Thursday, January 29, 2004

One of the last things the BBC ever does may be to publish a photo by Gavin: BBC NEWS | Magazine | In Pictures | Your pictures: Britain's cold snap

You have to scroll through 16 good photos, then you get to Gavin's.
Tempting - you can now buy Martian Chessboard Sections.
I am busy preparing for my housewarming party on Saturday (if you think you should be invited but haven't been, please let me know!). Cleaning bathroom, moving all unpacked boxes to one corner, disposing of unironed laundry, putting half-played games away, that sort of thing. Phil is preparing the food for me so I have also been working through his emailed shopping lists of mysterious ingedients - this is a bit like opening a new jigsaw puzzle, I have no idea what all these bits are for, but they look pretty.

You can never be sure how many people will turn up. If half the people who have promised to come don't turn up, there will be about 10 of us - on the other hand if half the people who have said they might turn up actually turn up there will be 40 of us, some of whom will be drinking wine from mugs and using hands for plates.
I've just been made aware of the excellent Taxonomy of Icehouse Games, which lists but also classifies IceHouse games to fit the structure proposed by David Parlett's Oxford History of Boardgames.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Stop posting for a few days and I get more visits than ever! Yesterday in particular was a bumper day. Hmmm - is this pointing to a way forward for making nimrods a more successful weblog?

Friday, January 23, 2004

I can't make it to ManorCon again this year so perhaps Baycon is an alternative, especially as the "already booked" list includes Reiner Knizia!
Gosh I'm tired this morning. Not sure why. I went to the ceramics class at Farnham Malting yesterday evening, which was great fun and also physically tiring - which you would think would make for a good night's sleep. No such luck - I spent the whole night either being pursued by people who wanted to kill me, or waking frequently from these disturbing dreams at ungodly hours. This evening I will follow a more tried and tested route to a good night's sleep - curry and beer followed by a couple of hours hunched over the Europe Engulfed board.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I visited the Alder Valley Games Society last night, on my quest to find new opponents in this area. I made my way to the Union Building in Aldershot for the second time this year, and avoided being mistaken for an ex-para this time. Found the club members crouching over tables in a large tatty hall, and introduced myself. Bit disappointed that the emphasis was very much on CCGs and roleplaying. But on the plus side, the club's Chair is not only very cute but also female. I spent the evening watching a group roll up their characters for a Call of Cthulhu campaign. Not a great spectator sport, but they were very friendly and chatted with me about the club's history etc. Apparently the first Sunday every month is a boardgame special so I will make sure I give that a try soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

About a year ago I decided not to P500 GMT's Ardennes 44. Rats! Chris Farrell is positively glowing with enthusiasm for the game. :

One last thing, and I think the real reason why I liked this a lot: it's a great game, and by that I mean that the game confronts you with interesting choices all the time, choices that feel like you are really playing a game and not struggling against or gaming a system, as is far too often the case in these things. I played the Germans, and I always felt like I had real options. There were several legitimate strategic choices of where to attack to get the required VPs, and then lots of operational choices as you can re-route offensives to get around traffic problems or take advantage of the same in your opponent's network, allocate your strategic movement capability wisely, budget your critical corps-level artillery, maintain flexibility to take advantage of local opportunities, and decide between blasting right through now before the Americans are reinforced or trying to work around the flank.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I went to see Spirited Away last night at Farnham Maltings, the local arts centre which shows films several times a month. I liked the venue a lot - the rustic and rather tatty Great Hall has well raked seating (unlike many cinemas) so no sightline problems for short people like me. It was also great to turn up at 8 and have the film start on the dot, with no adverts or trailers!

And what a stunning film! This is my first experience of a Japanese anime movie, so I just wasn't prepared for the visual impact of this art-form. Apparently there are even better anime films around - wow, that's hard to imagine!

I've read criticisms (on IMDB) that this film doesn't have much of a story-line. Well, I suppose so, if you have been used to Hollywood type story construction (conflict, conflict, conflict, smart-ass dialogue, action set-piece every 10 minutes). It seems to me that Spirited Away follows the ancient fairy-story shape of a child finding a doorway into another world where she meets archetypal figures, converses with beautiful or terrifying spirits, and embarks on fantastic adventures. Echoes of C S Lewis, E Nesbit, Lord Dunsany, Brothers Grimm and so on back into the timeless depths of folklore.

Monday, January 12, 2004

I visited my Mum and Dad over the weekend. OK I'm used to this from other people, but I was a bit stunned to get the "So what do you actually do?" question from my own parents.
Emma, who is doing Workshop this year and is in my tutor group, is also a very talented stained glass artist. If you've just received a windfall, why not visit her website and commission a window?

Friday, January 09, 2004

I guess I anticipated I would feel like this at some point. Having ripped myself out of my existing social networks and plonked myself down in a strange town, it's all feeling a bit quiet and lonely. Visits from various offspring and nimrods have helped, and the housewarming party at the end of January should help some more. But the challenge remains, I have to get out and make a new network for myself here.

Finding a church should help, but I am treading carefully on this one. I belonged to the same little church in Salisbury for about 18 years, sticking with them through some difficult times out of a sense that loyalty and perseverance was important. Got a lot of good things out of that time, but it was also pretty isolated from what has been happening in the wider Christian world. I've only recently started reconnecting - went to my first Greenbelt (at age of 44 for goodness sakes!) last year, finished Workshop last year. So I'm dead certain I don't want to dive into another isolated little church that's not connected to the Christian mainstream.

So far I've tried:

St Thomas's, a large attractive Anglican church just around the corner. Great to see a woman officiating at communion. Largish congregation seemed to be composed of wealthy retired types (what did I expect round here?)

Farnham Baptist Church. Very much what I'm used to, only bigger, happier and clappier. Seem to be growing - they were baptising a middle-aged convert (a man!) when I visited. Not sure if more of the same is what I want?

Planning to visit:

Various "community" churches in Farnham like Jubilee, Vineyard etc.

St Saviours in Guildford which I think is a big HTB clone.

Alternative worship outfits in London, like Grace and Vaux and Holy Joes.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

As you probably know, Columbia Games, famous for their block wargames, only sell their stuff from their website nowadays. Which is a bit of a bummer for us in Europe. So their current offer (until 12 Jan) of free shipping anywhere in the world is a great opportunity pick up their games at a reasonable price.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

OK this blog is supposed to be about boardgaming. So here is something about my recent gaming experiences:

1) Saturday morning visited my *local* games shop five miles down the road in Aldershot, with my parents' Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket. It was really great to browse through a game shop in person, not online. Finally settled on two pieces of Knizia Egyptiana - Amun Re and Scarab Lords. They both look very pretty and intriguing, although the quality of the components in Scarab Lords is a little flimsy and cheap compared to what we normally expect from Euro games.

2) John, Dave and Steve visited on Saturday afternoon, all the way from Salisbury. We played Zendo, which went down well. Even John, who is allergic to anything from Looney Labs, was requesting "just one more round". No idea who won. Then it was Illuminati, which I have never been a fan of, probably because I have never grasped the rules properly. So I requested an exhaustive rundown from John before we started. Sure enough I enjoyed the game a lot, and my Network even came within a hairs-breadth of winning before John's Cthulhu snatched the prize. Then I cooked dinner, and we finished with a quick game of Carcassone.

3) Since Christmas I've been slowly getting ready to play Europe Engulfed - counting counters, sticking stickers, and reading rules. This game looks absolutely gorgeous. It takes up two tables, I've got it all set up for 1939, and I'm just about ready to run through a few turns. Just need an opponent now (Dave?)

4) On Sunday attempted to visit the Alder Valley Games Society at the Union Building in Aldershot. Met a guy in the carpark who thought I was a fellow ex-para there for some kind of reunion! Do I look like an ex-para??! We spent a happy 15 minutes trying to find a way into the building. Eventually managed it, paras were there, but no game society. Maybe next week?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I investigated Guildford Ceroc club last night.

Better than Salisbury:

Average age a lot younger
Not many wedding rings!
Licensed bar

Not as good as Salisbury:

Too warm
Dodgy sound system
Smaller dance floor
More men than women
Difficult parking
More expensive entry and drinks
Teaching at a slower pace

I had a good evening, and it was a nice friendly bunch of people. I will definitely go back next week. I guess I'm just missing the familiar faces at Salisbury Ceroc.
Freak accident in my kitchen this morning. Slamming cupboard doors --> tray rolls out of slot in cupboard --> onto island unit below --> where it smashes a red biro clean in two --> bits of biro fly across kitchen --> I spend about 10 minutes cleaning up splashes of red ink from worktops.

Moral of the story - either get a square tray, or stop slamming cupboard doors.

Friday, January 02, 2004

There's a good article in the new Games Journal about the amazing boardgame cafe scene in Korea:

Cafes are very clean, very modern-looking places, with artwork up on the walls advertising games from the past and present. Spiel de Jahres award winners, box cover art, and pictures of people playing the games adorn the walls. The cafe usually caters to one of two different groups of clientele; either students from the local colleges and universities (who prefer more sophisticated games), or office workers (who prefer much simpler games). It is not uncommon for five or six board game cafes to be on the same street, within one hundred feet of one another—and on a typical night all of them are filled to capacity!