TSM Geek – Jan/Feb 2022

Things have just ground to a halt since the New Year and posting has become sporadic. I just don’t know where the time is going and when I do find myself with a bit to spare, getting on the computer has proved a challenge. Today, for instance, I sat myself down and added another paragraph to a review I’ve been writing, and that was that; Yasmin needed the computer for her revision. This won’t last forever though, as we’ve promised to buy her a laptop of her own when she goes to college to start her A-levels.

I’ve been writing the review of Unmatched for a little over three months now, slow or what! I had most of it done by Christmas but wanted to try playing 4-characters, 2-per player, before I wrapped it up. This, we only achieved last week, and I can now finish up. I also have a painting post written, just waiting photos, and another two partially done, so things might speed up over the next week or so.

I’m slowly working my way through what everyone else has been doing too, so if you’re reading this and have put posts out over the last couple of weeks, then I’m sure I’ll get around to reading them soon.

So, what have I actually achieved this last couple of months? Well, I’ve made a couple of sandpits for Sue’s nursery. This has involved a lot of sanding, as they’re made from pallets, and I want to be sure no splinters will ensue. Unfortunately, this has left me unable to set up Victory at Sea and play out the scenarios I was hoping for, as well as making it impossible to use my airbrush.

I did have one, rather large, faux pas. I was busy sanding away and when I looked down at myself my overalls were covered, and I mean covered, in dust. I stopped the sander, realisation dawning, and for the first time noticed the obvious… I hadn’t connected my extractor. All the dust from the sander was being blown out the back of it, all over me, and, as I slowly turned around, all over the garage as well. There was a large cloud hanging there, laughing at me! Fortunately, I was wearing a decent M3 half-mask, so I hadn’t been breathing it in.

This leaves me with a big clean up operation once I’m done, and it also means no airbrushing in there for now. Fortunately, I’d had the hindsight to cover all my paints and stuff, as well as my game table-topper, that’s something I suppose.

Anyway, let’s move things along, though there isn’t much to cover this time, and see what else I’ve been up to…

Family Fun

We did manage to get to Blists Hill Victorian Town, somewhere we visit frequently and I’ve mentioned before. This time, due to the COVID restrictions, we had to book a timed entry slot and we chose one early, just after they opened. This was great, as the place was deserted and we had a leisurely walk round, had excellent, traditionally cooked chips, and left before it begam to fill up.

Blists Hill Victorian Town
My Mum grew up just down the road from this pub in Green Lane, Walsall. It was moved, brick by brick, to the museum and reopened in 1982.

Games

I can’t believe I’ve only played two different games in the last two months, which must be an all-time low!

Unmatched – Wanting to investigate the 4-player game, but not having another two players available to do it, I decided that we should both play 2-characters each, as you’d play in teams anyway. I played Sinbad and Arthur, Yasmin Medusa and Alice.

I was surprised by how much more tactical the game became, as you have to start considering things like turn sequence when planning your actions. For example, if Alice had just taken her turn, then I might be able to move adjacent and attack her with Sinbad, knowing that when it came to Arthur’s go, I had the chance of moving them apart using a card in ‘Arthur’s’ hand.

Another strategy was ganging up on one character, which is what I did in one game, constantly attacking Alice with both Sinbad and Arthur in order to remove her from the game. It worked, but only because I’d managed to move Medusa and her Harpies away across the board.

Having the four characters and their sidekicks all in play at once meant a lot of thought had to go into positioning, especially trying to keep away from Medusa, who would do damage at the start of her turn to a hero in her zone. At one point, Arthur was pinned by two harpies as well as Alice, unable to move, and I had to sacrifice the Porter to get him out of there, it was great fun.

Sinbad and Arthur try to keep their distance from Medusa and Alice, but the Harpies are moving in!

Once we’d done, I had to admit I actually preferred playing the game like this, it really tickled my brain cells, and I loved the tactical options it opened up. It did make the game longer; on average I’d say our games were about an hour as opposed to the 20-40minutes of a normal 2-player game. I’d only try playing in this manner if you know the characters you’re playing with well, otherwise it might be a struggle to get them playing as a team. I knew Arthur and Sinbad’s strengths and weaknesses, and likewise Yasmin knew her teams, and this enabled us to concentrate on tactics rather than thinking about what cards might come up and how to use them to best advantage. If you have Unmatched, I highly recommend this way of playing, especially if you’ve already explored all the matchups of your characters and are waiting on more expansions.

Marvel: Crisis Protocol – We managed to get two, excellent games in. First up, I played Guardians, as usual, with the addition of Iron-man, against Yasmin’s Cabal. It was a brawl of a game, lasting just three rounds, and I ko’d all but one of her heroes and won by a fair margin. The missions concentrated the action in the middle of the board, in quite a tight space, which really played to my strengths. Ronan The Accuser was superb, playing really thematically, and downed two heroes himself. This was the first time I’d used him and was surprised how well he fitted in with the rest of the team. I kept him close to Gamora and Nebula, and they formed quite a formidable trio when it came to downright aggression, dealing out a lot of damage whilst controlling the objectives

Marvel: Crisis Protocol
Ronan dominated the center of the table.

Next game saw the threat level increase to 19. I really wanted to pair Ronan with Ghost Rider, to see how the faired, but there were too many buildings in play, and I needed fliers this time. If I remember rightly, I swapped out Nebula for Captain Marvel, so my roster included Star Lord (With the power Gem), Ronan, Gamora, Captain Marvel, and Iron-man. Yasmin switched to Web Warriors, which included Spider-man (Peter Parker), Spider-man (Myles Morales), Ghost Spider, Daredevil, and Doc Oc.

The game was a lot closer and saw us battling for control of witnesses, as well as rescuing some civilians. The Web Warriors are particularly good at the extract missions and so I knew I had to win the battle for the secure side (securing the witnesses). This I did and it netted me more points per round, but it was a lot closer than the last game ending in round four as I managed to steal a civilian from one of her heroes to win the game.

Can’t wait to play again, as this is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite games.

Painting

I’ve made a few advances this month, finishing all the MoM monsters I had prepped, as well as Ronan the Accuser. Drax is currently in work, as well as three Royal Navy Davco ships – Norfolk, Renown, and Dorsetshire. I did finish the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau earlier in the year, so my fleet is growing… slowly. These tiny, 1/3000 ships I keep for in between jobs, like when I’m waiting for paint to dry on other minis, or I find myself with a spare half-hour. I’m painting them really simply, no detailing, as they’re just too small.

Victory at Sea
My Royal Navy fleet so far… Rodney, Prince of Wales, Hood, and King George V
And the Kriegsmarine… Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Bismark, Prinz Eugen, and Graf Spee.

Whilst I can’t do any airbrushing at the moment, I’ve started prepping for when I can. The final batch of MoM monsters are ready for prime, other than a wash and a bit of ‘hot water treatment’ on some of them, and I’m in process of putting together Kingpin, Viper, and Sin. After that I want to start on some Bolt Action figures and probably something else, I haven’t decided what yet.

Marvel: Crisis Protocol - Ronan the Accuser
Ronan the Accuser
Drax, coming along…

Screen Shot

We’ve managed to watch three movies, more than usual, here’s my round up…

No Time to Die – I had this for Christmas and, as we’d recently watched the rest of Daniel Craig’s Bond movies, we were looking forward to this one. It’s a fitting end to Craig’s time as Bond, though personally, I rank it at the bottom of his five films. It is good, with the story intertwining elements from previous films, and, as with all his bond films, there’s a depth to the plot that many earlier offerings lacked, and you have to pay attention. Overall, though, I didn’t think he brought the same energy to the role as he had previously. At 54 (March 2nd), he’s looking good, but the time is right for someone else to fill Bond’s hefty shoes, let’s hope they choose wisely.

Artic – We were just looking for something to watch on Prime when we came across this one, and it looked interesting. Mads Mikkelsen plays the leading role… I say leading role, but there are only two other people in it, one of which is dead and the other almost! There’s very little dialogue here, as Overgard (Mikkelsen) somehow ends up alone in the Artic after a plane crash. There are hints at what happened, but we pick up the story after he has spent several days trying to survive the harsh conditions.

At one point, he attracts the attention of a helicopter, which comes to his aid only to get into difficulties with the wind and itself crashes. The pilot dead, he fishes out a passenger, who is barely conscious and remains that way for the rest of the film. Overgard makes the decision to drag her to a base camp, as indicated on a map he found in the chopper. The rest of the story follows his epic struggle to reach safety.

It’s not a bad film, with its strength being the connection the viewer makes with the lead character, you can feel his pain as things go wrong, but then marvel at his ingenuity and ability to persevere. There are a lot of errors in the film, such as the copter he attracts suddenly changes type after it has crashed, and the fact that he doesn’t go sun-blind or get frost build up in his beard. There are lots of little things like that, but they don’t distract from the tension and Mikkelsen plays the part brilliantly.

It isn’t a film that will appeal to everyone. It’s a very simple plot, there’s little in the way of action, and, if you’re like me, you may find yourself questioning things like, why doesn’t he use the battery from the plane to power the emergency beacon instead of winding the handle on the dynamo, or its fuel to help make a fire?

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy – Now, when it comes to films where you have to concentrate intensely to figure out what the hell is going on, this one must be near the top. It’s the 1970s and there’s a mole in top echelons of British Intelligence and George Smiley, after being forced into retirement, is enrolled by a senior government official to look into the matter. Gary Oldman plays Smiley, and he plays the pants off it. I like Oldman anyway, but his ability to say so much without actually saying anything is at the forefront of the film.

It’s a complicated plot, made even more difficult to follow by the jumping around in timeline, and I had to really pay attention to fully grasp what is going on. As the film progressed, things came together and there were plenty of ‘Ah!’ moments, but the finale was a bit of a let-down, I expected a bit more bang when the culprit was lured out of his hole.

I did enjoy it, and it was like watching a pre 1980s movie in the way that it was all dialogue and story, plotting and intrigue. There was no action, no special effects, and no amazing soundtrack to drive it all along, just good, old-fashioned acting.

Between The Sheets

After watching the recent Tv series, Around the World in 80 Days, starring David Tennant as Phileas Fogg, I decided to read the Book.

I’d read some Jules Verne before and always found them a good read. However, this one was utterly, utterly, boring, I didn’t even get half-way through! I read chapter after chapter, with Fogg zooming through county after country, and… nothing happened. Verne does some great descriptive scenes, but as far as the plot went, nothing. It was like listening to relatives describe their latest holiday, ‘…and then we went through the gardens, the tulips looked lovely, I’m sure they use some new compost on them. The grass, oh, you’ve never seen anything so green…’ Yawn! It really was nothing like the series, which we thought was excellent, really good fun.

From one disappointment to another, and amazingly it’s one of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books, his latest one in fact, Sharpe’s Assassin.

At least this one was readable, but in my opinion it’s by far the worst Sharpe book to date, and I have them all. It fits into things just after Sharpe’s Waterloo and well before Sharpe’s Devil, and sees the hero precede the army to Paris, in order to root out a potential assassin who has Wellington in his sights.

The whole storyline of the book is shallow and predictable, with very little excitement. There are no highly detailed battles that portray the hardships of fighting during the period, for which Cornwell is noted, and so little tension that it easy to put down, unlike so many of his other books in which I find myself engrossed. Sharpe probably has more dialogue here than any other two books put together, and he’s… nice! He doesn’t behave the way I’ve come to expect and has far too much to say about things. If it didn’t have Cornwell’s name on the cover, I’d swear it was written by someone else, someone who only knew Sharpe in passing!

Charles Morris is back, the chap who had Sharpe flogged way back, but I had to ask myself why. He adds nothing to the story other than a distraction, and that actually that sums up the book. I find myself expecting something to blow up between Sharpe and Morris, but it just wafts on by, as does the rest of the sub-plots, which are small and insignificant… Ah! I just wanted something meaty to happen!

There’s another Sharpe book on the way, let’s hope it’s back to business as usual!

Hobby Aims Update

Here’s my progress on this year’s Hobby Aims.

1. At least 70 posts – 11 so far. It’s too early to say if I’ll hit my aim but so far so good, let’s hope though, that my current drought doesn’t continue.

2. 10 Reviews – A big fat zero, but things are looking up. I have one almost complete and another in work, so I’m on target… just.

3. Complete my Mansions of Madness miniatures – 9-monsters left, and they’ve just been prepped ready for priming. They shouldn’t take long, hopefully done by end of March, which will just leave the 20-characters.

4. 8 More MCP characters – 1 down, Ronan, and Drax should be finished this weekend. Kingpin, Sin, and Viper are currently being prepped.

5. Paint and play – Bolt Action – This one looks like it’s going to be a tricky one, though I’m about to star assembling some of it, I’ll probably start with the armour whilst I’m working out what units I want. More on this in a later post.

6. Finish painting my Scythe factions – This one had totally slipped my mind; I might prep some for my next batch.

7. Paint at least three major pieces of scenery – I’m just working on what to paint first. I’d like to put some ruined buildings together in the hope I get to play BA, but it would make more sense to do something for MCP, as that currently gets played.

8. Paint one miniature to the best of my ability – I’ve been thinking about this one, or more precisely, I’ve been thinking about what to paint. Once I have made up my mind then I can make a start, and to be honest, I’ll take starting as a win here because I doubt I’d finish this year with everything else going on.

9. Post at least three Battle Reports – I have no worries here. Once the weather picks up and I can set up in the garage I should nail this.

10. Assemble and play at least two games of Shadows of Brimstone by end of Feb – Fail, but not through lack of trying. I had everything assembled, the rules read, and I was ready to go. Unfortunately, we just never had the opportunity to play. I wanted a 3-4hour window as we would be learning the game and one never opened up, maybe this month!

11. More solo content – I was hoping to have put at least one solo post out by now, but again, I just haven’t had the time. Most of my posts so far this year are ones that haven’t needed me to sit down and play. Hopefully, things will improve in the near future.

12. Back a maximum of one crowdfunding project – Success… so far. I resisted the urge to back CMON’s Marvel Zombies game, though I really wanted to. In the end I couldn’t justify the cost. Not so much of the game, but the postage. The base pledge was about £100, with 1-wave postage at £24. Not too bad you may think, but 1-wave postage, looking at CMON’s track record, means you’ll get everything at once but way after the game has hit retail. 2-wave postage came in at roughly £45, which means you’ll get the main core game in the first wave and the add-ons/stretch goals in the 2nd, again though, CMON’s games are often at retail before backers receive the 1st wave. As much as I’d have liked all the stretch goals, I asked myself, would I really ever get to play with them all, and I certainly wouldn’t get them all painted, as I’ve a list longer than my arm already.

Postage, though, has become an issue with Kickstarted games, and I find myself unwilling to pay so much when I can get the game when it hits retail at a much-reduced cost, albeit without the stretch goals. This is one Hobby Aim I’m sure I’ll hit… 🤔

13. Finish watching the Walking Dead and the X-Files – I’m now on season 9, episode 3 of The Walking Dead, and at my average of 2 episodes a week I should be finished soon. The X-Files, though, we’ve made no progress on, as Yasmin has been studying hard and had little time for Tv with dad… things will change and I’m sure we’ll get them all watched by the end of the year.

So, there we go and there appears a couple of running themes, not enough time and not being able to get in the garage. It’s always the same at this time of year, worse maybe because of Yasmin’s exams and I’ve been going through flash cards and things with her, but things improve as summer draws closer. I’m looking forward being able to set a game up and leave it be, that way I can do play-throughs, battle reports, and concentrate on more reviews. Fingers crossed!

13 thoughts on “TSM Geek – Jan/Feb 2022

  1. Wow, that is a hell of a post. I’m glad you’re enjoying Crisis Protocol; it’s now a firm favourite in my gaming group too. Your painted minis are great and I particularly love the colour you’ve got on Drax’s skin.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you.
      Yes, really enjoying MCP, just wish we could play more often. I really get into, telling the story as we play, a bit like a news reporter 🤣
      We just play for fun, using character we like from the comics or movies.
      I’m really pleased with how Drax is coming along and I enjoyed doing the skin, though I’ve noticed on the photo a bit I need to touch up!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot to read and I enjoyed the post, Justin! 🙂 You’re doing way better than me as I’ve ground to halt!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks John.
      I threw the pics of my small fleet in just for you 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. . . . and nice they are too! 🙂 Thanks for posting the pics!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Justin, sorry to hear about your sawdust disaster! Lovely work on those ships, and Ronin and Drax look excellent. You’ve got a good list of targets for this year, and here’s hoping you hit as many as you can!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cheers Matt.
      Lol! It was a comical moment and I should have taken a photo of the dust cloud… and my face!
      I’ve made a list with the hope it will focus me… I just keep forgetting I made a list😞

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It sounds like things are going well overall even if you’re a bit busy! The MCP picture looks really good and once you get that terrain done, you’ll really be in business 🙂 If I may offer a suggestion, I think Drax’s green skin could use more contrast. I’d up either push highlights or the shadows if you can to make it look even more lifelike. Ronan, however, looks really sharp as he is. Those metallic edge highlights are really nice!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, things are going well, but I wish I could figure out exactly what I’m busy doing – sometimes I just don’t know where the time has gone… maybe I daydream too much🤔
      Terrain, Ah! I know, I know, and I’ll get around to it at some point… maybe!
      Yeah, when I looked at the pictures I thought the shadows could do with darkening around the shoulder and arm muscles, I might revisit with a layer of glaze or two.
      Ronan turned out better than expected, thanks, and the way I’ve done the metals is more my thing rather than NMM, though I’ll get back to that at some point.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I stay busy with various things but never have enough time so even if you don’t daydream, its difficult. There’s no doubt that NMM takes longer than using metallic paint but TMM doesn’t look quite as convincing or impressive without putting in a fair bit of work to get some contrast. It truly is a painter’s dilemma! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. NMM is definitely more impressive and I will return to it at some point. As you say, it’s a dilemma on what to focus on, especially when time is tight.🤔

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Just glad the sawdust disaster wasn’t with MDF ! LOL
    Gre4at progress on the miniatures Justin, and you have made some good progress on the years goals, so celebrate the wins, rather than focus on the misses.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, but at least I was wearing a mask!
      That’s the pessimist in me I’m afraid, but you’re right, I should celebrate the wins… they don’t come along that often 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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