As it’s 1st January 2014 I thought I would write a post, like last year and the year before, listing my new year’s resolutions.

Looking back at last year’s resolutions I didn’t do too badly. I did become a dad. The Shell Case Shorts Anthology did get published. ODAM is still running and it’s the best fun you can have with a Skype app. We did do another #warmongers Secret Santa and it was twice the size of last year. I did paint stuff – albeit not quite as much as I’d like – and I did get some games in. I did make it to Salute 2013 and I spent an embarrassing amount of money.

The areas I struggled with is sadly the area that I enjoy the most. Writing. Nothing got finished and as demands at home took their toll the site suffered. I’ve already talked about this in my New Year’s Eve but my contributors are awesome and I owe them a great deal.

All this, and my wife’s ever lengthening list of resolutions got me thinking about the word behind the behind: resolve. It resonated with me and not just for its poignant use in the recent Batman comics.


Or, more to the point, what it means. Courage. Steadfastness. Intent. Willpower.

So this year I’m not going to make too many promises. Although I can say I’ll be at Salute 2014 along with Lee, Mat & Reece and yes we will all be wearing shirts. Instead I’m going to have and show more resolve. To make this site better, improve ODAM, to do well at my new job, to be a good husband and father and to continue in the hobby that I love. And to not blink, bend or break in the process.

Basically to stop having good intentions and instead have positive actions.

What Kind of Year Has it Been?

As we stare down the barrel of 2013 I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a bit of a Year in Review for The Shell Case. And I thought I’d start with the resolutions I wrote just over a year ago…

The first was to paint something. This I have managed. I had a fully painted Covenant fleet then my mother gave me even more sodding cruisers for Christmas so technically it’s not fully painted, but I got the whole lot down over 3 weeks (spread out over two painting sessions). I’ve partially painted other stuff, but that was the big achievement for me. A little lame that that’s the only stuff I managed to put brush to model to over the last 12 months, but it’s that or blog…

I was also supposed to finish Project Awesome this year. This I didn’t achieve. This was partly due to me getting involved with a separate project (which has also stalled due to time and me being lazy). But, to be honest, I’ve had far too much fun working on The Shell Case and the associated projects – such as Of Dice and Men – that I’m not too worried. That said, I really must be strict with myself in 2013 and crack on and get things finished.

And speaking of projects, Super Mega Awesome Shell Case Project died a death. Through no fault of my own however. I was let down so completely by a third-party that I decided to can the project until further notice. It still may happen hence it remaining secret but for now this resolution can be scrubbed off.

But, and it appears I’m inadvertently working this like a criticism sandwich, the Shell Case Shorts did become a regular features. It made it to the full year. Sadly it will be the last ever Shell Case Shorts as trying to source prizes and maintain the community’s interest has proven too great a challenge and still allow me to focus on other things. I’m gutted to be honest but if the interest isn’t there it isn’t there. I may do short story competitions again, but nothing like SCS.

I did, however write more reviews. Lots in fact. And more than a few opinion pieces. I suspect I’m becoming as well-known for my rants as I am anything else. But one thing that has become apparent these last 12 months is that all the companies I’ve been in touch with consider The Shell Case to be honest and impartial which means a great deal. This of course has led to me falling out with a few people along the way. And when I say people I mean companies and I’m sure regular readers can take a stab at who they are. But I didn’t start the blog to brown nose the companies. Actually I started it to make me paint stuff, but you know what I mean.

On to number 6, the Shell Case Beatdown. This didn’t happen. Not even close. To be honest, I was naive to have even suggested it as I had no clue how to organise it or where to hold it. It won’t be happening this year either but I am working on something with a fellow #warmonger that may see a few of us getting together. But I did get to meet a few of the #warmongers at Salute 2012 and all systems are go for a similar meet up again this year, although I suspect it’ll be a little bit more hanging out en masse rather than meeting up for a picnic in the middle of the lobby.

And I did forgive the Games Workshop. At least as much as I could. And I’ve even started a new 40k army and gotten back into Adeptus Titanicus 2. Both projects are slow burn and I don’t see the Chaos army being completed next year between time, money and impending fatherly commitments. But I shall enjoy it and not worry about the prices. Despite them going up again in the New Year…

And I did manage to play more games than play Xbox. That was until Halo 4 came out… However through one thing or another the games have fizzled out a bit as The Chaps as a gaming entity doesn’t really exist any more. There are reasons for this that won’t be discussed here but one of my resolutions for 2013 is get The Chaps back on track and get at least one game in a month.

Although I am thinking about starting a games club you have to interview for to weed out the beardy and unwashed.

All in all, it’s been a great year as I’ve got to do far more of the stuff I like with the blog and cut out the shit I didn’t that I was doing to try to keep pace with BoLS and Tabletop Gaming News. My enjoyment and The Shell Case’s success is in no small part down to my sponsor, Firestorm Games who have allowed me the luxury of reviewing games and models that my finances would not normally permit me to explore. This has been a significant shift in The Shell Case as a blog and hopefully gone some way to making it a credible source wargaming reviews and opinion.

Since the blog went live I’ve written 588 posts, 441 this year. Assuming I write 500 words on average – which low balling it massively – I’ve written roughly 300,000 words. Although the reality is closer to half a million. Please don’t point out that it’s a novels worth of words, it’ll just make me cry. The record for most hits was smashed several times this year. The most recent was almost double the previous best, reaching 2,600 hits and the average number of visitors creeping ever closer to 700 a day. The busiest month for The Shell Case exceeded 20,000 hits. This of course is down to you guys – you awesome bunch of readers and followers so a massive thanks goes out to you.

So what of 2013 and what resolutions can you expect of me? Well…

1. Publish the Shell Case Shorts Anthology. This will be an absolute priority for me in January; getting all the winners’ work together in a free to download PDF for the world to share. Those winners that are reading this, there may be some editorial tweaks. Don’t be offended, you still got free shit and you’re still being published.

2. Continue to fucking paint something! I think my lack lustre approach to painting is as much to do with the fact that an increasing number of my paints are knackered and I resent paying GW prices for something that dries out too damn fast. So perhaps a part of this resolution needs to be to research a new paint system.

3. Seriously get a writing project finished. Part of this resolution will be to get a bit more organised with blog posts, plan out content a bit more than I have been so I have more free time to write rules for toy soldiers rather than just reviews for toy soldiers. Again, this will mean a little less Xbox, but that’s not a hardship.

I also need to decide what the best route to market will be when it’s finished, be it either pitch to a developer or go with a crowd funding scheme…Watch this space.

4. Keep going with ODAM. The first two episodes were a huge amount of fun and all being well episode 3 will be recorded this week. It’d be great to make it through the year and get as many bloggers and Twitterers as possible on to the show.

5. Play some games. As mentioned above, I’d really like to get The Chaps back together and get gaming again with some regularity. I think campaigns may well be out for the time being, but I don’t care it’ll just be great to hang out with my mates, play toys, roll fist gulls of dice, drink sugary drinks and eat far too many snacks.

6. Improve content across the board on The Shell Case which includes getting back into my musing posts, sort out some of the pages and revisiting the contributors part of the site. This project has been somewhat of a failure as contributions have been practically nil. I think I need to start this from scratch and bring people on board who are local to me so that I can beat them with a stick until they write something.

7. Make it to Salute 2013. Simple enough, needs no more explanation.

8. Run another #warmongersSecretSanta. Overall it was a resounding success with #warmongers from all over the world taking part. Although one participant couldn’t be bothered to send a gift and has avoided all attempts at contact regarding the matter. I won’t name names but they know who they are and my disappointment is absolute. For a member of our community to take and not give back, especially at Christmas is low and they won’t be permitted to take part in any future competition, give away or community project I’m involved with.

9. Be a Dad. My first-born is due in March and I couldn’t be more excited. That said, if I drop off the face of the Interwebs during that month don’t be alarmed, it’s just my sanity unspooling as the kid cries me into early senility.

There’s other stuff I could put on the list but these are the big ones. And with that I wish you all a fantastic 2013 with all the healthy, happiness and good fortune you deserve.

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.

The Good Ship Resolute

@jraferguson is proving quite the inspiration today. As he posted his new year’s (hobby) resolutions, I thought I would follow suit. So all aboard the good ship Resolute.

1. Paint fucking anything! I am the worst at finishing hobby projects. This is mainly because I have the attention span of an 8 year old but I also have little time and too many interests. So I resolve to paint something. Anything. Not even an army just a model or two.

2. Finish Project Awesome. Project Awesome has been a game in its 14th year now and has been rewritten 7 times because I always developing my skills as a writer, my knowledge as a gamer and learning design techniques to make it shiny. The final final final version is in development and it will be finished this year. Or…I don’t know, I’ll punch myself in the face and put it on YouTube for you all to watch.

3. Complete the Super Mega Awesome Shell Case Project. Obviously still under wraps at the moment but it’s steaming towards completion which makes me very proud. All I need to do afterwards is make it a success. Piece of piss right?

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

5. Write more reviews. Not alot to say about this one. It’s one of my very favourite things so I’d like to do more of them.

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

7. Forgive the Games Workshop. This sounds a little silly butI spent last year being really angry at the company for all the changes and price increases but at the end of the day all that happened was I stopped enjoying games that I’ve enjoyed for over 20 years. Which is a bit daft really. Tbat’s not to say I’m going to start collecting lots of new armies, but I am going to stop worrying about it. And if I so choose to buy something then I have to accept the price.

8. And finally play a little less xbox and a little more toy soldiers. And maybe write a few new campaign packs along the way.

Have a happy, healthy and toy filled 2012.