Cronch’s 2023 Year in Review

As 2023 draws to a close, it’s once again a good time to reflect on progress made in the last year. As usual when I write these things (I think this is the first one I’ve published on Goonhammer, but I’ve tended to write them for myself/friends in previous years) I’ll focus mostly on hobby, but won’t shy away from touching on real life happenings as well. The things that happen in our lives, both everyday and extraordinary, fundamentally shape the way we engage with our hobbies, so sometimes the context is useful.


January kicked off with some big enthusiasm for Flames of War. Fresh off a wave of enthusiasm for the system after a big end-of-year game in 2022 with friend Pete and fellow Goonhammerer and podcast host chimp, I painted a pair of 88mm guns and a Semovente for my Italian FoW force. Unfortunately distractions mean that this army lies half-finished to this day, despite the fact that it would probably take about 4 hours to finish the whole thing off. My attention rapidly shifted to MESBG, as I joined a local slow-grow league and decided that 2023 would be the year I finally put an army together.

Lurtz. Credit: Rich Nutter

I scraped together a bunch of Isengard miniatures from friends, eBay, Facebook and the GW webstore, and set to work putting together a force. Over the course of the month I painted Lurtz, Vrasku, Mauhur, five Uruks with crossbows, ten Uruks with shields, a banner-bearer, a Shaman, five Uruk Scouts, six Warg Riders, and three Dunlending Warriors. That’s a lot of proper nouns! Towards the end of the month I also found time to paint up the Osgiliath ruins included in the Battle for Osgiliath box, and Galadriel and a Wood Elf for a Lothlorien project. You’ve got to have a Good army to match your Evil one, right?

Galadriel. Credit: Rich Nutter

On the gaming side of things, this month I managed to play four games of MESBG in the local escalation league, a game of 40k Boarding Actions with my pal James, and a game of Age of Sigmar with chimp.


I started off the month with a couple of armoured elves for the Lothlorien project – testing out how the old metals and new plastics look together. I am a real sucker for old metal models, but tend to find in AoS/40k that they look to jarringly different to modern plastics on the table, whereas in MESBG the range and size of sculpts is such that these things can coexist more peacefully. My Isengard army got expanded with two more Dunlending Warriors, some Wildmen of Dunland, a troll, the mighty Thrydan Wolfsbane in both mounted and dismounted forms, a Crebain, three Huscarls, and four Dunlending Horsemen. I also finished a set of 3d-printed objective markers for MESBG – six treasure chests.

Galadhrim. Credit: Rich Nutter

February also saw me play a bunch more escalation games for MESBG, a Battle Companies event at Warhammer World, as well as a couple of practice games before that. I also ran a teaching game of AoS with a friend, and got to try out the latest Dropzone Commander rules with my friend Pete using his two lovely armies. I don’t think it’s a system I’ll buy into myself, but it’s got some interesting rules, nice models, and is vastly improved over version one!

Isengard Troll. Credit: Rich Nutter


You guessed it, more MESBG! This time six Uruks with pikes and two more with crossbows. I also started to branch out into some other stuff, painting a nice Frostgrave snake-man, and a couple of test models for a since-abandoned (this phrase features a lot in my hobby life) Astra Militarum project.

Uruk-Hai with Crossbows. Credit: Rich Nutter

Overall hobby output was down a bit this month because I was mostly focused on putting together a diorama for Golden Demon at Warhammer Fest, which was approaching rapidly. Ultimately I ditched this idea because I couldn’t get it looking the way I wanted, but more on that next month.

Frostgrave Snake-man. Credit: Rich Nutter

March also saw 2023’s first semi-regular gathering of the Rollmodels group – an online gaming club from across the UK and beyond that has been an incredible force for good in my life. These meetups or “RMROs” (Roll Models Roll Out) tend to happen a few times a year, and this time we met at Bristol Independent Gaming for a weekend of catching up and chucking dice. I am very happy to call these people my friends and I love them very much. The highlight was probably getting to try out a game of 0200 Hours (WWII commando raid game) with my friend Michael, who has lavished attention on models and scenery to provide an immersive, entertaining experience for anybody who wants to play.

0200 Hours in progress. Credit: Rich Nutter/Michael B


I kicked April off with an Underworlds warband, the Gorechosen of Dromm. I really enjoy going back to Underworlds every now and then to paint up a cool warband, although I’ve long since stopped trying to keep up with every new release. This warband would also be the first time this year that I encountered “varnish woe”, painting some nice models then immediately ruining them with cloudy varnish. I am a real fan of getting a matt finish on models, but it does pose some risks! I eventually rescued the models, but it soured my opinion of them a bit. I’ve since switched to using Tamiya Flat Clear almost exclusively, which I have had by far the least problems with in my various experiments. I also printed and painted a couple of models from Arcworlde by Warp Miniatures, just as a palate cleanser, before moving back onto Golden Demon prep.

Gorechosen of Dromm. Credit: Rich Nutter

Having failed to get the diorama looking how I wanted, and with time before the event running low, I decided on a somewhat more modest approach – pick a single AoS miniature, and just focus on painting it to the best of my ability. I opted for the Wight King, as it’s a mini I’ve always loved and never painted, and would also be able to use after the fact in my nascent Soulblight army. I poured a lot of hours into it over a few weeks (with a quick pause to paint a couple of MESBG dwarves), and honestly I’m still thrilled with the standard I achieved.

Wight King. Credit: Rich Nutter

At the end of the month I headed to Manchester for Warhammer Fest – the event has been covered by a ton of outlets and people so I’m not going to focus on it too much. I played in the Underworlds clash which was good fun, and entered my miniature into the Golden Demon cabinets. I was thrilled to discover on Monday that I’d received a finalist pin for my entry! That has been a long term hobby goal of mine ever since I can remember, so to have it realised was incredibly fulfilling!

Wight King, replete with plinth and pin. Credit: Rich Nutter

I also somehow managed to cram in quite a bit of gaming during April – a doubles MESBG event with my friend Chris, where we took the wooden spoon, and a mini tournament to mark the end of our local MESBG escalation league, which I won! I also made it to London to look around Salute, the big wargames fair.

Khazad Guard. Credit: Rich Nutter


Enthused by my success with the Wight King, in May I painted up a Vampire Lord and some Vyrkos Blood-born to continue progressing the Soulblight project. I’m (still) finding this project to be slow as I’ve now ended up trying to paint everything to a very good standard, but I’m enjoying what I finish. The Vampire Lord in particular I’m particularly pleased with, I think she rocks. Also this month I converted up a Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon (still needs painting), painted a couple of Kruleboyz characters, and redid the basing on some Votann models. Finally, I painted the Kunnin Krew Underworlds band to test out the Duncan Rhodes Two Thin Coats paints that I Kickstarted.

Vampire Lord. Credit: Rich Nutter

On the gaming table, my Lumineth faced off against my friend Luke’s Slaanesh at Warhammer World, I played some more games of MESBG, and I rounded out the month with a two-day MESBG event run by a local friend where I managed to take the best-painted vote with my Isengard army! And also the wooden spoon, but we’ll not dwell on that.

Isengard Army. Credit: Rich Nutter


Leagues of Votann Combat Patrol. Credit: Rich Nutter

In early June I played some Titanicus for the first time this year with local pal Mike, and followed that up with another game against another friend later in the month. With the launch of 10th Edition 40k I got a bunch of games in -my Tome Keepers faced off against Pete’s Sisters of Battle then James’ World Eaters, and my Votann took on Maks’ Tyranids.

Cthonian Beserks. Credit: Rich Nutter

I always tend to paint less when it’s warmer, so I didn’t get a huge amount done this month. I did finish off a unit of Beserks and a unit of Hearthkyn to round out my Votann combat patrol, and half-heartedly slapped some paint on some of the new Indomitus Terminators, which I still haven’t finished.

Hearthkyn Warriors. Credit: Rich Nutter


This month I reviewed the Dark Brotherhood from Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms on Goonhammer!

The Dark Brotherhood. Credit: Rich Nutter

Early in July some of the Rollmodels gang met up at the Lead Belt Gaming Arena in Nottingham to have a weekend of the new 40k edition. I could only turn up for one day so I only got in a big game vs Luke’s Eldar and a game of Combat Patrol with Nick, but I did also meet lots of nice new people which is always good. Feeling vaguely 40k-positive after this, I painted up Inquisitor Kyria Draxus.

Inquisitor Kyria Draxus. Credit: Rich Nutter

I started painting a lot more Kruleboyz in July – I settled on an underpainted plus highlights method which (in my opinion) gives a decent result for the amount of time invested, and has rapidly become my go-to method for army painting. This month I finished 10 Gutrippaz, 6 Bolt-Boyz, 10 Hobgrot Slittaz, and a Snatcha-boss on Sludgeraker Beast.

Hobgrot Slittas. Credit: Rich Nutter

I got a couple of games each of Combat Patrol and MESBG this month, but the main event was another RMRO meetup at the end of the month, this time at Knightly Gaming in Bathgate, Scotland. It was, as always, great to see people and play a bunch of games of Combat Patrol, and AoS with my pals.

Snatcha-Boss on Sludgeraker Beast. Credit: Rich Nutter

First Serious MomentTM of the article here, I came away from the meetup with a pretty intense sort of dissatisfaction with…life? Relationships? It’s hard to put into words, I love my friends dearly but I am also normally very happy being quite a solitary person, but post this event I had a solid few weeks of feeling quite lonely and listless, probably amplified by the joy I felt over the weekend spent with great people. As with all things it faded with time, but it did encourage me to spend a bit of time thinking more actively about my feelings, as well as long term goals, hopes and dreams.


Being sad doesn’t mean you have to stop painting though. This month I cracked out a unit of five Hearthguard for the Votann army, before taking them to battle my friend Kev’s lovely Blood Angels.

Einhyr Hearthguard. Credit: Rich Nutter

Also coming up this month was Blackout, a 2 day matched play AoS event in Cardiff, which I was attending with Three and Two co-hosts Laura and Matthew, as well as our friend Chris. I decided to take Maggotkin of Nurgle, and painted up a unit of Blight Kings, a Lord of Afflictions, and a Rotbringer Sorcerer to add to the army, as well as a themed Suffocating Gravetide endless spell (lovingly christened “puke wave” by chimp). I tried out some of the new Army Painter Speedpaints metallics on these, as I knew I’d be weathering heavily over them anyway, and was quite pleased with them. They’re quite similar in consistency to the Vallejo Metal Colour series that lots of people like, but I found these easier to use.

Putrid Blight-Kings. Credit: Rich Nutter

I always love these big events as it’s great to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a long time, and get some competitive games in. I was thrilled to be matched into chimp’s Sylvaneth round one, as we rarely get to play in person, and we had an incredibly close game which is probably the most fun I’ve had all year. I eventually lost, navigating my way to a measly 1-4 finish, but all five of my games were great fun. I resolved to try and take competitive events a bit more seriously in the future, and get over my pathological urge to not run competitive lists.

Nurgle-ified Suffocating Gravetide, aka The Puke Wave. Credit: Rich Nutter

One thing I do hope for at events is to get a painting award, or a shortlist nomination at larger events like Blackout. This didn’t happen here, which wasn’t a surprise given the quick nature of my Maggotkin models, but I did get a shoutout as someone who was “in consideration” for the nominations, which was nice!

Maggotkin of Nurgle army. Credit: Rich Nutter

Not a huge amount of other hobby or gaming in August due to some life stuff, other than painting up a Stormstrike Chariot and a Lord Castellant for my Hallowed Knights Stormcast army towards the end of the month. This army isn’t really an active concern for me, but I do enjoy adding models to it occasionally and growing it over time.

Stormstrike Chariot. Credit: Rich Nutter

The life stuff in question, August marked a turning point in years of internal feeling-wrangling, and I chose to come out as bi/pansexual to my family. I’m very fortunate that it was well (or, at least, not badly) received, and I’ve spent the rest of the year doing a big think about how things have changed for me and what it all means, but I’ve had multiple people in the second half of the year tell me that I seem happier and more content in myself, even if they don’t know about my sexuality, so it must be reflecting on my outlook a bit. I’m very glad to have the amazing support network of friends that helped and continue to help me arrange feelings and understand my brain.

Lord Castellant and Gryphy-hound. Credit: Rich Nutter


At the start of September, I finished off five Deathrattle Skeletons. The Soulblight project is technically still active! I also started painting five Blood Knights, which I still haven’t finished as of writing this.

Deathrattle Skeletons. Credit: Rich Nutter

I also played in a local Combat Patrol event, coming two points off of getting the wooden spoon. I did pick up both the painting award and the vote for favourite opponent though, which was nice! Later this month I hosted Pete and Matthew for a Flames of War mega-game, and in preparation I painted up a unit of mortar halftracks and a recon platoon for my D-Day Americans.

Mortar Half-Tracks. Credit: Rich Nutter

September also heralded the release of a bunch of new Ironjawz models, which led to me redefining my Kruleboyz project as a wider Orruk Warclans project. I painted up a unit of five Brutes, and a Megaboss, and started on a unit of ten of the new Ardboyz.

Orruk Brutes. Credit: Rich Nutter


I finished the Ardboyz and an Ardboy Big Boss early in the month, and then moved onto a Maw-Grunta Gouger. I varnished these alongside the Megaboss from last month, and the varnish promptly frosted on the unit and both characters, leaving only the pig unscathed. Reapplying gloss varnish wasn’t enough, but a bath of olive oil just about saved the Ardboys, and after a thorough cleaning and drying they got a final coat of Tamiya Flat Clear and were saved. No such luck for the two characters, which after much fussing had to go into the pot of Biostrip to be repainted.

Maw-Grunta Gouger. Credit: Rich Nutter

I moved straight onto a second unit of Ardboyz, this time wielding spears instead of hand weapons. I had great fun with both units of Ardboyz putting freehand onto their armour and shields, imagining that they were daubing crude renditions of their most prized kills onto their wargear. This inspired me to up the levels of freehand on the rest of the army, and I’m really glad I did as I think it really helps them to pop. The Megaboss and Ardboy Boss got repainted too, and last month’s Brutes got some freehand added. To round out the month, I finished Zoggrok Anvil-smasha and his loyal squig companion, Klonk.

Orruk Ardboyz. Credit: Rich Nutter

In gaming this month, I played 40k against James’ Death Guard, and an AoS intro game vs local friend Emma. Later in the month, four other Rollmodelers and I headed to A Shadow in the West, a 1,000 point Age of Sigmar narrative event in Walsall. The team had to move venue to Board in Brum with a week’s notice due to the unfortunate closing of Asgard Games, so a huge shout out to them for getting it done so well and hosting an amazing event! I took my freshly-finished Ironjawz along and proceeded to lose every game, but had an amazing time crafting a narrative and catching up with friends. I also ate a puri wrap for the first time, an amazing Indian dish of tandoori meats in a pancake-style wrap. Damien told me to get it as an appetizer alongside my main order and it turned out to be the size of your average burrito, which meant I ended up practically rolling back to our hotel. Well worth it.

Orruk Megaboss. Credit: Rich Nutter

Team Rollmodels (not actually a team event) came away from ASitW with a bunch of awards for army painting, generalship, and being people’s favourite opponent, which really sums up why I get so much joy from being part of this community of passionate and lovely hobbyists. I also got an award for doing the most popular tweet about some terrain (Dark Fantastic Mills’ excellent Jagerholm stuff), which won me a gigantic skeleton statue. Now that’s hobby skill.

Ardboy Big Boss. Credit: Rich Nutter

A bit burnt out on painting at the end of the month I decided to do some baking instead. I made a big batch of flapjacks, which I burnt. Apt.

Zoggrok Anvil-smasha. Credit: Rich Nutter


First off in November, I painted up a Dutch Leopard 2 for Team Yankee, which I had picked up at Board in Brum the previous weekend. I haven’t yet acquired the rest of the models, but in 2024 this will hopefully turn into a full army.

Dutch Leopard 2, Team Yankee. Credit: Rich Nutter

Most of November was once again focused on Ironjawz, and this month I finished off three Brute Ragerz and spent the rest of the time messing around with a Megaboss on Maw-Krusha which I didn’t quite get done.

Brute Ragerz. Credit: Rich Nutter

November marked the third and final Rollmodels Roll Out of the year! This time we went to Board in Brum in Walsall – we’d actually been booked in to Asgard Games, but like the narrative event in November we had to re-organise after it closed. I played some great games of Age of Sigmar with Shane and David, some superb Combat Patrol with Tom, and also took part in a Warcry arena battle run for a bunch of us by John, utilising his beautiful Dark Fantastic Mills fighting pit scenery. It turns out Warcry version 2 is very fun, and I can’t wait to play some more of it. This event was great fun as always, and absolutely filled my heart with joy, but pleasingly didn’t also cause a wave of loneliness and ennui this time. How’s that for personal growth.

Warcry Arena – absolute chaos. Credit: Rich Nutter/John G

Three other exciting things in November – inspired by the Jagerholm scenery kickstarter I ordered a second 3D printer (an Ender 3 V3 SE, if you’re curious) to expand into plastic printing. I also acquired my friend Rachel’s lovely Khorne force, which I’ll be looking to expand at some point next year. And finally, I got to hang out with pals Pete, Ben and Rouj to play a big game of 40k and chat shit.


I finished the Maw-Krusha! I’m very pleased with how he ended up.

Megaboss on Maw-Krusha. Credit: Rich Nutter

Look at that eye! Those horrible teeth!

Maw-Krusha face. Credit: Rich Nutter

I knew I’d signed up for a one-day AoS tournament at 2,000 points in early December, and I was determined to take Ironjawz, so I had some more painting to do. I built up two Warchanters, one regular and one converted from a Brute for an alternative pose, and got them painted up alongside three more Brute Ragerz and three Gore-Gruntas, and with that the 2,000 point force was complete!

Orruk Gore-Gruntas. Credit: Rich Nutter

As well as meeting another friend David there, my pal Nick visited for the weekend of the event and came along, and I was thrilled to be matched against him in round three for the wooden spoon game (notice a pattern?). I took the win in the end against his Kharadron, having previously lost against Paul’s Gloomspite Gitz and Declan’s Cities of Sigmar (those Excelsis mortal wounds are nasty). After a hilarious misunderstanding where I was mistakenly given the Wooden Spoon certificate, which Nick now owns still emblazoned with my name, I also picked up the Best Painted award! I was thrilled with this, having rushed to finish the army to my standard. Overall I’m super happy with how the army is looking, and can’t wait to play more games with it.

Converted Orruk Warchanter. Credit: Rich Nutter

Later in December I fell prey to Flesh-Eater Courts hype and painted up this Abhorrent Arch-Regent in a vaguely Morgaunt-inspired scheme. I wasn’t going to immediately turn this into an army project, although I did buy the Warcry warband, but I was very lucky to get the new army box as a Christmas gift and so now I’m definitely going to have at least a small army in the new year. Finally for myself this month, I painted up a Knight-Judicator and their Gryph-hounds, and did a bit of a headswap to give them a bare head. I really love this model, it’s one of my favourites of the new Stormcast, and I was glad to finally get hold of it via Stormbringer magazine and paint them up.

Abhorrent Arch-Regent. Credit: Rich Nutter

Finally for 2023, I painted up a bunch of 3d-printed Valor Korps miniatures for a friend. These are nice sculpts, a bit obviously inspired by certain GW ranges without being direct copyright infringement, and I had fun painting them. Then I had a rest over the festive period and did absolutely no hobby other than listbuilding and talking hobby with pals.

Knight-Judicator. Credit: Rich Nutter


I’ve mentioned most things above so I’m not going to do a big list of hots and nots, but there are a few non-hobby things which I’ll touch on here:

  • Fitness – I’ve been going to the gym 3-5 times a week all year and feel much healthier, but haven’t really dropped my weight as much as I’d hoped to, something I need to be mindful of to manage my blood pressure. I’ll be refocusing on this in 2024.
  • Mental health – Obviously there were some blips this year, although I do feel much better at the time of writing. Two things I want to do in 2024 are 1) pursue getting some therapy, because talking to people has helped and it stands to reason that talking to a professional would help more, and 2) pursue an ADHD diagnosis. It’s pretty clear to me that I have probably had some form of ADHD or anxiety for most of my life and, mostly due to growing up in the 90s and early 00s and partially due to the inherent nature of the conditions, it has not been addressed. That’s a step I want to take now.
  • Comfort zone – coming out was a big step this year, and now I’m feeling slightly more ready to put myself out of my comfort zone with social interactions. Something I’m trying to be mindful of is that everyone has an inherent right to take up space and not feel like they’re in the way just for existing, fulfilling their needs and wants, and pursuing their hopes and dreams. I want to keep reminding myself that this applies to me too, it’s OK and healthy to put myself first, but also it’s fine to know that something is scary and then just do it anyway whilst scared. It’s a fine balancing act for sure, but I’m going to try!
  • Fili – Fili is my cat, he’s a bit of a grouchy old man but also very loving when he wants to be and is a great hang in an otherwise quiet flat. Sometimes he bites visitors, which is less good.
  • Three and Two – this is the matched play Age of Sigmar podcast I do with co-hosts Laura and Matthew! I’m really proud of the content we’ve put out this year, and although I’m biased I’d definitely recommend it for a fun and chill look at matched play AoS. You can find it on all major pod platforms by searching for “Three and Two: a Matched Play Age of Sigmar Podcast”. Let me know what you think if you do check it out!
  • Warmaster – a bunch of friends have started getting into Warmaster Revolution this year, and I think I might try to print an army and play some games in 2024. Tiny models are cute!

Fili the cat. Credit: Rich Nutter

As for next year, we’ll see how it goes, but I’m going to try and finish some projects and not jump into too much. I do think I want to check out The Old World, so I’m conscious that that could take over for a while. I also really like the new Dark Angels range, but I’m finding myself a bit burnt out on 40k at the moment, so I’m thinking I might try to avoid jumping into a third army for now. I’d like to try and make more of a dent in my pile of potential.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far – I’ll sign off by wishing everybody a healthy, happy and hobby-filled 2024 <3

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns leave a comment below or email in to