Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 in review

Love a good graph!

Back to Blogging
Since I rebooted my blog, in October I've been averaging just over 1000 views a month. I'm reasonably happy with that, although in April this year my blog got 800 hits by itself! I've got plugged into two networks (40k kings and international house of paincakes) and they've bumped my hits up a bit. plus I've been putting it on twitter and Facebook groups as well. I'm not obsessed with page views, but I need to figure out more networks to be a part of and how to keep people coming back. Does anybody have any suggestions? 

I think my 40k year has gone well. Painting wise, I now have a decent sized howling griffons army. A big step up from splashing them with salamanders. Gaming wise, I've survived the choppy last 12 months reasonably well, only "needing" one new codex. That doesnt mean to say i havent bought models, but as much as i can i try not to buy directly from GW. At least if i buy from a FLGS then it gets a cut, or from ebay where im helping the secondhand market.

They did not hit that flyer at all
I'm still a bit nervous that games workshop are going to blow up 40k like how they did with fantasy, but if they do that I'll just keep playing 7th ed. I feel tactically I've improved quite a bit, thou I am still slow at playing the game I'm speeding up little by little. I wouldn't say I win every game by any stretch but in 40k tournaments this year I have had a very happy return- Winning 9 and drawing 2. I'll expand more on the competitive and painting side of things below. 

2015 was a year where I really took the plunge into a new games system for the first time in a long time - X-wing. Not since 2010 when I played warhammer fantasy have I tried a new non-40k system in any depth and never have I picked up a non games workshop game. It turned out to be a great boon for my hobby, giving it a new lease of life as well as a new concern for my wallet. In general, the reason I would now recommend maintaining a second different system to anybody is variety. Having to think differently has really developed my tactical thinking, allowing me to see beyond the you go / I go 40k-ness. 
This is what it feels like to play X-wing

In addition to this, X-wing is a great game and I love it! The rules make sense, there isn't really any opportunity to abuse loopholes and there isn't the laziness that games workshop are guilty of with thier ruleset.

Bolt action 
Whilst yet to feature in a blog post, I do have fledgling bolt action force. British army, with some paratroopers. My main problem is that they are very fiddly to put together. I really like the ruleset, and the idea of having some sort of historical wargame. I also quit enjoyed the rule book (I know that sounds odd!) But it is currently third choice, especially when it comes to wallet or painting. 

I don't know where this will go in 2016, a lot of the guys at my club (leciester sabres) have it - in fact they very generously gave me a free hit of plastic crack to get me into it. It's just not grabbing me as much right now.

Something I've been trying out this year, and it seems to have gone well. Part of the reason i got back into blogging actually, I felt the two tied together quite nicely. My top viewed vlogs so far are my review of the x-wing mat i bought and my k-wing repaint. Overall, id rate this as a success. It's been positively received and is a good way to interact with people - be that those i see regularly or hardly at all.

In the new year i'd like to expand a bit, maybe doing more tournament reports, and prehaps the odd battlle report. its quite difficult to keep fresh actually, being in front of a camera puts you under a bit of pressure! I think generally speaking they've improved dramatically even over the last 10. If there is anything you'd like to see, let me know and i'll see if i can vlog about it :)
Us at BWX (me on the far left)

Ive had a reasonably successful 2015 tournament wise, having used many relationship points to attend tourneys far and wide (doesn't help when you play more than 1 system let me tell you!) I did reasonably well, finally getting the monkey off my back and placing in the top 3 on a couple of occasions (something I've never done). Here's a summary breakdown:
  1. Placed 3rd for 40k in the student nationals 
  2. Placed 4th and 14th at blog wars 9 + 10. (It also means that I only ever lost 1 game at blog wars tournaments, and that was my first ever game. Damn space monkeys!) so my total return at blog wars was W16, L1, D1 across 6 events. 
  3. Attended 2 X-wing store championships, making the cut the first time and then getting knocked out. That means I ended up somewhere between 5th and 8th out of 32. For the second one I came like 7th out of 8 ppl. 
  4. Place 3rd in an X-wing store competition in November at weekend warlords in Loughborough. Gotta love tlts :)
I feel likes there are more events that I've gone to but I can't remember. That's 6 at least! Blog wars are the still the highlight in my calendar, and it's really nice accross the events to meet new people and catch up with old friends from other blogs. I'm really looking forwards to Double Trouble that alex is planning to run in 2016.

Not really sure how I got on with this one. I pretty much paint as my main pastime now so I'm painting almost everyday. I didn't set any specific goals but I feel like I've moved away from being the guy who is proxying unpainted models so much. At least in my mind anyway. 

I know I've painted loads (probly most of my howling griffons army) but I didn't have a to do list. I haven't operated like that for a long time, I'm much more a buy it, paint it, buy the next thing kinda guy. So actually I paint for the love of it. I'm going to try making a list for 2016, but I then might ignore it on a day to day basis as I think it'll add pressure. 

Until I went home and grabbed a bunch of old models from boxes at my parents, I didn't have a list of models that I wanted to paint. I do now! Most of them won't serve any key game purpose but are cool models, such old games day models - I even found a model from the "skullz" campaign that they did.

So there we have it! Tune in over the next few days to catch a look at what ive got planned for 2016 :)

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Refurbishing some old classics

So, I've been clearing out my old models in search of anything that needs love. Some of the stuff I've ebayed, but these guys were way to cool to get rid of.theyve all spent most of the last month in a vat of nail polish remover and are now ready to be painted. 

 I thought I'd share with you about them and make them part of my "to paint in 2016". I'll be doing a proper post on that but this is a more detailed look at these models. 

First off, this games day model! From the early 2000s I think, this guy is not great under 40k rules as he has a powerfist. I also don't think I ever had is right hand, but that's a simple conversion. I'm looking forwards to putting this guy back to his former glory. Even if I don't really want to ever take a space marine captain on foot lol. 

Rolling out another classic, this banner bearer is a metal equivalent of my current banner bearer. I've got the cross piece for the top of the pole so I can make a banner for him but I don't know what design to go with! Do I say that the first one is the chapter banner or that this guy is? I'll have to take a look at that. 

Another grizzeled veteran here. Perhaps a drill Sargent or a the guy who trains the new recruits. I'm wondering if I should paint him up to somehow represent that. "He's normally on the fortress monestry but for this battle he's out on the front line" kind of thing. Or maybe he's just a tactical squad Sargent. 

I also found and cleaned up a culexus assassin. I never found the assassins easy to paint. It's just black after all! But hopefully that'll come out ok. 

So there we have it! What gems have you found recently? I've been at my parents this week for baby Jesus day and I've found a whole host of goodies!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Double Trouble thoughts

After a seemingly endless procession of Star Wars related posts - you'd think that I hadn't played any 40k for months (and you'd be right!) I've written a 40k blog post. Seemed fitting to break in the 101st post with where my hobby all began. So, here we go! 

Double trouble is Alex brown's (from the fang) new tournament. You can read more about it here, but basically it's a doubles tournament with a Random partner each round. 750 each, for 1500 a side. You get bonuses for acting as a team, but prior to setting up you have no idea what you're playing with, let alone against. 

As of writing this, we don't know a lot else in terms of list construction. Is it similar to blog wars, is it different? Can you take just a formation, instead of a CAD? Can you take allies? Are you only allowed to select from the allied force org chart!? (This last one would be awesome Alex btw)

So many crazy questions. So many possible new versions of the guard codex could come out before June. So what's the point in trying  to write a list I hear you ask? Well. It helps pass the time, and it helps get my 40k mind on the go again. 

Here is my first offering:

Company Command Squad: + 1 Company Commander 60

Platoon Command Squad: 4× flamer; + 1 Platoon Commander 50
• Infantry Squad: flamer; Heavy Weapons Team (autocannon); + 1 Sergeant (power weapon) 80
• Infantry Squad: flamer; Heavy Weapons Team (autocannon); + 1 Sergeant (power weapon) 80
• Commissar 25
• Infantry Squad: + 1 Sergeant 50

Veteran Squad: 3× plasma gun; + 1 Veteran Sergeant 105

2 Wyverns 130
Leman Russ Squadron
• Leman Russ Demolisher 170

750 points

So, pretty balanced overall I think. My thoughts on this list are that it would be one that brings most things to the table. The pros for the list in my opinion are:
-50+ bodies plus three tanks. Excellent amount of board control. They are guardsmen, but it's a big amount of people to chew through. Before you even consider my partners army. 
- AP 2, in the form of 3 plasma guns and a leman russ demolisher. 
- AV 14 leman russ. I think that not all lists will be able to deal with this. 
- 2 wyverns. The real threat. People will panic against the Russ. The real threat is the wyverns. And if you shoot the wyverns then the russ is still around to take names. 
- decent anti horde. Flamers, and the wyverns have me covered here. 
- guard shenanigans. Orders to maximise my potential and a commissar to keep my bullet magnet in line to be last man. 

Bad things about this list 
- it's not got a massive punch. The main weapon (the lasgun) will struggle against some of the top tourney armies. Eg anything with toughness 5 is going to be a massive struggle. 
- low characteristics. Obv with a horde army pull get that. But in 750 points do you have enough to negate that?
- not much anti armour. As I type, I realise there is no lascannons, only 1 weapon with strength 8 or above. That probably needs to change. 
- space marines. I don't know how this army would do against marines. If my oppenant tools them out, it should be fine, but going toe to toe with 25-30 marines could be tricky. 
-flyers (in general I just ignore them in 40k now)

I think is a good first draft. I'd want to pull something with anti Armour, or something with a combat unit. I'm wondering if I need to specialise a bit and take the power weapons out. Just admit I'm going to die in combat and add more guns!

What do you guys think? Are you planning to make it in June? Have you even considered a list yet? What would use to destroy this list? Would you want to play alongside an army like this?

Sunday, 20 December 2015

100th post and X-wing Battle Report

Hooray! 100 posts! Many are due to the phoenix like nature of this blog, but a goodly amount of from this year :) I clocked 1200 page views in November which is pretty encouraging. And what better way to celebrate this occasion than to have a special guest write the post!

As noted in episode 9 of my vlog, I was unable to attend our club (Leicester Sabres) for our final game of our x-wing league before Christmas- The Battle of Yavin/ Death Star Trench Run re-enactment. However, Ian King from our club kindly wrote the whole thing up. We wrote a little scenario which you can view here (its a dropbox pdf file - if you want it let me know and i can email it too you). Basically the majority of the rebels start on the yavin map and have to make it across that board to blow up the Death Star. Whilst all of this is going on, the empire are saturating the board with all types of tie fighter shenanigans. Points can be scored on both sides for ships being alive at the end and killing named characters. And obviously killing the Death Star. Here is Ian's p.o.v of how it went:

Battle of Yavin
The TIEs deployed first; bombers on the centre-right, Advanced on the centre-left.
Rebels deployed on the far left (My POV).

Turn 1
The TIES all swept left to intercept while Red Leader (Garven Dreis) and the 2 red Pilots burned hell for leather up the flank.  Meanwhile Skywalker, Biggs and Wedge flew onto the map on the far right.  A volley of Imperial Missiles and Target locked TIE advanced left Dreis on a single hull point remaining for the loss of a couple of TIE shields and superficial damage to the bomber ace.
3-0 to the Empire (all three bombers are alive!)

Turn 2

Red leader and posse continue to hit the afterburners on the left while the rest of the rebels slowed slightly to engage on the right.  The TIE bombers pealed off to target lock Biggs while the Advanced squadron jiggled for a shot on the now overshot Garven Dreis. Stuttering blaster fire brought down Dreis while Wedge's fire into the bombers did only superficial damage.  Biggs disappeared in a cloud of far too many cluster missiles.
7-0 to the Empire

Turn 3
a big mess of bombers

The Red Squadron pilots flew off the board while Luke and Wedge decided discretion was the better part of valour and kicked it into high gear.  Unfortunately for Wedge I had predicted this "It's a trap!" (Wrong film I know!).  My bomber ace being able to fire missiles at any range is really quite useful.  Wedge disagrees! Or he would if he was still alive heh, heh, heh!  In other news I remember to use my camera.
9-0 to the Empire

Turn 4
dont let him escape!

Luke nearly makes it off the board while my TIEs fly recklessly through rocks to try to nail him.  A volley of Flechette torpedoes later and a very stressed Skywalker leaves the board, down just a single shield.
9-0 to the Empire

Thoughts: Tim did very well to interpose asteroids between me and his ships which kept several of them alive for a while longer than rebel scum have any right to be!  Unfortunately his full-speed-ahead approach meant that the Rebels would now have to destroy the death Star to win as all of my bombers and both named pilots survived.

The Trench Run
(for a map see below)
Early Turns
the death star map, with added turrets!

Gold Squadron decided to take the direct route into the trench right next to the exhaust port.  Despite a traffic jam on the way in they were able to shoot down two TIEs, including backstabber for one loss.  As they pulled into the trench however they realised they were too close and had to turn away from the exhaust port in the hope of K-turning back later.  Unfortunately all were shot down before they got their second try.
11-1 to the Empire
y-wings trying to shoot backwards

Turn 4
The arrival of two red squadron pilots reaped a harvest of TIEs with Mithil and another generic being shot down.
11-2 to the Empire

Turn 5

Luke arrives and starts to move towards the trench.  A red squadron pilot kills Vader.


Turn 6-7
just like shooting in the desert

As the remaining TIEs are mopped up Luke flies into the trench and using deadeye (no target lock)  shoots his torpedoes straight down the exhaust port
13 - 11 Rebel Win!
the routes taken by the various attempts to blow up the death star!

Thoughts: The Ion cannon turret was awesome stopping rebel ships from lining up on the trench properly.  With the benefit of hindsight Gold Squadron should probably have used half their torpedoes to take it out.  But the right event happened in the end!

So there we go. Thanks to Ian for the write up. He put a lot of effort into the whole thing, especially with coming up with the secnario. I think that potentially it could be quite cool to re-enact the Battle of Hoth sometime in the new year, we'll see.

Before the end of the calendar year, I'm intending to post a 2015 review as well as a 2016 targets thing. I've just read one on the burning eye blog, it seems like a good long term way of matching my goals and ambitions as well as providing a reflective narrative. My next video blog probably won't be until after Christmas now, due to family commitments etc but I be blogging over this period. Comment if there Is anything you'd like to see more of or are interested in. 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Darksun Life: Vol 10 Parody Force Awakens Review

So, unless you've been living in a midichlorian shaped hole for the last 2 years, you'll know that there was a new Star Wars Film this week. 
The poster my dad sent me up in our lounge!

I decided to Vlog our time in the queue for the midnight opening showing of the film by having a review of the film - PRIOR TO HAVING SEEN IT. This means that there are no spoilers (apart from one to do with the Empire Strikes Back), but there are defo no spoliers about force awakens. So you can watch it in full confidence. And enjoy the nerd jokes :)

Monday, 14 December 2015

Darksun Life Vol 9 - K-wing Repaints Part 2

A Vlog!

So, I was supposed to Vlog about the trench run game that we played at our club on Wednesday evening, but I had terrible, terrible man flu. Instead, I have Vlogged about my k-wing that I've been repainting (first part available as a blog here).

Thankfully, ive now got a tripod and that means a steady shot as well as leaving me hands free!

I will be reporting on the trench run in the next few days, as well as hopefully videoing what im imagining will be chaotic scenes at my local cinema on the Star Wars opening night! See you later on this week!

Monday, 7 December 2015

X-Wing Repaints Episode 4 - K-Wing part 1

A short blog today. There has been no Vlog this weekend, that is in part because I trialled something at the club on Wednesday that kind of came off, but I wasn’t amazingly happy with it, so I’m going to be giving it another go at Sabres this week.

So I thought I would show you what’s been on my painting table in the past week, as well as tease what we are doing at the club on this Wednesday. This blog is “K-Wing Repaint Part 1”.

the "before" shot
Its part 1 because there is so much real estate on a K-Wing its like painting 2 B-Wings, or at least that’s what it feels like! I think one of the things that have made it feel like such a long haul is the amount of ordinance on the thing. Of course I want that to look all different. In my head, I’m trying to match it to the cards. So if they look like ion pulse missiles, my vague aim was that they're painted like that.

stage 1
I've started off by giving it two coats of GW bone paint. Reasonably thin, to try and keep the detail and also not show paintbrush marks on what is a very flat model. And my camera did me a "favour" by emphasizing that so that the model almost glows yellow. at this point, id not touched the red from the original paint job.

stage 2 (note the stylish advent candles providing backing light!)
What we see here is the model fully base coated. what this means is that following the ubshabti bone I've inked it with black wash, darkening it down. Once that has dried I've used a bit of foam to stipple and drag more bone paint over the model. This brings it back up to be quite bright, so i give it a second thinned down wash of black to blend it all bakc in.
stage 3
I've also put tin bitz on all the engine and gun parts i could find. This in part just establishes them as "metal" in my brain, but also gives me an idea of how much I've got to work with. In the end, i decided to paint over all the red. It just gives me a bit of flexibility with how i choose to put any freehand on - it doesn't just have to be a red triangle on the wing. I've got bigger plans than that. But you'll have to tune in next week for that.

and finally.......

you got em kid!
I can take no credit for the above image (its from here) but this Wednesday we are playing a multi-board Death Star Trench run mission. The guys from our club have really taken to it (shout out to Robin, Jonathan, Andrew and Tim who've all been flying like aces!) so Ian and I are capping of our inaugural campaign with a themed Death Star trench run. Massive credit to Ian for organizing it with me, especially this week (I've not really done anything!) So that's what I'm intending to Vlog by the weekend - some video from that, as well as thoughts and interviews from the guys!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Episode 4 - Advent with Hope

Im sure most of you have seen this - but in case you haven't check out this guys Facebook page. His stormtroopers did an excellent job over about 20 really funny photos of putting up the Christmas tree :)

The fork be with you! zzzzzaaaappp!