Sunday, December 14, 2008


Roads to Leningrad: Soloing this at the moment. It's been sitting on the dining table for weeks, but my lovely wife never complains. This is a terrific design, I really like the flow of the combat phase, it's very hard to count all the beans in advance, you just have to put as much as you can in place, make your decisions and hope for the best. I suspect there's a lot of skill involved in playing well, especially as the Germans.

Tamsk: A great birthday gift from Phil. Although the physical production is nowhere near as satisfying as Yinsh or Dvonn, I love the tension and excitement of this game. It sheds the sober, thoughtful image of abstracts, and generates lots of fun!

Gouda! Gouda!: Another birthday gift from Les, this has proved to be a hit with Sue. It also went down well with her parents (although it seemed a bit too long with 4).

World War 5: Dinky little Risk-lite game with Icehouse pieces, just arrived as a freebie in the Looney Labs Christmas mailshot. If I play my cards right I may even get Sue to try this one.

Successors: Just arrived courtesy of GMT's autumn sale. Looks wonderful, I have to reluctantly admit that GMT games are getting physically nicer since they switched production to China.

Unhappy King Charles: This preorder is mid-Atlantic I believe, I'm looking forward to seeing what a CDG on this theme looks like. Could be a perfect marriage of politics and warfare.

Race for the Galaxy: the Gathering Storm: This is top of my current cravings. I like Race for the Galaxy a lot, don't often get a chance to play it, and would love to try out the solo "robot" in the expansion.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Melvyn Bragg show covered "Neuroscience" yesterday. Big subject for 40 minutes! A bit like doing a show on "History" for example. They concentrated on functional imaging and consciousness. Hardly anything about pharmacology, molecular biology, genetics, disease etc. Still, good to hear "my" subject being covered on my favourite radio show.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nim50dCon roundup

I played some great games over the weekend with a bunch of friends who came over for my 50th birthday spielfest. As I was the birthday boy, I got to pick what was played, and is probably why I enjoyed them all - old favourites and new (to me) outings alike.

ASL Starter Kit #1: Nick and I played scenario 2 War of the Rats and had a great time.The rules may be daunting, but once you've got the hang of it the game whizzes along, with buckets of tension and excitement.

Blue Moon City: Well I liked it a lot (and that's what counts), even if Simon and Nick ("Blue Moon Shitty")were less impressed.

Race for the Galaxy: We had two outings with this on Saturday. Sad to report that enthusiasm was waning after the second play, but I loved every minute of this. Great game, loads of intricate strategy to explore, I want to play lots more of this. It's left me very keen to get the expansion with its solitaire rules.

Dune was the big event on Saturday. The game ended fairly quickly, which I guess is common with inexperienced players. In turn 3's Nexus John and I saw the opportunity to go for a joint win. Unfortunately we didn't anticipate the other 4 players allying to stop us! 3 climactic battles later and the gang of 4 had got their (pretty lame in my view) win. Great game, generates a strong sense of story, I've had masses of fun both times I've played it.

Ticket to Ride Marklin: this went a bit slower than I would have liked, some people taking it a little too seriously perhaps? Good fun though, and I enjoyed getting a win.

Age of Steam: Sunday's big event. Believe it or not, this was first time for everyone at the table. I was very impressed. We got one rule wrong, consigning John to an undeserved bankruptcy. I really enjoyed it, despite losing hands down, always a good sign. I like having the feel of a heavy economic game in a 2-hour package.

China: I have been hankering after Web of Power (sadly out of print) for a while now, so I was delighted when Les presented me with China as a birthday present. We had one game, liked it, and another was suggested, so round we went again. I like it a lot - very nice minimalist area-control game. The map of China is slightly less interesting than Web of Power's Europe, but on the other hand you've got the optional fortress rule which adds a nice extra decision

Thanks to everyone who turned up - as day guests or weekenders - and made it such a special weekend for me: Nick, Simon, Phil, Iain, John, Les and Trevor. We must do it again soon, even though I'm unlikely to be 50 again for a while!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hmmm. Pay the difference (£600) to get our written-off car repaired? Or try living carless for a year?

Monday, October 27, 2008

A lucky escape

Iain, Chris, Raphael and I all wasted hours last week reading the rules to The Napoleonic Wars in preparation for our session on Saturday evening. Iain thought I had a copy of the game, I thought Iain had a copy, and Chris and his son just thought someone had a copy. Oh dear. But I think we all agreed that we'd had a lucky escape.

Instead we played Conquest of Paradise, which I enjoyed a lot (but I won so that always improves my opinion of a game). Iain wasn't very impressed - he felt that the game is too long to be so luck-dependent. He was unlucky with his exploration draws, I admit, but he also didn't play very well (although I would never say that to him of course).

Why I hate Facebook

It's slooowwww.
It's too flirty.
For example: why does it keep showing me ads for finding sexy local singles, no matter how many times I tell it I'm not interested?
I'm tired of seeing pictures of drunk people.
The interface is horribly clunky.
For example, I couldn't even figure out how to write on a friend's wall the other day.
It's a huge waste of time.
And most seriously: no-one reads my blog any more, they're all busy Facebooking!

Now Scrabulous has gone, the one thing I still enjoy about Facebook is playing chess with Phil. But there's other places we could do that. And it's sometimes nice to get people's news. But I'm trying out Twitter for that.

Friday, October 24, 2008

No regrets

I will be playing The Napoleonic Wars with Iain and Chris tomorrow, so naturally enough I am rereading the rules, which has brought back to me with pungent immediacy why I sold this game in the first place. On BGG I read quite a lot of comments along the lines of "great game - shame about the rules", but lets face it, the rules are a mess because the game is a mess. Especially the diplomatic rules. But a lot of the other stuff as well - army groups, conquest and submission, the interphase, etc etc. And why so many funny words, can't we call it a "space" instead of a "duchy"??

The developer Don Greenwood (may he live for ever) also developed ASL and Up Front (of blessed memory), and TNW has the same kind of style - exceptions piled upon exceptions piled upon tottering exceptions. Someone at GMT, Andy Lewis or Gene Billingsley, should have stepped in and said "This won't do. It really won't. Simplify it!"

Still, it was one of their biggest successes of recent years, so maybe I'm mistaken. But IMO it could have been so much better a game......

Thursday, October 23, 2008


GMT games have their usual amazing autumn sale this year. As a P500 customer I can get 50% off any two games. It would be criminal not to take advantage of a discount like that (even with the plunging value of sterling). I'm thinking about Successors, with either Napoleonic Wars 2nd edition (even though I sold my copy of the 1st edition after some unpleasant experiences - probably more the fault of my game group than of the game itself) or Saratoga or Under the Lily Banners or maybe even one of Vance von Borries' East Front Series games?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who you gonna call?

I had a problem (War of the Ring figures still tacky 2 years after applying Games Workshop matt varnish).

I tried to fix it on my own (by dry-brushing over the top of the varnish - no good).

I asked the BoardGame Geek community about it (here).

They suggested an answer (Testors Dullcote).

I tried their answer (ordered a bottle of Testors from here - applied it to a few Isengard orcs - it works! - they look great too).

I love BoardGameGeeks!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gosh I'm desperate for a wargame. Life isn't the same since my regular opponent moved to Ireland. Sue played Conquest of Paradise with me the other evening, bless her good heart, but only on condition that I didn't do any fighting. In the end I attacked some of the intrinsic warriors on the map, but I think I got away with that - she didn't seem to mind. But I really need a good old-fashioned hex-and-counter stand-up fight with someone......

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Coast to Coast walk was an amazing experience. Nearly three weeks in the open air - we got very fit and healthy. We had a couple of difficult days in the rain, but most of the time we had great weather. By the time we arrived in the Lake District we had become eaters of miles, and found it relatively easy to do the big climbs over Kidsty Pike and St Sunday Crag that we encountered. I picked up a stomach bug and we spent an unscheduled day in Borrowdale while I recovered, so next day we had to do two days' walk in one day to get back on schedule, 16 miles over Honister Pass and down the length of Ennerdale, but we coped with even that. It was a great feeling to finally dip our toes in the sea at St Bees; the tide was out so we had to walk an extra 200yds!

Photos are here if you're interested.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tomorrow I walk across England

Or start to, at least. Sue and I are heading off on Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk, from Robin Hood's Bay on the North Sea to St Bee's Head on the Irish. It's 190 miles, but we're taking it at a leisurely pace, over two and a half weeks. That's quite a long time to go without gaming, blogging and BGG! Last time we did a long walk we took a tube of Icehouse pieces with us, but I'm not sure I can stand 2 1/2 weeks of Treehouse.....

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The End

Today I finally came to the end of my year of living dangerously. This is the last day of my Neuroscience MSc, and I've just picked up my result from the notice pinned outside the course supervisor's office. This afternoon I travelled over to the Institute with my heart in my mouth, dosing myself with coffee and chocolate at St Pancreas to fortify myself for the shock. It was a Distinction! So I'm pretty happy with that, although I have an innate tendency to think I could always have done better, but in this case, well, I really couldn't. So I'm shocked, as expected - I think any result, distinction, merit, pass or fail, would have shocked me - but a warm glow of happiness is slowly filtering into my consciousness as well.

If only I could do this well at online Euphrat & Tigris....

Friday, August 01, 2008

Recent acquisitions

In spite of being an indigent student, I allow myself a modest monthly game-buying budget. I've been satisfying my urges with BGG trades for quite a while, so the budget has been piling up, and I've finally decided to spend some of it.

Attack Sub: I started looking out for this one on eBay after listening to a rave review on the Contact with the Enemy podcast. Sounds like a great theme and another card game from Courtney Allen the designer of Up Front has to be worth a try. And it would be a great one to try with Marty my local wargaming opponent on weekday evenings when time is short. Sadly Marty has moved to Ireland so not sure when this will reach the table now.....sigh.

Roads to Leningrad: I'm very excited about this one. Having recently harangued passers-by about hex-and-counter operational games, I thought perhaps I should invest in one. RtL is highly rated, if little known, and it's currently on sale at GMT, so I decided to try it out. I have to say the presentation of this game is nothing short of lavish. Beautiful, large, colourful counters, gorgeous maps, and generous play-aids including full-colour scenario cards. I'm really enjoying the sensual pleasure of breaking this out of its box, punching, clipping and sorting the counters; plus the intellectual pleasure of reading the rules (which are longish but seem very solid and clearly explained) and the playbook.

ASL RuleBook: Yes I finally caved in on this one, though there is still some internal resistance to shelling out for Beyond Valor as well! A friend is picking it up for me so I have yet to get my hands on it. I'm preparing myself for the shock....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Help me decide what to do next.....

As regular readers will know, I am coming to the end of a Masters course in Neuroscience at King's College London. And I just can't decide what to do next. Shall I try to stay on in the lab as a PhD student, working hard for long hours, perennially short of money, with an uncertain future at the end of it as a 50-something competing with 20-somethings for my first post-doc position? On the other hand, I would be working on one of two questions in science that really matter - how did the universe begin? and how does the brain work? - all the rest being trivia according to my supervisor Gerald Finnerty. Or shall I try to get a job in bioinformatics? As our knowledge of genetics mushrooms this is a booming field, and one where I might be able to use my 30-years of IT experience. But it could be quite difficult to get that vital first job. Or shall I go back to Egypt? Back to the commercial world of IT - giving up the dream of working in science, but at least earning a decent wage and building up some kind of pension fund so that Sue and I have a chance of retiring some day.

I've put up a poll - please vote, and post a comment as well. Help me to think this through.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Drive on Metz, 1944

This wifeless weekend just gone also saw me punching and clipping the counters for Drive on Metz which came as a cover game in the latest issue of C3i. It's an introductory game from Jim Dunnigan the veteran designer of SPI in the 70's. I have happy memories of playing his Napoleon at Waterloo in school lunchbreaks (and more recently at and this game is very much in the same mould - if enything even simpler and with even fewer counters (about 20!). It's a very simple ruleset with a completely bloodless CRT, which gives the game a strangely puzzle-like feel. This is not the place to go to quickly satisfy your wargaming bloodlust (try Up Front for that!) The carefully thought out victory conditions enhance this abstract feel - JD's experience clearly shows here, and it's a lesson many designers would do well to attend to. How many otherwise impressive wargames are let down by sloppy victory conditions (Paths of Glory - why all those VPs in Italy? Von Manstein's Backhand Blow - where's the incentive for the Soviets to overextend themselves?)

So, not a thriller (it's not Breakout Normandy!), but a possible gift to my potential wargamer nephew, or a quick lunchtime game if you're lucky enough to have an opponent at work.

PS C3i also included 4 new scenario cards for Commands and Colors:Ancients, and an excellent article on the Trafalgar campaign, which makes it £11 very well spent for me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seeing that my friendly local wargames opponent is betraying me by moving to Ireland (what's wrong with Tottenham Marty??) I need to look for alternatives. So I finally got around to trying out Sue is away for the weekend so, being at a loose end on Friday evening, I tried a game of Commands & Colors: Ancients. With all the seasoned players that hang around there I was fully expecting to get creamed, but was pleasantly surprised to get a win. I was very impressed by the software - graphically it's crude, but it is so great having a system that enforces the rules (unlike Vassal or Cyberboard for example). A bit more sophistication in the display would help, like highlighting attacks as they happen, or at least labelling the hexes, but overall it's excellent. Can't wait to try C&C:A again, and maybe move on to Twilight Struggle or Up Front (which has a clunky command line interface!) after that.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

LesCon - the truth

Last weekend's LesCon was great fun. Very comfortable cabin in the Forest of Dean with great facilities nearby - I made three visits to the swimming pool and sauna. We stocked up with piles of food and booze when we arrived then basically hunkered down for an uninterrupted weekend of gaming. Here's what was played:

Up Front Quite a few games of this between various people. My favourite encounter was Paratroop Drop vs Nick - my plucky Brits just barely scraped a win on victory conditions.

El Grande The grand old warhorse of euros. Proved to be better than I remembered it, and I was pleased to get 2nd place (Nick won).

Wits and Wagers Late on Friday. I'm not a fan of party games, but this was OK I suppose.

Struggle of Empires Saturday morning's epic contest. Les quietly pulled off a surprise tie for first place with Dave (who was making a lot more sturm und drang on the board). I came 4th but enjoyed every minute - others seemed less convinced of this game's classic status.

Nexus Ops On Saturday evening I taught the other 4 this game and coached them through it. Dave won with his from-the-off aggression. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

Bean Trader Saturday ended with this fun game. Marty showed his alarming negotiation skills. He should definitely have been a 2nd-hand car dealer, not a doctor.

Dune Nick had to head home late on Saturday for an archaeological emergency, so he missed out on this classic from the 70's. I was delighted to finally get a chance to play this. I won on turn 5 when my Fremen seized the opportunity presented by the overflowing Tleilaxu tanks and snatched Arrakeen. It took us about 3 hours, and the time raced by - there's always something interesting happening. I can't wait to play this one again.

Canal Mania Dave won this one, and I came in last. Very enjoyable light "railway" game.

Shooting Ducks Another party game to finish up before we hit the road back home.

Thanks to Les, Nick, Dave and Marty for making this such an enjoyable weekend. And thanks especially to Les for organizing the accommodation and making a wonderful cooked breakfast on Saturday morning. Mmmmm, black pudding.......

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The red box

LesCon - which is actually 5 gaming buddies crammed into a log cabin in the Forest of Dean for a weekend - is fast approaching. I'm getting very excited now, and starting to think about what to pack in my red box. As a necessary discipline I plan to restrict myself to one medium size plastic crate of games, especially as 3 of us are car-sharing so space is at a premium.

I'm thinking of a small number of really good multiplayer games that will take 5, and making sure I know the rules well and am ready to teach them. Current candidates:

Dune (an Avalon Hill scifi classic - very highly thought of in some quarters. I could bring the DVD as well!)
Empires of the Ancient World (a Martin Wallace golden-oldie)
1825 (gentler and shorter than 1830)
Die Macher (the ultimate heavy euro - always wanted to try this)
My amazing poker chips

And perhaps a couple of quick 2-player wargames that don't take up too much space:

ASL Starter Kit 2
Up Front!
Crusader Rex (like Hammer of the Scots with sunshine)
Rise of the Luftwaffe (Up Front in the air! you can do the big bombing missions with more than 2)

And something special from Canada:


Oh dear, even this lot won't fit, so some will have to be left behind.....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Some interesting discussion around my recent post about whether to get into ASL or not. Voting was split, with 3 broadly for and 3 against me taking the ASL plunge. Iain Cheyne and Firestone both preferred the idea of EastFront. Intriguingly Chris Farrell said he would probably still be focussing on ASL if he still had opponents - but what would the gaming hobby have looked like without one of its most insightful commentators?! Marty was against the idea, which is highly significant seeing as he is my only regular wargames opponent at the moment. Andy made the interesting suggestion that I buy only the rulebook (I actually already have a tatty 1st edition), use VASL, and dispense with "the cardboard". Hmmm - surely wargaming would die pretty quickly if we all stopped buying the cardboard?

So where does that leave me? Still confused I suppose.......

Online challenge

Another readers' game anyone? How about Amun Re at SpielByWeb, name "Cingulate gyrus", password "nimrod"?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crokinole love

My lovely wife Sue just returned from a two and a half week trip to Ontario, Canada for a conference of Mennonite pastors. When I collected her from Gatwick she had a mysterious package with her which turned out to be a truly wonderful gift for me - a Crokinole board! As you already know, Crokinole originated among the Mennonites of Ontario, so Sue was right in the heart of Crokinole country, and she bought my board direct from the workshop of Willard Martin where it was made.

We've had a lot of fun playing this already, although Sue beats me every time, having been intensively coached (I allege) by Canadian Mennonites while she was away. It's great - it's like having a pool table in the house, without having to build an extension to put it in.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Whether 'tis better

The big question is: to ASL or not to ASL. I have over £100 accumulated in my games budget, and I'm wondering whether to splurge it on the ASL Rulebook and Beyond Valor. They are actually getting rather scarce in the UK - most of the online retailers are out of stock - but on Saturday, on the way to Iain's, I got off the tube at Leicester Square and had a peep in The Orc's Nest, and there they were, pristine in their shrink wrap. I reverently turned them over in my hands for a few minutes, while the following thoughts went through my head:

1. That's a lot of money.
2. It's so complicated, will I ever actually play this?
3. 14 counter sheets, for all love! How long will that take me to punch and clip?
4. And how will I store all those counters anyway?
5. This is only the start - I would also need For King and Country, Yanks etc etc.
6. These are both out of print at the moment, this may be my last chance to buy them for a year or two.
7. There are some other cool games I could get with my £100. What about EastFront for example?
8. I have plenty of other wargames on my shelf I haven't even played yet.
9. If I get into ASL I'll never have time for any other games, anyway.
10. That's a lot of money.

So I balked. Put them back on the shelf and walked out of the shop. Did I do the right thing dear reader? Maybe I'll drop by the Orc's Nest again next time I'm in town......

MayDay Feast

The bank holiday weekend was a feast of gaming for me. On Saturday I went over to Iain's lovely home on the bank of the Thames at Chiswick. While we waited for James to arrive, Chris introduced Iain and me to Race for the Galaxy. I could tell this is an amazing deep game, but on my first time through it was all I could do to get the hang of the mechanics. Strategy will have to come later. (Fortunately I have a nice new copy of my own to study.) Then on to the main event - 1825 Unit 2. This was new to the other 3, so I was kept busy explaining the rules, shepherding everyone through the first few turns, answering rules queries, doing mental arithmetic for folks, and running the bank. Anyway, that's my explanation for my poor showing, as I came in last. James, who was new to any kind of 18xx game, did extremely well and got 2nd. The general verdict on 1825 was very favourable, so hopefully we'll do it again soon.

Next day Phil and Gav (my 20-something children) came over, cooked me an amazing lunch, and then demanded to play a game. I thought I would risk trying Puerto Rico on them, and was pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed it. The scores were very close - I just scraped a win with a quarry strategy, and the boys asked me if we could play again online, which we are now doing, at the clunky but effective

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Life without revision

Finished my last exam yesterday. Gosh it's been a long haul. I feel a bit bewildered and at a loose end - not sure how to get through a day without revising any more. Maybe I'll just do an hour or two today, just in case......

I've got the day off today - lab project starts tomorrow. So today is a pottering day. I think I'll be spending at least part of it soloing through an ASL Starter Kit scenario. Maybe I should get out in the sunshine at some point as well (sunshine? I vaguely remember that.)

Irresponsibly, I spent some potential revision time on Sunday creating my first ever geeklist. I'm so proud - 16 thumbs!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Getting my mind off brains....

A man can't be always revising for his neuroscience exams, so this week I have managed to fit in soloing an entire game of Clash of Giants II in between all the anxiety, depression, psychosis and amnesia. I played the Ypres scenario and had a fantastic time. The Germans managed to take Ypres but at the cost of seeing their left wing collapse and the French swarm back into Lille. This game was such fun solo I can't imagine how great it must be face-to-face! With a simple rule-set it very precisely captures the feel of WW1 mobile warfare - the constant worries about keeping in contact with friendly units on your left and right, the difficulties of co-ordinating large-scale movements, the slight superiority of defence over attack and the tendency for things to bog down. I like the combat system and the way that troop quality is separated out from raw manpower. And the chit-pull mechanic generates friction and anxiety aplenty.

In my opinion this is an absolutely classic operational-level wargame. I enjoy strategic wargames (like Paths of Glory or Europe Engulfed), and I've had mixed experiences with tactical wargames (ASLSK cool, GBOH not so cool). But for me this sort of thing is the apex of cardboard and paper wargaming: the traditional hex-and-counter operational wargame.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Euphrat & Tigris: always something new

I've been playing it for a decade but this game still holds surprises. I challenged Phil to a quick two-player match after lunch today in his trendy Shoreditch flat. Never seen a game go like this before. Every monument was on the board well before the end, and we made a serious dent in the cube supply. Final score 30:13 to me. I've never scored anything remotely this high in E&T before. How can such simple rules produce so much variety?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Two done, two to go

This morning's exam must have degraded all the structural proteins (like GFAP, actin, tubulin etc) in my brain. It feels like there's just mush in there this afternoon.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spreading the word

Sue's family have been visiting this week (with strict instructions to keep out of my way during the day when I am revising). We played Through the Desert on Monday evening and Ticket to Ride Marklin last night. Leaving out the passenger rules speeded up setup and made a nice playable game that the less enthusiastic gamers (sister-in-law Maggie and niece-in-law Sarah who always wants to know "is it like Risk?") still enjoyed. Everyone was playing very nicely until nephew-in-law Tom suddenly figured out how to be nasty, and spent the rest of the game gleefully blocking his mother's routes. Sarah, who had spent most of the game stressing about completing her long route, won by a nice margin.

So Ticket to Ride lived up to its reputation as an ideal gateway game (ie a great game for people who don't like games).

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Judgement Day

I've been revising since mid-January. That's two and a half months. I think that's the longest I've ever revised for anything, including my finals at Oxford. At last, it's nearly over. I had a relaxing day with Sue yesterday, pottering around Highgate, reading the papers and cooking a nice meal back home. Today it's one last look through my mindmaps for module 1 (yes, I have made a mindmap for *every* lecture in the course)then an early night and the first exam tomorrow.....

Friday, March 28, 2008

That was easy.....

Shiny new template only took about 20 minutes to get up and running. And the new customization features are a whole lot easier than fiddling with the template code. However, I see my little avatar on the right has confused things. And I would really like to be able to pull over my bloglines list and my google bookmarks without having to use code. One day soon perhaps.....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hooked on victory?

I got a big jolt of dopamine - and whatever other euphoric chemicals my brain rewards me with - when I won the readers' game of Euphrat & Tigris the other week. And when I lost the next one by a similarly impressive margin I received an equivalent dose of dysphoria. (See how I'm thinking neuroscience these days? That's what 2 months of solid revision has done to me.) I can't deny that the big win (13/5/4/4!) was an especially memorable and pleasurable gaming experience, whereas the loss left me slightly grumpy and less motivated to play again. So I was wondering how important winning is to my enjoyment of the hobby. If I never win another game, will I continue gaming? I like to think that I'm a fair-minded opponent who gets most of his enjoyment from the playing not the winning - but how long would I last without an occasional dose of victory to keep me interested? We've all met people who take this too far - gamers for whom winning seems to be their only motivation for playing, and who are prepared to be very unpleasant opponents in order to get what they crave - but I'm not sure that I'm high-minded enough to do without the occasional win myself.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I won! I'm starting to like this game.....

I'm starting to come to terms with Combat Commander:Europe. It helps that I've finally - third try - managed to beat Marty. It was quite a satisfying win as well - it didn't feel too random or gamey. My main line of attack was held up by wire for several turns. By the time I finally cleared it (OK that bit was random) I had saved up a pretty deadly hand of fire combos, and caught his defenders in a deadly storm of FT and HMG attacks. They crumbled and fled.

So I'm starting to figure out which levers to press to make things go my way. Never give up the initiative card - if you do you'll never get that crushing attack result you're after. Never forget it's a card game - the state of your hand is just as important as the position of your troops on the map.

Nevertheless, it still feels lacking in authenticity compared with Up Front! or ASLSK. I don't think it will ever draw me into the same visceral experience that its towering forbears can do.

Anyone for another readers' game?

Anyone for Euphrat & Tigris on the BGG server? It's called Insula with password "nimrods".

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Camden Lock Market went up in smoke last night. It's a shame, I liked the shabby hippyness of the place. Ans it's especially a shame as there was a little game shop - Village Games - which most likely burnt down with all the other little businesses there. They sold fancy Go sets and tarot cards and dice and stuff, but they also had quite a few Eurogames stacked on top of cupboards and on the floor. The whole shop was tiny, about the size of a pantry. I hope they were insured...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

An open letter

My darling Sue,

You have probably noticed that there have been rather a lot of parcel deliveries to our home recently. There were two just before Christmas (Conquest of Paradise and Runebound), and another two just after (Clash of Giants II and Reef Encounter), and then a specially large one from the States last week (Commands and Colors:Ancients expansions 2 and 3). I would hate you to think that I have got some sort of compulsive game-buying disorder, so I just want to explain what's going on so that you can understand it's not like that at all.

The easy ones first: Runebound and Reef Encounter were BoardGameGeek trades - I swapped games I don't want (Hansa, Caesar & Cleopatra, and Tempus) for games I do want from some friendly geeks on BGG. It didn't cost me any money (except the postage, quite hefty in the case of Tempus) so I got all the fun of the new-game-in-the-post experience without the expense.

Next let me explain to you about the P500 items: Conquest of Paradise and the Commands and Colors:Ancients expansions. I preordered these from GMT ages ago - back in the summer when I had a well-paid job - so it's almost like getting a free gift in the post - from my old prosperous self. I don't think you can blame me for that - can you?

So that only leaves one: Clash of Giants II. This was in GMT's Christmas sale for their loyal P500 customers. 50% off any two games. I was very restrained - I only bought one, so in fact this was an example, not of extravagence, as might first be assumed, but of careful budgeting and prudence.

So there you are. I hope that's all cleared up in your mind now, and you understand why all those parcels were necessary.

Your loving husband,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blue Moon heaven

This is a fantastic boon for me - Reiner Knizia's Blue Moon is one of my top ten games of all time, but I only know one other person (my good friend Les) who likes to play it. But now, there is a wonderful computer program that I can practice against. It's a free download!

And it beats me every time......

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bring it on

I didn't do very well in our Christmas challenge - 3rd out of 4, only managing to beat Phil, who had never played Euphrat & Tigris before. But never say die, I've opened another readers' game for you over at BoardGameGeek. It's called Nucleus Accumbens, password "nimrods".

Monday, January 21, 2008

Don't miss Phil's retelling of Frankenstein for modern audiences.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thanks a lot Steve

Yesterday iTunes suddenly decided, for some reason, that it had no tunes in its library. Thankfully they were all still there (all 3800 of them) on disk, so all I had to do was point iTunes at the folder. Then there was the scary business of reloading them onto my iPod, which it no longer recognized of course. But the annoying thing is that all my playlists have disappeared, and all my ratings too. So I can no longer listen to my "Friday" playlist or my "5-star rated" playlist. Grr.....