Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Sorry for neglecting this blog for awhile. I'll try and remedy that. Have gotten too far into Renaissance Scotland online to pull back easily, though am disentangling slowly from it.

I have had a couple interesting things happen in my (non)gaming life in the last 24 hours. First, I tried to log onto the Ogame to reinvigorate the stellar empire I was building so assiduously in the not too distant past. I'd read the 'rules' and thought therefore that I was safe in leaving it awhile. Went back to log on. They'd changed the rules. My nascent empire had dissappeared.

Lucky I'm so into Renaissance Kingdoms at the moment that I didn't go into depression...

And for some strange reason, I think I'm going to be playing a game or two of Magic the Gathering this weekend. In past, hadn't enjoyed. But that's a long time ago, so will try and get rid of the sour taste and play it as a social occasion this time.

That may be a bit of a challenge against some keen teens (and forty somethings).

Monday, October 29, 2007

View to the future

This is my latest version of my forum 'signature' in rennaissance kingdom forums. I quite like it.
I will post a bit of a summary of the whole thing to this blog sometime soon, but am way too busy doing it at the moment to be writing about it. I am sure that those of you who don't mind my writting will find the wait worthwhile!
I am getting better at finding and using programs (both off and on line) that I need for specific purposes, such as creating the above graphic, and its separate components. I am adding links to some of these online applications as I go, at the moment putting them under 'Renaissance Kingdoms' heading on my MMPORG resource page.
I am still having a break from Ogame. Basically, RK is taking up to much of my waking day for there to be any time to play it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

View from the past

This is the picture I intend to use on my RK signature Banner for the moment.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Hut and Hearth of MacTavish - RK20

My work on behalf of the Renaissance Kingdoms Scottish clan of MacTavish has continued apace. It has paid some dividend, with eight kin now claiming the name MacTavish as their own.

Two of us first required release from other clans, the MacDonalds and the Wallaces. This was achieved after discussions with those clan's respective clan leaders.

As soon as I had the minimum of 6 clan members I set off for Highlands Hall to talk to an administrator there about what happens next. 'Seer' confirmed that we needs wait until November 1 when the Court of Lyons will bestow the status of 'Founding Clan' upon us if we have a minimum of 6 members on that day. It is only then, also, that we will receive a right to a private Clan MacTavish subforum.

Clan MacTavish has members in two of Galloway's four towns. I will hopefully be heading off this week to the Village of Wigtown for a couple days in order to trace members from the Wigtown branch of the family. I will see if I can arrange an escort from the Galloway Regiment when I do this as I would fear losing my belongings to robbers otherwise (haven't heard much of their activity recently, but know that they're around).

Hut and Hearth - two new blogs!

In-game, I have had Clan MacTavish set themselves up outside Highlands Hall in an old hut (The Mactavish's Hut) to await the Great Gathering of the Clans. The Hut exists in Cyberspace in the form of a blog, publicly accessable. I have let all clan members and invitees know how to find it, as well as Seer of Lyons Hall, Alexmac of Clan MacDonald and my friend Rubyfox the weaver.

In the absence of a private subforum where we can conduct group deliberations of clan business in private, I have also set up a 'back room' within the Hut which I have called MacTavish Hearth. It is another blog, but this one has restricted access. I'd like to see other MacTavishes get access to it, all they need do is ask.

In MacTavish's Hut is posted news etc which will be of interest to all clans, it is a 'general interest' place where I must assume those who might be hostile to MacTavish will also have access. I am posting in the Hearth as well at present, even though I haven't yet been able to grant access to another this is still valuable as it will become an 'archive' of clan history and news.

These two new blogs have seen my blogger repertoire increase. They both incorporate pictures in their heading and sidebar, play music (each has its own opening bagpipe tune), and the Hearth is a group blog. I have done none of these things before and have enjoyed the result.

You can visit MacTavish's Hut here.

Friday, October 19, 2007



I am most interested in getting my first set of trews from you. On the 23rd I am likely only to be in the market at about 1000 GMT at the earliest. The first day after that that I could be there at 0300 GMT would be 27 October.

If you want to see where I am these days, we MacTavishes have set up a hut outside the Highlands Hall while we await recognition at the Gathering of the Clans. You are welcome to visit our humble hut at


I really think that I should be better dressed by the time of the Gathering of the Clans in November!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The making of MacTavish - RK19 (long post)

I am probably spending way too much time in the Renaissance Kingdoms at the moment. Still, it is great fun and there isn't much else to do at night until the weather warms up and my wife returns from Scotland ...

At the moment my character is treading water with his cash flow, but has a small reserve (about 6) HHWs of pork at his home and about three days corn feed for the three healthy pigs he has in the field. The fodder shortage seems, for the moment, to be over.

What is taking up all the time is the fact that I have got involved in creating a clan.

I was originally asked to join the Wallace clan (amongs others), and did so. Only thing is, someone said they'd let me know when they formally added me to the list. They didn't. I didn't know if I was in the clan or not. I started thinking about clans, and had a looksee about the clanscape of RK in more detail while I waited my chance to claim the Wallace name.

I waited and waited and waited. I sent queries - if you are to deny me my birthright, will you not do it to me face?! All to no avail. I decided to make my own clan - that of MacTavish.

First, I had to remove myself from the Clan Wallace (having invited several folk already to join me in MacTavish before discovering that I had actually been signed over to Wallace, I couldn't let them down) - She who raised me is Wallace. She who birthed me was MacTavish. I knew this not until recently. It explains many things that made no sense before.

The important thing was then to make contact with other characters and convince them to adopt the MacTavish name. Rather than send short blunt out-of-character messages in a mass mailing fashion (= spam), I instead started tracking along the 'trust' links on suitable character profiles.

Thus, I'd be tracing networks of players who had already met in game. If they spoke to their neighbors of having received a clan invite there was a fair chance that the neighbor had also received such an invite.

I target those I mail to. If I know of and like them and they aren't part of the power structure, they might get one. If they are active players of about my ingame age or of artistic flair (using profiles to judge character), they might get one. I run their names off against a publicly available list of who's in which clan (still a minority overall, but definitely a majority of the most active players).

Before I started doing this clan membership check I got a couple replies that a player is already in a particular clan. That's why I started checking names. Each invite is a lot of work and I don't want to waste the effort. So I don't send my invites intentionally to members of other clans.

No two invites are the same. They each tell a a story as to why I am writing them, link them and Clan MacTavish, provide a sentence long history of the clan, and include a brief summary either of an ancestor's 'famous' quality (strong, wise, beautiful, good drinker, oathmaker, etc) or of their deeds (raised his kilt to distract the raiders, ate a pig in a sitting as a matter of honour, fed the valley on crop of potatoes during famine).

The invites explain what will happen next if the reader accepts - I will wait until there enough MacTavishes behind me and I then intend to go to Highland Hall to claim our hearth (subforum) and our vote.

They conclude with a toast - (raises glass) To the honour of MacTavish and the glory of Scotland!

I have sent out 20 of these mini-essays so far.

I have had five positive responses in about 48 hours, a couple queries, and a couple who have declined because already members of another clan. When I receive one more acceptance of the invitation I will get us on the forums with our own private subforum, as well as a vote in the Hall of the Clans (who I suspect will one day chose a King for Scotland).

I am thinking I will set up a (group?) blog for the Clan as well.

There are four towns in the County. I have sent messages to characters in three of them, mainly my native Whithorn and the nearby coastal village of Dummore. All members of the clan so far come from these last two villages.

Of the 20 invitations I've sent, none went to level 3 characters, 1 went to a level 2, about 15 went to level 1, and 4 have gone to level 0. Thus, I am creating a clan whose membership will be composed of those like myself, committed beginners.

A small clan, we will all have more of a say than in the big clans. A fairly egalitarian clan, we won't end up all dancing to "the leader's" tune. A developing clan, we will change as we grow and level up. Lots of room for fun.

Over time this might become an adventure in itself. As one of the acceptees put it to me in his reply email...

Well i am gladly to join your humble clan and try making Mactavish ancestry and Scotland a good name.

Looking forward to it!

I have put a link to this map of England and Scotland in my resources page.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Call to the Clan - RK 18

Greetings from Clan MacTavish!

When I was abandoned by my mother Eileen, she left with the old woman in whom she trusted my care a small thistle and an old parchment. The thistle is personal, the parchment I have had read to me by a literate soul from the County Prosecutor's Office.

The parchment contains a genealogy of some of my mother's ancestors from the region of Strathclyde, more famous for the Wallace Clan's origin but also home of the first Scottish King (Kenneth) and our own clan, the MacTavishes.

I am seeking to have our clan officially recognised at present, before those such as our humble selves are shut out of the halls of power by the requirement for 'nobility' prior to recognition. Being a humble clan, I doubt we have many nobles, but that shouldn't prevent us from having a say in Scotland's future. Afterall, it's our country too!

From what I understand of my mother's parchment, you are related to us, with origin in the now vanished Dunn of Tavish (just north of Loch Lomond). Your grand pappy was a cousin of mine and they had many a happy raid together!

In honour of our shared descent, I ask you to reply to this message as soon as possible if you are prepared to accept the title of MacTavish, and willing to strive for the honour of our small but friendly clan and the glory of Scotland.

Yours truly,
MacTavish of Whithorn

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Whithorn Association of Pig Farmers - RK17

Greetings, fellow pig farmer!

I just wanted to inform you that I and a few like minded souls are considering forming a local group of pig farmers to co-ordinate buying and selling practices within our industries.
The result will hopefully be a better living to be had by us and less stress.

If you are interested in this, please reply.

xxxx of Whithorn

I sent the above letter, or one much like it, to all of the pigfarmers I located on the town roll. There were 6 in total, though one has since replied - saying that he's moved onto Wigton. I've had a couple of responses expressing interest. I have let Savanna know that I am thinking of setting up the WAPF and might make her job a bit easier. Now I just gotta work out what can be done...

A week in the life of ... RK 16

My weekly summary of stats and spending in my peasant's world of Renaissance Kingdoms.

Stats: In 4 - St 8 - Ch 5 - Reputation 10 ( 7 from trust)
Inventory: 73p - 8 corn bags - 1 knife - 4 HHW Pork
Farm: 1 fleshy pig (7 days old)

Sun Collect 22,50 owed by county. But 3 corn @ 3,50 at market. Feed 1 pig corn (none available to buy). Eat bread. Work in mines. Above status dates from this moment.
Sun Evening buy 2 piglets @ 25p after receiving word from Lady Savanna that she's nearby. Buy a beer @ ,90 in celebration at The Crown. Purchase 1 corn @ 3,40 and 1 corn @ 3,45 and 1 vegetables @ 11,0 from the market. Sell 1 HHW @ 15 to TH autobuy to save 15p for emergencies at my home.

Town Stats for Oct 13 GMT:
----------Fields----------October 13Number of wheat fields: 40 (Need more)Number of corn fields: 35 (Need more)Number of vegetable gardens: 32 (Need more)Number of cow ranches: 4 (Need less)Number of sheep ranches: 5Number of pig ranches: 6

Mon Buy 3 corn @ 3,50 and 1 bread @ 6,50 at market, eat 1 meal @ 6,50and have a couple beers at The Highlander. Feed 3 pigs corn. Join the Galloway Regiment (Royal Scottish Army).

Return to Okinawa & Ogame Restart

I have just had my first flight in months on IL46, WWII flightsim. Flew a Lightning over Okinawa, rocketing Japanese airfield targets. Hit nothing of value. Shot down shortly after by 200Sagakawa.

It didn't take too long to remember all relevant controls in this 'full real' server. I was able to navigate with no problems. I did feel, however, that i knew way too little about my plane to fly it properly. For example, in the climb with bandit behind i should have got away. But didn't.

I might start putting in the odd appearance in the skies over the next few weeks, and see if I can build upon where I was at skill-wise when I left off last time.

I have also recommenced my Ogame. After almost a week on 'vacation' mode, I am ranked 1394 with 16,297 points.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dear prosecutor ... RK 15

My latest letter to the pulic prosecutor of the County of Galloway in Renaissance Kingdoms:

Kind sir,

You ask me to ask what questions I will. I trust that my doubts be not mistaken for treason. They are not. I am a proud scotsman through and through.

And as such it concerns me that we scotts have the misfortune of being judged by a set of laws which are not yet constitutionally enacted. The enabling act appears to not exist.

Instead, rather than being subject to the rule of law, we must await the approval of the good count. Until his pleasure, it is a provisional set of rules which are used to convict and imprison. Yet the punishments meted out are NOT provisional in their effect upon those so judged.

I know not the words by which legal reasoning would hold such a system to account, but to my peasant nose, it smells.

It also concerns me that we have no right of appeal against a decision of the court. I understand the reasoning behind the situation (Scotland being constituted at present of but one county), this does not make it correct. Without the right of appeal, at least upon the facts, how is it that we can be protected against our courts becoming but another arm of some future oppressor?

I apologise if my wordy skill matches not my sense of something not quite right.

XXXX of Whithorn

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Avatar - RK14

This is my 'avatar' in the Renaissance Kingdoms forums (except it has a 'fluttering' motion there). It might be a coincidence, but it was within maybe 10 hours of my beginning to use it that I received the first overture from the leader of clan Wallace about becoming affiliated with them. I am seriously considering this and await the formal invitation.

The clan structure of the Kingdom appears to be developing apace. It began informally, with various players deciding to become a 'clan', and setting up their own forums etc. I think enough of the old heads in the Kingdom got into this aspect of the game that the Kingdom of Scotland now has a Hall of the Clans, where the various clan leaders have a direct say upon the national policy.

The most useful aspect of belonging to a clan, however, is that it creates another fraternity of which one is a part, another web of players, not necessarily all in one's own village, with which to share ideas, informations, plans.

This is very significant, because most inhabitants don't have the time or the wherewithall to go travelling from village to village for anything but the most pressing needs so it can all get a bit insular. The clan lobbies, where you interact direct with your kinsmen, breaks through this communication barrier.

If and when I get the call to clan Wallace, I will likely accept.

Withorn Taverns RK 13

I am posting the daily actions of my scottish peasant in Renaissance Kingdoms on this page. This will allow me to cogitate a bit more on the role play events and the philosophy of it all in my general posts.

Tavern Talk

The interactivity of Renaissance Kingdoms is felt at its most immediate in the taverns that dot the landscape. My own village of Withorn, population 480, has four such establishments at present. When the town began there was but one, and at one stage there were five.

The Crown of Scotland is run by JuliusOctavius, Mayor of Withorn, Captain of the Royal Scottish Army, Member of the Council of Galloway, husband of Savanna. It is frequented by many of the more public figures around town. I go here if I want to speak to those in power, but would measure any complaints made at risk of being thought seditious.

The Highlander is owned by Ewq, recently released from the County jail after being found guilty of various crimes. I don't often see too many in this place these days, and noted that there was no food available the last time I ventured in. Perhaps the adverse publicity of his trial and imprisonment has caused a major dent in his trade?

The Whistle and Thistle is the Town Hall's tavern. I would prefer to see the all those offial types at The Crown in this pub because then the public coffers would be a bit better provided. Still, they choose not to do this, so The Whistle has a relatively quiet time of it until the present power elite move over.

The Alba Arms is the newest tavern in town, having opened only in the last week. It is run by Muzz, who has been around awhile but is not otherwise a major player in town. More of a solid citizen than a politician. Seems nice enough as a chap, but I think him selling 'corn flakes' on the menu is a bit rich considering the fodder shortage in the county.

The taverns fulfill an important role in the game as they constitute the chat lobbies available to active players in each town and village. Thus, I have four chat lobbies available to me in Withorn. Sooner or later you bump into most active players in the game in the taverns.

A nice touch.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tigris and Euphrates - Jarrad wins!

I introduced Jarrod and Jess to T & E the other night. They both picked it up frighteningly quickly. Took us about two hours to play a game from scratch.

There were four monuments on the board by the end of the game, with control of different spheres of the two major kingdoms see-sawing in the later game. Jarrod ran a strategy of continually balancing his tallies for the various colours, which served him well. He won with a score of 18 points (black?), myself second on 6 points (black, including three treasure) and Jess on 4 points (red).

Both seemed to enjoy it, and it took them away from their seemingly endless reruns of the Avalon Hill classic - 'Civilization'.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A week in the life of - RK 12

At the start of Week 7 on Renaissance Kingdoms I am in the following situation:

Intelligence - 4
Strength - 8
Charisma - 5

Reputation - 8 (5 from trust points)
Money - 4,05 pounds

Inventory - knife, 5 bags of corn
Clothing - none (loincloth)
Farm - 3 pigs (1 day, bony - 6 days, normal - 6 days, fleshy)

Over the past week I worked 7 days in the mines, bought 3 pigs. Have eaten bread mainly, with one day on corn and another on vegetables (all purchased on the market).

Sun - Feed 2 pigs with corn, work in mines, purchase 1 pig, eat corn x 2
Mon - Feed 3 pigs with forage, work for Ishii for 16 p, eat bread
Tue - Feed 3 pigs corn, work on farm (slaughter plump pig), eat bread
Wed - sell 2 half hundredweights pork to Town Hall (autobuy) @ 15p, place 3 HHW pork on market @ 14,45 (sold), feed 2 pigs corn, work on farm (slaughter flesy pig) eat tavern meal (bread @ 6p), buy 1 bread loaf @6p, 3 corn @ 3,50
Thu - Store 4 HHWs pork at home, purchase 4 (!) corn @ 3,50, 1 bread @ 6,50 at market, serve in milita @ 17p, eat bread
Fri - purchase 1 bread @ 6,50 and 1 corn @ 3,50 at market, Eat cornflakes @ 6,00 and have a beer @ 1,00 at Alba Arms, work at mines @ 15,00. Feed pig corn (5 days - fleshy), still none available to buy.
Sat - feed pig corn, purchase 1 corn @ 3,50 and 1 bread @ 6,50 at market, work in mines,eat bread - still no pigs available to buy despite Savanna's attempts to help.

Corn Mash and Prison Notes - RK 11

There has recently been a widespread shortage of food throughout the County of Galloway in Renaissance Kingdoms.

A local tavern keeper has been prosecuted for market manipulation, hoarding and price gouging (he was allegedly buying up all the bread for use in his tavern, forcing people to go there to purchase it at inflated prices).

To twist the knife, he was also accused of buying up the main alternative people turn to when bread is short, corn. In doing this later it was alleged that not only was he leaving people with no choice but to come to his pub for food, but was also having drastic effects upon the county's pig and sheep breeding programs - with dire consequences for the local economy in the mid term.

He was found guilty on evidence presented by various witnesses in the law courts, and imprisoned for five days by the judge (because he supposedly had no money). The prosecution made much of the fact that this fellow was flagrantly abusing various quoted 'laws of the land'. Curious, I went to find these 'laws', for the infractions of which fellow citizens could be prosecuted and punished.

I could not find a written source for these laws. Concerned about this apparent anomaly (how can we keep laws of which we cannot know the detail?), I have written to the prosecutor and asked where I can read these 'laws' he quoted.

I then went to the prison and smuggled in a bowl of corn mash soup, together with the following note:

I have snuck in the backgate of the lockup to bring you this corn mash porridge to supplement the roaches and weevils of your prison fare.

Much of the village subsists still on corn mash or church charity. Your imprisonment appears not to have affected the town's food supply for the better.

Whereabouts exist the laws under which you were prosecuted? I cannot find them. How can we live under the rule of law unless we know the laws by which we must live?

I will leave now, and trust that your position within the village has not suffered overly much through these hard times.

It will be interesting to see what comes of all this...

Peasant Blogging - RK 10

As regular readers know, I have been playing the online RPG Renaissance Kingdoms for the past couple of months. A text/menu/forum driven RPG, it takes only as much of your time beyond a minimal five or so minutes per day and is deeply immersive over time. I haven't seen another game quite like it in my travels through cyberspace's MMORPG lands.

Daily Life

My character has worked his way up in the world, and is now a proud peasant (level 1) in possession of a field with pigs. Although still clad only in loincloth, I make regular trips to the market for food and other necessities of life (and occasionally to sell the fruits of my labour), the council halls to check the job boards (occasionally to apply for a vacancy) and see what the council is up to, the mines to do my daily labour (unless I'm working elsewhere), and, my home to feed (and occasionally slaughter) my pigs, eat my meals and generally hang out.

Every several days I wonder through several of the local taverns, giving advice to vagrants (newbies) if they need help to understand our vitual world, seeking advice from any personages that may be present about any problems I might be having, or just generally joining in the widely varied conversations that occur - picking up gossip and feeding in my own as appropriate.

I like to keep an eye on the courts, at the county seat, to see what sort of behaviour is drawing the ire of those who control affairs in the County of Galloway, who is using the law to benefit themselves and against whom they use it. While there, I like to see who (if anyone) is in the lockup. I should say at this point that I have even been known to go to the village church in times of famine for my daily bread!

The Virtual World

Interaction between players is generally mediated by the game engine. For example, I will place my produce on the market at a certain price (through a simple point and click menu system), someone will see it in the market 'menu' and buy it (through a similar menu). We won't 'meet' through the transaction, but will be later informed through our 'events log' of who bought our produce, or whom we bought produce from) that day day (if anyone).

Similar menu driven systems are used to manage your home, inventory, farm, purchases at the pub, etc. To 'chat', you must go into a tavern (chat lobby). One can also check out the profiles of other players resident in your village, and then send them emails via that screen. The exchange of 'trust points' also happens via profile pages. The community is well supported by a large number of active forums.

There are maybe a dozen separate kingdoms in this virtual world, scores of counties, hundreds of villages, tens of thousands of players. And it all interacts.

To date I have only given anecdotal stories on this blog about my online experiences in the village of Withorn. I might keep that going (for example, check the posting above this), but will also formalise some of my record keeping. I will try a weekly summary of what I'm doing (and possibly why) so that I can see what works over time. And if any of you, my readers, are at all interested - why, that's the coolest bonus a blogger can ask for!

Online AAA

As I said in my last post, I have found an online server for us Axis and Allies players. Since writing that post I have had a chance to check it out in more detail. I like it.

Have played the Axis forces in a game against the AI. It is supposedly 'low' in its intelligence, but is still giving me a run for my money. I won't bore you with a rundown of the game I am playing except to say that I can see perhaps more clearly the vital roles of the Atlantic and Chinese theatres of the war, often obscured by more obvious aspects of the war in most treatments of the subject.

If you already like the game, you'll probably like online AAA. If not, and if you can lay your hands upon a set of rules to make sense of the game engine, it's worth having a sus.

And if you really like your wargames in realtime and on this scale, perhaps check out Hearts of Iron.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Axis and Allies - Online Version

For some reason, this post is the one that seems to consistently draw the most googled visitors to my blog. To be fair to the new visitor, I am not a fanatic AAA player, but am interested. If you want to see what I'm up to more recently, click on 'Adelaide Gamer' above and leave a comment on the most recent post - Added June, 2011.

I have come across an online community for playing Axis and Allies. I haven't yet played it, although I have downloaded the files and had a bit of a peek. Will be worth a bit of a closer look.

I think the idea is to first get the hang of the game engine against AI opponent(s) and then go into games against other players online. This can be done either in realtime lobbies or via email. So Broadband isn't necessary to play the game, although the nature of a PBEM game is very different to a virtual FTF one.

Anyway, and if you're interested, here's the link to Triple A. Follow the links on the sourceforge site and then download the zip file. Extract from it with winzip or some such, and then click on the Triple A icon in the folder created by the extraction. Simple.

Looks like fun, but not as much fun as the RL FTF AAA.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blows and Bruises

I have continued my exploration of the online browser based first person medieval combat game Mount and Blade. My present character is a battered and bruised, but brave, minor noble who is wandering from town to town and back again, backing himself with his teammates in the arena wherever he goes so that one day he can hire henchmen and go and earn some real money as a warrior in the wilderness.

I continue to be impressed by the game. I have upped the difficulty level from the previous super-easy settings, mainly by raising intelligence of opponents and increasing the percentage of damage which I suffer from them from 1/4 to 1/2 (taking full damage makes the game too difficult for me at the moment).

I am gaining an increased appreciation of the detail of hand to hand combat in a way that no other game has made possible. In this game feints and defence are vital, observation of the opponent for clues of his intention becomes an art in itself, the importance of tactical cooperation with one's allies is reinforced by the remorseless life or death nature of the combats.

I won't write too much about this game on this blog as it lacks the intrinsic interest of the true MMPORG worlds, but it is great fun to play.

As long as you accept that life isn't meant to be easy!

Justifiable Peace - Ogame 14

Those of you who have been keeping track of my tales of online interstellar adventure on the Ogame may be interested to know how The Justified War is going.

The Great Drac commenced a remorseless war of brutal attrition against the homeland of the hated foe. The foe reciprocated the gesture. Drac, overcome with his feeling of self justification, made his calculations and realised that he was almost certain to crush the defences of his opponent before his own suffered too much.

If he could only permanently bring down the defences of his opponent, he could move into the second phase of the campaign, when freighters begin to farm the opponent's world, accompanied by just sufficient warships to guarantee that the opponent will think thrice about trying to intercept the freighters with his own shrunken warfleet.

While fighting The Justified War from his colony planets, The Great Drac cast his mind to the bigger picture. Realising that he needed to increase his resource base to cope with the expenditures of war he surveyed nearby planetary systems. These systems had recently become hostile territory to Drac's raiding fleets, so it wasn't with great hope that he sent out his espionage probes.

They struck gold! A number of relatively rich and undefended planets lay open to his fleets. Chuckling, Drac sent out his raiders from the homeworld, confident in the plunder with which they would return.

This was the theory. In practice it worked out quite differently.

Drac's colonies were each struck by large and dangerous fleets from players many many times more powerful. This wiped the smile off Drac's face, and he resolved to start seeing if he could spread the war afield. Hardly had he so resolved, however, when his homeworld was attacked by yet another luminary of the Ogame universe, seizing the plunder and destroying the fleets which had come in from the recently sent out raids.


Time to make peace with the foe and rebuild the damaged empire. With peace envoys despatched, Drac set about the desperate work of rebuilding his prewar raiding economy before anyone realised that something was seriously amiss in the land of Drac.

Yet, even in these straightened times, an grim smile fixed itself upon The Great Drac's dread visage. For he enjoyed the knowledge that, despite the terrible size of the fleets that had looted his worlds, he had kept his warfleet intact and his defences upto strength. Although he had gone down in points and rank, his opponent had gone down more. Grim satisfaction indeed.

Rank : 1485
Points: 13,839

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Famine, Savanna and the Pig Crisis - RK 9

My peasant pig farmer, existing in the virtual village of Withorn in Renaissance Kingdoms, has been through hard times recently. Shortly after the local mayoral elections (won by JuliusOctavius over the incumbent, Krelian), the economy in the Withorn went belly up.


There was no bread on the market. Indeed, some days I would go there and there wouldn't even be vegetables or meat to eat! Usually, however, there was at least some of the higher priced foods available and, as I was flush after selling produce from my farm, I was able to eat well. Made a nice change from the usual bread.

Eating meat for my strength and vegetables for my charisma, my character developed well through the times of famine. At its worst, however, there was no food available at any price, not even in the taverns. I think that for two days I went and worked for the church so I would at least get a feed (if I hadn't, I would have lost some of my recently gained strength and looks).

I heard that in the newbie areas of Withorn there were many starved and dead level 0 players. Some of our active council members made it a mission to contact survivors and lead them to the the church. I wonder what political message was delivered to these gullible innocents. along with the knowledge of sanctuary?

Savanna solves the pig shortage

Anyway, after the famine there was a dearth of pigs. I tried to find out why and was given various reasons, answers and excuses by various figures around town. Eventually I went and saw the County Sherrif about the problem. To give Savvana her due, she sorted my piglet problem.

The way she did this was pretty cool. She hung around about half an hour, letting me know that was the case, and waited for me to confirm I was active. I was, but was also cooking tea for my (RL) family at the time.

I told her what I was doing (cooking) but that I would check at the farm gate every five minutes or so. On about my fourth visit I came across a pig seller from the town hall and was able to start up my farm again. A little well directed communication certainly went a much longer way than the usual muttled grumblings one can hear at any of the local taverns.

There's a lot going on in this virtual agricultural community. Over time, it really sucks one in. It develops as you develop. I've included links to the official rules and a very helpful guide to the economics of the various livlihoods on my MMPORG Resources page.

Link is under the 'Online Campaigns' section of the blog roll to screen left.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Vengeance! - Ogame 13

It's been awhile since I last blogged my Ogame online space campaign. I have had a couple of 'vacations', each of a couple days in length. The majority of the rest of the time I have been taking it all at a slower pace, both in the frequency of my sitting down and playing the game, and in the speed with which I develop my empire. The first is a function of Real Life, the second is a reflection of the fact that I have built all the cheap and easy builds and research developments. Everything from here in appears to be hard graft.

To liven things up a bit in his overly well run empire, The Great Drac decided to go to war. What else could a budding space opera hero do?

Casting his jaundiced eye across known space, and cross indexing results with past slights made against his eminent self as recorded in his Black Book, the calculating gaze of Drac fell upon the peaceful worlds of his old foe, Sylwek Kalisz.

Sending the record keepers scurrying to the archives to ensure their records were in accord with the vision of their Lord, The Great Drac gathered his fleet commanders and constructed a cunning plan. The record keepers soon rejoined the discussion, reminding those present of the true location of the enemy's homeworld. Knowing this, Drac could see through the foe's attempted disguising of this vital fact by the mere changing of planet names. The plan grew more cunning.

The Justified War continues, or, Drac Returns!

Day 1 - brief espionage probes despatched to various of the identified worlds of the despised one, Sylwek Kaliz.

Day 2 - follow up fleets of probes are sent to those worlds identified as likely having shipping facilities or defences, positively identifying these stongpoints for special attention.

Day 3 - lightly armed fleets sent against those worlds either not defended at all or only lightly so. These raiding fleets are sent from a relatively distant colony of mine which I believe has already been identified by the foe.

Day 4 - the raiding fleets strike unexpectedly, in three cases stripping the planets of their meagre resources.

Day 5 - the fourth raid arrives at the most strongly defended colony belonging to the foe. This fleet contains a capital ship and several cruiser spaceships. It is destroyed by planetary defences. An evil laugh is heard arising from the land of the foe. Drac smiles. The trap has been set.

Day 6 - the foe launches a fleet at the colony of Drac's from which the raiders were sent. With his superior espionage technologies, Drac is aware of this fact. He waits, as the enemy fleet draws ever nearer to his base - and further from its home.

Day 7 - When he feels the enemy has come sufficiently far Drac launches his main warfleets from his naval colony. This is much nearer to his opponent's homeworld than the colony from which his raiders had earlier been sent. Preceded by strong espionage fleets, Drac's armed might strikes his opponent's homeworld and his main defended colony within a couple of minutes of each other.

Day 8 - realising what has happened, the foe recalls his fleet (previously despatched to attack the distant colony from which Drac had sent the initial decoy raiders). All too late! By the time that fleet has arrived back at the foe's homeworld, Drac's main warfleets have been and gone. They reunite as they refuel, joining up with further reinforcements that have meanwhile arrived from Drac's main shipyards on his homeworld (whose location has not yet, we believe, been identified by the foe). With this newly expanded fleet, Drac again attacks the enemy's homeworld.

Day 9 - The entire network of Drac's empire is now feeding his warmachine. The shipyards of the homeworld are producing heavy battleships, the two colonies in the outer galaxy collect resources from their now flourishing economies and despatch them to those same distant shipyards, and the 'frontline' colonies repair their defences, co-ordinate the protection and transportation of the invaluable fuel of war, dueterium, and act as marshaling sites for the fleets that raid the enemy's lands as frequently as time permits.

Day 10 - operating at a higher tempo than his foe, Drac is remorseless in his pursuit of ...

Rank: 1472
Points: 14,086

Axis & Allies - Trial Game Review

As I said at the time, for my birthday this year I was given the game of Axis and Allies. Haven't got it together enough to play it until earlier tonight, when Shaun, Paul, Wayne and Myself gave it a go.

None of us had played it before. We didn't finish our tiral game due to the late hour- I suspect it would have reached the agreed 'minor' victory condition within the hour if we hadn't stopped.

The mapboard and associated playing aids are utilitarian, sturdily enough built for the purpose. Rules aren't totally clear at several points, due to their being a little loose in their definitions by my professional opinion. The numerous plastic pieces representing armour, aircraft, infantry, battleships etc look good on the board but they all get a bit fiddly when you have large congregations of forces, besides looking cluttered. They do, however, serve their purpose quite well.

The game is, to a wargamer, easy to understand. A grognard would call this a 'light' wargame. A gamer, not familiar with classic wargames, might look at it as 'medium', and a non 'serious' gamer might call it 'difficult'. That would be my observation from watching tonight's trial game. I think it pretty well took us the four hours we were playing to settle the rules.

I suspect the fixed historical starting positions will lead to a finite number of replays for all but the most keen fans. I can imagine a limited number of ways any particular game could go from the beginning, with no doubt several 'best' strategies which would further constrict the game's iterative facility. Of course, the same could be said about such classics as Diplomacy and they certainly haven't suffered from the experience.

In tonight's game I was Germany and Wayne was Japan. I attacked through the caucasus to take Calcutta on my fourth turn, while my central european force swung ultimately over Leningrad. Paul (Russia and America) used his huge yank navies to tie up Wayne, and to transport an army from the East Coast of the US to invade German held france. In his Russian guise, Paul weathered the fascist hammer blows, developing missile technologies early in the game and subsequently setting missile batteries in Moscow with which he could hit german production facilities.

Shaun (Britain) spent his game making small and strategically insignificant raids with his fleets and airforces, while being rolled up by german forces through North Africa and into the Near East. Japan attacked pearl harbour, and successfully conquered Oahu to add to his conquests from Shanghai to New Guinea. At game end, he was threatening San Francisco.

There were mixed reactions to the game, with three of four of us likely to play it again. That's not to bad for a game that fits firmly within the dicefest subcategory of the 'classic wargame' genre.

It's nice to see the game is published under the trademark of Avalon Hill, the company that has produced so many of the wargames that I have played over the years. I went to look at their website and was very disappointed to see that with the company being bought and sold a fair bit over the last ten years, it has ended up in the hands of those that make Magic the Gathering cards and D&D, and has had its catalogue gutted to include not one classic wargame beyond 'Diplomacy'. Such a loss!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tigris & Euphrates - Trial Game

Nancy, Paul and I played our first game of Tigris & Euphrates tonight. It took about 3 and a half hours (but I would expect that to drop to around 2 hours if we three played again).

The game was good fun, with Nancy romping home as a decisive winner. Her lowest scoring colour group were green markets, scoring her 22 points. Paul and I tied for second/last place, he with 6 blue farms and I with 6 red temples for our respectively lowest scoring colours. Nancy's dynasty settled into a well balanced and isolated mid sized kingdom whilst Paul (with a large kingdom) and Mark (with a smaller ephemeral set of kingdoms) got involved in minor dogfighting over influence in their regions. A total of three monumental ziguratts were built.

Paul stirred the pot once he realised his blue leader was going to have a hard time generating victory points, allegedly to drag me down low enough so that he wouldn't come last. I guess you could say he achieved his aim, by way of converting Nancy's likely victory into a steamroller as he handed her my head on a platter after formenting major external conflicts between her kingdom and my lesser principality.

At least, that's what it felt like.

It was great fun! For most of the game we were concentrating mainly on learning the game mechanism. The game drew to its sudden end when Nancy closed it out by trading in her unused tiles to drain the bag of those few that were left.

The game certainly has great replay value. I suspect it is likely to be more conflictual in future, especially when we play with four dynasties!

We are all looking forward to playing Axis and Allies tomorrow. I expect it will be quite a different experience!

PS - I have added the new category, 'Eurogames' to the blog index on the left sidebar.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Port Adelaide, 'my' team in the national aussie-rules footy competition, has just fallen to a historic mamoth defeat against Geelong in the league's grand final. By something like 120 points, the victorious Cats stomped all over the Power in an awesome display of speed, skill and strength. Port didn't help their own cause much with what seemed a reactive strategy, but they were stunned as the cats came out of the blocks and never recovered from there.

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Geelong, they have been a band of valiant underdogs from industrial struggletown for my whole life. I have admired their persistence and resilience. Now, however, that it looks like they've started on a roll of domination (winning grand final, brownlow medal (league's best and fairest player), rising star award (best rookie in the league) and having almost half of the 'all australian' team of the year (a nominal team composed of the best players in the whole league of sixteen teams)), you could really look at this year as the Year of the Cats, and I'll have to re-evaluate my sympathy vote for them in future.

Tigris & Euphrates - Preview

For some obscure reason I had to go to a game shop this morning and get another game. Games I considered included Samurai, Ticket to Ride, Amun Ra. In the end I went for Tigris and Euphrates, another game designed by Reiner Knizien (creator of Puerto Rico). Haven't played it yet, but certainly look forward to doing so asap.

The Board is big and solid. Players get to place tiles on the map, spreading farms, temples, markets and cities across ancient mespotania. As they do so, they each use their various 'factional' leader types (each player having a king, farmer, priest and merchant in their dynasty) to gain control of the various regions of developed countryside and milk them of victory points. Monumental ziggurats get built, catastrophies disrupt the political landscape and treasure is looted from the most ancient of temple sites.

Being, at one level, a territorial game, there is conflict between forces of opposing players. It is more of what I call 'political' conflict rather than military, the contest being played out between the dynastic factions belonging to each of the players.

The design is crisp and attractive, the pieces being either clearly printed on sturdy card or cleanly machined and coloured wooden markers. Rules are easy to read with clearly illustrated examples, appearing to be comprehensive in explanation of simple game mechanics. The large number of tiles come with their own linen bag to draw them from, suitably sized and carrying an ambience of ancient agricultural society rather than modern industrial kitch.

Again, the mechanism of the game appears to be an interlocking series of subsystems that each have indirect impact upon the others. When mixed with the victory mechanism (where the player wins whose dynasty has the highest score for their weakest faction), it looks to be a finely balanced and subtle game.

I hear it's another masterpiece. Can't wait to find out.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mount & Blade - Review II

I have played several hours of Mount & Blade since I last posted a review. I now think of this game as being in some ways better, some ways lesser, than what I then wrote.

Let me explain.

Firstly, it appears as though the game is NOT multi-player. That's a bit of a shame. Online interaction is fun. Sadly, this seems to be the limitation on this particular game, it isn't a cyberverse. That's the bad news.

The good news is that the game bears forth what it promises, stiring combat where coolness under fire and killer instinct determine success. The horses are excellent, it is cognitively analagous to the real experience of horseriding. Very impressive. Not easy to get mount and blade to work as one in combat situation, but very satisfying when it occurs. The archery requires elevation for accuracy, and giving further lead for wind (?) and weapon. The combat scenes are bloody, but not gory in terms of actual pictoral content.

So far I have tried out 'hunter' and 'squire' types of character (still having to try the merchant and the monk). They have different ranges of weaponry and skills, the squire being slightly better in combat and the ranger being slightly better in wilderness skills (eg. picking up tracks of other parties of enemies and friends long after they've passed). Have enjoyed both.

I have yet to go on my first real 'quest' (mission), and have yet to learn how to lead my henchman followers towards anything but their inevitable deaths in this combative wilderness.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mount & Blade Review 1

Having done a spiel on Guild Wars I think it's only right that I give this little gem a plug also. Mount & Blade has a similar sort of game 'cybernity' to it, but is different in almost every detail.

The game exists entirely online, and you can play for free by simply downloading and running the client program through your web browser. This opens up a 3D world that you move through, with 'neutral' cities in which to interact.

But there is also the violent wilderness, where opposing individuals and parties roam and make slay and enslave each other. The combats you have are against both the 'automated' population of the game universe, as well as the forces of other players.

There is no magic. The whole platform is geared to giving you graphic tactical and individual level combat scenarios set in medieval harshness. And, unlike Guildwars and Warhammer (D&D) games, it creates blow by blow battles. It is more like the old 'Top Secret' type combat system than the narrative style of D&D and Call of Cthulhu. It is a world full of greys and browns.

It is created by a turkish husband and wife team, and maybe this goes someway to explaining the original 'feel' of the game system and its cyberverse. It's only a beta version, but has got a pretty loyal band of fanatical followers.

Anyway, I liked what little I have seen so far and hope to have a chance to write of the game play of this game in future also.

Here's a link to the main portal, from which you can download the client.

Guild Wars Review I

Besides being the lucky recipient of a copy of 'Axis & Allies' boardgame for my very recent birthday, I also was given a copy of Guild Wars. This is a graphically full on online mega mega multiplayer mission based game (I hope someone develops a lexicon to talk about these types of things sometime soon).

It has stunning graphics, a feature of the game which will bring back time and again even those who no longer find great meaning in the hunt for treasure and experience points in an eternal quest for more things and levels. Because, at another level, Guild Wars appears a pretty successful attempt at creating the online equivalent of the (old) D&D experience.

The disks you purchase are basically just a 'client' program, the game itself exists in cyberspace hosted by a number of servers. The bonus here is that you don't have to 'patch' (update) the program, because you don't have it. You do also a get a neat package of a couple decent booklets that give you background to the cyberverse you are about to enter, and a decent hardcopy manual to the playing of the game. You also get a poster featuring the enigmatic and vaguely erotic features of a character from the game.

Guild Wars features all sorts of quirky features. For example, each type of character has its own 'dance' command (check out the male necromancer here, and the female ritualist here for my favorites).

The game is episodic when you play its 'adventure' mode (Player v Environment) - it's a vast structured series of missions and quests set in a vast landscape for you and your party. The interactivity seems to arise within these parties, and when you meet and make up parties with other players online in the cities and towns. You leave these places to go into the wilderness. The wilderness adventureland is created new for each group (or individual) each time they leave a city. So your dungeon crawlers won't meet mine on our quest except in the eternal city streets of Ascalon.

Unless we play in the Player v Player mode, when different groups (guilds) of players face off in a tourney like fashion. It is these 'guilds' of players which give the game both its name and its vitality as an ongoing cyberverse.

I've put a link to the portal to the (pretty comprehensive and neat) 'Official' site onto my MMPORG Resource page (link is on the blog roll to left of your screen), so you can get a taste of it.

When I've played it a bit more I'll probably post a further review of the actual gameplay experience.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Birthday Games

Well, tomorrow is my 41st Birthday. The photo you see of me on this blog was taken exactly a year ago on the morning after my 40th. Outwardly, not much has changed. I still need a haircut!

In the gaming world, much has occurred. I've been active online in flight simulator, space conquest and medieval peasant modes. We've played several new games at home - Puerto Rico, Munchkins, Guillotine, Pass the Bomb, Phase 10, Farkel. It has all been great fun.

To add to it all, I got my main birthday present tonight from wife and daughter, a game of "Axis and Allies". They seemed pretty excited to give it to me, so much so that they insisted I open it early! I think they want to try it out tomorrow night and thought they'd give me a night to read the rules as none of us have played either this game or its predecessor before.

The funny thing is, I've been trying to diversify from strictly combat/military games in the past couple of years as not everyone likes them and they usually get pretty involved. I said to the daughter that, "Yes I was happy to have this game but no, I don't know if they'll like it". She asked, "Why?" I said, "This is a full on wargame." She said, "Great, that's just what we thought. When can we play?"

With a family like this, what hope has this unregenerate wargamer got?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Factional conflict - RK 8

My scottish peasant continues to learn about virtual pig farming in my medieval village in the online game of Renaissance Kingdoms. I have sold a complete carcase now, and will soon slaughter my prize pig to sell its haunches also. It is a tight operation at times, as one must balance the need to purchase new stock and feed, earn an income, feed oneself and put labour into the farm. I think I am working out the economics of it.

Would be nice to have a second field. If I did have one, I'd grow corn on it to feed my pigs without having to hassle around bidding in the market.

The politics in the village is heating up, with the lawcourts doing a thriving trade handling law suits and prosecuting reported crimes. I have sat in the galleries and observed the pleadings and witnesses be placed before the court, where justice is dispensed.

Don't know if I'd want to be a lawyer in this world, it is very much in the public eye and the consequences to the parties before the court are fairly serious. Also, it appears that much of the legal chicanery that is occuring is a continuation of the developing competition between two coalescing factions of the town council, who till now have limited their aggressive action towards each other to words in council and on the forums.

I'm trying to just keep my head down and eventually be able to afford a nice new pair of trousers.

Ogame 12 - the pace changes

I have settled a new colony in a galaxy far far away from my homland in my online Ogame. I hope to use it as a base from which to set up further colonies in galaxies even further away. One thing I've noticed about my new galaxy is that, even though sparsely populated, it is populated with fairly high ranking active players. Some of them are keeping a watching brief on me. But as I constitute neither active threat nor juicy target, nothing has come of their interest yet.

In my homeworlds, I continue to be probed fairly regularly by relatively high ranking players. So far I have managed my resources so that I never appear to be worth a raid, unless they intend to 'crash' my battle fleet, which is now large enough now to dissuade most of those ranked similar to myself.

I have reached a level of development where every new development I now make is a major one, requiring one or more days of planning how to get enough resources to the one place at the same time without lining myself up to be raided while shuttling things around.

The character of the game is changing.

Rank: 1614
Points: 11311

Friday, September 21, 2007

If WW2 were an mmporg ...

I came across this post at 4 guys at viewpoint while surfing recently.

Very funny I think, poking a finger in the eye of the bottom end of mmporgers as it passes.

I first found a link here at techrepublic.

And a night later I found an even fuller version of it here in the great big Wiki Uncyclopedea. Seriously funny shit if you have a bit of history knowledge and can relate to the lingo and style of chat in the big multi players out there. Apparently the first version of it was anonyously created and emailed to selected tech heads over a couple of years ago and it has been replicating and transmorgifying itself in cyberspace ever since.

If you've come across it elsewhere, let me know so I can add another link to this collection.

I guess this is what you'd call a 'meme'.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Weimar Political Card Game

Social Democratic Party Poster - 1932

Fall of the Weimar Republic is a card game for 4 - 7 players which, from reading the rules, appears to fall somewhere between Gang of Four and Illuminati in game play whilst adding its own twists and turns. It recreates the political scene in Germany from 1926 to 1933, and players take the part of various political parties of the time. The game ends when the anarchy level reaches ten. I like it already, and I haven't even played it yet!

To download the rules for free, click here. You will have to make your own cards, for which this link to a card generator might be of use. When I get the time to do so I'll whip up a set of cards and try it out with some of my gaming companions. In the meantime, if anyone else has a go, I'd love to hear how it went.

Weimar is only one game of the many to be found for free at War Spawn Games.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Retreat - RK 7

In my Renaissance Kingdom game, the way you get to get away from your obligations in the virtual world (such as to keep from starving to death or worrying about the price of bread) is to go on a 'Retreat' at the local church. Whilst on retreat your fields are unkept, your stock untended and you cannot participate in the regular discourse of the village.

Whilst on retreat you are not allowed to earn anything (though your inventory of goods can remain at your home), and you must have (apparently) sorted out your labour force if you are expecting others to do the work on your fields while you are gone.

I am too poor to hire others, so my two little pigs had to put up with a couple days of not being fed. They both survived, but lost a lot of condition (I have fattened them up againg since - taking a day off from my work in the mines to slaughter the largest of the two so I can sell his meat and hide on the market(sigh)).

When you come out of retreat you can feel refreshed, knowing that the daily grind of the seasons continues as before in your humble village and that perhaps you are not so important afterall.

The Vacation Option - Ogame 11

Over the weekend I went off with the missus to spend a couple nights at Burra, an 'old' mining cum tourist/farming town in the state's midnorth (that is, it is 'old' in white australian terms - about 160 years). This got me away from my Ogame.

I utilised the 'vacation' facility in the play options. Every good MMPORG seems to have something like it, so you can leave your screen and game behind without nasty consequences (such as other players jumping on your inert empire/kingdom/farm while you are gone).

To go on an Ogame vacation, you must first complete all building, ship manufacture and fleet movement in your budding empire. Once everything has come to a halt, you can use the vacation option. Once you do that, you can't take control of your resources and fleets for at least 48 hours (you can, however, continue to look over things, albeit at a superficial level).

While on vacation, all of your planets go back to the base rate of resource production (ie all your mines stop working) and your power production goes to zero. I believe that uncompleted research goes into stasis during your holidays, but can't vouch for the fact as I made sure that my own research was completed before hitting the vacation button.

While in vacation mode, no-one can attack you. Or probe you. Or rob you. Or backstab you. It allows a little period of sanity.

At the moment I am trying to keep all of my resources either in motion (and hence invulnerable to attack) or busy, attempting to balance a continued research effort with steady raiding activity, fleet production and planetary development. I continue to be sussed out by Sciuko (rank 1011), who has now seen snapshots of my growing inventory. The fact that he hasn't attempted to attack me again implies that I am managing to keep the probable cost of my subdual significantly more than the value of any benefits to be derived from same.

Rank: 1764
Points: 9070

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tony's Villa at Iron Mitten

Over at Iron Mitten, between August 31st and September 12th, Tony the legionaire has built a beautiful and useful Roman villa for use in the 28mm scale wargames of this wonderfully artistic blog's author. Very much worth a read from the bottom up if you are interested in how good models are made.

Reminds me of the castle that Jess and I made several years ago.

Puerto Rico - my first win!

I just got back from a weekend at Burra when I had the lovely surprise of my teenage daughter offering to play any game I chose with her and her friend. This was after I said I wasn't upto playing Monopoly, which would have been her first choice (she went out and got a copy of the Austalian version of Monopoly a couple days ago and has already played three games of it - I find it not the most exciting of games but will occasionally play a game of it to be polite. Not today though).

So we played a three player game of Puerto Rico, myself and two teenagers. It was their first try of the game, but we didn't need to play any 'test turns' 'cause they were comfortable with the system very quickly. It was a close game, with Jarrod leading in the middle game, myself swinging into production/export mode and stacking on victory points in the later game, and Jess blindsiding us by getting enough doubloons to purchase city hall and colonise it in the last turn of the game. The game ended when we ran out of colonists.

I held them off, and won with 44 points. Jess came narrow second on 43, and Jarrod a respectful third with 34 points. Whole game was over within two hours.

They enjoyed the game, and were picking up on how the mechanics interact quite comfortably by the end of it. So we now have eight people who can play the game, should make it relatively easy to organise a session which includes it in future (perhaps as a prelude to Diplomacy, which seems to be a perrenial favorite).

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Ogame Order Sheet - 2 days in September, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Justified War - Ogame 10

A bit has been happening in Universe 31 on the Ogame, where I am into my fourth week of building a stellar empire. The most important factor in the strategic environment that has changed is that I have passed 5000 points, so anyone can now attack me and I can attack anyone. I feel like a very small fish in a very big sea.

Almost as soon as I passed 5000 points I started being checked out by espionage probes from various powers that be in the local galactic neighborhood. Initially worried by the experience (as a probe will usually preceed an attack upon a planet) I became a bit more relaxed when I realised that the pattern of probing was consistent with being part of a systemised scanning of the neighborhood, and that as long as I didn't stand out in any way to the viewer, I was just one of many and unlikely to be attacked if my defences made it appear to be a costly proposition.

This strategy (ie. keeping my head down) worked for a while. I used the time to rebuild the remnants that were left of my cruiser fleet after the Brushfire War, built up my productive facilities to a self sustaining level, and poured resources into the development of research facilities and techological advances on my home world.

For a while I was able to have a 'nodal' system going, with my three planets, each in a planetary system separated from the other by at least 20 such systems, sending out farming fleets to attack the most attractive of the vulnerable planets thereabouts. The 'outer' nodes of the system were used as collection points for other fleets which transported surpluses back to my homeworld, where is located the hungry maw of my scientific behemoth.

I used the resources to drive along my research into the high tech required to produce heavy ships of war. I have just now reached the point (in about seven minutes time, actually, as I write this) where I (will) know how to make battleships. I will use these powerful spacecraft to exert my influence further into my galaxy (I have only really checked out about 1 twelfth of it so far).

Or, so I thought. And then I was attacked by a bunctious nearby upstart, who'd just made it into the cruiser age. He smashed his fleet in a 'sneak' raid upon one of my colonies. I don't think he even knew that I managed to have a whole fleet of cruisers arrive about seven seconds before his own fleet of fighters and freighters did, giving his light fleet no chance.

I returned the favour by sending a strong force against his homeworld about 20 hours later. Although I didn't break through his defences and lost a lot of shit in the doing of it, I totally destroyed his own fleet and severely damaged his defences.

I used an online 'combat simulator' to make sure my fleet would have a chance before allowing it to strike home. I have added a link to speedsim (the combat simulator I used) on my 'MMPORG Resource's page. Follow the link to this page from the sidebar of this blog if you are interested.

Preparing to shift from my high research levels to running things as a 'war economy,' I am only now awaiting the necessary completion of my final technology advance (level 3 in 'hyperdrive') to allow me to build battleships. This will happen in 4 minutes. Then I will prosecute my Justified War against Sylwek Kalisz.

See you later.

Rank: 2001
Points: 6532 points

Renaissance Kingdoms 6

My scottish peasant continues to struggle along in the virtual village of Renaissance age Whithorn, County of Galloway, Kingdom of Scotland. Things have moved along since I last posted on the experience of playing this game.

I am now ranked 'level 1' and start having some actual choices in the game. I made the transition by going to see the county chancellor, paying him 90p, and chosing the type of land mine would be (from various crops or livestock). He then told me to bugger off for a day while he fixed up the paperwork.

So it was back to the mines. Except that I couldn't 'cause they weren't hiring! And the wage had dropped from 16p to 15p. So I had to go and work for the church again to earn my keep, eating bread that I had stached at home.

The following day I got the title for my field. I proudly (or at least as proudly as I could in a loincloth) went off to market to buy me a piglet and knife (so poignant), as well as a few bags of corn with which to feed the little bugger on if I could work out how to do this.

For the last few days I've been grabbing work in the mines when I can, grizzling about the wages on the forum, eating bread and watching my pig root around in my field. Will be using my knife as soon as it has fattened up a bit more.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Brushfire Battles - Ogame 9

With a false sense of confidence gained after his pre-emptive strike on 'Cheese', a local active player who had the misfortune to be misunderstood and falsely punished (crushed) as a consequence, although entirely innocent of any wrong doing, the Great Drac cast his eye further afield and gazed covetously upon the next available planet ripe for plunder. Having kickstarted his empire through pluder, the Great Drac grew greedy.

Without warning, his space fleets struck the unsuspecting world of the victim, wrecking its defences and carting off its resources to the devilish mills of the seat of empire. Again, and again, Drac's raiders hammered the now defenceless victim, seizing all of value.

Of course, this situation couldn't go on forever. From his distant homeland, the victim sent first his probes and then his attack fleet against the homeworld of the Great Drac's warfleets. Because of Drac's deviousness, however, the only contact the victim had had with the forces of Drac had been with those despatched from the homeworld. Thus, the victim didn't know of the existence of Drac's colonies. Lucky for Drac.

For a brief period the fleets of Drac and his victim swept in waves at each other. The victim, perhaps not as alive to the information that can be gleaned from such things, launched fleets from all of his scattered planets, none of them close to the land of Drac. From Drac's perspective , this was akin to 'reconnaisance by fire'.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, there were two major battles. In the first, Drac's prized fleet of space cruisers pounded themselves apart against the defences of the victim's main colony. This was the end of Drac's ambition for a war of conquest.

The victim's fleet, much larger in numbers of vessels than Drac's capital fleet had been, broke through the defences of the homeworld only to discover the valued resources that had been there had been lifted off planet at the last moment by the wily defenders. His fleets, disconsolate at the lack of plunder, limped back across the galaxy to their lairs.

And thus ended the Brushfire War.

Rank : 2700
Points: 3653

Renaissance 5

I have been playing Renaissance Kingdoms for a bit over 2 weeks now. The discursive world, created by the combination of game engine and thousand(s) of active players, all occuring real in real time in/on the virtual world of renaissance age western europe, continues to grow on me. Closest thing to compare it to in my experience was those old 'Tamagochi' virtual pets from about ten years ago.

Not much happens to the outward eye, but as the days and weeks pass, positions within the medieval village grow and change, preferments occur, businesses build, the priest conducts marriages and baptisms, deals are done on market days - all on top of the weekly grind of working in the mines, meetings in taverns to talk about corn prices or whatever, going to market to get your bread and going to church on sundays.

Over time people become known, and you develop a strange fondness for your outwardly boring scottish peasant, because you know what his dreams really are!

At the moment, I continue to work in the mines to build up my little nest egg with which I intend to well stock my field once I receive it from the county chancellor and cross his palm with 90 hard earned 'pounds'. My dream? In the short term, get a pig farm, knife and trousers.

Was it not always so?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Ogame 8

I have been playing Ogame for nearly 2 weeks now and am presently ranked 3048 with 2271 points. My colony, Iguana, is now thriving, with capacity to build its own fleet and conduct basic research if necessary. I am using it as a base from which to snoop around the next 50 planetary systems, and then go and raid out the resources available from planets owned by inactive players. Goal here, to have Iguana set up as insurance to retreat to if I start getting hammered at home on Aardv Ark.

Which might be a possibility as I am stongly considering attacking my second active player, also a member of the fairly weak alliance to which my first victim belonged. The advantage of doing this successfully will be that I will have cleared them out of the local area. The disadvantage (successful or not) is that I might bring myself up on the radar as a potential threat to others in that alliance and they might then pull their fingers out and come for me.

Perhaps I'll get another colony going somewhere else entirely first ...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ogame 7 Renaissance 4

In my online Ogame I have risen to Rank 3207, with 1645 points. I have over a thousand players in cohort above me now, and about half that below. Met 14 - Cry 13 - Deut 12 - Sol 17 - Fus 4 - Rob 7 - Ship 5 - Res 7 - Missile silo 3.

I am consolidating on Cruiser level technology and taken a bit of an aggressive turn. I have pounded my system neighbor's fleet and turned his planet into a farmyard for me. He is part of an alliance, but my research leads me to think that they're a bit ameture, so I'm willing to take the chance. I did feel that I'd ruined his day, however, just before my first strike fleet struck.

I have my first colony set up about 50 planetary systems away. It is on a huge planet, which I intend to develop eventually into shipyard with attached mines. Should be massive!

Have had another RL friend, Dave, start up in this universe. Welcome to Ogame, Dave!

In my Renaissance Kingdoms game I have finally accumulated 3 trust points. Of interest, only one of these came from a fellow Newbie, and even he sounds like an interesting dude in RL. The other two points came from one of the original players of the game (great privelege!) and the other from one of the more interactive middle class players of Whithorn (the weaver, actually).

Whithorn has undergone a bit of a bread shortage recently, following the impostion of suggested price ceilings by the newly elected Mayor. Bread seems to be coming on the market at the moment, so things are picking up. A lot of the poor must have thrown themselves on charity of the church to avoid starvation however. I was lucky, I'd a couple extra bread loaves hidden in my hut and so was able to keep on earning by working in the mines.

I get to go up to level 1 shortly, will need to go to the church for a retreat for a couple nights first and then head to the county offices of the chancellor for my title deed to my block of land. What do I want to be when I grow up?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ogame 6 - Poaching Gazeteer

This morning my Ogame stats were as follows: Rank 3679 - 615 points - Cohort above 761 players - Cohort below 368 players - Met 14 - Cry 11 - Deut 11 - Solar 15 - Fusion 4 - Rob 6 - Yard 4 - Res 6.

Having made my leap to the stars, I sent out my probes to nearby planetary systems and started looking for potential threats and juicy targets. I have mapped out about 50 such systems in the form of a 'gazeteer', though only really taking note of either those players in my cohort (ie No more than five times and no less than one fifth my point total, thus being able to attack, and be attacked by, me), and those who are 'inactive' (haven't been online for seven days).

I have noted where active players are (there are maybe a couple dozen nearby who fit the bill). At this stage, this is so that I can best avoid them. If patterns of their play become evident through my broad survey (such as one fellow who is colonising his own and a neighboring planetary system, farming a couple of 'inactives' into the ground), I make a note of that also. My aim here is to have an idea of who is around so that I can advantageously position myself in relation to them, primarily by the art of avoidance.

At present all similarly ranked players in the neighborhood seem to be concentrating upon a less 'aggressive' activity than outright war - the ancient art of 'farming'. In the lexicon of Ogame 'farming' and 'raiding' are two accepted ways of feeding one's empire. 'Farmers' harvest the planets of inactive players around, 'raiders' take out other player's resource colonies (or homeworlds if able). I see 'poaching' as the 'third way' of Ogame foraging, utilising the fact that we in Australia are playing while europe works, means that we can go on anonymous night raids upon inactive planets which are being farmed by others through the day. The trick is to do it only to the extent that they either don't notice at all or they aren't inconvenienced to the extent that they devote resources to catching me.

The tricky thing about doing all of this is that it is pretty labour intensive, even when systemised. It is all very interesting, but map information is dating from the moment in Realtime that you obtain it. My 'map' is really more of a 'scan', because each spy mission to a planet records a different moment in time. Thus the map is more of a 'thinking aid' than an answer to the problems of the poacher, and I rely as much on wit and intuition as I do upon logic and planning.

All this will change as the population of my cohort grows and the reach of my empire expands. I will keep you updated.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Renaissance 3

I have continued my participation in the online world of Renaissance Kingdoms. My character is still clad in loincloth and working in the mines (albeit, did a bit of labour for other players on their farms). I have saved a few pounds and gained a couple reputation points from the trust bestowed upon me by two other more experienced players.

Besides the day to day mundanities of eating and signing up for work, I have sussed out the world around a little. Certainly, since the election for mayor was conclusively decided in the first round (Karelian became mayor), things have become a little more involved, with a minimum wage being instituted, milita recruited and the general argy bargy of political economy kicking off.

Significantly, there is now a Whithorn Forum in operation, where players in the game engage in yet another layer of discourse in their shared creation of a living online experience. Most of what is discussed there, and of what goes on in the town, is way over my head (being a newbie peasant). But I have worked out that there are potential fracture lines throughout (worker/owner, scott/english, Clan Campbell/Clan Stuart, etc). There is also poetry and visual artwork starting to be created.

I think that over time this bucolic universe might become very involved!

Ogame Update 6

As of this morning, I am ranked 3934 with 268 points. My upper and lower cohorts continue to expand (503 and 291 players respectively). The main significance of this statistic (beyond any potential ego factor) lies in the increasing number of players in the cohorts who I can both attack and be attacked by. In the earliest days of my stellar adventure I would have to travel a long way (way beyond my ability) to located a world occupied by an active player who was potentially an opponent (they must be no more than five times or no less than one fifth my point total to fit the bill (as long as I am under 5000 pts)). Thus the scope for interactivity and engagement increases as I progress. And also the risks.

Till now I have been able to ignore potential opponents because our still low point totals mean that we don't really have the capacity for fleet destroying activity. That is beginning to change now, as players above me will certainly have the ability to destroy my fleets, swarm over my defences and plunder my hoarded resources.

I suspect the only way to save my resources is to spend them on-planet (buildings, research). This is because opponents, while they can destroy your fleet and steal your resources, cannot degrade your on-planet development. Thus, they can only hold you down, not kill you.


Building Development: Met 13 - Cry 8 - Deut 8 - Solar 13 - Fusion 3 - Rob 5 - Ship 4 - Res 4. I am not showing my research levels etc nor noting stages of major technological development at this point. That is because, at this time, that would be to potentially give away information to opponents that they wouldn't otherwise be able to get. Eventually I will be able to cover this aspect of the game on this blog because I will be able to safely assume that espionage is being conducted against myself.

Notable moments: Raiding, fleet destruction, arms race. Gazetteer, espionage probes, fusion power mgt.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ogame Update 5

At start of tonight's session I was randked 4198, with 77 points to my name. There are 223 in my 'upper cohort' and 176 in my lower cohort (until I reach 5000pts I can only attack or be attacked by players who's victory points are no less than a fifth, or no more than five times, mine).

My stats are:

Metal 10 - Crystal 8 - Deuterium 7 - Solar 11 - Robotics 4 - Shipyard 3 - Research 2

I have passed a couple of milestones in the game.

Firstly, I launched my first space vehicle (a small freighter) on my first raid. I picked a nearby inactive player whose rank was significantly below mine, and sent my freighter on an 'attack' mission to it. A couple hours, my freighter returned from the undefended planet with a few hundred resource units. Encouraged, I picked a slightly further opponent and repeated the mission. Hours later, my ship returned laden with valuable resources.

Secondly, I have now got a bit of a convoy route going to a couple of planets, to harvest their production. Just to shake things up a bit and keep me a bit unpredictable, I have also built a light fighter which also runs on the routes. It should be able to handle likely opposition if I pick my targets carefully.

Finally, 'Drayzzok' (Robbo in RL) has established contact. I gather he is sending me a 'welcome gift' of valuable resources from his own well stocked reserves. Had a bit of a chat with him while I wait for the loot. It's funny, but I understood 90% of what he had to say about the game. I week ago, 90% of it went over my head.

Must be learning!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ogame update 4

At start of my evening's play on Ogame
Rank 4307 - 41 Points - 267 in cohort above and 48 below
Met 9 - Cry 8 - Deu 7 - Pow 11 - Rob 3 - Shp 2 - Res 2.

Quick MMPORG Update

My two online campaign games were going as follows as of end of day 2:

Ogame: I entered the space age! I launched a solar satellite to supplement my solar power plant. Energy needs are a continuing challenge as my mines and production facilities expand to keep up with demand. I continued my planetary development, the aim being to be able to be in position to build and launch proper space vessels at the end of the following day.

Rank 4388
Points 25
Cohort 164

Metal 9 - Crystal 8 - Deut 5 - Solar 10 - Robotics 2 - Shipyard 2 - Research 2

Renaissance Kingdoms: I took up alternative payment away from the mine, ploughing Tobi Von Helmut's fields for him. The pay rate is the same. Other than that, a meal of bread and veges (increasing my charisma) and a beer, reading a few letters (mainly with directions and encouragement from more senior players), and a building resolve to buy decent clothes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Renaissance 2

In Rennaisance Kingdoms, I continue to work at the mines and buy my food at the market. I was enviously eyeing off a shirt at the market earlier, but it is presently way above my means. I have, however, decided I trust the fellow that sells me bread. I have decided to talk to him about us organising a block peasant vote for the upcoming elections, and then seeing what we can get out the bargaining power that that gives us. IF the candidates hear of my little tilt at subterranean power, at least I'm not 'agin any of them (yet). That should at least save my head. I hope ...

Postscript : I spent far too much money in the pub, talking to a couple friendly helpful citizens. For some reason, I then went and gave yet more money to the church to distribute to the poor. Had interesting chat in the tavern with Rubywax, similar interests in this historical era in RL. Ruby raises sheep for a living and is becoming part of the establishment in the village.

This is an interesting multiverse, there appears to be no combat in it. Although it may also be the type of society I live in and its peripheral nature to the heart of things. At least I have worked out how to go up a level. All have to do is do it.

Oh well, off to the mines we go!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ogame Update 2

I am keeping on with my recent MMPORG games. As with most 'developmental' games, a lot potentially rests upon how the initial period of the game is played out.

In Ogame, I regard the approaching advent of spacetravel from my home world as being an epochal marker. The game 'character' of my little enterprise will be derived from the terms upon which I set forth, the peculiar mix of technologies and developments (themselves a product of my decisions about when to produce/create what). In this way the game mechanic seems to be along the lines of Hearts of Iron and Civillisation (both the Sid Meyer computer game and the Avalon Hill classic boardgame). I suspect the combat will be a ramped up version of that which graced my previous games of Medieval Diplomacy. It will be interesting to see what online interactivity adds to the mix.

It's a pretty inward game for me at present, I don't know enough about things to want to give away my ignorance by engaging with those around. Although at least in the local system of my own world all other players present (each with one or more planets of the system under their control) are so far ranked above me and have so many points, that I am beneath their notice and they can't attack me.

Ogame has a great 'newbie' rule. One can only attack or be attacked by someone who is within five times your own point value. Thus, I have 9 points as I write this. Only those with 45 or less can attack me. There are 150 players who have between 9 and 45 points (there are thousands below). This is my cohort.

Postscript At the end of the night's session I am ranked 4461 and have 17 points. I think my 'cohort' now numbers 161 players who have higher scores. My State of development is as follows:

Metal 7
Crystal 7
Dueterium 5
Solar Plant 8
Robotics Factory 2
Shipyard 1
Research Laboratory 1