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