October, a great month, mainly because my Birthday is in October!
I’m waiting in anticipation for my Birthday present to turn up, 1066, Tears to Many Mothers. I back it as a late pledge some time ago, and its arrival is imminent – I await the little message to arrive saying it has been dispatched, with bated breath – but more of that later.
Schools half term also fell in October, and we ventured out to visit Cadbury World. Now I last visited about 16 years ago, when the company was still British, the Roses were nice, and Milk Tray didn’t include an apple crunch (who ever thinks apple and chocolate go together wants their taste buds examining!)
Now, anyone who knows me will know that I am a chocoholic, I love the stuff, and I used to dote on Cadbury’s chocolate. My dad used to deliver to Bournville when I was mere lad, and my eyes would light up as we entered the factory. I remember being given a whole box of Whispers months before they hit the shops, and then there was the factory shop – not like the shop at Cadbury World now – a shop purely for the workers. Creme eggs (when they were tasty, not like today’s poor imitations) were just a few pence each, and they sold a range of goods from the Cadbury subsidiaries, such as Typhoo tea and Hartley’s jam.
Alas, it was with some trepidation that we visited the place again. We went because my daughter had been nagging to be taken for some time, and on the whole, I think she though it was ok. Would I recommend it to anyone? No, not really. The tour is dull – the first part is all about the history, which is fine, but the way it is conducted isn’t conducive to anyone with young children – there is a lot of standing around listening with little to no interaction, and so you get a lot of children running around and yelling, because they are bored. And as you move from section to section, because you are kept in a group, there is little chance to take the time to read all the plaques – there is always someone in the way, or you’re quickly being ushered into the next part by the staff.
The second part of the tour is supposed to be the fun part; I think we must have blinked! There were a few things you could do, write your name in chocolate, which sounds good, but isn’t. Basically, you get a very bored looking member of staff hand you a squeezy bottle containing warm chocolate, you write your name on a table top, and they scrape it off again!
There was a little pot of chocolate with two topping of your choice to try, and a few demonstrations taking place, again by bored looking staff. Then there was a green screen experience – ‘Have your photo taken with a wrapper of your choice’ kind of thing. We gave it a miss. Finally there was a long queue for the Cadabra ride, which we waited in for about 40 minutes. Once on the ride you realise it’s really aimed at the under 5’s, but at no point is this mentioned, and it is rather amusing to see all the adults pottering slowly through the world of cocoa beans that bear a strange resemblance to a naked M&M! (I laugh because we were some of those adults!)
When we last visited Cadbury World, you got to dip chocolates, see them being made, and view the packaging process, all this has gone and sadly as it would appear, has the feeling of love from the staff for the company they work for.
There was one plus point – the 4D cinema. It was 12 minutes of pleasure, sitting on a chair that moved, which combined with the 3D effect, gave an excellent experience. I’m glad we left it till last as it meant leaving with at least some sense of pleasure.
My love for Cadbury’s is still alive, but only for what it once was. They created a working environment that at the time was second to none, and Bournville became a celebrated place to live and work. The chocolate they produced was enjoyed by millions, quickly becoming a British household favourite. The last few years has, in my opinion, seen it decline, one only has to look at comments on Facebook and other social media sites to see the dissatisfaction of the consumers. As for myself, I only touch Dairy Milk bars or Bounville dark chocolate now; I have become a Lindt man, except for Christmas, which sees Quality Street replacing the once cherished Roses.
Okay, enough about chocolate let’s get geeky and take a look at what else I’ve been up to during the month of October.
Firstly, congratulations to Anthony Phillips from Macclesfield, for winning the Obsession giveaway, and a big thank you to everyone who took part.
I tried a couple of different things this month, one was a solo play-through, and the other, Randomness and Luck, was to delve into the analytical side of games.
They both appeared to have gone down quite well, and there have been some great comments both on here and on BGG. I really enjoyed doing the play-through, though it took a lot longer than I ever imagined completing it. An actual game of Pandemic usually takes around 30-40 minutes, but the play-through probably took about 3 hours, maybe more!
I just wish there was more free time to produce the amount of content I have whizzing around in my head. I have to keep creating draft pages containing short excerpts of the things that pop up, and I tend to be the kind of person who gets easily distracted onto the next thing before finishing the previous one!
I’ve only really played two games this month, Eldritch Horror and Suburbia.
Eldritch Horror is an excellent game, based once again in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. It sees the characters traversing the world, solving mysteries, closing inter dimensional gates, and battling with a variety of monsters, all to keep the ancient beasts from rising again.
It plays up to 8 players, but also gives an excellent solo experience, and that is how I’ve been playing it. I play with 4 characters, as I find that to be a good balance (any less and the game can be too difficult), and even then this is a hard game to beat. I love the way you can form a story with it as you play, but the best part is in trying to figure out where the priorities lie. You can have a mission that simply needs a gate closing, but then you get a rumour card that must be completed before a gate can be closed. But you have all these monsters causing things to happen that are really bad – advancing the doom counter to awaken the ancient one – what do I do first? Everything of course!
I have to say I don’t seem to be very good at it, and in the last 8 games, my win percentage is a big fat zero. Still, I keep trying.
Suburbia is a city building game, or to be more precise, a borough building game! Once again I have been playing solo, and I am much better at this than Eldritch Horror. This is a great game to pass an hour, just sitting puzzling things out, and I find it quite relaxing to play. There is a strategy to it, one that I’m still working out, as I haven’t played it much solo, and it really is quite satisfying when it all comes together.
Having played it previously against other people, I found it a little odd to play solo at first. When playing solo you don’t get bonuses to concentrate your strategy on, and it took a couple of games to figure out what my aims should be throughout the game. It becomes a balance of making money at the start, then switching to increase your reputation, and finally going all in to raise your population. The skill of the game is in knowing when to switch from one to the other, and ideally, in the early part of the game, a combined money/reputation increase seems to be the way forward. Still, my score creeps up higher with every game, though I’m yet to hit the heights I do in a two-player game.
I’ve sacrificed a lot of my game time this month to concentrate on painting. I’ve finished the basing of the Doppelgangers; finished the troglodytes; completed my Black Dragon, bar its base; painted three Earth Cultists, again just need to base them; progressed my EXPO Dragon; and started three Air Cultists. For me, that’s a lot in a month!
I’m pleased with the Black Dragon, which is actually a simple paint job, but it looks quite effective. The Earth Cultists were also quite simple, mostly drybrushed armour with a little layered flesh, but again, good enough for the games table.
My EXPO Dragon, which is popping its head out of an Alien egg, is coming along quite nicely. This is my first attempt at something that is more for display than gaming, and though I know it isn’t anywhere near as good at what a lot of people are putting out, I’m happy with it, and that’s what counts! Plus, I’ve been trying to get to grips with blending, a more advanced technique, and I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it – more practice required.
I’m also thinking it’s about time I assembled and painted two kits I have, well, three really, but two are the same thing but by different manufacturers. One kit is HMS Hood, and the other two are HMS Rodney, both ships that my Great Uncle served on during WWII. There was a story knocking around the family that he was believed to have been on board the Hood when it sank, but in actual fact he had missed it sailing out, however, doing family research has proved this not to be true, though he had served previously on the Hood. He also served on the Rodney, the ship that helped sink the Bismarck, and my father was named after the ship, though I’m not certain he was on it at the time the Bismarck went down.
I seem to have had my head constantly buried in books this month. I’ve read the first three books in the War of the Roses series by Conn Iggulden, Stormbird, Trinity, and Bloodline, and I’ve almost finished the fourth, Ravenspur.
I had read the first three books before, but I’m the kind of reader that can read good books over and over again, and these are very good books. Based on Fact, Iggulden makes the plot twist and turn at a pace that keeps you turning page after page. I love the way he brings characters to the fore, making you love them for a period, and then hate them, and then love them again – he’s done this especially well with all the main characters, especially King Edward, whom I was rooting for until he became King, and betrayed those who had been loyal to him (mostly caused by his scheming wife). But then he becomes an exile and it brings realisation that he has become a fat drunkard, causing him to turn a corner and become once more the kind of King the people could look up to and follow.
Anyone remotely interested in this interesting period of British history should give these books a once over, and if you like Bernard Cornwell’s books, then these are very much in his vein.
That’s about it for other stuff this month, as the rest of my time has been taken stuck up our Walnut tree pruning it back, no small task, and one that isn’t yet finished!
Looking back at last months ‘coming up’, I managed to achieve most of it, so, here’s this months possibles…
- 1066, Tears to Many Mothers – It just has to arrive next week, fingers crossed, so I will be posting something in November, maybe an un-boxing; the review will probably be December – it just depends on how much play-time I get!
- I’m in the process of writing up a post about the RPG I’m working on, just an introduction to my ideas and plans. I’m then considering doing a regular post about it as I develop it, we shall see.
- The next part in my painting series will be up in the next few weeks, Part V will be all about techniques, then Part VI will cover finishing – basing and varnishing. That will be the last part, as I will then go onto posts covering specific figures, which will highlight specific techniques.
- I’m considering doing another play-through, but I haven’t decided on which game to focus yet, again, we shall see.
I’m sure that will take up most of November, and then it will be time to plan for the festive season, and who knows what that will bring!