2020 Hobby Year in Review

Another year passed, another year of hobby reflection.


2020 has been an interesting hobby year. Just before Adepticon, in-person gaming ground to a halt as the pandemic reared its ugly head. I engaged in some retail therapy, including support for some of the vendors I though I might buy from, though it took a while to appear.

My games have gone down three paths. First, my regular opponent and I pretty quickly switched to games via computer proxy. We use a mix of Vassal and Tabletop Simulator. Tabletop Simulator is more “fun”, but it’s frustrating to try to place things precisely on the simulated board. Vassal is more abstract, but that makes it easier to be precise.

Second, I’ve ramped up mini games with the kids. This has mostly meant a resurgence in Games Workshop in my life. Blitz Bowl and Underworlds are closer to board games than most mini games, but they still scratch the itch. And the models are nice.

Third, solo gaming. This is more theory than reality. I’ve done a lot of prep, but really only played one game. More on that below.

But while physical games have been scarce, my hobby has been plentiful. I’ve been working from home for the last nine months. The lack of commute means I get dinner and evening chores done before the kids go to bed, instead of after. That gives a pretty consistent hour or two of hobby a night, and still have time to lounge on the couch after. The results are pretty clear.

I started playing with Games Workshop Contrast paints this year. They’ve quickly become a standard tool, though it usually gets at least a highlight layer on top.

Total: 400 models painted (more than double last year, a 129% increase).

  • 68 Malifaux
  • 11 Relicblade
  • 8 Arena Rex
  • 75 Warhammer Underworlds (14 warbands plus a terrain pack)
  • 51 Blitz Bowl (7 teams)
  • 75 Fallout Wasteland Warfare
  • 77 assorted terrain elements
  • 25 other

Like last year, not all the models listed below have been posted yet. Even with two posts per week, I can barely keep up with my hobby output.


Malifaux remains my main game. For virtual games, I tried Tabletop Simulator, but find Vassal to be a better fit, with its easy support for auras and measurement. At first, I stuck to stuff I had painted, but that’s gotten lax over time.


Relicblade sadly hasn’t seen much game time lately. I’ve been talking it up with the kids though and hope to get a game in before too long. I’m looking forward to the latest Kickstarter releasing so I’ll have more new stuff to paint.

Arena Rex

Arena Rex is mostly a con game for me. Every year, I buy a few models at Adepticon. I replaced that with a mail order, and will do the same around March next year.


Underworlds has been on my radar for a long time, and I finally decided to pull the trigger this year. I’ve only played with my kids, but it’s still a fun time. It’s like hobby popcorn.

Blitz Bowl

Even though I haven’t played 40k in years, I still listen to The Independent Characters. Between them and now The Crush I was drawn into Blitz Bowl. It plays quick, works with the kids, and translates well to Tabletop Simulator.

Fallout Wasteland Warfare

Fallout was increasingly in rotation in the Before Times, but hasn’t seen any virtual time. That hasn’t stopped me from painting up a crapton of it. I recently restarted playing Fallout 4, which only increased the drive. I have plans to play a solo Into the Wasteland campaign, but who knows when I’ll actually make that happen.


Terrain has always been a “someday” project for me, but I increased focus on it this year, in anticipation of garage or solo games. I’ve got a pretty decent collection for a variety of settings now, including a bunch of really great scatter terrain from Crooked Dice. I also bought some stuff from Black Site Studio. It’s nicely prepainted MDF, so doesn’t count in hobby progress until I customize it.


I had a plan with Rangers of Shadow Deep. For each game, complete one hobby project in support of the scenario. That will let me grow a collection of terrain, monsters, or whatever.

I did that once, digging up a bunch of stuff from the stash to form a crew, with townsfolk NPCs. I had a ton of fun setting up and playing the game. The kids wandered in and out, rolling for bad guys.

For the second game, I sculpted web markers out of Model Magic. But months later, I still haven’t finished them. So I haven’t played the second game. Maybe I need to rethink this strategy.

Kid projects

The kids watch me paint sometimes, and get excited about getting their own turn. Early on, I let them pick Underworlds warbands to paint. More recently, I let them pick Blood Bowl teams to split with me, though the kids’ half has stalled.

Looking to 2021

I’m really hoping to get more physical games in, whether it be solo, with the kids, or maybe even eventually with a human I don’t live with.

Adepticon 2021 is already canceled, but I’ll probably do a round of not-Adepticon purchases, like last year.

Santa brought me some new models, including Blackstone Fortress. I’m looking forward to painting and playing that. Maybe that’ll be easier to get going solo on a weekend afternoon than Rangers of Shadow Deep or Fallout.

I doubt I’ll be able to beat my 2020 hobby output. Frankly, I hope I don’t. But I’ll enjoy the hobby time while I can.

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