Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Better Know a Blogger- Part 16: St Andrews Wargaming

Welcome to the latest part of my Better Know a Blogger series. As you can see from the title, this week the blogger in question is me! I thought it was only fair that after all the people who have taken the time to answer my questions, that I had best answer them myself.

Me. In my traditional Scottish wedding garb. 

No long intro for this one, if you are reading this then I assume you know about my blog. Join me as I sit in front of a mirror and perform a self-interview.

1. What age did you get into gaming and what started it off?
When I was 11-12, I got two copies of the D&D Dragon Quest game for my birthday. I absolutely loved it and pored over the rules, cards and board for months on end. I spent ages making up quests for the game and writing intricate backstories and scenarios. Despite all this, I only played the game half a time. After weeks of pestering, my Dad, brother and sister agreed to play a game. I explained the rules and we started the first quest. We got about two hours into it when it was time for bed, we were supposed to finish it the next day, but no one wanted to! That still didn't stop me from devoting a lot of free time to the game after that.

When I was about 14, my best friend in school told me about an awesome game that he had just got for his birthday- Warhammer Fantasy (it was the 5th edition boxed set). He lent me the rule books and I was hooked. I loved the miniatures, the rules and the artwork. At 14, many young boys start to take an interest in girls. Unfortunately for me, the girls I was interested in were Dark Elf Wyches and Bretonninan Sorceresses.

We played a few games with the stuff in the box and I decided to start my own army. I have been playing GW games ever since.

We both progressed from fantasy to GorkaMorka and then 3rd edition 40k when it was released.

My best friend stopped playing after we left high school, I guess the allure of alcohol and women was too much for him. What a fool!
I'm getting flashbacks of long summer days, acne and Sunny D......

2. What was the first model you ever bought/painted?
The first models I ever bought and painted were two boxes of Warhammer Orcs (purchased on holiday in Ireland of all places). I went to the local DIY store and got some "Plasti-coat" white spray paint to undercoat them. I thought the name meant it was great for plastic, but it actually coated them in a thick, plastic-like layer that obliterated all detail on the models. That was fine though, as the Orcs were painted in bright primary colours that could be seen from space. I wish I still had them to show you, but I think they got binned a few years back.
Unlike the picture, they had to be put on diagonal slotta-bases as they wouldn't rank up if you put them on straight.

My plan was to start an Orc and Goblin army, but that all changed with the release of White Dwarf 211. The new studio Undead army had me hooked and I quickly purchased a small force of Undead to start my budding fantasy army.

I still have this book in my games room. Ah, the memories......

3. What is your favourite aspect of gaming?
Actually playing games by far. I love the tactical thrill of a good game of 40k, all the decision making involved, the weighing of options and the risky gambit. As you can probably tell from my frequent battle reports, this is one aspect of the game that I really enjoy and love to share.

A close second would be making terrain. For me, painting is a means to an end, a way to get figures on the table to play my games. Terrain is different though. I love constructing intricate terrain projects and getting them painted and on the table top.

4. Fondest memory in gaming?
There are a ton of these, from very close games to absolutely amazing/abysmal dice rolling and meeting some great people from tournaments as well as becoming friends with the various bloggers whose work I read and comment on.

I would say though that one of my fondest memories was my first game with my homemade zone mortalis boards. These were a real labour of love for me, taking several months to get to completion and I am very proud of them. The first game was a 4-way battle featuring my Orks who got obliterated after they kept charging a chaos unit armed with 2 flamers (the zone mortalis rules introduced an early version of overwatch fire which was scarily good).

5. What are you working on right now?
At the moment, I am trying to get my White Scars army completely painted. I had to finish up several new units for a tournament. Once I finished the required models for my list, I just kept going as the hobby mojo was still strong with me. I only have a couple of vehicles and a few units left to do and I will actually have a completed army (at least, until I buy something else for it!).

Other than that, I still have several terrain projects in various states of completion. Maybe when the White Scars are finished, I will have a go at them.

6. When you are not conquering the tabletop, what do you do?
I am a postdoc at the University of St Andrews, currently working in the field of synthetic chemistry, occasionally dabbling in biological chemistry. I absolutely loved my uni degree, PhD and postdoc work and am very glad that I went into chemistry (I almost wanted to do Maths at uni!).

Other than that, I have a number of hobbies, so many that I am surprised I get much blogging and gaming done. I have been doing karate off and on since I was about 17 (I'm now 32) and got my black belt a couple of years ago. The off and on is because I have dislocated my shoulder a couple of times forcing me to take long breaks. I also enjoy snowboarding and rock climbing.

I also am a big fan of gaming (the computer kind, though I don't get to do much) and love watching movies and TV (big fan of superhero movies and plenty of TV shows including  Daredevil, Suits, Modern Family). I am also a big fan of comic books and have a huge collection to even rival my 40k collection.

One of my biggest passions if comedy. I love stand up comedy and go to many shows each year when the big names are touring either in Glasgow or in Dundee. I have also been able to try my hand at stand up thanks to a brilliant organisation called Bright Club. This organisation trains academics to perform stand up comedy based on their research. I have played many gigs and it is one of the most terrifying and rewarding things I have ever done (for those of you interested, you can find videos of my first and second sets online).

I am also a big music fan, especially 80s music. Each year I try and go to Rewind- Perth's premier 80's music festival. It so filled with cheese and awesome music and I love it.

7. What would you say about your blog to someone who has never read it to draw them in?
Come for the battle reports and codex reviews, stay for the long-winded editorials and occasional penis joke.

I am quite proud of the battle reports that I write for the blog. They take a while to do and can be quite long, but I like to think that they are worth the effort and a bit different to what other 40k bloggers do.

8. What is your favourite article that you have written?
A few months ago it would have been an entirely different answer, but at the moment I am really happy with how the "Better Know a Blogger" series has been going. I've always liked the sense of community that the 40k blogs share and its great to find out a little bit more about the people that write the blogs that I read so frequently. It is also great for getting me reading new blogs or content that I have just not had the time to get to or have seen before.

The response from the various bloggers out there have been fantastic, everyone I speak to seems really keen to get involved and I hope that it continues for a long time.

9. Which rule would you like to see changed or removed entirely?
I would like to see the removal (or toning down) of the Librarius Conclave-type units that make it easier to cast psychic powers. Many psychic powers are already incredibly powerful, with some being potentially game breaking. The ability to cast Invisibility, Electrodisplacement or Shifting Worldscape, essentially at will thanks to something like the Librarius Conclave with little risk of periling makes these psychic abilities even more powerful than they already are. I would like to see either the bonus to summoning removed or removal of the ability to share powers in the conclave. I think this would limit some of the more powerful deathstar armies out there.

This may sound strange coming from me if you have ever seen my White Scars army, but I think that Grav needs to be toned down. Grav weaponry has made Space Marine armies incredibly powerful and is almost auto-include in every army. For a couple of years now, Mars must just be a production line of grav guns to meet the demand in all the marine armies on the tabletop. Before, choosing what special weapons to arm your marines with was a difficult and tactical choice, now grav just makes everything simple (when was the last time you saw a marine armed with a plasma gun or flamer?). For me, one easy solution would be to remove the immobilised result from getting hit with grav weapons. It would increase the durability of vehicles against grav slightly and actually make your opponent's assault vehicles worth something.

10. Which of your armies is your favourite?
This is a tough choice, but I'm going to have to go with my Dark Angels. They were my very first army in 40k. I was drawn to the three different "wings" allowing you to essentially paint 3 armies in one. I have stuck with them all the way through the dark years where their codex was simply a poorer version of the standard Space Marine codex to the current days of the power of the Ravenwing.

11. Secret wargamer or loud and proud?
A mix of both I guess. In school, my friend and I talked about fantasy all the time. We even brought our stuff in to play on the last day of school, so didn't really keep it a secret. In uni, I still played, but never really talked about it much.

Nowadays, it really doesn't bother me. Most of my family and friends know about my love for 40k and a lot of them know that I blog about it.

12. Any hobby tips or cheats to share?
Pay attention to your bases. This took me a long time to learn, but a good base can make all the difference to a model, elevating even a decent paint job to look much better. When I first started, it was a simple "paint green and flock" for all my models, after taking all that time over the painting. It is well worth taking the extra time and care to get something that looks much better. Even a simple drybrush and addition of some static grass makes all the difference.

I have recently re-based all my White Scars models to a brown flock with static grass attached. I can't tell you how much better it has made the army look.

13. Tournament or Casual?
Although I enjoy a good tournament, I am definitely more of a casual gamer. I will frequently give away first turn or tone my army down based on certain opponents in order to have a fun game. I still want to win games, but would much rather they were close and good fun than a turn 2 stomping that is over after an hour.

14. Nintendo or Sega?
Nintendo all the way. The NES was my first console and I had a SNES too. Much of my high school days were spent round my mate's house playing 4 player Goldeneye on the N64.

15. Xbox or PlayStation?
Xbox. I shared a PS2 with my brother, but bought my own Xbox360 and Xbox one. The only reason I bought a 360 was the release of Arkham Asylum. I had to own that game (and all the sequels!).

16. McDonalds or Burger King?
McDonalds, but 80% of that is simply for their strawberry milkshake.

17. Coke or Pepsi?
Definitely Pepsi (though Irn Bru runs a very close second).

18. While you're here, can we just talk about these travel expenses?
What of them, I had to fly from Glasgow to Dundee to get here, that is reasonable enough.
Yes, but most people would fly East for that and not go the long way round. And another thing, what about the rumour of your involvement with local missing wildlife.
Those allegations are completely fabricated. You weren't supposed to mention them, I will not be treated like this, this interview is over.......
What a drama queen.

I hope you enjoyed that peek behind the curtain to learn a little more about me.

If you have your own blog and would like to take part in Better Know a Blogger, please contact me at corrm83@gmail.com . If you are one of the blogs in my reading list, please get in touch to take part. There are so many people I want to ask to participate, but have no way to contact you directly! 


  1. I've always looked at painting as a means to an end as well. I enjoy it, but it's not my favorite part of the hobby either. That being said, it doesn't stop me from putting hours and hours into painting work either. Just because it's a necessary process doesn't mean it can't be done well, kind of like you were saying with basing. Take the time, do it right, and you'll be glad you did.

    I'm with you on terrain too. It's a lot of fun to create. I've put together terrain for two boards at my house, and it's some of the most fun I've had with the hobby. Creating the concepts, working out the practical creation process, and getting it painted is just so much damn fun.

    1. I haven't actually done too much terrain on the blog since I started. I need to get back into doing some once I finish up my current projects.

  2. Your love for making terrain is like the exact opposite to how I feel. To me terrain is a means to and end (so my battles look cool and I feel justified in the work I put into the models), but paining/building the actual miniatures is the where the "art" is for me. It is interesting though.

    I might have to do a post about some of my own terrain now.... I'd assumed nobody would be interested.

    1. I would definitely be interested, especially if they are of similar quality to your miniature painting!

  3. Good to learn a bit more about you as well chief.

  4. Nice to get a peek behind the scenes. I've actually got a black belt myself, but I haven't been active in karate in ages, since I made black belt just before my knees really started to go downhill.

    Definitely with you on basing as well. I've been kicking mine up another couple of notches recently, and I'm really impressed with how much it improves the overall look.

    1. A fellow black belt! I've been doing it off and on since I was about 18, mostly stopping due to uni commitments or moving away from a club.

      I was really surprised how much my White Scars were improved simply by taking more time over the bases. It really brings the army together and works well with the white of the armour.

  5. I loved this article, the end was very smart and funny haha:

    "Those allegations are completely fabricated. You weren't supposed to mention them, I will not be treated like this, this interview is over......." - Genius

  6. Lol. Nice one :)

    Great to get an insight into your 'real' life. Doing stand up must be scary as anything. No idea what your profession involves but it sounds very important :D

    1. It is terrifying the first time NafNaf, but well worth it!

  7. I had my shoulder dislocated in a tournament; some guy tried to perform a shoulder throw on me, but his technique was poor. I went nowhere (I probably should have just gone with it), but my arm was yanked out of the socket! The decision to stop training has been one of the hardest I have made. I think it is amazing how many things a lot of us have in common, beyond the obvious Grim/Darkness.

  8. I think you needed more livestock in your post. I wouldn't judge if you had any sheep photos. ;)

    1. Unfortunately, I don't have a stock of photos of me with livestock unlike your extensive collection. I will get on with rectifying this immediately! ;)