Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Nick came over on Sunday, equipped with a carrier bag from the off-license, for a bash at Paths of Glory. He kicked off as CP with the Guns of August, but was unlucky with his initial attacks and soon switched attention to the East. We had used the variant startup that places two corps to plug the gaps in the Austrian/Russian border, so there was no dance of death. Instead Nick kept up a sustained, turn-after-turn offensive which I found tough to hold back. Nick played a very OPS heavy game, while I was desperately trying to save RPS and get my reinforcements and events down. But it wasn’t easy with the pressure I was under on the map. I played the MEF at Gallipoli, and although we got off the beaches we were stalled by Kemal in front of Constantinople. I activated Romania (won’t do that again!) and sent two Russian armies down through Bulgaria. Driving for the Turkish capital, but this offensive was spoiled by Austrians attacking south-eastwards into Romania. Meanwhile my Italians, shored up by a British army, had taken Trent but I was too hard-pressed elsewhere to exploit this opportunity. Exhausted and bleary-eyed, I called a halt at 11pm. We had got to the end of 1915 in 6 hours of grippingly tense play and I was 2 victory points ahead (one of these thanks to a cheeky peace-offer I made at 9pm when I knew Nick wouldn’t be willing to stop!) Many thanks for a great game Nick – let’s do it again soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2001

I've been reading through old Consimworld postings about Paths of Glory and found two gems. The first is from Ted Raicer, and Dave (the OPS junky) would do well to read it:

First, a couple of general points-NEVER resign from PoG. If the other player can get an automatic victory, fine-he wins. But make him prove it by doing it. This is a game where sudden reversals of fortune are common, and being behind-even seemingly far behind-doesn't mean it isn't going to be your victory parade in 1919.

Second-while OPS are the lifeblood, all those other choices are there for a reason. Don't assume OPS is always the first choice-especially if OPS is all the other guy has been playing-creative use of SR or the play of RPs can make a big difference.

Corps have several uses (besides sitting in the Reserve box keeping your armies from going away forever). First, to reinforce an army on attack (to increase the chances of taking a hex by getting a higher LP) or defense (to increase the chance of holding a hex, either by inflicting higher LP or giving you more steps to lose). Either way your attrition will go up-so the advantage of corps/army combinations is in taking or holding spaces at the cost of more dead bodies.

Second, corps can SR around like mad, plugging holes that would otherwise be unplugged. And they can sea move,

And finally, corps are sometimes all you have to work with. (See the Near East.) But three Turk corps in a mountain space will stop the MEF (as long as you have more corps ready to replace the dead.) Plus the Kemal card will make those corps an army for a battle-and the MEF once reduced can never advance after combat. Corps combined with trenches mountain and fort can usually hold Trent and Trieste (vs. Italians anyway). So corps can stand up to SOME armies under the right circumstances.

The second is useful for sad and lonely people like me - it's from Gene Billingsley about solo play:

I've been playing POG solo today, and had a lot of fun with this method:

1. I let the CP choose Guns of August if they want, then draw card hands for each side.

2. I draw the cards WITHOUT ever looking at the hands. I must play the cards in the order they are drawn.

3. If I draw a CC or Reinf card, I have a 1-card (no more) Hold Pile where I can save the CC to be played later in the turn or the Reinf card to keep in my hand until next turn.

Naturally, what happens is that you end up in situations you'd RARELY be in with a FTF player, which is weird in a way, but in another way, I think it's helped me a lot with learning game techniques quicker than I would FTF.

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Had an exciting game of Empires of the Ancient World last Saturday with Steve and Dave. Explaining the rules to Dave (“tell me about the combat rules again?”) as we went along – I started in the Fertile Crescent, Steve in Spain and Dave in North Africa. I built up my navy and quickly took the whole Mediterranean. Dave did well in land battles and Steve recruited lots of merchants. After the turn 2 scoring my lead looked unassailable and I felt smug. That was a mistake! Dave knocked me out of the Med in a stunning series of defeats, and the casualties robbed me of my naval lead for the rest of the game. In the final turn Steve finished me off on land, relentlessly evicting me from one African province after another. Dave came in with a very creditable victory, Steve was second, and I lost. The whole thing took about 3 hours – very enjoyable see-saw action.

Monday, May 21, 2001

Labour's parliamentary candidate for Salisbury, Sue Mallory, was a nimrod in an earlier life. In the early 90's Sue was a well-known face at our board game sessions. She was pretty well unbeatable at Civilization, especially if she played Africa. And she is the only person I know who actually understands how to play Republic of Rome.

So, if you want the interests of board game geeks represented in the House of Commons, you know what to do:

Vote Nimrod: Vote Labour!

Friday, May 18, 2001

OK you can call me a sad GDW nimrod, but here is a great Space Hulk website with a complete inventory (with graphics) of the game including all the expansions. Last year I picked up a fairly battered copy which I am gradually tidying up, so this resource will be very useful. Incidentally I saw a copy of Space Hulk go for over £90 on Ebay recently - even more battered than mine. Do you think I could get rich from this hobby one day?
Don't forget to book for Manorcon by the end of the month if you want to pay the discounted price. This year it is at Chamberlain Hall, Birmingham University, 2pm Friday 20th July - 2pm Monday 23rd July 2001. I will certainly be going, Nick and Dave may well be getting a lift up in my car, but there is room for one more. I have lost count of the number of times I have attended, and I always have a great time, coming home totally gamed out and with a stack of titles I don't really need from the excellent second-hand games sale. It's not just about Diplomacy, there will be about 300 nimrods there and plenty of opportunities to play almost any sort of game - 18XX, Civilization, the latest German games, Titan, croquet.....Don't miss out!

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Eight reasons why nimrods make great husbands

Girls, here’s why the man you are looking for may be a nimrod:

    The average nimrod is intelligent but not very ambitious. So if you are looking for a modestly prosperous civil-servant who doesn’t work late, look for a nimrod.

    Nimrods are not interested in DIY, so they will not make your evenings and weekends a misery by mucking about with a hammer drill and putting up wonky shelving all around your home.

    OK, nimrods are avid collectors of games, but even a serious habit is unlikely to cost more than £300 - £400 a year. Compare that with a bloke who loves cars.

    The average nimrod has experienced 20-30 years of lonely sexual frustration before he meets the right woman (or any woman actually). So when he finally arrives in your bed he will be like a tiger unleashed!

    Nimrods love Scalextric, Lego, toy soldiers, and computer games. So they make great Dads (unless you have girls).

    If your nimrod partner packs his bags and goes away for the weekend looking furtive, you can be 100% certain he is in Birmingham at a Diplomacy tournament, not in Brighton with a mistress.

    A nimrod has no interest in his clothes, hair, or image, so you have a free hand to redesign his personal appearance to suit yourself. He won’t even be aware that you are doing it.

    When he stays at home watching videos while you have a girls’ night out with your friends, he’ll be watching “The World at War” not porn.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Have a play with the Web Economy Bullshit Generator! It's very funny and spookily accurate.

I'm listening to Emmylou Harris - One Big Love, off her Red Dirt Girl album. What a genius she is......
Back in February I attended a lecture at work by David Snowden, an IBM expert in Knowledge Management and Storytelling. It was fascinating stuff, and I've done some more reading around the subject since. What really excited me was that this seems to be a move away from a reductionist approach to corporate management, to one that is rediscovering the richness and complexity of humans and their interactions.

Then in April I discovered weblogs and Blogger, and started my own blog which you are now reading.

And now, clicking into place like a missing jigsaw piece, is this fantastic article - Grassroots KM through blogging - linking my two new interests together! Why didn't I spot this connection?

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

More from James on his obsessive feelings about Paths of Glory:

Alright, I will admit that Paths of Glory is one of those games that has got to me. I think about it when I am not playing it, and when playing it find myself tense awaiting the next move. I played Dave again at the weekend, we played for five hours and got to turn 5 of the 20.

Dave conceded so I was able to rack up a rare win for me in a war game. My victory was after a disastrous Warsaw Waltz (you will know what I mean, whilst Nick laughs at all the move descriptions in the game) for both of us in the East which Dave concentrated on mostly, whilst I attended to reinforcements on the Western front. I lost three armies to out of supply in Russia but reached Limited War before Dave and when I brought Italy into the war Southern Austria and Germany were open to me whilst Dave could not risk pulling armies out of France.

Turkey did not enter the game as Dave did not reach Limited War at all and therefore I am still to fight my first battle in the near East.

Thanks James. Hmm - five hours is a bit disappointing for only five turns. I've read players on Consimworld reporting 8-10 hours for the whole game. Of course, I know what Dave is like when he gets the bit between his teeth - he really wants to win and he's jolly well going to think his move out thoroughly!

Monday, May 14, 2001

My evil son Gavin's website introduced me to Guess the Evil Dictator this weekend. Phil demonstrated it to me. You pretend to be a dictator or sit-com character and the website asks you questions - often bizarrely sequenced as in "Do you shop in Safeways?" followed by "Did you annex Poland in 1939?" - until it guesses who you are. It got Margaret Thatcher first time. The best fun is asking it to guess yourself. It guessed Phil was "Anthony from the Royle Family", and it thought I was "Richard III of England"!!

Friday, May 11, 2001

Last weekend, as well as losing World War 1 a couple of times, I sang with Basingstoke Choral Society on Radio 2 - "Friday Night is Music Night"! It was a hugely enjoyable evening, and our 4 numbers (Handel Hallelujah Chorus, Faure Sanctus, Mozart Ave Verum and Puccini Nessun Dorma) went down very well, especially the last one. And we made a good impression on the BBC Concert Orchestra, who apparently want to work with us again. Wow! Stardom beckons!

I've been hunting around the web a lot for information on viruses, worms and trojans ( reasons). So much of the information assumes a fairly technical level of knowledge , but I was very impressed with the summary on the Sophos website. I should think anyone with even a passing interest in computers would find it illuminating.

This week I registered to give this weblog a stronger identity. It also gives me an obscure and slightly worrying sense of satisfaction.

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

A game report from James:

POG day occurred last weekend and what a little gem it revealed. POG is not a new collectable children's toy but stands for the game Paths of Glory that covers the whole of WWI in a tidy and playable game. It follows the same card play and area movement format as Hannibal, We the People and Successors. Peter hosted the day and whilst Peter faced Nick I had to deal with Dave. After a great summary of the rules by Peter we started to play the first year of the war.

I started as the Central Powers of Austria and Germany, having to deal with the three fronts of France, Russia and Serbia. I know Dave is an aggressive player so thought I should make as much of a nuisance of myself in France to deflect his attention from the other fronts were he was numerically superior, well I should have remembered my History because by turn 2 the front had ground to a halt as the trenches that were being built meant no-one was going anywhere. My early gains on this front were soon countered by Russian advances in the second half of the game. A draw overall.

Seeing this introductory game only took a couple of hours we decided to play on to see how far we could get. We kept the same sides. I started with a different move in France by trying to destroy the BEF this did not go well however a lucky break against the French 5th saw three German armies pour down behind the French trenches, but the mauled BEF stepped into the gap in the French trenches and held the woodland at Sedan to place three German armies out of supply, that was effectively game over after 20 mins. Dave then strung together some great card play and steamrollered into Germany in the East. The war was over by the end of 1914, if only this could have been the case.

I really want to sit down for the whole 8 hour(!) game now.

Many Thanks to Peter

Sunday, May 06, 2001

A game report provided by William:

Nick, Dave, Steve and I played Pacific Axis and Allies last weekend and had a good game although it took quite a while (Steve and I on the same team - surely a recipe for disaster in a game with a lot to think about). Dave (Japan) was doing quite well but suffered from fighting on two fronts and was looking good until America (Nick) finally got across the Pacific and started to bomb him into submission. Sounds a lot like the real thing really, we had some lovely battles and the Kamikaze were used to great effect but America was just too rich in the end.

Thursday, May 03, 2001

It amazes me how far Conway's Game of Life has come over the last 3 decades. I remember playing it by hand with pencil and graph-paper when I was at school!

Have a look at Paul Callahan's Patterns, Programs, and Links for Conway's Game of Life, especially the awesome Life Pattern Catalog. It is incredible what complex machines can be constructed from the starting point of three very simple rules. Life nimrods are even working on a Turing machine. Imagine that - a computer running a game that contains a simulation of a computing machine!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Nick is playing email Diplomacy over at Diplomacy 2000. Have a look at his game (it's called Jack Russell) and watch him getting creamed as Turkey! Actually he seems to be doing OK at the moment, but I'm not sure if I would give much for his long-term chances.

This is an excellent site, they run a great service. It's like playing by post, but with shorter deadlines and much less hassle. I played a very enjoyable game of Gunboat (ie Diplomacy without diplomacy) earlier this year, also as Turkey (I won!)