Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Terminal City Gamers have a very nicely put together website which is basically in weblog format, only they don't seem to be aware of it!
I'm suddenly getting lots of hits this week, about three times my normal number of visitors. I've no idea who you all are or why you're visiting - I must have got a mention somewhere I guess - but welcome! Hope you'll find something of interest and pop back from time to time.
I've got the week off. Not planning to spend much time in front of the computer - I've got exciting things to do! Like painting the house, filling in my tax return, camping in Wales etc.....

But I should tell you about the Napoleonic Wars session we had on Monday. Dave (typecast as the aggressive Corsican), Simon as Russia (supposed to be a quiet sector while he learned the ropes), Nick (the patriot) as Britain, and me holding the line as Austria. The first game finished after one turn with a French victory. We had lunch then set it up again. This time it went for nearly three turns before we had to break up for the evening. There were a couple of highlights - the epic march of Austria's John who took Marseilles, torching the French fleet, then spent impulse after impulse evading a ring of vengeful French armies, crossing the Alps no less than 3 times before his fate caught up with him. And the surpise march of the Turks across the Apennines to Naples - whose garrison was so startled that it immediately took flight, even though it outnumbered its attackers! As Nick had left Simon spent the last part of the game handling the Russians, Austrians, Prussians and Turks (so much for a quiet sector) and was in a commanding position by the time we quit.

What a great game this is! Full of incident and twists of fortune. Not a simple game to master, but well worth the effort.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Looney Labs are finally shipping their new game Nanofictionary:

Where are we?
Who is there?
What's going on?
And how is it all going to end?

These are the crucial questions each player answers, choosing from the cards they're dealt to tell a very short story. Players combine and recombine Settings, Characters, Problems and Resolutions to create the best story they can, while other players mix things up with wacky Action cards. Everyone votes for their favorites, including onlookers, and the winner is the player who's story garners the most points!

Some imagination required.

This looks really intriguing to me. The storytelling aspect might not appeal to some of the hard-core wargamers around here. But after all, what is RPG but telling an elaborate story?
Nappy FAQ ~ at last! The answers to every dumb question that you ever thought of asking about The Napoleonic Wars and an awful lot that you never thought of too. Clears up everything I was confused about. Plus loads of strategy tips, comments on the cards etc. A bit overwhelming - best don't attempt to read unless you've played the game a couple of times.
Lots of good advice at including this:

Remember the two essential rules of motorway driving: maintain a safe following distance (two seconds between you and the vehicle in front is the minimum safety gap) and exercise good lane discipline. Traffic on motorways usually travels faster than on other roads, so you have less time to react. Look much further ahead than usual and use your mirrors early and regularly.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

David Warren continues his persuasive apologia for the War on Terrorism:

It strikes me that out of real intellectual humility, Mr. Bush has "drifted" into the boldest, most counter-intuitive of all the possible courses of action: a project to re-align the United States explicitly with every opposition force that can be found within the Middle East, no matter how small, that aspires to democratic constitutional reform; and to gradually manoeuvring the full power of the U.S. behind them. In other words, truly digging to the root cause of terrorism: which is the intellectual and material enslavement of the Arab and Persian masses.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I wonder why Ceroc is always on a week-night?

It was great fun last night, dance-floor very crowded, very very warm (high fluid loss), and lots of invitations to dance given and received. And the moves we learned in the intermediate class were fairly challenging. And it was all on top of a pretty busy day in the office. But I wouldn't have missed it.

I just feel shattered today.

I need a day off to recuperate.
The Froy Marriage Test: Taken from How To Avoid Matrimony by Herald Froy (1957)

This online quiz for bachelors is of course unacceptably rude to the fairer sex, but very funny nevertheless. (via Nick Denton)
To my shame I'm only just becoming aware (thanks to blogs4god) of the growing wave of persecution being suffered by Christians in Indonesia at the hands of the Laskar Jihad.

Christianity Today Magazine - Christian Villages Burn Again in Central Indonesia:

"The sound of automatic weapons was coming from every direction mixed with the hysterical voices of mothers calling for their children, and shrieks of fear from the children," said the Rev. Vence Waani, pastor of the Sepe Pentecostal Church. "The flames were engulfing the houses. It was a scene of horror."

Waani, his wife, and child were forced to flee the burning village as attackers fired volleys of bullets behind them. They did not see their newly-rebuilt church burnt down.

By 8:30p.m., the village of Sepe was gutted. The Sepe Pentecostal Church and the Eklesia Protestant Church were destroyed.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Another WilliamCon report, this time from the man himself:

A new war cry has been added to the Nimrods vocabulary. On Sunday 6 nimrods came down to Gosport to play games and watch the Red Arrows fly by the Tall Ships. Everyone arrived at about 10:30 we tried to decide which games we could play with 7 people. However once everyone saw Escape From Atlantis we decided to split into teams and play that instead. We laid the board out and Dave started to make alliances with Robin (so that he would later have some to break) and John started analysing the probabilities of making it to the coral reefs. I was forced to point out that this was a game made by Waddingtons for Ages 8 and up and "This is a Waddingtons game!" was shouted out a few times in the game, notably when people mistook it for diplomacy or dithered on a move. Maybe it was a mistake to let wargamers loose on such a game but we all really enjoyed it and would play it again. (Robin won by acting innocent while John and Simon made too many enemies, Steve and myself were beset by Octopi and Dave and Peter came a close second through good use of boats.)

After the game we made our way to the sea and watched a stunning display by the Red Arrows and had a very nice lunch in a pub next to the ferry. After lunch we saw the last of the tall ships leave (under engine power, not sail sadly) and returned to my house for some ice cream and more games.

In the afternoon we played Formule De and raced around Laansvort with Steve cruising in to a comfortable first place and John coming from the back of the race to take a surprise second place. (Apparently something to do with following his Granny’s advice about starting off cautiously and then going for it.) I came in third and everyone else finished too apart from Robin who gave up a promising position to play in the sand on the last corner. In our second game Steve again crossed the line turns ahead of a much closer race in the bunch for second place. I came in second with Dave (in a redesigned car) a very close third. The rest of the bunch arrived the following turn apart from Robin who slowed down to saunter in at a much more leisurely pace.

The day wound up with a couple of quick games of Jenga and Camel Back before everyone went home.

Monday, August 19, 2002

WilliamCon was excellent. William's new home, despite being in Gosport, is very pleasant with a quiet relaxing atmosphere. There were seven of us attending on Sunday morning - myself, John, Robin, Dave, Steve, Simon and our host. We started with a game of Escape from Atlantis which was great fun. I loved the disappearing plastic island and all the sea monsters, sharks, giant octopuses etc. And the game lends itself to the nasty spiteful dealings that appeal to our group so much! Robin won, I think, but most of our little men got eaten or drownded.

We wandered out into the sunshine to watch a spectacular display from the Red Arrows. Then lunch in a pub - unfortunately by the time we left the pub all but one of the tall ships had set sail. Oh well! Back to William's for two games of Formula De, both of which were won very convincingly by Steve, who is clearly World Champion material.

A really enjoyable day out. Thanks William.
Ted Raicer, the designer, has posted a new Scenario for Barbarossa to Berlin. Here it is:

A short "Blitzkrieg" Scenario for BtB:

This scenario ends at the instant the Total War cards are dealt into the game (so no need to actually deal them in), unless of course the Axis win an Automatic Victory before that. (An Allied Automatic Victory in this period is hardly possible.)

At the end of the scenario the Axis player wins if he has 17+ VPs. 16 or less and the Allies win. The Axis player will have to be aggressive to win this scenario, more aggressive than might be wise in the campaign game (but then he doesn't have to suffer the effects of overreaching since it only covers the period of the Axis High Tide). If desired for balance, I suggest bidding VPs to play the Allied side, said VPs not to count for Automatic Victory.

And Ted reports on a game in progress starting with this post.

Just keeping myself happy with this stuff until the game itself arrives.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Is there anything that you can't find on the web these days? Some Narnian book covers by Pauline Baynes. I loved these illustrations as a child and I love them still. I was looking for inspiration for a children's talk that I have to do in church next week. Now I've found the pictures, let's think up some spurious reason for using them.......

Friday, August 16, 2002

Gizmodo : The Gadgets Weblog

Gizmodo is a weblog dedicated to everything related to gadgets, gizmos, and cutting-edge consumer electronics. It's edited by Pete Rojas, a journalist who writes about technology for Wired, Salon, Red Herring, and the Guardian, and backed by Nick Denton.

....and it's a serious attempt to make blogging pay.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Phil got his A-level results today.

What Phil needed: ABB
What Phil got: ABB

Fantastic. So he's all set to go off to Exeter Uni, his first choice. Nice warm feelings.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

William sent me directions for getting to his house in Portsmouth. Here's an excerpt:

If you drive past a submarine or a church ring me, you're lost.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Ran through a turn of The Napoleonic Wars with Dave last night. Even though it was just a learning game, we had great fun with this. I assembled a big Austro-Russian Army Group to challenge Napoleon's march on Vienna, only to have the whole lot sent home to the Regroup Box (Napoleon as well) by a Shortage of Fodder. Laboriously reassembled the Army Group only to have it stopped dead in its tracks by an attack of Dysentery! A highlight for me was sending the British into Bordeaux on a reckless cutting-out expedition. I destroyed the French squadron at anchor, but lost 3 British squadrons in the process - and Jack Aubrey always made it seem so easy!

What a great game! More complex than the 4-rating on the box suggests. Can't wait to try it out multiplayer.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Mark Steyn makes the case for the invasion in The Spectator:

When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warns the BBC that a US invasion of Iraq would ‘threaten the whole stability of the Middle East’, he’s missing the point: that’s the reason it’s such a great idea. Suppose we buy in to Moussa’s pitch and place stability above all other considerations. We get another 25 years of the Ayatollahs, another 35 years of the PLO and Hamas, another 40 years of the Baathists in Syria and Iraq, another 80 years of Saudi Wahabbism. What kind of Middle East are we likely to have at the end of all that? The region’s in the state it’s in because, uniquely in the non-democratic world, it’s too stable. It’s the stability of the cesspit.
James must be getting tired of ASL. He has recommended Mark H. Walker's Lock & Load which is a projected ASL-alike for middle-aged guys: a 10-page rule book for busy family men, big counters with big numbers for tired old eyes. Looks appealing. Only trouble is it seems that it will be a DTP effort, so these shaky old hands would have to do lots of pasting and cutting out.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

David Aaronovitch says we have not met the conditions for starting a war against Saddam in which we are certain to kill civilians.

Saddam is not Hitler; he is not Nasser; he is Saddam and that is bad enough. His Tikrit gangstocracy is among the nastiest regimes in the world; he has invaded two nations, enslaved his own people, built and used biological and chemical weapons and tried to build nuclear ones; and there is nothing in his record to suggest that he is amenable to diplomacy. This is the man who refused to budge from Kuwait between August 1990 and January 1991 when the air war began, and then refused to budge when the ground campaign started. When retreating, he set fire to the oil fields. We could probably do the Iraqi people no greater favour than removing Saddam and giving them a chance to build again.

But we can't. And we can't because the church people are right. Wars are very particular things and civilised nations can't just have them when they feel like it or when they feel they have run out of options. Wars have to be justified, overwhelmingly, by a conviction that the alternative to war is actually worse. And that conviction must be widely held, as it was after 11 September in the case of Afghanistan.

I think David is right. And for me just as serious an objection is that the Iraq project is a distraction from the real task of fighting al Qaeda and the sponsors of Islamic terrorism. It betrays a dangerous lack of focus on the real dangers that face us. The priorities in the war on terrorism should be applying pressure to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and the Palestinians, not settling an old grudge from the years before Sept 11.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Will you deed your computer over to Microsoft or wean yourself from your Microsoft dependence? (via Scripting News)
This is fantastic for a games fiddler like me: Plastics for Games Ltd. They have all sorts of dice, counters, different shaped game pieces, and even sand-timers (which would very useful for our group in Salisbury). I fancy getting their sample box - one of everything for £30. The challenge - design a game that uses everything in the box!

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Not much gaming action recently. I've been slowly punching out The Napoleonic Wars and reading the rules. I'm very very impressed by this game, the rules look very tightly written, lots of good ideas for game mechanics, looking forward to setting it up and playing through the example of play. But I'd better shut up about this as William has been complaining that I have become a mouthpiece for GMT games.

Game session planned at John's place tonight. Hopefully we'll play Puerto Rico again. Hopefully we'll play a bit faster than last time.

Friday, August 02, 2002

Steven den Beste is spot on in this analysis of why we were attacked. It was nothing to do with American foreign policy - it was American ideas.

We have no problem living side by side with them, but to Islamic extremists we are a stark danger – and we would remain a stark danger even if we militarily disengaged from the world, stopped supporting Israel, and made all the other concessions that some suggest we should. Because it isn't the Third Armored division which they fear; it's television and radio and fashion and the Internet. It's bikinis and Saturday night dates; it's rock-and-roll. It's comfortable clothing. It's Saturday in the park, and hanging out at the mall after school. And it's our women, our damnably independent women, who not only demand equality with men but have proved that they deserve it by performing just as well as men. They fear our women, because they fear their own women.

In actuality, they attacked us out of self defense, as they viewed it. They were attempting to defend their faith against the heretical influence of our culture, and the slow but sure way that it is destroying what they see as the true practice of Islam. And as long as we believe in things like freedom of expression, and freedom of behavior, then to a greater or lesser extent we will continue to eat away at the roots of Islamic culture simply by existing.
GMT are running an August sale - worth a look if you are willing to order from the US. I've had very good experience so far with GMT shipping across the Atlantic.

So, for example, you could order Napoleonic Wars for $55, and choose a Paths of Glory for only $25 ($50 retail). Or you could get Ivanhoe or Flagship or any other $25 or less retail game for FREE along with the Nappy Wars Order.