Tuesday, December 19, 2017

One ping only



I watched this recently with the Kinchlets and very good it was too.  John McTiernan’s submarine thriller is taut and well served by its cast.  Basil Poledouris's score is a joy and I really didn't find Connery's Scottish accent off putting, which I know some viewers did.   Alec Baldwin does a good turn as an unlikely action hero and the supporting cast are uniformly excellent.

All in all recommended.

The Kinchlets wriggled enthusiastically to the music which is also a plus.  But they just seem to like anything that's loud.





An Atlantic Convoy laid out on the board


My pal, Dr. Creaner, has a copy of "The Hunt for Red October" board game released by TSR many moons ago.  I haven't played many naval games, but this one seemed to strike the right balance for me - proceeding at a decent clip, but also presenting some genuine tactical problems.

For those who are unaware - The Hunt for Red October board game is superficially a board game of the book/film.  There are eight scenarios in the box, one of which involves chasing the rogue Soviet submarine across the Atlantic.  Having read it, I'm not sure how much fun it would be.

The other seven scenarios are devoted to naval engagements during a Cold War turned hot. Game play is very simple, the pieces are designed to allow the players to see where an enemy is, but nothing more.  Pieces are rated by type (surface vessel, sub, aircraft, etc), attack value and detection value.

Detection is everything, if you can spot your enemy before he spots you, it is likely going to end very badly for him. There is an old saying, which I am probably misremembering but it goes something like this, "Blessed is he whose cause is just, but three times blessed is he who gets his blow in first." No where is that more true than in submarine combat.






Soviet subs attempting to harass a NATO convoy

We managed to play three games in a very leisurely evening, while learning the rules and I hope that we'll be able to give this another go in the near future.  In our first game, I managed to swarm the USN and RN around Iceland and while my Foxtrots and Alfas were sent to the bottom, the exchange rate in Trafalgars and Los Angele's was equal which was very bad news for NATO.






Admiral Creaner considering his Anti-Sub screen

Sydney and Admiral Creaner played a convoy game which didn't go so well for the Soviets. Penetrating a convoys anti submarine piquet is no joke and we worked out that it was far more useful to work out where the convoy needed to be and then lie in wait for them.  This is slightly complicated by the fact that while the US convoy is slow moving and fairly predictable, they do have Los Angeles class subs attempting to disrupt the Soviet attacks - so a Soviet player who is too cautious could find himself being counter ambushed.

An enjoyable game and at a sufficient level of complexity - actually I think it might be fairer to say - of sufficient simplicity  - to keep my interest while still reflecting some of the problems of naval engagements.  Actually, I came across an interesting idea recently in the work of a Canadian academic called Jordan Peterson, which was the idea of the "low resolution representation".  The idea is that people have cognitive structures that they use to deal with problems - essentially stories that they tell themselves. These stories vary in complexity, but what matters is if they are true enough for the purpose they are put to.  A hydrologist might have a higher resolution mental model of currents and movements of water than a fisherman, but that might not matter to the fisherman who will have to make more decisions much more quickly than the hydrologist.  The fisherman's "rules of thumb" might be inaccurate in some cases, but so long as they as mostly true, most of the time, they serve their purpose.

A good game might need to be sufficiently high resolution to capture some sense of the thing that it is representing, while being of a sufficiently low resolution to be playable in a reasonable amount of time. The appropriate level of resolution will depend on what your goal is. 


My father in law put this together while we were all dying of the lurgy. It's solid, the cover is screwed to the timber underneath and then again to the floor. It's on legs so that Arthur Kinch cannot repeat his trick of building a ramp of cushions against it. Something similar was tried by the Romans at the Siege of Jerusalem I believe. 

Unfortunately the Kinch household is just a riot of chest infections, coughs, spluttering, paracetemol and anti-biotics, so we've had to batten down the hatches. Arthur and Gordon have borne it with remarkable stoicism for babies their age, something I wish I could say about their parents. 


Unfortunately, we somewhat underestimated Arthur's ingenuity.  Within twelve hours, he'd managed to pile cushions against the window and wedge himself against the wall in such a way that he could get up to swipe the little wooden bandsmen that went around the tree. 




Arthur Kinch will be getting this for Christmas.  I may have made a terrible mistake. 

Gordon is getting far more sensible LEGO, which she really enjoys (having played with a friends), but which doesn't make a noise. 



25 comments:

  1. "A good game might need to be sufficiently high resolution to capture some sense of the thing that it is representing, while being of a sufficiently low resolution to be playable in a reasonable amount of time. The appropriate level of resolution will depend on what your goal is. "

    This was pretty much the design philosophy of DBA, wasn't i? Capturing something generally done at high resolution using low resolution mechanisms to achieve the same result in far less time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

      Delete
  2. Suffering from man flu myself I feel your communal pain , that drum looks ace - bet it's loud !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the look that decided us on the drum to be honest. As for loudness - he's never had any trouble getting noise out of a toy before!

      Delete
  3. As we are discovering (again) with our granddaughter, the ingenuity of little children to get where they shouldn't be is limitless.
    I hope your families various ailments are gone by the festive weekend so that you can enjoy it properly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too.

      Children's ingenuity is a constant source of surprise and pleasure and anxiety.

      Delete
  4. Buying a kid a drum for Christmas - schoolboy error. I vouch it will be 'broken' by New Year's Day (by dad putting a kitchen knife through the drumskin).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think his mother might have something to say about that.

      Delete
  5. I loved the film, music, and books, and got quite into Clancy for a while. Glad to hear the game is good and playable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is. We're hoping to give it another go soon.

      Delete
  6. Take my advice and guidance - lose the sticks - worked for me - they're just as happy slapping it with their hands.. :o))

    ReplyDelete
  7. Been a while since you've stepped on a LEGO, huh?

    ReplyDelete
  8. One of my favorite movies.

    The Kinchletes seem like they are progressing well, which is pleasing.

    And LEGO does indeed make a noise, two in fact. One when you exclaim upon seeing it strewn about the house, and another you will make when you step upon said strewn LEGO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are a constant source of joy.

      We shall see how we get on with the LEGO.

      Delete
  9. I didn't know of this game and I suddenly feel the urge to find a copy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say try before you buy. But I've certainly enjoyed it.

      Delete
  10. Good movie! I never minded Connery's Scottish accent in it. Maybe the good captain learned English from Scotsmen/women?

    If young Arthur becomes a gamer when he gets older you might have a strong opponent (or ally) on your hands!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It actually came to me the other day - Remius isn't Russian. He's Lithuanian. So it would make sense that he would have a different accent from everyone else.

      Delete
  11. p.s. Legos don't make a noise... until you step on them in the middle of the night. :P

    ReplyDelete
  12. If you have relatives, they will be getting noisy toys.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Havhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=man5fLJbbRMe always enjoyed your blog-Wassail !

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Conrad,

    isn't it time to hear from you again, to know you're all well, the Father Christmas was generous and that you wish us all well for the New Year? If you can, let's have a progress report and your hopes and pledges for 2018.

    I wish you all the best for 2018

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete