Desert Of Zin

The occasional blog of Alistair Bain – Writer, Husband, Father and Chief Techno-Arcanologist at the Institute of Giant Robots, Spaceships and Wizards. None of these positions pay well.

Helsreach and other shiny things of a similar nature

Good afternoon, website of mine that is rarely seen and updated.

(To be fair, I only ever really remember that I have a website after I have to renew the domain and hosting for the bloody thing.)

I have an occasional love of the tabletop nuttiness that is Warhammer 40K. I’ll make no apologies for that. 🙂

There’s a book called Helsreach by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. I haven’t read it myself; I’m sure it’s very good. But that’s not today’s message.

This is:

This is just the prologue but it’s an exceptional piece of work. This guy has set animation to the audio book and it’s quite something. He’s putting it chapter by chapter, and it’s not finished yet, but it really is something to keep an eye on.

Also, while it’s in mind, there is such a thing as The Grand Inquisitor. Like the animated Helsreach it’s a fan project. The YouTube channel has loads of concept stuff and work in progress updates. I particularly like these:

May 7, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Gaming, Watching | Tags: , , | No comment

Playing with Aurora, or Massacre In Squinkie Town…

The other morning Aurora and I were playing. She has these things called Squinkies (which couldn’t be more cheap, plastic or crap) and she wanted me to play with them with her.

That’s fine. I like some quality time with the wee one. Especially as it’s only a matter time before she’s too big to spend time with her old dad, with such things as boys and underage drinking to occupy her time in the years to come.

So, she had set up her team…


And I was given mine, with what was left. I may have supplemented my team with a Inquisitor from the ever popular tabletop war game Warhammer 40,000.


At one point I had left the room only to return and find this…


“Only absolute faith in the God-Emperor of Mankind saved the turtle during the inquisitorial purge of Squinkie Town.”

July 19, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Gaming | Tags: , , | No comment

A quick point on Mechs and Muppets

I’ve mentioned Mechwarrior: Dark Age #1: Ghost War in passing before. While I’m in the frame of mind to enthuse about Battletech/Mechwarrior you really have to read the afore mentioned Ghost War by Michael A. Stackpole. Stackpole crafts the story so well that you don’t have to have any grounding in the Battletech universe. And I’m sure if he took all the BT references out it would still be a kickass piece of Sci-Fi.

Also, with Muppets Most Wanted on, a quick point. I never thought I’d ever in my life see a musical number with Tina Fey, Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo. Wow.

May 2, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Gaming, Watching | Tags: , , , , , , , | No comment

I Like Pancakes

Pancakes and robots to be fair. But not on the same plate as that’s just weird.

Pancakes and jam are what I’m shovelling into my oversized gullet, while browsing Battletech on the interwebs. Now this is just about the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Shortly this sense of peace will be threatened by having a family film time foisted upon me. (It’s not that bad. Muppets Most Wanted is the film of choice and it’ll keep my darling daughter happy for the rest of the afternoon ’til bedtime. I can always browse giant robots behind their back…)

Battletech is a old favourite of mine. Catalyst Game Labs, the company of ex-FASA employees who are keeping the mechwarrior dreams alive, released a new edition of the boxed starter game. I have to admit that I’ve been eyeing it eagerly and, once my new job starts and the house move has settled, I’ll be spending time and finances on a box of my own. I had an old version of the starter game, with cardboard mech counters rather than actual plastic miniatures, and it was my favourite game ever. Ever.

Of course, Games Workshop are a week away from releasing their range of Imperial Robots and they have a new Imperial Knight Titan heading for Hobby Store shelves.

First thing first. Battletech. I’ll aim to get a copy by the end of the month. Then the unboxing and a few test games. And it doesn’t hurt that I already have a copy of Total Warfare (the core rules) and the TechManual (the core construction rules), so by the time it arrives I should have already re-immersed myself in the rules. 🙂

May 2, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Gaming | Tags: , , , , , , | No comment

I do love a good partwork

Especially when that partwork is going to be 100 issues in total, running to just under 900 quid and will leave me with a large but beautifully detailed model of the Millennium Falcon. Yeah, internet. That’s right. And only for £900. Money well spent there.

I’ve dabbled in partworks in the past. A few editions of the Marvel Graphic Novels Collection. Bits and pieces of the Star Wars and Star Trek Fact Files. Comic books. My Doctor Who dvds.

I’ve bought the first issue, for the bargain price of £2.99, and not because I intend to go any further with it. I’m a sucker for a big poster of a spaceship.

But £900 is a step too far. I could get a Forge World Imperial Reaver & Warhound Titan for that.

Hmmm… Titans…

January 9, 2015 at 11:53 am | Gaming, Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No comment

Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Don’t judge me

I’m not playing this game. That’s not to say that I’ll never play the game in the future but right now, it’s not me playing this piece of… art. It’s the wife. We had a trawl though Game in Glasgow and came away with a few second hand games; Lord of the Rings: War in the North for me and Final Fantasy XIII-2 for Ruth.

I’ve had a go at War in the North and it’s not bad. It captures the Middle-Earth-iness well and, other than a bit of ropey voice casting, a few hours of gameplay is revealing a game that’s not bad. It’s not going to set the world alight but it’s certainly playable.

Then there’s Final Fantasy XIII-2. (I used to call it Final Fantasy Ex Three Two, for reasons that I can’t possibly explain other than I found it inexplicably entertaining to do so.)

It’s pretty. A very pretty game indeed.

I have no idea what’s going on. I’m watching it over Ruth’s shoulder and I’m finding it hysterical. Really, astonishingly funny. I’m sure it’s not meant to be.

I’ve just read all the preceding post to Ruth and the word she used was breathy. You know that kind of teenage almost angst? “Oh, my. What shall we do now? <sigh>” That make sense? And then there’s the music. Which is all breathy (there’s that word again) and self-important.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slating the game. I’m actually kind of enjoying it. Sort of. From afar. And I can see why it appeals to a certain kind of teenage market. And, despite having loads of things in my life that are both more pressing and more important, I can really see myself having a go at this nonsense. And really enjoying it.

October 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Gaming | Tags: , , | No comment

All the writing, all the time

Or, a bit of writing, last night.


This was my impromptu “home office” set up last night. After Doctor Who was watched, and very much enjoyed, I decided to dodge the usual late night time wasting of GTA5 and do some ACTUAL WRITING. Yeah, I know. What an incredible idea.

(The oversized keyboard in the picture belongs to Aurora. It’s meant to save her from battering the laptop keyboard. And the laptop is Ruth’s old one. Turns out the “u” key is a bit temperamental. So, I thought, I don’t mind using the bright green oversized keyboard. That lasted about five minutes before I settled on not minding about a single temperamental key.)

A few years back I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, with my sci-fi masterpiece The Planet Of Snakes. Don’t go there. There is honestly nothing Freudian about the title. Nothing at all.

I’ve tried editing it a couple of time over the years with no real success. Last night was another dig at it. What I ended doing was starting a rewrite. There are some good ideas in the original version but it’s too disjointed to make a decent story out of. That is, an edit isn’t enough. So, not with a heavy heart at all, I’m embarking on a longer novel than the first attempt taking part of the structure and dropping anything the clangs. And there’s a fair amount of that.

On the first attempt last night I battered through 500 words in about a half hour. And after reading it, it was binned. Awful. Terrible. I didn’t want to fall into the old trap of writing loads that was later unworkable. Neither did I want to edit as I went as that’s the death of productivity. (Once I wrote a chapter. Six months it took me. I was really pleased after countless revisions. Unfortunately, I ended up being sickened of the story and it still lies abandoned.)

So with 500 words written and abandoned I started again. But with the same approach I’ve taken with the few works I’ve actually finished. I one and half hours I wrote 382 words. But good words. I took my time, checking that what I was writing was actually worth being committed to the screen.

382 words. Not much. But 382 words more than I’ve written in a while.

September 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Gaming, Writing | Tags: , , , , | No comment

So much to paint and so little time

A friend of mine, Greg, handed in part of my birthday present this morning. My birthday was last month. 39. Moving on…

So, he’s a big fan of Mantic Games and invested, reasonably heavily, in their kickstarter project for Deadzone, a skirmish scale table-top game involving plastic/resin/metal toy soldiers. My particular poison is Warhammer 40K but I haven’t played in about a year. Too many unpainted models and so little inclination to get them finished. The title of the post isn’t quite accurate. Still, that’s all aside. Greg got me some Deadzone miniatures. I suspect he got them as part of a particular stretch goal that justified his spending more to get other things. That might not be the case, but I know Greg. 🙂 It’s a relatively safe assumption.

But let’s not shoot him down in flames. After all, I’ll happily accept his gift of more miniatures to paint and play with. Oh, yes. Thank you very much sir. 😀

So, this being a fresh blog, let’s start a to-do list.

  • Assembling and painting Deadzone miniatures: Forge Fathers and Enforcers.

A good start. I’ll count them up and get an idea of what I’m working with. Then stick a few blurry photos of my painting attempts up here.

September 19, 2014 at 9:34 am | Gaming | Tags: , , , , | No comment

Warhammer Madness!

Or, How I Managed to Convince My Wife To Have A Game Of Warhammer 40K…

Actually that’s not strictly true.  She is interested in playing a game and seeing as I’ve had these blasted things on my shelf (still mostly unpainted mind) and not yet played them, I think this is a good move.  And seeing as it’s been years and several editions between my last actual games.  16 years and three editions…

Tonight we set up the wee table, I cobbled together two small armies of futuristic metal (and plastic) soldiers, and we went over some of the rules.  The idea is to spread the learning curve over several days and to use units that are pretty straightforward to play.

Tomorrow, hopefully, brings the game itself!

May 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Gaming | Tags: | No comment

Space Hulk!


It arrived Wednesday morning just before 8, and it was/is a lovely lovely thing.

I had my first game of it last night with Cheezy and it’s easily as good as I remember.  Tomorrow sees a day of Space Hulking with The Edgemeister, so I’m sure much fun will be had.  I’ll give more of an update then.  :)

September 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Gaming | Tags: , | No comment