Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Another year ends

So, today sees the end of 2014.

Time to reflect on what I've actually done this year... has it been a good year? :)

Well. this is what I said I was going to do...

So how did I do?


Well, I did finish painting my FoG Romans. See here, And I completed a small Dust force. See here and here.

And that's about all. I didn't paint any Malifaux or Empire of the Dead. That got kinda superseded as I failed miserably at one of my other goals... namely not getting into any new games! But I couldn't resist...  Bolt Action and then Saga came along (although technically not Saga just yet as I haven't purchased any mini's).

But I have been painting my Bolt Action Germans. 2 squads are done with a 3rd not far behind. The vehicles are also pretty well advanced too, so hopefully there might be a painting post early in the New Year :)

Gaming wise, things are going well. The regular Sunday's are always enjoyable and there's only a handful that have been missed (as far as I can recall). I think I generally win more than I lose, but it's probably a pretty close split. I don't think there has been as much variety in games this year which has also been good. Means we've been able to grasp the rules better!

Tournaments wise... well I made one. Battlecry (here and here) which I enjoyed, but never really got to any others. Had hoped to get to a Snaphot, but they never really worked out and I decided against Flamescon since a number of good mates weren't attending.

I suspect gaming will remain with the status quo in 2015. Some good Sunday sessions, slowly chipping away at painting and maybe Battlecry/Flamescon... but I seem to have too many other distractions...


.... like taking photo's! :)

Has been good fun getting out and about this year. Lot's trips and shows... (I won't link all the blog posts)

Lantern Fesitval, Classic's of the Sky, Ardmore open days, Melbourne (fantastic trip!), Tiritiri Matangi (finally), North Head, Muriwai and lots of other little trips...

Here's a few of my fav's:


And lot's more to come in 2015 I'm sure. I've the new toy, there's plenty of shows on and no doubt we'll be out and about for some random stuff as well.


This has probably been the biggest focus and distraction from painting this year...

I was pretty much the strongest and fittest I've ever been leading into this...

Tough Mudder! :)

Awesome fun, but I was a broken man afterwards. A string of injuries made training tough. Luckily, I'd hit all my goals prior to Tough Mudder :)

But we're back in the game! Everything is feeling good and I'm getting the hang of this crossfit thing now.

So, boxing fitness, crossfit and a new diet have meant I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. So, now I just have to get strong. I'm expecting things to ramp up in regards to crossfit in 2015 and with that will come strength. Not sure I'll be game enough to compete in a comp... but who knows!?

Work wise

I rarely talk about work, mainly because it is work and I leave work at work, but mainly because things are fine. The new boss is happy (always a good thing!) and I've been selected for some training next year along with being given a co-leadership role in a project with one of the senior managers (who is also now my mentor). So, I'm happy. Frucor is a pretty cool company to work for.

What else is there.... reading.. well I read 2 books, but unfortunately I got 3 books for my birthday/Christmas... so net result is my book pile has got bigger! I do need to switch the laptop off and read more, but there are so many good shows (Vikings, Game of Thrones..... :) )

Not sure there is much else to say... a good year with good mates and even some new mates.

So, bring it on 2015!

And especially this....

So wishing you all a Happy New Year! Enjoy :)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Last Stand

"The Anglo-Dane Warlord looked grimly at the cornered Milities Christi. He could hear their prayers as the soft breeze carried them across the battlefield. Their God would do them no good today. They were surrounded and would be made to pay for last week.... no matter the cost."

Sunday. The last gaming day of the year. Holidays and sunny weather meant it was only Mark and I for games today. We were both pretty keen for a reasonably relaxed and quiet day.

I initially suggested we play the The Challenge scenario, but as Mark's Warlord is mounted, we couldn't figure out if that meant his Warlord would have to charge mine in the first turn due to the rule that says Warlords have to do that?? And then, what would that mean from a game perspective??

Anyway, we rolled for a mission using Crescent & Cross instead and ended up with the best mission that we could for a fun afternoon.

The Last Stand.

Mark had seemed to misplace his balls when it came to bidding by bidding 10 turns (the maximum bid) compared to my small balls bid of 8 turns. That meant I would have 8 turns to destroy his force. This was going to be tough.... but then we read the rules some more.

Mark read the deployment rules. My foot troops could come on from any table edge. I asked him to re-read that. Yeap, my foot troops could come on from any edge.

I then read the deployment rules. Yeap. Any edge.

We'd also missed an important rule when bidding.... Endless Warband. That changes things a little....

I stuck with my standard Anglo-Dane force (and yes I'll be purchasing some soon along with some Vikings to mix & match a little :) ).

Mark adjusted his Milities Christi force a bit:

Warlord (mounted)
8 Hearthguard (mounted)
8 Warriors
8 Warriors (crossbows)

And so we started. Mark's forces deployed, their backs to the terrain.

And then the Anglo-Dane advance began.

I bought on the bulk of my force on the side closest to Mark's Hearthguard... I was hoping to get to grips with them quickly if I could. Another unit of Warriors advanced around the terrain eyes firmly on those dirty dirty crossbows.

But then Mark ran away.... his Hearthguard and Warlord legged it out of the way. The crossbow armed Warriors peppered my Warriors causing some casualties...

I continued my implacable advance. And got peppered by more bolts.

But I had got lucky... a large number of 6's meant I had extra Saga dice. More 6's meant I now had "Trapped" ready to go. So I played it. Mark had to think carefully now... all that fatigue was dangerous (especially since he knew I enjoyed "Intimidating" units).

So, he did what any good general would do and charged my Hearthguard with his Hearthguard... and won, forcing my Hearthguard back.

I had got a little cheeky on my turn though. My sole surviving Warrior from the unit after the crossbowmen charged and gave his life for the glory of the Danes. In doing so it added another fatigue to the crossbow armed Warriors exhausting them.... I smiled quietly (might have been more of a giant grin.. maybe..) since they were now effectively neutered.

Here's how things looked at this point. Reincarnated Warriors are advancing from the left. My right is still very strong.

By now I have figured out that I don't need to be careful with my units - they can come back! I need to get into combat! Not only to win the game, but to keep Mark's forces in place (by building fatigue) and whittle them down. I've also realised that spending his fatigue is also going to do me no favours. He needs to keep his fatigue.

The not spending of fatigue makes things a little harder for me, but I send the lads in anyway. Warriors charge the crossbowmen getting them down to 3 then finally 2. The other Warriors charge the mounted Hearthguard a couple of times getting them down to 1. My Hearthguard muck around and get themselves killed.

I then happen to have a spare Saga die and since I'm not sure where to put it, I consult my Saga board - "Exhaustion" immediately jumps out... bye bye crossbowmen. My Hearthguard resurrect and get some vengeance...

Finally on my turn 7... it's down to this...

The Milities Christi Warlord runs away...

I close in for the kill. My first (larger) Warrior unit charges...

And misses. Misses with everything. Bugger.

My second Warrior unit (the smaller one) charges in. They get a few hits. It's enough.

Game over with victory to the Anglo-Danes.

Post-game discussion centered on whether Mark should have sent his last remaining mounted Hearthguard in the opposite direction. I had a unit I could bring back in my turn, so not sure it would have made much difference to the overall result, but I think it would have made for a nervous turn 8!

Rules check:

  • I bought on units of Warriors of 5 or 7. That's cool to do? We had thought they needed to be even numbers for some reason?
  • Do you generate Saga dice based on the number of units? I effectively had an extra unit of Warriors at one point, so another Saga die to the pool?

It was too hot in the garage. So we flagged playing any more games. Mark already had some plans to cool down later in the evening. I figured it was a good plan and made sure I was ready to be able to head along....

Nothing like a dip in the ocean on a hot summers afternoon for a few hours followed by a chocolate ice cream (victors spoils.... it was Mark's shout :) ) on the way home.

(I've shamelessly stolen the above pic from Lee, but it gives you idea on why the beach was chosen over the garage today...)

Tiritiri Matangi

Years and years ago when I was knee high to a grasshopper, my parents took the family out to Tiritiri Matangi as some friends of the family/relatives were over from the UK.

I've not been back since, but have always wanted to. It is a bird sanctuary for a lot of our native birds. Check out their website here for full details on what they are about...

With it being the holiday season, an oppourtunity arose and I was able to head out to Tiri with Mark G and Rob (along with their wives...).

Lots of op's for photography on a stunningly hot day. For the bird life, I just set the camera to auto ISO and to a shutter speed of 1/500th. I mostly used used a single point for AF and pretty much didn't change any settings all day.

Here's the best of what I got... (I have cropped some of them quite heavily to remove blurred objects that were taking up the foreground).

Oh, and I am a little annoyed with myself... I forgot to turn the GPS on in my camera! Still I know where I was :)

I'll do my best to name all the birds that I can... someone else may have to help with the rest :)

New Zealand pigeon (kererū)

I thought it looked pretty regal perched up in that tree like that, but also big, fat & tasty,

North Island saddleback (tīeke)

Tui (tūī)

So many Tui! You'd almost get bored photographing them... almost :)

I'd hoped to try and get a decent shot of one flying... far too hard! But I did get lucky with one shot. It kinda turned out okay after a little bit of post processing work...

I'll take it :)

Whilst we were having a break by one of the bird baths... this guy decided to show of for us... splish splash havin a bath :)

Considering how hot we were, I think we were all a little jealous since we had no where nearby to swim and cool off!

Bellbird (korimako)... I think..

And then there was this one who looked ready to boogie...

Whitehead (popokatea)

I'm particularly pleased with these photos. They are cropped heavily too.


Takahe (takahē) aka "the lawnmower"

We only saw one unfortunately and none of the chicks.

Red-crowned parakeet (kākāriki)

North Island kokako (kōkako)

These are all at pretty much ISO 10,000 to 16,000.... :)

After hearing reports of kokako sightings on one of the tracks, we had spent some time looking for them as we could also hear them (not that I knew what they sounded like). Everyone continued off down the main track, but not me.... I could sense they were close... I looked up another one of the tracks - "hey Rob, what are these birds" I say....

They were the kokako happily feeding on the track.

They look pretty funny with their chicken legs when running away :)

Everyone else wandered off again, but I wandered up the track and found them happily feeding away in a tree next to the track and were quite happy for me to get close.

Just call me the "kokako whisper" :)

North Island robin (toutouwai)

These little guys were pretty happy to get nice and close and strike a pose...

Oh... and the 2nd & 3rd pics are also at ISO 16,000.... :)

Stitchbird (hihi)

A couple of general shots...

I'm pretty happy with how the camera performed, especially in the varying conditions. Still pretty challenging though, but being able to shoot at very high ISO with not much noise is awesome.

I did find I struggled to focus on the birds and I missed a lot of potential good shots because focusing was to slow. It felt the camera was searching/very slow to focus. I'm not sure if it was just because of the environment / being too close / camera & lens combination too slow to talk to each other. It's probably a combination of all 3. I had the camera set on AI servo as I figured that would be best with the birds potentially moving around.

Once I got focused though, it locked on well. Just wish the birds would stick round for a little longer!

Still an awesome day with good company. Definitely keen to head back over soon!

Right. Angry looking kokako says that is enough for today.

But you do get a wave goodbye...