Sunday, December 27, 2009

My 2010 gaming wishlist #3: Roleplaying

Looking back
The bad
That definite hankering which came upon me earlier this year gnaws away at me ever more insistently, and yet we didn't get any roleplaying going. Why? Short form: there wasn't enough interest around the table for me to want to change tack with a successful boardgaming group. Long form: well, therein lies the rub.

Readers with more than passing roleplaying experience will be well aware that clashing playstyles and other social dynamics are core issues which can confound a roleplaying group. They are also very personal issues since they arise from the relationships between friends. Tempting as it was therefore to sound off a GM's frustrations here @RD/KA!, I could never escape the realisation that any such roleplayer's bitching in which I felt like indulging should be kept strictly face-to-face. It's only fair after all.

The Adventures of Felix Mephisto, Gentleman

Donald ran this back in 2005, using FGU's quirky old game Flashing Blades. It was a lot of fun and some moments stand out as among the best roleplaying sessions I've ever played. :0)

The Adventures of Felix Mephisto, Gentleman:
- Prologue
Part 2:
- Chapter 1. In which: Felix Suffers for his Naiveté
- Chapter 2. In which: Comforts & Clever Contrivances Notwithstanding, Felix just Suffers
- Chapter 3. In which: A Taste of Pain & Poison Gives Felix a Taste for Bloody Vengance
- Chapter 4. In which: A Taste of Power and the Imbecility of Minions Give Felix Pangs of Guilt
- Chapter 5. In which: Conspirators Are Confronted & Confounded, & Felix Receives His Just Reward

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My 2010 gaming wishlist #2: Boardgames

Preceding generalities in particular
I have already noted 2 key items on my 2010 boardgaming wishlist:
  1. Descent- that old favourite, with a new Overlord at the helm.
  2. Chaos in the Old World- a new game of which I've not yet got the measure.
  3. The imminent Horus Heresy.
  • New opponents to expand the sphere of my WW2 tactical gaming.
  • Among the more recently published 2009 additions to my collection which I'm keen to play are:
  1. Monty's Gamble: Market Garden: an 'area-impulse' game of Monty's ill-fated attempt to go down in history as the 'general who beat the Germans at their own game and brought the war to an end before Christmas'.
  2. Panzerblitz Hill of Death: the most famous and popular WW2 tacsim ever, revamped; the 'Hill of Death' was Hill 112, which were the commanding heights of the Normandy battlefield in 1944, and over which the British and Germans fought several bloody battles before the final breakout in August.
  3. Storm Over Stalingrad: another area-impulse game inspired by Storm Over Arnhem- Courtney F. Allen's groundbreaking 1981 design; which serves to remind us that the legendary Up Front was neither a fluke nor a flash in the pan.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My 2010 gaming wishlist #1: 2009 back at ya!

Something I prepared earlier...
Last December I wrote my 2009 gaming wishlist. Looking back at my 3 wishes I can say that 2 were granted:
Unfulfilled was my hope of moving beyond tactical games into the realm of WW2 operations with Corps Command: Totensonntag.

Combat Commander: Pacific

Played a mere 7 times after the 2-year onslaught that was Combat Commander: Europe, CC:P is a game whose surface I've barely scratched. What I've seen so far was great:
Of the various rules changes major and minor, just 3 can be said to be revisions to the core system:
  • Stacking and cover.
  • Instant kill.
  • Night rules.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bargain-hunting strikes not once, but twice!

Girls grabs meWhen you find a TPB on the shelf with the striking and seductive cover seen left. When comics luminary Brian Michael Bendis blurbs it thus:
"The Luna Brothers are the future of comics and it's happening right now. This book is essential for your collection. My highest recommendation."
And when it's going for half price at the Borders 'Everything Must Go!' closing down sale, what's a man to do? Buy it, naturally enough.

And? In a phrase: I like it!

Ever since the glory days of the anglophone comics renaissance of the early/mid 80's, I've been interested in comics which bring the medium's quintessential narrative strengths to genres other than the costumed superhero. Stories of everyday life are ones which I've yet to see satisfyingly rendered in comic form in a way transcending prose, although that might just be because I've not looked hard enough. Art Spiegelman's Maus is a landmark example showing that comics can deal with the real world as opposed to the heroic world, even if its 'everyday' isn't quite the big lives of small things I had in mind.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'Twas the game session before xmas

None shall pass!
The choice falling to Gav should he choose to appear on Sunday; and with that existing uncertainty- a Saturday night's partying, doubled by overnight snow; Andy, Donald, Tony and myself played some filler while we waited to see if our main game of the day'd be Risk (Revised) or Roborally. We began with Ivanhoe, a game which doesn't see the table as often as it used to because it turned out that it wasn't as universally loved and admired around the table as'd been hitherto believed by yours truly.

Sunday's game- just Andy, Tony and me IIRC, was an example of the tight cardplay which I love so much in Ivanhoe. Tony took a quick early lead on 3 before Andy and I started swapping wins amid the inevitable 'leads to par' of Ivanhoe defensive play. That opening round or two included- IIRC, my loss of a token because I had to withdraw with the Maiden in play.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Worse than being talked about?"

The shadow of hindsight- cast by FFG's announcement last Friday 11th of next year's Horus Heresy big box boardgame, has left that 'Cease and desist' letter GW served on BGG looking perhaps a little more than just another 'eccentric' interpretation of fair use on the part of the company's corporate legal lackeys?

Fanciful to suggest this it might be, but when Purple Pawn gaming newsblog staff writer rjstreet pleads that FFG aren't GW- so that he doesn't have to boycott, passing on this shiny new offering of 40K boardgaming goodness; well I can't help but speculate that this act which has enraged so many across those thar intarwebs these past 3 weeks; that this otherwise senseless purge finds its rational kernel in its peculiar echo of the infamous Exterminatus of 40K lore. The apocalyptic overtones of much of the quite justified outrage just adds to the effect.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Worldbuilding & HERO #1: Brass tacks

Vast open expanses?
Worldbuilding- AKA. subcreation, is an essential feature of roleplaying; a creative endeavour in which many players- GM or otherwise, love to indulge. As readers will be well aware, this places roleplaying games squarely in a cultural trend the 20th century great grandaddy of which is J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. (Map via: geektyrant.)

The history of subcreation in our own culture of the fantastic is not my subject here, but I cannot pass by without mentioning Greg Stafford's Glorantha. Best known as the setting of the RPGs Runequest and HeroQuest, Glorantha is unusual among RPG settings in that it wasn't a gaming setting at all when it was first created; unusual, but not unique- M. A. R. Barker's Tékumel was the same. The only adventure gaming settings I can think of which might rival these extraordinary creations in their subcreationist breadth and depth are GW's Warhammer Old World and 40K Dark Millenium.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Underground, overground!

Bones to crunch underfoot, again!
Hotly anticipated by Tony, Donald's choice of Descent for yesterday's Sunday session was sure to be popular. When Liam joined us I knew it was going to prove interesting too: both the dungeon-bashing theme and the detailed systems put Descent outside the realm of the sort of family games that are the staple fare of the casual gamer, so that this would be the most obviously geeky of the games Liam had played chez yours truly.

I became immediately aware of this 'clash of cultures' as setup proceeded. I mean to say, Liam's a fan of that classic family strategy game Risk, so he's had a taste of boardgames which take a wee while to setup. With Risk though, the setup is a part of the game, in which the players determine their strategies. In Descent on the other hand, a similarly lengthy setup is a simple consequence of the sheer wealth of parts.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Curiouser and curiouser

Flashbacks from a cartoon robot TV
Last weekend's Sunday session – Andy, Donald and Gav making us four – opened with Andy's due choice (my preferred of his last call from 2 IIRC)- Roborally. Preferred it might've been, but the prospect of playing this early Richard Garfield design filled me with a perplexing mixture of anticipation and reluctance. I'm pretty sure that latter sentiment was mostly down to all the lengthy games I've lost against 'Uncle' Martin. What was perplexing was the strength of that sentiment, even if it was only momentary. Let me explain.

My Roborally@BGG stats notwithstanding, I've played this game an awful lot; so much so that my set is pretty worn, the program cards especially- as was noted on Sunday. So I like it a lot. More than that: in a very real sense my fondness for Roborally surpasses my grognard's passion for the WW2 tactical boardgames I love so much to play. The comedy of errors that is Roborally gameplay plays a big role in this, naturally enough; but the game haunts this gaming geek's imagination for one reason above all: Twonky.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More than mere marginalia

Just do it!

Participate: The revolution of fan culture. from lori on Vimeo.
The creator of this video is a friend of my old sparring partner Badger, who tells me that it is a student exercise. The video has no authorial overview and is a bit short on analysis, but the interviews more or less speak for themselves so that the end result is well worth watching. I found the video particularly interesting because I believe that the advent of the shared narrative of RPGs' was a pivotal moment in the development of the participatory culture lori takes as her subject.

In a pleasant coincidence, hard at a curry cook-up last week I listened to Paul Merton's The House That Jazz Built on BBC R4 (last chance to listen again Sat. 12/12/09). Fascinating in its own right, this documentary about Ronnie Scott's world famous London jazz club proved apposite because of its reference to the egalitarian ethos of the jazz scene in the early postwar days; an ethos in which the barriers between creator and audience were permeable in a way which immediately reminded me of lori's video. This parallel is doubly apt because some roleplayers like to use the metaphor of a jazz band's jam session to convey the nature of a roleplaying session.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Unexpected arrivals

A fond farewell
Many readers will be aware of last week's news that the Borders Books UK chain has gone into liquidation. I was saddened to hear this because Borders has been my favourite bookstore for several years now. For all I know Waterstone's might be a better bookshop- it was certainly my introduction to modern chainstore bookselling; but I preferred Borders' ambience. My visits there down the years have netted me a great wodge of cheap crime novels and thrillers as well as many bargains in the military history department. Borders even featured in the first series of posts here @RD/KA!

I already knew I was going to miss the place, but I didn't expect to be mildly shocked at the stark reality when Bill and I visited yesterday in search of more bargains, from the closing down sale. The shelves around the store were already picked half clean, giving the place the eerie air of the rotting hulk of a familiar old ship in which I'd travelled halfway round the world and back.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

All new! All singing! All dancing!

Shiny! Shiny!
We were 4 for games on Sunday, pleasing Gav because we came in under the 5-player limit which is one of the new features of the Risk (Revised Edition) he'd been inspired to buy after my comments about our recent big game of the current edition of classic Risk. A combination of Gav's bubbling enthusiasm for his new toy coupled with natural curiosity in the face of a radical redesign of this popular and well-known game meant that Tony- whose pick it was, was happy to elect to try the new game.

What went down
We played the 4-player starter game: a fixed setup for quickstart, and no rewards for objectives. This proved to be a great way to get rolling. The inevitable clunks and fumbles aside, the logical and coherent revised rules proved easy to pick up and we soon found ourselves playing a game that felt a bit like classic Risk with added blitzkrieg- a lot of fun, let me tell you!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pwnage and ownage

A bloglag starting with a long weekend visiting family has stretched out to more than twice as long as that thanks, above all, to the 'block'. Efforts to break on through had finally awakened a glimmer, but it was still a slog. Thank goodness then for Badger's visit last night.

Glorious carnage!
This phrase could so easily've applied to dinner as much as to the games that followed. I was cooking haddock with bacon and mushrooms, one of my favourite quick recipies from Good Food for Busy People- a book which delivers exactly what it says on the cover. Tasting while stirring everything together for the final five minutes' cookoff I immediately knew something was wrong. Sure enough, I had grabbed the wrong jar of red powder from my spice cupboard: those 2 added teaspoonsfuls of paprika were actually cayenne pepper; a disaster in the making on a par with the great pepper catastrophe of 2008.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Resistance is futile!

My last words after reporting a few weeks ago on the games of Ivanhoe I'd played with Badger and my neighbour Liam were, "He'll be back!" This prediction was proved correct when Liam joined Donald, Gav, Tony and myself for our recent Sunday session. Liam being new to that table first choice went to him, which left us playing Risk, a game Liam knows.

In my innocence I thought we'd get the game finished in 2-3 hours but we were still playing 4 hours later, when the game had to be put away unfinished so that we could eat in time to settle down for the latest Doctor Who special, The Waters of Mars. Still, the game was great fun and Liam is keen for more. I guess I'd call that a result.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This, that and the other

I've got various ideas simmering away at the moment, looking for the hooks that'll make them into stories. Meanwhile, it's time for another pot pourri...

So it goes...
I warned you yesterday dear readers, of my intention to follow through on the story of the controversy generated by the RPGpundit's 6th November blogpost about FFG and its GW RPG licences. El pundito posted his 4th installment today. To keep this brief, I will just make a few points:
  • This post is a succint example of the hate-filled bile (here aimed at two of his favourite targets- and the so-called "Storygames Swine") and overweening sense of self-importance which have defined the pundit's hyperbole from day one.
  • The pundit's excuse for "not post[ing] this link" (to a Storygames thread)- his "policy of not providing assistance to the Swine in promulgating their filth", is lame almost beyond words:
  1. Embedding links is so easy that I cannot help but imagine the man with the red flag from the early days of the motor car.
  2. The pundit's persistent unwillingness to enable this technologically trivial cross-checking cannot but cast further doubt on the credibility of his commentary.
  • The pundit's celebration of the publicity the whole affair has garnered cannot be said to have proved my speculations of yesterday, but I believe they remain valid and open.
There will be more I imagine. :-\

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Something rotten? But where?

I feel I have to tread a careful line with this post. Why? Because it'd be so easy to get snarky about the storm in a teacup the RPGpundit generated with his recent blogpost about FFG and WFRP3, all the while forgetting that I am part of it all myself by virtue of making not just one, but two posts on the topic here at RD/KA!. For example, I could make some cheapass jibe about how el pundito has managed to pad the whole story out into 3 posts (#2 and #3) on a blog whose reputation for padding is surely second to none, but that would be to enter into pot and kettle territory don't you think?

All that said, I cannot but suggest that a measure of gentle ridicule is called for in respect of the tone of wounded innocence our 'intrepid' self publicist conjures under the title of 'Responding to The FFG Controversy', as if said controversy (spread now across 3 threads: FFG's own WFRP3 forum; theRPGsite- the Pundit's own forum; and RPGnet) wasn't entirely the intended outcome of his own efforts in the first place.

If controversy was the Pundit's goal, then why am I getting involved? Does this not mean that I'm giving him what he wants I hear you ask dear readers (Andy, I'm thinking of you in particular here!). That's as may be, but I have my reasons.

To begin with, I feel I have an obligation to follow this story because I took it up in in the first place. That may sound strange, but that's what happens when you start reporting on stuff: you feel the need to follow through.

In addition I must confess to having a soft spot for the Pundit (pauses for the obvious jokes to flit through readers' minds); I'd hardly be keeping tabs on his blog to this day if I didn't, don't you think? Seriously though, as I wrote more than 3 years ago, the Pundit was the individual most singularly responsible for inspiring me to take to blogging, for which I remain grateful. Precisely where this fits in the cocktail of reasons prompting me to return to this story is as invisible to yours truly as it no doubt is to everyone else, but there you go.

On top of those more personal motives I feel compelled to point out something that has, at the time of writing, been missed by all concerned on the threads linked above. That is to say: the Pundit's own motives. I believe the Pundit essentially gives these away in today's post on the controversy (#3 above) when he includes the link to Brett Bernstein's post of 10/11/09 on 'Brett's Blog' over at Precis Intermedia. There Brett reminds us of what he points out in the RPGnet thread inspired by the Pundit's original rumour-mongering: that the Pundit's second RPG - GnomeMurdered - is soon to be released by Precis Intermedia, as is RPGPundit's Guide to Game Mastering. And there you have it in my opinion: the whole thing is just an advertising stunt by someone who has already revealed a genuine talent for internet self-advertisement of the lowest sort.

What this might reveal about the initial rumour is straightforward enough. If we take at face value the official FFG statement that there "is nothing accurate in this fabricated post whatsoever", then we have to ask ourselves about the rumour's credentials. Was there a genuine email? Or did the Pundit just make it up so that he could generate some timely publicity? That is speculation on my part but, having followed the Pundit's online career these past 5 years I for one believe that he quite capable of such lies and deception in pursuit of his selfish interests. You, my dear readers, must make up your own minds. ;)

- Stuff and... nonsense?
- This, that and the other

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stuff and... nonsense?

He is The Law!
Passing through Borders bookshop the other day in search of a classic 20th century novel and that search proving futile, I made a beeline for the graphic novels there to surrender gleefully to the impulse I'd carried over from my last visit to those same shelves, picking up what I know will only be the first of many more: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 (59 progs' worth of strips in 320 pages for £13.99?-: a real bargain!).

Moments when a cultural encounter profoundly define a person are relatively few and far between I reckon and become rarer as the years go by, for simple reasons I would suggest:
  • There is naturally some kind of limit to people's self-definition through cultural consumption; a limit determined both by the dynamics of human growth and maturation on the one hand, and by the available cultural wealth on the other.
  • I would aver that there is too a limit to people's capacity for reinvention; a limit imposed ultimately by age.
Perhaps rarer still even in our increasingly rich and diverse culture are those moments when you can get in right at the very beginning of something that proves to be a genuine phenomenon.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Echoes of a master's wordage

If James Ellroy's in town when unexpectedly so still are you; and one of the 'Men in Black' of late 80's Albacon infamy tells you he's got a spare ticket for the gig; there's only one thing to do: be there.

So it was last night I found myself at the GFT for the Glasgow leg of the promotional tour for Blood's a Rover, the latest novel by this master of modern American noir; best known- thanks to Hollywood's stylish 1997 adaption, for L.A. Confidential, a novel of brutal and corrupt law enforcement in 1950's California. I knew very little about this new book, not having kept up with volumes 1 and 2 of the Underworld USA trilogy the completion of which Ellroy trumpets with all the shameless hucksterism of a 2-bit street-corner hustler you might meet in the pages of his wordage.

I'd seen James Ellroy talk about his work on TV, and this same promotional tour had taken him to BBC Radio 4's Front Row only last Monday (Ellroy starts at 14:45 in), so I knew him as forthright in his opinions and entertaining in his wordplay. And the sight of Ellroy squaring up to the lectern like a boxer grabbing the ropes to keep himself from bouncing out of his corner before the next round's bell rings; well, I couldn't but sense that we were to be treated less to a talk than to a verbal doing in the form of an author's reading.

The notion barely formed, Ellroy was off; and nothing could've prepared me for the salvoes of wordage he delivered in those first few minutes. Bam! Take that. Again, bam! And another, and another. Starting slow and building up like a boxer working the speedball, Ellroy threw wordbomb after wordbomb into the mix until he had us at his mercy in a bravura display of the primal power of word and movement in the transports of delight that are the narrative arts.

I can say little more about this great performance; the clip below gives another taste to go with the R4 link above.

OK, I said I could say little more, not no more. What little I can add is that Ellroy's performance was an examplar of Rule of Thumb #1 for GM's and PC's in Matters of Description: Less is More. Sure, it'd take a roleplaying genius of a very rare (if actually extant?) kind to be able to extemporise with the poetic precision and rappers' beat of Ellroy's intensely worked prose. But to be drawn into Ellroy's world the way I was made me acutely aware of several things:
  • Roleplaying description should focus on the barest mininum of crucial attributes, described as briefly as possible so that the immediate effect of the words still linger while that which has been so described plays its part in the story; to use an obvious example:
  1. Sight- raucous gang of men.
  2. Sound- drunken shouting.
  3. Smell- beer and piss.
  4. Then blammo- an attack by suddenly surprisingly sober assailants.
  • Movement and gesture is as important a tool for working on people's thoughts and feelings as are words.
  • There is a certain universality to the kinds of characters who people sleazy underworlds, genres notwithstanding- eg. the snoopers; so modern crime novels like Ellroy's can inspire GM's and PC's both in any game.
These are not novel insights on my part, but I would say that anyone who was interested could bring something new to their roleplaying by tracking down and watching over and again a few times some of these performances by James Ellroy, or by reading some of his books.

The reading over Ellroy opened the floor up for questions, as you'd expect. Away from the honed text long rehearsed to be pitch perfect he must still've been wearing his performer persona to some extent. Even so, he came across as frank, honest and impressively open to his audience; eg. he readily admitted that the stylistic approach he'd taken in The Cold Six Thousand (volume 2 of the Underworld USA trilogy) had been a mistake from which he'd learned due to criticism.

The 'Man in Black' had got his oar in before yours truly realised that the situation demanded blatant self-advertisement. So I challenged Ellroy on his casual dismissal of the electronic media- warriors against which we were all presumed to be by Ellroy in his introduction. Feeling compelled to defend my media I pointed out:
  • It's the power of TV that gives us- his audience, the dynamic visual sense enabling us to walk the streets of America with his characters.
  • That his ever-more telegraphic prose style might be construed as an attempt to give artistic expression to the ever-diminishing attention spans we are told the electronic media inflict upon younger generations.
I confess I was a bit nervous about this but... Well, let me put it like this: I'd like to think that the merit of a question resides in the quality of its answer. James Ellroy's answer to my question was considered, thorough and illuminating. I couldn't've asked for more.

After all the talk about wordage there was signage, naturally enough. I'll be waiting for the paperback omnibus of Underworld USA, so I took along my battered copy of L.A. Noir. Yours truly cleverly forgot his digicam (sheesh, what kind of blogger am I?), so this blurry pic from the 'Man in Black's iPhone is the only record. Ah well. Still, I guess it gives James Ellroy a degree of plausible deniability should he feel the need for it!

James Ellroy is a man who famously has little interest in the gadgets and gizmos of the electronic age. So the small kindness he showed this blogger last night was much appreciated. Remembering as I write this the sight of him surrounded by fans snapping away with phone cameras, I have to ask how Ellroy feels about the way ICT has made his public appearances more immediately the 'property' of fans who hitherto were a mere audience. How, I wonder, might Ellroy's sense of being out of step with the modern world influence his wordage? If last night's performance is anything to go by, it's not for the worse! ;)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I shall have my rewen-ge!

Recently preoccupied with a new member of his household- a kitten (cue pause for wave of 'Aaaaahs' from the audience- including yours truly I must confess: Andy and I visited Gav later to meet Kai the kitten and she is indeed the cutest little furball), Gav was missing from the table last Sunday. This was a bit of a shame because with Dave and Tony present we'd've made six for a Sunday session for the first time in many moons.

Battlestar Galactica
Anyhoo, it was my turn to choose our first game. After all that I've recently written on the subject, it was a cinch that I was going to choose Battlestar Galactica. There was more to this decision than the obvious desire to play the game over which I'd expended so much digital ink to expunge my doubts about its lasting merits. No, I had a whole other agenda, a 'political' agenda if you will. Y'see all that analysis had also convinced me that BSG gameplay could be improved if you brought ulterior motives and other sources of paranoia to the table.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Geekish grab bag!

As I said on Friday, I want to celebrate the latest small landmark in the life of RD/KA! by looking to what the future might bring for this geek and his games.

Regular readers will know that Badger and I have recently taken a break from our 2½-year Combat Commander odyssey. We'll be returning to this great game for sure (there're scenarios still unplayed and more to come); and then there'll no doubt be a taste of Chad's next WW2 tacsim- Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Infantry Division; but not before we've indulged our taste for Conflict of Heroes.

Superior tacsims all though these games are (or promise to be), none are intrinsically more exciting than Memoir'44; nor do they relegate the game from its well-deserved status of light wargame to some nether region of little or no interest to this grognard. Days of Wonder themselves are doing their bit to maintain interest in the game, with their planned December release of Memoir'44 Battle Maps Vol. 3: Sword of Stalingrad, featuring:
  • 2 Overlord scenarios.
  • 2 Standard scenarios.
  • Summary cards for the previously published Battle Maps and Mediterranean Theater expansion.
  • Additional cards for in-game play - the new Combat Deck (see above) specifically designed for urban warfare (DoW News centre).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dun! Dun! Dun! Dun! I've done the ton!

The winter blues' bloglag hinting at outright blockage since my last post three weeks ago has been all the more trying for yours truly because this post marks another small landmark for 2009 here at RD/KA!:- my 100th post; more in one year than any since 2005, when I began to blog.

I didn't expect to take nearly 4 years to surpass in some 10 months what I'd first achieved in less than 5. So this is very satisfying let me assure you dear readers. RD/KA!'s 5th birthday is next year; if the bloggery continues in this vein, then I would hope to see 2010 marked also by my 500th post. Fingers crossed I guess. :0)

To celebrate I'd like to look ahead at what the rest of 2009 and then 2010 might bring here at RD/KA!. But first, naturally enough...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday night firefight, Saturday night swordplay

The D.I. reached new extremes last week, as some of my readers already know. To equate this suffering consciousness to the grief of bereavement, breaking up, or some similar personal tragedy will probably surprise no one, but the sheer relentless physicality of my belabouring brainwaves is something I believe confounds the understanding of people whose empathic imagination avails them of naught but notions of feeling 'a bit down', or somesuch. In any event I consoled myself with a bash of light reading after the heavy duty WW2 history which'd been my recent diet. But it was writing last Tuesday's article that helped more than anything else.

Conflict of Heroes
Thanks to the DI it's a fortnight since I've played any boardgames. The old phrase 'got any gaming' doesn't work anymore. My ongoing life as a mobster in Mafia Wars @fB means that I'm gaming online all the time, albeit in a restricted gamespace reminiscent of a laboratory test rig for rodents: XP! Loot! Levels! -: lovely! More? Better still. Rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Again, the toasters' offensive

No, not some Philip K. Dick story; nor even another glorious Cylon victory for yours truly; but a return to the topic of my last post, in which I'd wanted to tease out the implications of the issues that've come up across the table during our games of Battlestar Galactica. Arriving later that same Sunday Donald convinced me that I'd been too allusive altogether, because he'd come away with the impression that I don't like the game. I couldn't let this misconception lie.

All carping aside Battlestar Galactica is my #1 multiplayer pick of 2008. It's a long time since a multiplayer game has hit so many high notes in so few plays (7, to be precise). Regular readers should remember that those 'procedural limitation' caveats I've maintained these past 9 months stemmed in the first instance from my experience of Arkham Horror, FFG's shiny new edition of the cult Call of Cthulhu boardgame. This had palled very quickly for me when, during a break from my Ashes of Middenheim campaign, and after a couple of plays whose inevitable clunks and fumbles almost span out of control under the weight of 6 players, Gav and I cakewalked a 2-player teamup against Cthulhu.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What price survival?

Throwdown round up
I've been under the cosh of the annual D.I. (Depressive Incommunicado) in recent weeks, hence the bloglag. There's been a healthy diet of gaming all the same, as site-visiting readers attentitive to my 'Recently played games' sidebar gadget already know. I won't be revisiting all those games but, for the record (naturally enough):
  1. Sainte-Mère-Église x2.
  2. Utah Beach.
  • Andy, Donald, Gav and I played 6 games:
  1. Chaos in the Old World (unfinished).
  2. Carcassonne x3.
  3. Battlestar Galactica.
  4. Settlers.
Andy Erm, no.
Badger Nope.
Donald Nada.
Gav 3 (2x Carcassonne and 1 Settlers).
Me 5 (BSG, Carcassonne and 3x M44).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Getting down to business?

I'm still working on my setup for that game of TS@VASSAL. This isn't because the rules are particularly difficult- they're not, as is evidenced by the mere 8 pages of actual rules in the 28-page rulebook, a whole page of which furthermore is devoted to components and setup; no, what's holding me up is the complexity of the gameplay resulting from the essentially simple elements. In other words, there is a lot to think about! For the benefit of readers, let me explain how the game works.

The world of Twilight Struggle
The world that was the superpowers' playground during the Cold War is depicted in Twilight Struggle on a map which divides the globe into 6 regions, each showing the most important countries in that region. The mapboard also features various information panels and record tracks as you can see.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just filler... No, really!

My network of Kremlin-directed infiltration cells intended to exploit the immediate postwar instablity at the heart of Europe is not yet fully in place- curse those petit-bourgeois prevaricators! (AKA. I haven't worked out my TS@VASSAL setup.) Meanwhile let me share a real life culinary 'adventure'.

Food, glorious food!
For all its run down and impoverished realities, Glasgow remains the truly cosmopolitan city it was in the heyday of its imperial splendour (although why tourists visit it in such numbers still perplexes me I have to confess). A food lover living in the West End, I'm particularly fortunate: the cuisine of the world is pretty much on my doorstep; between delis and ethnic grocers, there is a frankly bewildering variety of exotic foodstuffs to intrigue the eye and tantalise the palate.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Purposive random interjections

So, following the recommendation of RD/KA!'s first fan the Gnome, I recently took to using the social bookmarking site StumbleUpon. I like it. I don't expect it to replace well organised bookmarks, but I find it much better than email for swapping links and Donald and I are already using it regularly for that purpose. Here are a couple of neat sites I've Stumble[d]Upon.

DRAWTOY VS. BYOKAL, to present the full title as it appears on the app, is a simple way to make interesting patterns. If you like kaleidoscopes (and who doesn't?) then you can easily enjoy literal minutes of amusement with this before it wings its way past you leaving perhaps the lightest of touches (or more?) on your memory (or not!).

Monday, September 07, 2009

Getting cyber on yer ass!

CC@VASSAL?-: not yet
Site-visiting readers alert to the sidebar content might already be asking themselves what and why questions about the new links recently added under the cybergaming heading:

Cybergaming? Not computer gaming as such, cybergaming uses ICT to faciliate playing boardgames via the web, using apps typically requiring ownership of the boxed game. Regular readers might remember VASSAL, where an fB friend and fellow BGGer and I last January played what was my first turn of transatlantic Combat Commander.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Space Hulk - The 3rd Wave
#1. "In the beginning was the Hulk..."

Unparalleled enthusiasm untrammelled?
Andy 'ported in Friday to deliver the preorder perk- two 3rd Edition Space Hulks over which to gloat while the shelves were being filled for Saturday's store launch: my own Hulk the 5th; and another for that friend who's been waiting long enough for his promised set to've had time to abandon all hope at least twice already. Now it's finally a blip on his radar!

Another big box brimful of brilliant bits and bobs!

Confession time
In the- "eh'm, you've only got yourself to blame" department: I must confess that my confidence in my freehand and greenstuff skills was simply overwhelmed at the prospect of a set of Legion of the Damned terminators; the craft required- above left, remains beyond me. I just couldn't face those flames and bones.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mounting anticipation

Another downswing is upon me painfully suddenly, so my recent gaming has gone unreported. Meanwhile, here is the latest update on the game currently at the top of my 'must buy' list.

GMT Games' August update last week confirmed my speculations about the possible release date for Chad Jensen's new WW2 tacsim Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Infantry Division: there is no sign of the game as far ahead as February 2010. Grognards eagerly anticipating this new release were recently consoled by series developer John Foley's announcement that the playtest rules are available for download.

Old hands might remember that I was first alerted to Combat Commander when I happened by accident across playtest rules while browsing GMT's site (where I'd gone in search of info about a reprint of Ivanhoe IIRC). As I write the FF P500 stands at 535 preorders; I wonder if the availability of the rules will mark a significant increase in those numbers? In the meantime, I'm looking forward to see the new game's systems laid more bare. ;)

- Fighting Formations preview #1: Some background
- Fighting Formations preview #2: The frakkin' game!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The end is nigh?

Battlestar Galactica
Dave added himself to the recently familiar turnout, making us 5 for Sunday's games. Donald had first choice and he plumped for Battlestar Galactica. I was pleased with this choice despite the anti-climax of our last play. The imminent expansion I wrote about back in June was part of the reason for this: I want to have played the basic set often enough to have gone well beyond first impressions when I get a taste of how the expansion changes the game.

Preliminary testing
Sitting down Monday morning to get to work on the write-up, I decided on pictures of the key cards which'd been part of the Cylons' final onslaught. I set to work with the scanner. The first scan- fullsize at left, was terrible: the pictures were too small and the resolution was terrible. I briefly considered just using them but, remembering recent testing of the ideal setting for scanning miniatures, I decided instead to run a quick settings test. (No prizes to the readers who notice the smidgin of irony here, but cheerful greetings for sure to those who might wish to register their groans at my lame attempt at humour!)