Friday, 30 December 2016

2016, a review of a year in da Grotto

hi all

I hope you all had a great xmas and spent as much time as you could handle with your families.... (joke!) I was lucky this year to have a rare Christmas eve and Christmas day off, going back to work on Boxing Day (night).  This gave me plenty of time to eat, drink and be merry and spend time with my wife and kids - a very rare thing indeed!

I was also very lucky on the xmas and birthday loot  (my birthday being the 29th) with loads of Bushido models that I snagged for ridiculous prices over Black Friday and being gifted back to me by the very generous but long-suffering Missus Gobbo and the in-laws.  With two new factions and some additional troops for my existing factions for the game it looks like my passion for Bushido will continue into 2017 and so you guys will have to be patient with me as I keep on pouring out the minis, terrain and batreps - both narrative and video.  I promise there will be other projects coming up too.

Anyway to the title of the post "2016, a review of a year in da Grotto". Despite starting this blog in 2011, I never really developed it and it mostly fell by the wayside as I changed careers and joined the ambulance service and had to retrain.  That was until around the september time last year when I finally felt settled enough in the new career to spend more time with the wargaming and started getting a "craving for the graving" i.e wanting to play zombie apocalypse skirmish games.  This sudden desperate need to play skirmish wargames got me to start looking for game systems and led me to a certain blog that most of us on the blogging circuit have found themselves at some point - Vampifan World of the Undead. That was it, the interest in my own blog came back! Delving into the adventures of Vampifan in ATZ - BDTZ and FFO and enjoying them thoroughly, I was hooked on hobby blogs and blogging. This of course led me to other blogs such as Simon's "Fantorical", Clint's "Anything but a One", Jez's "Carrion Crow Buffet", Steve, Hil and Tarot's "The Game Cupboard" and so many others (i follow dozens of blogs so please don't feel slighted if i don't mention them all).

But 2016 has been my first full year of blogging so it's good to look back at what's happened in that year, the fact that i'm a fairly prolific blogger means that there are quite a few posts so I can't go into detail on each post but I will break it down into various topics, starting with....

New Nerd

This year da Grotto welcomed a new nerd to the Herd - Damon "Rulez" Carlton.  An old gaming mate of mine that had lost contact over the years drifted back into da Grotto and is now well and truly established.

Games played

2016 was a cracking year for me regarding the games i've managed to play, but first I'll start, rather unusually with the games I didn't play - anything by Games Workshop! this must be the first year since I started gaming back in the 80's (bar a short period where i didn't game at all!) that I haven't played a single game designed by GW, this makes me sad as I grew up with cracking games like WFB and Bloodbowl but what makes me sadder is that I haven't missed them.  Maybe that's because I've been playing corkers like....

All Things Zombie - this was the game that hooked me into the "zomb apoc".  I had tried others but didn't feel the love, either the premise was wrong or the rules didn't fit or feel right.  Then I found Bryan's page which led me to ATZ and here we are! 2016 saw the start of several ATZ forays using my custom boards, including a run out in my scratch built hospital for the post apoc Mystery Inc gang, but the most recent focus was on the development of my ATZ - an English Adventure.  This campaign has seen me delve into the origins of a deadly outbreak in the sleepy English county of Kent, it also meant that rules had to be adapted to take into account the differences between the US and the UK. So far I've only played the one game that has set the scene for the campaign but the boards are ready, some photos have been taken, Gobbo and Putters have dusted off their O2 cylinders and are ready to resuscitate this campaign in the New Year!

Saga - 2016 saw the Nerd Herd members each choosing a faction for the skirmish Dark Ages game and painting it up for your delight, we also had a day long tournament where we each competed against each other individually then concluded the day with a battle royale! this game was loads of fun and I'm sure we'll be revisiting it along the way.

Black Powder - An old favourite with the Herd, we managed only one game this year but it was a cracker.  Hosted by Chris "Naps" Thorne - our lord of all thing Napoleonic, this game had literally hundreds of miniatures that covered Chris's massive 12 x 6' table.

Bolt Action - Again not a great many games of BA but one or two with Rich "Nerd4Life" Gates and Damon.  Initially I made my urban boards for BA games and had great plans for them but they kinda got reused for ATZ.

7TV2e - This is a game that I really, really love but sadly it got overshadowed by Bushido, however its an awesome game and Rulez and I played a couple of games in 2016 using my TMNT collection. I did take loads of pictures and fully intended to write up a batrep but for some reason it never happened.

Bushido - How can a review of 2016 not mention Bushido?  This game exploded for me in 2016, I purchased a whole faction on Black Friday 2015 and finally got around to painting them in March 2016 just before buying a second faction at Salute in April.  Since then it has taken over the majority of my gaming time, with Damon and myself playing at least once a week when possible, especially in the lead up to our first tournie in November.  It's obvious to all that I'm obsessed with the game due to it's brilliant game mechanics, lush background and gorgeous miniatures.  Although they are still a small part time company GCT have got a corker here and a solid, if small following of players that is steadily growing.


I think making terrain has fast become one of my favourite parts of the hobby.  In previous years it was a much neglected part of my skill set.  I just seemed to make do with some bits and pieces that I cobbled together, that had no real theme to it, certainly no art and definitely no effort or I just did without terrain altogether which left my tabletop barren and sterile looking.  However when I moved into the bigger Grotto I decided that I was going to really concentrate on my battlefields in an effort to get the aesthetic that I really desired to make my games come to life.  With that in mind at the beginning of 2016 I finished up my scratch built hospital.

this was a very fun build, with most of the interior furniture including the x-ray machine scratch built, in fact only the beds were bought!

I also finally after 25+ years of gaming put together a river and bridge that I was proud of....

Most of the rest of the terrain that I built was for Bushido whether it be buildings that can go straight onto my grass board.

to scatter terrain.....

to whole boards....


It's really difficult to fully cover the miniatures that I have managed to rescue from the lead mountain as there hads been A LOT!  Always a prolific painter, this year I've kicked into overdrive and painted a sh** load.  Mostly Bushido but a whole host of others from Hasslefree, Studio Miniatures, MyWay, Greebo, Grekwood, Copplestone and even GW!  I did try to keep track on the ins and outs of the minis but quite quickly got bored, anyway I'll just show a few.

I could waffle on and on ad nauseum but I really need to wrap this up.  So the last thing to say is thank you to all of you that have continued to read this blog and have contributed with comments, suggestions and support, I really do appreciate all of them including the constructive criticism and I encourage more of you to make yourselves known and feel comfortable enough to add your opinion to those who already do.  Thanks to the Nerd Herd who are now sporting matching T-Shirts for our games and when we go on tour! You should have by now opened your xmas gifts and be sporting the dice bags from the marvellous Becky at "The Lucky Orc". A big thank you to the ever generous Roger, Jez and especially the big man Bryan who have lavished me with very kind gifts proving that this hobby is filled with the very best of people.


I'm very much looking forward to 2017 and a very hobby filled year it will be (I hope!)

hope you enjoy
dGG (aka Andy)