Friday, 16 April 2010

Settle down everybody

If you haven't heard of "Settlers of Catan", I can only assume you've just come back from a 10 year stint in the Orient. Either that or you've got a proper job, and a proper social life. But let's be honest, I think that's very unlikely. Certainly in my tiny corner of the Solar System, this game has proved very popular, especially within Christian circles I might add. Incidentally, these are different from crop circles, in that they're made by nutters (I proudly count myself amongst their number) not aliens, and a cross can usually be found at the centre of it all.
The fun begins as soon as the box is opened; in randomly arranging the hexagonal board pieces, divvying up the tiny painted "roads" and "settlements". It's a game which has nostalgia built-in as standard, what with it's little wooden pieces, and old-school commodity cards, redolent of "Happy Families" or even "Cluedo". All this, and the game hasn't even begun yet. You play an up and coming, iron-age developer, who's sole aim is to plunder nature's bounty to sate his hunger for longer roads and bigger cities. You achieve this, or not as the case may be, through a combination of dice rolling, and cunning decision making. The pleasing ratio of luck to strategy required (about1:4), ensures even the least competitive, or most wine-affected player a sporting chance. O.K. I appreciate board games aren't everyone's idea of a good time, but if you even "quite" like the odd game of "Risk" or "Monopoly", I suggest you look for a cross-wearing nutter to accost, and borrow the game off. Who knows, you might get more than you bargained for.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Agaetis Byrjun? Not likely.

For those of you not familiar with Icelandic caterwaulers, Sigur Ros, Agaetis Byrjun is the title of their second album, and can be roughly translated as "a good beginning". If this is your musical bag, I can strongly recommend their third album, ( ). More about this in a later blog perhaps (if I ever get that far).
Where was I? Oh yes, at the beginning, and not a great one at that. Picture the scene. The year is 2010 (that shouldn't be too hard to imagine), and a 30-something man has just managed to set up his blog profile. Not a momentous advancement for the human race, or even a great personal achievement. Instead, it could possibly be seen as a 21st century rite of passage, a technological equivalent of that first clumsy snog in the dark, at the back of the cinema, with the girl your best friend ends up marrying five years down the line. And yes, before you ask, I was a late starter with girls too. I blame boarding school. This is probably more than you want to know, and definitely as much as I should say on the subject. Maybe this explains why it took me ages to buy a mobile phone. When I told my best friend John (not his real name) that I was embarking on my first blog, I wasn't expecting rapturous applause or even a manly slap on the back, but the reaction I received took me somewhat by surprise. Apparently I had just done something rather unsavoury, something akin to traipsing dog-shit through his house, admitting I like listening to the music of Carly Simon, was growing a ponytail, or enjoy riding my bicycle on the pavement. I had upset the unwritten laws of nature, and would be judged accordingly. To make matters worse, John is the sort of bloke whose values and beliefs any global-leader worth his or her salt, might possibly consider incorporating in the new bill of rights, when the survivors of World War 3 creep out of their bunkers at the end of the nuclear winter, and decide to create a new nation. Anyway, you get the gist, John is a sound chap. Which makes his distaste all the more disturbing. Is he right? Have I made a hideous mistake? I hope not. Anyway mate, you're the one who ends up getting the girl, so stop grumbling, and let me get back to her before the film ends.