Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A Leap Into the Unknown

Last night I joined in a game of Scythe run by Andrew, this is a departure for me, not that I dislike boardgames, I don't, I just don't play them very often, it was also an opportunity to see how this modern boxed set worked as against my 30 year old 'Robert the Bruce' or Diplomacy. The former was bought for a fiver and is a brilliant game which never caught on, a modern version 'Hammer of the Scots' is about £60 and as far as I can see is a very close copy.

Scythe is a visually wonderful game, a beautiful board and the artwork on the cards is superb, I watched a couple of videos on YouTube to prepare for the game but had to give up, one guy talked like a machine gun and I got so distracted wondering when he was going to take a breath that I learned nothing and gave up. The other two were 'funky' and no doubt would appeal to the yoof generation but again it was confusing, I decided to take my chances on the night.

There are several different factions and you get a faction card and a game card, the game card gives you a choice each turn to do something, move, build, enlist or upgrade, the aim is to have the most points for land, power, popularity, money etc. You also have six stars which you can use in different ways and once your put your last star on the board the game ends and a tally is made. Now you would think that a good idea would be to stop your neighbours getting ahead and therefore there would be scope for attacking and conquering their land or controlling their factories etc. But no, it is frowned upon, so the game basically involves you and the others in a race to gather as much resources as you can and use up your stars. In the whole game we had two 'battles' the effects of which were pretty tame, the loser usually retreated, they did lose some popularity and power but they were not knockout blows.

I am first and foremost a wargamer, not a gamer, so the concept was a bit strange to me, the box art etc. gave me the idea it was a wargame, it is not, it is what I believe is termed a 'Euro' game, you do have the odd battle but otherwise there is no real player interaction and you are pretty much free to build away to your hearts content. Play more aggressively you say, yes that's fine but the mechanics are such that this is frowned upon even in the game and you will suffer for it and you certainly will not win. I enjoyed the game and had a working knowledge within about half a dozen turns thanks to Andrews explanations but in the end there was not enough mayhem or excitement for me.

Having no PC in my study I am getting on very well with my painting, even taking slightly more care the Footsore figures are so easy to paint so I have ordered up another unit for back up, just in case. I hope that this will keep me busy until the end of January or February.

I was tempted to use shields with the Christian Chi-Ro pattern but there really is not much evidence for this, I believe Constantines soldiers daubed it on their shields at the Milivian Bridge but doubt it took over from the standard patterns which had been in use for so long in the army. I am also taking the view that the units pulled into my field army at the end of the 5th C, if Roman would still be using equipment from years earlier as the supply from Imperial factories dwindled or run out, there is also the loyalty to the regiment to think about. With this in mind I am going to stick with patterns from the Notitia Dignitatum as produced by Little Big Men Studios, this also gives my men the opportunity to blend in with an army from earlier in the 5th C, so with the addition of some other units I have two armies for the price of one, well, one and a half.

I just noticed this on the Helion site, I have worked with the author before on a biography of General Moltke and the maps for this were completely different to anything I had done before, especially Jutland.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Gremlins and Impatience

My main PC heats up for no reason and switches itself off, it started doing this after two years of almost trouble free use, I took out a three year warranty so it went back, was fixed and now six months later it has started doing the same thing again. It is lying on the floor here in the PO awaiting collection for them to have another go at it, despite everything I do not have much faith that such an intermittent fault will be fixed.

I have come down here this morning to try and work in the PO on my second PC but 'I cants takes no more' as Popeye would say. It is busier than normal and I can't be bothered listening to all the chatter and the looks I am getting as I sit here trying to ignore my surroundings.

Despite my plan for 2017 and not getting to look at my new painting book I have started the new army, as you know I am taking more care of my painting this time, not that I am a bad painter anyway. I began last night with the flesh, a darker shade than I normally use and then drybrushed it this morning with a lighter shade, normally I would put a light shade on then slap a dark wash over it, but I like the way this has turned out.

I have begun reading and looking in to the period of the new army and already there are two conflicting views on the last of the Roman armies, one is that it was predominantly 'Barbarian' forces with a Roman veneer, the other maintains a kind of 50/50  or 50/60 with the last units of the field armies present. From a wargaming point of view I am going for the latter because I want Romans in my Roman army although having read this now I might allow the choice of more Foederati than I would normally take.

Right, I have to get out of here, normal service will hopefully resume in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

View From The WIndow

The view last week was of George Square Glasgow, and very cold and wintry it was too, this morning the sun is blinding but it is not a warm sun, outside is fresh as is the inside until the heating kicks in which won't take too long. Very quiet outside, I think that's the stock car racing finished for the year so no traffic jams this morning, the road is open and back to normal, several houses around me are still up for sale but nothing is moving, not many people house hunt in December.

The last week in the Post Office has been OK but I suspect the next two weeks will be the worst, there won't be a lot of maps drawn but my patience will be tested by the flood of Christmas cards. I see them come in with a pile of envelopes and my heart sinks, I used to put out airmail stickers and a polite notice asking people to put them on before approaching the counter, but this was ignored so I don't bother now. They come up and squeeze all the cards at me, I promptly squeeze them all back and say put them on the scale, they all end up on the scale, one at a time please, a pause while they look at me, where is it going, another look. Australia, USA, Lancaster, South Africa, Glasgow, Canada the list is endless and all require weighing one at a time, aaaaagh! Or I get eighty pushed through with 'second class please' they too get pushed back and eighty stamps handed over, not my job. It is like I am fair game because I am a one man band, no one goes into a main PO and sticks the envelopes through, they ask for the stamps, no one goes into WH Smiths and writes on the envelope before buying it, but they do here, that was another sign ignored.

Glasgow was nice a break, I was a bit confused when we turned up at the station and received nine tickets of varying description for two return journeys, we then watched two trains for Glasgow stop and leave before ours arrived as you are only allowed on the train you booked, even if the other two are empty, and of course they are not always the same train company. On the plus side all the trains I have travelled on this year have been clean, not too late and cheap, I am just glad I am not a commuter in the South.

The last time I was in Glasgow I noticed a large number of Africans wandering about or ensconced in pub toilets offering perfumed water for a tip, this time was different, the bars, restaurants and the larger shops, like the Lake District and London, are almost completely staffed by Eastern Europeans. Oh and did you see the news this week that the biggest number of immigrants this year into the UK are, drum roll, wait for it, Rumanian's! Yes, the same people the politicians told us would not come in droves.

Politics has been a laugh this week, the Lib-Dem leader Tim Farron and his nine MP's seemingly has been handed a mandate to sort out Brexit from the people in Richmond. If you look closer however you will see that Tim's people won the seat by a measly 2,000 votes and that in a by election which he should have won by a landslide. The scale of his victory was brought home as the camera panned out from his victory huddle and it showed about twenty people all alone in a rather large park. You have to give it to politicians for their boundless confidence in themselves in the face of reality.

Richmond LibDems, no really, that is all of them.

Take the gushings of praise for Fidel Castro from some quarters, I don't think one leader of the free world has described the tyrant as a disaster for his country, a murderer and torturer, several, including the clueless Canadian Trudeau and the EU buffoon Junker have fallen over themselves in their plaudits, the former of course back tracking like mad now as he realises how stupid he has been. But will the people ditch him, not on your nelly, that's democracy.

OK one more, the Prime Minister of Malta, yes Malta, that powerhouse of the Mediterranean which contributes so much to EU coffers, has been giving us dire warnings about our intention to leave the EU. They are just the latest of a number of jumped up little countries terrified of having to put away their begging bowls when we leave or put their hands in their own pockets, if that isn't a reason to be grateful of leaving them behind I don't know what is.

Malta anyone?

I see Cinderella is getting a rewrite to be more exciting and empowering for girls, and rewritten by the children themselves, I used to shake my head at the way the Communist regime in Russia rewrote anything they didn't like, now we too are at it at all levels. Brunel gets his cigar photo shopped out, Cinderella becomes a feminist, Spiderman has to be of an ethnic minority, the Penguin is gay, Ben Hur throws his whip out of the chariot not to be cruel to animals, small things admittedly but I want them to leave my world alone, I am an adult I can take it.

And finally, bloody Vegans! There is tallow in the new fivers, yes so what, well if you are one of the insignificant number of people who won't have anything to do with animal products etc. then you are stuck with a pocket full of shrapnel or tenners and twenties, because touching the fiver will, eh, erm, do nothing to you, but it will fuel your demented thinking. The petition to take the tallow out of the fivers has reached a staggering 5,000, the number who wanted to take the Star Wars Jedi religion seriously reached 390,000, I rest my case. I would like to take them all and dump them around 1066AD and see how long they would survive with their extreme ideas, the arrogance of these people wanting everyone and everything to take their views into consideration is astounding. Mind you, how long before the 5,000 get their way, wannae bet a fiver?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Lady in Red

A bit of light entertainment last night with a simple 100 point X-Wing dogfight, it has been a wee while since I took to the stars so I was looking forward to a good fight. I was fighting Simon and Simon always has something new up his sleeve as he is a committed Star Wars fan and avid collector of X-Wing miniatures, he also likes to peruse the upgrade cards, usually along the lines of my hits or defence throws being cancelled.

The Imperials drop in.
Sure enough he had some new ships, a G-1A starfighter, a lovely looking little model, along with two Kihraxz fighters and an M3-A interceptor, Simon was pleased with them but I thought they were a little on the light side and only the G-1A had a decent complement of shields, but of course they all came with a number of upgrade cards. I had dug out a list I had made some time back as it allowed me to bring the Imperial Shuttle to the table, a ship which is not seen very often, but what is the point of having all these different models if you only ever use one or two. I also took Kath Scarlett in a Firespray along with two bog standard Tie fighters, the big ships were my attack dogs while I hoped to use the Ties to gang up on whichever enemy ship was nearest to them. I had a few upgrades but nothing spectacular or easily forgotten.

Scum and Villainy on the horizon.
My plan started well and the two big ships moved towards the enemy concentrating their fire on the G-1A, the Ties were not far away and duly opened up on whoever was closest. We had about three turns where the Shuttle and Simon's ships took damage but nothing particularly life threatening, it was around this time that I had to move the Firespray away from the Shuttle and then haul the latter back into the fray. I can't remember who went first but both the G-1A and the Shuttle tumbled out of the game.

Sadly the Ties were left on their own and although they dealt out some damage removing shields from the enemy they could not escape retribution, I hauled them away but Simon guessed right and ended up on their tails. Unlucky for him one of his ships had had to move over an asteroid twice in its haste to fire at the Ties and the damage suffered from this took it out, he did however still manage to knock out my two fighters. But Kath had now come back into the game and downed another enemy ship, we now had one each, the Firespray still had at least one, maybe two shields left and an unbreached hull, Simon's M3-A I believe only had two hull. It was the end of turn six and therefore the game, I had a lot more points left than the bad guys so victory went to the Empire. I tend to be much better at the club with this than Bolt Action.

Elsewhere the boardgame guys were playing First Ypres, there was a Great War game and a fantasy type board set up as well, one Bloodbowl league game and Julian and Ryan were playing the same but with the new boxed set. Bloodbowl is not my cup of tea but it looked good and the Ork team figures in the new box were simply magnificent sculpts. Not sure what I am doing next week.

The first of my goodies for the new army arrived today, seven pots of paint and varnish, my transfers have also been despatched. I noticed the painting guide turned up but the missus is keeping it hidden until my birthday in a couple of weeks or so, damn.