Monday, January 31, 2011

Make Yer Mark To Join Me Crew

Four more piratey-types are ready for the game table.  Despite the wonderful weather calling my name for the last few days, I was still able to complete these scallywags in time to meet my monthly miniature goal.

This port is full of rascals.

From left to right: Henry Duvalier, Preston Gibbs, Jim-lad, and Don Rodriego.

I am fairly pleased with the way these seadogs came out except for the fact that once again one of the Artizan miniatures is showing casting imperfections around joints and interfaces.  And just like the last batch I did not catch the flaw until too late.  Even if I had, I am not quite sure what I could do about it.  The areas are too small and difficult to reach to try to re-sculpt with greenstuff and good luck getting a file down there.  I'll be a bit more diligent if I buy more from Artizan and if I see a repeat of the flaw, perhaps I'll try a bit of PVA glue to act as a filler before priming and painting.

The first rascal to sign the ship's articles this week is a young rake named James Monroe.  The crew simply calls him Jim-lad however and the young man seems to enjoy his new name.  He served for a time as cabin boy aboard a merchant vessel but wasted no time jumping ship and turning pirate when his vessel was captured.  Though young and not yet grown to maturity he is already making a name for himself on the high seas.  And don't let his boyish looks deceive you.  Jim-lad has already put three men to the knife and bedded several wenches......all before his sixteenth nameday.

Jim-lad, aka Mickey Cooke from Artizan Miniatures.

Artizan calls the miniature "Mickey Cooke" and it comes in the Juan Corso's Buccaneers pack.  The sculpt is fairly nice (despite the flaw I spoke about above) except for the legs.  They look a bit too slight to me when compared to the rest of the body.  Though "Mickey" sports a nice pot belly that one is more apt to find on an older man, I find that due to the size and face, he makes for a great cabin boy. Perhaps he is just a well-fed cabin boy.....

Jim-lad and his small legs.

Next in line to make his mark is Don Rodrigo de Coruna.  Little is known of his past save that the Spaniards both love and fear him for some deed performed in defense of San Juan.  The Spanish Crown has given him Letters of Marque that basically amount to a blank check.  He pillages the shipping of other countries at will and has even been known to sack a Spanish town from time to time when his luck and provisions run low.  Though his countrymen back in Spain call him a hero, those that live in the New World call him "Diablo"....a name that it is rumored Rodrigo has grown quite fond of.

Don Rodrigo de Coruna.

Artizan produces this miniature as well and can be found in the same pack as the one above.  In fact, this is the Juan Corso figure.  I very much enjoyed painting this mini due to the flares, nooks, and crannies.  I'm certainly not the greatest painter around by any means but when sculptors give me ample folds and high spaces to help me shade and highlight, the outcome is better than average for me.

Artizan calls this miniature Juan Corso.

I was able to try a new technique on this model and I must say, I'm quite pleased with the result.  Painting all these pirates, I was quickly growing tired of black or dark brown boots.  Lighter shades of brown did not look realistic to me however.  On a whim, I decided to basecoat these boots with Oiled Leather (Reaper) and then apply progressive glazes of Dark Skin (also from Reaper).  The result was a boot that not only had great shading, but looked like soft and supple leather to the eye.  I also used this technique on the boots worn by Cain after finishing the boots on Rodrigo first.

The final two new pirates are both from Black Scorpion.  These guys have been sitting around for a bit (along with several others from the line) and I've been eagerly awaiting to get to them.  Though some of the sculpts look to be a bit on the fantasy side, I'm quite happy to have them in my collection.

First, meet Preston Gibbs (I'm sorry but I HAD to use the name since the resemblance to Gibbs from the movie was uncanny).  Preston has served aboard ships plying the Caribbean since he was a lad.  Good humored and full of wit, he is a favorite with the crew no matter what ship he is sailing with at the time.  Gibbs is also a free spirit and drifts about the ports of the West Indies, quite literally going where the wind blows.  His whims and flights of fancy also includes his loyalties.  Though not known to betray his current captain and crew, it is certainly not uncommon for Preston to sign on with another ship, country, or even side, once he returns to port.  He was last seen serving aboard a privateer vessel operating out of Bermuda.

Preston Gibbs ready for boarding action.

As mentioned above, this miniature from the Able Seamen 1 pack from Black Scorpion reminded me of Kevin McNally who played Joshamee Gibbs in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.  It was tempting to paint him up just like the character in the movies but although I "borrowed" the name for my game, I'm not a complete pirate, so I tired to be original here.  I like the sculpt but I was not crazy about the large axe.  It borders on the heroic scale used by GW and Reaper to represent weapons on their models.  However, the large size did not bother me enough to go through the trouble of converting it to a more realistic boarding axe.

Preston Gibbs and his striped stockings.

I really like the stockings I painted on Gibbs.  I'm not sure how historically accurate these are, but the striped version shows up commonly enough in movies and print that I could not resist trying it.  I had a very difficult time trying to tone down the whites and reds however...especially since they were next to the shorts that I painted a worn linen color.  A very light glaze of Gryphonne Sepia (Games Workshop) seemed to do the trick though.

The last in line to sign the manifest is Henry Duvalier.  Henry is a French privateer known throughout the West Indies as a lover of women and hunter of pirates.  With his red hair, dashing good looks, and timely attire, it is no wonder that the daughters of every prominent family on an island are locked away when his ship comes to port.  Despite their best efforts, and because of his, many a maiden has succumbed to Henry's advances.

Henry Duvalier is quite dashing.

He is just as deadly with pistol and sword as with sweet words however, and many pirate can attest to that.  Captain Duvalier patrols the waters of the Caribbean in search of sea robbers and offers them naught but a swift end.  He is rightly feared by the brethren of the coast.  If the tales be true, the crew of a pirate sloop about to be captured by Duvalier ran themselves aground on a reef and braved drowning rather than face the wrath of the Frenchman.

Henry Duvalier is without equal in close combat.

This mini is also available from Black Scorpion and can be found in their Privateers 1 pack.  Just like Gibbs above, this particular sculpt reminded me of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl.  I was tempted to paint the mini to resemble the way Will Turner was dressed in the final scenes of the movie.  But once again I decided to go an original route.  As I painted the figure, his background began to form in my head (as is often the case when I paint miniatures) and I slowly changed my plan of attack from a rough scoundrel painted with dark somber colors to a flamboyant privateer strutting his stuff.  I'm glad for the change as I think Henry Duvalier certainly fits his character.

How many of you paint miniatures this way?  Do you have a background in mind before you start or is it governed by the painting process itself?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

GenCon 2011 is Official

It's official.  I will be attending my second GenCon this August.  I purchased my badge yesterday and was able to score the room I wanted this morning when housing opened.  All that is left to do is to purchase a flight a bit later in the year once I decide exactly when I want to leave and return.

My first GenCon was in 2009.  Although I've always wanted to attend it took all these years for me to get there.  And to be honest, my trip to Indianapolis just sorta happened.  Summer is the busiest time of year for my business and taking off for a week was pretty much impossible.  However, if I remember correctly, it was late June or July when I realized I had a break in my summer schedule and could actually pull this off.  On a whim, I purchased a badge just before preregistration closed and somehow found a room about two blocks away.  The next thing I knew I was on a plane to Indianapolis for my first GenCon.

I had no idea what to expect and it became readily apparent that I was completely unprepared for the experience.  The venue was confusing (for me) and the sheer number of events/attractions was quite overwhelming.  I stumbled in line to purchase event tickets and quickly realized I had no idea what I wanted to do.  To make matters worse, when I did finally manage to choose a few events, I found out they had been sold out for months (mainly the miniature classes).  I purchased a handful of generic tickets and hoped for the best.

Downtown Indianapolis.

It also became apparent that I chose the wrong hotel.  One of the facets of a convention I most looked forward to was that of open gaming.  Reading several posts on the GenCon forums fueled my imagination with visions of playing games all night in the hotel.  My particular hotel was a bust however.  I lurked in the lobby each night hoping to spy some friendly gamers that needed an extra person but all I manged to find was a few guys playing a TCG one night.  Epic fail.

Though I was completely at a loss about how these things worked, I still managed to have a good time.  I attended a few seminars about writing and one about game design.  I was also able to work in several game demos, one of which I purchased and play heavily still today.  I spent quite a bit of time in the exhibitor hall drooling over all the games and merchandise, both new and old school and was able to pick up several "collector" pieces for game systems that I had been wanting for a descent price.  The miniature vendors held my attention on and off for several days as did the booths selling dice (I think I may have a dice fetish).  But most importantly, it was nice simply being surrounded by hundreds of other folks who enjoy the same games and hobbies that I do.  That means so much when you live on a small island where gaming is rare or non-existent.

I want them all!!

What I missed out on during the first year, I hope to make up for during this next visit.  I will preregister for events on the day they open so that I am assured of a spot.  I've also greatly increased my chances to participate in pick-up/open gaming as much as possible by booking a room at the new JW Marriott complex where much of that activity will take place.  Bringing some of my own games to play with others is also an option I will consider (depending on my gaming obsessions at the time).  By being prepared and proactive (and no longer a GenCon virgin), I hope to make this year the GenCon I've been dreaming about.

So, how many of you will be attending the show this year?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Recalling the Past - Dragon Magazine

My life changed dramatically in the summer of 1982 when I learned to play Dungeons and Dragons.  That magical first night, without a doubt goes down in my personal history as one of the chief events of my life.  I think the very next day I begged my mother to buy the Basic Set for me and from then on, I was fully engrossed in the lifestyle.

Though I must have owned about every set, hardback book, and module available, I did not purchase my first Dragon Magazine until several years later.  To this day I'm not sure why.  Whenever I received a bit of money from gifts, chores, etc.. I would immediately beg to be taken to the nearby hobby shop.  I sometimes even walked the six miles there and back if no ride was forthcoming.  So I think it safe to say that I should have been exposed to the Magazine on numerous occasions.  Somehow the treasure trove that is Dragon Magazine escaped me until early 1985.

Though I do not recall why I failed to notice the magazine in the first few years of D&D, I vividly recall the evening I finally discovered it.  My mother took my sister and myself to the local mall where we were forced to follow her around for hours as she looked for clothing.  We eventually passed by a Waldenbooks where I was able to slip away from estrogen-fueled shopping for a time.  The small fantasy/science fiction section sat tucked away on the lower level of the back right hand side of the store.  As usual, I made my way there completely ignoring everything else in my way.  Displayed on the shelves amongst the paperback sci-fi novels was the usual assortment of Dungeons and Dragon books, but something else caught my eye that evening.  A lovely female ranger kneeling on a small hill before a gnarled oak tree stared back at me.  A blue sky with scattered clouds framed gray mountains in the distance and cast shadows over a green plain dotted with trees.

Issue #94.  February 1985.
With shaking hands, I reverently reached for the copy and gently flipped through the pages.  Even if the words inside were some magical incantation I don't think I would have been happier or more surprised at my discovery.  Surely I must have drooled while quickly scanning a few articles and looking at the art work.  Fortunately I had enough money in my pocket (from unspent lunch money no doubt) to buy the magazine and take it home where I would eventually read it cover to cover countless times.

Flipping through the issue today (gently and with great care as the pages are close to separating) I can recall the magic and excitement I felt on that day long ago as a 14 year old boy.  A whole new world was opening before me and Dragon Magazine was to be the vehicle to get me there.  Looking at the yellowing pages now, I can also appreciate just how special those time were for TSR and D&D.  Mike Cook was the publisher while Kim Mohan and Roger Moore were on the editorial staff.  Other notable names contributing to the issue were Roger Raupp, Ed Greenwood, Larry Elmore, and Clyde Caldwell.

Speaking of Mr. Caldwell, he was the cover artist of this issue.  According to the magazine, the model was Jeanne Stanley of Winston-Salem, NC (not far from where I lived at the time) and apparently the two met at GenCon in 1984.  The fact that she was a North Carolina resident probably contributed to the eventual nostalgia for this particular issue.

Some of the articles that brought back memories include Official Changes for Rangers, An Army Travels on its Stomach, My Life is My Honor - The Knights of Solamnia, and Creature Catalog II.  The section on rangers was especially important to me because I almost always played that class (and still do) and the additional rules really helped to flesh out rangers and set them firmly into the role that has defined them ever since.  Also noteworthy is the article on The Knights of Solamnia.  That article, along with an add for Dragons of Autumn Twilight perked my interest in the Dragonlance setting and novels.

TSR was about to awaken the dragons and I was thrilled about it.

Looking at all the old advertisements also refreshed my memory of those heydays of D&D and other RPGs.  On the first page was a large ad for two MERP (Middle-earth Role Playing) modules: Moria and Rangers of the North.  A game set in Anne McCaffrey's Pern was featured just a few pages later.  Both Pern and Middle-earth loomed large in my imagination during this period of my life.  I also couldn't help but smile as I stumbled upon the many Play By Mail games advertised in this issue.  Duel Masters, a game of gladiatorial combat was one that I remember falling for while Hyborian Wars (not featured in #94) is another.

Dragonscale paints by Ral Partha.
One of the biggest surprises I encountered while rereading the issue was the full page advertisement for Ral Partha's Dragonscale paint.  I was just thinking about this product recently and for the life of me could not recall who made it or what it was called.  I distinctly remember buying the set along with the Golden Dragon seen in the upper left portion of the photo after reading the ad.  I also remember using the cream and applying it with the soft tip applicator onto my now glistening dragon.  Though I still have that dragon (he has been repainted several times but is slowly falling apart after nearly 25years) I do not think I ever used Dragonscale again.

My poor dragon falling apart after many years.
Close up of the Gold Dragon by Ral Partha.

The issue ended with several comics including Wormy and Snarf Quest.  But my favorite ending section, and the one in which I will end this journey into my past, is Dragonmirth.  Though I took my games seriously even back then, it was nice to be reminded that in the end, a game is just a game.

Dragonmirth was always worthy of a good chuckle.

Do you have a particular gaming product that brings back such memories?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More Bloody Pirates

One of the best things about keeping your workbench and miniature queue full of models in various stages of completion is that output tends to come in groups.  Though days may go by without the gratification of completing a single miniature, the sense of accomplishment of turning out three or four at a time certainly makes up for the days of dearth.  Due to a rare all-day cloudy day here in the Keys, I was able to turn out a few pirates to join my Legends of the High Seas crew.

Ready to sign the ship's articles and go on The Account.

All three miniatures are from the Artizan line of pirates.  Abel is on the left though he will be known as Blaze in my LotHS campaign.  Slugger O'Toole is the center pirate though he has yet to be named for the game.  And finally, Moses is on the right.  I rather like the name Moses for a pirate but using the names given to the miniatures by Artizan feels like cheating so he will probably come to be known as Cane.  I will simply "steal" the name Moses and use it with another miniature.

I am in the process of working out backstories for the main pirates in the campaign and have a few ideas for Blaze and Cane.  The former is an escaped slave from Jamaica.  He is wanted for several crimes on the island including arson (hence his name), piracy, and murder.  His coat, pilfered from a merchant captain in one of his first raids is Blaze's pride.  He is rarely seen without it despite the weather.  He is quite jovial when the mood suits him but his propensity for violence is becoming legendary.

Blaze wearing some of his plunder.

Escaped slaves joining a pirate crew was a rather common occurrence during the golden age of piracy and Cane is yet another such example.  Escaped is not really the correct term for his entry into a life of piracy.  "Liberated" is probably more appropriate.  Cane was taken during a raid on a sugar cane plantation on the island of St. Kitts and endeared himself to the crew with his acts of brutality on board.  Rather than being sold off with the other slaves plundered from the plantation, Cane was kept from the auction block and soon proved his worth.  He rarely speaks and either does not know his name or chooses to keep it hidden from the others.  On one particular night not long after he was taken from St. Kitts, he was dubbed Cane by one of his shipmates during a rum-sodden dice game.  Although the shipmate was promptly  pummeled for the offering, the name stuck and Cane now answers to it.

Cane with his blunderbuss.

I do not yet have anything in mind for this chap right now but for some reason I keep thinking he is Dutch.  If he remains so, his presence in the Caribbean would be easily explained with the Dutch still being maritime powers in the Caribbean during the golden age. that I think about it I rather like the idea.

A Dutchman from Curacao??

On another note, when I was looking through these photos I noticed that on most of the Artizan miniatures there are very small "holes" in several places...mostly around interfaces and joints.  I went back and tried to fill in some of these holes after I noticed them but they are apparently deep enough that very watered down paint would be the only way to get color in there.  At this point, the minis are good enough for table-top gaming so I would rather not risk getting runny paint everywhere to fix the problem.  The presence of the holes however sours my attitude toward the miniature line a bit.  I like the sculpts but I do not like the imperfections.  Now that I know what I'm looking for I have noticed them on the two unprimed minis as well.  I'm assuming this is a casting issue...perhaps old molds or maybe the curing process allowed air to escape and form the depressions.  I wish I would have noticed them earlier.

Have any of you had similar issues with Artizan miniatures or other lines?  If so, how did you fix them and what do you think causes the holes?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hobby ADD

I've long known that I had a hobby problem... a dirty little secret if you will.  But it's time to come out with the truth and admit my disorder.  I have hobby ADD.  Yes, it's true.  I have trouble concentrating on a single hobby, or even a single aspect of any given hobby.  I ramp up and go full steam ahead on one and then, as suddenly as if a light switch were turned off, I change course and travel in another direction.  It's not that I no longer enjoy the hobby I suddenly dropped.  No, that is not it at all.  The poor discarded project is still there and though it may feel unloved for a time, it's always in the back of my mind, lingering like a long lost friend.  My problem is that I can't get enough of my hobbies in general and I'm always moving forward, looking for the next buzz.

Yes, I have a problem.

Rather than try to hide it, I thought my inability to concentrate might be fun to track.  As yet another project, I am going to monitor my hobby trends over the next year and see if there is a method to my madness.  I'll start off with a simple text matrix until I figure out how I am going to display the data.  To make things easier, and to fit the theme of this blog, I will only track my gamer/geeky pursuits and not add other pastimes like sports or lifestyle.  So....for the month of January 2011:

Current Obsession - Legends of the High Seas
Past Obsession - N/A
Looming Obsession - Ambush Alley?

Lord of the Rings SBG = 6*
Warhammer Fantasy = 5*
Warhammer 40K = 5*
Pathfinder RPG = 3-
A Song of Ice and Fire RPG = 6+
Flames of War = 5*
Wings of War = 8*
D&D 4ed = 1*
D&D 3.5 = 4*
D&D old school = 6*
Axis and Allies War at Sea = 7-
Legends of the High Seas = 10+
Terrain Making = 7+
Miniature Painting (general) = 7+
Lord of the Rings Online = 6-
Pirates of the Burning Sea = 4+
Pirates of the Spanish Main = 6*

(The scale is 1-10 with one being the lowest on the current interest scale and ten being the highest.  "-" indicates a negative trend and "+" indicates a positive while "*" signifies no change from the previous month.)

So there it is.  If I think of anything else to add I'll come back and edit.  I will be interested to see what happens over the next few months.  The only problem I see with my methodology is that it does not account for my weekly or daily altered views.  But this will have to do.  I simply do not have enough time in my day to keep track of my warped mind.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

USS Wilkes Barre - War at Sea Repaint

I just finished another Axis and Allies War at Sea ship repaint.  This time the ship in question is an old friend -  The USS Wilkes Barre (CL-103).  No, I did not serve aboard the cruiser during the war nor have I ever toured the ship when in reserve.  However, I have been on her several times over the last few years.

The author decompressing after the dive.

How is that you ask, when she was used for underwater explosive tests in May of 1972?  Well, you see, I've made several visits to the Wilkes Barre while she is resting in 200 - 250 feet of seawater off the coast of Key West, Florida.  During my visits I was able to explore both the bow (resting on her starboard side) and stern (upright) sections and view her mains still posed for a salvo.  Though broken in two, and despite the usual poor water visibility over the wreck site, the USS Wilkes Barre is still an inspiring site to behold...which is why I decided to repaint one of my Cleveland Class Light Cruisers to match her colors.

Cruising around the internet, I came across several photos showing the Willie B (what we local tech divers call her) in her wartime colors but took a particular liking to a photo of her in Philadelphia on 18 August 1944 before heading out in October for the war in the Pacific.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Several washes and paint mixes later, this is the result.  Now I am ready to get her on the table again and see if the new paint scheme encourages her to throw more 6's.

USS Wilkes Barre CL-103.

Out of curiosity, how many other War at Sea players have dived on WW2 wrecks that are used in game?


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Three More Pirates Join The Crew

Despite battling the remnants of the flu which I've had since December 31st, I've been hard at work trying to up my miniature count and signing on additional crew for my Legends of the High Seas game.  I was able to polish off two more scalawags from Crusader Miniatures and one from the Reaper line of pirates. "Old Baldy" on the far right could use a bit more skin tone highlights, especially on the head, but for the most part I think they are passable for table top gaming.

Santoine de Fronze from Reaper and two crew from Crusader.

On the workbench I currently have several more pirates nearing completion.  Four are from Reaper, two from Black Scorpion, and five from Artizan Miniatures.  The pirates from Artizan are turning out to be a pleasant surprise.  The miniatures are well sculpted with interesting stances and facial features.  The clothing is loose and flowing which makes painting shades and highlights so much easier for a normal painter like myself.  I'm especially fond of Abel with his blunderbuss and Moses with his dreadlocks.  Moses reminds me of a local pirate reenactor named Black Caesar (who scares the bejesus out of me) and I'm using him as inspiration for the model.

Black Caesar presenting an award to the author.
I am also in the process of gathering materials and drawing plans for a few Spanish colonial style buildings for my pirates to sack.  While I do have an entire fleet of pirates ships in which to base scenarios, they will be more difficult to ready and convert for use than building simple structures out of foam board.  I like the Spanish style better than the English architecture of the period but I may have to choose the latter due to the fact that I do not have appropriate miniatures to populate a Spanish colonial garrison or port.  More minis to buy.............

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hobby Desk

Newly organized.
I am a bit of a neat freak, at least when it comes to places I work.  Whether it be the desk where I pay bills and write, my Scuba repair bench, or hobby desk, I find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand when I'm surrounded by clutter and chaos.  Many times I will have to stop whatever I'm working on and spend time cleaning and organizing before I can continue.

Unfortunately, the way I had my hobby area arranged, it was impossible to keep clean and organized.  It didn't matter if the project was small or large, I would always end up with clutter as I moved objects here and there to make room for what I was doing.  I felt like I was moving object A to location 1 to paint then moving object A to another spot only to move it back during the next step.  "Hey, take that dirt and put it there and when you're done, bring it back here."

The main painting area.

Well, no more (hopefully).  I recently spent a few hours over the last couple of days rearranging my work area.  I was able to create a rather efficient system to combat the clutter generating method I used before.  Now I have an areas for priming, basing, and of course, painting.  For the most part, the required tools for a certain task are in the appropriate area and easily accessible.  Also, the way I have it arranged now, I will be able to have several different projects going at the same time without having to break down one project before moving to another.  This is incredibly important to me since I have trouble focusing on the same project for more than a few days at a time.  I now know how ADD kids feel.  I'm simply unable stick with one task until it is complete before starting another and another.  How odd now that I think about it....I'm not that way with anything else except for my hobbies.  Hmmm..... 

I hope this new system works.  My fear however is that with the increased space, I'll just start additional projects and fill my work area again.

Basing, scenery, and conversion area.

Proof that I can actually complete a project!

I've seen some great hobby desks on the internet.  If anyone is actually reading this blog, what does yours look like?

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Scurvy Sea Dog Joins The Crew

My Legends of the High Seas project is moving along nicely.  After a few weeks of ordering and bidding on Ebay, I've got five ships and four long boats ready to be converted into play pieces.  I also have quite a collection of pirate miniatures that are in various states of completion.  But most importantly, the first fully completed pirate is ready to sign the ship's articles and take to the sea for a life of pillaging and plundering.

He is actually one of the three pirate miniatures I bought in 2009 after watching a game of LotHS.  He, along with his companions have sat on the work bench for many months awaiting their turn.  This guy is finished and his crew mates are not far behind.  I think, by the end of the weekend, I should have seven pirates completed and another batch ready for work.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2011 New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again when the slate is clean and we all look for a new beginning.  We find ourselves looking back at the year that has ended and planning for the one that has just begun.  And while I, along with countless others have made the standard New Year's resolutions such as getting into shape or making more money, it's also an opportunity to set goals and plans for the hobby side of life.  So, after much deliberation, here are my New Year's Hobby Resolutions for 2011.

Keep a Current Hobby Blog:  I've had several false starts here and I'm not quite sure of the problem.  It's not like I don't write often (I do) or have nothing to post about (plenty of projects).  Maybe I'm pressed for time or perhaps I do not prioritize my tasks.  Whatever the reason, 2011 is the time to overcome my lack of blogging about my hobbies.  My goal is to post at least once a week for the entire year.  The posts do not have to be deep philosophical inquiries into the nature of the hobby nor do they need to be award winning journalism.  I just need to sit down and write about what I'm doing and/or working on.  Can I do it?  Well, I know I can beat last year's total.  All I have to do is post more than twice.  We'll see come this time next year.

Paint More Miniatures:  Though I was able to finish off a few during the last few months of 2010, last year was not a banner year for miniature painting.  My work station is full of miniatures in various states of progress (or lack thereof).  At last count, I have over 800 unpainted miniatures (not counting my growing 15mm FoW collection) and 67 partially painted.  I could paint two a day this entire year and still not clear my back log (especially since I'm a chronic miniature collector) but this year I intend to put a good dent in my inventory.  I'm reluctant to predict a total to aim for since any number of distractions could happen but I'm going to do it anyhow.  One hundred miniatures.  That's my goal.  I want to finish at least one hundred miniatures (and that means fully completed - bases and all) by December 31st 2011.  Ouch!

Shelves lined with miniatures.
Make More Terrain:  I really got into terrain making this year.  Islands for Pirates of the Spanish Main  and Axis and Allies War at Sea along with Rohan cottages for LotR were just some of my projects.  I was even able to sell a few pieces on Ebay.  I would like to continue this trend and turn out more pieces this year.  I need more cottages and buildings for my Rohan game board as well as general scenery such as trees and hills.  What I foresee taking up most of my terrain building time is an idea I have for Legends of the High Seas.  I would like to build a small Spanish/Caribbean town for my pirates to raid.  That should be fun.

Field My Cadians:  Yep.  They are still sitting on the work desk in various states of completion.  This is the year that I finally get them painted and on the field of battle.  If I did so, not only would I meet this goal, but I would advance my effort to paint 100 miniatures this year forward by 75 models.  I don't know if I'll have time, but I would also like to finish the three vehicles I have for my Cadian army.

Find An RPG Group:  I have quite a few RPG's sitting around not getting any use.  Every edition of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Pathfinder, A Song of Ice and Fire (two different games), Pendragon, LotR RPG, and a few others are gathering dust on my shelves.  I'd like to find a group, preferably somewhat local so I do not have to drive an hour up to Miami, that I can play with on a semi-regular schedule.  Alas that I live in paradise.  Great place to live but woefully void of gamers.  This may be the most difficult goal to achieve.

Organize A Wings of War Campaign:  During the last part of 2010, I met a few guys up in Miami that enjoy playing the game.  I think they would be more than willing to participate in a campaign that lasted a few months.  The big issue would be planning.  The drive up to Miami would get old very quickly and I can foresee scheduling being an issue as well.  I hope this works out though.

Spend More Time With My LotRO Kinship:  I founded the Waywatchers of Cardolan back in closed beta of LotRO (Feb of '97) and have been running it continuously since then.  We've had some ups and downs over the years as far as membership goes but we're still here quietly making noise.  In fact, we are the oldest RP Kinship on the Landroval server and possibly the entire game.  However, I've been drifting further and further away from the game for the past year or so.  It's now difficult to find the motivation to log into Middle-earth one night a week for our Thursday night RP sessions, much less at any other point during the week.  My lack of play time is showing in our membership levels.  I still have a few old timers left but we are bare bones.  It's not that we do not get applications.  It's just that when play frequency is so low its hard to keep recruits interested.  Everything is new to them and they are in a rush to do it all.  We are all lifetime members and in no rush and the difference in attitude and play style tends to push recruits to more active/new kinships.  My goal is to put in at least five hours a week into the game and Kinship.  That's a large block of time for someone who has way too many pastime pursuits and hobbies, but I will give it a shot and see what happens.

The Argent Star - heraldry for the Waywatchers of Cardolan.

Well, I could go on and on and list additional goals I would like to achieve this year but I think my list is getting to the point where anything more would be unrealistic and quite overwhelming.  I'll do what I can to keep the above resolutions, but I will also keep in mind that in reality, its all just a game and real life always comes first.