Archive for November, 2013

Now I use this adjective when I’m describing something that I really really enjoy as oppose the formal definition of excessive sycophantic or fawning flattery. But then that’s because I always refer to it about food and drink not people although Hayley Atwell‘s curves could possibly qualify………

That fine chef/cook Nigel Slater used it in one of our cookbooks to describe a gratin dauphinoise as “a creamy unctuous potato dish” and that is just about the perfect way to describe it, infact my mouth is watering just as I type.  Cauliflower cheese sauce and even the missus’ egg mayo also deserve this term so it really doesn’t need to be restricted to posh nosh. As an oenophile I also enjoy the way some winemakers use it when describing their unctuous tannins (the compound released from grape skins, seeds and stems during pressing).

For me its indulging in a guilty pleasure. Something that almost certainly isn’t that good for you health wise but given the chance you’re going to utterly devour it and lick your plate for good measure afterwards.


What a verb this is, I love it although when I tend to use it, its normally in a slightly agitated state when a conversation includes any topic associated with the malodorous “works” of the author responsible for giving us the Harry Potter novels.  Stripping out the Greek mythologyNorse mythology, Beowulf, Brothers Grimm and even elements of JRR Tolkein (Dumbeldors – ffs Murray!) from her efforts and that’s just for starters, and you have a drab and frankly dull pointless series of tales. Critical opprobrium maybe but she doesn’t fool me.


crusades[1]So here’s the final instalment of my variant units for Crusader Rex.  When I read about the Order of St Lazarus I just had to include these colourful chaps. The image of Leper Knights in combat and what their Muslim opponents must have thought of them is a strong one.  Also the Harafish / Harafishah translated meaning “rabble” yet also regarded as competent siege engineers were also worthy of inclusion.  This pretty much covers most types although I had toyed with a black block for a children’s crusade unit who would enter via an event card.  That all got a bit complicated and the lack of ability to produce the card effectively knocked that on the head so for the time being this is the end.

As before, the idea was to add a few extra units to give a bit of historical flavour of extra troops not covered in the core game. Cherry pick who you want. At last count this had over 260 downloads from BGG keeping in line with the other submissions of about 100 per year so hopefully some people are getting some enjoyment from my labours. Deus Vult/Masha’Allah!



So as the focus switched from the big battles to individuals the Fellowship still undetected arrived at Cirith Ungol.  As the situation in Rohan was turning into a mammoth World War I style battle of attrition I despatched Aragorn to set off meeting up with some 2500 Rohan foot to try to help out.  Meanwhile, Gandalf, Legolas Frodo and Sam encountered Shelob in the servant of Sauron hex.  Still rusty from the rules I decided to let Legolas take on the 8 legged beastie and he was promply eaten infront of the other chaps.  Shame it didn’t happen to mincing Mr Bloom in the movie.  Next up on the expendable list was fatboy Sam.  Using Galadriel’s Light turned the combat decisively in his favour and he despatched her taking just a single wound.  But then the Nazgûl in the same hex finally and successfully detected their quarry entering Minas Morgul. A regular wraith, Gothmog and the Lord of the Nazgûl I expected to be too much even for Gandalf’s wizardry and expected the ring to be taken or Frodo to have to don it but god’s holy trousers! Gandalf cut through all 3 villains with just a single wound, his powers of sorcery reigning supreme every time.

Frodo casts the ring into the fires of Mount Doom

Frodo casts the ring into the fires of Mount Doom

Marching on the fellowship reached Mount Doom, only Gollum could stop them and the role gave no overall control to him so rather easily the ring was destroyed and the Free Peoples were victorious.

What an anti-climax!  The lack of detection success meant the Fellowship just waltzed up and dropped the ring in Mount Doom with hardly any difficulty and way too easily. Moving through the Misty passes when I wasn’t allowed too helped but then even with the same roll at Moria I’d have bundled through.  I suspect I haven’t played this game according to lots of the rules and regs so its time now to re-read the rules, realise all the errors I made and play again a bit more carefully and hopefully have a bit more of a challenge.

The game begins with the fellowship splitting, Boromir & Gimli head South while the rest make their way through the Misty Passes (ed note – error found out after play had begun that the Passes are not open unless the specific event card is played).  Following 3 consecutive turns where no orc forces discover any fellowship players, Saruman musters his forces and marches to Helms Deep.

Siege of Helms Deep. Theodred and 3500 men valiantly defend the fortress against 51000 orcs and uruk-hai. After a punishing round of combat 11000 orcs litter the battlefield.  1000 of Theodreds men also join the ranks of the dead but tragically Theodreds body is also among them.  The orcs prepare to assault again but this time Theoden and Eomer march from Edoras to raise the siege. Théoden commands 4600 Rohirrim, Eomer another 1000.  The orcs caught between the 2 forces break off after suffering another 8000 casualties.  Rohan loses another 2500. The losses are more keenly felt as news reaches Théoden that Saruman has begun to resurrect slain orcs by foul sorcery.

Edoras burns while Saruman reinforces Isengard

The destruction of Edoras –  Saruman’s attention now turns to the capital Edoras, seeing it lightly defended by 4000 militia following Theodens relief of Helm’s Deep. He charges the Chief of the Dunlendings to lead a force to exact revenge. 35000 orcs and uruk’s descend on Edoras and sack the town killing 1000 defenders with negligible losses. The following turn 16600 Rohirrim commanded by King Théoden engage the Dunlending Chiefs force but are unable to break the defence despite accounting for 7000 orcs for 1600 of his own Rohirrim.

The battle of Bree – Meanwhile another contingent of 7500 men from Dunland plunder north unchallenged, raiding and pillaging rick cot and tree. Finally at Bree, 1500 souls attempt to stem the tide but are brushed aside from the ferocity of the attack. Both sides losing around 500 men each.

All the while Gandalf leads his undiscovered party east in  a desperate bid to to reach Mount Doom before Sauron mobilises

Next the fate of the Fellowship at Minas Morgul  

IMG_2318This game I so so wanted after seeing the Ralph Bakshi animated Lord of The Rings film but never managed to get my hands on a copy.  I remember playing a friends game couple of times in the 70’s but it wasn’t until many many years later and the advent of Ebay that I finally got my hands on a slightly battered and incomplete SPI Middle Earth War of the Ring.  Still 3 years later and I finally managed to dig out the musty box and set up a campaign game. Now for starters its virtually impossible to play solitaire but being an only child makes its easier.  So onto the game, and being based on The Lord of the Rings its obvious what the aim is.  The campaign game is essentially 2 parts, a character part featuring the protagonists trying to find a way to Mordor and Mount Doom with Nazgul and other servants of Sauron searching and trying to intercept them. Then there is the army part with Sauron & Sarumans forces pitted against Rohan, Gondor and the other free peoples.

Event cards and magic add the chrome. Reviews on Board Game Geek (BGG) tend to knock the game as flawed and there are loads of variants and player fixes out there but for the time being I’m going to stick to the original rules and see what pans out taking a slightly pro Fellowship point of view.

IMG_2310One of the first thing that catches the eye especially if like me you are a cartophile is the delightful map.  Considering the other games of the time this map was and still is a true beauty.  Just click on the image for a more detailed look. So the game commences wc Jan 14 in S.R.1418.  The Fellowship have arrived at Rivendell. Rohan anxiously observe the fires rising from Orthanc while Denethor scans the Eastern skies toward Mordor.

Next report – The opening moves and engagements

ARTICULATE – Logophile entry #9

Posted: November 4, 2013 in musings, Words

Another of my all time favourite words and one I use all the time owing to my continual difficulty in actually communicating fluently.