Tuesday, July 31, 2001

nervousness.org is an intriguing, attractive idea. The website links up people who want to contribute to some sort of object - a journal, a box of things, a photo project etc - which is passed around by snail mail, accreting contributions as it travels the globe. Amazing! Count me in!

Monday, July 30, 2001

My son Gavin and 3 of his fellow students have developed a game called ScribblyDraw, which is a kind of online version of Pictionary. This weekend they were contacted by Compuserve who want to offer Scribblydraw as part of their online gaming service!! Wow, I hope he remembers his old Dad when he's rich.
Cool, Conway's Life is a long-standing interest of mine and, now that I'm busy glueing together my new Icehouse pieces, here comes MARTIAN LIFE for me to play with them.

Friday, July 27, 2001

Fun nimrod session last night. Steve, Dave and John turned up. We played Lord of the Rings and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The game managed to create this sense of rising panic as we stumbled from one disaster to another, the Ring-Bearer (Master Samwise Medhurst at that point) falling into the hands of Sauron on the very slopes of Mount Doom!

Thursday, July 26, 2001

Minden Games publish Retro ASL - the whole ASL experience distilled down to 28 pages!

Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Is there such a thing as a Ceroc nimrod, I wonder? Probably not, too many females involved. Ceroc is a French Jive apparently, you can go along Tuesday or Thursday evening to Salisbury Cattle Market (I'm not making this up!) and have an hour's Beginners instruction, then a chance to revise while the Intermediates have their class, finally a freestyle session which is the best bit - it's like a party, everyone dancing, and you don't get left to sit for more than a few minutes before some girl drags you up for another dance. I've been going along for 3 weeks now, after initial hesitancy I'm really starting to enjoy myself now as I get a little bit more confident with the moves. Excellent fun! And a great chance to hold hands with dozens of women in one evening.......

My Paper Icehouse pieces have arrived. Only took a few days from the US. My next step towards apostasy is to get hold of some aquarium gravel and glue these babies together...

I've finally managed to buy something off ebay!!! The Star Wars trilogy on VHS, the original versions (not ruined by the new special effects). Great condition, got them for £16.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Manorcon was very enjoyable. It was good to have William and Dave along. The new venue (Shackleton Hall on Birmingham University campus) was a bit more spacious than Lake Hall. My room was OK but the food was a deep fried death diet as usual! On Friday I played History of the World with the fancy (and fiddly) new Hasbro set. I was leading for ages – always a big mistake - and finished 3rd of 6.

On Saturday I signed up for Advanced Civilization, really enjoyed it. Played Babylon as usual. A run of early catastrophes left me trailing badly, so I was really pleased to finish 4th of 7. That took 7 hours, so I wandered around dazed for a couple of hours, then joined Nick Kinzett for a game (doctored Kinzett-style) of Lord of the Rings. Great fun, loads of atmosphere, and interesting to cooperate rather than compete for a change.

On Sunday I coasted, introducing lots of people to Battle Cry and getting another game of Lord of the Rings too (this time we all died horribly on Gorgoroth). Dave was swimming with the 1830 sharks, hoping just to learn a few tips from the experts. Against all expectations he won!

The games trading is always a highlight of Manorcon. I managed to get rid of two of my games (Battle Hymn and Carrier), but bought two as well (Throneworld and Lord of the Rings) so no relief for my storage problem back home.

Great weekend. Maybe I’ll sign up for MidCon this year?

Monday, July 23, 2001

Met this guy Pete Phillipps at Manorcon, who was there with various ASL nimrods running a tournament and trying to recruit people into his evil sect. Like most evil cultists he's a really nice guy. Here is his fanzine View From The Trenches which includes a PDF introduction to ASL with a map and counters for a starter scenario. I found it an excellent read even though I'm only marginally interested in ASL.

Thursday, July 19, 2001

HANKISMS is a hilarious if irreverent take on comparative religion. I think my favourite is Greco-Roman.
This website dedicated to the Japanese artist Kawase Hasui is stuffed with beautiful images.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Attention! Attention all nimrods!

No session at my place this Thursday I'm afraid - I don't want to peak early
before Manorcon this weekend!

But you are invited over on Thursday 26th July. William will probably bring
Samurai over, and surplus people can play Battle Cry or Space Hulk perhaps.

Let me know if you can make it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Hmmm. What games shall I take to ManorCon this year?

To sell:

Pacific War (? I once spent weeks learning the rules, do I want all that effort to go to waste?)
Battle Hymn
Empires in Arms (? it's a nice looking game, I just never ever play it)

To play:

Empires of the Ancient World
Titan (oh bliss, a chance to play Titan!)
Battle Cry (I was hoping Nick would be bringing his copy too, but he's dropped out this year)

Musn't take too many, as I don't want to spend the weekend explaining rules to people!

Monday, July 16, 2001

The Center for Ludic Synergy is an extremely weird and amusing game site.
GMT website now has an official Historical Paths of Glory scenario.
Two game reports for last Thursday's session. The first is from James:

Attendees last Thursday were Robin, Simon, William, Peter (host) and I. Peter had set up Empires of the Ancient World on the table and explained the rules to Simon, Robin and I.

The game is turn based and you can do a number of things on your "go" either attack by force or diplomacy, trade with neighbouring regions or recruit one of the available armies or units. As I had rolled the six and had to go first I picked up the Military Commander card, it looked good and it was for that reason I picked it up ( a lot of my game playing is on that basis, ohhh dear) everyone else also spent a peaceful round "educating" the neutral nations or picking up new units. Peter picked up a large galley and on his next round he started his conquest of the Mediterranean by unprovoked attacks on William and I. That was it and then the call to arms went up and this resulted in everyone bashing Peter. Throughout the game William grew steadily in the East, Diplomat Simon expanded his nation around Italy with little military attacks, Robin defended France, Germany and Britain well and I held Spain and Africa with the aid of my Military Commander, that on numerous occasions allowed me to deploy Pikemen infront of opponents charging cavalry (ouch).

We only managed two of the four turns by 10:30 so called it an evening there and totted up the scores.William won, myself second then Simon, Robin and Peter last.

A great game with a very clever card system.

Ohh by the way does anyone play Advanced Squad Leader, or interested in learning (Shameless Plug).

And now William with his version of events:

We started to play with William rolling highest to start (despite his absence from the room due to the curse that is mobile phones). He chose the rich Middle East and proceeded to build his empire around Cappadocia. He was hindered by Peter who immediately went for the Eastern Med and Egypt and West Turkey. Between their turns Simon started an empire in Italy and James in Britannia. Robin took Iberia, being the only place left with an amphora.

The game didn't start well for Simon who during the uprising phase narrowly missed out on losing his starting nation, Italy, because he had a fort there. He spent the rest of the game using his Ambassador to build a big empire and having nowhere to go but get trampled by surrounding nations.

Peter tried to attack all of the sea lanes but everybody fought back. Having painted the word 'Target' on his forehead he never really recovered.

Robin build quite a nice empire but spent too long being destoyed by James who proved to have a better army than Peter.

After two rounds it was 10:15 so we tallied up (so much for a two hour game). Having three amphorae helped William build up a large trading empire and having only one nation (Peter) on his borders wasn't attacked too much. It did no harm either that the neighbour was Peter who, busy expanding elsewhere, got no help while pointing out that William was the real threat hidden in the East.

The final score was close but William just beat James (62 pays 55 points) after a rout of Peter's army from his last Turkish holding in the final turn.

Friday, July 13, 2001

More feedback on my ethics dilemma:

Evil Gavin says: Nooooo don't do it!

Unfortunately Gavin is my son, so I have to think about setting him a good example and boring stuff like that....

John Toomey says:

When Christians celebrate Christmas, they celebrate the birth of Christ, not the fact that the pagan holiday Saturnalia was replaced by a Christian holiday in order that the enthusiasm which already existed could be harnessed (versus attempting to generate new enthusiasm).

When today's artists rave of a work of a past master, they revere its execution, conception, impact on audiences, etc. -- not necessarily the religious ideals which it represents.

When you use Tarot cards to play a game, you're celebrating the joy of a good design, not an archaic system of beliefs.

Thanks John, I like your phrase "celebrating the joy of a good design" - that's how I feel about some of the classics eg 1830 or Civilizaton.

Tom Synge says:

Your ethical dilemma is an interesting one. My initial reaction is strongly against the purchase. In the same way, I would not suggest that you go out and buy a ouija board even if it is a central feature of determining actions in Spiel des Jahres 2002!

My principal concerns are:

1 That other people might see you, a practising Christian, using a deck of tarot cards and draw incorrect conclusions, possibly along the lines of "oh, so tarot cards are fine then" or "Hmm, Peter is losing it".

2 That your family and friends could be influenced by your decision to use them - although your son is presumably old enough to make his own decisions.

3 That this is a subtle form of temptation via something that is close to your heart. Although you can say now that you are going in with eyes open, it could lead further.

I am not familiar with the game, but could you not make up a set of alternative cards with the same values and distribution?

Thanks a lot for that Tom. Actually the rules for Zarcana include a section about adapting a standard deck, so maybe this is the sensible route to go. I'm also thinking of ordering the $5 paper Icehouse set before I commit to the £30 plastic set.

It's great to get all this feedback - I did wonder if anyone was actually reading my weblog!

Thursday, July 12, 2001

Went to see Tomb Raider last weekend (my uncle made me go!) What a dismal, boring, monumentally stupid film. And what a wasted opportunity, too. This could have been a post-modern classic, playing with identity, virtual reality, gender, fame, and teen culture. We should have seen Lara playing a Playstation game where she has to get a spotty teenage virtual boy through his school day. We should have seen her having repeated nightmares of swimming through an underwater maze and drowning again, again, again. She should have said "I sometimes get this feeling I'm being controlled." She should have taken us on a guided tour of her home and taught us how to make her jump. She should have shot lots of dogs. She should have cut a lonely, slightly sad figure throughout the movie (instead of wandering around with a motley crowd of servants, commandos, villains, archaeologists etc.) We should have seen her on stage with a huge video wall behind her showing U2 dancing to her music.

What a waste. The Lucozade advert had more intelligence and humour in its 90 seconds than this whole tiresome movie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Don't forget the nimrod session at my place tomorrow evening. Planning to play Empires of the Ancient World. Email me for details.

Just found Chris Lawson's nice Euphrat & Tigris website. Mmmm! Maybe we should play this tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Blackwater Station is a great resouce for the 18XX enthusiast. It made me nostalgic - why don't we play these in Salisbury any more?
More feedback on my ethical dilemma (see 4 July) from Steve (of the excellent nutlog):

Well you asked for it. I think you should get the Deck ;).

This is an interesting poser for me because it's made me put myself in your shoes, and I may not entirely share your belief system. :) But it's good to have a challenge...

I think it's ok because you will be using the deck for gaming, rather than anything occult, which would contradict your belief system. Quite simply, meaning is more important than symbolism, and you won't be using the tarot deck for anything which goes against the 'meaning' of your beliefs. Though you may be uncomfortable with the symbolism, but I think that's more an aesthetic question than an ethical one ;).

Then it becomes an issue more like - 'Should I paint my bedroom blue or white?' - rather than a question of right or wrong.

This is the first advice I've had that tells me what I wanted to hear - so I guess I will follow it!

Steve doesn't share my belief system - but he also probably doesn't understand the force of the games-collecting compulsion that I'm subject to - so I guess these two factors balance out!

An interesting (but possibly irrelevant) aside is that Charles Williams (close friend of CS Lewis) wrote a terrific book based around the Tarot (but also rooted in Christian world-view) called "The Greater Trumps".

Anyway, voting currently stands at: 2 Against, 1 Wishy-washy-you-decide, and 1 For. Any more?
This page on the ManorCon website gives excellent descriptions (with pictures) of some of my favourite games of all time.

There's still time to book for ManorCon by the way. It's 20-22 July, it will cost you about £50, and you can cadge a lift up there with me and Dave. Don't miss it!

Monday, July 09, 2001

Another fantastic ebooks resource at Christian Classics Ethereal Library - only if you are interested in theology, I admit. As well as supplying books in Microsoft eBook Reader format, they have developed a variant of HTML called.......and this is not a wind-up........THML, or Theology Markup Language!

Friday, July 06, 2001

I've had two responses to my ethics dilemma (see below) so far. One dubious, one adamantly against. Rats. Come on all you woolly-minded liberal types, tell me it's OK to go ahead and buy the cards!

4 nimrods + 2 bottles wine + 2 euro games = fun evening. In the event Dave, James and John turned up last night. We played Carcassonne, which was excellent - simple rules, nice components, lots of brain-teasing decisions - and Wyatt Earp, which is Rummy with chrome, good fun, nice Wild West atmosphere.

Let's do it again next Thursday.

Thursday, July 05, 2001

Note to myself: The Civ Page has a colour image of the Civilization map including the Western Expansion. Edit it! Print it on cardstock! Use it!

Wednesday, July 04, 2001

I've been hit by a Gaming Ethics Dilemma!

Zarcana is a game of war, journeys, growth, life, and death. Icehouse pieces are your minions, spreading out across a world composed of tarot cards.

I really want to play this game - and all the other cool-looking games you can play with the Icehouse pieces. But I am a bit reluctant to get a Tarot deck. A long time ago when I became a Christian I threw away in disgust my trusty Tarot cards that I used for fortune-telling. 24 years later would it be wrong to buy a new deck - not for semi-occult purposes, but for wholly laudable nimrod purposes?

Advice on email please - I reckon you've got a couple of days before I crack anyway.....
Mike Nagel has just put together a very nice website for the Down In Flames series of games, well worth a visit!

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

More droolworthy news from GMT - I read on Consimworld today that they are developing a card-driven game about the Napoleonic wars, and that they have bought the rights to the Ancients version of Richard Borg's Battle Cry. Oh yummy!

And of course Wilderness War and Zero! are now available, and we can look forward to 30 Years War later this year, and Ted Raicer's Barbarossa to Berlin next year.

But if I think about it in terms of constraints on my time and money, all this is really bad news actually......

Monday, July 02, 2001

Here are a few photos of me abseiling for charity at work last Friday, looking slightly gripped I have to admit. It was great fun though, much better than sitting at my desk! I raised about £50 and my colleague Shameem bagged over £300 for Happy Child Mission - companywide it must have been a couple of thousand at least.