6mm-Minis is Maksim-Smelchak's blog to discuss gaming, miniatures, books, movies, food, Israel, Judaism, life in general and other funny crud. My favorite scale of miniatures is 6mm, which is also called 1/285 or 1/300 scale. I enjoy many different kinds of games including ancients, Napoleonics, WWI, WWII, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Car Wars AKA Autoduel (a sort of crash'n'derby automobile combat game), 6mm Godzilla AKA Kaiju games, and science fiction games. I'm open to everything though!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

GAMING NEWS: Wednesday Night At A-1 Comics (29 March 2006)!

Hi Everyone,

Wednesday night at A-1 Comics was a big success and there a number of folks that showed up and everyone had a great time!

- Dave Story
- Dick Mitchell
- Kimbo
- Kurt
- Maksim (me!)
- Mike O'Brien
- Todd & Crystal... a very nice and generous couple that Dave invited.

Dave's new friends, Todd & Crystal, a couple, were extremely generous, Not only did they bring their box of games, stuffed full of gaming goodness, but they brought a plate full of scrumptious chocolate chocolate chip cookies (I must have had about four of those chocolate delicacies) and two whole pizzas to share with all. Wow! There's only one way to answer generosity like that and that is... to return the gesture! They were both very nice people and they ony just met Dave and thus our gaming group through a Saturday meet. Unfortunately they're going to moving to Texas soon, which is a bummer since there are never enough nice folks like them in gaming or any other activity for that matter.

And we played a number of games.

1. Coloretto


- Dave: #2
- Dick: #3
- Kurt: #4
- Maksim: #1 Win

We played this little colored matching set game and had a good time. Poor Kurt got stomped and I'm starting to see why he prefer miniatures game to board games so much. I played very conservatively taking only a card or two a hand and managed to keep my hands small as to avoid penalties. It worked that game.

2. Clans


- Dave: #1 Win
- Dick: #2
- Kurt: #3
- Maksim: #4

This game is very enigmatic and I played just to get a feel for it rather than to win. I also set Dick up several times, but Dave still managed to just take Victory although Dick was close. Poor Kurt and I didn't have much idea of what was going on and we were considerablly behind in points from the two leaders. I almost lost to the non-player as well... pretty sad on my part. Mazel Tov to Dave who won this one!

3. Command & Colours: Ancients


Players for Scenario #2:
- Mike: Carthaginians - No banners
- Maksim: Syracusans - Five banners - Winner!

(C&C:A photo above, courtesy of BGG)

This is pretty much the game I spent the majority of the evening playing. Mike was good enough to bring his C&C:A game box and we set up scenario #2: "The River Sullimenus" (I'm getting the name wrong) and played the scenario two times switching sides after the first game.

Scenario #2 is a tough one for the Carthaginians too. Hasdrubal has his army cut in two by a river and the Syracusans (rather than Romans) have what is basically an open opportunity to chop the Carthos into hamburger. And after two games, we saw the Carthaginians lose two times.

Mike started out as the Carthginians and I slaughtered him (a historically accurate result). He didn't even take a banner. It was ugly. However, Mike was great sport throughout the game and I salute him for his great sense of sportsmanship and fair play.

4. Command & Colours: Ancients

Players for Scenario #2:
- Mike: Syracusans - Five Banners - Winner!
- Maksim: Carthaginians - Three banners

The second game was much more of an even exchange and I took a quick lead as the Carthos. However, Mike didn't let his early defeats keep him from the larger goal of pushing his line forward before I could get Carthaginian reinforcements across the river. As a result, he was able to turn the tides and pulled off victory! Mazel Tov, Mike!

And Dick watched most of this game as a both a spectator and ana ide de camp to Mike. Personally, I think that Mike didn't need the help and is a very capable player on his own as much as all of us like to gripe that we're luckless and can't win a game. All in all, I do think we get about average results, sometimes a little better and sometimes a little worse.

However, I realize now in retrospect that Dick was trying to make point. You see, I'm as guilty of anyone as being an "armchair quarterback" and poor Dick has been on the other end of my advice, which is sometimes good. S0, I'm resolving here and now to be less of an "active" spectator and do a better job of not "armchair quarterbacking" my friend's games. It's the least I can do for a friend like Dick. He doesn't need the odds stacked against him anymore than fate has already decreed. And he must have done some pretty spectacular things to receive the fate he has... LOL

I was doing fine until my replacement cards started coming up as turds. At that point, I was stuck with no option other than to move one unit a turn, which is a quick path to defeat. Both games were very good and I can't wait to try and pull of victory as the Carthaginians in that scenario on a future date. I've been able to win most of the scenarios that have long odds so far although I do lose them most of the time when playing the underdogs.

6. Shadows Over Camelot


- Crystal: ?
- Dave Story: ?
- Dick: ?
- Kimbo: ?
- Kurt: ?
- Todd: ?

I was too busy playing C&C:A to see how this one turned out, but it is an easier game with a bigger stable of knights. I wonder who the traitor was? It was probably Kimbo. That seems to be his kismet.

7. Wizard


- Crystal: ?
- Dave Story: ?
- Kimbo: ?
- Kurt: ?
- Todd: ?

This classic game was still running when I left around 8:00pm. I imagine that Dave or Kimbo won though. They're both card sharks.


And it appears that everyone had a great time and it was wonderful to meet Dave's new friends... very nice folks.

Have a great Thursday!


Notes regarding photos / pictures: These are not all my images. I am using various images from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

HUMOUR: How Many Dogs Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Hi Everyone,

I enjoyed reading this joke the other day ago. Enjoy!


How Many Dogs Does It Take to Change A Lightbulb?

* Australian Shepherd:
- Put all the light bulbs in a little circle...

* Border Collie:
- Just one. Not only that, but I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.

* Chihuahua:
- Yo quiero Taco Bulb.

* Dachshund:
- I can't reach the lamp!

* Dalmatian:
- Don't you know that outlet is a FIRE HAZARD?!

* Doberman Pinscher:
- While it's dark, I'm going to sleep on the couch.

* Golden Retriever:
- The sun is shining. The day is young. We've got our whole lives ahead of us. And you're inside worrying about a stupid, burned-out light bulb?

* Greyhound:
- It isn't moving. Who cares?

* Hound Dog:

* Lab:
- Oh, me, me! Pleeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?

* Malamute:
- Let the Border Collie do it. You can feed me while he's busy.

* Pit bull:
- Who needs light? I can still maul my chew toy in the dark.

* Pointer:
- I see it, there it is, right there...

* Rottweiler:
- Go ahead! Make me!

* Shi-tzu:
- Puh-leeze, dah-ling. What are servants for?

* St. Bernard:
- Light bulbs? You sure you don't want a slug o' brandy?

* Toy Poodle:
- I'll just talk sweet to the Border Collie and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.

* Mastiff:
- Light bulb? Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb?


Have a great Tuesday!


Sunday, March 26, 2006

GAMING NEWS: Great Sunday Turn-out (26 March 2006)!

Hi Everyone,

Well, the second half of my game-hosting weekend was a great success. There were three guests plus myself making a total of four folks and we had a great time. The following folks showed up:

- Dick
- Don
- Maksim (me!)
- Pat

We played three games, which were:

1. Ticket To Ride: Europe


- Dick: #2
- Don: #4
- Maksim: #1 Winner
- Pat: #3

We all had a great time and the game was very close. Pat and Don were neck-in-neck for the lead for along time until Dick caught up to the pack. I traditionally play my cards pretty close to my hands so I didn't get up on the board until late in the game. Having four players definitely makes TtR:E more of a challenge than two or three. Almost everyone used at least one station and Don used all three of his. Patrick also built the valuable Stockholm to Saint Petersburg Scandinavian Express and it put him in the lead for much of the game. All three of the other guys are very shrewd players. European Express (longest road) won me the game by a measly two points. Dick was that close!

2. & 3. Formula De - Monaco Track


(Formula De photo courtesy of BGG)

Standings Game #1:
- Dick: #2
- Don: #3
- Maksim: #1 Winner!
- Pat: crashed and didn't finish.

Standings Game #2:
- Dick: #3
- Don: crashed and didn't finish.
- Maksim: #2
- Pat: #1 Winner!

We raced the Monaco track twice and had a good time. In the first race, the guys raced pretty conservatively while I gambled and in the second race, they became daredevils. Poor Pat crashed and burned the first time to turn around and win the second. All three of the guys took to each other quickly and I can honestly say that today was just about as perfect as it gets: a good time, great company and beautiful weather. You can't ask for too much more.


After some horrible rainy and overcast days, we get a beautiful out of the blue. The sun is out and the skies are clear. My roommate and I went jogging out along the American River this morning. We live about a ten-minute walk away from the river and it's very pleasant. I made scrambled eggs this morning and we both had a nice breakfast. He headed off to the law library (law students are wedded to the place) and I had guests over.


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GAMING NEWS: Second 2M2G Gaming Day a Success!

Hi Everyone,

Well, yesterday was the second of the monthly game gathers that I've hosted and while attendence was still sparce, a single guest, it was success and we both had a good time. My old and good friend, Eric "Chern" Royer, showed up around 1:00pm and we played games for a few hours and pleasureably chatted the afternoon away. I've been calling the events a 2M2G gather, which is short for Maksim's Monthly Gaming Group. After attending so many other people's functions, I decided that it was my turn to host and I'm looking forward for when the 2M2G gathers grow in size so we can play some of the bigger games like Advanced Civilization or a hefty miniatures game.

Here are the five games that Eric and I played:

1. Conquest - Two-Player Edition


- Eric: Win
- Maksim: Loss

This was a new game that neither of us had played before and we both enjoyed it very much. There little to nothing left to chance to this game and it's very much like a more sophisticated version of chess. Strategy is the name of the game as is attritional warfare. Eric got the hang of the game quicker than I did and he pulled off a pretty good victory although I gave him what for.

2. The Awful Green Things From Outer Space


- Eric: (Crew) Loss
- Maksim: (Awful Green Things) Win

I must buy a clear piece of plexiglass to cover folded maps that don't lay flat!

I must also remember to have new players always to play the Awful Green Things (photo above, courtesy of BGG) or to give myself a handicap when I play them. An experienced player will tend to beat a ship crew the majority of the time in my experience. Eric was beaten, pretty well which is a pity, since I really do think that AGTFOS is a great game.

3. Settler of Cataan: Knights & Cities


- Eric: Loss
- Maksim: Win

It's a real testament to the quality of this classic that Eric and I still regularly play this game after several years of knowing each other. SoC: K&C is still fun and a challenge even with two players. However, this last game was one of the shortest we've ever played. I don't think it took more than about twenty minutes for me to stomp Eric flat. The inital choice that many players have is whether to build and activate a knight or a village before the pirates land. Eric chose the village and the pirates landed before he could get an active knight up and that really stunted his early game. He was without a city for the majority of the game. We both remarked that it was definitely the quickest SoC: K&C game we've ever played.

4. Guillotine


- Eric: Win
- Maksim: Loss

We both had a good time and Eric shorted me of victory by a goodly margin.

5. Ticket To Ride: Europe


- Eric: Win
- Maksim: Loss

As we're both discovering, building the Scandinavian Express, the eight-track SUPER tunnel from Scandinavia to Saint Petersburg, is practically a game winner all by itself. Eric managed to build the Scandinavian Express and get longest road, which spelled victory for him, but it was very close, only about five points between the two of us. It was a very close game and I might have still won if Eric had not managed to beat me out for longest road by TWO track sections. It was a good game and I'm happy that Eric won that one.


Today, I'm expecting a few guests as well for the second-half of the monthly 2M2G gather.

Have a great Sunday!


Notes regarding photos / pictures: These are not all my images. I am using various images from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

HUMOUR: Subject Knowledge Joke!

Good morning, Everyone!

It's kind of a sad morning over hear as April showers have taken an early lead here and it's raining cats and dogs... really pretty gloomy if you think about it. That is until Ralph sent me a new joke. Read and enjoy:

Guy gets on a plane and finds himself seated next to a cute blonde. He immediately turns to her and makes his move. "You know," he says, "I've heard that flights will go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger. So let's talk."

The blonde, who had just opened her book, closes it slowly and says to the guy, "What would you like to discuss?"

"Oh, I don't know," says the guy, smiling. "How about nuclear power?"

"OK," says the blonde. "That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff -- grass. Yet the deer excretes little pellets, the cow turns out a flat patty, and the horse produces muffins of dried poop. Why do you suppose that is?"

The guy is dumbfounded.

Finally he replies, "I haven't the slightest idea."

"So tell me," says the blonde, "How is it that you feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don't know sh*t?"

Have a great day!

Shabbat Shalom,

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Friday, March 24, 2006

WEIRD NEWS: LEGO Aircraft Carrier Sails!

Hi Everyone,

There is no end of amazing things people have built out of LEGOs. You name it and someone has come up with a LEGO version of it. Well, just the other day ago, what comes along, but an ENTIRE US Navy Aircraft Carrier! The thing is huge. It must be at least two feet by about eight feet in size... or more.

I first heard about it here:


And you can see multiple views / photos of this LEGO monstrosity here:


And part of what prompted this post about LEGOS is my love of those wonderful building toys that encourage creativity in children. I used to collect the castle sets that came out in the 1980s and even before that, my mother and sister and I would build LEGO villages from our family's collection. I have many fond memories of making those LEGO villages. And I have an equally large set of fond memories of building LEGO creations with my nephews. We've made cars, planes, castles, Harry Potter of every color and type, and a vast array of other LEGO creations.

And the funnier thing is that LEGOs are practically a legacy in my family. We've been passing them down from one another for at least several generations. I received LEGOs from my uncle and later passed them on to my baby sister who passed them on to my nephews. I imagine that they will pass them on to their children when the time comes.

I've tried to keep my blog apolitical, but this story really irked me. And I doublechecked it to make sure the story was true and not a hoax or urban myth... checking out the UN web site and several others.

Well, the other day ago, I read about the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Descrimination and I was pretty disappointed that the UN was trying to pull LEGO into the whole free speech / Mohammed cartoon row that is currently occurring. It's pretty sad when the UN feels a need to slam a perfectly unpolitical toy-making company like LEGO to try and force their point on others. Not only that but the UN is biting the hand that feeds it as the LEGO company has worked with UN humanitarian programs before that have benefitted refugees and others.

The UN has recently removed their poster from the official UN web site, but I still very disappointed that an international agency dedicated to making peace could be so partisan. I'm embarassed that I participated in the Model UN program when I was younger.

Here are two links about the UN / LEGO smear campaign:



I'm sure that LEGO enthusiasts come in every stripe and colour imaginable and of that I'm glad. Here's one last link for the UN. This LEGO enthusiast built a LEGO version on the UN building:


Everyone have a great Friday!


Notes regarding photos / pictures: These are not all my images. I am using various images from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

GAMING: Wednesday Night at A-1 Comics (22 March 2006)!

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday was a slow, but fun evening. The crew was a bit short as Dick was out on a business trip, but we made by. I found that I missed his "wise guy" demeanor.

The following were present:
- Dave Story
- Kimbo
- Kurt
- Maksim (me!)
- Mark Carper
- Mike O'Brien


1. Battleground WWII


Kurt and Marc were already well entrenched in a game when I arrived around 5:00pm and I came over and observed a little while they were playing.

The Sides:
- Marc as WWII Germans: Stalemate
- Kurt as WWII Russians: Stalemate

It looked like they were playing an Eastern Front sort of scenario with a building- strewn battlefield remniscent of Stalingrad.

Mark's Germans came on the field with a Panther and a Panzer IV and accompanying infantry including several MG-34 teams. Kurt had a KV-2, a T-34 and a bushel or two of Russian riflemen.

Both started the game with a tank on each flank and infantry moving up through the ruins to take defensive positions. The first major breakthrough came when Kurt's T-34 destroyed Mark's Panzer IV and pushed himself forward. Mark was forced to move his Panther to the center and managed to brew the T-34 in return. And that pretty much left the guys in a stalemate. The infantry moved around and shot and killed each other, but noone managed to dominate the other. When I left the shop around 8:30pm, they were finishing a last turn and the point count was very close.


2. Torres


- Dave: #2
- Kimbo: #3
- Maksim: #1 Winner

Dave, Kimbo and I pulled out Torres for a rematch from the last game we played. Kimbo was itching for blood... Kimbo went first and carved himself out a nice little corner of the kingdom, while Dave and I fought over another half of the board and possession of the king's favor on the first turn. At the end of the first turn, I managed to come out on top in the lead by a small margin. Turn two opened up in a clash of arms as Kimbo secured the king and Dave and I fought over each other's fortifications. And by turn three, things were getting ugly. Kimbo held onto the king, but was expending a lot of energy playing defensively. Dave acquired alot of cards that he couldn't use and I invested in building my tower higher and higher. And I won. I can't say I understand why, but it was an interesting little romp of a game.

It seems as if that is the winning strategy of the game: just keep building. It reminds me of the Winchester Mansion in San Jose. The Winchester widow used to say that: "Just keep building." It's a good ghost story. Check out the Winchester Mystery House story here:



3. Reef Encounter


And the last game of the night was Reef Encounter. Mike had arrived by then and had been curious to learn how to play. I was curious as well as Dave, Charlie and Kimbo have been playing an online version of the game for some time now. The game comes with a fantastic array of playing pieces including numerous "reef" boards, a playing turn counter, polyp tiles, trump tiles, algae chits and the beautiful, but funky shrimp pieces shown above in the photo on this entry (photo courtesy of BGG).

It didn't take long for Mike and I to feel utterly overwhelmed with the numerous rules of the game. The game has a very sophisticated action order and the sheer complication of it is intimidating. Dave mentioned that when he bought the game and they looked over the rules, he figured it would take two or three games to get the hang of it. He mentioned that new players usually get stomped, which is par for the course. It usually takes a few game to grasp the intricacies of such a game and figure out winning strategies. Part of the game's complication comes from the trump tiles which dictate which coral polyps can eat (dominate) others. This changes during the game, which makes for a vast array of factors to weigh in before taking one's turn.

Luckily, both Kimbo and dave each adopted one of us newbies, Mike and I, and helped us with our first few turns. The basic goal of the game is to build and eat reefs and shrimp for your fish. The difficulty comes in building the reefs over limited space while trying to keep encroaching players from taking bites off your reef. And eating only happens at the beginning of a turn so you have to have your "meal" properly arranged before you can dine, which means that after you set up a meal, every other player has a least one turn to try and disrupt your dining. Does it sound complicated? It was.

And in some kind of a weird disruption of the cosmos, I won that one too. It must have been my night.

- Dave: #2
- Kimbo: #3
- Maksim: #1 Winner
- Mike: #4


Have a great Thursday!


HUMOUR: The Right to Arm Bears... or Cows?

Hi Everyone,

I discovered an interesting resource yesterday...

My nephew and I ransacked the site too looking for funny videos and DID WE FIND THEM? Oh yes, we did!

Try the following key phrases and you'll find some very humorous videos:

- Funny cats
- Talking cats
- Robot dancer

We saw some cats doing the damnest things yesterday in those videos and laughed so hard that my belly is still aching a day after the fact. And the "robot dancer" video was nothing short of amazing. That guy must have a rubber spine; he's such a fluid dancer. And, the cats, cracked us all up... leaping at walls, chasing kids, dogs and even wild bears! Check them out for a good chuckle.

And I couldn't type out a post like this without mentioning one of my old favorites "Cows With Guns," a wonderfully amusing little animated kit that is predictably about "cows with guns!" I guess they aren't "happy California cows!"

You can find the video here:

Just scroll doen the page a bit until you find "Cows With Guns," a 1.78 mb film by Bjørn-Magne Stuestøl AKA Shagrat with music by Dana Lyons.

The video is also now at YouTube:


What a hoot!

Notes regarding photos / pictures / videos: These are not all my images and videos. I am using various images and videos from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images and videos under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

COOL NEWS: California Capital Airshow 2006 a Success!

Hi Everyone,

This past weekend was the first major airshow we've had in the Sacramento area in ages. Back in the days that ended the Cold War in the 1990s and early 2000s, Sacramento area military bases took some huge hits, in fact, just about every base we had was closed down... Mather AFB, McClellan AFB, the Army Depot... all closed down or gone. At one time, Sacramento used to host airshows several times a year. When my folks moved down from the Bay Area to Sacramento, my father served at Mather AFB and so did I at a later time. I used to make every one of the Mather airshows and loved every minute of them.

Well, those days were over or so I thought until this past weekend. Warbirds filled the Sacramento skies again! I was driving down Watt Avenue Sunday afternoon and had the Blue Angels' F-18s fly by at what must have been less than a 100 feet above me. It was great! My apartment is on Folsom Boulevard (just a few miles from the former Mather AFB) so all I had to do was pull a chair out on to my patio and I saw the entire show. Again, it was great!

I hope that my friend Rob "Mako" Kent, one of the area's biggest aviation buffs, was able to catch the airshow as well.

Another local, Wayne Roberts, wrote the following about the airshow on the Airpower E-group:

Today was Day One of the first California Capital Airshow, at Mather Field (formerly Mather AFB) near Sacramento, CA. I took my wife for her very first airshow experience, and we had a pretty good time. The aircraft static displays were: EA-6B, F-16, FA-18, T-34, T-38, UH-1, UH-60, UH-47, C-130, B-52, AH-1T, HH-65, SH-60, F-20, U-2S, C-17 (with only 400 hours on it), C-5B, KC-135, KC-10 and some FedEx, UPS and DHL cargo liners (can you tell which type of aircraft I find more interesting?).

The flight performances were:
- Julie Clark and her Mopar T-34...
- Michael Hunter and his Laser 230...
- Chuck Lisher and his F-260 Warrior...
- Tim Decker and his Pitts S-2B...
- Rich perkins and his L-39 "Firecat"...
- Nikolay Timofeev and his Sukhoi SU-26M...
- A rescue by CA NG UH-60...
- A rescue by USCG C-130 & HH-65...
- Fly-bys by T-38s...
- Airstrikes by A-10 and P-51 with pyrotechnics...
- Rich Gibson and the Incredible Pyro...
- Fly-bys by FM-2, F8F, P-40, P-51 and T-28...
And the finale was...
- A show by the Blue Angels!

Frankly, after the warbird fly-by, I was semi-joking with my wife that we could leave now. It was the very first time I saw a Wildcat in flight and only the second time I've seen a P-40 in flight, so I was stoked.

(I've seen quite a few Bearcats, Mustangs and T-28s in flight, but they were still great to see.)

All in all, this was a great show, although it had some glitches that many first time shows suffer - the PA system dropped out several times; there not enough trash receptacles available; the food vendors generally were out of supplies by the time the Angels started and traffic on exit was generally uncontrolled for the first 45 minutes.

Hopefully they'll get these things fixed and we'll have a bigger and better show next year.

GW Roberts.
I think he said it better than I could have.

Here's the web site for the airshow:

And two more links for a master airshow site and the Mather Airport website:


Have a great day!


Notes regarding photos / pictures / videos: These are not all my images and videos. I am using various images and videos from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images and videos under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Monday, March 20, 2006

TELEVISION: "Babylon 5: Crusade" = A Bomb!

Hi Everyone!

Happy first day of Spring!

Of course, we have rain around these here parts, but it's nice to have rain nevertheless.

Well, yesterday, I finally finished the last episode of "Babylon 5: Crusade" and I can unabashedly say: "It was terrible! It had a lot of promise, but met very little of it."

My friend Eric "Chern" Royer lent me his "Crusade" DVD set after having gotten me into the "Babylon 5" Universe last year when he started playing all of the various "Babylon 5" starship games from Mongoose Publishing in the UK. And "Babylon 5" is a very interesting sci-fi universe. The original series held onto five seasons very well with only a minor decline of my interest occuring during the last season. "Crusade" was set to be a spin-off and took off where the "Babylon 5" plot line left off. After seeing "Babylon 5," I had some pretty high expectations for "Crusade," which were categorically not met.

A Mongoose Publishing link (they own the B5 gaming franchise at the moment):

Here are some PROs, things that "Crusade" had going for it:
- Good continuity and the plot had a good lead from "Babylon 5."
- Interesting characters based on fantasy RPG archtypes (Wizard, thief, cleric, fighter, etc.).
- The good writing of Straczynski who can spin a pretty good yarn.

The plot and storyline were very good and led off right from where the end of "Babylon 5" left it: Drakh plague has infected the Earth and the crew of the Excalibur must search the universe to find a cure to the plague while pursuing the Drakh. And the pilot episode did a great job of keeping to the plotline. It was from there that the show became increasingly disjointed... maybe I want to say discombobulated... often focusing on a single character with very little play between the cast and crew of the Excalibur. A number of episodes focussed on the audience-favorite character Galen, the technomage, which left most of the other characters in the lurch.

The fantasy archtypes that Straszynski used could have worked if he had kept to the fantasy convention of having a "dungeon party." Instead the crew are split up into episodes with little interaction between them and little to no attention to drama and the intercharacter romances / fights that keep a series alive. In the series' defence, TNT cut funding very early and wanted more Hollywood (read sex scenes and the like) than Strascynski wanted to give them. TNT also apparenty rearranged the epsiodes out of the order that Straszynski wanted. That could explain some of the disjointed feel of the series. I give Straczynski credit though. He seems like a pretty likeable fellow.

Here are some of the CONs that killed "Crusade":
- Terrible music by Evan Chen that killed the mood as often as not.
- A second-rate stable of actors including Gary "Lumberg" Cole of "Office Space."
- Poor plot continuity... it weaved all over the place.
- No romantic triangles... in fact, the cast suffered from a shortage of females.
- An alien shortage as well...

Probably the #1 problem with "Crusade" was the MUSIC. Evan Chen was hired to give a sort of "East / West fusion" to the soundtrack and instead what I got from the soundtrack were the crazy clanging drums of classical Chinese playhouses. And such music can work in certain situations, but NOT in the midst of a romance scene or a rooting out of the mysteries of the universe. Imagine: smooch, smooch, oh... CLANG, CLANG, CLANG! Instead we ended up with a phallic spaceship wandering the universe to the clang of funny drums...

The cast was the other big problem. Second-tier actors were hired, which might have worked, but it didn't. Gary Cole, probably best known for playing "Lumberg" in the comedy hit "Office Space" appeared to be recreating his "Lumberg" role. He just doesn't emote very well. He does cheese quite well (deadpan humour), but emotional depth, he does not. And much of the rest of the cast made him look good. Peter Woodward, as Galen the technomage, was way overboard... he sounded like a Shakespearian actor who'd been fired... a few times over. The accent was just about as annoying as I think could have been possible...

And perhaps a greater lack was the paucity of strong female actors (and accompanying roles) as well as alien characters in "Crusade." Part of what made "Babylon 5" work was the variety of well-developed alien characters and romantic tension between the B5 cast. "Crusade" didn't have that. It has one alien character and the male cast members outnumbered the female cast by a good margin (well over half). Very little development of romantic attention occurred and the one romance that was pushed between Captain "Lumberg" and Capt. Lochley was well... forced. Not only that but Capt. Lochley only appeared in roughly three of the thirteen or so episodes.

The thief archtype, Carrie Dobro as Dureena Nafeel, had the most interesting female character with a lot of interesting character background, but her character was never used to her full potential. She got the majority of female cast member air time, but, probably got the least amount of romantic consideration. Capt. Lochley has romantic tension with Captain "Lumberg" and the doctor had some minor romantic tension with various guest characters, but Dureena seemed to mostly be a vehicle for... cleavage exposure. Her outfits developed over the series from a skin-tight jumpsuit with undercut gauzy blouse covering to a Matrix-like leather body suit with a long exposed cleavage line by the end of the series. My amateur theory was that as the series began to fail, they showed more and more of Dobro's cleavage. I had expected to see her in a revealing bikini by the end, but Strascynski stuck to his guns... or rather didn't stick to Dobro's guns.

So, in summation, "Crusade" wasn't just bad... it was terrible. I think that I would have been better off having ended my Babylon 5 experience with Season 5 rather than ending it with the failed "Crusade."

A few more B5 and "Crusade" links:





Have a great day!


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Sunday, March 19, 2006

MINI WARGAMING: Warlords Of the Wastelands: 2085 (18 March 2006)!

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday, I had a cool opportunity... to hang out with the bunch that hosts the very well-known Zombie Town games held at Great Escape Games every year on Halloween weekend.

We all met at Vynnie's place and the following were present:
- George
- Maksim (me!)
- Marcus
- Mike
- Vynnie

Poor George and I were both pretty exhausted though. George didn't get enough sleep (working too much) and I had done a graveyard shift the evening before with overtime so I had only gotten home that very same morning. Luckily the game didn't begin until around Noon so I took a good nap before heading over to Vynnie's place. George must not have had the same opportunity for a nap because he nodded off several times during the day. Poor guy.

Vynnie has been documenting our games for ages over here at his web site:

Vynnie is a bit of a Libertarian and doesn't beleive in the concept of "political correctness" so please be warned before you check out his site. He doesn't have any language or thought filters on so, as a result, his web site is most likely banned in neighborhoods of "emminent sensibility" like Berkeley, Davis or San Francisco. Be careful!


And specifically here at his "Wastelands and Trailer Parks" page:



Yesterday, we got together for a post apocalyptic game using Marcus's little-known rule set:

"Warlords Of the Wastelands: 2085"

...and it was a hoot! Yes, I did use the word "hoot!"

Mike had thought out a relatively simple scenario set in the RIFTS world in which a group of Coalition forces would attempt to rescue some scientists who had sent out a distress call earlier. The distress call came through garbled, but we were able to make out the location of the scientific outpost and that part of the distress call resulted from some sort of biological experiment gone horribly wrong. And with such scanty information, we "law men" set out to find us some scientists.

Mike acted as the game's GM / referee and the other four of us ran different detachments of Coalition forces dispatched to the rescue.

Much like all games that Mike and Marcus are involved in, they never take their gaming very seriousy and no matter how well the background is thought out, we always end up with a bad "B movie" plotline anyway! And yesterday was no exception!

I think that Mike had watched "Aliens" one time too many because it quickly became apparent that massed numbers of bugs versus high-tech marines along the lines of "Starship Troopers" was the order of the day.

The four Coalition detachments had barely ambled on to the field in view of the scientific outpost when we were assaulted by wave after wave of bio-bug nasties. Our line initially caved in until we retreated a bit, at which point, we stood our ground and let firepower do our talking. Casualties were heavy, but we left bug guts spread across the fields.

Finally, we hit a pause inbetween what we thought would be the next wave, but it never came. We administered to our wounded, regrouped and began to advance on the scientific outpost again. Marcus had his robot scout advance far ahead of the combat lines and when he entered the villiage, he found the scientists and their rsearch robot (who looked a might bit like Twinkie from Buck Rogers) ambling out of shelter. The robot began to converse with them and received nothing but grief for its efforts. The scientists were acting strangely and that funky research robot kept walking out of edge of the robot scout's photo receptors.

An instant later, the three scientists and the "Twinkie" lashed out at the bot utterly destroying it. We, in the Coalition forces, were confused, but consistent with our mission directives, we had a newly indentified enemy and set out to destroy them, the traitorous research bot and scientists. Our forces used what remained of our artillery and fired a rocket barrage at the scientific outpost. That gave "Twinkie" what for, but...

It also roused the beast.

A gigantic floating biological "brain beast" burst out of the ground and all hell broke loose. Ugly cockroach-like things came bustling out of the ground from every which direction and the skies filled with the buzz of entomological monstrosities. We almost broke from the sheer horror of that ugly horde.

However, the RIFTS Coalition doesn't breed nambie pambies so we figured to die standing our ground and...

We nearly did.

We unleashed everything we had and our troops were slowly but surely falling as we failed to destroy wave after wave of bugs. Suddenly some underappreciated NCO got the bright idea to target the "brain," so we did. And a half hour or so later, the "brain" fell and the waves stopped coming. In fact, the bugs seemed confused and ambled around mindlessly. We mopped up and called it a day.

Hey, the RIFTS Coalition may breed fighters, but we're not known for being the most clever lot! That NCO received a big fat promotion and a huge bonus.

End of story. Amen!


If you've never played out a game based on a really bad "B movie," I recommend the experience. It's good-hearted no-brainer fun and is a welcome relief from folks who take themselves way too seriously. And the truth be told, every once in awhile I'm one of those folks so the light-hearted fun is a good reminder to loosen up, stop and smell the roses.

And for those of you interested in playing on some of the beautiful terrain sets featured on Vynnie's web site, check out ConQuest Sac coming very soon to Sacramento on April 7th to 9th, 2006. Mike and Marcus will he hosting a special edition of their Zombie Town game series there. Here's a link for more information:


Just make sure, you don't things too seriously... LOL


We also discussed getting a group together to see one of the latest films from Russia:

"Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)!"

"Night Watch" is a sort of vampire film along the lines of a long series of American vampire films and has already received some acclaim. Unfortunately, when we checked, "Night Watch" has already left the Greater Sacramento area. I guess we'll have to wait for rentals.

I found a few links about "Night Watch" here:



Apparently, "Night Watch" is the creation of a certain "modern yet already classic science-fiction writer Sergey Lukyanenko," whom I have never heard about despite reading Russian science fiction as often as not. I'll have to look him up. There are a few Russian book stores in town and I'll probably only find him there as I'd be greatly surprised if Lukyanenko is available in English translation yet.


I love this beautiful weather we're having.

Everyone, have a great Sunday!


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Saturday, March 18, 2006

HUMOUR: Life From An Engineer's Vantage Point!

Hi Everyone,

My friend Ralph sent me a pile of engineering jokes that I thought were worthy of sharing...

Understanding Engineers - Take One:

Two engineering students were walking across a university campus when One said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"

The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it on the ground, took off all her clothes and said, 'Take what you want.'"

The second engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Understanding Engineers - Take Two:

To the optimist, the glass is half full.

To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.

To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers - Take Three:

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, "What's with those blokes? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!"

The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!"

The priest said, "Here comes the greenskeeper. Let's have a word with him."

He said, "Hello, George! What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"

The greenskeeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."

The group fell silent for a moment.

The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."

The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them."

The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"

Understanding Engineers - Take Four:

What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?

Mechanical engineers build weapons and civil engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers - Take Five:

The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"

The graduate with an engineering degree asks,"How does it work?"

The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"

The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Understanding Engineers - Take Six:

Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Understanding Engineers - Take Seven:

An engineer was crossing the road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me,I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.

The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for one week and do ANYTHING you want." Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you, I'm a beautiful princess, and that I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool!"


I hope that you enjoyed the jokes as much as I did.

Have a great weekend!

Shabbat Shalom,

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Friday, March 17, 2006

GAMING NEWS: A-1, Choo-choos, Necklaces and Wednesday Night (15 March 2006)!

Hi Everyone,

This Wednesday was an odd one... everyone showed up, but noone could get us off and playing. I suggested a couple of games to try, but the usual bickering kept us sitting around a table until the guys gave in to my pitiful attempts and we got our first game off the ground. I'm experimenting with embedding photos in this post so don't be surprised if things look a bit odd. I'm having some difficulty getting things to format properly.


1. Ticket To Ride: Europe

- Dave Story: #1 Winner
- Dick Mitchell: #3
- Kurt Lambert: #4
- Maksim-Smelchak: #2

Dave took a very early lead and we couldn't catch up after he finished several tickets. Poor Kurt took a beating while Dick played a very good game. As usual, the banter was very entertaining.



2. Torres

- Dave Story: #3
- Kimbo: #2
- Kurt Lambert: #4
- Maksim-Smelchak: #1 Winner

This is a strange little game that I won and I'm not quite sure why. It is definitely about building towers, but other than that, the play seemed rather random. Kimbo, as usual, is a tough competitor and I was surprised that he didn't pull off victory.



3. Queen's Necklace

- Dave Story: #1 Winner
- Kimbo: #2
- Maksim-Smelchak: #3

This was the oddest game we played that evening. It was essentially a card-driven political game with players trying to acquire and sell jewel and precious gemstones to be installed into the "queen's necklace." The best par tof the game was when Kimbo acquired the setting for the queen's necklace, which required him to actually WEAR the necklace! He refused, but that was still the best entertainment I received from the game. QN reminds me alot of Citadels.



4. Blitzkrieg Commander


- Dick Mitchell: #1 Winner
- Mike O'Brien: #2

Mike brought his set-up and taught Dick how to play. Dick had his German armor lined up in Napoleonic rows, which some of us snickered at, but they both had a good time so who cares if the deployment was a tad... ahistorical!





- Dick Mitchell: #2

- Tony: #1 Winner

Dick and Tony played a HOTT game before the evening ended. I think that Dick wanted a rematch from when Tony's clerical last stomped his wolfwere dogs of war (see the previous MWS meeting post). Unfortunately, it didn't happen for Dick, but he did put up a good fight. Artillery is really vicious in HOTT. I also found out that Dick's army has yet to win. I feel his pain.



It was a good Wednesday night!


Happy Saint Patrick's Day to those who celebrate it!

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

PERSONAL NEWS: Look, Mom, I'm Famous!

Hi Everyone,

You all know a celebrity now! I'm famous!

For those of you not in the know, a local reporter from an arts/culture newspaper was interested in doing a short piece on the gaming community and I somehow ended up as the interviewee. It's a pretty short piece, a sort of fifteen-minute Q & A format, but it's still cool!

Here's a link to the article:


Sacramento News & Review, as previously mentioned, is primarily an arts / culture rag, but when they do do news, it tends to lean to the left, which is a bit odd since the majority of the gaming community, at least the wargaming community, tends to swing to the right (...and that makes sense since many gamers/wargamers are ex-military). However, if you want someone else to understand who you are, you have to speak and listen to them, so I took a chance on SN&R and hoped that my little interview wasn't going to turn out to be some sort of "ambush journalism," a "smear campaign," or some other kind of effort to paint people who play games with little cardboard chits and army miniatures as "evil warmongers" or "fascist-pig warhawks." I'm very pleased that while my words were heavily paraphrased and awkwardly arranged for space, the reporter, Sarah Sol, didn't put my words out of context! Yeah!

In fact, the experience I had with the reporter, Sarah Sol, and the photographer, Larry Dalton, was VERY POSITIVE! They were both very personable and polite folks. I'd do it again if asked.

And, for the curious, the game about the French Revolution I taught and played with the reporter was "Guillotine," a simple, fun and irreverant look at the French Revolution. And for the even more curious, I won!

And here's a quick link to "Guillotine" before I end this post:



The game in the photographs is "Ticket To Ride: Europe" for those who are curious.

I was surprised to see that the news reached TMP. I'm guessing that Bill, the TMP Editor, posted it. We've been friendly for ages. Here are links to the TMP article and discussion of the article:



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Sunday, March 12, 2006

MINI WARGAMING: March MWS Meeting (11 March 2006)!

Hi Everyone,

Well, yesterday was the big MWS meeting and what a meeting it was!

The first big hubabub were the elections for club officers, which are thankfully done.Don stepped down and the two Presidential candidates were Brian Fitz and Dick Mitchell. Thanks for your service, Don. Both of the candidates made speeches. Brian talked about wanting to reform the club and had some sort of secret plans to achieve some sort of unspoken goals... which he wouldn't elucidate further on with the voters. I don't know what his plans were, but they sounded like "black ops" to me so I didn't vote for him. Dick ran on a platform of "Just play games" without any secret reformation plans and...

Dick won and is the new President of the MWS club. Mazel Tov, Dick!

Rob Kent stepped down as secretary. Thanks to him for his service. Roger Mark and Joe Bianchi ran for secretary and both had very similar positive speeches about wanting to help out a club that they both have enjoyed for a long time. I'm very proud to have nominated Roger Mark as he's one of the finest men I've ever been honored to know. Roger is a former 82nd airbourne paratrooper and a fine miniatures painter to boot. Some of his artistry has appeared in several gaming magazines. In what may have been the most civil vote ever, the candidates voted for each other. However, in the end of ends, Joe pulled out victory and will become the club's new secretary.

Joe won and is the new secretary of the club. Mazel Tov, Joe!

The last position was treasurer of which the incumbent, Grace, seemed very interested in running again. However, the club bylaws prohibit anyone running for a position for more than two years in a row so that the only way she could have run would have been if there had been no challenger. Thanks to Grace for her fine service as treasurer. I like Grace for all her strengths, but I was ready for new blood so I nominated Mike O'Brien for the position, which he very generously accepted.

And as a result, Mike O'Brien will be the club's new treasurer. Mazel Tov, Mike!

I also want to point out that for all the clubs strengths and weaknesses, the voting was honest and at least one member, Brian Fitz, only came to vote and didn't play any games at all. That's a pretty active voting populance! Brian is running a huge WWII Pelilau game at ConQuest Sac and may every fortune be with him!

More information about ConQuest Sac and Brian Fitz's Pelilau game can be found here:


And now on to the good part of the meeting: THE GAMES!


First of all, more information about the club including photos of some the games played this past meeting can be found here at this URL:



Spartacus & the Gladiators!
Joe Bianchi and Keith ran a Spartacus and the Gladiators Revolt game, which seemed like alot of fun. The Romans appeared to have won. As far as I know, Joe used a ruleset of his own design. It might have been a Stargrunt II derivative as he likes that rules set.

The following folks played:
- Joe
- Keith
- Brad
- Several others who I don't remember...

The above photo (taken by Mike Warde) features some Romans preparing to quash a gladiatorial uprising. Joe does amazing things with a few metal miniatures and scenery pieces.


Blitzkrieg Commander
Meanwhile, across the room, Mike tried out a new set of rules that he was interested in and ran an Eastern Front tank brawl.


The following folks were involved:
- Mike O'Brien (referee)
- Keith (Played the Germans and won)
- Dan (Played the Russians and lost)


Command & Colors: Ancients
Roger and Grace played two games of C&C:A and as far as I know, each won a single game. I don't know which scenario/s they played.


The above photo (taken by Mike Warde) shows Roger Mark, deep in thought, trying to come up with a way to keep his wife, Grace, from quashing his puny Roman forces. I've observed Grace's uncommonly good skill at playing C&C:A and can sympathize with him. She's a very capable lady and a tough opponent.


The Battle of The Alma
Keith also brought an old GDW classic board game, which he and one other person played and had a good time. I can't remember who else played.



HOTT Campaign!
The highlight of the meeting was the triumphant launching a the HOTT campaign, of which no fewer than ten people arrived and played! We eventually acquired an eleventh player when Tony showed up late.


The following people played that I remember:
- 1. Joe Biddle, playing the Undead Hordes! (Northeastern)
- 2. Mark Carper, playing the One-Pip Ork Klan! (Southern)
- 3. Charles Gomez, playing the Knights of Goodie Two-Shoes! (Southwestern)
- 4. Anthony Gomez, Playing The Mystery Marauders! (Central Eastern)
- 5. Kurt Lambert, Playing the Really Evil Fantasy Egyptians! (Northeastern)
- 6. Stephen (stepson) of the Lambert Clan, playing The Reptilian Destroyers! (Central Northern)
- 7. Tony Mark, playing Guido's Clerical Protection Racket! (Central Eastern)
- 8. Dick Mitchell, playing the Wolfwere Clan! (Southeastern)
- 9. Maksim-Smelchak, playing th High Elves of Smelchak! (Southwestern)
- 10. Mike Warde, playing the Brown Ore Dwarves! (Central Western)
- 11. Connor Warde, Playing the Golden Dwarves! (Southwestern)

I'm not sure how many of the names I got right, but I had fun with the ones I couldn't remember. I am always happy to see fathers and sons out together as well. We had three father and son pairs at the HOTT campaign. And Tony brought his grandson, who didn't play in the HOTT campaign, but still had a good time... chomping on the doughnuts that were generously provided by Joe Biddle for the benefit of all.

The above photo (taken by Mike Warde) shows Dick Mitchell's Wolfwere HOTT army facing off against Tony's Clerical HOTT army. Tony pulled off victory, but Dick's skill made it a costly one.

And what a layout, Kurt had ready, a huge map for us to fill, action cards, random terrain cards for each empty spot on the map and plenty of opponents.

I fought in two battles, both against Connor's Dwarves who decided to land his two 12 AP boats right next to mine. Our first battle was fought in one of my wonderful desert locations and my hordes helped my to outmaneauver Connor's tough Spear and Blade Dwarven army, which spelled its doom in short order.

My second battle was pursuing the remnants of Connor's army and driving it into the ground. I felt bad about destroying Connor's army, but such are the spoils of war and I only barely pulled off victory. Connor is a tough general and I fear him... not bad for a kid who's only barely into a double-digit age range!

Oh, that and he's very generous with his beef jerky! All hail, Connor the Great!

I later shared my Hot Tamales candy with him.

There were quite a few other battles of which I recall a few:
- Tony Mark vs. Dick Mitchell of which Tony carried the day.
- Kurt vs. his stepson, Stephen of which Kurt carried the day.
- Mark Carper vs. Connor Warde of which Mark carried the day.
- Some other battles that I forgot because I was too busy playing my own.

I also want to give Connor and Mark Carper accolades for being such a good sports as they both took beatings on the HOTT battlefields as far as I could tell at the time. Mark seemed to be winning some battles but Charle's Gomez's forces kept taking the Orky conquests, leaving Mark with very little in the way of territory. Both Connor and Mark are some of the best, most good-natured gamers I know.

The Southern area of the "New World" was far more crowded than the Northern end, which meant that players in the South have already been bloodied far more than the Northerners. Two armies are already perilously attritted, the One-Pip Ork Clan of Mark Carper and the Golden Dwarves of Connor Warde.

Quite a few players expanded without battle, conquering virgin territory left and right. I wasn't so lucky. My forces were in tight contact with Connor so I had to fight my way through enemies to acquire fresh land. Connor had originally offered me a treaty, but I didn't want to leave my few territories intermingled with his as I know for a fact, that dwarves are ornery and none too loyal to those without beards.

It was a very fun game and I can't wait to see where else the campaign will lead the next time we play it.



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Friday, March 10, 2006

COOL STUFF: Join The Empire!

Hi Everyone,

My friend Mojarn from Finland recently shared an amusing video from:

We all rooted for Luke Skywalker and company when we watched the Star Wars movies as young people, but now try watching this Imperial recruiting video and see if you just might change your mind...

Watch out though, it's 70.8 MB long and unless you have DSL or a speedy Internet collection, it could be a long download.

Here's the direct link:
(Said with Darth Vader breathing in the background!)

Notes regarding photos / pictures / videos: These are not all my images and videos. I am using various images and videos from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images and videos under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

GAMING NEWS: Yesterday (8 March 2006) At A-1 Comics!

Hi Guys,

I've been helping out my sister this week with her children, my nephews (Ferrying them back and forth to school, making meals, homework, babysitting, etc.), while she's going through some special firefighting classes so I've been over in that neck of the woods so I actually got by A-1 Comics twice this week, once on Tuesday and met with Chern and on my regular night of Wednesday when I met up with my regular crew.

Oh, and I'm including Tuesday in this post even though the title might indicate otherwise.

Here's what happened:

TUESDAY (7 March 2006):

- I met a number of folks down at A-1 including, Aaron Morneau, Aaron McKinley, Katelyn McKinley, and my old friend Eric "Chern" Royer. Eric showed us some really cool asteroid and planet counters that he whipped up for his Babylon-5: A Call To Arms tournament that he will be running at ConQuest Sac. Eric has been playing around with graphics programs for some time and he's really getting to be a whiz at it.

- Eric and I eventually sat down to play a few board games. It was just him and I since Tuesday is RPG night at A-1 and most folks come to play RPGs. The first game we sat down to play was:

- 1. Ticket to Ride: Europe


- Eric won and we're starting to see a trend in our games: whoever can complete the giant eight-train-long route from Scandinavia to Sankt Petersburg wins the game. That 21 points seems to be a game winner.

- We weren't sure what to play next so we chatted for a bit and Eric decided to buy a new game. We walked over to the board game area and a title caught Eric's eye: Power Grid. I've played Power Grid several times to date and have enjoyed it alot. So Eric made his purchase and we got on to our second game of the night.

- 2. Power Grid


- One of the first things I noticed was that Power Grid plays very differently with three or more players as opposed to two players. Having slightly more experience than Eric, I quickly cut him off from expansion routes and won both games if I remember correctly. We played once each on the European and US maps respectively. It was fun, but I think that Power Grid is a much better game with three or more players. Bidding doesn't work as well with only two players.

WEDNESDAY (8 March 2006):

- I arrived pretty late at A-1 and it everyone was already there when I walked in the door. Mike O'Brien, Dick, Mark, Kurt, Dave story and Kimbo were all there. That's pretty much the Wednesday night crew as well. We chit-chatted for a long time before the hardcore board gamers sat down to play a game and the hardcore mini guys went off to pick up some food. Mike and I are sort of inbetween that we belong with both the mini and board gamers while most of the other guys have a strong preference for one or the other.

- Dick, Kimbo and I sat down to try out one of Dave's new experiment games:

- 3. San Marco


- San Marco is a very interesting game and it appeared that Kimbo took a very strong lead very early in the game. He was the only one who had played the game before so that made sense. However, by the second phase, it was very much a contest between Dave and Kimbo as they were running neck-in-neck. However, at the very end of the game, I managed to pull off victory. I was as surprised as Dave and Kimbo as I only beat Kimbo by two measly points. Strange game, I don't think I like it much.

- Kurt and Dick played a C&C:A game before I arrived and Kurt won handily from what I understand.

- Meanwhile, across the table, Mark and Kurt started a Bloodbowl game. Mark's lizardman team had been devastated so he started a new High Elf team. Kurt played Goblins, which I think is his way of setting up new players and teams with success. Goblins are a pretty easy team to beat. Mark did end up winning, but that single Bloodbowl game took up their entire evening. That's one thing I don't like much about Bloodbowl. It takes awhile to play.

- Next to them, Mike and Dick played a game of Memoir '44 and Mike was the less memorable as he defated himself with poor dice rolls. It was quick game too.

- And the last game we played was one of Dave's favorites, a simple card game called:

- 4. Wizard


- We had a good crew playing: Dick, Kimbo, Dave and I. Both Dick and Kimbo are card sharks and Dave is amazing at making accurate bets. My strength is usually in making conservative bets. Poor Kimbo had a time of it. He kept on taking too many tricks as I seemed to be able to undertrump him the entire game. He was winning tricks with THREE cards! Dave ended up winning the game by a very large margin... more than a hundred points. Mazel Tov, Dave!

- I'm quickly learning that what I like most about playing Wizard with that crew is that the banter is priceless. Kimbo almost makes me want to cry, he's so pitiful and likeable at the same time. Dick seems to have a one-liner for what seems like any situation. He's a regular "wise guy." Dave is also a funny guy. He has this way of sneakily steering inbetween arguments and then ending up like a smiling child caught with his hands in the cookie jar. I really like those guys. I'm blessed to be able to share some time playing games with them... a very good bunch.


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MUSIC: Hassidic Reggae Artist?

Hi Guys,

I thought I'd seen it all, but I obviously haven't!

Check out this video:

I've long been a fan a Reggae music and recognized alot of Jewish themes in Reggae music, including the tunes from one of the greats: Bob Marley. Hearing words like "Zion" are very common in Reggae music. I once even saw a Passover Reggae soundtrack (I think it's still at Amazon.com). I can only imagine...

Well, now, that whole convention is being flipped on its head with a Hassidic (Ultra-orthodox Jewish) Reggae music artist. check out Matisyahu:



I haven't heard his tunes yet, but, WOW! What a trip!


Notes regarding photos / pictures / videos: These are not all my images and videos. I am using various images and videos from around the web, mostly from public sources and/or private sources used with permission. I have tried to include only images and videos under public domain, creative commons, or fair use. If I have inadvertently violated any copyrights, please inform me and I will remove your image/s (if it is indeed an infringement).

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Monday, March 06, 2006

NEWS: Test Your Geography!

Hi Everyone,

The other day ago I came across this while I heard a story about a Colorado geography teacher who hadn't been teaching geography. It was a sad story, but what I did get from it was this cool program that quizes you on country locations. Check it out and enjoy:


And I'm happy to report that I scored 90% or above on all of the tests but ones on individual country areas such as the actual location of the States in the USA and other such subnational political divisions.


If you run into countries that you've never heard of, you can learn more about them here:


Just click on the box in the top left and a whole list of countries will scroll down.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

HUMOUR: Single In Florida...

Hi Guys,

An older single lady friend was telling me a joke yesterday that she heard from her friend, who probably heard it from her friend... and so on, ad infinitum!
The Stage: An older single woman on the beaches in Florida, where single Jewish women outnumber the men by a ratio of about 7 to 1...

An older single woman goes out to the beach and, lo and behold, finds a single man... right there on the beach... no ring, an opportunity!

So, she sits down on the bench with him and say:

"Gee, I've never seen you here before. Are you new? Are you new to this area?"

He answers "Yes."

She asks "What brings you here?"

"Well, I have tuberculosis and I thought I would get some nice fresh air."

She says "Oh vey... What's your profession?"

"Actually, I'm between jobs right now."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. How come you're between jobs?"

He replies "Well, I just got let out of prison."

"Oh, What were you in prison for?"

"I murdered my wife."

She responds "Oh, so you're single then?"
I love that one. It's an oldie but a goodie. I got a good chuckle out of it!



WARGAMING: Saturday (4 March 2006) At Great Escape Games!

Hi Guys,

Well, yesterday, I mosey'ed (How do you spell mosey?) on over to Great Escape Games with two objectives in mind:

1. Possibly play a Battleground WWII minis game with Kurt, Mark and gang and/or...
2. Play some board games with the excellent Dave Story, Kimbo and anyone else around for boardgaming day...

I came out very well, indeed!


Dave and Kimbo beat Kurt and Mark to the store by a good margin so we all sat down to play one of Dave's latest acquisitions:

"Conquest of the Empire," the newer Eagle Games variant.

Here's a Board Game Geek (BGG) link:


And here's the BGG blurb:

This game is a remake of the 1984 classic that was part of Milton Bradley's Game Master Series. In this game you are one of many Roman generals vying for power in Imperial Rome, employing legions, cavalry, and catapults to reach your objectives.

This version of the game has two sets of rules, one set similiar to the original version (except that it has fixed the broken catapult rules) and an original set of rules based on Martin Wallace's Struggle of Empires.

Mike O'Brien and Charlie joined us so we had a full table of five.

Like most Eagle games, while it was rich in game components (...hundreds of little plastic gaming pieces and hordes of little cardboard counters), I found gameplay a little lacking.

I also suffered one of my all-too-regular curses... of playing opposite Mike O'Brien. Mike's a great guy and all, but we seem to have gameplay styles that conflict HEAVILY with one another! I ended up planted in the East with bases in Macedonia and Egypt. And, of course, Mike also ends up in Egypt and decides to make it his home base of operations... right where I wanted my home as well... ensue COMBAT!

I barely won, and only because I was persistent. And meantime, my chances for victory were utterly lost. It turns out that "Conquest" is as much a political game as a game of ancient warfare.

We ended early and Kimbo and Dave were the only two competitors. I had a good time and saved a whole ton of armies to give someone else a hard time. Poor Mike was nearly wiped out.


Meanwhile, Kurt and Mark showed up.

As usual, Mark showed up with some gorgeous new terrain that he SCRATCH-BUILT and a horde of 15mm WWII figures. Kurt showed up too in his trademark brown leather jacket with his trademark sense of well-honed sarcasm...

Kurt, Mark, Dick and I have been experimenting with Star Mogul from Alpha Forge Productions and have, well... been disappointed.


Star Mogul has some balance issues and when Dick's forces were slaughtered in the last game, the guys decided to try and rewrite the Star Mogul rules a bit and in the meantime, find another skirmish game to play around with.

Well, it turned out that Mark liked Easy Eight's Battleground WWII (BGWWII) so... lo and behold, that'll be the next rule set!

Two links to BGWWII:



While, I didn't play I did observe the game and I liked it. Kurt played Russians and Mark, Germans. Mark, as usual, set up a scenario in which he was hard-pressed and Kurt's troops carried the day.

The game mechanics are good and flow well. I can't wait to play the game again.

And speaking of BGWWII, one of my friends who I played BGWWII with has recently moved (...studying in grad school) and has set up his own web site. I'm talking about Jon Compton, the editor of Fire & Movement magazine and one heck of a nice guy.

Here's a link to his new web site:



Meanwhile, Mike, Kimbo, Charlie and I decided to get one more game in before we headed home and somehow, we decided on Wellington from GMT Games.

BGG link to follow:


BGG blurb:

Adapted from the designer's "The Napoleonic Wars" covers the campaigns in Spain
and Portugual between 1812 and 1814.Simplified diplomacy as the four players
play in two teams (Spain & Britain vs France Nord & France Sud).

We each took the following roles:

The Good Guys (...because I played them!):
1. Me as the Spanish
2. Kimbo as mighty Wellington and the English

The French (...and Bad Guys!):
3. Charlie as France Nord
4. Mike O'Brien as France Sud

The game was an interesting historical scenario and I had a good time overall, but I wanted to mention that the event cards had some pretty confusing wording. If it wasn't that I was playing with an easy-going bunch, I could have foreseen games ending over such arguments. Rules lawyers would have loved those cards.

Well, pretty early on, it started getting ugly for French. After a few initial victories, my Spanish really started kicking Mike O'Brien around (See! I told you I end up opposite him just about every game... even when we're allies!). By the end of turn three, the French were almost entirely forced out of Southern Spain.

Charlie did a better job with France Nord until about turn two when Kimbo set out with a reinforced Wellington and started ripping holes in the French bulwarks in central Spain.

And, it just went downhill from there.

We fell into a pattern:

- The French threw everything they had at Wellington... who ran when necessary and...

- Meanwhile the Spanish cleaned up, claiming the open territories that the English created.

- Which oddly enough, are rather historically accurate results.

I won the game... allied victory that time.


And I also wanted to report that my friend, Tas'es new blog is going gangbusters:



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Friday, March 03, 2006

WEIRD NEWS: No Worries About The Yellow Snow, Mate!

Hi Guys,

I follow a number of E-groups and interesting news bits are always turning up.

*** Ever wondered about those "lemon" yellow snowcones? ***

This caught my eye about a week or so ago:

Ded posted this at the Traveller-TNE E-group:
Being the space enthusiasts that we are, we're aware that providing space travelers with sufficient, safe drinking water is a vital concern. Hauling all that water into space in our pre-contra grav TL is a major payload expense. Traveller has predicted a means to recycle human waste, though it doesn't say so in so many words, at least not that I recall. Well, a major advancement has been made here in reality.


There's probably enough info in the article to enable GM's to develop water purification systems for their games (if desired). Haven't found the website for the company yet.
The Traveller-TNE E-group can be found here:


Some other links turned up later:



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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

MINI WARGAMING: New Blog From Tas!

Hi Everyone,

My friend Tas has created his own blog now called "Yours In a White Wine Sauce!"

YIAWWS is primarily about Victorian Science Fiction (VSF), which is also called steampunk among other things.

Here's an intro from Tas:

Whats this humdrum all about Chaps?

Well, it's this new Officer's adventures in 2mm VSF wargaming and general ramblings about Aeronefs, Land Ironclads, Terranefs and all manner of contraptions and steam conveyances. It may not make sense, but there will be large quantities of claret and a nice cheese board at the end.


It all looks like good fun and I'm happy to announce his new blog here!


Tas is an old friend as well as an Australian Navy officer and is best known to the gaming community for one of his previous web sites about SJG's OGRE game.


Watch out for the pop-ups at PanPac Alliance... it's an older free site that pays for itself though pesky advertizing. It hasn't been updated for several years and has some bad code, but Tas hopes to rebuild it someday.


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