Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King’s Quest Kickstarter is Live!

And it was funded in ~4 minutes! There’s only one pledge level available which buys you anything – $100 – but that’s already giving you a LOT of stuff as stretch-goal after stretch-goal is being met (they’re up past $136,000 at the time of writing)

There’s still another 27 days to go, so I imagine there’s going to be a heck of a lot of stuff unlocked in the days to come. If you want to get involved, head over to the Kickstarter page, here.

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Simple Things We can All do to Win a Yes Vote

Yes. It’s a tiny word with a lot of power; a word which hopefully will change the course of Scotland’s future come September, when we answer the question “should Scotland be an independent country?”

I will be voting Yes to independence on September 18th. So will many, many others – current opinion polls (a crude indication, but the best we have) have placed the Yes vote as tantalisingly close to winning. With little over a month to go, convincing the remaining “Don’t Know’s” will win the referendum.

But what can we all do to help push Yes over the line? Not all of us can get out and canvass door-to-door, speak at events, or staff the stalls giving out information. We can all still play a part though.

2014-05-07 06.52.28Personally I think the most effective and simple thing we can all do is proudly show our voting intention. If we “normalise” the idea of voting Yes – show that support for Yes is large, it’s everywhere, and it’s not just some small, fringe group (or only SNP supporters) – many of the undecided voters will begin to wonder what it is about Yes they might have missed up to now. The more they look into why they should vote Yes, I believe the more likely they will be to vote Yes on the day.

So wear Yes badges everywhere you can. Put one on your jacket, and put one on your bag. Wear a Yes t-shirt when out and about. Display Yes stickers and posters prominently – on windows, laptops, notepads… anywhere likely to be seen (just don’t go sticking them on someone else’s property!). If we all did this it would surround undecided voters in a sea of Yes support, and show it’s everyday people who are the Yes Movement, not the politicians or media. We would show how much momentum there is behind the idea of a better Scotland.

Badges and posters alone will not sway most people, but increased awareness will prompt many to ask questions, and more importantly, to strike up conversations with Yes supporters to find out why we’re all voting for independence. This is the crucial bit. This is where we will win – so brush up on some of the key points. You don’t have to know everything, but knowing where to point people to more information is just as useful whether it’s an online source, or an event/stall/friend with more knowledge.

As a bonus, not only will proudly showing your support for a Yes vote help engage with the “Don’t Know’s” it will give confidence to other Yes voters who might be keeping their voting intentions to themselves. By letting them know they are not alone you will encourage them to engage publicly with the debate and perhaps convince some more people over to Yes.

(It’s obvious, but worth stating anyway – always be polite, courteous and as accommodating as possible when engaging with anyone in the referendum debate. Many people have legitimate worries about independence which won’t always be assuaged in one conversation. Remember that you’re only one angry tweet away from being the next “nasty CyberNat” story in the Daily Mail.)

2014-08-03 11.34.57Personally speaking I’ve been wearing a small Yes badge on my jacket lapel for a couple of months now, and recently got myself a Green Yes t-shirt. It’s sparked conversations with colleagues, friends of friends, even the barista at Starbucks, all of whom have said what I told them was making them think about their positions. When I placed a Yes window sticker in a street-facing window of my house, there was my house and one car in the street with anything on show. Now there’s 3 houses, 4 cars, and a few more houses just around the corner. I don’t claim credit for the increase at all, but I believe that the more of us show our support, the more others will as well.

We’ve all got a part to play in the referendum, so why not start with something small and simple which could make a big difference?

Mantic’s Dungeon Saga: Dwarf King’s Quest Kickstarter Launches Tomorrow!


The Kickstarter for Mantic Game’s new dungeon-crawling board game, Dungeon Saga: Dwarf King’s Quest is going live tomorrow, Monday 4th August, at 1:30pm BST (British Summer Time)

I am extremely excited about this game. So much so I got ahead of myself and started scouring Kickstarter for it last Monday! I was a huge, huge fan of Warhammer Quest back in the day (16-17ish years ago!) and I’ve never really found a similar game which matched the experience of playing that much-missed game. The iPad version comes close, but it’s not quite the same moving pixels around instead of miniatures on a board.

At the moment there’s not a huge amount to go on about how it plays, or what will be included. There’s the official blog, and a video interview by Beasts of War with Ronnie from Mantic (below), but I expect a lot more information to come pouring forth from Mantic over the next 24 hours and beyond – I’ll be posting more information and a link to the Kickstarter page as I get it!

Derek Bateman: We Are World-Class

Derek Bateman shines the spotlight on how good Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow is for Scotland, and then closes out with an evisceration of Alistair Darling.

Comfortable with that, you Labour voters who read here but have no critique of your own? Want to get in touch and applaud Darling’s Blairesque crawling after business bucks? Think he’s entitled do you? Think it’s morally acceptable for a ‘Socialist’ to trouser vast sums when his constituents go hungry, lose their jobs and their homes? Can’t see how your Labour champion is just another self-seeking Tory loaded with cash, oblivious to working class needs and working hand-in-glove with UKIP and the BNP? Is that why you joined Labour? Darling is Cameron’s proxy – do any of you disagree – and will fight working class Scots to the death for his right to make money and stay in the British elite.

Derek Bateman: We Are World Class

Who Are The Scots?

A wonderful piece by Peter Arnott – 100 Days: Who Are The Scots?

“But what guarantee is there that any of that would be better with independence?” is the question No voters ask.

And Yes voters should answer: “WE are the guarantee. YOU are the guarantee. If, WE, the Scottish electorate elected then re-elected a government that did this to our people, then hell mend us. But do you really think we would do that? The point is not WHAT we would choose, but the fact that WE would have the choice. And if it we found that a government wasn’t to our choice any more, we could vote against the cruelty and incompetence and hatred were doing all this to us…and, unlike now, it would make a difference. It would matter what we did and what we chose. The government would actually change. Right now, we can’t do anything except complain about it in the pub. We want to make sure that our opinions count. We want to make sure that YOUR opinions count. Come with us!”

Thrupenny Bit

thrupenny coinWhen my ex-Mother-in-Law was young, she used to split her pocket money with her best friend; she would give her a “thrupenny bit” every week.

Fast-forward 40-something years later and they’re still best friends, only her friend was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

While we were leaving the hospital with the youngest, after a “swallowed something she shouldn’t have” incident (don’t worry, she’s fine), the Ex relayed the pocket money story and how she wanted to find a thrupenny bit to give to her mum.

Before we’d reached the hospital exit I had tracked down a couple of suitable coins in the eBay app on my phone, and payed for them using my PayPal account. A handful of taps on my phone and I’ve hopefully done something to help in this rough time. They should be here next week.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to blog this little anecdote; maybe it was because it’s too long to fit in a throwaway tweet. Or maybe it’s because I thought it was awesome how quickly mobile lets us do little bits of good for others.


Overcast by Marco Arment has launched today. (finally, some of you might be saying)

I downloaded it on my way home, and haven’t had a chance to try out any of the more interesting features, such as “Smart Speed” yet. However, with just a quick tap-through I’ve seen a few touches which suggest it’s a very well-crafted app. I’m not convinced about the use of a non-“standard” font for the UI though, but that’s just my preference.

Despite being around on the web when podcasting first came about (waaay before Odeo, for example) I never really got into podcasts in the same way a lot of other people did. I’ve started listening to a couple recently – and I’m always on the look out for more – and as I knew Overcast was “Coming Soon™” I stuck with Apple’s really very mediocre Podcast app. I’ll be interested to see if a better “podcatcher” helps me get into more podcasts over time.

You can read Marco’s write up of the release over on his blog.

JSON Resume

JSON Resume is a new service aimed at developers, which provides an easy and interesting way to keep your Resume/CV up to date. You simply update a JSON file (you might have guessed this) and use the command-line tool to (re)generate in a variety of formats.

If you want, you can also register and publish your resume to their online registry (resume’s are private in the sense you have to give someone the direct link).

I’ve been looking for something like this for a while – a nice, simple, logical way to manage my resume. In the past I’ve utilised LinkedIn (shudder) and StackOverflow Careers and their respective export functions. JSON Resume would allow me to manage this myself, with more control over the output through the use of themes.

It’s still early days, so there’s not many themes available, and the PDF export looks a bit janky, but as it’s all Open Source and built on technology-du-jour NodeJS, I imagine these minor flaws will get fixed soon enough.

Building a Gaming Table: Part 2 – Terrain

It’s been a while since I blogged the first part of this series on building my gaming table, so I wanted to catch up about where I’m at. I’m skipping a couple of steps on the building of the table itself, as it’s not that dissimilar to what was talked about in part one. Essentially all I’ve done to the table itself is add a couple of batons running the length of the board, for more support and to slot into the two notches in the saw horses I’m using as supports. That, and I’ve painted the top surface a slate grey using some household emulsion. The grey isn’t the finished surface – more on that in the future – but it will do for now.

What I want to talk about in this part was a much more interesting: gaming terrain and scenery. Let’s face it: playing on a flat or sparse table would be very, very boring. It would also be no fun as the player with the most effective fire power would win. So terrain is an essential part of the experience in games like Warhammer 40,000. A good terrain setup will make for a better game nearly every time.

Not like this.

Not like this.

With that in mind, I wanted to have enough terrain available to have a variety of layouts, while presenting different challenges and opportunities to players: dense areas inaccessible to vehicles mixed with open areas which would be dangerous for foot soldiers to be caught in; natural objective zones for narrative games; varying heights for interesting line of sight opportunities; different styles of terrain to give “themes” to each area. This was the dream – the question was how to make it so.

My starting point were some Games Workshop kits I had stockpiled. I’d ordered the Tempestus Firebase set at the end of last year, in anticipation of this very project, and I had most of one of the Cities of Death buildings as well (a Basilica I believe) – I’d previously used a couple of the parts for a diorama. These gave me enough to loosely fill about a third of my table.

For the rest of the table I opted to make use of the excellent Battlezones scenery Mantic have spun out of the Deadzone game. This system is seriously amazing1 – expect a few more posts about it – as it is so flexible. To begin with I used the contents of the Deadzone starter box, and one of the Deadzone scenery “booster” packs, as I had these before Battlezones were officially launched. This gave me enough buildings for a small settlement or compound. Utilising some barricades made from the same kit, and I had around about another third of my table covered densely. If I spread things out slightly I could cover the whole table more or less. The best bit is, all these buildings would work well in a game of Deadzone as well – so I was getting more bang for my buck! You can see the results in the picture below. I must have been doing something right, as Mantic featured the work in progress photo on their blog2.


Since then I’ve added a Landing Pad kit (which was slightly bigger than I envisioned) and a “Fortified Sector” – think bunkers and the like. I’ve built the landing pad already, and will be starting on the bunkers soon. Various work-in-progress shots are available in the gallery below, including the full table before the addition of the landing pad and fortified sector buildings.

  1. Deadzone itself is also amazing. If you’re looking for a fast, fun, sci-fi skirmish game you should seriously check it out. 
  2. As I jokingly noted on Twitter, this just adds a little more pressure to getting the terrain all nice and painted! 

Building a Gaming Table, Part 1

For the longest time, I’ve wanted my own full-size gaming table for playing games of Warhammer 40K, or any of the other games I’ve taken an interest in – Warmachine, Kings of War, Deadzone, Dropzone Commander, etc… but I’ve either a) never had the space, b) never had the time, or c) never quite had that “nudge” from inaction to action. Not having my own car/van to transport the necessary materials was also a big factor!

The release of the new 7th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 (more on this later) finally gave me that nudge, and having my own place has given me the space. This weekend I was feeling super-productive, so time-be-damned I was building my gaming table! My Ex was kind enough to drive me to the local B&Q, and transport my materials back in her large MPV. This is what I picked up initially:

  • 6’x4′ 12mm-thick MDF sheet (comes as 8×4, but the store cut for free. I kept the cut-off)
  • 2x folding saw horses
  • 4x 1800x44x34mm planed-finish wood
  • 2x quick-release clamps (in hindsight, 4 would have made the job a lot easier)

I already had a big box of high-quality wood screws (5x40mm), drill/driver and bits, so didn’t need any of those.

Construction was a blast, and surprisingly quick. Check the gallery below for some in-progress snaps. In all, it took me roughly 2 hours from unloading the materials to having this stage of the board constructed. The basic process was:

  1. Test-fit the supporting frame on the top of the board, and make some rough cuts to make things easier to handle.
  2. Mark out which piece went where. I numbered each piece, and marked which piece it butt up against.
  3. Clamp my first piece (short end) to the underside of the MDF, lining it flush against the edges.
  4. Drill a series of 3mm pilot holes along the length of the side, roughly 14mm in from the edge, and 200mm apart
  5. Countersink the holes. Not entirely necessary, but you want to make sure the screws are driven slightly below the surface, and this helps. My woodworking teacher would be proud.
  6. Screw the MDF surface to the wood frame
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the long edge. I found it useful to drill/sink/screw a couple of holes near the starting corner before continuing with the rest of the holes. This let me move the clamps along and keep the longer piece more stable as I worked.
  8. Repeat for the remaining 2 sides.
  9. Trim off any excess. I used an oscillating tool with a general wood blade.
  10. Done! For now.

So what’s next?

Well, I need to do a couple more things to the frame – mainly, I need to add at least 2 crossbeams for more stability. I noticed when moving the board to where it will be stored, that it’s a little flexible off of the saw horses. This shouldn’t be a problem during a game, but I don’t want the stresses of being moved to damage my board. Then I want to add a couple more batons running 90 degrees to each short edge. The saw horses I’m using each have two 40mm wide slots for wood to sit in, so I’m going to utilise these so the frame sits on the saw horse, not the underside of the MDF. Then I’m toying with the idea of adding some planed wood to the outer edges, to both “finish” the board by covering the join between MDF and frame, and give it a raised edge all the way around – hopefully no lost dice!

Finally, I need to fill the screw holes and paint it! Then build the scenery. Then paint the scenery…

More posts to come as the project continues!