Friday, October 31, 2008


Seeing as though it's October 31st I thought I'd post something scary. Well, something sort of scary-looking at least.

This is a cave-troll I sculpted as a unit for a 15 mm Hordes of the Things (HOTT) Middle-earth Mordor army. As you can see, it's heavily inspired by the cave-troll from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie.

It's classed as a Behemoth unit in the HOTT rules and sits on a cardboard base measuring 4 cm x 4 cm. The model stands 30 mm high from its feet to the top of its head. It's about 50 mm to the top of the hammer. Although it is 30 mm tall, the cave-troll is actually in 15 mm scale and it towers over my 15 mm orcs.

I actually used a plastic Fimir model from the boardgame Heroquest as an armature base for my cave-troll. I first cut off the Fimir's tail and axe. I then used the heat from the flame of a lighter to heat the plastic around the arm and leg joints. When the plastic was pliable I then moved them carefully to slightly different angles.

I used a pin vice to drill out the left hand of the model. The hammer's handle is made from a thin wooden skewer and the head was sculpted from Milliput. I then used a sharp craft knife to whittle down various areas on the Fimir model. After that I used a needle file to further smooth down the figure.

Once the base model was ready I then started building the shape back up again with Milliput. I used a piece of cloth from an old sock as the loin cloth. I painted the model with acrylic paints and used a spray sealer.

I made this model several years ago. It must have been in early 2002 because I'm sure it was just after I'd seen The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, but before I'd seen The Two Towers or The Return of the King.

If I was to create another troll today I'd do one one with armour and helm like the battle trolls in The Return of the King.

I'll soon be posting more pictures of a second cave-troll I've made, as well as more elements of my HOTT Middle-Earth Mordor army.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I take to the skies again!

The site is working again after being down for 2 days and 18 hours! For those of you who don't know, hosts free online versions of Blue Max, Cartagena, VampiRing, King Me! and Wooden Ships & Iron Men.

My favourite game is Blue Max and I've played over 900 games in the five years I've been registered on the site. Blue Max is a game of WWI air combat where players pilot an aircraft with the aim of shooting down their opponents. The game is played on a hex map and each type of aircraft has different move capabilities. Moves are simultaneous so you never know exactly which move your opponent will choose, but based on their previous move, speed and extra information you may receive if you are tailing them, it is possible to narrow down their possible choices. I find the game gives the feel of a WWI air duel but plays like an abstract game with a tiny bit of luck (the random numbers generated for damage when you shoot at another aircraft).

Here's a link to the results of a recent 3 vs 3 game of Blue Max where I was lucky enough to shoot down all three of my opponents. I was particularly happy with result because a new player on my side decided to leave the game on turn 5 which left myself and my other wingman vulnerable at 2 vs 3 of the enemy.

Here's another computer-generated image of a WWI aircraft by Mark Miller (all images property of and copyright by Mark Miller 2001-2006). This one has the colour scheme and markings of an actual Albatros DV flown by Vfw Otto Konnecke of Jasta 5 in 1917.

Otto Konnecke's Albatros DV

One of my own Blue Max WWI aircraft that I painted in the same colour scheme as Otto Konnecke's Albatros DV (Irregular Miniatures 1/300 scale)

Monday, October 27, 2008

I've been grounded...

The site has been down for two days. I'm really missing my daily dose of WWI air combat action playing Blue Max online. Essentially this has grounded my flying fun as effectively as any bad weather would have grounded aircraft in WWI.

Just for fun here are some really cool computer-generated images of WWI aircraft by Mark Miller (all images property of and copyright by Mark Miller 2001-2006).

A flight of Albatros DV aircraft

An Albatros DV dives to attack a Sopwith Camel

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Second Australian Math Trade

The second Australian Math Trade is currently being run by Friendless via BoardGameGeek. The geeklist where games can be added is located here. I participated in the first Australian Math Trade back in May this year and had a lot of fun. I managed to trade away 12 games and was very happy with the results.

Since then, I've been eagerly waiting for the next Australian Math Trade to commence. However, now that it's arrived, I'm finding it difficult to get myself motivated to get involved.

I've been wondering why I lack the enthusiasm I had in the first Math Trade six months ago. I thought at first that it's because I haven't yet played all the games I received in the first Math Trade.

Here's a list of what I received and if it has either been played or unplayed.

Wings of War - Burning Drachens - Unplayed
San Juan - Played
Dungeonquest - Well, this was a second copy of an already owned and played game. I wanted it to replace some bits in my original game.
King Me! - Played
Um Reifenbreite - Unplayed
Die Mauer - Unplayed
Tutankhamen - Played
Tigris & Euphrates - Played
Metro - Played
Clash of the Gladiators - Unplayed
Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers - Played

But when I look closely at it, not counting Dungeonquest, I've played 60% of the games I received in the last Math Trade. That's a pretty good play rate I guess. I still want to play these games and there are none, at this point in time, that I really want to sell or trade away.

I then thought that the reason for my lack of motivation was because I don't have any games that I want to trade away. However, when I had a look at my trade list on BGG I noticed I had quite a number (50!) listed. I noticed I'd put up for trade some games that I'd received in the last math trade as well as games that I really wasn't overly interested in immediately getting rid of. Thinking about it, these games were listed simply as games I'd potentially be willing to trade away if I received a good enough trade offer for games on my want list. So lack of games to trade wasn't necessarily the reason for finding it hard to get involved in the current Australian Math Trade.

Could it be that the games listed on the current Math Trade are not as interesting as on the last Math Trade? Well, for a start there were 576 game lots listed in the first Math Trade. The listing for the second Math Trade closes in 24 hours and so far only just over 300 game lots have been listed. So there's definitely less games on offer this time around. However, having gone through the list, not many of the games up for trade have really grabbed my attention. That's obviously a big part of the reason for my lack of motivation.

Maybe it's because my want list has decreased over time as well. I'm at a position now, after five or so years of being into boardgames, where I've pretty much been able to locate and possess the vast majority of games I originally desired. I'm at a point where I'm pretty satisfied where my boardgame collection is at, relative to the amount of free time I have to play, and the number of people I have to play with.

Could it be (GASP!) that I've reached a level of total boardgame saturation?!?

Say it ain't so!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Australian Magpie

The Australian Magpie is a medium-sized (37–43 cm (14.5–17 in) in length) black and white bird native to Australia and southern New Guinea. It is a fairly common bird and has adapted well to human habitation, being mostly seen in suburban backyards, parks and playgrounds.

The Australian Magpie

The magpie is notoriously territorial during its breeding season in Spring and many a pedestrian or bicycle rider has been swooped upon by these birds.

Two magpies on our rear deck

Australian Magpies have a musical, warbling call. For me, the call of the magpie (followed closely by that of common crow) is the quintessential sound of the Australian bush or outback.

If you want to hear the call of the Australian Magpie, click on the video I took in the YouTube link below. These are a couple of fairly tame magpies that occasionally visit the deck at the rear of our house.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Laughing Kookaburra

The Laughing Kookaburra is a large carnivorous type of kingfisher native to Australia and New Guinea. It is one of two types of kookaburras native to the Australian mainland, the other is the Blue-winged Kookaburra.

Laughing Kookaburras are known for their unmistakable call which sounds like human laughter. If you want to hear what kookaburras sound like you can download an MP3 file here.

I was recently very lucky to spot one sitting on my neighbour's wheelbarrow. I ran for my camera and took this photo.

The Laughing Kookaburra

Kookaburras use their strong beaks to catch a wide variety of prey, including fish, small snakes, lizards, rodents, worms, beetles and other insects. I remember late one afternoon in the city, it was almost dusk and I'd been working late at the office. I stopped on my way to the train station to admire a kookaburra sitting on a lamp post in Anzac Square. Suddenly it leapt from its perch and swooped down to the base of a tree, caught a small mouse in its beak and flew back to the lamp post. I was suitably impressed.

Kookaburras are one of my favourite Australian birds.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 80

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and seven year-old daughter (AKA Maddie). We only played one game today, one that is fast becoming a firm family favourite - The Settlers of Catan.

Grandma was orange, Maddie was red and I was white. I rolled highest so went first. After forgetting last time we played that your initial resource allocation was based on what three hexes were surrounding your second settlement, I made sure to put my second settlement next to wood and brick so that I could build a road on my first turn.

Maddie and Grandma were both buying development cards fairly early in the game. Although I haven't played many games of Settlers, I feel that the better strategy is to use those resources to build up your roads and settlements. Grandma quickly had the Largest Army but due to my road building I acquired the Longest Road.

Nearing the end of the game I was sitting on 9 points, Grandma was on 7 and Maddie was on 5. I knew my best bet was to start buying development cards to gain a building for 1 victory point. It didn't turn out that way as I kept getting Soldier cards. Interestingly, I ended up achieving victory by laying down four Soldier cards and taking the Largest Army card from Grandma.

Final scores were me 1st on 10 points (1 Settlement, 3 Cities, Largest Army and Longest Road), Maddie 2nd on 6 points (3 Settlements, 1 City and the Library), and Grandma 3rd on 5 points (4 Settlements and the Market).

Final board layout - Me white, Grandma orange and Maddie red

Thursday, October 09, 2008

More C&C: Ancients Expansions!

GMT Games have just announced two new expansions for one of my favourite games - Commands & Colors: Ancients.

Currently on their P500 list are -

C&C: Ancients Exp. Pack #4: Imperial Rome


C&C: Ancients Exp. Pack #5: Epic Ancients I

Both images above are the playtest versions so we'll be sure to see different artwork when they're published.

Click on the links for more detailed info on what's in each game.

I'm very excited at this announcement and both expansions will be must-buys for me.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Early Morning Balloons

Every so often, when the wind is blowing in the right direction, hot-air balloons float by near our house. This morning was one of those mornings.

Disappearing from view behind the hill

Almost gone

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 79

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and 7 year-old daughter (AKA Maddie).

Our first game of the morning was The Settlers of Catan. While Settlers has been around for many years, we've just recently discovered its gaming goodness. I ended up winning with 10 points (4 Settlements, 1 City, Longest Road and 2 Victory Points for the Market and Chapel), Grandma was 2nd with 5 points (4 Settlements and 1 Victory Point for the Governor's House), while Maddie came 3rd with 4 points (2 Settlements and the Largest Army).

The game box

I was that engrossed in playing the game I totally forgot to take a photo of our game in progress (d'oh!). So I took a photo of our game box which is the 2003 Mayfair edition. I think I prefer art of the board and cards in the 2007 Mayfair edition though.

It was only Grandma and myself for our second game of the morning which was the excellent Reiner Knizia-designed Battle Line. I won this game convincingly with 5 points (an Envelopment) to Grandma's 0 points.

Grandma was pwned!