Thursday, January 31, 2002

If you haven't read this yet you ought to - Rebecca Blood's essay weblogs: a history and perspective. It just won her a Bloggies award.
I'm trying out something new today - I've ordered Triumph & Glory direct from GMT Games at their January sale price of $20. So I'll get it (if it arrives!) for less that £20, when it costs about £47 in the UK. I've always been interested in the Napoleonic Wars: this is a grand-tactical game by Richard Berg with simple rules and 5 different battles in the box, including Wagram and Austerlitz. Can't wait!

If this works out I will probably try P500ing a few games next.....

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

No nimrod session this week

As I am planning to spend the whole weekend playing Paths of Glory with Dave, I've decided to give Thursday evening a miss this week. Too much sitting at a gaming table is bad for me. Apologies if anyone was especially looking forward to this. I shall probably go dancing instead - woohoo!
Should I worry that I am strangely attracted to the idea of these Dice Towers? These hand-crafted Dice Towers are compact ( four and a half inches wide, seven and a half inches long and nine inches tall), sturdy and feature several attractive finishes. They insure a random roll every time, and you always know where the dice are going to land.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

I told Phil about another great track I heard on the radio the other day, "Caught in the Middle" by A1. I guess I was trying to notch up some credibility by discussing current music with him. "Dad!" says Phil, horrified, "That's a boy-band!"
I heard an amazing track on "Morning on 3" on the way into work today, called "Tribal Dance" from a CD called "African Dreams" on the Emotions label. Adrenaline-boosting rhythms threaded on interleaving drums. Not necessarily what you expect from Radio 3. No sign of this CD on Amazon. Rats.
Curse you Hopkinson!

Dave left a smug message on my Answerphone announcing he picked up GMT's Clash of Giants: Campaigns of Tannenberg and the Marne, 1914 at Esdevium Games last Friday. Not fair - I saw it first!
As a parent, I sometimes find myself tempted to replay to my kids word-for-word something that my parents once said to me. For example "Son, what do you think you look like?"

Monday, January 28, 2002

The Valkyrie, Coliseum, London - saw this yesterday. This review in the Independent is a bit carping, but it's spot on about Kathleen Broderick's cat-like, leather-clad Brünnhilde fizzing with energy.... Broderick's battle cries were fearless, her feistiness just what Wagner envisaged.

It was a really enjoyable afternoon, with an exciting sense of occasion. The Wagner nimrods were out in force, hanging on every note. The music was fantastic - a stunning sound from the orchestra - especially the last half hour with Wotan's heartmelting farewell to Brünnhilde.

Extra brownie points to Fiona who, though new to Wagner, sat patiently through the whole 5 hours without fidgeting or grumbling, and gave a
passable impression of enjoying herself.

I can't wait for the full production of the ENO Ring in 2004.

Friday, January 25, 2002

I got my 2nd edition Retro rules through from Minden games a couple of days ago. Amazingly prompt service, and a bargain at £6ish. They look really good - can't wait to get a Squad Leader scenario set up and give it a whirl. Now shall I do that tonight, or veg in front of Morse?
Quote from my lovely son Phil yesterday: "Your weblog is a middle-aged man's cry for help."
John and Dave turned up last night. We played Linie 1 which I have played several times now, it always leaves me cold, it left me cold again yesterday even though I won (winning usually makes me think very highly of a game!) The tile-laying bit is too confusing for me, I can't plot a strategy through all the chaos, then the actual race at the end is too much of a lottery.

Then I persuaded them to try an IceHouse game with my laboriously assembled paper IceHouse set. We played Trice, which is a cute three-way game of manouvre on a cramped triangular board. John kept saying "This is pointless", but he also kept demanding another game, so I think it was a moderate success.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Nearly forgot to mention the game of Successors which I enjoyed on Saturday at Nick's flat. The other contestants were John and Matt (an archaeologist, not a nimrod). Last time I played Successors I found it difficult and confusing. This time I enjoyed it more, in spite of being thoroughly and frequently stuffed by fate and the other players. I was Ptolemy, with Peithon based in Persia. I got him to march recklessly past John's and Nick's armies to link up with Ptolemy's army in Palestine. It worked, but I rashly decided to attack Nick, lost the battle, and spent the rest of the game languishing in the Underworld (actually it's the "Dispersed Box" but this is a game about the ancient world!) Every time I escaped from Hades I was promptly thrashed in another battle and sent back across the river to rejoin Achilles et al. on the sunless shore. I was quite impressed with Successors - this is a patriarch of the card-driven family of games which is so trendy at the moment, but with its ancient history theme and multi-player angle it's an attractive package. I'd like to try it again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Nimrod session this Thursday

You are invited to my place this Thursday at 8pm to release the inner child by playing silly boardgames. My suggestion is a rousing game of "Lord of the Rings" - if I can just get that stupid movie out of my head - or bring one of your own favourites along if you prefer. See you then!
Back at work today after two days off with a sneezy cold. Watched old films like "Goodbye Mr Chips", and played a few turns of "Thirty Years War". What a beautiful game! The graphics are colourful and use lots of heraldry. The gameplay is very colourful too - lots of bloody battles, sudden deaths, looting, seiges, wandering Spaniards, murdering Popes etc.

Here in the office my name has apparently been mentioned to Stephen Carter, the MD, in connection with clearing up database performance problems. This is very bad news, even if it's a good mention. My whole strategy for surviving corporate life is to keep a low profile. I want to be as invisible as possible, thankyou very much.

Friday, January 18, 2002

I got a very prompt email response from Gary Gruber at Minden Games this morning. He's putting 2nd edition Retro ASL in the post and says I can keep the 1st edition for my trouble. As he's obviously running the company for love not money I'm really impressed by the level of customer service I'm getting! I'll let you know what the rules are like - should give me an incentive to dust-off my Squad Leader boxes.....

Thursday, January 17, 2002

The Worm Ouroboros is back in print again! This is one of the most wonderful fantasy novels I have ever read. Eddison gives way only to Lewis and Tolkein in my pantheon. This book is like nothing else - it has a rich, alien flavour all of its own.
Yesterday was a good day for parcels. My stuff from PalmTec arrived - a lovely hard case in shiny red (just like my car), and a NiMH battery-charger (I'm tempted to call them NiMrod batteries). I decided there were two reasons I didn't use my Psion 5mx fully - I was afraid of carrying around with me in case I cracked the screen again, and I was too mean to use the backlighting and get through the batteries. Hopefully my parcel has addressed these two issues and I can now get the most out of my little computer.

I also got an envelope from Minden games. Pretty good - across the Atlantic a week after I ordered. Unfortunately they sent me the 1st edition of Retro ASL for some reason so I will have to badger them to send me the 2nd edition that I asked for.
I think I'm incubating a cold. You know that scratchy feeling at the back of the nose, occasional unexpected sneezes, an impression of being slightly disconnected from your surroundings - they all foreshadow the arrival of the full-blown viral infection. At least that explains my unhappiness and self-disgust of recent days. What a relief - I don't have emotions after all!

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

No session this Thursday

After a good start last week I'm afraid I will have to cancel this Thursday's gaming session. If you want an excuse I got dragged out to the Wyndham Arms last night by Nick and John, to "help" them lose a pub-quiz, so my Ceroc night got displaced to Thursday. Sorry. It's just a one-off interruption. Promise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

And a nice OPL tutorial too. I'm running out of excuses!
How nice of them! RMR Software - RMREvent: Basically the program is just a framework that carries out most of the actions that you will require, and calls procedures that just put a message on the screen telling you what has happened. In theory, all you need to do is put your own code inside those procedures and you will have a working program. Now obviously it is not going to be that easy, but then that is the joy of programming :-))
Yet again, the death of the relational database is announced, this time by Lazy Software. Looks very interesting actually: The associative model is the first database architecture designed to reflect the structure of data in the real world and the way that our brains perceive and process information.
I've been feeling a bit low over the last few days, a bit blue. Things that usually interest me - such as the web, blogging, my job, wargames - seem a bit dull and pointless at the moment. The circumstances of my life are pretty good, I haven't really got much to feel blue about. Besides, nimrods never admit to having feelings (except perhaps that feeling of gloating exultation over a defeated opponent) so I'd better shut up about it right now before I completely lose nimrod-cred......

Friday, January 11, 2002

Good fun last night playing Illuminati (not the CCG, the recent re-release of the original game) with Dave and John. Dave (attack! attack!) was temperamentally well suited to playing Cthulhu - he consumed the UN and the Orbital Mind Control Laser, among other things, before John (the Bermuda Triangle) inevitably achieved world domination (by taking control of the Boy Sprouts).
At last! I've found a Life program for the Psion. Let's see how fast this baby runs.....

Hmm. Fast enough, but it works with a finite and very small universe. Maybe I have to brush up my OPL programming skills after all.
Good grief! PsiLinux - Linux for Psion Computers.
John might be interested in this: psiMind - Mind Mapping for the Psion

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Here is Hensel's applet - and yes, it is very fast!
After a lot of searching I've come to the conclusion that there is no Conways Life program for the Psion 5. Years ago I wrote one for my Psion 3. It worked, and it had some nice features (like a "radar" screen) but it was fairly slow. I'd quite like to pick it up again for my 5mx. This guy - Hensel - has done a lot of thinking about writing a fast Life algorith. What's more, he's made it public! For blobby universes, one should probably consider dividing the universe up into blocks approximately the size of the blobs. For Life, 4x4 to 8x8 seem reasonable. I chose the upper bound, 8x8, for reasons of convenience: There happen to be 8 bits in a byte. I strongly considered 4x4, but it didn't work out as nice....
Don't tell Dave about The American Civil War from Eagle Games - big colourful map, simple rules, tons of plastic figures, yankees and rebels? - suit you Sir!

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

I received GMT's Thirty Years War last week. I've been a bit slack - I'm reading the rules but I haven't punched the counters yet. It looks beautiful. When I've read the rules I'll need these - first draft clarifications and errata posted on consimworld (spread over 3 postings).
New things I tried in 2001:

1) Singing. In January I went along to an Open Day held by the Basingstoke Choral Society, and never looked back. It has been wonderful to make music, not just listen to it. Over the year we did 4 concerts: Mozart's C minor Mass, "Friday Night is Music Night" on Radio 2, Faure's Requiem, and the Brahms German Requiem.

2) Blogging. 19th April saw the birth of "nimrods". I originally saw it as a way of reviving the wargames scene in Salisbury, which I suppose it has done in a small way. But it rapidly became a habit-forming way of talking to myself about myself. Is anyone else listening? Do I care? I'm hooked anyway.

3) Dancing. In early summer I hit the Ceroc dancefloor in spite of my remedial dancing abilities. This is now an indispensible part of my social routine. I've paid my dues in Beginners class and at long last I'm teetering hesitantly on the brink of Intermediate status.

4) Sailing. August saw me on the "Irene Jack", a traditional gaff-rigged lugger, fulfilling a long-held ambition to learn to sail. But I didn't anticipate this: it's actually quite boring.

5) Canoeing. My friend and canoeing fanatic Fiona took me on the Thames at Shepperton to learn how to paddle. Very good fun, but don't tell her I said so.

6) Paragliding. Well, a training weekend at ParAvion on Marlborough Downs was booked and turned up to, but stymied by the weather.

7) Trekking. In Nepal in December. The worst loos I've ever seen outside France. Massive mountains, a childhood dream to see the Himalayas fulfilled.

8) Gelling. A throwaway comment by a hairdresser led me to try this out....once. It didn't stick.

That's a lot of new experiences isn't it? Looks like a full-blown mid-life crisis to me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

James Lileks delivers a telling plug for the new iMac: Finally, I have to smile at the people who scoff at the movable screen - how many times do you have to reposition the screen? they ask. Well, at least once a week I call my wife in to look at a picture or a snippet of video, and to get the best angle she has to sit in my chair while I lean over and type commands. The pivotable screen is tailor-made for showing other people what you’ve done while you sit at the keyboard - a small thing, sure. Sure. But it confirms my suspicion: that bastard Jobs is watching me.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Nimrod Session - Thursday 10 Jan

Now that holidays, Christmas and New Year are out of the way, it's time to get back to the important things in life - playing games! Please come over to my home this Thursday by 8pm. Bring a Euro-game with you. (John, if you're coming perhaps you could bring Euphrat and Tigris?)

PS William (whose email is broken) wants to invite everyone over to his home in Portsmouth to play Civilization. He is suggesting a Sunday in the near future. Feedback to me please.
I spent most of yesterday up in the loft. I've only been in this house for three and a half years - how on earth did I accumulate so much junk in that time? I filled 5 or 6 black bags yesterday with stuff for the binmen and I'm only about half way through! The reason I'm clearing the loft out is to make space for games that I am clearing out of the shelves downstairs. Makes me wonder why I am shoving them up in the loft at all - might be more sensible to take them straight down to the charity shop. Even better, take them straight round to James' house - cutting out the middleman!

Friday, January 04, 2002

This chancer is offering two old SPI Middle Earth wargames on ebay - reserve price £500 each. No takers so far. Good! I hope his dog chews them up before he finds a sucker....
Salisbury Ceroc reopened last night after Christmas. I was there of course - it's been over 5 weeks since I last went, and I've really missed it. Last night was a bit of a special occasion as the club has moved to a bigger venue in Wilton to cope with increasing numbers. It's really nice as well, with a big dance-floor and a high arched ceiling that shows off the disco lights. Can't wait till next Tuesday for my next Ceroc fix!
OK, I confess - I like country music, and I listen to Radio 2. There, it's out in the open now. But go to BBC Radio 2 Country and listen to Lucinda Williams singing "Blue". Wonderful.
Andy Daglish who runs Discount German Games is planning to order a big parcel from GMT. Last time he did something like this was with Avalon Hill, when I picked up Battle Cry for about £30 (a hefty discount). But I did have to wait quite a few weeks to get my hands on it. Drop him an email if you want more details.

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Drool over this: a sneak look at the playtest map for WWII: Barbarossa to Berlin! (Just choose "guest access" when you get to the login screen.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Had a very enjoyable game of 1851 yesterday with Dave, Steve and John. 1851 is an 1830 variant set in Tennessee, designed to go faster than 1830. It only has 6 Corporations, which float when 50% of their stock is sold, but with only 50% capitalization. The Corporation must raise the rest by selling the remaining stock - which gives you an incentive to manage the company in a responsible fashion. It only took us 6 hours to complete the game, which is pretty good going for us. Mid-game Dave looked like the leader, but I had two companies running synergistically and got some very high-scoring runs organized, so in the end I was the winner, with Steve second, Dave third and John last. Nice way for a nimrod to start the year - thanks guys.