Dark Elves – First Thoughts on 8th Edition

I’m a long-time Dark Elf player, and been waiting excitedly for this new book. Every time a new army book comes out, I see the new monsters, monstrous infantry and monstrous cavalry, and wonder what this will mean for the Dark Elves when they come. So now I have the book, here is what I have noticed.


I regret that I read the book backwards – the last thing that I looked at was the background. As I have three previous editions of the book, I’ve noticed that each book has a distinct style. The 4th edition book was heavy with background, but dry, like a textbook. It presented the facts plainly without emotion. The 6th edition book (there was no new book in 5th edition) was almost the opposite – few facts, little history and lots of ‘first-hand’ accounts from the point of view of the Dark Elves. 7th edition brought a happy medium – it was a more detailed background than 6th, but gave some of the flavour of the Dark Elf outlook. 8th continues this style, but changes the perspective slightly. The Dark Elves of old were bent on revenge, but 8th makes it more clear that they are not alone in madness among elves. Also, unlike the previous books, the history of the Dark Elves does not start with Malekith and the Sundering, but with the beginning of the High Elf civilisation and Aenarion. They share the same beginnings, and have the same first king. The history of Bel Shanaar is told entirely from the point of view of Malekith and the province of Nagarythe, and that is where the history diverges and the race appears to split.


New models! So many new models… Unfortunately, not all are available yet. I like the new Warriors, I thought the little domino mask style helmets on the old ones were a little strange. Even the ancient 4th edition (single pose, one piece, sword above head) warriors had better helmets. The only models not changed are the Cold One Knights, Reaper Bolt Throwers and the Corsairs.

The new chariots are unusual, they seem a little bit too close to the ground.

I don’t like the new Hydra. The old Hydra, while being metal and attached so delicately to the base, looked more dangerous than this one. The heads are large, full of teeth, and not like the dumb snake heads of the new Hydra, and the pose is running, charging, not sitting and watching. I also don’t like the claws coming out of the Hydra’s belly – it doesn’t make sense to me. On the other hand, I do like the Kharibdyss model – the pose looks more suitable to a sea monster, unused to land. The maw in it’s belly where the Hydra’s odd claws are looks more like an unnatural sea monster.

I’ve got the same ambivalence about the Witch Elves – the Witch Elves themselves are awesome models, absolutely amazing. The Sisters of Slaughter, I’m really not so keen on. They also look too much like the Witch Elves, with just a head and weapon swap. I’d love to get some new Witch Elves to use as either unit, since they are distinct from the dozens of old Witch Elves that I have, but the price – £35 for 10 models – is absolutely ridiculous. None of those for me.

I really like the Doomfire Warlocks and the Bloodwrack Shrine – I’d like to get both, but I think I will try to magnetise parts of the shrine in order to get the Medusa off as an option. The new Executioners look good too.

I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t any monstrous infantry or monstrous cavalry – I’m pretty jealous of all the other new armies that have got those. There’s enough monsters that I don’t get to field because one of my most frequent opponents was an Empire player that I don’t really want any more.


Since 6th edition, all elves are Toughness 3. Even the mighty heroes. It’s an awful curse. What I notice in this edition however is that they become a little more survivable – the Cauldron of Blood can join units now and gives a ward save, Doomfire Warlocks get a ward save (except against Slaaneshi units), Sisters of Slaughter get a ward save in close combat… even the Sea Dragon Cloaks, which have had the same rules since 4th edition, have been modified to be a straight 5+ save (rather than 6+/5+ conditional one).

In 7th edition, all Dark Elves got a Hatred of everyone. This has been replaced with two rules – Always Strikes First and Murderous Prowess. In the 8th edition rules, I think these two are much better. Since Dark Elves have high Initiative, they were usually going first anyway – with Always Strikes First, this allows them to get a re-roll against people with lower Initiative. That replaces the re-roll from Hatred, which only applies in the first round (but does apply all the time). Murderous Prowess just boosts that with an extra chance to wound when you fail.


The new magic is amazing! I’ve noticed some amazing combinations, although they might rely a little bit on getting lots of dice in the magic phase.

Power of Darkness – my big problem with the Dark Elf infantry is that in the main, it is pretty low Strength. This spell is a very easy way of boosting Strength with the additional benefit of regaining power dice. Having a Witch Elf horde with 50 poisoned attacks at Strength 3 is OK, but having them at Strength 4 (with the murderous prowess re-roll too) is really cool.

Shroud of Despair – this spell is the subtle edge of the Dark Elves magic. Cutting units off from their high Leadership and re-roll abilities, with increasing penalties for failure… if it’s possible to force a whole ton of Leadership tests in a single turn (see strengthened Witch Elf horde above), a chain reaction of fleeing units could ensue. One breaks, the next one must test at -1, the next one at –2… The Bloodwrack Shrine also reduces enemy Leadership by one, and the Kharibdyss forces units in base contact to re-roll successful Fear checks so their non-General, un-re-rollable Fear check has two chances to fail each turn and give the Shroud of Despair penalty to all the nearby units… Delicious!

Word of Pain / Arnizipal’s Black Horror – these two spells appear made for each other, the only problem is that you need a powerful Magic phase to pull it off. Reducing a Chaos Knight unit’s Strength by D3, then hitting them with a Black Horror, seems like a perfect combination. Of course, if the Word of Pain only reduces them by 1, there’s almost no point casting the Black Horror.

Doombolt – where Shroud of Despair is the Dark Elves subtlety, Doombolt is the Dark Elves destructive streak. As a signature spell it can be chosen multiple times, and when boosted it looks really nasty. Just a big, raw display of force. BANG. Then again, I’ll probably roll four 1s when determining how many hits that is… with the Word of Pain, it makes it that much better against high Toughness targets (at Strength 5 it won’t take much to reduce them to wounding on 2s) so it looks like a reliable alternative to the Black Horror if their Strength is still a bit too high.


So what am I going to do? Well, I’ve got a whole ton of models to paint. I think I’ll make it my goal to clear my painting table in 2014, and maybe even make a start on Jen’s Vampire Counts. Until then I can’t really justify new toys. I want to try the Cauldron with my Witch Elf horde to make them more survivable, and try out the Dark Magic to buff them up. It’ll be cool if I can try out some of the combos above but I doubt it’ll work as well as I described. I don’t have a Kharibdyss or a Bloodwrack Shrine (though both are on my list for as soon as the painting table is cleared…)

Other than that I don’t think my army list has changed too much. I will probably add more bolt throwers now that they’re cheaper, and not Rare choices. I’m going to have to arrange a game at Vanguard Wargaming if I can’t get a game in with friends soon.

Vanguard DreadBall League Season Two – Games Four and Five

My Robots continue plodding their way through the Vanguard Season Two League

Game Four – Stu’s S2 Corporation (Away)

This game showcased the awfully fickle nature of dice. For his first action, Stu slammed a Robot with his Guard – and his Guard went out for three turns. Pretty much every slam he tried failed – combined with a failed Evade roll, I ended up with a single Robot threatening two down humans and the 2-pointer bonus hex. For my part, throughout the game, I failed to pick up the ball two or three times and failed two 3-point shots. The only Robot to get experience was the one who took out the Guard on the first turn, and I got no fan checks at all.

That being said, I don’t think I played badly – just Stu played better. He considered every turn extremely carefully, and used Running Interference extremely well. I think I need to practice more against the S2 Corporation to get used to being surprised during my own turn. I think they’re also the only team that I haven’t played a single game with – it might help me to understand them a bit better.

In his last turn, Stu got the last few points to score a landslide win – and with the underdog bonus, tons of income.

Game Five – CJ’s Marauders (Home)

This game reversed both of my previous game’s fortunes – CJ’s Marauders weren’t able to kill anything and only injured a couple of times, despite stomping a prone guard who was surrounded. On the offensive side, I was able to pick up the ball and even score with it! I fumbled one pick up and failed one strike, but both of those were near the end of rushes where I had either one action or none left.

CJ made me work hard, putting threat hexes and Slamming all over the place to make things difficult for the robots. He kept up the danger level with many many slams, but unfortunately his dice were against him and I was able to dodge most things and suffered minimal injuries. For the first half of the game, the ball was carried up and down the pitch without a single Steal attempt – only Slams. The robots managed a single Strike attempt and failed it. In the second half, they got another Strike attempt for 3 points, the Marauders used an Offensive coach to get their three points back (involving an excellent tactical slam to move a Robot so their goblin could sprint past), the Robots went for another three points but the ball exploded…

In their final rush, the Robots got the three points again and the Marauders spent the last rush trying to put some pain on them in revenge but fortunately for me, nothing happened. It ended as a three-point win to me.


Unfortunately, the next three games that I scheduled were cancelled by my opponents. With school starting, we’re getting used to a new schedule that makes it even harder to get to the store to play games, so I’ve not been able to get any further. I don’t know why, but I think everyone else’s interest has fizzled out too.

It has taught me a little more about how to use Robots – I prefer Strikers to Guards, because 5+ Speed is devastating if someone hits them in the back. I like being able to roll on any skill table, half of my players have 360 Vision – which is extremely useful for both Strikers and Guards. I think that the Robots need a league format, they really feel like late bloomers who need a little advancement.

Planned next was the national super-league, but based on my scheduling here I didn’t think I could get to any games. A few other people are having the same problem so the Bristol Vanguard super-league will now be on a single day, like a tournament, but I won’t be able to make that day. I don’t know when the next ‘regular’ league will be, but I’ll have to see if my attendance can improve any time before then. Perhaps the double round robin format was a bit ambitious, since there were at least eight players every player has to play fourteen games. At one game a week (a reasonable expectation), it would take three months if people’s schedules are perfect. For myself, I find it hard to get to the club on a Thursday (club night, when most people attend) or Friday, can’t make Wednesdays, and only occasional weekends.

Bristol Regional Tournament 2013

The Bristol Regional Tournament! Held at Vanguard Wargaming, like the Bristol Blitz before it, and the first tournament I’ve been to without Jen. Oli came along and borrowed my Corporation team as his own Void Sirens weren’t painted yet.

I took a lot of umm-ing and ahh-ing about what team exactly I should take. My initial thought was for Veer-myn as they had done me so well before, but on the other hand I’d been told at that tournament it was not fun to play against. I decided to go with the Z’zor – because I had only played one game with them before, because they almost derailed me at the Welsh Regional, and because I don’t do well with bashy teams and this would be an opportunity to get some practice. In addition, people are put off by their Skill 5+ Strikers, but that’s what I am used to with the Veer-myn anyway.

I suffered from the Kickstarter mispack problem, so I had too many guards and not enough jacks. In the special provision given to tournaments, you can take the team like that and choose either a card and a 2mc penalty or a coaching dice and a 2mc bonus. Given that I would always want a card to give me the option to buy one in the game, I went for the card option. With the remaining 18mc, I chose extra ranks on both of my Strikers and a Defensive Coach (to try and keep them safe).

It was a fun event – five games squeezed into a single day, and 14 players overall. A bit more hectic than the previous Bristol tournament, but with only six players then it could be a little more relaxed with timings.

The only thing slightly marring the event were the new rules – in the week before the tournament, the ball launch rules changed twice and most people had no chance to play with them. On top of that, the widely rumoured change to Judwan to drop them down to Speed 4+ was used, removing their tournament penalty. These changes weren’t in the rules pack, and I was wondering if there was anything else going to change before the day. However, the new launch rules were printed out for everybody and weren’t too difficult to follow – although I think once people get used to them their play might change a bit. In spite of the last minute changes though, it was a very well-run event and everything happened as it should – the games went so smoothly, we actually finished a little early. Three cheers for Liam!

Game 1 – Broadside Bandits (Kev’s Marauders), Away

Start as you mean to go on! Kev hadn’t played at all since the Vanguard Season One League back in March – and that game was against me. He hasn’t lost anything though, as he beat me by a landslide – even when I got 3pts early on! My Strikers had Jump and Roll – neither of which came into play. A couple of times he managed to push me onto the ball launch path, and got me bashed by the new launch rules. Luckily, Z’zor don’t get knocked out too easily.

Game 2 – The Lunar Darksiders (Cai’s S2 Corp), Away

This time, I got exactly the skills that I wanted – Safe Pair of Hands and Skill increase. They worked quite well, although I always seemed to be throwing with the Safe Pair of Hands and catching with the other one. I managed to kill a human Striker, and get a 6pt win out of it.

Game 3 – Saltford Spankers (Oli’s S2 Corp), Away

I enjoy playing against Oli, because I think we are quite close in skill level. This time, my upgrades were Roll and Skill Increase – again, Roll never came into it and the Skill Increase was heavily relied upon. In this game, I failed many dashes and evades, and even got knocked down a bit. Oli used his Running Interference quite well to break my scoring runs. I lost many actions trying to stand up players that had no intention of standing at all – Oli even took a picture to show how many players were lying down at a time (from both teams). I used the last turn to score a single point and bring my beating down to a 4pt loss.


Game 4 – The Clone-A-Cell Crushers (Adam’s Marauders), Away

Adam was a skilled opponent, and by this point I thought that I should focus more on smashing. This was successful! I got two kills! I lost by a landslide, and I don’t think I scored any points at all. Adam also managed to kill one of my Strikers. Once again, the skills I got were Roll and Backflip and were unused. Adam was very lucky with his dice – he managed to score about seven injuries on the Z’zor Striker, and to dodge five successes from a Z’zor slamming his Orx in the back on a single dice.

Game 5 – Orcs Orks Orx (Dave’s Marauders), Away

I played Dave back in the Vanguard Season One league earlier this year, and he brought his yellow-armoured Orx again. He suffered some very bad luck – I managed to push one of his Guards onto the ball launch and got him hit, and he also failed a ball pickup with his Jack on the DB1 hex. When I scored in the next rush, his goblin got killed by the ball re-launch.

Both of my Strikers had A Safe Pair of Hands, and I managed to win by 5pts, in part thanks to his goblins constantly missing their 1-dice attempts at 4pt shots. In the final rush, seeing that I couldn’t win a landslide and wanting to get a bit further in body count, I spent all my actions Stomping and Slamming, and had no ref checks against me, but didn’t even send anyone off.


The full results are on Liam’s website – I got 11th place out of 14 players and Oli came 6th. Sebastian Gerhart came top (winning an awesome, awesome trophy), and CJ (who I played in the Vanguard Season Two league) got the metal spoon – because a wooden spoon is not futuristic enough for DreadBall. Sebastian has put a few blog posts about his experiences there on his blog too – trophy and match reports.

It was a fun day – and I think either I didn’t focus enough on murder, or my dice were against me. It’s quite possible that both were true – I had some awful rolls, and missed a hell of a lot of 3pt strikes through the day.

I was surprised at how few teams were represented – I think there were equal numbers of Corporation teams, many Marauder teams, one Judwan and one Z’zor team. I wasn’t surprised that Forge Fathers and Robots were left out, but I was surprised that there were no Veer-myn. Maybe I’m the only one not put off by Skill 5+ after all.

There is another tournament in Bristol being considered for January next year. Hopefully everyone else had a good enough time to come along to that one, and we can get some babysitters so that Jen can come along too. Next big DreadBall event on the calendar is the National in Essex in November!

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This was one of those cheap offers I saw in Sainsbury’s and thought “I like the X-Men, let’s give it a bash.” About a year later, we finally got around to watching it, hooray! Except, boo. I was put in a bad mood almost instantly, since we first sat through “Jim and Bob compare pirate DVDs to real ones”, then the official copyright warnings wall of text (don’t you dare download this on an oil rig or you’ll go to jail!) and finally the longest Blu-ray advert I’ve seen. So after being told I ought to pay for films, then told what will happen if I don’t pay for films, I’m treated to a long description of what a sucker I was for not paying enough for a film. Adverts for a HD disc format on a non-HD disc… like TV adverts on radio. I thought back to the first item – the difference between Jim and Bob is that Bob is apologising to his mates while Jim is already enjoying the film and oh! the pizza guy just turned up, since he can afford to treat his mates to dinner since he didn’t pay for the film.

I’m not condoning piracy, it’s just that the adverts really don’t seem to understand the real world and the only people they annoy are the ones who already paid for the film.

So, the film. I wasn’t a fan. I love the X-Men, I even thought the third film was pretty good, but this one was really weak. The dialogue was flat, the acting was flat, and so many things felt forced. It felt like they made a list of key things to explain and mysteries to remove and then wrote dialogue between them.

I know that as an ‘Origins’ film it was supposed to explain Wolverine’s backstory, and maybe that’s the problem. There was always a dark mysterious past before, and now there isn’t. The Weapon X program was well known, of course, but nothing before that other than a few tantalising hints that he may be a lot older than we realise. It was disappointing to see so many mysteries removed in such a lacklustre film.

From this point on we get spoilers, so move along if you want to experience the film for yourself.

I thought there was a lot of repetition in the film. I can think of several shots with Wolverine’s head framed against the sky while he delivers a gritty, ‘badass’ line – probably about removing someone’s head. And he’s not the only one who mentions removing a head. Removing heads is brought up four or five times, usually as a throwaway ‘end of scene’ comment and not as part of a discussion about decapitation. Thus it was no surprise when Deadpool was decapitated at the end. Any of them could have been decapitated really, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the head and body resurrected before the end of the credits (obviously sooner if it was Wolverine and later for a villain).

Gambit was just… wrong. Wolverine and Sabretooth leave his club to fight in the street. Why does he leave when inside, he’s protected? Why does he attack Wolverine? Why does he change his mind and help (it’s not the prickly, self-serving character I remember)? I’m not a huge comics buff, but I know that he and Wolverine have a rivalry. This film makes that more confusing, because although Wolverine lost his memories Gambit could help fill in a few gaps, at least about that last mission.

Casting wise as well, Gambit was just plain wrong again. Too young, for a start. I know I’ve been heavily influenced by the cartoon, but his accent was wrong too.

On the other hand, the action was alright and the story – if you ignore the actual dialogue – was good. I could probably watch this film again, but I’ll be waiting for an X-Men themed movie night for that to happen. It would probably match up well with the film which teases Wolverine’s history (was it the second one?)

Sordus Silage Scroungers


The CPS Norvegicanne was an unlucky ship – some said cursed, others said haunted. Whatever the truth, it was certainly always in need of repairs and maintenance. The engineering crews worked round the clock but regardless of what the ship provisioned, it never had enough supplies or equipment – whether due to administrative error, logistics failures or shipping delays, the crew had to make do with bodges and temporary fixes that no-one had time to revisit and improve.

When the ship’s deflector arrays failed in a dense asteroid field, the Veer-myn who’d been secretly living on board finally made their move. Breaking out of the machinery rooms and ventilation ducts, they scoured the ship for food. The crew abandoned the ship, doubling up in what escape pods hadn’t deteriorated, and escaped to a nearby planetoid leaving the rats to the junk ship.

Six months later, the Norvegicanne reached a starbase at the edge of the star system. No-one could work out how they’d got the ship’s systems to keep them alive long enough, let alone travel and navigate out of the asteroid field to reach civilisation – indeed, all systems went off-line mere hours after arrival. The Corporation (Sordus Silage) immediately impounded and quarantined the ship, and while interrogating it’s Veer-myn occupants to discover their engineering secrets, discovered that they had formed an enthusiastic DreadBall team. After watching thousands of games played by the human crew, and analysing holo-vid recordings of famous games, they had formed their own teams and practiced for much of their brief rule of the ship.

Once it was clear which of the Veer-myn knew nothing about starship mechanics, Sordus Silage conscripted a DreadBall team from the rat’s ranks and entered them into the local league. Since then, they have made some great games, including an astonishing 5-rush landslide against a human Corporation team that contributed to their first tournament victory, the DGB Llamedos Regional!


The Veer-myn were the first team that I painted. I didn’t have a clear idea of how I wanted to paint the other teams.

I started playing them when we first got the game, but began concentrating on the Marauders and Forge Fathers when tournaments came around – favouring the simpler, smashier teams over the more challenging Veer-myn. After the Vanguard DreadBall tournament however, I brought them back with new tactics and a new plan to take on the Judwan that I expected to face at the Welsh Regional Heat – I didn’t face any Judwan, but they did bring me the victory!

Colour-wise, I started with a Bubonic Brown base, Chestnut Ink wash to give them a bit of grime, and then more Bubonic Brown. The metal was straight Dwarf Bronze, and the skin was exactly the same as I do Dwarf skin – Tanned Flesh base with Dwarf Flesh highlights. I’m not entirely happy with the skin, but it does look great on the tails. The fur is Dark Flesh highlighted with Vermin Fur, and all the straps, bindings and glove mitts are Dark Angels Green highlighted with Snot Green. The claws were straight Dheneb Stone.


I tried to freehand the numbers on the back, and used Calthan Brown. Some came out alright, some were a bit more wobbly, and the colour was far too close to the main armour to be easily visible. At some point, I may go back and try to hide the existing numbers and redo them with green, for a better contrast but I’m happy with them for now. I’d like to move to a different team with some other colours!

I’m planning on painting the team-exclusive MVPs in the colours of the team that they will play for, and also on tweaking their background a little bit to make them my own. I want to try and get my teams painted first though, since I have never played a game with MVPs at all, I’m happier to put them off for a bit so I can spend a bit more time on them when they come around.


Star Trek Episode Autopsy – The Naked Now

Another episode autopsy! And also the first that isn’t a two-part episode. As usual, some massive spoilers in this one.

In this episode, the crew contract a virus that first appeared in the Original Series that gets the crew drunk. Overall, they make very few scientific statements (unlike later series) and it’s difficult to make incorrect statements when everything is kept vague.



Regardless of that caveat, the explanation for Data’s intoxication doesn’t sit well with me. It’s explained that he has a “bloodstream” carrying synthetic compounds around his body, thus can be intoxicated. For that to have a real effect, he would have had to have been created with chemoreceptors for those intoxicants, and specific behaviour modifiers to make him appear/act drunk. That’s how humans become intoxicated, after all. Was Dr Soong having a bit of a laugh when he designed/created Data?

On a longer term basis, Data acts more human and seems to feel some emotion when intoxicated. If his goal is to be more human and experience emotions, couldn’t he just swig a few vodkas and get wasted? Even if it’s just a similar compound to alcohol, haven’t they got enough information to synthesise it and experiment?


Although only the second episode, already three important things are established about Wesley Crusher. Firstly, he’s a genius. Secondly, he will constantly threaten the ship with destruction. Third, he will constantly save the ship from destruction. In this case, his “saving” the ship is only true if you take his idea to let Data repair engineering count. He had more opportunity to save the ship by not letting the drunk engineer take out all the chips and play with them, and by not blocking access to engineering with a homemade force-field.

Isolinear Chips

I find it interesting to work out how computers of the future work, and whether the original designers of Star Trek were trying to imagine how different computers informed by alien technology might function or whether they just didn’t know how computers function. In the 80s, that was a reasonable assumption.

The fact that the ship can’t operate because a bunch of isolinear chips were pulled out of the computer in engineering suggests that machines have moved back towards programmable chips, such as are found in single-purpose machines like microwaves, dishwashers, calculators, etc. In contrast, home computers are general purpose machines with different software running on them. As a software developer, it is hard to get my head around the physicality of programming in the Star Trek universe. I deal with things that are intangible, whereas in Star Trek a program can be hobbled by pulling a real bit of it out with your hands.

Software nowadays can be written in a modular fashion that looks like the isolinear chip model, except it doesn’t have any real components. It’s possible to have dynamically loaded and unloaded software modifications from single files, and why not have these files on a USB stick? If it was written the right way, a program could watch for new USB devices and automatically load (relevant) additions that are plugged in. This would obviously be a major security problem (you’d want an “Are you sure?” prompt, at least) but it would mean that you can modify your computer by plugging in and removing USB sticks. They’re like chunky isolinear chips, really.

Computer Security

"It looks like you're trying to move environmental controls outside of human tolerance. Would you like me to help?"

There were two moments I thought about computer security – the environmental controls being set to fatally cold on the Tsiolkovsky, and vital isolinear chips being pulled out of engineering. Then again, in both cases, compromised officers with a high level of access were present to override any computer queries. Engineers should be able to pull out isolinear chips, although perhaps they should have a locking clip for more critical components that makes it a little harder. “Removing this chip will disable forward propulsion. Are you sure?” Click. “Removing this chip will disable positive yaw adjustments. Are you sure?” Click. “Removing this chip will disable negative yaw adjustments. Are you sure?” Oh screw this I’m too drunk to carry on.

Given that the ship’s internal sensors can presumably detect death or near-death conditions, maybe it should include some kind of failsafe to prevent a crew compromised in this manner from hurting themselves or others. If it detects that someone has died or is about to die, it adjusts the environmental controls back towards “not lethal”? Other than the blanket argument “you’d always want to have the option” to deal with alien invasions, viruses, a storage space for strange interplanetary phenomena, I can’t think of a good reason why the computer should allow someone to set environmental controls to kill another. Even if not overriding the environmental conditions, perhaps a sort of deadman’s switch where a person near death will be beamed to sickbay (or suitable alternative, if sickbay doesn’t qualify).

Database Searching


They searched the database for “showering in clothes” and “aberrant behaviour”. Seriously, that must be a massive dataset to scan through! Storage on the Enterprise must be completely a non-issue, since they apparently are able to store every log and incident that happened on every ship, colony and starbase for the last couple of centuries. I guess I’ll get a better idea of how this is handled as the series progresses…

Other Captains

I don’t think that Picard had too much to do with things in this episode, since the ship was essentially held hostage by Wesley until the doctor could develop a cure (as long as Picard left her alone). Sisko could probably have held his own against the virus as long as Kasidy Yates wasn’t on the ship, although he may have been found playing baseball instead of handling the situation. Quark would likely be the one to threaten the station, and Bashir may have had trouble leaving Dax, Leeta or the nice Bajoran travellers alone for long enough to create a cure… but would his genetic enhancements give him an edge in resisting the effects?

On Voyager, Janeway and Chakotay could probably keep their hands off of each other. If Seven of Nine was present, she would either shrug off the effects completely thanks to the Borg nanoprobes or her Borg implants would not deal with the virus at all and she’ll spend all the episode in sickbay. The Doctor’s only problem would be keeping intoxicated revellers out of the sickbay long enough to synthesise a cure, since he definitely wouldn’t be disadvantaged by the virus at all.

Would anyone even see a difference in Kirk if he were affected by the virus?


Wow, I didn’t think I’d have anything to say here. Guess I can whine about anything. I’m going to try and keep track of some stats while I do this, partly because there are certain things that everyone knows about long-running shows like this, or seem like recurring plot points. It’ll be interesting to see if they really are as repetitive as they seem. There’s a couple of new ones here (quite obviously this early in the series!):

  • Times Wesley threatened the ship: 1
  • Times Wesley saved the ship: 1
  • Number of viruses contracted: 1

Magnetising DreadBall Models

I’ve bought some teeny tiny magnets in order to magnetise my DreadBall models. I ordered the magnets to collect from Firestorm Games (a very friendly store, good advice and they cook a nice burger) and got my email 12 minutes after I’d gotten on the train to Bristol – and wouldn’t be back in Cardiff for a week. Oh well, c’est la vie.

There are two things that I want to achieve by magnetising models – keeping them from crashing around in boxes during transport and keeping the balls attached to the ball carriers. To do this, there are a few options:

  • Magnetise the box and ball, put metal on the model bases
  • Magnetise the models, put metal in the box and ball.
  • Magnetise the ball and models, but metal in the box.

I have to experiment – if the magnets are too strong, they will affect each other when models are standing next to each other. Magnetising the ball will be tricky, there’s a very small margin of error. And if I’m magnetising both models and bases, I’ll have to make sure to line the magnetic poles up properly or it’ll be more like a game of Subbuteo than DreadBall!

As for the vague term ‘metal’, I’m thinking of paperclips or metal wire. A small metal rod inside the ball, and flush with the base, should keep the ball attached to anything with a magnet in it. A similar rod stuck to the bottom of the base (after gouging out a channel for it to keep it flush, of course) would do the same in the other direction. Metal wires can also be run inside the cardboard of the boxes that I use for transport and storage, if I choose to go in that direction.

An interesting side effect will be seeing how the magnetic bases react with the metal pitch I’m expecting!

I got a pack of 2mm x 1mm magnets (discs 2mm in diameter and 1mm thick). They weren’t quite as strong as I thought, so I doubt that they would stop anything moving around in the box. That’s alright, there are plenty of other options (probably foam) although may take up a little more space. They are very strong right next to each other, but not so much going through things like bases – this is strong enough to keep a ball on the base (even upside down) but not to make it a hassle to move it off.

Based on the experimentation, I’ve scrapped the transportation goal. I’d need bigger magnets specifically for the task, and I would probably need to glue the models into the bases to give them enough thickness to secure the magnets. I’m putting magnets in the balls, and gluing another on the underside of the hex base corners. I’m going to try magnetising a single Robot model into the base, to make their transformations easier to manage – but I don’t know if either the model base or the hex base will be thick enough to glue a magnet in.

…intermission music here…


I experimented with the single Robot for transformations. It is possible to fit a magnet into both the hex base and the model base flushly, although to do so the drill tip pokes out of the end (not enough for a magnet to fall out though). At the same time, I had been playing a couple of league games with the Robots, and found transforming while keeping track of player numbers to be a huge pain in the neck. I went on a blitz last weekend and magnetised the rest of the models and bases. It’s a lot of fun to keep plucking ‘bots from the bases and sticking a new one in. It worked extremely well and didn’t interrupt the game when I tried it in full against CJ in a league game.

Despite this, they still wouldn’t secure safely to a metal box. They’d do better being attached to a magnet in the base, but I don’t want to go to that expense. I don’t think it would do the job on it’s own anyway, and would rather get some foam to move them around safely.

While I was at it, I put a magnet in one of the corners of the hex bases for the ball to stick to. I’m going to put the remainder of the magnets in other hex bases to attach the ball, because I think that’ll really help the biggest annoyance of the game, which is dropping the ball all over the place. The last decision to make is whether or not to magnetise both of my balls, or to leave one plain so that it doesn’t interfere if an opponent has magnetised his bases with the opposite polarity. It’s unlikely to come up very often though.


Just for fun, here is a magnetised robot with a ball magnetised to the corner of the base, hanging nonchalantly from a screw on the underside of a shelf above the Greater Blurred Black (Grey) Dragon.

All in all, a successful magnet experiment and a modest increase to my modelling ability!

Vanguard DreadBall League Season Two – Games One to Three

The Bristol Vanguard are holding another league at Vanguard Wargaming – there are some major changes to the format based on feedback from the first (Season One) league they ran for two rounds earlier this year.

There are no rounds and no friendlies, instead every player will play each other twice (once at Home, once Away) in a Double Round Robin format. MVPs are not bid, but bought for each game (using underdog bonus) for three times base cost. I think these changes are good ideas to fix the problems we had from the previous league – it seemed that there was almost a week between rounds while everyone made their challenges and bid on MVPs, meaning two-week rounds become three-week rounds, and bad schedules can drag it on for a few more days too… basically, this format means that two players who will be scheduled to play aren’t waiting on an unrelated third player to bid on MVPs before they can go.

Game 1: Tom’s S1 Corporation (Away)

This was an interesting game. It was over in 5 rushes, because my son was flooding the bathroom and I had to concede and run home to put him back to bed and clean up. Because Tom had played quite a few games in this league already, his team ranking was 38 points higher than mine. Our particular league rules allow you to buy anything for your game with your underdog bonus, such as coaches, cheerleaders, etc. I picked up a human striker, an offensive coach and three coaching dice.

The coach failed to call a single play, I used all the coaching dice trying to catch the ball with my Jacks, and that blasted Corporation scored two three-pointers early on. I managed to kill off a human, getting me some experience, but no actual points.

Tom very graciously kept the score as it was rather than the landslide win I offered him, meaning I got a single league point out of it for a 6-point loss. With the four dice income, I bought myself an offensive coach to keep for myself and saved the rest.

Game 2: Oli’s S2 Corporation (Home)

This was an up-and-down game, both sides were scoring a lot but the score stayed on my side. At the end I had a 6-point lead, but Oli was able to score in the final rush to bring it all the way down to 2 points. Still a win, my first with Robots!

This was Oli’s first league game, so he got a slight underdog bonus, with which he bought a card (since Season 2 Corporation don’t get cards).

Highlights of this game were a massive, never-ending ruck in the middle of the board, in which Oli’s guards killing one of my Robots, who had to have a budget resurrection – the freezer burn took his Speed down by one. Also, one of the scoring ‘bots got Machine of the Match, putting it into Rank 2 – I rolled on the Guard table and got 360 Vision, which means he will be useful either as a Striker or as a Guard. As I realised in this game, Guards are squishy when they get hit in the back.

Game 3: CJ’s Marauders (Away)

This was one of CJ’s first games, so I was helping him through the rules a little but trying not to be too patronising. He had just played a friendly game against someone else, and hadn’t realised that his Orx were Strength 3 (wondering why they weren’t as bashy as he’d been led to believe…) When I corrected him, every one of my Robots became a ‘target’. Another was killed early, and I played most of the game with three or less players on the pitch (at one point, everyone was on the bench!). It was at that point that he scored three points.

Despite the brutality, I managed to scrape a landslide in the last turn or two (mainly through a desire to stop the game and end the violence!) At one point, I picked up the ball with a Jack and realised that I only had one action and that wasn’t enough to score with. Instead, I turned him round and threw it to a Striker just behind an Orx guard, figuring that the Striker would be able to handle it a bit better. He was, and went on to score that last strike…

In the aftermath, three of my Robots levelled up – I chose Guard tables for them all, and got another 360 Vision, a Quick Recovery and Can’t Feel a Thing. Given the fairly deadly teams in this league (CJ’s PatriOrx and Liam’s Z’zorlanders), this should make me a little more survivable. My casualty got a budget resurrection, and lost his ability to transform…

Star Trek Episode Autopsy – Encounter at Farpoint

So after starting at the end, let’s jump to the beginning! Encounter at Farpoint is a very different episode to Endgame, as the world we live in was a different place. There’s nearly two decades between the two episodes, and the loss of Gene Roddenberry and his particular vision for the future.

Although it’s a double-length episode, I don’t have enough to say about it to stretch this over two blog posts. Also, since it is the first episode of all the modern series (although since that really covers the period 1987-2002 calling them ‘modern’ is stretching it a little bit…) there’s not a lot to pick holes in it exactly, and it wouldn’t be completely fair to pick holes in future episodes based on this episode.


I love timelines! I love alternate and future histories! If I remember (and it’s been a while) my original Star Trek lore, two thirds of Earth’s population was wiped out in the Eugenics Wars of 1996-99, leading to a worldwide ban on genetic engineering. Of course, by 2063 we’d already fought the Third World War…

A couple of key dates in Earth history are brought up in this episode’s court scene. The United Earth Government was set up in 2036, showing that at least some nations on the planet are going to unite. My best guess for how this might go down is a convergence of economic collapse (see: the last few years) and energy crisis. Given most government’s inability to make bold changes that might upset voters or damage their own dreams of power, things would likely degenerate enough to force states to band together to fix things. It’s a bit of a stretch, maybe, and probably doesn’t match projected energy crisis timescales, but like I said – it’s my best guess for how nations might be forced together.

I also don’t believe that just by using the term “United Earth” makes it a unanimous consensus. This is the best explanation for how a Third World War can arise later, given the arrogance and presumption of using the name United Earth for yourself when some nations aren’t invited or refuse to join!

That uniform is so well cushioned he probably sleeps in it

The courts of 2079, in the wake of the Third World War, are a bit more difficult to reconcile. We know that First Contact occurs in 2063, and ushers in an age of peace, prosperity and extra-terrestrial contact. But these courts show that that process evidently took some time to establish. Again, in the absence of an official explanation, my best guess is that the different factions of WW3 – which are still openly hostile in 2063 – take different lengths of time to accept the Vulcan’s contact (given a recent global war, paranoia and suspicion are likely still high). I can’t imagine how a nation would feel being contacted by an enemy who says “Hey, we met some aliens and they’re really cool, shall we form a united government together?” Most nations today would not agree on a common set of goals, etc., and may disagree on how to govern equally and get angry about an apparent inequality in that proposed governance (over ideological things like human rights, for example).

The Court

Justice is blind when the light shines in it's eyes like that

The court scene puts me in two minds. I can see the point of courts becoming more theatrical, since everything nowadays is more theatrical and dramatised. The parliament of the UK has long been full of buffoons braying to each other and joining in daft mock-indignant laughter, and it’s all got a kind of tradition and pageantry of its own. In addition, the growing ubiquity of personal communication gadgets (including the upcoming field of wearable networked devices) mean that courts may not be able to keep from becoming completely public over the internet. In the worst possible case, this would combine with modern trash-television standards and the sensationalisation of news stories to create a court that panders to the crowds for entertainment values. It won’t happen fast, but could easily happen over a couple of generations. Since Star Trek’s view of the 21st century is pretty bleak (the Bell Riots, World War Three, drug-controlled armies and almost including the Eugenics War) it’s not impossible that in their world, things could move towards a media-savvy court.

In the fallout of the Third World War, a media-savvy court could easily become a entertainment form, especially since the court itself is just a prelude to sentence. It’s clear from Q’s remarks that the verdict has already been reached, and the court does not bring innocent people to trial.

An additional wrinkle though is that this isn’t time travel – it’s a Q illusion. Is it a true reflection of the courts of the late 21st century, or is it an analogy used by Q to frame his own trial (with a lack of justice, preordained verdict, etc.)?

Q’s Intentions

Q’s intentions are difficult to fathom. I can’t take them at face value. The fact that he is bringing humans to trial for savagery, but leaving the Klingons alone? That the Borg are assimilating their way across the Delta Quadrant, and aren’t being interfered with? I can only speculate that the Q (or just Q himself) are testing humanity, or else doing it for entertainment value. Their decision to limit humanity could have been done earlier in their history when Kirk is travelling around the galaxy (he goes further than Picard has at this point), or they could try to limit a more savage race instead (the Cardassians are more wicked, the Klingons are more barbaric). Not to mention that with the Q’s power, couldn’t they just send each vessel back to Earth and disable it from superluminal travel?

The trial is not Q’s intention, he instead instructed Picard to go. Picard mentioned a trial, and Q decided to acquiesce and give him one – although just as he’d already chosen what he wanted the Enterprise to do, he chose a trial where the verdict is preordained. Finally, despite both of these one-sided decisions, he chose to allow Picard a chance to prove humanity was no longer savage. He went from a 100% declaration of “go home” to “it will be proved you should go home”, to “show me why you shouldn’t go home” in very short order. He either allowed a mortal to talk him out of it, or he is playing a game with the Enterprise crew – the first of many.

There's three people in the back standing smartly to attention, but only one next to a console.

When it appears that they may not complete his challenge, he turns up on the bridge to gloat but also to nudge them in the right direction. It’s possible that the Enterprise would, through no fault of it’s own, fire on the alien vessel that is attacking (apparently unprovoked) an ally currently in friendly negotiations with the humans. They would be showing compassion to protect the Bandi, and yet damning themselves in Q’s eyes. But since Q appears and boasts, taunts and mocks the humans they get an idea of what they should be doing. Why would he jeopardise getting what he demanded at the beginning, unless what he really wanted was something else and it didn’t matter whether humans were sent back to their own solar system?


Most of the nit-picking that I would have done, I don’t feel fair doing because this is the first episode and thus so much of it is setting up the rules with the intention of breaking them later. The only one that I might bring up here is the fact that Admiral McCoy doesn’t like to use transporters. I’m not as big a guru on the Original Series as I am on later Star Trek series, but I’m fairly certain that he didn’t have such a problem with them in the past. Maybe if I feel malicious enough to give the Original Series this sort of treatment, I’ll revisit the decision then. It was a nice touch to see him though, with trademark casual racism (anti-Vulcanism sounds a bit more like an opinion on geology…)

It was also nice to see an admission that the Holodeck has a wall! I don’t think that this ever comes up again, I’ll make a note to keep an eye out for it…

Other Captains

As before, how would the other captains have handled this? Although it’s a single episode in two parts, there are two almost unconnected stories involved here – Q’s Ultimatum and the mystery of Farpoint Station.

The court is not necessarily an essential component of the ultimatum, since Q credits Picard with the idea. I imagine that Sisko would demand some sort of proof or trial, a way to fight his corner and justify humanity although he does believe that humanity can be savage (he himself will do terrible things in the Dominion War). In a way, he would need to argue his position since DS9 cannot separate or run away like the Enterprise can.

I can’t see Janeway submitting to any threats without proof that the Q have jurisdiction over them or that region of space. If it did go to trial, that’d likely be her point rather than argue the charges against humanity. I’m not saying that she’d get out of the situation happily or alive, but without previous contact with the Q (this is the first instance!) and without Starfleet’s briefings (based primarily on Picard’s future encounters with the Q), no-one would have a base level of knowledge of the Q and their capabilities, motivations, etc.

With the Bandi at Farpoint Station, I don’t see anyone acting too far out of Picard’s steps. In fact, most of the actions in investigating Farpoint were inactions. The negotiations had stalled because of a lack of information shared and the alien creature was rescued by one of it’s own. Nothing that happened in the investigation was as a direct result of the Enterprise’s actions. As far as discovering the odd emotions, Kes or Tuvok could help Janeway and Spock could help Kirk, but Sisko doesn’t have an empathic/telepathic crewmember to help.

Unlike the other captains, Kirk has previous experience with a Q-like being. It’s my personal theory that Trelaine could be a member of the Q-continuum, although a less disciplined and less dangerous being than Q. I recall that Kirk has dealt with other near-omnipotent beings too. I doubt he would submit to accusations of savagery (despite being more of a wrestler than any other captain), and would probably make a farce of any trial (I just can’t get his behaviour with Trelaine out of my head!)


It was strange watching this episode again, given the huge changes in general culture and television style since it first aired. It’ll be even stranger if I end up going through the Original Series too…

I also realised while watching this that computers at the end of the 1980s had very different designs, both in user experience, user interaction and architecture to computers just a decade later. The internet revolution hadn’t happened, and cloud computing was a pipe dream. It wasn’t really mentioned in this episode, but I know that future ones are going to show an interesting divergence of design.

I don’t think that I would actually do anything different with this episode. A bit boring, but there were no major plot-holes and since characters haven’t really been defined, no-one did anything out of character!

Overall, a nice utilitarian way to introduce the new series and all the characters – this is an android, this is a VISOR, this is a small boy who will threaten the ship with destruction. It also sets up some things that weren’t used as much in future episodes. The saucer separation in particular felt like either they’d want to do it more often and didn’t find a reason to (forgetting about it most of the time) or that it was being set up for the future so it wouldn’t feel like they made it up to get out of a sticky situation on the spot. Other things were being introduced that were left by the wayside – my favourite is the mini-skirts. Instead of dropping mini-skirts (oo-er) in the name of gender equality, they instead gave them to everyone in the name of gender equality! Then chickened out almost immediately. It’s a shame, it took guts to try it out.

There’s more that I could go into (Picard is clearly an angry man, hates Riker, swears a lot; O’Brien doesn’t seem to mind that everyone has been transported off of the battle bridge without him) but I think I’ll leave it there and maybe bring those up as they change in future episodes. Let me know what you think about my ideas, or what you think I may have missed!

  • Number of saucer separations: 1
  • Number of Q encounters: 1

Firestorm Games – Welsh Regional Heat

Plotting and Planning

This is going to be the last of my tournaments for the ‘Spring of DreadBall’ in 2013 – there may be something going on towards the end of the year, but it’s time to chill out for the summer and try some other teams out.

I think for Firestorm, I’m going to try something different. I’ve had acceptable results with the Marauders, but they suffer in that their Jacks are unable to get the full utility that a Striker can – both in losing dice and losing mobility. They have a maximum of one hex movement on a throw, and that one hex loses them a dice. A Striker on any other team can move up to four hexes (bare minimum, most teams are five or more) and that reduces their dice to that of a stationary Jack. The goblin Jack’s chances of slamming are significantly lower than of dodging, so I have been using them mostly as surrogate Strikers.

Looking at their disadvantages and considering the meta-game (Judwan and Corporation heavily in attendance in tournaments so far), I think it might be worth trying the Veer-myn. They have the same speed and distance of a Judwan, same bonuses (being Strikers) and both their Guards and Strikers can dodge well while defending the three-point strike zone. They have capable guards able to disrupt a defensive formation and open the opportunities for a 4-point strike.

I can’t work out the best combination of advances for them – extra ranks on the Strikers would be a good thing, to try and counteract their Skill of 5 (raise it to 4, get A Safe Pair of Hands, etc.) but they could also benefit heavily from coaching dice. I don’t think that cards or coaches are really too necessary, since they are accomplished dodgers (don’t need a defensive coach) and really fast (less need for the extra actions of an offensive coach or a card action). Maybe following Oli‘s pattern of four ranks on Strikers to make a copycat Judwan team, since at least one of them should get a Skill upgrade and one of them get A Safe Pair of Hands. With three players standing behind to guard the three-point strike zone, I think it might even pay to have two Strikers with two advances each – this almost guarantees that they will each get Skill 4+, and combine their upfront offense with a single Guard. Leaving three Strikers to defend the strike zone means there’ll be one Guard up front and one in reserve, so combining a Striker’s threat hex with a Sucker Punch slam won’t be as risky since if it works, I am forcing opposing Guards (the most dangerous on a non-Judwan team against this tactic) to dodge on 2 dice against a 5-dice slam. If the fouling Guard is sent off, the reserve Guard can come on and play it slightly safer for a turn or two.

Having played a couple of practice games with that setup, I think it is a winnable tactic. The three blockers at the back are not going to keep it closed forever – consistent, sustained Misdirect actions will move one of the blockers. In one practice game, it was open for a single turn and let two three-pointers through! On the other side of the board, my Guard was not performing well but I put that down to bad dice rolling. I think I need to react better to my opponent’s play style – if they are sitting on the DB1 hex, I need to keep the Guard there to put a threat hex on that spot. If they are blocking the strike zone bonus hexes, I need to get one of them open and try and get the Guard back to the DB1 hex. And if the Guard is trying to smash something that can dodge well, I need to use my forwards to threaten the target.

The Day

It was slightly disappointing, only four players turned up – Jen and myself, and Liam and Tom from the Bristol Blitz tournament at Vanguard. We were told that the top four players qualified for the nationals in Essex later this year, so congratulations to everyone just for turning up! There was plenty still to play for though…

Game 1 – Liam’s Z’zor

I was terrified – I’d never played Z’zor before, and Liam is a really strong player. I set up exactly to plan. Liam’s dice hate him though, and his players failed to score (despite trying) – I knew that Z’zor Strikers had poor skill, but I didn’t realise they had average speed (I thought they were slow). I managed to get a landslide win in about rush 11 or 12.

Game 2 – Tom’s Corporation

I hadn’t played Tom at the Bristol Blitz. but I knew that he had learned a lot from that game and to be on my guard. My skill increases were very useful, and I managed to (for the second time) get my three-pointer on the first rush. On the second, I got another one and (without realising it) had left a Veer-myn on the second ball launch hex on the off-chance of catching a launched ball on his turn. I did, and thought “oh, my best chances are for a single point, and every little helps”. I scored the point, looked up and Tom was offering me his hand. I checked the board and realised that was a landslide win in the fifth rush! I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself as we headed outside for a nice barbecue and long lunch.

Game 3 – Jen’s Corporation

Jen and I play each other all the time. On the one hand, I know everything that she will do but on the other,  she knows everything I will do. And I explained my strategy in detail to her last week to try and get ideas on how people might beat it.

Once more, I got the first-turn three-pointer but Jen scored two points in her first rush – the first time I had been scored against. By rush eight, however, I got back the landslide win.

Game 4 – Liam’s Z’zor rematch

Liam had been learning how to use the Z’zor over the course of the tournament – he had beaten Jen in the second game, making great use of the powerful Z’zor Guard to keep the majority of her team on the injury shelf during the game. He took the same aggressive tactic against Tom in the third game, and me in the final game. My two powerful Strikers were put out quickly, and my Guard was killed in the first few turns. Thankfully he wasn’t any good at scoring again (the Striker’s low skill being a particular pain), and after losing one of my Striker’s to total death (and a lot of lucky Evade rolls around a Z’zor Guard with 360 vision) I pulled another landslide win in the last few rushes.

The Aftermath

Four landslide victories and only four players – I won!

Tom came second (one landslide win, one win, one loss and one landslide loss), Liam came third (two wins, two landslide losses and Jen unfortunately came last again (two losses, two landslide losses). There’s additional report on the tournament from Pathfinder Pete who kept it all running and organised, with pictures of us all and a picture of me holding a picture of the pitch I will receive! All of our teams were photographed for the blogs – and I was ashamed that my Veer-myn weren’t finished yet. Some parts are clearly in need of some work. I’m feeling suitably guilt-tripped into getting at least one team finished this year, and I think the Veer-myn have earned the right to be it!

I was trying to work out the scores after the third game and I thought I had almost won, depending on who won Liam and Tom’s game. And I won! I get a free ticket to the nationals (as opposed to simply qualifying, it probably only saves £15) and a metal pitch with the event name and my name engraved on it. That’s going to be amazing, I was completely over the moon. There was a scaled down picture of the pitch that wasn’t terrifically clear, and be assured I will be swamping this blog with pictures as soon as it arrives.

So what’s next? Bristol Vanguard have a league starting soon and are planning another event in August, and I’ve obviously got the Nationals to look forward to November. If I’d only qualified I might have considered whether or not to go, but since I won a free ticket I’m really excited to actually go along and see how I do against more talented players than myself. Jen isn’t interested in this one – it’s a bit far to go and we’d then have to get babysitters for a whole weekend which makes things more complicated. Once the new pitch arrives, I might set up a private event too to show off and celebrate –  I don’t know when yet, it’ll be nice to scale back and hit the painting/hobby side for a while. I’’l have to ramp up my practice before November though, I know that the competition will be tough!