TSM Geek – May/June 2020

Well, I think this may just be the shortest Geek I’ve put out so far, what’s going on?

Not a lot, at least as far as geeking goes!

I look back over the last two months and wonder where all the time has gone. I’ve certainly been kept busy. We’ve just started on the garden after spending months (possibly years) trying to come up with a plan. So, I’ve begun to remove the hedges, of which we have around 50m, and it’s proved no mean feat. The hedge is made up of all sorts of shrubs and trees from Yew to Holly and lots of very thorny things in between

The first 10m run has been cut down and stumps removed, before I can do the rest, though, we have to wait for the birds to finish nesting. In the meantime I’ve been sourcing fencing to put up… deep joy!

The veranda needed another lick of stain, as well as a little TLC here and there, and we’ve filled lots of pots with flowers and vegetables to scatter around the bench. I’ve also built a few planters and vegetable beds with all the spare wood I had lying around, and these are slowly being filled.

The garden has absorbed most of my time but another project has kept me busy during the evenings, and that’s my gaming table. Originally I was just going to knock up a coffee table to hold the game top I made a couple of years ago, but things moved along as ideas kept popping into my head.

The game top is very heavy and cumbersome, being made out of an offcut from an oak kitchen worktop, and so isn’t very user friendly. And so I came up with a plan to make the coffee table and a new, lightweight, topper for it. I then got it into my head that I needed a rail system, just like they have on those posh game tables, like the ones from Geeknson.

Well, things have progressed quite nicely. I have the basic table all made and varnished, and I’ve incorporated a pull out section on one side – I’m in the process of making the frame for the other – and the rail system has been partially installed – basically a grooved piece of wood. I’m just testing a few ways to work this and then I can add the bottom of the rail, which should then complete the table part.

Game table
Here’s the basic table…
So far I’ve added a pull out tray; another one will be added on the other side.

For the topper I’m making a frame that will sit just over the edges of the table and will contain a recessed playing surface, I’m thinking about getting a neoprene mat made to measure with my logo on – how cool would that be!

All of this has so far cost… absolutely nothing! The table has been made from Yasmin’s old bed and a few other bits and pieces I had lying around the garage, including all the doweling, screws, and varnish. The table-top was made from the bed slats, which I doweled and glued together, and the holes at the end I filled with dowel before varnishing, so it gives it a bit of a rustic look – I didn’t want to cut the ends off and lose the extra length!

It’ll probably be another couple of months before the whole thing is finished (Hey, let’s be honest, more like another six or seven!), and I’ve still got the important things to add, like a glass holder to fit the rail system!


Gaming

Without a table I’ve done no solo gaming, other than Thousand Year Old Vampire, which I recently reviewed, and it’s been that way since Christmas. This month has seen very little in the way of gaming full stop, as everyone has been so busy. Amazing really, considering the lockdown, I would have thought it a prime time to get lots played, but no…

In May I posted my first thoughts on a few new games, and of those only Everdell has made it back to the table. We have, though, managed to break into the Scythe expansion, Rise of Fenris, more on that shortly.

I’ve been impressed by Everdell and it’s quickly established itself as a family favourite. Every time I play I discover something new, whether it’s how to use a certain structure or a new tactic for gaining resources; there always comes a point, usually around half way, where I stop and smile, as the game offers some tantalisingly delicious decision-making. The gameplay gets quite tight at times, in the way that you never quite seem to have the resources you need, and figuring out how to use what you have to get what you need, gets the old grey matter ticking over nicely and is a delightful part of the game.

There have been criticisms thrown at the game for it’s randomness and the inability to form a solid strategy, but I think that’s down to people taking the wrong approach to the game. This is a game where you have to deal with the cards you have in hand or that are in the market, you can’t formulate a strategy in one game and expect it to work in the next, there are too many variables. You have to be reactive and make use of what you’ve got, it’s no good holding onto a card in the vain hope that it’s partner is going to turn up (each structure has an associated critter), and this makes it play quite differently to many worker placement/tableau building games.

As soon as I’ve played the solo version I’ll knock out a review and expand on things there, and I’ll make every effort to do that before the end of July… honest!

Rise of Fenris. What to say without spoiling things? If you like Scythe, then don’t hang around any longer, go and buy this… still reading? I said go and buy it… NOW!

Yep, as you can probably tell, I love this game. It introduces a campaign into the mix and one that is utterly enthralling and absorbing to play. It makes the odd change to the game play here and there, but never introduces too much at any one time, and so you always feel in control of your destiny.

The campaign is made up of 8 games to play with the added bonus that all the modules (eleven in total) can be added to a normal, one off, game of Scythe, so you can tailor your game to suit your needs.

The story works really well, though if you replay the campaign it will more than likely be skimmed over but that won’t deter from the fun to be had replaying the whole thing. Take away the story and you’re still left with an exciting series of games.

We’re half way through now, usually playing a game every Sunday, and just like the base game it holds up really well with just two players. It also has rules for the Automa, which I’m looking forward to trying, especially using two or three game controlled opponents.


Painting

Marvel: Crisis Protocol has been my main focus over the last couple of months and despite only getting a couple of hours a week of painting in things are coming along quite nicely.

Since Black Widow I’ve finished Doc Oc, Crossbones and Baron Zemo, and Captain America is almost finished too. I’ve been posting pictures on my Facebook page of the progress, so take a look at that if you’re interested. Here are a few pictures from there…

Doc Oc – base colours blocked in.
Marvel: Crisis Protocol - Dumpster
Dirty old dumpster!
Crossbones – blocking in the flesh tones.
Just a couple of lamp posts!
Marvel: Crisis Protocol - Baron Zemo
Baron Zemo – Blocking in the base colours.

I’ll be posting more of these over the coming weeks, though, as I still haven’t sorted a new flashgun out, I can’t guarantee what the pictures will be like.


Screen shot

We’ve been making the most of Disney+. 20 films have been ticked of, which is a record for me!

In the MCU: Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant man, Captain America: Civil War, (Doctor Strange we’d already seen), Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s been awesome watching them in quick succession. I love the blend of comedy, action and morality, and it’s hard to pick a favourite character… Maybe Iron Man, or Black Widow, but then there’s Spider-man, or Thor…

One of the reasons I’ve done such little reading (see below) is the fact that I started watching the Star Wars movies at bedtime. I’d only ever seen the original three movies, probably around their release dates, and I’d never taken to the Star Wars universe. But now, oh, how things have changed!

I nearly didn’t make it past the first film, The Phantom Menace, due to the annoyance of Jar Jar Binks and the fact that I didn’t think it was a particularly good movie, but still, I persevered.

In the end I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, though the films vary in what they offer. The first three have lightening quick fight scenes with light sabres flashing here and there faster than my eyes could keep up with. The storyline was okay, but it was the all action, fast pace that made these enjoyable.

Episodes IV to VI, the ‘originals’, are what they are, classics. Watching them again it’s quite surprising just how well they stand up, after all they’re over 40 years old. Obviously, they’ve been digitally re-mastered, but everything else has stood the test of time, with the possible exception of how slow the fight scenes are, especially after watching the previous three.

The final three films in the series are superb. The storyline is taken to another level – okay there are still holes, but this is Star Wars and some things shouldn’t be taken too seriously – whilst still keeping things moving at pace. This is clever film making, by keeping the pace high and almost constant action, one doesn’t have time to concentrate on things like, just how is that ship flying through space?

The best, though, at least as far as I was concerned, were the two stand-alone films, Rogue One and Solo.

Rogue one is a slower, more deliberate movie, which builds a stronger story than any of the films from the series. Solo, on the other hand, builds the story of the likeable rogue, Han Solo, and it captures his personality and humour superbly. Alden Ehrenreich does a great job as Han, and it couldn’t have been easy trying to replicate the roguish Harrison Fords portrayal of the character.

I’d been on at Yasmin to watch Star Wars for a few years now and I finally got her to sit down and watch the first one whilst I was on the fifth. Two days later she was on the seventh movie having passed me by! She’s now on her second run through of the films and it’s resulted in her wanting to play all the Star Wars games I have, Outer Rim, X-Wing and Legion… RESULT!


Between the sheets

Not a single novel has passed before my eyes but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading, quite the opposite in fact. The number of historical rulesets I’ve read must be close to a dozen, as I’ve been searching for one that floats my boat. I finally settled on Hail Caesar, as I mentioned in an earlier post, though I’ll probably tailor to meet my needs.

Other than that I’ve mostly being doing research into the early Imperial Roman Empire, its army organisation, weapons and armour, and of course, its enemies. All of this has led me to order a 10mm Imperial Roman army starter set from Pendraken, so that’s just increased my painting requirement somewhat!


Well, that’s it for this geek, not a lot to report I’m afraid. I’m trying to get back into a regular writing routine, as trying to put together a post of any length when you can only catch 10 minutes here or 15 there isn’t very productive and I just can’t get into any kind of flow.

I’m also struggling to find a flashgun that will work with my camera, at least for a price I want to pay that is. I need one that swivels in all directions so that I can bounce the flash rather than shoot it straight at the subject. A lot of what I shoot has a glossy finish and you know what that’s like if you flash is straight at it.

Things should settle down to normality again soon, as the school holidays are almost here and both Yasmin and Sue really need a break. Both have been working flat out during the lockdown, and I’m really proud of both of them. Yasmin has been keeping to a relatively normal school-day schedule, doing all her work as it’s set and attending all the ‘teams’ meetings as they come along. Sue was working at her school on a rota system, going in a couple of times a week and then working from home for the rest of it – liaising with parents, making up learning packs, etc. She’s back full time now and feeling the strain of trying to keep nursery children safe and maintain social distancing – not an easy thing with children so young.

It’s all about bubbles.

Bubbles will keep you safe.

Look after your bubble and it will look after you.

Don’t burst someone else’s bubble!

4 thoughts on “TSM Geek – May/June 2020

  1. Sounds like you’ve been busy, even if you don’t think you have! 🙂 I still need to watch the ninth Star Wars film and Solo, but otherwise my favourite is Rogue One by a long shot!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol, there’s busy and there’s ‘busy’ – I’ve been productive but not necessarily in the areas I wanted!
      Rogue One was excellent and I think you’ll enjoy the two you have left. I enjoyed Solo, but then it has the Falcon in it so what’s not to like!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As you say, isn’t it strange how during the lockdown it has been so difficult to find time to play games? And also, how weird that we too have been ploughing through the Star Wars films with the family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, one would have thought that it would be easy to find the time to play lots of games, but, I dunno, maybe it’s the fact that working from home can be quite mentally tiring, I know Yasmin certainly finds it takes its toll, and watching movies is a better way of unwinding than playing games.
      Weird how everyone I speak to seems to have watched Star Wars recently, probably because it’s good, all round family entertainment.

      Liked by 1 person

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