Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bulletin from Belon

My recently revived interest in miniatures has led me back to my old haunt The Bolter and Chainsword. An enduring feature of the gaming ecommunity, the B&C is now what it always has been: the best online hangout for fans of 40K power armour; and a model of how to run an ecommunity.

The B&C has been through several upgrades, as befits its veteran status, and it is now a much more fully-featured community portal than the simple ezboard of 10 years ago. With more to come, the features already available include:
  • Image-hosting: members' albums can be seen in the Gallery.
  • Downloads: lots of stuff created by gamers for gamers.
  • Gothic power armour's own special subsector of the blogosphere.
Talk of the blogosphere brings us to the point, naturally enough: Bulletin from Belon is my new B&C community blog.

I've never used a community blog before, because I had no reason to divert content from RD/KA!. Chapter Astartes Penumbra's Talons though is frankly one of my proudest creations; returning to work on them then, I felt they deserved more than just the occasional post here. This all the more so because I had a title ready and waiting which'd rattled around in my brain for several years, a title which I knew I wanted to headline all my blogging about my lads. A B&C blog followed by a process of ineluctable logic.

And why Belon? Well, if you don't already know the answer, and you want to know, you know where to go... ;)

PS. Thanks to Ange for her help with hosting my shiny new link to Bulletin from Belon. :-D

Friday, June 26, 2009

In the news

The bad news
The DiceCon website has officially announced the sad news I'd learned from Gordon Lamont at UK Expo'09: there will be no DiceConWest'09, because the Central Hotel has been in administration, leaving DiceCon without a venue. Searching for details of the Central Hotel story, I stumbled on the latest news @Evening Timesonline: the Central Hotel has found a buyer. Does this mean that there will still be a future for DiceConWest at the Central hotel? Only time will tell.

I confess I hope so, because I have a sentimental attachment to this particular relic of Victorian imperial pomp. Quite apart from beginning there my acquaintance with DiceCon, the Central Hotel was the venue for my first ever SF convention - a memorable Albacon - some 20 or more years ago. There was another games con there too, which was unfortunately never repeated. So I can't help but hope the place'll provide more pleasant geekish memories for yours truly.

The good news
The premiere event in Scotland's gaming calendar - South East Scotland Wargames Club's Claymore - makes a long awaited move to a new venue this year. The new venue is Edinburgh's Telford College, which should be a better space for a games convention than was Meadowbank Stadium. It certainly enjoys better onsite facilities, according to the details on SESWC's Claymore page. That Telford College is, if anything, less central than Meadowbank is not really a complaint: many will arrive by car and there is ample parking; otherwise, public transport should be quite adequate.

Old hands and regular readers will know I'm a longstanding visitor to Claymore underwhelmed by the event in recent years. This change of venue gives me a renewed interest in Claymore. I don't know what impact this move will have on the event, but I can say that I'm looking forward to finding out.

The other news
Battlestar Galatica, your humble scribe's favourite new multiplayer boardgame of late is to be expanded, as had been anticipated by many fans, not least Andy and myself. Announced a couple of weeks ago, Evolution and Rebellion adds new boards, characters, cards and playing pieces to bring the game up to speed with more of the show.

Catching up on the show- I'm into season 3 now thanks to Andy's DVD's, I've been increasingly impressed at Cory Konieczka's adaption, as plot-twist after plot-twist exposed the logic underlying the game's dramatic dynamic. Cross-media adaptions are hardly new in geek culture; but I have particularly enjoyed in recent months the unique experience of having the primary source and a major adaption unfold in parallel as object and image. I look forward to seeing how the designer fills out the rest of the story with this new box of stuff. ;)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back to reality?

June opened with a tumultuous couple of weeks for yours truly. Last week saw normal service resumed at the gaming table if not quite here at RD/KA!:
  • On Friday Badger and I returned to our Stalingrad campaign in Combat Commander; I won, saving the day for the Russians amid the rubble atop the Mamayev Kurgan.
  • Dave, Donald, Gav, Tony and myself made 5 for games on Sunday; playing our way through:
  1. A game of Ivanhoe - victory to me.
  2. Two games of Settlers; the first went to Dave, with a spectacular 4VP leap to victory, which included 3 VP cards; the second to Donald, who sneaked in just ahead of Gav.
Badger 0
Dave 1
Donald 1
Duffers #1 and #2 0
Brave Sir John 2

Friday, June 19, 2009

There came a wanderer #4: the wind-down and the send-off

Creeping tiredness which drove us much earlier to bed on the Friday night, coupled with Keith's plan for a lunchtime meet with ORC (the Open Roleplaying Community) in a bar in Edinburgh, meant that Saturday dawned blearily early. One coach journey later, Keith was introduced to his Edinburgh host, while I set off for a wander around the city of my birth; Scotland's Athens of the North.

As I said last month, the shiny new Codex: Space Marines and lovely new plastic kits mean that the siren song I've been hearing from the painting table for many months now has become particularly insistent in respect of my Penumbra's Talons (colours left, thanks to The Space Marine Painter V3.0 over at The Bolter and Chainsword). It was a cinch therefore that my first port of call during my unexpected visit to Edinburgh would be the local GW, located on the Royal Mile.

I was having a nice chat with one of the staff there when, to my surprise, a familiar face appeared. Last known to be in Stockholm, it was John. He'd been the manager in the Glasgow store when my Talons won me best painted army in the mini-tournament the store staged to mark the release of 40K4 back in 2004. We spent a pleasant few minutes catching up and gloating over new stuff in the GW ranges before I departed on my main mission for the day- tracking down a copy of one of Keith's Eberron novels; with John's injunction to visit again soon ringing in my ears.

Keith, me and John

I proved unable to find even one of Keith's novels, but I was able to fulfil John's injunction sooner than he'd expected, when Keith declared his wish to visit GW; visiting local games stores being part of his globetrotting plan.

And that, dear readers, is pretty much that. Saturday evening was to be a quiet night in so that Keith could recharge his batteries; Saturday's dinner was to be a choice of leftovers, zapped in the microwave. Sunday saw us visit Static games to meet Kenny (nope, none of Keith's Eberron novels there either!) while we awaited Sunday office hours at Glasgow Cathedral where Keith had to file some tourist paperwork. I left Keith in Glasgow airport on Sunday afternoon. He was heading into a coffee bar to get some work done as he sat down to wait for the arrival of his girlfriend's flight from the US.

So, Keith. Thanks for visiting. I was very pleased to be part of your big adventure, the scope of which frankly boggles me just a bit; and I enjoyed hanging out with you. My best wishes to you for the future. ;)

- Epic adventure!
- There came a wanderer #1: Well, that was unexpected!
- There came a wanderer #2: Return to Eberron
- There came a wanderer #3: Dining out and gaming on!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

There came a wanderer #3: Dining out and gaming on!

Beside the Clyde
Friday dawned later than expected, as happens when two people with shared passions can't resist sitting up chatting until the wee small hours, as you do. Not often a problem, this put a cramp on our plans for the afternoon. Donald had again volunteered his driving services, and we'd decided to visit New Lanark, which neither of us had seen before. New Lanark is the former model mill village on the banks of the upper Clyde that made Robert Owen a household name in the late 18th century, and which is now a World Heritage Site.

In any event, we left late thanks to yours truly; and- no driver, I underestimated our travel time through the narrow and twisting country roads between the motorway and New Lanark. Soon the afternoon was getting on; and we were under a deadline because Friday night is Scout night for Donald. The day was saved by the happy consequence of rumbling tummies (not unlike the night I discovered Two Fat Ladies in Partick), which led us to stop for a late lunch at the Riverside Restaurant in the picturesque village of Kirkfieldbank.

I don't know what Keith's thoughts were, but Donald and I have enough experience of British pub cooking to have had low expectations of the meal we ordered. Whether it's identikit menus obviously cooked largely from frozen; or more individual menus cooked to a disappointing standard; we've learned just to look for something passable to fill us up.

Keith finishes off his steak sandwich

Initially pleased by the '3 courses for the price of 2' lunch offer, we began to suspect something was up when we got to work on our starters. They were just fabulous! Our steak sandwiches were top class too. And the puddings that followed were just the best.

Donald and Keith on the Riverside Restaurant patio (which actually does overlook the River Clyde)

We left the Riverside Restaurant knowing that we'd unwittingly stumbled upon something special. Exactly how special Donald and I didn't find out until Monday last, after Keith had left: it turns out that head chef Alex Thain has won awards. He certainly received high praise from us, I can tell you. Donald and I are already looking for the excuse for another visit.

Keith and I chat on the patio of the Riverside Restaurant

Badger and Gav were due to appear for boardgaming in the evening. They duly arrived, to be fed on Penne alla Toscana from Moyra Bremner and Liz Fillippini's Pasta for Pleasure. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that, in the past 10 years, this book has had as much influence on my pasta cookery as did Philip K. Dick and Lawrence Block on my appreciation of SF and crime fiction respectively.

Unpublished prototype
Keith had brought with him a current boardgame design project; a game so secret that I could tell you what it's about, but then I'd have to, yadda, yadda, yadda, you know the drill. The idea of this caught Badger and Gav's interest, as you can imagine, so we began our evening's session with a game of this work in progress.

I can't say anything about the themes, mechanics or gameplay of this game; other than to note that they are respectively catchy, straightforward, and well-judged for the game's simple concept. I can add that the design looks to be a solid one in a fairly late stage of development: whether it was Keith's tinkering; or our questions about features of the game; notional changes generally proved unnecessary after we'd mulled them over.

"Mine, all mine! Mwah hah hah ha!"

Our game went well, and Badger, Gav and I all enjoyed playing (although my enjoyment was tempered by my utterly dismal performance, naturally enough). In fact, Badger liked it so much he announced his intention of buying a copy when the game hits the shelves. For my part, I was amazed that Keith had taken the 2 features of family boardgames I most dislike- namely roll-and-move and the linear movement track, features which turned me off of Talisman on sight, for example; and made them the basis of a really enjoyable game. That's good going in my book.

Oh, and Badger won!

The Badger 1
The Ratpack 0

Gloom is a cardgame designed by Keith with the unique feature that it uses transparent plastic cards so that modifiers located on different parts of different cards can all be seen at a glance. The game features the comically macabre theme of unhappy families, desperate to die; but not just any old death - it must be a death sufficiently unusual as to be memorable.

Key to this is the playing of cards to stack them on your own or your opponents' family members. These use the transparency system to add or obscure positive and negative points scores; to 'depress' or to 'cheer up' up the family members. Your goal is to make your family members worth enough points to merit finishing them off with a death card; your opponents' is to prevent this; and vice versa. The winner is the person whose dead family members are worth the most points when the game ends; which is as soon as any player's family is completely dead. There are other features to the game, but that's the gist of it.

Keith deep in his Gloom

I'd played Gloom before; with 'Uncle' Martin in Edinburgh airport, during the predawn hours while we awaited our flight. I confess I wasn't hugely taken by the game back then. The cards and the theme were cute, I thought, but the gameplay was too simplistic to appeal to me. And now? I enjoyed the game much more.

I suspect playing with 4 players instead of just 2 was important. Although there are strategic subtlties to the gameplay- as you'd expect from any game involving hand-management; these aren't really to the fore without the crossplay invoked by 3 or more players. So Gloom might be a multiplayer game particularly poorly served by 2-player play (the game's BGG ratings would seem to bear this out).

However important the extra players were, most important to my enjoyment (I was playing miserably again!) was the fact that I made the effort to narrate my cardplay, making up a wee story about the card I was playing and its effect on the family member I was playing it upon. Recommended by the rules, and by Keith, this has no effect on the gameplay at all. It just makes the game a lot more enjoyable. In fact, as Keith confirmed: the gameplay is as simple as it is precisely because the story-telling element is at least as important to the game as is the race to fill the family plots in the graveyard. This is also precisely the element of the game Martin and I left out that morning in the airport. Nuff said, I think.

Gav ended up handing the game to Keith on a plate. Faced with my bemoaning his half-assed decision, Gav pointed out that he'd been unlikely to win, and that he had achieved his secondary objective: stop Badger winning. Gah!

'Curses, foiled again!' Badger 1
'Peace of the grave' Keith
Living losers

Epic adventure!
- There came a wanderer #1: Well, that was unexpected!
- There came a wanderer #2: Return to Eberron
- There came a wanderer #4: the wind-down and the send-off

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

There came a wanderer #2: Return to Eberron

Donald was able to run me to the airport to meet Keith on Thursday afternoon. Andy joined us later for the evening's roleplaying Keith had promised to run, in Eberron, the world of his own creation, naturally enough.

We dined on Kerala-style 'Bhuna' Lamb (Kerala Ka Bhuna Gosht), Royal Chicken Korma (Shani Murgh Korma), and Red Lentils from the Khyber Pass (Khyber Pass Ki Masoor Dal), a selection typical from curry restaurant orders all across the country. The 3 recipies were all from Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible. The dal is a standard by now, but the Bhuna and the Korma were both new to me. Madhur Jaffrey however, is the 'Queen of Curries', in the way that Delia towers over home cooking in Britain; so I was confident that the recipies would work.

They did; and Keith pronounced himself astonished that he'd eaten lamb and actually liked it. That'll've been the blend of 6 freshly roasted and ground whole spices for you I guess.

Dinner done and the table cleared, Keith repaired to the 'Seat of Power' (AKA my computer chair), which I guard jealously except when someone else is GM'ing. I had invested in a wee bottle of the fine Glenfiddich single malt, with which Keith and I toasted the occasion of his first game in Scotland before we got under way. Even I was taken aback by the whisky's delicious fruity undertones, which were quite unexpected to me.
Keith takes to the 'Seat of Power' as if he belongs there

My previous adventures in Eberron had all taken place in Khorvaire, the main continent detailed in the D&D3 Eberron Campaign Setting (reviewed here on RPGnet for those of my readers who know less about the setting even than yours truly). Those had been enough to give me a liking for the Eberron setting and its unique take on fantasy adventure. So I was looking forward to seeing what the setting's creator would have in store for us, naturally enough.

Andy, me and Keith

It has to be said that Keith was labouring under certain disadvantages when he started his game that Thursday evening (and no, the effects of the whisky wasn't one of them!). He was confronted by a group of players who were:
  • Rusty as a roleplaying crew, not having roleplayed together for more than 2½ years.
  • Still in the process of clearing away the baggage whose accumulation had helped end our last roleplaying run.
  • Mostly unfamiliar with Eberron.
  • Even more unfamiliar with the D&D4 rules we'd be using.
  • And, to top off all that, we were half the number for which Keith's scenario was written.
Breele the changeling (me); Wazzee! the Kobold wizard (Andy); and Breagus the minotaur (Donald)

Unless my memory has completely failed me (and I've a snreaking suspicion that it might've), our adventure didn't take place on Khorvaire; although I can't for the life of me remember which continent Keith pointed to during his quick run through the history of Eberron, and his introduction to the key background elements which'd help us understand the scenario into which we were being dropped. The scenario itself is one that Keith is running for all his hosts during Have Dice, Will Travel. Sworn to avoid spoilers as I am, there is therefore little I can actually say about the course of events themselves.

I can say that good triumphed over evil in a tangled web of plot and counterplot that'd've been fun to be able to investigate further in a longer series of games. I guess I can also add that I liked playing the changeling Breele. She enjoyed all sorts of neat powers. Breele's ability to use her shapeshifting to gain combat advantage in melee was probably my favourite. I had fun inventing different ways to describe this, and I know Keith liked them too, because he gave me healthy schmuck bonuses for my efforts. (Interestingly, HERO is one of Keith's favourite rpg's, and schmuck bonuses to reward player creativity were a feature of Champions - HERO's progenitor - from day one, AFAIK.)

Our heroes' first encounter, about which I must remain tight-lipped, naturally enough (it was nicely spooky though)

Keith was a good GM, strongly oriented towards character, narrative, and performance as opposed to simple system-crunching. Watching Keith in action, and appreciating the way he rewarded my own creative efforts as a player, I was reminded of the fact that I'd been far too stingy with this sort of thing when I was GM'ing WFRP. As a general rule, if a GM wants his players to be the sort of foolhardy heroes who'd appear in a story- as opposed, that is, to being the sort of cautious survivors you'd expect to find in an 'authentic' imaginary world; if a GM wants players so suitably rash, then the GM has to be generous with rewards to the players (be they XP or schmuck bonuses) to reassure, cajole, and empower the players.

And as for D&D4, to which Keith's game introduced me? I have to say that I quite liked it. I know I was certainly helped by the excellent playaids that Keith had put together, but I found the contentious new structure of powers made sense and was simple and fun to use. But then, I've never had that much of an emotional investment in D&D as a system; in fact it was the perceived limitations of archetypal AD&D mechanics- classes, levels, HP and Vancian magic, to name but the best known; it was these limitations which drove me into the arms of HERO back in the 80's.

I may get a chance to find out more about how D&D4 works. The taster Keith gave us was entertaining enough for me to talk to Donald about the possibility of his running a straightforward dungeon bash using the new rules. Donald was certainly interested. I suspect that this might get Donald into the 'Seat of Power' sooner than would his plans for an outlaw campaign using HERO. ;)

- Epic adventure!
- There came a wanderer #1: Well, that was unexpected!
- There came a wanderer #3: Dining out and gaming on!
- There came a wanderer #4: the wind-down and the send-off


Thanks to Donald for all the pictures. :0)

Monday, June 15, 2009

There came a wanderer #1: Well, that was unexpected!

Readers staying alert to my sidebar contents- Recently played games and Friends in particular; and remembering this post from last February (not forgetting some of my recent fB activity and tweetage); some or all of those readers might already've guessed something has been afoot. And they'd've been right: noted US games designer and author Keith Baker's Have Dice, Will Travel arrived chez yours truly last Thursday, for the first leg of Keith's Scottish tour. (For the unitiated: Gloom was designed by Keith; gloomforge is his LiveJournal; and Unpublished Prototype? - well, more on this Big Secret in due course.)

I must confess I had pretty much given up on the whole thing myself; I hadn't heard from Keith before Andy and I headed south for the Expo, so I just assumed that he'd received more appealing invitations. Moreover, what with beery late nights, long lies, and a busy tournament schedule, it was largely a matter of luck that I happened upon Keith at the D&D booth during Saturday afternoon's expedition into the depths of the Expo. On top of all that, the clean-shaven Keith I met that afternoon was different, in that discomfiting way with which I'm sure many readers will be quite familiar, from the bearded self (above left) I've come to know @fB.
A tad each then of frazzled and nonplussed- amounting between them to somewhat fracked; my last expectation as we shook hands was that Keith would ask me if I was OK with his visit, about which he'd emailed me after Andy and I had already left, naturally enough. I granted Keith's wishes with alacrity, I can assure you!

Keith's ordeal began 5 days later, with Irn Bru and curries... ;)

PS. This post takes to 65 2009's postcount here at RD/KA!; making this already my best year's blogging since I set off at a gallop in August 2005. You can imagine, dear readers, that your humble scribe is very pleased at the events of the past week and a half. :0)

- Epic adventure!
- There came a wanderer #2: Return to Eberron
- There came a wanderer #3: Dining out and gaming on!
- There came a wanderer #4: the wind-down and the send-off

Sunday, June 14, 2009

UK Games Expo'09 #4: Old friends and new stuff

I commented yesterday on the "paramount contribution the tournaments had made to my enjoyment of the Expo". More than a matter of mere highlights, they were the absolute backbone of everything I did on that long weekend. Having something to do each day meant that I wasn't just drifting aimlessly, as I have done at conventions so often in the past. And even the familiar drifting through the various halls seemed more enjoyable. Perhaps because they were a part of a greater whole? Or perhaps just because I enjoyed telling people I met about my own part in the Expo?

All of which is by way of introduction to a highlight of my wanderings through the halls crammed with trade stands, demo games, and people- lots and lots of people.

Gordon Lamont and Snow Tails
The oldest of old hands or most dedicated readers of blog archives might remember that Gordon Lamont (one half of the dynamic duo that is Fragor Games) featured in the 2nd post here at RD/KA!. Regular readers will probably remember Gordon from my reports about DiceCons, which he helps organise alongside his associates in the SBGA.

I'd heard about Fragor Games' new game Snow Tails on the net, naturally enough; had seen some preview pictures; and had seen Gordon sheltering under an umbrella from our lovely summer rain while I was heading to the Clarendon on Saturday, so I knew he was at the Expo. For some reason though, I was still surprised to find Gordon demoing Snow Tails.

The irrepressible Gordon Lamont demonstrates Snow Tails

I enjoyed my first game of Snow Tails, a game about racing dog sleds in the snow. I spotted 1 or 2 similarities with the only Euro-racer I own: Mississippi Queen. Most of the game though, was completely new. The most significant new feature is the cardplay players use to control their movement.

Each player has their own deck of dog cards, each numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 IIRC, and from which they will maintain a 5-card hand. As many as 3 cards can be played each turn, 1 each into 1 of 3 places:
  • Left dogline.
  • Right dogline.
  • Brakes.
These cards set the sled's speed according to the simple formula: (left + right) - brakes. The difference between left and right also determines whether the sled drifts; and how far and to which side if it does.

There are various tweaks to this core mechanic. Among the more important are:
  • Each time you collide with something bigger than your sled (ie. not another sled), or exceed cornering speed limits, your sled is 'dented', and you have to add a dent card to your hand; useless cards that count against your 5-card hand limit and which cannot be disposed of in any way, dent cards limit the range of choices you have each turn.
  • You can only play more than 1 dog card in a turn if they are all the same value.
The upshot of these simple rules is a game which is quick to pick up; which plays fast enough so that you could easily fit 2 or 3 games into just part of a comfortable evening's gaming; and whose hand management rules are sufficient to induce brain-burn in the most hardened card gamer. I liked it, enough to think seriously about buying it.

Gordon shows off Fragor Games' UK Games Expo'09 award for 'Best New Boardgame'; and the winner: Snow Tails

I wasn't alone in that. I met several groups of gamers that Saturday afternoon who were just settling down to play their newly acquired copies of Snow Tails, and who were all excited at the prospect of meeting one of the designers. It was just a shame that I couldn't offer them better directions as to how they might track Gordon down.

In any event, the praise for Fragor Games' latest offering was sufficient to give our favourite dynamic duo of designers the UK Games Expo 2009 award for Best New Game. Congratulations to Fraser and Gordon both. Lang may yer lums reek!

And stuff
Entry fees and beerage aside you can be sure, dear readers, that money changed hands between me and traders last weekend in Birmingham. I bought a couple of games that had been on the horizon of my interest for some time. I also picked up an absolute bargain boardgame 2nd hand from a fellow C&C:A campaigner (thanks again matey!). More on these as they hit the table, I expect.

Books too figured large in my quietly conspicuous consumption. I picked up a good half dozen or so new WW2 books. That particular splurge began on the Saturday when I chanced to notice Rommel's Infantry Attacks. My swither was just some kind of game I played with myself before succumbing. Other books quickly followed, opening the floodgates so that I had several games and doubly several books in the luggage I took home as compared to the luggage I'd brought south.

One last big thank you...
... goes out to Andy.

Andy does what a man's gotta do

Andy booked our hotel, our tickets, and did all the driving; so that from day one of my plans I could relax in the knowledge that all I had to deal with was my own event. I couldn't've done it without your support pal. Thank you very much. ;)

UK Games Expo'09
- #1: Time to kill
- #2: And so to war
- #3: I eat dirt and die

Friday, June 12, 2009

UK Games Expo'09 #3: I eat dirt and die

I'd had a long lie on the Saturday morning, but I had to get up bright and early(ish) to get to the Clarendon Suites for Barry Ingram's Commands and Colours: Ancients tournament, my entry into which readers might remember. I was looking forward to this a lot. Regular readers might remember that C&C:A is my favourite version of Richard Borg's Commands and Colours system; yet, because Badger and I just can't get Combat Commander off the table, I've played C&C:A just once in over a year.

The C&C:A tournament took place upstairs in the Clarendon. I'd wandered round that area on the Saturday afternoon, noting without really seeing the militaristic tone of the cases of medals, flags, paintings and so on which decorated the walls. It wasn't until Sunday that I cottoned on that this was all Masonic memorabilia and regalia; rooms and rooms of it. I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

UK Games Expo'09 #2: And so to war

My plan for our Inaugural Combat Commander tournament was simple: to get as many people as possible to play as many games as possible in the shortest possible time. I'd've been satisfied to scrape the bare minimum 4 people needed for a credible tournament; in the end, 10 players joined in across the 2 evening sessions, playing a total of 19 games.

I did bring printed sheets so that players could record the details of their games, but foolishly too few; and my hopes of easy net access were dashed, so that my backup plan fell through. With neither spares for other players, nor my own copies for duplicates, my record keeping was less than meticulous, amounting in the end to nothing more than the bare list of wins and losses I needed to track players' tournament VP. So 20-20 hindsight proved the sense of my decision to run the simplest possible format.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

UK Games Expo'09 #1: Time to kill

UK Games Expo'09 has been and gone, and our inaugural Combat Commander tournament is done and dusted. I am pleased to be able to report that the Expo was hugely enjoyable, and that the CC tournament was a great success. But all of that is to get ahead of myself a bit.

To begin at the beginning
A giant cyborg sadly
couldn't kill the turkey
hiding behind this movie
Arriving in Birmingham in that teatime twixt afternoon and evening, Andy and I had no difficulty finding our destination thanks to the wonders of modern technology, AKA the Tom Tom satnav. Duly installed in our hotel and with an evening to kill, we sought out a cinema there to watch the newly released installment of a movie franchise which has never quite lived up to its point of origin, by which I mean Terminator: Salvation.

At first sight the trailer had given me real hopes for this movie, but subsequent reflection and one really bad review had brought me back to more realistic low expectations. Which was just as well: the best thing that Andy and I could find to say about the film was that it wasn't as bad as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (and I speak as one who lists Terminator 2: Judgment Day as a Top 5 SF/Fantasy movie sequel).

Thursday, June 04, 2009

And they're off!

I'm just waiting for Andy to come and collect me for the drive down to Birmingham. In a couple of days, my Combat Commander tournament at UK Games Expo'09 will be over. I am already confident that there'll've been enough players to make it a good couple of days' gaming.

UK Games Expo runs over 2½ days. My CC tournament slots will amount to one of those days. I already know where I'll be on Sunday: playing in Barry Ingram's Commands and Colours: Ancients tournament. I'm looking forward to this; C&C:A is my favourite iteration of Richard Borg's Commands and Colours system.

The rest of the time? I won't know till I get there. If I had to pick out just one possibility, I guess I'd have to hope that Uwe Eickert might be able to make it across the Channel for the Expo. I'd just love to have the chance to play him at Conflict of Heroes, a game I'm keen to see get past CC onto my WW2 tactical gaming table one of these days.

That's it for now. See you on the other side. ;)

UK Games Expo'09
- #1: Time to kill
- #2: And so to war
- #3: I eat dirt and die
- #4: Old friends and new stuff