Saturday, 31 May 2014

Cocked Die!

Despite the negativity surrounding the last post (abortive trip to UK Games Expo) a couple of good things did happen gaming-wise over the past couple of days.

Firstly, this from Friday's game of Gruntz is a genuine "as they fell" dice roll.

 Secondly, I needed a new satchel as Old Faithful that has accompanied me around the world, and to work every day has disintegrated. So I found this.

Uber-geek. I ended up having a conversation on the train with the Not-Nephew today about the context sensitive nature of the cursor in ZX Basic. Like you do.

UK Games Expo 2014 - Thirty Minutes of Aggravation for Nine Quid

Not-Nephew and I went across to UK Games Expo today - early start, forty minutes on the train, £9 for me (free for him) and we managed to stand it for all of 30 minutes before leaving. I had £200 burning a hole in pockets and brought all of it back home.

So went wrong there?

The crowd. All three trader halls were hot and packed. It proved impossible to see anything and look at potential purchases. The two larger halls had the usual arrangement of two outer rings of stalls facing each other with gangway between and more gangways running across the centre but in one of the rooms we actually gave up on ever getting access to the centre gangway. Not-Nephew is a small-for-his-age ten year old and seeing him struggling in the crowd gave me unpleasant flashbacks of the very small number of football matches I attended in the good old/bad old days of open terracing.

The main entrance hall was choked by a queue for a cash machine - this is before eleven on Saturday so raises questions about how prepared some people were (or were not). I bet it wasn't a free ATM either. There were some cosplayers somewhere in there as I could hear Daleks. Hear. Not see.

Eventually I got an SMS telling me some friends were at the participation miniatures games over by the swimming pool which turned out to be something of an oasis in the middle of the seething mass of geekdom. We popped over to see them and discovered that a huge snaking queue that ran the length of a corridor and curved around into another room that I had assumed was for food was actually for the Bring and Buy. We abandoned any attempt to even get near that room.

At crisis point we discussed was it worth going back and trying to look for the things we wanted. And basically decided, no it simply wasn't something we wanted to do. Neither of us wanted to spend time in the crush for the sake of spending money and tempers were getting frayed. I was harangued for not moving out of somebody's way while what I was actually doing was waiting for somebody else in the human gridlock to move first so that I could move, no doubt while that individual was waiting for somebody else to move first and so on and and so on elephants all the way down. Fuck this shit and all that.

So at 1100 on the first day of the show we walked out and went home for bacon sandwiches on the garden bench. I did idly wonder if it might be quiet on Sunday afternoon and worth a second attempt but since then I've made other arrangements for Sunday.

I'm really disappointed. I missed last year when it first moved to the NEC Hilton as I was suffering from "real" flu (this differs from man-flu in that it actually is flu and hammered my health for about two months) and already the show is just too big for it's venue. Some traders have lost my custom because sorry guys I simply couldn't put up with that to get across to you and give you my hard-earned and I won't be attending the show again if it stays at the same place. Shame.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Why Are These Pics So Badly Cropped?

I'm a crap photographer and I know it. There isn't a single picture I've ever taken that isn't improved by cavalier use of Instagram filters. So as a self-confessed crap photographer I can see when the original pic has been badly composed and then is cropped to buggery(*) to try and salvage something from it. And I'm not proud to admit that my first sight of the new D&D covers was accompanied by an immediate feeling of being baffled as to why these pics have been so badly cropped that the resulting layouts are all dreadful.

What weapon is bottom right man swinging in his left hand? Actually I'm assuming he is swinging a weapon but he could be doing anything. Is he on is own? Is their a party of accomplices lurking off in the dead zone off the cover. Who knows? The whole composition is cropped too tight.

(Also, if you are going to do a homage to not only the Red Box but the ultimate Purple Box printing of Cyclopedia-era Basic why go green and not red?)

What is the weird mace-head thing bottom left? In this age of Photoshop if you absolutely have to crop to this sort of level why not just p'shop the distracting cruft away from the edge of the printed area? I'm assuming there was a head on that lightning-bolt-smacked statue on the left but it has been lost to the crop.

Why is one of Tiamat's heads vanishing off the left hand side? Why is there no "quiet" area where the title is to go leading to the lettering completely obscuring another dragon head? Why is the wizard at the bottom so badly cut off? Why doesn't Tiamat's claw fit in? Who cropped this?

Is there anything interesting or noteworthy on the end of that staff? Again, why is no real quiet area such that the Frost Giant's right hand is under the title? Why is the weapon vanishing out of the bottom. Why are there so many southpaws in these covers? Have they been mirrored from the original artwork?

What is happening bottom left corner? At least this one has a quiet area for the title if not the red-backed splash in the bottom left.

These aren't attempts in the 1980s to license a piece of art from somewhere else and try and make it fit a White Dwarf or Dragon cover - presumably these have been produced under a very tight brief. Yet none of them fit. Very odd.


Also, and unrelated to above, I had a Fighting Fantasy related dream last night - I bought a copy of Masks of Mayhem with the cover ripped off for £9 because it was some rare anthology printing with two books in one binding. I then felt massive buyer's remorse when I remembered that I already owned a copy. This reminded me that I periodically have dreams about finding bookshops with caches of green spine FF books (it's always green spines) that I have never heard of and feel the urge to buy all of them.

Later on the dream developed into time travelling back to the 1950s where an ex-work colleague smoked a pipe while tuning in a crystal wireless set so that we could listen to Richard Burton reading poetry on the BBC.

(*) Always a splendid evening's entertainment that.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Known World Thirty Years Ago

According to the copyright date on Warhammer 2nd Edition I must have been a Warhammerer for thirty years this year.

Weird irony- I bought my WFB2 from the toyshop in Dudley and couldn't wait for Monday morning to tell the kids playing Warhammer at my middle school that I now had Warhammer and was officially elevated to the level of all the cool kids. It then turned out that nobody recognised this strange red box as they all had the game in some white box instead. It was a proper

moment all right.

The irony here is that these days everyone else seems to rush to bin their copies of perfectly good wargames the very day a new moneygouge edition comes out whereas muggins here is the one saying "No, fuck you I won't scrap my old version just because some greedy Motherfucker in Nottingham says I ought to".

Anyroad, here is my first exposure to the Warhammer World, from Warhammer 2 circa 1984.