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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Marauders Ahoy!

This fortnight has been just jam-packed full of hobby goodness as I continue to paint my unit of Marauders while attempting to finish work on some of the terrain projects that have been sitting around my hobby room collecting dust.  For a lot of us, having shelves full of models and half-finished projects is not unusual , in fact I’m sure that for some it is the norm (I know it is for me).  In my case, I have a metric crap-tonne of unfinished terrain floating around my house, from scourer-pad hedges to foam core sheeting castles.  Hell, I’ve even got a couple of gaming tables floating around that are half-completed.    Unfortunately however, there comes a time when you have to make a choice – either you finish some of the projects that have been started, or buy a bigger house.  As I’m not really in the market for a bigger place, I guess the decision has been made for me. 

So now that I’ve come to this quasi earth-shattering conclusion, I’m going to need some serious motivation to see it through to the end.  Though like any good procrastinator, it takes a bit to get me really fired up to model.  Enter Dice and Brush and FBroundup.  Reading ‘Dice and Brush’s’ latest article, I’ve become motivated to get some of those unfinished projects completed.  This is a blog written by Johan Mars (@rymdvofflan on Twitter) and I have to say, his artwork is inspired.  Another great article that has encouraged me to soldier on (and will most likely spawn countless new modelling projects) is Mike Sweetman’s Article: The Warhammer Fantasy Battle Warriors of Chaos Unofficial Army Roundup . Mike’s done a good deal of research here and has compiled a list of resources relating to the Warriors of Chaos.  I’m particularly fond of the Dragon Ogre Conversions and will no doubt be including some in my army soon enough (didn’t I tell you it would spawn another project?).   The third and final page I’d like to mention is that of my good friend Mark who’s just recently started a blog for his Warmahordes project entitled ‘Project Circle’.  Alredy he’s off to a good start with a number of models alreays painted and underway.  I’m proud to say that he’s been smashing through the painting using an unconventional method and the work he’s producing is impressive indeed.  Makes me wish at times I was more dedicated in getting my Legion forces completed as quickly. 

Over the course of this fortnight, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working on three of my long-running terrain projects – a ruined building, an armoured bunker and a crashed landspeeder.  For those who’ve read my last hobby article, you will be familiar with the ruined building that I’m working on.  It has to be said that the Cities of Death terrain is some of the most impressive modular buildings GW has ever created.  The sheer number of different wall panels spread across 4 or so distinct buildings means that there is more flexibility in this kit than a yoga-practicing porn star (most likely cheaper too depending on where you live.  If you’re living in Australia however, GW’s prices certainly encourage you to give serious thought to the Porn Star).  With each of these projects, I’ve used spackle to seal any exposed foam, ensuring it won’t get eaten away by the spray paint used in the painting process.  There’s nothing worse than seeing your hard work disintegrating before your very eyes, eaten away by the propellant contained within the spray can you just used to undercoat the model.  Once the spackle was dried, I then painted PCA glue onto the base areas around each of these buildings before pouring beach sand over the top to provide a texture that can be painted over later.  I recommend painting over the based areas with a layer of watered down PVA glue to ensure that the sand or whatever basing material that you’re using remains on the terrain and not everywhere else.  One coat should be sufficient but a second coat may be necessary depending on the basing material used.  Keep in mind that a lot of the loose material that is not securely stuck to the base will come off with the brush.  The best way to deal with areas where there is a large amount of loose material is to further water down a small amount of PVA glue and gently apply it to the area so that the glue can trickly through the pile, sealing it all in place.

The bunker was a spur of the moment idea that came to me after unpacking a new toaster that I received last year.  The moulded cardboard that cushioned the item seemed to me to be the perfect shape for a reinforced bunker that may have been utilised by a Planetary Defence Force or perhaps a minor waypoint for the Adeptus Arbites.  The best part was there were two of them in the box.  With a bit of trimming and the canny use of various tank components that live in my extensive 40K bits box, my first bunker was created.

The crashed Space Marine Landspeeder was the result of my general dissatisfaction of the paint job that vehicle possessed and the fact that I hated the assembly process of the old plastic Speeders with a passion.  Grabbing together some foam core off cuts and excess polystyrene, I cobbled this piece together as a means of creating a quick and easy piece of scatter terrain that would add a bit of realism to the game and perhaps tell a bit of a story.  The speeder was taken to with a pair of pliers ripping off various components that would have been torn off during the crash before being ‘buried’ under a number of foam off cuts that acted as the various dirt etc that was dug up by the nose of the craft during the landing.  As can be seen in the pictures below, there were no survivors. 

With all the work I’ve been dedicating to getting my old terrain projects finished, I’m surprised I’ve managed to paint as much as I have.  This fortnight when I wasn’t busy slopping plaster on ever surface near and far from my workspace I was busily painting my Marauders in a bid to get the miniatures I assembled a couple of months back painted and based.  While painting these models, I’ve come to realise that while aiming to paint a set amount of points each month is a great way to ensure that you are getting an army painted and ready for the table, it sucks AND blows when you’re working on models that have a base cost of 4 points.  Even with light armour and shields, my Marauders are still only rocking in at 6 points a model, which is less than impressive considering the amount of time and effort required to paint them is no different to any of my other model in my army.  On the upside, I was able to complete the Champion I started last fortnight as well as the Standard Bearer and two of their buddies which is pretty good all things considered.  If they were Chaos Warriors, I’d be scoring 16 points a model with Command Group bonus points.  The challenge has been painting them in such as way so that they blend in with the old models (painted a couple of years ago now) and I’m pretty confident that has been achieved.  With these four out of the way, I’m that much closer to having that unit completed which is something I’m very happy with. 

Well that’s all the progress I’ve made thus far, I’m looking forward to finishing off the terrain mentioned above and as long as I can find the right tones of grey, you can bet I’ll be using a couple of spray cans to get the job done.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, tips or criticisms please let me know.  I’m always keen to hear what everyone else has to say and I’m always open to new painting / modelling techniques you may have.  Before I go, here are my stats for this fortnight:

Number of Warhammer Fantasy Units Completed: 6
Number of Hordes Units Completed: 1
Number of Points painted this fortnight:  40 (4 Marauders with LA & Shields with Standard and Champion). 

Catch you all later


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Beginning is just the End Repeated – Writing an ‘Origins’ Story

During the last fluff article, I wrote about the basic principles that can be utilised to create background for your army – answering the questions ‘Who’, ‘When’, ‘Where’ and ‘Why’ in order to establish how your army fits in the greater Warhammer universe.  Once you have established these things, you are able to probe deeper into the background of your main character, expanding on those key events in your chosen character’s past that made them what they are today.  Cue an ‘origin’ story.  These types of stories are a staple for almost every writer, from comic books to autobiographies.  We as a people are fascinated by the past, yearning to know why people do the things they do, which inevitably results in people looking into the past to find the beginning.  The origin story is designed to do just that – take you back to the beginning to where it all started.  But, I hear some of you ask, how do I apply that to a Warhammer army? 

The answer is simple – by applying the same techniques as outlined before.  Let’s say for example, you own a Goblin army that is led by a Black Orc Warboss.  Now as part of the basic background you have determined that your Black Orc Warboss (going by the name of Goffsmack Headbasher) was kicked out of his tribe as a result of ‘finkin too much’ and stumbled onto a tribe of Goblins not yet under the ‘protekshun’ of other Orcs.  Now in this case, your Origin story may well expand on the reasons why Goffsmack was prone to excessive ‘finkin’ (perhaps he was not dropped on his head enough as a snotling) and how that lead to his eventual eviction from the tribe.  This could then expand into how Goffsmack wandered the mountains searching for a home before discovering the Blu Bellies – a small but particularly fierce tribe of goblins who have thus far resisted any attempts of Orc domination.  Due to Goffsmack’s unnatural intellect, he may very well be able to trick the Goblin Warboss Nob’ed Stikpoka into an alliance and providing him with troops to seek revenge. 

So how then, does one go about writing their story?  There are many ways of writing, from the stock standard linier path of beginning to end to the stupidly convoluted format that has the reader jumping back and forth through the character’s timeline like a Rabbit on crack (if you don’t know what I mean, watch the movie ‘Alexander’ and you’ll quickly understand).  For me, a generic flash-back is usually the best way to tell an origin story as it provides a distinct and convenient means of probing into their chosen character’s past without having to explain their present in too much detail.  The story I’ve included below however, takes a different path.  Utilising a method that is fast gaining popularity in various TV series, I’ve taken a pivotal moment in the story and used it as a means of facilitating a small flashback to explain the events that lead to this situation.  For example – the story opens with the main character on his knees with a gun pointed to his head.  Our hero tells the gunman he doesn’t have to do this before they squeeze the trigger and the screen goes black and the audience is propelled ‘12 hours earlier’ to the true beginning of the story. 

Have a read and let me know what you think.  Hopefully I’ve continued to provide you with some ideas that can be incorporated into your own fluff and if you have any questions / comments, feel free to leave feedback.  Most of all – Enjoy!

His skin was red and blistered from the transformation.  Muscles twitched uncontrollably as sorcerous energies infused them with the power of the Gods.  His hair, normally kept tightly bound in a warrior’s topknot was now a shaggy mane, crackling softly as his body expelled the surplus energy not consumed during the ritual.  The runes daubed on his chest with the blood of innocents sizzled and steamed, their protective energies utterly consumed.  For a brief moment, he was almost overwhelmed as a torrent of new sensations flooded his system.  Smells sounds and tastes all bombarded his senses as the spirit of the wolf awoke finding itself forever melded with his own soul.  Looking upon the baleful green eye of the moon Morrslieb, he let loose a victorious howl, his lips peeling pack to reveal a set of enlarged canines that glistened wetly in the terrible green light.  As one, his warriors echoed the howl, their own animalistic calls a reflection of the beasts barely contained within their own souls. 


It was hard to believe that barely four hours had passed since he; Romulus Ironwolf had challenged the Alpha for the right to lead the tribe.  Despite the Alpha being a superior warrior and a master tactician, his shaman had assured him that the Alpha’s favour with the Great Changer had waned and the eye of the Changer now rested upon him. The omens were favourable and the Romulus now realised why the wolf-spirit that shared his body had been so restless these last few days.  As a member of the Wulfkin Tribe, he was one of the few Warriors chosen by the might Tchar to carry within him the spirit of one of the great black-maned wolves that stalked the wilderness of the nearby mountains.  Such a blessing provided him with strength in battle and greater endurance but there was also the risk of becoming utterly consumed by the wolf, mutating into a terrible hybrid of wolf and man.  So it was that he challenged the Alpha to ritual combat, their bodies daubed in bloody sigils and both armed with a brutal two-handed broadsword.  No words were said by either of them, for it was not their way to sully such a ceremony with paltry words.  This was a battle that would be decided purely by the will of the Changer of Ways, the great and powerful Tchar. 

Romulus launched himself at the Alpha, teeth bared and swinging his blade in a low arc intended to disembowel.  But the Alpha was cunning, having slain many a foolish pup who challenged for leadership over the decades of his rule.  He swung his body into action, the tip of his blade gouging the earth as he spun.  Their blades met with bone-crunching force as the Alpha deflected his attack to the side.  Planting his feet, Romulus used this force to redirect his swing, sweeping the blade into the air before arcing it back towards the Alpha’s exposed shoulder.  The tip of the Alpha’s blade gleaned brightly as it whipped into the air one-handed to once again smash aside the blow intended to carve him from shoulder to hip, the Alpha’s free fist swinging as he did so.  The blow landed hard on the side of Romulus’s skull, jarring his vision and throwing him to the side.  Snarling, he allowed more of the wolf-spirit sealed within him to take control, feeling a fresh wave of power course through his body as the beast’s restraints were loosened.  The bloody runes on his chest flashed brightly as they were tested by the wolf, pushing against the sorcerous restraints barely preventing a full transformation.  The two combatants faced off once more, each watching for the slightest twitch that may betray their enemy’s intentions.  This time the Alpha swung first, the runes on his chest glowing faintly with power as his blade arced towards the challenger.  As the blade swung, the light of Morrslieb, Tchar’s great eye, bathed the field; suffusing both warriors in its sickly jade light.  Roaring in defiance, Romulus summoned all of the wolf’s strength and channelling it into a single blow.  The runes on his chest were blinding as they struggled to contain the power of the wolf-spirit, charring the skin below and creating ritualistic scars that will remain with Romulus for the remainder of his life. The Alpha faltered, momentarily blinded by the sudden burst of radiant light emanating from his opponent but it was all the opening Romulus needed as his razor-edged blade drove home.  There was a resounding clang as the blades of the two warriors came together for the final time.  Striking a hairline fault that ran across the Alpha’s sword, it shattered, allowing Romulus’s blade to embed itself in the Alpha’s skull with a dull, wet thud, killing him instantly. 

At that moment, a great bolt of lighting stabbed down from the heavens, engulfing Romulus in a maelstrom of multi-coloured flames.  His roar of defiance quickly turned into a howl of pain as the favour of Tchar was bestowed upon him, warping his flesh and threatening to consume his very soul.  As suddenly as it came the fires vanished, leaving Romulus standing alone in the middle of the arena.  His skin was red and blistered from the transformation.  Muscles twitched uncontrollably as sorcerous energies infused them with the power of the Gods themselves.  His hair, normally kept tightly bound in a warrior’s topknot was now a shaggy mane, crackling softly as his body expelled the surplus energy not consumed during the ritual.  The runes daubed on his chest with the blood of innocents sizzled and steamed, their protective energies utterly consumed, the bare flesh below blistered and raw.  For a brief moment, he was almost overwhelmed by the torrent of new sensations that flooded his system.  Smells sounds and tastes all bombarded his senses as the spirit of the wolf awoke finding itself forever melded with his own soul.  Looking upon the baleful green eye of the moon Morrslieb, he let loose a victorious howl, his lips peeling pack to reveal a set of enlarged canines that glistened wetly in the terrible green light.  As one, his warriors echoed the howl, their own animalistic calls a reflection of the beasts barely contained within their own souls.  As the howls faded into the inky darkness, Romulus’s eyes fell upon the rent and broken body of the Alpha and for a brief moment his heart sank with sadness.  He was going to miss his father.

Hope you guys enjoyed the story.  Please feel free to leave comments and or suggestions that you may have.  

Catch you all later.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Dragon is in the Details...

Holy falling guano Batman!  This week has been buzzing with activity, as I make hobby progress in leaps and bounds.  I’ve decided to try a different approach to staving off hobby boredom by working on a whole mess of things at the same time.  For my hobby, it means that not only have I been working on my Chaos Army, but I’ve also been painting my Legion as well as working on some terrain for my local club’s tables.  All of this work has done wonders for my enthusiasm for the hobby, allowing my imagination and eagerness to skyrocket in equal amounts.  As I write this, my mind is still plotting designs for various terrain features such as Towers, Crypts and Spiky hills of various descriptions (perhaps something with a disproportionately large skull embedded in it);   but more on these creations later.  Right now I’d like to take a little time to talk about some of the awesome people who are contributing to the hobby, proving to everyone just how great miniature wargaming can be. 

First off the ranks is ‘Tales from the Lennycave’ , an inspiring Blog done by Brian Leonard, also known as @LennyExperiment on Twitter.  His inspiring painting articles and comprehensive tournament reports not withstanding, his most recent article has provided readers with a list of sites that he uses for inspiration and I must say the list is quite comprehensive.  I myself will be regularly visiting these sites in eager anticipation of the awesome hobby into contained within.  I'd also like to personally thank him for mentioning my own site in that list, I'm a big fan of your work and I'm humbled by your interest in mine.  The second person I’d like to mention here is the Mike Sweetman who runs the newly created Fantasy Battle Roundup.  Known as @FBroundup on twitter, Mike’s got his fingers on the pulse of the wargaming community, writing well-rounded articles on a range of topics from comprehensive unit analysis to modelling and painting sites.  I heartily encourage you all to visit these sites and take full advantage of the information and inspiration that can be found within each.  You can also find additional links to these sites in 'My Fantasy Blogs’ panel on the right hand side.  Speaking of painting progress, I should probably get onto describing mine.

On the Chaos front, I’ve been working on my Marauder Command group, getting my Champion painted and ready for battle.  So far, the process has been fairly stop-start, with real-life and other hobby projects (yes, I’m looking at you Legion of Everblight) getting in the way.  Taking a break from painting bronze constantly has been great and I’m particularly enjoying being able to achieve a solid layer of metallic colour in under 3 coats.  Once again Citadel Washes have been a God-send for me, allowing me to achieve a flawless shade-to-highlight gradient with a fraction of effort I expended previously.  In addition to this, I’ve spent a bit of time completing yet another shield and finishing off some detail work missed on the Chosen that I’ve painted thus far; allocating some much needed time to finally get to some of those fiddly bits like weapon hafts, horns and small skulls embedded into some of the helmets finished.  The amount of work that is involved with getting these bits done once again drives home the fact that there is so much detail in these models that it’s easy to overlook things here and there. 

For my Legion, I’m happy to report that my unit of Archers have finally been assembled and still retain the title of ‘Most Painful Unit to Build of all Time’.  I yearn for the day that these fellows will appear in stores made entirely of resin, allowing me to continue building my Blighted Nyss contingent with only a fraction of the cursing and grumbling I do now.  Still, you can’t have it easy all the time can you?  I’ve also begun basing and painting the Warbeasts that I undercoated last fortnight, trying out my new colour scheme to see if it works.  While I encountered a couple of teething problems when it came to basing the Shredders (no pun intended), the combination of greys, blues and purples have proven to be quite effective – both when it comes to minimising the time spent painting and maximising their appearance on the tabletop.  The main stumbling block that I’ve come across is the fact that I have very little desire to actually paint these miniatures for some reason.  Perhaps I’m still too invested in my Chaos Warriors to contemplate painting anything else.    On the positive side though, I’ve been able to at least get one of the little blighters finished, complete with front vision arc and an identity marker on the rear of the model (so I can tell each of the four apart from one another). 

Shredders WIP

Finished Shredder in all it's toothy glory.

The final couple of items I’ve been working on this week have been some buildings that were purchased for my local gaming club a while back that I volunteered to build.  This has been a project that I’ve had on my hobby desk for some time now, its history reaching back to at least the end of last year when I was still playing a lot of 40K.  When I shifted to Fantasy as my primary game, these buildings were set aside in order to free up more time to paint Chaos Warriors.  However I’ve decided to revisit them again, and this time I intend to at least get them to a stage where they’re ready for undercoating.  Thus far, I’m well on track to reaching this goal, getting both buildings based and building the obligatory piles of dirt and rubble inside one of them.  Now all that’s left is to spackle each of these piles and around the inside edges of the building, allowing them all to blend a little into the base which is fitting for a building that has been repeatedly bombed and shot at.  Besides, every building needs a bit of dirt and rubble to give it that ‘lived in’ feel you know?  Once this has been completed, I’ll be able to sand the entire base to give it extra texture and voila!  One ruined building ready for undercoating.  With the first building ready for spackle, my aim will be to get the second building to a similar stage of readiness before building the third and final building from the wall and door components left in the kit.  By the looks of things, there should be enough pieces left in the box to make a half-decent building (even if it looks a little short). 

With that, I’ll draw this article to a close.  While I haven’t been able to get as much painting done as I’d hoped, the progress that has been made thus far is still substantial.  My first warbeast for Hordes has been completed, I’m another small step towards completing my Chosen and I’ve finally gotten a chance to revisit some old terrain projects that have been resting on the back burner for some time now.  All in all this has been a good fortnight.  Hopefully by the next article I’ll be showing you photos of my completed Marauder Champion as well as one or two more shredders.  Not only that, but I’m planning to spend some time finishing off the rubble for the second building and breaking out the spackle for a bit of arts and crafts fun.  But until then, here are my progression stats for the fortnight:

Number of Warhammer Fantasy Units Completed: 6
Number of Hordes Units Completed: 1
Number of Points painted this fortnight: 3 (1 Chosen Warrior Shield and one Shredder).

Catch you all later


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who wants a Chaos Warrior plushie? Incorporating Fluff into your army

As part of the ongoing development of my army, I’ve begun creating background fluff for my general and some of the units that have been a mainstay in my Army thus far.  For those not in the know, the term ‘fluff’ refers to any sort of information (be it text, audio or otherwise) that is not directly linked to established army / game rules etc.  For people such as myself who enjoy writing in general (as if you can’t already tell by the length of my Blog articles), writing fluff for an army is another aspect of this hobby that we get to enjoy.  The best thing about writing fluff for an army is that there’s always something that can be written about, some new detail or confrontation that can be described that acts to increase the reader’s understanding of who these people are and why they do the things they do.  In light of this, I thought it would be a good idea to start a small series of articles relating to the fluff of my army, providing readers with a bit of a back-story and (hopefully) some entertainment.  These articles will be posted every other week between hobby progress articles and who knows?  Perhaps my meagre writings will inspire you to write your own fluff, if not start a Chaos army yourself.   

So the easiest way to do this is to go through the ‘who, what, when, where and why’ questions when it comes to developing army fluff.  I’ve already answered ‘what’ fluff is in the paragraph above, which leaves us with four other questions to answer:

When and Where – Establishing a Context

During the invasion known as the ‘Storm of Chaos’, Archaon the Everchosen, assembled a mighty army, the size of which had not been seen since the first great war against Chaos.  Descending on the lands of men like a black tide, the seemingly unstoppable advance was eventually halted at the hands of Grimgore Ironhide shortly after Archaon mortally wounded Valten, the chosen of Sigmar.  Shattered into dozens of splinter groups, the massive hammer from the North became a storm of razor blades, each tribe fighting not only the men of the Empire, but also fighting amongst themselves as they raised and looted as much as possible before returning north once more.  Once such splinter group was led by a Warrior-King by the name of Romulus Ironwolf of the Wulfkin Tribe.

Answering the question of ‘when’ is a very important of developing fluff.  By answering this question you will also find the answer to ‘where’ follows close behind.  For some armies this may determine things as inherent to the army as the paint scheme or even the composition of the army as a whole.  For example, say if I was to do a Dwarf army set during the time of the War of the Beard, a time of great strife between the High Elves and the Dwarves.  Since this is set centuries into the past, when black powder weapons were yet to be accepted as sound by the Dwarven Engineers (yes it takes that long for Dwarven Quality Assurance to sign off on these things), all ranged weaponry used in the army would be limited to Crossbows, Bolt Throwers and Grudge Throwers.  In the case of my army I’ve set it in the aftermath of the pseudo-mythical time after the Storm of Chaos (also known as the-Global-Campaign-that-GW-waged-but-then-promptly-forgot-about-since-it-didn’t-go-the-way-they-wanted).  As it is set after Archaon’s invasion (when), my army will have fought its way deep into the lands of the Empire (where) and it is now up to Romulus to get his tribe home with as much wealth and power as he can amass.

Who and Why – Characters and their motivations

A mighty Chaos Lord in his own right, Romulus has ruled over the Wulfkin Tribe for almost a decade.  During each year under his reign, the tribe has grown in wealth and status, overtaking a number of neighbouring tribes in the process.  When the call to war came from the Everchosen, Romulus assembled his warriors and marched southwards towards the lush lands of the Empire; intent on returning with much wealth and more importantly, more verses to add to his already considerable saga. 

These questions are both the easiest and the hardest questions to answer when it comes to writing fluff for an army.  However, like the When and Where, if you can identify the Who (and I’m not talking about the band), you can pretty quickly answer the Why.  Who do you want to write backgrounds for?  Another way to look at this question is how much detail do you want to go into?  Honestly, the easiest way to start developing fluff is to write about your army general.  Who is he?  Where is he from?  How did he come to be as he is?  The sample I’ve included above incorporates a brief background that relates to my army General – Romulus Ironwolf (the ‘who’).  As can be seen, when combined with the first passage, I’ve also indentified who he is and how he fits into the grand scheme of my army.  As the passage continues I’ve also hinted at some of the possible motives that drive Romulus to do what he does which will be essential in shaping the rest of the fluff for my army which works to answer the ‘why’.  As a Chaos Lord, Romulus is more than capable of going to war against the many and varied peoples of the Warhammer world, not to mention his neighbouring kinsmen should he be so inclined. 

It should be noted that it is entirely possible to begin writing your fluff about any model in your army, whether it be a Lord, Hero or even a humble trooper.  As your army builds, the opportunities for character progression is endless, perhaps your lowly spearman gets promoted to sergeant; or it could be that in a moment of glorious opportunity he saves the life of a powerful noble who elevates him to a position in his personal bodyguard.  The opportunities are only limited by your own imagination.  

So there you go, the first of my fluff articles.  I hope that this has been at least a little helpful in encouraging you all to get a little more involved with your armies, as I know I become more attached the more background I develop.  

Catch you all later