TSM Geek – Sept/Oct 2020

2020 drags on as we enter yet another national lockdown, will there ever be an end to this?

It’s hard not to dwell on the state of the world at the moment, and if one does then it’s sure to only end in depression. We’re trying our damnedest to stay safe – wearing masks, keeping to the social distancing rules, etc. – but some people seem intent to go about their business as normal.

Those who think it’s okay to enter shops and make up some lame excuse as to why they have no mask. Those who don’t care if they encroach on your personal space whilst they can plainly see you’re trying to keep to a social distance. I could go on, but as I say, best not to dwell on these things.

Good news, though, is that Bertie seems to have fully recovered from having a MAST removed and is back to his normal self, which means he wants walking for two hours a day, sleeps for the rest of it, and tries to con us out of as much food as possible – yep, fully recovered!

“Tickle this!”

Well, with all the restrictions in place we’ve done bugger all else as a family, so onto the geeky stuff…

Gaming

I find that solo gaming has very much dropped of the radar at the moment, mostly down to the fact that Yasmin has been a willing participant in my gaming sessions, and a whole load of fun we’ve had together too.

There does, however, seem to be a pattern appearing in the games we’ve been playing, in as far as they’re pretty much the same games as we played over the previous two months – Mansions of Madness, Arkham Horror, and Marvel Champions, but with a few notable exceptions, which I’ll come to shortly.

Trying to get Yasmin playing new games can be difficult, as she tends to judge a game by its cover, so to speak. In general, she likes horror, fantasy, and Marvel, so anything based on these themes she’ll be willing to try. Anything else and I have to catch her in a really good mood!

Once she’s played something, though, if she enjoyed it then she’ll play again, but she only gives a game one chance – she’s that kind of girl!

Anyway, let’s just rewind a little, back to Mansions… we won!

This doesn’t happen often, but I think we’ve finally got the strategy right with this game. We play with two investigators each and this time we used three of them to explore the area as quickly as possible, ignoring anything unless it was a dead cert to be of importance. We then had the fourth investigator plodding along behind us, mopping up anything of interest.

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
This is how we usually end up – Insane!

It worked this time, because we were able to figure out exactly what we needed to do very quickly and from there could prioritise what needed to be done. We had a great time, as we always do playing this, but it felt so much better with a victory under our belt. Of course, this been Manisons (in fact the same could be said for any of the Arkham Files games) our investigators saved the world but nobody would believe them, and so they spent the rest of their lives locked away in an asylum – sounds about right!

We can’t say the same for our games of Arkham Horror 3rdE – we lost badly, again! Still no win for us and I’m not holding my breath for one either; this game is hard! It also doesn’t have the same replayability value as Mansions, or indeed of Eldritch horror (more on that later), as the scenarios are a bit to linear for my taste, and I need a sizeable break before attempting them again.

We also played a few more games of Marvel Champions, but this time we picked different characters. I went with Black Panther, with protection, and Yas chose Captain Marvel with leadership. We went up against Klaw.

Marvel: Champions
Luke Cage comes to Black Panther’s rescue.

To be honest, over three games, we never really got close to beating him. I find it odd, but I never have an issue when playing solo, and usually beat the three core villains 80% of the time. Maybe it’s because I usually play with only one hero. Or it could be that we haven’t gelled together, strategically, when playing this game, however, it doesn’t really matter as we have bags of fun playing it, and I need to be adding more heroes and villains to the collection.

As I already hinted at, we also played Eldritch Horror, and it’s quickly become a favourite of Yasmin’s – we racked up about 10-hours play over three days and she wanted more!

I have a soft spot for this game. It isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination – it has a lot of randomness, though some of it can be mitigated – and it’s a challenge, in fact it’s downright impossibly difficult!

I’ve played it many times and have yet to win more than the odd game or two, but I really get a buzz out of the puzzle it presents. It’s all about priorities, and the difficulty is that they’re constantly changing. Closing gates, killing monsters, solving mysteries, looking into rumours, halting the impending doom – ah, its enough to give you a headache!

When Charlies is Tokyo he’s a force to be reckoned with!

Out of all the games I’ve played with Yasmin this is the one that gets us shouting support for one another. Egging each other on to pass yet another vital test, or, as happens most often, groaning together at our failure to roll anything higher than a two (I took an influence test and rolled 6d6, amazingly I rolled six 2’s!).

It’s also a lengthy game, rarely is it done and dusted within 3 hours, which takes its toll out of a busy weekend, but now Yasmin’s hooked, I’m hoping it will get to the table a few more times before the Christmas break.

Finally, a quick word about Warlord Games’ Victory at Sea: Battle for the Pacific starter set. Sue bought me this for my birthday, but before I ploughed into it I decided that I’d do an unboxing of it. Whilst taking the pictures I discovered something a little odd. The miniatures were an odd brown colour, all but one that is, which was the blue/grey colour I’d expect of a resin miniature.

The detailing was also far crisper on the blue/grey one compared to the others, and its base was totally flat whilst the others were slightly warped.

Now Warlord make their own miniatures using their own resin recipe, and I’ve no experience of their miniatures before. So, I sent them an e-mail to find out if this is a normal occurrence or if there’s a problem with this particular set. At the moment I’m still waiting for a reply, but when I get one I’ll either continue with the unboxing or put out a post detailing the issue. Of course, if anyone else has ever experienced this then let me know in the comments, ta.

Painting

I’ve done a fair amount, for me, over the last couple of months.

I’ve completed leia Organa, which I’ve already published a post on, the Scoundrel from Gloomhaven, the first batch of my 10mm Romans, and three dwarves that had bee knocking around in my drawer for some time (read years!).

Just milling around!

I’ve also just prepped my next batch, which includes more Romans, Chewbacca, and Rocket and Groot from Marvel: Crisis Protocol.

What has taken up most of my time, though, has been the making of some modular boards for the previously mentioned Marvel game.

The first attempt ended in the bin. I tried using all foamboard, my mistake, as I was gluing them together and then painting them, they warped and became unusable. So, after casting an eye around the garage I spotted a 3′ x 4′ MDF board, 6mm thick, great, and then I spotted some more, 3mm deep, perfect.

I cut the board into four, 3′ x 1′ and then used the 3mm board to make raised pavement areas. Sandpaper for the roads, painted it all up, and now I just need to varnish it and it’s ready to go.

I got the idea from the Terrain Tutor and just adapted it for my own means. I’ll put a post out showing how I did it once I’ve got them protected.

Screen shot

Carrying on from my previous geek, I’ve now watched series 6 of Agents of Shield – now waiting on 7 to appear on Disney+. Needless to say, it was superb and I barely paused for breath between episodes. Like Marvel, then you’ll love this!

Unfortunately, I can’t quite say the same for Agent Carter. A two season series focused on the post war adventures of Peggy Carter. The storylines are pretty good, not up to the entwining plots of Agents of Shield, but solid enough. The acting takes a little getting used to, especially at the start of season 1, as they seemed to be trying to portray the idea of how someone would act in the 50’s and it came across a bit ‘cheesy’. It did settle down by episode 3 or 4, or maybe I just got used to it, though Howard Stark was totally annoying all the way through and would have been more at home in the all child cast of Bugsy Malone.

Still, it was worth watching and filled a hole as I was waiting for the next season of The Mandalorian to start.

Between the sheets

As I mentioned last time, I was busy reading through the Carthage Trilogy written by Ross Leckie and I’ve now finished all three books.

I’ve already commented on the first book, Hannibal, so I’ll move straight into the second, Scipio.

I found it a much easier read than the first and for the most part enjoyed it. The base of the story is dictated by Scipio to his trusted friend Bostar – who was also a friend and companion of Hannibal. In-between Scipio’s narrations Bostar adds clips of his own life story, and the problem here is that it’s more interesting than that of the main character. My biggest issue, though, was the way Bostar cuts his own story short towards the end as time is pressing with Scipio’s trial almost concluded.

This felt a bit of a let down, as I said, Bostar’s story is an interesting one and I’d have like too have heard more. Also, the climax of the book is a bit of a non-occurence; nothing really happens. I finished the book wondering where, exactly, the story was!

Unfortunately, the final book, Carthage, is more of the same. This time, though, it is written as a collection of notes and writings gathered together by Polybius – letters to and from Cato, Hanno, Bostar, etc. – with Polybius adding his own notes here and there.

It doesn’t flow like a story and there’s just no real substance to it, again it ends in an anti-climax of nothingness!

The author also resorted to ‘cutting things short’ again, just like in the previous book. This time Polybius has to leave for Corinth and then has his own History to complete, so he must hurry to finish this narration. It’s as if the Author got fed up of writing and wanted a quick out, so decided to remove the narrations of Polybius, who was, like Bostar in the previous book, far more interesting then the main characters.

So, I can’t recommend going out and reading this trilogy to be honest. It doesn’t give much of an account of the happenings at the time – the first is probably the closest to historical fiction – and I ended up wondering where the story had gone. I had to battle to complete the last book and now, unusual for me as I’m a hoarder of books, these are going to charity.

4 thoughts on “TSM Geek – Sept/Oct 2020

  1. Sounds like you’ve been filling your time in well, Justin! 🙂 I’ve got a few comments:
    1) glad Bertie’s feeling better!
    2) those Romans look brilliant!
    3) I love Marvel’s Agents of Shield!
    4) like your scenery and, can’t resist writing this, it just needs varnish!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, thanks John.
      I’ll have a post out by the end of the week for the Romans; I’ve some cavalry done too.
      We’ve been riveted to Agents of Shield right from the start; can’t wait for season 7 to be shown.
      Varnish arriving today 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Games, books, TV – it sounds like the life of Riley to me! And you have a game-playing daughter. Lucky man!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol, yes, I guess I am a lucky man, though I didn’t really give her much choice!

      Liked by 2 people

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