31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014… Hello 2015

Another year flies by and this has been a year that will stick in my mind for many yet to come. From a hobby perspective this year was definitely a quiet one, but one that I think will finally see the end of my 40k aspirations.

2014 began with our unquenchable thirst for Blood Bowl. I can genuinely say that I have not been as excited by the hobby in a long time as I was for playing BB. In fact, it has to be said that Blood Bowl consumed me all the way up to Salute.

Behind the scenes I had been working on the miniatures board game Aetherium and, as the kickstarter began around the time of Salute, it was announced to the world. This was an experience I will not forget easily. Very exciting times and I wish Brian and the Anvil Eight guys all the very best.

Post Salute my attention was turned towards a secret project of my own devising, Normans vs Rangers (we will call it for now). It has been sitting in the back of my mind ever since and is currently the only light on the horizon for the painting table.

Then the summer brought us 7th Edition 40k. I will admit to being skeptical from the off and, despite purchasing the rulebook(s) was never fully convinced. We spent the summer months on a multi-game campaign to give Bull's Orks a run out and me a chance to start a new marine chapter. My Imperial Fists never really got out of the gate and I reverted to my chaos minions to fill the campaign void. We had some fun but ultimately never got to complete the final chapter.

In the meantime, Zombicide snuck in under the radar and has the potential to become something of a favourite. In a similar vein to Blood Bowl it has a certain longevity and will no doubt feature again on the blog in the coming year.

Autumn saw me get totally mugged by plastic shiny things, thanks to Tabletop Workshop. First their Monastic Scenery set arrived at the door, followed by the wonderful plastic castle… which I have yet to complete.

As a means to fill the hobby void, I spent large parts of October and November illustrating some of the basics of designing a rulebook, from the perspective of a graphic designer. I have to say I really enjoyed this, even though it only skimmed the surface, and it made a pleasant departure at a time where spare time was scarce.

That's pretty much where the hobby year ended – rather quiet by previous years. But little was I to know how this year would truly be defined.


The year had already been monumental for me and my wife. We were due to move house in January, which fell through. We were also in the middle of becoming approved adoptive parents, though this too would fall through. We discovered in April that we were going to have our own baby and this was swiftly followed by moving to an even better house that we had previously missed out on. Just before moving I got a new, full time job which has been a breath of fresh air – it's been non-stop life changing events in 2014.

With our son due at the beginning of December the latter half of the year has been happy, exciting times despite hardly having five minutes to devote to hobby things, preparing for his arrival. The anticipation reached fever pitch as November rolled into December. His due date came and went and it became apparent that we would have to go into hospital to be induced – he was just too comfy in there.

What has happened in the time since I would not wish on my worst enemy. We have endured a terribly distressing time, not least when I thought I had lost both my wife and my son in the operating theatre. Yet, Finn Henry William Reynolds was born on 21st December and despite suffering severe distress and oxygen deprivation he has fought his way back from the brink and made us very proud parents. He is no longer in intensive care and could even be home with us by the weekend, which is nothing short of a miracle.

At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I can say hand on heart that I am not the same person I was a fortnight ago. I used to think that lots of things mattered, but they don't, and this experience has given me a clear perspective for the future. We didn't have much of a Christmas this year but New Year is becoming truly special.

So with that in mind I wish you all the best for the New Year and hope that we can all make some solid resolutions for 2015, both in the hobby and life outside.

03 December 2014

World Of Twilight

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I did a design review of the World of Twilight book 3 that I received as part of their kickstarter campaign. You may also remember that I wasn't terribly happy with the finished product due to poor print finishing (not the content I hasten to add).

As part of my conversations with Mike Thorp, the man behind World of Twilight, he suggested I take a look at the WoT compilation book to compare and sent me an early copy. I have to say that my reaction when I opened the parcel this time was exactly what was missing first time around. This book is beautiful.

To begin with, the cover. I think this has to go down as one of my favourite rulebook covers of all time. It does not depict a great battle, or a montage of the races involved, it's simply a snapshot of Anyaral – the world in which Twilight is set. The decision to have Andreas Rocha do the front cover was genius. His illustration style is the perfect fit for WoT and you would think he'd been illustrating Anyaral for years already. As great as Mike Thorp's pencil sketches are at setting the scene this front cover truly lifts things to the next level. Having said that, less is more – restricting the full colour illustrations to the cover, leaving the pencil sketches inside was a great decision. The balance inside the book remains quite delicate and lots of full colour imagery could have overpowered things.

The book itself is A5, 152 pages, perfect bound, with a matt laminated cover – much like the smaller Malifaux rulebook – with none of the print-related flaws that I found previously. It is actually a compilation of all three WoT books thus far and, with that in mind, the layout inside matches the other books. The pages have a grungy, aged paper background with parchment-style boxes dotted about to highlight things of importance or background fluff extracts.

The pencil sketches make this book what it is and the graphic style follows suit creating the image of something truly hand-rendered. This sets it apart from every other rulebook I can think of. With its duotone colours, the book feels like it could almost be some ancient tome or journal from Anyaral, recording history and events. Even the example diagrams and blast templates are hand-rendered which completes the look perfectly.

This book has been planned and executed very well – lots of focus on the detail, without losing sight of the overall picture. Even if you have no intention of buying models (which are superb by the way) and playing the game, this book is definitely worth adding to your collection.

This is a fantastic book all round and a jolly good read too.