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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

F/A-18F Super Hornet Formation Flyover

I took an early lunch break to see an historic flyover of 20 of the new RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets.  I decided to view the flyover with hundreds of other office workers from the centre of Victoria Bridge in Brisbane.  The Department of Defence said the flyover was part of a welcoming ceremony for four new Super Hornets and may never be repeated.  Here's the video I filmed with my iPhone 4.

The one-off performance was arranged to welcome four new Super Hornet jets.  A fleet of 16 jets left Amberley after 10am (AEST) for a point off North Stradbroke Island, before speeding south to cross the coast at Southport and continuing south to Tweed Heads.  They then turned and headed north to a point off the Sunshine Coast where they were joined by the four new Super Hornets.  The formation flew over Noosa Heads and headed south, passing over Brisbane's CBD en route to Ipswich and the RAAF base at Amberley.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gaming with Grandma - 124

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

Our first game of the morning was Haunted Castle.  This is a fast-paced card game where each round a card showing seven characters is flipped.  There are a possible eight characters so the object is to be the first to identify the missing characters on each card.  If you are correct you keep the card as a point.  We played two games.  Scores from Game 1 were me 16, Grandma 8, Maddie 5 and Georgia 4.  Scores from Game 2 were me 17, Maddie 8, Grandma 7 and Georgia 1.

Our second game was The Simpsons Slam Dunk Card Game (AKA It's Mine).  This is always a fast, tense game and being able to slam your hand on the table and yell out "Slam dunk!" is cool.  Understanding the scoring system and knowing when to claim a row of cards is the key to this game and therefore Georgia sat this one out.  I cleaned up in this game with the final score being me 58, Grandma 21 and Maddie 7.

Our final game of the morning was For Sale.   This is one of Maddie's favourite games and we've played it many times before.  It's been a while since we last played it though.  At the end I felt sure I was going to win. However, after we added up the scores Grandma took the win with $82K, me $79K and Maddie $52K.

Hot Slug Sex

Here's some gastropod porn for you. I noticed these two Red Triangle Slugs getting it on at the rear of my house this morning. We've had a couple of storms over the last few days and these slugs tend to come out after rain.

Slugs are hermaphrodites, having both male and female genitalia. These two have followed the normal Red Triangle Slug sex position (they only have one) by encircling each other and exchanging sperm through their protruded genitalia. In a few days they will lay around 30 eggs in a hole in the ground, or beneath the cover of an object such as a fallen log.

The hole you can see in the distinctive red triangle marking is a breathing pore.

These slugs feed only on algae so you don't have to worry about them eating your plants. I find them not only beautiful to look at, but also helpful to have in my yard.

I've blogged about Red Triangle Slugs in a previous post.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Gaming with Grandma - 123

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

Our game today was HeroQuest. This is a game I've owned for quite some time but have been waiting for the 'right time' to play with Grandma and the girls. HeroQuest states on the box it is for ages 10 and up so my only concern was with Georgia being half that age. I wasn't worried she would be able to understand the game it was more keeping her interested throughout the entire playing time. Maddie volunteered to update Georgia's character sheet for her during the game.

Oddly enough I've never played HeroQuest before. I've read the rules a number of times and so for our first game I took on the role of the Game Master. Maddie chose the Elf, naming her Elirrian (and choosing one of my 25mm pewter miniatures to represent her), Georgia was the Barbarian, naming her Lora, and Grandma was the Wizard, naming her character Zelda.

I chose to run the adventurers through the first quest which was called The Trial. The party was tasked with journying to the east and entering the catacombs which contain Fellmarg's Tomb. The had to seek out and destroy Verag, a foul Gargoyle who hides in the catacombs.

Georgia, playing the Barbarian, was the main slayer of the monsters and this kept her involved for the majority of the game. Grandma and Maddie used their spells to good effect at crucial times and also waded into battle when they could. They had fun exploring the catacombs and defeating the foul guardians of the tomb. However, they were battered and bruised when they faced Verag the Gargoyle and his minions in the climactic battle. After a hard fought combat there were cheers all round when they prevailed.

They all enjoyed the game although it took about 90 minutes and Georgia's attention began to wander towards the end. We'll definitely be playing HeroQuest again though.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs

I haven't really been an Apple fan until the last couple of years, although the first computer I bought was an Apple IIe back in 1986. I love and use my Apple iPhone every day and it was via that Apple product that I found out about his death today. Sad news.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gaming with Grandma - 122

It's been a good half year or so since we've sat down to play a board game. I guess in part it's due to me exploring other gaming interests and giving board games a break, but it's also been a busy time over the last six months with my wife now working from home and the addition of a new puppy to the household. However, today the board game itch was back and as it was a nice spring morning we decided to play at the table on our back deck.

Maddie (10) and Georgia (5.5) chose Der Schwarze Pirat, a dexterity game we'd played several times before. In this game players use a rubber bellows to blow their little wooden ships around the board in search of treasure. This is always a fun game and Grandma ended up ruling the waves and coming first with a score of 20, Georgia was 2nd on 9, Maddie 3rd on 4 with me coming last on 3.

Der Schwarze Pirat

Our next game was PitchCar Mini. Maddie chose to sit this one out. In this racing game players flick little wooden discs representing their cars around a modular race track. Competition is always fierce in our house but we do allow a house rule that gives the player in last place two flicks. This tends to keep the race fairly tight and allows for lots of opportunities for overtaking from behind. It this game Georgia pulled off an incredible win, with me in 2nd place and Grandma in 3rd.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Adventures on our Minecraft server

A little while back I created a Minecraft server on my home computer. This allows my daughter Maddie and I to play Minecraft together. Since I've started hosting this server Maddie's friends have joined and together they've created some amazing constructions on their world.

This morning I played with Maddie and her friend Jackson on a new world we created. We adventured in survival mode, using just the resources we gathered by our own exertion. It was fun.

Here they are posing for a screenshot.

Maddie & Jackson

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some book bargains

I'm recording this more for my own information.

I had a successful visit to a local op shop the other day and scored the following bargains.

Six Osprey books from the Combat Aircraft Series all in near-new condition -

F-15 Eagle - $0.95
F-14 Tomcat - $0.95
F/A-18 Hornet - $0.95
A-4 Skyhawk - $0.95
AH-1 Huey Cobra - $0.95
AH-64 Apache - $0.95

I also found Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, an historical novel of the American Civil War recounting the battle of Gettysburg from the viewpoint of Lee, Longstreet and some of the other men who fought there. I first read this novel when a work colleauge lent it to me about 10 years ago. I've been searching for it on an off in 2nd hand stores ever since and it's become a bit of a personal grail for me. When I saw it on the shelf my face lit up in a big grin and I let out a laugh. Yes, finally!

Killer Angels by Michael Shaara - $1.95

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Let's escape...Tonight

I recently came across this original song by Allie Goertz. It's about joining friends and escaping the everyday worries and humdrum of your life through playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

I played a lot of roleplaying games (including D&D) with friends in my teens and early twenties. It was a great time and I, too, looked forward to those evenings when we adventured together battling hideous monsters, performing heroic deeds and finding hoards of treasure.

I miss that time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Common Brushtail Possum

This is a Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) in one of the palm trees in our front yard. I took this photo on the evening of 26 March 2011.

The Common Brushtail is a nocturnal marsupial native to Australia and the largest of all possums. These possums thrive in cities and have a love of fruit trees and vegetable gardens.

During the daytime, brushtail possums take shelter in dens which may be located in tree hollows, logs, dense undergrowth and even roof spaces of houses.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Imperial Rome

Milsims had a online discounted sale last month and I had ordered two expansions for one of my favourite war games of all time - Commands & Colors: Ancients by Richard Borg.

They didn't have Expansion #4: Imperial Rome available at that time so it was put on back order for me.

I arrived home today to find it waiting for me. Now, to affix the 586 sticky unit labels to the front and back of the 293 wooden blocks.

Oh joy ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Meet Charlie

Meet Charlie, the new addition to our family. Charlie is an 8 week old apricot miniature poodle. He arrived yesterday and has already made himself at home. He has a lovely temperament and enjoys cuddles and the attention of the girls.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Official dwarves group photo

The official composite of Thorin and all the dwarves has been released over at the site. Click on picture below for a larger image.

(Left to right) Jed Brophy as Nori, Dean O'Gorman as Fili, Mark Hadlow as Dori, James Nesbitt as Bofur, Peter Hambleton as Gloin, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield (center), Ken Stott as Balin, John Callen as Oin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, William Kircher as Bifur, Adam Brown as Ori and Aiden Turner as Kili in New Line Cinema’s and MGM’s fantasy adventure THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by James Fisher)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

End of an era

I just watched the last landing of the Space Shuttle Program with the safe touchdown of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. I saw this happen live via NASA TV on Ustream. It was a moment of historical significance.

I remember watching the very first launch of the Space Shuttle Program with Space Shuttle Columbia back in 1981. Now, 30 years later, with the landing of Atlantis, it's the end of an era in space flight that I feel privileged to have lived through. Congratulations to NASA and the United States of America on the achievements of the Space Shuttle Program.

I look forward to seeing mankind's next stage in the continuing quest to explore and understand space.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pacific Black Duck

Here is a pair of Pacific Black Ducks I recently spotted at Marchant Park at Chermside.

The Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) is a dabbling duck found in much of Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Indonesia and many islands in the southwestern Pacific area. The Pacific Black Duck is one of the most versatile of the Australian ducks. It frequents all types of water, from isolated forest pools to tidal mudflats, and is found in all but the most arid regions of Australia.

The Australian Museum fact sheet for this bird says that this duck is mainly vegetarian, feeding on seeds of aquatic plants. This diet is supplemented with small crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic insects. Food is obtained by 'dabbling', where the bird plunges its head and neck underwater and upends, raising its rear end vertically out of the water. Occasionally, food is sought on land in damp grassy areas.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thorin and Company

Wow! Check out this Photoshop compilation of all the dwarves in Peter Jackson's upcoming movie, The Hobbit. It was created by user Lotroel over at Click on the image below for a larger picture.

Thorin & Company

Awesome stuff.

Patting a kookaburra

It's not every day that a kookaburra lands on our back deck. This one in particular seemed relatively unafraid of humans and even consented to me giving his head a little scratch.

Check out the video I took below.

I'm not sure if this is the same kookaburra that sheltered here for a while during a rainstorm back in January.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thorin Oakenshield

They've released the final image of the dwarves from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This picture is from and what a picture it is! This is the leader of the dwarven company, Thorin Oakenshield.

Thorin Oakenshield

Thorin is played by Richard Armitage.

As a young Dwarf prince, Thorin witnessed the destruction and terror wrought when a great fire-breathing Dragon attacked the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. After slaughtering many of Thorin’s kin, the great serpent, Smaug, entered The Lonely Mountain and took possession of its vast store of gold and jewels. No-one came to the aid of the surviving Dwarves, and thus, a once proud and noble race was forced into exile. Through long years of hardship, Thorin grew to be a strong and fearless fighter and revered leader. In his heart a fierce desire grew; a desire to reclaim his homeland and destroy the beast that had brought such misery upon his people. So when fate offers him an unusual ally, he seizes the chance for revenge.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Minecraft solo adventures

I've been playing Minecraft regularly since I first downloaded it back in March. I find Minecraft to be a very addictive game and love the creative aspect in which you can build virtually anything you want within the limit of the available world resources.

I also love the survival aspect and the natural (virtual) beauty of the randomly generated terrain. I enjoy just wandering about looking for interesting features. I might stumble across a secluded pond in the middle of a deep forest, find a waterfall in a hidden valley, see towering snow-capped mountains in the distance, or sight a pool of lava bubbling away in the middle of a desert.

In one of my first worlds I found a nice area and decided to build a castle. It started from a humble cobblestone house on top of a hill to protect myself from the monsters that come out at night. I built a mine and during the days delved deep for the ores that would aid me in developing my little piece of the world. Over time I gathered my resources and expanded and modified my domain.

Here's an in-game screenshot of my castle taken back in May. I did not use any mods or editing to gather my resources. It was all built with my own virtual elbow-grease.

I flattened the land opposite my castle for the purpose of building a massive pyramid. On top of my pyramid I constructed a magical portal through which I can travel to the Nether. The screenshot below is taken from the top of my castle and without the in-game inventory being displayed.

My 10 year old daughter Maddie is also a fan of Minecraft. In fact she plays it more often than me! She has constructed some amazing buildings and has even shown me a trick or two.

For a tutorial on how to survive your first night in Minecraft view this YouTube video by Paul Soares Jr.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Balin & Dwalin

Another image of dwarves from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been released. This latest picture is from Time.

Balin & Dwalin

On the left is Ken Stott as Balin and on the right is Graham McTavish as Dwalin.

Dwarf Lords in their own right, Balin and Dwalin are close relatives of Thorin. Beyond this, these brothers are two of his most loyal and trusted friends. An old warrior, Balin has lived through hard times and fought many battles, yet he harbors doubts about the wisdom of the Quest to retake the Lonely Mountain. Dwalin has no such forebodings - his belief in Thorin's leadership is unshakeable. A powerful and bruising fighter, with a natural tendency to distrust anyone who is not a Dwarf, particularly anyone who might be an Elf, Dwalin is not someone to cross lightly.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bombur, Bofur & Bifur

Another image of dwarves from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been released. This latest picture is from IGN.

Bombur, Bofur & Bifur

From left to right we have Stephen Hunter as Bombur, James Nesbitt as Bofur and William Kircher as Bifur.

While most of the Company of Thorin Oakensheild is related to the royal and noble line of Durin, Bofur, his brother Bombur and their cousin Bifur most definitely are … not. Born and bred in the West, descendants of coal miners and iron workers, they have joined the Quest for the Lonely Mountain partly to seek their fortune and partly because they were told the beer was free.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fili and Kili

They've released a third image of dwarves from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This latest picture is from MSN movies blog The Hitlist.

Fili & Kili

On the left is Dean O'Gorman as Fili and on the right is Aidan Turner as Kili.

Two of the youngest Dwarves, Fili and Kili have been born into the royal line of Durin and raised under the stern guardianship of their uncle, Thorin Oakensheild. Neither has ever travelled far, nor ever seen the fabled Dwarf City of Erebor. For both, the journey to the Lonely Mountain represents adventure and excitement. Skilled fighters, both brothers set off on their adventure armed with the invincible courage of youth, neither being able to imagine the fate which lies before them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Epic Ancients

I arrived home today to find a parcel waiting for me. Milsims had a recent online discounted sale and I had ordered two expansions for one of my favourite war games of all time - Commands & Colors: Ancients by Richard Borg.

I have the first three expansions for C&C Ancients but decided to take the plunge and order the two remaining ones - Expansion Pack #4: Imperial Rome, and Expansion Pack #5: Epic Ancients II. Hey, I'm a completest.

Unfortunately #4 Imperial Rome was out of stock so they have back ordered it for me at the discounted price, but I now have #5 Epic Ancients II in my hot little hands. This expansion allows up to 8 players to fight larger historical battles on a double-sized map board and contains a number of updated scenarios including Marathon 490 BC, Gaugemela 331 BC and Lake Trasimenus 217 BC. It can also be played by two players with each commanding a side.

It was while writing this post and referencing BoardGameGeek that I became aware that GMT Games will soon be releasing a further expansion for C&C Ancients entitled Expansion Pack #6: The Spartan Army.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Bilbo and the dwarves

Here is another production photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly from the set of the new Hobbit movies directed by Peter Jackson.

This photo shows Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins at Bag End with the dwarves in the background. The dwarf with the black beard is Richard Armitage who will play Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarven company.

Freeman certainly looks the part and and I'm sure he will be great as a young Bilbo.

The first of the two films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released in December 2012.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dwarves from the Hobbit movies

I came across some cool production photos of some of the dwarves from Peter Jackson's upcoming Hobbit movies. The photo just below is an edited version of two separate photos (further below) available on Jackson's facebook page that was provided to by user Paul.

From left to right we have Jed Brophy as Nori, Adam Brown as Ori, Mark Hadlow as Dori, John Callen as Oin and Peter Hambleton as Gloin.

Here's the official description for the two photos:

Nori, Ori & Dori

These three brothers, all sons of the same mother, could not be more different from each other. Dori, the oldest, spends much of his time watching out for Ori, the youngest; making sure he’s not caught a chill or got himself killed by Wargs or Goblins. Nobody quite knows what Nori gets up to most of the time, except that it’s guaranteed to be dodgy and quite probably, illegal. Dori, Nori and Ori are intensely loyal to each other – and whilst they are perfectly happy fighting amongst themselves, woe-betide anyone who means harm to one of these brothers.

Oin & Gloin

Distant cousins of Thorin Oakenshield, these two doughty Northern Dwarves join the Company out of a sense of loyalty to their kin, and also because they have a substantial sum of money invested in the venture. Along with Bombur, Gloin is the only other married Dwarf in the Company (there being a shortage of female dwarves in general). His wife is an acclaimed beauty with a particularly fine beard. Gloin is the proud father of a young son, Gimli, who will go on to become part of the famous Fellowship of the Ring.

What strikes me most about these photos is how they have been able to give each dwarf his own individual style and look. My concern had been how they were going to portray the 13 dwarves in Bilbo's adventuring company but I am now reassured by these photos. They look simply fantastic.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Family day out

It was a beautiful mid-winter day here today. A typical mid-winter day in Brisbane is a cool morning and evening, but a warm day with a clear blue sky and not a cloud in sight.

Fortunately it was also a day off work for me. I had made plans for a family day out with my wife Deb, daughters Maddie and Georgia, my Mum, my brother Mike, his partner Sharon and her son Tom.

The seven of us arrived around 11.30am at Progress Park at Scott's Point on the Redcliffe Peninsula for a BBQ lunch.

Progress Park is a nice little area with tables and free gas barbecues. It also has a lovely view of the beach below.

After lunch we went for a walk along the beach.

Georgia found a piece of coral shaped like a duck.

We then drove to Scarborough at the other end of the peninsula where we spent some time flying some kites I'd brought along.

After that we were all feeling like a treat so we drove to a Baskins-Robbins for some ice-cream.

Later that afternoon Mike took us to a park at Clontarf where he did some metal-detecting.

We found a bit of rubbish like bottle tops, cans and old ring-pulls, but we also found some coins and a couple of pendants, one of which was Stirling silver.

All in all a great family day out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

LOTR Blu-ray baby!

Today, 29 June 2011, the Limited Extended Edition of The Lord of the Rings became available on Blu-ray Disc.

I think I'll start dropping hints to my wife for this as a birthday gift later in the year, or perhaps for a Xmas present. It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bunya Crossing

This afternoon we (me, my wife and our two kids) went for a picnic at Bunya Crossing on the banks of the South Pine River. This lovely secluded area is only about 10 minutes drive from where we live.

A nice place for a picnic

This beautiful place, in the heart of the northern Brisbane suburbs, is only moments from houses and roads but feels like a world away. We were not even aware it existed until recently. We'll definitely be back.