The Case of the Army That Was Started In 2023 and Is Still Not Finished in 2023: Baldur’s Gate 3, the Dungeon Master, and the Toddler

The State of My Hobby Table In Early 2023

Robert’s messages ping repeatedly on my phone. My heartbeat rises. My breath catches in my throat. I tentatively pick up the phone and open my messenger app. Robert demands article updates. The ominous figure of Tyson begins to haunt my dreams. I resist the need to sleep at night, for I fear what awaits me once sleep takes over. The dream figure of Tyson raises his cattle prod, poised to strike. He points to a bucket of hobby articles, not needing to voice his demands out loud. I know what is required. Fearing retribution if the demands are not met, I gather my laptop and begin to type.

I’m kidding. Robert casually messaged someone about an article today and I had some free time before bed. I typed this out sitting on the couch, with a snoring cat and dog next to me.

Most of the hobby time I spent in 2022 was spent painting Star Wars Legion resin models or basic DIY terrain. My budget had been limited. The lower price of Legion models, their ease of painting, and simple sculpts led me to paint them as my hobby of choice. Star Wars Legion miniatures are not known for their high quality sculpts. In early 2022, almost all of the models were soft, bendable resin with fairly limited details. Painting sharp details such as helmets, faces, or bits on the armor was difficult because the detail was low. After slogging through 4 or 5 squads of models, I began to reminisce of the high quality of Games Workshop models I painted in 2021.

My main reason for not buying and painting more Games Workshop models in 2022 was that we now had an infant at home and money was tight. When little Colin started daycare (a whopping $15,000 a year in the US), we were losing money. Our savings slowly started to dwindle. There simply wasn’t enough budget for luxuries like Warhammer 40k models or armies. I painted my entire backlog of 40k Necrons in mid January.

In mid January, we finally caught a break and my wife got a new job, with a $15,000 higher salary. You’ll notice that is exactly what our daycare cost. With her new salary, we could now pretend that we didn’t have a new $300 expense looming over us every week. And yes, for those of you without kids, paying for daycare is the equivalent of buying half of a new 40k army, every week, for 3 or 4 years. I now had a hobby budget again.

Having a toddler in the home also meant that my days of spending all day at the game store was less than ideal. I needed a hobby game that played faster and was simpler than big 2000 point 40k matches. I also needed high quality miniatures. Enter Kill Team. The chaos Legionaries caught my eye. Big, scary space marines covered in spikes, gold trim, horns, chains, and skulls.

Kill Team

At that point, I had never assembled a space marine model of any kind. All of my 40k model experience was push-fit Indomitus Necrons, a few more added elite units, some Necron vehicles, and a finecast Necron C’tan shard kit. Most of these models didn’t have many options, and the ones that had options were pretty simple. Putting together a Necron wasn’t really fun. It was just fiddly and I got plastic cement everywhere.

Putting together a chaos space marine Legionary was blowing my mind. A single box had 10 unique torso/leg options, with the ability to customize every single left and right arm, backpack, shoulder pads, and head/helmet. You need to read the datasheet 5 times to make sure you build a legal loadout for any unit you build. My hordes of Necron units felt like an endless, never ending tide of models. But they lacked personality. The photos below of some Legionaries do not lack personality.

I wasn’t sure how big I wanted to go with chaos marines. My budget was modest and so was my time limit. I started out with just the Legionary Kill Team box. I enjoyed building it so much that I bought a copy of the entire Kill Team: Nachmund box right afterwards to get 10 more Legionary models. I debated between Chaos Astartes Legions before painting. I ended up going with the evil poster boys, the Black Legion, simply because black armor and gold trim look good together.

Soon I had a group of 10 painted CSM models. You see some poor Star Wars characters in the back there. They did get painted just in time for a tournament.

The Dungeon Master

Now begins the time of 40k distractions. We had a few new hires at work who wanted to start a D&D group. Our main D&D group in town had just stopped meeting up due to the DM not having enough time for his homebrew campaign and lack of time for everyone to play. My wife and I still wanted to play some D&D, and I dropped the barest hint at work that I was interested in being a DM. Apparently that’s all it takes to become the new DM, written in stone.

I certainly didn’t want to homebrew a campaign from scratch. I was still fairly new to the world and lore of Dungeons and Dragons. We decided to play the campaign in the Essentials Kit, Dragon of Icespire Peak, designed for new players from level 1-6. As I write this, we’re almost ready to finish the campaign, having played roughly once a month starting in May.

I needed a way to play in person that wasn’t full scale 3d terrain. I found a company called Dungeon Craft that had easy to use 2d terrain. We bought a collection of Wizkids 3d miniatures for our characters and basic monsters. I gave them quick and easy paint jobs. The campaign book was easy to use, and I found being a DM for it pretty fun and easy. We started running a relaxed campaign, but with brutal and tactical grid-based combat where death’s door was at every corner.

More Warhammer

That single Kill Team not having satisfied the pull of the warp, I wanted to explore more 40k models and terrain. I found a local entire Octarius terrain set for $30, already assembled, and boom, I had some terrain. About 3 nights later with some spray primer, lots of drybrushing and stippling, I had an entire set of Kill Team Terrain.

I decided that I would build and paint at least 500 points of chaos space marine models. I first bought some terminators, in my opinion the coolest sculpt.

I painted an older Chaos Lord with a dashing cape

I now had 500 points of models. You see where this is going. I needed more. Now I would build and paint 1000 points of models in 2023. Five more Legionaries join the Black Legion warband.

I saw a set of 6 assault intercessor space marines for sale. I was curious about the loyalist space marine sculpts, so I bought them. Compared to the chaos sculpts, I found the models boring and flat. Much like my Necrons, I found the typical rank and file guys to be just a little lacking in personality. It took me a long time to decide on a loyalist legion, and I tried several schemes before not being happy with them and stripping them several times. I couldn’t get invested in any legion’s lore. I eventually settled on Blood Angels because red is cool. My Imperium curiosity was sated, and I had another Kill Team. At least I knew that I had no interest in buying large amounts of loyalist space marines.

Baldur’s Gate 3

A lot of my spare time had been spent painting 40k and doing D&D prep. My wife wanted something where we could spend some quality time together every night. Out comes Baldur’s Gate 3, a D&D 5e based game that supports couch co-op on the PC. We have a PC in our living room. I made a promise that I wouldn’t paint any more 40k until we finished an entire playthrough of BG3. We had played through Divinity: Original Sin 2, their other game series, and we are terrible at co-op turned based games. We would give it a shot again. It goes about the same.

My wife made a tiefling bard. I made a half-orc barbarian. She tried to sneak or talk her way out of every encounter. I just got angry and hit things with my big axe, following the example of Gimli, son of Gloin. Months go by where we sit on the couch every night, trying to progress through the game. After repeatedly dying on medium difficulty, being forced to go on easy mode, and putting over 100 hours into BG3, we finally begin to reach the end of the game. She has respecced her character 3 times. I refuse to budge from my barbarian. It is a long campaign, and we feel relief when we finish. We had a blast, but now we can move on to other things.

Just kidding. My wife loved BG3 so much she immediately started a 2nd playthrough. I did as well, but kind of stopped playing somewhere in act 2, getting a little burnt out on non-stop turn based combat.

Fall of 2023

2023 is coming to an end. I only have about 600 out of 1000 points painted of my chaos army. We have several family trips and vacations weeks in a row. The beautiful fall colors of New England come and go. Halloween comes and goes. I get lots of pictures of a toddler trick-or-treating in a pumpkin costume and fall colors of the forest canopy from the tower in the forest where I work.

I finished a squad of 10 cultist models in about 2 weeks. That’s 55 more points! Wait a second. My army points go down. 55 points later and I’m still at 600 points! My black Rust-Oleum primer rattle can runs empty and now I have to find time to go buy another.

I started another round of Legionaries, trying to add more points and burn through some trim painting.

Will I finish 1000 points before 2024? Probably not. I’ll probably manage 100 or 200 more points. And you know what? That’s totally fine. I’m making progress on my models, putting paint to plastic, and I’m having fun doing it. I got the chance to play 7 or 8 games of Kill Team so far, 3 games of big 40k 10th edition, 4 or 5 games of Star Wars: Legion. Will I stop at 1000 points of chaos space marine models? Of course not!

I’ll end with a picture of the canopy of the forest where I work in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.


I live in rural New Hampshire with my wife, our son, two cats, two dogs, no more chickens because they all got eaten, too many fantasy books, some miniature models, and my wife says I have too many keyboards (only three). Small and steady hobby progress wins the race when you have a toddler.

Clay’s contributions