TSM Geek May/June 2022

Well, this is going to be short and sweet, though I’ll probably manage to pad it out with fluff in my usual, ‘cut-a-short-story-long’ kind of way.

Not a lot of time for hobby stuff at the moment, as most of my free time work has been taken up with the garden. So far, I’ve taken up the lawn, dug it over, and am now in the process of tilling it over. It’s just over 100sqm of heavy clay soil and my small tiller is having trouble breaking it up, as it’s very dry and hence like concrete (Half-way through writing this post the tiller went bang and blew the drive, so it looks like I’ll be doing the rest by hand!). Once that’s done, I’ll flatten it out and put the raised beds in followed by the shed base, then I can move the steps leading up to our veranda. Finally, I can then put down the gravel and that will be it for this year, the other end of the garden will be next year’s project.

Just over a hundred square meters of toil!

As far as posting is concerned, I’m just about holding my head above water. The good news is, though, that I now have a computer to myself, as Yasmin has finished her exams, so when I do have the time, I can at least be productive.

Anyway, let’s take a look, albeit a very brief look, at what I’ve been up to…


Two games in two months, that must be some kind of record for me. Things have never looked so bleak!

In the half-term holiday, we managed a game of Marvel: Crisis Protocol, putting to use some new characters, Kingpin and Sin, both of which belonged in Yasmin’s roster.

For once, my heart really wasn’t in the game. We played on the last day of the holiday because I promised Yas we’d get a game in, but I still had so much to do before going back to work that I was constantly clock watching and felt under pressure to get a shift on. We also had to play in the kitchen, as the garage is full of sleepers ready for the raised beds and so there wasn’t enough room to play in there. This meant constant distractions, as the kitchen is the heart of the house, and something always seemed to be going on.

So, that’s my excuses out of the way I should now tell you that I got trounced! Whilst I can’t recall much about the game, I do remember that I made a lot of bad decisions, though to be honest Yasmin played a blinder, helped no end by some extraordinary dice rolls that saw the rapid demise of Gamora, which left a gaping hole in my strategy.

She used Kingpin and Sin to good effect, though we need to explore both characters further to see just how good they really are.

Last weekend we managed to play a couple of back-to-back games of Everdell. Everdell’s a little different to many worker placement games in that you can’t go into it with a clear strategy in mind. You can’t think, ‘Hey, I’m going to collect these resources and then concentrate on these types of building and these types of critter,’ because you just don’t know what’s going to come up. That probably doesn’t mean a lot to those who know little of the game, but it has a rather large deck of cards, and you only get to see a small portion of them, so you can’t guarantee that the critter or building you want will turn up. It’s a reactive kind of game, in that you have to react to what you’re given and what’s in the Meadow (the term for the cards that you can see and choose from), you have to make the best of what you have.

A lot of people don’t know how to handle this kind of game play and find it hard to be positive about it, but it does make for an even playing field where new players can win against experienced ones. It can also make for ‘swingy’ games, like the two we played. Yasmin won the first 47 to 31 and I won the second, 53 to 29. In the first game, I had a handful of critters with only two constructions in the Meadow to be had. As the game progressed, I struggled to draw constructions and was left with a tableau where little worked together. In the following game, I had a much more even spread of critters to constructions, which opened up more options for me, whereas Yasmin struggled with lots of critters, similar to what I did in the previous game.

It may not be a soundly balanced game, but it is an entertaining and fun one. The artwork is superb and the whole publication is well polished. It’s also easy to play, making it a great introduction or family game. I’ve had a review of it half-written for ages, waiting for me to play the solo version, but so far, I haven’t managed to sneak the game past Yasmin in order to play it on my own – I’ll keep trying!

I know I did say two games, but in actuality there is another game that has seen more play from me than anything else has in a long time – Magic the Gathering: Arena. Okay, it’s a bit of a cheat as it’s app based, but that does mean that I can scratch my gaming itch when I haven’t got the time to set up a tabletop game. Whenever I’ve got a spare ten-minutes or so I find myself opening the app and doing something on there, whether it’s playing a game, building a deck, or just scrolling through my card collection to come up with deck ideas.

Basically, MTG Arena is the card game on a digital device. You can play against a bot, but really, it’s best against others, friends and strangers alike. Yasmin has an account too, so we often play each other, which is fun.

The app is available on pretty much all platforms and is free to download and install. Complete the tutorial and colour challenges and you’ll have enough cards and premade decks to be going on with. Compete against others in various game formats – Standard, Explorer, Brawl, etc. – and you earn rewards with wins. Of course, you can also splash the cash if you’re that way inclined but so far, I’ve got by without doing so.

If you’re into MTG then this should be right up your street, but if you’ve always found it a bit too daunting, what with all the deck standards and new rules, then even better, because the app takes care of all that for you.

If anyone’s interested in playing and wants to add me as a friend to play against, then drop me a line through my contact page and I’ll give you my username.

I have added a MTG Arena post title into my draft list, so maybe, just maybe, I might get around to writing more about what I think is a great adaptation of a truly classic game.


I still haven’t gotten around to basing MoM’s Serpent People, I’m sure I will over the next couple of days though. I have painted the Star Spawn, those truly awful, large figures from the base game. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get the distortion out of them and to paint them I had to superglue their feet down to keep them square – I’m wondering just how I’m going to get them onto transparent bases! As they’re such poor figures I spent very little time on them and most of it was done with the airbrush. Here they are, and when based I’ll post a bit more about them.

Mansions of Madness - Star Spawn

Sin was painted in quick time too, but only because we’d planned a game of MCP, and Yasmin was pushing me to get her done. She looks good at game distance, but closer up there’s a lot of errors and they really stand out in the photos. I’m not too bothered because, as I say, she looks fine on the table and when we’re playing that’s what counts.

I’m spending a little more time on Viper but we’re back to that favourite superhero colour, green! Here she is in her current state. Her attire is mostly done and I’m just about to start building up her flesh.

Whenever I find myself with a few minutes to spare (and I’m not spending them on MTG), I pop in the garage and prep something for paint. So far, I’ve assembled nine Soviets, ten Germans, an IS-2, and a Burgward Wanze from Bolt Action, as well as cleaning up the bomb craters and the burnt-out Sd. Kfz 250/1. Some of these resin pieces took a bit cleaning, having a lot of flashing and what I can only believe to be excess release agent stuck into the crevices.

Assembling the Soviets was no fun at all, at least for the first few, and I cussed Warlord no end. The weapons all needed to be glued into hands and I found this tricky, but I also liked the freedom it gave to pose them how I liked.

I also cleaned up half-dozen Walking Dead figures and have started on the MoM characters too.

If nothing else, the prep is coming along!

Whilst I had my airbrush out for the Star Spawn, I primed up various objective tokens for The Walking Dead game, as well as a few bits of terrain. I even managed to paint a couple of the tokens…

The Walking Dead Tokens
A couple of old bags!

Between The Sheets

No books as such, but I did work my way through Magic The Gathering Level One: The Full Course, by Professor Reid Duke. This is a collection of his Blog posts brought together into one and can be downloaded for either Kindle or iPad (follow link above) – best of luck if you want to read it on your Kindle, though, as I found it too large a document to e-mail to my device!

There was a lot of good stuff contained within its many pages and I believe it has made me a better player. It isn’t presented in the best way, as it jumps around a lot, often referring to things he obviously posted earlier but now crop up later in the book, or don’t even appear at all! Some things he explains really well but at other times there seems to be a presumption you already know what he’s talking about, and I found this a bit irritating.

Whenever he refers to a specific card it is linked to a database so you can see it properly for yourself, though on occasion I found the links to be dead. The images of cards are no use at all depending upon the device you’re reading it on. I was using my phone and they were impossible to read.

Overall, if you’re a new or an experienced player of the game you’ll find something of use here, and I found his advice really did work, with my game improving no end.

Hobby Aims Update

Not a lot of progress made on this year’s Hobby Aims, here’s how I stand after 6-months…

1. At least 70 posts – 26 so far, so at the current rate I’m only on for 52. I’m not worried, because I know things will pick up… hopefully!

2. 10 Reviews – Three, which I’m actually quite pleased about because at one point I didn’t think I’d get any done. I’ve changed my format, making them shorter, which should help get more done, though I might revert back if I review a bigger or more recently released game. Any feedback on which format you prefer would be greatly received,

3. Complete my Mansions of Madness miniatures – Only the Basilisk left from the monsters, and that’s because I cocked it up and am starting again. I sprayed the base colours, but they didn’t turn out as I expected, not having enough contrast with one another, and, as I don’t fancy painting all the scales in by hand, I’m going to respray using different colours.

4. 8 More MCP characters – Ronan, Drax, Kingpin, and Sin all done, though I’ve yet to post Sin, and Viper should be finished this weekend (who am I kidding!). The only way I’m going to reach this target though, is if I go out and buy some more, so best I splash the cash!

5. Paint and play – Bolt Action – I aim to get enough miniatures painted to get a small game played, just to properly learn the rules, and I think I might just fall short here. Yes, I think I’ll get enough painted, but I reckon it will be too close to the end of the year, we shall see.

6. Finish painting my Scythe factions – I really should get them prepped, as they won’t take long to paint being pretty simple things.

7. Paint at least three major pieces of scenery – I keep looking at the BA building I have, thinking that I should at least assemble them, but I keep brushing them aside for something more interesting, like another tank!

8. Paint one miniature to the best of my ability – I’ve started prepping something, hurrah! It isn’t the greatest of miniatures, but it is one that will push me as there’s a lot of flesh to paint. So far, I’ve removed all the blemishes and given it an initial prime. More on this when I’m ready.

9. Post at least three Battle Reports – I thought I’d have at least one done by now, if not more, but I recently filled my garage with sleepers to make the beds in the garden and can’t move in there, let alone declare war!

10. Assemble and play at least two games of Shadows of Brimstone by end of Feb – LOL! Still trying to get this to the table. Yasmin’s against learning the game with me and I just haven’t had the opportunity to play solo yet. I might try and bribe her into playing – every girl has their price!

11. More solo content – I’ve got ideas on what I want to do, and if I look in my draft posts there’s a lot of working titles as reminders (does everyone else do this I wonder?). When normal service resumes, I hope to start pumping these out.

12. Back a maximum of one crowdfunding project – Now I’m working I have a little more spare cash and there’s been a few things that have caught my eye.

50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon – I have fond memories of playing text adventure when I was a kid and this tugs at the heart strings, however, the cost of postage has, once again, put the dampeners on it for me. The pledge for the softcover is £38 with the postage estimated at another £20. £58 for a book! It’s a no from me! There is a PDF pledge, but again, at £21 I felt it was way too much.

Company of Heroes Board Game 2nd Edition – Undecide yet as to whether to take the plunge or not. The base game is £82 but I’d also want the expansion to make it solo, which is another £32, and I’d probably be lured into taking more stuff, so it’s a bit of a cash cow. However, postage, for this rather large game, is only £13! £13 compared to the £20 for the above book, much more appealing don’t you think?

13. Finish watching the Walking Dead and the X-Files -I’ve advanced to season 10 episode 15, and whilst I don’t think it’s as good as it used to be – I don’t think the newer characters are as strong – I’m still enjoying it.

As for the X-Files. Now that Yasmin has finished her exams, she’s wanting me to join her in a binge watching. Of course, it would be rude to say no!

So, that’s the update done. Hopefully, once I get the garden done, things will pick back up but until then I’ll be lucky to post once a fortnight. It’s annoying, as I have a lot of things I want to post about – more BA stuff, like the assembly I mentioned briefly above; Destinies – First Thoughts; More Top Tens; Reviews; Painting. It’s always the way isn’t it, when I have plenty of time and am sat at the computer I dry up and can’t think of anything to write, when I’m pushed and likely to meet myself coming back again, things pop into my head all the time! Maybe, I need to record my posts whilst I’m walking the dog, now there’s an idea…

12 thoughts on “TSM Geek May/June 2022

  1. Justin, that is some serious graft in the back garden, a shame the tiller has packed in .
    I recently extended our rear patio, added water feature and lighting and made a large 6 metre x 3 metre car port with channel drainage .
    Feels good to do some proper graft but I aggravated a hernia I have had for a good while and since had an op to sort it out – still 4.5 more weeks of no lifting yet! .
    I need to play mansions of madness again, cool game . Wish I could paint half as good as you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry to hear you’ve had to have an op; not nice!
      I don’t mind the graft, though my back and hands might tell you different. Just finished tamping it all ready for the beds and shed base, that caused some serious blisters!
      We’re itching to play MoM again, but I’m holding out until everything’s painted… maybe next year🤔


  2. When you finish your garden Justin, do you want to do mine ! LOL just kidding, that is a hell of a lot of work you’re doing there but should be worth it when it’s done.
    Good to hear you have still managed some gaming and painting, and the prep work means you have plenty to choose from when time allows.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Dave. Yes should be great when it’s all done, but this is just stage 1, the other half of the garden is next years project… if my back will take it!
      Yep, that’s the plan. As soon as I have more time then I’ll have plenty ready to go at😃

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, the bottom line is that you have been really busy, but mostly with 1800mm scale scenery! You should have kept that for this month and next and used it to count towards the Season of Scenery challenge! 😉 Nice minis though and I like the Star Spawn! 🙂 And I did see three ship models in with the other stuff but they never got a mention – shame on you!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lol, I like your thinking there John.
      Thanks, though the Star Spawns are truly awful minis, certainly the worst in the game – those wings were really deformed and still don’t sit right.
      Ah! The Ships! I knew you’d spot them. Ajax, Achilleas, and… York. Bet you thought I was going to say Exeter there… somehow I ordered the wrong ship and got York instead!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I probably would not be able to tell York and Exeter apart unless I looked up any differences between them (the bridge, according to Wikipedia)!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lol, yeah. At the scale I play at I suspect there’s no difference at all in the models, so I might just use York as Exeter and have done😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. As someone who hates gardening to the extent of watching my girlfriend mow our lawn, you have my commiserations on your woes! You’ve certainly been putting some work in, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Stalingrad pieces painted up as it’s one of my fave WWII battles.

    I can see what you mean about the star spawn sculpts being poor, but as always your painting has elevated them above their crappy mouldings.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cheers Matt – I think you have the right approach there as far as gardening goes😉

      The Star Spawns came out okay considering. I really must order some bases to put them on, as it will be interesting to see how they look on the game tiles.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The garden looks like some serious work! I don’t have to do much outdoor maintenance since I live in a condo and I’m thankful for that.

    I really like the artwork of Everdell. Anything Redwall inspired is okay in my book.

    The Star Spawn miniatures truly are terrible. The details just aren’t well-done and you’re right, you can’t straighten the mini out the way it should be, no matter how hard you try. Good on you for persisting with it anyway!

    The Magic app sounds interesting. I enjoy Magic and still have my childhood collection in the house I grew up in. I may have to give it a go if I ever get bored of playing Arkham!

    I hope things settle down for you and we get to see more regular updates soon, mate!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, the artwork in Everdell is superb. They got it just right because they could have easily made it too cute and that would have turned me off somewhat. Interesting game play, different I would say to many worker-placement games. Definitely worth a try.

      Star Spawns really are the spawn of Satan! But, I had to get them done as they crop up a lot in the game, damn them!

      I must admit I’ve become a bit obsessed with Magic. I’m trying to get to Mythic ranking, though pushing from there into the top 1,200 might be a step too far. I’m currently banging on the doors of Diamond, which is just below Mythic, but to be honest I create decks and play more for the fun of it than anything else – the combinations of cards and getting them to work together fascinates me and I could easily spend hours deckbuilding… If I had hours to spare that is!

      I can’t wait until the garden’s done so that I can get back to games, painting and posting. Hobbies have hit the back-burner for now but that means it will be more fun when I get back to it😃

      Liked by 2 people

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