Monthly Archives: January 2015

Project Bad Boys

“Bad boys, bad boys
What'cha gonna do?
What'cha gonna do when they come for you?
Bad boys, bad boys
What'cha gonna do?
What'cha gonna do when they come for you?”

Earlier today I pushed out via Instagram the above photo accompanied by the lyrics to the chorus to the song Bad Boys. Then during the afternoon I had an idea of doing a series of minifig photos called Bad Boys. In this project I will take various photos of the “bad boy” or villian minifigs that I have. There is a site that sells custom minifigs that do horror movie characters. So the likes of Freddy, Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, etc. and I've just named the three I'd buy, as they are my favourite horror movie characters. I might try and get some more comic book villians for this project too. I have my favourite The Joker, but I'd like a Bane too.

Naturally as the project goes along I'll post the images on Instagram and at the end do a post on here collecting the images into one coherent collection.


New Arrivals, New Arrivals (Jan15)

The payday splurge has happened!


Last Wednesday I finally found a shop in the UK that had Tiny Epic Kingdoms in stock. Which was very lucky because Friday when I went back to check that I hadn't imagined it and done a pre-order, it was out of stock. When it arrived this morning and I opened it, it did seem slightly unreal that I actually had a copy. Then I had a little epiphany (yeah I know I don't have these moments very often, self awareness, contemplation is over rated), I like the thrill of the chase, the hunt, call it what you like. But the harder a game is for me to get the more I want it! It's a character flaw for sure. But the excitement and euphoria of that moment of finding a copy of the game (especially at the retail price or less) after weeks or months of hunting.
Back in the early nineties I was in London for work, and somehow ended up at the Virgin Megastore and in its comic department. There behind the counter hanging on the wall was the 1977 KISS Marvel Special. This was the first ever dedicated comic book to the group ( their first appearance had been in the Howard the Duck comics), to mark this monumental occasion the group had some of their blood mixed into the ink that the comic was printed with. I'd been after this comic for years. Well I'm a big KISS fan, and a comic book fan, so this was like the perfect comic for me. When I saw it there behind the counter, I knew I had to have it. I just went up to the counter spoke to the member of staff the following words “I'll take the KISS comic please”. I didn't even ask how much it was. The price was irrelevant to me. I handed over my bank card to pay, I don't remember hearing the assistant say a price, I remember signing the authorisation slip (this was way before chip and pin had been introduced), I never looked at the amount, I was focused on the comic. I finally had it, and couldn't wait to get home to read it. I seem to remember from the bank statement that the object of my desire had cost me £40.
Another example of this addiction also involves KISS and comic books but while I was in my final year of my HND at Brighton Polytechnic. As I mentioned above the groups first appearance was in the Howard the Duck comics. I was under the impression that appearance was in issue eight of the comic. So when I bought that comic from I think it was Forbidden Planet if I remember correctly, I was disappointed when I read it back in my room that KISS were not in it. But I knew they were in one of the issues. So I did the only thing I could at the time (remember this was before the internet). I started at issue one of Howard the Duck and bought all the issues in its thirty two issue run. I knew that way I would get the issue I wanted. It turned out their appearance was spread over two issues (I can't remember the issue numbers), but it was the last panel of one issue and the first couple of pages of the following issue. A side affect of this hunt was I became a big Howard the Duck fan (and yes I'm excited about the new comic, and was delighted with his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy).
It was like this with the game Space Hulk. I'd wanted to get a copy to play with Nath, but it was out of print, copies were going for stupid money on eBay and Amazon. But I kept looking, trying to find a bargain, or to be more honest a reasonable price I could justify. If Games Workshop hadn't done the reprinting last year, I was a month or two away from caving and paying the extortionate prices being asked for the game. Even then the buying of the reprint was a roller coaster of a ride. Games Workshop announced the reprinting at a weekend, and had sold out on their site within hours before I could order a copy. My only hope was if The Rift were going to get any copies. Luckily they were and I was able to get one.
Sometimes I do feel that companies exploit people like me with this character flaw. At least I am aware I have it, and try to not let it rule my life.
The other two games I got Bang the Dice Game and Cash and Guns 2 are both light games for groups. I've not played Bang the Dice Game, but it's had great reviews. Cash and Guns 2 Nath and I got a chance to play this at Eurogamer last September and we really enjoyed it.

Comic Books

I don't think I've spoken about comic books before on here. I tend to buy trade backs these days. I can't afford to relapse. I was an addict.
I owe getting these four to a conversation between a couple of friends on Facebook (thanks Steve and James). They were talking about how good Alex + Ada was, and how the trailes for Ex Machina reminded them of this comic book. So I thought I'd give it a try. You know what Amazon is like with its “others also bought” or “you may like this also”. Well I'd been looking at Sex Criminals and Saga on and off, the reviews were pretty good for both, so I thought I'd give them a go finally. Deadly Class looked interesting too, so that was added to the give it a try list for this time. I'll do a post about these once I've read them.


Amazon Prime let me down (and they will be paying for that later, usually in the form of extending my Prime membership by a month – it's worth complaining) by not deliverying the first volume of the Minifgure Customisation book. However volume 2 did arrive as the DK Lego Star Wars The Dark Side book. Can you tell why I bought this? Yep the minifigure of the Emporer. I'll let you try and guess the first photo I'm going to do with him is, you will find out soon enough.
So wow an interesting mixed bag of arrivals today. I hope you have liked this post. It kind of ended up slightly different to what I imagined it would when I thought I'd blog about the new arrivals.


Fighting Ebola by playing a game!

Last night was the Pandemic Party in Wisbech at The Entertainment Centre. Eight of us got together to play the game Pandemic by Matt Leacock to raise funds to help fight Ebola. One customer of The Entertainment Centre had kindly donated some cakes for the evening, which were rather nice. The crew at Bossa Studios creators of Surgeon Simulator the game (it's a great fun game available on multiple platforms click here for more details) kindly donated some “injection” pens to help raise funds for the evening.

Only one of us (not me) had played Pandemic before. So the game was setup for an “easy” setting.

For a first time playing I think we did pretty well. Three of the deadly diseases were cured, before we ran out of player cards (one of the three lose conditions). At the end of the game even though we failed to save the planet from being wiped out by deadly disease, we'd had a fun time.

We finished the evening off by playing a quick game of Zombie Dice. Which amazingly I won! Usually and this will surprise those I play Dice Masters with, I roll badly playing Zombie Dice. During my first two goes my rolls were true to form, and I was not scoring. Then I rolled eight brains before sticking. That's the best I've done in one round ever at this game. A couple of players had decided they liked playing Zombie Dice so much that they are planning to get their own copies. I also think they also took a shining to my dice tray and may also be looking at getting one of those too.

It's nice to see people like a game so much that they plan to get their own copy. Zombie Dice isn't a complicated game. It's a press your luck game. But in a group it's great fun to play. I just didn't warn them this is the start of a slippery slope.

The remaining pens from the evening are being sold off in the shop to add to the total of money raised. Which reminds me once I have a final total raised I'll put it up on here.

So a great evening, great company, all in the name of charity a win win situation if you ask me.



My favourite photo ever

This is my favourite picture that I've taken ever. It is from an over night camp Strider and I did back in the Summer of 2010 on Holkham beach. The photo was taken around 4:30 in the morning on my iPhone. It's several pictures stitched together using a panoramic app. Sadly this app did a poor job and gives the photo it's major flaws. However it doesn't distract from the mood that the photo captures. I love the lighting, the primal feel, and captures Strider really well.


Lego minifigs

If you are one of the few people interested in what I do whether on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, then you will be aware of my liking of lego mini figures. Or I'd hope so with the number of photos I share on those social networks. It may have also rared it's ugly head on here as well in the odd photo or two on one or two of the posts.

I'm not one of those big lego fanatic collectors. I just buy figures I like, or think I can use to illustrate a blog post. So we are looking at Lord of the Rings, Superheroes, and Star Wars stuff really. To be honest I only have a small handful of figures. Although I do have certain figures to illustrate certain board games, such as the scientists, doctor etc for Pandemic.

However since Christmas I've come up with a little project involving the lego mini figures. The idea is to get or create mini figures that represents who I am and my interests. A couple were easy, such as the gamer, the computer programmer, the mountaineer, because they already existed as official mini figures. I had to create a blogger. Which I did by buying the individual parts to put together a mini figure to represent me as a blogger (see below).

Next up is to create the following mini figures for this project, a hacktivist, a backpacker, and a lecturer. Now I know they do a backpacker in a lego set that you can buy, and there is also a teacher mini figure. However I'm going to create my own version of these. So I've been trawling the custom lego figure parts sites looking for appropriate bits to make these figures.

Once that stage of the project is complete it has a second stage. I want to put together some custom lego sets to photograph the figures on. So I'm looking to create a blogging desk/workstation, a tabletop gaming table, a wild camping camp site and maybe a classroom!

Here are a couple of the photos I've shared on other social media outlets. This first one is titled “Father and son”.

This next one is using the new Heath Ledger figure I've just got.

I've also found a couple of books about making your own custom mini figures, so payday they will be on their way to me. I'm sure stuff I learn from this will feed into gaming too, and painting miniatures.

In the run up to Christmas there was a teacher thing on Twitter that had teachers on holiday taking photos of lego mini figures doing Christmassy stuff. I forget the blog name now but they had a hashtag #legoholidaychallenge (Here is the blog post I was talking about click here) . It's not something I took part in. But it's something I've been doing on and off since then. The nice thing is I can use the appropriate mini figure of me in different situations.

Now as I've already said I putting together custom figures to represent me. And this idea came from the organisers of Game Camp (which I went to last year), where they had on a previous Game Camp used minifigs as a game/getting to know you activity. Where attendees were given a mini figure and had to swap with others to get the parts to make a mini figure of themselves. One day as an induction exercise I'd like to do this with my students. But in the meantime how cool would it be if these teachers did a similar thing and created minifigs of themselves and used them in the photos?

So maybe not the most exciting “hobby” but certainly a light hearted fun one.


Not So Random Stuff About Expansions

I've mentioned in a previous post that I like games that have expansions. They expand the game! Add new options, modes of play, more players, new scenarios, etc. Basically add more variety. They aren't necessary on the whole but for the odd game they are to make the game more enjoyable.

New Arrival

Today the Harbour Expansion for Machi Koro arrived. It adds the cards to allow a fifth player, new cards and play modes. I'll do a more indepth look in another post.

In the Harbour Expansion is also a teaser for the next expansion coming out later this year!

A Brief Rant

One game I'm playing a lot of at the moment (admittedly using the iPad app) is Star Realms. There are two main expansions for this deck building game, Gambit and Crisis. But can I buy these in the UK? Nope nowhere has them in stock. Ones I can find are in the US and with postage (and possible import duty) really expensive. The Crisis expansion is made up of four individual themed packs, each costing (if available in the UK £3.95 – yeah back to the $1 = £1 exchange rate). However buying them through eBay means each pack is pushing over £10! The Gambit expansion is roughly £20 for a £10 game. It's rediculous. So why is there such a shortage in the UK? This is making the Marvel Dice Masters Avengers vs X-Men shortage last year look like a small blip. I won't even mention how hard it is to source an official play mat for Star Realms, or how my heart sinks at the thought of how hard it is going to be to get the storage box (with exclusive promo card) and the official card sleeves. Poor supply is such a frustrating thing, and there is no excuse for it in this day and age. I understand that companies can be caught be surprise by being a lot more popular than they thought they would be with a game. But still I think the writing has been on the wall that Star Realms would be a popular game.

A Bit of Gaming News(ish) Or What Matt Leacock Did Next

Later this year a new co-operative game based on Thunderbirds is coming out. The game is design by Matt Leacock and published by Modiphius. Matt is famous for such games as Pandemic, Pandemic the Cure, Forbidden Desert, and Forbidden Island. All great co-operative board games. So the early indications are this should be a great game, great theme, great designer that excels at co-operative games, a theme that is suited to co-operative play.

It does look like Matt has a busy year ahead of him. Matt also has Pandemic Legacy coming out later in the year, which he has been developing with Rob Daviau ( designer of Risk Legacy). And is highly anticipated by Pandemic fans ( that includes me ).
As the image above shows there are plans to have two different boxes with different art work on. There was another game last year (name escapes me at the moment) that was released also with multiple variants of the box art. I'm not sure I like this trend. It reminds me a bit of the comic book industry and how they do this a lot (just look at how many variant covers there are for the new Marvel Star Wars comic issue 1). It strikes me as trying to milk money out of collectors.
Then finally in the first part of this year there is a new expansion for Pandemic coming out called State of Emergency.

So there you have it a brief “look what's just arrived”, a rant venting my frustration, and a “look what I'm excited about coming out later this year”.


A Book A Month Challenge

On my way to drop off some bits for this Thursday's Play Pandemic to fight Ebola event I passed a sign in a local Christain bookshop window promoting read a book a month list of Christain books. This got filed away for later today in my mind. Unlucky for you dear reader I remembered this and my thoughts that went with seeing this sign.

I've seen this sort of thing before in other places, such as Twitter where some teachers are reading an educational book a month as part of their CPD. I've read in newspapers about book groups etc doing this. So it seems a popular thing to do. Seeing that sign earlier reminded me of this. And I'm never one to miss jumping on a bandwagon, even when that bandwagon has nearly come to a halt.

So then the cogs started turning in mind and I thought “wait why don't I do something like this for this blog?” But are there enough gaming books to do this? I'm not sure, but I know four to start with.

  1. Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It
  2. Modern Perspectives on Game Design
  3. Eurogames: The Design, Culture and Play of Modern European Board Games
  4. Boardgames That Tell Stories: The funniest Guide To Game Design

So starting in February I'm going to read the first book on the list Chicks Dig Gaming. Then at the end of the month I'll write a blog post about the book, and have a discussion in the comments for that post about the book. Then in March I'll read the second book, write a post and repeat.

In the meantime if there is a relevant book about gaming you think should be added to the list leave a comment below with your suggestion. I know there is a book looking at the history behind the game Monopoly. Which even though I don't enjoy the game I think could be very interesting. So I will find out the books title and author and add it to the end of this post as an update.

Hopefully this post has made you think this is a cool idea and would like to join me in this challenge.

UPDATE: The Monopoly book isn't out until mid February and the other I have as an audio book (yet to listen too)



A Pandemic Party This Thursday

This Thursday sees a Pandemic Party being held in Wisbech at The Entertainment Centre in aid to raise funds to help fight ebola. I wrote about Pandemic Parties previously here. Hopefully if you live locally you will be able to attend, have a great time playing Pandemic the game and help raise funds to fight ebola.

Click HERE to get full details of the event (it's a facebook event page)