Saturday, October 30, 2004

I'm off to Seville tomorrow with Mum. I can see it all - drunken nights in the tapas bars, crazy flamenco dancing in the small hours, screaming for blood in the stands at the bullring.....

Friday, October 29, 2004

Games: The Cultural Elaboration of Play:

Cultural artifacts, of all sorts, begin at first as 'traditional culture' and, as means of replication spread, eventually become 'designed culture.' Thus, cuisine begins in traditional cusines such as Mandarin or Escoffieresque French, and ends in modern fusion--chefs inventing novel dishes by comining cooking techniques and ingredients in a fashion that would astound and possibly disgust the chefs of the 19th century. The story begins as oral story-telling, and ends in a publishing industry that produces tens of thousands of novels every year (most with scant readers)--not to mention film, experimental theater, and the rest. The game begins with slowly-evolving folk games, and ends with the vigorous spread of innovative game styles. Culture begins with tradition, and ends in a an artistic medium.

So games are cultural artifacts. What basic human trait, then, do they complexify, as all cultural artifacts complexify some fundamental human impulse--cuisine with food, for example?"

Career tip: Don't accuse your boss of nicking stuff.
I played Hammer of the Scots with Neil on Tuesday evening. He was new to the game (and to wargaming generally) but had conscientiously read through the rules 3 times. I warned him how difficult it is for a beginner to win as the Scots, but ancestral solidarity dictated that he play them anyway. Neil is a veteran Diplomacy player so he has a sound tactical brain - that's my excuse anyway for the fact that he won! Right from the start he was very careful to avoid battles unless he had a good chance of winning them. I suffered from Edward's absence for much of the game. Towards the end a "tipping point" was reached where Scots recuitment overtook my ability to march troops up from England every year, and in the final year my position just crumbled. Very enjoyable evening but a real brain-burner - we both reported "hang-overs" next morning.

Friday, October 22, 2004

ScrappleFace: Father of Deconstructionism Dies, If 'Death' Means Anything: In lieu of flowers, friends of Mr. Derrida are urged to devote their lives to convincing at least one young person that there is nothing to which it is worth devoting one's life. (via lollardy)

Monday, October 18, 2004

eBay is weird. I wasn't really expecting much from my copy of Wooden Ships & Iron Men, after all, it is pretty abundant and not that interesting (in my view). Sure enough it sat there on £4.99 until within 2 hours of the deadline, then everyone started bidding at once and it reached £27.70!


What can I sell next? I know - Rommel in the Desert. I am aware that Columbia are about to reprint the game, but someone may be happy to pick up an earlier version for a fraction of what it will cost to buy and ship it from Canada.
I am suspicious of the New Revised Standard version, with its determination to render the Bible into politically correct English. (I'm an ESV man myself.) Walter Wink - the eminent theologian - thinks otherwise:

All these excellences (and there are too many to count) will probably be eclipsed in the public mind by the NRSV’s treatment of sexist language. Be ready for the argument that the translators have violated the Greek text in order to curry the favor of feminists. That is all bluster. The care with which this part of the mandate has been achieved is everywhere evident. The fact is that sexist translations are inaccurate. To use "men" when women are clearly included is not just insensitive, it is incorrect.
Finally - FINALLY - after a 2 month wait, I got airborne today. 11 flights, doing progressively more and more scary things such as speed bar, big ears, and - on the last two flights of the day - asymmetric tucks! Now from my reading of the paragliding forum over at, I have come away with the fixed idea that an asymmetric tuck = death. So imagine how I felt when my instructor (Andy) told me to deliberately induce one.....

But in the event it went surpisingly well. These modern DHV 1 wings are so bomb-proof, it just dropped gently groundwards and swung towards the collapsed side a little, but as soon as I let go of the risers it went "phloop!" and reinflated itself immediately. How could that kill anyone?

Andy told me afterwards he was a little surprised how enthusiastically I went for the tuck and that approx 30% of my wing had been collapsed! Woops - went a bit mental there. But paragliding is like that - you are either totally frozen with fear or ridiculously over-confident. Often experiencing both states of mind in the same half hour.....

Friday, October 15, 2004

Does anyone want a free ticket to see Siegfried at English National Opera on 27 November? I have decided I would rather spend a weekend in Cardiff playing Europe Engulfed with Nick and Dave than watch the next episode in this incoherent, soulless production. But it may appeal to someone out there! First one to contact me gets it.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Well I'm not sure about this eBay selling lark. My two games went for £23 altogether. By the time I've paid commission to eBay and PayPal, and accidentally undercharged for postage, I've netted about £19. With all the hassle of photographing and weighing them, setting up the sales on eBay (which I admit was quite fun actually), parcelling them up and queuing in the Post Office for half an hour to post them, I'm just about making minimum wage! I've got Wooden Ships & Iron Men up this week, after that I think I will review the games-culling strategy.

I wonder if there is not such a good market for wargames in the UK as there is in the US, so you get an inflated idea of their value if you look at what they are fetching on eBay over there?
Had a great time playing the ASL Starter Kit scenario 1, "Retaking Vierville", with Phil over the weekend. I was the Germans and had a really difficult time against the firepower of the American Airborne. This was a lot more fun than I had expected from reading the rules, which are fairly impenetrable. The rulebook is short however - less than 10 pages - and generously illustrated with very useful examples of play with big full-colour diagrams. The most useful thing was an unofficial play-aid downloaded from BoardGameGeek. So many thanks to "mbtanker" whoever you are - without this we would have really struggled.

Phil - who hated Memoir44 - thought that this was "the real thing". I think we're both in serious danger of getting hooked.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Form an orderly queue please for the first two items in my eBay games clearance: Krieg! and Stellar Conquest.

Sniff. I'm going to miss you two......