June Geekiness

Another month down, and summer seems to have arrived in earnest. Blazing hot temperatures this week have made it very difficult to drag myself indoors to write, but, needs must, so here goes…

So, what have I been up to this month?

The biggest thing for me was, I finally delved into the world of social media – Yes, I set up a Facebook account. Now I’m quite surprised that, after all the years Facebook has been up and running, how user un-friendly it is. For someone new to it, it certainly isn’t very intuitive. It took me a fair while to work out how to set up a Solo Meeple page, but I got there in the end.

A big thank you to everyone who has been following me through Facebook, especially all those old friends of mine, who I haven’t seen, or heard of, in years – Seeing some of the old photo’s have brought bag many happy memories, and I’m in the process of uploading all mine to share – patience though, computer issues (see below!).

The reviews I have posted to BoardGameGeek have been doing quite well – Flamme Rouge is currently the ‘Hot Review’ on there, so I’m pleased with that. I’ve really enjoyed writing my ‘Picking up the brush’ posts, though they have taken an age to write. I’ve been trying to make sure I don’t miss anything that may prove useful, but I also don’t want to overwhelm the beginner; it’s all a balancing act, hopefully I’ve got it about right?

Next up, games – Well, I haven’t been playing a great deal this month, but here’s a look at what I have managed to get to the table.

Legacy of Dragonholt – This is a ‘choose your own adventure’ style game, and I’ve been playing it with my daughter. You start by creating your character, and it’s a fairly simple task, there’s nothing here as complex as creating a D&D character for instance. A lot of it is based upon how you envision your character to be – what they look like, and how they behave; there are no stats to roll up, just skills to pick. I created an Orc Shaman, called Gentleman Gendry! And Yasmin created an Elf Bard, called Elaina. I was really impressed with Yasmin’s creation of her character, she really got into it, and what she produced was really quite descriptive. So far we’ve played about 5 sessions, around 40 – 60 minutes a piece, and it’s been quite a good experience; Yasmin seems to have enjoyed playing, especially investigating Dragonholt. I can’t reveal too much about the plot, that would spoil the fun for those of you who may want to play it.

Scythe – I’ve been itching to play this since I got it home from the Expo, unfortunately I’ve only managed to get a few quick, unfinished games in. So far, great things, and I can’t wait to get time to play a full run through or two. Will the family like it? Jury is out on that one. I think if they are willing to give it a go, then they may well enjoy it.

Sythe - In play
Scythe In play, Solo.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – Again, I’ve been playing this with Yasmin; I did get it for her after all (honest!), and so far we’ve played through the first three games. And, I actually enjoyed it, even though I’m not a huge HP fan – I’m not even a small one! It’s a deckbuilding game, and really started to get going in game three. The first to games are very much on the easy side, but the difficulty increases as you move up through the games. Our last game finished quite close, and we both really enjoyed it.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle Set up
HP Set up, and ready to go!

Suburbia – I purchased this for two reasons; one, I thought Sue may like it, and two, I can play it solo. But to my surprise Yasmin took to it as soon as she saw it, and we’ve played a couple of really close games. You try to build your own town, scoring points as you place tiles, and trying to increase your population. The fun part for us comes right at the end, when we make up stories explaining how our towns work!

Tsuro – We played a lot of this together; it’s a really enjoyable and quick game. I’m pretty sure this is going to hit the table a lot more than many other games, mainly because it is so easy to set up and play. I was eager to write a review on this one, and due to its simplicity, it didn’t take too long to write.

Subbuteo – As I wanted to write a ‘Remember when’ post on Subbuteo, I had to dig it out the loft. Setting up the pitch for a quick game brought back many good memories. The best thing though? Yasmin saw it and immediately wanted to play, so I can’t wait until we both have some free time to have a flick around!

We’ve also continued to play Magic, though not too many games this month. Yasmin has managed to break even with me this month, so, fair play to her!

A Mini Rant!

I just don’t seem to have had much to play games, partly because we’ve been juggling computer use, and I get on when I would normally be playing games.

We currently only have the Mac, which is predominately used by Sue for her work. But, it became obvious, with the amount of writing I’ve been doing, and Yasmin needing it for her homework, that we needed another computer.

So I ordered one. From HP. Big mistake! The reason I ordered from HP in the first place was because the Defence Discount Service (DDS) give a really good discount. So I was able to afford a decent computer that should have been delivered within 48hrs. That was Sunday 24th. It’s now Friday, and they’ve just cancelled the order because of a technical ‘glitch’!

Now, I understand these things happen, but what I don’t expect is to keep having to phone up their support to find out what is happening to my order – 4 times! This is how it went on my online account – First it was showing awaiting payment for 2 days – but it had been paid – then it showed cancelled – apparently another glitch, will be shipped tomorrow they said (27th) – then it went to in packing – hurrah, I thought – Then it said they were waiting for stock – No, it’s in stock, another glitch, I’ll get back to you later (Never did) – Called them again, Technical issue, we’ll be cancelling the order!

During all this, I sent two e-mails to Hp complaining, and I know they received them as one of the operators at the support centre said he could see them on the computer. I received no reply. On my last call though, I asked about them, but it appears they have been deleted of the system!

So, I have written an e-mail to both the support management, as well as the CEO of HP UK. We shall see if I ever hear anything back – Somehow, I doubt it.

That all leaves us without a second computer, and without the funds to buy another one, at least until the refund has gone through – Thanks a bunch HP!

Okay rant over; let’s get back to geekdom.

Painting

Or should I say lack of painting! I usually get to paint on a Friday evening for an hour or two, but this month has seen us just too busy. I’ve nearly finished my three Gnolls from D&D: Temple of Elemental Evil, I just have to cease them. I have to say, I’m not overly happy with them! I think it’s because I didn’t have a clear image in my head of how I wanted them to turn out, that and the fact I’ve been painting them over a long period of time; it’s much better if you can concentrate your efforts, and get them done in a single sitting or two. I should be able to make a start on the Bugbears now though, and they will hopefully get finished fairly quickly. I also need to do a few photo’s for next months ‘Picking up the brush’ post – more of that later.

Temple of Elemental Evil: Gnoll Archer
Gnoll Archer.

Other Stuff

I finished reading the Forgotten Legion Trilogy, and read Island by Richard Laymon. I found it an odd read this time, I’d previously read it about 10 years ago, I don’t think it has stood the test of time. A family group, and their partners, find themselves stranded on an island after the boat blows up. Then people start to get murdered, and it leaves the main character, Rupert, stranded with the women of the family. The plot itself is quite well written, and keeps things interesting throughout. I found it an easy read, and finished it in about a week of bedtime reading.

My issue with the book, I can’t remember what I though of it when I last read it, was the constant letching of the main character over the women. Yes, I understand that this is, to some degree, essential to the plot and the psychological twist as it nears its climax, but it goes on, and on… I feel I couldn’t really recommend this book because of it.

With that finished, I’m now half way through reading Ian Botham’s autobiography. I always remember The Ashes of 81, and his brilliant all-round performance, since then he has always been one of my favourite sports stars. It’s a good, down to earth read, and anyone into cricket would enjoy this insight in to his successful, if turbulent, career.

Sue and Yasmin have been watching ‘The Greatest Showman’, and have seen it several times this month – So far though, I have managed to avoid it by being busy on here. Apparently it’s very good, but I don’t think it’s my type of film.

As for myself, I’ve barely seen any television this month, and I’ve not even watched much football! I had a couple of bets each-way on the overall winner – Germany (Doh!), and, as an outsider, Belgium. England I reckon, could be good for the Quarters. We should beat Columbia, but if we get Sweden, that as ever, could prove a difficult game – I’d rather we got Switzerland!

Finally, on the 23rd, we visited Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the Ironbridge Goerge Museums, for the Steampunk weekend. We only live 15 minutes away, and have annual passport tickets, and it’s a great experience just visiting the Town, but with the Steampunk festival there it was fantastic. The amount of effort people put in to their costumes is unbelievable, and we may even dress up ourselves for the next one… this was my first venture in to the world of Steampunk (at least outside of gaming!).

It can be an expensive business if you buy the costumes ready made. The best thing to do is look around the charity shops for things that can be used – clocks, and watches, seem to be the thing. A lot use the old gearing from the clocks to create jewellery, as well as decoration on items of clothing. It’s amazing the amount of versatility; you’ll never see two people dressed the same.

The Steam Tent Co-operative, are a group of people who fully embrace the ideology, camping over the weekend, not just at Blists Hill, but all over the country. Their tents and equipment are all Steampunked Victorian, even the way they were cooking!

Anyway, we had a great day out, and I can heartily recommend visiting a Steampunk festival if you ever get the chance.

Steampunk Gal
She made this costume herself – That used to be a NERF gun!

Coming Up In July

I have a few ideas for July, but things change, usually dependant on time. I’m getting faster at putting things down on paper, well computerised paper that is, but taking photo’s and research all add to the work load.

Review wise, I’m looking at Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition), and Timelines, but after that I am yet to decide. I’m trying to get through my older games first, as the newer games need play testing, and that will cut down on the time I have to write. It’ll prove a lot easier when I get a new laptop – I can have it next to me, and write up notes as I go along.

Reviews on games like Mansions, take a good week to write, hence I’m backing that up with Timelines, which, being a much simpler game, won’t take too long. Again it comes down to balancing time.

I will be doing the next ‘Picking up the brush’, which will see us covering preparation of the miniatures ready to paint. Again, this is going to take a fair amount of time to write, as well as the pictures I need to paint. I’ve discovered I need a better lamp – the one I currently use (an old fishtanks light, with daylight LED’s), just isn’t powerful enough for taking decent pictures under.

I’m yet to decide the topic of the next ‘Remember When’ post. I have several ideas – Popamatic (remember the original frustration?), Trivial Pursuit, Downfall, or maybe something a little different, like how as children, our parents never let us win! If anyone has anything they would like to put forward for these posts, then please comment below.

I also have a few other projects I’m working on – I’m designing my own game, based upon the ‘choose your own adventure’ genre, but with a difference. I’ve got the outline of the mechanism I want to employ, ┬ánow I’ve got to write a short story plot, one that I can use as a test to see if the concept works. I will be asking for play testers at some point, but it’s likely a few months off yet.

Lastly, I’m looking forward to the delivery of my Graphic Adventure Novels, which I backed on Kickstarter. They should arrive early to mid July. There are five, quite different books, and I shall be reviewing them one at time, as I finish them.

So, let’s wrap things up for this month by saying a BIG THANK YOU to all the people who follow me, like pages, add comments – on here, Facebook and on BoardGameGeek. Your support is very much appreciated. Please leave any feedback in the comments below – What I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, and anything you think I should be doing that I’m not!

Keep gaming,

Justin

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