Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's been a bit of a gaming drought for me lately, but last weekend really made up for it - the heavens opened and down poured the rain!

The weekend started on Friday (my birthday) with a trip to Salisbury and a very pleasant lunch with Phil at the Lemon Tree. The food was great and Phil was on good form. Then I picked Dave up from Amesbury and drove over to Cardiff in the gathering dark. Nightmare queueing on the M4 from the bridge onwards, and Nick's directions were only moderately helpful due to his mixing up of "right" and "left", but we reached his flat in the end, only to be immediately dragged out again by Nick to his local pub, where we drank a nice local mild and chatted with a scary Welsh ex-para about rugby and Iraq.

Saturday was a gaming epic, one of those occasions that will stick in my mind for a long time. 14 hours of Europe Engulfed, living on breadsticks, wine, and takeaway leftovers, with only a couple of 15 minute breaks. It was marvellous. I took the Western Allies, Nick (newish to the game) was the Russians, and Dave played the Axis. We were playing the 1941 Campaign Game, so Dave had a lot of fun the first couple of turns carving through Nick's army. For some reason he kept attacking all through the mud and snow of winter, severely damaging his own strength without significantly hurting the Russians at all. Nick took his emergency conscription and with the arrival of the Siberian elites started to fight back. He needed a bit of encouragement from me to get aggressive as he was still feeling nervous from his 1941 experience, but once he got going the Germans found themselves in desperate straits.

Meanwhile I was making a couple of strategic mistakes - forgetting my Alexandria income, and as a result not taking my first ASW build, and mistaking the weather in Africa at a crucial point which robbed me of an early chance to clear out the Italians with a Special Action. In the end it took me a whole year to collapse Italian morale. Then we waded ashore at an undefended Salonica, and were within an inch of taking Ploesti before Dave got his defence organized. By 1943 the Russians were pocketing large groups of German blocks on the Polish border, while I exploited Dave's slack defence of France with an uncontested landing at Bordeaux, followed by an armoured breakout which had my units rattling around Germany while his armies in France fought to regain supply.

Exhaustion finally stopped us 12:30 and November 1943, but it was pretty clear by then that Dave had lost.

Next morning we got up at 9, ate an enormous cooked breakfast courtesy of Nick, then played Amun Re. I was really pleased to get a game of this at last, and it lived up to its promise. A really intriguing enjoyable game. Dave won. Then it was Euphrat & Tigris in which I just scraped a win (it went to the 2nd tie-break with Dave). It was 2:30 by then and time to leave the Welsh sunshine behind and drive home into the English rain and another working week.........

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Richard Berg, designer of the Great Battles of History game series, likes the new Alexander movie: The Good News is that the extended Gaugamela scene is far and away the best - and most accurate - scene of its kind I have ever seen on a movie screen. This is a spectacular piece of visual movie making, and also a remarkable attempt to show How and Why things happened in an ancient battle. This, alone, will keep you happy for the next 2 hours . . . Wanna see just how a phalanx worked? Go see 'Alexander'.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Last night I met up with a new and very genial group of gamers just down the road in Farnborough. This contact only came about through nimrods - so this site has been good for something at last. We played Puerto Rico, a game which I enjoy but have never done well at. I came 3rd out of 4 but wasn't too unhappy with this - I was only 4 points behind the winner. Probably my best PR performance ever - that says something doesn't it?

This weekend it's Workshop and tomorrow I am giving (half of) the first lecture of the day. Subject: "Gospel of Peace" which is a bit ironic from a wargamer but hey......

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Neil Gaiman once wrote an essay on cities that became embedded in Sim City 2000: Occasionally I idle time away by wondering what cities would be like, were they people. Manhattan is, in my head, fast-talking, untrusting, well-dressed but unshaven. London is huge and confused. Paris is elegant and attractive, older than she looks. San Francisco is crazy, but harmless, and very friendly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Saturday's party went really well. I spent the afternoon preparing crostini toppings and Caesar salad as guests started to trickle in - Gavin and the Baron arrived first at about 3pm, followed by Nick and Dani who had already made a start on the drinking, as they stopped in at a local pub on their way from the station. By 7pm I had a crowd of hungry partygoers who I finally released into the kitchen with feeble admonitions to "remember there are lots of other people still to arrive!"

I was really impressed with how many people turned up and their willingness to make longish journeys to be there - thanks everyone!

As the normal people gradually left for home we were left with a few die-hard gamers. I retired at 1:30am after a hard-fought game of Perudo, but others went on to play Settlers which only finished at 4am, with a rare victory for Nick!

I was up at 10am next morning cooking breakfast for 8 people, then it was off to the pub for lunch with the last few dregs of the party. What a great, sociable way to spend a weekend, and an effective antidote to 46th birthday blues (which was the intention all along.)

Here are
a few photos of some of the lovely partygoers.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

MMP have done the defensive fire example from the ASL Starter Kit as a very nice Flash demo.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I have this theory that you can tell a lot about the psyche of a European nation by the shape of its sanitary-ware. Take Austrian WCs for example, with that weird tray which offers up your soilage for examination before you flush it away. And the first thing I noticed whan I arrived here was the shape of the Spanish urinals - two sort-of knee scoops so you can really get up close, and big embracing wings to hide you from your neighbors. Are these seemingly macho Spanish men actually paranoid about letting other guys see their johnson??

And yes, there´s also a lot of other good stuff to see here in Seville apart from the urinals.....