Thursday, January 11, 2018

Re-Building (Blog) Community

The new year post on plastic legions (link) started off by rueing the state of the blog. Social media has swallowed a lot of the vitality from the blogosphere and old style forum. The comment section on that post is quite interesting (go read it, I'll wait).

It's quite obvious that other the last few years there has been a steady fall off in blog activity. Non updated blogs, viewership numbers dropping, much less comments.  It feels like like the pic to the right, there are people around but just not many, and not right here.

On the other hand, I look at how vibrant the oldhammer community is (both with rogue trader style items, as well as fantasy). I believe that this issue comes down to community. Humans are social animals, and we wish to make connection with others. On the interwebz, specifically within blogs, that ends up coming through comments. I assume that you move onto greater things where you start creating group projects and mailing each other minis at some point, but that's like shangri la to me.

One of the problems of social media is that you post pictures instead of tell tales. There is a need for a balance between concise writing and enough photos: we've all seen bad examples of posts of solid text [like this one] but social media falls on the other extreme. You don't make connection with a well painted mini, you make connection by hearing about painting struggles, reading paint recipes, appreciating plans for the future, or steps in the conversion.

Another problem is that it's too easy to lurk in social media. You can like on a like button instead of commenting. It makes us lazy. Too lazy to exercise our ability to comment. I expect that readership numbers on most blogs are far, FAR higher than comments, even taking into account bots. We expect to have a stream of entertainment sleet through us without us needing to make effort to engage it.

Social media isn't just killing the blogs by leaching their traffic, they are killing them by making us entertainment zombies. Our hobbies are about doing stuff. If you can't manage to do stuff yourself, don't you owe a debt to those who do by commenting on their work/effort?

I think my favorite part of the hobby challenge I did in the past (6MMRPC) was the regulars you saw churning out work and who would comment on your own efforts. One of the key features in my mind was about requiring regular posts (weekly). I would personally have added a requirement to comment on at least two other peoples posts. I haven't seen much in the way of (painting) challenges lately (except, again, with the oldhammerers).

Maybe some sort of challenge that is more about (re)building the blog community is needed?  It may be time to explicitly state that as a goal with painting tagged on, rather than the other way.

I, personally, have resolved this year to engage more with the blogs I read, and try and comment on every post I read. It is but a fraction of the time and effort the authors put into them.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year Resolution Post 2017/2018

The blogosphere is busy with people posting their year end/beginning posts, and I though I might as well join in. It felt a bit of a dismal year with regard to hobbying, as I've done miserably little painting lately. Looking back, however, it seems I achieved a lot more than I currently 'feel'.
I finished ~70 infantry, 12 cavalry in 28mm, and >200 infantry and >50 cavalry in 15mm....and 2 elephant. Numbers that make you feel good.

From a resolution point of view I even achieved 3 of 4 goals. Another feel good moment. Obviously aiming low is the way to do it. I suspect I should have my resolutions somewhere visible, or review them or something.
2017 Resolutions
1/. Get a FOG force table ready CHECK. Carthaginians whoo!
2/. Attend Enfilade again with at least one command worth of troops CHECK Heavy french cav Hah!
3/. Resurrect a failed resolution FAIL
4/. Host 2 games this year Check. I managed to get some 'all units engage' played, which although my opponent had his own painted figs, I *COULD* have fielded both sides.

Life wise, we have had a baby this year, so I suspect that the drop in hobby time I have had will probably worsen. I started bee keeping in the summer, which is also another pull on time, and the yard work transformation of the home continues. Spring/Summer is most likely a write off. I'll have to be clever about what I honestly think I can finish this year.

2018 Resolutions
1/. Document my work better/Increase blog posts.
I feel like there quite a few things that I finish that never get pictures, or never get blogged. It's great to see your success at the end of the year.  I will informally target at least 24 posts this year.

2/. Attend Enfilade (again) with a (new) French command.
This will be the 3rd year. Cleverly I will be getting quite close to having enough troops to field both sides of a fight.

3/. Don't be a lurker. Be a commenter. 
An interesting post, and the resulting comment thread has me a bit worried about blogging. I hope that the 'death of the blogosphere' is oversold.....but the move to facebook is to the detriment of the community in my mind. I'll do a real post on this, but I resolve to comment actively on most postings I see. Build the community, give positive reinforcement to those who write rather than post a pic on social media.

4/. Finish two 'in progress' batches of figures.
 There's so much lying around from small groups to hordes. This *shoudn't* be hard.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Undocumented work: Jungles

I was swapping emails with a local gamer and tried to send him pictures of some of the terrain I'd made. Turns out I'd never put pictures on my blog. Even more surprisingly, I didn't have pictures. Ver strange because I could swear I took a photo when I finished the project. Strange stuff.

These are jungle terrain bases on CDs. I got the idea from Too Fat Lardies walkthrough for "charlie don't surf". It took me a coon's age to track down the dark green 'grassy' door mat stuff. Months and an international border before I spotted one in point roberts. Pain in the posterior to stuff in my backpack and motorbike with it. Even more annoying that now I see them regularly in many hardware stores. I must have been ahead of my time.

The original pictures appear to be casualties of the photobucket shakedown that has screwed a lot of blogs recently. Basically you use cake topper palm trees, various aquarium plants, doormat grass, hot glue gun, and (for me) pumice gel media.

I find the palm trees too cartoony and too short. I'd like to make some extra bases with taller palms to make a 'triple canopy' type thing. The cd shinyness also seems to peek through too much. I suspect hitting this stuff with primer before hand might help.....although it might just flake off and leave a worse bond. Though I've noted a bunch of damaged trees that need some fixing (off picture there's probably another 8ish bases) so I probably shouldn't store them at the bottom of a rubber maid container with all the extress build materials on top (dur).

Friday, September 29, 2017

Columns from the East.....More Perry Russian Napoleonics

Marching out of the painting pile, I have a host of Russians (plastic and metal Perry figs) reinforcements for my 'General du Corp' Russian Army. As mentioned before these rules are convention fast play set by Doug over at Dots of Paint blog.

Hoping to one day have enough figs of my own to host a game I long ago decided to aim for enough figs for '3 corp'....ish.  Looking at the OOB of the battles makes me realize it's very helpful to have friends contributing....I am often impressed by Doug's wisdom in his approach to gaming.

Above are the old style grenadier with the 'busch' style plume (pipe cleaners I think some call them). 

The remaining 5 bases are regular line infantry.
I FINALLY used the flags from the plastic box set. I can see with future expansions (if any) that I'll need to score some more flags to avoid duplicates (or use the plain white regimental flags a lot more.

These fellows are my 'lazy line', as the standard bearers have shouldered their kit. Even the drummer and officer are taking it pretty relaxed. The standard emblems have an unfortunate tendency to fall off and didn't make it into the picture prior to repair.
The final base with a single metal fellow wiping his brow. Painting is hard work!

Monday, September 18, 2017

All Units Engage - Basic Infantry Operations Review

Thomas of Peabody games has put out a free intro for all units engage (wargame vault link). At nine pages, including a roster, this is a nice tight package which isn't too demanding of your printer ink. It's very much an intro with a single basic mission and uses 5 models per side (AUE calls each independently activated/moved 'thing' a unit so in this case it's 5 single model units).

Having seen some of the beta versions of the full rules I have some extra insights, but I'll try and limit myself to review just this document.  It's important to recognize that AUE is positioning itself to be a generic set of rules that is very easy to adapt to your setting/figures/era of modern and forward (near future, sci fi, post apoc, etc). There should be additional books released that help flesh out various settings/eras and give example stats. I know that Thomas is very keen on getting the post apocalyptic setting ready to serve his own current gaming tastes.

TL;DR Summary:
I'm looking forward to seeing more of these rules. While superficially simple they end up yielding a surprising depth of tactical decision making. It wasn't uncommon for my opponent and myself to ponder on how we were going to setup for the next turn or even how to make our plan work the current turn. In turn 5 of our game my opponent noted that I had  pre-empted his own planned series of reactions to achieve his goals.

Considering this is free and will take up about 2-2.5 hours of your time including setup and reading the rules there's no reason not to try it out. Go ahead, the link is right here.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

15mm Carthaginian Army II - Spanish, Gauls, Numidians & Balearic

The second part of my Carthaginian army. These are all Old Glory figs bought as part of the Late Carthagian Army Pack. They are based for fields of glory. Basing is on mdf bases from minibase, with tea leaves and static grass. I may still varnish them in the future, but they are 'done'.

Balearic Slingers. Light foot. First unit painted.

Spanish Scutarii. Medium foot. Pardon the  washed out pic. I was fiddling with the camera (phone) settings.

Gallic warriors.  Heavy foot. Shields include a number of 'little big man transfers'. They don't have an old glory set so I got another manufacturer set and the selection of decals didn't match the shield selection well and required a lot of trimming and bodging.

Numidian javelinmen. Light foot. 2nd unit painted. Little big man transfers. 

Numidian light cavalry (2 units). 3rd unit painted. Little big man transfers.  Camera caught the edge of the studio set....horrors!

Gallic Cavalry. Shields all hand painted. Fancy clothing is very slow to paint. 

Spanish Cavalry.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

15mm Carthaginian Army I - Core Troops

I've finally got my picture set up ready to go again. Here are the 15mm Carthaginians I recently completed. They are mostly Old Glory figures, from their late Carthaginian Field of glory army pack. One of my buddies was cleaning out his stash and gave me a bunch of corvus belli ancients, which I believe have moved over to Bueda.

Basing is on mdf from minibases, and with tea leaves and static flock. Varnishing may happen in the future.

Carthage cavalry. Bueda/Corvus Belli. Some of the last figs painted. Shield transfers from Little Big Man Studios.

Heavy foot. First of these veteran African spearmen I painted. The transfers don't like the very rounded shields to much. Later iterations I figured out how to make relaxation cuts to help with the problem.

 African Heavy foot. Colour scheme was copied off Joels 28mm carthage spearmen. It might be sacred band colours? Which I think by the late period don't really exist anymore.

African heavy foot. Last unit to be painted. These are Bueda/Corvus Belli. The spears are seperate and a hassle to glue. They also break off occasionally. Boo.

Poeni. Med foot. I needed to bump up the order size for better shipping and a bigger discount. Knowing nothing I chose these guys. They are basically militia. You can take them as poor troops, or terrible ones. Whoo. Helps fill holes in the line I suppose. All shields were hand painted (and look a bit tatty). I'm also dubious about the orange colour, but thought that there is a lot of neutral tones already and best to add splashes of colour.

Elephants! Of course I took the picture of the wonky eye on one. Also, the 'spears' were simply wire. I sculpted a bit head on them. Probably standard poles, but I didn't want to bother with flags at this point.

 Leaders. I aimed for a mix of colours from the various units I had painted. The green heavy spearmen arrived after I had painted these guys.