TheChirurgeon’s 2019 Year-In-Review

As 2019 comes to a close, a lot of the Goonhammer crew have been talking about looking back at the past year and writing retrospectives on what they accomplished. I’m all for this, since it gives us easy content to post over the week of Christmas when most of us would rather be spending time with family than poring over new books in order to crank out 12,000 words on the newest release. Note that I say “most of us” because unlike the rest of these shiftless layabouts I want to let the record note that I care only about you, dear reader, and would gladly sacrifice Christmas time with my in-laws to review a new Psychic Awakening book. It’s a tough sacrifice, I know. But one I’m willing to make for you. Please hold your applause until the end of the article.

So let’s talk about 2019. 2019 was a big year for me, with a lot of goings on and major events but I’m going to try to condense it down to the ten or so biggest things.


Game 4 at NOVA against Thaddeus Pickett and his beautiful Necrons

1. I played 32 games of Warhammer 40k 8th edition

For some of you – and for many of my fellow Goonhammer contributors who are more regular tournament-goers – those are baby numbers. But for me, a dad working full time, that’s the most 40k I’ve ever played in a single year. For reference, I played 27 games last year, and 20 in 2017, split between 7th and 8th editions. Those 32 games include my lone tournament this year, the 2019 NOVA Open 40k GT. Of those, about half were for the campaign I started, The Astradus Campaign, which I wrote about way back in December of last year. The campaign was an escalation league, so a lot of those early games were at 500 and 1,000 points before we finally got up to 2,000 total. Also, half of the games I played were 2,000 points, and a big chunk of those were played in a competitive format, using either NOVA or ITC missions. In addition to 32 games of 8th edition, I played 3 games of Apocalypse and 7 games of Kill Team.

Overall, 8th edition has been a blast for me. Despite the recent onslaught of Marine armies, this is still the tightest, most balanced edition of 40k we’ve seen and while I certainly felt things were in a better place balance-wise pre-Iron Hands, I don’t hate where we’re at now that Psychic Awakening is bringing treats to all of the other armies. Many under-served armies are now getting much-needed bonuses to help bring them up to speed and that’s a good thing. What’s not so great about it is the sheer number of books and supplements that are now necessary to compile basic armies; I need two books at the very least to run a Chaos Space Marines army using any legion at its full strength, and there’s a good chance I’ll need all four of the Codex, Vigilus Ablaze, Faith and Fury, and Forge World Index: Chaos to manage things, though really that just means making printouts of the important stuff and using Buttscribe more regularly.

And with full apologies to my White Panthers and Deathwatch armies, every single game I played this year was with my Chaos lads: 26 games with Black Legion, 2 with World Eaters, 1 with Night Lords, 1 with Iron Warriors, 1 with Death Guard, and 1 with Chaos Knights.

The Plan for 2020

I want to double that number next year. Or at the very least, crack 50 games. And my plan is to do it by adding a few RTTs to my game schedule, so I can get in some 3-game days against local players. I’ve been lax about doing events over the last couple of years, basically just attending NOVA, and while that’s been loads of fun, I want to get at least 4 ITC events under my belt this year so I can properly help represent the Goonhammer team name. If I include NOVA 2020 in that list (which is definitely happening), then events alone will account for at least 15 of my games next year, so that’s a good start. I don’t think the ITC does Chaos Legions as factions, so I’ll probably just be running Chaos Space Marines for all of those.


2. We Got Serious About Goonhammer

I don’t know that we’ve told this story in its entirety so here goes: Goonhammer started in October 2018. We were all a bunch of SomethingAwful goons and we’d recently become fed up with the forums as a place to post battle reports and longer-form content. The 40k thread at the time was getting hundreds of posts per day, so anything useful would quickly get buried by new posts, making it hard to go back and find useful posts or things people might want to read later on. We started talking about having a place to post our battle reports and hobby progress that we could link to instead. And so, RichyP went and created a WordPress site for us to post on.

Those were fun early days. We had maybe three dozen posts in our first month from different goons, and most of the articles averaged around 20 page views. A lot of the content we were writing were battle reports and painting tutorials, covering things we’d normally have posted on the forums. In our first month, the site saw 1,400 visitors in its first month and 2,334 page views — pretty good for something we were just playing around with!

We kept writing content off-and-on through November, December, January, and February. Over that time, we started to get requests for strategic advice, and we noticed a lot of players asking for advice or help with a faction didn’t have a good place to go. Most new content reviews were spread over 30-minute-to-an-hour YouTube videos with lots of dead time for players who just wanted the info, and the most prominent tactics and strategy sites were filled with bad advice and tasteless “jokes.” So we started planning to write content to replace them.

We decided to really start taking things seriously in April this year when, after the release of Vigilus Ablaze and our article reviewing it, we started to shape into something resembling a real content team. After some initial feedback on how we should schedule content, we started organizing our weeks so we’d have regularly recurring weekly columns. At the time, we were primarily focused on Start Competing, our series on 40k tactics and playing competitively, and How to Paint Everything, which was designed to show off our minis and be the kind of content people would come back to over and over and search for. It paid off: April was our biggest month ever, with 5,309 visitors and 10,412 page views. Number go up!

Since then, we’ve added more than a dozen additional authors, all volunteers who’ve wanted to contribute to the site, and expanded our weekly columns to include Age of Sigmar, Necromunda, Kill Team, Adeptus Titanicus, and Aeronautica Imperialis as games, plus content like Hammer of Math and Narrative Forge to cover popular topics. May was our biggest month yet. Then June was. Then July. Then August. At the time of this writing, December has just passed November as our biggest month ever with 9 days to go and more than 620,000 page views and nearly 200 thousand visitors. That’s insane. You’re all sick for encouraging us like this. And I hope you never get better. We were worried that people wouldn’t be interested in reading longform content about the hobby we love and we were extremely happy to be proven wrong.


The Plan for 2020

We’ve got some changes planned for next year. Some minor content changes we’ve already talked about, and some larger changes. The biggest one is that we’ll be working on adding some kind of donations aspect to the site. We will never have ads on Goonhammer, and we’re not big fans of paid subscriptions, but currently the site makes negative three thousand dollars a year, with most of that coming out of Greg “Greg” Chiasson’s pocket to cover hosting costs, which have gone up as the site has become more popular. So we’ll likely introduce some kind of Patreon to help cover our hosting and operating costs. And we’ll probably have some kind of merch. Otherwise, the content on the site will continue to be free, and none of it will be locked behind subscriptions or donation incentives. Most importantly, we’re going to keep producing great content, and will look to expand further into Age of Sigmar and potentially Warcry and Blood Bowl.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

3. I Painted A Whole Army’s Worth of Stuff

I painted a pretty good amount of stuff in 2019, and I’m pretty proud of the results. Granted, most of this was stuff I painted for my NOVA 2019 army as things came down to the wire, but I got a few nice things painted outside of that as well. While this was less than what I painted in 2018, I’m very proud of everything I painted this year, particularly the models I painted from the new Chaos Space Marines range. The new plastics are just fantastic models and I’ve had a blast converting them and painting them so far.

I’m very proud of my Berzerker conversions, who you can see on the right there. I did a squad of ten of these for my Black Legion, converted from the monopose Marines with bolt pistol and chainsword from the Shadowspear / Start Collecting box. Most of them are headswaps, though for two of them I glued Berzerker horns to a newer helmet. Overall I think the headswaps work very well, though the heads are a little large for the models. This is something I’m looking forward to replicating as I do new World Eater Berzerkers using the Forge World World Eaters upgrade kit for heads and shoulder pads.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


I also painted a couple of the new Obliterators, and I’m pretty happy with those two. Mostly, I’m glad that these finally have models that aren’t embarrassing. They’re also beasts on the tabletop now, and I plan on giving them more play in the coming months, especially given how they’ve come down in costs with Abaddon.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


I also painted the two best models I’ve ever painted. The first was Haarken, who may suck just total and complete ass on the battlefield, but has a wonderful model.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The second was Abaddon the Despoiler, an incredible model and the single best model I’ve ever painted. I’m just incredibly happy with how almost everything on this model turned out, and he makes a fantastic centerpiece for my Black Legion. The only downside is that I’ve had to work to paint all new Chaos Terminators to go with him. They’re still in my backlog.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Plan for 2020

No two ways about it; I’ve gotta paint more. This backlog of mine is too full, and it’s high time I kicked things into gear working on my next Chaos Legion (spoiler: It’s gonna be Emperor’s Children) and started putting real work into finishing my Thousand Sons and Death Guard armies, which have good starts but still need a lot of work. I’ve got the models, it’s just time to paint them.



4. I Went to Japan and It Kicked Ass

In May this year, we shipped our son off to his grandmother’s place for two weeks and went to Japan on vacation with some friends. It was a trip I’ve wanted to take for a long time. Not because I’m a big Japanophile or whatever (though NB: Anime does in fact, own), but because Japan seemed like a rad place to visit and I’m a big fan of sushi and ramen. We spent two weeks traveling to Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Osaka and oh man, the long flight was worth it. Ironically, Tokyo ended up being my least favorite part of the trip – it’s a cool city with lots to see, but I much preferred the combination of new and traditional culture that was all over Kyoto. I had some of the best food of my life (and the best ramen), saw tons of cool stuff, and had a great time with my friends. Taking vacations with groups of friends can be a mixed bag — you’re almost always gonna have some conflicts when you’re trying to make the itineraries and plans of six people line up — but this trip kicked ass.


Also, while I was there I stopped by the Games Workshop store in the Harajuku district of Tokyo and got some Space Marine Heroes minis, which whip ass.

The Plan for 2020

We’ve been alternating years with regard to big international trips without my son and shorter trips with him, so this year we’re taking him with us to St. Maarten for a week. He loves swimming and the beach, so it’ll be a fun time. Then next year we’ll figure something else out, though his grandparents are really interested in doing Disney World once he’s old enough to really enjoy it, which should happen next year when he’s well into being 4. The shorter trip this year also frees me up to do more tournaments, hopefully.


5. I Started Another Campaign

I wrote about this a lot late last year shortly after the site was launched, but this year I’ve been running a campaign. The Astradus Campaign is a Mass Campaign with Escalation incorporating two dozen players across the U.S. Northeast Corridor, including fellow Goonhammer Authors Greg “Greg” Chiasson, Merton, Dan “Sex Cannon” Boyd, Scott Horras “Heresy”, Kevin Genson, Evan “Felime” Siefring, TwoBeans, and BuffaloChicken. The campaign has been an absolute blast, and to-date players have played more than 145 games over the five rounds we’ve run.

Currently Greg “Greggles” Hess is in the lead in the campaign, though he’s one of four Ork players that have been dominating the top of the standings. I expect that to change early next year, as Dan “Sex Cannon” Boyd starts to play with his Raven Guard more post-Supplement. As the campaign’s story has developed, we’ve seen Evan’s Custodes unearth one of Fabius Bile’s secret laboratories and capture a clone of Roboute Guilliman the mad apothecary had been growing. Meanwhile the Orks are running roughshod over the campaign’s other armies and dominating the system.

The Admin Tower was a Campaign Asset that players could win in a campaign event during round 1.

Some aspects of the campaign have been a massive success, such as letting players build their own custom Warlords, doing narrative matching for rounds, and our King of Da Gubbinz competition, a side-game between different Ork players that rewarded Ork warlords for destroying the most vehicles and gold-painted models with the favor of Mork and/or Gork. What hasn’t worked are the campaign cards — I was really hoping the custom-printed cards would help players remember to use certain asset like captured territories, but so far it just hasn’t happened much. Players are just as likely to forget to use their captured location bonuses with cards as without, making them kind of a dud. Also since NOVA, the crew has hit a bit of a hobby lull, and the number of games played has fallen off, which is something we’ll have to get back on top of.

The Plan for 2020

Things aren’t over yet! I’m revisiting the campaign in 2020 and we’re renewing for a second season! I’m going to let players refresh their armies, nominate new warlords and lieutenants, and we’re going to start semi-fresh with a second (and final) season of the Astradus Campaign. I’ll talk about this in more detail in a future Narrative Forge post, but the plan will be to rework some of the campaign mechanics and improve matchmaking. We started off strong in 2019 and we’re gonna finish strong in 2020.


That’s Greg “Greg” Chiasson taking a selfie with me and a few other rad members of the Goonhammer crew.

6. NOVA 2019 Was an Absolute Blast

Guys. Guys. NOVA was just an absolute blast. Three days of standing, yelling, hamming, drinking, yelling, joking, yelling, talking about games, and also yelling. There’s not a lot more I can say about it here, given that I already wrote a ton about the experience for Goonhammer, but know that those two posts — Part 1 and Part 2 — are my favorite articles I’ve written for the site, and the image in part 1 of Greg and I doing the Dillon handshake over our round 3 match table with Street Fighter trappings was the single inspiration for this month’s Goonhammer Approved Kill Team mission where players compete to fuck up a 1993 Toyota Celica.

The Plan for 2020

Oh my god I am absolutely going again in 2020 and I’m probably gonna be there Wednesday too. And we’ll have even more Goons there. It’s gonna be wild, y’all.


…aaaaand the cat’s in the cradle and silver spooooon….

7. My Son Turned 3

Being a dad is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s exhausting, an ongoing process that you are always vaguely sure that you’re fucking up in some way you know you won’t regret for years but that will almost certainly come back to haunt you. And while I don’t pine for my pre-dad life, there are certainly some things you miss from The Great Before Time, such as “sleeping in,” or “going to movies that aren’t animated,” or “waking up on a weekend and being able to do whatever the hell you want instead of figuring out how you’re going to spend the next 12 hours entertaining this little monster because letting him watch more than an hour of TV a day is bad for him.” He turned three about a month after NOVA and over the last year he’s slowly graduated from being a toddler into a little kid, complete with preferences and likes and dislikes and a whole personality. Unfortunately, like most three-year-olds, that personality is “being a needy little asshole.”  On the upside, he’s started to really care about toys and has shown an interest in games. He’s always been interested in my Warhammer miniatures, but it’s only recently that I’ve opened my display cabinet and he’s looked inside and said “wow” and asked to hold one. It’s adorable, and so I let him hold a model and of course he makes me pay for that by immediately running off with it to try and hide it from me so I have to chase him down and pry it from his grubby little hands. But worst-case scenario, I lose an old plastic Chaos Marine.

I’m not sure he’s quite ready for games yet. He doesn’t have the patience to really take turns and abide by rules. Nonetheless, we’re starting with Here, Fishy Fishy, a game that Immanetized recommended in our holiday gift guide. So far he’s kind of into it, but he hasn’t really accepted that he has to fish for the fish using the rod and instead just uses his hand to directly connect the bait magnet to the fish, then looks at me all proud of himself and goes “I caught a fish!” Who am I to argue with that kind of outside-the-box thinking?

The Plan for 2020

He’s not going anywhere, so I’m still gonna be a dad. We’ll do more games, though. And at some point late next year, he’ll probably paint his first mini. Then I’ll do what my dad did when I painted my first Heroquest model all those years ago: Look at it, then shrug and say “well, I’m sure the next one will be good.”


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

8. Chaos Got New Rules And Models and They Kick Ass

I’ve been waiting on new plastic Chaos Space Marines for a long time and now that they’re finally out, I’m ecstatic. When the new codex came out, my backlog exploded. It’s uh, not great. I mean, it’s great that I have all these new models to paint and convert and play with, but less great that I now have a ton more shit to paint, plus older, smaller Chaos Space Marines models that I no longer want, because they look stupid and tiny and have the wrong base sizes. I’ve already converted up 10 Berserkers using the new minis, plus I’ve painted a Lord Discordant and two Obliterators, and I have 20 Noise Marines I’ve converted up, ready to rock.

The Plan for 2020

I’m going to replace all of the standard Chaos Space Marines in my Black Legion and World Eaters armies, I think. That’s 20 World Eater Berzerkers, 5 Black Legion Havocs, and about 30 Black Legion Chaos Space Marines, so it’s a lot. The good news is that the Black Legion paint up pretty fast with my scheme when I’m doing the standard grunts in black and silver trim. They’ll likely be a leisurely project however, as I focus mostly on the Berserkers and getting the Emperor’s Children army going. I also need to paint 2-3 more Lords Discordant. A lot of it will probably be based on how Psychic Awakening shakes out, because my plans will be based primarily on what I need for the 4 to 5 tournaments I’m planning on playing next year. Which means I’ll need something that can graduate beyond my weekly Hear Me Out beatings and into regular 2-1 or 3-0 showings.


9. Games Workshop Blew It All Up

When the new Marine supplements were announced, I was actually pretty optimistic about them. I mean, sure, as a die-hard Chaos player I was upset that Chaos Space Marines got what seemed like a rushed, half-assed codex update while Marines got a meta-warping half dozen books with a million new stratagems and a hundred psychic powers and also their own litanies. But I’m also a realist: Chaos has fewer players than Marines, and seven legion supplements just weren’t very likely to happen. I mean honestly, who in their right mind is going to want to buy Codex Supplement: Word Bearers? No one, that’s who. And at first, the supplements were pretty good! The Ultramarines book was decent but not insane, and White Scars are very good, but they need a lot of work to make their shenanigans work. But then Iron Hands happened and everything went to shit and we got maybe our fastest, most severe errata ever. Things have stabilized a bit, but Iron Hands are still warping the meta while Imperial Fists and Raven Guard aren’t far behind them.

The Plan for 2020

Not much I can do about this one, really. Just gotta hope the new Psychic Awakening books help fix the issue and get us to a more balanced meta, though it certainly feels like it’ll take some insane power creep to get us there.


Liam and Greg at NOVA
Look at these chucklefucks

10. No But For Reals, The Friends We Made Along The Way

I didn’t think much of Liam “Corrode” Royle and James “One_Wing” Grover last year. They were just two more posters on the SomethingAwful forums who shared my interest in Warhammer 40k and wanted to write about it online, so we became some jerks collaborating on each others’ posts. I met them in person for a few games of Kill Team on a trip to London last year and since then, Goonhammer has exploded and we’ve all become that much closer. Likewise, I’ve spent more time talking with Jack, Scott, Garrett, Alice, and Alfredo, and along the way we met Charlie and Raf and Axis of Entropy and they’re just an incredibly smart and cool group of people that I enjoy working with.

The Plan for 2020

I’m gonna make more friends along the way and spend more time with the current crew. We’ve had more and more people reach out to us about writing for the site, and I’m always impressed with the quality of work we’re able to put out. As we continue to expand and work to be the best site for Warhammer content (and more) on the internet, I’m looking forward to more time in the content mines with these folks.


Welp, that does it for my 2019 wrap-up. How’d your year go? Anything you’re looking forward to next year? Drop a message for us in the comments below, or email us at