Why You Should Set Deadlines

Anyone who follows me on Twitter would have seen pictures going up of my House Terryn Imperial Knights army as it slowly progressed to completion.

Some of The Chaps and I were heading up to Warhammer World at the start of May and I wanted to take a fully painted army with me.

Something of an encore to getting the 5th Company of my Ultramarines done the year before.

5thCompany

However, having learned my lesson from last year, I gave myself a little longer than 6 weeks to paint a 3,000 point army. This is old 7th edition points you understand. Fuck knows what the armies will cost out now.

This time round, having already decided back in January to make a return pilgrimage to Warhammer World, I gave myself 12 weeks.

12 weeks to build and paint 7 (because one was already painted) Imperial Knights ready for May.

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If I’m honest, I barely finished in time.

But the point is this: setting deadlines focuses your mind.

Don’t Stagnate

I’ve been doing the hobby a very long time and in that time I have collected, for Warhammer 40,000 alone (in no particular order):

  • Dark Angels
  • Eldar (thrice)
  • Space Wolves
  • Tyranids (twice)
  • Chaos Space Marines (twice)
  • Necrons
  • Imperial Guard Armoured Company
  • Imperial Guard Deathworld Veterans
  • Tau (twice)
  • Grey Knights (sort of)
  • Orks
  • Ultramarines (1st & 5th)
  • Imperial Knights
  • Deathwatch
  • Dark Eldar (new project)

Of that list none but the Ultramarines, Knights, Deathwatch and Dark Eldar survived. The latter three are all new in fairness so hardly count.

The other armies, however, were all sold or given away as the projects ground to a halt either because I didn’t like the way they played or I just lost momentum with collecting the army.

That is a lot of abandoned projects. Although one or two were sold because I was flat broke and it was that or starve.

But I did what a lot of gamers do: buy too much, too quickly and then not paint any of it. Eventually the prospect of painting that much grey would become overwhelming and then my head would be turned by the latest army and that would be that.

So what changed?

In short…nothing.

I still get new army syndrome like I did what I was a kid.

I still buy too much, too quickly. You just need to ask The Chaps to verify that one.

But now I’m setting myself targets. Last year I gave myself 6 weeks to paint an army.

This year I gave myself 12 weeks to paint an army.

Starting mid June, having taken a couple of months off to defrazzle my brain, I’m planning to paint my Dark Eldar by November for the next Black Library event. So that’s around 24 weeks.

Why so long?

The reasons are very simple:

  1. Setting reasonable deadlines keeps you focused but avoids burnout
  2. It allows you to plan your project and allow time for doing cool stuff like bases
  3. It accommodates having a life outside of the hobby
  4. It allows for time off to do something else of any evening
  5. You don’t rush

Whilst, all are important, the last two points are really important. Painting a battle company in 6 weeks is hard. The churn was roughly a 10 man (Marine) squad every 3.5 days from undercoat to done. Obviously there were some tanks in there as well but that was the average.

It meant no time off and no doing anything else. I was writing a novel that I had to put on hold because I simple couldn’t do both.

Each Knight averaged 12 days which included building, painting (including hand painting the heraldry from the Codex) and building scenic bases. The reality was slightly less but the real life regularly encroached.

And that’s why you need to give yourself 5-6 months to paint an army. Because it’s allows for you to power up the Xbox one evening or actually leave the house.

It allows you to go to bed at a reasonable hour or not feel guilty because you turned the desk lamp off at 11 rather than when your eyes start to sting.

Most importantly it stops the hobby from feeling like a chore.

Setting deadlines absolutely works. Probably because we’re all used to working to them in our day jobs. Regardless, it gives you the motivation you need to progress your armies at a steady pace, seeing regular improvements – which of itself spurs you on – and at the end you get to play with a fully painted army.

Who doesn’t want that?

#warmongers Miniswap 2014 – Update!

warmongers miniswap 2014

Time for an update on the #warmongers #miniswap for 2014!

Lots of activity going on and some have even completed their models! Others are in transit (sorry Darren, it is on its way!) and some are preparing to swap after a false start.

Anyway, here are some shots of the minis swapped thus far:

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Miniature for Jay (@souljacker1974) painted by Patrick

patrick-by-Jaynffc-complete1Miniature for Patrick, painted by Jay

And some unpainted swaps that have already taken place:

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My miniature to paint for Darren (@darrenbogus)

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Wouter-for-richardWouter’s (@woutertje_l) miniature, being painted by Richard(@Tango_Taylor)

 So, as you can see, lots of fun things being swapped back and forth and plenty of progress going on. Keep the wip shots coming in miniswappers and I’ll do another update post soon – hopefully with some proper progress of my own to show off!

– Rob

Flames Tutorial

For my first article as resident painting bloke, I thought it would be best to do a tutorial on how I did the flames on my Imperial Knights! I took these to Throne of Skulls in March and I was lucky enough so be selected as one of the best looking eight armies. Below is the picture of my four knights for the purposes of this tutorial we will focus on the traditional flame colours. This tutorial can be applied to a range of different colours as you can see by the lead green knight.

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Okay so all the pictures below are done with the top plate as this will give us a nice surface to play around with the technique.

The tools you will need for achieving this are:

1. Airbrush and Compressor

2.Black Primer (for the initial basecoat)

3. 1 Plasticard sheet

4. Scissors

5. A dark grey colour, light grey colour, white, red, yellow and finally orange (personally I use a mixture of Vallejo and Minitaire paints).

So the plasticard and the scissors are the first pieces you will need to cut out two templates. One template must be cut into a wave and the other cut into tear drops of different sizes as seen below.

You can buy templates like this online but it’s just as easy to make your own, the plasticard will swell after time but you can just make new ones by doing it this way. I did all four knights with this set and they just about need replacing.

Now we want to start with your dark grey colour and we need to position the template with the rounded section at the very base of the front of the base plate. Set your compressor to around 25 psi as this will give you more control as we need to go around the edge of the template. Keep the template still and carefully go around the edges aim for just inside the template then if you accidentally spray more paint it wont be too bad! Keep moving around the piece until you get an effect such as this.

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While you’ve got this colour in the airbrush go over all the pieces in a similar fashion you want to have this effect on.

Next comes the wave piece we cut out, we want to use this piece to give our original pattern a bit more of a flowing feel so go to the edges and pull the grey back in as we shall see in the next picture.

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Now after we’ve done this we need to go back to our original template and get the lighter grey and we want to edge highlight our original pattern. Now, the key is to try to not to overlap the original darker grey too much. Try and keep this quite fine but don’t worry about doing it absolutely everywhere. You should get a finish similar to this…..

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At this point you might be losing a little bit of faith that we are heading in the right direction but fear not were about to start bringing the panel to life! Granted it doesn’t look much look a flame at the minute so let’s add some red. Personally I use Vallejo Scarlet Red here and you want to put a thin layer over the whole piece. If you put too much of a coat on here you will obscure our hard work so far so remember keep it light and go for multiple coats if you need to.

So lets add that red colour:

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So the first red coat is on and it’s looking a bit more flamey. As we’ve tried using the templates once already so let’s do it again. Add the light grey again using our teardrop template and our wave template. Don’t worry about the positioning just put it wherever you like just like the first layer.

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Don’t worry about covering your hard work so far as we are about to take it to another level! Now it’s time to use our orange colour and again like we did with the red we want to apply a thin coat over the whole piece again.

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Now were getting somewhere! The flames are starting to pop now. Don’t worry about the shine the paint will give the piece as we can add a Matt Varnish here later on to protect our hard work and to dull the shine, personally I use Army Painter Matt Varnish.

For the next step we want to use our white and very carefully add some highlights to our orange section. As you can see on the right hand side I got a bit trigger happy and put far too much white down. We can quickly solve this by just repeating the above steps though. Don’t add too much white as we don’t want too much showing through so a similar amount to what I added in my next photo and you will be fine. Of course all tastes are different so don’t take my guide as gospel experiment your self and see what happens.

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I like to use the wave template at an angle roughly 45 degrees and spray a very fine coat near your highlights at this stage it looks like we’ve ruined it slightly but the steps are really simple so you can just redo them if you don’t like the results.

After the white highlights we need to take our final colour which is yellow and again like the red and orange add a thin layer all over the piece to achieve a finish like this.

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So as we can see I wasn’t happy with the excess white so I re-sprayed it black and started again this only took a few minutes to do another new layer. As the layers are really thin with an airbrush you don’t have to worry about clogging the detail too much.

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Have a play around to get a finish you like, if you think the yellow is too bright then use the light grey again instead of the white as this will give it more of a subtle look.

One last picture is one of the knights in the cabinet on the second day of Throne to give you a complete look at the finished model. When you add all the pieces together you will then get more of a striking model. This technique can be used on all sorts of models.

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I hope you enjoyed my first article and I hope you found this article informative. Don’t be scared to give this a go as you can see each step is quite simple but gives a completely different finish.

Thanks for reading,

– Mark

#warmongers #miniswap 2014 is GO for launch!

Well the deed is done #warmongers, I’ve just sent out the pairings emails for the 2014 round of the #warmongers #miniswap! 18 lucky people are now paired up and will be sending each other a lovely miniature (just the one mind, this isn’t a regiment painting service!), to apply some paint to.

There are plenty of pairings from around the world this year (twice as many as last time): Norway, The Netherlands, USA and UK are all represented and I’ve tried to maximise the far-flung pairings so that where possible people aren’t swapping with a next door neighbour. I’ll be reporting back on progress as the swaps take place and keeping the #warmongers community up to date on who’s swapped what and with whom. For now, the match-ups are:

  • Archaeolas
  • Jamie
  • Jaime Barron
  • Richard miller
  • Harry Brown
  • Oliver Maclean
  • Patrick Harms
  • Jay Richardson
  • wouter lute
  • Rich Taylor
  • Lee Parry
  • Aj
  • Art steventon
  • Sarah Gransee
  • Faron Adams
  • Darren Bogus
  • Nigel Bartlett
  • Tom van de Ven

Cheer them on when you see them talking about it on Twitter, prod them for progress if they aren’t!

I’m sad not to join in this time but the numbers didn’t quite work out (it would’ve been odd swapping with myself I suppose…), but this is a great little project that will hopefully continue to grow until finally, IT TAKES OVER THE WORLD!! Er, sorry, maniacal tendencies put back in their box, for now…

April 5th 2014 – International Tabletop Day

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One of the most spectacularly wonderful things about being a geek who games is being part of a wide, vibrant and varied community that organises some brilliant events.

We’ve got Adepticon on right now and Salute in a week or so, and this Saturday, 5th April it is International Tabletop Day.

“What is International Tabletop Day Rob?” I hear you all cry. Well, gather round and I will tell you a tale of valour and intrigue, oh wait, wrong blog post. Sorry about that, where was I? Oh yes, International Tabletop Day. Well in a nutshell it’s a world-wide tabletop gaming extravaganza, where anyone who wants to can organise and register an event through the Tabletop Day website. The site then serves as a really clever discovery tool for anyone wanting to find an event local to them. There’s a great map-driven interface so you can see whereabouts all the events are near and far and find something that will entertain you for the day.

I, for example, happen to be in Munich for the day and a quick search reveals that there will be two events local to me, one organised by the “Toytown fan group” and the other at a place called “Funtainment”. I will be trying my level best to get to one of them just to see what’s going on and join in the gaming fervour. At the very least I’ll be taking a couple of games in my luggage to play with my family; my daughter is hooked on Labyrinth at the moment and I think I’ll be slipping my copy of Boss Monster in there as well.

Phil and Mat will be X-Winging it up all day and they’ve registered their event through the site, so go find them and shout ‘pew-pew’ noises in their general direction, they’ll bloody love it. Mat also said he’s going to try to spread the good word about the hobby a little closer to home by teaching his wife how to play Dreadball. Anything that encourages understanding and appreciation of the hobby (and potentially gives  you more freedom to spend!) is all part of the fun of the day.

Ashley is of course already caught up in the mega-maelstrom that is Adepticon (she laughs at our one-day gaming feebleness!), and will be playing Necromunda, or Saga, or Lord of the Rings. Or all three, though presumably not simultaneously. I assume that Adepticon (it is registered on the site) will be the largest playing group on the day, would be interesting to get the official word from the organisers on that front.

Reece informs me that he’ll be starting out his celebration of all things tabletop by doing unspeakable things to his washing machine. Rock and roll. Sounds like the afternoon will definitely improve the awesomeness quotient of his day with a spot of painting Lizardmen with his wife and then rounding the day out with a bunch of friends playing Zombies and Space Hulk – now that’s more like it!

So far there are over 2,300 events registered world-wide, which is seriously impressive, including well over 250 in the UK. So, if you’re hitting up your FLGS on Saturday, get them registered on the site so that the world knows you exist!

Follow events as they unfold by looking up @TableTopDay and @GeekandSundry on Twitter and lots of folks seem to be using the #TableTopDay hashtag already.

I love stuff like this, it reminds me just how huge our community is, and how wide the range of options is for participation in tabletop gaming. It also shows the world and celebrates what a social and sociable group we are and that we have bags of enthusiasm for welcoming new people into the gaming fold and dragging those who are already playing one lot of games into intriguing and exciting new gaming formats.

Want to find out more? There’s a video for that:

Painting my Sorylians

No, I haven’t been replaced by an imposter, I just have an urge to paint my Sorylians. The problem I have is I don’t know what colour scheme I want to paint them in.

There’s no shortage of colour schemes out there, and I did blog about this a while back with ideas of basing the colour scheme on insects or reptiles. Although those ideas are admirable I don’t have time, or the desire to be honest.

Thus the question is; what colour do I paint them. I’ve seen a couple of schemes I like, either as a concept or something to copy.

But I can’t decide so I throw it open to you, my loyal readers, to help me whittle down the options. Once it’s been decided I’ll write background to it, as one would expect and in keeping with my 5th company Ultramarines and 5th company CoA fleet for Dystopian Wars, this will be the 5th fleet of the Sorylian navy.

Have a vote below and, you never know, I might actually listen to you.

5th Fleet – The Story So Far

Back in May I wrote some fluff surrounding my Covenant of Antarctica fleet – The Night Watch. My intention was to give my fleet an identity but also inspire me to actually paint something. Well it must have worked because last Saturday I actually painted something.


The Battleship known as Sword of Truth which I wrote about here. I half expected myself to run out of steam and paint nothing more. But something quite remarkable has happened which is that I’ve kept painting!

Next I painted 12 frigates, known as the Coppertails. I wrote about them here.

Now, I subscribe to the pleasure/pain principle of painting which is for every regiment/large unit I paint I reward myself with painting something more elite or a character. That way I’m incentivized to get the big units, and therefore most of the force, done in a relatively short space of time.

Following on from those, on Friday night I got my Cruisers painted (fluff post to follow).

It was very rewarding getting these models done as they form the backbone of my fleet. Completing them made me feel like I was making real headway.

Next up were the Escorts which I painted late on Saturday night. I’m pretty sure at one point I fell asleep. I couldn’t see any brush strokes that had gone awry. I blame entertaining my young nephews for the day. And trying to write my Prussians blog post at the same time.

So Skyhammer and Cold Reason squadrons are both ready for deployment. And, again, a fluff post will follow.

And finally, I’ve been working on four bombers this evening. All I’ve got left to do is give the black parts and ink and a highlight and then they’re done.

As with the rest of the fleet I’ve tried to keep Nighthawk squadron’s colour scheme nice and simple. Simple isn’t bad though. Simple has meant that I’ve managed to get a big chunk of the 5th fleet done, leaving only 3 armoured cruisers and 3 large captial ships.

I can’t promise that I’ll be able to keep up with the painting, but I’ll do my best. I’m certainly enjoying it. And I may have even done enough this week to earn myself one of DocBungle’s blue badges. A painting one, not a disabled one.

 

 

 

 

Six Month Review

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post laying out my wargaming resolutions. As we’re now half way through the year, or near as dammiy, I thought I’d revisit them and see how I’m doing. So, here we go…

1. Paint fucking anything!

Hmm, not doing too well on this front. I partially painted a venerable dreadnought and a chaplain. I’ve managed to undercoat my Covenant of Antarctica fleet but I wouldn’t say that really counts. Although I have another scenery review in the pipeline so I shall have to paint that. Plus I’m hoping to organise a hobby day with The Chaps to paint Dystopian Wars stuff. But, to be honest, that’s a resolution to do a resolution, which is a little weak.

2. Finish Project Awesome.

Now this is actually going quite well. The core rules are pretty much finished which means it should be ready for playtesting in the next couple of months. I’m giving myself a slight extension on this so as long as I have Project Awesome completed within my 30th year of being on God’s green Earth I’ll call it a win.

3. Complete the Super Mega Awesome Shell Case Project.

This sadly has been canned. For reasons that are too tedious to go into it’s not happening. Sad but not the end. I hope that I can come back to it one day but we’ll see. On the upside; the time can be put into The Shell Case and Project Awesome instead. So it’s not all bad.

4. Make the Shell Case Shorts a regular feature and put togethe an anthology for Christmas release.

Well so far so good on this front. It won’t be a Christmas release for the anthology as the competitions are monthly (didn’t think that one through) but the Shell Case Shorts have become a regular feature. It’s been tough finding prizes, or even getting the community to take part but I shall keep at it.

5. Write more reviews.

Well I’ve certainly been doing that! And I’ve got 3 in the pipeline at the moment.

6. Organise the first, and hopefully not the only, Shell Case Beatdown for all my #warmonger chums.

This didn’t really pan out. Again the uptake in the community wasn’t what I had hoped. I might try and arrange a smaller, invite only, version as a starter and then see what might happen after that.

7. Forgive the Games Workshop.

I was doing so well on this one! And then they put their prices up again. To be honest I think I have forgiven, as far as I can. I still play 40k and the Specialist Games range and I love the fiction. I’m just not going to give them my money any more. Not directly at least. With stockists like Total Wargamer offering their stuff at as much as 25% off why by Bonaparte’s balls would I go direct?

8. And finally play a little less xbox and a little more toy soldiers.

This is actually going quite well. With the exception of Mass Effect I’ve been all about the toys. That’s been helped in no small part by the reviews I’ve been doing and The Chaps getting into Dystopian Wars. That’ll change when Halo 4 comes out but I’ll worry about that in November.

So that’s where I am. My big drive is Project Awesome but fear no The Shell Case will continue on its merry course. And, if anything it’ll be getting a lot busier on the blogging front, but more on that another time.

#warmongers Miniswap

Rob of themossop blog has come up with a rather natty idea in the form of the #warmongers Miniswap. Essentially a community driven co-operative painting exchange. As The Shell Case Alliance is all about these kind of initiatives I’m very pleased to say that Rob is using The Shell Case forum as point of sign up so make sure you get over there and put your name down.

But rather than me prattle on about it Rob has kindly supplied me with the relevant fluff…

What is a miniswap?

A miniswap is a simple idea, everyone who wants to take part puts their name in the hat and then a random draw gives you a name of someone else in the miniswap. They send you a mini to paint (it’s through snail mail, so a standard 28mm infantry model is probably about as big as you want to get!), which you dutifully apply your best brush skills to and then return for them to add to their collection.

Of course because you’re part of the same miniswap, someone else will get your name, you’ll send them a mini and they’ll paint it up for you 🙂

We have some great brush skills out there in the twitterverse all allying themselves to the #warmongers hashtag so you’ve every chance of getting a rather good-looking figure out of this, unless I pull your name out of the hat of course, sorry about that…

To get involved first head over to The Shell Case forums and sign up, once we have sufficient numbers (a dozen or so) I’ll draw the first names for everyone and post the results, from there it’s up to you to organise address swapping and get the thing moving.

Salute 2012

Anyone going to Salute on the 21st who would like to be put into a ‘sub-group’ for doing the miniswap in situ, just mention that in your sign up post and I’ll do a pre-Salute draw. We’re doing a #warmongers get together anyway so it sounds like an ideal opportunity to save one batch of postage costs to me!

Go, go, go!

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Shell Case forums and get involved, the first annual #warmongers miniswap extravaganza is a go!