Tuesday, July 28, 2009

You're one of Us now

My younger son Phil is 25 years old now. He has been initiated into many kinds of wargame: Axis & Allies, Up Front, Paths of Glory, Space Hulk......

But only last Sunday did he experience a classic hex-and-counter operational wargame of the Grand Tradition for the first time, with zones of control, terrain effect chart, combat resolution table, and all.

Clash of Giants II. 1st Ypres scenario.

Classic indeed. We had a great time. This is a beautiful game, full of tension, decision-angst, and historical interest. Didn't finish, but I recorded the positions and we plan to finish the encounter ASAP.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

They've redesigned the wargame!

I played Iain at Napoleon's Triumph last Sunday. Poor Iain wasn't really in the mood for the huge mental gear-shift involved in learning this game. Previous wargaming experience isn't much help, indeed may even be a hindrance.

In fact I destroyed him (his words not mine) after just four turns. As the Allies I managed to succeed with the plan that they failed with historically, smashing the French right wing before they reinforced it.

This is a stunning game, both visually and intellectually. Not yet sure if I *like* it, but I already have a huge respect for it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"I don't believe it!"

Don't you just hate it when you see an appealing, brand-new shrinkwrapped game that has just arrived in your local game shop, and you pick it up, have a look at it, then decide to go home and sleep on it. You arrive back a few days later, having decided that, yes, this is an essential purchase, and yes, the budget can stand it - only to find that in the meantime some half-wit customer has dropped the game, and it is now far from pristine, barely shrinkwrapped, and with a big ugly dink on one corner of its box.

This happened to me last week - the game: Yanks (ASL module 2); the shop: the Orc's Nest in London.

I think if I were ever to run a games shop I would rapidly become one of those grumpy games shop managers that hates having customers in his shop.

Come to think of it, is there any other kind?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

He looks happy, doesn't he

My best friend Simon got married to Fiona yesterday. I've known Simon for 25 years now, and our life experiences have paralleled each other in many ways. Can you guess what I bought them for a wedding present? Yes, that's right - a game! (Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What does it mean to be a scientist?

So I went over to the Finnerty lab yesterday afternoon, and spent the whole afternoon toiling away - fixing, fetching ice, resectioning, making up solutions, calculating different dilutions of antibody, incubating in blocking solution, pipetting out the antibody solutions.

At 9pm, tired but contented, I carried my precious culture tray down the corridor to the storeroom where sits the big fridge, in which my slices were to spend the next two days rocking back and forth in their little plastic wells. The storeroom door has a heavy spring. My mind was relaxed and thinking about going home. The door sprang back heavily and knocked the tray out of my hands.....

.....which somersaulted through the air in slow motion and crashed to the ground.

Upside down.

I took it back to the lab to salvage but everything was completely trashed - so my whole day was wasted.

I guess this is what it means to be a scientist.

Le Havre, Le Shmhavre

I played Le Havre last Saturday with my friends Vic and Sharon over at the London Mennonite Center. This was my second time with Le Havre, and I'm still not convinced. It doesn't help that I lost again - though by a much smaller margin than last time.

I suppose the root of my difficulty is that I'm not convinced by the theme. If I am going to play a big, long, complicated beast of a gamer's game, then I want it to have some relationship with reality. And to me, Le Havre seems totally divorced from any kind of real economic system that I have ever come across. What is this strange world where goods are picked up for free from the dockside, where you stockpile coal in case you want to build a ship, and where a business's biggest problem is feeding its workers? (Surely you just outsource the staff canteen?) At least there is no money/VP dichotomy. But basically this is "Advanced Puerto Rico", and I think I would rather play a few games of Race for the Galaxy instead, and still have time for something else.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

It's like Beyond Valor all over again.

I've been thinking longingly about Napoleon's Triumph for a couple of years now, ever since I saw it on a table at MidCon, laid out in all its spectacular miniaturesy glory. But every time I see it in the games shop I pick it up and think "Ouch, £45. And after all, do I really need any more games?"

So recently I've been reading the reviews and listening to the podcasts and getting to the "must have" stage, so today I look on the Leisure Games website and - oh bother! - it's out of print.

I've waited too long, AGAIN!

(Like what's-his-name the elf who lingered too long in Middle Earth.)

But wait, The Orc's Nest still have one. I'll be down there tomorrow......