Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Return of the Invisible Man

After a week or two of blogging silence I’m back at the keyboard for an update. My absence has principally been due to a whole load of Real Life going on allied to a resounding bout of end-of-year war-weariness that has reduced me to binging on episodes of the X-Files in the evening in lieu of doing anything constructive.

Having said that I’ve finished another 3 units for the Byzantines (a couple of light border troops and another unit of armoured horse archers) so time hasn’t been completely wasted. And I’ve downloaded the latest version of DBA v 3.0. For those of you who don’t know it’s available free on the DBA yahoo group, and the amendments are very helpfully highlighted in a range of different colours. Sue L-B is working on a book called “Start Wargaming with DBA” which is promised to be a real treat, - a cornucopia if you will. I may even buy it when it comes out if I can’t blag a free copy from somewhere. There are no army lists yet, but hopefully our little group can get on and do some playtesting in the New Year.

I’ve not always been a fan of PB & his DBx games but you have to admire his openness and his willingness to engage with his wargaming public, if not his inability to write clear English.

Following what was a gruelling slog through the SCW history I discussed in my last book I’ll admit to taking on something a bit less heavy as bedtime reading. I’ve just finished the latest Iain M Banks “Culture” sf novel, “Surface Detail” - obviously I’m way behind the times as the hardback was out last year and this version has taken a while to get to the top of the reading list.

I love IMB’s Culture novels. I used to read a lot of sf, especially space operas, but Banks has rather ruined the genre for me. He is just so damned good. There’s been some mixed reviews of “Surface Detail” but on the whole it is stunning. I’d agree that it probably isn’t as good as the earlier novels, - it is hard to chose between “Consider Phlebas”, “Player of Games” and “Use of Weapons” as my favourite. Or “Inversions” perhaps. Actually it would have to be “Phlebas” as it just blew me away when I first read it, and the final chase sequence in the underground tunnels is brilliant.

Alas I think the Culture universe is un-wargameable, unless you cheat and do one of the low-tech interventions. That differs from “Against a Dark Background” which is one of his non-Culture SF novels which has a terrific background for a modern-type era campaign. I’d recommend you to read that if you haven’t. I’d also recommend the Culture novels, but make sure you read them in sequence.

So in the run up to Christmas I’m left with the obligatory present wrapping and the hope that all that should have been bought has been. I’ve been a little light weight this year what with all the running around after increasingly infirm parents (spent an evening this week filling in an assessment form for care home fees and assembling all the supporting documentation. Goodness knows if I’ve got it right, as it isn’t obvious).

My regular wargaming also seems to be disrupted by office Christmas dinners (yes, we have more than one for all the different groups I am in / responsible for) so I missed last Thursday. This week, however, I’m free so hopefully lots of chances to blow things up in a pre-Christmas AK47 Republic multi-player extravaganza.

Old style rules, of course.

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