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So in my last post I laid out my entire gaming history. But for this one I wanted to talk more about something that was a major part of my life for about 3 years or so. Games Workshop. More importantly working for them.

It was toward the end of my first year of uni that I applied to work for GW. I had my interview at the Stockport store and pretty much aced it considering I had worked in shops before plus I knew everything about all games currently available, and my painting was pretty decent to match. As a result I got a job working key-time (zero hour contract meaning you got what hours you were given) at the Altrincham store. Coming back to Manchester after a Summer away and I started working there with my first boss (of which there would be 4 in total).

To begin with working at the shop is a good deal. Discounts (minis by weight!), painting and playing games. You of course have to learn how to run a store when the shop is small and the team is tiny, and so I became better trained than some full time staff in some other stores as I had to deal with cashing up and generally being in charge when no one else is about. THe other fun side of things I got to do was of course help teach kids how to play the games, teaching painting, teaching tatics, and in the course of all this explain what bits of military history I knew, science, mythology etc. Basically I was asked if I wanted a job as a manager once I graduated. I declined of course. But there was a time I would have taken them up on the offer.

The downsides were numerous. One manager just didn't command the respect of the team, hell I even complained. Plus we had one staff member that was racist and that never got dealt with. Then there is GW common sense. Being paid by the hour is fine, but having to travel for training on Saturday mornings when you were not working that day was shit. Basically the hour travel cost the hour you made. Also when the Lord of the Rings bubble burst GW changed it's tune, demanding us to act more like salesmen while not being salesmen (GW prides itself on not power selling, but when the shit hits the fan they push it as much as possible), plus all the other barmy stuff and as I said, poorly trained managers.

Ultimately I learnt a lot from my time at GW. How to manage a team, my confidence increased, my teaching skills to those younger than myself, my own planning skills and designing things for summer and holidays such as campaigns and tournaments and even new rules for the games in store. But, and this is a big but, GW sucks you in with promises of toys and sweeties, but spits you out when times get hard. The battle lines of GW stores are covered in staff who have fallen or got burnt out in the name in Emperor.


Armies I have owned:

WH40k - Tyranids, Tau, Orks, Chaos Nergal Plague Marines

WH - Tomb Kings, Chaos Warriors

Warmaster - Tomb Kings, Empire

Necromunda - Spyrers, Van Saar

Gorkamorka - Gorkas

Blood Bowl - Humans

Warmachine - Khador, Cygnar

Confrontation - Dirz

Epic - Space Marines, Tyranids

Battlefleet Gothic - Chaos


A sample of my painting from a while ago. I am no longer this good.


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So back around 1994 a friend at high school introduced me to a game of superhumans and space orks. That's right, Warhammer 40000 2nd Edition. The game blew my little mind. It was chock full of dice, templates, minatures (though these are nothing compared to the things Games Workshop makes these days) and books. The books were not just rules but some of the most amazing graphic artwork and background material that described a universe where Humanity was under seige from a variety of aliens, daemons and renegades. I was hooked. However my parents were not so keen. GW was expensive even 15 years ago. So I had to make do with just using what my mate had.

So when another friend picked up Epic Space Marine, a game set in the same universe but using substantially smaller minatures so even larger armies could be depicted in battle, and he then got hold of Epic Titan Legions, and well I just bought the Eldar (space elves) forces off him and I had the start of my own army. This over time allowed for my parents to change their view of the games as they realized the social and educational value of them (we as a group of young boys started to become better artists, writers, readers and I was already a mythology and science geek). So finally I started to get the odd bits for my Eldar bought for me.


Read more... )



So that is my 15 year gaming history... for now.





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This is quite mad but also really interesting. Once more a reminder that the human body does contain all the tools to heal it self from the afflictions that kill us everyday, the trick is making use of them in ways never thought of before.

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So, since last time I posted anything meaningful I feel like I need to do an actual, proper, blog update, plus more.


Right, well first off the bat it has now been some weeks in 'smart phone land'. Need I say that I am now somewhat addicted to the device. It has meant that I now consume the web a bit differently. Such a device is very good for grabbing all your favourite RSS feeds and so information consumption is more fluid, bite sized and targeted. Also I have to once more stress how excellent the X10 is for displaying pdfs making my rereading of Werewolf: the Forsaken a lot easier on the bus. I do not have to lug about the 300 page tome. In addition to the basic feature there are a few apps that I have added that are useful. A lot of apps are amazingly pointless and redundant if you have any form of common sense.


Right, as for work, well that is getting better. I now have finished a new conformational search engine and will be testing it this week and the following weeks on simple organic systems (rings in particular), and then on more interesting metal containing complexes where chelation occurs. On the other burner is my never ending multi-objective parameter optimizer. We have now taken steps to not just move goal posts but change the pitch altogether, and so I am now looking at heme type systems where spin cross over occurs.


In regular life, Vampire has been on extended hiatus since one player has had major work upheaval but regular programming will commence soon and then Changeling will begin.

More regular life has included heading up to Manchester for a weekend and visiting old friends, and now just organising ourselves for Paris next week. I have been learning a little French, and with my wife's help it is far easier to get to grip with. I tend to find it easier to learn a language when you can understand the origin of their words.

So that's basically been it of late. But I plan to write more and blog more. In particular with the end of the Vampire chronicle coming up I was going to do a long dissection of how I run games, prepare and things I have learnt over the 15 years of gaming, along with posts on topics I find interesting. Not all of this will be cross posted everywhere however, as I don't think my livejournal serves the same purpose as my wordpress.


The next few gaming related posts will include;


- My gaming history and more - from Necromunda and DnD to working for the big GW, Vampire and trying to get something published

- Which Game? - What I've played, read, run and what I like

- Chronicle Concept - Just how do you go about putting one together?

- Plotting - Stories and episodes and what to plan and what not to plan

- Rules Rules Rules - what to use, when to not bother and when I roll dice and when I just don't.


There are more topics to add to that list plus some sciency type discussion when I spot stuff of interest that intersects pop science and my own research.


Right on that note some pictures perhaps and then I better do some work.




I wish I was in Corleone's right now sipping coffee and stuffing my face with a pastry.... oh but then they have that all in France.


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Edited to correct for shoddy punctuation on my part as I rushed to write this, this morning.

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So the news is focused on what will happen to the government. But there are a few things annoying me with the media.


1 - The media did polls that suggested the public wanted a hung parliament. However now they are acting like only one party should hold power.


2 - No one won! We got a hung parliament. The tories did not get a majority. Being the party with the most votes is not the same as a majority of votes or even seats in the House of Commons. The government then is formed from parties that together have the majority of seats, regardless of the result of the popular vote. It may mean the Tories don't get in but then even they did not win the election. So the media should stop treating them as if they won.


3 - Unelected leader. Brown declared he will resign. Fine. I don't like him but remember like all prime ministers they are never directly elected by the public to power. In fact a PM does not have to be leader of a party. Just command the respect of the majority of the commons. Now if his party is the majority then the two can coincide. But they actually don't have to. So once more we never elect PMs we just elect ministers who form parties. It is possible Clegg becomes PM.


4 - Brown is not squatting. He his bound by the constitution to remain as PM. There must always be a government.


Conclusion is it seems the media and our own population don't understand how parliament works and assume it is like a presidential senatorial method.

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So last night dear morpheus and the sand man welcomed me to a troubled sleep. My mind was stilled engaged in thought. Would the rise of dear hyperion, the great observer, the sun, welcome a new order or more of the same old tired politics?

The night of the count was more exciting than expected. Postal votes were missing, voters were in immense queues even if they had turned up early, even voting papers were running out. Politics was at breaking point and I used that had the grand concensus of Britain decided to let this happen. That our nightmares and uncertainty had crippled us? No matter the winner voting in future would change.

Right now i am tapping this out on my phone (doing it easier than imagined) as the bus sits in traffic. Where is everyone going today?

So what can we look forward to? Chaos? Anarchy? Brown may be able to give us what we do deserve, a Lib Dem cabinet member or two and some electoral reform. At 22% of the popular vote, the Lib Dem party has gained votes but lost seats. This is now such a broken system. The Tories think having the most seats nd votes is enough for power. It should not be so. They will hold neither a majority in the seats or the vote.

So here is Labour Democrats. You may well be what we all need. As for those of you who didn't vote, shame on you. If you agree with a party then back it up with a vote.

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If the leadership debates were supermarkets – which they're not – ITV's would be Tesco, Sky's would be Morrisons, and the BBC's offering would be Waitrose. The ITV debate felt like a 1990s gameshow whose rules required Alastair Stewart to bellow "Mr Clegg!", "Mr Brown!" or "Mr Cameron!" every thirty seconds; the Sky studio was a poky black cave cluttered with discarded British Airways tail fins and dwarfed by an immense Sky logo. With its mix of cavernous space and high-tech backdrops, the BBC debate resembled a cross between Songs of Praise and current Saturday night talent-show splurge Over the Rainbow: I half expected the loser to hand his shoes to Dimbleby at the end before jetting off into the sky on a rocket-powered podium.

The chief topic was the economy, a subject upon which I have such a poor grasp that from my ignorant perspective all three men may as well have been debating the best way to kidnap a space wraith. Cameron proposed 'efficiency savings' which seemed to boil down to a war on unnecessary leaflets; Brown boomed that this would shrink the economy by £6bn and risk a double-dip recession. Clegg didn't care what happened as long as it was fair. He proposed some kind of cross-party economic fairness committee which, as secret fellowships go, sounds about as much fun as a cardboard-licking party.

Clegg was big on fairness generally. Fairness and difference. He used so many distancing tactics – references to "these two", phrases like "there they go again", constant calls to "get beyond political point-scoring" – he may as well have thrown in a "hark at these arseholes" at the end for good measure. It's a tactic that largely works: he sometimes came across as a slightly exasperated translator sadly explaining to his fellow earthmen in the audience that these two visiting Gallifreyan dignitaries were well-meaning but essentially wrong.

Brown's ears are amazing. I think they're made out of sausages. And he still can't smile properly, which is hardly surprisinggiven his ongoing luck allergy. Following the overblown 'bigotgate' media piss-fight, which saw him force-fed fistfuls of shame, it was vaguely impressive to see him standing at a podium instead of screaming on a ledge. Just as Cameron likes to shoehorn the "change" meme into every sentence (or rather did, before Cleggmania flared up), so Brown mentioned "the same old Conservative Party" so many times he began to sound like a novelty anti-Tory talking keyring.

According to some polls, Cameron won, or at the very least tied with Clegg. Which is odd, because to my biased eyes, he looked hilariously worried whenever the others were talking. He often wore a face like the Fat Controller trying to wee through a Hula Hoop without splashing the sides, in fact. Perhaps that's just the expression he pulls when he's concentrating, in which case it's fair to say he'd be the first prime minister in history who could look inadvertently funny while pushing the nuclear button.

More Guardian election comment from Cif at the polls

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November 2011

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