Friday, June 28, 2002

Colin's Dune Page is an unofficial fan-site for the legendary Avalon Hill game Dune.
Detailed instructions for making inserts to fit together multiple Battle Cry boards for big scenarios. Classic nimrod behaviour this.
Phil writes:

Hey dude, Your weblog is now simply a plugging device for GMT or whatever! It's pretty fluffy, trite stuff you know. What happened to your thoughts? And what happened to mentions of me - I was what kept the damn thing exciting!

Well, it's easy to criticize. It's not easy to have something interesting to say every day you know.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Another exciting new title on GMT's P500 list is Europe Engulfed, a strategic WW2 game that uses Columbia-style blocks and area movement and can (allegedly) be played in a day. There are maps and photos at this website. It can be pre-ordered for $69 which is likely to be an amazing bargain, but do I really need another ETO game when Barbarossa to Berlin is arriving on my doorstep in another month or so? It's not easy being tormented by this games acquisitiveness....

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

The GMT site is well worth a visit this week - for the newly posted sneak peeks at the Barbarossa to Berlin map and the Napoleonic Wars map, as well as a whole raft of new games announced on P500. This list includes the mighty Rise of the Roman Republic (Volume 1 of "The Ancient World"):

The Ancient World is actually the name for a (projected) massive series of games that will cover virtually every war and campaign in ancient history on the same scale and scope that the legendary "Europa" series did for WWII. Each game and module in the series will add maps, units and all the personalities that will enable gamers to play, in some (but not daunting) detail their favorite periods.

Not sure I would ever go for a monster like this, but I'm glad that such projects are still undertaken.
Howard Jacobsen relentlessly dissects Cherie Blair's recent comment:

Which brings us to the assumption – almost an idée fixe now, in some quarters – that between hopelessness and murder there is no moral or behavioural transition worth talking about. "As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up" etc etc. No hope but to – how trippingly off the tongue that comes. How trippingly off the tongue it has been coming since 11 September, when the world woke to many surprises, not the least of them being a whole new system of measuring longevity of suffering and patience. People were fed up. People had had enough. What do you expect? Of course they flew planes into the World Trade Centre, what else were they meant to do? Not nice, of course not nice, but... The new "but", hacking away at our every compunction. No hope but to.

Monday, June 24, 2002

What happened to the secret handshakes and the secret knowledge and the secret codes and the dread secret occult rituals?

A large yellow banner I saw near Reading today: "Masonic Open Day".

Friday, June 21, 2002

Talking of close shaves, Gavin got his degree result today. A day of results. Shame England couldn't swap their 2-1 with Gavin's 2-2!
An even closer shave back in 1908 was the Tunguska event
Scary diagram shows just how close that asteroid came on 14 June.
Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense (via Relapsed Catholic) Good article, though it does resort to a bit of mudslinging. And there's also some tacit question-begging, eg: "Creation science" is a contradiction in terms. A central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism--it seeks to explain the universe purely in terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms.
I was really pleased when I got a Father's Day present from Gavin - "The Man Who Wasn't There" on DVD. And then I thought, "Wait a minute, is that a comment on my parenting skills?"

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Game Preserve: Rommel in the Desert - I've just won an auction for this on eBay for a song. Only 800 copies were ever produced. It's also reputed to be a very fine game, using wooden blocks instead of cardboard counters to simply reproduce fog-of-war effects.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

I think I'll listen to a CD. Mmm, that sounds great - lovely stereo.

Now I'm in the car I'll put the radio on. Wonderful, I can still hear it with the window open.

And if I sing along my voice isn't the only thing in the universe I can hear.

Hi, I think I'll have a conversation with you. As I can hear what you're saying I can really enjoy talking to you.

Wow, listen to those birds singing outside. Isn't that beautiful.

(Sorry. I had my ear syringed this morning, and I'm enjoying a few things I haven't experienced for weeks.)

Monday, June 17, 2002

I really can't do WW2 tactics.

On Sunday John organised one of his amazing figures wargaming events. It was set in Russia, Winter 1943. William and I were Soviet commanders entrusted with organising a Corps advance on Kharkov. Phil was putting together a scratch defence for the Germans. John briefed us without letting us see the terrain, and asked me (as the Corps commander) for a plan and written orders before we had any knowledge of what we were facing or where. My orders from higher up had emphasized the necessity for speed, so we decided to race down the central road and deal with opposition as it came up. William was commanding the first unit onto the table, an armoured brigade, which crossed the first river then immediately ran into devastating crossfire from AT guns Phil had posted in two flanking villages that we had planned to ignore. After half an hour William had lost most of his brigade, and the "killing ground" between the villages was littered with burning vehicles. I wasn't impressed with his performance, but he had the cheek to blame the disaster on my orders!

Next on was a motorised infantry brigade which I took command of in person (William was being interviewed by the commissar at this point) which I detrucked for a proper assault on the Northern village, while our remaining tank brigade would take out the Southern one. Ominously Phil received a couple of Tiger tanks as reinforcements at this point, but he had already done a tremendous job - a couple of well-sited AT guns with a handful of infantry had stopped a Soviet Corps in its tracks.

This was an immersive wargaming experience - loads of atmosphere and tension, confusion and fog-of-war in abundance. Many thanks to John for putting it on.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Phil writes: Discursive is a simple word. I used the words "synthesis" and "equilibrium" in my sociology essay, as well as "prima facae" and "per ce".

Good try Phil, but next time try prima facie and per se.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

I was on the phone to Phil yesterday and he used the word discursive. Just casually, as part of a sentence. No fanfare, or consciousness that he was using a clever word. Discursive - my boy - wow.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Rats! A while ago I gave Nick my copy of SPQR. It has since become a valued rarity - for example this copy on eBay which is being sold by Richard Berg the designer no less, has already reached £55 with over a day to go. Curse that foolish generous impulse!

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Ever wondered why anti-aircraft guns were called "ack-ack"? The answer is hidden in this Phonetic alphabets reference, but I wonder why they weren't called "apple-apple" guns by the Navy?

Monday, June 10, 2002

Gavin to me on the phone just now:

I don't like it when you talk about women Dad, it makes me feel funny.

Well, how do you think I've felt for the last 10 years listening to the hormone-stoned lust-crazed rantings of two teenage boys?
David Warren has a fascinating theory about what is really wrong with the Islamic world:

For in the face of almost all the appearances, I have come to at least the hunch that the Muslims today are in something like the fix of the Christians (and the Jews, for that matter). That while it is true there are cells of believers, for the most part faith has been lost. That religious observance continues outwardly as it did in, for instance, late Victorian England, but inwardly people no longer believe, have gone "beyond belief".
I thought I had a problem with my overflowing bookcase full of games. John Kisner already has five bookcases and, looking forward, is budgeting for at least eight by the time he retires!

Friday, June 07, 2002

I watched Blade Runner again earlier this week. Something was puzzling me about the film so this morning I went to Google and typed "What does the unicorn mean in Blade Runner?". First on the list was this amazing Blade Runner FAQ which told me exactly what the unicorn means. How could I have missed that?
I hate punching counters. Have you any idea how many counters there are in this stupid game? I hope I never see another unpunched counter sheet in my life.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

The Tao of Nimrod

Punching counters is therapeutic. I've been rushing around getting tired, but had a lovely quiet evening yesterday, listening to music and punching out counters from Triumph and Glory. I even had a go at clipping the corners - in a very minimal way, before you say anything James, just using a sharp penknife to trim the tiniest whisker of card off each corner. End result is very pleasing piles of shiny counters being shaken into shiny new ziplock bags. Sigh.......

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

I spent the whole weekend up a ladder, painting window-frames and drainpipes. But when I wasn't up a ladder I was continuing the struggle against Phil in Paths of Glory. And it was a struggle. He had me seriously worried until Winter 1916 when he finally slipped up and allowed the Serbs into Austria through the backdoor, isolating three armies, and a couple of French armies whipped round his Southern flank in France to isolate another one.

And Dave came over for Clash of Giants. We played Tannenburg, and I managed to lose as the Russians. A wonderfully fun wargame, a nailbiting to-and-fro tussle right to the end.