First off, Happy New Year to you all, a little late I know, but I got there in the end!
Hobby stuff has fallen of drastically over the last year, leaving me thinking about where The Solo Meeple is heading. I’ll address this a little later but for now, let’s take a look at the few things I’ve been up recently.
We went on our annual Christmas outing to Attingham Park, taking a walk around the house and some of the estate. They do a different theme for their Christmas trees every year and this year each tree represented a different trade – carpenter, painter, printer, and such like – and pretty impressive they were too.
The weather wasn’t too bad, the rain had died away a whilst the house was busy the prospect of walking around the estate’s muddy pathways was enough to keep many away, but not us. We had a bimble around the gardens and spotted a few Christmassy things along the way…
It was nice to have the gardens to ourselves, as you can’t usually get a look in for the amount of people milling around, most armed with a mobile and determined to get the perfect shot, no matter how long it takes them or how many people they’re holding up… GRR!
A few days ago we met up with family at Stowe gardens and park, the half-way point between us. Another National Trust park, though the house is owned and run by Stowe House Preservation Trust and dates back to the 18th Century. It’s an impressive place to gaze upon, and much of it is now a private school (think mega ££££’s). We just walked the park, looking at the monuments and such like, many of which date back to King George II and Queen Caroline.
Two games in two months, it’s not good you know. Things have dried up and part of the problem is that many of my/our favorite games are either too big for the kitchen table (too damn cold to play in the garage) or if they do fit, they take too long and before you know it someone else needs the table for such things as eating on!
We did get a couple of games in of Legendary Encounters: The X-Files Deck Building Game, mostly inspired by Jeff – Kuribo – talking about his latest acquisition, Legendary Encounters: A James Bond Deck Building Game (Highly original titles!).
As Yasmin has now progressed to Season 7 of the X-Files, we were able to explore more of the game. Basically, we played seasons 4-6. The first game ended quickly when Yasmin’s character, Walter Skinner, took a barrage of damage in quick succession, which she was unable to do anything about. The thematics of the game, though, had us laughing out loud, as she had that double-crosser Alex Krycek in her deck. Anyone who knows the X-Files well will know that he poisoned Skinner with nanotechnology that was designed to simulate a heart attack by remote control – we figured he’d just pressed the button!
The second game was progressing nicely. We’d managed to collect some evidence to help us in the end game, which this time we were sure to reach, when, quite unexpectedly, the ‘Third Man’, a Syndicate Enemy turned up, blocking our use of the Bureau’s powers. This couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Scully, my character, was about heal herself and without it she was doomed!
The game is really thematic (providing you are well versed with X-Files lore), is easy to play (mechanism wise), but difficult to beat. It’s only drawback is the set-up, which can drag on a bit, especially when you don’t play it very often.
There are a few aspects of the game I want to explore further, especially the campaign mode, before I think about writing a review. Again, though, the fact that I’m playing so little means it might be a long time, if ever, before I get to that point.
The only other board game we played was a single game of Dice Hospital. I’ve only played this a handful of times and I’m still finding my feet strategy wise. There’s something rather satisfying about curing a lot of helpless dice from their ailments, and equally, it’s frustrating to see them leave your hospital as a fatality, even if you deliberately let them go!
The game mechanisms are straightforward and easy to learn leaving the players free to concentrate on getting those dice healed up and out the door rather than having to keep thumbing through the rulebook to figure out if you’re playing it right. The concept is easy. You expand your hospital by both adding wards and specialists. These give you different ways and means to heal your D6 dice – increase their number until they get to seven, at which point they’re fit and healthy again. More often than not, you’ll find you don’t have the means to heal all your patients in a single turn and those that get neglected decline – their number decreases – until they pass away to die heaven.
It’s a nice, family friendly, game, that sees the major part of the round played simultaneously, as each player deals with the healing of their patients on their player board. This makes the game quick and fluid, which we all liked. I posted my First Thoughts some time ago but have yet to play it enough to do a full review; let’s hope that changes soon.
As games haven’t hit the table much over the last year, my Christmas list was very game light. We did, however, receive a few – Battletech, Summoner Wars, a couple of Eldritch Horror expansions, and Detective, a Modern Crime Board Game. Oh! And I got Doctor Strange and Wong for Marvel: Crisis Protocol too.
Hopefully, I/we shall get to play a few of these in the coming weeks and I can share my thoughts on them, fingers crossed.
Painting has been slow too, but I have made some steady progress, painting about 2-hrs a week or so.
I’ve finished, sort of, my first batch of Soviet Infantry. I’m undecided as yet on how to base them, so I’ll get around to that when I’ve made my mind up.
Taking a short break from Mansions of Madness characters, I started on The Walking Dead. I don’t want to spend too much time on these and so, in a similar vein to the MoM minis I’m using a lot of Inks and Contrast paints to speed up the process.
Here’s the first one I finished, Rick Grimes. I’ll base them when I’ve done a batch of four or five.
I was fortunate enough to receive some free samples of Duncan Rhodes Two Thin Coats and have been playing around with them, mostly on The Walking Dead minis. I’ve just got to experiment with the metallics and then I’ll share my thoughts.
Over the Holiday I got to catch up on the latest series of The Expanse on Amazon Prime.
Series 5 left me a little disappointed. This was probably more to do with just how good the previous seasons had been than how poor that one was. I didn’t like the way they diverged the crew, sending them off on their own changed the pace and feel of the show.
Season 6 though, sees the crew back together and doing what they do best. There’s some shockers in there, no spoilers here, and plenty of action. I love the attempt at realism they put into the special effects, such as how someone being shot will hang in the air when dead, and that the crew all suit up, helmeted with oxygen, when they go into battle, as there is no such thing as ‘shields’ and rounds pierce the hull here and there. The ships also move through space much more realistically. If you’re a fan of Babylon 5 you’ll appreciate this, as thrusters fire to change vector, and again to halt the movement.
We continue our way through the X-Files, watching a couple of episodes a week. Yasmin is constantly badgering me to watch more and I’m tempted to let her continue at her own pace but I’m enjoying watching them all again too much.
Between The Sheets
I have been reading a Max Hasting’s book, The Secret War, but I’ve put it on hold roughly halfway through. It’s all about intelligence during WW2. The spies, the boffins, codemakers and codebreakers, it’s an interesting read but it’s hard work. There are so many names of so many nationalities and the author jumps around from one to another and back again; keeping tabs on who everyone was, what they did, and why they did it, and at 600+ pages, it becomes a chore.
And so, with several other book arriving vie Santa’s sleigh, I’ve shelved it. It might get a another look in at some point but I’m not holding my breath!
One of my new book was The Story of the Arizona Cardinals by Jim Whiting. It’s a brief, very brief, run through the history of the Cards, focusing on the main events and players. It didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, apart from the very early days, and I read it in under an hour – maybe under 30-minutes to be honest. If you’re a Cards fan, don’t bother wasting your money on this one unless you like looking at the pictures.
Hobby Aims Update
Okay, down to some serious stuff.
I’m not looking back at what my aims were for the year. If you’ve been following my Geeks you’ll know that I got nowhere near them, mainly because the free time I had, or thought I’d have over the year, never materialised, that’s life. And so, my hobby aims became unrealistic.
Towards the end of the year I was finding it difficult to find time and then motivate myself to write posts. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I hadn’t been playing games anywhere near as much as I used to, so I hadn’t got a lot to say on the subject.
I’ve always sided with writing longer posts, which hasn’t helped, and I often find myself going off on a tangent making things even longer – I really know how to cut a short story long! Many a time towards the end of the year I thought about folding, turning TSM off to concentrate on getting back to playing and painting and not having to think about putting a post out every week or so. But I enjoy doing this and know I would miss it, and so, I need to change the way I do things.
For starters, I’m not going to hold myself to a regular posting interval, I’ll post when I have something to say – makes sense. Secondly, and I’ve tried this before, I aim to write shorter posts – something I really struggle with! I have some ideas, I just have to put them into practice.
Finally, and this one is going of on a slight tangent, I’m going to introduce another of my hobbies into the mix – Music!
I’ve been collecting Vinyl since I was 14 and added CDs to the mix when they hit the scene. The hobby took a back seat in the late nineties but has recently resurfaced, as I’ve finally been able to set up my Hi-Fi in a room where I can listen to it. And, I’ve got a new set of speakers and headphones!
What’s all this got to do with my gaming hobby?
Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one that listens to music when they play games or paint their minis am I? And so, I’m going to do short posts on the music I’ve been listening to when I paint/play. It will get me back into the habit of writing posts again and give me something to write about when the games aren’t hitting the table. We shall see how it goes.
That’s it for 2022, bring on 2023. Now, it’s time I caught up with what everyone else has been doing…