Moments of Inertia by Rachel Crawford

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January Hobby Roundup

Phew! January has been a productive month, hobby-wise. After painting a worm, some netters and some spider riders (detailed here), I painted a big ol’ spider:

This is my 3rd Arachnarok, and first with a howdah (cool word!) on the back. The howdah, by the way, is detachable - my debut magnetization attempt - so that I can run the spider as another Skitterstrand if I want to. I’m pretty certain I built the whole thing correctly, but I can’t get the howdah to sit straight, so it looks a little wonky. Oh well!

I’m now up to about 1300 points of just Spiderfang goblins.

Khorne Dogs

Following that, I did some Flesh Hounds:

Aren’t they cute? I’m not doing a Blades of Khorne army (although I do have a handful of them from the old starter set) - I’m not even planning a Warcry warband - but I just had to have some Hounds. Iconic and quick to paint.

Gitmob Grots

I painted 30 very old goblins from the 1992 Warhammer Fantasy Battles starter box. They don’t look like Moonclan Grots, so I needed to come up with a lore reason why they fit into my Gloomspite Gitz army:

The sun-scoured steppes that border the Gloomwood are populated by a multitude of Gitmob Grot tribes. Though they are numerous enough to be a constant menace to the Plainstrider peoples who share the region, they are too disunited to stand up to the might of the Moonclan and Spiderfang grots who dwell in the Gloomwood. As a result, they often find themselves drafted into their armies as auxiliaries whenever the Dankroot Dastards march to war - be it against their external enemies or, more commonly, against themselves. Here they fulfil a useful role to their overlords, either as mere extra bodies to bulk out the teeming hordes, or as scouts and advance guard, roving ahead of the main force while the Moonclan gits cower away from the daylight in hidden caves and grottos.

I’m very pleased with how they came out. Some of the shields are from North Star kits, but the rest were designed and 3D-printed by a friend. Thanks, friend!

Sneaking in behind them came 10 last-gen Night Goblins. These models are SO different from the current equivalent, with their huge heads and enormous hands. The ‘Kev Adams’ look. As with the other grots, I discovered that highlighting with yellow is a pretty neat trick.

Finally, I painted the rather problematic old Forest Goblin Standard Bearer model:

He will be joining my Spiderfang as a Webspinner Shaman. He didn’t get the yellow skin highlights - I like my Spiderfang Grots to be pale and pasty.

Next Steps

I’m planning to spend most of February just getting models ready to paint. All sorts of different models are gonna be stripped, built or fixed, based, and primed by the end of February. This means I probably won’t be showing off a lot of painted models for next month, but it will be a productive one nonetheless. The payoff will be huge: when it’s time for me to paint a particular project, all I will have to do is grab it off the backlog shelf.

I’ve already begun this process and it’s very satisfying to finally give these miniatures a bit of the attention they deserve.

Hobby Update: Goblins and Creepy Crawlies

So far 2021 has been a goblins-and-bugs year. I’m okay with that. I like both goblins and bugs.

Netters

First up are 10 Moonclan Grot1 Netters. These are old metal ones, I’m not sure quite when they were sculpted, but they must be out-of-production for at least 15 years? I picked ‘em up on Ebay, scouring the listings for good deals over several months. I didn’t particularly want to have metal Netters, but alas: I have no way to get enough of them without picking up multiple boxes of Stabbas/Shootas (from which you can build 3 with nets) or converting/kitbashing my own. This is the problem with starting a Gitz army using old Battle for Skull Pass miniatures, sadly. I look forward to watching all the paint chip off over time.

To tell the truth, I started painting these a few days before the end of 2020, but only finished them on New Year’s Day, so I’m not sure which year’s count I should include them in.

Great Worm

Up next, I done a worm:

This hateful creature is the first Reaper Bones miniature I’ve ever painted. I was a bit apprehensive when I ordered it, worried that the quality would be low, but my fear was unfounded - the plastic is great for chunky medium-sized creatures like this one. The Bones miniatures come pre-primed but I just primed straight over the top of it and it was fine.

It was mostly painted using washes and drybrushing. I picked out the nasty nodules and cracks in the skin using Volupus Pink Contrast paint.

I ordered a handful of other beasties along with it - a tiny Basilisk, a bigger Dracolisk, an Ogre, a Yeti and a Werewolf. Hopefully I’ll paint them soon, as I’m quite excited to see how they turn out.

Spider Riders

Following the worm, I did 10 more Spider Riders for my Spiderfang Grots contingent. These came from a friend for cheaps (thanks, friend!) and are from the old Skull Pass starter box, like my other Spider Riders.

Quite pleased with how these turned out. They look like sour gummy sweets, and contrast nicely with my other spiders. The recipe is, more or less: Terradon Turquoise, drybrush Scorpion Green, drybrush Flash Gitz Yellow.

Currently on the hobby desk is a BIG spider (an Arachnarok) - this time one I’ve had to build myself instead of being pre-built. Stay tuned for buggy updates!

  1. Formerly ‘Night Goblins’ 

Hell Year in Review

2020 is not a year I will look back on fondly. I doubt many of us will! It started off so positive and energetic, but over the hill came a big bad pandemic. The time since has felt simultaneously short and long - a year that would never end, and yet also a year of which I have very few memories.

Nonetheless, I should write down some of the things I did and thought.

Working from Home

In March we all got kicked out of our office, about a week before the whole UK went into full lockdown. It was the right decision, even if it was a bit late. Thanks to a massive effort by the IT team we have all been able to work remotely ever since. Sure, there’s a bit more friction, but the technical side of remote working has been alright.

The personal side of remote working, however… I hate it!

It’s really hard to concentrate. I feel lonely. Isolated. Desperate for attention and stimulation, I distract easily. Home is where I do fun things and chill out, not get exasperated at work problems. By this point I’ve gotten okay (ish) at managing my issues but it sure has been a slog to get here, and there isn’t really an end in sight until perhaps the late Summer? (Please?)

On balance, however, working from home has kept us safe from COVID. It’s also meant a bit more time for hobby, gaming, and generally-not-paying-close-attention-to-work (one of my greatest talents). I’ve really appreciated having the whole flat to me and Natalie - it’s been a good time to live in a spacious abode. There are worse things to be in a pandemic than a comfortably middle-class programmer.

Love and Friendship

Me and Nat are doing well. She is so, so great, and we make an increasingly great team. I am intensely grateful for our relationship. Certain parts of 2020 would have been unbearably lonely without it.

Not being able to see much of my family has been a major bummer, especially as my brother and his wife had a baby this year. My first non-step- nibling, living in the same city as me - and I haven’t been able to spend any time with him yet. Meanwhile I haven’t seen any of my grandparents since February, and I miss them a lot.

Someone I like a lot moved to Edinburgh in the Summer and we’ve been going on nice, but distanced dates together. I want to kiss her! But alas.

I’ve appreciated my friends a great deal in 2020. Meeting up for walks, catching up over voicechat or IM, having quizzes and playing games over the internet - these moments have been beacons of light for me this year.

I feel like when things are better I’m gonna spend a lot more time with family and friends and going on dates. I’ve a major soul-deficit by this point.

I Live in a Failed State

I really don’t like the government of the UK! (Or even the Scottish government that much really!) It has handled the pandemic almost the worst in the world, making all the wrong decisions and fucking up the right ones at every opportunity. On top of this, nobody powerful is holding them to account - certainly not our weak-piss opposition and definitely not our sycophantic journalist class. We are in an incredibly awful situation.

It’s now very clear we should have pursued an elimination strategy, seeking to reduce cases to zero. Then we could have had slightly restricted, but otherwise normal lives until the vaccine arrived. Now even with the vaccine being rolled out, it’s going to be a long time before we can live normally again. Man, I just want to play Warhammer and hug my friends and drink a beer in a pub, you know? And not be afraid my country’s health service will collapse.

Meanwhile Britain’s anti-trans bullshit has really ramped up this year. Along with the rest of the bigotry. Do I really want to live here my whole life? Is living here worth dying for? I’m asking myself these questions a lot.

Hair

I have short hair again for the first time in like… 10 years? Feels good! And it makes me realise I was perhaps not a very convincing man back in the day, in spite of what I might have believed.

In January I had a fairly drastic cut to about neck length. Then it grew until, at some point in the summer, too wary to return to a hairdresser, I snipped it myself. At first I just made a ponytail and cut it off. Then I had to fix the mess that was left. Over the weeks and months I kept coming back to it, trimming a bit here and there until I had a properly short haircut. While I am proud of my personal haircutting efforts, I’d still like to see what a professional could achieve.

Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope 2021 is okay for you. No, scratch that - I hope 2021 is fucking great for all of us.

Warcry: Dodge and Defend (An Unofficial Supplement)

I’ve written a one-page mod for Warcry! Check it out:

The supplement tries to address a particular criticism of Warcry I keep seeing. On the one hand, the way attacking works is one of the game’s best features: it’s simple and fast, with just enough variables to create some verisimilitude. On the other hand, without a save roll you don’t get the chance to do anything to mitigate incoming damage. That can feel bad.

To fix this, my supplement gives all fighters the ability to react to attacks by attempting to dodge them or deflect them, reducing the amount of damage done. Neither reaction is free - a fighter spends one of their actions when it reacts, and can only react once per round.

Dodge halves the number of attack dice and, if all damage is successfully avoided, lets the dodger make a short move away from the attacker. But you can’t dodge if you don’t have enough space.

Defend reduces the attacker’s damage characteristic by 1. So maybe less good, but you don’t need space to do it.

I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly playtest these rules, I’m afraid. COVID is kicking our butts here in Scotland, so regular gaming is still a thing of the past. But probably I can persuade Nat to play a few games with me, and we’ll see if the mod really does what it should.

Dunbeg (18th-26th September 2020)

Yesterday we got back to Edinburgh after a week away in a self-catering holiday house in Dunbeg, near Oban. We walked about, we cycled, we ate well and in the time in between I played a lot of Morrowind on my laptop. A cracking week off. Let me tell you about it.

Getting There

Having given a suitcase full of our things to my mum on Thursday evening, Friday morning saw Natalie and I cycling to Waverley, taking our bikes with us to Queen Street.

This was the first train either of us had been in since February, so a pretty weird experience, and a nervewracking one. In all 4 of the trains we were on this holiday it didn’t feel like people were able to sit far enough apart the whole time to be properly safe, and there were too many people not wearing their masks1, or not wearing them properly2. So I doubt I’ll be risking a train journey again until it’s much safer, but it was the only way we could bring our bikes.

At GQS we discovered that our bike reservation was invalid for the train we were planning to get, so we had to make a new reservation for the next train and wait four hours for it. This wasn’t so bad - it was a perfectly sunny day, so we walked across town to Kelvingrove, sat in the sunshine, and had a wee tour of the museum.

Returning to GQS we boarded the train to Oban without a hitch and enjoyed glorious scenery for the duration of the ride, the late-afternoon early-evening sun lighting the highlands.

Hotel

Arriving in Connell (the last stop before Oban), we checked into our hotel for a one-night stay. We wouldn’t have been able to take our bikes on the day after due to the train being replaced by a bus, so we had to go a day early and stay overnight in a hotel before our main accommodation.

That evening we attempted to enjoy our first meal in a restaurant (the hotel’s) since March. We were partly successful. I just don’t see how indoor dining can really work without good ventilation, which this place didn’t have. It’s an airborne virus, it doesn’t matter how many metres away from the nearest table you are if you’re all breathing the same air.

The next day we biked around the area for a while before we were able to get into the holiday home. We cycled into Oban, where lots of people (so many!) were enjoying the sunshine. We got lunch from a coffee shop and ate by the quayside, watching ferries come and go.

Staying in Dunbeg

In the mid-afternoon we were allowed into the holiday home so we headed there and waited for my mum and stepdad to arrive in their car.

Dunbeg is a small village just along the road from Oban, next to Dunstaffnage, where there is a marina with pontoons and moorings for yachts. My dad shares a boat with some friends and it tends to live in Dunstaffnage, so I’m quite familiar with the harbour from years of ‘fun’ sailing holidays3.

On the peninsula there is Dunstaffnage Castle, a ruined chapel, and a Marine Biology Centre (for some reason). There is a really smooth cycle path from Dunbeg to Ganaven Beach, which allows you to get to Oban without going on the hellish main road.

We spent the following week exploring the area on foot and by bike. My parents went on quite ambitious bike rides, but myself and Natalie didn’t join them, being a bit intimidated by the amount of time we’d have to spend sharing roads with feral car drivers. In fact, when we attempted a longer ride, I hit a nasty rock and knackered my front tyre within about 30 minutes and had to push home to Dunbeg. I think I’ll invest in some tougher, wider tyres, as the current ones on my 2nd-hand bicycle are only good for roads and are a bit worn down anyway. I did learn how to fit a new inner tube though – turns out it’s not too difficult.

I also took a bit of a break from being vegetarian. I’m not a particularly pure one anyway, and the local shop had a very paltry offering of vegetables that would have made cooking veggie dinners all week super inconvenient for us all.

In the time indoors I did a bit of writing, mostly working on the rules for a little wargame/RPG thing I’m cooking up, and played a lot of Morrowind. I fucking love Morrowind. Extremely good game. Every time I come back to it I appreciate it more and more. Being away from the painting desk gave me a lot of time to dedicate to my current play-through.

Kerrera

The highlight of the holiday for me was definitely taking the ferry across to Kerrera, a small island that encloses part of the bay of Oban. You can walk around most of it in 4 hours or so, which is what we did, paying a visit to the small but dramatic Gylen Castle (above) and enjoying some perfect weather (no rain, no wind, lots of sun) as we walked.

Near the ferry port one of the island farms has set up a little honesty-policy-shop where you can buy ice cream and other local produce. My mum bought some nice burgers which we ate the following evening.

I definitely recommend visiting Kerrera if you can.

Homeward

The inbound journey went a lot smoother than the outbound one. Once again I didn’t feel particularly confident about being on a train, especially when a lot of non-mask-wearers boarded on the way into Glasgow, and the Glasgow-Edinburgh train had many more people on it than it should have. Sigh.

But we made it home alright. Time will tell if we got away with taking the risk of travelling by train.

Parting Thoughts

I can’t emphasise enough how good it was to get out of town, away from the flat, for 10 glorious days. To just totally break the routine I’ve been in all year. I also can’t overstate how lucky I feel to have spent some time with my mum and stepdad again, holidaying together (almost) like in the Before Times. It was a risk but after going nearly a year without leaving Edinburgh, and six months with only very timid contact with family members, it was a risk I was willing to take!

Restrictions have tightened up here in Scotland in the last week due to rapidly-increasing case numbers. I don’t think we’d have been able to do what we did if we were just a week later. Summer is coming to an end, Autumn has arrived and is taking its boots off. I’m glad we got away when we did before what is likely to be a long, uncomfortable winter.

If you, like me, have been cooped up in your inner city flat for the past six months, now is probably the time to see if you can grab a few days in a self-catering home somewhere. (Hopefully somewhere that’s easier and safer to get to than Dunbeg.) It will help.

Now then. I’ve not painted any minis for 10 days. It’s time to do something about that!

  1. Any more than zero is too many in my opinion, in a confined space like a train carriage. 

  2. I don’t wanna see your nose, pal. And no, you can’t just take it off for half an hour so you can eat an entire meal. 

  3. In fact, him and a friend returned from a boat-trip to Gigha on Monday, so we met them at the marina for a wee catch-up.