TSM Geek – September 2019

Well, what happened to September?

One minute it was the end of August; the next we’re in October, what’s going on, did I snooze through all of it?

Who knows, anyway, not too much to talk about this month, as I’ve obviously been on another planet, though I have managed to get the bathroom finished, and have started on renovating all the original interior doors – maybe it’s the fumes from stripping all that paint that have caused my time-lapse?

I’m considering changing my monthly geek to bi-monthly, mainly because it eats up time that could be spent trying to clear the backlog of other posts I’ve got in the pipeline, of which there are many. So, there may not be another until the end of November, we shall see.


We continued our Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth campaign, playing scenarios 4 and 5.

The 4th one was a deduction scenario, which we found extremely easy and wrapped the game up in about 45-minutes. The 5th one though, was a different kettle of fish.

Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth
Beravor interrogates a likely suspect!

I’m not going to give anything away and spoil it for those who have yet to play, but this scenario was so difficult. Time caught up with us very quickly, and when that happens the bad guys start appearing in force. In the end we found ourselves swamped, and Legolas, bless his little elven cotton socks, was defeated.

At one point we thought we’d nailed this scenario, as were were searching for something and though we’d found it, only to find that it may not be the one we were looking for!

Despite our defeat, we enjoyed the game; the story played along nicely and it ended quite thematically, I just wish the game would allow you a little more time, or at least more scalable difficulty settings – if I recall from the beginning of our campaign, there were only to level settings, normal and hard, we settled for the normal one!

Defeat isn’t everything in this game though, and the campaign continues on, only our loss will effect the story in some way; maybe the forces of evil will now be stronger, as we failed in our attempt to recover something? God, I hope not, it’s hard enough as it is, lol!

I finally convinced my daughter to play Teotihuacan: City of the Gods, and really enjoyed it, especially as she beat me 129 to 83!

As I was teaching the game, I myself didn’t follow any particular strategy, thinking it would take time for Yasmin to figure it all out – how wrong I was! She quickly got to grips with how everything meshes together, and also had enough awareness to avoid paying out lots of cocoa by keeping her worker at low level for when the eclipse happens.

She played the pyramid building strategy, concentrating on getting the resources required to add lots of tiles in one turn, and this put her in a good position for the first two eclipses, as she scored highly on the pyramid track.

Teotihuacan: City of Gods
Yasmin concentrated on building the pyramid.

By the time I’d realised that she’d really did know what she was doing, I was about 80 points behind. I changed to the same strategy that she was employing, mainly to stop her grabbing maximum points on the pyramid track again, and managed to claw my way back to reasonable score. She thoroughly deserved her victory, and I look forward to a rematch, when we’ll both be going for the win right from the start.

After my loss at Teotiwhatsit, I decided I had to get my revenge, but it had to be on a level playing field – well, maybe slightly tilted in my favour – so Ticket to Ride was put into play.

This is a good game whatever the player count, though the strategically, it does become more challenging at higher player counts.

I play by gathering a lot of cards into my hand before claiming any tracks, the reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, it gives you chance to consider your options, surveying the board and working out which paths to claim based upon what you have drawn. Secondly, by waiting until you can claim tracks turn after turn, you’re less likely to be blocked.

Both of these, though, are less effective when playing 2-players, but it helps to keep the hand in. So, it was with some alarm that Yasmin mirrored my strategy, which is against how she usually plays this game. Round after round went by, both of us just choosing to draw cards, but eventually she cracked, and the first track was claimed. To be honest, it made very little difference to me, as the majority of the cities we had to claim were all on the opposite sides of the board to one another.

In the end I won, what I’m claiming to be, a resounding victory, 110 points to, er, 106!

It really ended up being a close game, with the difference being that I claimed the points for the longest track. I should have won by a far greater margin, but I cocked up early on, by being too greedy. I claimed too many really long tracks, thinking I could easily join them up to reach my destination, but then I realised I’d miscounted, and would come up a few trains short. This meant I had to compromise and decided to forfeit two of my routes for completing the the longest, and of course, claiming the longest track. Fortunately for me, it just about worked!


The Stormcast Eternals from the Shadespire core box are complete, other than varnish, and I’m really pleased with how they have turned out. Here’s a quick picture, as I’ll be covering them in an another post very soon.

Shadespire - Stormcast Eternals

Garrek’s Reavers, again from Shadespire, are well underway, but unlike the Eternals, which actually took me very little time, I can see me dawdling over these for some time.

For starters, there are five of them, and secondly, all that bare flesh and muscle just simply takes longer to paint than the Stormcast’s nice shiny armour!

The Scythe miniatures I started haven’t had a hint of paint anywhere near them for some time now, and I must make more of an effort to get them done and into play. But I’m easily distracted – you know how it is; something new, or different, or better comes along, and it’s heave-ho with the other stuff, I want to do this now!

I’ve started listening to music whilst painting, and have found that this helps speed up my progress somewhat. I find that, by listening to CD’s, my mind doesn’t start to wander, as it usually does, and I concentrate solely on what I’m painting – as well as singing along that is, much to the annoyance of anyone who can hear me – I sound worse than cat confessing its undying love at 2a.m on a Sunday summers morning!

Screen shot

The 5th series of Peaky Blinders has just finished airing, and it’s difficult to say whether I really enjoyed it or not.

It is now all wrapped up in the politics of the time, compared to their original grounding of street gang come bookies, and it can be a little difficult to follow at times.

Tom’s mental health is an ever present reminder of the hell’s he shared during the war, but have now taken on the aspect of his deceased wife, Grace, and he acts the part of someone on the edge of insanity brilliantly.

Arthur too, is very well played, and one can’t help but feel for him, as he yet again he swing from mood to mood, but always places his family first, revering the ground his younger brother, Tom, walks on. There are times when you can see him thinking that it should have been him running the family as the elder, but knows he falls short when compared to his brothers superior intellect.

I don’t want to spoil it for those yet to watch, but for me, though I enjoyed it more than the 4th series, it isn’t as good as the first three.

Between the sheets

Portent - Snuff - Firefox Down

Wondering what to read, I cast an eye over my shelves and decided that a good deal of time had passed since I last read Snuff, written by Sir Terry Pratchett, one of my all time favourite authors, and a great loss to the world of Fantasy Fiction.

I remember back to when I read the first of the Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic, sometime in the mid to late eighties, and was immediately hooked. Since then I’ve pretty much read, and own, everything he’s written, and The City Watch books have been amongst my favourite.

Commander Vimes is the central figure of Snuff, think of it as ‘Vimes on holiday,’ but where there’s a copper there’s a crime, and this is no exception!

The book flows smoothly on as the plot unfolds in typical Pratchett fashion. The humour is always there, but lurks in the shadows as opposed to slapping you in the face, and it’s a read that is very hard to put down.

One of the interesting things about the Discworld series is that they are written in ‘real time’, and here we come across a Vimes who’s son has discovered that wonderful world of poo; not just the word, poo, but poo in all shapes and sizes!

He’s come a long way from the drunken Captain of an incompetent Watch in Guards! Guards! To the, Clint Eastwood of Fantasy Fiction, Commander that he is here, though maybe his one-liners have been tamed down a little from the days of, “This is Lord Mountjoy Quickfang Winterforth IV, the hottest dragon in the city. It could burn your head clean off.”

Looking back at those early Rincewind novels, one can see how Pratchett developed as an author. The humour is used much more intelligently now, and though the books are no longer a laugh-out-loud-a-minute romp, they make you form a bond with the characters, which you will savour, and you’ll relish the next time they put in an appearance – The Patrician is a particular favourite of mine.

The only downside to reading a Pratchett book, is that you’ll mourn the fact that there will never be any more, and curse the disease that took him.

I read Craig Thomas’ Firefox many, many years ago, and on seeing the sequel, Firefox Down, in a charity shop, in hardback, for the princely sum of 99p, though it was worth a punt.

Remembering the plot of the first book is fairly easy, mainly down to the Clint Eastwood film being a favourite of mine (Though to be honest, any Eastwood film is a favourite!), but I don’t really remember if I actually enjoyed reading it or not.

At first, I didn’t think I would be able to get into this. I found the style of writing, at least initially, to be very staccato, and it took some getting used to, though as the book progresses Thomas seems to settle into his rhythm and the book became much more enjoyable.

The dogfight at the start of the book, which inevitably leads to the ‘down’ part of the title, is probably the fastest paced part of the book, as it then settles down into a slow rhythm, and concentrates on the two sides desperate search and recovery of the aircraft, with the Russian characters all to concerned with their own careers if they fail.

There’s a play-out towards the end that see’s Gant (the Firefox pilot) weighing up the changing situation in his mind, and this is a fascination insight into the character as he weighs up the pros and cons of the actions he may have to take to ensure his freedom, and whether the sacrifice is/was all worth it.

Probably not a book for everyone, but if you enjoyed the first one, or even the film, then you may find this a rewarding read, if you can get into it that is!

James Herbert is another author who’s books I have many of, but Portent came by way of the same charity shop mentioned above, and again, in hardback, for 99p.

I have to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it as much as his other works. It is written in his usual free and easy manner, so I think it is just the story itself that I din’t get on with, rather than having any difficulty with his writing style.

I got past half way and considered what I’d read, and felt that in those 200 or so pages things hadn’t particularly progressed very far. There were whole chapters that introduced a new character, only to kill them off in a disaster before its end, and though the disaster was occasionally referred to later on, it just felt like they were being used as padding.

Towards the end of the book I had to force myself to continue reading, as I really had lost interest, very unusual for a James Herbert book.


This month I wanted to take a moment to tell you why I’ve become a supporter of Sorastro, creator of miniature painting tutorials.

For someone like myself, who is still very much in the learning phase of miniatures painting, Website tutorials are a godsend. Not only do they act as a painting guide for colour schemes, but the good ones also talk you through the techniques used, giving hints and tips along the way.

Now, there are many tutorial Websites and Blogs available on the good old internet, and I’m sure many are just as good as Sorastro’s (The Games Workshop tutorials are also especially well done and detailed), but his was the first I came across that hit all the right notes with me.

The videos he produces are very good quality and, unlike many others out there, extremely well edited – there’s no jumping around where things have been cut, no uncomfortable pauses as the painter goes in search of the right brush – and I found them very easy to follow.

I painted my entire core box of Star Wars: Legion referencing his videos, and I’ll do the same with Journey’s in Middle Earth, which he himself is currently progressing through.

Through following his videos I feel that my painting has come on leaps and bounds, and a lot of it was just through watching how he uses the brush, and then having a go myself.

As I’ve leeched of his talent, and wanting to learn more, I looked at supporting him through Patreon.

For $1 per episode (he usually produces 2-3 episodes a month), I get early access to most tutorials, a PDF transcript of the narrative for each tutorial (very handy, as it saves you remembering what paint he’s just about to use!), access to Sorastro’s Vallejo to Citadel conversion chart (which I have been using, and must say it is far more accurate than relying on many other, readily available, charts), and PDF guides to miniatures not covered in his videos (he typically produces 3 of these a month). And, of course, as soon as you become a supporter you get access to all the previously released, patron only, material he’s produced, not just the stuff from when you join.

So, for a few pounds a month, I think I get a really good return, and as long as I’m learning something from him, then I feel it is only right to give something back.

2 thoughts on “TSM Geek – September 2019

  1. Justin, such a good read!. I really enjoy Teotihuacan , it’s such a clever game and Yasmin must be quite the opponent to give you such a comprehensive whopping!. It us and ears since we played ticket to ride, which map did you use?. We have Europe in a wardrobe somewhere, I must dig it out.
    Your painting looks pretty incredible to me, I really need to get into and better at painting some of my many models in board games. The last lot I painted were a step up using Vallejo paints. Do you use those of citadel?.
    I am currently reading the corner shop in cockleberry bay it’s good light hearted fun about a young woman from London who inherits a run down corner shop in a small Devon village next to the sea.
    There are some lively characters in it and a mystery or two going on.

    We are currently playing the heck out of Stonemaiers Tapestry and are about to get game 7 underway.

    Are you still playing Joan of Arc? , it looks so good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mark.
      Teotihuacan is a great game with lots of depth to it, and I was surprised that Yasmin cottoned on so quickly, it caught me off guard, and boy did she make me pay!
      I only have Ticket to Ride Europe, I feel I only really need one as they’re all pretty similar in most respects.
      I use mostly Vallejo paint, though I’m slowly increasing the number of Citadel ones I own, especially their washes and the new contrast paints. Painting is slowly taking over the gaming side, if only there was enough time in the day to do both!
      I’m guessing you’re enjoying Tapestry then? It’s on my wish list, but then so are another hundred or so games, lol! You’ll have to let me know what you think of it.
      Still playing Joan of Arc and really enjoying it, but at the moment struggling to find the time. It plays in around 60-90 minutes, but it’s the 2-hours plus setting it up and packing it away that’s the issue!


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