they’re not bad.

Once again, I broke these miniatures up according to uniform color and painted them in groups. For Kirk, Sulu and Chekov, I based them in Citadel Tausept Ochre, then highlighted with Iyanden Darksun, then washed with Agrax Earthshade, then highlighted up again to P3 Cygnar Yellow. Then I went a little overboard on the yellow by washing it in Citadel Yellow Wash. A little too bright, but whatever. For Spock, McCoy and Chapel, I based in Coat D’arms Fester Blue, then washed in Citadel Blue Wash, then highlighted up with a 50/50 Fester Blue/Reaper Ice Blue mix, and finally a highlight of Reaper Ice Blue. Scotty and Uhura were based in Citadel Mechrite Red, then washed in Citadel Baal Red, highlighted with Reaper Fresh Blood and finally, Reaper Brilliant Red.

Dr. McCoy was my favorite miniature to paint, but I think Uhura came out best. Scotty was my least favorite miniature to paint. and also my least favorite miniature in the set. Both Modiphius and I could have done a better job with him, IMO.

I’m looking forward to gaming with these miniatures, and I already have some ideas of how to use my Hydra Retro Raygun and Rattrap Fantastic Worlds miniatures. I bought them a long time ago for a retro sci-fi project that never really went anywhere, but they fit right in as TOS aliens.

I’ve managed to meet one of my painting goals for the year: paint my Modiphius Star Trek miniatures. Now, onto my big project: getting my Old West scenery and terrain built and painted.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 46

Miniatures Painted: 98

Total: +52

Saddle Up, Boys! (and Girls, if applicable)

One of my 2019 Resolutions was to finally play GW’s Legends of the Old West, an out-of-print Old West skirmish game using the Warhammer engine. Despite using a variation of the IGO/UGO mechanic, it remains pretty popular among Old West gamers, as it’s easy to pick up and play, particularly if you’re familiar with Warhammer.

I’ve been wanting to play some Old West skirmish for years now, and even started making a Mexican border town, Mescalero, several years ago. Like many projects of mine, this got sidelined in favor of whatever else struck my fancy; but not before I also bought, assembled and painted some Plastcraft Western Buildings. I now have the beginnings of two towns; a traditional Mexican adobe village and a clapboard boom-town. (I also meant to make some Badlands scenery (and I still will), but, you know…sidelined.)

Recently I managed to get my hands on the holy grail of 28mm Western gaming, the OOP 1/64 scale ERTL Cow Town playset. It contains a Hotel/Saloon, a Sherriff’s Office, a Blacksmith, and an outbuilding and outhouse, along with lots of other scenic knick-knacks (like bar tables and desks). Between the Cow Town set, the Plastcraft buildings, and a couple of MDF buildings I bought from Knuckleduster, I have no excuse not to move forward with this project.

For Old West miniatures, I have a mixture from Blue Moon, Old Glory, Foundry, Knuckleduster and Reaper. Before the whole thing got sidelined, I painted up the Blue Moon cowboys that I got from Scale Creep. I really like this line a lot. The Old Glory and Foundry stuff looks a little small compared to the others (especially the Reaper Chronoscope stuff), but I’m hoping it won’t bother me too much when I actually start playing.

First up, the Blue Moon miniatures. The Earp brothers: Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday.

The Clantons: Ike, Billy and Johnny Ringo.

Frank and Billy McClaury; Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett.

The Daltons: Emmett, Bob and Grat. (Yes, Grat.)

A few Reaper Chronoscope miniatures: Stone (who I think is an undead gunslinger, although I didn’t paint him that way); Deadeye Slim; and a U.S. Agent (not to be confused with the guy who replaced Captain America). Both Stone and Slim are Bones miniatures. I bought the Agent because he has a pepperbox pistol, and that’s kinda cool.

Some Reaper fantasy townsfolk can serve double duty as Old West civilian miniatures, as seen here. The bartender and strumpet both work well as Old West miniatures.

Same can be said for the blacksmith (what moron parked a wagon full of hay near the forge?!)…

And this RAFM Call of Cthulhu doctor.

None of these miniatures count towards my painting queue progress, sadly; most were painted years ago. But THIS is my big project for this year; in lieu of starting a new army, I’ll get my Old West scenery and miniatures all done instead.

In between other stuff, of course…

“Make it so.”

I finally finished my Star Trek: TNG bridge crew. I wish I could say it was fun, but…it wasn’t.

Try as I might, even with as much love as I have for these characters, I really hate the miniatures. It’s just such a waste of a good set compared with ANY other Modiphius Trek set, especially the TOS bridge crew. The dumb poses (LaForge and Yar) and questionable equipment choices (Troi’s tricorder, Data’s phaser rifle) are a real bummer, not to mention the brittle plastic (Worf).

To get this set completed, I painted these in groups according to uniform color. Getting the “classic” next-gen uniform pattern was a bit more challenging than you’d expect; it seems these uniforms are sculpted so they can be painted in a variety of styles, either from the movies or the TV episodes. The classic look requires a bit of free-handing. The black on all the uniforms was simple Reaper Black, highlighted with a faint drybrush of Citadel Celestra Grey, then washed with Citadel Nuln Oil. After the miniature was sealed in Dullcote, Vallejo Gloss Varnish was then added to the boots.

First up, Picard and Riker, or as I like to call them, the second and third-best miniatures in the set. I painted the uniforms with Vallejo Red Brown, then highlighted with Citadel Scab Red, Reaper’s Fresh Blood, and Citadel Blood Red and Red Wash.

Next, the Ops, Engineering and Security officers: Data, Yar, Worf and LaForge. I based their uniform in Citadel Tausept Ochre, washed it in Citadel Agrax Earthshade, and highlighted with Citadel Iyanden Darksun.

Finally, the Medical crew: Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi. I think Crusher is the best miniature in the set, but YMMV. I was going to paint Troi in her classic purple/grey spandex, but she was unmistakably sculpted in her Season 6-7 science uniform, so that’s what I went with.  I based both uniforms with Vallejo Prussian Blue, then washed with Citadel Blue Wash, then highlighted with Coat D’Arms Fester Blue. I based Crusher’s lab coat in Fester Blue, washed with Citadel’s Nuln Oil, then highlighted with Reaper Ice Blue and Army Painter Troglodyte Blue. (The medical table is from Tiny Terrain, a 3D-printed line of terrain available at Miniature Market. At $2.50 each, I bought three. Maybe someday I’ll have a skirmish in sickbay!)

Yar was the most fun to paint; Troi was by far the least. I don’t think I did a very good job on Data’s face, either…for some reason I just can’t seem to paint Soong-type androids very well.

I’m not sad to be done with this set. It took me longer to complete than I anticipated, mainly because I was so indifferent to the miniatures.

Coming soon: the Original Series bridge crew.

This post also marks the return of the painting queue, which somehow got lost along the way this year. By my tally, I bought 33 miniatures since the last time I kept track (mostly the Modiphius Star Trek sets, which account for 26 of them), but I painted 27, so that’s not too bad. Which brings my current tally to:

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 46

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 90

Total: +44 

My Biggest Gaming Regrets

I thought I would be able to get a few more Star Trek miniatures painted this month, but I’ve been playing a lot of Horizon: Zero Dawn, and my painting time has suffered somewhat. Instead, I thought I’d post something without pictures and see how that goes…

I subscribe to Uncle Atom’s YouTube channel, Tabletop Minions, because he often has an interesting point of view about hobby stuff. Recently, he delved into his Biggest Wargaming Regrets, from buying the wrong army to not buying an airbrush early enough. His video got me thinking about my own gaming regrets; what do I wish I hadn’t done, or what would I do differently if I had the time and hindsight to start over?

Uncle Atom and I share some of the same regrets, although not buying an airbrush isn’t one of mine. Here, in no particular order, are my top seven regrets about gaming:

I don’t make enough terrain. (This is also Uncle Atom’s first big regret.) When I started wargaming, most of my games took place at the FLGS where I bought my stuff. There was plenty of terrain available, albeit of dubious quality: ruins made of Styrofoam trays, rock piles and scatter brush, printed cardboard terrain (like the walkways in the original Necromunda box) and the like. It wouldn’t win any awards, but it provided an adequate setting for some fun games.

Nowadays, any gaming I do is in my own home, and the friends I play with are not wargamers themselves. Thus, any and all terrain must be supplied by me, whether it is purchased or constructed. I would much rather paint miniatures than build terrain, as I consider the former to be fun and the latter to be work. There are some exceptions, but to be honest, terrain-building isn’t really my strong suit, so I often buy a lot of it (which can get expensive). There’s also the problem of storage; I have difficulty figuring out where the hell to put the stuff when I’m not using it (which, given how often I actually play, is most of the time).

I wish I had discovered smaller games sooner. Like many folks, my first introduction to wargaming was through Games Workshop and Warhammer 40K, with Warhammer Fantasy Battle soon to follow. As an AD&D player, I had collected and painted fantasy miniatures for years prior to my “discovery” of wargaming, so miniatures weren’t new to me. Gaming with them, though, was a new concept.

I soon fell in love with GW and the Warhammer world, and still have many fond memories of playing throughout my college years. The cost of GW gaming, while not as ridiculous as it is currently, was high even back then. I’m still amazed that I managed to put together the armies I had, given my budget. As a student I had very little money to spare. When Necromunda and Mordheim came out (GW’s skirmish games) , I pretty much ignored them in favor of the bigger games because I already had the armies and didn’t want to spend money on anything new. I couldn’t really afford to, anyway.

The only alternative to Warhammer, as far as I knew, was historical wargaming. I didn’t have much interest in historical gaming (I like wizards and dragons over Spartans and triremes). If I had only discovered (non-GW) skirmish wargaming sooner, I would have likely played a lot more games, and would have probably found more people to game with. Many of these would be the same folks who were put off by the entry cost (in both time and money) of GW gaming, as well as GW’s insistence on using only “official” miniatures in their games. Today, the market is flooded with smaller scale games by independent publishers. Many don’t require a specific line of miniatures. I wish I was aware of other wargaming options like these back then.

I didn’t really give a shit about basing my miniatures until it was way past time to give a shit about basing my miniatures. The Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures I painted during my early years in the hobby all came on their own bases. I never really bothered to paint bases anything other than a glossy (!) grey or green until I discovered flocked slotta bases when I started playing Warhammer 40K. When I moved on to Warhammer Fantasy, I never bothered to fill the slots on the bases, even if the tabs on the bottom of the miniatures on them didn’t fill the slots completely. Now I have many old GW miniatures with open slots on their bases that look like shit. I suppose I could go back and rebase them, but I just don’t have  the time or the inclination. Instead, I just get annoyed whenever I look at them.

Nowadays I consider basing to be an important part of painting any miniature, and a lot of thought generally goes into which base I use. Just as a good base can turn a mediocre-looking miniature into a good-looking miniature, poor basing can really bring the overall aesthetic of a miniature down. I’m a fan of sculpted scenic bases, but these can get expensive. The availability of ready-to-use tufts and basing effects is a good thing.

I was ignorant of using the right tools for the job for far too long. I didn’t discover acrylic paint until I started painting space marines and they came with a set of five Citadel paints. Up until then, I painted everything with Testor’s gloss enamels, which are horrible to work with and are very limited in color palette. Green stuff? WTF was green stuff? Instead I used Squadron modelling putty to fill gaps because I thought it was better than Testor’s modelling putty (and trust me, it is).

I didn’t own a pair of nippy cutters until about 2006, when I was in the middle of a period when I had stopped painting and playing games regularly. Until then, I cut everything off a sprue or made any modifications to metal miniatures using only an X-acto knife. (It’s a wonder I didn’t cut my fingertips off.)

When gluing models together I never pinned anything because I didn’t have a drill other than a pin vise, and cutting pinning wire with an X-acto knife was too much of a pain to make me want to try. I opted to use copious amounts of putty instead, which rarely worked well, considering the quality of the putty I was using.

As you can see, I often “improvised”, even when I didn’t know I was improvising. That sucked. Nowadays, I am a big proponent of using the right tool for the job, whatever that job might be, and regardless of whether or not I’ll ever need a particular tool again. (Example: About five years ago, I bought an angle grinder to sharpen an axe blade because I didn’t want to hone it by hand. I used it once and haven’t needed to use it again, because my axe is still sharp, seeing how I’ve only used the axe about 3 times since I bought it.) This is especially true of my hobby tools; if something will make my life easier, I’m likely to buy it even if it’s only to use it once. I’m lazy like that.

Now I own clippers and a Dremel and green stuff, and I have more acrylic paints than I ever thought possible, which really isn’t anything to brag about considering these things (with the possible exception of the Dremel) and others like them are pretty much basic supplies anyone in the hobby should own. Took me long enough to figure that out.

Uncle Atom says he waited too long to buy an airbrush and suggests that if I buy one I’ll use it all the time. He may be right, but I haven’t felt the need to buy one of those yet. I don’t paint many large, flat surfaces, and those I do have occasion to paint are easily done with the right paintbrush. We’ll see if that changes. I’m mainly put off by the knowledge that airbrush maintenance is more time-consuming than cleaning a paintbrush. Who needs that?

I don’t know how to sculpt. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I wish I knew how to sculpt, as working with green stuff is the bane of my hobby existence. I can handle filling gaps and sculpting things that take minimal skill (like entrails), but that’s about the extent of my abilities. I don’t want to be Sandra Garrity or Mark Copplestone, but it would be nice to be able to sculpt a hat or a cape; or perhaps some hair.

I have asked good sculptors for their advice and even attempted to follow it, but with poor results. I even changed my sculpting medium from green stuff to magic sculpt with equally poor results. I know sculpting, like painting, is a skill that gets better over time and with practice. I just lack the patience and wish I had learned the basics sooner.

I have a hard time saying goodbye to things I know I will never use. I am a collector of many things,  miniatures first among them. I’ve collected a lot of miniatures over the years. Some date back to my earliest days as a Dungeons and Dragons player. Many are from my early wargaming days. Still more, however, have been purchased in the last 15 years or so for any number of games or projects that I know (now) that I will never get to.

It’s tough to get rid of any of my things, especially miniatures. I never understood people who can labor for a year on an army and then sell it when they get tired of playing it. I could never easily sell any of my painted miniatures. To me, they are an investment of time where the results can be clearly seen. Are they all masterpieces? Certainly not. But they’re something I did for no other reason than I wanted to, and looking at them makes me happy and brings back fond memories (most of the time).

I have given much morbid thought to the fact that I won’t be here forever, and barring unforeseen catastrophe, my miniatures are likely to survive me. When that happens, they will become someone else’s problem. I feel like I should take steps to minimize that problem while I’m still here, especially if I care about the someone else in question. Yet somewhere in my mind I still think it’s possible that I’ll paint those two complete Clan War armies I’ve had languishing in a box since 1998, learn the rules for this unsupported and OOP game, get some friends interested in playing, and play regularly.

It could happen. Best not to get rid of them just yet.

I don’t play games often enough. My biggest regret, to be sure. I have no good excuse for not being able to play games. I have a perfect space for it and I have more leisure time than most people I know.

That being said, I have blogged (whined, really) elsewhere that any miniatures and terrain used in my games would have to be supplied by me and me alone. I am also quite particular about who I invite into my home. Even so, I do not live particularly close to my gaming buddies, who are always welcome, of course. But they’re mainly roleplayers, not wargamers.

As I said above, I used to play at the FLGS, but that store is long gone. All the ones that took its place cater to the GW and Privateer Press crowd, so small-scale, small press games have no real home there. And that’s what I’m interested in playing nowadays.

The problem with retailer-based gaming  (to me, at least) is that the retailer has little, if any, incentive to offer or promote games other than what sells best. That’s why here in the US you rarely see anything other than GW or Privateer Press games being played in game stores. There may be exceptions, but if so, they’re not around me. I guess the answer is to start a club of my own. I think I’m going to try to do something akin to the “European” model, i.e. not being affiliated with or based in a retail establishment. I have no real idea how to go about getting something like this started, but I am going to try to figure it out.

Next time, I hope to have the TNG bridge crew completed, with Kirk and Co. soon to follow.

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