Monday, September 29, 2003

Humph. I don't seem to have sold my house after all. I didn't want a rest that badly....
Pretty knackered after the weekend which I spent in London, group tutoring for Workshop. I was a bit nervous about this beforehand but it went very well. I really like the group that has been allocated to me and co-tutor Michelle - nine people from all sorts of different backgrounds who started to gel together really well over the weekend. Pleasant drink with Workshop friends in the Hope at Wandsworth on Saturday evening too.

This was my second consecutive weekend being busy in London, so starting to feel in need of a rest. Sorting out a gas leak in the kitchen this morning did not help, as I was 2 hours late into work as a result which will need to be caught up some time soon. It also looks like my house is sold - only 2 weeks after I called the estate agents (H W White, highly recommended!) so next weekend which was slated as empty recuperation time, will probably be spent househunting instead! Which is brilliant of course, but I could do with a break......

Thursday, September 25, 2003

On the other hand, Joel Edwards recently pointed out that evangelicalism is not restricted to the Church of England - far from it:

Let's unravel some of this. There are about two billion Christians in the world today, and at least 700 million are evangelicals. Most of these live in non-Western countries. By comparison, the worldwide Anglican communion is small: numbering 70 million, it is dwarfed by the global evangelical movement. Of course, some Anglicans - a clear majority, in fact - are themselves part of that movement. Within the Church of England itself, about a third of communicants are evangelical, and half of the ordinands in training have an evangelical background.
Jonny Baker visits the National Evangelical Anglican Congress at Blackpool, which does not have the effect on him that its organizers probably hoped for:

i was doing a seminar at NEAC - the get together of anglican evangelicals in blackpool. i can honestly say it was the most depressing day of my year so far!!!!! after 10 minutes i came out convinced that i am not an evangelical. everyone says that being evangelical is about beliefs - salvation through jesus, the bible as the word of god etc (which i have no problem with) but it's not about that. it's about a tribe and i don't belong to it and have absolutely no desire to belong to it...

Monday, September 22, 2003

The London Open House weekend was a bit less exciting than I hoped. To my mind, a building isn't really open if you are only allowed into the lobby, especially if it has big glass doors so that you are not really seeing anything you couldn't see from the street anyway! This happened to us twice - at the Daily Express building on Fleet Street, and at 100 Wood Street. City Hall on the other hand was brilliant. A fantastic view from the top, and a vertiginous walk down the extraordinary staircase that spirals slantwise down the building, with bird's eye views of the council chamber. And the basement was fascinating too - crowds of people, some on hands and knees, exploring the floor which is tiled with a huge aerial photo collage of Greater London. Well worth the queue.

David Warren on what is actually happening in Iraq (as opposed, sad to say, to what the BBC tells us is happening in Iraq): Iraq is blossoming economically and socially as it has not done in many, many decades of totalitarian rule. The infrastructure has been mostly repaired, and sabotage alone is the cause of failures. The signs of free speech and free press are everywhere. And most signally, the American and other troops trying to provide security are not merely tolerated, but popular.

The good news is that the media may not be able to sustain their 'quagmire' misreporting from Iraq much longer. The truth is beginning to get in their way.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Well they've finally decided to go for it!: For a long time (i.e. about a year and a half) we've been sitting on a ready-to-publish design for a marijuana-themed version of Fluxx. Now at last, we've decided to go ahead and release it.

We've been thinking about it more and more, and over the weekend, we decided that the time for this is now. We've been so busy worrying about the risks and downsides, that we've lost sight of a couple of important points: first, Stoner Fluxx could sell like hotcakes, and quite frankly, we need those sales right now. And secondly, if Stoner Fluxx could help, even just a little bit, in bringing about the end of prohibition, then we need to put it out there and try. The taboo on this topic is finally lifting, and having established ourselves as "That Hippie Game Company" we think we can get away with it.
So far this week I've been stuffed by two humans and three bots.

On Wednesday night Steve and Simon put me in my place over Euphrat & Tigris. Great game, as usual, and different again, with three corner kingdoms attacking each other across one central flashpoint. Scores: Steve(12) Simon(10) me(10).

Then last night I tried online Taj Mahal at GameBox. I played against 3 bots, to get some practise with the interface before I challenge humans. I was a bit stunned by how good the bots are - I've clearly got a long way to go before I master this game. I don't even want to tell you the scores. The other surprise was how quickly the game went - it only took half an hour.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Exciting news from Terminal City Gamers:

Phalanx Games has announced a new game - Revolution by Francis Tresham (the game may be retitled). The game is is about the Eighty Year War between the Netherlands and Spain (1568 – 1648). Each player represents one of five factions: Catholics, Citizens, Nobility, Protestants and Habsburgers.

Francis Tresham (Civilization, 1830) is a game design genius in my opinion, but a very slow worker. I remember seeing him demonstrate a prototype of this game about 10 years ago at ManorCon! I'm delighted that it's finally going to see the light of day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

William Gibson says goodbye to blogging, characteristically in an interesting way: I’ve found blogging to be a low-impact activity, mildly narcotic and mostly quite convivial, but the thing I’ve most enjoyed about it is how it never fails to underline the fact that if I’m doing this I’m definitely not writing a novel – that is, if I’m still blogging, I’m definitely still on vacation. I’ve always known, somehow, that it would get in the way of writing fiction, and that I wouldn’t want to be trying to do both at once. The image that comes most readily to mind is that of a kettle failing to boil because the lid’s been left off.
The London Open House weekend is nearly here. I'm meeting up with Gavin on Sunday to visit a few buildings. Top of the list is the Lloyd's building, but I would also like to check out Ken's palace to see if the inside is as boring as the outside....
I've played two games of Blue vs Gray now, lost one and won one, both as the Union. Really enjoyed myself, as did Dave, my opponent. One of the things I greatly admire about this game is the man-management aspect. I spent a lot of my time thinking:
Is X the right man for this job?

Perhaps I should sack Y, but who would I replace him with?

Could Z's talents be better used over there?
I can't think of another wargame where you have to put this much thought into your organization and leadership. In most games I've played it's just a case of pile as many leaders as you can onto the stack for their modifiers. This design is a very clever piece of lateral thinking.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Has the hunting season started yet? I'm looking out of the bedroom window of my home in the centre of Salisbury at two refugees from the countryside - a beautiful pair of male pheasants calmly wandering along the roof-ridge of the house opposite.

I've got the week off work, so I plan to be heading in the opposite direction shortly - out into the countryside on my bike or boots.

Friday, September 05, 2003

A key insight I took away from Greenbelt was this - there isn't a secular molecule in the universe. This from Gareth Higgins, who went on to apply this to his enthusiastic appreciation of movies. (See his wonderful book for more details.) It has struck me that this could be applied to my own pet enthusiasm - the collecting and playing of boardgames. I feel a Third Way article submission coming on....

Thursday, September 04, 2003

And here's a link to BrettspielWelt where you can play Puerto Rico online - and lots of other games too.
Jim Campbell's Large Warehouse of Puerto Rico Knowledge (via Mikko Saari):

After playing Andreas Seyfarth’s Puerto Rico (hereafter called PR) for the first time, it quickly became one of my favorites. One of the only weaknesses in the game’s design (and it’s a flaw common to many multiplayer games) is that the outcome is sometimes decided by the mistakes of the weakest player. Veteran players often complained about this, but I didn’t see much effort being made to share knowledge about strategy. Most of the strategy advice available in English is comprised of comments made after just a few games. It is also clear to me that most of this information comes from people who have played PR against a small variety of relatively weak opponents.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Gameblogger is a new weblog about board games from an anonymous Dutch girl. Slightly graphics heavy, so you will need to be patient if you're on a dialup line, but interesting content so far, like her latest post about pre-Essen nerves: The whole fair is crazy. Some people buy bags and bags full of games. Some even drag around small carts to load the games on. That's because you can get lots and lots of bargains there. Last year, I saw several 'big board games' for € 15 and under. I even saw a few for under € 10.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Mark Johnson over at the Game Journal recommends a Game of the Month experiment: It's been said that the favorite boardgame for most hobbyists is whatever is new. Although there are established favorites such as Acquire, Settlers of Catan or El Grande, a look at session reports shared on websites and online discussion groups shows that many of us enjoy playing the latest new games. This steady influx of new titles means you can find yourself playing and buying new games all the time. What's wrong with that? Nothing, of course, but there's also something to be said for slowing the pace down, spending a little more 'quality time' with fewer games.

Simon and Dave and I have been trying something similar with Euphrat & Tigris although in our case it has been more like Game of the Quarter.
My legs are still aching after my weekend tramping around London. On Saturday I went to a party in Tooting hosted by friends Abi and Esther, which was great. Sunday morning I tubed over to Covent Garden and spent a happy half-hour in Playin' Games on Museum Street, purchasing Hellas because I couldn't very well go away empty-handed could I? It looks like I made a good choice, it's a sort of wargame-lite with hex tiles and lots of plastic miniature Greeks and ships, as well as a deck of cards. All for £15! Looks intriguing and fun, but couldn't persuade Gavin to play it in the pub where I met him for lunch 10 minutes later.