Saturday 31 December 2022

Fond Farewells & New Beginnings

It's been a somewhat significant year here at the Cheaphammer Towers, and events have conspired to impact the output of posts on the blog in comparison with last year's record breaking total. 

Moving the location of my secret lair opened up new hobby space, bigger gaming opportunities and, crucially, more storage space, as the previous headquarters of the Cheaphammer media empire was bursting at the seams.

Even more significant was the loss of my father, the inspiration for my love of wargaming. Having lost both my parents in the last three years, this new year feels like a bit of a watershed as I start a new phase in my life.

Without getting too maudlin, my thoughts once again turn to both looking back and forward in my now traditional review of the year, specifically how I've done in relation to the arbitrary hobby targets I set myself over this last year, and then set myself some new goals to work towards.

Looking Back

1. Paint more than I acquire - SUCCESS

This one is quite clear. I acquired only 132 new models this year and painted 213. I always use the 'acquired' measurement to better account for the comings and goings more than just looking at what I've bought. I've bought far more that 132, but I've sold and given away a fair chunk of miniatures throughout the year that has kept the balance in my favour.

One thing I have been quite good at this year is actually painting the new things I've bought fairly quickly. The Carnevale miniatures got painted very quickly to facilitate gaming and I think I should remember this and strike while the iron's hot in terms of my motivation.

Some things have been a bit slower, for example my Horus Heresy miniatures (about 30 new models and a bit of tidying up here and there) were a bit of a grind as I find painting Space Marines in numbers above 5 somewhat of a chore. I need to ensure that I don't buy too much for any one project at a time because fatigue can set in and projects can end up being shelved for some time. For example, I finished my War of 1812 Americans for Sharp Practice five years after starting it.

Another aspect that I added to my goal was the Hobby Bingo Challenge from Benji's Hobbies YouTube channel. This has pushed me to do a few things outside of my comfort zone. There's only one box not ticked and that's the display board. I just couldn't find a reason to to take time out from other aspects of the hobby to do this. Maybe next year.

2. Continue telling stories - SUCCESS

I enjoy narrative games and scenarios, and I enjoy campaigns. I much prefer fighting for a reason, with specified and meaningful objectives, rather than just matching points values in a death match. As such, most of my games these days have a narrative slant.

As I intended, I've made headway with the Quest of the Ringbearer, getting the ring from Weathertop to Moria, and Matt, Pete and I started a Battle Companies campaign as well. Although some campaigns are still on hiatus (Breakout, Fortune's Fools, Stalingrad, Lurkers from the Deep), I have played through the Carnevale tutorial campaign, Matt and I have played a few more Bolt Action scenarios from the campaign books.

As ever, my narrative gaming has been at it's most prolific in the weird world of 7TV. I took He-Man and the Disney Princesses to events (and picked up prizes each time), Matt and I have been quietly doing some top secret playtesting of feature packs for Crooked Dice (I could tell you about this, but I'd have to kill you) and I've also managed to play through the whole of Orsa the Fearless (the final episode still needs writing up.

Basically, narrative gaming is my jam and you can expect to see more of it.

3. Just play more games - SUCCESS

This is something that I am trying to do, but real life does get in the way. I'm actually roleplaying much more than I was this time last year. My ongoing WFRP Border Princes campaign continues online, and this year has seen me step back into D&D as the gnomish rogue Waldo 'Nimblefingers' Redcap - although when we last left him he was making death saves at the bottom of a spiked pit trap, so we'll see how that pans out.

Matt and Pete remain my usual tabletop opponents, with Pete being my co-conspirator in returning to grim darkness of the far future in both Warhammer 40k and Horus Heresy. Playing these games when we get the chance is the reason why the struggle for Stalingrad hasn't moved forward this year.

At some point, I hope to actually win a game of either of these.

Matt is my regular opponent and the malleable foil for my severe case of campaignitis with Lord of the Rings and 7TV. I'm really appreciative of his willingness to try new games like Carnevale and we are trying to ensure that games like Bolt Action don't get left behind (a sneak peek of an upcoming report above).

One worrying trend is that both Matt and Pete are singing the siren song of Oldhammer at me and I feel myself being drawn in the direction of their nostalgic return to older editions of 40k and WFB. Given that I have the willpower of a lump of soft cheese, I suspect that my resistance will melt this year.

Looking Forward

1. Decrease the Lead Mountain

Yep. Same old, same old. Paint more than I acquire and keep chipping away at the ever decreasing backlog by whatever means necessary. Keeping count remains a good discipline and I'm going to keep an eye out for another hobby bingo card to add to this process.

2. Get things 'finished'

I don't normally share WIP photos, but this photo demonstrates the issue. I don't want things to pile up and drag on. My experience with the War of 1812 has taught me that I need to clear projects to make space, and so I want to commit to the following:
  • Finish my Lord of Change for the Tzeentch Daemons,
  • Get the Blood Angels to 3000 points (I'm at about 2000 now),
  • Finish off the last couple of Masters of the Universe miniatures I own,
  • Paint what is necessary for the next stages of Lurkers from the Deep, Vlad's Army, War in Rohan and getting the Fellowship of the Ring through Moria.
3. Stay 'cheap'

This one is a bit vague, but I want to ensure that even though I have more freedom about this than when I started this blog, I continue to find the joy in avoiding the mainstream, hunting for bargains and finding miniatures that work for projects without necessarily feeling forced down official channels.

Projects like Freedom Force are a good example of something that, currently, nobody has their official hooks into (He-Man became less fun when several different official games were released), I don't feel I have to buy anything and when I do it's on my own terms.

This can be trickier when it comes to things like the Horus Heresy, but I still feel that by using my existing collection as a base to build from, I have kept to the essence of cheaphammer.

This will be a hard one to measure.


And so there we have it. 2022 is wrapped up. It's been full of big events for me personally, so I suspect 2023 will be a little calmer. You can expect the blog to continue much as it has done, and a personal log of my hobby journey; don't expect any patreons, giveaways or clickbait any time soon. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Deck The Haul

So this is Christmas, and what have we got? Another year older, and I got quite a lot (depending on your perspective).

Yes, it's one of those rather gauche posts in which social media 'influencers' show off what they've got for free in a celebration of consumerist consumption that would make Marx blush.

I should point out, however, that most of what follows has come from Mrs Cheaphammer, selected from a wider list (to ensure an element of surprise), so I've paid for half of it.

First up is the Carnevale intro box 'Escape From San Canciano'. Yes I already have the starter box, but this is probably the best (and probably cheapest) way to add to both my Rashaar and Guild forces as is contains four miniatures (roughly 50 Ducats) for each gang.

In addition, there is a 2x2 mat for quick games, a couple of small scenarios, a mini rulebook, three more cardboard buildings, extra dice and a bunch more bits and pieces, including some cardboard scenery for floating detritus, which allows me to add a bit more variation on to my existing terrain set up until I actually get round to making some.

I will admit that I've ended up with more Lord of the Rings miniatures than I was expecting, however, they will be pleasing additions. I'm not sure if any of these miniatures will show up in the Quest of the Ringbearer, and only a few will make an appearance in War in Rohan, meaning that I might need to start pestering Pete about cracking on with Gondor at War, as he has all the Minas Tirith stuff.

I haven't played that much Bolt Action recently, but I'm still pleased to finally get my hands on this book. Not only does it have several more Theatre Selectors and new units for my Fallschirmjaeger, it also has has a load of specific scenarios for them that I might be able to convince Wes to break out his Americans for.

This year, I was a late entrant to the 7TV Secret Santa that I've participated in for the last few years. Fortunately, Shaun, who organises it kindly took me into the fold and exchanged gifts with me. I sent him some Doctor Who miniatures (4 Daleks and 3 Ogrons) that keep slipping down my to do list and he's sent me a small SWAT team.

As these miniatures are on the smaller side, I'm probably going to add them to my Terminator: Genisys Resistance force as commanders. Admittedly, a shotgun and two SMGs are not going to stop the Machines by themselves, but more obvious command models will be helpful, and I might have to look if there are rules for the massive shield.

Finally, there's this. I suppose it might work as terrain in WW2 Germany or on a winter themed city board, were it not for the fact that the scale is somewhat off - even more so than the half-track, before certain people bring that up. This is the sort of thing that happens when Mrs Cheaphammer goes off-piste. The headlamps light there's that.

So there we are. Christmas Day comes and goes with 18 in and 7 out. It looks like I'm going to end the year in the black (especially as Santa brought me no money or vouchers this year). I've still got at least one more post in me before the big fat review of the year at the weekend.

I hope you and yours had a lovely day.

Acquired: 132
Painted: 213

Friday 23 December 2022

Crossing That Bridge Before I Come To It

At the end of my recent Carnevale battle report, I commented that I'd like to paint some more models for it. Unfortunately, there were two problems with this plan:
  1. I don't have any unpainted Carnevale models,
  2. Its far too close to Christmas for me to buy things that were on my somewhat extensive letter to Santa (I like to give him options).
Therefore, I need to to find a workaround...

My answer to this conundrum was actually staring my in the face whilst I played the games in the battle report. I may not have any unpainted Carnevale miniatures, but I certainly had terrain that needed work, specifically three bridges.

Therefore I set about painting one of them, keeping it consistent with the first bridge I painted months ago, whilst varying things a little for visual interest. Therefore the base colours remain Administratum Grey and Ratskin Flesh, drybrushed with Corax White, but I painted the visible pegs in the side in Rhinox Hide and did a different design on the flagstones.

I'd originally intended to keep the paving slabs grey for simplicity's sake, but I was enjoying myself whilst painting this and decided to play with a faded black and white design, using Eshin Grey and Grey Seer, down the centre. This was also a bit of a test run for my more fancy bridge, as I'm thinking of going much heavier on the black and white theme for that one.

All in all, I'm quite please with it.

The little chap running over the bridge is actually a Warlord Games celt child I've have for some time, who has seen service in Frostgrave and my Masters of the Universe project. I've decided to repurpose him as a Pilferer working for the Guild.

One of the things I really appreciate about Carnevale is the fact that the profiles are all online, so you are able to proxy models to your heart's content. I like this approach from gaming companies  because it allows you to try before you buy and supplement your collection from other sources. I also think that it shows confidence in the quality and price of their miniatures.

I intend to add more official miniatures to my Guild and Rashaar forces as I like the aesthetic of the TTCombat models, but to add variation to my games, I'm also putting together a proxy Vampire force to prevent things being too predictable, which you should see coming together fairly soon when the bases arrive. 

Despite the impeding arrival of the jolly fat man, I did pick up a few more miniatures yesterday whilst I was in Sheffield. I bought another sprue of plastic miniatures for building another Freedom Force character. This still leaves me in good shape for ending the year in the black.

Acquired: 121
Painted: 213

I'm fairly sure that this is my last post before the big day, so I'll wish you a merry Christmas and see you on the other side. 

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Carnevale: War!

The opportunity for a short notice game came up with Matt, and we decided to return to the mean streets of Venice in a bid to complete the intro campaign from the Carnevale starter box.

When last we left the Guild and Rashaar, they were in the middle of a series of scuffles over possession of a mysterious stone. Both sides had tasted victory, but only by the narrowest of margins and so things were finely poised going into the final two scenarios.


Not content to let the Guild continue to meddle in their schemes, a sinister Magi-Rashaar has emerged from the depths of San Canciano, intent on unleashing eldritch powers from beyond the Rent upon its foes.

And yet the Guild know the streets truly belong to them and so the Capodecina in the area led his forces to hunt down and slay the foul creature before it could work it's fell magics.

This scenario was a straight up fight with the aim being to survive whilst making the enemy bleed. Each surviving model would score its side 1 victory point, with the added wrinkle that the Guild could score and additional 3 victory points if the Capodecina killed the Magi-Rashaar. Finally, each side could also score points from 3 secret agendas.

As might already be clear, the scenario introduced leaders into the fray, along with the rules for magic. As suggested by the scenario, the Magi-Rashaar took the Blood Rites discipline and loaded up with offensive spells.

Turn 1

With their mission parameters clear, the Guild advanced in force, intent on cleansing the streets of Venice of the scourge of the Rashaar. The Capodecina moved swiftly across the rooftops seeking a position from which he could leap down upon his quarry.

Meanwhile, the Rashaar all dived deep into the canal to hide their movements and take advantage of their skill in the water.

No casualties were caused and no agendas were completed, leaving the score at Guild 5 - Rashaar 5.

Turn 2

The Guild Citizens rushed across the bridge group together for safety in numbers, but the wily Magi-Rashaar saw this as an opportunity and unleashed the Kraken's breath upon them, causing severe damage.

Meanwhile, the Gondolier stumbled upon a Slave leaping about on boxes for no apparent reason, a fight ensued and although it didn't finish in this turn, we shan't be mentioning it again as this was a curious engagement with the Gondolier trying to not kill the Slave before disengaging with her several times. Meanwhile, the Slave was hugely embarrassing, managing to do more damage to herself than the Gondolier, who ultimately put her out of her misery in the following turn.

Seeing the Magi-Rashaar had come out of hiding, the Capodecina leapt across the canal in attempt to get to his prey. However, his leap fell short. Although he escaped harm, he could no longer reach the Magi-Rashaar and redirected his effort toward a lowly slave.

Somehow the slave survived this assault and the Capodecina was counter charged by the hideous form of a Lesser Ugdru erupting out of the canal.

Whilst this was happening, the other Ugdru continued to Hold Its Breath and dived beneath the canal once again. It's not clear what his agenda was, but it succeeded.

Guild 5 - Rashaar 6

Turn 3

With the foul sorcerer in the open, the Capodecina struck, inflicting significant harm on the creature but not slaying it. He just had to survive the inevitable magical counter attack and he would complete his mission in the following turn.

However, what followed was a torrent of eldritch power as the Kraken's Breath again burst out from the Magi's trident, killing two of the Citizens. Then, Blood Drain sapped the life force of the Capodecina, slaying him and revitalising the Magi-Rashaar into the bargain.

Hopelessly outnumbered, the valiant final Citizen charged into the sorcerer but failed to bring him down, and her bravery proved to be her undoing as she was in turn ripped apart by the Lesser Ugdru.

Despite killing the inept Slave, the Gondolier was now on his own against almost the entire Rashaar gang.

Guild 1 - Rashaar 5

Turns 4&5

The game was now up for the Guild and the Gondolier was pursued up on top of a building by the Lesser Ugdrus.

It was almost as if the Gondolier was trying to Draw Them In as he let one of the creatures charge him only to disengage in order to drop down onto the one still on the street, intent on cleaving its skull in two.

However, a quick read of rules for interrupting with Command Points allowed to Lesser Ugdru to slash at the Gondolier as he fell, ripping the life out of him before his blow struck home.

With a message of death well an truly sent, the Rashaar left the corpses of the Guild strewn across the streets and returned to the depths of San Canciano.

Guild 1 - Rashaar 5


The failed assassination had further inflamed tensions and both sides now prepared for all out war. The mysterious stone had now fallen into the hands of the Rashaar, but appeared to have been planted to draw these forces into conflict, control of the stone would allow its owner to find out more about their mysterious manipulator.

This final scenario used everything from the starter box and was an all out fight for control of the stone (worth 3 Victory Points). However, plenty of other points were potentially available from cycling agendas which could be doubled for even more.

Turn 1

In pursuit of this goal, one of the Rashaar Slaves spent almost the entire battle leaping around like a lunatic, trying to chain 4" jumps together. He failed. You won't be seeing much of him in the rest of this battle.

Meanwhile both sides began to manoeuvre into position. Whilst the Capodecina took to the rooftops, many of the Guild took the guard action with the intent to Hold Ground against the fish monsters of the Rashaar.

For their part, the Rashaar made good use of the canal to position themselves to drag the Guild beneath the depths and protect the magic stone which was in the keeping of one of their slaves.

The stage was set for an almighty showdown.

Guild 1 - Rashaar 3

Turn 2

The Rashaar struck first as a Lesser Ugdru sprung out of the water at a Citizen who had wandered too close to the edge and hurled her into the canal.

As she resurfaced from the initial impact a huge shape glided towards her and the mighty Raadru dragged her down beneath the surface to her doom.

In response the Guild Fishermen moved in towards the Udgru by the bridge, but almost as if they were goading the beast, the deliberately seemed to High Dive into the water as they moved up.

The new Capodecina leapt from the rooftops to attack the Magi-Rashaar and avenge his predecessor. However, just like the previous Capo, he failed to bring down his prey and was assailed by a torrent of magic and counter attacked by a Lesser Ugdru, leaving him in a weakened condition.

Guild 2 - Rashaar 3

Turn 3

Realising discretion was the better part of valour, the Capodecina slipped away from his foes and sought to Lead From The Front in the fight against the Raadru, Strengthened by command abilities, the Guild rained blows down upon its monstrous form. However, a Slave rushed to its aid, leaping straight into its mouth, her sacrifice lending the beast new vigour which hurled itself upon the Capodecina, leaving him with just a single life point left.

In the square, a mob of Citizens advanced towards the Magi-Rashaar, who was somewhat drained after his tussle with the Capodecina. He still had enough strength to use the Cantrip of the Devil to slay his rival from affar, the success of this casting restoring some of his will and allowing him to Blood Drain one of the Citizens to revitalise himself whilst a Lesser Ugdru rushed to place himself between the mob and his master.

Both sides expended most of their resources in this phase of the battle. The Guild prayed, "Gods Guide Us!" whilst the Rashaar grimly accepted that their Gods' Will Be Done and endured the fray.

Guild 4 - Rashaar 4

Turn 4

Things got brutal as the Raadru, under the command of the Magi-Rashaar, savagely mauled a Fisherman before hurling him into the canal, stunning him and then leaping after the unconscious fool. However, the beast somehow failed in its attempt to drown him, but being stunned would ensure a watery grave for the Fisherman.

The Citizens, unsure of tangling with the eerie Magi, went to attack the Lesser Ugdru at the same time. Lured in by the Decoy, one of the Citizens were cut down, but the others bludgeoned the foul beast to death.

Guild 4 - Rashaar 5

Turn 5

Although the Fisherman in the water was destined to die anyway, the Raadru seemed intent on drowning him, but failed again. This left it vulnerable to those members of the Guild determined to Keep The Monsters At Bay and was slain by the combined efforts of a Gondolier and a Fisherman.

At this point, something strange happened. The Slave carrying the magic stone, which had been hiding the entire time, seemed to head back towards the fray, almost seeming to act as bait in a trap that nobody but he could see...

The Guild took the bait and rushed towards him, injuring the Slave before he somehow managed to hurl one of the Citizens into the water, stunning her into the bargain. However, he was immediately set upon by another Citizen and killed, surrendering the stone to the enemy.

What actually happened here is that I realised that the scores were even after the Raadru was killed and I went for broke in trying to win the game, by trying to get another Drown action performed to win the game. I thought that the Slave would survive his encounters with the lowly Citizens.

I was wrong.

I continually underestimate just how rubbish the Slaves are at everything.

Guild 8 - Rashaar 2

Turn 6

The wheels had well and truly come off the Rashaar plan and desperate times called for desperate measures. Their only hope now was to try to retrieve the stone.

The remaining Slave leapt into the water and pulled the Citizen beneath the surface, determined to Let The Tide Take Them.

The Magi-Rashaar took a mighty leap onto the statue and sprang towards the last Citizen. However, he fell agonisingly short and was left with not enough time to inflict the necessary damage on the man left clutching the stone, who staggered away to bring victory to the Guild.

Final Score: Guild 8 - Rashaar 3

Ultimately, the Guild won the battle for the stone but every battle (with the possible exception of the failed assassination) was a closely fought affair. I really like Carnevale as it delivers really action-packed games full of some frankly ridiculous moments. Some of the agendas can be a bit weird in the middle of the battle (especially the parkour ones), but they at least mean that you have ways to win other than just slaughtering the enemy.

As well as the game being good, I think this is probably the best starter box I've ever encountered for a game. A decent, but not overwhelming amount of good quality models, terrain, loads of accessories, a full rulebook and a proper introductory campaign that teaches you the game in sections. There are many companies that could learn a lot from TTCombat.

I'm trying to coax people to buy in so that I can play some more games of this. If I'm going to get out to some local events, I'm going to need to buy some more models and buy the Blood in the Water expansion for the rules updates. 

Whatever happens you can expect to see some more Carnevale on the blog in the future.