wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Charles S. Roberts, train line expert, dies at 80 - baltimoresun.com:
During the 1950s, Mr. Roberts launched his career in advertising, working at VanSant Dugdale & Co. and Emery Advertising Corp.

In 1958, he founded Avalon Hill Co., a Baltimore game publishing company that specialized in war and other mental combat games such as "D-Day," "Stalingrad," "Battle of the Bulge," "Gettysburg" and "Victory in the Pacific."

He later expanded the line of board games to include such rail-related board games "Rail Baron," "Dispatcher," and "B&O/C&O."


He was the right man at the right time. I never cared much for most of Avalon Hill's games, but there's no question that they got the ball rolling. God rest ye, Charles Roberts.
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
An infomercial for wargaming by the late, great SPI.

From the consim-l mailing list.

wombat_socho: Wombat (FGSFDS - Technoviking)
DHS protects America from those infamous scourges of freedom: role-playing games and the traitors who play them.*

In other tales of terrorism, Maziar Bahari reports on how Revolutionary Guards really feel about America: “He hated me and he was jealous of me at the same time because I had been to New Jersey.” While the article is entertaining enough, there are some real prizes in the comments.

The same is true of this smackdown of racist thug Woodrow Wilson; the bus riding comments alone would be worth the price of admission, if they were charging any.

Honduras gives the finger to Hugo Chavez, the OAS, and the 0bama Administration, not necessarily in that order. More commentary and links at Fausta's blog and Babalu.

ESR comments on the whole Global Warmening conspiracy hack: "For those of you who have been stigmatizing AGW skeptics as “deniers” and dismissing their charges that the whole enterprise is fraudulent? Hope you like the taste of crow, because I do believe there’s a buttload of it coming at you. Piping hot."

*EDIT It occurred to me some hours after composing this post that this is literally true of Paranoia players. It's right there in the rules.
wombat_socho: Wombat (FGSFDS - Technoviking)
Spent about half an hour on the phone with Wells Fargo HR and investment people unsnarling the mess made when I didn't get my 1099-Bs from 2007. Not their fault; I was moving from Bloomington to a PO box in Chantilly to the new burrow in Alexandria, and it looks like the forms got forwarded to the PO box after I'd abandoned it. Anyhow, the extra $10K that the IRS thinks I earned are, as I assumed, from the PartnerShares "option" transactions, and the income & taxes for those were all shown on my W-2 for that year. Unfortunately, since I didn't have the 1099-B's from the investments crew, I didn't know to file a Schedule D which would have shown the sale of the $10K in stock for the profit I showed on the W-2s, so the IRS thinks I owe an extra $2500 tax. Sod that. When I get the forms, I'll have to file an amendment to my 2007 returns, but that's okay. Just so long as I don't have to fork over money I don't have to the revenooers.

Got a really late start today because I did something horribly dumb - was tweaking the Kasserine Pass scenario (for Operational Art of War) into more of a Cold War/alt-history Crusader scenario with Americans, Canadians, French and Spanish against Soviet-armed Caliphate types. Took forever to fix proficiency and readiness levels, and I didn't get to bed until 0600. Ugh. Fun scenario, though. Next I'll have to tweak it and add air units and ADA. After that - Sharon of El Alamein? :)
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Since [livejournal.com profile] therevdrnye's visit on Sunday I've been leafing through my Twilight:2000 modules and manuals, thinking idly about how things have changed since the books were originally written, and wondering in an offhand manner about how things would change if you kicked the messy end of the Cold War down the road to 2017. The original problem that sucks the world into war could still be a Sino-Soviet war (honestly, does anyone think the current regime in Moscow differs from the old CCCP in anything but the name?) but the reunification of Germany is already a done deal...well, I'll look into the Twilight 3.0 version a little more and see what I think, though I have my own notions. One thing's for sure...an America in the wake of a limited nuclear exchange would be an extremely interesting place. Too interesting for me.
wombat_socho: Wombat (SSuiseiseki)
...is that they sometimes cause one to cruise right past what one originally had planned for the day, so that you run right into the daily rut. Today was one of those days. I got up with the full intention of hitting the pool today, since it was forecast to be really really hot, like in the 90's (pause for [livejournal.com profile] tepintzin to point and laugh from Kuwait) but I went through the shower routine and was halfway through bandaging my legs before I realized I had wanted to go to the pool. Which I can't do with bandages on, because the management frowns on that. :(

Well, there's always tomorrow. I'm going to the clinic at 0930, and it's supposed to be in the high 90s, so it would definitely be a good day to hit the pool. I can cover the blood draw site with a waterproof bandage, so no worries there.

Anyway...spent most of the day on Cowzilla hacking on a Operational Art of War scenario and double-checking the latest Army reorganization plans to make sure I have the OB at least mostly correct. So far so good. Might go out later to restock on a couple of grocery items, might put that off until tomorrow.
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
Went out to retrieve sunglasses, enjoyed bonus sports argumentation, then went down to College Park and wound up at the Silver Diner in Laurel with [livejournal.com profile] therevdrnye discussing our vile, treacherous friends among many other subjects.

Along the way I came to the conclusion that I should probably resign myself to the fact that I no longer have the desire to sketch out and run a full-fledged RPG campaign under any set of rules, for the simple reason that it's a hell of a lot of work if you want to do it right. Which I would; there's not much point to running a campaign half-ass, and if you're not running a campaign, then there's really not going to be a good story at the end of it all, and the kind of players who are into that kind of gearhead gaming (which is closer to the old-style board wargaming anyway) are going to be off playing WoW or some other MMORPG that's going to give them immediate gratification.

Anyhow, good conversation went on until 0430 (augh) but I got home ahead of the rush hour traffic and crashed hard until noon. Still not sure whether I need to go out for anything this evening or whether I should just go back to bed in a few hours. Lord, I am so tired...

And speaking of wargaming:

Making OGRE counters with Shrinky Dinks. (Boing Boing)
wombat_socho: Wombat (Boss Coffee)
Didn't get called in for work today, so was able to do some more cleaning as well as dealing with the laundry. Played some Rise of Nations, then some EVE, and finally started the Kursk scenario from The Operational Art of War. Talk about a slaughterhouse...I begin to understand why a number of wargames (Eric Goldberg's regrettable Kursk being an exception) dealt with the battle as part of the 1943 campaign rather focus on Kursk itself. It's really not a very good game situation.

I'd originally planned to go out to Wal-Mart for more shopping today but never got around to it, having been distracted by the aforementioned games, Lone Wolf & Cub #1, and Sharpe's Fury. I'll make a short run to Harris-Teeter for coffee and leave it at that, especially because I want to see if I really was dumb enough to leave my TX in the truck. Again.
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
Not very impressive by Minnesota standards - maybe an inch or two of the flaky stuff, another inch of powder, and then it warmed up enough for the stuff on the roads to melt. Meh. I had to drop it into 4WD going up Duke Street this morning so I could pass people who rather obviously couldn't drive in snow but were trying anyway, but on the way home it wasn't a problem.

No work tonight; apparently it's been slow all day and they're closing early. On account of the snow. *rolls eyes*

Installed Operational Art of War last night, played a few turns of the Kharkov '42 scenario. Pretty amazing how fast the Winbox blows through the computer's side of the turns, which is gratifying.
wombat_socho: Wombat (SSuiseiseki)
Since P is working today we got together yesterday afternoon/evening and had an early Father's Day burger dinner at Foster's Grille, which despite the pretentious spelling dishes out a quality burger with fresh-cut fries and is a Coke joint besides; think Five Guys with a bigger bun, a tad less grease, and beer on tap if you want it. Good eats. Too bad it was full of Little Leaguers, which made it a little tough to carry on a conversation.

I then motored down the road and hung out with Mark, who is understandably stressed about his mother, but not so much so that he couldn't show me the mid-season finale of BSG (which was every bit as awesome as advertised) ,Casting Call of Cthulhu, and the trailer for the actual Call of Cthulhu movie (silent, of course) produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, those fine folks who brought us Shoggoth on the Roof and other Things That Should Not Be. We also discussed Civilization strategy in general terms. I'm getting to the point where I can whip Civ III at the Regent level so long as I don't have to deal with more than four AI, though I usually wind up playing the same map multiple times so that I know where the resources are. Cheating? Good question; in a conventional wargame you'd know where all this stuff was already, and in any case I don't care. It works. Mark' struggles with Civ IV sounded painfully familiar, and hopefully some of the advice I gave him based on my C3 experience will help. Needless to say, we both miss Call to Power.

This ended far later than either of us planned, and I aggravated matters by staying up until past 0400 reading Farmer in the Sky. It was good reading forty years ago, and it hasn't lost anything in the meantime. Come to think of it, none of the Heinlein juveniles have aged that badly, allowing for the changes in what we know about Mars and Venus.

Today was largely spent lolling around playing C3 with expeditions to the Walmart (for waterproof bandages and meat) and the swimming pool. Was going to do laundry, but I'm pretty tired out from thrashing around in the pool for half an hour and I'm going to call it a night.
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Despite rising much later than I originally intended, I successfully did laundry before heading off to Dutch & Brenda's to meet with P, RS, and [livejournal.com profile] therevdrnye for dinner at Roy's. Much conversation and good food was had. P thinks the onion rings at Roy's are better than those at Wampach's in Shakopee, which used to be the family gold standard; I'd like to have another shot at Wampach's before deciding. Brenda also introduced us to eggs pickled in beet juice, which are surprisingly tasty. Don't let the purple color of the former egg whites put you off. Things broke up about 2130 because everybody else had work or school in the morning; [livejournal.com profile] therevdrnye and I went looking for someplace to have coffee, hang out, and discuss RPGs, specifically Twilight 2000 and Traveller. This we did until 0100.
For the benefit of the other rabid RPGers... )


*Listed on page 5.
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
It shouldn't have surprised me that so many of my friends noted the passing of Gary Gygax earlier this week, given that at least a third of the folks on my f-list are gamers, but still...yeah. I'm sufficiently out of touch with the gaming world that I didn't notice until [livejournal.com profile] stuckintraffik posted about it yesterday afternoon. Which is pretty sad, considering the impact he had on my life and so many others.
He changed the world. No, really! Shut up! )
wombat_socho: Wombat (unhappy)
If you don't see any posts for the next few days (hey, it could happen) it's because I'm removing roads from a TOAW scenario map, one hex at a time. Evidently I hit the "fill to borders" option by mistake. *sigh*

I'm also taking a break from EVE while I train Refinery Efficiency V. That'll take me a month, and I figure if anything important happens (like, say, BoB relocating to Scalding Pass somehow) [livejournal.com profile] jamestrainor or [livejournal.com profile] thaadd will let me know.

In other news, the Penguin Cafe Orchestra is pretty cool. I may have to buy some.

Unrelated: Cowzilla is refusing to boot up normally unless the external hard drive is disconnected. WTF.
wombat_socho: Wombat (SSuiseiseki)
Didn't get anything out of storage or the mailbox yesterday on account of working until 3 PM and not being really motivated to do anything afterward except motor out to Ashburn and hang out with P and RS. I did get Masha and my blank CDs, at least.

Today, I slept in until almost noon. Never got around to doing the laundry, but I did get out to do grocery shopping and pick up a fresh box of bandages. Wasted most of the afternoon trying to find an OB for the 2nd Cavalry Division (or even the 1st in its 1939/40 horse version) , since I've been seized with the desire to render the Ohio campaign from Turtledove's Settling Accounts series. It would be kind of weird and kicky to render Featherston's CSA as a force organized along German lines and using British (or French) equipment while the USA sticks to the historical organization and equipment - but with the M3 Grant (doubtless renamed the Custer) as starting equipment in 1941 and then quickly being replaced by the Sherman.

It's been suggested that I take advantage of Virginia's relatively lax CPA regulations and go for one, but the idea leaves me cold for several reasons. The big one, of course, is that I've been doing postgraduate work for the last six years, often at the same time I've been working on Anime Detour and Convergence. I want to take a few years and just chill, okay? Work 9-5 (or 8-6, as the case may be) and have my off hours be mine, all mine, for a change. For a few years. Then maybe I'll think about this CPA thing. Maybe. After all, I'm not a real accountant - just a data entry clerk who knows his way around the general ledger a bit. So far they've been letting me play one on the org chart, but you never know when that's going to change.

Had to put down The Atrocity Archive tonight; for some reason, parts of it were making me intolerably melancholy, and I wasn't even listening to James McMurtry or Jason & the Scorchers. What's up with that, brain?
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Samurai Gunslinger, he say Browncoat gamers rejoice! since Fox has licensed a company to turn the series into an online RPG. My first reaction is that this is going to be every bit as popular as Empire of the Petal Throne and other such RPG set in worlds run by totalitarian regimes*. The oppressive government of the Alliance doesn't strike me as providing much scope to freebooting freighter captains, and as we see in Serenity, the demimonde that might support such nonconformist rebels is all too easily burned out of existence. Besides, if you want to play tramp freighters in space, there's already EVE. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for more product coming out for the Firefly franchise, since it all supports the possibility that another movie or direct-to-DVD series might eventually be made, but I can't see spending $15/month (or whatever they charge) to play in that universe. (Instapundit)


*Greg Costikyan had The Price of Freedom, about rebels in a future America that had fallen to the Soviets. That one didn't sell too well either, IIRC. On the other hand, there is Paranoia, but that's for laughs.
wombat_socho: Wombat (Default)
Well, between the z-pack and the Mucinex I think this infection is pretty much whipped, and after tweaking the settings on the nose hose, I'm getting some lovely big chunks of sleep as well. So despite the occasional deathly pallor on my face, I am actually getting better and may soon be able to resume inflicting myself on my friends in person as opposed to e-mail, LJ, etc.

P and I went to Cheng's last night for soup and appetizers, and I would up ordering the pork fried rice as well. Half of that went home with me and was devoured in a fit of he raving munchies at 0330. P's a little worn down by all the overtime, and RS' proscription on it during the week he's gone actually sounds like a good idea to me. Better safe than sorry, especially where a G-Wagen is concerned.

Been finding copies and pieces of old games I'd left here years ago. I am appalled to see that for some reason I thought it was a good idea to get two copies of MechWar 77 and a copy of Cityfight, which was a concept better suited to the advent of today's PCs. On the other hand, it's nice to find most of my War Between The States pieces, maps, charts and rules. That game would be so good on the PC using the Civ3 engine, which has so many features adaptable to a WBTS remake.

Yes, I finally got the laundry done. Booya.
wombat_socho: Wombat (Boss Coffee)
Much love for the Halo 3 beta. I'm definitely getting a 360 and some speakers for that Sanyo I inherited from [livejournal.com profile] cajones and [livejournal.com profile] chebutykin, for the sole purpose of thrashing on this and Halo 2.

The seven rules of love.
Deep
Love must affect you profoundly, make you willing to make sacrifices. You cannot merely turn it on and turn it off, it must be something near the center of your life.

Which explains why, when you have to kill it or go insane, it hurts so God-damned much.

No love for the McCain-Kennedy immigration fiasco. John McCain has managed to outdo himself with this one - he has simultaneously got a lock on the Strange New Respect Award while cutting his own throat with respect to the 2008 GOP Presdential nomination. Nobody on any side of the immigration issue likes this bill, with the exception of the wonky Congressional staffers who wrote it and the handful of tone-deaf politicians who are stupid enough to think this will actually solve any of the problems presented by immigration. Lotsa luck, there, guys.
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
I'm talking about Sid Meier! Actually, Daniel Drezner and Victorino Matus are. It's very interesting, especially for its sidewise looks at Doom creators John Romero and John Carmack (not very nice guys, evidently) and SimCity creator Will Wright (ditto). Very cool article; RTWT. That also goes for the comments to Drezner's post and his account of how Civicrack damaged his academic career. I can relate...boy, can I relate. (Maggie's Farm)
wombat_socho: Wombat (die now)
So I manage to wrap up everything by 5:30, head out the door, swing by the post office to pull out today's mail, get on the 576, and arrive at the P&R...only to discover I'd left my truck key at the office. Great. That meant a hike up the hill to the 76th & Newton bus stop (in fron tof Best Buy) and a trip back downtown. When all was said and done I didn't get home until 8 PM, where I found a notice from the Campaign Practices Board proving that they can't add: they think I had $500 left over after my campaign for the State House back in 2002, so they want me to cough up $100 in fines for filing late and another grand in penalties. Well, fuck that. When I closed the damn campaign account in 2003, I was actually ten bucks in the hole, having paid three months' worth of service fees out of my pocket since I kept forgetting to close the account. So if they want money from me they can get in line and sue me. If I had $1100, I'd give it to my foot doctor and Health East for back clinic charges, to say nothing of the IRS.

I settled in and started hacking on the sloppy excuse for a Russo-Polish War scenario I have here and lost track of time, which is why I'm doing this at 0245. It's not like I have anything to get up early for tomorrow anyway.
Details, if you want them )
And that's it for tonight. Tomorrow, cleaning, expulsion of garbage, data entry, a library run, and some sloth and indolence. It's a three-day weekend!
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Got e-mail back from Intuit saying my returns had been accepted by the state and the Feds, but I need to log into the TurboTax site tomorrow and print out a signature form to send in to the IRS, since last year's return is somewhere on the Deskpro's hard drives and it's more work than it's worth to dig out the hardcopy from...wherever it is. (I swear, as an accountant I suck at recordkeeping.) So I go in, print off form, sign it, mail it, etc. and that should be that.

I slept in longtime this morning after staying up last night until the Worst Radio Show Ever came on, and on rising was pretty appalled at how the legs looked. They didn't hurt, though, so I showered and dragged myself out in the cold to hit Wendy's on the way to [livejournal.com profile] thaadd's place for Twilight Imperium. I enjoyed the socializing; the game not so much (even though I tied for a win) as it still seems to take forever to get things done. I know this is going to sound pretty hypocritical coming from somebody who used to enjoy GDW's Europa series games, but I think the main problem with Twilight Imperium is that there's just too much going on to keep track of. Every race has three special abilities, every turn you draw a strategy card that allows you to do something different (and the other players as well), there are action cards and objective cards and technological improvements and all of these things can interact with combat and movement and production and trade and...you see what I mean. The PC/console version of this, which will keep track of all this stuff for you, will probably be a lot more fun (imho) but in the meantime you have to play the game a lot to remember half of this, and playing the game can take quite a while when most of you have only played it once or twice. The plastic ship counters are a pain in the ass too. I would much rather have had just plain cardboard counters, personally, but a lot of folks really get excited by them and the game sells well, so...it's just my opinion.

It's still colder than the ninth circle of hell outside, but the Sportage still fires up reliably. It's not happy about this weather, that much is clear, but it still starts and runs, and that's the important thing. I want to pat her on the fender and say, "Don't worry, baby, Daddy will take you someplace soon where it never ever does this. I promise."

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