Monday, 26 April 2010

WotR CE - Game Review

This isn't really a review of the game it's my description of how the game played out against Will.  We have played WotR (and CE) a number of times now and Will is getting pretty good at handling the Shadow forces.  We decided to add in the expansion rules and pieces to see what effect it has.  This added Ents, Galadriel and Smeagol for me, the fellowship and Will, the Shadow, had the Dunlendings, the Balrog, Corsairs of Umbar and the Witch King: King of the Ring Wraiths at his disposal.

After our initial set up the first turn laid out some key strategic decisions for both of us.  Will mustered the Sauron Nation to war very quickly and this allowed me to bring in Galadriel.  I suspected an attack on Gondor so I had to get the fellowship moving, I would need some of the main characters in the South very soon.  Galadriel's abilities in the main make you more confident to progress the fellowship and they whipped along in the early part of the game.  In the first turn Will decided to bring in the Witch King - a decision that meant that the Balrog would be consigned to the later part of the game, if ever, showing that he favoured military might to hunting for the fellowship.  He now had a decision, was he going to bring him in as the Black Captain - to provide support and strength to his ground troops, or was he going to bring in the new King of the Ring Wraiths and concentrate on hunting for the Fellowship.  Yes, Will the warrior went for military might and brought in the Black captain and immediately started to threaten Gondor.

These few decisions set the course of the game.  Will specifically didn't bring in Saruman as he didn't want to invite an Ent attack, I was keeping 2 of the very powerful Ent strategy cards in my hand and so this action held me back early on in the game.   Will's main tactic was a massive and rapid attack on Gondor, via Minas Tirith and Lorien to remove Galadriel.  With the new siege engines and mustering to Lorien within a siege I managed to hold on to the elves but after a devastatingly played "Denethor's folly" Minas Tirith was in jeopardy.  Due to the rapid moving of the Fellowship, Gandalf the Grey managed to fly out of the fellowship and enter the besieged city but ultimately it fell and Gandalf was dead.  The sting taken out of this assault Will struggled to keep the momentum up and I halted his onslaught at Dol Amroth on the coast.  Most of Gondor was under Shadow control but I managed to get Strider and Gimli into Dol Amroth and Aragon was crowned King in time to devastate the Shadow forces.

With the remaining shadow forces sweeping from Minas Tirith across to Rohan (still not at war!) Aragorn tried a sneaky assault and went towards the coast around the mountains to come in to Rohan from the West.  Will saw this coming and decided to muster Saruman to build an Isengard force to support the Rohan assault.  Having stormed through the East of Rohan there was only Helms Deep and the fords of Isen left.  However, Gandalf the White appeared in Fangorn forest followed swiftly by the Ents who stormed out to Helms deep and destroyed most of the Sauron forces that were now besieged in the recently fallen Helms Deep.  The new Saruman force (weak because Will feared to muster as this brings in the Ents) tried to take Helms deep but was destroyed by Aragorn and Gimli with a large force of Gondor and Rohan units.

During this assault Will had started another army from the Southron and Easterlings to attack the Souther edge of Gondor with a view to sacking Dol Amroth.  I managed to take Aragorn through the mountains with the Army of the dead and routed the Southrons.

With all this battling going on the sneaksy Hobitses had managed to reach Minas Morgul and had proceeded, with Golum now their guide, to the edge of Mount Doom and destroyed the Ring.  During the battling Will had managed to get 8 VPs of the 10 needed to win and had seriously threatened the final 2.

Another great game of WotR CE and an enjoyable few hours with my son.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Obiter Dicta

Obiter Dictum

There are several themes or threads running concurrently in my internal narrative at any one time.  Herding them and focussing on the important ones is the eternal battle that I have fought my entire life - in fact if I'm honest it is my life.  My personality has been described as a "Butterfly" and for this rare bit of descriptive parsimony I thank that person.   On occasion I take a quick look at the external narrative, since in the modern era we have an accessible and apparently permanent record, and I gloss through my Facebook history, my Twitter stream and now the building archive of this blog.  What strikes me is that the things I think were important to me don't appear in the records anywhere near as much as I would have imagined before taking a look.  There are some elements that are censored for obvious reasons, very personal relationships, work and related private information has remained, well, private.  Out of the other elements that I thought would feature more, games is at the top of this list.  I play games once per week with a group of friends, I have collected over 100 board games I have introduced many friends and their families to a broad variety of modern board games.  So to celebrate this, and in the spirit of keeping an electronic record, I have added a "widget" on the side bar of the blog to show recent games as recorded on the Board Game Geek website.  I shall try to keep this up-to-date.

more art from Derek here

And another thing, currently I am trying to decide which way to spend my 0.17 of a vote.  I have skim read the manifestos and, more characteristically for me, I have reviewed the manifestos on my iPhone.  So I know what the politicians want us to think.  I have listened to the media so I know what Rupert Murdoch wants us to think.  I have endured the cringe fest of the live debates so I know which contestant I'd phone in for! but actually I have paid little attention to what I actually want.  So I need to sift through the untidy bedroom of my brain and find the key issues on which I should judge each party.  My current thoughts are:

1.  A government and leader with statesmanly integrity and presence - showing the UK as a leader on the international stage.
2.  Equitable, balanced governance steering the country with high levels of integrity displayed throughout.
3.  For major issues like immigration and taxation: clear, fair rules consistent with an evolved, just and benevolent democracy that are policed openly.
4.  Macro economic policies that ensure the wealth of the UK whilst we contribute to the global distribution of wealth.
5. Education and learning, not just vocational training, embedded at the core of our society.
6. Smaller central government, more power at a local level.

I've spent no longer than about 5 minutes drafting this list.  It may seem like nonsense but these were genuinely the first six things to form more clearly out of the morass.  I shall let them stew for a while before I settle on my final list, then I shall see which party measures up.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Not sure if any one else has seen it or not, but there is a general election in the UK on 6th May 2010.  It’s clear that voter apathy has lead to poor turnout at general elections in the UK previously.  This graffiti-pedia page has the UK ranked joint 25th.  My personal voter turnout has been just as poor, as until recently I lived in the constituency of Henley with such Conservative luminaries as Michael Heseltine and Boris Johnson – so I felt my vote would not make any difference either way against the swathes of Tory Heartlanders.  Currently the MP is John Howell, no I’d not heard of him either.

Last year we moved home only 4.3 miles away from where we used to live.  It struck me that we may just have moved far enough to be out of the Henley constituency and be in a position where at last my vote would actually count! So after a little bit of research I discovered I have indeed shifted from the Henley constituency to the Wantage constituency.  With a renewed vigour I started to brush up on the political agenda’s of each of the main parties and then looked for the current incumbent.  It turns out to be Ed Vaizey  a conservative, onetime close pal of the neighbouring Cameron family until a recent faux pas.  More conservative than Margret Thatcher, so again I think my vote has become redundant. 

 According to the Telegraph it would take a swing of 19.5% to switch from Conservative to Labour in Wantage – it would have switched to Liberals first clearly but still a similar swing is required.

This is the spread of votes at the last election in Wantage:

During my recent fervour of interest in government and politics I downloaded the 75Mb conservative manifesto, so perhaps I’ll précis it for you in the next blog.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Big Brother is watching you

The ubiquitous reference to an authoritarian regime is perhaps overkill for this blog entry but I do feel kind of guilty.  It is apparent, from most people that I talk to, that in general users of the internet are not aware of the level of information that is routinely collected on them and stored for posterity.  Well, maybe we're all aware we just, in that typically human way, manage to ignore it somehow.  We can switch off that conscious part of the brain and hide from big topics like death, homework, tax returns and in my case the dishwasher.  My original intention for this blog was not an attempt to generate followers or readers but it does tickle me to think that others read it and I often look to see who has.  Recently I had my first Hawaiian IP address.  You can see on the map above there is a dot.  I can zoom into this and show the detail, this map shows the last 100 unique IP addresses that viewed my site.  If I paid money, there would be more detailed information available, so advertisers and others may well be getting significantly more info from each of us than this.  I have had a different - and less user friendly - counter running since the launch of my site.  Thanks to a tip from Simon. Currently, there have been 1066 unique hits and 1063 visitors to my site - excluding the IP addresses that I usually connect from.

The simple screen dump of info from the Sitemeter site looks like this:

This hawaiian visitor was on a peak day..... (UTC -11hrs = 08:08:22 am Mar 31st)

Lest you misunderstand my motives here, I should probably add that what I am attempting to do in "broadcast mode" is what I have been doing to certain individuals on a 1:1 basis.  Namely, inform them about the quantity, nature and automation of the data that is available on all of us.  So there you go.

You have a little peek at me and I'm peeking back through the curtains ;-)

Friday, 9 April 2010

Grand National on Saturday

I’ve just picked us a horse each at random from a sweepstake for the Grand National on Saturday!

Big Fella Thanks    (8-1)
Dad (Jim)
Vic Venturi   (20-1)
Mum (Anne)
Backstage (25-1)
Eric’s Charm (40-1)

Prizes 1st £24 , 2nd £10,  3rd £4 , 4th £2

Good luck McD’s J