Second full week back. As much as I despise the world of work (apart from money and paid holidays), it does bring a bit of much-needed structure to days and weeks. You need to ensure you get enough sleep, exercise and scheduled food in which to function. Left to your own devices, it’s all a little more spontaneous.  

Griffin quiz – we won the last two weeks. Another 24 bottles of cider are hanging on the blimmin’ wall. They’ve changed the menu again, no more soup of the day (which is a shame cos it was pretty good) but a welcome return of the Fish Finger Stack. And the toad in the hole.

Geeks and Gaming: DKR 3 part 2 was acquired last week. I wondered where the whole “Master Race” storyline would crop up and now we’ve had the reveal or at the very least, the strongest hint yet of what it’ll be. Pseudo-rip off of Superman II? Maybe. But there are few original stories left these days. Just look at The Force Awakens… Anyway, it’s not been a bad story otherwise and the mini comics in each issue have been a good distraction. I did read that Frank Miller is considering a DKR IV…

I didn’t like the ending to the second Mirror Universe story in the recent Trek comics. I’d hoped for a more prolonged adventure of that particular storyline but practically everyone is now dead so that pretty much is that. He-Man carries on strong and the Back to the Future title is good, light-hearted fun. I also bought the Arkham Origins title in paperback which is effectively a choose-your-own-adventure comic book. Not tried reading/playing through it yet but will let you know how it goes.

Alex tells me that there’s going to be an expansion pack to Age of Mythology, released thirteen years after the original. I was of course aware that Age of Empires 2 just released an official expansion pack recently through Steam (not played) but very intrigued to see what the Chinese Mythology pack will bring to the table. I guess if it were up to me, I would have opted for Aztec myths given their pantheon of deities but hey, let’s see what’s brought to the table. This is exactly what should happen in gaming. Let the fans come up with stuff and if it passes muster, sell it as an official add-on with full technical support rather than unofficial mods which are horribly reliant on creators having the time, energy and wherewithal to maintain them.

So, having been challenged to a game of Twilight Struggle after Monday’s date (yes, I had a date and what’s more, there was no weirdness, just two hours of free-flowing conversation plus a tepid hot chocolate), I figured I had better learn the rules of the game. The size of the manual was more than a little perturbing but thankfully, it sketches out a sample game so when you (invariably) lose your way, you can test your knowledge against an actual game to see you’re on the right path.

I dry-ran a game, the mechanics seemed to work and played a game with Alex, beating him when he started WW3 over a coup in Nigeria in what would have been the mid 1960s. For those who aren’t aware of BoardGameGeek’s (former) number one title, it’s a Cold War ‘simulator’ set between 1945 to 1989 where one player takes the role of the USA whilst the other starts as the USSR. The game follows overall history reasonably well – USSR has many of the early game advantages whilst the 1980s are the dream time for the USA. And there are diversions such as the space race from the main action to allow you to keep your opponent off balance. Ultimately, the chief aim of the game is to extend influence throughout the globe by ploughing resources into bolstering presence in other countries and working to diminish the influence of your opponent. Once per turn is the opportunity to play a specific cold war event which will give a specific bonus to a side such as the invasion at Suez or the foundation of NATO.

All in all, an interesting game once you’ve gotten the hang of it. And the chance to be really spiteful to your opponent. It’s difficult to evaluate the luck-to-skill ratio but sometimes it feels like luck has the advantage more than 50% of the time. Which I guess is more “realistic” as often events hinge on having the right person at the right time in the right place. For example, I’m lucky in one of my games that I could play the Allende cards fairly early on which enabled the USSR to sink its hooks into South America and ultimately win the game by clean-sweeping the continent, playing the score card at precisely the right moment. 

I said former number one earlier – Pandemic Legacy seems to have claimed the top spot this month…

Also bought three new games at the weekend – Munchkin Oz, Shadows over Camelot and Merlin’s Coming (SoC expansion) as I wanted the two games for myself. I think they’d benefit from a wider audience, particularly this coming Sunday. Mr B did ask why I was buying it as he and Joey both own the game but I don’t see any problem with collections that overlap. Means more chance of people knowing the rules before they play. Two games were undertaken last night; good won one, evil won the other. Naturally, Scott was the first traitor. I suggested photoshopping his picture on the traitor card.

Anything else which isn’t geeks and gaming? Kinda – received a note from landlady saying happy for us to stay on another year but wants to put the rent up by a whopping ten per cent! Sufficed to say, this is more than a little…vexing. A large part of me wants to dump toys, blankets and dummy out of the pram. I’ll probably cave. For now, I need to vent. And steam.

Still kinda stunned from both Bowie and Rickman’s passing.