Tuesday 23 November 2010

237 Blogging in the World of Drax


I exchanged a brief email with Col Corbane the other day, and – amongst other things – I noted that our particular corner of the blogosphere has changed somewhat in the last year or so; maybe in the last year-and-a-half. Here are some of my thoughts on blogging since May '08… Where did it start?

Well, when I started blogging, many of the other blogs that I was aware of were relatively basic and relatively disparate. They were also fewer and further between. Now there are blogs everywhere, and most have the good wit to be affiliated to one of the ‘hubs’, like BoLS or the excellent From the Warp.

For those of you unaware, there was a moment when Ron almost stopped FtW, and I believe that would’ve been a sad loss. As it stands, I’m sure he’ll forgive me embarrassing him by noting the superb way in which he binds our corner of the web together. Kindness to strangers and generosity of time are two of the things which make this such an enjoyable way to waste time on the internet.

There were a number of fellow bloggers who were very encouraging in the early days, not least the early ‘Flylords’ over at BoLS. BigRed seems a personable chap, and I enjoyed being allied to the BoLS Alliance, but – alas – I found the hosted ads during the US presidential campaign rather distasteful. Not the Flyboys’ fault, but not something I didn’t want to be linked to.

I was blogging for a month before I got my first comment – from Brian over at See My Inner Geek, and then (like many bloggers) I spent months chasing comments and blog traffic. With fewer blogs about though, it was easy, and a rather rewarding validation of my holiday time.

How did things start to change?

Mostly, things with my blog started to change when I got bored of (grew out of?) chasing comments. I realised that the blog was becoming simply a means of logging my work and – just as importantly – tracking my progress. This was helped by life changes too, like moving across the country and getting a new job. Moving away from my very occasional games also forced me to focus more on the [painfully slow] completion of my Imperial Guard.

A lack of funds helps, too!

It’s probably worth noting that new IG Codex fired a bit of life into the old girl, too.

Where am I now?

Now I’m increasingly aware that my blog is something of a dinosaur. The format is basic, the content unglamorous and my miniatures rather quotidian. The good news is that despite all of this – and despite the Technicolor temptations of newer, shinier blogs – I have a core of readers who still seem to enjoy my work and (apparently) 180 followers: thank you, followers. It’s startling to think that 180 strangers in the world are even remotely interested in my ramblings. Cheers.

I’m not likely to change. There’s a chance, I suppose, that I may at one point cease: I certainly don’t imagine I’ll be doing this in a few years’ time – real life or Mrs Drax may yet put the kybosh on that.

The most recent thing to give my hobby some new energy is of course the fact that I finally joined a gaming club – a very friendly and welcoming place where I’ve enjoyed a series of great games, on great tables against great opponents.

Finally, why do I keep doing it?

I enjoy it.

I love the fact that I’ve managed to meet up with stalwarts like Col Gravis, Suneokun and TSINI – and what absolutely cracking chaps they are! Hell, I even managed to get a surprise game in with Suneokun, and some fish and chips too.

In addition to this, a number of other bloggers have been immensely generous; immensely – both with words and with material. I have, for example, had a number of freebies sent through to me, including bits, miniatures and (in one case) enough parts to make my most recent salamander conversion. Thanks to (among others) Col. Corbane, Zzzzzz, Fallen 73rd and Kevin (or The Other Kevin – I for get which, I’m afraid).

For those of you unaware, my 'Admiral Drax' header at the top there was in fact created gratis by Suneokun: top bloke.

Most important of all though, are the relationships I’ve been able to strike up. Readers and fellow bloggers have been absolutely great, and the comments after I posted about the birth of my little baby daughter last year were indicative of the marvellous spirit there is out there. Now I'm also pleased to be on a wavelength with the likes of Col. Hessler, Hal'Jin, Rasmus Olesen, Loquacious, The Antipope and Rogue Pom (amongst others).

Kind words; kind people.


- Chris.

Sunday 21 November 2010

236 "She Rides!"


Not much to report, hobby-wise, as Swiss Family Drax have all been ill with man-flu of late. Still, there are two things of note.

Firstly, I finially have a new car! This isn't it, but it's one very much like mine:
"Why is this good?" I hear you ask - well, far more importantly than finally being able to transport my wife and child around again, I can get back to gaming regularly at my local club again! Plus, it means I don't need to spend a bloody fortune on the bus journey home from work any more.

BUT in bad news, I was very sorry to see a bit of 'blog-rage' over the past week. I won't say where, but I know many of you may have noted it. In the two-and-a-half years I've been blogging this is the first example of nastiness I've seen - in the form of a rather aggressively worded and personal comment, which was subsequently deleted. I felt sorry for the original blogger concerned, but sorrier still that the scourge of many forums (and the main reason I tend not to frequent such) had finally made the leap to a gaming blog other than BoLS (BoLS being, as it is, some weird sort of blog-forum hybrid).


Thanks for being a great, kind and decent readership, by the way. I think I may just post on this topic over the course of the coming week...

- Chris.
PS: I have a huge respect for the guys over at BoLS, but if any of you have ever wondered why I'm not affiliated to their excellent site, well I suspect that might form a part of my post later on this week...

Saturday 6 November 2010

235 Converted IFV/Salamander Finished!

I finished this baby a few nights ago, but I only saw daylight in which to photograph her this morning. I'm very happy with how she's turned out - mostly for the reasons given here. Here she is - notes below:
I'm very happy with the way my first attempt at shading fabric turned out, and I'm pleased with some of the modelled details (the gas can on the spare wheel; the winch and the turret and gun shield). Also, although it doesn't show in these photos at all, I spent quite a lot of time on the rusty wheel rims and weathering (specifically, fine brown and grey dust sprayed from the wheels).

Thanks to so much great advice (from the likes of The Antipope at 122nd Cadian and Rasmus over at The Deathworlders - both excellent blogs) I tried out lots of other details too, like rust-style weathering from rivets and some chips from the paint: thanks, chaps - I'm really pleased with how it turned out (although you can't see it all here, alas).

Only problem? The final wash went a bit swirly and mottled. It looks a bit pants at first, but I've come to the conclusion that it's just where the crew tied to swab her down quickly...though why they'd want to is anyone's guess!

Thanks for looking...

- Drax.

Thursday 4 November 2010

234 Armoured Infantry - Warriors and Chimeras

Hey All,

I love my Armoured Fist platoon, and (although they're finished) I was pleased to find a book in the local library about the chaps who do this stuff in real-life to help me find out a little more.
Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers at War is a detailed account of 1PWRR Battle Group's 2004 deployment in Al Amarah and Basra. Written by Prof Richard Holmes (who was at the time the Regimental Colonel of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment) it's a lavishly detailed account based mainly on the testimonies of those serving in the battle group.
A Warrior IFV from 1PWRR

Like many of you, I enjoy military histories, and Holmes's style mixes quiet humour with gentle authority to great effect. That said, Dusty Warriors is far more personal and subjective (if not quite biased, per se) than his previous comparable works, such as the excellent 'horse and musket'-era Redcoat and Tommy - about the Great War. This perspective is openly acknowledged and explored, and I believe it adds significantly to the enjoyment of the book.

What did I learn from it? Well, I think the following were my main lessons, some 40k-related:
  1. The British public were (and remain) largely unaware of the ferocity of the fighting in Al Amarah, as there was very little media coverage for some considerable time;
  2. The personnel of the 1PWRR battle group routinely demonstrated feats of extraordinary physical and moral courage (Pte Johnson Beharry won his VC in Al Amarah);
  3. The role of an armoured infantry unit is more fascinating than I anticipated;
  4. Life aboard the Britsh 'Warrior' IFVs seems intense and the cameraderie simply awe-inspiring;
  5. The rules, role, reliability and weaknesses of an IG Chimera make it a wonderfully comparable beast to the Warrior;
  6. I've been mis-naming my mounted infantry detachment (1st battalion, Cadian 24th) as 'mechanised' where 'armoured' is more appropriate. Henceforth they shall be redesignated '1/24th Cadian Armoured Infantry'.

Pte Johnson Beharry with his Victoria Cross

I've also decided to use an extract from the book in class with my Year 9s next week!

So there you are. It's not to everyone's taste, but I found it highly engaging, and although I'm not prone to posting things like reviews, I was so moved by some of the accounts I thought I'd share.

Thanks for reading.

By the way, my converted Salamander-proxy IFV is now completely finished (hooray!) but I've not been home in the daylight all week, so I can't photograph it (boo!). Pics soon.


- Drax.