Monday, 23 March 2020

From PeteF: It's A Wrap

A Boy with his toys

 Challenge X was super fun – a Big Thank You is due to Curt and his multiple minions.  You are all wonderful people and running this thing contributes a lot to at least one mini painter’s wellbeing, especially in what have become more, er, interesting times. I suspect I am not alone.

Aerial View of 3 months' of joy

Thanks to having a bit of extra time on my hands I was able to visit every Challenge Island location and paint more minis than ever this winter. I worked on several projects:
  • Finished the Blitzkreig Germans for Bolt Action/Chain of Command, including the first vehicles painted since my teens.
  • Kings of War – finished a Forces of Nature Army, painted most of a Nightstalkers horror movie themed army and a snow troll
  • SAGA – added to Viking shieldmaidens, painted some dark age cavalry and started the Mutatawia faction for SAGA Age of Crusades
  • Nearly finished a Ghar army for Beyond The Gates of Antares
  • Finished 28mm Napoleonic Russians – at least for now
  • A couple of stands of Pictish javelinmen for a wargaming friend
  • Progressed the Napoleonic 25mm Minifigs Hundred Days campaign armies – so I’m ¾ of the way to Quatres Bras
25mm: One scale to rule them all
  • Included LEDs in a couple of things

These shelves were packed with things to paint back in December - mostly empty now
The great thing about Challenge Island was that it encouraged me to try some new things, making me a better painter and hobbyist in the process – although I’ve obviously got a long way to go.  I wish I could say that I made a significant dent in the Shelf of Shame. Suffice it to say, I would have done so had it not been for EBay, Facebook marketplace and a lack of self discipline. I was doing very well until a local ad popped into my Facebook feed for about 200 late war WW2 Brits, Americans and Germans. Plus vehicles and paints. Then a giant box of fun showed up on EBay -Sixty bucks including shipping got me 400 little soldiers (all 28mm)– ACW, Napoleonic, AWI and Romans. Enough two or three Painting Challenges!

One regret: Didn't get around to painting the giant for Challenge X
It’s nice to see everything arrayed on the dining room table – now, sadly, it’s time to put it all away. Hope to see you all here next year.


From DaveD - the round up.

Well that’s my 9th Challenge completed . It’s been decently productive . I had a plan to work my way through the “to do” list from small to large . I did crack off all the 6mm and 10mm stuff , and the bulk of 15mm . There were a few small diversions on the odd challenge island location

I managed to hit my points target so I am happy. You might have noticed this is the first challenge that has not had anything Sudan related. I had intended to drop a final bombe , but with my plans for another run out of the full collection being virus scuppered I decided to not do them this time round .

It’s been good to see the various contributions from friends old and new . 

Until next time 
Stay Safe

From BenitoM: A Covid-19 Disrupted Group Shot

The X Challenge has brought a double disruption to me one positive and one negative. The positive is that all my initial painting plans were almost inmediately in disarray: my carefully planned core project (a German Early War army for Chain of Command) went into lock down when I was invited to test  Infamy! Infamy! by Richard Clarke, as my attention shofted to Romans vs Gauls (Ah, the buterfly wargamer... what a classic!)

The second disruption was not positive: the Covid-19 outbreak in Spain that dramatically has changed our lives. The Government decreed state of alert on March 12th, the population  confined home initially for 2 weeks (extended to 4 today, until mid-April.)  I had to abandon brushes and paints, getting busy with some domestic logistics, arrange how to take care of my 89 y/o mother plus having to transfer the operations of my company's 140 employees to remote in less than a week.

Hence my 700 points target that I very confidently thought to achieve was not reached (true, by a small margin).

The disruption also affects the group photo: the minis painted since December for the Challenge were stored in my local club's premises and obviously I don't have now access to them. I have rescued the photos and made a couple of collages to illustrate my output in this edition.

As you see this is a nice start for my Ancient armies and at least I have planted a seed to keep me active with the German Blitzkrieg project in the near future. As for the mandatory photo, here a terrible selfie (sorry, I have not developed millenials abilities) of my cornered painting desk, crowded out from my table now reconverted in remote working station.

A closer look to the tray will show the wreckage in terms of fully based and primed minis that I never had the opportunity to paint during the final lap of th challenge. 

On more cheerful note, the idea of the Challenge Island safari has been terrific. I have enjoyed a lot  searching the right path (and the right painting ideas) to reach the Snow Lord Peak, as well as following the fellow challengers adventures in this unexplored territory.

Google Map print
So farewell to all. Hope to meet some of you again the Quarantine Special Challenge or otherwise, in 9 month from now for the XI Challenge.

In the meantime, I wish you the  best of luck and health to you and your relatives. 
#Stayathome #YoMeQuedoEnCasa


From MilesR: Challenge X a Retrospective

Here's what I did done paint for Challenge X.  To be honest, I've got mixed emotions about my output as it did fall short of my "secret" goal but still was a sizable contribution at 3,475 points and just above my public target of 3,000.

 For some strange reason, Curt demands we include a picture of ourselves in these posts, and I am complying with this grand image of "Serious Miles" resplendent in my Quarantine ensemble of sweat shirt and maybe sweat pants - who knows what I'm actually wearing under the sweat shirt.
Given the level of real world interferences this photo, entitled "Flummoxed Miles" is likely a more accurate representation.  This winter has been a difficult time as I had to take off most of February to care for my son who has a chronic medical condition and then there was this little virus thingy in late Feb/March.  I am deeply grateful to my fellow minions for taking up the slack as I shirked my duties a bit.  On a much more positive note, Sean is doing much better and has found a job that he likes as a Data Scientist for a healthcare company.  As for the coronavirus, where all in the middle of that fight and while I've mastered conducting board meeting while painting via a foot controlled mute pedal.  Peter D has seen me do something similar while driving and well, it isn't pretty (board meeting not painting while driving).  I'm an investor in early stage companies and I expect at least 30% of my portfolio to go belly up over the next few months.  Others will do well but that's part of the investing game.  We will survive this economic pause but it will be painful.  I'll probably do a few posts on my blog about the crisis and stop taking up valuable real estate here.

How about some close ups of what I painted?  First up is my Arab Conquest Army from West Wind.  There is a similarly sized unpainted Early Byzantine Army (also from West Wind).  Yarmuk, anyone?
Past Challenges for me have been dominated by 28mm figures but that didn't happen this year.  I did paint up some WW1 related items German Sailors, BEF and a Mark IV tank but that was it.  28MM just accounted for 19% of this years point totals.
I do like how the tank came out.

The biggest category this year was 15mm Napoleonics where I filled out the ranks I need to run my fictional NOLA campaign - Napoleon invades the US.  The campaign has been a blast and is currently in turn 9 of 12 and the there is a second large battle to be had.  For obvious reasons the campaign has been suspended.  Actually, a few of the troops painted this year are missing as they're involved in the upcoming fight and are in the wooden boxes you can see at the end of the table in the first few photos.

Also pictured are the 6 Russian battleships that were part of my contribution for the Battle Of Tsushima project.

Another shot of the Nappies.  There are US, Austrian and Russian troops.

A last minute addition is going to be fun new project - the Russo-Japanese War in 6mm.  I'm really looking forward to getting these troops on the table.

The item I am most proud of this Challenge is the Jungle Terrain, which I think came out wonderfully.  I know that a little self congratulatory.
I cant wait to use these in a game and may stage an online game as it will be awhile before my club reconvenes.
Curt's refurbished jungle terrain.
Some arbitrary close ups
I've got some left over materials and will likely make up a few more stands. 

My total Points distribution was:

 Challenge X Points Distribution: 
 Points Percent
 15mm Napoleonics           1,02830%
 15mm Ancients              75822%
 Russo-Japanese War              52515%
 28MM WW1              49014%
 Terrain              42512%
 28mm Fantasy              1655%
 30 Yrs War                842%
   Total           3,475100%

Thanks again for a wonderful Challenge experience.

Be safe


Sound the welcoming salute! Home at last!

Well, our ship is finally making port. We had to toss a few sergeants over the side en route to appease the gods of occasional misfortune and the goddesses of incidental encounters - perhaps we shouldn’t have named the ship “The Odyssey”. But at last we can see the shores of our homeland on the horizon and a warm breeze is coaxing us in an almost straight line towards harbour.

Hmm! Those shores look familiar, but there’s something a little wrong. I know we’ve been away for a while, but something has changed. I can’t quite put my finger on it. They’re definitely familiar cliffs, and I know I’ve seen that bay before with its threatening breakers. Probably we’re a bit further west than we thought we were.

Do you think we need to sacrifice a couple of sergeants to calm the waves? It wouldn’t do to crash out at the final moments.

That’s unusual, too. There seem to be dozens of small ships assembling nearby. Craft of all kinds, mostly rather worse for wear – tattered sails, mildewed hulls, the occasional broken mast, and crew who definitely look exhausted, as if they’ve faced months of struggle, desperate to complete some Ixion-like task in an endless purgatory of unattainable desire. What are they doing here, these strange people? There’s even someone with a badger on their shoulder.

They’re drifting around bemused, as if they’ve lost something, as if all meaning has drained from their lives, as if they’ve lost control of their small vessels, drifting aimlessly.

What is going on?

Wait! I don’t think this is the homeland at all. This island, so familiar, so full of sirens, lures, hazards and (very occasionally) charms, so deeply tattooed in my consciousness that I can feel blood seeping into my eye sockets, this septic isle we’ve just spent three months circumnavigating, this graveyard of sergeants – of course I recognise it! We’ve come full circle. We’re back where we started!! Oh, demon of the wandering island, when will you release me from this endless compulsion, this shackle of desire, this perpetual fate we all so clearly deserve?


So here's a smugshot:

Challenge X has been great fun, but it’s surprised me in several ways. I had promised Curt that, unlike Challenge IX, I would not spend much time building up points and painting masses of figures, and I fully intended to do that. I set my target quite low (2000 points), hoping that would remind me to be more focused in my approach. My plan was to work on “aesthetic” pieces: command bases, artillery, vignettes, terrain – items that would enhance the battlefield - rather than paint masses of new units.

At the same time, I’d several armies where work had more or less been suspended since Challenge IX, so I wanted to pick them up again. I decided my basic approach would be to alternate between a set piece and a unit, to satisfy both urges. I had it all planned out, with about 3000 points of small units, command figures, artillery and terrain primed and ready to go. (3000 points, I thought, would give me enough leeway to butterfly between different projects over the three months and easily deliver the intended 2000).

And then along came Challenge Island, and that instantly wrecked all my plans. On reading the setup, it took me only moments to decide I’d attempt the whole island, even though at startup I couldn’t see how I’d deliver about a third of the location tasks, and very few of them mapped onto the figures I’d so carefully prepared for painting.

So I made a new plan. I’m a great one for plans. I find they’re a really useful guide to all the aspects of a project you could perhaps have got right but are actually totally failing to achieve. Which, when realised, usually means time for a new plan. I made a spreadsheet listing all the locations, their requirements and the items I had prepared which might fit that requirement. Then I plundered the collection for anything else I might have which would satisfy locations not already sorted. 

Here's the full tablesworth (lacking those figures that went to the For Joshua project):

I really loved delivering all this. It made me delve into areas of the collection I’d not touched for ages. It made me think about some things in different ways. It made me wonder why some periods and armies were very well represented in my collection (I’ve Napoleonics in several scales and for several theatres, for example) and others are completely unrepresented (I’ve nothing in Ray’s?? floppy hatted period, for example – nor, indeed, the Marlburian period which immediately followed, even though I’ve ECW and SYW armies). Why?

Anyway, I just loved that journey. Also, as a writer, I found the whole thing stimulating my imagination, too. Sander suggested there might be a book in my combined posts. Unfortunately, I don’t think that idea stands up with the actual materials, because it’s so specific to the hobby and the Challenge, but the idea of an episodic narrative took hold, and I had to think of some reasonably imaginative or potentially funny event for each posting, too. And it wasn’t enough to do this once: I so enjoyed the exercise I felt I had to do it all over again, travelling in both directions.

As there are 40 posts of my journeys, and around 25000 words of posting (of variable quality, it must be admitted), this additional task I’d set myself alongside the painting was quite demanding, too. Moreover, because I’d raided the collection several times to deliver the Challenge Island tasks, and I was using my return journey to force me to develop the “vignettes” I’d promised myself, the points value of the whole thing kept going up. It was clear to me as I approached the end of the return journey that I was going to have over 3000 points – and yet many of the pieces I’d originally planned for still glared at me from the tabletop demanding the paintbrush I’d promised them.

So I was also painting “Non-island” figures alongside my island tasks. These were mainly dribs and drabs of work – the Celts, for example, were started around Christmas, and only finished in the final week of the challenge, because I kept picking up one or two figures at a time whilst working on other projects, and painting just a stripe here or a shield there.

By the time the end of Challenge X approached, I’d clearly violated my promise to keep the mass painting down, but I had kept my promise to myself to produce a smattering of command vignettes. I’m really, really pleased by what I’ve achieved in this respect, and I can’t thank Curt (and all the minions, of course) for enabling this. Of course, we could do these things without such incentives, but would we? Would we?

The word which seemed to occur most frequently among the kind comments my work received was “mad”. It may, in fact, be a fair descriptor. Around hobbyist projects, I guess I’ve some sort of OCD (I first typed “OCR”, but my skills at optical character recognition are, in fact, quite limited).

Just to confirm that, here’s what I think I painted:

Terrain items: 30
1/700th ships: 6
6mm: 293 figures and 57 vehicles/artillery
10mm: 78 figures (for Joshua)
15mm: 179 figures
28mm: 562 figures, 16 artillery pieces, 1 boat
Command bases and set-piece vignettes (included in the numbers above): 29

(I could show you the spreadsheet. If I had one. But, of course I don't have one. Who would keep a spreadsheet of figure plans and painting, of purchases and armies and completions? The very idea!)

All in all a wonderful challenge. I’ve loved everyone’s entries, been inspired by many, and learned a few things, too. And, unfortunately, identified two or three new periods or games I’m definitely never going to be interested in. No, absolutely no chance. Never.

From Barks: The group shot

Whew! Glad the manic rush has finished but sad to see it over.

Any ‘strategy’ went out the window fairly early as I adjusted to the Island concept. I wasn’t sure what fiendish task the Snowlord would set for me, so I rushed up to the peak. I was forced to confront my self-imposed nightmare of samurai, but truly bit the bullet and went all in with as many units as I could handle.

While grinding my way through cavalry, I got the taste for the island locations and dug out odd miniatures that would satisfy the various requirements. I was really chuffed to complete the entire island! About 500 points are just from island bonuses...

At the same time, I was thoroughly trounced in the Skully McSkullface side duel- and I’d do it again!

Particular accomplishments I’m happy with include:
  • Samurai
  • Pinkstone Fortress 
  • Sauron vignette
  • Painting a few odd figures that have been hanging around for years: assassins, Indy, drunken pirate, zombie Napoleon, etc.
My regret is not getting a group photo of the Aussie bloggers at CanCon, when all we were facing down was merely the blazing first apocalypse of 2020.

Nikko, Japan

See you at QC2020!