Saturday, June 11, 2016

B-17 Queen of the Skies - Mission 158 - Target: Diepholz Aerodrome

 I recently joined a 'Play by Forum' group at BoardGameGeek who play the solitaire board game B-17: Queen of the Skies together.  The group is run by BGG user 'jasta6' and represents the fictional 281st Bombardment Group (Heavy).  They have completed 157 missions over the last several years.  I created my B-17 'To Prussia With Love' and crew and was assigned to the 153rd Bombardment Squadron.  My first mission was number 158 targeting an enemy aerodrome at Diepholz, Germany on February 21, 1944.

This is how I went...

After Action Report:

Pilot: 2Lt. Christopher B. Whitman
B-17: 'To Prussia With Love' (B-17F-65-B0 42-29711 ) (1st Mission)

Squadron: 153rd Bombardment Squadron, 281st Bombardment Group (Heavy)

MISSION: 158 (This bomber 1)
Date: Monday, February 21, 1944 (1 day from last mission)
Primary Target: Werl, Germany. A/F ( Diepholz Airdrome )
Secondary Target: Diepholz, Germany. A/F ( Diepholz Airdrome )
Tertiary Target: None

Position: Middle

Crew Status: LW=0 / SW=0 / KIA=0 / FB=0

Position – Rank – Name – Missions (n) – Status
Pilot – 2Lt. Christopher B. ('Toffee') Whitman (1)
Co-Pilot – 2Lt. James J. ('J.J.') Scott (1)
Bombardier – 2Lt. Matthew S. ('Payload') Kelly (1) **
Navigator – 2Lt. Luke K. ('Wrong Way') Wray (1) *
Engineer - MSgt. Howard D ('Wrench') Rubin (1) *
Radio Operator - TSgt. Norman B. ('Mad Dog') Morgan (1)
Ball Gunner - Sgt. Ernest J. ('Serious') Reed (1)
Port Waist – Sgt. Roy M. ('Burnin') Bridges (1)
Starboard Waist - Sgt. David M. ('Deadeye') Garcia (1)
Tail Gunner - Sgt. James L. ('Back Door') Herrera (1)

½ = Half an Enemy A/C KIA
* = 1 Enemy A/C KIA
# = 5 Enemy A/C KIA

Bomb Run:
Bomb Drop: Off
Accuracy: 5%

Enemy Fighters Encountered: (KIA – 4 / Prob – 0 / Damaged – 1)

2Lt. Matthew. S. Kelly: 2 x Me109s
2Lt. Luke K. Wray: 1 x Fw190
Msgt. Howard D. Rubin: 1 x Me109

B-17s Disposition:
The 'To Prussia With Love' landed safely with only superficial damage. Crew and aircraft will be ready for the next mission.

Peckham Points: 10 points (1 x No Effect Hit from P4 (Radio Room) [5 points], 1 x Superficial Hit from B5 [5 points])

Mission Debriefing:

The crew and I were all eager for our first mission with the 281st and to put all our hard training to use in defeating Hitler and bringing peace to Europe.

The weather was fine for our take off and the 'To Prussian With Love' quickly rose into the clear skies over England. It was not long before we rendezvoused with the rest of the bomber group and as we settled into formation within our new bomber squadron, the 153rd, I silently prayed we would live up to their motto of 'Guaranteed on time delivery!'.

We were appreciative for the outbound presence of the P38 fighter escort from the 55th Fighter Group. For us the flight to Germany was uneventful. As we neared the target we noted it was mostly obscured by cloud cover. Thankfully the Pathfinders had gone in just prior to our arrival and so we were able to make out the Diepholz aerodrome in the distance.

As we approached the target we noticed some flak but it was very light and soon stopped. It was at this time that we were attacked by a wave of four Me109s. Our fighter escort drew two of them off while accurate shooting from 2Lt. Kelly and 2Lt. Wray destroyed the remaining two Me109s.

We commenced our bomb run but were dismayed to find we were off target and the majority of our payload missed. Our bombardier 2Lt. Kelly believed we may have done some minor damage to the airfield.

Regardless, we had stirred up a hornets nest. As we turned for home we were jumped by two waves of fighters, presumably from the airfield we had just bombed. The first wave consisted of three Fw190s. P47s from the 56th Fighter Group drove off two of the Focke-Wulfs. The remaining Fw190 was seen to erupt in flames and fall out of control after a burst of machine gun fire by 2Lt. Wray who was manning the starboard cheek gun.

The second wave of enemy fighters came in immediately after the first. This time it was three Me109s. Our 'little friends' were busy elsewhere and could not help us. The Messerschmitts came in from the front, firing at us from head on. We were lucky that none of their bullets hit and they did not come around for another pass.

As the 'To Prussia With Love' crossed into the Netherlands and Zone 6 we were intercepted by two Focke-Wulfs. One was driven off by our fighter escort while the remaining FW190 evaded our defensive fire and came in firing from 3 o'clock level. Thankfully he missed and we did not see him again.

Just north of Amsterdam in Zone 5 we were attacked by one Fw190 and three Me109s. Our fighter escort failed to chase off any of the enemy aircraft but 2Lt. Kelly firing from the nose turret managed to damage one of the Me109s. We took hits to the Radio Room from the Fw190 but thankfully there was little damage and Tsgt. Morgan and the radio were spared.

The three Me109s broke off contact but the Fw190 came around for a second pass. This time he came in from 1:30 level and managed to score some superficial hits on our fuselage. All crew who had the opportunity to fire their machine guns did so but the wily Fw190 pilot managed to evade. The cheeky kraut came in for a third attempt from 12 o'clock level but thankfully missed us this time. He must have thought he had exhausted all his luck with his three attacks because he did not make a fourth.

We entered Zone 4 and were happy to see the North Sea far below. England was now not far away and we were all relieved the worst was behind us.

Our thoughts of home were quickly dashed as we entered Zone 3 and were attacked by one Fw190 and two Me109s. Unfortunately our fighter escort was unable to intercept any of the enemy aircraft. However, 2Lt. Kelly again proved himself by destroying one of the Me109s and I must commend Sgt. Reed who was able to drive off the other Me109 with sustained firing from his ball turret guns. The remaining Fw190's aim was no good and he then disappeared.

The rest of our flight was uneventful and we landed safely at base.

Pilot: 2Lt. Christopher B. Whitman
B-17: 'To Prussia With Love' (B-17F-65-B0 42-29711 )

Game notes: Very relieved to survive our first mission. Being in middle position and some lucky consecutive 6's on defensive fire certainly helped. The persistent Fw190 pilot in Zone 5 inbound was an Ace. Looking forward to our next mission to drop some further 'love' on the krauts.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Monday Football

My mate Steve and I coordinated a day off work today during our childrens' school break for some gaming.  While our wives were at work I met him at his place for a couple of games of PaydirtPaydirt is published by Avalon Hill and is a board game that simulates a game of American football, AKA gridiron.  Steve's version of Paydirt has the team charts for all the teams in the 1991 NFL season.

While my kids and his kids were happily playing Minecraft via LAN in another room, Steve and I sat down at his dining room table and randomly drew teams for our first game.  Our goal is to play through all the teams in Paydirt once, randomly selecting them for each game.  I ended up with the Washington Redskins and Steve got the Phoenix Cardinals.


This version of the Paydirt team charts are based on the statistics of how well the teams did during the 1991 regular season, playoffs and Super Bowl.  The Redskins had a regular season 14-2 win-loss record that year and went on to win the Super Bowl in early 1992 and their team chart certainly reflected that they were the best team of that season.  Steve's Cardinals only had a 4-12 win-loss record in 1991 and his team chart certainly exhibited those statistics.

I won 72-7.  Although there is player choice on which play to make (9 offensive plays consisting of 4 runs/5 passes, and 6 defensive formations) ultimately it comes down to dice roles and chart referencing.  With evenly matched players, a very good team should invariably trounce a very bad team due to probability and their individual team chart.  I guess in that way Paydirt could be called a good simulation.

Does that make for a fun game though?  I suspect casual players and those not interested in American football would not enjoy Paydirt where there is a very real possibility of playing a game with such mismatched teams.  Steve and I do enjoy watching NFL games (him being a San Francisco '49ers fan and me a Philadelphia Eagles fan) and so playing a simulation of a game, irregardless of how mismatched the teams were, was still fun. We must have a rematch of this game in the future though.

For our second game I randomly selected the LA Rams and Steve selected the San Diego Chargers.  In this game our teams were fairly evenly matched with the team charts reflecting statistics in which the LA Rams had a 3-13 season and the San Diego Chargers had a 4-12 season (in other words - both equally crap teams).

This was a much closer and exciting game and was won by Steve's Chargers defeating my Rams 17-14 with a last minute field goal.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Gaming with Grandma - 132

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother Sue (AKA Grandma), my wife Debbie and younger daughter Georgia (9.5 years).

Today we chose Piranha, a children's dexterity game designed by Ronald Hofstatter and Arno Steinwender and published by Ravensburger.

Watch out for those piranhas Georgia!
The object of the game is to be the first to get rid of all your piranhas by attaching them either directly to a safari hat suspended from a fishing rod, or to the tails of other piranhas already hanging from the hat.  On your turn you must attempt to place one piranha on either the hat or a piranha hanging from the hat.  Any piranhas that fall during your turn causes the turn to end and the fallen piranhas to be taken into your piranha pile.

We all enjoyed the tension of trying to correctly place the piranhas and the laughs when another player caused piranhas to fall.  It was a tight battle but Deb eventually took the win.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Gaming with Grandma - 131

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother Sue (AKA Grandma), wife Debbie and two daughters, Maddie (almost 14!) and Georgia (9.5).

Our first game of the morning Scrabble.  The players were me, Grandma, Maddie & Georgia.  This game is an oldie but a goodie and one we all enjoy.  Final scores were Grandma 157, Maddie 128, Wayne 121 & Georgia 39.

For our second game we were joined by my wife Deb, so we now had five players.  Snorta! is a fun memory party game in which everyone is given a cute plastic animal which is shown to the other players then hidden in a little barn.  Various animal cards are played by each player one at a time in a separate pile in front of them.  When two matching animal cards appear those two players must then make the sound of the animal of the other player.  The first person to make the sound is the winner.  The loser takes all the cards from both piles and adds them to their hand.  The first player to play all their cards wins the game.

This game is a lot of fun and there was much laughter.  Maddie was even in tears at one stage she was laughing that hard.  We played three games with me winning two and Georgia winning one.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road last night.  I don't know whether to call the movie insanely intense or intensely insane, but what a ride!.  Regardless, it has inspired me to get back to an old project of scratch building post-apocalyptic miniature vehicles for rule sets such as Car Wars, Gorkamorka or Axle & Alloys.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - My year of gaming

Looking back over 2014 I note that the time I've spent gaming has mostly been taken up by playing the early access PC game DayZ Standalone which was released in December 2013.  As a result of this the number of my boardgame plays during 2014 have certainly suffered.  I'm not necessarily saddened by this as it is good to try new things and I have thoroughly enjoyed the time spent playing DayZ.  I've played DayZ so much, almost on a daily basis, that I've ceased logging plays of the game.
Here is a list of tabletop games I played in 2014.  I was particularly pleased to get in some plays of Memoir '44 and Commands & Colors: Ancients.

Coda 6
Drag Strip! 6
Jenga 5
Memoir '44 5
Rebound 5
Gloom 4
Memoir '44: Campaign Book Volume 1 4
Star Wars: Episode 1 – Clash of the Lightsabers 4
500 3
Blokus 3
Car Wars: The Card Game 3
Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game 3
Commands & Colors: Ancients 2
For Sale 2
Haunted Castle 2
The Legend of Landlock 2
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game 2
Munchkin 2
Words with Friends 2
Battle Line 1
Buccaneer 1
Cartagena 1
Clash of the Gladiators 1
Friday the 13th 1
Gloom: Unfortunate Expeditions 1
Gloom: Unhappy Homes 1
Gloom: Unquiet Dead 1
Gloom: Unwelcome Guests 1
Guillotine 1
Gulo Gulo 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Defenders of Kinsland 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Malliddon's Prophecy 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Orm's Return 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Road to the Forgotten Forest 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Thora's Vengeance 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Utgar's Rage 1
Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie 1
Labyrinth: The Card Game 1
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (Deluxe Edition) 1
Make 'n' Break CHALLENGE 1
Memoir '44: Eastern Front 1
PitchCar Mini 1
Risk Express 1
Der schwarze Pirat 1
Star Wars: Epic Duels 1
Wildlife Safari 1

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Gaming with Grandma - 130

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother Sue (AKA Grandma), and elder daughter, Maddie (12).

The game of choice today was Clash of the Gladiators, a game I acquired in an Australian BoardGameGeek math trade in May 2008.  Sadly, this game has languished, unplayed, on my game shelf since that date.  This morning would be our first play of this Reiner Knizia designed game.

Clash of the Gladiators

Clash of the Gladiators is a game for two to five players.  Players select from five different types of gladiators to create a team of four gladiators.  Each type of gladiator (spear holder, net caster, swordsman, prong bearer and shield carrier) have different effects on combat.  The number of gladiator teams a player may field is based on the number of players in the game (2-3 players four teams each, 4-5 players three teams each).

The object of the game is to kill opposing gladiators and animals.  The game ends when only one player has gladiators on the board at which time the points are calculated.  Points are granted for all opposing gladiators and animals you have killed (gladiators = 1 point each, animals = 2 points each) and the player with the most points is the winner.

The rules are fairly simple and once players become familiar with the combat effects of each type of gladiator, the battles also play out quickly.

We had a fun game and although I was the first player to lose all my gladiators, there is a great rule that allows a player to continue playing (and gaining points) by using the animals to attack the remaining players.

Final scores were Maddie and I sharing the win with 21 points each, and Grandma with 15 points.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - My year of gaming

The majority of my gaming over this year has certainly been video games.  Unfortunately my board game plays have fallen, partly due to my mother only visiting on alternate Saturdays, and partly due to my own board game burnout.

Here is a combined list of video and board games I played in 2013.

ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead 46
Grand Theft Auto V 25
Minecraft 12
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar 8
Pass the Pigs 7
Formula Motor Racing 6
The Last of Us 5
Battlefield 3 4
Make 'n' Break CHALLENGE 4
Haunted Castle 3
Jenga 3
UNO Stacko 3
Blokus Duo 2
Château Roquefort 2
Gulo Gulo 2
PitchCar Mini 2
Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus 2
Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition 1
Cartagena 1
Coda 1
Forbidden Island 1
Hey, That's My Fish! 1
Pick Picknic 1
Pow Wow 1
Quicksand 1
Der schwarze Pirat 1

Happy New Year and good gaming to all for 2014!

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - My year of gaming

The majority of my gaming over this year has shifted from board games to video games.  2011 was the first year I decided to record the plays of video games via the VideoGameGeek website.  The method I choose to record my plays was that if I played a specific video game on a particular day I would record only a single play, regardless if I played the game for 5 minutes or 5 hours.  This allows me to easily track how much I use a game on a daily basis over the full year.  

Here is a combined list of video and board games I played in 2012.

ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead 58
Minecraft 42
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar 40
Battlefield 3 20
Pass the Pigs 19
Just Cause 2 11
Max Payne 3 9
Grand Theft Auto IV 8
Call of Duty: Black Ops II 5
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Pick Picknic 4
Alien Swarm 3
Diablo II 3
Die Mauer 3
PitchCar Mini 3
Sherlock 3
The aMAZEing Labyrinth 2
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 2
Gran Turismo 5 2
Haunted Castle 2
Portal 2 2
Risk Express 2
Der schwarze Pirat 2
The Settlers of Catan 2
Snorta! 2
UNO Stacko 2
ArmA II 1
Batman: Arkham Asylum 1
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers 1
Cartagena 1
Château Roquefort 1
Dungeons & Dragons Online 1
Formula Motor Racing 1
Gotham City Impostors 1
Half-Life 2 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Defenders of Kinsland 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Malliddon's Prophecy 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Road to the Forgotten Forest 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Thora's Vengeance 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Ticalla Jungle 1
Heroscape Expansion Set: Utgar's Rage 1
Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie 1
Heroscape Master Set: Swarm of the Marro 1
Just Dance 2 1
Lord of the Rings 1
Microsoft Flight 1
No Thanks! 1
Samba De Amigo 1
Scrabble 1
Through the Desert 1
Tutankhamen 1
Wii Sports Resort 1

ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead was certainly my most played PC video game over the course of 2012.  The main reason for this was to play the DayZ mod for this game.  DayZ is a zombie survival game which I find so much fun to play.

Minecraft was another game I spent a lot of time playing in 2012 on PC.  This game was a lot of fun playing multiplayer with my daughters Maddie and Georgia.

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar or LOTRO is a great PC game that Maddie and I play together online. 

Happy New Year and good gaming to all for 2013!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Hobbit - A Long Awaited Viewing

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on 14 December 2012 but unfortunately here in Australia we had to wait a further 12 days until it opened on Boxing Day 26 December 2012.

Gandalf and a hobbit girl

My wife had pre-booked tickets for me and Maddie (our family's two LOTR fans) to see the first session on Boxing Day at our local cinema.  The version of The Hobbit we saw was the 3D and 48 frames per second (FPS) version.

It was wonderful to return to Peter Jackson's version of Middle-Earth after almost a decade.  We both very much enjoyed the film and can't wait for the next one in the trilogy to be released in a years time.

There were some reports in the media of people not liking the higher frame rate, however I found no problem with the 48 FPS frame rate. 

Roll on December 2013 for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gaming with Grandma - 129

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother Sue (AKA Grandma), wife Debbie and two daughters, Maddie (11) and Georgia (6.5).

The game we played today was Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers. I'm trying to introduce the girls to more grown up games and this game is recommended for 8 years and up.  As this was the first game for Maddie and Georgia, on their respective turns I explained the options and benefits for their tile placement and let them choose where to place it.  In fact we were all involved in advising on tile placement on each turn.  Maddie found the game not that interesting (despite eventually winning) and Georgia found it all a little too complex.  Grandma and Debbie picked it up fairly quickly and enjoyed the game play.

Final scores were Maddie 72, Wayne 64, Georgia 61, Grandma 58 and Debbie 40.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Gaming with Grandma - 128

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother Sue (AKA Grandma) and two daughters, Maddie (11) and Georgia (6.5).  Our special guest today was my wife Debbie (AKA Mummy) who normally works most weekends but is currently recovering from recent surgery and was able to join us as a 5th player.

Our first game today was a game I'd been wanting to play since I received in a BoardGameGeek Math Trade back in 2008.  Die Mauer (translated as 'The Wall' in German) is a game in which each player is given a matching set of 7 wooden pieces (a tower, a gate and 5 wall pieces of different lengths) which they hold hidden in their hand.  On a turn, players secretly select a single piece and all reveal at the same time.  Depending on what type and the number of pieces revealed, as well as who is the Master Builder for that round (an orange piece that is rotated to the left player at the end of each round), determines the effect of building on that round.  There are a couple of simple building restrictions and we all picked this game up after a few quick rounds, with the exception of Georgia who at 6 years old struggled a little bit.

We played three rounds. Final scores were 1st Wayne - 16, 2nd Grandma - 17, 3rd Debbie - 26, 4th Maddie - 30 and 5th Georgia - 53.  I should point out that although I won overall, Grandma did win two of the three rounds but just missed out on taking 1st place overall when final scores were calculated.  All the adults enjoyed this game but the kids weren't that enamoured.  This would be a good pub or camping game and only needs a small flat surface.

Because Georgia came last we let her choose the next game.  She chose Pick Picknic.  In this game players are dealt a hand of cards representing either fowl or foxes of differing numerical strengths.  A playing area of 6 boards is laid out representing the enclosures of 6 types of fowl.  Each round a single coloured wooden cube is randomly deposited on each board.  These cubes are in three colours of differing values (green = 1, blue = 2, and yellow = 3) and are the victory points players are attempting to acquire.  Each turn players secretly choose a card from their hand and all then reveal at the same time.  Depending on what type of card (fowl or fox), and how many are played on a specific board, determines the outcome of the round.  Foxes eat fowls and this is another way players can acquire victory points.

The mechanics of this game are similar to Die Mauer but perhaps more thematically suited to children.  That's not to say adults can't enjoy this game, and I find it's a great game for parents and children to play together.

Final scores were 1st Debbie - 58, 2nd Wayne - 36, 3rd Georgia - 35, 4th Maddie - 28 and 5th Grandma - 9.  It was great to see Deb win and Georgia so close to beating me for 2nd place.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Hobbit - It's a Wrap!

Principle photography has now finished on the set of The Hobbit films according to Peter Jackson's Facebook page.

I eagerly await the first of the two films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which will be released on 14 December 2012.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The C Word

I'll never forget the moment my wife rang me at work in late April this year to tearfully tell me that she had received the results of recent medical examination - cancer had been found in her bowel.

The last couple of months have been pretty surreal for our family.  We have tried to remain positive, take one day at a time and just focus on doing what we need to do.  I've taken time off work to support my wife and look after our two children.

My wife has now had surgery to remove the specific section of her colon, she has spent time recovering in hospital and is now home with us again.  The best news of all, and such a relief, is that further tests have shown that the cancer was caught early and most importantly has not spread.

So there you go,  a little unexpected road bump on our journey through life that is now thankfully behind us.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gaming with Grandma - 127

Another Saturday gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and daughters Maddie (10) and Georgia (6).  This morning we played three board games.

Our first game was PitchCar Mini and it was chosen by Georgia.  The girls wanted to have teams so it was Maddie and Georgia vs Grandma and me.

It was an exciting 3 lap race with the lead changing several times.  We use a house rule where if a player is in last place after their flick, they can take a second flick.  We find this works well and keeps everyone in with a chance.  The final scores were 1st Georgia, 2nd Wayne, 3rd Grandma and 4th Maddie.

 PitchCar Mini

 The second game was Der schwarze Pirat (The Black Pirate).  In this game players use a rubber bellows to blow wooden ships around the board in search of golden treasure on the many islands.  This is a game we all enjoy and everyone gets to talk like a pirate.  Final scores were 1st Grandma with 13 gold, 2nd Wayne with 9 gold, 3rd Maddie with 8 gold and 4th Georgia with 6 gold.

Der schwarze Pirat

Our final game of the morning was Burg Appenzell (AKA Chateau Roquefort).  In this game players have 4 mice each to scamper under the roofs of the castle in search of cheese.  This is a game which uses action points to move, run or slide a piece of ceiling tile.  The sliding mechanic allows you to move pieces of the board horizontally and vertically which adds to the strategy.  This was the first time Georgia has played this game and she soon got the hang of it.  Both girls were leading for the majority of the time but I made a quick burst at the end to claim my 4th piece of cheese and the sweet (or should that be cheesy) victory.  Final scores were 1st Wayne with 4 pieces of cheese, 2nd Maddie and Georgia with 3 cheeses each and 4th Grandma with 1 piece of cheese.

 Burg Appenzell

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Fellowship - 1

These are plastic 25mm miniatures from Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings line.  They are the Fellowship models from the Mines of Moria boxed set which was released in 2005.

These are pre-owned models that I won on eBay a couple of years ago.  I've stripped them of their previous paint jobs and cleaned off any excess mold lines that were still remaining.  I've also washed them and glued on a base of sand.  The next step will be to spray paint them with an undercoat of black paint.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Warriors of Rohan - 1

It's been over 10 months since I did any work on my miniature wargame hobby.  Back in March 2010 I stripped the paint off 13 Warriors of Rohan I'd won on eBay.  Today was a planned day off work so I bought a new CFL bulb for my desk lamp and started preparing the miniatures for painting.

These are plastic miniatures and are 25mm scale.  After washing them in soapy water and drying them off I pulled out my trusty craft blade and cleaned off any flash I could see.  I then did some minor conversions.  One of the spearmen had a broken spear so I removed the remaining shaft, cut off and repositioned his right arm, inserted an axe I'd made earlier, removed his shield, and in his left hand inserted a metal wire to be used as a banner pole.  The other conversion I did was to remove the plastic arrow from one of the archers and replace it with a thin piece of wire.

After that I dabbled some PVA glue on the surface of the bases and sprinkled some sand/gravel over the top.  I'll leave the miniatures to dry overnight and the next step will be to undercoat them with spray paint.

I find this part of the hobby relaxing and it was all the more enjoyable while listening to the Lord of the Rings movie soundtracks.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Brisbane Short-necked Turtle

This is a Brisbane Short-necked Turtle that I spotted in a local creek near where I live.  I took these photos on 14 March 2009. 

The Brisbane Short-necked Turtle (Emydura signata) is a freshwater species that inhabits standing water bodies and permanent slow-moving streams.  Its carapace (upper shell) is approximately 20-23 cm long.  A distinguishing feature of this turtle is that it has a white stripe along the side of its face.

This particular turtle has its shell coated with algae, giving it excellent camouflage.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - My year of gaming

The majority of my gaming over this year has shifted from board games to video games.  2011 was the first year I decided to record the plays of video games via the VideoGameGeek website.  It's a bit more difficult to record what constitutes an actual play of a video game.  The method I chose to record my plays was that if I played a specific video game on a particular day I would record only a single play, regardless if I played the game for 5 minutes or 5 hours.  This allows me to easily track how much I use a game on a daily basis over the full year.  For example, I played Call of Duty: Black Ops over 30.4% of the days in 2011.

 Here's a combined list of video and board games I played in 2011.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 111
Minecraft 78
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 27
Battlefield 3 25
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 16
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 14
Assassin's Creed II 13
Call of Duty: World at War 13
Forbidden Island 6
Red Dead Redemption 6
Batman: Arkham Asylum 5
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 5
Mario Kart Wii 5
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune 5
LittleBIGPlanet 3
Portal 3
Commands & Colors: Napoleonics 2
Haunted Castle 2
Monopoly 2
Der schwarze Pirat 2
Terminator Salvation 2
Wii Fit 2
Battle Line 1
Battlefield 1943 1
Burnout Paradise 1
Dead Nation 1
For Sale 1
Gears of War 2 1
Half-Life 2 1
HeroQuest 1
Hey, That's My Fish! 1
It's Mine! 1
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar 1
PitchCar Mini 1
R.U.S.E. 1
Snail Game 1
Super Smash Bros. 1
Vegas Stakes 1
Wii Play 1
Wii Sports 1
Wii Sports Resort 1

Call of Duty: Black Ops was certainly my most utilised video game over the course of 2011.  This was due to the accessible online multiplayer gameplay as well as many enjoyable evenings spent playing the excellent Black Ops Zombie maps with my brother.

Minecraft was another game I spent a lot of time playing in 2011 on PC.  This game was a lot of fun playing single player as well as multiplayer with my daughter Maddie.

Other gaming highlights for me in 2011 were playing and completing Uncharted 2: Drake's Fortune, Assassin's Creed 2 and Portal.  I also recently obtained Battlefield 3 which has quickly become my First Person Shooter (FPS) of choice, quickly racking up 25 plays in just over 6 weeks.

Happy New Year and good gaming to all for 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The cake is a lie...

Portal is a 2007 single-player first-person puzzle-platform video game that was developed by Valve Corporation. 

On and off over the last three days my 10 year old daughter Maddie and I have played this excellent, mind-burning game on our PS3.  Although I used the controller while Maddie watched, we were effectively playing together.  Maddie offered many smart ideas for us to progress and if she was not with me I would have taken a lot longer to finish, if at all.

We made a pact at the beginning that we wouldn't cheat by looking for tips on the Internet and I'm proud to say we successfully completed the game this morning.

The cake is a lie...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The first trailer for The Hobbit

The first trailer for The Hobbit is now online!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Hobbit - 1 year to go

They're filming The Hobbit on location in New Zealand at the moment.  I'm very excited and can't wait for the December 2012 release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of the two parts of The Hobbit film.

Friday, November 25, 2011


This is a short-beaked echidna, also known as a spiny anteater because of its diet of ants and termites.  I spotted this echidna on the side of the road while holidaying in northern New South Wales back on 24 August 2011.  I just had to stop to take some photos.

They roll into a defensive ball when they feel threatened

The echidna is a monotreme, a mammal that lays eggs as opposed to giving birth to live young.  Among living mammals only the platypus and the echidna are monotremes and both are indigenous to Australia and New Guinea.

 You can see the face in this photo

Did you know that male echidnas have a four-headed penis?  During mating, the heads on one side "shut down" and do not grow in size; the other two are used to release semen into the female's two-branched reproductive tract. The heads used are swapped each time the mammal copulates.  Fascinating.

It's not often one gets the chance to get this close to an echidna in the wild so I felt quite privileged.  

Oh, and before you ask, I didn't roll him over to check out his four-headed penis.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Today the full version of Minecraft was released.  It was originally released as an alpha on 17 May 2009, then with a beta version on 20 December 2011, and we first downloaded it on 21 March 2011.  We (Maddie and I) have had many enjoyable hours playing this game.

Maddie spent most of the day playing on our online server with her friends.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gaming with Grandma - 126

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and my two daughters, 10 year old Maddie and 5 year old Georgia.

Our starting positions, me green, Georgia red, Grandma yellow and Maddie blue.

The one and only game we played this morning was a present for my recent birthday, Fantasy Flight's edition of Hey, That's My Fish!.  This is a fun abstract game in which players' penguins try to grab the most fish from quickly thawing ice floes.  Each turn, a player moves one penguin in a straight line over hex-shaped ice tiles with 1, 2 or 3 fish on them. The player then collects the hex from where the penguin started its movement from the table, thereby creating a gap which penguins can't cross on future turns. When a penguin can't move, it's removed from play with its owner claiming the tile on which it stands. The player who collects the most fish wins.

The final scores were me 29, Georgia 24, Grandma 21 and Maddie 17.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 3

I picked up my pre-ordered Call of Duty: Modern Wafare 3 Hardened Edition this morning.  I've been a fan of the Call of Duty series for several years now, having played Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Traditionally these games are released the week of my birthday so as special present to myself I took the week off work and treated myself to the next installment in the Call of Duty series.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

RIP Mollie

Maddie found one of her pet rats, Mollie, dead in the cage this evening.  Mollie was Maddie's first pet and about 18 months old.  Understandbly, Maddie was a bit upset this evening.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dragon Pass

My wife surprised me this afternoon with a present - an old board game she had picked up at an op shop for $2.  It was Dragon Pass, a fantasy wargame produced by Avalon Hill in 1984.  For a 27 year old board game the box was in reasonable condition.

I carefully removed the sticky tape from the lid and opened the box.  The two counter sheets were partly punched and there were loose counters at the bottom of the box (not a good sign).  However, the board and rule book were in great condition.  I sat down and replaced the counters into the counter sheets and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was 100% complete.  Sweet. 

A nice little find. I'll likely list this on eBay to fund future game purchases. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Queen visits Brisbane

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited my hometown of Brisbane, Australia today.  After arriving at the airport they took a cruise on the luxury motor yacht Pure Adrenalin along the Brisbane River to South Bank.  It was here that Her Majesty officially opened Rain Bank, an initiative to improve water efficiency throughout the Parklands at Rainforest Green.

From my vantage point in my office I was able to view the yacht as it motored up the river and docked at South Bank. The Queen was just a tiny speck but I could just make her out...barely.

You can see the white yacht docked at South Bank in front of the Brisbane Wheel.  Thousands of people can be seen on Victoria Bridge and in the Parklands waiting to view the Queen. 

I took these pictures with my iPhone 4.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gaming with Grandma - 125

Another Sunday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and my two daughters Maddie (10) & Georgia (5).

Last weekend we introduced Maddie to Monopoly in a game with my wife, father-in-law and me.  Maddie loved it.  I guess when I was a kid I also enjoyed the play money, the randomness of movement and cards and people paying me rent.  Maddie also ended up winning her first game of Monopoly.  She has been bugging us to play it again all week.

So this morning Grandma, Maddie, Georgia and I sat down for a three player game of Monopoly (Georgia was my dice roller).  After several turns we all had a good portfolio of properties but no one had a monopoly of any one colour.  Then Maddie offered me Vine Street (for an exorbitant price) and I was able to compete the set of brown properties.  After that I quickly put a hotel on each and sat back and waited.  It wasn't long before these properties started raking in the cash.

I then bought out another property from Maddie when she offered it to obtain more cash.  I then had another monopoly on a colour range and was able to build more hotels.  It wasn't long before it was game over with Maddie going out.

Let's just say Maddie didn't enjoy this game as much as her first.  Learning to enjoy playing games even when you don't win is a sign of maturity.  Maddie is only 10 after all.  That said, I didn't really enjoy this game either and I won, but then I'm not a fan of Monopoly.