Monthly Archives: December 2014

An Upcoming Wild Camping Podcast (possibly comedy)


After a discussion with my fellow explorer of luxury accommodation Alan Sloman we have decided to do a series of podcasts about the luxury side of wild camping. So while Andy Howell and Podcast Bob are experiencing the lower end of wild camping, by cooking their own food, carrying their own stuff, the cold and rain. Myself and my fellow explorer will be under great duress and personnel suffering enduring luxury hotels, b&b's and all the nasty Michelin star food, king size beds with silk bedsheets, and spa treatments. It's possible we may even indulge in some wild swimming in a perfectly heated indoor pool, followed by a sauna. We will be doing this in the ultimate ultra light weight style possible by utilising door men and bell boys to carry our suitcases.

The plan is for us to go on our wild camps at the same time as Andy and Bob. You'll be able to listen to us suffer food that has only one Michelin star washed down by some cheap plonk probably a chateau Margaux 2009, and laugh as the wind and rain beat against the windows knowing some poor sods are out in the middle of nowhere in tarps and eating rehydrated food. You'll be able to enjoy our insightful witterings on current issues and solving the worlds problems over a Macallan 1926 and Cuban cigar, because the world hasn't heard enough from a couple of Middle aged slightly thicker round the middle than they should be men.

We'll bring you tips on how best to utilise the concierge to procure only the best escort services to help make slumming it in a luxury hotel with a one Michelin star restaurant bearable. There will be in depth discussion on our favourite spa treatments, you will find out which ones ended in disappointment and which ones had a happy ending. We will also be reviewing silk bedsheets and tell you have to identify the thread count of a silk sheet. There will also be survival advice as well, such as how to survive a cold spell when the central heating drops by a degree by sharing body heat with a female companion or three.

To compliment this new podcast there will also be a new website called SlackPackingLight. Which will deal with this fast growing sector of the outdoors world. This site will have indepth articles like just how many staff do you need to take with you on a luxury wild camp?, how many porters do you need to carry the picnic?, birthday suit or speedos when wild swimming? Which tree/bush is best for that all important campfire for toasting marshmallows? In camp entertainment beatbox, guitar or thrash metal band? There will also be the latest outdoors fashions tastefully displayed in lookbooks with the current cliched poses. Our two Michelin star chef will be bringing you the latest in camp fire recipes using molecular gastronomy techniques – some mores will never be the same. And to top it off our writers will be running an tips section with such great advice as save weight by using a stripper pole as a trekking pole.

Oh and we will have merchandise galore on the site, any old tatt that we can stick a logo on we will be selling. You thought KISS had a merchandising machine, we will be taking it to the next level. Who wouldn't want a condom with a silhouette of two middle aged men on it?

So I'm hoping you are excited about this new adventure/enterprise/chance to exploit the gullible as I am. I look forward to spending your money on my next luxury weekend away.


Reality Check

It's not until you start putting stuff together that it suddenly dawns on you just how much stuff you will be taking. It happens when you pack for a holiday, a backpacking trip or a hike. You think oh I'll take this and I'll need that. And you don't think it's a lot, then finally everything you have thought of, remembered gets put into one place and that omg “there's so much stuff, too much stuff” moment occurs.

All of a sudden the games I listed plus a couple extra are in one place. And that photo above hasn't got the X-Wing stuff included. I've only got a little Ford Ka! The Space Hulk box will fill it up by itself!

Do I really need to take that many games? Will we get time to play them all? Should I bother with X-Wing? If I don't take them all which ones do I leave behind?

I know one evening my friend Mark is coming round to play a game or two, so the “gateway” games have to stay. Plus I'm visiting a friend who isn't a gamer, maybe I can introduce him to the delights of games with the “gateway” games.

I can't not take Space Hulk after all I've said about the search for a copy of the game over the years. I hate decisions like this, each game has a good reason for being selected for this trip.

What would you do?



Last Minute Arrivals for the Christmas Holidays

So new arrivals post again!


With me planning to hold a Pandemic Party before the end of January I got in Pandemic the Cure. Which gives me a copy of Pandemic and the new arrival to use for the party. I've actually played a couple of games of Pandemic the Cure as solo games since getting it. It's a blast as a solo game it really is and I'm looking forward to playing it with Nath as the co-operative game it is over Christmas. I do have to apologise though in the two games I've played and even though they were on the Intro level (ie easy) I failed to save the planet from the pandemic wiping out mankind.

I'd also seen good things about Ghost Stories as both a solo game and co-operative game. It's meant to be super hard to win. But it's sitting in the collection ready to play with Nath and as a solo game now. I'm taking it with me when I visit Nath over Christmas but I think we will be lucky if we get to it, well you have seen the list of games I'm taking already. We have a LOT to get through.

As a teenager I had a set of poker dice, which have got lost over the years. So I bought a new set. Mainly as a quick game to play with friends. To go with this I also got the book Dice Games Properly Explained by Reiner Knizia. 150 dice games covered, but not just described but also strategies for winning them. I like the chapter on probability. Oh Reiner Knizia created one of my fav two player games Lost Cities, and is some sort of game design legend.

Sadly for me the Harbour expansion for Machi Koro sold out on Amazon. So that will be a priority in the new year to track this down. However I have got the Crossroads expansion for Tokaido. This adds a bit more depth to the game and gambling! So although the plan is just to play the base game with Nath, we will hopefully have time to play the game with this expansion too.

I now also have all the expansions for Marvel Legendary because since the last post the Paint the Town Red expansion (Spider-man), the Guardians of the Galaxy expansion and Fantastic Four expansions have arrived. Which means I have an incredible amount of combinations of heroes to play with to try and stop a wide variety of evil schemes from some diabolical evil master minds. The hardest part will be deciding who to play and against whom. Luckily there are a couple of apps that can randomly generate scenarios for you to play. I know Villians can be used with Legendary but I'm viewing it as a separate game and not an expansion. And now I have all the expansions for Legendary it's going to be a while before I'm going to want to buy Villians. So that is dropping down the wish list.

A Wish List Discussion

Talking of wishes lists, on Facebook a friend posted a couple of things on his wish list. One of them was the Walking Dead Monopoly game. I'm not a fan of Monopoly did it too death as a kid, and I don't think it's a very good game. Obviously I may be in a minority with this point of view, because it's age and popularity over the years shows others disagree with me. However that's a conversation for another day. The point is I replied saying that there are better Walking Dead themed games out there than a reskinned version of Monopoly (I could argue this as a point of contention too the constant reskinning of the same tired game, but the likes of Love Letter are doing exactly the same!) that capture the comic book/tv series. So I pointed him to the relevant Amazon pages. I then continued with some other zombie themed games that may of been of interest if he liked zombie themed games, such as Zombie 15, “Run,Fight,Die”, Last Night on Earth and Zombie Dice. The first two are very high up on my wish list, while I have Zombie Dice already. Why didn't I mention Zombicide? I did, but I already knew that my friend had looked at the game and thought it expensive. I agree it is expensive compared to most games, however it is a miniatures game, and the quality of the models and components like game board pieces etc are very high, and justify the price of the game. Besides if you shop around you can normally save a little off the rrp. Oh and I also mentioned Dead of Winter, however the zombie side of the game isn't as strong as the others, for me Dead of Winter is more a survival post apocalyptic themed game where zombies are just one of the hazards you have to survive. Have I missed a great zombie game? Let me know in the comments below.

Our discussion then turned quickly onto X-Wing and what models we had and what we were after. My friend has just got into X-Wing, I did warn him. It is an addictive game, not just because it is a great game but because it has great models to collect! Which when not being used in games, look great on display.

So I hope you have enjoyed this post, any comments, suggestions of expansions to get, let me know in the comments below.



Late Arrivals and Future Plans

I have been meaning to do a new arrivals post for a while. Having put it off for so long or not doing it regularly it now looks like I have an addiction and need an intervention.
So here is a quick photo that shows everything since August (I think). The only thing really missing from the photo are the two gravity feeds I bought for Dicemasters (one for Avengers vs X-Men, and one for Uncanny X-Men) and some individual boosters and cards that were also purchased for Dicemasters.

When I put everything together like this it looks a lot ( no really) and as I have admitted already some I haven't played at all yet, and are on the “pile of shame”. But they will be played. It's just Nath and I are working our way through the pile. You've seen the planned list of games we will be playing over Christmas in a previous post. Maybe I should expand my social circle and get some local friends to play with.
I will try and be more regular with the new arrivals posts, and write a bit about why I got them. I also want to add in those posts unboxing videos. This will sound bad I could do some unboxing videos for this stuff as I haven't opened them yet, but the reasons for that are too personal for on here. Close friends and family will know why.

Future plans

So as you can see I have a lot to play! And also to write about. However there are two expansions for Marvel Legendary in the postal system at the moment along with a Dicemasters super rare card and a Tokaido promo card. Plus I already have plans for January that include getting the last Marvel Legendary expansion that I need, getting the Harbour expansion for Machi Koro and the Crossroads expansion for Tokaido. New games! I'm trying to decide between Battlelore Second Edition, D-Day Dice and Pandemic the Cure. February (yes I've planned that far ahead) will see the expansions for Imperial Assualt. End of February, early March will see the arrival of Zombicide Season 3 from the kickstarter I backed. So March will see me getting Prison Outbreak, and the 2 dog expansions to complete the Zombicide set. Which means when Easter hits Nath and I will be playing a massive Zombicide campaign. At some point at the start of next year there is also the scum and villiany ships for X-Wing hitting and Star Wars Armada, along with more Dicemasters sets (there are a couple I'm not bothered about). Plus July time the reboot of the RPG Paranoia that I backed on Kickstarter is due out. 2015 is shaping up to be an awesome year gaming wise just on the expansions front, let alone any new games that get released.
Some of you may already of come across these already but from time to time there are videos of the Dicemasters games I play on Google Hangouts on Air going up on my YouTube channel. Next year I want to add to these videos with play throughs of some of the games I have. Whether they are solo play throughs of Marvel Legendary, Flash Point or one of the other games I can play solo to some of the games I play with Nath.
I also want to get out more to my local game store to play X-Wing, Imperial Assault, take part in more of the organised play. This year for same reasons above I've not been able to take part in some of the Dicemasters organised play that has happened the last couple of months.

Wrap Up

I know I've deviated a bit in this post, and not written about the new arrivals. But they will be looked at in more depth in separate posts about each of them. I'm hoping the future plans have been found interesting and maybe given you an idea or two for the next game or expansion to get. If you have any comments,suggestions, advice leave them in the comments below.


Pandemic Parties

Today I came across a story of board gamers playing a game to help raise funds to fight Ebola. What game are they playing? Pandemic of course.

Pandemic is a collaborative boardgame where you work together to stop the spread of four deadly diseases around the world. It was created by Matt Leacock who also happens to be one of the folks behind this idea of playing the game to raise $100,000 to go to Doctors Without Borders and their fight against Ebola.

So Matt is asking people to hold Pandemic Parties, where people come together to play Pandemic the game (or any game) and donate money to fight Ebola.

When I heard about this I thought wow! This is amazing. It’s such a great idea, and a perfect match between the issue and the game. This isn’t the first charity gaming event by a long shot. And they aren’t asking people to do like marathon events. To me they are asking for something more akin to a MacMillan Cancer Support coffee morning. Come together, play a game or two of Pandemic, enjoy a coffee (or other beverage), have a good time, donate money, leave with a warm fuzzy feeling.

The great thing I think about holding a Pandemic Party is that you can theme it a lot. Petrie dishes to hold the virus counters (I know some folks already use this for the game), players could wear surgical masks and rubber gloves while playing, you could get some injection pens (pens that look like injection needles) and have them stored in a test tube holder and give them to participants.

The nice thing is Pandemic is one of my pile of shame games. So this will be a great excuse to play the game. I’m not sure when the deadline is for doing this, I know nothing will happen this side of Christmas but I will look at organising something for January.

Hopefully after you have looked at the links below you will also feel like holding a Pandemic Party. I do hope so.

You can find out more about holding a Pandemic Party by visiting the official web site .

You can read the original story I read here it also has video to.

And if you want to find out more about the game and see what it is like to play there is the rather excellent episode of Wil Wheatons tabletop.


You can get Pandemic from your friendly local gamestore, or online from the likes of Amazon. There is also Pandemic the Cure that is a dice based version of the game.

My Webcam SetUp

I play Marvel DiceMasters, I love the game. I love the theme (Marvel superheroes!), the collectable aspect, the rolling of dice, the tactics/team building, basically everything about it. It's as if they specifically targeted the game at me (although FFG seem to have done that also with the X-Wing miniatures game too, am I that easy to hook in?)

Now my local gamestore (The Rift) runs organised play ( competitions with prizes) and has a few players there. However being 26 miles away not always the easiest most convient to get to or stay long enough to play lots of games ( parking also costs in Peterborough – or as I call it a shopping tax to push shoppers to out of town stores).

So what is so marvelous about DiceMasters is that it works so well as an online game using a webcam! So I now play regular games online with folks in the US and England ( I know there are one or two down under who are interested in playing but not played them yet).

Those playing use a variety of setups, using inbuilt webcams, mobiles/tablets, external webcams. Every now and then we get asked about what setups we use, and software. So I thought I'd write this post to answer that question from my side.

As the photo above shows my setup is the following:



The desk lamp gives me that nice overhead shot without getting in the way of playing. Basically when I got the lamp I stripped it down to what you see in the photo. Removed the shade and power cable, they aren't needed. I used the hitech solution of elastic bands to hold the webcam in place.

However the image from the camera is up side down and flipped. So that people can see the play area as I see it, ie it looks correct I needed to mirror and rotate the image from the webcam. Sadly the Logitech driver software doesn't allow you to do this. Luckily I found a solution in an app called iglasses. It's an amazing little app, which allows me to flip and mirror the image, zoom, set focus, even add filters. It's not free, but not that expensive and works great.

We use Google Hangouts to play the games. So people need a Google+ account to play. Nice thing is about Google Hangouts there can be multiple people on the hangout. But from time to time we use the on air side which broadcasts the session live, and then saves it on YouTube. So it allows us to put games up for others to watch at their own leisure.

When using Google Hangouts with this setup, instead of accessing the webcam directly you tell it to use the iglasses app as the webcam. Which then means you are getting the correct image being used in the hangout.

I hope people find this post useful in setting up their own webcam and join us soon in an online game of DiceMasters. There is a really friendly community of online gamers got DiceMasters and new comers are always welcome.


My next steps with this setup is to get picture in picture working using the built in webcam, and to make use of lower thirds. The lower thirds is apparently easy to do using hangouts. So will probably be the first to be done.


iOS Boardgames


I think it's obvious from my more recent posts I kind of enjoy playing the odd board game or two. However not as often as I'd like.

So I find myself playing some of my game collection as solo games (yes some games can be played solo), or like Dice Masters online using a webcam (the subject of another post). Or I play the iOS version of a game which allows me to play against an AI controlled opponent(s) or remotely against other people. The apps also allow me to learn a game so when I see Nath I can teach him the game.

Over the last four years I've been playing Carcassonne against an opponent who most of the time wins, but the odd time I get a victory. The Carcassonne app is a really great version of the tile laying classic. It really does a great job of capturing the original, great interface. I never play its solo modes, I just play remotely against friends. I love it, it scratches my itch to play this great game. It has my favourite expansions too for the game (traders and builders, inns and cathedrals, the princess and the dragon, and the river) that cost extra but totally worth having.

Against the same opponent I have been playing Lost Cities. This is the iOS version of the classic two player card game. Another great interface, love that it keeps stats of games played against an opponent. I'm also doing much better in the wins at this game, having won 56% of the games played.

One of the best games released this year is the two player card game Star Realms. The iOS app does not disappoint. I'm playing a lot of this at the moment. I haven't played it online yet, but the AI opponent is challenging, and I love the campaign mode.

Another classic board game is Ticket to Ride. And this has been captured wonderfully in this app. A great interface again. I've not played this online against people yet, but I believe it also hooks into other versions of the game on different platforms. I enjoy playing this a lot. There are a few expansions to buy for the game, I've only bought the Europe one so far.

The classic Settlers of Catan has been captured really well in the iOS app. I've not beat the AI opponents yet. But I think that's down to the fact I'm not that skilled at the game yet. I was disappointed with the online play of this game because unless you are online at same time you can't play. Ideally it needs to allow me to send an invite and allow the games to be more remote turn based like Carcassonne and Lost Cities. This too has expansions to buy.

Small World 2 I like, the interface works well, but I've not played much of it. It does capture the board game well.

What can I say about Alhambra? I love the game. However the iOS version although it has challenging AI opponents the game for me is hampered by a poor interface. I really want to like the app, but the whole experience is ruined by the interface.

The collaborative board game Forbidden Island I just haven't played after an initial look. It's local play and if I need to be in a room with people I might as well get the actual board game out to play.

I'll write about Space Hulk some other time. I've only just got it.

You would think being able to play games remotely it would be easier to play games with friends. However all of these games cost money, anything from a couple of pounds upwards. So even though the prices are a lot cheaper than buying a copy of the board game, still this is a hurdle for most that stops them getting the game. So a good challenging AI opponent is important to me. Most of the games allow you to select the level of opponent you play against, which I like. It allows you to start off easy as you learn the game and tactics, then up the difficulty when you are more confident.

I think from the brief bits above its obvious which games are my favourites and that I play regularly. If there is interest I'll post more in depth looks at them.


Father and Son Games This Christmas

Below you will find a list of the games I will be playing with Nath this Christmas when we spend some quality father and son time together over the holiday period.

I'd been after Space Hulk for a couple of years. It's a game I played once or twice while I was studying in Brighton many many moons ago. Which I had fond memories of, and now I wanted to play with Nath. Space Hulk is basically aliens the boardgame but set in the warhammer universe with space marines and gene stealers (the aliens). Nath would love playing this. Sadly the game was out of print and going for rediculous prices on eBay. But fate stepped in or more to the point Games Workshop did by doing a one off limited run of the game a couple of months back. Luckily I was able to get a copy at a lot more affordable price than the eBay ones from my local game store The Rift in Peterborough.
One of the hot games of this year, and rightly so. A japanese city building card game, which is great fun to play. Not sure how Nath will get on with this one, I think once he gets the idea he'll like it. I love the game.
We have played this once not long after I first got the game. Several ships later, and hopefully a star field playing mat arriving in time, Nath and I will be recreating skirmishes between the Empire and the Rebellion.
Marvel Legendary I'd been thinking about getting this for awhile. Researching it over the Summer. Then I saw the planned list of games for season three of Table Top. Marvel Legendary was on that list. If I didn't buy it soon, there would be little chance of getting it once the episode aired with it in. So I picked up this collaborative deck building game based on the Marvel universe. Since getting it I have got the Dark City expansion, and waiting on a couple of others to arrive. Nath will enjoy this I think. Nice thing is this has solo play rules, so once again I can learn the game before we play. Which always makes teaching Nath easier.
Staying with the collaborative deck building based on the same system as Marvel Legendary, is the game Legendary Encounters Alien. I think this is going to be Uber fun playing the movie scenarios with characters from the movie. But more importantly we will answer the question Wolverine vs Alien. Yes the games are interchangeable, so you can bet we will be dropping Wolverine into the Alien universe. It kind of reminds me of the crossover comics Dark Horse did in the late 80's early 90's where the alien/predators took on the likes of Batman and Superman. Ripley and Wolverine taking on the ultimate predator!

Another deck building card game, definitely one of the contenders for game of the year. This two player sci fi space battle themed game is great fun. I've been playing the iOS version to learn the rules so I can teach it to Nath. With a second deck it's possible to have more than two players. However this a quickish game to play, quick setup, and a blast. It lives up to the hype. I'm hoping Nath likes this one.

If this game wasn't one of the hot games of this year it will be now after being on TableTop. It started off the new season as the game played in the first episode. Not sure about how Nath will get on with this game. I won't explain the game here, go watch the episode of Table Top it does a far better job than I could. It's been hard finding an english version that is affordable. Amazon are selling a French edition! The U.S. editions on eBay are working out over £60. Well I suppose that's due to the Table Top effect. Luckily a Belguim company had an English language version at a much more reasonable price, and it will cross fingers be here before Christmas.

Finally coming out the week before Christmas Star Wars Imperial Assault. Descent the game set in the Star Wars universe. Another one of the hot games of this year and next (considering the time it's coming out). Nath and I will be playing this in skirmish mode if just the two of us. It's Star Wars of course Nath and I will love it.

So there you have it the list of games Nath and I will be playing this Christmas. I know considering how big a Zombicide fan I am, and Nath enjoys playing the game, why isn't that going? Well I do have a collection of games I've bought to play with Nath, a lot we haven't even gotten round to playing. So we have to make our way through those at some point too. My next Zombicide session with Nath will most likely be when season three comes out (I backed it on Kickstarter – so touch wood will get it in March). No DiceMasters either this time despite it being the game I'm playing the most at the moment. Well that's the plan but I may give in to temptation and include it.

I'm looking forward to my visit with Nath. Gaming whether cardboard or video gives me some quality time with my son. How we will squeeze everything in I don't know. We will give it a heroic effort to do so. But as long as we are having fun who cares if we don't play everything?

I hope the above list has given you some ideas of games to consider. I can assure you these are way way more fun than the “mainstream” stalwarts like monopoly and cluedo (to shame a couple).