SRM’s 2023 in Review

If this is your first time joining me for one of these, you’re welcome and I’m sorry. Returning readers may recall my novella-length posts from 2021 and 2022, and some weirdos with an unquenchable thirst for rambling may even have enjoyed them. I write this for you, obsessive weirdos, as I am one of you. Some might consider this lengthy, autobiographical journey of discovery and pain to be better suited to the video essay format, but we here at Goonhammer have largely resisted the call to “pivot to video” thus far. So please, join me for a year of never stopping never stopping, playing maybe too many games, and churning through my Sisyphean backlog. But first, as always, we’ll break down 2023 by the numbers. Consider this like a review score that you’ll instantly clock, go “huh, okay, an 8/10” and close the tab, presented here at the beginning for your convenience.

In 2023 I:

  • Acquired 442 models, more than half of which came from my Imperium and Stormbringer review subscriptions
  • Built 158 models
  • Painted 206 models
  • Played 79 miniatures wargames over 7 game systems, winning 50 of them
  • Completed reading or listening to 5 Black Library publications
  • Attended 3 major events
  • Recorded 21 episodes of my podcast, The 40k Badcast, plus:
    • 10 additional episodes for our Patreon subscribers
    • The final 11 episodes of our Taco Bell review podcast, The Torko Borko Reporko, also on Patreon
  • Wrote or contributed to 91 articles right here on Go On Hammer Dot Com. More still are reposts of Dan’s Badcast descriptions, which I don’t count, or will be published next year so pardon me for fudging the numbers.

There’s your offramp if you don’t have the fortitude or sheer gall to continue reading with this piece. If you’re a bad enough dude to read 11,723 words about one Internet weirdo’s hobby journey, then I invite you to continue onwards.


Legion of Vega Wolverine, Awesome, Locust, and Battlemaster. Credit: SRM

I wanted to start this year off with a layup, so I knocked out a couple of mechs for my “red team” collection. I had figured out a good technique for building up some realistic crud around their feet and generally nailed down the process for painting mechs quickly, only to be met with an unforced error, or as it’s also known, a skill issue. When I went to varnish these models, I grabbed the silver rattlecan with a clear top, only to realize it was Grey Seer, not Munitorum Varnish. Naturally, I found this out after spraying the lot of these models. I was upset by this development and didn’t paint for 3 days. I consoled myself with the knowledge these were quick, 1-2 hour models and not representative of the same labor I put into my meticulously edge highlighted Space Marines, so I broke out the drybrushes and got back to work. While I recovered these models quickly, in hindsight, this ill omen would represent more of the following 12 months than I would hope.

NCR Top Brass. Credit: SRM

I own a licensed New California Republic t-shirt, which I purchased back when I lived in Massachusetts. I cannot wear it in my newer hometown of Bend, Oregon, or as it’s also known, Bend, California, or Northern Sacramento. It’s like wearing a Yankees shirt in Boston, or a “Griffith Did Nothing Wrong” shirt at an anime convention. It’s poor form, a rookie move. I own this shirt because Fallout: New Vegas is among my favorite games, alongside Resident Evil 4 and Metal Gear Solid 3. So, when Modiphius reached out to us with a pile of New Vegas themed models for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, I eagerly signed up for the NCR characters. I was delighted to review these beautiful miniatures, and while no Fallout models have yet seen play in my household, I enjoy collecting them and painting them as a change from that other setting full of power armor and laser guns.

Ogroid Theridons. Credit: SRM

While I got these guys in the Slaves to Darkness army box a few months prior, I had not yet found the time to churn through them. I wrote a review of them if this 12 month reminiscence is not detailed enough for you. Monstrous infantry have always appealed to me, despite primarily collecting just normal men, so I was happy to finally have the opportunity to paint some. Something about these models felt strangely dated, though they were a genuine delight to paint. I love huge expanses of skin and cloth, as they both offer ample opportunity for soft, volumetric highlights, and that makes up the vast majority of these models. They’re also pretty solid on the tabletop, although I typically push them aside in favor of models that fit more easily in my carrying cases.

Black Templars Primaris Outriders. Credit: SRM

I was looking for more speed in my Black Templars army, and fortunately, this trio of Primaris Outriders came Akira-sliding into my mailbox courtesy of my friend John Curtin. He had thoughtfully sent them my way for Christmas, alongside some high quality catnip for my bound daemon, Noomi, and my wife’s familiar, Esmeralda. Bikes have always been a bugbear of mine, combining the copious edge highlights of Space Marines with the 3-dimensional puzzle of painting cavalry. Getting a brush into every crevasse is a challenge, but previously I was painting them blue. This time around, if an area was left black, it just read as shadow, so these painted up remarkably quickly. I share a few more thoughts in my Imperium reviews, but the short version is that I like these models, limited build options and bad seams notwithstanding.

Slaves to Darkness Chosen. Credit: SRM

My appetite for Chaos whetted by that pack of Ogroids, I continued my way through the Slaves to Darkness launch box by beginning work on a 10-man block of Chosen. While these models do have an intimidating amount of trim and other assorted Chaotic doodaddery, they’re a simple affair compared to their mounted brethren in the Varanguard. I particularly enjoyed mixing sharp edge highlights with volumetric highlights here, and I came to the conclusion that painting these fancy magic weapons was hardly any different from painting a cape, and blends were easily achievable. These served as a refreshing after dinner mint once I had finished polishing off every pointed peak on these plastic people. Naturally, I wrote a review while painting them.


Lyran Commonwealth Stinger, Archer, and Urbanmech. Credit: SRM

No longer deterred by my January setback, I got back to painting mechs. These were the antidote to the previous month’s spikes and trim, a quick hit of hobby dopamine amongst all the longer-term projects eating up my time. My general process for painting Battletech models is to procure a Force Pack, split it between my Legion of Vega and Lyran Commonwealth forces, and paint a couple mechs at a time. I had split one and added the Urbanmech, a Christmas gift from my dear friend Dylan. The Archer has come in handy in a few games of Battletech, hucking missiles across the board, while my beautiful idiot trashcan son has toddled around and gotten the odd AC20 hit on something that really didn’t want to get hit by an AC20.

Legion of Vega Marauder and Valkyrie. Credit: SRM

I also worked through some more red team dudes around the same time, with particular focus on the Marauder. This big honkin mech ripped straight from Macross is a favorite of my childhood best friend Ben, so I painted it up in the hopes we could use it in a game together. This intention wouldn’t be quite so realized as I hoped.

Black Templars Castellan. Credit: SRM

Here at the (nonfictional, physical, not imaginary at all) Goonhammer offices, we were given a few sets of Strike Force Agastus to split up. While my fellow Goons Whomst Hammer were calling ever-louder dibs on the new Brutalis Dreadnought, I quietly requested the Primaris Lieutenant. Upon receiving this miniature, I raided my bitz box and went hard on his heraldry to make something distinctly Templar-flavored, and distinctly my own. Despite being just another Lieutenant/Castellan, he represents a particularly proud moment for me, as he was my first miniature showcased on Warhammer Community. Models from Goonhammer’s painters show up there with practiced regularity, but this was a first for me, and for that, this little Lieutenant has a special place in my heart. He also punched some dudes pretty good in the games to come.

Black Templars Desolation Squad. Credit: SRM

I was unable to finish this squad in time for the aforementioned WarCom article, as I was too busy wilding out on their giant T-shirt cannons. John Blanche’s 3rd edition 40k box art looms heavily in my mind, lodging itself in my brain like an errant lawn dart from a less regulated age. Long ago, I picked up the 3rd edition starter set from the Historicon flea market for $50, blowing through the allowance my dad had allocated my 12 year old self. I had purchased this secondhand but still untouched box chiefly for the models, with the vendor’s explicit instruction that I could “throw away the rules if I wanted to.” Still, I found myself enthralled in the pages of the softback tome within. Riding shotgun in my father’s 2001 gunmetal blue Dodge Intrepid, I pored over each page of that rulebook, soaking in every ounce of imagery and language I could. These prayers and quotes, so like the ones I half-remembered from attending Catholic services, delighted and frightened me. The art was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The models presented in color photography quickly became items coveted, armies I could only aspire to owning myself one day. And still, I turned back to that front cover to see a Black Templars force, not like the models inside the box, but altogether weirder and more sinister. It would be years before plastic models would even hope to resemble that artwork – further in the future than my young brain could even comprehend. I held in my hands a portal to another world, more laden in history and art than any DK Visual Dictionary book I had collected before. This book, this box, has influenced every Black Templar Space Marine I have painted since, up to and including this Desolation squad. It’s a long walk around the block to tell you this is why I paint hot rod flames on giant fake guns, but this is my article and I’ll ramble if I want to.

Kasrkin. Credit: SRM

I actually began these Kasrkin in December of 2022 after Dylan owned me with kindness, but due to a lengthy period figuring out the transfers, I had to delay them. I was working with Bedlam Creations, and had supplied them with a transfer sheet I had designed in Adobe Illustrator. Unfortunately, the first printing of my decals were unusable, bearing an awful screen door effect. We worked together and figured out the problem was the Mephiston Red color match I had chosen, so with some slight adjustment, he printed them in his standard bright red and got them out to me. I designed these transfers to be a mix of two regiments – the 617th Cadian and the 541st Krieg. Readers well versed with making phony calls may recognize these as being the area codes of Boston, Massachusetts, and Bend, Oregon, respectively. This bridge between the two places I have lived in my adult life is a stupid in-joke just for me.

At the end of February, my mom died. I alluded to the failing health of family members frequently over the course of 2022, not because of some sick need to tease a coming trauma, but because I didn’t know when that particular shoe would drop. It was something I’d been preparing myself for over the course of 15 years consciously, and closer to 20 unconsciously. I still don’t know how I feel about it. Geography and health had made us somewhat distant, and I had already been mourning by degrees for half of my life and a fifth of hers. I won’t go into it too much further – this is allegedly an article about games and the hobby on a gaming website, things she never really understood – but the shadow it cast over me can’t be ignored. My grieving process is weird and inconsistent, but I am fortunate enough to have an entirely too large support system to help me through. I would be seeing many members of that support system in just a few weeks time.


Slaves to Darkness Chosen. Credit: SRM

Adepticon was right around the corner, and I had devised a simple list and a simpler strategy to carry me to victory in Age of Sigmar. I needed to paint up some screening yabbos, but the crux of my strategy would be to buff a brick of 10 Chosen to comical levels and yeet them at whatever I wanted dead. I have since done this in every game of Age of Sigmar thereafter. These 5 Chosen painted up a smidge faster than the last, since they didn’t have the command section of the former, and the dude in the middle might be my favorite in the entire regiment. This kit is shockingly versatile, and its instructions only offer a glimpse into the variety of poses and combinations available. If you do purchase this kit – and I hope you do – I invite you to play with it instead of simply repeating the instructions as I had.

Untamed Beasts. Credit: SRM

I painted the first pack of these idiots in 2020, and after building and priming the second, I shelved them. I needed them as a screen for my Adepticon list, so I finally painted them. I did not enjoy the experience. The bevvy of bone details, strange straps crossing every which way, and the odd sections where they intersected made painting this group a chore. I take solace in knowing I never need to paint another Untamed Beast.

Goliath Mauler. Credit: SRM

Conversely, I knocked this thing out in like a day. I co-authored a review of the Mauler kit with Dylan last year, so should you want more detailed thoughts you can check there. My friend/nemesis/narrative war criminal Quinn gifted me a pair of Maulers for Crimbo, so I happily built and painted this one for Adepticon. I would be playing my first Ash Wastes games of Necromunda, and I was going to need some musclebikes.

Death Korps of Krieg infantry squad. Credit: SRM

The 2022 NOVA swag bag contained a Kill Team starter, and I was excited to paint some Guardsmen. While that year’s 40k Narrative was my own personal death march, I was willing to let bygones truly be gone by, and continue onwards in my hobby journey. This squad of Krieg Guardsmen were a delight to paint, a historically-minded squad of WW1 French painted like WW1 Russian Cavalry with laser guns and bayonets. There is a cozy simplicity in painting nearly a dozen largely identical models, all with the same general uniforms and a minimum of extraneous detail. My only qualm with the kit is that the bit used to attach the sergeant’s boltgun arm is the same needed to attach either a plasma gun or meltagun to a body, and for whatever reason only one is provided in the entire set. Why they didn’t include a second instead of one of the random bits of tat is beyond me, but it soured my building experience of this suboptimal squad of expendable objective holders. I also tried to paint the bottles on the medic’s pack to look like brown glass but the color looks more like a condom full of Coca-Cola. There’s always next squad, I guess.

Campbell “SRM” McLaughlin (left) and Dan “Dittka” Boyd (right) of the 40k Badcast. Credit: Fowler

Adepticon was the salve for the soul I needed. If you want to read my exhaustive thoughts and feelings on this event, I penned a similarly lengthy writeup for your (in)convenience and my own edification. Over the course of this event I played 14 games across 4 distinct rulesets, an experience I do not think I would attempt to replicate. More importantly, I was able to reconnect with so many friends, some of whom I had only seen a few months prior, and some I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. There was some hemming and hawing whether or not I’d go due to the recent death of my mother, but ultimately I decided it would be better for me to roll dice, drink beer, and spend quality time with my friends than sit around at home being sad. I already do that enough. Also, unlike the last con I attended, I didn’t get Covid. It’s still out there, folks. Get your boosters.


Lyran Commonwealth Phoenix Hawk, Atlas, Locust, and Warhammer. Credit: SRM

Somehow I came out of Adepticon jockeying for more Robot Jox. Despite playing two of the least enjoyable games of my tabletop gaming career across any system, my buddy Josh from The Mechbay podcast was able to turn the event around. We had a stupidly good time and talked a load about Battletech on and off the table, and my enthusiasm had never been higher. Fortunately, my local game store started carrying Battletech around this time and the community had started popping off, so all those robots I was grinding out would soon be seeing the tabletop. That Papiermâché Phoenix Hawk spends just as much time in the air as it does struggling in futility on the ground with multiple busted actuators, and that Warhammer runs hot enough to shut down about once per game. Battletech owns.

Darkoath Savagers. Credit: SRM

I also came out of Adepticon positively turnt for Age of Sigmar. Idiot barbarians have been one of my favorite fantasy archetypes (I can relate), and the Darkoath Savagers finally let me lean into that. I purchased these from my regular gaming/drinking buddy Cassidy while we shared a few rounds at The Brown Owl, one of my preferred haunts in town, where we talked about God of War, relationships, and property damage. Dudes Rock, is what I’m getting at. Painting these models was joyful, a stark contrast from the Untamed Beasts I’d painted earlier in the year. Much like the Ogroids I painted in January, the soft fabric and expanses of skin were fun for me, and there weren’t altogether too many extraneous details to trip me up. They’re still a smidge too detailed for chaff, but I genuinely adore these models.

Exalted Hero of Chaos. Credit: SRM

This Exalted Hero shared my workbench with the Darkoath Musclebunch. I batch paint characters with squads a lot, even if it’s just to get one or two colors down at the same time. Despite being a character, he was a much quicker prospect, being predominantly platemail and a big honkin cape. I didn’t like the included heads, so I gave him a Chosen Champion helmet instead. When I started this army, I painted woading-style designs on all of their shields, and I was happy to do that again here. Instead of going hard Norse with the theming of this army, I wanted to get in some Celtic and Gaelic-inspired designs and colors throughout the force. This Champ is more of a Chump than I was hoping, but it was still a fun model to work on alongside the Savagers.

Legion of Vega Wasp, Wraith, Archer, and Blackjack. Credit: SRM

I was churning through the Battletech: Alpha Strike box, and again, mechs make a great relief from painting hyper-detailed Chaos models. Nothing here was especially challenging or surprising, though I find the Wraith’s aesthetic to be rounder and weirder than most other mechs. Even nominally more advanced Clan mechs tend to be on the walking refrigerator side.

Cindy Piewhistle and Puggy Baconbreath. Credit: SRM

While I am not what one would call a Bloodbowler, I do enjoy painting little guys. I find kinship with halflings, being on the shorter side myself, and enjoying the simpler things in life – namely pie, beer, and getting thrown off the pitch for fouling. It was my delight to review Cindy Piewhistle and Puggy Baconbreath, and I even collaborated with my Badcast cohost Dan to get some insight into their performance on the tabletop. The short version is: Puggy’s okay, Cindy’s a war criminal. Do with that what you will.

Northwind Highlanders Pouncer, Timberwolf, Fire Moth, Warhawk, and Black Hawk. Credit: SRM

If you couldn’t guess from my Scottish McIrish name, the Northwind Highlanders are a Battletech faction that would appeal to me. Being what is likely left of Scotland in the Battletech setting, they paint tartan on their mechs and blare bagpipe music as they go into battle. I was looking for a scheme for all my Clan mechs from the Alpha Strike box, and went instead with this particular mercenary company instead. Painting the tartan was a pain in the butt and I had some trouble adapting their scheme to not blend into their bases, but I’m happy with how they came out. The Nova/Black Hawk on the bottom right there is a favorite of mine, being able to dump 12 ER Medium Lasers at once, causing oodles of damage, overheating, and instantly shutting down in the process. I would paint two more this year.

Domitan’s Stormcoven. Credit: SRM

The then-new Wyrdhollow boxset for Warhammer Underworlds had released, and with it came another trio of Stormcast models. I reviewed these particular miniatures, and my feelings were largely positive. It pains me to say I have not played Underworlds in quite some time, as the game left me behind in 2019. There is only so much hard drive space available in my head, and I can only assume defragmenting that drive would kill me.

Steelheart’s Champions. Credit: SRM

I painted this group at the same time as Domitan’s Stormcoven, and found it to be an interesting exercise in charting the evolution of the Stormcast range. The chubby golden babymen of Age of Sigmar’s launch were now Sigmarite fossils of a past era, and this trio represented the best sculpts of that original aesthetic. Their proportions were somewhat wack and their undercuts were laden with odd 3D extruded lumps in place in detail, yet still I found enjoyment painting them. They’re far simpler models than their successors, and while I’m glad the range has moved on, this trio was a charming relic of a time not altogether that long ago.


Questor Soulsworn. Credit: SRM

Around this time, I was writing a lot of reviews of Stormcast models, these included. Despite my dedication to exclusively painting infantry and less than ideal units, I had himboed my way into becoming one of Goonhammer’s Stormcast Guys. At time of writing, five of their still-extremely-good dragons sit in my backlog cabinet. This particular batch of models was strange, feeling more like three repeating character sprues than a uniform regiment. They definitely got across the “adventuring party” vibe and have some of the best bare heads I’ve yet seen. Painting them was good fun, though I was getting my fill of verdigris and red capes at this point.

Black Templars Terminators. Credit: SRM

I was fortunate enough to receive some of the models from Leviathan, the 40k 10th edition launch set. I first tasked myself with a squad of Terminators for my Black Templars. The 4th edition codex looms large in my mind, and Sword Brethren Terminators with their white helmets and gold weaponry are inseparable from that period for me. I replicated that scheme here, as I did with the previous iteration of these models, only now on a larger and more sharply detailed canvas. There was opportunity to add some Templar pieces of flair, and I did so while also doing my normal heraldic bullshit. I did this by paying homage to the tilting plates of Rogue Trader Terminators, as well as replicating the combat shield carried by their sergeants. These models took longer than anticipated, as their upscaling added no small amount of subtle detail, but I am exceptionally happy with them. Warhammer Community seemed to be happy with them as well, as these Terminators found their way into a showcase alongside many other talented painters. You’ll recognize many familiar names and painting styles in that article if you frequent this very website.

Black Templars Marshal in Terminator Armor. Credit: SRM

Alongside the rank and file elite of the elite, I painted up their attendant Terminator Captain, here representing Marshal Velstadt of the Black Templars. A Photoshop mockup had been making the rounds, combining parts of High Marshal Helbrecht with this new Captain model. I was inspired, and with some helpful bits sourcing from my own back catalog as well as my local community, I was able to put together a unique take on the model. It’s always a challenge to convert single build models like this, but one I welcome. I was delighted to see this model had not one, but two tilting plates on which to plaster some glorious heraldry, so plaster I did. As Goonhammer’s heraldry guy, I would be disappointing myself as well as my compatriots if I didn’t apply the requisite amount of hazard stripes, hot rod flames, and checkerboards.

Occasionally, one finds a Rosetta Stone that completely opens up one’s understanding of a given subject. Reading Dune for the first time was like looking at the notes of an honor student shortly before Rick Priestley copied them over their shoulder for Warhammer 40,000. Hearing Clutch; the greatest rock band in the world, cover Creedence Clearwater Revival, sheds even more light on their origins than CCR’s own covers did. This is my leadup to say that in May I was diagnosed with ADHD. Suddenly my inability to plan ahead, impulsive nature, and hyperfixation on painting models to the exclusion of all else made a lot more sense. I have a tendency towards gaining momentum, flitting from project to project, and having a nigh-unstoppable need to just do. The problem with that constant gaining of momentum is that one eventually hits terminal velocity. I often used the metaphor of an engine running at a faster and faster RPM, eventually hitting the redline and burning out. Should your neuro not be typical this might make sense to you. Maybe it doesn’t. The best I can do is sing my song to you and hope you can read the melody between the notes.

This month I also found I was allergic to wheat, soy, peanuts and hazelnuts. “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” quoth Alfred Tennyson, in a line frequently misattributed to Shakespeare. In the halcyon days of Nintendo’s social app, Miitomo, I delighted in having a tiny, chubby facsimile of myself say “I’m a glutton for gluten” in its synthesized voice time and again. I did not know that time would make my polygonal doppelganger a liar.


Before I dig into more of my real life malarkey, we can pivot forwards once more to the 41st millennium. Leviathan, the launch box for 10th edition, was given to us in late May, and we could finally talk about it in June. I painted models. I wrote articles. I played games. I lost my job. The issue with contract gigs is that, when the contract is up, there is no longer a gig to which you are contracted to. I would apply to no fewer than 80 jobs from here til year’s end with little to show for it.

Imperial Guard Commissar. Credit: SRM

I had traded away a bushel of old Ork bits that had been clogging up my backlog for the better part of a decade, and in return I received some of the newer Imperial Guard models. Amongst these was a Commissar, in a pose that I’m not altogether buckwild about. I’m happy to have a Guard discipline officer around though, as casualties don’t matter as much as holding objectives does. I was pretty blasé about the paintjob until I gave him the red piping on his coat, a flashy detail which makes the body of the model a load more interesting. He’s oddly restrained for a 21st century GW model.

Death Korps of Krieg infantry squad. Credit: SRM

I also returned to my backburner Guard project with another unit of Death Korps infantry. These were not altogether a different experience from the previous squad back in March, but I had to interrupt the painting process as I was roughly 70% through the squad when the Leviathan models showed up, and painting Marines for Warcom and Goonhammer took priority. You’re getting a peek into the allergen-free sausage factory here. Returning to these models, I was able to pick up quickly from where I left off, and I joyfully painted another squad of Dudes With Rifles. I really should just play historicals. This squad also marked the point at which I met my tally of painted models from the previous year, and anything past here was just backlog-clearing gravy.

Lyran Commonwealth King Crab, Mercury, Highlander, and Masakari/Warhawk. Credit: SRM

I knocked out another group of mechs for my Lyran Commonwealth, including the King Crab and Highlander, two deservedly beloved mechs. I don’t get to use assault mechs all too often in my games, as most of my local games have been low BV teaching games. I also keep accumulating Warhawks for one reason or another. This group painted up the same as any other lance; there is a familiar messiness to painting Battletech models that puts me at ease. The hours upon hours that make up my Guard and Marines make for work I am proud of, but the relief of taking a few models and finishing them in 2-3 hours is a welcome hit of Good Brain Chemicals.

Brotherhood of Steel Outcasts, built using the Brotherhood Heavy Armor plastic kit. Credit: SRM

Whilst working on the Terminators earlier, I had received this Brotherhood of Steel Heavy Armor kit to review for Goonhammer. You can read that review here, and learn how I painted them here. I painted them as Brotherhood of Steel Outcasts, a faction I gravitated towards when I first played Fallout 3. I’d already painted a bunch of Brotherhood of Steel before, and thought I’d change things up by painting this kit in a different scheme. You can only sort of see it, but there’s a sign with a coffee cup behind the bareheaded guy. That’s the plug for a takeout coffee cup I’ve been holding onto for 3 years, waiting for the right opportunity. I’m happy to say, this was the one.

Black Templars Ballistus Dreadnought. Credit: SRM

I continued my churn through Leviathan with the Ballistus Dreadnought, since named Gunk Chunkems. I’ve gone on record multiple times saying that I do not care for painting vehicles, but I do like having them, and the latter necessitates the former. I wilded out on a bit of heraldry and added some Templar purity and crusader seals to give him some of the right flavor, and plastered him with a NASCAR sponsor-level of decals. Some of the highlights are a little shaky, but so am I at this point. Art invariably reflects the artist.

Black Templars vs Adeptus Custodes. Credit: SRM and Kriegsie

The rest of this month was mostly focused on playing and less on painting. My local gaming group put on an event at Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond, Oregon, where a few folks brought terrain and we took over the barrel room. I do not, at this point in my life, need to travel 30-40 minutes to play a game of Warhammer, but I want to continue nurturing this nascent crew of wargaming weirdos and help create a stable and healthy community. This brewery also makes a few beers without wheat in them, so I was delighted to partake in some Good Times Barley Juice with my dudes. As each week, each game, and each rapid fire life event pass by, I realize that these loveable dweebs are quickly becoming some of my closest friends. Moving out to Central Oregon in December 2020 was a manic gamble made at the end of the world, and while the career prospects of this cute little resort town are dire, the people are as kind and genuine as any I could hope to meet.


Mark McLaughlin, SRM’s Dad. Credit: SRM

My dad was able to meet a bunch of said loveable dweebs when he came to visit during the end of June into early July. My wife and I hosted him for about a week, took him to a few breweries, restaurants, and food cart lots around town, and I played a pair of Age of Sigmar games with him. He thought, appropriately, that the Stormcast Eternals were cool as hell, so he commanded them while I got to play the heel with my Slaves to Darkness. It was our first time together in person since my mom died, and while I think I’m far too introverted/easily bothered to host for so long again, I was happy to see him and show him the place I call my home. He still makes historical dadgames (but I repeat myself) for GMT games, and if you want to pick some up, there’s quite a few periods to choose from.

I got to play quite a bit of Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin in July, not only with the open beta, but with a hands-on preview I got to attend. In many ways, RTS games were video games to me as a young one. I played Command & Conquer before Super Mario Bros. I learned how to type by entering cheat codes into Starcraft. When it was my turn to spell words out loud in grade school, I would opt for archaic vocabulary words from Age of Empires. You’d never guess this, but in many ways, I was that gifted kid. Spelling out “Cataphract” and “Legionnaire” didn’t win me many friends, and that ADHD diagnosis is retroactively making more and more sense. Realms of Ruin, however, lived rent-free in my head from that initial hands-on event all the way through the rest of the year. When Dawn of War III disappointed back in 2017, it felt like we’d probably never get a good Warhams-flavored RTS game again. I wish it didn’t take this long, but it was worth the wait.

Black Templars Infernus Squad. Credit: SRM

I got back to the Leviathan grind with the first pack of Infernus Marines. I was inspired to make a cool Sword Brother when my buddy Nik gave me a brewer’s box worth of Templar bits, and my mind raced at this crate of opportunity. I’ve since offloaded the other 10 burny bros from my backlog, but I have enough bits to make more should I feel the need. These units also were the last I painted before the (appropriately named this time) Tacoma Open.

Display Board. Credit: SRM

At last year’s US Open in New Mexico, I was dinged on paint judging for having a display board that had seen better days. I’d repainted the chipped edges time and again and it never seemed to stick, and four years on I figured it was time for something new. After a month of planning, sketching, restarting, rinsing and repeating, I settled on a simple display board with a simple concept: an Imperial landing zone or mustering point. I based it on some Dawn of War maps from back in the day, and wanted to evoke functionality with my greebles and markings. This was my first real try with stencils, home made and commercial, and I’m quite pleased with the result. I still hate painting terrain though.

Black Templars. Credit: SRM

Unfortunately, 2000 points of Templars really takes up the whole dang thing. What I have instead is a really lovely board for 1000 point games. I’d put it through its paces shortly at the Tacoma Open.

What a Bunch of Nerds at US Open Tacoma 2023
What a Bunch of Nerds at US Open Tacoma 2023. Credit: Pendulin

I attended the Tacoma Open with the intent that it would be a crash course in 10th edition. By my second game, I barely needed my Index cards at all and was able to roll with just the app. By the way, that 40k app is really dang good. Equally useful is the Tabletop Battles App. Use either or both, they’re fantastic, even for a Luddite like yours truly. The event itself was possibly the most tightly run tournament I’ve ever played in, and the whole thing ran like clockwork. While I yet again failed to get a best painted trophy, I went 4-0 in my bracket, and won a plaque for my efforts. Said bracket was the Trash Panda Jamboree and I accidentally submarined myself to get there, but I had a grand ol’ time playing with the other folks in the 1-3 bracket. Better still were the hangs with the Goonhammer crew and Badcast listeners in the Pacific Northwest’s most peculiar smelling city. I wrote a lot of words about it. You should read them.

Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters: Execution Force: Key Art. Credit: Complex Games and Frontier Development

I got to be a games journo again in late July, as I was given the opportunity to review the absolute mouthful that is Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters: Execution Force. We’re talking sur-Star Wars: Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith levels of title bloat here. I had a delightful time having my latex-clad acrobats murder stuff, and my skullfaced idiot made his bio-meltdown everybody else’s problem. The whole expansion adds yet more variety to an already packed game. You can read my review if you want more of my thoughts, but you can probably tell that they’re positive.

Black Templars Storm Speeder Thunderstrike. Credit: SRM

After being dumpstered by two skew lists in Tacoma, I realized I had nowhere near enough anti-armor to compete. I engaged in that great American pastime of retail therapy, and fished around the store in the convention hall until I found the single Storm Speeder still for sale. I’m pretty sure it was behind the white Citadel box that just said “B.A. TERM ASS” or the same, still in box Karl Franz on Deathclaw model that has been in the store at every Games Workshop event I have ever attended. Circumstances aside, I grabbed this Speeder and happily carted it home, building it immediately and magnetizing a few of the weapon options. I also replaced the doodlebopper flight stand with a ruin and pair of magnets. I’ve never liked those clear plastic stands; they’re always so fragile in my experience.


I started off August with a commission to partially paint a number of Cadians for one of the locals in my gaming community. This was a mistake. When your chief relaxation activity becomes an obligation, it is no longer relaxing. At least I got a Dorn out of it, but for a week from the end of July through the beginning of August, I was plugging away on some dudes who weren’t mine. Every few years I need to do this to tell myself not to do it again. We recorded a whole podcast episode about it. In a particular moment of grim reflection, I dug up my old DakkaDakka commission thread. Between that website’s decidedly Web 1.0 user interface and dumpster bottom quality of posting, I felt no nostalgia, only vague discomfort. The same two dozen extremely angry and small-minded people will be arguing each other to death on that website until they, or the site, die.

SRM and his copilot, Blazco. Credit: Dylon

A new responsibility found its way to my door in the form of a young orange cat who I have chosen to name Blazco, short for BJ Blazcowhiskers. Much has been written and recorded regarding the Cat Delivery System, and during a month of wildfire smoke and daily record breaking temperatures, said system chose to bequeath this cat upon my household. Between a busy August playing more Realms of Ruin and spinning up a local competitive 40k league, I’ve been delighted and exhausted by playful cat ownership. He is small, he is sweet, he is boi. I am yet to meet anyone, myself included, who is not smitten with this kitten. He has since filled out but is no less of a loveable cheeto, his mind unburdened by a single thought.

Black Templars Primaris Apothecary. Credit: SRM

As I paced before my mailbox, waiting for the opportunity to jump whatever postal worker had my Cities of Sigmar launch box, I decided to take a break just long enough to paint up this Primaris Apothecary. My wife had given him to me for Christmas in that most benighted of years, 2020, and I had never gotten around to painting him for my Ultramarines. Instead, I spent days finding whatever sources I could for a canon Templar Apothecary scheme, beyond the white Marine with a plasma gun on the 3rd ed box or a boring, typical one. Tucked away in the Templars 4th edition codex was a single Apothecary joining a Command squad, and I had found my scheme. I converted him up to be holding both his Absolvor pistol and Reductor, using some Chaplain bits my friend Nik had given me. There aren’t enough pistoleros in the Space Marine range, so I was happy to make sure everyone knew he wasn’t that kind of doctor. I was genuinely cackling as I assembled this model, L-ing my A O as I tested to see if I could have him holding guns akimbo. Painting him was a little fiddly as he’s a rather cluttered miniature, especially for such an early foray into the Primaris aesthetic. I only cluttered him further with hot rod flames and a tilting plate, but none of that should surprise you at this point.

Greywater Fastness Freeguild Marshal and Relic Envoy. Credit: SRM

It was my delight to be part of the crew who got their hands on the new Cities of Sigmar launch box. This range was my own personal Enigma of Amigara Fault: this hole was made for me. To quote, out of context, a friend of mine: “You just like dudes!” and, returning to this context, he is absolutely correct. Dudes in platemail are absolutely my shit, and the more room for heraldry, the better. I settled on Greywater Fastness for my foray into this army, distancing myself from the red and white of my square-based Talabheim army and aiming for something yet more vibrant. I was planning on basing my scheme on the old Averland colors, but the ‘Eavy Metal team already got 2/3 of the way there and I just nudged it over the line. Was choosing this scheme just a long con to get the painting judge’s attention at a future gaming event? Probably!

Greywater Fastness Alchemite Warforger. Credit: SRM

Alongside the Marshal and his little guy, I painted the Warforger and I’m still not wild about him. Something in his color choices ended up a little too cartoonish, even for me, and I spent an hour layering up his coat only for it to look like I drybrushed it. He’s fine. They’re pretty good so I’ll probably end up with another one. For more expert tactical analysis, check out my girthy review of the Cities of Sigmar Battletome.

Black Templars Techmarine. Credit: SRM

There’s something unusual that happens in my head when I’m working on some top secret project I shouldn’t talk about yet, but I haven’t posted anything online in a minute. We open every Badcast with a hobby progress section, and if I don’t have anything to talk about 1. That’s bad radio and 2. I worry that someone might get suspicious. I can absolutely believe that number 2 there has never once happened, and is a case of observing oneself more than anyone else possibly would, could, or should. Now you know if I’m knocking out a bunch of mechs or the odd character model, this is likely why. This particular odd character model was, much like the Apothecary before him, a mad idea that came to me and would not leave. I had been running my Ultramarines Primaris Techmarine alongside my Templars for a game or two, as I didn’t have the points for my then-legal extant (smaller, worse) Firstborn Techmarine. As smol Techmarines were on the way out anyway, it was time for an upgrade. He was, at every level, a fiddly model to work with, but I’m thrilled with the result, and I’ve used him in nearly every game since. I tried to make another later in the year only to abandon it. Maybe in 2024.

Campbell “SRM” McLaughlin (left) and Dan “Dittka” Boyd (right) live at NOVA. Credit: SRM

NOVA is my “home” con, despite not living in the DC area since 1996 and currently living about as far from DC as one can get whilst staying in the continental United States. It’s the birthplace of the Badcast, the one dumb thing I’ve done that I can say has had a genuinely positive influence on the world. I got to see that firsthand, as we recorded our very first live show there in front of a sold out crowd of 40 people. That might not sound like a lot, but having a corner of the Internet you’ve curated come to life and gather in a single room is a surreal experience. I played in the GT and performed better than I had in Tacoma, but recording that live show was the definite highlight of the event. If you want to add another novella to your reading pile, I’ve got a writeup here.


Greywater Fastness Steelhelms. Credit: SRM

Nibbling at the back of my mind for the entirety of NOVA were the regiment of Freeguild Steelhelms I had waiting for me at home. I’d done more than a small amount of work on them before heading out, and as it was a scheme I hadn’t “solved” yet, I had some agida about them. Complicating matters further, Goonhammer was sent a Pro Acryl paint set from Monument Hobbies, and I was encouraged to try some of their paints out here. I had already done quite a bit of work, so I tried using their skintones as well as their Golden Yellow and Titanium White. Their paints are a bit more matte than I like for skin, but that Golden Yellow will be part of the shields on this army for as long as I paint them, and Titanium White is my favorite pure white paint I’ve ever used. I’m largely a Citadel guy due to their accessibility and my own inertia, but I’ll be incorporating more Pro Acryl paints into my work as I continue along my hobby journey. Expect more on these paints later this article. Looping back to this regiment, there was no way I’d have them ready in time for that review back in August, especially with the complicated scheme I had devised for them. This complicated scheme was slowed down further by finally digging into Baldur’s Gate 3 and catching Covid for the third time. I had traveled across the country to hang out drinking and playing games with a bunch of nerds and gotten home fine, only for my actually responsible wife to catch Covid at work and inadvertently bring it home. As I’m writing this more or less in situ as opposed to all at once in December, I’m doing fine. She’s having a rough one but I’m happy to fulfil my househimbo duties and help her through it.

Black Templars Bladeguard Captain. Credit: SRM

I’d converted this model back in January, trading bits with some of my locals to get exactly what I wanted. Much like the Apothecary and Techmarine, he was one idea that lodged itself in my brain and wouldn’t come out until he was done. I basecoated him in May and left off there. Late September would see a load of models arriving at my doorstep with perilously short timelines in which to paint them, so between furiously F5ing the USPS website I knocked out this model. I slipped and daubed gold all over the front of his robe, setting me back a ways as I had to blend it all back up from Khorne Red – fortunately even I can’t see the traces of that mistake any longer. I dubbed him Marshal Henion, after Van Henion brewing, one of the many delightful breweries here in Bend. Their Schwarzbier is fantastic, and even with my wheat allergy I can drink nearly all of their oeuvre.

Manufactorum Ruins. Credit: SRM

I got these ruins in issue 34 of Imperium and promptly built them, primed them, and left them in a closet for nearly a year. While waiting for some stuff I had to review for Goonhammer I finished some 10 months later. I vaguely recall rushing through the previous one of these I got so I could properly review it. It’s a load more economical, functional, and easy to assemble than the ruins of my youth, and I’m not even talking about Warhammer anymore. Speaking of, this month also had my favorite Imperium review written to date, if you want a window into more specific moments in time, not through rose-tinted glasses, but green ones instead.

Lyran Commonwealth Nova/Black Hawk, Black Knight, and Flashman. Credit: SRM

During the previously mentioned F5-mashing, I painted this trio of mechs for my Lyran Commonwealth collection. It had been some months since I’d painted any mechs, and after so many laboriously detailed GW miniatures, it was a welcome change of pace. The Black Knight is one of the premier “just a guy” mechs in Battletech, and always looks at least a little bit like Ultraman.

Bronze Award. Credit: SRM

My store had a competitive league that actually started some time before NOVA, and gave me the opportunity to try out my GT list. As a result, I have played 12 games with that exact same army list, a heretofore unknown experience for my traditionally vibes-based approach to army construction. I did pretty well in this league, going 3-2 and only really getting stomped by Eldar, which we all knew was coming. It was neck and neck for 2nd but I lost to Knights on the last dieroll of the game in an absolute barn burner. Most importantly, I had 5 games with 5 delightful opponents, some of whom I had never had the opportunity to play before. Much like a tournament, leagues are a fantastic opportunity to get a bunch of games in and make some new friends. I hadn’t played most of the folks I’d been matched into before, and now they’re familiar faces every Warhammer Wednesday.

Black Templar Captain with Jump Pack. Credit: SRM

I got to ride high for a good day with this boi who got featured on Warhammer Community and was front row center on the site that day. As a teenager, I dreamed of getting my models in White Dwarf, and this is about as close to that prestige as I’m likely to get. It feels good seeing my work out there in the wild, appreciated by people outside of my own little spheres of influence. It also puts to rest some of the imposter gremlins gnawing at the inside of my skull.

I was spared the worst of our mutual bout with Covid earlier in the month, making me the dedicated errand-doer. This meant a not insignificant amount of September was spent driving to and fro and back again. This gave me more time to reflect than expected, meaning that when the fug of anxieties about painting deadlines, job hunting, and more besides clears, space is made for deeper introspection. I think about the last trip I took to Boston in February to see my mom before she died. I think about how without wargaming, she and my dad never would have met, and I wouldn’t be here spilling my guts/digital ink. I think about our last exchange midday in a hospital room in New Hampshire.

“Be good, Cam, stay safe.”
“You can’t tell me what to do”
“I’m your mother, yes I can”
“That never worked before, why would it work now?”

It’s said with a chuckle, the kind of joke-not-joke my dad would tell. Those four sentences will tell you more about our relationship than anything else I could ever write. I hold her hand and tell her I love her and I never see her again. This brief conversation was what I flew across the country, rented a car, damaged that car, and spent a week on either end of a week stressing for. I can’t say it wasn’t worth it.


Black Templars Assault Intercessors with Jump Packs. Credit: SRM

After these models finally escaped Postal Purgatory, I worked frantically to get them done by the end of September. As you can see by the header above, I did not succeed. Whilst building them I honestly felt tired. Despite looking lovely in their own right, I found the poses to be somewhat wonky and the moldlines obtrusive. Others shared my woes. I fortunately had the foresight to separate their jump packs from their bodies during priming, and frankly I think I’d rather stick these packs on the previous Easy to Build Assault Intercessors than work with this exact kit again. At this time I also was starting to feel a bit burnt out with modern… everything. I was about to turn 33 years old, and my hunger was not for more but for real. The flood of daily surface level interactions through myriad screens, unwitting consumption of audiovisual slop, and general corporate control of everything I lived, ate, and breathed was getting to me. I understand the irony of this considering how many dates on my calendar were blocked in with product reviews this year, and my own glee at seeing my work showcased on the mouthpiece website of a 3.5 billion dollar corporation. Before you chime in with a “you criticize the system yet you live in it; curious!” comment, I do implore you to think for just one moment and let yourself sit in silence considering why someone might be frustrated by that line of thinking. Buddy, I thought of it first, and I’m still trying to find the answer.

A 2v2 Game of Battletech in Progress. Credit: SRM

I turned 33 this month. I celebrated this day with people near and dear to me, some going back as recently as last year and others going back to 1996. Some in attendance weren’t born yet when I started that last friendship. This day I learned the basics of airbrushing, a tool I have nominally owned several times in my journey yet never took the time to learn. I don’t expect to ever become a full airbrush pervert; I love brushwork too much, but it’s another good tool to have in my belt. The rest of the day was spent slamming beers and battlemechs in equal measure, and was a delightful time. Losing my old crew from the East coast when I moved out this way was a loss keenly felt, and though it took some time, I’m glad I’ve been able to forge new bonds with new friends, as strong and strange as the ones I held back East.

Greywater Fastness Wildercorps Hunters. Credit: SRM

As someone who has played all of one game of Warcry at time of writing, I still found myself excited for this double-duty kit of Wildercorps Warcry Weirdos. This kit was a welcome change from all the edge highlighting I’d been doing, and frankly just a load of fun to work on. My Stirland-inspired Greywater Fastness scheme absolutely does not lend itself to getting a horde army painted in a reasonable timeframe, but my old Empire army left something to be desired. While it is a fine looking force, whenever I’d look at more lavishly painted Empire forces I’d feel a pang of regret that I’d stuck with a more expedient standard of painting. I could always go back and add more detail, but who honestly does that? It seems like one of those platitudes – “I’ll let you know” “We’ll keep your resume on file” “I’ll get back to you” – a lie that all parties know is a lie, but is shared regardless.

Knight-Questor Larissa Shadowstalker and Berek the Indomitable. Credit: SRM

While working on some models which I’ll get to in just a moment, I painted this pair of store birthday Stormcast from 2019 and 2020. They’re both firmly behind the current Stormcast aesthetic, but a friend was letting them go and I was happy to give them a new home. They’re fairly unremarkable in light of the following 3-4 years of Stormcast releases, but I’d like to dispel one myth about the dead orruk on Berek’s base: it’s not decapitated! It’s smashed in half! They also sculpted a bunch of broken ribs and a heart in there! Gross!

The Blacktalons. Credit: SRM

What I actually spent about a third of the month working on was the Blacktalons, from the Warhammer+ series, Blacktalon. No fewer than twice had I picked up the previous Neave Blacktalon model and gone “huh, neat” before putting her down. I’m glad I waited, because I really dug working on this crew, though batch painting a quintet of character models was on the labor intensive side. It also let me absolutely wing it while painting an Idoneth model. It’s not exactly something I’d been itching to do, but capping off a squad of challenging character models with a one-off swamp wizard was a pleasant reward at the end of the experience. I feel that the one missed opportunity here on Games Workshop’s part would have been including a code for a free month of Warhammer+ so you could watch the show or whatever, but I guess that’s why they don’t pay me the big bucks. You can read more of my thoughts, naturally, in my review. I liked the models a lot more than the one Neave Blacktalon audiobook I listened to.

Northwind Highlanders Gargoyle/Man O War, Night Gyr, Incubus/Vixen, Archer, Stone Rhino/Behemoth, Kingfisher. Credit: SRM

Hot tip for y’all prospective mechwarriors out there: All the Battletech box sets (so A Game of Armored Combat, Clan Invasion, Alpha Strike, and the Beginner Box) contain a $20 coupon for the Catalyst Game Labs store. Greedily, and with a hunger for gachapon bullshit, I used mine to partially purchase a pile of blind buy box bois. For the most part, these were random Clan mechs I’d never seen before, and many of them are above. Imagine typing the titles of all these dang things in the hashtags of every social media post you make. I do so largely so I can later go back, likely thinking “huh, what’s a Kingfisher look like again?” and find mine. These were a welcome relief after so much meticulous edge highlighting and blending, as Battletech minis always are. The tartan pattern on these is different than the last. I figured there would be some familial variation in these Space Scots, and I really didn’t want to paint that yellow tartan again. It was oddly relaxing this go around, especially for something I was lowkey dreading.


Oldhammer Mentor Legion Space Marine. Credit: SRM

As I mentioned earlier, Monument Hobbies sent Goonhammer some of their paints to use, and I spent a few weeks wracking my brain over what to use them for. As my existing paint schemes were pretty dialed in at this point, I looked to my backlog and had an idea: Rogue Trader schemes! I have tons of old lead, so decided to start painting these models that predate me with this set of brand new paints. I settled on the Mentor Legion for my first, wrote a How to Paint Everything article explaining how I did it, and got to reawaken the graphic designy part of my brain to make all the graphics for the article. Also, a hot tip: Bloodbowl bases are perfect for old slotta models like these. Most models look better on 32s anyway, in my opinion.

The Undying Phalanx – Now in Digital Form!

I swear this is the last time I talk about this game, but November saw the launch of Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realms of Ruin and I was on the beat. I had a lovely time talking with Gav Thorpe and Sandro Sammarco about it. I thought the game itself was pretty good. I learned a lot about being a games journalist in this period, like the crunch of finishing a game under the gun and the challenges of editing an interview transcript. I also gained an immediate and immense amount of respect for anyone who has ever edited all the “ums” “uhs” “likes” and “sos” from a written interview, and I want to give a shoutout to Marcy for helping me with that here. Covering this game was a ton of work – often quite enjoyable work – and covering it felt like a milestone in my writing career.

Tahlia Vedra, Lioness of the Parch. Credit: SRM

I don’t know if Tahlia Vedra is the best model I’ve ever painted, but she’s very likely the most model I’ve ever painted. I try to focus on one big centerpiece model a year, if only because it looks good for my header photo in these year end posts. Last year’s (also in November) was Be’lakor, who only took a week and a half. Tahlia took me twice as long, as I laboriously highlighted every feather and every strand of fur on her manticore Infernadine at least twice.

Tahlia Vedra, Lioness of the Parch. Credit: SRM

What I thought would be a pleasantly repetitive task I could zone out with became an acrobatic challenge as I had to figure how to maneuver this model to adequately paint each feather. I could have drybrushed or even airbrushed it, but I was determined to paint this model in my style. I’m glad Tahlia’s complete and that I’ll never need to paint another, and I’m pleased as punch with the results. I couldn’t tell you how I painted half the colors on there; it’s all blends and mixes of colors from across my entire paint collection. I was a month late to contribute to the relevant Warcom article (featuring our own Scott “Soggy” White) as I was in Blacktalon land, but I’m glad my Cities of Sigmar army will have a suitably epic hero to lead it.

Black Templar Crusader with Power Fist. Credit: SRM

Bookending this month was yet more power armor, also for a How to Paint Everything article. Rob wanted me to write a Templar tutorial, so these guys got nudged to the front of the que. I wanted more weapon options for my Crusader Squad, whose pyreblasters had been underperforming since 10th edition. I also totally forgot to paint the green wires on their powerfists, but that can be our little secret.


Stormcast Eternals Praetor-Prime. Credit: SRM

Sisyphus fucked up by only having one boulder to push up a hill. Had he only the temerity to double fist those puppies, he would have crushed the whole divine punishment thing and had some rockin pythons to show for it. This is to say that, as my coverage of Imperium wound down, my coverage of the Age of Sigmar equivalent, Stormbringer, began. The fifth issue of this magazine contains the Praetor-Prime you see above, and as I was writing a review for that issue this month, I got her ready early. She’s a genuinely lovely miniature and painting her was as comfy an experience as putting on a hoodie straight out of the dryer. What I actually took away from the experience was a new approach to painting cloaks. I often end up with ugly tidemarks on my capes, cloaks, robes, and so on, as my scheme involves Mephiston Red washed with Agrax Earthshade. Instead I started by basecoating with Khorne Red and working my way up to my previous base color, Mephiston Red. It made for a smoother paintjob, and I think that’s how I’ll be doing all the cloaks on my Stormcast from here on out.

Cities of Sigmar Freeguild Steelhelms. Credit: SRM

And with that, I’ve hit 200 painted models. This regiment took me like 2 and a half weeks; entirely too much work for what is essentially a 100 point speedbump. I consciously went for an inversion of the previous Pittsburgh Steelhelm regiment’s color scheme, with yellow tunics and black jackets instead of black tunics and yellow jackets. I’ll be writing an article on the historical precedent for this sort of thing sometime in the coming year if all goes according to plan, but you can at least tell the regiments apart now. I’ll repeat this process if I have more duplicate regiments in the future.

I’m the bearded dude in a hat aw shit I already made this joke. Credit: Erika

In mid-December, the community here in Bend put together a painting event at our FLGS, Modern Games. Each attendee got 4 random Pro Acryl paints, one Space Marine, and one evening to paint the best model they could. Zac, Erika, and myself were judging, and it was my first time being on this side of the judge’s table. It was a ton of fun; I haven’t gotten to do art critiques like this much since my college days, and I always welcome the challenge. It was also inspiring to see so many folks show up for this event, which was kind of a gamble since we’d never done anything quite like it before. You can read more words about it here, but don’t expect anything as in-depth as my con reports.

Legion of Vega Nova/Black Hawk, Black Knight, Exterminator, and Sentinel. Credit: SRM

I needed something easy to tackle after those Steelhelms, so I dug a couple mechs out of my backlog. I started using transfers on my Battletech models with my Northwind Highlanders, and figured it was about time I used some on this scheme. I also don’t really enjoy painting this scheme all too much; I prefer painting the other forces you’ve already seen in this article. I haven’t played anywhere near as much Battletech with Ben as I was planning to, so the red team I was initially painting for him has been largely unused. Still, it’s good to have multiple schemes for Battletech, as invariably you’ll end up with duplicates and have to figure out what to do with 4 Archers or whatever.

Cities of Sigmar Ironweld Great Cannon. Credit: SRM

I decided to close the year out with a bang, painting the Ironweld Great Cannon which Games Workshop sent me for review. It’s a beautiful kit, assembling easily and giving you the opportunity to make a mini diorama. I built mine in subassemblies, leaving the crew, cannon, and shield separate. Putting it together at the end was satisfying, even if I misjudged where the crew were meant to go on the ground. Resultantly, I had to cover up that area with some extra foliage, but it’s no big deal. The crew were easy, the cannon itself was exactly the kind of relaxing, mindless painting I was hoping Infernadine’s wings would be, and aside from trying to keep my black and yellow separate on the shield, the whole process was comfortable. I’m glad I could finish the year with a model that makes my Cities army more playable while also being something I was genuinely excited to paint.

Kruleboyz Gutrippa Boss Haggok. Credit: SRM

I’m sliding into home plate after the game has already ended, updating this article with one last model painted in 2023 – the Kruleboyz Gutrippa Boss included in Stormbringer. This was my first Kruleboy, but also potentially my last. Despite enjoying playing them an awful lot in Realms of Ruin, I didn’t love the experience of painting one. I largely replicated textures from my Cities of Sigmar army, as well as Zarbag’s Gitz, who I painted in 2019. The overlapping strips of fabric are kind of a pain in the butt, and I don’t like how thin and wiry all the leather bands are on the model. Still, I feel pretty good with how he came out, and should I feel the urge to paint some gobbos from Stormbringer, they’ll likely follow a similar scheme.

Final Thoughts, The Year Ahead, and What Have You

2023 was weird. Credit: SRM

At least twice whilst reading this piece you may have thought “This seems a touch self indulgent, doesn’t it?” and while you are absolutely correct, this is not the place I go to murder my darlings. Reader, this is a darling preservation zone. I found an awful lot about myself awful quickly in 2023, prompting my wife to ask me to please end this period of revelations.

Months after mom’s death, I still think about her and how little we really got to talk over the past few years. Her death was a long time coming and I have to admit I feel relieved, if still pained. I can only take solace knowing she’s not hurting anymore. The raw deal we’re dealt is that time will make orphans of us all, and that’s only if we’re lucky.

Maybe it’s my visible weariness after sending my 80th job application this year. Maybe it’s because I can’t keep the bile from erupting from my gullet every time an interviewer starts gushing about AI generated imagery, excitedly showing me the noose by which I am expected to hang myself. For reasons both obvious and obtuse, I am struggling to find steady ground. In 2024 I’ll go back to school, at least part time. After spending the better part of 3 years in employment situations either unstable or loathsome and even longer in career stagnation, I desperately need a professional refresh to keep up with my multitude of personal ones. I don’t intend to stop writing, painting, or recording my stupid podcast. I want to draw more. I’ll probably end up painting less, and I know I’m going to miss Adepticon and the Tacoma Open due to my forthcoming class schedule. These sacrifices are short-term but necessary, if only to partially rewrite myself. The code that makes up our experiences; what we consist of, is a mess, if you couldn’t tell. I’d say it’s spaghetti code, but I can’t eat wheat anymore.

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