Thursday, December 30, 2004

Blue vs Gray is a unique strategic wargame which I really like. I don't get many opportunities to play it sadly. The Wargamer have only just got around to reviewing it (is it even still in print?) but they seem to like it too: Each card type deals a different ability that ensures that no two games are going to be alike – different maps, different orders of battle and leaders, different effects and bonuses – all makes the Civil War eminently replayable. I can't stress enough how fascinating this is; it's a big draw to come back to this title multiple times.
Does anyone have any ideas for a new strapline? "Boardgame geeks of..." was appropriate when I lived in Salisbury and belonged to a gaming group there, but seems less appropriate now that I am the only living gamer (as far as I know) in Farnham.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | How can religious people explain something like this?: Earthquakes and the belief in the judgment of God are, indeed, very hard to reconcile. However, no religion that offers an explanation of the world can avoid making some kind of an attempt to fit the two together. And an immense earthquake like the one that took place off Sumatra on Sunday inevitably poses that challenge afresh in dramatic terms.
Howls of outrage about the new look to be placed in the comments for this posting. Thanks.

Friday, December 24, 2004

This very useful QuickStart for Brettspielwelt is rather hard to find from the front page - I only reached it with a Google search.
Fantasy Flight's new card game Senator looks intriguing - is this the long dreamed-of playable alternative to Avalon Hill's classic monster Republic of Rome?
I got completely stuffed at Scrabble again by Gavin last night. He was over 100 points ahead of me at the end. Very disheartening - for years I could reliably beat him every time without too much effort. Gavin reckons his new form is the result of 9 months of unemployment spent watching Countdown.
Kris Burm is the designer of Gipf, Yinsh etc and describes himself as the world's only professional abstract game designer. There's an interesting interview with him at MindZine. He sounds discouraged: Often they don't even know how a game works anymore; they just look at the box, turn it around once or twice, shake it a few times and ask themselves aloud: 'can I sell it?'.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

PS I am getting really tired of this template. Look for big changes in the near future.....
Feeling a bit conflicted about my blogroll. I've been freshening up my links a bit today, and decided to split out game-related blogs and websites from the rest. I've always resisted this, on theological grounds. No wait, bear with me. I never wanted to split out links to Christian bloggers and websites because this smacked of putting my faith in a separate box that doesn't connect with the rest of my life. So I decided to leave them all mixed up with the other stuff for people to stumble across by accident perhaps. But now I've split out my gaming links, why not the faith-related stuff as well. The way it is now, doesn't it look as if gaming is more important to me than my faith? Maybe. But this is a gaming blog more than anything else, so I think it makes sense to pull out the gaming stuff in my blogroll. Meanwhile my faith stays mixed up, yeast-like, with all the other stuff. For now.....

Do you think I worry about this stuff too much?
I had an enjoyable gaming session last night with Les, Keith and Trevor. We started off with San Juan, where I got off to a shaky start, investing in violet buildings before I had got my production sorted out, and came in last. Discussing what to play next we discovered that both Keith and I had brought a copy of Amun Re along, so it was obviously meant to be. When we started I felt as if I was making the same sort of mistake all over again - I forgot to buy farmers for my first area, I was so desperate to get pyramids built, and for the rest of the game I seemed to be short of money compared to the others. On reflection I suspect this is why I won - the other 3 were so focussed on making money, which they did very successfully, that they were in danger of forgetting about victory points. It was simple things like getting complete sets of pyramids and winning or at least tying the most-pyramids contests that gave me a big lead by the end. It was a bit of a skinflints' game - again reflecting everyone's financial focus - with generally very low prices paid in the land auctions, and small sacrifices to Amun Re. Great game this, I want to play it lots more.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Possibly the funniest Session Report ever (but you do need to have played Amun Re to get it): The following is a translation of an ancient Egyptian text found in a crude clay pot buried long, long ago on the banks of the Nile. Carbon dating of the ink on the papyrus indicates that this was written sometime in the neighborhood of August 8, 2004 B.C., possibly at 3:15 in the afternoon.

(via Mikko Saari)

Monday, December 20, 2004

ASL Starter Kit 2 is now available for preorder!

ASL Starter Kit #2 - GUNS! features the ordnance and light anti-tank weaponry of the Advanced Squad Leader series. ASL Starter Kit #2 contains the refined rulebook from ASL Starter Kit #1 with new rules added and old rules clearly marked so that no rereading is required!

ASL Starter Kit #2 is a complete game, everything you need to play the scenarios in the game is in the box!

ASL Starter Kit #1 is not required to play ASL Starter Kit #2, although players may wish to own the maps and scenarios from that module.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

moleskinerie: Moles need skins too: A few days ago, I learn of this website, moleskinerie: legends and other stories. I go there, of course. It’s a weird amalgam of images of other people’s moleskine notebooks and huckstering for crap like a clock implanted in the belly of a Buddha. I detect the spoor of an online cult of the moleskine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The gaming situation continues to improve, thanks to the Farnborough group. I met up with them again the week before last to play Modern Art - which was new to me, believe it or not. I got stuffed, of course - this is the archetypal Knizia game, subtle, carefully balanced, deep. Needs lots of play to get good at.

Then last week I met Les at the Plumes in Crondall (excellent pub, lovely beer) to play two-player Euros. We did a couple of rounds of Scarab Lords and then San Juan. Les cheerfully put up with me winning everything. I had played San Juan before at BayCon but thanks to Les's patient explanation I actually started to understand the game this time round.

And of course with Gavin at home for a few weeks I recently received the obligatory Scrabble challenge. The days when I used to beat him every time are well and truly past - I never got a look in this time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

They finally arrived at the weekend - with some birthday money my Mum had sent me I ordered a batch of classical CDs from Europadisc. I am really enjoying unpacking these and listening my way through them:

Bach - St Matthew Passion, Gardiner, Archiv
Brahms - Complete Symphonies , G√ľnter Wand, RCA Classics
Beethoven/Mendelssohn - Violin Concertos, Munch, Heifetz, RCA
Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No.2, Ashkenazy, Kondrashin, DECCA
Beethoven Symphonies 5 & 7 - Kleiber, VPO, DG

The Kleiber in particular has lived up to expectations - I knew this recording had a special reputation but Beethoven 5 is so familiar I wasn't expecting too much. In the event it raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

It helps that I have been fiddling with my hifi. One of the (few) advantages of being single is that you can move your hifi when you want to. It is now set up in the optimum position opposite the sofa with the speakers nicely spaced. And it sounds superb. It is getting on in years, nearly 20 years old now, and it still sounds great. Mission CD player and amp, with Ruark speakers, it was a substantial and not very wise purchase when I was a young man with a growing family, but gosh it has given me a lot of pleasure in the years since.

Monday, December 13, 2004

In another conversation at the weekend, Esther was communicating to me her enthusiasm for the School of Theology run by Holy Trinity Brompton. It sounds very appealing, as a follow-on from Workshop, with perhaps a different perspective on the same issues, and I am seriously considering applying for next year.
I have been reading Jim Wallis's "A Call to Conversion", a deeply challenging book which is pushing me to reconsider my aversion to "radical Christianity". At Workshop this weekend Sue pointed me to the Sojourners website which has lots of thought-provoking material. Rather US-centric, but required reading.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Have a look at my new website for Street Children of Peru. I admit the design is not...ahem...completely original, but I think it works quite well:

For a boy abandoned and living on the street there is only one goal - to survive however he can. He will turn to begging, stealing, scavenging and prostitution. Street Children of Peru works with Scripture Union of Peru to break this spiral of desperation.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Rob McGovern has started a new blog called Spiritual Exploration: which I intend to use to look at Church, belief sets and structures of denominations and what can be learnt from them, Church (including looking at house / peace churches), faith, bible readings, religion and anything else that I think fits in that particular realm.