Tag Archive: Star Trek


Star Trek Prey

Salut, 

Looks like I’m not going to get my wish re US elections given the weekend’s revelations. It does stink of “dirty tricks” – one wonders what this weekend is going to hold.

In slightly more upbeat news: Star Wars Battlefront 2 (not going to be confusing at all…) has been announced for a release date in the latter half of next year. More of the same or will they develop the aerial combat & single player modes? Bring in clone troopers, battle droids etc from the prequel trilogy? I’m intrigued by the news but not especially excited as Battlefront has dropped so far down my playlist of online games I revisit. Multiplayer combat maps are all very well and good but there’s a distinct lack of variety that the original PC games had. 

I also managed to continue resisting purchase of Civ VI. As have many other civ fanatics that I know. I’ve heard some good things, some bad things from those few who did crack but by far the biggest criticism is the UI. Mess that up and you lose the fan base…

Other odds and sods: last night’s quiz saw the Island of Yoshi’s pushed into second place and again, because I was overruled with my answers which turned out to be correct. Being the caring, sharing person that I am, I held off a whole five seconds before rubbing it in. Still, the food was good, desserts looked amazing (had to resist the Malteaser cheesecake) and the poison of choice was Leffe Blonde. All in all, a much more pleasant evening that recent quizzes which have felt a little fraught. Personal issues, y’understand.

Book news: For the most part, I’ve been re-reading the Star Trek Vanguard series, with half a mind to go straight into the Seeker series of novels. Last week the second in John Jackson Miller’s Prey Trilogy was released so I interrupted Vanguard for this. It’s TNG’s salute to 50 years of Star Trek (TOS had it’s nod earlier this year) which ties in the events of Star Trek III into the wider Trek universe, developing more on Commander Kruge, Klingon politics and a heavy focus on Riker and Worf.

I’ve enjoyed JJM’s work in the Star Wars Universe – Kenobi was a brilliant novel, KOTOR comic books were a great tribute to the games – still haven’t gotten around to Knight Errant tho’. But these Trek novels feel kinda weak, particularly in relation to some of the better stories that have been released in the last couple of years. I cite Rise Like Lions, Disavowed and The Missing as particularly good books as well as Uncertain Logic and Live by the Code. Despite a promise by the authors to get away from what has been criticised as “Star Trek West Wing” with Articles of the Federation and back to exploration, the Prey Trilogy goes right back to the politics, albeit from the Klingon perspective.

My biggest criticism of the trilogy is that the characterisation of the regular characters has been given a massive kick in the balls. It’s been all but eliminated in favour of the narrative which has been enjoyable but horribly predictable. I had worked out Braxton Cross’ backstory half way through the first book (before he was so named), I worked out how the Unsung would be used/abused, likely disposition and fate of Korgh. I compare it to Kenobi and although I suspected “Plug-Eye’s” true identity early on (trying to avoid spoilers), I didn’t see the wham in relation to Orrin Gault.

Many of the Klingon characters have regressed into the typical Rah-Rah types rather than the more three dimensional ones as shown in Keith RA DeCandido’s Klingon books. I’ll grant you that with many links to the “past”, there has to more of that behaviour but I still felt the balance was way off. So I’m hoping that the third book in the trilogy (end November 2016) will show a vast improvement over the previous two books but all in all, not the best tribute to 50 years of Trek. One can only hope that next year with 30 years of TNG to be marked, there’ll be something better in the offing.

Advertisements

The weather has turned and cooler temperatures are drifting in. Start of the inexorable march towards autumn or false dawn? Only time will tell. 

Wednesday saw the gang come round for some hot gaming action. I successfully inflicted Star Trek: Five Year Mission on them and it went down rather well, I thought. ST:FYM is a dice rolling game for 3-7 people whereby each player takes on the role of a member of the Enterprise crew (either NCC-1701 or NCC-1701-D) and they attempt to resolve events, scoring a set number of points before five events fail. At least, that’s the official explanation – I cooked up a far better back story in my head.

So, the game is played over a season of TOS or TNG and in order not to get cancelled, you need to complete a set number of good episodes. If there are five stinkers, the show is cancelled and no amount of letter-writing will save the show this time.

Whichever explanation you prefer, here’s how the game is played: Each player draws an alert card (blue = easiest, yellow = middling, red = hardest) at the start of their turn, rolls their dice and attempts to place the dice on the cards. To make the game more challenging, the dice come in three colours and sometimes the dice have to roll a particular way. Dice that cannot be placed have their scores frozen and carried over to the next turn. If a card is completed, it is either scored, given to the player if a particular reward is on offer or just set aside. It’s here that the scoring takes place. Some cards have additional symbols such as “Prime Directive” where that card has to be cleared before any other otherwise it’s an automatic fail. And the speed round where you have three minutes to resolve a card before it automatically fails (timer provided in the game.

Each of the characters has a unique power which can be used once per turn, this power can be useful or useless depending on which way the game is going. And finally there is the Enterprise herself – cards can cause damage to the Enterprise and certain dice rolls can help to restore the shields of the vessel. If the Enterprise takes six “hits”, it’s game over.

With both the original crew and Next Gen crew, there’s a good amount of variety for players and a large number of cards that can be played through giving each game a lot of variety although the basic principle remains the same – roll dice and score. To cut down on the randomness of the dice, the reward cards can allow modifications of die results and players when the refresh their dice from the pool can choose from whatever is in the pot rather than being stuck with the same five dice total.

We played our first game on Lieutenant difficulty (12 points to win) and our second on Lieutenant Commander (14). However, we found this kind of easy once we got in the flow of things so experienced gamers might want to start at least at 14 points for victory before working their way up the difficulty track. That said, the speed rounds and some of the truly nasty cards (we seemed to draw blue cards which spawned yellow cards which spawned red cards) keep things interesting as dice games have the problem of waning interest given the (overt) random-factor. All in all, it’s something I’ll definitely be taking with me on Sunday.

After ST:FYM, we had a quick game of Boss Monster which I won although several expansion pack cards were lodged in the main deck with no obvious identification marks that they were expansion pack! Kind of ambivalent about Boss Monster these days. It just seems to be missing something. Oh the expansion is a nice addition and I admit to not having played BM2 but compared with similar-ish games, it just lacks that je ne sais quoi. Minions, I suspect, the game needs minions. And not the Weetabix-Men rip-off.

No other real gen to impart as this week has been pretty peaceable. I guess my bank balance will thank me for my thriftiness. Until I get the urge to splurge and end up with an armful of debt because I just couldn’t say no. This weekend is going to be a gaming heavy experience. Planning some GTA time this evening, Borough market (this might be where the spending comes in) & Joey’s tomorrow for games and Griffin on Sunday (weather looks miserable so it won’t be a repeat sweat-fest like last month).

Not my kinda capitalism

I don’t know who writes David Cameron’s jokes at PMQs but if I were them, I’d find a more suitable career. And if I were Seth McFarlane, I’d sue for ripping off a 15-year old Family Guy gag. 

Another week almost over. Let’s start with the Star Trek news. Geeks all over…well…London (as I don’t know many others around the world) are rejoicing. Me – way more sceptical. For one, there was nothing actually announced other than “it’s going to happen”. Well Beetlejuice 2 was supposed to happen in the 1990s and a new He-Man film has been in the pipeline for nearly three decades so I’ll only believe it when I see something more tangible. And given what JJ “Murderer of Continuity” Abrams will be doing to Star Wars, I’d be most hacked off if after reams and reams of books/magazines/expanded universe material, CBS decide to piss over another load of continuity. It feels like someone in a suit somewhere is laughing maniacally, saying “yeah, we’ve got their money and we’ll release a whole new load of stuff because the fans are stupid and will buy any old crap”. Should that actually turn out to be the case, this fan will just stop buying the books and actively encourage others to do the same. I buy these things on the understanding that they’re continuing the story albeit in a different medium. I don’t want a DC “let’s crap out a brand new universe every five minutes” Comics state of affairs.

So yeah, I’m really sick of this cynical capitalist exploitation. I’ve a decently paid job (despite my whining) and a big mouth – I can take my cash elsewhere and yell and yell until the suits listen to the fans again. What good can one fan do? Ask Bjo Trimble.

Sorry, didn’t mean to lead in with a rant. Perhaps I should have stuck to the usual, safer topics.

Right, moving on then. Had a game of Risk Legacy last night over some raclette – the cheese went down really well and after RL, we squeezed in a quick game of King of Tokyo. Brendan and I both died twice in the same game! Always good to play a mad dice game. There weren’t any games on Wednesday alas. I also managed to finish the Xbone version of Wolfenstein: The New Order, scooping up the achievements. For those interested, you get two sets of achievements for the two copies (unlike Rare Replay where if you owned any of the games through Live, you can’t get “double achievements”). One more play through I think, to gather up all the remaining collectables in this version. I did see read on Wikipedia that the owners of the songs spoofed/adapted for the game would never allow their music to be used with Third Reich imagery which is why you don’t hear “Mond Mond Ja Ja”, “House of the Rising Sun” or “Karl and Klara” in the game but actually whilst escaping the lunar base, you _can_ hear “Mond Mond Ja Ja” over the intercom.

I also enjoyed (when doing some research on the soundtrack) some comments made by an MP in Liverpool – once again showing how an MP misses the point with regard video games. This MP screamed foul at the Beatles being used to ‘promote the Nazis’ but had he done the least bit of research…well, let’s not go there. It’s bad enough with Keith Vaz always whining about the pernicious influence of games on youth – personally I think disreputable and dishonest MPs who have been suspended from the House of Commons are far more damaging to the health of the nation but what do I know?

Pontificating aside, November looks to be a pretty slow and demure sorta month, a peaceable run into December’s shopping orgy. Swansea and Brussels are the only major events coming up. Couple of birthdays but I think those celebrating are doing so quietly this year which is of relief to the wallet. I would like to go bowling soon – it’s been too long and it’s not exactly an expensive hobby (if the drinking is done in moderation).

Wet Tasch

The good news is that today is pay day. The bad news is the bloody tax man took a bigger bite than usual because computer algorithms can be quite frustrating. That said, I have decided to take up the work Office 2013 offer of the complete suite for £9. Given up on finding the Office 2010 Key though I’m sure that like the external hard drive, it’ll turn up quite by accident.

So, the body count in the Steam Sale is six purchases: Age of Mythology HD (I cracked at 40% off), Civ IV Warlords, Civ IV BTS, KOTOR 2, C&C Red Alert 3 Uprising + the Chaos Engine. It may have been more had my laptop not been killed off mid-sale, I dunno. I bought the Civ Expansion packs as part of my “digitisation agenda” reducing reliance on physical media. Tried AoM on Sunday after I downloaded it, looks nicer but I miss or rather I can’t seem to find the advanced commands and advice that other Age games have. Unless this title never featured them, dunno. Finally finished my Civ V game as Morocco, picking up the “Here’s Looking At You Kid” achievement in the bargain.

Weekend: spent a lot of time watching it rain which brought with it a lovely cool breeze, especially at night. Ultimately had to venture forth to pick up laptop etc but think missed the worst of it. I think the moustache parade was over by the time I got into town though the crowds were breaking up so there were large crowds of people stood gormless. Dr Doom claims he ended up in at least one of the main pics; I remain sceptical. Sunday was a bit calmer, at least in general terms though when my can of coke fell off the table and exploded all over the lounge, wasn’t happy. Six walls it managed to cover, as well as the carpet; not even sure how it pierced. Between that, the bed and the wardrobe…nah, let’s not say any more.

I have to say, I wasn’t impressed with the latest Star Trek novel “The Light Fantastic”, a continuation of the story started in Immortal Coil and the Cold Equations trilogy. Everyone seems to have a really grotesquely happy ending except for Harry Mudd and Kevas Fatjo, it’s so saccharine. And don’t get me started on Q meeting the reboot-Enterprise crew. Should be a two page story really – Kirk isn’t Picard and wipes humanity from existence because he can’t argue as well as JLP. The End.

I feel cheated that the verdict in the R.Brooks trial was “not guilty”. Why? Parallels to Earnest Saunders aside, it’s remarkably hard to believe that someone who has been described as having such control freak tendencies could not be wholly aware of what was going on at News International. I really want CPS to appeal the verdict as it’s definitely within the public interest. The equivalent would be me in the office, sending out obscene letters, making abusive phone calls and turning up the next day pretending nothing had happened; it’s just hokey.

If my laptop could talk, that’s what it’d say. And it’s true, the last time I bothered to do anything with my laptop was little over a month ago. From the boy who’d turn on his computer before he took his coat off when he came in from work, yeah – been computer free as of late. Granted, the Xbox has had more appeal lately but with all the late nights and intensive work activity, the last thing I’ve wanted to do in the evenings is to endure more PC-type-stuff. Also, with the office finally adopting Windows 7 (and the abomination that is Office 2013), I suspect there’s a part of my brain that doesn’t want to see a replication of the work environment in the sanctuary of home.

But this morning I realised that there were a number of tasks I’ve been forestalling such as clearing out email accounts and updating a couple of key documents (inventories and the like) together with a iPhone/iPad back-up so had to indulge. And then I realised that I haven’t checked out Steam’s Winter Sale – doesn’t seem as exciting as in previous years, it has to be said. I dunno, perhaps there’s just a lack of “must-have” games on the PC lately. For people like Alex and Joey who invest a lot of game-time on their laptops, I guess it’s more exciting. And they have proper quality gaming laptops/PCs. Me and my Acer? Let’s just say that iTunes stutters if you try and do anything else which requires the least bit of laptop resource. And this is supposed to be a 6GB RAM machine!!

So, that’s me moaning about my hardware issues! Plenty of other stuff to dissect and moan about. Bloody rain for one thing.

Heh.

Xmas. It’s going to be a really understated holiday this year. I’ve bought gifts for five people perhaps? No cards again and haven’t received a single one. Then again, nobody else I know is sending any cards in all fairness. Generational thing? Even the usual flurry of office/work cards is reduced to two for the entire section! I’d go so far as to say they’re on their way out.

Will be spending the day in Vauxhall with Andy, John and Pepina which’ll mean a brisk walk downhill. I might call in on Xian and Stephen on the way – not that they know this yet and I’m fairly certain they don’t read this blog… will be off from 25-30 only as the Friday will be taken as a privilege day. I was hoping to take a couple of weeks off in January but with three Brussels trips dotted throughout that month, I think that perhaps a small chunk of February is more advisable. We’re having our FIFTH final meeting (!) on Re-Reg thanks to an outbreak of stubbornness on the part of several countries.

Bought myself my first Munchkin set – The Good, The Bad and the Munchkin as I didn’t want to start off with the vanilla set. Haven’t made time to play it but will do so soon. I was tempted to buy the Munchkin Apocalypse set in FP last week as Risk Legacy #1 was cancelled at the last minute but managed to rein in my credit card. That said, the Munchkin Superhero set was mighty alluring also. Again, I find myself wishing for some local game-playing buddies.

What else do I have to write about? Went on a small Xbox Arcade spree the other day taking advantage of some sale offers. Bought Beyond Good and Evil HD – loved the Gamecube version. Also got Bubble Bobble and Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slime. Stopped myself buying Bully as I still hope to track down a second hand version even though I’ve not seen a copy in the shops for less than £19.99. Also finished regular Ghostbusters the other day and Star Trek Legacy. Also finally solved that one pain-in-the-arse puzzle on Picross 3 so could start on Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies. Actually, been really ploughing through games lately rather than dithering.

Oh yeah, this made me laugh – Batman Arkham Origins in Game was £40. The Batman Arkham trilogy, £30. Just JENIUS!
[sic]

Getting a small windfall at the end of January, not a huge amount but enough to…say buy a new iPad Air and still have enough left over for dinner-for-four type-thing. I’ve been considering what to do with the case. First and foremost on my mind is the possibility of going away for my birthday. Though I could use the cash to either get a new laptop or even a new iPad. However, seeing as I’ve not really been using my laptop, I fail to see the immediate need. An iPad would be cool, or perhaps buying a new iPhone outright and switching to a Sim-Only contract thus saving cash over the longer term… or the sensible thing of banking it.

Another thing that made me laugh – the “good” Doctor put on his Facebook profile the other day “it’s good to do a friend a favour when they can’t pay you back”. I abused Xian’s Facebook profile (he showed it to me as I’m still not on the wretched site) and typed “Joe laughed bitterly when he read this”. Nasty side-swipe but it was the Argentinian beer that made me do it.

Yeah – plug time: on Monday, Xian, Daniel and myself went to La Patagonia on Camden High Street and I have to say, it was a really nice restaurant with good food, good ambience and nice liquor. I had the Corn Pancake with Goats cheese and rocket salad as a starter, the butternut squash as a main but forewent dessert as I had a tonne of sweet-tasting junk at home brought back from the most recent Brussels trip. But definitely one to check out if you find yourself in my neck of the woods, folks. I think that next, I’d like to try the Japanese Bento restaurant or the Thai place next door to La Patagonia. Oooh, and the Vegan cafe on Pratt Street cos they have amazing-looking cake.

Keep reminding me that I need to sort out my desktop PC people, one day I will wipe it and take that and the monitor down to Cex to PX against games or something. I never make the time. Why don’t I do it now? Well, it relies on me finding a keyboard so I can interface with it properly, just to take. I know that the guys will probably wipe it clean anyway but still, I need to be certain before I get rid of it. Not that it should contain any up to date information as it’s not been used in over a year and PC World wiped both hard drives clean when they replaced the motherboard.

Not much else to say. I could review all the games I’ve been playing. In capsule review:

Picross 3 – always good value. Challenging puzzles that test the brain. Essential.
Ghostbusters – Great fun but the levels felt a little too long in places. Also, finding the collectables can be a pain in the bum if you’re that sort of gamer.
Beyond Good and Evil HD – camera controls are nasty. Game is still great though.
Star Trek Legacy – a Trekkies wet dream but it’s essentially an arcade-action game which is more Star Wars than Star Trek. Quite repetitive in terms of “kill all the bad guys”.

Two Stinking Weeks Late

This should have been posted…well – a fortnight ago. This is just indicative of how stupidly busy I’ve been lately.

We’re three for three; Yoshi’s Island won the quiz AGAIN on Tuesday night making us undefeated thus far in Season 12. Prize was San Miguel again rather than the usual Becks and for the first time in ages I picked up a few bottles. No post-pub depravity though; went straight home and got in before midnight which was something of a treat. Could have tried getting the 88 bus, just to see how it fared but didn’t feel that way inclined so it was Victoria line all the way.

It’s been a fairly video game-free week this week. With no interwebs, a lack of inclination to set up the Wii (or other game console) and half an interest in my 3DS, I’ve been catching up on my reading or rather, re-reading as I’m ploughing through the Star Trek Mirror Universe novels. Gotta love the complete inconsistencies. Whilst I’d love to try Rome Total War 2, the negative press coverage about the bugs is more than off-putting and besides, there’s no way it’ll run on my aging laptop.

Now I’m settled in, it’s time to get rid of my surplus junk once and for all so that’s plan for the next month. I suspect it’ll be really easy to get rid of my flatscreen monitor and probably my old PC as the hard drive is clean. The rest (and you know what that amount to) might take a harder sell. Which reminds me to bug Daniel.

Tonight is the second wedding/civil partnership I’m attending this year. Weather is lousy so that’ll make getting there fun and I forgot my shoes so I’ll be stepping out in my Merrells. The gift was a dip/serving dish from John Lewis, slightly different from the one I bought Stephen and Rishi but the same deal. It’s glass so it goes with everything. Except perhaps fire.

Speaking of John Lewis – EPIC FAIL last night when they failed to deliver the new washing machine Brendan ordered as the one left behind by the previous owners is on the fritz. They claimed they turned up at 8pm but the only time the doorbell rang was for his chicken pizza and we were both in all evening. I suspect – nay – ACCUSE the delivery drivers of lying. So he cancelled the order and is sending a snottogram to customer services today. Sorry JL but you brought this negative blog rant on yerselves.

Casa Trevelyan +4

Move preparations continue apace – items have been shoved into boxes and crates, three large bags of clothes and books have been carried to the Charity Shop whilst long forgotten cans and packets of food are consumed in weird combinations. The house only has me left – it’s quite nice. The silence isn’t deafening but it’s not as if I have room to move about because of boxes all over the place together with tins of paint and other such renovation materials.

Speaking of boxes – four file boxes and six crates have been stuffed and by my rough calculation, that’s about a sixth of what I want to take. Yup, I’m a real pack-rat. Though the plan is to take stuff and then subsequently sell it on when I get chance to breathe. For now, unless it’s utterly useless, it’s packed and moved. It feels nostalgic, like being an army brat all over again seeing my life put into storage for a move.

The remainder of last week was pretty uneventful save for the fact that the weather began to turn ugly again. At the weekend, I learned that antihistamines and poppers don’t mix. I also learned that chemical burns caused by the latter take a while to heal. Finally tracked down two more WHSmiths DVD cases but they don’t match the three existing ones I own. Ah well, Video games can go in one and I’ll swap over music when I get a chance into the other – handy differentiator. And I finally managed to obtain six new binders for the comic book collection so the million or so I have lying around can at last be archived before they are moved.

Um…Sunday was Lee’s Trek afternoon, based around Space Seed, Yesterday’s Enterprise and the Best of Both Worlds. The first on the list was the best in terms of being tarted up. Couldn’t see much in YE whilst the Best of Both Worlds missed some golden opportunities. But the HD effect was good, images much more crisp and the sound track was booming.

Not happy today – brought in some sort of hybrid food concoction in my bag and the damn thing leaked. iPad was protected by its case though that got a small soak but other items were not so fortunate. And for the third time this week (it’s only Wednesday damn it!), my tube train was packed with school kids going to (presumably) South Kensington to the museums. Worst thing Ken ever did was allow all the under-16s to travel for free on London Transport.

Speaking of Mayors, I read in the Metro (I was desperate as I was sick of a certain puzzle on Layton) that Eddie Izzard is proceeding apace with his plans to be the Labour Party Mayoral candidate not for this coming election in 2015 but rather for the one in 2019 though if he fails, he’ll be looking to be an MP. Well, best of luck to him. I still would rather Oona King were given another chance or even Dawn Butler but I think EI would be an effective debater who has instant public recognition.

We won the quiz last night in a tie with JGRC (I’d write out the full name of the team but I don’t want the abusive comments in the comments column). Fortunately our answer sheets will point to completely different results if anyone wants to accuse us of cheating. They overestimated David Blunkett’s age by two years whilst Alex very generously underestimated it by twenty years. And we learned the world record for loudest burp was 109dB. As I’m moving, I elected to give my share of the beer to Team Science as they’re seasoned drinkers and would appreciate it more.

Subject change – something I wanted to dissect/publish in my blog was a little theory running around in my head. Ever since Barry and the cats moved out a fortnight or so ago, I’ve been able to leave doors open in the house – my bedroom, the lounge, the upstairs toilet (given their partiality for drinking straight from the faucet) etc. And what it’s been making me wonder is – has the simple act of keeping doors firmly shut been having more of an effect than intended?

Let me explain: one of my pet theories is how one’s living space is a reflection of the psyche or a reflection of the dynamics of a relationship in how it’s arranged, decorated etc. Each room represents a different aspect of a person or the family/partnership relationship. My personal preference is for a more open plan-type house or at least keeping doors open, windows open to maximise the amount of space. I think this reflects my personal preference to be more open, more fluid and more open to progress. With the cats shedding fur everywhere and misbehaving generally, I was wondering that by keeping doors firmly closed, it was actually coercing my brain to act in a more closed minded manner.

I’ve been feeling far more closed off and insular these last few months – with winter dragging on more than normal, there’s been a more practical reason to exist behind closed doors, to trap the heat in the house rather than being able to switch off the radiators with the first signs of spring. I cannot help but wonder if a simple… ’Feng Shui’ type issue isn’t at work. In the two weeks since I’ve been able to keep doors open, I have felt a little better generally. But this could be due to other circumstances – I cannot evaluate the longer term effects. The place I’m moving to is more open plan generally. Being a modern flat, the kitchen, lounge and eating space are all one room.

By contrast, the Doctor who I think thrives in a more enclosed space as he prefers boundaries (but would never admit to such) and now he is in a more open space by default, hasn’t been coping so well. Though the addition of an extra person, me, will enclose his space a little which may lend itself to balance. And the circuitous nature of the flat (it’s actually built around a 4m squared support pillar with a corridor running all around it) will be closed off to arrange in furniture.

I could be talking crap, I frequently do but there’s at least a little truth in what I say. When I’m in a bad mood or in a funk, I let the cleaning slip, don’t make my bed, leave out dishes etc which reflects the disorganised, chaotic mental state. But in a good mood, the house is kept immaculate, items are stored in a set place and harmony reigns. Or something like that.

Won a fun game of Civ V on Monday night – I was playing as Elizabeth and was determined to win a domination victory. Took each opponent down one by one starting with the Dutch who I shared a continent with, then moved to the Carthaginians, the Babylonians, the Huns, the Chinese and finally the Persians (the Huns had already killed off India). Taking advantage of the innate English ability, I had a sizeable navy ready to take coastal cities with my favourite Battleship/Destroyer combo. But what I learned is that to win a Domination victory, you can’t start with the Honor track – you need either Honor or Liberty alongside to ensure you have a decent infrastructure in place to support a prolonged campaign before you then go to Honor and Autocracy. I also opted for Rationalism over Piety as the science surge available would enable the best weapons possible – the English were throwing artillery and modern infantry against crossbowmen and pikemen with the Babylonians. The Chinese caught up for the most part but when Modern Armour was upgraded to Giant Death Robots…Beijing quickly fell. And it’s funny swatting biplanes out of the sky with Modern Sam units.

Return of Risk Legacy

For the first time this year, and probably for the first time since November I picked up my Wiimote and Nunchuck for a quick gaming session. Didn’t play anything too involving though I briefly considered starting again with Twilight Princess. No, the games of the day were the Kashyyyk level of The Force Unleashed, then a quick game of Star Trek Conquest as the Federation. And in the evening whilst logged onto Steam, I’d noticed that Joey had recently been playing Red Alert 3 which prompted me to dig out my copy for a quick few levels as the Russians before Campaign level three of Risk: Factions.

This weekend has been a struggle – felt like I was on the edge of a meltdown what with a fairly well blended start to the year. Lots happening but little time to process and it’s been catching up. Happy one second, despairing the next. Reading and gaming have proven once again the most effecting emotional regulators. I finally finished reading “Catalyst of Sorrows” – a Star Trek Lost Era novel. I’d read it before when released…about a decade ago but it must have been speed read because I barely remembered the details. Still, for those who like back-stories, it’s got a good grounding in the Sundering between the Romulan people and the Vulcans and why the two societies developed in such a differing way.

Oh – Party Packs (have to plug them on my blog for this) sent me a brand new Pickelhaube rather than just sending me the spike (and the chinstrap which I hadn’t realised was also missing). The two were in a placcy bag together which wasn’t in the main box. So many thanks people! Of course I picked it up from the sorting office and left it in Costa on Saturday post-lunch with Paul. Mercifully, it was still tucked under the table thirty minutes later; good thing it wasn’t something more…nefarious.

Yes, had lunch with the insouciant Mr Brown on Saturday at Strada in Westfield. He worried about the calories (2100 by his reckoning). I think that’s an exaggeration for Lemon Chicken with garlic bread but I had the pumpkin risotto which I choose to believe was healthier. The number of people choosing to have a late lunch on Saturday was interesting; I guess lots of people were out the night before and slept in.

Managed to get in a fair amount of walking this weekend what with meeting Paul on Saturday and running around on Sunday just…doing stuff. I had itchy feet and felt the urge to go much further afield than originally intended. Weather has certainly picked up – not quite in double figures but only slightly below. It’s been a while since last in Fortnum & Mason and they’ve changed it a fair amount, moving things around between the ground and the lower ground floors. It makes it so confusing to move furniture around in stores though on a purely Machiavellian level, it forces the unwary customer to look at everything and cram more into the shopping baskets.

Ultimately, I ended up spending £85 (which was £10 more than my plan) on preserves, teas, chocolates, cheeses, biscuits and other non-essential stuff. The hardest part is not to sneak a few extra things for myself into the basket and when you’re in a gourmet store where there are so many items you just cannot find elsewhere, temptation certainly has your number. To be fair, for the same price I’d have gotten pretty much the same sort of stuff at the Savannah Store in Victoria. This just has nicer packaging.

Monday was a Risk Legacy night rather than a Spartacus night as Rob was at last available. We were able to dig out the Mutant faction for the first time which didn’t prove to be much of a game-changer. And Joey was able to place down the World Capital Sticker over Great Britain as “New Vauxhall”. This leaves only two envelopes left to open (+30 troops & a missile) and the “Do Not Open Ever” sticker. Kudos to Joey for remembering all the rules; I suspect he has his own set and has been playing secretly…

Random Dump

I think I’m going to have to take myself down to the glue factory – I’m headed for the knackers yard anyway, might as well recycle me properly. Ok, this is a piece of self-pity crap, I’m tired and sore and spent most of my weekend doing stuff rather than the customary recharge session so feel like I haven’t had a break. And only one mug of coffee to boot!

Saturday I met up with Brendan – for someone who “doesn’t mind” where we go to eat etc, I’d say the reverse of that statement is a more consistent aphorism. Granted I wasn’t having a great morning – my phone wouldn’t stop ringing and receiving text messages. In the end I had to switch the wretched thing off just to get a little peace and quiet. We went to Wahaca on Wardour Street and ate Tacos. And I had a Salt n Pepper beer which he wasn’t impressed with. I liked it, thought it gave it a kick.

After lunch, had a wander around the grimness that is W1, picked up the usual comic books at FP, bought another Bubble Bobble piece of merchandise (a mug) before slowly heading back home for an evening of leftovers and AoE Online. I did toy with the idea of a chair massage at Relax but Brendan wouldn’t go for it – didn’t want to sit there being pummelled on my own though I’ve done that before.

Also tried to track down a copy of Risk Legacy – hey, we have to think about these things once we’ve blitzed the current board. Went to Orc’s Nest and Hamley’s and failed twice in trying to track down a copy. They didn’t even have Civilization. So I wandered over to Stratford Westfield for the sheer hell of it, took several years off of my life through stress but did call into Game and bought a couple of Styluses for my 3DS + a dirt cheap copy of James Noir Hollywood Murder 3D which I assumed to be a knock-off of Professor Layton (and I was right).

Slept in quite late Sunday and after braving the tube crowds, made my way up to Kilburn to Lee’s House for a Trek afternoon which was S1 & S2 of TNG though I’d happened to catch one of the episodes seen on the Syfy channel earlier that day (eerie coincidence). It was nice watching the updated visuals and listening to the remastered audio.

That’s my weekend in a nutshell, not much more to report really or at the very least, there’s little willpower to pad the above out any more. Despite it being fairly grim outside, the weather is surprisingly warm this time of year. You can walk around with your coat undone (though a scarf is recommended) and not necessarily at a brisk pace – or so my fellow pedestrians think. Whether this lull endures or not is a matter known only to Gaia but it’s better than November’s sub-zero temperatures.

Shoving

Monday 15th 

I seem to be getting through two novels a week, mostly repeat reads rather than new stuff and all from iBooks.  Most of what I’ve been reading in the last month is post-Nemesis Star Trek stuff; did the early Enterprise adventures and now I’m going through the Star Trek Titan series.  First time around, I enjoyed the first three books in the series, cannot remember the fourth at all other than the fact that the Bajoran Scientist Jaza gets stuck several thousand years in the past (and I’m hoping it’s a permanent exile rather than the literary device of “bringing them back when needed”).  The next three are part of the Destiny trilogy, Over a Torrent Sea was a hard slog and the rest kind of blur.  But with TV/movie tie-ins, when you no longer have a dedicated anchor to what was, then you really move to the realms of tenuous fiction. 

In the same vein, I really hate and despite it when “Fantasy” writers are brought in to pen “Sci-Fi” novels, particularly when said novels in the latter category bear links to the former.  Some of the Star Wars novels (Children of the Jedi and the Crystal Star are two guilty culprits) are the worst offenders though Trek editors allow the odd “fantasy” scenario to slip through the cracks.  I don’t enjoy the crossovers – let Zordon and the Sword of Destiny stay in the land of the dragons and mermaids.  I want my science to stay magic-free.  That’s probably why I’ve never watched Lord of the Rings (the animation was bad enough – reminded me too much of the Secret of NIMH). 

Not at 100% today, woke up with all the usual symptoms of a cold; ironic as I went for a steam bath the day before.  It’s the lasagne cheese – bloody dairy products.  You let down your guard for two seconds and end up paying for it.  However, my penchant for some late nights recently cannot have helped. 

After a fair amount of wrangling and a certain amount of reticence, manage to go around to see the Doctor’s new apartment yesterday evening.  It’s around the back of the Bingo Hall in Stratford, eerily close to the creepy transvestite (don’t ask).  I was surprised that these modern builds could be quite so large although it was a corner suite rather than a “terrace” (what is the correct term?)  He cooked, I ate though was somewhat fatigued so wasn’t on top form. 

Tuesday 16th (a.m.) 

To the commuters at Mile End Tube station: 

Precisely what part of “let passengers off the train first” do you fail to comprehend?  If there are still people attempting desperately to disembark from the train, let the poor sods through – then there’ll be space for you to get on.  So what happened next was entirely your own fault. 

I make no apologies for charging through about fifteen of you, knocking several of you flying.  The fact of the matter is that you barged on the train and actually blocked, BLOCKED me from getting off.  Last time I checked, I am fully in phase with this space-time continuum so cannot pass through solid matter, my subsequent actions confirming this.  And if this happens again tomorrow, then we’ll repeat until you get it through your thick skulls that passengers must be allowed to get off the train before people can get on. 

Now…bring on red-light jumping cyclists.