Monday 5 March 2018

Better Know A Blogger: Part 50- Must Contain Minis

This week's Better Know A Blogger features Jacob from Must Contain Minis

That’s me, playing a game of Bolt Action. Photo by Jeremy Cada of Forbes Hobbies.
The first thing that strike me about Must Contain Minis is that it is a very well put together blog. I know we all do this for fun, but a great looking and laid out blog is a great draw to readers and commenters to want to get engaged. 

Jacob's blog has a strong focus on games reviews and showcases. It can be all too easy to get stuck in our 40k bubble, so this is a great way to check out other great miniatures games that are out there, with some great insight into what to try next time you get burned out by 40k.

For those of you with your own blogs, be sure to check out his recent article on effective use of social media to promote your writing. 

Here are Jacob's answers to my questions:

1. What age did you get into gaming and what started it off? 
I was 9 to 10 years old when I got into gaming. My love of gaming started with the discovery of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Books followed by Fighting-Fantasy Novels and ultimately a book called Dungeoneer (an RPG based on the Fight-Fantasy Series). From there, I explored other Role-Playing Games including various editions of Dungeons and Dragons, RIFTS, Palladium Fantasy, Star Wars RPG and GURPS. 

Over time, I realized that I was more of a roll-player than a role-player. I was even trying to create small skirmish style miniatures games using the Dungeons and Dragons Red Box Set and later the RIFTS RPG. 

At the time, I did not know about miniatures games even though I was trying to recreate them with graph paper, paper terrain and miniature-sized paper standees. GURPS was the first game that I got into that had better Miniatures type rules followed by D&D 3rd Edition. It became clear to me that RPGs weren’t filling the niche that I wanted to scratch. 

When I was 18 or 19, a friend introduced me to Necromunda (my first true miniatures gaming experience). Wow!!! I found what I was missing! Using a “loaner” gang I was able to able to play through a campaign with some friends. 

Unfortunately, some aspects of my life kept me out of the miniatures gaming scene for a long time. I was 26 when I bought my first true miniatures army. That army was the Space Marines for Warhammer 40,000. 

After that, I bought in and out of Warhammer several times. Each time I left, it was for the same reason - the price of new models. Their models are beautiful, but pricy for someone on a budget. 

In my early 30s, I finally dived deeply into the world of miniatures. After some time trying to scratch the tabletop wargaming itch by painting board games with miniatures, I went to my first miniatures wargame convention - Hotlead in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. It was awesome! 

At Hotlead, I played a game called USX: Modern Day Heroes by RAFM. I had a lot of fun at that convention and learned that you can game on a budget. There is no reason to limit yourself to just a single game. For the price of a single army in another game, I can buy into multiple other systems. There are so many options out there!!! 
$40 Canadian still gets you this USX Starter Set with 17 metal miniatures and a 20-page rule book. The set comes with 5 SWAT Team Members and 12 Deep Ones. If you like the minis, this is a good box to pick up. I think part of what drew me to this game is my love for the old PC Game X-Com: Terror From the Deep and the fact that USX: Modern Day Heroes mixes elements of Cthulhu with modern times. Image from RAFM’s Webstore

2. What was the first model you ever bought/painted? 
The first models I ever owned were those in the board game DarkWorld, which was given to me as a gift when I was fairly young. It was an interesting game for the time and a competitor to HeroQuest. 
The first miniatures that I ever owned were in the Board Game Dark World. Image from Board Game Geek.

The first miniature I ever painted was a RIFTS’ RPG Figure years later (I was 17 or 18). 

3. What is your favourite aspect of gaming? 
My favourite aspects of the hobby include building the models, playing the games, and checking out various rule sets. 

If pressed for my absolute favourite aspect of the hobby, I would have to say it is playing the actual games. There is a lot of fun to be had in getting like-minded individuals together, tossing some dice and enjoying the story that unfolds on the tabletop. 

4. Fondest memory in gaming? 
My fondest memories in gaming stem from approaching my opponents with an unexpected strategy. There are many instances where this happens, but the first story that comes to mind is from a tournament game of Flames of War (3rd Edition). For readers that prefer 40K, I will try to relate the experience as best I can to the Warhammer World. 

In that game, I played a German Heer Army full of Heavy Guns and Infantry. The army is based on a Gunline model. Because of the types of missions that could come at you, most of my opponents brought lists heavy in tanks. In fact, most of my opponents brought 12 to 20 tanks to the table. I brought three! 

In terms of 40K, this army would be the equivalent of an Imperial Guard Army with a few Basilisks, three to four Heavy Weapons Squads and everything else invested into guardsmen (boots on the ground). Not a very mobile force at all. 

The mission given to us was to protect our objective while crossing the table and taking the opponents objective. The game was set to end at the end of turn six. This limit meant that my “boots on the ground” had to move fast!!! The type of army I played prefers to dig in and stay put rather than rushing across a battlefield. 

I left the heavy guns and one platoon of infantry on my side of the table (protecting the objective [and firing long range shots at the opponent]) while rushing the rest of my force across the field! 

My opponent was very surprised to see so many boots charging his way. Not only were they charging his way, but relying on their infantry saves and numbers to get across the table and wreak havoc on his forces. It worked very well and my opponent was shocked to see units he expected to remain stationary charging his units and laying waste to his tanks. 

It is always a blast to see your opponent’s reaction when you try something unconventional. 

5. What are you working on right now? 
I like to have several models on the go at any given time. I just finished a Sloop from Blood and Plunder. That is a gorgeous model!!! 
A 32mm Sloop for Blood & Plunder. I had a Commission Painter Paint the hull, but painted the other components, cut the sails and rigged the ship myself. It is an absolutely gorgeous model. One of the goals of Must Contain Minis is to showcase products that you might otherwise not see. If you are interested in more on this model, check out the article on Must Contain Minis

I am currently working on more Blood & Plunder miniatures, some tanks for Bolt Action: Tank Wars, and MDF terrain by XOLK

6. When you are not conquering the tabletop, what do you do? 
I work as an Audiovisual Technician and have done so for almost two-decades. It has been an interesting career path. 

I am lucky in that I work in the field for which I studied. I have a Diploma in Audiovisual Production and a Professional Designation for the AV Industry. 

I also have training that I do not use as much. I have a Degree (in Information and Communications) and a Writing Certificate. One of the reasons I started Must Contain Minis was to keep my writing skills sharp and to satisfy a curiosity in marketing. 

Creating content for Must Contain Minis has become one of my main hobbies. 

7. What would you say about your blog to someone who has never read it to draw them in? 
If you ever thought of trying out miniatures games by companies other than Games Workshop, or if you want to game on a budget, then Must Contain Minis could be of interest to you. We explore many different gaming systems and are always looking at new and interesting things. 

Our website focuses on Reviews, Showcases and Battle Reports of products from many different companies. Variety is something that we deliver, and many of the products that we examine are much more affordable than the games by the larger companies. 

When not exploring new games, we stick to our core games of Bolt Action (which shares some similarities to 40K) and Frostgrave (which I consider as a spiritual successor of Mordheim). 

Even if you are only a 40K player, we still have content that could interest you - specifically, our Terrain Reviews and Other Articles. We even have the odd post where GW Products are mentioned or featured. 

Will GW products ever be a larger part of Must Contain Minis? Perhaps. I certainly like the company’s direction of late and have come close to buying into a few of their Specialist Games. 

8. What is your favourite article that you have written?
My favourite posts on Must Contain Minis are my Battle Reports

My favourite Battle Report would be my 1200 Point Game of Bolt Action where we used some rules from other systems to introduce a “fog of war” mechanic to the game. 

While, the above Battle Report is my favourite, I am also partial to my Frorstgrave Battle Report Tiszirain is Summoned because of the story that unfolded on the tabletop. 
One of the players double-crosses the others in this great convention game demo of Frostgrave

9. Which rule would you like to see changed or removed entirely? 
Tiger Fear in Bolt Action (2nd Edition) is a rule that I would like to see modified. This rule makes it so if the opponent has any Tiger, Panzer IV or Panther tanks on the table, then you have to make a moral check (leadership test) to do anything aside from attacking that tank. 

It doesn’t even matter if your unit can’t harm the tank. You still have to make the test. 

The idea of this rule is that it simulates the Allies being so paranoid of Tiger Tanks that it affects how they fight. I just find the rule annoying. Do keep in mind though, that I am a British Army player so I don’t benefit from the rule of which I am complaining. 😊 

While I would be okay with the rule being removed outright, I think it would be good enough just to remove the rule from the smaller tanks (specifically the Panzer IV) – and let the rule stand for Tigers, King Tigers and Panthers. 

10. Which of your armies is your favourite? 
Right now, my favourite army is my British Bolt Action Army as a mobile force. In this force, I take a Carrier Section of three Universal Carriers (all acting as transports), along with a Sherman V (for firepower) and another support choice or two. In my last game those support choices were an eight-man squad of Commandos and an Otter Armoured Car. I tend to take my units as “veterans” for better staying power. 

Bolt Action shares several similarities to 40K. Below is a description of how my army might look if it were a 40K army. 

The list would be akin to bringing a Space Marine army with three Bolter Armed Razorbacks (two loaded with five Marine squads and one with the HQ) and a Predator with an autocannon and bolter sponsions. For extra support, I might take a 10 Marine Tactical Squad and a Landspeeder. All of the infantry would be armed with Meltabombs. The HQ choices would line up similarly to a Chaplin with two guards and a Master of the Chapter that can call down an aerial bombardment once per game (if that rule still exists in 40K). 

This is a highly manoeuvrable and somewhat durable force to take on the offensive. It has speed, numerous light armoured units and a high concentration of high rate-of-fire weaponry. It is not so good on the defensive due to low model count and light armour. It also suffers from an overall weakness in anti-tank firepower. 

Hopefully this comparison is still current enough for current 40K players. My frame of reference for 40K is 4th Edition mixed with titbits from the other Editions. 

Below are two sample pictures of my favourite army. Each army was built to 1000 points (which is a standard sized army for Bolt Action). 
The Bolt Action Force above is from the British Army and comprises of one Otter Armoured Car, Three Universal Carriers (taken as transports – two loaded with 5 man squads and the other with a Lieutenant and two extra solders), a Forward Observer (calls down one bombardment a game), a Sherman tank and an 8 man Commando Squad. This is the army that I described above in terms of 40K.
Note: 5 man Infantry Teams and Lieutenant and his team are not pictured here as they are “in” the carriers. Check out our Hold Until Relieved Battle Report for more on this one. 
Similar to the list above, this army includes three Universal Carriers (two carrying five-man teams and one carrying the HQ and special support options), a Sherman V and a Forward Observer (with an assistant). In the HQ and support unit, I had a Lieutenant (with one guard), a Medic, and a Flame Thrower Team. I had a few extra points left to get to 1000 points, but gave it to my partner as this was my part of the army in a 2500-point mega battle.

11. Secret wargamer or loud and proud? 
Typically, I am a secret wargamer unless I am chatting to someone to whom I already have a good rapport or am trying to promote my website. 

For acquaintances who ask about my hobbies, I point them towards Must Contain Minis. It is a lot easier to show them Battle Reports and Reviews of Miniature Wargames than to explain to them that I play games with toy soldiers. Everyone understands pictures. Not everyone understands playing games with toy soldiers. 😊 

12. Any hobby tips or cheats to share? 
Focus on basing your miniatures as it makes a world of difference to the perception of others about your models. I am not the best painter out there and some of my miniatures may be a little dark. But if you spend time laying down some really nice basing materials, then peoples’ perception of your army (and therefore painting skills) is much higher. My secret isn’t the paint job but rather that I took the time to do a good job basing the model. 

13. Tournament or Casual? 
I prefer Casual games. My primary interest in tabletop games includes hanging out with friends and seeing what story unfolds on the gaming table. I am not worried about whether I win or lose. 

14. Nintendo or Sega? 
I haven’t played in a long time, but, back in the day, I was a Nintendo supporter. Why Nintendo? It was what I had. 

15. Xbox or Playstation? 
Neither. I can get hooked in deep to Video and Console games, so I tend to avoid them. I will play games on my iPad and my favourites are those like X-COM. 

16. McDonalds or Burger King? 
I avoid fast foods, so neither. 

17. Coke or Pepsi? 
Pepsi, but I will drink either.

Thanks to Jacob for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to check out Must Contain Minis for all your miniature game review needs! 

If you have a wargaming blog and would like to take part in Better Know A Blogger, please get in touch at


  1. Thanks for the Interview!!! The article looks great!

    1. Good to see inside that head if yours.

    2. Thanks for taking part Jacob! I'm surprised how many people played Darkworld when they were younger. One of my first miniatures games too!

  2. Thanks guys. Michael, small world regarding DarkWorld!

  3. My love of gaming started with the discovery of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Books followed by Fighting-Fantasy Novels and ultimately a book called Dungeoneer (an RPG based on the Fight-Fantasy Series). thanks for the information gaming pc canada