Tag Archive: Talisman



Normal service can be resumed readers, the Xmas/New Year/Winterval (whatever) period is over and we’re now in the unofficial month of starvation where many resolve to stop eating unhealthily, drinking too much/at all, exercise greater financial restraint and typically have less fun. 


Mind you, I’ve been more austere in day-to-day living the last couple of weeks. In fact, I somehow ended up with more money at the end of December than I did at the end of November, despite having my week in Germany. What’s the secret? NO LIFE! Cutting right back on the alcohol, no pub quiz, no work (no work lunches in the canteen) and a steadfast refusal to engage in the usual end of year activities with family and friends. And when I listen to the stories of friends and colleagues about what they got up to and how bored they were by it all – unless they’re telling me what I want to hear – I have to ask “why do you put yourselves through it every year”?

Right, I’ll get off my moral high-ground now and launch into the few activities that did take place in the last couple of weeks. Steam’s Xmas sale was participated in, the Xbox sale was not. Nothing untoward and also ironic considering how little I’ve bothered with my PC this year. But I did see that several older games had made it to Steam, notably Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds and Star Wars Rebellion (aka Supremacy for the UK owners of the game). So I snapped up those as well as the latest expansion for Age of Mythology HD (the Chinese expansion). Grand total – about £7. Galactic Battlegrounds does NOT like MacAfee however and any time I want to play the game, I have to go through a convoluted start up process. Basically, it confuses the intro video with a Trojan and autodeletes the file so the game won’t initialise.

I did find myself playing my PC a fair bit over the break as it happens. Not just the new games but also a couple Age of Empires 3 campaign games, a return to Beyond Earth and finally made some progress in Cubicle Quest once I figured out what the hell I was doing and how the game is played. Usual games on the Xbone, no new purchases to enjoy.

The Blue Oyster Cult would have us not fear the Reaper. They’re correct, you should fear the Werewolf instead. Yeah, in Berlin there was a bit of time to kill so I may have played more than a few games of Talisman on the iPad. Have to say that even though I’ve been a fiend for buying the various expansion packs, I’ve seldom made time to play, not least as a typical game – even on top speed – will take at least two hours to get through (with six players). But man cannot live by sightseeing, re-reading novels and Glüwein alone so I indulged in a few games. And I have to say that the Werewolf, introduced by the Blood Moon expansion pack, is perhaps one of the most challenging characters you face in the game. Why?

First of all, the Werewolf character moves around the board like the Reaper which doubles the chance of being landed on. But not only that, when the night card is in play (i.e. every other event card will trigger night), the Werewolf doesn’t need to land on a character. If his movement catches up to a player, they automatically encounter the Werewolf. The Werewolf doesn’t kill the player outright (like a roll of one on the Reaper chart) but he has three opportunities to rob players of life points and can turn other players into werewolves. Oh, and they add +1 to the dice on the Werewolf chart (allowing for greater chance of reward). What does this mean? At night, werewolves get +2 to combat rolls and must attack characters on the same space which sucks if the other player has better stats. And they can’t steal items except with spells or killing a player outright. But with more expansions in play, especially those adding to the board’s play area, it’s easier to dodge.

It’s the fact that the Werewolf can go flying around the board, aided by a number of adventure cards which interact with him unlike the Reaper who only moves after a player rolls a one for movement. But you can’t play with the expansion without the Werewolf because it’s a pain to separate all of those cards. Playing on the iPad, the AI is particularly vicious in sending the werewolf after any/all human players. So it’s harder to play the game successfully, as evidenced by my three losses which is a shameful blot on my win/loss record.

Outside of gaming, I watched the first and second seasons of Gotham – less “Batman, the teenage years” and more “what if everyone else took a level in badass in a world without a Batman?” Some episodes were very well put together and had lots of Easter eggs for the die-hard fans. Others struggled to advance the plot which did make you wonder if the series really needs 20+ parts per season. There is a fair amount of hammy acting: Jada Pinkett Smith’s smug snake (aka Fish Mooney) was getting more and more Eartha Kitt, especially towards the end of the second season. James Frain as Theo Galavan just reminded me of a young Lloyd Grossman sans the spectacles. I kept thinking he’d come out with “who lives in a house like this”? Even Ben McKenzie’s James Gordon isn’t immune to it when he’s in shouty mode. Whilst an entertaining watch, it makes you think what is this world’s Batman going to do when he comes of age? Many of his foes and villains are already established, unless we go back to the 1960s and resurrect characters like Egghead and King Tut.

C’est tout…pour maintenant.


These five day weeks are a killer – I prefer it when I have chance to rig the calendar to avoid the whole full-week thing. That said, I think I’ve rigged it pretty well from next week onwards…

One of the rare times direct marketing has worked on me: Games Quest sent me their weekly email which completely whetted my appetite for the new expansion pack for Talisman; Talisman Cataclysm. Not played a game yet but it is effectively set after the apocalypse…magical apocalypse that is. The game replaces the main board (and is completely compatible with all the other expansion packs) but a lot of the squares have different interactions than what you’re used to and there is a new deck to interact with as well as the generic cards. And the usual new characters (the Mutant has grabbed my attention the most), endings and spells. I think the only one I’ve yet to get a hold of is the dragon expansion and then…well let’s not think about exactly how _much_ money has been spent on this hobby. I think a meth habit would be cheaper.

AdVenture Capitali$t just released its latest event in the game – Superheroes vs Supervillains. Sorta like the New Year event, there’s an element of balance in the game. If you level up heroes, it’ll impair the villains and vice-versa. Heroes will reduce the profit amount of the villains, villains reduce the profit speed of the heroes. I suspect the designers are Spiderman fans as “Rope Slinger” and “Jareth Green” (a hybrid Bowie/Green Goblin which is pretty clever once you think about it) are by far the most powerful characters in this seven day event. Half way through and I’m only about 35% of the way to completion. That said, there’s always a trigger point where you’re just his the accelerator to max profits.

And Star Trek Timelines too has had an update with Cadet Events. Kinda like missions except only your common and uncommon characters can take part (bet you wish you hadn’t deleted them all from your inventory to make room for Queen Arachnia and Captain Proton…) and these events are only open on certain days of the week. As well as the usual bumpf, it gives you a chance to earn some free Chronitons to do more normal missions. Hopefully, the game has been made a bit more stable with this patch as it crashes with alarming frequency.

More from the world of Fallout 4:

Came across the Pickman Gallery. Worth checking out. But not as disturbing as one of the Raider hangouts where there was a massive bonfire of settlers which immediately put me in the mind of something like Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen. A truly disturbing place, second time within twelve months that a game has seriously creeped me out (the GTA V torture scene).

So rather than faffing about, I’ve made a beeline for the quests, not least as I’ve now pretty much explored the entire map (finally entered and “colonised” the south-eastern corner) and making some actual progress, joining the Railroad and getting Deacon to join me. The code to get in – not exactly a brain-buster folks. That said, I did find the magazine to allow me to build pot plants at settlements which I’m sorry to say, I’ve been doing a great deal.

Now I’m quite into the game, more bugs are popping up which can be a frustrating experience. First is when your cross-hairs disappear after talking to some NPCs at your settlements and you can no longer interact with the game environment. The only solution is to save and then immediately re-load. Second bug: interacting with companions. Sometimes when you try and talk or access their inventory, the game refuses to recognise your commands. This started to happen at the same time as the first bug. And the third bug: object placement in settlements is getting trickier the more developed they become. There’s the occasional game crash but I think that’s more “get off the Xbox and do something else”. If my Xbox was sentient, that is.

That said, still enjoying it and mentally planning my second play-through, how I’d design settlements differently, different paths through the game etc. I dunno if it’s a reflection of personal circumstance or what but I have yet to try any of the chems available in the game. Even with KOTOR where the adrenal stimulants were not addictive, I very rarely used them for a temporary boost in fights (it just never seemed worth it) and preferred to carry a bunch to sell at a vendor when I need to make cash. That said, with the Idiot Savant Perk and access to a Chemistry station, you can make drugs to your hearts content and gain experience points too. Huzzah for progress!


One or two items of geek

Xmas 2015: summed up by saying five days spent playing GTA V Online.  

OK, there was other stuff too. The usual heavy meal (cooked in the evening rather than at lunchtime), bad TV, inability to get off of the couch, late nights, late mornings (no snoozes past midday though). A foray to the usual den of iniquity (most productive though I’m sure my pocket was picked – my shirt pocket…) and a mad dash around the supermarket late on Saturday evening. Today is the first day I’ve eaten breakfast in five days – when you get up after 11, there’s just no point otherwise.

Steam Sale: I bought four games in this year’s sale, all very heavily discounted. It feels more of a token purchase compared with previous years but the games acquired are Dark Forces, Dark Forces II, Tropico 4 (+ all expansions/DLC) and C&C RA3 (I know I have this game already, I just wanted the e-version). What is more interesting are the purchases of friends through Steam. I note Jackbox has been spreading throughout the land which will be fun at games evenings. KKOB was gifted Rome Total War II (I think he’ll be disappointed), Alex got more Might and Magic, couple of people were lured to Civ V and Beyond Earth…

So, 2015 in terms of Geek. First, I have to say that someone has to stop the octopus that is Marvel from spamming the airwaves with so much garbage. I saw two episodes of Jessica Jones earlier this month – housemate was watching it as I was on my laptop. What unadulterated garbage. The protagonist is someone you’d happily drop off the end of a cliff, David Tenant looks bored (possibly waiting for his paycheque), the other characters are the usual bit-part nobodies. Agents of SHIELD – what little drivel I’ve seen is…oh, I’ve already finished my sentence. These shows have such lousy actors, I’m sure they exist so the talent can do proper stuff. Not that DC is much better. Arrow and the Flash – ugh. Like the bad old days of Lois and Clark (season 4). I still haven’t made time to see Gotham, I really should do one day but have no overwhelming urge.

Haven’t really done any films this year – hell, I can’t remember the last time I was at the cinema. Comics then: my regular titles are tie-ins. Probably the one I most look forward to each month has been He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The story has been absolutely terrific, a lot of good twists and turns, proper development and a good weaving of the He-Man characters into a modern story. I wish the whole Hordak storyline had been stretched out longer as they only really focussed on She-Ra’s development with a couple of the minor characters (Shadow Weaver and Swiftwind) getting any sort of a mention. The return of Skeletor and the epic duel between Teel and Evil-Lyn (still don’t know what happened there) are particularly noteworthy. 

Munchkin Comics have been a pleasant surprise this year (with free cards!!) – they’re more akin to British comics from your childhood such as the Beano, Buster and Whizzer & Chips rather than proper graphic novels. And they’ve finally started bringing in other Munchkin sets for the main characters to play in/tell jokes. I’ve enjoyed the limited Galaxy Quest series and have picked up the Back to the Future comics too, certainly not disappointed there. The Star Trek series has been dropping off in terms of overall impressiveness lately. I thought the Star Trek/Green Lantern cross over was a bit much and refused to buy any of the titles. And the recent story where the Enterprise was stranded in the Delta Quadrant (hmmm, where have I heard that before?) and then managed to get home in the next issue…ugh. 

Simpsons continues to please as does Futurama (whenever I can get a hold of the bloody title) though I think that the former are still spreading themselves too thin with multiple titles. Their major plus is that in comic book format, Homer is not the centre of attention (Marge and Maggie et al get plenty of air time) whilst there are very few stupid guest stars). I have spotted more and more rehashing of episodes in comic book format lately after a streak of some truly original episodes. And Edna K, Lionel Hutz still live on!

Board games – been another great year. Betrayal/Traitor type games have been the driving force this year amongst our circle. Strategy and Eurogames have taken more of a back seat whilst Talisman goes from strength to strength. Still a major bastion of originality and creativity though expansion packs really should be reduced in price. I’m worried that many of the bigger titles have been the sort that require a PhD to read the manuals (could just be lousy editors). If companies keep churning out difficult games, people will stop buying them. Or just play the utter dross like…no, I can’t say it.

 Back in the office a mere two days this week before another four day weekend. Then working full time with nothing in the diary for 2016 beyond the usual annual (and weekly) events. Ho-hum.

All the Games

Arkham Knight released today. Gonna wait until payday next week to go out and shop recklessly cos…y’know.

Do people actually – in their first playthrough – sit with a notepad or laptop/tablet and actually go composing game guides from the first second? Because I suspect the first partially released entry on gamefaqs or similar to be ready to browse by Thursday morning (BST). And also sit there with smart phones so they can upload playthroughs to YouTube and Twitch? It seems to suck all the joy out of gaming, just to be the “first”.

I didn’t know the Steam Summer Sale was on until it was too late. My attention is either focussed on the Xbox or my Laptop with occasional nostalgia spells on the 3DS. Treated myself to Talisman purchases (all expansion packs & most characters) but went no further than that. I note that Brendan bought a season pass – cool. It’s not that the sale didn’t interest me but I can’t guarantee I’ll be playing those games any time soon. It’s just finding the time to fit it all in and I have difficulty indulging in marathons. Ah well…

More from the newsdesk of Risk Legacy et al: board games went off quite nicely on Saturday. I won one game (by spidering), Rupert won a second, then we played King of Tokyo (first one to die), Pointless (won one, lost one) and Walk the Plank (committed suicide, stupidly). We had to have two fans going at once as it was so sticky and humid on Saturday. Though the rain did cool everything down more than a little. Food was good, Claire brought an overripe Brie which had turned to mush. It was fantastic, great stuff. Too much cider and beer was consumed but this is not a bad thing, merely an observation. Also managed my first online game of Talisman with Brendan which took about two hours (I was the Warrior, he was the Valkerie). Bit slow though, particularly as the AI seemed to take forever.

Sunday – woke up early, played some GTA (failed on the three leaf clover twice – once by abandonment, second by absorbing too many bullets) before picking through the remnants of Saturday’s beige buffet. Went to the sauna for a massive sweat (the sort that eradicates all pimples and blackheads) and went home again. Must have been ultra-successful as I couldn’t stop drinking water when I got home. Then back to the buffet and the GTA’ing. Nice to sandwich the day like that. 

Summer leave is all booked, I’ve realised that I have a few Eurostar vouchers I need to spend by October so will be looking for a few days away around then rather in the next two months. Amsterdam was last year so might try Köln this year for a couple of days. Probably won’t book anything for over my four weeks off, chiefly as August Tax will be in play. If I do go anywhere, it’ll be on this island. I think it’ll be just enjoying the downtime and maybe making a few plans/developing a business case depending on the content of the Budget next month.

Should be a fairly innocuous week ahead. We have one of our quiz prizes on Thursday – London Underground Treasure Hunt. And some good news ahead, Baby Jane Hudson is leaving the office (my private nickname for a hated colleague). Will not be missed, not one iota. Can’t say I’m looking forward to the moustache parade coming up for this Saturday. More noisy idiots using it as an excuse to indulge in gross excess – usually drink over drugs but I suspect the ratio isn’t all _that_ different. Must be a dealer’s paradise.

Played a four player game of Talisman last night with Paul, Dr Do(o)m and Brendan – the latter winning as the Dark Cultist and everyone ignoring my advice to kill him quickly. We had out the City and Dungeon expansion packs as well as the usual Reaper and Frostmarch packs. Just about managed to fit it all on the dining table but I think we’re going to have to occupy bigger premises to try again properly. I’m proud (and slightly ashamed) to say that my slave-driving habits managed to get us through the game completely. Though at the expense of appearing bully-like.

Speaking of Talisman, the iOS version of Sacred Pool expansion has just been released. Snapped it up and played my first game – hadn’t really paid attention to the overall gameplay changes but different Warlock Quest rewards is nice and having stables is a nice twist (separate to the City). Wasn’t allocated one of the new characters (and didn’t want to rig the game either). Looking forward to exploring it further.

I’ve fallen into my usual trap having stuck with GTA IV of getting caught up in the side missions and ignoring the main storyline. With GTA Chinatown Wars, it was the buying and selling of narcotics. With Scarface, it was doing the coke distributions missions for megabucks. And now with this game, it’s the taxi driving. There’s something just so calming about listening to “The Journey” Radio station and carrying fares around Liberty City. But I think that’s a hallmark of a good game, when one of the subgames can be as involving as the main line. Bully’s subgames like the newspaper deliveries or kart races just didn’t quite have the same level of appeal and the Godfather omitted this feature entirely.

Looking ahead to the weekend, no plans other than birthday gift buying. Not sure precisely what to get people but if they give me no inspiration, they’re getting something they’re guaranteed not to like. Like one of those foot scrapers that they’re hawking on TV. That’ll learn ‘em. Probably a little Talisman, a little GTA and maybe a proper Sunday lunch, Joe style (i.e. lots of courgette, aubergine and sweet potato). The rain later on today will be welcome and hopefully a huge shock to those foolishly without umbrellas.

Read on the news about Dusty Rhodes. Another giant falls…although in talking it over with Smithy at work, there’s more than a few of the 80s wrestlers still alive and kicking. I thought most of them had gone to the Battle Royale in the sky. When you play an older game like WCW vs NWO Revenge Tour on the N64, you are astounded to realise that half the roster is dead.

BBC Newsbeat – what is the correct way of pronouncing bath? Bath or Barth? They say – annoyingly enough – it’s Barth. Crap. There is no “r” in bath, so why so people feel the need to insert one? People in the north of the UK, Americans, Australians, Kiwis all say Bath, we’re right and the BBC is wrong. GET OVER IT.


First things first – who cast the voices for Batman vs Robin? Because they need to be fired for that blunder – just terrible, terrible voice acting, particularly Batman himself. You could feel the boredom as they read off the script. Second – the six minute video for Arkham Knight has only whetted my appetite. Though I’m not convinced by the Batmobile section (should a car be able to strafe?), the game play and the rest of what I saw appeared to have the makings of a damned fine game.

 And the rest – kind of an uneventful weekend. FP was full of the usual tourists with overly large bags who lack spatial awareness. Melissa’s bakery was not graced by my usual visit to NW1 and I’m sorry to say Marine Ices has gone the way of the dodo. Though the walk from home to Chalk Farm was pleasant enough on Saturday post-rain and many calories were expended. Sunday I forayed over to Saint Ratford, spent a few quid on some old Xbox games at Cex, bought cake, went home to play said games and eat said cake. That’s the sort of day I like.

 I have to say, I like what they’re doing with Spring Gardens in Vauxhall now it’s finally coming together. Although I remain unconvinced by the pulling down of the hills (except where the trees are – I kid you not), the rest of the landscuplting and improvements are making the place really nice. Unfortunately, it’s going to further gentrify the area, push out what made it unique and make the place another overpriced district. Have never been a fan of decentralisation but the more that is devolved to local authorities, the more they can resist the rubbish that central government come out with. The anti-squatting laws are case and point – I think that given the ongoing situation in the Ukraine, Ukrainians living in the UK should occupy property owned by Russians here, fully backed up the country at large, just to make a point. A few oligarchs whining is probably going to reach the Duma’s ears more than anything else.

 Going back to a point I wanted to make in an earlier post (the post was crap but this para was worth preserving), hard to believe that Harry Shearer is 71 years old! I found that harder to believe than him saying he’s quitting the Simpsons (which I suspect is a negotiating tactic). Though they really ought to retire the show – Bonanza’s record be damned. Or better yet, kill off Homer as a character. I mean, with each year he has gotten more and more unlikeable, more callous and just plain mean. Season 1 – he gets fired and feels that he’s failed as a father so contemplates suicide but his family rush out to stop him. Season 26, you’d think if they ran with that story a second time, his family would egg him on to throw himself off the bridge.



General Election: The Aftermath.  


My chosen candidate was not elected but did finish sixth.  Sufficed to say, I didn’t vote for one of the major parties this time around.  Glad KB was re-elected having fought another incredibly tough seat, otherwise fairly indifferent to the result.  The overall tone of the campaign left a lot to be desired, overwhelmingly negative, cynical and fear-mongering.  It wasn’t a case of “vote for us, we have the best ideas”, more a case of “vote for us, we’re not the other parties”.  Feel decidedly nonchalant about the process.  At least the London Mayoral campaign promises to be more interesting next year.


Post Election – still in the fall-out stage though a clearer picture is forming of how the next few years are going to shape up.  Although the government will probably last (albeit drawing on support from the Northern Irish Unionists towards the end of the term), I suspect there are going to be some rude shocks coming up for all.  There’s some understandable trepidation at how deep impending cuts will go as we are generally operating on a shoestring now.  One newspaper (I refuse to give it any sort of publicity by naming it) was saying lots of tax-cuts are impending; surely it makes more sense to keep tax levels as they are and pay off the debt faster, no?  Or are we going to continue to screw over the younger generation?


Other news: I managed to score another top mark for my end of year appraisal though as I’ve been warned/informed, I had the dubious honour of being the most discussed person in the entire group (over 120 staff).  Sufficed to say, it’s vindication for my policy of choosing my battles very carefully and striking up the right alliances.  It’s impossible to avoid office politics, that much is abundantly clear but playing the “game” can be done passively as well as actively.  Wondering what to do with the bonus money – if it’s like last year, it’ll be a nice chunk of cash and there’s a couple of items I’d like to get my grubby mitts on.


Gaming: been playing a bit of AdVenture Capitalist as it was a freebie on Steam and I ported it to my iPad.  Simple numbers game which manages to draw your attention by watching your profits roll in, making you richer and richer.  It also uses the internal computer clock to calculate how much is generated when you’re not playing which is a nice touch.  Worth a glance but by the time you’ve acquired all the achievements…yup, you’ll never look at it again.  Still playing Talisman, bought the Highland Expansion which new area of the board seems a lot more easy to navigate compared with the Dungeon.


C’est tout.


A month away

I know, it’s been quite a while since my last entry but I’ve lacked the motivation to update this blog since March.  I was preparing an entry, just to publicly rag on Dr Do(o)m and the size of the hickey on his neck which like the Grand Canyon, can be clearly seen from outer space.  However, there wasn’t much else to comment on so kinda nixed that draft.


Tuesday was my second day back in the office today after three weeks off: two weeks general grace and a third week in Berlin yet again (my third trip in six months, hard to believe).  Not quite a severe case of holidayitis today but it’s not pretty inside my head where I’m fuming at all the stupid decisions taken without my input over the past few weeks.  Once again, I’m disappointed by the fact that the place hasn’t burned to the ground either.  I’ve come to a series of unflattering conclusions about the recent state of events in the office which I can’t really write about owing to libel law here in the UK. I guess I should have scheduled my holiday so that Berlin was at the start of my trip rather than at the end as I suspect I’m quasi-“homesick”.


At the start of my leave, I was paid back for some expense claims incurred whilst in Brussels in March and I decided to treat myself to a few new board games: my own copy of Talisman + two expansion packs, Ticket to Ride 60th Anniversary and Walk the Plank (note to self – update profile on BoardGameGeek).  They’ve been road tested at least once and I think Talisman has sparked the most interest in future sessions.  I wish that I could have tracked down a Reaper Expansion set but it’s not critical and there’s always the usual tax-dodging sites to browse when all else fails.  We had a couple of sessions in Draughts over the leave period whereby I tried Sheriff of Nottingham (not great), Trivia Tower (too easy), one of the Dominion expansion packs (the pink set) and the two-player Dracula game (was OK).  Two Risk Legacy sessions also with the two active groups going – won one game in both sessions.


Video games: have been playing a great deal of Pre-Civilization Marble Age having bought it on a whim off of Steam.  It’s been a surprisingly addictive game with the random elements cropping up ensuring that no two games are ever the same.  Somewhat mastered it on Easy (I can get top score or near top score every time) and doing well on the normal difficulty level but hard is…well…hard.  Thought I’d try the earlier game on the iPad and am enjoying that one too although think I prefer the mechanics of the second game.  As it’s pretty cheap, I’d heartily recommend it if you fancy something you can get through in an hour or two but presents enough of a challenge that you have to think, balance resources and hope your decisions work out for the best.


On the Xbox, tried again with the Simpsons game (about half way through), bought Ticket to Ride (before I bought the actual board game) and have played many successful games on that, finished Star Trek Legacy on Captain difficulty (bloody Nebula Class ships keep exploding on me), set new records on Pac-Man Championship edition (now ranked 1400 on the main game), played endless games of Talisman on the iPad (unlocked my first gold runestone) particularly in Berlin, Flow, Dead Island, NES Remix and a single game of Beyond Earth.  Yup, I have no life.  But it keeps my brain busy which is the main thing.


How was Berlin?  Good weather for the most part except the Saturday when it drizzled around six.  There were a couple of days where the jacket could be ditched – walking up Frankfurterallee from Alex to the hotel on the Sunday stood out as a very nice experience; blue skies, sun hitting the street, everything going at a slow, steady pace.  Only got appallingly drunk once, that was on the day when I really shouldn’t have.  It was entirely the fault of the local brandy.  The rest of the time was “merry” drunk.  


As alluded to earlier, played many games of Talisman and also burned through a dozen books on my iPad – nothing new I hasten to add, all stuff I’ve read before.  Managed three books on my first day alone – one at the airport, one on the plane and one at intermittent points throughout the afternoon.  My favourite reading spot has to be the Balzac Café on Potsdamerplatz facing the square.  I don’t know why but once rooted in that spot, it’s difficult to leave it.  And they do a good coffee there too.  What did I do that was new?  Some new eateries, the Mauermuseum, wandered down different and new streets but this wasn’t a trip of exploration, more familiarisation.  Also found the board game café which happened to be ten minutes walk from the hotel but has some really weird opening times.


Travelling back business class was totally worth the £30 upgrade.  The lounge was a pleasurable experience but I eschewed the liquor in favour of soft drinks in a rare bout of sensibility. Managed to stuff a few things back in my bag when I wasn’t being watched.  Food on the plane was OK but I wish I’d had the foresight to order a vegetarian meal.  But perhaps most favourable of all was being able to have a very generous baggage allowance in which I could bring back 15 beers for my mini-keller.  And everything else I bought hastily at the airport!


Not much more to say than that.  It was a very pleasurable but very personal trip.  Me, my thoughts and my iPad.  Was good to catch up with Dr F, with everyone I met at Woof and with some South London locals who I recognised whilst out and about.


Moving Meditation

(Date of intended post – 25th Feb)

I often call swimming “moving meditation” because the repetitiveness of the strokes coupled with the therapeutic effect of the water helps to channel thoughts and general focus.  Sometimes, those thoughts lead to strange new places, other times they just allow escapism.  On Monday, those thoughts went to strange places indeed: 


·         the quote I read about if computers do gain sentience over people, we won’t need to worry as they’ll spend their entire day watching cat videos on YouTube (and then the associated imagery of Deep Blue watching YouTube)

·         Tony Todd blubbering his way through the episode of DS9 “The Visitor”.

·         What I might want to do in Berlin in April

·         Telling a colleague where to stick her unwanted training course next month

·         Playing Talisman with friends

·         Playing a game of Risk in my head

·         When is best to make another White Chocolate Cheesecake

·         Being promoted and spending the extra cash

·         How to go about vacuuming jam off the carpet (this is when it really started getting surreal)

·         Wondering if I can do another forty lengths in order to swim a mile rather than a kilometre

·         Swimming whilst surrounded by a bunch of sweaty builders (they’re going to be redeveloping the pool area at RBG which will involve builder access)

·         Paddling someone with a table tennis bat (the lights were on in the table tennis room in my feeble defense) – for pleasure rather than pain…


OK, way too much insight there.


Last night was of course the Quiz and I’m sorry to say we won.  Does that make me sound like an ungracious victor?  Possibly but those ciders just won’t drink themselves (as much as I’d like them to).  Was on the brandy as I’m fighting off a cold (just the symptoms, no malaise to my considerable relief).  As I’m feeling much better today, I’m considering this a success.  And in my Courvoisier-heightened state, I ordered Picross 3D.  


Not much else to report – general moaning, I understand from eavesdropping conversations that TfL want to start work on the new Nine Elms station early so are closing down the Sainsbury’s store there.  Not much a nuisance for me but the Griffin guys and gals are quite irritated at this. Can’t believe they’re going to be taking five years to get this all together.  Even the Overground conversion didn’t last as long but the best boffins are working on Crossrail at the moment so…


Crown of Command

Game Dev Tycoon – decided to start the game as a female designer, just for the hell of it. Is it me or is the game harder when you’re trying to be Danielle Bunten-Berry?

Another cold, frosty week here in London. Not quite going home at sunset but close…another fortnight maybe. I’m grateful I’m not looking for a new flat in this lousy weather but I wish the letting agents would hurry up and process the details of the new contract. Security and all that.

I feel that I can’t let the current (over-reported) spat between Chris Bryant and James Blunt go by without comment. Personally, I’m siding with the Classist Gimp over the Delusional Bore who of course claimed to have halted the outbreak of WW3. Shouldn’t one have a personality before developing an online persona? Can’t help but think that Twitter should be renamed Knee-Jerk because those are the types of posts/responses dotted over it and again, picked up by News Agencies. Yup, not a fan and frankly, if there was to be a Voyager 3 Probe, I’d be happy to inscribe “You’re Beautiful” onto the Gold Record just to ensure it was blown out of the solar system (and smashed by a rogue comet).

Whining aside, let’s turn to the New 3DS. First of all, does the market or rather do gamers really need the updated console? Well, considering it’s really only Nintendo’s success story at the moment then there’s a certain amount of PR to be had. But one can’t help but feel the timing is a little off. February is too close post-Xmas whereas previous DS/3DS models were available in March time which means people have a little more financial breathing room after the holiday period. Coverplates – nice touch though the cynic in me can see them made especially brittle so you’re forced to buy more than one. Extra buttons (ZR & ZL) – bad idea. A handheld console with a touchscreen display should need fewer buttons, not more. Micro SD card…not sure yet. I can see the wisdom but surely there’s mileage in retaining the current SD format.

Overall – might have to playtest one before forming a proper opinion. Not convinced and I probably won’t be buying one but that’s more because I get more mileage from my iPad as a mobile gaming device – bigger screen and games you just can’t get on the 3DS, particularly strategy titles.

I won my tenth game of Talisman on the iPad last night – had to cheat like crazy though. Not like _that_ but my biggest gripe with the digital version is that when you’re on the Crown of Command square, it can take you ages to kill off your opponents, particularly if they are good-aligned and keep landing on the frigging church for a free-reheal. The Knight and a converted Ogre are particularly annoying at doing this. And if you have no fate and keep throwing bloody 1, 2 or 3 on the dice. So to cheap, with a crappo roll, I restart the turn just so I can finish the damn game rather than waste another hour trying to drain the lives of my enemies. There should be a new rule – if you are on the Crown of Command for ten (or suitable number) consecutive turns, you can drain 2+ life points from your enemies just to end the game. Or maybe drain your life points to guarantee a drain from enemies. Just something Games Workshop, throw a guy a bone here. Oh, and add “discard spells” as an option as well, won as the Necromancer but all my spells at one point were of the “substitute an animal in combat” variety. Useless.

Quiz tonight, have had a plea from ‘er indoors not to bring back more cider. Heh heh heh.