Wednesday, July 31, 2002

blogs4God is marvellous as a listing of Christian blogs, and of course it is itself a blog too. Moreover, it lists nimrods as a techlog and awards us a little green "COOL"!

Gosh, I'm in their Hits Top 10 list as well. nimrods - the 7th most popular Christian weblog on the planet! Musht be shome mishtake, surely......
Played Puerto Rico at John's place last night. Also present were Dave, Robin and Steve - good turnout. It took us over 2 hours to get about half-way through the game before Robin and I left, pleading work the next day. I know we were learning the game as we went along but, good grief, this was slow play guys! I guess I was spoiled at ManorCon by a weekend gaming with people who liked to crack on. Anyway, I propose new legislation to ban the following behaviours:

    Gazing into middle distance while the others wait for you to think. Finally jerking awake and saying "Is it my turn?"

    Requesting explanation of a rule that has just been explained.

    Requesting explanation of a rule that is clearly summarized right in front of you on the game board.

    Trying really hard to win even though this is "just a learning game".

    Giving a lengthy explanation of a rule that everyone already understands.

    Refusing to start a game until every rule and the implications of every rule have been exhaustively spelled out for you.

    Attempting to calculate ahead like a chess computer even when the game is clearly not susceptible to that kind of analysis.

    Offering unsolicited tactical advice to someone who has finally made his mind up - throwing him into fresh confusion.

    Gazing into middle distance while someone else has his turn. Finally jerking awake and demanding a detailed explanation of what just happened while you were dozing.

    Dozing between turns rather than planning your next move.

    Taking the whole business too damn seriously!

Maybe I need a break from this whole boardgaming business.......
Feeling a bit sick about this - Empires In Arms going on eBay has reached £51 already and 4 days still to go. I recently got rid of my copy for £10 at Salute. Sigh........

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Nepal at Night. Wonderfully evocative images, taken a while ago - the curfew would make it difficult these days. (via plep)

Monday, July 29, 2002

A few months ago I promised to let you know how I got on with GMT's P500 scheme. This is a system they devised to mitigate the risk of producing a new game by collecting preorders which provide the cashflow they need to produce the game. It also provides a way for the punters to "vote" for the titles they want to see produced.

On 27 Febuary this year I use GMT's online order form to preorder The Napoleonic Wars and Barbarossa to Berlin. On 28 February I was charged $38 for The Napoleonic Wars plus $8 for surface shipping. (On 8 April another $35 plus $8 was charged for Barbarossa to Berlin, but that's another story that hasn't concluded yet.) A few weeks ago The Napoleonic Wars started shipping and my copy arrived, well packaged and in perfect condition, on 25th July. So they had my money for 5 months before I actually received the game, but it only cost me £34 including postage (compared with £43 from The Games Store for example) and I had the satisfaction of helping GMT produce this fine wargame.

I'm very happy with P500 so far, so much so that today I preordered two more hopefuls - Europe Engulfed and Blue vs Gray. And before anyone says anything, this obviously didn't break my game-buying moratorium as these were preorders stupid!
David Warren on the Catholic kids waiting to see the Pope in Toronto:

The young today are, to a remarkable degree, looking beyond their parents for guidance, for their "role models" -- looking beyond that failed and lost generation of which I am a member. Reaching past their parents to what remains of their grandparents, and to the other old, to get some hint about how to live. They don't want to be "ironical", they don't want to take the easy way out, they don't want something for nothing; they yearn to become fully real.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Today's soundtrack

Stereophonics: Mr Writer
Doves: Words
A 16th century Galliard I heard on the radio this morning

I asked Phil about Doves the other day (trying to earn cred points). Phil: I know they're good. But I don't like them.
I have to face facts now. It's out of control.....

Rommel in the Desert arrived this morning. In my defence I could say that I paid for this weeks ago, it was an eBay bargain, it would have been silly not to get it. But that doesn't alter the facts - 4 new games in one week.

A self-imposed games-buying moratorium of several months is the only answer.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

BBC NEWS | Talking Point | What is the best view in Britain? Salisbury Cathedral, as seen from the watermeadows, is the loveliest view in Britain according to a vote in Country Life magazine.

It's also five minutes walk from my front door!
Bit embarrassing yesterday. Got home with my new copy of The Napoleonic Wars under my arm (it arrived at my work address) to find that Puerto Rico had also arrived, and of course there's my brand new Euphrat & Tigris on the coffee table as well. And Phil and Simon sitting there being sarcastic about my games-buying habit. But this is just a temporary blip, honest!

The Napoleonic Wars looks splendid, by the way. Lovely map counters and cards. And the Battle Book is magnificent, stuffed with scenarios, strategy articles, designer notes and an example of play, beautifully produced. Reminds me of the level of support documentation that came in-the-box with Advanced Civilization. I'm very excited about this one....
Guardian Unlimited is launching the first competition to find the best British weblog. The winner will receive a cash prize of £1,000 and five runners-up will receive £100 each.

Hmm, how will I spend all that money?

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Chris Farrell's Homepage is well worth a look especially if you have a broadband connection - lots of nice photos of wargames in progress.
Last weekend's visit to Manorcon was very enjoyable as usual. But you might wonder why when you see my results:

Clash of Giants: 2nd of 2
Puerto Rico: 5th of 5
Settlers: 4th of 4
Civilization: 3rd of 5
Elfenroads: 4th of 4
Empires of Ancient World: 3rd of 4
Chrononauts: not 1st of 3

Dave spent a lot of the weekend playing Paths of Glory (and losing). The only one from Salisbury who showed any sign at all of gaming ability was William who won a game of Settlers.

Game of the convention this year was definitely Puerto Rico, a wonderful, absorbing business game which can be played in under 2 hours. I bought a copy, along with a shrink-wrapped Euphrat & Tigris in the second-hand games sale. I didn't take any to sell this year so pressure on my storage space continues to build up.

Also I took along some little business-card sized ads for nimrods, and William took it into his head to start fly-posting copies of this website all over the Convention. So if you're visiting this site for the first-time after picking up a card at ManorCon, here's a warm welcome - hope you'll visit again.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

It was just like the old days - on Tuesday we had an evening games session at John's place. We played El Grande which I find very puzzling for some reason (no suggestions what the reason is please). First time I played it I didn't even realize I was losing. This time I understood enough to know I was losing. Maybe next time I will understand why I am losing?

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

This is a wonderful, detailed article about the connections between Star Wars and Wagner's Ring, two of my favourite artworks:

There is one central premise, however, that unites the two works: The interest in myths. Wagner's Ring was certainly an attempt to reinterpret, re–present, and even to analyse several of the Teutonic, northern European myths, as well as a tremendously successful attempt to create a new myth for the modern man. Star Wars may lack the analytic approach of Wagner, but it shares the goal of representation and creation of a new, accessible, mythical world. The enormous success and the huge cult following is proof enough that the film series to a large degree has succeeded in this. More than 20 years after the initial release of Episode IV, the Star Wars series is a daily, living presence in the minds of thousands of people; it has indeed become a modern myth.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Blogjam's random kitten generator will melt the hardest heart.....
15 ways to refute materialistic bigotry: A point by point response to Scientific American - read it now, before Scientific American's lawyers get this article removed! (via Relapsed Catholic)
A useful review of Guerilla, which I am thinking of taking up to ManorCon, if I can find time to read the rules again. In classic Avalon Hill fashion, it's a simple, fun game with complex rules that are no fun at all!

Monday, July 15, 2002

Ten Reasons to dislike Thirty Years War from Bruno Piqueur, of the Red Barons club in Ghent. Lots of other interesting stuff on this website too.
Woohoo! Only four days until ManorCon, my annual pilgrimage up to Edgbaston to play boardgames with about 300 sweaty nimrods at Lake Hall. ManorCon is run by the postal Diplomacy hobby (what's left of it) but lots of people, me included, tend to avoid the harrowing experience of face-to-face Diplomacy and go for more relaxing alternatives, like a 10-hour Advanced Civilization session (I'm looking forward to my annual fix!) William and Dave are coming along too, ready to overspend in the bring-and-buy.

Which games shall I take along (to play not sell)? Not too many I think - don't want to spend the whole weekend explaining rules to people. But I will probably take:

Empires of the Ancient World
Rise of the Luftwaffe/Eighth Air Force
Battle Cry

Hmm, that's too many already. Have to thin this list out a bit.
Top 30 UK Blogs. Or something. Lists the most popular British weblogs, but does not include blogspot sites (like mine). Doubt I'd make the list even if it did....

Friday, July 12, 2002

The usual griping on ConSimWorld about who is still waiting to get his copy of "The Napoleonic Wars" from GMT, produced the following post from the designer Mark McLaughlin:

Gene's shipping method is very fair. Gene is a real Christian and a man of God. So he takes all the order slips, throws them into the air, and let's God sort out the shipping order.
Why bother with all that tedious painting? Cardboard Heroes:

An often-requested reprint is our Cardboard Heroes line . . . beautifully drawn full-color stand-up figures. Much cheaper than miniatures, and more convenient too!

More to the point, a useful place to buy those little plastic stands there aren't enough of in The Napoleonic Wars apparently.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Have a look round Bruno's Titan Home Page too.
Really excellent strategy tips for Titan from David desJardins. I'm amazed he was actually willing to give all this away! One of those articles that makes you itch to play the game again. Also makes me glad that Dave (my usual Titan opponent) hasn't got Internet access.
William pointed me to Fiendish Games who are a sort of British Cheapass Games. Breaking Away is their most famous title, but the one I like the look of is Office Politics.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Gavin's graduation ceremony at Bristol University yesterday was very impressive, and Gavin looked rather splendid in his gown and red hood (except for his 'I'm an idiot' hairdo which will live on in memory and his graduation photos). Shame about the rain. A bonus highlight of the day was buying lots of cheap CD's from FOPP and Replay on Park Road. I went on a nostalgia splurge with Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Roxy Music, Hendrix and Motown stuff, as well as Kula Shaker and Mark Knopfler. All for about £35. Would have cost twice that on Amazon.

Monday, July 08, 2002

christian counterculture: nice web design, not sure about the premise. You can go too far with antithesis (ie saying the opposite).

OK, it wasn't a convention really - it was just me visiting Nick in Portsmouth for an intensive Thirty Years War session. We also went to Southsea Models and had an enjoyable time browsing through their gloriously chaotic stock of second-hand and new games. I bought a handful of teeny dice (for marking hits in Titan) and a Magic the Gathering starter set (I know, I know - shoot me now).

I've always been very fastidious about looking after my games, and have often criticised Nick for his cavalier attitude to his. Imagine how mortified I was when I spilled a glass of wine (white thankfully) over his brand-new copy of Thirty Years War! It made one end of the map go all crinkly, and soaked into a few counters too. I was mortified, but Nick was very gracious. I am contacting GMT to see if I can get hold of a replacement map - let's see if their famous customer-service can come up trumps.

We were playing the campaign game, which was very tense and enjoyable, and ended with a Protestant (Nick) victory by a single point. We finished the evening with a few rounds of Magic, which was surprisingly enjoyable. I don't know why I'm surprised really, the game is so popular, there must be something good about it.

After a good night's sleep and breakfast we had another crack at Thirty Years War - this time the short Intervention Scenario, which was won by the Catholics (me) this time.

Many thanks to Nick for a fun weekend (and sorry again about the map - I'll never criticize your gamecare habits again!)

Friday, July 05, 2002

Intifada fatigue hits Palestinians:

In their silent cities – with the exception of Jericho, all Palestinian urban areas in the West Bank are under Israeli-imposed curfew – Palestinians are criticizing Arafat and the bombers in ways they would not have done just three months ago.

"I feel a bitter sadness to be separated from [Issa], my youngest brother, who was the hope of this house" says Khalid Budair, sitting on a tattered couch on the porch of the family's home in Bethlehem. "We all thought Issa would be the one to pursue higher education. And instead he straps bombs around himself."

In another Bethlehem home, Amer Daraghmeh, whose brother Mohammed carried out a suicide bombing outside a Jerusalem synagogue in March that killed 11 Israelis, scorns the militants who trained Mohammed. "May God forgive them," he says.
I sometimes feel like Strider in my job. Down there in the sunlit Shire are all the hobbits, beavering away in their cosy little projects, happily unaware of the Wild World outside. And I'm the lonely Ranger, roaming the cold hills, battling with the dark monsters - service packs, name resolution problems, security issues, network protocols, database performance, replication, space problems etc etc. And little thanks we get from the halflings for our lonely vigil.

I was feeling grumpy about it but actually, that's quite cool!
Alexander Fritz runs a bilingual blog that talks about chess - that's a boardgame right? - and music and has the google-friendly name sex and sunshine.
Robert Fisk talking sense for once:

Deprived of political freedom, isolated from the world of ideas, repressing their women, and with science and development stunted, the Arab world will find it difficult to fault the conclusions of a UN report which all too accurately sums up the barren, ossified life of so many Arab countries. (via Americans for a Third Way)
So here it is at last - nimrods has a tribute site: nimrods jnr. At least I think it's meant as a tribute....

To be totally honest, I am just doing this to show my idiot father that he is not the only person in the world with too much time on his hands. I also possess enough grey matter to write a couple of garbage sentences capable of entertaining a simple mind.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

The Guardian has a great list of weblogs including a good number of British bloggers. I'll be working through this for days.
Gavin's in America today - the glorious Fourth of July - the jammy so-and-so! Hope he's got the sense not to mouth any of his arch-monarchistic sentiments for the day.
About 6 weeks ago I won an auction on eBay for a shrinkwrapped copy of Clash of Giants. It finally arrived yesterday! I was buying from a guy in the States, and opted for surface shipping to save money. OK it was quite a long wait, but I got this excellent game in mint condition for £21, which would have cost me about £41 from a dealer in the UK. So go on, give eBay a try, there are some bargains out there!
The designers of Europe Engulfed are very enthusiastic about promoting their game. Jesse Evans even went to the lengths of emailing an obscure blogger in Salisbury:

As co-designer of Europe Engulfed (with Rick Young) I'd like to thank you for posting info about the game on your website.

You sounded as if you were on the fence regarding ordering EE so I thought I'd give you a little push!

First off there is always room for another ETO game and Europe Engulfed is completely unique. It uses blocks for a fog of war effect but takes little else from the Columbia style system, in fact, design was started back in 1990 while Rick and I were waiting for Columbia to release Eastfront.

Our top goals in designing the game were:

1) It must be a serious simulation of the ETO.
2) It must be playable in a day.
3) It must be fun and present the players with the same challenges faces by the actual leaders.

We feel we have achieved those goals - even though a 10-14 hour day is a little long, we usually finish the game on the lower end of that scale. Setup is quick (15 minutes) with free deployment and the entire game moves along at a quick pace. Politics, strategic warfare, and naval warfare are covered with unique subsystems that allow the players to have full control but take up as little time as possible so you can focus on the ground conflict.

I've attached a pdf of the draft rulebook so you can get a detailed feel for how the game works.

Also GMT has added a example of play to their P500 page covering the opening turn as Germany invades Poland.

Finally there is a rather lengthy discussion board (over 1000 posts) on Comsimworld - under Boardgaming/Era: World War II (Individual Game) / Europe Engulfed - that includes some after action reports.

Monday, July 01, 2002

I've just finished an excellent history of the War in North Africa which I picked up from the charity book table outside Tesco. It's called "The Desert Generals" by Corelli Barnett (1960), and as well as being a vivid telling of the story it's also an angry polemic against Monty, and an attempt to make the case for his hero Auchinleck. I wasn't completely convinced. I think Auchinleck deserved to carry the can for the defeats at Gazala and Tobruk, after all he appointed Ritchie and was too nice to give him the boot even though his incompetence was costing the lives of thousands of our soldiers in the disasters of 1942.

Here's a good quote on the state of the British Army at the start of the War:

It is generally true that an army is an extension of society; military disaster is often national decline exposed by the violence of battle. Examples are Imperial Russia and Austria-Hungary in the First World War, France in the Second. Any army thus reflects in sharp focus the social structure, the state of technological progress and the creative vigour of a society.

This is what worries me more than anything about the current crisis. Have we as a society got the stomach for a fight against our new Islamic-extremist enemies, or have we been so eroded from within by post-modernism and a refusal to make value judgements that we no longer have the will to defend ourselves?