Okay, I’m a little late to the party here, Happy New Year to one and all.
Right, that’s got that out of the way, let’s crack on with what I’ve been up to over the last few months of another miserable, COVID infested year.
We’ve been busy, very busy, but not in a, going out and having fun, kind of way; it’s mostly been taken up with shopping, appointments, rehearsals, shows, and exams, that kind of thing – life!
Yasmin did a performance at the Butter Market in Shrewsbury, singing Birdy’s ‘Skinny Love.’ She closed her part of the show and was magnificent, but then I am slightly biased! She’s just passed her grade-4 singing exam and hopes to start of level-5 in the New Year.
I’ve been doing a few projects around the house. Firstly, I had the last interior door to strip down, which didn’t take too long, as I’m fairly good at it now, and then I varnished it to match the rest. I haven’t ‘clean’ stripped the doors, in other words I haven’t taken them right back to clean, bare wood, I’ve tried to keep them looking aged, finished with a clear satin varnish, after all, they are almost 100-years old now.
Then I started on the old writing bureau we had in the loft. It had seen better days to be honest. Some of the veneer was missing and the surface was badly scratched, with a little woodworm showing here and there; the back legs had also been broken off.
I checked that the woodworm holes weren’t recent and that it was still structurally sound before re-doweling and gluing the legs. As I knew I was going to paint it, I skimmed the damaged veneer with filler and sanded it back. As with the doors, I wanted to leave it showing some of its history, so some of the dents and the woodworm holes were left and I painted it with Rust-Oleum furniture paint. Job done!
With Christmas approaching, my wife and daughter gave me the task of making some decorations to give to their friends. I did something similar last year, but I used Rust-Oleum Painters Touch paints, which I found difficult to use. This year I made little ‘Gingerbread men’ tree decorations and used my Vallejo acrylics instead. They worked a treat and saved me a load of time as, unlike the Rust-Oleum paints, they only needed a single coat, occasionally two.
So, we’ve been busy doing ‘stuff’ and other than a few local trips to places like Attingham park, which I’ve talked about before, we haven’t done anything else to shout out about.
I did think I’d have lots to talk about here, as it’s usual for me to get lots of games played during the holidays, however, I’ve just been too busy on the above mentioned ‘Stuff.’ Not only that, but Yasmin has been working hard herself, mostly with revision. She’s coming up to that period in life that involves exams and she’s been putting the work in, well done her. We’ve also been looking at 6-form colleges and at what A-levels she wants to do. In the end she applied for Shrewsbury College and wants to do Classical Civilisations, History, and English Literature, all of which she’s really interested in.
Santa was kind this year, but then he always is, as I make sure I buy my own game-related presents as well as those for Yas!
Black Friday is where I start, and this year I got a few great bargains. First off, there was something I’d been considering for some time, and that’s Bolt Action. I’m not going to talk about it much here, as I’ve been keeping a sort of diary that I’m going to post (this is me, so don’t hold your breath!), but after much research, and firm decisions followed by changing of minds, I settled on the Easter Front. I was torn between the Stalingrad Battle-set and the Battle for Berlin one, both featuring the German and Russian forces. The thing that finally threw it was the discount I got, which made the Berlin box better value, especially as it was out of stock everywhere, just coming back on the Warlord site on Black Friday! Anyway, more of that another time.
My second bargain was one I’ve already talked about, Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death, so just follow the link to read about that and its unboxing. I got Yasmin some Marvel characters that she’d put on her, rather extensive, Christmas wish list – Viper and Sin, and Kingpin. At the moment these are sitting on my desk awaiting assembly – I may hang that out after the last game… more below!
I also got her Pret-a-Porter, an economic Euro game set in the world of fashion. I took a gamble on this, as I know she likes computer games where you build up a fashion industry, but this is quite a heavy game, and she doesn’t always take to those. I needn’t have worried. We’ve played two games so far and we’ve both really enjoyed it – my first thoughts will be up soon(ish).
After my good fortune with winning a load of Walking Dead stuff, I’ve yet to get another game in. Instead, I’m writing up unboxing posts, the first of which is complete, which is pretty good going for me! I was, however, on the first day of the new year, Mantic Games and Skybound announced that they are calling it a day with all their Walking Dead range, which is typical, seeing as I’ve just started to dip my toe. On the other side of, though, there are some massive discounts to be had; just a pity I’m skint after Christmas! You can read all about their reasons for ending it on their Blog site, HERE.
Just before Christmas we managed to get a game of Marvel: Crisis Protocol in. We both wanted to use our new characters and see how they would work and fit with the others we had. We also played using the new roster building rules. Gems no longer take up a place in the roster but do need to be assigned to a character and can’t then be removed, thus that character will now be a higher threat level. You can now take 10 Team Tactic cards instead of eight, though you can still only select 5 of these to use in the game. Lastly, the way the mission is built has changed. The person with priority now chooses either secure or extract, and a card is chosen at random, with the other player doing the same from the other deck. The non-priority player then selects the threat level.
Our mission was: Secure – Mayor Fisk Vows to Find Missing Witnesses; Extract – Skrulls Infiltrate World Leadership; Threat level 17. Both of these were map ‘C’ set ups, so things were going to be concentrated right across the middle of the battlefield. My roster was Guardians of the Galaxy affiliated and starred, Star Lord, Gamora, Nebula, Black Widow, and Ghost Rider, the last being my recent addition. Yasmin went with Web Warriors, Spider-Men Myles Morales, and Peter Parker, Ghost Spider, Dare Devil, and Bullseye, the last two were her latest additions.
I really shouldn’t have selected the team I did, as it left me very light on characters who could get over the buildings, in fact, only Star Lord was capable as he could fly; in the end it cost me the game. I enjoy playing Guardians and I play the aggressively; Ghost Rider also fits with my style of play. In this case, I thought I could hold the witnesses and win that way, which I almost did. Unfortunately for me, the Web Warriors are particularly good at controlling. In other words, they have abilities that enables them to move characters around, pushing them off objectives and such like.
The first round saw her locating the Skrull agent, which guaranteed her 2VPs at the end of every round she was holding him. Despite my best efforts throughout the game, and I even managed to daze Ghost Spider causing her to drop the Skrull but couldn’t take advantage of it, once Parker had the Skrull and moved up the buildings to her rear, I was unable to catch him, and she won by just 2-points.
She really played it well, and it was a really close game. She only had Peter Parker left, as Ghost Rider had knocked out at least 2-characters on his own using penance stare – awesome! I had three characters left, had control of both witnesses, but just couldn’t get in a position to even attack Parker, let alone make him drop the Skrull, damn those buildings!
Of the new characters we played, Ghost Rider was superb… once he had power. In future I need to ensure he gets straight into the mix, probably alongside Gamora and Nebula, as he can gain power when other allies are attacked. Once he’s powered up, he’s deadly, especially if he has enough to use his long move superpower as well.
Playing against DD made me wary. I knew he had an area attack, so I was careful to avoid clustering my characters around him. He did a few good things, but Gamora took him out mi-game. Bullseye was a non-entity. He didn’t achieve anything other than cower behind a car, and once he moved to chase away Black Widow, he was quickly dazed then knocked out by Ghost Rider – Penance stare hit him with 8-damage!
Finally for games, we managed to get a game of Eldritch Horror in, the first for some time. We played against Cthulhu and needless to say, we lost. But boy, did we give it a go. We threw characters at the problems by the score, especially against the Epic Monsters we had to defeat. It turned into a bit of a bloodbath, but it was the right thing to do in this game, you can’t get to familiar with your characters, offer them as a sacrifice instead!
Painting over the last couple of months has dropped right off, not least because the temperature in garage means I have to paint in the kitchen, and it hasn’t always been possible to do that. I’m still painting the MoM Thralls, though, I’ve also nearly finished the Riots and Warlocks too.
I spent far longer on the Thralls than I intended. I wanted to try a few things out on those deformed arms of theirs, using combinations of layering and drybrushing. I say drybrushing, but technique I was using was more like dampbrushing – I’ll explain when I do their write up… if I remember!
With all the Bolt Action, Shadows of Brimstone, MCP, and everything else I have lying around, I’d better crack on – I’ve got to find a way to increase my production.
Still continuing my way through The Walking Dead, and along with Yasmin, The X-files, which I think we only managed to get about three episodes in.
We have introduced Yasmin to the world of Bond, James Bond, though we started from the first Daniel Craig film. I got the new one for Christmas and that’s the only one we have left to watch.
We also watch Disney’s Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, and Jack Whitehall. We thought it was great family entertainment, light story, easy humour, and plenty going on to prevent boredom – very Indiana Jones/The Mummy-esque.
Watching the Cardinals play over these few months has been hard, losing to the Rams, getting stuffed by the Lions, and then losing out to the Colts, but things looked up with their performance against the Cowboys and they’ve made the play-offs for the first time since 2015. NFL is about the only sport I watch now, at least with any regularity, I haven’t missed a Cards game in two years.
Between The Sheets
As part of my Bolt Action research, I bought the hardback rulebook, and have read my way through that, as well as a couple of supplements. I really like the ruleset and I think there are plenty of options to adjust it for solo play, especially with the dice activation allocation – pulling an order die out of a bag to see who activates a unit next. There dice have the orders on their faces, which has given me a few ideas I want to try out (if I ever get everything painted in the first place).
For Christmas I got three books, Battlefields in Miniature by Paul Davies, Guy Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Tell Tales, and Sharpe’s Assassin from one of my favourite Authors, Bernard Cornwell.
I’m about halfway through Battlefields in Miniatures, and if you haven’t guessed already, it’s about making scenery. So far I’ve found it okay. There’s lots of things in there that have given me ideas, especially with the smaller stuff like walls, trees, and fences, but with the larger pieces, such as hills, buildings, and baseboards, I’ve found Davies to be a bit of a one trick pony. He seems to use nothing but high-density foam for everything. I do ask myself is this really the best thing to use? I much prefer to watch Mel, The Terrain Tutor, as he uses a wide variety of materials and techniques and I’ll probably only refer back to this book for ideas.
Scenery really isn’t my thing and I struggle with it enormously, but I’m willing to give it a go, as I really need to brighten up my battlefields from plain plastics and MDF!
Guy Martin writes like he talks, and it took a bit of getting used to. Once I did, I flew through his book – it does have a rather large font, though, to be honest. It’s basically a diary of the things he’s been involved in since his last book, such as the D-Day jump, replicating Steve McQueen’s Iconic motorbike jump at the end of The Great Escape, and attempting various speed records.
I think he’s great, especially the way he can explain quite complicated engineering in simple terms. He’s very much a doer, getting his hands dirty at every opportunity, and when it comes to ‘spannering’ he’s very good at it. One of the highlights of the book is his attempt at the Arizona Trail Race, a bike race that could be ranked as one of the toughest in the world. He recounts he journey covering the 800mile route and how it nearly finished him – at one point he’s sleeping in a public toilet and another he’s in the middle of nowhere with no food and very little to drink, saved only by a chance encounter with a hiker! He carried a GPS alert thingy with him, which once pressed alerts people that he’s in trouble and needs rescuing – he was close to pressing that there button a couple of times – it says a lot for his determination that he got through, especially with a dodgy ankle.
The ankle crops up a few times in the book, and how he should really have surgery to fix it, but the bike ride turned out to be hell, as a lot of it involved extremely rough terrain and many places where the bike needed to be carried, like when he crossed the Grand Canyon (no wheels allowed to touch the surface of the Canyon!). Anyway, if you like his tv programmes you’ll appreciate the book, otherwise it may find it a battle with his writing style, in my opinion, well worth a read.
As for Sharpe’s Assassin, I’m just about to set off on this, much anticipated adventure, more next time…