I’ve been slacking this year on the old blogging front, there’s no denying it. Interestingly it’s not been down to hobby fatigue or any of the usual ailments, just simply put a lack of enthusiasm for sitting down in front of a screen on an ongoing basis. My day job involves a lot of time in front of a computer so it wouldn’t be untrue to say that’s had a bearing recently also. Painting and hobby wise however has been continuing at a pace, largely as a result of another much needed workshop clean out and re-organisation which always invigorates the painting gene. Salute also plays a big part and although this was only my second visit to the event I always find it inspiring. I also find it a drain on the poor budget and as a general rule I end up trying to start several different *new* project on the back of it. I was a lot more disciplined this year starting only five or maybe six new projects and selling just the one kidney to pay off the loot. Yes, much more disciplined.
Salute had a very different vibe it seemed to me this year and I certainly wasn’t the only visitor to comment on that. More trade stands and what seemed to me at least a much lower number of participation and club tables. Many of the demos being run were either by some of the larger vendors like Wayland, or by the manufacturers themselves such as Warlord, Spartan or Battlefront. Not a bad thing, but it did give the show a very different feel to last year which had a much higher proportion of club games in evidence. Just my observation.
To be fair after dashing around the stands I wanted to hit first for certain show-only miniatures or deals I did spend a pretty large chunk of time at one booth in particular, that being the Harder & Steenbeck one where a certain Angel Giraldez was demonstrating a number of his combined airbrush and brush techniques on a couple of Infinity TAGs and an Orc Bust. I make no apologies for the fact I’m a bit fan of Angel’s style of painting which really suits the high colour impact of Infinity’s ‘Anime’ theme. It’s amazing how much you can learn just from watching someone work above and beyond what you can read in a book. Time well spent in my opinion and big thanks to Angel for his time and patience.
Like last year I was particularly interested in hunting out miniatures from manufacturers less familiar to me, or just because I really liked the aesthetic. There was one exception though which did end up being a bit of an impulse purchase (I know! Who would have thought), that being AvP from Prodos. I know Aliens versus Predator is something of an emotive subject for a large number of people, namely those who backed it through Kickstarter and as a backer of other games myself I can only sympathise and hope it gets resolved soon for those of you effected. I hadn’t intended to get it but during the Beasts of War Back Stage meet up the night before so many people recommended AvP as being a pretty solid game with some excellent miniatures I thought I’d give it a punt. I can’t speak for the game not having played it yet but oh boy! I can certainly testify to the quality of the miniatures and in particular the casting. In many ways the material reminds me of the resin Hawk uses which I’ve always found easy to work with, resilient and captures a fine level of detail.Your mileage may vary depending on how you feel about resin but for me this was a plus and the Aliens in particular stunningly reproduced.
Another company that stood out this year I thought was Sarissa Precision. I’m a big fan of what the guys at 4Ground do in the laser cut space and especially their 10mm scale city buildings which I use for Dropzone Commander and to a lesser degree Epic. Sarissa are catching up fast though and have also really raised their game in terms of some of the designs they have. I absolutely loved their retro inspired Diners and Habs and the 15mm (and above) World War European selection was also impressive. I can see Sarissa capturing some of my future hobby spend with little trouble, especially on those diners.
It was great to see Brian Best of Anarchy Designs at the show again also. His HD Airbrush stencils were one of the earlier Kickstarters I backed and seeing how he is growing and evolving that business is fantastic to witness. I picked up one of his newer ‘nature’ stencils for leopard pattern which I can see me using for all kinds of alien mottled markings. If you’ve never visited his site before I highly recommend checking it out here as he puts those stencils to some very creative uses.
The other game that made an impact on me this year was Frostgrave and I’m pretty confident I’m not alone in that regard. I’d sort of heard of Frostgrave on the periphery and new it was a Fantasy based skirmish game, but hadn’t appreciated just what a spiritual successor to Mordheim it was. Obviously it’s not Mordheim nor similar in the rules, but it has that wonderful warband feel to it and plays on a lot of the same tropes around treasure, gaining XP and spending your coin on your Henchmen or upgrading your hero. In this instance a Wizard and Apprentice. It also has a fantastically low buy-in cost as you can literally use whatever models you have to hand or from your favourite range, the same goes for terrain (of which it does need a lot, unlike space which it doesn’t!). Pretty much buy the book and recycle what you already have in your collection. If you are a pre-existing hobbyist chances are you already have most of what you need to create your warband and rock up for a campaign, a fact that is probably also helping to drive it’s popularity. Suffice to say a dig through the bits box has already unearthed a nice collection of monsters, minions and Wizards, all augmented at the show by Hasslefree and Heresy. What can possibly go wrong?
I should point out that despite all of the above I still completely failed to get a copy of the book which sold out very quickly on the day. That was fixed on the way back by Wordery however, so it’s all good and yes it’s a great book with a lovely thread of dark humour running throughout. If you liked Mordheim of old I have a feeling Frostgrave might be worth a look. Recommended.
On the table:Parking Salute for now to talk about painting progress it’s probably not unfair to say I’ve been flitting from project to project in a not entirely productive fashion. I’ve been finishing off a lot of part done jobs, such as finishing off the Star Wars Armada Imperial bombers and Interceptors and the Halo Fleet UNSC and Covenant. There’s also been the Dungeon Saga Heroes and Minions (will they ever end!) and a few Imperial Assault figures just to round off the eclectic mix. I also have a 28mm Neo-Sov tank from Khurasan which is getting primed this weekend coming so I can work on it end of the month now I’ve cleared much of the backlog. Once that lot’s out of the way I’m going to kick back with a bit of fantasy for a while with Frostgrave.
See? I said I hadn’t lost my painting mojo just the time or energy to blog about it.
Before I sign off to go assemble some more troops I did want to share my thoughts on a resurgent Games Workshop. So far this year they have managed to capture a decent portion of my hobby funds which considering how disenfranchised I have been with their products and as a company the past several years is to me at least a sign things are changing under the tenure of Kevin Rountree. The company feels like it has a renewed creative velocity about it and is not the overtly defensive business it was several years ago when it seemed to be going out of its way to alienate the community and its customers. The decision to resurrect some of it’s great games of the past such as Blood Bowl and Epic in new forms is winning hearts and minds if you only go by the buzz on social media alone, an area let’s be honest Games Workshop has never really understood or been able to engage with in a positive way. These are not just re-releases of old rule books, but genuinely new products benefitting from creative and capital investment. If you add to that the host of stand alone sets/boardgames they have been pumping out such as Betreal at Calth, Deathwatch Overkill and this week Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower they feel like a company re-discovering it’s roots as a ‘games’ producer and not just a business that sells miniatures.
There are other positive signs such as the recent willingness to reconnect with the community on Social Media. It indicates a business that acknowledges it made a few missteps around customer engagement in the past but wants to put the past behind it and move forward. Warhammer: Age of Sigmar is another good example and I fully appreciate your mileage may vary depending on your history with Warhammer Fantasy Battle previously. For me it has never appealed because it was a mass ranked miniatures system so I have never invested into it; it just wasn’t my thing. From my perspective AoS did what several editions of WHFB failed to do; it got me collecting and playing Warhammer Fantasy and I’m clearly not alone in that. I suspect nobody would deny Warhammer Fantasy Battle in it’s previous guise was on a near terminal decline due to a woeful underinvestment in the IP by Games Workshop as they focuses almost exclusively on 40K. I’m not convinced another release of Fantasy Battle in its previous form with another round of ‘army books’ would have been enough to bring it back from the brink, so from my perspective the risks they took radically reinventing Warhammer was a good thing. It may have lost a number of fans as a result, but it did also gain a few new ones. I have no idea from a revenue perspective whether Age of Sigmar has been a commercial success, but suspect it’s probably no worse than Warhammer Fantasy was previously it had stalled so badly. Nor do I really care that much as there are plenty of Fantasy alternatives out there as others look to fill the void left behind (dare I mention Kings of War?) and I don’t expect every strategy they try to be a silver bullet. Taking a holistic view however the big guy is back and despite a few missteps Games Workshop has an air of renewed creative confidence about it; the King is dead, long live the King.
One last positive, it looks like the re-investment into Middle Earth Strategy Battle is moving at apace now also with some interesting reveals at Warhammer Fest this weekend including a rather excellent Dain on foot and mounted, Iron Hill Dwarves and lake town houses from Forgeworld that completely caught me by surprise. A new book to pull it altogether also appears to be in development and all of that really puts a smile on my face.
… That and of course the official confirmation of Adeptus Titanicus: Horus Heresy. Hell yes! Even if it is getting scale tweak to 8mm as I thought it might judging by the prototype Warlord. With Titans that nice I can live with it.
It’s been a rather interesting month. Until next time.