Monday, 30 November 2015

Quick Watson! To The Library!

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a fan of Sherlock Holmes. Indeed as I may have said here before, it was through our mutual interest in the Great Detective that Mrs Kobold and I first met. So we were very excited when Wollongong Library announced that they were having a Sherlock Holmes Mystery Event. At first we thought that it would be a quiz night, such as they did for Doctor Who a few months ago (we came fourth), but when we signed up we found that, in pairs, we would be expected to roam the library on a Friday evening, doing puzzles and gathering clues to solve a mystery.

And what we actually ended up doing was playing a live version of the classic '221B Baker Street: Master Detective Boardgame' (pictured above). We'd both played this years ago, so were really keen to see how this version worked.

In the original a case is selected from a deck of 40 or so, and the players move around a board, Cluedo-style, visiting locations. At each location a clue can be obtained from a book with numbered paragraphs, the case card telling you which paragraph to go to for that particular location. When a player thinks that they have the answer to the mystery they race back to Baker Street and check their conclusions against the solution in the book. If they're right, they win, otherwise they're out.

The library ran it fairly straight. Each pair was given a different case, and the locations were spread around the main part of the library. Each location had a task to be completed - a logic puzzle, or task involving skill or dexterity. When you completed the task, you found one of the librarians running the event, and they gave you the paragraph for your case relevant to that location.

Suffice to say we had a great time, and actually visited and completed all of the tasks to collect a full set of clues. What this told us was that we'd actually solved the case about thirty minutes before we decided to try our luck with the solution; our hesitancy cost us a probable second place, but we finished fourth (despite a librarian colluding with our daughter and her boyfriend to convince us they'd beaten us).

It was a great way to play a favourite old boardgame, and an excellent social evening as well, with people of all ages having fun together (I say 'all ages' - the event was 18+, as that allowed us to have alcohol in the room where the food was being served. They'd done an under-18 event a couple of weeks earlier.)

Here's the gathered detectives

(Picture via Wollongong City Library)
And here we are completing one of the tasks - the easiest one, which was to take a picture advertising the event and load it to social media:

I have no idea what Catherine's face is all about.

Here's my lovely daughter and her boyfriend, doing the same task

So, once again, many thanks to Wollongong Library for organising and hosting the event. We are blessed with a very nerd-friendly library service in this city, with events like this through the year. They even had an actual games day the other week, but it wasn't well advertised and we missed it. Next year we will have to do better.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Epic Multi-Player HOTT

(Apologies - I uploaded the photos for this post, and then hit 'Post' rather than 'Save' before heading off to work. That's why you may have seen this with no text or title.)

Last night we played a spectacularly huge game of HOTT, off the back of our excursion into 36AP games. We fielded three 36AP commands on each side, giving a total of 108AP. To add to the epic feel we used Geoff's 15mm figures on 60mm frontages.

The armies were Da Vinci Renaissance Italian vs Mythical Greeks (with some Carthaginian allies).

This was the table setup, via the magic of my selfie-stick. You can just see my left eye at the bottom of the picture.

I didn't get too many pictures during the course of the game. Here's an angel assisting the Italians.

I had the Italian's right-flank command, which had a strong force of aerials, as well as artillery. I used the artillery to take ineffectual pot-shots at Caesar's troops opposite, whilst the aerials went off on various missions designed to harass and annoy the enemy.

This was the other flank; Ralph had the Italian knights and was facing Johns Carthaginian allies.

Caesar had a dragon in his command, and it proved a battle winner, with the Italians unable to mount an effective defence against it.

I lost a lot of my aerial force to that dragon, as well as both pieces of artillery.

In the end it was a close win for the Greeks. Both armies had a command break on pretty much the same bound - Dave's central command for the Greeks and Ralph's left-flank command for the Italians. Dave managed to hold his demoralised troops together for longer before they fled, so that the Italians were the ones to finally break from accumulated losses. With army break-points of 54AP, the Italians lost 55AP, and the Greeks were wavering on about 48.

Playing with 36AP is proving popular, although it doesn't favour certain styles of armies. I did OK with a lot of aerials, which shouldn't have been the case, but in fact it was because Caesar played a waiting game before my other troops, so I didn't have to spend PIPs on anything else. Had my ground troops been engaged I wouldn't have had any PIPs to spare for the fliers and airboat.

Thanks to Geoff and  John for providing figures and to Caesar for organising the game.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Hail Caesar - Storming A Fort

It was a quiet week at the Gong Garage Gamers this week, with a lot of people away for various reasons or, in my case, not quite geared up for organising or playing anything.

Ralph and Bryan set up a two-player Hail Caesar game in order to test out some fortress rules they will be using for a much bigger game project further down the line. In this scenario Gauls were storming a Roman fort, although purists will notice that some of the Gauls are, in fact, not Gauls. Not even remotely Gauls.

When I left the Gauls had scored a couple of breakthroughs, and brought down at least one section of palisade, but I think the Romans atill had fight left in them.

Dave and I leafed through a pile of Wargames Illustrated magazines which Ralph had brought in to get rid of. I fond a couple with articles of interest, which may translate to actual games at a later date.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Machinas At The Mad Max 2 Museum. Almost.

One of the things I wanted to do on holiday was play a game of Machinas at the Mad Max 2 Museum. I packed some cars, the rules and some dice of course. But then I always take games on holiday if I can.

As it turmed out playing at or in the museum itself wasn't very practical, as there isn't the space (or a cafe) inside, and it was far too hot outside. But after our visit it was lunchtime, and there was a cafe next door. So we went in there and I set up the game whilst we ate.

This was our view. That's looking west towards South Australia, but also towards the roads I wrote about in my previous post. You can also see the bank of cloud which heralded a massive thunderstorm during the game.

Catherine, John and Claudia wanted to pay, so I kept he game simple, with minimal car features and signatures and the most basic of equipment on the vehicles. I ran Max in his Interceptor, being pursued by three vehicles, one for each player. They could choose to cooperate or not.

Claudia chose the big ram-car, Jon the rocket-armed buggy and Catherine the classic blue Miss Murder.

The first game lasted less than a turn. Jon tried to pass and shoot with his buggy, but I held him off. I decided to bash him in response, and rolled badly. He didn't. I crashed. Game over.

We started again, with the same vehicles. After walking the roads I had decided to adapt the game to what I'd seen, so the road surface itself was now only two lanes. The other lanes were considered off-road (shoulder driving in the rules), and I added an entry to the random events table to make driving on such a surface a little riskier. Here you can see Max escaping down the road, with Catherine following him and Jon and Claudia running along the inside shoulder.

I evaded the chasing cars for a few turns this time, but my luck ran out when Claudia brought the massive ram on her car into play.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the game, and were just about picking up the rules by the end.

We then went back to our campsite, which had been leveled by the storm I wrote about earlier. As we put everything back up another two storms came through. We had a busy time that night.

The next day dawned bright and mostly sunny. We spent it exploring Broken Hill (including the hotel with the murals featured in 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'), but in the evening, it being a Thursday, I set up another game of Machinas at our camp. This was my view:

The green tent was Catherine and my home for a fortnight. One day we're going to get a tent you can stand up in.

I ran Miss Murder, and selected six potential pursuing vehicles from the ones I'd brought.

I started with one pursuer in my rear-view mirror - an armoured car with ramming spikes.

It quickly moved to deploy the spikes, but I held it off, despite some scratched paintwork.

However my swerving also caused my spiky friend to edge ahead of me. Actually no bad thing ...

... except that I was now joined by a trike with a big gun on the back

At this point I was joined by a spectator, but they flew off when I invited them to join the game.

With the trike now in the chase the spiky car decided to quit.

However a gun-car now also joined in. Things were not looking good.

The trike lost no time in raking me with gunfire, causing some damage.

Again I swerved, and the trike moved ahead ...

... which now put me in the sights of the gun-car.

More damage was inflicted, and my car was beginning to suffer. The gun-car came in again, off-road, and on-target.

A bike now joined the chase.

As the gun-car cut in for another shot I swung the wheel over and attempted to run it off the road. All I did was force it to swerve back though.

The trike had failed to drop back for a clear shot, so it too gave up the chase.

The new bike came in, its rider brandishing a heavy pistol. Another shot or two saw more damage on my car. One more hit would see me crash out.

The bike came in for another pass.

I dropped back in response, hoping I could hold off the gun-car.

I didn't need to - the gun-car gave up the chase too.

Now it was just me and the bike, although other reinforcements were possible.

The bike swung out to try and drop back, hoping to line up a shot afterwards.

As I pulled alongside I moved in for the kill ...

... but its rider was high on savvy, and evaded my attempts, accelerating ahead of me.

I must have rattled him, however, as he gave up the chase as well.

My car was battered and on its last legs (or wheels), but I had survived.

It was inevitable that any holiday I go on includes games if possible. here we are playing Fluxx in the Silverton Hotel.

Catherine and I also played Street-Soccer, this time in the camp kitchen at our campsite in Dubbo. There was a thunderstorm raging outside, and a few of us took shelter there. The funny colours are due to the yellow strip-lighting they use in such places; great for not attracting insects, but rubbish for taking photos under.

Catherine beat me 3-0.

The next evening we had more storms, so Catherine and I played W1815. The French lost three of the four games.

So that was the bits of my holiday relevant to gaming. We did do a few national parks, went down two mines (opal and silver) and covered a few museums as well. We also sat in the sunshine and read books and enjoyed the wonderful wildlife with which this country is blessed. It was a good holiday; our first in 20 years without the children. The question is ... where to go next year?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

A Visit To The The Mad Max 2 Museum

I bet you didn't know that there was a Mad Max 2 Museum. Well, there is. It's in Australia, of course, in a small ghost-town called Silverton, just outside of Broken Hill in New South Wales. Silverton was a thriving mining town in the late 19th and early 20th century, with a population in the thousands. Now it's a handful of buildings - mostly galleries and museums, plus the obligatory pub - with a population of about 50.

Mad Max 2 was filmed in the Silverton area, and many of the locations used can still be seen. The museum is the labour of love of another migrant from the UK, and has proved very popular since it was opened a few years ago. Silverton is really all about the tourists, so anything which brings people there is good.

For the past two weeks I have been on holiday with my wife and a couple of friends, on a camping road-trip through New South Wales. We made a point of visiting Silverton, and the museum. Indeed Silverton, and the Broken Hill area generally, is so interesting that we stayed for four days.

Here's our route from Wollongong, with a red arrow showing Silverton. We went out by the southern route and home by the northern. For UK readers our entire two-week trip was the equivalent of doing Land's End to John O'Groats. Three times. And we didn't leave New South Wales*.

And here we are outside the Mad Max 2 Museum. Left to right: Me, Claudia, Jon and Catherine, plus one of the cars. The one with the four-barreled spear-gun thingy on the back.

The obligatory 'I'm At The Mad Max Museum in Silverton' selfie for Facebook.

Catherine mourns the dog. The owners have a cattle-dog (of sorts). It's deaf, but wears a red neckerchief.

The museum is well defended.

 Here's some more shots of the vehicle outside.

The spear-gun thingy.

The museum is a large shed, with a covered yard at the back. You can't take pictures inside of the shed, so you'll have to take my word for it as to what's inside. It contains small items of memorabilia (such as the original steel boomerang), plus walls covered in photos and production information about the film. It's a real mine of information - like all of the special features of the DVD in one place that's not the DVD. We spent a good hour in there.

Outside are the vehicles. They are stuffed in the covered yard, so perhaps not displayed to best advantage, and are a mixture of replicas and originals. I can't remember which were which, although I know that both of the Interceptors are replicas.

I took a few random pictures.


A bike.

A couple of the buggies. I like the one enclosed by wire and will have to make one sometime.

This is a replica of the Landau seen in the opening sequence.

The red car - I can't remember if this ir original or a replica.

Another Interceptor.

For anyone wanting to model the tanker properly, this is the logo on the side; the banners at the back of the yard were all the originals from the film, as hung on the truck you see at the beginning.

There is a slight time-lag between the photos taken outside of the museum and those taken inside. This is because we stopped there briefly in order to see where it was and when it was open, then went off exploring the road out of Silverton to the north-west. Because that's where a few key sequences of the film were shot.

This is Mundi Mundi Lookout, about 15 minutes out of town. This is where Max finds the abandoned truck after the opening chase sequence. The road in the distance was used in that chase as well.

Looking back towards Silverton from Mumdi Mundi. We think the brow of the hill is where Wez the biker appears and roars at Max.

I took my Interceptor, so it could sit on the hallowed road. Actually this was my wife's idea.

This is the view down from the lookout. Just to the right of the sign is lay-by - the lighter brown soil. This is where the tanker was rolled in the final chase sequence. The hill down to it is the one Lord Humongous comes a cropper on. The road curves away to the right

This is the view down the road to the corner.

Catherine and I drove round the bend onto the stretch of road beyond. Here I am walking it like the cool road-warrior dude I'm not. The opening chase sequence was filmed along this road.

Back to Mundi Mundi Lookout. Priscilla broke down here in 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'. This makes it doubly important.

You wonder about every piece of wreckage or stuff you find around this site; pieces from the original filming still turn up from time to time. I have no idea about this bit of metal which I found in the sand, but it looks cool next to the road.

We did see other locations from the film. On the day we left the Broken Hill area we headed to the small town of Menindee, along the road used to film most of the tanker chase sequence. I didn't take a picture because, frankly, one bit of road looks very much like another out here. About 10km out of town is a hill with a distinctive red gully to the right. This is where Max's interceptor is run off the road, and where the dog dies. I didn't stop to take a picture. To the south-west of Broken Hill are the Pinnacles, which are the distinctive hills below which the refinery settlement is situated. You can't go out to them, because they are on private land now, but you can see them from several places in Broken Hill. Sadly none of thee places offered a good place from which to take photos. They still look just like they do in the film though. As you'd expect.

Later that day we went to the Silverton Hotel, a pub which has featured in a few films, TV series and commercials over the years (including the classic Razorback). In the pub is this:

Yes - Lord Humongous' gun-case. You can even open it up.

The pub has more memorabilia around the wall, not just for Mad Max 2, but for all of the other things filmed in the area. And it was a nice place for a drink and meal as well. If you go there, ask about taking The Challenge. I did, and I don't regret it. I have a certificate to prove I've done it too.

One thing I wanted to do was play a game of Machinas at the museum. I took the stuff with me, but it wasn't really that practical in the place itself. But next door was a cafe, and we had to stop somewhere for lunch. But that's for the next post ...

*This is a lie. We left it once to cross the border into Victoria in order to shop for food in the town of Mildura. And Catherine and I crossed the border into South Australia to have coffee one morning.
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