A long week back at work

And I’m so glad that the weekend is almost upon us.

It’s been tolerable from the memories of Prague last week, still buzzing from the good times spent there. We managed to pack so much into such a tight timeframe, that I’m still recalling episodes and surprising myself on just how much we got up too. And added to that was the pleasure in sharing knowledge of my own earlier experiences and discoveries to friends who went with us. I think that’s encouraged them to go again in the future. I’ve had an invite to go back later this year – to an event at Bila Hora – but alas, it clashes with existing commitments. But maybe next year, if the invitation remains open.

It was odd that while I was out there, my work contacted me with the anticipated ‘redundancy info’. Thankfully there were no dreadful howling mistakes – much of it was what I was expecting. Quelle surprise.

So in addition to catching up on last week’s work intake, I’ve had that to scrutinise all that as well, including pensions. Why is such a simple concept made so complex and confusing. Still, I’m learning plenty and fast too. Added to that is the current work too, the usual trials and tribulations that come with any major procedural change, trying to explain impact assessment and risk to those in charge who should  – but don’t – have some appreciation on those necessary actions. With a finite amount of time remaining, double-handling and triple-handling the same work does get a tad exasperating.

I am lucky however. I can see away out of the vile gloomy fog of Limbo that we’ve all been trapped in for the past 15 months. And from what I’ve briefly glimpsed up ahead, there’s wide open horizons, bright blue skies and sunshine, and bundles of common sense.




We have returned from our latest visit to the most wonderful city in Central Europe.


This place is just inspirational – as are those friends of ours who are blessed with the luck to live here. If I ever had the fortune to have a second home, it would be here.

Some extensive foot-tramping to various sites, and some great opportunities too. A guided tour around the halls of the Strahov Monastery library by the curator himself, and a visit to pay respects to the Czech patriots of 1942 at the Church of St Cyril & Methodius. Both magical moments for different reasons that will stay with me.

Great times with great company.


IHMN Gothic

Over a year ago, I wrote up some ideas for my own Gothic environment for IHMN. I shared them with a few folks, and got good feedback, so it’s a project I will keep working on. But good news now to see that a new IHMN resource will soon be available. My pre-order is in with North Star, and I’m looking forward to seeing what has been added and included.32-50-prag

Meantime, I can post up my own work on this, for my ideas for an adventuring gang of freedom-fighting rebellious types, on secret errands for their benefactors, sent out to report back on the strange happening sin the eastern domains of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Below is the basic outline of my Czech Companies, and then the second attachment is a ‘Journal Entry’, intended to set the flavour and background behind my ideas.

I need to work more on this – it was great fun – and in timely fashion, I am set to travel out to Prague again this coming week to see friends and places. And hopefully be suitably inspired to produce more of my own IHMN Gothic material.

The Prokop Company – the-prokop-guardian-company-dec2015

The Journal – the-journal-of-the-prokop-company-pt-1

Classic Warlord

In 1981 I acquired a GW boardgame called ‘Apocalypse‘. It was one of the first boardgames I bought for myself, with money I had earned from Saturday and Sunday jobs. I had travelled down the Victoria Line from Walthamstow Central to go to the Games Centre in Oxford Street, handed over the money, browsed some more at all these wonders it would take me months of weekend work to afford, and then headed home. Once there, I pressed out the simple colour counters,  city counters, radiation markers and clipped together the white plastic rocket stages. Then I opened the mapboard and began to explore the rules and the game itself. I played that game with my mates until ‘Traveller RPG’ was discovered, but it was always there in reserve as a sure-fire favourite.


(Said to be Tony Roberts artwork adorning the box lid – I wanted to be the pilot of that bomber!)

I never knew until much later on that this GW version hailed from an earlier design. I had seen references to a bigger board, and H-Bombs and not just A-Bombs, and different game-start options. I learnt the back-story via BGG in the end, and it came as a surprise then that GW would miss out on so many opportunities when they acquired this (aye, as I learned about this game’s creation, I also found out plenty about GW!)

Then years later in 2012 I learned that the rights had reverted to the original designer, Mike Hayes. And from that moment onwards I was determined to follow the plans he had, and to acquire what was heralded as the proper version of the game – ‘Classic Warlord’.

The game restored the missing (eastern) half of the map, included H-Bombs, clarified the rules, and brought it back to what it was supposed to be, from the ‘cut-&-shut‘ job done by GW. And I’ve had some cracking good games of it since, and swapped some valuable thoughts and ideas with the Hayes too. Rejuvenation of an old favourite from a long distant time in the past is always somehow comforting, and I’ll return back to Classic Warlord as subject matter soon.

BGG Entry:  Classic Warlord


Workstuff – one week & counting

It’s quite a peculiar situation to be in. I’ve completed over twenty years of service with my employer. Well, not my original and much preferred employer, but with the entity it was morphed into, when someone made a particular decision to conduct a merger, without ever really examining the facts. Proper impact analysis & assessment for decision-making. It never really happened. If only.

Anyway – reminder to self “no politics” – I’ve also completed fifteen years in the work area I still really enjoy, and I guess I’ve been quite fortunate in that. I had gone for promotion several times during that period, but never been lucky – or blood-related/partnered enough – to succeed there, but no matter, I’ve still enjoyed my role.

But, in a week’s time my employer will send me details of my ‘redundancy package’. I’m being made redundant because they have decided to close my current office for good, and because they have already closed other places nearby, under their ‘travel’ rules I have nowhere else to go too. And even if I did, it is to be entirely expected that the role I still have was going to relocate back to inside the M25-Ring anyway. A double-downer if you like.

Honestly, it has taken fifteen months to get to this stage, that by now I can admit to being a little ‘played-out’ or instead, just simply tired of it all. I have to cling to the hope that my employer has done the right calculations, but I’m expecting I’ll have to triple-check and challenge what’s sent to me. I anticipate that I will have to inform them of various errors and provide the necessary corrections. Like I’ve had too several times already during these past fifteen months. And all the time, in the back of your head, you cannot help but think “And you’re getting rid of me, and not these people who’ve made such a complete ricket of this?

But, luckily I am reminded of what’s been said often from several good friends during this ‘limbo’ time, with me waiting for decisions from people who’ve not once asked me what I do, who probably cannot read maps, and have no appreciation of the loyalty, knowledge and the experience of me and my work colleagues.

Why stay?

Why indeed. If there’s an escape route, take it. Just one more week to find out.


Game Of Nations – there’s something useful here

‘The Game Of Nations’ (GoN) came out onto the boardgames market in the early seventies, and for that time, was something completely different from what was generally on offer back then. Of course Monopoly was the mainstream family game, but Waddingtons, Parker Bros, Gibsons Games, Chad Valley et al were starting to drive gaming onwards into new concepts and design new formats. Not all of those produced good product. But it broke new ground and encouraged people to think there was yet more potential within game design.

GoN was unusual on several levels. No dice at all stopped many people dead in their tracks. An abstract mapboard didn’t suit the personal tastes of many. And the overall game-play left the remaining bravely curious few a little adrift in what it was trying to achieve. There was all the referencing to it being a CIA operative training aid, a familiarization tool for Middle-East policy, and a way to quickly appreciate the new ‘oil-economy’ politics. But it also didn’t help that depending on which side of the Atlantic you lived, you got different versions of the same game. I can never begin to fathom that one out – who in Production sat down one day and said “I’ve had this idea…”

Anyway, I have a copy – I believe I have two in fact – and now I’ve been able to compare UK and US rules (and aye, they do produce different games), and with 30+ years (shhh!) of gaming experience now, I think there’s something useful here.

This is because I have a games weekend planned in several weeks time, and I wondered whether there was potential in using GoN, with some additional tweaks, as a handy long-play game that runs in the background for all, while other games get rolled out and completed. This particular idea I have actually done before – and it goes like this:

Picture six, seven or eight guests are up for the weekend; and alongside the various boardgames, card games and wargames played in succession, one after the other; there’s also one single ‘diplomacy-style’ game that runs constantly in the background, on a set ‘clock’ so the players know when to submit their next orders. Of course, the classic ‘Diplomacy‘ is easily the first game you would think of for doing this. But we’ve used that game before.

So I’m thinking of using GoN instead, with some adaptation and embellishment. Maybe it can have some features included from Imperial/Imperial 2030 – like the ‘rondel’? Perhaps the Strategic options similar to those used in Twilight Imperium? Or some other intriguing gaming mechanics – I certainly want to use Secret Objectives for each player, so that all involved don’t necessarily know what their opposition is actually aiming for.

I already have some ideas down in notes, but there’s still  a bit more work to do.


Another book collection getting larger

I had posted here before about the Arnhem/Paras/WW2 mini-library I had amassed over the past 10 years. Well I have another collection that has been steadily growing larger and for longer than 10 years as well.

It was only recently I noticed a few Anglo-Zulu War books were popping up on For Sale threads on the usual forums, FB groups and online auction sites, and I started to see a few titles I wasn’t familiar with. Or some titles I wasn’t sure whether I had or not. And that got me thinking – maybe it’s time to do a library list for them too.

It can sometimes come as a surprise to find a title I own that I’m fondly familiar with, after reading them at least twice or more, that has sneakily become a ‘must-have’ collectors item for someone else.

My fascination with this particular episode of Empire didn’t just come from films like ‘Zulu‘ and ‘Zulu Dawn‘ – though it would be churlish to say there was no influence from them at all. But, I do remember an all too brief visit to a National Army Museum exhibition when I was still of schooling age, where I read information panels on certain exhibit items, and wondered what it must have been like to join the Army to flee London poverty to eventually end up in Natal – thousands of miles away in a completely different climate. Like the Sudan campaigns, especially the Gordon Relief attempts in 1884 & 1885, the hook is securely snagged and will likely never leave me.

So I’ve notched up another task on the ‘To-Do‘ list. That spare time I’ll have soon is starting to get booked up.