TSM Geek – Jan/Feb 2023

Wow, we’re into the third month of 2023 already, where did that go!

Well, I blinked, obviously, and missed most of it, at least in hobby terms, I don’t appear to have accomplished much at all. At least this is going to be a short post… Is that a sigh of relief I hear?

Skipping the Family Fun part, as we’ve managed next to no adventuring as a family this time, despite the recent half-term. I was ill for the majority of it and didn’t even lift a paintbrush in anger. So, straight in to games…


After our game of Eldritch Horror, which I talked about in mid Jan – Disaster and Devastation – we managed a couple of games of Summoner Wars. A few weeks later, we got a few more games in, this time with a couple of expansions – Faction decks.

I’m not going to say much here, as I hope to have my first thoughts out about it in the next few weeks, but I will say that we were both impressed. Think of it as Magic The Gathering with a board. Okay, not as complex but in terms of summoning monsters, casting spells, and the potential to create your own deck, it has the same dynamic. However, you get to move your monsters around the board and take a swing at those of your opponent, all good fun.

Summoner Wars

It’s actually quite simple to pick up and play but I was impressed with strategic choices you have in front of you and how you can use the cards in your deck together to have a stronger impact. I’ll cover it more when in my First Thoughts post.

Cthulhu: Death May Die. The more I play this game the more I like it. We played twice, the same scenario, and it was a blast. I’ve already posted my First Thoughts but now it’s time I bit the bullet and wrote up a review, so it looks like I’m going to be busy over the next few weeks.

The scenario we played had our investigators trying to gather up some artifacts and use them to close gates, through which all manner of foul beasts were spawning – that’s usual in this game. The problem was, we had to have two artifacts at one gate and two at another, at the same time, without any guards being present, when the Elder One advanced along its track.

Doing this required some pretty nifty team work, I’ll tell you, with the investigators using their talents to aid one another in their quest. I was fortunate, as one of my characters had the co-dependency insanity, which enabled me to move either her to her dependent, or vice versa. This proved vital at one point and enabled us to win the… Oh no, my mistake, get close to winning the game! The Elder One’s marker got to the end of its track, causing us to lose the game (Think of it as the world ending!). We played Yasmin’s Investigators turn through, though, because we thought we would have won if she’d gotten her go, and lo, we did, it was that close.

Admittedly, the first run through of this scenario wasn’t quite so successful and we lost quite quickly, but that’s where this game comes into its own. It rewards repeat play. Playing a scenario, you’ve never played before, or at least not played for some time, often means you’re feeling things out. What are the best strategies? How best to utilise your investigators’ skills? Where do the monsters summon most and how does this effect the game? All things that will hinder you on the first play.

It isn’t a particularly long game, about an hour, maybe less, per scenario, and resetting the game takes a mere minute or two, meaning you can take the time to learn and play again, utilising what you learnt and putting it to good use (hopefully).

It’s really thematic too, especially the Discovery cards and how the story they tell unfolds. You might meet a character who, depending upon what you’ve already discovered, may help you or hinder you in your quest. You might find a coffin, but if it’s already been opened, then you might be cursed. It’s this mechanism of the game that I really love and its made we want to search out the expansions.


I’ve now completed all the base box characters of The Walking Dead: All Out War game. I say completed, I haven’t actually based them yet, as I was waiting until I had finished them, to do them all together. Maybe next week?

So, that’s Rick Grimes, whom I featured in my last Geek, his son Carl, Derek, Liam, Patrick, and Sandra. A bit like with the Mansions figures, I’ve been using quicker techniques and experimentation to get them done, and I learnt a few things as I went – more of that when I post about them.

Here they are as they rolled of the production line, so excuse the pictures…

Screen Shot

Haven’t watched anything worthy of posting about, at least I can’t remember doing so, and if I can’t remember, it then it ain’t worthy, right!

Between The Sheets

There may be a lack of content in some of the above categories but here’s one that I’ve managed to fill, with four books read since the start of the year, all of which were Christmas pressies.

None of the following books are really aimed at the general reader, you’ll see what I mean as I go through them, and so feel free to dismiss them after you’ve read the title.

‘Take Your Eye Off The Ball 2.0’ by Pat Kirwan. Get ready… It’s American Football… still reading? Good, because if you’re into the NFL then this is a great book. For me, it was a must read.


I’ve only been following American football for a little over three and a half years and my team, The Arizona Cardinals, crashed and burnt last season, but that’s another story, let’s return to this one. TYEOTB, to cut a long title short, was the perfect book for someone like me, who’s become fairly familiar with the game but lacks that insight that comes with years of watching and understanding the sport.

Apart from being an easy read, it was very informative, filling in the gaps of my football knowledge. 11, 12, 13 personnel? I now know what they’ve being harping on about all this time. 3-4, 4-3? I know what it means and how it should work. I even understand how they look at things in the combine and how the draft works. Things I hadn’t gotten my head around before.

Kirwan presents it all in an easy manner, explaining everything in a way that I found just clicked and I’ve learnt a great deal, which has enhanced my viewing of the game – I can even understand why my team were pants!

As an Englishman with a love for American Football, I can heartedly recommend this to other, likeminded souls on this side of the Atlantic. How it may come across to those who’ve been immersed in the game all their life, I have no idea, but I’m very happy that my wife got me this for Christmas!

Groundcrew Boys by Peter Heard is a Kindle Direct Published book, and it shows. There are a lot of errors, spelling and grammar, throughout the book but that doesn’t deter from it being a decent read. I felt the title a little misleading, ‘Groundcrew Boys,’ as it’s about the RAF life of the author, rather than stories of the ‘Boys’ and, as he was a Squipper (Safety equipper), I thought it was stretching it a bit calling himself groundcrew. To me, groundcrew are the lads who work the aircraft, though I know the Squippers look after the pilot and his needs, and do work at squadron level, occasionally even venturing out to an aircraft itself – if it’s not too far to walk or too cold out on the pan, that is (Ah! The banter, how I miss you!).


It’s not a book that just anyone is going to pick up and read. You either have to have an interest in the ‘Groundcrew’ comings and goings, or have served yourself, otherwise you’ll probably not appreciate it.

For me, it made me smile at times and nod along as he reminisced, but I wanted more in depth and focused stories – he does lose the thread here and there and the continuity of the book doesn’t flow. He’ll branch off onto something and then jump back, leaving you wanting to know more… it never comes!

Overall, a book for those who know they’ll get something from it. I enjoyed it but once was enough, it’s off to the boot sale for this one.

The next book is very much in the same vein but features short stories from several engineers who served in the RAF. It’s called… ‘Groundcrew Boys’ and is by David Gledhill with Simon Jakubowski. Despite the same name, this one is a much better and polished publication. It also features a few people I know and worked with, so I had a vested interest.


Again, it is a book that will be most appreciated by those who served, especially as it helps if you know what some of the force’s jargon means. It gives a much better appreciation of what goes on at the engineering level and though most stories are based in the 80s and before, much of it still applied when I served, albeit with an increased dose of Health and Safety and bureaucracy!

I really enjoyed this book. The stories, the photographs, all made me think of my own time in the RAF and the pranks we played, the friends made and lost, and the joy of a job well done – I think this book sums it all up and will be going into my ever increasing pile of books to keep.

Finally, there’s ‘The X-Files Book of The Unexplained’ by Jane Goldman. In this book, each chapter takes an episode or two from the series and delves into real world phenomena. For example, the chapter, ‘Feral Humans’ uses the ‘Jersey Devil’ as its inspiration. It explores the myth and legend surrounding the real world Jersey Devil legend that has its roots way back in the 1700s. It also highlights the stories of humans being raised by animals, stating the research behind it, and giving explanations of how it occurred.


Other chapters focus on the likes of Biological oddities, such as the belief that the Venus Fly Trap may be from another world, and the eggs of a freshwater fish parasite that were hatched after being buried for over 300-years! There are chapters covering AI, Genetic tampering, Cosmic experiences and a whole host of other strange things.

Initially, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book but the more I read the more fascinating I found it. It certainly pens the mind to things that may at first seem unbelievable. The world we live in always has been able, and indeed is still capable, of surprising us. Throwing things up that you just wouldn’t think possible. In the end, much can be explained by science, even if it is just an explanation of how a story became twisted by events over many years to end up becoming folklore and legend. All I can say is, ‘I Want To Believe!’

13 thoughts on “TSM Geek – Jan/Feb 2023

  1. An interesting read Justin, the models look great, and sorry to hear you weren’t well, but hope you are feeling a lot better now. Some interesting looking reviews to come from the games, and some very interesting books as well. Remember getting into American football in the 80’s so have a pretty good basic knowledge, but not necessarily all the terms associated with it, currently watching a series of documentaries called Friday Night Lights on the darker side of college football and is a huge eye opener !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Dave, yes, much(ish) better now.
      I like the NFL but so far I haven’t been drawn to college football.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Minis look good, so will be good to see more of them! 🙂 You’ve probably filled your time quite well but just don’t feel there’s much to report. Hope you’re feeling better now!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cheers, John.
      It never feels like I’ve achieved much until I read back what I’ve actually done!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t been feeling well, mate! I hope you’re on the mend now. I will say that the Walking Dead minis all look great to me. I’m not surprised because when you increase the quality of the sculpt (i.e. go from MoM to Walking Dead) it gives you a chance to let your skills shine through. If you start painting GW minis, then you will take another leap forward, I would imagine!

    In terms of American football, playing any of the Madden games will help you learn and appreciate the different formations since you have to call the plays! American football is complex (and not always in a good way), I know people who watch it regularly but don’t understand half of the rules or penalties. One of the best things that the NFL has is parity across the various teams. It is the antithesis of football where Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man U, Chelsea, and a number of others have a huge advantage over other teams.

    One thing you might not know is that attending a football game can be great or miserable depending on how you feel about drinking alcohol and being around other people who are drunk. I’ve gone to a few Bengals games and the people around me were so drunk, it was annoying to listen to them for three plus hours. A big reason for this is that people drink for hours leading up to the games which is unique to football in the US.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Even worse when they drink for hours before boarding a plane! 😖

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Haha, yeah the stakes are a bit higher then for sure!

        Liked by 4 people

    2. Thanks Jeff.
      I have painted some Shadespire minis before, and I like to think I did a good job, but yes, you’re right, the quality of the mini can hold you back from advancing your skills.

      I think I’m pretty knowledgeable on the general rules now. The book was really good because it focused on looking at how the team was lined up and what that represents in terms of decision making for the coaches – really interesting to me.

      I’d love to attend a game at some point, just to say I’ve done it, but other than experiencing the atmosphere I think you get a better view and understanding of the game on TV. Much like our football really.
      As for being around a bunch of drunks for a few hours, well, I was in the military for years and that’s pretty much the same!😉

      The parity between teams is one of the biggest draws for me. I now have some knowledge of how caps and the draft work, as well as trades and such like and it just makes it more appealing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A painting friend of mine used to tell me all the time that painting twenty year old LOTR minis wouldn’t push my skills and it took a while but I can definitely see that he was right. That is the only reason I mention it to you. Of course, you have to paint what you enjoy but if you can find a way to include some high quality sculpts, I’d say go for it!

        I’d agree that watching on TV is probably the superior experience. It depends on how good your seats are but in general, its hard to see what’s going on in the stadium. I would agree that understanding how the draft and financials works helps quite a bit too. There are a lot of times where a team’s financial situation has a real impact on their success and it limits what kind of moves the team can make as well.


  4. The minis look pretty awesome and I’m interested to hear what worked for you. I see a lot of texture on some of the clothes, I’m not sure if that’s stippling or maybe some spray from an airbrush. Whatever it is, seems to be working pretty nicely! 😃

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cheers mate. I’m just basing them now, which is something I’m not too hot at so we shall see how they turn out as a whole.
      The texture is mostly created by the zenithal prime, which was airbrushed, and then inked over, so you get some good transitions from light to dark.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting tid bits about the Chtulu-game for sure. Really think it’s nice if a game is challenging enough to make you try and barely let you fail.

    Your minis are really good, I think the sculpts for the faces are a bit meh, but you’ve done them really well, your faces have gotten really good! I wouldn’t make them much different I think, especially with the eyes that you don’t just to straight lines, but try to make actual pupils.
    I also love the color volumes you’ve created.
    But the clothes are by far the best, you’ve done incredible with the color volumes to create lights and shadows where you can really feel where the light source is coming from. And then there is the feeling of texture and depth, it looks really organic.
    Let’s say it looks really realistically and that is exactly what I strive in minis and if others do it as well, I’m very happy with them.
    If I had to pick my favorite, I’d say Sandra’s jeans.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words Anthony.
      I keep trying different things out to increase my knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. These have mostly been a development of using inks, though I did stumble on a few new things, for me, which I’ll share when I finally get around to posting about them.

      Liked by 1 person

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