08 April 2006

Whoops!

I slept through the whole game session. Oh well, it's 5:26 pm. No sense in rushing down.

Singapore Open Gaming II

Just a reminder. SOG II is today! Ken Lee has organised this gaming session for everyone. It's an open gaming session. Bring your own games. German games, collectible card games, family games, roleplaying games, wargames, whatever you like.

Date: 8 April 2006
Time: 1pm-6pm
Venue: Blk 3, Queen's Rd #01-139
After Action Report: Friedrich 01.04.2006

Game: Friedrich
Designer: Richard Sivèl
Publisher: Histogame







Instead of 'Hammer of the Scots', we chose to play Friedrich. Wow! It was an experience.
01.04.2006 - Saturday


Game 1

Prussia/Hanover: David
French: Timothy
Austria/Imperial: Chris
Russia/Sweden: Shyue Chou

The game started with the dastardly Prussians advancing south with three armies. In the northern front, an army was allocated to watch over the Swedes while another guarded the eastern borders.

Three ponderous Russian armies approached the single Prussian army but were stalled. At that point, I simply did not have the right hand. I had only one of that card in hand (Spade). This impasse was to continue throughout the game. I had divided my armies into the following:

Army 1: strength = 2
Army 2: strength = 6
Army 3: strength = 2
Army 4: strength = 6

Meanwhile, the French armies steadily advanced while the Hanoverians staged a careful retrograde movement.

By turns 2-5, in South Prussia, the Austrians finally met and engaged the Prussians in a few indecisive battles that resulted in the Austrian armies reeling with minor casualties. The armies involved were engaged in a war of manouvre threatening their respective supply trains.

In East Prussia, the ravaging Russians captured three cities but were unable to take the last one for the lack of a card to destroy the opposing lone Prussian force. The two small Russian armies had to contend with a holding role. The other Russian armies approached Prussia proper but was again strangled by the lack of a particular type of card. I had gone through the whole game missing two types of cards, I received them once in the whole game! I was quite passive and didn't accomplish anything which suited me fine as I was quite lethargic that hot afternoon.

The Swedish army was practically fixed for want of the correct card type.

The inconsequential battles in South Prussia did not avail to much beyond holding the unyielding Austrians in place. At that point in time, around turn 6, the aggressive French armies finally engaged the Hanoverians in a large bloody decisive battle which largely wiped out the Hanoverians. That was followed by a quite occupation of all the victory point spots, thus resulting in a shattering French victory.

Congratulations Timothy!

Game 2

Prussia/Hanover: DavidFrench: TimothyAustria/Imperial: ChrisRussia/Sweden: Shyue Chou
David, in his little dingy palace in Potsdam demanded a re-match after that swift crushing game.
Thus, we took up the same roles again.

The opening of the second game is not dissimilar to the first.

The Prussians led by their insidious leader began by committing the bulk of the armies against the Austrians and Imperial armies. The Austrians responded by advancing north. In the east, in a few uncharacteristic moves, the Russians quickly sent four armies into East Prussian. I had the same army dispositions. And the initial card draw was a card of each type. And I began drawing spades which was what I needed. And I wanted to force battles.

Army 1: strength = 2
Army 2: strength = 6
Army 3: strength = 2
Army 4: strength = 6

I engaged the Prussians in a large battle until I ran out of cards and I was forced to do a retreat with minor casualties (strength 1 or 2 lost). However, I had depleted a large number of cards and so had David. He was definitely weakened. I was able to use two armies to fix his lone army later when I had one card of that type. Of course, he was rather happy to hold my two armies. It had accomplished his objectives.

Meanwhile, the Austrians had engaged the Prussians in a series of indecisive and inconsequential battles while in Hanover, the Hanoverians were cleverly denying the French battle while retreating.

Turns 1-6 were a series of manoevres. However, when it came to the event card draw after turn 6, the first card reduced the Prussian hand by two cards. That immediately forced a change in the Prussian strategy. The interminable battles against the Austrians had depleted the daunting Prussian hand. Suddenly, the Prussians were forced to avoid battle totally. And even in unavoidable battles, the previously strong Prussians were forced to retreat.

Turns 7-10 saw advances made into virign Prussian and Hanoverian territory. Thus, the Austrian advance in south Prussia became one of titanic clashes between the large armies that resulted in heavy attrition. The Prussians could not afford that and lost a few battles. Soon, there were four Austrian armies facing one Prussian army.

In East Prussia, the sole Prussian army was finally eliminated after being constantly engaged and reduced. Strength, 4, 3, 2, 1.. The Prussians had thrown in the towel. I had started shifting two of my armies west after losing a battle there with minor casualties. I bluffed with one card and David simply gave up letting his army go. He decided that he could not afford the distraction. Again, I had one of one type of card. And I have a lot of Diamonds and Hearts cards for some reason. I could bluff and I did. Most of my game was bluff, some of which were effective while others were inconsequential. David had managed my armies well.

In Brandenberg, the Swedish supply train occupied Berlin while a Swedish army rampaged before it was eliminated. A turn later, a reconstituted Swedish army invaded Brandenberg again.

In the mean time, the Hanoverians were cleverly retreating and then threatening the French supply lines by reoccupying territory. The French armies could not advance and hold at the same time.

Turns 11 and so forth. In Hanover, the French finally eliminated a small Hanoverian army while pursuing a larger one. The French army was also holding off one or two Prussian armies. Timothy had a fabulous hand of cards with four reserve cards! There was one victory point spot left to occupy. This could only be occupied if that remaining Hanoverian army was destroyed.

The four Russian armies had managed to occupy all the victory point spots with the exception of one.

The Swedish army attacked a Prussian army near Berlin and was repulsed.
Things were looking grim for Frederick and his Prussians. (Hey, it's like history.) At that point, an event card draw saw the Imperial army switch over to the Prussian side. And that area was practically deserted. The Imperials could win in three to four turns. An Austrian army promptly came over and prevented that.

In south Prussia, four Austrian armies eliminated the sole surviving Prussian army and thus ensuring the occupation of all objectives. Victory for the Austrians!

Well played Chris! Good aggressive play with great manoeuvring. Good play, David. Pity about the event card draws.

Observations: There were quite a few clever touches in the game design. The turn sequence has the Russians move after the Prussians. Through that, it will ensure that the Prussian hand is usually not depleted and the Prussian armies will nearly full-strength assuming that the Prussians don't lose. This can make for very bloody battles which actually happened in battles (for instance, Zorndorf) between the Prussians and Russians. We thought that this was a clever touch on the part of the designer. Another clever design touch was the card types and supply train that allows battle to be shattering and yet restrictive. This has forced armies to be circumspect at times. All in all, the wargame did capture a field of Frederick the Great's campaigns. The eventual depletion of the Prussian card hand also reflected the exhaustion of the Prussian armies in the later years. Again, a clever historical touch.

The Prussian player, obviously had the hardest task the game. Historically, the Hanoverians were able to manage the French well. And after Rossbach, the French were essentially out of the picture. In this game, there appeared to be a constant crisis in Hanover.
Sadly, I didn't take any photos of the positions which is a pity.

I recommend 'Friedrich'.

Note: If you spot any mistakes here, factual or grammatical, please let me know, I'll correct them. My memory is rather hazy as I was sleepy throughout that afternoon and I was pretty much a shadow of my usual self.


Addendum

Richard S. has kindly pointed out two rules mistakes regarding the Imperials and the armies of
allies blocking. We also made another two rules mistakes in our games, one of the nature of retreat and another of the nature of reinforcement.

Regarding this report, I put it up to share with everyone. Please freely quote or re-use in full in other instances (ie print, review, website, blog, etc) if required. You do not have to ask me or notify me.

On the Effects of Improvements in Food Supply

"When Europeans arrived in New Zealand, they brought potatoes, which beginning around 1815 considerably increased Maori crop yields. Maori couldnow grow enough food to supply armies in the field for many weeks. the result was a 15-year period in Maori history, from 1818 until 1833, when Maori tribes that had acquired potatoes and guns from the English sent armies out on raids to attack tribes hundreds of miles away that had not acquired potatoes and guns. Thus, the potato's productivity relived previous limitations on Maori warfare, similar to the limitations that low-productivity corn agriculture imposed on Maya warfare."

'Collapse: How Societies choose to fail or succeed' Jared Diamond

A very telling statement.
Attacked by Crows

On Friday night, I was walking across at field near Prinsep Street when I felt a 'bonk' against the side of my head. When I looked up, I saw that a crow had dove at me! Meanwhile, another one was cawing and circling overhead. They continued to dive at me as I walked swiftly across the overgrown field.

At the corner of my eye, I saw a grounded crow in the distance. I suppose that must be a young crow. The two parent crows were extremely protective.

07 April 2006

Traffic Records and Cheats

When I examined the traffic records recently, I realised that a sizeable number of visitors of this blog were actually people who were searching for a cheat programme or aimbot for Battlefield 2. I wrote one or two blog entries previously reporting on a company which had one such programme for sale. This begged the question: Why are these people searching for cheat programmes if not to use one?

It was also probable that when some of the visitors found that the cheat programme was not a free download, they got angry, and equated me with the cheats or programmers of the cheat. And they slammed my blog entry which was really too funny. It was a case of the fox and the grapes in Aesop's fables.

I hate cheats. My advice to them: Don't cheat. Learn to play.
Peter Elson

Kelvin referred a fantastic site of illustrations of starships by Peter Elson. Elson is a forgotten contemporary of Chris Moore, starship illustrator-extraordinaire.

It is such a shame that he is forgotten today as Elson's starships illustrations have an evocative feel about them.

06 April 2006



Cafe

An ink sketch of a cafe from a book on cafe design and decor. I did this sketch a month or more ago at the Book Cafe at Mohamed Sultan Road.

05 April 2006

"Suddenly it's like a very fat person (who) uses most of the energy to move the fat. And Linux is no exception. Linux has gotten fat, too."

From a speech given by Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit association, at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo

Source: Article from www.news.com

The Dolmen on the Summit

A stylised ink sketch of dolmens on summits and ridges. Faber-Castell pigment pens.

04 April 2006

Serenity

Serenity is a great distraction for an evening. Nothing phenomenal. Harmless gunfights with millions of rounds zipping all over, hand-to-hand combat in the Captain Kirk mode (Kirk Fu as some would christian it...), an unkillable murderous assassin, hovercraft chase, space battle, mysterious psychic child killer.

Yes, this is just how a TV movie is and this is Serenity. A film made from the ashes of the failed TV series Firefly. A small budget with make-shift and adequate 3D renders of spaceships, planets, settings.

It's a great distraction but it is not classic. An entertaining space opera. Recommended if you want something mindless but fun.

03 April 2006

Music News

I am not very hopeful with regard to the new Erasure EP 'Boy' and album 'Union Street'. The new versions are accoustic versions of released Erasure material with new arrangements. I will have to hear it. Hopefully, it is listenable.



Erasure 'Boy' EP
1. Boy*
2. Cry so easy*
3. I'll bet you're mad at me

*Accoustic versions of the original.




Erasure 'Union Street'
1. Boy
2. Piano Song
3. Stay with Me
4. Spiralling
5. Home
6. Tenderest Moments
7. Alien
8. Blues away
9. How many Times?
10. Love Affair
11. Rock Me gently


The new Hooverphonic album 'No more sweet Music' is finally available in Singapore. The edition that is available in HMV is the two CD edition which includes an extra disc titled 'More sweet Music', being a collection of the same tracks in a different form. This should be interesting. However, I am not hopeful as the last few Hooverphonic albums appear to lack the beauty and charm of the first two, 'A new Stereophonic Sound Spectacular' and 'Blue Wonder Power Milk'.

I have finally heard Madonna's 'Confessions on a Dancefloor'. The album is decent with tracks 3, 4, 5, 6 being standing out. Tracks 1, 11, 12 are dire. The second single 'Sorry' is excellent and is a lot better than the first lead single 'Hung up'.

My first impressions of Icehouse's 'Meltdown' remix album is good.

Meanwhile, the fourth single, 'Fly Me away' has been announced from Goldfrapp's 'Supernature' album. I am glad that Mute is still faithfully releasing singles and sticking to this format.





Goldfrapp 'Fly Me away'
1. Fly Me Away - Single Version - Goldfrapp
2. Satin Chic - Bombay Mix by The Shortwave Set - Goldfrapp Remixer: The Shortwave Set

Goldfrapp 'Fly Me away' (Limited Edition)
1. Fly Me Away - C2 rmx 4 - Goldfrapp Remixer: Carl Craig
2. Fly Me Away - Ladytron Remix - Goldfrapp Remixer: Ladytron
3. You Never Know - Múm Remix - Goldfrapp Remixer: Múm

Hmm.. Ladytron is remixing one of the tracks. Promising. However, I don't expect any music stores in Singapore to carry this. They will just have the usual brain-dead old shit like jazz, bossa nova, blues and world music.

Meanwhile, I heard from Colin that Saint Etienne is releasing yet another compilation 'Special Price' or something. This time it is a collection of rare tracks, studio demos and so forth. Not promising at all. However, given a dearth of consistent material from Saint Etienne in recent years, it is still better than nothing.

World of Starcraft

Colin pointed to a post on Gamespot announcing the arrival of World of Starcraft. This is an unexpected development. I suppose it would be logical after the cancellation of Starcraft Ghost or that so-called first person shooter (FPS) they have set in Starcraft.

There are several screen images on Gamespot.

Here is one of marines and a Protoss Zealot.

And a Zerg rush.
Lu Xun (Lu Hsun) Musuem

I purchased three books when I was at the Lu Xun Museum in Shanghai some weeks ago. When I was in Shanghai I also spotted his tomb in the surrounding gardens.




Lu Xun is one of the most famous of the modern Chinese writers with works such as 'The Story of Ah Q' (1921) and 'Call to Arms' (1922). He has sometimes been denoted as the father of modern Chinese literature. I wonder if he is at all familiar to readers today. Perhaps, only of those with a strong Chinese education or a Chinese cultural persuasion. Well...

Anyhow, I have only read a translated 'The Story of Ah Q' (1921) some years ago and I think the situations depicted will just as easily fit into modern society, whether Chinese, Singaporean or any other society for that matter.


A receipt from the Lu Xun Museum for three books.

I bought three books, one of which is about Lu Xun's life, while the other is a collection of short stories and the last, something in the longer form, 'Call to Arms'.

Is Lu Xun a communist or a left-leaning patriot? (or nationalist but I don't mean the Kuomintang) While the communists would claim in his writing that he has written communist tracts and attended their meetings, others would claim that he is a patriot who had sympathies for the commies as the commies were the only ones at that point in time* who appear capable of resolving the social injustices in the Chinese society then. From what I have read and seen, I think he is a true-blue Marxist.

Thus, if you are of a leftist inclination or are perhaps a progressive, Lu Xun may just be the writer as he writes indignantly of the social injustices, the backwardness of Chinese society in the 1920s and the aggression of the facist states in the 1930s.

In case you are wondering, no, I'm not a commie mutant traitor. Citizens, stay alert! Keep your lasers handy!

*1920s-1930s.

02 April 2006

The Coming of Age of the Ultimax 100 Mk 4 Section Automatic Weapon (SAW)

The Ultimax 100, designed by Jim Sullivan and Bob Waterfield for Singapore Technologies Kinetics, has frequently been cited as one of the best SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon for Americans) or Light Machine Gun (LMG) for some time. Since its inception, the weapon has seen action in Croatia with the Croatian forces in 1991 and possibly with a few others. Photos of the deployment can be found in a Concord Publications book on the war in Croatia.

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has evaluated four weapons, the M16A2, HK G36, M249 and Ultimax 100 in eight tests and in a report in the Marine Corps Gazette titled 'Automatic Weapon Concept Part 1: History and Empirical Testing', it is noted that:

'On average, during Tests 1 through 4 the 48 shooters preferred the weapons in the following order: Ultimax 100, HK, Colt, and M249 SAW. The questions on the questionnaire focused on nine areas: (1) overall performance, (2) using system sights, (3) detecting and identifying targets, (4) adjusting windage, (5) adjusting elevation, (6) adjusting weapons zero, (7) maintaining zero, (8) malfunctions, and (9) stoppages. Even though the Colt fired the most accurately in most stages, it was next to last in shooter preference.' "

For a variety of reasons, Defense Review has endorsed the weapon in two glowing articles where the Ultimax 100 Mark 4 is described in the following terms:

"DefenseReview has been writing about the Ultimax 100 LMG/SAW virtually since our inception. And, in the last year or so, we've discussed the Ultimax quite a bit. In our article on Noveske Rifleworks Weapons packages, we discussed not only what's important about he Ultimax, but also how and why it's superior to the U.S. Army's current light machine gun/squad automatic weapon (LMG/SAW), the problematic/subpar FN M249 SAW."

There is also an impressive image of a person firing the weapon with one arm in that article. Yes, it's full automatic.

In another Defense Review article, the Ultimax 100 is described as:

"On full-auto (side-by-side shooting), the Ultimax will outhit the much heavier FN M249 SAW at greater range and is more reliable and durable/rugged under combat conditions (adverse conditions). In fact, the Ultimax is the gun that proved that a lightweight machine gun could outhit a significantly heavier machine gun (of the same caliber) on full-auto. The Ultimax is also MUCH faster to reload than the M249 (or any belt-fed machine gun, for that matter), since the Ultimax is drum magazine-fed (mag capacity: 100 shots)--so it's as fast to reload as an assault rifle. "

I have handled the Ultimax 100 when I was doing my national service in 1990-1992. As the weapon only fires in the full-automatic mode, one must learn to control one's fire with short bursts. It is fairly handy and controllable. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to touch a M249 or FN Minimi yet.