Tuesday, February 28, 2006

War of the Ring - in colour!

On Sunday Les and I got together for War of the Ring. If you look closely you can see that I have finished painting the figures (except the Companions and Minions). They looked spectacular on the map, well worth the effort, and being able to instantly distinguish the different races made it significantly easier to play as well. However, my sense of pride in my paint job didn't save me from defeat - after a tough struggle with many setbacks the hobbits succumbed to corruption on step 4 of the Mordor track.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Flying update

Flying, what flying? We're right in the heart of the winter lay-off, with windy and wet conditions keeping everyone grounded at the moment. But even when a rare patch of flyable weekend weather comes along, my paraglider is still at Gin UK being mended after last December's encounter with the trees. Having been dragged out of the trees by a 4x4, it came as no surprise to learn that the lines were stretched and weakened to 50% of their new breaking strain. A new line-set is being shipped out from Korea as we speak, but it may be weeks yet before my wing is back home and ready to fly again.

Meanwhile I'm taking the opportunity to get my reserve repacked. Sounds boring, but definitely not a corner I want to cut.

And I've also been consoling myself with DVDs about the sport - "Speed to Fly" and "Never Ending Thermal" keeping my enthusiasm alive.

I've also been booking some paragliding trips for this year: Dune de Pyla in France in May with Flight Culture. This is an area of big sand-dunes on the bordeaux coast, famous for easy ridge-soaring and soft landings. Then Zillertal in Austria in June with Austrian Arena to do a Thermalling Clinic. I was there skiing last winter, it will be amazing to visit again - this time to float (effortlessly?) above the same landscape.

And I'm studying towards the next qualification - Green Dragons have been running lectures over the last few weeks preparing us for the Pilot exam next week. I'm revising in spare moments over breakfast and lunch, cramming my head with Air Law, Flight Theory and Meteorology. Hopefully I will pass, then all I have to do is get 25 hours flying time, pull a few 50% collapses, and I will be a Pilot. Cross-country flying awaits!


Friday, February 17, 2006

Losing and loving it

Another gaming session at Keith's last night. First up was Ra. Fresh from my victory on Saturday I was feeling confident, and splashed out early on some unwise purchases that left me with only 1, 2 and 8 to spend in the second epoch. I fear I became a bit of a nuisance calling RA every round trying to get a bargain with my 1. In the end Trevor romped home with 60 points leaving the rest of us clustered in the 30-somethings. On reflection I blame Keith's multi-coloured player "aids" printed out from BGG for my poor showing - all that visual noise distracted my normally razor-sharp position-evaluation skills.

Next I set up Oltremare, which my Mum gave me at Christmas - the original version with the tiny map and slightly fiddly counters. The game seemed a bit daunting during my explanation of the rules, but after a couple of rounds the turns were flowing very smoothly. It's a fun, interesting game that we completed in just over an hour. Les scraped a victory and I came in a poor third. I like the way you have to balance the different elements - the puzzle of which cards to play in which order, planning ahead for next turn, minimizing pirate hits, negotiating good trades and travelling the map looking for the optimal special power. Clever, slick and enjoyable.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

This is what I get for complaining. Next thing I know I’m co-opted onto the team over at Best of Boardgames.

Similar thing happened to me in church a few years ago. I emailed the pastor criticized his behaviour in a meeting. Next thing I know I’m on the leadership team.

That all ended in tears. Hopefully this won’t….

PS I have to say - writing on BlogSome is a much pleasanter experience than using dear old Blogger.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Do we need an aggregator blog?

Forgive me for mentioning this, but Best of Boardgames is looking a bit weak these days. Just 3 postings in the last week, and none of those linking to blogs as such. Have there really been no interesting game blog entries in the last week? What about Joe Gola's inspirational Blue Moon review for a start? Or Iain's exhausting 1944 experiences in the Ardennes ? Or DW Tripp's hilarious if sexist exposé of gamers who daren't take their games home?

I don't know if there is even any need for an aggregator blog - I've got my own window on this world and it's called Bloglines. But if we are to have one, it needs to be regular, informative, and opinionated!


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More ludangelism (is that even a word?)

My "project" non-gamers Linda and Balazs visited on Saturday. After a long walk around the Devil's Punchbowl they sat down with me and Sue to a game of Ra, one of my absolute favourites. The result was a surprise - Linda and Balazs both struggled to score any points at all in the first two epochs, whereas Sue played really well, and seemed very much at home with the kind of thinking the game requires. In the end, I just stole the win from her by a single point.

Here's a photo of Balazs and Sue after the game with big smiles - they seem to have enjoyed themselves.

Sue has seemed uneasy with games that involve manoevering around a map in some way - like Settlers or Yinsh or Carcassone. She seemed a lot happier with Ra which demands a different kind of reasoning - assessing the value of items, anticipating other people's reactions to bidding opportunities, judging when to call an auction or not. Verbal rather than visual reasoning? The question is what other games might you suggest that would appeal to Sue's strengths and possibly suck her further into the evil vortex of our hobby? Lost Cities springs to mind, 6 Nimmt! perhaps, Die Macher even (though she is averse to long games too!)


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Feel your hate Luke. Give in to it.

None of my local gaming buddies play wargames - they are all confessed Euro purists. As part of my evil plan to corrupt them all and turn them from peaceful clear-eyed Euro players into slavering blood-crazed wargamers, I invited Keith round last night to teach him Memoir 44. We played scenario 9 "Operation Lettuce", and Keith took the Germans, with several units of elite SS Panzers and PzGrenadiers to play with. In spite of being a complete beginner at not only Memoir 44, but also the noble arts of war in general, he picked up the idea very quickly, and within half an hour his fanatical warriors were stomping all over my defenders on Hill 317. It was a tough, hard-fought struggle. At one point I briefly retook the hill, only to be thrown off again by Keith's tanks almost immediately. The outcome was inevitable.

But Keith, you may have won the battle, but now you belong to the dark side................


Monday, February 06, 2006

The Virgin Queen

I hardly ever watch TV (films, now that's a different matter) but I freely admit to being hooked by The Virgin Queen on BBC 1 on Sundays. Anne-Marie Duff does Elizabeth to a tee - plain but powerfully attractive, bursting with human energy. And unlike the Cate Blanchett movie (1998, Shekhar Kapur), the history looks pretty solid to me.