Stupid Human Year WHATEVER, day 3

Oh, mum!

I’ve got ichor in my beard! I’ve got ichor in my nose! I’ve got bits of demon stuck in my chainmail shirt! HOW DO YOU CLEAN CHAINMAIL? Calm down, calm, calm. I’m lucky to be alive; I don’t mean to worry you, but when the demon fizzed and exploded I was standing right next to it. If it hadn’t been for Fishy Heinrich grabbing my fingers as I went over the cliff edge I’d be food for the sparrows. Starlings? Whatever eats flattened dwarf anyway. Around here, it’s probably flying beastmen.

To the tune of: Björk – Hunter

Oh, mum!

I’ve got ichor in my beard! I’ve got ichor in my nose! I’ve got bits of demon stuck in my chainmail shirt! HOW DO YOU CLEAN CHAINMAIL? Calm down, calm, calm. I’m lucky to be alive; I don’t mean to worry you, but when the demon fizzed and exploded I was standing right next to it. If it hadn’t been for  Fishy Heinrich grabbing my fingers as I went over the cliff edge I’d be food for the sparrows. Starlings? Whatever eats flattened dwarf anyway. Around here, it’s probably flying beastmen.

That Glowing Stone

Sorry, yes, so that arsehole of a Witchhunter turned out to be a big fat liar. He told us that he’d got that funny stone (look, I’ve drawn it – imagine, it’s glowing green and kind of sizzles – I didn’t have any green colour, so I’ve used some of this glowy pink ichor.)  he told us he’d got it from a Cultist temple in the middle of a wood. After threatening him with grandad’s axe for a bit, and him begging for his healing draught, he agreed to lead us there, mumbling about having repented his evil deeds, and the town guard, Heinz or Hurtz, said he’d say we’d set ourselves on fire if anyone asked where we’d gone. Not the best lie, but he said he’d come up with something better later.

What a trek it was! Fishy tied up Rankoff really well, reluctantly left the sacks and sacks of heads he’d found behind (he wants us to carry them to Altdorf to get the bounty), and dangled the glowing rock around Rankoff’s neck, and we were off – aiming for a mountain peak in the distance that was the first stop on the journey. First, we had to cross a huge river at a waterfall. Karl spotted a gap behind the waterfall, so Heinrich snuck across holding one end of the rope (narrowly avoiding waking a hibernating bear (bit like a really big rat)) and then tied it to a tree on the other side of the river. It, uh, was still quite low and I nearly drowned getting across – but Heinrich dived in and swam me to the bank! Didn’t even know he could swim. Then Karl came across and then we dragged Rankoff through the water tied to the rope. He looked like a drowned, um, fish.

Then we snuck along a track, ever so quietly because it was covered in beastmen poo (looks like big raisins) and we were just about to get to the foot of the peak when I heard something behind me – four sheepmen were sneaking up on us!  Karl plonked a couple of arrows into what looked like the leader, I hit him with the axe, and he went down like a sack of, um beastmen heads, sending the three little ones scurrying off in panic. Karl took them all down; he’s really getting good at this archery thing.

I’m not going to bore you with how long it took to climb the peak; it was mainly granite , though had some interesting shales as well. Very unusual! We all roped together, partly for safety, partly so Rankoff couldn’t run off. At the top there was an obsidian plateau with nothing on it, save for embedded white flowers of radial cristobalite. While we all catching our breath and admiring the view, Rankoff pulled his healing draught from his clothing – we’d forgotten to tie his hands! He drank it quickly, intoning that he would “revenge myself on y…”, and then started screaming. The screaming choked off as shifting limbs pushed themselves out of his mouth, splitting it open sideways and… something… crawled out, sloughing Rankoff aside. I don’t think he expected that.

I can’t describe it now. It didn’t stay still for a moment, a gross of gelatinous eyes roiling across the bloody torso. When it sprang and grabbed you, it had eight limbs covered in hooks and claws, but when it swung for you, they melded into one monstrous talon. Karl filled it with arrows until it looked like an Kislevite knight, and Fishy unloaded Rankoff’s pistols at it, but it kept coming. I saw Sigmar’s sign glowing on its shoulder and when a pistol ball struck nearby, the monster shrieked and staggered back. I took careful aim and (on the second go) hewed Grandad’s pick into the sigil. The creature stopped, losing limbs, and just… fizzed. Swelled. I looked around for the others, but they were both hiding behind a rock, which is why I started to worry… and why, I ended up blown over the side of the cliff when it popped. Twice today, Heinrich saved my life.

There wasn’t much of it left, or of Rankoff. Just a curious bottle, with a sign on it, a bit like Sigmar’s comet, but with an extra tail or two. Heinrich said “Can I have a look?” and when I gave it to him, hurled it over the edge. It fell a long way, and I was again glad that I wasn’t following it.

I don’t feel like writing any more now mum. I’ll write again soon.

iPhone Board Game Conversions: Reviewed

To the tune of: Count Basie – Board Meeting – Original

I’ve been playing lots of board games on the iPhone.  Many of the old family favourites are on there, normally produced by EA, and accurately represented; but, let’s face it, the mechanics of most of those are highly simple or broken in key ways. Y’know, Connect 4 is solved (perfect play, even on both sides, still results in the first player winning); Monopoly rewards people who buy every square they land on and focus on developing the highest probability tiles; and the Game of Life is mainly determined by luck in what cards you pick.

The Good

An early, excellent conversion; I’m told the iPad version is almost as excellent as Small World iPad, which is one of the best games I’ve ever played. Taking the classic Settlers of Catan, where you gather resources and build a small range of structures, and turning it into an extremely simple but hugely flexible iPhone game is no mean feat – making it as accurate and attractive as this, is even better. I actually used this as a training tool (alongside the similarly excellent 360 version) when I won this year’s Catan tournament at Develop. Sadly, there’s no internet-based multiplayer.
Players 1-4
Online Nope

An excellent conversion of one of the best German board games; you build a Medieval world gaining points by varied deployment of a limited supply of workers. It comes with a very solid solitaire mode, for singleplayer types, but is mainly designed to be played in multiplayer, which can be either local (with the varied AI or with friends) or internet-based. It’s a faithfully beautiful conversion, with a charismatic tutorial and rapid play, that demonstrates exactly how board games should be converted. Also includes weekly challenges, online leaderboards and the rest.

Players 1-8
online – weekly challenges.

Neuroshima Hex
Unlike the other titles, this is distinctly Ameritrash. Four distinct factions (AI, mutants, military, guerillas) battle over a small hex-based battlefield; different special abilities, ranges and attack types distinguish each unit and theme of each side, and units and buffs are distributed randomly to each player at the beginning of a turn. I’ve not played the board game, but this is a distinctly different creation from the previous two reviews: where they’re pastel shades, it’s coloured brutally; where they’re pacifistic, it’s bloody; where Catan is mechanics-oriented, there’s an unmanageability to the randomness here (and in Carcassone, to be fair), so the skill is building a strategy on the fly from the outcome of your random cards, rather than making a long-term plan based on the set-up of the board .  It’s still good fun and great with friends, but not as free-flowing as a Games Workshop/Fantasy Flight title or quite as evocative.

Players 1-4 (local)

The Ugly (Reiner Knizia Games)

Like Robert Florence, I love Ameritrash. I’ve got on with Knizia’s games in the past, but am aware that they’re more mathematical puzzles than malleable games where you struggle against other players. That said, possibly because of their maths base, they’ve proved easy to convert to the iPhone and relatively popular. If you’re a fan, the following are all on the iPhone – I’m not going to try to review them, as I don’t fancy spending £50 of my own money confirming my suspicion I don’t like them: Ra,  Robot Master,  Ingenious,  Topas,  Money,  Monumental,  Roto,  Knights of Charlemagne,  Poison,  High Society,  Samurai,  Keltis,  Kingdoms,   Medici … and loads more.

The Crap

These  are polished games, with great multiplayer integration and polish – but, sadly, they’re either highly random, simplistic or solved. To a lover of games, they’ll be ultimately unsatisfying.

The Game of Life,  Monopoly,  Trivial Pursuit,  Connect 4,  Cluedo,  Uno,  Pass the Pigs.

Stupid Human Year 2252

To the tune of: Bloodhound Gang – Your Only Friends Are Make Believe

GamesMaster Kieron has persuaded QuinnsMatt Sheret and I to join a game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I’m playing a dwarven student called Grok. I’m already addicted.

Stupid Human Year 2252.

Dear mother, da, and family.

Well, here I am in the Empire! I’m writing this in a waterfront bar which is full of Local Colour. Everyone is very friendly, though the beer seems rather expensive and not at all beerlike. It’s very thin and has hardly any mould or meat in it; no flavour whatsoever!

Oh, I forgot to say; I made a friend! He’s a tall mensch with webbed fingers and a constant cold. He taught me this (very easy) game of cards, and looked very excited when I learnt it so quickly. He jumped all over the place, and said lots of goyim words, then gave me his boat. What do I do with a boat? It would have been orcward to say no, so I accepted it, then asked the landlord, (called Fast Fortlifh – what silly names they have!) to keep hold of it for me.

Heinrich seems lucky (after all he ran into me!), so I’ve decided to keep him. He doesn’t cost much to feed and water, and it’s good to have someone who understands the local customs. He says tomorrow we’ll go up into the woods, as it’s fun up there. I think I’ll finish this letter then.

There’s so much sky here! We ran into a very nice human called Karl, who’s promised to show me a ‘bad time’. He’s crept off oh-so-quietly to go birdwatching I think, so Heinrich and I are having a sit down. We’re

Karl Playing With The Sheeps.

Well, that was EXCITING! After a while Karl didn’t come back but there was lots of yelling (a bit like when father stood on that squig) so we went through the woods to find him being beaten up by sheep! They were a bit taller than the sheep I remember – perhaps twice my height – and carrying axes! I thought it was very funny to see such silly sheep, until the ram gave me a big butt in my belly. Thankfully, I was wearing my mail shirt like you always told me so it didn’t hurt that much, and eventually I jumped high enough to chop his head off.

After we finished the others off, I suggested we stew up the mutton, but Karl looked a bit sick and we could hear what sounded like a whole flock in the distance, so decided to head towards a village a little boy we found stuck up a tree (tell Granda that they’re the big green things you burn if you run out of coal) told us about. Better stop now, as the others are telling me we need to be running rather than writing.

I hope you and the mine-ponies are okay, and the watcher in the deep hasn’t eaten any of the cousins recently.