I’ve finally finished the bigger projects I’ve being working on in the garage and so I should start to see better progress with my painting, once I’ve managed to get rid of all the dust that is – more of that later…
I’ve also got a new job, which will help top up the coffers in the current economic climate, and I’m not sure yet how it will impact on my time to write posts. I’ve been struggling lately as it is, mostly down to Yasmin’s exam revision and me having last dibs on the computer, and as I’ve just started on the garden (a BIG project) I’m not sure things will improve much. However, the hours I’ll be working may play into my hands, as it’s odd shifts, and I might actually find I can put aside dedicated hobby time, we shall see. In the meantime, posts and me commenting on what others are doing, might be a bit sporadic, with flurries and spurts every now and again.
Anyway, on to what’s been going down over the last few months…
The two-week Easter holiday mostly involved Yasmin sitting at the computer revising hard – she certainly doesn’t take after me, I think I might have looked at my books a few days before the exam, but not much else! We managed a few games of Marvel and did a few walks as a family, but overall, it was a quiet two weeks, oh, apart from prom dress shopping that is!
There was no such thing as a ‘prom’ back when I was leaving school, but thanks to the influence (apparently) of US TV shows, we now have them here – thanks a bunch US! Who would have thought that a prom dress could be the source of so much stress? They aren’t that easy to come by in the first place, unless you want to re-mortgage your home that is, and trying to find one that would fit Yasmin, who’s a bit of a matchstick, was nigh on impossible. She finally found one that she liked, and we’ve had to have it tailored to her, but it took me a week to pick my jaw up from the floor when the cost was revealed! Still, she looks wonderful in it, so grown up and mature, and when she’s fully kitted out, I’m sure it will all be worth it.
We did our usual walk into Ironbridge from Benthall Hall, only about a mile and a half but rough going, especially the climb on the way back, and we had chips whilst there, yum!
We did another walk, this time starting in Ironbridge. I say ‘we,’ it was mostly me and the dog, as the girls went to look around the tile museum. We did a couple of miles along the Severn way and the dog loved it, all those new smells to sniff – he can spend a good five minutes smelling a blade of grass, typical Beagle! There were lots to see but unfortunately I never took any photos, but we should be doing it all together later in the year, so I’ll try and remember to take some then.
As I’ve already mentioned above, we managed a couple of games of Marvel: Crisis Protocol, which fell in neatly with my need to write my ‘One Year On‘ post for the game. There were many great moments, and I allude to these in my post so take a look there if you’re interested, and some nail biting finishes, but the most interesting thing was how different the two games were.
The first saw my Guardians go against Yasmin’s Web Warriors and with a lot of dense terrain on the battlefield I was expecting to do particularly well, indeed, after the first round I thought my chances of winning had gone out of the window as Yas took a good 5-point lead. My problems were lack of fliers/wall crawlers, as I wanted to try out some new characters together, namely Ronan and Drax, along with Gamora, Nebula, and Star Lord, the latter being the only flier. What I did have, however, was hard hitters, and in the end, this prevailed… just.
This game was spread across the board, as we fought to gain control of the objectives. Whilst this spread played into the hand of Yasmin’s characters mobility, it also meant putting her characters that were carrying extracts (cube fragments in this case) in danger. It was an excellent game and I just won in the fourth round by a point, when I caught and KO’d Spider-Man whilst he was carrying a couple of fragments, though it could easily have gone the other way.
The second game had the terrain placed in a more open fashion, especially in the centre of the board, and with ‘Demons Downtown’ coming out as the secure crisis, meant that much of the play was focused here. I opted for an Avengers team with Yasmin playing Cabal. This time I paired Drax with Ghost Rider to see how they would play, and Cap America, Cap Marvel, and Iron-Man, made up the team.
As usual, Yasmin decided to leave Cap Marvel alone, so as not to give her power, and I was happy with that as she grabbed a civilian token turn one, which kept earning me a VP every turn. The main battle was fiercely contested at the centre Flaming Portal, and I simply overpowered her. It was a quick game, lasting just three rounds, with the highlight being the cinematic moment I mentioned in my ‘One Year On‘ post, where I managed to line up four of Yasmin’s team ready for Ghost Rider to hit them with a beam attack – it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, boy does it feel good!
In the few spare moments, we got to play some Magic The Gathering. Yasmin had been pestering me to put together a new deck for some time. I struck a deal. If I play Magic, then she must play Shadows of Brimstone the next chance we get. I kept my part, but we ended up playing Marvel when we had plenty of time.
I threw together a blue deck that I called denial. A better title would be Irritation, or Pain in the Ass, because that’s just what it is. There are lots of Instants that counter the opponent’s spells, such as Negate and Wizard’s Retort, a few spells that return creatures to their owner hand, and a whole load of Enchantments that prevent Creatures untapping, such as Sleep Paralysis and Paralyzing Grasp. These are the cards that are really annoying, and they keep my opponent from getting game winning Creatures out in the early game.
But what good is a deck if you can’t bring down your opponent’s life total? I’ve a few useful creatures of my own in there, such as Humongulus and Cold-Water Snappers, both of which have Hexproof (can’t be targeted by spells), but my favourites are the smaller creatures, such as Prodigal Sorcerer and Vedalken Mastermind. The first can be tapped to deal 1-damage to a creature or player, which is especially good when I’ve a couple of them out, and the latter can be tapped (with a cost of 1) to return a creature to its owner’s hand. I use this both to remove potential blockers and to return my own creatures to my hand, such as Frost Lynx, so as to play them and use their ‘when entering the battlefield’ ability again.
It’s not a bad deck for something I threw together in 10-minutes, and I was surprised how it stood up to Yasmin’s decks, which are well tested. On the whole I won more than I lost, and it played better than average against all of her different types, which is unusual, as I often find my decks fall down against certain others.
I love Magic. I really enjoy creating decks but to create really good ones you often have to invest a lot of time and more than a little money, you also have to keep up with what’s legal to use if you want to enter competitions. We play for fun, at least at the moment, and so anything goes, though Yasmin has shown an interest in playing at the local Board Game Café, and maybe we will, when we’ve freed up some time.
We also got a game of Destinies in, which I’m not going to say much about, as I’m about to write up a ‘First Thoughts’ post. It’s an App driven story and exploration adventure game that has some interesting mechanisms going on. It has a lot of potential, but for me, it has so far failed to deliver, though Yasmin enjoys it; you’ll have to wait for my post to find out why…
Now the weather has improved – not much, but enough – I can get painting in the garage again. This is a great boon for me, as everything is all set up ready, exactly where I need it, which means I can nip in when I have a spare half-hour and make some progress, even if it’s only prep.
So far then, I’ve managed to paint the Serpent People and Temple Guardians from Mansions of Madness, which are now waiting varnish and basing, and have almost completed the Formless Spawn. All went swimmingly.
Not so for Kingpin, though. Dust, my nemesis! It seemed to be everywhere when I was trying to pain the Leader of the Criminal Syndicate. I was constantly removing small specks from him. It was in my water, on my wet palette, on my brushes, and in the end, I had to spend a good hour or so vacuuming the entire garage – that’s the problem with painting in an area where you do lots of sanding!
I had a few other problems whilst painting him too, one of which was caused by my wet palette. I’m finding the hydration paper keeps going bitty whenever I mix paint. The process of using a brush to mix the paint seems to break the surface of the paper up and I get little fibres on the end of my brush. I’ve experienced this before, but I find I’m mixing more and more paint lately and it’s become a real issue. It’s an Army Painter wet palette and I wonder if I might be better trying another make, or at least different hydration paper – anyone else had this kind of issue?
There was one other issue I had with him, but I’ll address that when I write up the post… it was of my own making anyway!
As I have been able to nip into the garage whenever I get a small mo., I’ve made a lot of progress with prep. I’ve started on my Bolt Action stuff, assembling an IS-2, the Borgward Wanze, and cleaning up a few of the resin bits ready to paint. More of this in my next BA post.
I’ve also started with my Walking Dead collection. So far, I’ve primed up the terrain – barriers, objectives, and stuff – and made a start on prepping the minis. I figure if I can get loads of things primed and sitting in my drawers, then I can make better use of my time when it comes to what to paint next.
I’ve continued my slow advance through The Walking Dead. I’m finding it a little harder to progress right now because it’s not got the excitement of the earlier series. I’m almost done with season 9 and it’s getting a bit repetitive. There is the odd, really good episode, but for the most it has become pretty average, but I’ll persevere and get to the end, as it has been a great experience.
We watched Death on the Nile the other week. It stars Kenneth Branagh as Poirot and is the sequel to Murder on the Orient Express, which we watched and thoroughly enjoyed some time ago.
Note – Minor spoilers coming up…
Unfortunately, Death on the Nile falls well short in many respects. The plot was so obvious I knew what was going to happen as soon as someone discovered something missing and spent the majority of the film wondering why Poirot was so dumb. And no, I’ve never seen or read any adaptation of it before!
I also found it terribly slow, especially at the start, but then, nothing meaningful happens for most of the movie, and some of the Egyptian backdrops look well dodgy. I do, however, like Branagh’s Poirot and it was nice to see a little of his history thrown in to give depth to the character.
There are plans afoot for more films in the series, let’s hope they’re an improvement on this one.
Yasmin has just got the latest Spider-Man movie, which we’re planning to watch this week – she’s going to the cinema to watch Doctor Strange next weekend and want to make sure she’s up to speed!
Between The Sheets
Every Dead Thing by John Connolly has been my recent reading. It’s the first Charlie Parker book, which currently runs to a series of… well, I’m not quite sure. I’ve googled it and can’t seem to get a definitive answer. 20, 22, 24, I’ve read different things on different sites, but I’ll go with Connolly’s own site and say 20, so I’ve got some reading to do to get up to date.
It’s a really enjoyable book, which itself could be thought of as two independent stories intertwined into one. It isn’t for the fainthearted, as there’s some pretty graphic descriptions of people being skinned alive and a couple of autopsy results could put you off your dinner, but it isn’t over the top and feels necessary to the story. Parker is haunted by the death of his wife and child, and when the killer strikes again, he becomes obsessed with bringing them to justice, his kind. An ex-detective, Parker is a troubled man, and we find he isn’t the only one. Part of Connolly’s style is to make many of the characters feel real, real in the sense that they’re all carrying around their own woes, troubles, and secrets, and it often brings them to a low ebb, makes them irritable and moody. You do get the feeling that everyone is up to no good in their own little way, and you start pointing a mental finger at each character you encounter, which makes for good reading.
Things twist and turn, the ending in particular, which at one point leaves you anticlimactically thinking ‘Is that it?’ before plunging you back into the action for one final twist.
I enjoyed it enough to order the next in the series, which is what I want from a book, to make want more!
Hobby Aims Update
Here’s my progress on this year’s Hobby Aims.
1. At least 70 posts – 20, which puts me behind the curve, but, as I mentioned above, things haven’t quite panned out how I imagined and should hopefully pick up soon.
2. 10 Reviews – just 1 so far, Unmatched: Battle of Legends, but again, things should start to pick up and though I may not hit my target, I think I should be close.
3. Complete my Mansions of Madness miniatures – 3 Monsters left, the two Star Spawn and the Basilisk (and a bit of detailing on the Formless spawn), and then the 20-characters. I need to pull my finger out and not get too distracted with painting other things (fat chance!).
4. 8 More MCP characters – 3 done, Ronan, Drax, and Kingpin. 2 more primed and ready, then we need to decide on who next to add to our rosters.
5. Paint and play – Bolt Action – I’ve just started assembly. It will come down to how focused I can be with my painting, and with so much other stuff I want to do, this might be pushing it a bit.
6. Finish painting my Scythe factions – I’m just getting the red mechs ready for paint, and that would complete the core box. The expansions might have to wait a bit longer.
7. Paint at least three major pieces of scenery – I’m going to concentrate on the two Berlin houses from the Battle for Berlin box first. These can then be used in a variety of games, which is a plus, but I’m starting here because they’re plastic rather than MDF and I’m more familiar with painting that medium.
8. Paint one miniature to the best of my ability – Still not made my mind up here. I have a nice mini of a giant, which is from a Blacklist miniature Kickstarter I backed some time ago. It isn’t the greatest miniature, but I think it would be a good starting point – I may yet change my mind.
9. Post at least three Battle Reports – None so far but I’ve been going over the rules again for Victory at Sea and as I’ve finally finished all the major sanding projects in my garage expect to see one soon.
10. Assemble and play at least two games of Shadows of Brimstone by end of Feb -I think I’m going to have to make my first game a solo experience, as Yasmin doesn’t want to spend the time learning it with me. She’s been putting the hours in revising and when we do have a good few hours to play, she wants to play Crisis Protocol, which is fine by me😃
11. More solo content – Not getting to play games on my own has had an impact on creating solo content. I have reason to believe this will change in the very near future😉
12. Back a maximum of one crowdfunding project – Still good on this one – nothing has tempted me enough yet!
13. Finish watching the Walking Dead and the X-Files – Haven’t watched any Walking Dead in the last two weeks but am back at it now – Season 9 Episode 16, so that’s only 13 episodes in the last two months! We had a quick binge on the X-Files, probably about five episodes. I expect better progress to be made post Yasmin’s exams.
Well, that’s it for this Geek, now to catch up on other things…