Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Hounds of Hampstead Heath

Yesterday was a big day of walking around London with my wife's sister and brother-in-law who live in London. I think we walked in total for 9 hours, it felt pretty impressive and it was a great way to see the city. We started our walking bus in Hampstead Heath, I was pretty amazing having a gigantic park in the middle of a city! I also noted that it was a place where lots of people walked their dogs, or hounds.


It made me think, Hampstead Heath could be a good setting for a game of Empire of the Dead (or two). After all it most likely was haunted by a different bread of hound in 1988, Lycaon. 

My Lycaons in London

After Hampstead Heath we walked through regents park; went through a couple of squares; wet to Gordon's for wine and cheese; we also went to a couple of pubs for beer while walking past Big Ben; the shard; the Tate modern and more exciting stuff. 


We then took. The tube to China Town for dinner. I continue to be impressed with the tube and transport system, mainly how vast and expansive it is, as well as its age. 


The walls in this part look a little bit like a Dalek. 

On the way home we walked past on the way home we went to a bar with 27 beers on tap and this shop:


It looked like a very cool store, plus love the classic film Forbidden Planet. Taking a closer look at the shop I thought although there is plenty of cool models they were all rather expensive and wouldn't improve my life a whole lot. For example the 50pound 4th doctor scarf.


We finished off out night by taking a double decker bus home, sitting at the front of the top story. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Ultimate Games Room

While in France we visited Loire Valley to see a few castles. One of my favourites was Chambord which was built for King Francois as a hunting lodge. Once it was constructed he only spent 40 something days there and decided he didn't like it so moved on.

Unfortunately I didn't take that photo. One of the best feature of this castle was the games room:

Once again I lost my photos but here is one I found to the Internet. It is a very impressive room looking over the moat and grassy plains of France. It has a very large fireplace to keep everyone warm while they enjoy a beer and some billiards. I also imagine a game of Eclipse, Settlers of Catan, and Empire of the Dead would occur every now and then. 

They even designed the place with a separate cards room: 

Oh and don't forget the trophy room, you have to have a place to show off you victories after all.

So here is something to aspire to for our next games room which I imagine Dan will be constructing soon. Just to update you of our location, we are now in London after taking a train with Victoria Beckham (aka the spice girl) there. I didn't actually see her, or if I did I probably wouldn't have noticed as I have no idea what she looks like. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Games workshop in Paris.

We made it, and I think I may even have time to churn out the occasional post about our travels, of course related to gaming. This will enable me to keep my family and our followers happy, at the same time. 

On our way through Paris to catch a train to Loire Valley we came across a games workshop. However  it seems that they don't open on Mondays. In the end a very unexciting part of our sight seeing. Plus i'm not really interested in any games workshop stuff currently. On a more positive note I like the space invader on the left of the building.

Au revori. 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

We are supposed to be in Paris

Note this post is split into two parts, starting with before we sorted out our problems and after.  

Before 0800

Well here I am, sitting in Karori, Wellington when I am supposed to be in transit to Paris as you know from the previous post. Hmm. Obviously I am pretty stressed so I thought I could pass the time by doing a non gaming post but give you an update on our travels.

So our trip so far goes something like this. We turned up to the airport in a timely fashion and started booking in for our flight. The AIR NZ rep said, you guys are not booked onto the flight despite what your tickets look like. She said that it has been booked in then cancelled. They mucked around for 30 minutes trying to sort it out telling us to not do any further action which made us feel helpless. However there was nothing she could do. We called Etihad who was our main airline but they said flight centre had cancelled it so we could have to talk to them.

Luckily we were already on hold to flight centre's emergency number, which took about 20-30 minutes to get through, this was about 0615am. The man on the phone told us that a guy called Will who we never had contact with cancelled our flight, in April! There was no mention of this in April, we certainly didn't get our money back. They guy on the phone then told us, we don't believe you so you have to wait until flight centre opens at 10am to get it all confirmed with them.

So here I am at 8am. No flights to Paris. I figure we will be able to sort it out but now we will have lost time. So we are going to try and get Flight Centre to do a few things for us in compensation.

  1. Re-book flights of course, and in first class.
  2. Get an extra day or whatever we lose out on due to the delay and flight centre to pay for extra accommodation which is necessary. 
  3. To pay for an extra day/s of Annual leave as necessary. 
Well it might be a tall order however we can only try. If we manage to get to Paris on Sunday our plans will not be disrupted too much. We were originally arriving on Paris at 7am. Wish us luck.

After everything was sorted 1300

We went to the flight centre to fix everything out. The guy who reportedly cancelled our flights, Will, ended up being the guy who we dealt with there. However he was the team leader and I expect this is why his name was labelled as the one who cancelled the flights. However it sounds like the fault was due to our travel agent booking the tickets under my name twice, so the airline cancelled the tickets thinking it was an error. However we were never contacted about this.

It took 2 hours, and they shouted us a coffee to sort it out. Here is the result.
  • We are flying out this afternoon now with Quantas and Emirates rather than Etihad which I believe is a step up. Unfortunately the travel agent did a good job of avoiding my requests for first class by saying "Don't worry we will sort out your tickets" whenever I asked. 
  • We now arrive in Paris at 2030 rather than 0730. 
  • Because of that we are now leaving at the other end of our journey a day later and all extra accommodation expenses paid by Flight Centre. 
After it was all sorted we breathed a huge sigh of relief, our nerves were very shot. I think flight centre dealt with it well in the end, although it was very frustrating. They reluctantly accepted that it was their fault. In the end I think it is a better deal as we get longer in Paris and some time in Melbourne on our way over.
Sorry about a non-gaming post however I felt like a rant.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Loose Ends

Well it is almost time for take off and I thought I should tie up some loose ends.

The new Airbus and personal assistant Robbie
My wife and I are heading off to Europe for a trip through France, the UK, Italy, and Slovenia (plus a few hours in Croatia). The last few weeks have been busy with moving and working on some last minute tasks so I haven't painted a heck of a lot. However here is what I have done out of my Armoured Rifle Platoon for the Yanks.

Completed so far

Half tracks will have numbers to correspond with the teams they carry

Platoon command section

LMG team and bazooka team
I think they are looking A OK. However my bases are pretty simple, which I like. I think the flock grass has a cleaner look to static grass. When I get back I may add some extra foliage to give them a tad more intrigue.

One key loose end I have been trying to sort out is Wayland. They are in my bad books right now. Four weeks after I have ordered (as mentioned in a previous post here) and they are still trying to get my thunderbolt in stock. They said it should take 3-9 days for this to happen. Grumble. I tried to get them to split the order and send my tanks and priests separately however they flat out refused unless I paid an extra fee (it wasn't really that large to their credit).

I am not sure what to do now. Cancel my order or just the thunderbolt in fear of never getting anything or wait it out. After all I am away 6 weeks, it will probably be sitting in Dan's office (where I send my packages to) when I get home.  Anyhow any ideas on where to go from here or similar experiences? Either way both Dan and I think it is pretty annoying these places can sell you stuff, and take your money for items they don't even have! I think I will start ordering with Caliver books now because at least they don't make any promises.

Well I am off for 6 weeks now. Dan will be master and commander of the blog so keep checking for posts. Hell I may even make a post or two while I am overseas.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A Gaming Manifesto

Flames of War gaming night last night can be summed up as:

Know the feeling?

There was a bit of tension there, which I in part added to (okay was primarily responsible for).  For me, I feel that unless I am "policing" what happens in the other side's turn then I will be taken for a ride - particularly over-measuring which is my personal bug bear.

Perhaps we should leave our weapons at home when we play

The other issue that gets me is the "squidgy shot" that skims the outside of a wood, just fits between two buildings and takes out your tank or something.  I find it impossible to protect against that sort of thing and must confess I think ultimately such shots are somehow against the spirit of the game (which they are not).  I also feel that the game would slow down to a crawl if I had to measure and ask about each potential shot before moving.

Really, I need to chill out a little and enjoy the game and allow such things to happen as part of the game.  What we need is a gaming manifesto for our group to stop things disintegrating.  Something we all buy into, so that I feel like I don't need to "police" things, and also so I don't affect the vibe by being the annoying guy.
Your thoughts on what should be added would be helpful.  Something like:

  1. I will trust that the other side is playing within the rules of the game and the spirit of the game.
  2. I will not over-measure.
  3. I will ask on a clarification about line of sight in my own turn.  If I don't ask, then tough.
  4. It is better to lose and have fun that win and be a dick.
Last night wasn't helped by the fact I hadn't played for a while and I have holes in my understanding of the rules.  Steve pointed out later that one of my platoons lost its command (it was an armoured car platoon) and couldn't have taken one of the objectives for instance.  I also get very confused about shooting through friendly teams in the same platoon (another pet hate is the need to carefully arrange teams so that they can all shoot / assault etc).

The scenario we played was not one of the usual missions either, it was a scenario from the FOW website (Recce over the Canal) that was a little confusing to say the least.

Your thoughts on this issue would be good - any additions to the manifesto would be helpful.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

We only ever make it to turn 8, a 7 player game of Eclipse.

Well as the title suggests whenever our gaming group plays Eclipse, one of my favourite boardgames at the moment, we only make it to turn 8/9. This is probably due to the epic proportions of the game, this particular game taking 6 hours! Yikes. This was due to multiple factors, trying to watch the All Blacks vs South Africa (which we won), teaching a new player, two players leaving during the game. Anyway I wont get into the nitty gritty as Eclipse just doesn't make for great session reports like Flames of War. If you haven't played before feel free to read a review of the ipad app I did which has an overview of the rules here

We played with some of the additions added by the expansion, most notably increasing the game to 7 players. However this didn't last as one of our players had to quit in turn 3 as mentioned above so we helped him bankrupt his society (this was our new player). Then around turn 5 or 6 Dan left so Chris played both Dans Orion Hegemony and his Rho Indri Syndicate who had formed an alliance earlier. Anyhow here is a shot of the starting set up...

Sorry Zac you got an action shot.

  • The players and Races in order of play were: 
  • Stephen (me), Enlightened of Lyra
  • Zac, Machanema
  • Ben, Hydran Progress
  • Alex, Magellen
  • Chris, Rho Inhri syndicate 
  • Dan, Orion
  • Matt, Humans. 
So the game went down something like this: During initial exploring some diplomacies started, and by turn two Dan and Chris formed and alliance a new component of the expansion. This was worrying for the rest of us as they were the combat races. They then swept through taking over alien hexes. Ben and I being Lyra and Hydran races best at turting kept to ourselves while Zac steadily expanded. Zac and I kept positive relations aware that we may need to team up to beat up Chris and Dans forming empire. I sublimed my mind to my shrine grid, a Lyra special abitily where I build shrines on my hexes, eventually giving me advantages. 

Finally combat broke out between factions, Dan and Chris attacked me, luckily Zac and I had formed an alliance by then so took them out together. Whew. 

Orion and Rho verses Lyra and Machenema

Things were getting hot but Zac and I had a pretty good defensive position, unfortunately our attempts to expand were not so successful but fun none the least. My Shrine system was going well giving me and extra disc first up (turn 4) and wormhole generator (turn 6), and I was having a lot of fun playing them. Ben as the Hydran was researching like a boss, he had filled all research tracks by turn 8! He was in a healthy position and conflict broke out between Zac and him but ended with neither being better off. I attacked the Orion and Rho alliance and got wasted, however this was more in order to keep them off my turf. Then the game ended. 

The end game shot

The game score looked like this
  1. Machanema and Lyra allicance (Zac and I) both on 43 points.
  2. Hydran on 42 points, very close
  3. Magallen, 37
  4. Orion and Rho alliance on 32
  5. Humans, bankrupt. 
It was a pretty high scoring game in the end and I think we all enjoyed it. Having 7 players really added to the game, as did the expansion. The length was not so great, although we added in the fast play variant at the end having multiple players taking turns at the same time around turn 5. The rugby and Chris having to play for both himself and Dan slowed things down a bit. One of the best parts was I thought the Enlightened of Lyra, the race suited my play style and were a lot of fun to play with their special shrine grids. It is worth noting I was able to build a shrine per turn and if we had finished the game should have been able to finish with all 9 giving 12 VP. 

My shrine system
My player board end game. 

Once again can't be bothered editing this post so please excuse grammatical errors. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Birthday aliens, tanks and drills.

Well its that time of year again where I grow a year older and get some sweet new toys. This year my dad got me a nice Bosch drill! Pretty happy with that, now I just need something to make holes in. I am also getting some tanks, priests, a thunderbolt and M4 mortars for my americans. I ordered (I order my own presents, its easier that way) from caliver books, they came within a week, not bad. However I ordered the rest from Wayland 3 weeks ago, all marked as in stock, and they haven't been posted yet. They sent some response a week back saying

Unfortunately the delivery from our supplier has had a slight delay, I have been informed that it should arrive by the end of next week.
Once this delivery arrives your order will be processed and shipped as soon as possible.
I apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Maybe they meant to say it the packaged got destroyed in transit.

However surely that means what was in stock was not. In the end it isn't a huge biggie as my Wife and I are going to Europe in less than 2 weeks so I would not have been able to paint them up anyhow. When I get back they should be safely posted to Dan's office. I might contact wayland again and give them a hurry up.

The other present I got was the expansion for Eclipse, Rise of the Ancients. It makes the already epic game even better. It adds quite a few elements, most notably however 4 new alien races. The Mallelan which are equivalent to humans and are on the back of their player boards the more specialist races. There are the Exiles a turtling race which specialises in defensive strategies; The Rho Indi Syndicate which are space pirates; and the shinny bug ninjas the Enlightened of Lyra who are a mix of a defensive race who can lash out at the end game effectively. This can increase the game from a 2-6 to 2-9 player game. This is pretty epic as even a 6 player game can take 4-5 hours, luckily they added a fast play variant involving two ridiculously large pawns so two players can take turns simultaneously.

New races

Large simultaneous play markers. 

The expansion box compared to the game box

We played a game last night and added in some of the extra features such as new research, warp sectors and Chris and I played a new race each. I played the Rho Indi Syndicate and Chris the Exiles. I using my superior pirate intellect decided to take over sectors in a straight line down the middle of the map leaving me exposed to, well, everyone... I was winning but everyone quite rightly teamed up and took me down to town, I mean blew me up. Still I came second although we finished on round 8/9 due to time. Humph. I think part of my problem is I don't like being mean and attacking other players first in Eclipse, next game I think I will play the Enlightened of Lyra so I don't need to worry so much about this. All in all I am pleased with the expansion as it adds quite a bit but doesn't change the game play dramatically.

I have organised to play some boardgames with some mates from around town and am hoping to play Arkham Horror and Eclipse on Saturday so will keep you all posted.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Born to Kill Again or M4A1s and the US Company so Far

Woohoo my first 5 M4A1 Sherman's are finished! It is nice to see my US armoured tank company coming together. Anyhow here are quite a few photos:

Here they are, from the left the first three are one platoon and the last two are command. 

A close up of command. I decided to give them both hedgerow cutters. I wasn't sure if that was a good idea as getting them right up into the fighting may be dangerous. However I decided having the versatility of independent teams means I can send them where there needed, especially hedgerows. 

I couldn't resist putting born to kill on the side of my command tank. As you know I put Born to Kill in German on my StuGs (see this link here) and I like having quirks like this in my armies. I felt it was ok as it is almost a trademark now and it is in English not German this time. 

A shot of my company command.

This is the 2IC. I thought I would make his tank with stripy camo. I am planning on making a whole platoon of M4A1s with stripy camo and then the one here with dotty camo.

A shot of the M4A1 platoon. Ideally I will add another tank to this platoon.

A close up of the M4A1 command.

And a shot of the backs (and a front) to show the stowage.

This is a shot of the companies rides so far! I am feeling pretty stoked with these and am looking forward to putting them on the battlefield. Next up is my Armoured Rifle Platoon, already a little way into it. 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Empire of the Dead requiem is finished!

While I was drinking my morning coffee and catching up on facebook I noticed a small post from West Wind Productions...

Looks like we can expect to see our miniatures soon! There isn't really a huge amount more that I can say about this. If you haven't read the update on the kickstarter page here is the main body

I am VERY pleased to report to you today that I finished the sculpting for EotD Requiem last night - Hooray!!!

This final set of sculpts will complete the last factions/characters/steam machines, ie. Clickers, Bedlam Brotherhood, Chinese Tong, Nemo & Crew, Famous Authors, Criminal Gang, Professor Gecko, The Invisible Man, Steam Knight and Mechana-Bat, together with some of the drivers for the coaches and carriages. Oh, the only thing I haven't finished is the weapons sprue, but that wont take too long to do.  So, master moulding is underway, then production moulding, then production casting on these final models will commence.

Shipping will COMMENCE, Wednesday 4th September; that is not to say that everyone's rewards will be shipped on the commencement date. Shipping will proceed in waves, commencing Vampire Hunter pledge level on the 4th September, through all pledge levels until fulfilment is complete.  Not sure how long this will take through to the end but we will have a clearer picture once we get into the shipping phase of the project. Wendy will keep you posted on how things are going and on which pledge level is due to ship, via regular updates throughout September and as long as fulfilment takes to finish up.  We will email you a few days prior to your rewards being despatched. That way you can watch out for your goodies!  We can't wait to get rewards out to you all and hear what you think.  When we do start the shipping phase, I kindly ask for your patience.  Many thanks.

There is some more stuff written including some positive feedback about the models so read the whole post here. Well I am excited but I am not expecting to get the models before September the 21st when my wife and I head overseas to Europe for a six week holiday. Anyway check out some of the pictures of the first models completed from requiem.

Nice stuff. It is suffice to say I am pretty excited. After all Empire of the Dead is the game which convinced me to start painting and the game is a lot of fun! Check out some of our sessions by clicking on the Empire of the Dead label.

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