Before I reveal what surprising thing could possibly have happened two days into the new year, I want to share a bit of hobby progress. Both things I worked on took up a fair bit of time so I haven’t been quite as productive as I expected but I can’t complain too much since I’m happy with the results.
First up, I finished a large piece of terrain which is something that I have needed to do so it felt good to get this shipping container done. I don’t know if it was the battle report or what, but something lit a fire under me and I just grinded away at this project until I got it done. The process was hardly smooth however. I bought two of these MDF shipping containers from Multiverse Gaming and I botched gluing the first one together so there was a sizable gap along the top as you can see that I tried to cover with milliput in the picture below. I then broke the handlebars that go on one of the ends trying to get them out of the MDF sheet. Once the milliput I put on started coming off while I was sanding it down, I knew it was time to trash this one and start over.
Not ideal but I wasn’t happy with the quality of my assembly and I hoped I could take what I learned and improve upon the next one. Fortunately, I glued the second one better, except for the handles which I put upside down and had to try and remove. They deteriorated in the process because they’re too thin and frail but otherwise, painting the shipping container came long nicely and I gave it the usual rust effect. I chose a bone color but I suspect that future shipping containers will have brighter colors to help them stand out on the table. I figured the bone color would blend in nicely with the other terrain I have for the first one anyway. While I do wish that Multiverse and provided instructions with this kit, I can’t fault the quality of the finished product and other than their long processing times, I’m happy with the purchase and will get a couple more down the road when I’m ready to paint some more. I’ll be happy to have a bit of a break from them in the meantime!
The other thing I finished painting was a Courser for The Institute. If you recall, when I painted the Gen 1 Synth, I said there are more advanced versions of synths. Coursers are the most advanced and are elite agents/assassins for The Institute. To make them even more scary, they can stealth and show up at your doorstep without any warning! I thought the Courser would be quick to paint but after referencing images of these enemies in Fallout 4, I saw that they do not wear black like on the box art for the miniatures but brown instead, so I painted him up accordingly and I think it paid dividends and looks more realistic which is once again a humbling result to achieve. I will say that this sculpt is a tough one because there are ridges on the shoulder plates that are not well-defined so you end up having to freehand them. Mine are not perfect by any means and I think freehanding them is likely more difficult than most painters would like. I think this is an example of how designing these miniatures using game art and 3D models and not thinking about what painters can actually paint can cause some issues but I thankfully was able to overcome this and now I have two Institute minis done.
So that is my hobby progress for the last two weeks. I did get a few nice things for Christmas that I wanted to mention. I don’t ask for a lot of miniature related stuff (as it seems just as easy to just buy it for myself when I want it) but I did get the following Fallout minis:
Both of these boxes have minis that have their own scenarios (as do most Fallout releases actually which is really cool of Modiphius) and I’m happy to have them as they’ll help build out the variety of enemies I can use in games. Eventually, I’ll have enough painted to play the Settlement Mode of the game which pretty much requires having all kinds of different enemies to throw at a side. I’m excited for that and I hope it is as fun as the scenarios have been.
So that’s Christmas out of the way, I’m not all that big into celebrating New Year’s or making plans for the new year truthfully so I don’t plan any reflections on 2020. I painted and stayed inside a lot. It was frequently boring and hard not to see family, especially the farther into 2020 we got, so that’s that. I took a look at my “plans” for 2020 (which I had truthfully completely forgotten about) and my goals were to keep painting and getting ready to play Scouring of the Shire scenarios for MESBG and to make a diorama. I completely have fallen off the first goal due to a lack of storage space and the second, I thankfully did complete. I mentioned wanting to do a samurai and Wild West diorama, neither of which happened. While I will rectify this in 2021, this topic will come up again in a minute so hold that thought!
Every year during the holiday season, I seem to get really motivated to paint and start thinking about all kinds of potential projects. I’m pretty sure the same thing happened to me last year. It didn’t help that I read a pretty interesting book on gladiators and beast hunts in Roman times which got me thinking it sure would be nice to do some historical gaming…
So I started looking at any and every wargame and even board game that might interest me and there are a lot as I’m sure you can all relate to. Gangs of Rome would require too much terrain to get going and it doesn’t seem to be as well-supported by Footsore minis lately as I would like. SPQR has middling reviews and would require a fair bit of painting on my part to get up and running so that has scared me away from it thus far. I’d love a wild west game or even a weird west game would be even better but there isn’t anything solo friendly and the terrain would once again be a big problem so that was unfortunately out. I even checked out board games, which wouldn’t require any terrain and couldn’t talk myself into anything there. I circled back to GW games like Kill Teams, Warcry, and Necromunda and the terrain issue kept popping up there. Necromunda is a game I’d love to play but it looks too complex for solo gaming and the buy-in is massive at $300 currently. I even gave Battle Companies a thought for MESBG as a way to rekindle my gaming in that arena but even that didn’t seem like a good fit for me right now for reasons I’ll explain later. So I kept looking and ended up a place I didn’t expect and I bet none of you would have either!
I started looking at Kings of War: Vanguard which is a high fantasy skirmish game from Mantic games. It presented a lot of advantages:
- Skirmish gaming is pretty much the only thing that works my painting speed so the fact that Vanguard is low model count is a plus.
- I do have some decent trees and hills for MESBG sitting around unused so that is ideal too.
- I started looking at the armies for the game and realized that most of them are spiritual successors to old Warhammer fantasy armies which is a big plus in my book.
- While Mantic’s sculpts are not as good as Games Workshop, there are some good ones and I found myself wanting to create warbands for several factions which surprised me. It reminded me a lot of how I felt when I wanted to get into Warhammer fantasy which is a great thing and this time, I wouldn’t have to paint 150 models to get a game in. A modest 10-30 per side would do the trick.
- Another advantage is that painting minis for this game would encourage me to get creative with color schemes and basing in a way that Fallout and MESBG do not. I generally try to match the design in the movies or video game in question which is great but to push your painting skills, it is a good idea to do other kinds of painting as well.
So after a lot of thought, I decided to pull the trigger and for around $80, I ordered the rulebook and my first warband! I have to be honest, it feels like a bit of a betrayal to MESBG which is a game I was loyal to for quite a long time. As crazy as it sounds now, my goal and what motivated me in the hobby was to create the best looking miniatures, terrain, and battle reports for the Hobbit campaign initially and then, I decided to focus on the Scouring of the Shire which was more achievable (or so I thought). It may sound a bit silly but it seemed like a hobby goal that almost nobody else had really done and that really motivated me to take on something so ambitious. As you all know, I unfortunately can’t achieve this goal now and indeed, I’m not so sure that it was ever realistic due to how much time and storage it requires. I burned myself out trying to achieve it, in fact, and finding Fallout was a real blessing for me which I can’t say enough. So there is part of me that is a little sad that I’m moving further and further away from MESBG. Battle Companies would have made a lot of sense considering I already have enough goblins and hobbits painted up that I could do some gaming with those alone if I wanted to. However, MESBG, for me anyway, REQUIRES terrain that fits whatever gaming I’m going to do. So for me, that means I’d ideally have terrain that looks great and lines up with either the movies or how I envision a particular part of the world looking. I just can’t settle for anything less than that and my desire to stay true to the source material becomes a bit of a shackle over time.
Over the course of this year, I feel less interested in gaming in MESBG and I have realized that even if I achieved my goals, I don’t think I ever would have gotten the hobby acclaim and respect I had hoped for. The Hobbit diorama I finished received a good reception but I’ve had other things that were less ambitious get less attention, for example. While obviously, painting to please other people is not something I generally focus on and I would encourage each of you to do the same. I still find myself seeking greatness in my life and I pour a lot of that energy into my hobby. I have no idea where I’m going beyond having a great time gaming (which Fallout has been delivering and hopefully Kings of War does the same) anymore so that is probably also where a bit of my sadness comes from with turning away from MESBG. Maybe I should try some painting competitions and see how I feel about that. I think and hope that with time I can figure out what my new long-term hobby goals are and I will certainly try to maximize my fun in the meantime.
So yeah, I’m excited about getting Kings of War soon and I have realized that I need some variety in what I paint and painting gaming miniatures motivates me so I might as always pick up a second game to give me something else to work on. I also hope that the give of you (Azazel, Bret, Stew, Gero, and Grumpygnome) who follow me and know me from MESBG will continue to do so and enjoy the content here on the site. I have a feeling you will but I still wanted to mention it because really appreciate your patronage! 2020 and now, 2021 have led to big changes for me hobby-wise and I don’t know where I’m going but I’m hoping I’ll figure it out along the way and that it will be enjoyable for everyone involved along the way.