Charlie’s 2023 Hobby Year in Review

As 2023 rattles to the finish line, it’s time for the Goonhammer Goons to look back at what they’ve achieved from a hobby standpoint. In today’s post, Charlie B has mostly been painting blue Space Marines, some of which are actually red, white, or green. Or black.

The internet is famously not without problems, but one area where it trumps reality is the death of the unsolicited ramble. We’ve all been subjected to these at some point. Yes, it’s technically possible to just walk away from someone going off on one about their homebrew Brony-themed space marines, their collection of freshly squeezed bees, or the tediously surreal dream they had last night, but unfortunately one is expected to perform a socially acceptable level of interest.

Here on the internet, though, I had no magic way of making you click on this article, nor can I keep you here. Hi, welcome, thanks for coming. I’m assuming you’re after the vicarious feeling of getting stuff painted.

January-May: curing warhams on autopilot

I run into January with all the giddy enthusiasm of a man who’s just played a successful narrative campaign. This makes me want to paint space marines, but last year I painted the bulk of my ork project, and I know I can get it all done if I just hustle for a few months.

I summon the full might of my will, clean and sort my paint station, and paint two infantry models before switching back to Space Marines, like a cheap tribute of Games Workshop’s own release schedule.

Happily, the two minis in question are charming AF: it’s Krom Bignooz and his grot oiler Squigglesworth.

Krom Bignooz and Squigglesworth: Goff Ork Big Mek in Mega Armour with Grot Oiler. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: Krom Bignooz & Squigglzworth, complete with very serious lore.

Bouncing into the marines, there’s no plan or end goal. I’m fired purely by the ghost of games past, unphased by the idea that a failure to schedule more gaming events could result in this well running dry. I’m just painting random boxes from the backlog.

Foremost among these is a pretty simple conversion of a Judiciar (full article here) from the event only champion. I pay an eye watering amount of money for him only for him to be put on made to order shortly after I finish painting him. To my surprise, I’m not even mad. It was an amount of money I was apparently willing to spend, and I like the final result. Plus I don’t have to wait six months.

Cobalt Scions Judiciar. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Enthused by Brother Stabbus, I push on and paint all the idiots below. If you want to read more about any of them, I’ve included links to the relevant posts on the Beard Bunker.

Cobalt Scions Techmarine. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: Primaris Tech Support. Includes advice on freehanding a fist/gauntlet chapter badge.

Incursors, or possibly Infiltrators. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: Adding Variety to Phobos Incursors. Includes advice on darker skintones and freehanding a Cog Mechanicus.

Cobalt Scions Heavy Intercessors. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: So. Many. Highlights. Includes some advice on how to freehand that helix.

Cobalt Scions Space Marines Outriders. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article on Primaris Outriders grav bike conversions.

Cobalt Scions drop pods. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: painting drop pods fast(ish).

June & July: a spell in the Old World

All this year I’ve been painting 40K, but the weekly gaming fixture I’m running is very much square-based fare. Said fare is Musket Bastards, essentially a role-playing wargame campaign of Sharpe, but with wizards and Skaven and me absolutely scraping the barrel of different character voices I can do in a vaguely Yorkshire accent.

I am assured by actual Yorkshire lass Drew that these accents are surprisingly un-shit, but she’s kind to a fault so I don’t entirely trust her. The mistrust doesn’t stop me doing the accents though, since the word ‘bastard’ is unarguably inferior in my own southern voice.

British linguistics side, the important thing is that we’re coming to the end of the campaign, so time is running out to use it as motivation to clear out the last of my half-painted Empire stuff.

To be clear I still still have functionally infinite Empire bullshit on sprue, but a half painted Empire boy sitting in a cabinet makes little Bobby Sigmar cry.

To that end, some greatswords get bulked out from 20 to 28. After that, a new regiment of 30 halberdiers is founded (thanks for the help with those, Drew), and I paint my first ever Warhammer monster despite having been playing this game since 2006. It’s a converted griffon. My desire to paint semi realistic plumage combined with my desire to paint this thing to a high standard has ensured years of sitting on the shelf in nothing but primer, and I realise either the realism or the quality has to go.

I ditch the quality. Or at least, I replace the masochistic layering with drybrushing and glazes.

With Drew’s help the WIP zone is emptied, the troops are brought to life in the campaign, and my Fantasy itch continues to be scratched like the crotch of a sailor three days after shore leave.

The Suns of Hergig: halberdiers of Hochland. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Empire Greatswords with Free Company detachment. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: the joys of painting surplus command groups.

Empire Steam Tank. Credit: Charlie Brassley

More angles of the Steam Tank here.

Count Aldebrand Ludenhof of Hochland on Magrit the Griffon. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: painting a griffon with semi-realistic plumage.

August: space hulk terrain and a false ork start

This month I finish a terrain collaboration with Harvey and Drew. We pooled our resources and sprung for two boarding action terrain sets, which sure does take some painting, but it’s a whole lot easier with three of us sat around the table abusing brushes.

Deathwatch Space Marines battle Genestealer Cults on a space hulk. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Space Hulk terrain components. Credit: Charlie Brassley

We get it done, and it feels like good progress. I really should paint some orks, though. I crack out the five meganobz I built in 9th edition, since otherwise my only characters have no units to join (joining units wasn’t a rule in 9th, but it’s essential in 10th). The new kombi-weapon rules mean that their flamethrowers are now effectively an anti-heavy infantry weapon that doesn’t hit anything. On top of that, my anti-tank units are no longer effective against tanks. I finish painting the unit so that the army does at least function in 10th, then actively hit pause on the orks until I see whether the codex pulls me back to them in spring ’24.

Goff Ork Meganobz mob Manteara. Credit: Charlie Brassley

More photos of Manteara in the full article.

September onwards: fell paints awake

Emotionally, the year really takes off in the final quarter. This is because there is a 40K campaign coming in December.

My friend Tom remembers an experimental roleplay campaign I ran years ago. That campaign was basically a role-playing campaign where the combat encounters are all 40K battles. At the start of each campaign turn I’d update a planetary map, showing the location and disposition of ork invasion forces. The players, Tom and Jeff, would then split their company-sized Raven Guard and Blood Angels strike forces into detachments and deploy them planetside. Any engagement with an uncertain outcome would be fought out. Jeff later said this of the format:

“This is probably my favourite way to play Warhammer 40,000. Objectives that make sense, that feel like they build to something real. Casualties that matter so you don’t sacrifice pawns for victory.

“The downside is that someone needs to put in an unbelievable amount of mental effort […] switching between roleplayed conversations with planetary forces to campaign coordinator to battlefield tactician. […] The world felt real and the stakes likewise.”

It’s often said that GMs run the game they want to play. Imagine, then, how I feel when Tom offers to run a campaign in this same format for my marines and Drew’s eldar. If you’re imagining a Dave Chapelle sketch involving some white powder, congratulations: you imagined my feelings correctly.

At this point, I have over 3,000 points of Space Marines. I don’t need to paint anything for this campaign. I am however shitting myself with glee and am always moved to action by a deadline, so you’d best believe more stuff is going to get paint on it.

There is, however, with the added spice that since June, I’ve also been pouring a lot of my time into writing and testing 40K co-op mode Fury of the Swarm. Happily, the bulk of the work is finished in late October, and I get the whole of November to beaver away at my beloved marines. Swarm is easily the year’s biggest hobby achievement for me, but since it’s already had a ten-post series dedicated to it, I won’t go into it here.

Again, if you want to know more about any of these projects, I’ve linked any relevant blog posts beneath each one.

Cobalt Scions Terminators. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: Some Extremely Nuanced Thoughts on Terminators.

Cobalt Scions Ballistus Dreadnought. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: Intracontinental Ballistus Missiles. Content warning: includes horror story.

Now the thing about painting my marines is that I go ham on the edge highlights, and this does mean one should occasionally bust out a palette cleanser to keep things fresh. I’m excited, but years of collecting this army has told me to keep up the variety. To that end, an inntermission (I’m not proud, but I’m leaving it in): I finish off a plastic pub that’s sat on the shelf for a decade.

Old World Coaching Inn. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: The Plastic Pub I Didn’t Paint for Ten Years.

Right, back to the marines. At this point it’s November and there’s mere weeks before the campaign kicks off, so I can’t get crazy amounts done. This forces focus. Transport is good, and I don’t have much. I buy a last minute Repulsor even though I probably can’t afford it, and slap that thing together as fast as possible, i.e. roughly in line with continental drift thanks to the sheer complexity of the chassis. This decision leaves a whole bunch of marines in my backlog, but whatever. TANK.

Cobalt Scions Repulsor. Credit: Charlie Brassley

I also prioritise painting up the Apothecary Biologis from Leviathan, since in this campaign mode, every medic-adjacent dude is crucial for getting injured marines back in the fight. Logistics win wars, that’s what our gene-daddy taught us.

Troops also win wars, so I bulk out my Aggressors to a five-man unit, get another five intercessors in there, and then – largely because it’s something different, and I haven’t the time for a full unit – I convert and paint Lieutenant Nomates.

Cobalt Scions Lieutenant with combi-weapon. Credit: Charlie Brassley

More notes on this Lieutenant’s conversion here.

Cobalt Scions Aggressors, kitbashed with the Heavy Intercessors kit. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Cobalt Scions Intercessor squad. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Apothecary Biologis. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Full article: Binning the Apothecary Biologis’ rules for narrative gaming.

We play the campaign over the course of four days. It’s everything I hoped. Highs, lows, extremely near-misses. It’s a format where it’s possible for characters get get perma-killed, which is terrifying if you’ve spent ages converting up minis for specific dudes, and then painting their names on their pauldrons, but this adds significantly to the thrill. It’ll get written up at some point, but for now, I’ll just say that it really was the most immersive experience I’ve had with my army. It says a bunch that Drew was very over painting Eldar beforehand, and is now raving about which units she’s going to paint next. We’ve all been chatting about other campaign ideas we could do going forwards, and generally can’t wait to get more 40K under our belts.

Class of 2023. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Looking ahead

This closes out 2023 on a giant hobby high, but what about 2024? I’m not sure what my hobby focus will be just yet; there’s a few ideas for new armies bouncing around, plus space for more co-op content and a throbbing desire for more campaigns. My stupid pipe dream of getting a full battle company of marines is also now vaguely possible… my army’s currently sitting at 63 rank and file marines, but that’s still a long way to go. I guess a journey of a hundred bros starts with a single brush stroke.

If you have thoughts or indeed STRONG FEELINGS about anything in today’s post, leave a comment below or email