Friday, August 29, 2003

Spent a lazy evening with Steve and Simon on Wednesday. We went through a bottle of wine and exchanged a lot of poorly thought out opinions. Also got one game played, the wonderful Ra, which was a real brain-buster. As we get to know this game we seem to be thinking harder about it to stay competitive. Final scores: Steve (50) Me (48) Simon (43).

Thursday, August 28, 2003

CONSIMWORLD REPORT is a one-stop update on all the latest hex-wargame news. I've already learned a couple of interesting things, eg there is a reprint of Rommel in the Desert coming.

Here you will find a wealth of information and breaking news, presented in a highly-condensed, single page format. Consider it your "Drudge-like" resource to the consim gaming industry. Expect continuous updates, including coverage of member discussions of interest and other stories that may not normally be featured at our Newsdesk.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Was blown away by Cathy Burton at Greenbelt Stage 1 on Saturday and developed my crush further when she did a more acoustic set at Performance Cafe next day. She's got a really good website too...
And James (the nicest man in the world) has kindly provided an AAR for our recent Hammer of the Scots contest:

Sat down to play Peter after a gap of 18 months from our last game together (Wilderness Wars and Lost Cities I think). We had conversed by e mail and Peter suggested Hammer of the Scots, I have got Wizard Wars from the Block Game series and have never thought much of it but I got the rules from the Internet and the game looked great. Reading the rules beforehand meant we could get on and play quickly, many games have rules online and I will now always make a point of reading them beforehand rather than put my opponent through a pre game rules discussion.

I took the English and in the first two turns took most of the Southern areas while Wallace converted the North to Scottish Rule very quickly. In the first few turns I drew very few infantry but any I did draw I moved North and overwintered, in the first three turns I drew the Hobelars and used them to fight Scottish Southerly probes, destroying the Vikings in one of these Skirmishes It was not until turn 4 until I drew the King and moved him to Scone (with six units) where on the third card play of the turn we both played events thereby ending the turn early much to my horror. In the following turn I therefore pushed really hard before the king went home and there were a series of massive engagements in the Scottish Highlands. The final battle of the turn saw Wallace (and two lords) win and my forces retreat due to three combat rounds being played, I then play pillage into Wallace's space and as he is the only non-noble he takes the step losses and dies. At this stage we have played for three hours and I head off home and Peter records the positions. I feel good at Destroying Wallace but have no infantry up in the North the race is now on for me to march North before Peter can recuperate, I still hold Scone so hope not to see a Scottish King in the next few turns.

What a great game, I now wish to try more Block Games, I will definitely purchase this. It has proved to me there are good games beyond ASL. Look forward to next time.
Andy Mallory, a founder nimrod but now sadly defunct, is selling off some wargaming stuff:

Well - the time has come to sell of all most of my collection. It has been languishing in lofts for so long now and as I am leaving the UK I want to sell what I can.

An announcement on Nimrods would be appreciated together with my e-mail. John once expressed an interest in some of it, so he may like to know it's up for offers.

I have the following stuff to go....
    Lots of 1/300th terrain. Scratchbuilt houses, trees etc.

    2 nice green felt cloths - 1 6'x4', 1 6'x6'

    My 'system' of 1/4" cork tiles that can be used to produce contours.

    Loads of late 80s vintage modern micro-armour and infantry. US and Soviet.

    Even more WW2. British, Russians, Germans.

    Many other bits and pieces that could probably be sold at a Bring and Buy.

    Only 1 intersting board game - Scratch one Flat Top from 3W.

    Much out of print ASL stuff is also for sale.

All this stuff needs to be collected/posted from Exeter before the end of September.
Well I'm back from Greenbelt, with my head completely rewired. Lots of thinking to do to process everything I saw heard and got excited about over the weekend. In the meantime here's some content from other contributors.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Walter Kirn of GQ sypathetically but damningly explores American Christian subculture:

Ark culture is mall Christianity. It's been malled. It's the upshot of some dumb decision that to compete with them–to compete with N'Sync and Friends and Stephen King and Matt and Katie and Abercrombie & Fitch and Jackie Chan and AOL and Sesame Street–the faithful should turn from their centuries-old tradition of fashioning transcendent art and literature and passionate folk forms such as gospel music and those outsider paintings in which Jesus has lime green bat wings and is hovering lovingly above the Pentagon flanked by exactly thirteen flying saucers, and instead of all that head down to Tower or Blockbuster and check out what's selling, then try to rip it off on a budget if possible and by employing artists who are either so devout or so plain desperate that they'll work for scale.

(via Jonny Baker)
No gaming activity to report since last week (unless you count a bit of Final Fantasy on the PS2). I've been doing things like cooking for friends, going to church, drawing in the Close, dozing in the sun....... Next weekend I'm off to Greenbelt for 4 days. I've never been to Greenbelt before, but I suspect there will not be much boardgaming activity there. So by this time next week I anticipate that the gaming craving will be starting to build up to unbearable levels again. Expect a phone call.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Game report from the "New Nimrods of London"

Last night I rediscovered the simple joys of the boardgame - learning new rules, drinking booze, arguing and cheating! I achieved all of these when I played "Escape from Colditz" for the first time with James, Mark, Martha, Rachel and Richard (who played the part of the Germans). The game immediately became more interesting when Richard announced that we were allowed to cheat - with the proviso that if we got caught, we'd be thrown into the cooler! Before he managed to finish his sentence I had "acquired" six more opportunity cards which got quickly shoved behind the stereo. Unfortunately I got caught out three times in the middle of various nefarious acts - passing cards, stuffing them in Pringles tubes and liaising with Mark about the next escape. Martha was even more blatant - she was busily walking straight out of a tunnel, without any of the correct cards, before Richard apprehended her. Apparently this kind of cheating was not allowed! The girls - being in their very nature irrational - immediately started a heated argument about why we were allowed secretly trade cards but they weren't allowed to just walk out of the place. Suffice to say, they didn't play for the duration. But the remaining men soldiered on! James made two daring, but unsuccessful snap escapes - one man shot, one man caught at the wire. Mark and I planned to tunnel out of the chapel in a combined Dutch-Polish attempt. We had four men in the tunnel when suddenly our time ran out and the "Do or Die" rule came into play. Like a sort of "POW sudden death", each player has a limited number of dice roles to get their men out. The tunnel escape got into full swing as a result, but only one of Mark's escapers made it. I also went for a snap escape out of a 30ft window, but I got caught miles from my goal. The Swiss border was but a distant dream! It's a great game that captures the spirit of the escapes very well, although some extra cards relating to things like weather, time of day and so on would not go amiss. That said, I would definitely like to devote a day to play it through to the bitter end - the theatre tunnel beckons!

(from Gavin)
I had another enjoyable game of Euphrat & Tigris with Simon, Dave and Steve on Wednesday evening - two games in fact! This is one of the benefits of playing the same game repeatedly, you don't waste time explaining the rules to everyone, and the players are more confident about choosing their moves, so the game whizzes along nicely. And of course more aggressive play in E&T shortens the game. We started play after 8pm and finished the second game at about 10:30pm. A few weeks ago we would have barely completed one game in that time. Simon and I got completely stuffed in the first one, scoring 1 and 2 to Dave's 9. In the second game I shamelessly copied Dave's tactics from the first (early monument, try for a monopoly kingdom, don't save catastrophes for a rainy day) and just beat him on a tie-breaker with 10 points each.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

William describes last weekend's replay of the Napoleonic Wars:

On Saturday we joined John and his cat sitting inside his cool house eating choc ices and had a game of Napoleonic Wars. We started with a quick game of Falling but as William didn't understand the rules himself it didn't really work when he tried to explain them (badly) to us. We then wrote a preference list for countries and Peter lost to get France, John won to get Britain unopposed, Steve won Russia, leaving William with Austria and Robin with Prussia. The game started well for France with Napoleon surviving an early assassination and retaliating by erasing the Tyrolean army of Austria and forcing their Venetian army to make a quick dash for the hills. The British then sunk the French and Spanish fleets in quick succession while the Russians sat in the east admiring the size of their own army but not wishing to involve it in the little local conflict in the west. The following year the Prussians revealed that while nobody had been looking they had raised a few armies themselves and quite frankly didn't much like the look of Napoleon. While the conquered Austrians buttered up the Ali Pasha the British were repelled from the Vendee and the Russians were persuaded to come west and get their hands dirty. From there on in it was all downhill for poor Napoleon, Wellington landed in Calais and took Paris, and although a Swedish led Grand Armee was repelled from Brussels and another Austrian army vanished without trace while trying to retake Venice the Prussians and Russians had too many brave boys willing to die (and this they did in large numbers). The Ali Pasha raised his own Grand Armee in Bulgaria, half a board away from any conflict but it was enough to inspire the recapture of Venice which allowed his own army to slip through and sack Rome. Napoleon recaptured Paris but the game was over, chunks of Germany were in the hands of the Austrians and the low countries were now ruled from Berlin.

The game started off slowly and after the first round few of us were really having fun but as the fighting kicked off and we all had things to do, plus a better grasp of how the game worked it grew on us. There were some lucky dice rolls by all involved (John: 18 dice for attrition and no sixes!, Peter: 6,6,5,5 on 4 dice in the final Napoleon vs. Wellington showdown) and some well played cards (e.g. the Spanish and Ottoman allies both removed at key moments by having Royal Weddings played on them). In the end Prussia and Austria drew for first place. A big thankyou goes out from all involved to Peter for running this game and to John for hosting it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Daniel Karp on Spielfrieks reviews Zendo, the new Icehouse game from Looney Labs:

The game is quite excellent right out of the box, assuming you like the sort of reasoning it demands. And speaking of the box, I have to give credit to the people at Looney Labs for recognizing that this game deserved it's own boxed version. I never would have noticed it had it not come out in this form. Zendo is, I think, the Icehouse 'killer app', that is, the one game that makes it worth buying the whole set, whether or not you ever used it for anything else. The sense that I get as a player when the rule finally clicks for me, and I realize what common characteristic all of the 'correct' koans share, is unlike anything I have found in any other game.

(via Terminal City Gamers)

Friday, August 08, 2003

An interesting article from Greg Costikyan on "grognard capure":

All game styles run the risk of what I term 'grognard capture.'

'Grognard' was a slang term for members of Napoleon's Old Guard. Hardcore board wargamers adopted it as a term for themselves. By extention, grognard capture means capture of a game style by the hardest-core and most experienced players--to the ultimate exclusion of others.

The most extreme example I can think of is what happened to the Squad Leader series. Originally a relatively simple, accessible game of infantry combat in World War II, the publishers released supplement after supplement, each with new rules adding to the complexity of the game. Finally, they revamped it as 'Advanced Squad Leader,' publishing it in a loose-leaf binder so you could insert new rules as they were published, with systems as obscure and silly as the 'Sewer Emergence Table' and the 'Kindling Availability Table.'

I can think of other examples of 'grognard capture'. Card-driven wargames for example - compare the simplicity of We the People with the exception-fest that is Barbarossa to Berlin.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Last Sunday Dave John and Simon came over for a go at Taj Mahal. In spite of being wrecked from an overnight flight from the States, John showed his usual scary ability to quickly learn and then dominate a new game. It was an exciting finish as Dave held him to a draw. Final scores: Dave (51) John (51) me (45) Simon (26). We finished off with a very close game of Ra which was great fun as usual: Simon (52) me (50) Dave (49). I'm glad Simon won this one - he needed a morale boost after losing his way a bit in his first ever game of Taj Mahal.

Monday, August 04, 2003

The Space Hulk Saga: Every now and then I'll get obsessed with a game related project. Not necessarily playing the game but working on some aspect of it. More often than not this will be in creating a player aid or a translation. Sometimes it goes further than this and that's been the case with my latest pre-occupation: Space Hulk.

I can't believe he cut the arms off his genestealers! Barbarian!

Friday, August 01, 2003

Columbia have announced a new block game - Liberty: American Revolution: Liberty is a fast-playing game covering the American Revolution from 1775-1783. British, American, and French forces are included and the role of the Indians and Navies is depicted. The unique problems faced by each side become clear in this playable game.

Note that the only place you can get Columbia games now is by online order off their website. You won't see this one in the game shops. (via Terminal City Gamers)
The Stella Artois Screen Tour shows classic films in interesting locations. You can submit suggestions too!
Marcus Stumptner has redrawn the Barbarossa to Berlin map to use areas instead of point-to-point. Talk about a labour of love!