Well here we are, 2022 is over and 2023 has arrived. Hopefully all of you had a wonderful time over Christmas and New Year, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! It’s at this time that I usually take a look back at the various developments that have occurred in this crazy hobby of ours, contrast them with my own efforts on various projects and generally take the opportunity to hold forth about whatever takes my fancy, to the (possible) delight of my readers. This year however that’s not going to be happening – try to contain your disappointment! Instead I’m going to be taking a final look back at the progress I’ve made on a project I’ve been focused on throughout the past year – namely trying to clear out my backlog.
First though, let’s talk a bit about how we got here. Like the vast majority of people who enjoy this hobby, I’ve built up quite a collection of unpainted models. The leadpile. The grey tide. The shelf of shame. The mountain of madness. Essentially it’s all stuff I was really excited about, but then never got around to actually getting painted before something distracted me. Attempting to get this amorphous mass under control isn’t a new thing, indeed it’s been a battle that has dominated my hobby time for many years, but in early 2022 I found myself giving it a lot of thought and changing my approach and attitude. Back in June, when I wrote about this I said the following, which I think still neatly sums things up.
Over the years my approach to the hobby has very much been a case of “this is for fun, paint whatever appeals in the moment, follow the hobby butterfly wherever it leads”. This has given me a lot of pleasure and has seen me paint a lot of models but whenever I look back at everything I’ve done I’m struck by the things I’ve still never finished and the models which I’ve been going to tackle “soon” for a very long time… In the past I’ve tended to view the backlog as a single entity which could be wrestled into completion through a combination of time and Herculean effort. All my projects would be completed as a side effect of this (that is to say, if all the models I want to paint are contained within the pile then by painting everything in the pile I automatically complete all of my projects).
Like I say, this approach gave me a lot of pleasure, and I ended up with lots of models I was really happy with, but at the same time I found that no matter how many models I painted there were still lots and lots of projects that weren’t even touched.
Before I go any further I should define some terms, albeit loosely. A model is a miniature – be that a Blood Bowl playing snotling, a Karstark spearman, an Ork buggy or a greater daemon of chaos. A “project” in my mind is rather more loosely defined. Usually it’s a collection of models; a Blood Bowl team, a Warcry warband, a Necromunda gang. Sometimes it might just be a single model – Magnus the Red is a project in and of himself. “Completed” is probably the loosest term of all, but generally what I mean here is painted to a stage where I’m calling it done, at least for now. For example I would call my Orc Kruelboys for Warcry completed, because we’ve got enough to play some games with them – even though there’s some more that I still want to paint just waiting for attention. Here’s a picture of some of them which I painted in September here to break up what is otherwise turning into a real wall of text.
I’m pleased to say that my efforts to clear out the backlog have paid dividends as well. Between January and November I completed 348 miniatures, putting me well on track for painting a model a day (something I once regarded as an unachievable dream). In the last month I painted nothing at all, but I also moved house and became a father. Right now I’m much, much more interested in spending time with the tiny, wonderful, sleep-depriving, fascinating human being that my wife and I have created than I am in painting Orks (and you know that’s high praise coming from me!).
Of course I’m not going to stop painting miniatures. Fatherhood is awesome but it doesn’t mean I need to give up being me, just that I need to reappraise some things and think about how I’m using my time. Knowing this I found myself looking at my backlog and realizing that there are a lot of unfinished projects – and if I want to finish them I’m going to need to make some changes. I’ve tried to structure my approach and focus my efforts, looking for “easy wins” and projects that were already close to being completed. I’ve taught myself to be less perfectionist in my painting – I’ve never sought Golden Daemon wins or that kind of thing anyway – but sometimes “good enough” really is good enough, I don’t need to push myself with every model. Similarly a colour scheme may be a bit of a cliche, and similar to what everyone else is doing, but if it looks cool and its easy to replicate why not just go with it – it looks a hell of a lot better than grey plastic. Conversions are cool but am I cutting this model up just because that’s my “thing” – maybe it was fine to begin with. Some people have suggested that I’ve moved from “Convert or Die” to “Stop converting everything or you’ll won’t get half of this done before you die” and they may have a point…
The other thing I’ve been doing is writing these round up posts, one at the end of each quarter, in which I take a look back at everything I’ve managed to complete for a number of broad goals. This time I’ve not managed loads but I think between the new baby, moving house and giving over October entirely to trying (and failing) to thrash fellow blogger IRO at an Ork painting contest, I can be excused for letting a few things slip. However as well as looking at everything I’ve finished over the last three months I’ll also be talking about the progress I made over the entire year – meaning this post is going to be even more long and waffly than it is already. Are you still awake and reading? Excellent – then let us begin!
A bit of a mixed bag here – in some ways I’ve succeed far above and beyond my expectations, in other ways I’ve rather missed the mark. Let me explain; one of my key aims for the year was to paint up some more of the “core” Warcry warbands – the ones designed specifically for the game rather than ported across from the wider Age of Sigmar range. We really enjoy Warcry and round our house we play it more than any other game but the Iron Golems and Untamed Beasts have seen a lot of action and we’d like to bring out some alternatives. On this front I’ve failed entirely, despite having made a start on both the Spire Tyrants and the Khainite Shadowstalkers (not to mention assembling the Darkoath Savagers) I’ve not managed to get anything completed. On the other hand I also wanted to have a range of warbands from across the range and this I’ve managed in style; I can now offer a total of 17 different factions – from the Kruelboyz to the Nighthaunt to the Thunderstike Brethren of the Stormcast Eternals – in addition to the aforementioned Iron Golems and Untamed Beasts. Alas after powering through lots of models in the first few months of year I managed nothing at all in the final quarter. Hopefully 2023 will see me back on the right track.
Terrain sets the scene and breathes life into the world(s) inhabited by our little painted dudes, so in my opinion a decent collection of terrain is a vital component of any wargamer’s home. Once again though I didn’t add anything here since the last update. Partly this was intentional, terrain tends to be big and awkwardly shaped (a bit like me) and much easier to move if it’s unassembled, and with a house moving looming I was happy to just leave everything in its boxes and return to it in the new year.
Earlier in the year I did much better however, first finishing off everything from the first Warcry boxset and having a little ruined town for my savage scumbos to fight over…
… and painting up a collection of walls and fences which will be particularly handy for “rank and flank” games like Warhammer or ASOIAF.
I’d really like to expand my collection of terrain for Necromunda/Warhammer 40k and I do have plenty of kits to be working with so I’ll try to make that my focus next.
Warhammer 40k and Kill Team
Not an easy one to quantify here, I’ve got a lot of projects I’d like to tackle and really I should break this down a bit further and look at specific armies (the Chaos Marines, Death Guard, Imperial Guard, Adeptus Mechanicus and so on). Honestly though I think that would lead to a lot of things being listed as “no progress” from one quarter to the next – I can only spread myself so thin after all. Still, at least this time I have something to show here, with the Orktober painting challenge leading me to add all these gits to my Ork army.
I may have been thrashed in our painting contest by that notorious freebooter IRO but I still got a lot of things done that I’d been wanting to tackle so I’m damn pleased with the result. And remember, Orks never loose – next year I’m going to come back for anuvva go!
One of the key things I painted in Orktober was Boss Snikrot, one of my all time favorite miniatures, and yet one which has been sitting unfinished on my painting desk since whenever he was released (2009 maybe?).
With the greatest Kommando of all time so fresh in my memory it was interesting to spot this silhouette appearing in Games Workshop’s recent preview of 40k models scheduled for release in 2023.
It’s hard to imagine that this could be anyone other than Snikrot, so it seems that I painted mine just in time to see him replaced by a new version of the character. That said it’s hard to imagine that the new version could be any better than the old. More interesting is the possibility that this is hinting at a return to the planet Armageddon – where Snikrot stalks the jungles – and hordes of Orks do battle with regiments of Imperial Guard (who’ll be seeing a wave of releases early in 2023) and murderous warbands of World Eaters (who’ll also be seeing a wave of releases early in 2023). Could this mean we’ll be seeing more Orks (yes please!) before the year is out, perhaps alongside more World Eaters (something that there is currently a desperate need for) and perhaps even models for the Armageddon Steel Legion (possibly my favourite Imperial Guard regiment) – or am I just getting over excited about a silhouette and putting 2 and 2 together to make 22? I guess we’ll find out in the coming months…
That aside the biggest thing I managed to tackle this year was this bunch of Necrons that I worked on back in the spring and summer. They seem to have returned to their tombs for now but I’ve got plans to wake them up again soon.
Not a lot to show this time, but despite the last few months being busy it’s not nothing either – I managed to get a team of Skaven started and even recruited enough players for a game of Blood Bowl 7s.
Orctober also saw me add Varag Ghoul Chewer to the ranks as my first star player in my collection.
Technically I started the year with zero teams completed. My Orcs and Black Orcs were both pretty much done but at the time I still hadn’t painted that damn troll and I refused to call either team finished until I’d actually got paint on the blasted thing. As a result when I set myself the challenge of attacking the backlog the troll was one of the first targets.
Since then I’ve actually managed quite a few violent sportsmen and I now have 6 full teams match ready (the Orcs, Black Orcs, Goblins, Shambling Undead, Necromantic Horrors and Underworld Denizens) plus my small team of Skaven; the Lowdown Dirty Rats. Next year I’d like to return to my neglected Snotlings, get the Skaven up to full team status and add at least two more elves to the Elven Union team so they too can play at 7s. As usual I’ve got a few more ideas up my sleeve as well – we’ll see how things go.
Another year comes to an end and once again I’ve not done as much with Necromunda as I set out to. Partly it’s choice overload, I’ve got so many projects I want to tackle that, despite my enthusiasm, I just can’t get around them all. In the case of Necromunda however a big part of the problem has been something I’ve come to think of as “the Orlock knot”. All too often I find my painting process when it comes to Necromunda goes a bit like this:
1. I want to paint something for Necromunda! I am full of excitement! What shall it be today!
2. So many options! I am dizzy!
3. Well… I have been saying I’d work on my Orlocks since God was a boy, best start there I guess.
4. I don’t really feel like Orlocks today though.
5. I paint something else and Necromunda is left to slumber beneath filthy, toxic skies for a while longer.
That being the case I’m really pleased to started on the Orlocks at long last.
In a perfect world I’d have done more with them but I’m not going to beat myself up over that, my enthusiasm for the House of Iron is back to where it should be and plenty more Orlock gangers will be making their way to the underhive as soon as I find the time. Those aside I managed a few hive scum earlier in the year and again I’m planning to expand their ranks in the new year. The chaos cultists I painted recently will also be inducted in my old Chaos Helots gang (or perhaps found a new one), after which I’ll be looking around for what else the underhive has to offer.
Aeronautica Imperialis/Adeptus Titanicus
I love the idea of the Titans in the 40k universe and as a result have been very drawn to the idea of assembling my own collection of clashing God Machines. For a while the price of these kits really put me off but over the years a few really appealing deals have come my way and I now have a fair old stash of them. Have I painted any of them though? No, no I have not! Nor, for that matter, have I done anything about the Aeronautica Imperialis box I picked up in a sale a year or so ago. Ah well, maybe 2023 will be a better year for them.
Unlike Cursed City (see below) I’ve actually done pretty well here. With the great big mob of Chaos Cultists I finished recently I have the Escalation expansion fully painted, alongside Traitor Command, Deadly Alliance and almost everything from the core box (minus a couple of characters). That just leaves me with the Dreaded Ambull and Ascension expansions still to tackle so all being well it’s entirely possible I’ll get this one in the bag soon.
Poor old Cursed City. Launched with such fanfare and lauded for the quality of its models it swiftly disappeared once more amid a flurry of contradictory social media posts in lieu of open, honest announcements. “It was going to be available for years”, “no it wasn’t”, “it was always supposed to be limited edition”, “we never said that, that never happened”. I guess the news media think they can get away with saying “You know that thing we said last week? Well it’s not true, we never said it and if you think you heard us say it you’re a conspiracy theorist!” and GW thought “I wonder if that would work for us”. Nah, sorry Gdubz, it doesn’t work for anyone…
In what may well be the ultimate case of nominative determinism Cursed City went from being one of the most highly anticipated games in GW’s stable to a byword for making a total arse of things. The expansions, long promised and finally delivered, were a very long way from what GW had hinted at and really only served to make people more pissed off; the kind of bonus content usually reserved for an issue of White Dwarf instead sold as extremely overpriced limited-edition content for the hardcore completionist only.
Now I tend not to care too much what GW, or any other company, are doing with the “official rules” or how well a game is being supported by its publisher. Still it’s hard to shake off the feeling that GW made a right royal balls of things here (and I’m sure there are designers up at GW HQ still quietly fuming that everything they had planned has been scrapped). It may be projection but it’s hard not to get a sense of bitterness even from the official announcements – no normal person wants to be responsible for peddling bullshit on behalf of an uncaring employer after all. They screwed up, then they lied to us, they tried to cover it up and then to rip us off, their (presumably awesome but sadly now unknowable) future content will never see the light of day and they just wish the whole nasty business would go away and us customers would just focus on the new exciting thing instead.
Against such a backdrop it’s sometimes hard to feel the enthusiasm I once did and this is reflected in the fact that I’ve still not got very much done, and nothing at all in the final quarter of the year. It’s not been a dead loss though, 2022 did see me making a start on the core of the rank-and-file baddies and getting two heroes ready for adventure.
We’ll see how things go but I’d like to rediscover my drive, complete the second half of the skeleton squad, paint a couple more heroes and then – buoyed up with newfound enthusiasm – power my way through the rest of the box in 2023.
A Song Of Ice And Fire
2022 was also the year I got into the A Song of Ice and Fire miniature’s game (that’s Game of Thrones for those of you who’re more familiar with the TV show). I actually discovered it in 2021, having been a big fan of the novels for many a long year, but didn’t get around to starting some painting until March. Being a UK based fan of the game can be a bit frustrating at times, with releases sometimes not appearing for sale here until years after they’ve reached other countries (I’m still waiting for the Lannister Red Cloaks to reach these shores for instance). The forces of House Martell have been available for a few months now, but not round here they haven’t, and so my temptation to throw my support behind the lords of Sunspear is stuck on the backburner for now. Still, given their slanderous treatment in the TV show supporters of the Dornishmen have become used to rough treatment, and if you’re not accustomed to waiting years and years for the slightest hint of a release then George Martin may not be the author for you – so perhaps those of us who are enduring the long wait for the Martells to reach the British Isles are the ones who are truly embracing the spirit of the game!
Anyway, at the moment I’ve got two projects on the go here; an army from House Stark and another from House Lannister. Of the two the Lannisters are definitely lagging behind and saw no progress at all in the final quarter of the year. Still, I’m excited about them and I like the colour scheme so I’ll try to return to them soon.
The Starks did a bit better and, with the addition of a squad of Karstark spearmen, now stand at more than 30 points (the minimum size for a game).
Of course I’m already thinking ahead to potential future projects as I explore the other factions in the game. Barbarian hordes and big monsters have always appealed to me so the draw of the Free Folk is very real, and the reaving Greyjoys have also been calling to me, as have the aforementioned Dornishmen of House Martell. In fact looking at the Martells has me wondering what other factions might be waiting to join the game in the future, and honestly despite the depth and complexity of the world described by George RR Martin the list isn’t long. House Arryn seems an obvious choice and I can’t help but wonder about the Brotherhood Without Banners or the alliance from Slaver’s Bay. However, and here I’ll need to speak carefully to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t read the books, the most obvious contender of all has to be the Golden Company lead by *cough* “Young Gryff”. Yet the Golden Company were released back in the summer as part of the Neutral faction. In some ways that befits their status as a mercenary company but hardly does justice to their role in the story so far, or their likely next moves based on the chapters from Winds of Winter that have been previewed. Watch this space I guess but if CMON don’t remove the Golden Company from the Neutral faction and turn them into a faction in their own right at some point in the future they’re missing a trick.
I’ve got no real plan or structure here, I’m just enjoying chipping away at the models (which at the end of the day is what this is all about right?). As a result I didn’t manage anything else over the last few months so here’s a look at everything I’ve managed to paint in 2022.
Goals and Summing Up
In previous round-ups I’ve talked a bit about the goals I was hoping the achieve in the months ahead. This time I’m not going to do that, and I probably won’t bother with a March 2023 round up either – my hands are just too full at the moment and setting myself targets is setting myself up for failure from the get-go. Obviously being a dad is eating up a lot of my time and energy at the moment but I’ll still be painting and I’ll still be sticking to my aims as set out above. This approach has worked really well for me in achieving a lot of these long held goals but I’ve still got plenty of ground to cover. I’m also looking at ways in which I can speed up my painting, and manage my hobby time differently, whilst still making sure I have fun with it. Of course much as I’d like to pretend that I’m just going to focus on the models I already own I’m sure I won’t be entirely depriving myself of new stuff – there are World Eaters coming soon, and more Warcry warbands and Necromunda gangers, so even in this cost of living crisis I’ll try to allow myself the odd treat. Right now though I’ve got a baby to bath, boxes to unpack and other survivors of 2022 to fight for food and fuel. Have a wonderful 2023 all!