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Managing Expectations…

So, this happened…

Then, this happened…

Initially scunnered, I’m now sitting at my desk with broken tanks, glue and a sense of peace and acceptance.

J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars

I bought the game yesterday because it was both on sale on Steam and had been on my wish list for a few years now.

And also because I fancied playing a point and click adventure, and J.U.L.I.A. was well reviewed.

I bought the game yesterday, played it on and off all day and finished it about 10 minutes ago. Perhaps that’s the review / recommendation all there, in a nutshell. I just couldn’t let it go.

The backgrounds are beautiful, the puzzles are tricky without being hair-pulling and the story is really good. When I look back at it, the story fits together nicely.

Only things that are a bother are, the sassy ship AI gets annoying sometimes and I’m sure I’ve missed the complete explanation why the protagonist is alone on the ship to begin with.

I did rattle through it at some pace though, so there’s a chance that a few details have slipped through the net.

So, 9 out of 10? Much fun, Steam sale price-point, well crafted. A good way to spend a day in Covid-19 lock down.

Oh, and I might have missed something but what does J.U.L.I.A. stand for?

(also posted as a review on Steam)

Some happy memories, and Headswim

I’m up late tonight, scribbling down some notes for the novel, and I’ve got some Headswim playing in the background.

Headswim you say? One of the best bands you’ve never hear of.

Pardon me for getting all introspective here.

I first saw Headswim at the Cathouse in Glasgow, when the Cathouse was at it’s previous location. If it remember correctly, and I probably don’t, they were on a three band bill with Tool headlining and, for reasons I can’t remember either, they couldn’t play that night.

It ended up that there was barely a dozen folk there that night to see the other two bands. My friends and I stuck it out and, after the gig when everyone decanted to the open club downstairs, we hung out with Headswim. They were really great guys, and it was a great night.

I’m not sure if this is the “Lockdown” talking but I miss things, like going to a gig and hanging with the band after. Getting drunk with pals and acting like a bit of an idiot. I understand that being a husband and father means that I have to adopt a responsible attitude but it’s not like Ruth doesn’t champion any social thing I get around to doing.

And something odd seems to be happening to my social anxiety at the moment. I’ll ponder and update you later. Thanks for listening, internet.

Chess? Oh, Go On Then

This evening I’ve been learning to play chess.

I’ve played before with Ruth but what happened is that she taught me to play, I beat her twice and we haven’t played since. Now, I’m not saying that as a boast. I prefer playing tactical games more than she does.

Anyway.

That was years ago and, while I can still remember the moves that each piece makes, the finer methods of play are beyond my experience.

What happened was, I was talking to some rando online when they challenged me to a game of chess. I created my account on chess.com and was roundly beaten three times. Since then I’ve been reading up on the finer points of the game.

Strategy and the like. I can’t say I’m any better now, because how much can one man improve in 4 hours but I don’t think I’m quite so sucky at it.

Time will tell, I’m sure.

Tomorrow I’ll try against a computer opponent before I feel confident enough for playing against a fleshy one.

Doctor Who : The Sensorites

It’s a muddled affair.

Ep1 :

Someone steals the Tardis lock. And traps us on a spaceship that itself is trapped in Sensorite space. Christ, it’s not the best. Hartnell is struggling with his lines, which is fine as I’m struggling with the whole script.

But just wait until you meet John. He’s the most charismatic person in space.

Ep2 :

The Sensorite’s planet is made of Molybdenum. Molybdenum? Oh, my!

But in all seriousness, I am enjoying the Sensorite’s facial hair.

Ah, so previous humans have been dicks to the Sensorites. Classic humans.

Ep3 :

Susan, going down to the Sensorite planet? Surely not. It can’t be allowed!

In all seriousness, the story has picked up. While episode one was a duffer, from two onward it picked up considerably.

And there’s some really good character development with Susan, and the poor John who is just a victim of Sensorite mind control.

And a final point, never trust an administrator with a disintegrator.

Ep4 :

Chesterton!!!

Could it be… the water? Let’s pretend it is, and see if we’re right.

Also, is the administrator evil or just incompetent?

Ooh, Doctor, now what is down the aqueduct? And I can only hope that was your tummy rumbling.

Ep5 :

The Doctor is in a fighting mood. I’m hoping he’s going to kick some ass.

And John has been returned to us!

And so has Barbara. To be honest, in all the excitement, I had kinda forgotten all about her… Oops.

Ep6 :

What’s happened to the space lady? Will the Doctor and Ian find who is poisoning the aqueduct? Will the City Administrator finally get kicked in the nuts?

Verdict :

A dodgy start but it gets much better.

The crazy humans at the end are brilliant and let the story turn full circle.

Also, the Tardis crew are just excellent. I was never much of a Hartnell era fan before but I’m really feeling it now.

40k : astra militarum and alpha legion vs. tau (750+750vs1500)

Tonight’s game was a three player, two vs one, game of Warhammer 40000, Games Workshop’s futuristic military tabletop miniatures game.

I brought 750 points of Astra Militarum.

This isn’t a battle report of any kind but a wee breakdown of how my army performed, unit by unit, especially as I brought some things to battle for the first time. Let’s begin.

Company Commander
+ laspistol
+ frag grenades

Company Commander
+ laspistol
+ frag grenades

These guys are order generators, and to pay the H.Q. tax. Low points and a basic loadout, they’re not used for actual combat.

Infantry Squad
+ lasgun / 9
+ frag grenades
+ laspistol / sergeant

Infantry Squad
+ lasgun / 9
+ frag grenades
+ laspistol / sergeant

Infantry Squad
+ lasgun / 9
+ frag grenades
+ laspistol / sergeant

One squad for minding the Basilisk with a Company Commander. The other two, with a CC, for objective sitting.

Bullgryns
+ Bullgryn maul / 3
+ frag bombs
+ slabshield

A first time unit. I wanted to see how useful they’d be for hitting and smashing. They took on a Tau Commander and lost. To be fair, I rolled badly. Adding a Ministorum Priest would have given the unit an extra 3 attacks. The slabshield was worth the points, though. It kept my guys alive for another turn.

Hellhound
+ heavy flamer
+ inferno cannon

Armoured Sentinel
+ heavy flamer
+ Sentinel chainsaw

Armoured Sentinel
+ heavy flamer
+ Sentinel chainsaw

The Hellhound was a new unit. The inferno cannon is a beast. 2D6 auto hits at strength 6. It all but wiped out a unit of Tau Fire Warriors. The Sentinels I used to accompany the Hellhound. They did an okay job, but swapping them out for a second HH seems a better use of the points.

I DO like Sentinels though.

Basilisk
+ Earthshaker cannon
+ Heavy bolter

The Basilisk needs a pal. One isn’t enough to do serious damage now that weapon templates aren’t a thing. I can churn out a good amount of damage to single units, but only D6 hits (rolling two D6’s and choosing the highest) a turn. I should have used it for picking apart battlesuits but I wasted it on squads of cheap infantry.

Valkyrie
+ multi-laser
+ two multiple rocket pods
+ two heavy bolters

For delivering the Bullgryns and annoying the enemy. It was okay but didn’t do as well as in the past.

For a next game, at that points level, I’d add a second Hellhound, drop the Valkyrie and Basilisk and maybe add some Heavy Weapon Teams. And maybe a Chimera transport for the infantry, for objective camping.

A good fun game though. 🙂

the substitute (a tom berenger classic…)

Okay, this might seem like I’m pouring venom on it straight away, with a shady title like that, but let’s not forget that Berenger, at the height of his powers, was a very watchable actor.

And 1996’s The Substitute is showing those powers in the ascendant.

Here’s the deal; Jonathan Shale (Berenger) is a mercenary whose fortunes have turned. His team have returned to the U.S. after a botched mission in Cuba. Anyway, his girlfriend teaches at an incredibly rough high school in Miami, she’s pissed off the gang who runs wild in the school. She gets badly beaten up and Shale manages to set himself up as the substitute teacher of the title.

It’s a brilliant action / thriller with high quality performances from everyone. It’s brilliant. Brilliant.

The sequel, The Substitute 2: School’s Out, isn’t. It’s direct to video trash, despite being led by Treat Williams. Treat Williams is always watchable, but not even he can save the sequel.

(I mean, really, it sucks so hard from the first moment. It is the absence of subtlety in movie form. I’ve rarely seen a film so bad, and I’l watched a LOAD of shitty films. And there’s even a third and fourth film. What?)

Back to the first film, Ernie Hudson is the school principal, Luiz Guzman is one of Shale’s mercs, and the rest of the cast – none of whom I recognize – are reasonably above-average.

I know that the “white man rescuing the inner city school from itself” film isn’t a new genre, but The Substitute is still worth a watch.

It’s 2020!

Congratulations!

As the Earth survives another successful orbit of its celestial master we can look over the last year, or decade, and see what we’ve achieved and what we’ve learned.

But let’s not bother with that. I’m actually in a good mood and I don’t want to spoil it. 😀

Three things of note though:

  1. The wife is a teacher now, half-way through her probation year. She loves it and I’m really chuffed for her.
  2. My mental health is still improving despite a rocky few weeks of backsliding. I’m still hear and breathing. Sometimes it’s enough just to have that. 🙂
  3. My little girl turned 10 last week and she’s a great kid. She helps light the darkness up.

So, let’s march into the next 10 years with a touch of optimism. Who knows, it might actually work out.

doctor who : the aztecs

Episode One : Right out the gate Barbara and Susan are dicking around with Aztec stuff in some kind of temple. Then they’re rumbled! We didn’t see that coming did we, boy and girls?

As Susan runs back to the TARDIS to get the lads, Barbara is marched off! But it’s not long before our intrepid threesome are picked up by the same Aztecs (with incredibly historically accurate BBC English accents) and are shown some kindness?

Babs, is that you? A reincarnation of the priest in the tomb? That’s handy.

“Reincarnations can come out but human beings can’t go in!” I love you, Doc. I really do. Your chat is awesome.

There’s a point to be made here. This TARDIS crew – The Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian – are brilliant. They work so well together.

Also, the character of the High Priest of Sacrifice is magnificent.

Back in the temple… It had better rain, Barbara.

Bloody hell, Chesterton. What have you got yourself into this time.

And the Doctor is chilling with the other high priest, who has the best hat ever, and the local retirees.

And a moral quandary for the Gang. To sacrifice or not to sacrifice?

Ep 2 : An interrupted sacrifice and an angry High Priest of the same. That can’t end well.

Ian. The man with greatest thumb in history! I feel sorry for Ixta, though.

And The Doctor is quite the charming old rogue in this episode, if easily conned.

Ep 3 : Can Barbara stop Ian from being scrobbled?

Can Ian stop Barbara from being scrobbled?

Where the hell is Susan in all this?

And let’s count this as The Doctor’s first romance. “Yes, I made some cocoa and got engaged.”

Ep 4 : It’s all to play for. Will Ian escape the tunnel? Will The Doctor escape his fiancee? Will Susan escape her punishment? Will Barbara survive the eclipse?

And here comes the final battle between Ian and Ixta.

Verdict : The Aztecs is an example of Doctor Who at it’s very best. Everyone shines and the script is perfect. The story is funny, tragic, thrilling and, at the end, very sad.

battle ready – pastor niles

Okay, as promised, an actual model that’s been painted. 🙂

Everyone, say hello to Pastor Niles.

Pastor Niles is one of the Ministorum Priests assigned to Major Emerson’s Fighting 27th, a motley collection of soldiers trying to stay alive on the nightmare world of Planet Nine.

He’s shinier than expected when seen close up. That must be something to do with the light of the God-Emperor, or something…