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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Money Spent in 1941

While helping Dad with some stuff a couple of weekends ago, we came across this old record of the money his parents spent in 1941, a year before Dad was born. It looks like most of the spending supported their farm; they bought $55 worth of lumber, a $25 plough, a team of horses for $117, $23 for wages (a farm hand, perhaps?), two harnesses for $30, $15 in oats, $5 worth of nails, a $25 cow, and a $20 trip to Prince Albert, among other fascinating items. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Fallout 76 Teaser

Looks like Bethesda is skipping Fallout 5 through 75 and jumping straight to Fallout 76! Word in the Wasteland has it this'll be an MMORPG experience taking place just after the first vault opens many long decades after the nuclear war of 2077 destroyed civilization. Whatever the setting or story, I'll be there. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Acrylic Doomsday

At last it can be revealed: the 28mm scale Doomsday Machine model I painted for use during our A Call to Arms: Starfleet scenario at Gaming & Guinness XIII. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.

Monday, May 28, 2018

My Favourite Games (Atari ST Era)

Back in 2016, I wrote about my favourite arcade games, my favourite console games of the second generation era, and the Atari 8-bit era. Once the family retired the Atari 400/130XE, I moved on, midway through university, to the 520ST (and eventually the 1040 ST).

For the first time, I had a computer with two monitors: one black and white Atari monitor, and a colour Commodore 1702 monitor that needed an adapter to work with the ST. Most (though not all) of my favourite games were presented on the colour monitor:

This is the big one, the game whose many iterations have consumed more of my leisure time than any other: Civilization. Civilization for the ST came out during the brief time I lived in the Bleak House of Blahs, and the hours I spent in my basement bedroom playing this game of scientific progress and world conquest consumed a significant chunk of that halcyon era. With pottery you can make granary, and yes, that barbarian phalanx will indeed sink your battleship.

Dungeon Master was, perhaps, my favourite ST game before Civilization came along. It was a first-person dungeon crawl with a huge underground world to explore, a great team of adventurers to bring along, fast-paced combat, creepy monsters, tricky puzzles, and plenty of food, weapons, and treasure to collect. I remember being pretty desperate for food before I was able to compel myself to eat one of the "worm rounds" I'd scavenged from a giant caterpillar thing.

Sundog was a fantastic space trading simulator/roleplaying game in which the character you create inherits a small cargo spaceship and some starting cash. That's all you need to explore the stars and start trading, hoping to earn enough money to upgrade your ship, repair damage from pirates and other space hazards, and buy other supplies. My friend Pete loved this game so much that he brings it up once in a while, lamenting the lack of a modern-day version. 

Speedball was a fast-paced future sports game, one that reminded me a lot of the game they played on Battlestar Galactica in the 1970s. Gameplay was simple but elegant and smoothly animated; the graphics and sounds were great as well.

Falcon put me in the cockpit of an F-16 bristling with a weapons load that I put together myself for each mission! Though not as complex as today`s flight simulators, Falcon was certainly more complex than its competitors of the day, with very impressive graphics for the time. I got pretty good at blowing up bridges and tanks, not quite as good at shooting down enemy fighters.


Preparing today's blog brought some old memories back to the fore, including the many hours I spent on the Atari 130XE playing Star Fleet I: The War Begins. I believe I worked my way up to Lieutenant Commander before trading in the old 8-bit 130XE for my 520ST. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Gaming & Guinness XIII: Day Four, Part 2

By tradition, Gaming & Guinness concludes with Circvs Maximvs, the game of Roman chariot racing. Here stands the magnificent trophy, awaiting the next champion.
It's always anyone's race in Circvs Maximvs; while some participants have won the trophy two or three times, I think everyone else has managed to place at least in the top three.
Island Mike made a point of taking some cryptic notes:
2018-          This was bad.  Dead last with team near death at the finish; Team speed of 5 crossing the line.  Drive +2, Team +0, Endurance +2.  Slowest possible team (14), 64 or 65 endurance but rolled poorly on the whip and then jostled twice on rolls where I needed 11 (can’t complain about dice rape, reference see Pitts, Jeff)

2017-          This was good.  Drive +2, Team +0, Endurance +2.  Slow team (got 15 ….on unlucky roll? Or is that the max with a Team +0?)  but MAX endurance (74) and things were going well until we blew the corner roll – 2 over, rolled 17, minus 2 for the driver, flipped chariot.

2016-          Jeff used the heavy chariot very effectively to damage Horses.  Even a medium chariot can easily hurt the horses and reduce the team speed.  Nearly impossible to avoid this if they’re coming after you.  Any way to go to Driver +3?

o   If you want to take someone out in a hurry, go chariot on chariot?  What’s the best way to do it?

-          Might be better to go +0 team speed and +2 endurance.  A slow horse can be whipped but a fast horse without endurance is dying.

o   So Drive +2, Team +0, Endurance +2

-          Most corners can be exited at a cost of +2 test.  No big deal unless you blow a roll like I did and then misinterpret the rules….

o   Side swipes in the corner COST NO MOVEMENT
Jeff is a three-time champion, but the dice were against him tonight, even when he wasn't rolling them! Rounding a turn slightly too quickly, I sideswiped Jeff's chariot by  accident and took him out of the race. (I wound up finishing fifth.)
Poor Jeff. These were not his Games.
A catastrophic collision.
An imminent trampling.
Scott's charioteer was dragged across the finish line.
The winners: Pete, Scott, and Mike. This is Pete's second championship.

And with that, the festivities wound down, at least for me. I stayed for a round of Tee Shirt Party (a Playstation JackBox game), then retired, wiped out by my pneumonia. But it was, as always, worth it; a highlight of the year. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Gaming & Guinness XIII: Day Four, Part 1

Day Four began as an after-midnight continuation of Day Three, as our Formula De match roared past the witching hour. Jeff generously donated his copy of the Formula De poster to the winner of the match, who turned out to be Stephen after a long back-and-forth battle for pole position with Island Mike.
After spending the morning shooting the official G&G group photo (see a later post for that), Steve and I unveiled a surprise scenario for this year's Star Trek battle. What began as a typical battle between the Klingons and the Federation turned into a desperate fight for survival as Steve and I took our own ships off the board and replaced them with Doomsday Machines!
My original idea was to have the Borg travel back in time to assault our fleets, but Steve pointed out that there was an existing Doomsday Machine scenario we could modify to suit a similar, but more thematic, purpose.
I ordered and painted the two Doomsday Machines seen here. One model is only half the size of the other because the first one I ordered was the wrong scale. Stephen's glib explanation: "It's further away."
Here's the scenario writeup:

“A Clockwork Remembrance”
A Call to Arms: Starfleet Scenario for Gaming & Guinness XIII

Fleet: Two Planet Killers (630 points) versus three Klingon D7s and three Federation Heavy Cruisers (1,080 points).

Scenario Rules: The objective for the Planet Killers is to score 75 points of damage on plant and its inhabited moon. The objective for the defending fleet is to destroy the Planet Killers before they destroy the planet. The players controlling the Planet Killers cannot communicate, coordinate or strategize with each other.

Game Length: The game continues until either the Planet Killers are destroyed or the planet is destroyed.

Victory and Defeat: The Planet Killers must deal 75 points of damage to each target—Seamus and Kildare—to destroy them. The defending fleet must prevent this.

Both Planets Destroyed: Decisive Planet Killer Victory
One Planet Destroyed: Marginal Planet Killer Victory
One Planet Killer Destroyed: Marginal Defending Fleet Victory
Both Planet Killers Destroyed: Decisive Defending Fleet Victory

Setup: Begin play on the official Gaming & Guinness IX A Call to Arms: Starfleet map. Place planet Seamuis and its moon, Kildare, in close proximity to each other, twelve inches away from one short edge of the map. Place four Klingon D7s and four Federation Heavy Cruisers near the planet and its moon by using scatter dice to determine the opening distribution of ships.

Federation and Klingon players will then place their ships, one Klingon, then one Federation, in turn until all ships are placed. Then, Earl reads the following text aloud:

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 3120.6. Excalibur, Intrepid, Poltava and Potemkin are engaged in battle with four Klingon D7 cruisers just a parsec away from the Harp Nebula.

“The Klingons are attempting to destroy our dilithium mining operation on planet Seamuis, along with Starbase 91, located on its Class-M moon, Kildare.

“Our forces are evenly matched, and I cannot predict the outcome. The Excalibur is heavily damaged; we are seconds away from a warp core breach, but we’ve given the Black Dog as much as they gave us. We cannot let the Klingons capture one of the richest dilithium deposits in the sector!”

Then, Steve steps in to describe a shocking turn of events: the Excalibur explodes and he removes it from the map, replacing it with the small Planet Killer. An instant later Steve removes the Black Dog, describing it as engulfed in a brilliant flash of white light. Then, he deploys the small planet killer. Once Steve has deployed his ship, Earl deploys the large Planet Killer.

While the other players are letting this sink in, we will ask each remaining player to roll 2D6 shield and 1D6 hull damage to represent the effects of the battle so far. Steve and Earl will explain the true scenario rules, and the real battle will begin.
The two planet killers move in.
Past enmity laid aside, the Klingons and Federation decide to tackle one doomsday weapon first en masse.
Once I was finished off, the humanoid horde came for Steve...
Into the maw of the beast.
As it turned out, the Doomsday Machines were dispatched with relative ease, too slow to get to their targets before being whittled down by heavy numbers. Were we to do it all again, Stephen and I would have started our ships much closer to our objectives, which would have provided more challenge to the other players. Even so, it was a ton of fun and a nice change of pace.

But Day Four didn't end there. There was still...the chariot race...