Monday, July 19, 2010

Always confirm the venue

I arranged to meet Sam yesterday at 9:30am for a game of 1825. At 9:50 I was starting to worry - has he forgotten? has he been knocked off his bike? At 9:50 Sam was also sitting at home wondering where I had got to. It turns out we had both assumed we were going to meet at our own place.

Anyway one fast bike ride later and Sam is sitting down at my dining table for a game of Chicago Express (no time for 1825 now) at which I managed to beat him soundly. I do like Chicago Express (he says in the warm afterglow of victory). Such a lot of economic and railway building interest in a short game. Then Sam got his revenge at Race for the Galaxy - I love this game but seem to be totally incapable of winning even one hand.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The power of information

Well, you put up with something for literally years (an annoying green moon-like blob in the centre of the screen when I'm watching films on my Hitachi PJ-TX100 projector) and it's really annoying sometimes, especially in dark films (like Moon for example) but you try to grit your teeth and not make a fuss like your parents taught you, and then one day you wake up and think "Why am I putting up with this? This is the age of the internet!" And after about 10 minutes of research you find the answer (here). You spend £20 on a compressed air thingy (quite a lot, but a lot cheaper than a new projector) carefully squirt it into the correct opening and bingo! It doesn't work. But you try again and again and finally get a torch so you can see what you're doing and - aaaah - it works. Bliss. You've no idea how nice it feels to watch a film without the green blob.

Isn't the internet great?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Barbarossa to Berlin: the "to Berlin" bit

Phil came back today to "finish the job" on Barbarossa to Berlin. I was fully expecting to lose before lunch, but actually managed to drag it out until 4:30 and the penultimate turn. I failed to get "Totaler Krieg" played, but a 2-year siege of Kiev, no less than two failed invasions of France, and a mistimed play of "Casablanca" all kept the tension high right to the very end - Phil's final victory in Spring 45.

What a great wargame! I think Ted Raicer's decision to cut out the phony war and start with the invasion of Russia was inspired. It makes for a tight, compact game (we finished inside 12 hours, whereas I have played Europe Engulfed for 3 exhausting days in a row and still not finished) that feels like World War 2 - fewer opportunities for the weird "what-if" branches from history that a game starting in 1939 has to navigate.

Do I prefer it to Paths of Glory? Not sure, but I'm leaning towards BtB. PoG has the big strategic decisions (East or West) that are kind of settled before BtB begins. But there's still a lot of strategic thinking that has to be done about balancing risks, covering your back (guess where the next invasion comes) and managing your manpower resources (RPs vs the latest crisis). And I definitely prefer it to Europe Engulfed - it's more compact both in time and space.

Monday, July 05, 2010

A weekend of the hard stuff

Yes, a weekend of complicated deep games.


1825 Unit 2 on Friday evening with Sam the Connecticut Yankee, a smart young Mennonite who is in London for 3 years volunteering. I tentatively suggested an 18xx game but warned him they are a bit complicated. "I like complicated games" was his response, and sure enough, he cottoned on really quickly. I got off to a good start but by the end game his Midland was a real powerhouse, churning out £380 a round. He did a great job using the GCR (which was owned 50/50 but run by Sam) as a source of cheap locomotives for his other companies. In the end he nearly caught me, but not quite.

Then on Sunday son Phil came over for Barbarossa to Berlin. As the Germans I kicked off with the Barbarossa card and managed to make a real hash of things. I got nowhere near Moscow or Leningrad, and by the time winter and the Siberians arrived I was having a terrible time - a real fight for survival. But then in 42 Phil eased off the pressure and allowed me to rebuild - but at the expense of losing more ground in Russia. We didn't finish - hoping to do that on Sunday. My biggest worry is I won't get the Totaler Krieg played - I'm already down to 9 VPs. It's a great game - enjoying it a lot in spite of my tribulations. I must update my BGG entry - I was feeling a bit grumpy about errata at the time. Most of my experiences of BtB have been with a certain opponent (yes Dave I mean you) who likes to play the Germans, has his two years of fun, doesn't do as well as he hoped, and concedes - denying me the fun of planning invasions and driving into Germany etc. An antisocial habit, and one I will eschew - I 've promised Phil I will go down fighting....