30 August 2012

Not into the Hands of Spain!

Today is the 521st Anniversary of the destruction in battle of the HMS Revenge, under the command of Sir Richard Grenville and who was mortally wounded in the engagement against the Spanish.  Don't know what I'm talking about?  Take a look here

So I have paid due homage to Sir Richard with this special commemorative Man Cave Brewery beverage.

26 August 2012

Vale Neil Armstrong

1930-2012.   Gemini 8, Gemini 11, Apollo 11 and First Man on the Moon.
Adventurer, Explorer, Naval Officer, War Veteran, Eagle Scout and an inspiration to many across the world.


25 August 2012

Shock Announcement: Odinn's Champs to Return!!!

In a surprise announcement Coach Right Stuff has announced that Norse Blood Bowl team Odinn's Champions will return to the ACTBBL for a second season.
'Our rookie season was a bit rough and we took a few casualties which really hampered our success.  Our 2W-1D-4L record wasn't great but we pulled off a great win against the odds at the end of the season to beat the league leaders, which shows just what this team can do' he said.

Finishing up 6th out of 8 teams in the Rookie division, Odinn's Champions have now been offered a place in the Minors Division for the upcoming Season.  This year the winner of the Minors League will receive a glittering contract with Empire Records, who will produce a new team song (allows the coach to reroll Cheering Fans results on the kick-off table).

'Its going to be tough and the other teams have more experience, but that means I'll get more Wizards and inducements,' Coach Right Stuff said. 'We also have talent scouts out looking at a few promising Norse Werewolves and as soon as we can secure some promotional deals we'll be making some contract offers.'

On the subject of sponsorship Coach Right Stuff was unwilling to comment on the rumours of a partnership between the Champions and well known beverage manufacturers Krunchy Kremes.  'Nothing is off the table at this stage, but pre season training has the majority of my focus' he said.

The draw of the new season is expected to be announced within a fortnight.  Go Champions!
You can see the Champions roster and season stats here

22 August 2012

A few Miscellaneous purchases

Finally managed to get home for the weekend (first time in almost two months) and found all the goodies I ordered before I went away.  These included (in no particular order):

'The Abberation', by Vesper On games
Just loved this mini- great for both Cthulhu/Pulp/Horror games, and also for use as a Beast of Nurgle in Blood Bowl (he is about the size of a Troll fig, maybe a touch larger but not too much).  See what I did there?  Convincing yourself that it two uses = bargain = justified :-)

Axis Gorilla Squad aka "Blutkreuz Korps Kampfaffen Squad" - giant mutated monkeys.  'Nuff said.  Clearly everybody needs some of these! (Note to self: repaint them using the great tips by ferret Labs here)

Cloning Tanks, by WestWind Productions.  Look at the picture - no reasoning required!

Deathwing card expansion by FFG - I love this game as its easily played solo and deosnt take up much space. I've been looking forward to this one for a little while and now have all four expansions.

20 August 2012

20 Questions of Deep Thought

Routine visitors of the Man Cave will have noticed my lack of recent updates here and visits to your own blogs.  I've been away playing with my new toy for the last six weeks or so, so its not a lack of interest - promise!

Anyhow, I saw that Ray and the Angry Lurker started up a '20 Questions' challenge, and I really enjoyed seeing all the replies out there.  So a little late it may be, but here are the responses from the Man Cave.

1. Favourite Wargaming Period and Why?

Like many gamers I love the flexibility of our hobby to try out ANY period I fancy.  I've played lots but my top genre would be have to be SF, in which I include VSF, Weird WW2 and Hard SF. Why?  Probably because I love the 'what if' factor and the infinite realms of possibility.  But of course I reserve the right to change that as fancy takes me :-)

2. Next Period, money no object?

To be honest my biggest impediment and limitation is time (though money is a close second!).  However, I have always loved the Feudal Medieval period and would love to have massed ranks of Knights, Men-at-Arms and Archers in 28mm to refight the battles both known, and unknown, of the Hundred Years War.  I'd have large, fortified towns to sack, banks of siege engines, mounted nobility with banner bearers, and the lesser known fighting companies of skirmishers.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!

                                                                 - Henry V

3. Favourite 5 Films?

In no particular order:
The Cruel Sea,
Henry V (the 1989 Kenneth Branagh version, although Brian Blessed as the Duke of Exeter in this film is my fav),

4. Favourite 5 TV series?

Again in no particular order
Eureka - the whole family loves it, and I really like the way the Sheriff fixes problems the boffins cant - usually with just a bit of common sense and some guts.
Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined)
Stargate Atlantis - another family favourite

5. Favourite Book and Author

20,000 Leagues under the Sea, by Jules Verne.  I have four different editions.  About 5 years ago I went on a bit of a literary discovery tour and didn't read a novel written in the last 100 years.  I relented a bit in the end with some of H.G. Wells' later stuff, but overall Verne has always been my favourite.  Second place goes (narrowly) to Shakespeare's Macbeth.

6. Greatest General?
He may not have been the greatest but my personal favourite is General George S. Patton, Jr because I find his passion, commitment and dedication inspiring despite his personal faults (and he would be the first to admit that there were many!)   I made a pilgrimage to his grave about 10 years ago and it was very special to me.

For the most effective General overall I would go with Caesar I think.  A genius who understood not only tactics and strategy but also logistics, technology, politics, and social interactions.
Pic I took of Patton's Grave in Luxembourg
7. Favourite Wargames Rules

So very many come to mind but at the moment you would be unsurprised to hear me say it is:
I love the flexibility, depth (if you want it), fun, replayability and shear fun of this game.
And all the good times I've had sharing that with friends and the Lad of course.

8. Favourite Sport and Why?

Whatever my son is playing at the time, so it flicks between Aussie Rules, Cricket and Basketball.  Rugby of course and I like Ice Hockey too - love watching the games from the US and Canada on Foxtel.  The odd bit of Gridiron is known to be on my telly as well.

9. If you had a one use only time machine, when and where would you go?

Into the future to observe First Contact with an sentient Alien species.

10.  Last meal on Death Row?

Anything made by my Mistress of the Man Cave, she is an amazing cook and her roasts are superb!

11. Fantasy Relationship and Why?

I'm going to choose this to mean a non-intimate relationship, and choose to be Captain Nemo's first mate.  I would love to know the workings behind the Mystery Mariner.

12. If your life was a movie who would play you?

Who would I like to play me is probably different to who I would be more realistically portrayed by!
Perhaps Simon Pegg, of Shaun of the Undead fame.

13. Favourite Comic Superhero

I love the moralistic approach of Spiderman to do the best he can with his powers and take responsibility.

14. Favourite Military Quote

I have a notebook filled with them, and I add a couple every month.
One that always brings a smile to my face is:

"In victory, you deserve Champagne, 

In defeat, you need it"

                                              - Napoleon Bonaparte

15. Historical Destination to Visit.

To be honest I have done a whole bunch and appreciated them all for different reasons: Gallipoli, Normandy, Bastogne, Somme, Ypres, UK Borderlands, Waterloo, Troy, Rome, Pompeii, Gettysburg, Auschwitz, Belsen, Dachau, Colditz, Berlin, Agincourt, Crecy, the Pyramids of Giza, the Thai-Burma Railway, Nagasaki, Panmunjon -its not a brag list, I just like travelling and my job helps me do that.

The place I would most like to go now is Antarctica - a scene of amazing leadership, heroism and perseverance in very different circumstances to those above.

16.  Biggest Wargaming Regret

Not having the opportunity to have a regular gaming group each week, and having to move away from gaming friends every two years.

17. Favourite Fantasy Job

Starship Captain!
Which one would I be most like I wonder...

18. Favourite Song Top 5

I only need one: If your dad doesn't have a beard, you've got two Mums, by the Beards
See it here

19. Favourite Wargaming Moment

Best Gamer Dad moment was watching Right Stuff play his first games of Blood Bowl at CanCon and behaving well in both Victory and Defeat. Most personally satisfying would be Winning a Prize at the recent EucBowl, my first ever Tournament in any game system!

20. Miserable Git question, what upsets you?

People who disrespect themselves and others, lack loyalty or have no Honour.
WoW - these questions were a lot tougher to answer than I would have thought!
Thanks for dropping by :-)

17 August 2012

Review: Bitter Seeds

Bitter Seeds is Ian Tregellis's debut novel, and its a smasher!

In the aftermath of the Great War, a German scientist and ex-Thule Society member begins to experiment upon orphaned children to develop abilities beyond the normal.  In the name of Aryan Advancement, his work is supported and progressed by the emerging Nazi regime.  By the time of the Spanish Civil War, initial field tests are being carried out by the handful of talents (who are all members of the SS by the way) in support of the Condor Legion.  Their special skills vary widely in type and scale from invisibility to force control to precognitive ability.  One of the great components of the book I think is the relationships of these young adults with one another - very reminiscent of the dispute between the heroes in the recent movie 'Avengers' actually.  Nevertheless, their abilities are instrumental in generating the German successes in France and result in the annihilation of the Dunquerke salient and the Allied forces there awaiting evacuation (which is the first major diversion of the book from real history).

Faced with am imminent invasion, the British Secret Service desperately turn to their own - warlocks.  Ferreting out the handful of them who learned their craft through family bloodlines, it turns out they don't use magic themselves.  Instead, they know how to commune with immeasurably powerful (Lovecraftian style) entities and negotiate with them to manipulate the environment - all for a blood price.  Its a pretty awesome matchup.

I really, really enjoyed this book - if you like alternative history with a supernatural bent, don't miss this one.  4 and a half stars.

Bitter Seeds is Book One of what is called the "Milkweed Triptych" with Book Two, "The Coldest War" just released in hardback and I cant wait to get it!


12 August 2012

Out of the Dark

I love the Honour Harrington series and re-read the lot every four or five years (whats not to love about Hornblower in Space eh?) So I thought I would try one of David Weber's more recent (2010) stand alone novels "Out of the Dark".

Essentially, its a hard-core souped up "Independence Day" without the cheese (Indeed that movie is commented on in the book in a fairy derogatory manner).  A multi-racial alien Hegemony (dominated by passive Herbivore types) decide that Humans (as first observed by their scouts during the Battle of Agincourt) are a bloodthirsty lot and so send of their of more dominant canine like carnivorous species (who reminded me of the Vargr from the Traveller RPG actually) to occupy and pacify Earth.  When they show up (in the year 2012) they are shocked by the level of technical evolution and the lack of social evolution that usually goes with it but go ahead with the invasion anyway - which is kicked off by dropping kinetic energy weapons (rocks) from orbit onto all the world's major cities.  Predictably, the remaining population of Earth (which is down to approx 50% at this stage) isn't too happy and start a global scale insurrection against the occupation force.  Its those characters and their story which dominate the book.

Overall, I found that the individual stories melded together quite a lot.  A bit too much of the "hatred filled guerrilla fighter who lost all his family and now lives only to strike back at the enemy" style of story.  Quite a fun read but not up to what I have come to expect from Weber.  The story has a major right hand turn climax which you wont expect and you'll either love it or hate it.  Again no spoilers from me!

If you like David Weber and military style writing with technical aspects of weaponry then you'll enjoy this book.  
If you want lots of deeply fleshed out characters then look elsewhere.  I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

More here (warning: spoilers!)

Next on the reading list is Bitter Seeds

08 August 2012

Old Man's War

In preparation for being away a fair bit these days, over the last year I have bought several feet of books and resisted the temptation to read them.  Most of them are SF Novels and I've just finished the first set, being a great five book series by John Scalzi titled "Old Man's War".

Set in the far future, Humanity is just one of many hundred sentient species essentially fighting over the same real estate: habitable planets.  The back of Old Man's War reads:

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defence Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What's known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve your time at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine-and what he will become is far stranger.

The story takes off from there, through numerous twists and turns, the first two books focus on different characters, then they later get together in a climactic finish to the whole series. I REALLY enjoyed these books.  Not because of the big space battles and epic invasions - that's not what you will find here.  Instead the characters are filled with moral and conscious choices about what is right and what is wrong in a rather anarchistic galaxy where the survival of Humanity is constantly threatened.  Some reviewers have compared it to Heinlen's Starship Troopers, but I thought it was more a blend of that and John Haldeman'sThe Forever War for thought provoking ideas.

I'm deliberately being vague because I really enjoyed the twists and dont want to give away spoilers.  
But I highly recommend these books and cant believe I havent read them before.

01 August 2012

Blitz! Issue 5

The latest issue of Blitz! has been released, featuring my own Terracotta Terrors!
I also get a mention on Pg 26 in the EucBowl results.
Things you can find inside Blitz #5:
• Two team showcases: Axtlinge's Three Chile Burrito Bandits and Mancaver's Terracotta Terrors;
• So You Want to be a T.O..., part one of Virral's how-to guide to commissioning a tournament;
• Vain shows you how to use your gaming for good, not evil, in Gaming for Charity;
• Tournament reviews from Cane Toad Cup, Sandgroper Cup and EucBowl;
• A review of the Feudball novel;
• An interview with the feisty gingers from BothDown;
• Part 2 of Hacker's Misery in an Ale Tankard;
• The 2012 BL!TZ Magazine Hall of Fame.
Plus the sub-mags, NAF Final Siren, news and the Last Word. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the winners of the BL!TZ Fifth Birthday Prize Draw and two special BL!TZ/AusBowl events coming soon that you could be involved in: The Road to Glory and the Ironbowl Challenge."

Download Blitz HERE