Thursday, July 31, 2003

An excellent one page quick start for The Napoleonic Wars: The purpose is not to be a player aid during the game, but simply a quick summary of the key rules, something an experienced player can use to teach a newbie. Details can be filled in during the game.
London Open House Weekend: a unique event that takes place across the capital over one weekend each September, providing free public access to hundreds of buildings of architectural and community interest to Londoners. (via Sashinka)
Just when I thought I had Euphrat & Tigris taped, I got wiped out last night by Simon, Dave, and a complete newbie Michael (Simon's boyfriend-in-law.... no wait that gives the wrong impression.... Simon's daughter's boyfriend). Dave seemed to win by going for a robust monopoly game - he constructed a wholly owned kingdom in the corner with its own monument (he was playing the bulls so we called it "Donkeytown") and when we smashed that up he went over to the other end of the board and rebuilt Donkeytown all over again. I don't quite understand what went wrong with my game but I lost too many conflicts and my leaders spent too much time off the board. Final scores: Dave (10) Simon (9) Michael (8) me (7).

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Phil has news of Gavin, who is so obsessive about his favourite band he has gone to America to see them play:

Got a message from Gaz, he managed to blag his way into a free Supergrass acoustic set in Boston the night after the main performance. How long before Supergrass's security start to realise the danger he presents?
After doing lots of admin last night I rewarded myself by playing Final Fantasy for a while. (Yes I know - I have an overactive superego.) Had this cool fight with a giant robot on a ship. Finally managed to activate a crane which pulled the robot's head off and dropped it into the sea! The poor thing didn't last long after that....

Monday, July 28, 2003

Dave and Steve came over Sunday afternoon to try out Taj Mahal. I've been itching to play this for weeks, and that itch was fully justified. This is a superb game, tense and clever and interesting - like a cross between Settlers and Poker! Final scores: me (68) Dave (57) Steve (47).

Then we went onto Ra, another Knizia masterpiece, and an ideal end-of-session game. Dave played very well, further refining his repeated-early-Ra-calling tactics, which irritate the heck out of everyone else but produced a victory for him this time: Dave (45) me (38) Steve (28).

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Phil has just filed this wildlife report from Exeter:

Just saw the coolest thing ever on the way back from town. On the lawn of the old people's home I saw a sparrowhawk killing a pigeon. There was another pigeon trying to fight the sparrowhawk away (fool!). It failed naturally, and ran off. The dying pigeon seemed to give up after about five minutes, and the hawk started to pick at it and eat it. It had been tearing little bits off the pigeon's chest for another five minutes when some stupid woman came out of the home, and without seeing the bird, walked right past it and scared it off. The sparrowhawk tried to fly off with the pigeon, but it was too heavy and he dropped it. The pigeon miraculously stood up, looking dazed and confused. The sparrowhawk tried to swoop down and get it again but missed, and the pigeon rather worse for the wear flew away. Pigeon 1 - Sparrowhawk 0.

I really couldn't believe my eyes. It was such an impressive little bird, very pretty with the most amazing amber eyes. It looked truly gutted when the pigeon went. It sat in a tree, doubtless waiting for another victim. The most incredible part is that all this occured not 5 yards from a busy city road. Birds of prey are back!

Friday, July 25, 2003

The Literature Network: Online classic literature, poems, and quotes. Essays & Summaries: "We offer searchable online literature for the student, educator, or enthusiast. We currently have over 300 full books and over 1000 short stories and poems by over 90 authors. "
Only 33 left now: Last post for Great War veterans
I finally received Blue vs Gray yesterday, which I pre-ordered from GMT 11 months ago. That's so long ago that it seems like an unexpected present that someone else paid for. And it will be appearing in the game shops for about twice what I paid for it, so I think I will continue to support GMT's P500 program for a while in spite of the delays.

It looks nice too - a repackaged "deluxe" version of a game that was originally very innovative - a fairly serious strategic treatment of the American Civil War that you could fit in your pocket. Just a couple of decks of cards, with rules, map, play-aids, as well as leaders, units and special events all provided as cards within the deck. It comes at the wargame/simulation game from a very different angle to what we're used to. I've become a bit jaded with wargames recently, this elegant little game could be just the refresher I need.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Too much dreaming is bad for you? New Scientist interview with Joe Griffin:

The important thing is to know how depression is manufactured in the brain. Once you understand that, you can correct the maladaptive cycle incredibly fast. For 40 years it’s been known that depressed people have excessive REM sleep. They dream far more than healthy people. What we realised – and proved – is that the negative introspection, or ruminations, that depressed people engage in actually causes the excessive dreaming. So depression is being generated on a 24-hour cycle and we can make a difference within 24 hours to how a person feels.

(via Sashinka)
Had an excellent game of Euphrat & Tigris with Simon last night. A real tussle, both of us play more aggressively than we used to, which makes the game shorter as the tiles get used more quickly. Simon succeeded in pushing me off the board altogether at one point, and I spent the final third of the game struggling to reestablish my red and black leaders, while Simon was quietly pulling in the points unmolested. Final score: Simon (11), me (10).
Cheapass Games - Kill Doctor Lucky Variants: William pointed these out to me. The "Kill Your Cohorts" variant looks interesting, last time we played I wanted to literally kill my fellow-players so this might help me feel better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Some new strategy articles have been posted by Avalon Hill recently, including good stuff about Civilization, Turning Point Stalingrad and Diplomacy. (via Terminal City Gamers)
Well I don't feel tired today. But you probably don't really want a daily update on my energy levels. I did indeed fiddle with Napoleonic Wars yesterday evening. Also, because I was home early, I was able to watch Buffy (for the first, no second time ever) - and I enjoyed it! I've even set the video to record the concluding part of the episode today (Episode 55: Graduation). Worrying this, I think I'm turning into a geek - I've probably been reading too much PvP and Dork Tower lately.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Gosh I thought I was tired yesterday but now I'm really tired. I had to get up at 5:30 to come into work for a maintenance slot. The colleague who insisted we do it so early turned up 45 minutes late! Still at least I can leave at 3 this afternoon. I'll go home, fiddle with Napoleonic Wars for a couple of hours (I'm trying to absorb the new rules) then get a very early night I think.
America is a mystery to any good Englishman.
G K Chesterton, "Charles Dickens"

Monday, July 21, 2003

Long tiring but really good weekend in London.

High point: breaking bread for the last time with the folks at the Workshop course. "Next year in Jerusalem...."

Low point: karaoke night at The Gregorian deep in darkest Bermondsey, listening to Gavin and friends murder "Wuthering Heights".

Friday, July 18, 2003

Cheapass Games: Diceland: Deep White Sea: "Diceland is a completely new kind of tabletop game, featuring unique combat mechanics and colorful paper dice. Each player takes one army of five dice (there are five armies in the set). Players take turns throwing dice into play and manipulating their dice in play. "

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Had a great Euphrat & Tigris session last night. This is such a lovely lovely game - as much fun and interest crammed into an hour and a half as you get in 6 hours of say 1830. The more we play it the more depths it reveals. Nick and Simon played "monopoly" strategies, each with a wholly-owned empire on the margins of the board peacefully collecting points every turn, whereas Dave and I slugged it out with multiple conflicts in the centre. I was helped out critically at one point by Simon pushing me into an unlooked-for conflict with Dave which completely solved my problem in black. Final scores: me(8), Simon(6), Dave(5), Nick(5).

We finished off the evening with a game of Ra, which was also great fun, especially after Dave decided that calling Ra early is a good way to mess up people's plans. I'm afraid I won this one too (not very hospitable of me): me(61), Simon(44), Dave(38), Nick(2).

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Mikko Saari has been playing Go online: "For some reason my rating has crept up while I haven't played"
Gary Steven's offers 4 historical boardgames, downloadable for free from his website. Henry VIII and Bloody Mary are political intrigue games with no map, Mesopotamia is a simple variation on the History of the World theme, and Richard III (not available yet) seems to be heavily influenced by Kingmaker and looks like it will be the most interesting of the lot. They all look very nicely done, I shall have to print one off and make it up soon.
The Bag N Box Man Ltd - Bags, Boxes, Tubes, Envelopes, Labels and more!: aimed at crafty types, but they sell stuff that might be useful to a gamer, like A4 or A5 boxes, and drawstring bags. Not very exciting I know, but it's the best I can manage this morning - I was out late Cerocing last night....

Monday, July 14, 2003

So how did I get on with my weekend list?
    GoKarting on Sunday - this was great fun, if rather scary. I was really pleased that I got into the final, but Nick did even better, coming in third for a place on the podium!

    Wargame show at Devizes on Saturday - went to this. Found it slightly boring. Surely I'm not growing out of toy soldiers?

    Paint my front door and fit door-knocker - not done. Simon advised against painting in this heat. Good excuse.

    Plant stuff in the garden - not done. Can't think of an excuse.

    Finish large piece of coursework for Workshop next weekend - made good progress on this on Sunday morning.

    Go to church - skipped church to do my course work. It made a very pleasant change to stay at home.

    Sit around chatting in a coffee shop - done. Very pleasant too.
A pretty enjoyable weekend, especially as it was rounded off with a few pints in the Wyndham Arms playing Chrononauts with Nick and Simon. I won two out of the three games!

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbour. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me and strengthen my faith and trust in you.

Martin Luther

Friday, July 11, 2003

Things I want to do this weekend:
    GoKarting on Sunday (already booked)
    Wargame show at Devizes on Saturday
    Paint my front door and fit door-knocker
    Plant stuff in the garden
    Finish large piece of coursework for Workshop next weekend
    Go to church
    Sit around chatting in a coffee shop
I need to face facts - it's not all going to fit into 48 hours.....

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Yuk, I was up at 5:30 this morning to take Phil to Heathrow (he's off to Rumania for two weeks). It's an uncanny time of day, very light, blue skies, it could be midday apart from the silence and lack of movement on the streets.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Terminal City Gamers made me aware or Reiner Knizia's website which includes articles, variants and free games, but sadly no weblog.
The latest Dork Tower collection is called Understanding Gamers.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Inspired by bidding games like Ra and Taj Mahal, I ran a little auction game in church yesterday morning. I gave three volunteers £10,000,000 each (play money from Game of Nations) and auctioned off three Mona Lisa's (scanned and blown up from the Chrononauts deck). It worked well, with two of the three players carelessly buying obvious forgeries for large sums of money. It was meant to illustrate the importance of choosing genuine not fake life goals, based on Jesus' parable of the hidden treasure.
Mikko Saari has brought Spielboy to my attention - a rather strange new webzine about boardgames featuring glamour shots of a slightly undressed model draped across a copy of Mare Nostrum, and also an "Am I Hot or Not" contest with pictures of girls taken from various game components, interspersed with some game designers (no Reiner you are not hot). A clear and present moral danger to the game geek community?

Friday, July 04, 2003

Zendo is finally available! Looks nice, and seems like a bargain at $40 especially as it includes 4 Icehouse stashes which retail at $8 each. I wonder when we'll see it in the game shops over here?

Zendo is a game of logic in which the Master creates a rule and the students attempt to discover it. They do this by building and studying configurations of pyramids. The first person to correctly state the rule wins! - for Magic the Gathering singles, UK based - good grief, £12 for a single card! Just as well I'm not attracted to this game/lifestyle. I'm not. I'm not.....
London Bloggers Tube Map - doesn't reach out as far as Salisbury.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Last night I finally got over to one of Scott's evening sessions. For starters I foisted Ra on them, which I have been longing to play since it arrived a couple of weeks ago. Seemed to go well, Robin won (46) even though he didn't really seem to have much of a clue what was going on. The rest of us - me (36) Scott (32) and John (31) - were well behind him. I got the feeling that there are tactical depths to this game that I haven't even started to grasp yet. Hopefully it won't be long before its next outing.

Next John got his copy of Illuminati out. He always seems to have the dratted thing with him these days. This game is quite amusing I suppose in a cynical way, but I find the mechanics clunky and not very interesting really. It always carries on well beyond the point where I am still enjoying it. And I always get completely stuffed at it, which I suppose colours my reaction to the game. Had to cut it short at 10:15 but John was romping away with his Gnomes of Zurich.
The Haslehurst family movie review cooperative. From recent emails:

Peter: Saw Matrix Reloaded on Saturday - what a load of tosh.

Gavin: You're right about the Matrix Reloaded - very poor I thought. They could've done so much more with it!

Phil: Can't believe you even bothered watching the matrix re-hashed or whatever it's called. It is a pile of bollocks.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Inspired by OddPost, which as well as successfully catching 100% of my incoming spam since I subscribed, can also function as an RSS aggregator, I have finally added an RSS feed to nimrods. Scroll down to the blogrss icon on the right hand side. Now you no longer have to breathlessly check back here every few minutes to see if I've posted anything else exciting, you can have my pearls of wisdom fed to your desktop automatically!