You thought you had escaped, hadn’t you? Surely, by the 22nd, all the various New Year introspectives would be over. Oh no my friend, you vastly underestimate my ability to procrastinate. And, as in years past, pondering the last year of the hobby collides rather vigorously with one of the main events of my hobby year, the Las Vegas Open. This year at least I don’t think I’ll need to bring paints and brushes to the event to make the minimum painting standard the night before the event.
But I am still going to take some time to reflect, ponder, and look ahead to the year to come, once again stealing from a format I found a long while back. In essence, it’s a series of retrospective questions to ask yourself.
What’s the coolest wargaming model, book, tool, etc. you discovered in 2017?
Last year, I gave credit to my airbrush, both for being the only way I was ever going to be able to paint like 1750+ points of Space Wolves in a matter of weeks, as well as the only way to keep my sanity while painting Imperial Fists. Because yellow is the devil’s paint shade. I can’t cheat and say “the airbrush again”. And while Games Workshop has come out with a bunch of cool things in their utterly relentless release schedule, I don’t think any of it’s been really life-changing.
But I’m still going to cheat and make this a two-way tie between Horus Heresy: Inferno and… YouTube.
Horus Heresy: Inferno. This was the book I was waiting for for the Horus Heresy. Yes, yes, the Imperial Fists are lovely, and awesome, and a blast to play on the tabletop. But my heart belongs to the Rout, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing Leman Russ and the Space Wolves get proper rules since forever. Combine that with the Sisters of Silence, and this was a book of just concentrated joy for me. This was also the last book that Alan Bligh worked on before he passed, which adds a bitter note to the whole thing.
There are certainly some rules problems in Inferno – the Custodes are bonkers-good, and the Thousand Sons list can combine itself in some ways that are really quite strong and not necessarily a lot of fun. But for me, they utterly nailed the feeling of the Space Wolves, and I think from the perspective of a narrative-driven, “exercise some self-restraint” game setting, it’s an amazing book.
YouTube. YouTube can be…something of a cesspool. Some of the most concentrated vileness in our hobby lurks there. But it’s also an immensely helpful resource for learning new techniques and pushing yourself. When I wanted to know how to paint nebula effects? Or how to weather a tank? Or how someone else put this kit together because I couldn’t make heads or tails of it? YouTube. It’s also an amazing place to find things in adjacent hobbies – model railroading, or military model painting. In some ways, they’re way ahead of miniatures painting in some of the techniques and products they use, and occasionally there’s this magical moment where you figure out that some guy painting a Mk. II Spitfire has exactly the product you were looking for to add oil-streaks, or weathering, etc.
For those looking for sites to start with, I really like Ork Painter Nerd, Lukes Aps for terrain and Templar’s Crusade (even though he’s stopped putting out videos, he’s still my go-to). Honorable mention goes to Next Level Painting – I’m not the biggest fan of Kenny’s…shall we call it “on-screen personality”, but once you get past that, he’s genuinely good at showing techniques that will push your skills forward.
What new hobby technique did you learn in 2017?
Last year was the basic airbrushing – zenithal highlights, base coats, etc. This year, thanks to YouTube, the CK Studios classes (a review of those is forthcoming), etc. I’ve been pushing it a little bit more, and being comfortable with slightly bolder uses of the airbrush. Shading, spraying with inks, fades and whatnot. That’s culminated in a model I’m actually rather proud of, which heavily relied on airbrushing for some of the effects, and wasn’t really something I could have imagined myself doing less than a year ago.
Which hobby-related blog, podcast or website did you read/listen to the most in 2017?
I’ve been branching out a bit here. The Independent Characters remains my hobby go-to, but I’ve broadened my listening base, and I’m happy to say that I think the quality of Warhammer podcasting is getting steadily better. I’m currently really enjoying The Best General for the somewhat This American Life-like portrayal of the competitive scene, and Sons of Heresy, who have managed to capture everything I love about the idea of the Horus Heresy and narrative gaming, and who make me super-jealous with the amount of events in their area.
What would you have done differently in 2017?
Seriously. What’s delayed my hobby somewhat (and writing this blog, admittedly) have been life things that have, by-and-large, been good things. The money to buy the plastic toy soldiers has to come from somewhere after all. But seriously, this year has been a really fun one for me in the hobby – I dabbled in a lot of things, I pushed my skills a bit further, and I built up some confidence in my techniques. Plus, I’ve definitely hit the point in my Eldar collection where I can start working on “I do what I want!” style projects rather than worrying about whether or not it’s a good build, whether or not I can field a fully painted army, etc.
What are the top things you want to do in 2018?
I allude to this above, but this year I really want to work on passion projects. That includes getting a field-able army put together for the Horus Heresy, where I’m still wrestling with how exactly to do my Imperial Fists (more on that in future posts), but I’ve got enough Custodes and Sisters to get a really lovely “Defense of the Inner Palace” thing going. And the test squad I did was an absolute joy to paint, and really relaxing – I love painting metallics, and the Vallejo Air Metallics range is really lovely.
But the key really is that this year, I do what I want. It is the “Treat Yo Self” year.
Going to be working on some terrain, some things for narrative campaigns and events, some larger Forge World models, including the Knights and Warhound Titan I didn’t get a chance to touch on last year. Of course, as time allows, but I’m in something of a hobby groove right now and I’m hoping I can stay in it. Plus, hopefully, writing here more.
What is the top wargaming model, book, tool, etc. you wish someone would release in 2018?
Obligatory: Plastic Sisters of Battle. The moment they come out, I will legitimately outright buy a full army. I don’t care that I have some metal ones – the whole thing. Some absurd one-click bundle? I’m there.
Past that, I’d really like to see Naeve Blacktalon as a single model. She’s an amazing sculpt and a great base for all manner of conversions (I’m currently working on Oblivion Knight Centura conversion with her) that’s trapped in a boxed set. And while thankfully I knew someone who wanted the Nurgle stuff to at least make the sting of buying a whole box for a single miniature hurt less, I’d still like her to be more widely available.
Simple needs this year, because honestly, I’ve already got enough bare plastic to keep me happy for 12 more months.
How about you? What are you looking forward to in 2018?
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