2023: Into a ninth year of blogging

Another year over, and a week into the New Year. Covid certainly made a difference to most of my hobbies (and everyone else’s) though the last month or two have felt a lot more “normal” than things have been for the last two years.

So what was 2022 for me?

Painting: My total for 2022 was 8 figures, and some assembly (minimal painting) on 12 plants. This is way down on past years, but I’ve nearly painted every single unpainted figure that I own. Unless I bought a lot more, I was never going to exceed 2021’s total of 81 figures. There are exceptions: I do have unpainted walkers, fatties, and runners for Zombicide, and  there’s orcs and gretchen in Space Crusade. If I’m desperate to paint something I could start those!

Gaming/RPG’s: My gaming group hasn’t returned to my Fals’Krag mega-dungeon, but we did manage to get nearly everyone together and play a one-shot Call of Cthulhu based on Gilligan’s Island, and another night a Shadowrun one-shot based on the “Olympus has Fallen” movie set in Canberra’s Parliament House. There’s been about half the group available on other weekends and we’ve played board games – notably Lord of the Rings Risk (twice – team play is really good), and a New Year’s Eve of Zombicide: Black Plague.

Board Games: We’ve played a bunch of other board game’s with one mate (this started with Covid restrictions on the number of people together, and how far you could travel) – those have mostly been Alhambra, Kingdom Builder, and different versions of Ticket to Ride.

Computer Games: I’ve been playing a lot of Lord of the Rings online, some World of Warcraft, occassional World of Tanks, and a fair run late in the year with Freelancer. Freelancer’s single player game is something I run through every few years, this time I found a HD version to update the graphics.

Other Stuff: I’ve been reading a lot! I’ve spend lots of spare time writing one-shot RPG games for different systems that my group may not have played before. I’ve combat-mapped a large area ready for Fals’Krag, and need to finish detailing what’s in those locations. My wife and I moved house and cleaned up the old house to sell. It didn’t sell, so there’s been preparation for it to now be leased. All of this, and both setting up the new house, fixing things, gardening, building chicken housing, etc have taken months. My work has stayed very busy all year, and though I keep considering retirement, while I’m happy to keep working I will.

Plans for 2023:

I have three figures on my painting desk to finish. I have thirteen Citadel beastmen that I think are worth doing. Then its probably time to dig through all my figure boxes to see what I might have missed. I have more plants to work on, similar to the previous set and I’m considering some trees or bigger plants. It might be a good year to actually build some proper terrain – walls and basic ruined buildings.

The next RPG is likely to be a one-shot Conan adventure (using Conan d20 rules), but I expect that we’ll restart Fals’Krag this year, and play one-shot’s when a few players are not available. I hope to finish three other one-shot adventures: Battlestar Galactica and Star Gate (using StarGate 5E rules) and one Eclipse Phase adventure. All these needs maps before I can finish adventure detail.

I’m reading through my collection of Barbara Hambly books now, then I have a fair number of trilogies to read (for the first time!), having purchased the missing book/s last year. I’ll continue playing LotRo on the computer, and I was gifted Rome: Total War for Christmas so that will be something new in the near future.

Final image: These are my bookcases set up for painting, gaming and most of my collection of dragons. The first is next to my computer/painting desk, the other (only 30cm away) is next to our large dining table where we play games. This is much better than stuff in boxes and multiple bookcases, in different rooms, that I had before we moved house. There are a few more board games on top of another bookcase in the lounge. The green bag is my travelling bag – it has a large figure box to hold whatever figures, terrain, etc that I’ll need for a RPG, and smaller boxes with tokens, dice, dice-tower, cards, maps, PC miniatures, etc.

Inspiration for a Dragon Miniature?

I’ve certainly been doing more reading (and some RPG writing) recently instead of painting. Most recently I’ve completed an autobiography by Tony Rivers (an English 60’s singer who went on to do backing vocals and arrangements for heaps of popular groups and singers through the 70’s & 80’s), an autobiography by John Cleese (you should know who he is), and a political thriller co-authored by Hilary Clinton.

I’m now planning to catch up on some books I purchased just before we moved that filled in gaps in a number of series I’d collected. I’ve started with the Winterlands series by Barbara Hambly. I’ve only previously read the first book, and had waited decades before getting copies of book 2 & 4. Tonight (halfway through book one) I suddenly had a suspicious idea concerning the book cover, that has never before occurred to me in the last 30 years or so… relating to a miniature I own.

The book is “Dragonsbane” published in 1986 by Del Rey. The cover image was done by Michael Whelan. Here’s a clipped image of the original from which the cover is taken.

Then here’s the unpainted “Black Dragon II” released by Grenadier in 1988, as part of their Dragon Lords series. Their relationship with TSR had finished in 1982 but this series depicted the AD&D dragons with slight differences. Sculpted by William Watt.

I painted this figure when I first got back into painting miniatures. The timing is fine for the book cover to have inspired the miniature, whether directly or unconsciously. Note the raised forearm, and the shape of the neck. The body scales are very small like on the book image, unlike the other dragons in this series that I have. The rest of the sculpt, like the tail, rear legs and wings don’t match the same pose. I’m ignoring the three-clawed hands as all the other dragons Watt did are the same.

I can’t find anything on the sculptor, and geographically, Hambly/Whelan and Grenadier were on opposite sides of the USA. Maybe there is no connection and this is coincidence!

Trivia: The AD&D Black Dragon has forward pointing horns, unlike the images of the assembled figure, and larger plate-like scales.

A return to painting & hobby plans

The house move is done, and we are pretty much set up and settled in. There continue to be little things that need to be fixed up in and outside the house, and a few things we’ll probably move around until we are happier. The old house is finally on the market to sell. If all goes well next month, I may treat myself to a new board game, and/or some more miniatures (if I see something I really want).

From the hobby perspective, I’ve been finding time to read, think about RPG’s, play some games and in the last week – paint!

In terms of figure painting, 2022 has been the worst for figures completed since I re-started painting in 2013. The figures I’m currently working on will more than double this years output. There are good reasons that contributed to this – Covid, planning to move & moving house, more writing RPG material earlier in the year than playing RPG’s or painting, and so on. I’ve also painted the majority of my figure collection now, so unless I either buy more figures (which I’d prefer not to do) or push to complete the remainder of unpainted ones, painting will remain less.

This isn’t a bad thing… after spending a lot of time on painting Zombicide: Black Plague (2016-2017, and really enjoying it) I considered a target of 100 figures a year to be something worthwhile. I got to 93 in 2017, but I’ve only averaged 70 a year over the previous 5 years, not looking at 2022. When I paint sets of figures (Zombicide, all my Orcs / Skaven / Star Wars, or some board game figures, etc) I tend to have a greater output, and I’d say I enjoyed it more. All in all, I was considering that a target of 50 would be more likely, but I think I’m better off not setting a target at all and being happy with whatever I achieve.

So… I would like to complete the GW Beastmen I have that aren’t painted (about a dozen), and dig through my figure boxes to see what else is left. I’m also thinking of making some terrain. I’d be starting with some plants for Gamma World, that might also be useful for a fantasy setting, and considering some walls and ruined buildings. Early next year I should have the Witcher Board Game (Kickstarter by ‘Go on Board’) arrive with some miniatures that I’m looking forward to painting. I have a lot more RPG writing to complete too. More than that, who knows! I’ll see what happens!

Almost Nothing to report…

It feels like a long time since I posted anything, and I don’t really want to look at how long its really been. It’s been a case of ‘Life’ being more important than my hobbies… August has been very busy at work, and all my novels, RPG stuff, figures and painting materials are all in boxes as my wife and I are moving to a new house. We should have the move over this weekend, and I can start unpacking!

I have a half dozen figures primed & ready to paint, a few series of novels now complete that I really want to read, and RPG work to continue. It will also be nice doing all this in a slightly larger house, with more natural light in a quieter street.

So I’m looking forward to everything being a new normal and having friends round to do some gaming! Roll on September…

WordPress walks back (some) changes

WordPress still has no official announcement of its plan & price changes – no email to customers, no message on our dashboards. The large amount of “feedback” (almost entirely complaints) has led them to give us back a few of the things we had before April. Scent of a Gamer has an update on the mess…

Scent of a Gamer

Thanks to a link from Aywren, I see that WordPress have undone some of their recent disastrous changes.

The newly introduced limits on how many people are allowed to view your blog each month (!) are gone again… at least for now.

Remaining are the large reduction in storage for free plans (now reduced by two-thirds, instead of five-sixths), and the large monetary gap between the free plan and the cheapest paid plan.

Even if the storage reduction is largely undone, WordPress have destroyed a lot of trust and goodwill in exchange for… I’m not sure what gains. People who were previously on the cheaper paid plans will be looking around at alternatives, and those on the free plans will be keeping alert for opportunities to move away from a provider that has demonstrated a willingness to change things so fundamentally, and without notice.

There has been no…

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A sudden, unannounced change

I’m only a small blog compared to many of those I follow, but this is important to be aware of:
A fair number of WP bloggers noticed their media storage space suddenly become full yesterday… with no warning… and no announcement from WP. They seem to be in the process of restricting plan options, and increasing prices.
Take a look at Dave’s Blog, where this article originated. Read the comments too. (There’s links to WP forum and their responses and attempts at answering questions raised.)


WP: “We often make an announcement several days after a change is made so we have room to work out issues that may arise.”

At this point WP have still failed to make any official announcement of changes. Some WP customers are only learning about the change because of blog posts by other customers. There is a single forum thread open where they are “collecting feedback”. (Other threads get closed/re-directed as people complain about what’s happened.) While they have offered a few answers (anyone on a plan before 1 April 2022 still has that plan with it’s limits/benefits), there are still lots of unanswered questions, and annoyed customers.

Scent of a Gamer

In between articles a line on my blog stats suddenly went from being halfway full to being full and red:

The free WordPress option used to come with 3GB for storage space.

Above is an image I found on a WordPress page that already seems to have been deleted while I was writing this. It shows what the limit used to be.

That has now been reduced to 500MB. At the moment, I can still upload new images, but I’m expecting that to stop soon.

There has been no announcement that I can see, but this is the new ‘free’ option. It has been drastically reduced. I also notice the 10,000 monthly views limit. I’m getting more than that, and so are many others I know.

At some point, something is going to happen, as in I won’t be able to upload new images, and people won’t be able…

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2015: Reviewing the Dragons

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Simply put, my blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2015, by people from 35 different countries.

The busiest day was 8th November with 27 views.

The most popular post was Painting an “old” set of adventurers.

Of the top 5 sites that have referred people to my posts, two are readers themselves (that I also follow) – thanks Azazel & Subedai!


Click here to see the complete report.