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Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Life Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk Terrain Warhammer 40k

My 2020 in miniature painting

In 2020, I became a miniature-painter. Prior to February, I was a guy who sometimes painted miniatures and generally didn’t especially enjoy it. But this year I painted more minis than I had in my 30+ years of sporadic painting prior to 2020 — almost twice as many, in fact. So I’m still a beginner, in many (many!) ways, but not quite as a green as I was before.

All of the miniatures I painted in 2020

Before I get into stats and silly stuff I kept track of, though, I want to pause to write about the pandemic.

Yore isn’t a news or current events blog (there are many better places to go for that sort of info and content), so I haven’t really blogged about the Covid-19 pandemic. This is one of my refuges, and I hope that perhaps it’s been one of yours.

The toll this virus has taken is staggering: over 340,000 dead in the US alone. More than 418,000 Americans died in World War II; that we’re likely to match that total before herd immunity is reached, and with so many of these deaths being preventable, is heartbreaking.

If you’ve lost someone this year, my heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine what that must be like, in the midst of all of this. If you’ve lost your job, your peace of mind, or any measure of stability, I am so sorry for that loss. Whoever you are, reading this right now, I hope things improve for you and yours.

Miniatures by the numbers

In 2020 I finished painting the following models (I’m not counting assembled, primed, or partially painted minis — just varnished and ready for play):

  • Blood Angels (56):
    • 35 classic Space Marines
    • 10 Terminators
    • 5 Primaris Space Marines
    • 1 Land Raider
    • 1 Rhino
    • 2 Dreadnoughts
    • 2 Teleport Homers
  • Deathskulls Orks, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas (22):
    • 10 Ork Boyz
    • 1 Nob
    • 10 Gretchin
    • 1 Killa Kan
  • Space Hulk (15):
    • 12 Terminators
    • 3 objectives
  • Terrain (4):
    • 1 medium/large Manufactorum piece
    • 3 small Manufactorum pieces
  • Grand total: 97 miniatures

A full quarter of my output was in December, when I set a personal record: 26 miniatures in one month. I know that’s small potatoes for dedicated hobbyists, but it’s a lot for me!

My overall favorite miniature that I painted in 2020 is also my last one of the year: Mukkit, my first Killa Kan. It’s not just recency bias, either; I poured everything I’ve learned about painting into this guy.

Mukkit the Killa Kan

I got out the first miniature I finished in 2020, Brother Scipio from Space Hulk (2/27), and threw them in the lightbox together for a first/last comparison shot:

My first (L) and last minis (R) of 2020

My MVP brush for the year, the Citadel S Layer — which I bought before learning that animal-hair brushes were a thing — finally died at the end of December. I replaced it with a Princeton Velvetouch size 0 Round, an excellent synthetic brush with similar characteristics. This size has become my workhorse, handling everything from edge highlights to base-coating details to eyes.

I spent about 10 months painting 2,200+ points of Blood Angels (November 2020)

I learned a lot about painting this year. I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to continue improving upon. Painting was a real source of joy for me in 2020. Capturing that joy and that learning process here, and hopefully in ways that might be useful to other painters, has been a lot of fun as well.

I like tracking stuff

A few other stats I’ve kept track of:

  • Hobby streak: From the day I started painting again to the end of the year, I maintained an unbroken hobby streak of 314 days. Doing at least a little bit of assembly/priming/painting every day played a huge role in keeping me motivated and moving, and in getting this many minis done.
  • Hand-washing: Since mid-March, I’ve recited my Covid-19 hand-washing mantra — the opening narration for Star Trek: The Next Generation — approximately 950 times. (I don’t, like, log this or anything; I’m backing into my total based on an average of 3x a day since March 12, when we went into isolation.)
  • Audiobooks: Having gotten into audiobooks at the same time as 40k, and explicitly as an accompaniment to painting, I listened to 15 excellent 40k books this year (almost all of them by my favorite author/narrator pairing, Dan Abnett and Toby Longworth). Favorite titles include Ravenor (Ravenor v.1), Necropolis (Gaunt’s Ghosts v.3), and Brothers of the Snake.
  • Movies: I watched 183 movies, 44 of which were 2020 releases. Birds of Prey was my favorite 2020 film, and the last thing I saw in the theater; I hit four viewings by year’s end. (I log and comment on every movie I’ve seen on Letterboxd.)
  • Music: I listened to 52 hours of music, all on Spotify; genre-wise, hip-hop and electronica were my top two. My favorite 2020 releases were Birds of Prey: The Album (various artists), HOUSE OF ZEF (Die Antwoord), and BE (BTS), and dang if that isn’t a decent snapshot of my musical tastes.
  • RPGs: I played 87 RPG sessions, 27 of which were solo. I only played one 2020 release, Brindlewood Bay; it’s a hoot. Unusually, it’s the first game I can remember that both of my groups are playing at the same time.
  • Blogging: I wrote 166 blog posts, about 40% of my total output here on Yore since 2012. 2020 also marks the year when Yore crossed the tipping point from being primarily about tabletop RPGs (166 posts as of December 8) to being primarily about minis and my hobby journey (the 167th minis post was on December 8).

Here’s to 2021

While I doubt we’ll get “back to normal” in 2021, I think things will start to look up in the spring and summer, and playing 40k seems like it could happen next winter. (I’m last in line for the vaccine, as I should be, and my family’s bubble, distancing, mask usage, and other precautions don’t seem likely to change for months.) But there’s ample reason to hope for a better year, and hope for it I do!

Thank you for reading Yore. Stay safe out there.

Categories
Miniatures Warhammer 40k

A strong contender for a third 40k army, Necrons, and a Yore milestone

Picking up a second-wave Indomitus box marks the first time since I got into 40k minis that I’ve bought models outside one of my chosen factions. I know I could Ebay the Necron half of my set and plow those funds into Orks or Blood Angels, but I’ve been looking ahead to 2021 (much of which seems like it’ll be a lot like 2020, isolation-wise) and thinking that a third army might be enjoyable to paint.

And it’s not just the convenience of already owning 36 Necron models: When I was choosing my second army, Necrons were a strong contender based on their sculpts and lore. While the notion of having one force from each umbrella faction — humanity, xenos, and chaos — is appealing, when I browse the chaos units (as I’ve got humans and xenos) I’m not blown away by some of the figures.

By contrast, virtually every current Necron model looks amazing. Based on the pre-refresh sculpts, I’d largely dismissed them; painting the same robot skeleton over and over sounded dull as dishwater. But these evil mofos look like a blast to paint — and they’d have a different aesthetic, vibe, and process to my Angels and Orks.

So while I’m not ready to commit to Necrons, nor give them a page of their own here, I do want to list what I have on hand for future noodling and/or Kill Team use:

  • Indomitus:
    • 1x Overlord
    • 1x Royal Warden
    • 1x Plasmancer
    • 1x Skorpekh Lord
    • 20x Necron Warriors
    • 2x Cryptothralls
    • 3x Skorpekh Destroyers
    • 1x Canoptek Plasmacyte
    • 1x Canoptek Reanimator
    • 6x Canoptek Scarab Swarms

If my pace holds steady with Orks, it’ll be 10-12 months until Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas are all painted up — plenty of time to ponder a potential army number three.

167 v. 166

Incidentally, this post represents the first past a tipping point on Yore: It’s my 167th post about miniatures, surpassing my 166 posts about RPGs. (As is traditional for Yore milestones, it’s just a plain ol’ post.)

I play/run RPGs twice a week, loving every minute, and if anything I’m more engaged with actual play than I was when I started blogging about RPGs way back in 2005. During those 15 years, I’ve written something like 1,500 blog posts about RPGs, mainly GMing topics.

I’ve found that some topics, especially perennial ones like fudging die rolls or player personality types, just don’t interest me anymore. I’m open to new ideas, but I know where I stand and why I stand there. I haven’t written a dedicated RPG advice blog since 2016, when I left Gnome Stew, and Yore’s occasional forays into advice tend to be one-offs written when some topic really grabbed me.

All of which is to say that I think the joke I made in February that got me back into blogging — about turning Yore into a miniatures blog — has borne fruit. I’ve kept Yore on the web even during its many fallow periods because this is the blog I come back to — the place where I write about whatever I want to write about, usually hobby stuff, and in the past that’s most often meant RPGs. These days, it’s minis.

Next month, or next year? Who knows! I sure don’t. But I hope you’ll stick around, and I appreciate your readership. Thanks for reading!

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Black Lives Matter

I’ve been largely quiet here about news and the state of the world because this isn’t that sort of blog. It is, generally, my hobby outlet. I want it to be a place readers can come to find — again, generally — posts about RPGs, miniatures, Gunpla, comics, books, and all the other geeky joys in my life.

But as this pandemic stretches on, with over 100,000 Americans dead; with my country’s national response bungled and actively opposed by the racist, misogynistic, venal buffoon that ~40% of the electorate variously loves, supports, or tolerates; as centuries of systemic, endemic American racism are laid bare — again, always again — by the murder of George Floyd by racist cops, and by the subsequent response from white supremacists, Republicans, militarized police departments, and the national disgrace that is the current administration; this doesn’t feel like the time to blog about miniatures.

Black Lives Matter.

Trump is a piece of shit. How anyone can in good conscience support him is a complete fucking mystery.

If you support Trump, or if your first response to the phrase “Black lives matter” is “all lives matter,” you are not welcome here on Yore as a reader or commenter.

I’ve made a donation to Black Lives Matter. If you have the means, I encourage you to do the same — or to donate to the ACLU, local causes, or other organizations fighting for progressive causes and against injustice.

I’m taking this week off from posting here on Yore, maybe longer. Stay safe out there.

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Yore is back in business

I’ve overhauled many blogs many times over the years, and this time around I embraced WordPress’ emphasis on customization without coding and installed the excellent default theme, Twenty Twenty. This saved me hours of hunting for themes (which often turn out to be expensive, crappy, or both) and more hours tweaking their code.

But an overhaul always entails work, so I did some:

  • Current-gen WordPress is built around using “blocks,” and the Twenty Twenty theme offers some neat options for combining blocks on pages; I played around a bit with those.
  • As a result, the about me page is now a little personal history of the 21 years I’ve spent writing about, and creating stuff for, RPGs on the internet. My published work page is slicker, and I’ve updated a gaggle of out-of-date links.
  • A bunch of stuff no one used is sort of tucked away now, like the list of posts by category (it’s in the footer) and the complete list of post tags (here, and in the footer). My blogroll kept shrinking as I took the hobby’s bad actors and their apologists off of it, so I scuttled that months ago; it won’t be coming back.
  • All the sidebar links to popular posts on the blog went away, and I liked those — so I brought them back on a dedicated page accessible from the top menu.
  • The main page is back to being the blog, not my CV. I’ve pulled back from the RPG industry (though not from the hobby!), making the CV stuff less important on the site — and I want to focus on starting to blog again, which this should help with.
  • I’m kind of digging Twenty Twenty’s default colors, although I never would have imagined that taupe background/black text, fuchsia links, and a white header/footer would look good! Every time I fiddle with them in the customizer, the results look worse; the default is probably here to stay.
  • I updated the site’s favicon to match the snazzy new logo.

This new theme is also much more mobile-friendly than the old one, which is awesome. Mobile users account for about 35-40% of Yore’s traffic and my previous two-column newspaper-like theme from 2012 was less than ideal on mobile.

Honestly these types of blog maintenance posts are never all that exciting — but another thing I’m embracing, thanks to the shake-up of migrating from G+ to Twitter a year ago, is just kind of dashing off my thoughts, not worrying overmuch about getting every detail perfect, and being myself. This sort of post is part of that.

Categories
Life Miscellaneous geekery

New template, mucking about a bit

After nuking all my Judges Guild posts — along with, in the past year, much of my personal fandom for the old-school corner of the RPG industry — it felt like it was time for a change around here.

Having recently spent a couple happy hours scrolling through five years of archives on the excellent Warpstone Pile miniatures blog, I was drawn to the clean, no-nonsense presentation — and the author’s persistence in staying the course over many years, even during periods where they didn’t post often. I’ve been blogging in some form, mainly about RPGs, since 2005. I enjoy doing it, and it’s not time to toss out the baby with the bathwater quite yet.

So I switched blog templates and started juggling things around. I think I set up the redirect for the old “/yore” link to the blog properly, and didn’t manage to break anything else — but I know things will look funky for a bit.

My previous theme had a skinny main/reading column, so all of my pre-2020 photos are sized for that narrow bar. They look weird now.

But overall this feels like a breath of fresh air and a much-needed change.

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Winding down on Google+ after more than 7 years

I thought I joined Google+ in 2012, but having just finished scrolling through my entire post history to identify posts I need to move to Yore, I see that I was wrong.

I’m still checking my stream there a couple times a day, and still posting, but having found the few dozen “should have been a blog post” posts I made over the years, and having now seen my first post after a long, long process of reviewing all of them, I feel done. Today is the day G+ officially ends for me, even if I keep visiting between now and the shutdown.

It’s going to take me a little while to process that — seven and a half years is a long time! G+ has been a big part of my life, and I’m going to miss it.

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Stepping down from Gnome Stew

As of today, I’m no longer running or contributing to Gnome Stew. There’s no drama or bad blood, it was just time for me to stop, and fortunately the Stew’s own John Arcadian is taking over — the site is in great hands.

Today feels super-weird. The Stew has been a fixture in my life for 8 years. To put that in perspective, during that time I’ve had a kid, bought and sold a house, changed jobs, and moved to another state. I woke up sad this morning, and post-coffee I still feel about the same.

I won’t retread all the ground I covered in the linked farewell article, with one exception: To everyone who has contributed to, read, commented on, or spread the word about the Stew over the past 8 years, thank you!

Categories
Tabletop RPGs

Prep is dead

One of the fun things about having blogged for a long time is that I sometimes remember writing something years ago and, when I do, I can just go read it again. And man has this article from my Treasure Tables days back in 2005 come full fucking circle 10 years later: I’d rather rake leaves than do prep.

I’ve reached the point with prep where I’m entirely unwilling to do more than a few minutes of it, if that. Games that require prep are basically off my radar as a GM. I’ll read a book, I’ll noodle about a couple of things, but that’s my limit.

Game prep, you’re pretty much dead to me.