Monday, April 27

Moving Forward and a Flashback

After a worrying couple days last weekend when we heard that both Paul and his wife had suspected COVID-19, and then they went ominously silent, we’ve heard that his wife is back to working from home and Paul’s OK. He’s been wiped out for a couple of weeks now but he’s not been to hospital so it counts as ‘mild’. His condition is slowly improving.

My Coalescence prototype was also slowly improving last week, I've been working on digital goal cards (with new goals and more options), so I hope to be able to finish them off in the next couple of weeks (free time is still very limited) and then print and cut them. Daughter the First played a few games of it at the start of the lockdown and has been asking to play again.

We’ve also been using the weekends stuck at home to sort out some of the piles of stuff left over from our move last summer. The garage in particular is full of moving boxes destined for the loft that we wanted to sort and not just squirrel away. This weekend, while going through boxes I found one containing a lot of Reiver Games prototypes including the final Border Reivers one from 2004:

An 16-year old prototype!

There were also a couple of games I had in progress when I shut it down in 2011 and a Carpe Astra prototype too. A proper blast from the past!

Monday, April 20


Just a brief one this week. I've had a reasonable week in Newcastle (including teaching my eldest daughter Century Golem Edition - a leaving present from my previous employer - and playing a game with The Wife for the first time in ages), but I heard from Paul on Saturday that he and his wife (a key worker) both have suspected COVID-19. They were mostly fatigued and at home with their teenage daughter looking after them.

I'm sure you all join with me in wishing them a swift recovery.

Stay safe everyone.

Monday, April 13

Moving Online

Due to the lockdown we’re unable to gather in the UK for at least a few more weeks (and because of my Multiple Sclerosis it’ll probably be at least another couple of months in my case). As I’m sure is true for most of you too, that means no Games Night at my house for a while.

Games Night is a weekly meeting of friends, almost all of whom have been colleagues at my old job (either during 2001-2005 or 2011-2020 or both). It’s been running from the moment I got a place to live up here - initially using a camping table and camping chairs while I camped inside a rental house waiting for The Wife to work out her notice period down south and move up to join me with all our stuff.

It’s not every week, with work travel, holidays, moving house and kids it’s been about 60% of the weeks over the last few years, but I love it every week it’s on and miss it every week it’s not.

And now there’s over three months without one. So it was one of the first things to set up in the brave new world of online gaming.

I’ve owned an iPad for a long time - I initially got it to play Pass and Play games with my mates from work when we travelled together, so I have a decent number of pass and play board games on it. So we’ve tried to use native apps as much as possible, with Google Hangouts for video chat.

My pass and play iPad games

Of course not all my friends have iPads so we’ve been trying to find games that work across iOS, Android and even Steam on the PC. Ones that have worked well are 7 Wonders, Race for the Galaxy, Carcassonne and Splendor. Tsuro was a real pain to set up friendships/games and we also tried in the browser last week and that worked pretty well too.

One thing I’ve totally failed to move online is my games design and playtesting. I’m trying to set up a weekly call with Paul though to help with that...

Monday, April 6

Isolation: Things to be Thankful For

We're now into week three of our isolation, and mine is likely to last around 13 weeks because of my Multiple Sclerosis which makes me high risk.

Lockdown is a pain, I miss the office and my friends there, I miss walking to work, I miss our weekly Games Night at my house and I miss the freedom of weekend trips and being able to pop out whenever I want.

But it's not all bad, and dwelling on the negatives isn't going to help my mental health during what is a stressful time unprecedented during my lifetime.

There's several good things that have eased the discomfort:

  • I'm getting to see a lot more of The Wife and my girls. I get an hour at lunchtime with them every day, plus what used to be my commute time. It's great to spend more time together as a family.
  • At this point we're all still well.
  • I've got into running again, which is great for my health (though I pulled a calf muscle last week, so I'm having some time off to recover).
  • The weather has been pretty good, so my morning runs haven't been awful and I've been able to take the girls into the garden in my lunch breaks.
  • We're getting a lot of jobs done around the house that have been put off for months since our move last summer.
  • We're cooking and baking more, so we're probably eating better.

I realise I'm pretty lucky on a bunch of those, but what about the lockdown has been an (unexpected) benefit for you?