Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Science Museum Robots Exhibition

Met up with my mate Dave to go to the Science Museum's Robot exhibition at the weekend. Not bad at all (and also nice to see the old Apollo 10 capsule again - even if it's not in their main space exhibition for some reason - so people gaze in wonder at a model of the LEM but walk past the almost rusty looking piece of hardware that actually did fly around the moon!)

The exhibition is split into 4 main parts - mechanical automata, robots in fiction, creating a robot, and current robot examples. The focus is very much on humanoid robots, but pity not to see more cultural robots (C3PO, Robbie, B9/Lost In Space for example).

I'd certainly read about most of the "current" robots, and even seen a few, but great to see them in all in one place. Pity that they didn't have Kismet (although they had the Kings "copy"), and no space for Aibo (even though there was a robot cat!)

Highlights in image form below:

Henri Maillardet, the “Draughtsman-Writer”

Not my photo as I forgot to take one, but in some ways one of the most interesting things there. Brass discs encoded hand movements so that the "boy" could write poems and create drawings - all in 1800!

The Gemma Chan robot created when they tried a Gold standard Loebner prize/Turing test, not so good close up!

iCub - state of the art robot boy

NAO - keep looking for an excuse for Daden to buy one!

Kaspar - used with kids with ASD

A nice functional bot!

Zeno - mimics your facial expressions, sort of

Pepper - heard a bit about this one

Robothespian - manually controlled mainly

Kodomoroid - a typical Japanese "real" Android, convincing over Skype possibly

Telenoid - gives you hugs when you're on the phone to someone

Industrial bot meets 50s SF!

Asimo - not doing anything sadly

Harry - the trumpet player


We also took the 15min to see Last Supper by Giles Walker, a very atmospheric piece of 12 robots supposedly debating sin and death and swearing a lot, even if I couldn't work out what it was all about!







Monday, 15 May 2017

Kingmaker (and other games)


Just had a really nice long weekend at Barmouth. The plan was to get out in the mornings and play boardgames in the afternoon and we succeeded in that pretty well. We played Agricola  (I didn't lose!), Mysterium (a Cluedo/Codenames hybrid that is a bit too complex for its own good), and The Dwarves (excellent enemy AI that I'm trying to work into miniature gaming on a hexon layout). The main game as far as I was concerned was Kingmaker, which I last played almost 30 years ago, and finally rebought on eBay last year.



Jo and I both started with fairly week hands, her in the North and me in Wales and SE. Tom had a cracking hand and sat in the middle of the country so it looked like he'd win hands down. I nabbed a minor royal from undefended Cardigan, and since I had the Cinque ports started to head SE to go across to Calais. Then Tom took a major royal from Coventry with his main army - but the very next go the Plague hit Coventry and the royal and his main army were wiped out! The next big change was Henry being sent to the south coast from the safety of London for an embassy - putting him in the idle location for my gathering force to nab him. Getting across to Calais was slowed a bit by chasing Henry's embassy's around the country but eventually I got across and grabbed the royal.

I then swung my boats down the English Channel and up to Harlech - discovering how Safe being at sea is, despite storms, in terms of escaping embassies and raids. Landing at Harlech I took the Earl of March (despatching him to join his kin), nd then marched on Tom's recovered force in the Midlands. A stop at Chester en-route to call a parliament so as to beef up the post holdings of my now large band of nobles meant that when I met Tom near Warwick he stood no chance. The rain intervened though and he slipped away north, but fittingly I finally ran him to ground at Towton and demolished his Army.

Jo was still lurking in the North and when one of my main nobles (the Warden of London) was called south, so she fancied her chances. The King was then called south as well, but I decided it was safest to send him on his own, ready to be picked up by the Warden. Her Army finally clashed with mine at York, she thought she'd have the upper hand, but in hidden cards I had a 150 pt army under the Earl of Northumberland so immediately swung the odds in our favour and we were victorious. So with all the other nobles dead Henry VI was last man standing and had never lost his crown!


ENDEX - after the Battles of Towton and York
Overall a great game. The first hour was pretty slow as we tried to worm out the ambiguities in rules and map (does Windsor block a road, what is the Crown discard pile for etc), but by the 2nd hour we have the game pretty fast and smooth and it was all over in under 3 hours.

Would certainly play again, and indeed plan to, and would have a far better idea for a winning strategy. The randomness of the events cards does make planning hard though - witness my delays in getting to Calais - including one trip to Hull, but that probably makes it ideal for solo play. Indeed its next outing will probably be as a solo campaign system, with battles being decided by Hordes and Heroes with 1 tabletop unit per 10 pts of an army, and some random inf/cav (or Bow/Knight) allocation.

Fittingly the day after the game we visited Harlech Castle - where my force made its historic landfall - and not to far from Milford Haven - Henry VII's landing point.

Harlech Castle

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Blucher 100 Days Cards


The card deck for the 100 Days Campaign for Blucher arrived. Means we can progress with setting up the game with Nick and Alan. Next task is to draw sides!


The Battle for Grosse Mahner Gap - Update

Soviets at bottom, attacking up table
The Battle for Grosse Mahner Gap game in CWC has been progressing well, if  a little slowly, just getting a couple of turns in a night. Currently on turn 13 I think, so is that 1 or 2 hours in in game time ? Feels more like 1.

The Soviets are making heavy weather of it - although they are only just up to Bn+ on the board, with another Bn+ yet to come!

On the left they deployed a BTR60 coy to root out A Coy Gp DERR which had ambushed the road, but they lost their Coy HQ and have been immobile every since (v low roll needed to activate as woods and Russian and lost OC).

A BMP Coy sent up the road cleared it of mines but then again got ambushed (poorly) by A Coy Gp. The Soviets deployed from their BMPs and are now looking to push up the slope. They've called in mortar support (off target) and the AGS17 is not being too effective either.

In the centre a new T64 Coy has taken over from the first one that got destroyed covering the mine clearance operation. They are supported by a BMP Coy. As they came in range of B Coy Gp and the Chieftain troop in Nienrode the Chieftains opened fire, but only caused slight damage. To help arrest the coming onslaught OC B Coy called in air support and a couple of Harriers raced in, dodging the Gaskin and SAM-7 (just one minor hit) and used PGM to effectively take out one platoon of T64s.

Harrier pair on its way in

The first Harrier inflicts damage


A second BMP Coy has just arrived in Liebenburg to help clear the ridge and road to Grosse Mahner. The next few rounds should see some intense fighting on the ridge and around Nienrode.




Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Return to 2mm?



When I first got seriously back into wargaming about 10-15 years ago I soon realised that I had neither time nor space (or budget) for 20mm or bigger, so I started looking at smaller scales. I played Borodino in 2mm and enjoyed it  a lot, but the lure of the bigger 6mm figures was in the end just too much.

But I think 2mm does have its place, so I've dusted off the old figures and I'm looking at a better way to base them, with, as ever, the aim of using them on Hexon terrain (1 hex = 400m so each element is a Division).

I do like hexes as bases as well, as they give more of an "area" feel than rectangles. So I bought a range of hexes at Salute, and I've decided that the 70mm hexes are best, as they can then sit in any orientation in a Hexon hex, and you can see any underlying terrain features (I use felt as a "base" for BUA and woods). The images shows a prototype Inf and Cavalry division (may go for more stands for the Inf), along with my original 2mm buildings on my original 4cm hexes, and some 1/1000th buildings from Brigade Models that may be a better match.


Plenty of space at the back of hex for labels/dice holders, and space at front for skirmishers.

Now just need to buy up some more blank hexes and base the rest of the troops in time for a game of Jena or Eylau.


Monday, 1 May 2017

The Battle for Grosse Mahner Gap - Startex


The next step in my "move" to Cold War Commander is to try it on a proper size game, Soviet Motor Rifle Regiment against a British Reinforced Battlegroup, with 1 element = 1 platoon/troop, and 1 hex = 10cm = 200m.

The Soviets are attacking form Line of March, so there is a delay between each of the main elements.

In the first few turns it was just the recce group which got nicely brewed up by Scimitars of the close recce company as they reached the minefield (fires in the distance).

Then delayed Combat Recce Patrol (Platoon) arrived, closely followed by the Forward Security Element (Coy+). Next step is for the Soviets to clear the mines, although an ambush waits up on the ridge.

Playing nicely so far, and I've done my own 3 page QRS so I can do away with most of the book, and also have some unit cards nearing completion so I don't need the army list pages.

Saw that WW2 new edition was out at Salute, will buy it when I do Western Desert, hopefully in the Autumn, and apparently Modern new edition is due out around Christmas.


If this game works out OK then the next step will be an SPI BAOR based campaign.