Wednesday, June 29, 2011

War Torn - Part II - All the Rest

And what of it indeed?  I don't normally break show reports in two, but I had so much time to kill at Scarborough, that I was able to take a lot of photo's, some of which came out ok.  Besides there are some points about the organisation and support of the show I want to raise.  Anyway, we'll begin today with the Warlord Games display.  All very professional as one might expect from a company who have thanks to their plastics output and popular glossy rules rapidly become major players in the industry.

Their game was a 'English Civil War' derived game; I say derived, as the forces seemed to be royalists versus Dutch. 

There was some justification given for this; along with that old chestnut of an 'alternative History' but I don't think it was really for any other reason than to put a lot more toys on the table.

On the trade side, they had photos and sample sprues of some of their upcoming plastics on display.  Old news if you went to Salute, but that's hundreds of miles away from me, and out of my range.  Therefore, it was my first look at their Macedonians:

And the roman Balistae section:

In relation to this, north-eastern readers of this blog will be interested to note that Boyes, a regional chain of stores previously best know for budget household wares and targeting the DIY & women's crafting, were big supporters of the show.  This is because they are moving in on the modelling/gaming market as a men's hobby stream (previously having done well with Fishing tackle it seems).  They already stock Vallejo paints in store, and if the word from the show organisers is true, they have reached agreements with Warlord, Victrix and Mantic to stock their products.  This is a very interesting prospect, given their 38 stores.

Meanwhile there was some minority interest in 15mm models, with a couple of Flames of War tables.  But the major 15mm game was the Alamo:

This featured BIG (in all but scale) battalions on the Mexican side:

 Against a wafer thin line of Texans:

Finally Mantic were also there, not managing to sell much, but getting a fair number of people in to play their Kings of War game.  They also had the 3up version of their Dwarf Kings Hold board game with them.

Nice to see the figures in this scale, but it also gives away why the models look so unbelievably well painted in magazines and on the website.  It's simply because they are three times as big!

I would have liked to have tried  DKH, as it seems like classic old-school gaming; but I think it may have been seen as poor form by my colleagues to eff off and play another persons demo game.  So I went off and chatted up the barmaid instead!

Lastly from Mantic, a glimpse of the first of their 'Dark Elves', the main release I understand will be like the Abyssal Dwarves, a mix of plastic and metal parts.  This sorceress was all metal, and quite nice; the camera felt differently though:

Overall?  Well, this show was having it's first attempt at being a success, and on the Friday night Kelvin, the main organiser was upbeat.  Sadly this was to change during the Saturday.  The show was supposed to be in partnership with Scarborough Council for Armed Forces Day; but they largely reneged on their commitments, and moreover failed to publicise the event on the day.  The immediate result was that the 15,000 or so tourists in town specifically for the weekends events, were not aware of the show. 

But more seriously than that I think, there were precious few gamers through the doors either.  Total paying customers over the weekend was a spare 250 or so, probably only half gamers with shopping and gaming in mind.  Retailers had a pretty mixed bag of it, I'm told a few did better than at some other shows, but I can't imagine who, as the ones I had sight of from my game seemed to shift bu**er all over the weekend.  It appeared to me that most money changing hands was simply moving from one trader or demonstrator, to another.

In future the show needs a Unique Selling Point that works in the long term and gives gamers a reason to turn up.  By the end of the weekend the talk was leaning towards making the show more of a gaming convention and tournament weekend; with several tourneys proposed for next year.  This may well be the right direction, as the location of the show does not lend itself to the usual demands of a big show (central location in a major city).

I hope it does ok in the future, but for me it needs a better reason to turn up than it had this year; two days is a long time for me to spend wargaming, never mind sitting around staring at toys; at points I was bored out of my mind, which is not healthy when doing something you are supposed to find fun.  As a result I spent a lot of time just chatting to traders and barmaids, playing slots on the beach, photographing the sea and frankly anything to distract.  Wargaming came very low on the list!

Next time will be better; one has to hope.

Monday, June 27, 2011

War Torn - part I - Napoleonics

So this weekend I was at War Torn; a new show with grand ambitions, not all of which came through on the day, a shame, but one I will perhaps discuss more in part two of this post.  Today I'll stick to the major theme of the show, an attempt on the World record for 28mm Napoleonic's on a gaming table.

Thankfully the rules of the record attempt did not require all the models to be in a single display, so as a result there were a variety of games on display.  I'll lead with my own modest effort, very much a rush job, Rolica 1808:

Using the scenario in the Battlegames Tabletop Teaser annual as a guide, I found I could just about scrape together the listed forces from my own collection.  As a consequence I summoned up about 300 models for the display.

The British under Wellesley with General Hill as Second in Command were to advance on the foothills below the Rolica escarpment looking to get British forces past the delaying French within 8 turns.

the French were outnumbered two to one, but held a strong position and had the advantage of Artillery and internal lines.  Moreover a large portion of the British forces were unreliable allies.  Over the weekend it ended as one win, one dismal loss and one draw for the British.

Rather outnumbering my meagre little effort were the next two games, Firstly the biggest; Salamanca:

This featured around 15,000 (yes, FIFTEEN THOUSAND!) models on a huge board, and made a recognisable attempt to reflect the dispositions on the long parallel march at the start of the battle.  Each Brigade featured more troops than my entire battlefield!

Not as numerous, but certainly more grand, was the representation of the battle of Corunna:

Featuring again several thousand models, this was a true display games, with many features to look at beyond the battle.  Not least the Town of Corunna itself.

If the scenery seems familiar, it is heavily featured in the Touching History Peninsular War book.  Something I finally bought after sitting next to this gaming p*rn all weekend!

Then there were the ships, good lord; you could see them a mile off!  For the record this looks to be a Third Rater, and the miniatures on it are 28mm:

Even the minor vessels were works of art; such as the gorgeous vignette of a gunboat.

Next up was a game that's been around for a couple of years, though it was the first time I'd seen it.  Busaco.  Probably the best terrain pound for pound...

Embarrassingly, like two maids at a wedding, I found myself presenting the same battle as another group (not wearing the same dress thankfully!)  A local schools club had turned up with a different interpretation of Rolica; theirs had a better hill, but I had the nicer toys!  Still good to see a group of young and enthusiastic gamers not obsessed with just Games Workshop.

On the Sunday another Naps game turned up, but rather than the Peninsular, this one opted for the Hundred Days campaign.  I'm not sure if this was a historical refight; but I'm going to plump for Quatre Bras, just a guess.

Lots of lovely Perry cavalry:

And of the record?  Well, a couple of no shows meant that it was a bridge considerably too far for the win; best estimates suggested there was around 23 to 25 thousand Napoleonic's models on display, alas the record is more like 40,000.  Maybe next time.

Assuming there is a next time, but more on that later.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Too much Lead's off to another Show

Yes folks, despite a massive, ooh? hour of preparation for it, I've been cajoled, in as gentle a manner as possible, to put on another display game.  So this weekend I shall mainly be at War Torn in Scarborough.

I'm presenting a modest little participation game based on the action at Rolica, 17th August 1808.  Turns out I could just scrape together enough French and British to cover the engagement as presented in the Battlegames Tabletop Teasers book.  Keep it simple, stupid, I thought, and so I'll be sticking to that!

Look me up if your there at the weekend...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A sort of Fuentes d'Onoro: 1811

So here we are, in June already, and I've only just got round to my first big Napoleonics bash of the year!

We wanted to christen the relocation of the Sunday club to the LWGC with a big game, full of proper spectacle, and so  I put together the rudimentary organisation of a game of Black Powder; My old oppo Neil was going to be up for the weekend too; so on top of the opportunity to see his ludicrous dancing once again, the night before, we would if needed have access to his many French.

In the end we had no shortage of troops, with four players out of the 8 involved fielding models (the majority being mine and Laurie's, but with contributions from Martin and Jez too).  As Neil arrived unavoidably late, his troops sat on the bench all game!

The battle was loosely inspired by the situation at Fuentes d'Onoro; but was not a faithful recreation.  I simply  didn't have time to arrange it, and wanted to keep the size of game manageable to boot!

In the end the scenario was thus.  The British were tasked with defending the road north, passing through the village at the top of the shot above.  A large ridge covered most of their front but fell away to the village beyond some open woodland.  Marshes divided their deployment zone, whilst the French benefited from a high spur of land projecting towards the village, Nave de Haver.

Each side had to map out their deployments in secret, and had ten minutes to formulate a plan of action.  The only limitation being that one allied brigade of Spanish and Portuguese troops and artillery was already deployed in Nave de Haver, well forward of the allied lines.  This reflected the questionable decision of Wellington in the actually battle of leaving some of his weakest troops exposed to protect his flank.

The French plan on paper was sound, using all their artillery in a Grand battery on the heights to support an attack on the village by two brigades of infantry and one of heavy cavalry, whilst a brigade of infantry and one of light cavalry screened the ridge.  Initially they stuck to this plan, despite communication failures.

For their part, the British deployed three brigades of infantry behind the ridge; placing only their remaining artillery and an allied light cavalry brigade beyond the marshes in a position to immediately support the village.  They were it seemed relying on their cavalry and guns to disrupt any attack on the village; whilst exerting a hammer blow to any French daring to come over the hill.

The French sent line units into the village with initial success, the leading Spanish battalion scattered before a French column.  Curiously ,the placed their only Grenadier battalion (their best troops by a country mile) out of the fight in a square on the flank, in case of charging cavalry.  The British ignored them and instead went after the French columns, catching them exposed but with limited effect.

The Spanish infantry in the village crumbled as their cavalry support recoiled; and it was left to the more valiant Spanish artillerymen, and their Portuguese brothers to defend the walls.

Meanwhile in the centre, the French heavy cavalry tried to break through, but were beaten back in considerable disorder, their second cavalry brigade tried to come across in some form of support, but it was confused.  As the sun rose towards noon, the British and Spanish began to advance up the hill.

Finally the French infantry reacted to the din of battle; large parts of their initial plan not having survived the morning or contact with the enemy.  Firefights and cavalry charges were conducted at a lethally short range as both sides at times blundered into one another over the crest of the ridge.

Over at the village the French were still relying on a battle weary column to smash into the village; it had it's chance when the Spanish artillery laid exposed to a flank charge through the streets of the village.  But by some miracle (i.e the French only rolling one hit and the Spanish matching it, whilst having supporting troops) the Gunners put up a spirited enough defense to break the column.  Still the Grenadier Guard stood and watched.

But in the centre a rallied heavy cavalry brigade began to advance, to support a now fierce battle in the open woodland on the flanks of the ridge.  Tragically for the French there was disaster in the trees, when their Commander in Chief, Massena led a battalion to shore up a gap in the line.  His attacking battalion collapsed in combat, and in the ensuing confusion he was captured by men of the 3rd line Battalion and escorted back to Wellington's headquarters to watch the rest of the battle from his opponents lines.

By now the British had crossed the ridge and were making headway down the opposite side, where the French were now too thinly spread to realistically hold them up.  Although their heavy cavalry was making an impact in the centre, the valiant Portuguese had seen off a third assault on the village, and as the sun sank to the horizon, with their Marshall of the Empire lost to the enemy, the French decided to disengage.

It was a tiring epic of a game, but a great and heroic victory to the British, with chief plaudits on their side going to the valiant defenders of the village, and the lads of the 3rd Foot.  For the French their Cuirassiers took a lot of damage, and eventually made their point, but it was the poor command of their left (sorry Neil!) that led to their failure.

Out of the game came some points on the rules, that I'll mention here in brief.  I changed the application of charging cavalry and evading skirmishers on the fly as umpire when the British light dragoons charged; it just seemed in their nature to carry on into whatever was behind the screen.  Similarly, if troops tried to form square as a charge reaction, I make them take a straight command roll if they pass, they form up; if not they are caught in their current formation.  on a double 6 it would be a disordered square as described in the rules.  To balance this, I don't allow charging cavalry to evade a formed square, let them take the pain!

The last major adaption I use is to the rules for Broken formations.  In the rules, once a formation is broken there's no coming back.  But I find this a little final.  Rather, if more than half it's units are destroyed (i.e  removed or routed from the table) then it is finished, otherwise the brigade's general can try to rally shaken formations, and if by so doing returns the formation to having half or more of it's formation unbroken, then it is no longer broken as a whole. 

This gives a bit of a chance to return units to the battle, but in practice will usually removed the whole frm the fighting line for a turn or two.  more than enough time for an aggresive enemy to take advantage.  I also only count a general as a unit, it in some way lost in battle.  Then they effectively become an extra unit in the brigade, which immediately and always counts as lost...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Transport and Couriers

A couple of oddments off the painting table, firstly some 15mm Hanomags, destined for ebay:

These are production offcuts, with suitable scratch built machine guns refitted, from the Forged in Battle range; as I know the guy who does their casting.  Anyone who wants some quality adding to their Flames of War army or whatever, they're already on the eBay: Here.

Otherwise I finished off another Napoleonic general/ADC who had been hanging around the table for some time.

A pretty plain one piece casting from Foundry I think, I got him free, so I'm shady on his provenance.  The painting is fairly basic too, but I needed him in a rush and wasn't seeing him as a centrepiece model.

I've now started work on my Iron Owl model, and it's already looking to be an ambitious piece, other than that, the major items on the painting table now are the components for another Skirmish game.  I'll give one clue as to those.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't say it's Clover...

Hmm, my third game of Anima Tactics, and I only wish I could get a few more in.  I faced up against Neil's Holy Empire of Abel team across a familiar battleground...

Neil knows the abilities of most every character in the game, but as the Black Sun are not in the core rulebooks he only knew their abilities from the net; he was wary of Clover and rightly so.  But I would say that. 

Initially I threw forwards the Type 005's as a screen, and Neil's characters happily dispatched them.

But this gave me room and time to prepare Clover's killer move.

His Prometheum attack tied with one of Promethea's magical effects allowed him to move in from outside of the Empires movement and attack range, and unleash three consecutive charge attacks, with throw effects as I want.  In an instant the Empire defence pack was smashed open.  One character dead, one stunned and one thrown well out of range.

However, it's still a gamble; as powerful as his attack is, after it he is vulnerablee, not least as he is in my present team a solo fighting force, and his charge had left him well out of range of the buffs that Sophia and Promethea could offer.

Whilst they tried to avoid getting themselves killed so they could support Clover, three of Neil's characters ganged up on him and did everything they could to bring him down.  It took them three turns, in which Neil was very nearly beaten; but in the end he was able to triumph.

A real close game despite the appearance of the outcome.  Which is something I like about the game.  Still I need to add another combatant to my team to give them more balance; in the short term it may have to be a wanderer (read - mercenary), but in the longer term an undead knight may be more value than the Type 005 zombie soldiers...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First sight of Caesar

Although I wasn't playing in it, I had considerable interest in the debut of Hail Caesar at the club last week.  Mark ran one of the club's history buffs through the Pelopennesian scenario from the main rule book, the Spartans to the left in shot:

The Athenians arrayed behind the dirt track (Immortal miniatures Greeks.)

I didn't catch much of the detail of the battle but the net result appeared to be a solid pounding for the Athenians at the hands of my favourites, the dour, humourless Spartans.

Mark's initial review of the rules is that they are "the cleanest set of rules for ancient wargaming he has played", which sounds like good news to me.  I don't mind Warhammer Ancients at all, but the special rules for certain forces can break the core mechanics.  Armati, was my favourite, but no one else here abouts plays it.  As for the DBMM/FOG systems, well, we've spoken about that lately, haven't we?  I've yet to read my copy of the rules, but the fact that they gain approval of Mark is a strong sign. 

I hope to get a chance to try them myself soon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

"Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won."

In correspondence from the field of Waterloo, June 1815

A model that had been on and off the paint table for several months.  I wanted to do a little diorama for my commander in chief, and so have placed the Duke, in the guise seen in several well known portraits of him, giving orders to an officer of the 44th; his drummer boy watching on in awe. 

Of course Arthur Wellesley had a long and glorious career, and was certainly one of Britain's greatest generals.  I'll refrain from any lecture on his life here, as if you don't know any of it I really hope you feel ashamed to be reading a wargaming blog whilst in such extreme ignorance


It was in the end a surprisingly speedy and pleasurable job to paint up this little vignette.  At some point I'll need to get a Ney or Marmont to face him...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Scenic Devices

Right, so one of the reasons the figure numbers for May were down on the previous couple of months, was that I have begun another little project.

I'd offered to make scenery for the LWGC* Craig, the owner had seen my other smaller scenic work and wanted to get some for his store; as it was being paid for by him/the Leeds Nightowls, I was happy to oblige.

The eventual decision being to start with a set of generic boards of rolling European grasslands, large enough to cover a 6x4 foot board. Added to this were to be sections specific to 15mm WW2 gaming; to keep the Flames of War crowd happy.

I had a large batch of Kerr and King trench works still left over from a previous donation, and so these formed the basis for two boards of eastern European defences. Ideal for 'Cross of Iron' style actions

For another board, my ambition was to do a large village scene, in such a style as to suit western Europe. Out with the scratchbuilding tools and foamcore, for an epic construction session.

The style of the village is essentially Belgian/northern French, whilst the aim of the layout was to block fire lanes and give positions for ambush and so forth. At the same time the buildings were made generic enough that they wouldn't look out of place with Wellingtons men marching past, or hiding NATO forces from a Warsaw Pact invader.

It's early days in the process as you can see, but a few words on the methods; I was taught everything I know by Mal Taylor and others of the Grimsby Wargaming Club, and I am indebted to my rusty recall of their techniques in the assembling of the boards. The wood is 6mm MDF, and if I wasn't working to a tight budget, it would have been at least twice that thickness. It was sealed on both sides to reduce warping, but cannot eliminate it.

The roads and main textured surface are a mix of tile adhesive and brown paint, with extra coarse grit added for the countryside, to get more texture in and to form a crude concretion.. The hills are foam insulation of a very high density that can be cut easily with a craft knife.

It's a long way from completion, and more will follow; one thing I can say, is there is no way better to get the attention of other gamers than to sacrifice your gaming time to make some cool scenery. I've chatted to many attendees of the store for the first time while working on these boards so far. Interest in the methods involved and what the boards can be used for is already quite high...

*Leeds WarGaming Centre

Monday, June 06, 2011

May pledge

Another month, and what to report.  I'm going to keep it short after my last epic (and grammatically fraught) post, it's simply painting time.

The only item not yet shown on the blog finished in May was an upgrade to an established unit:

Half of this unit was found in a shop years ago, 5 very expensive Volands Venators cavalry converted to undead knights.  I painted them in a simple red scheme.  Many years later I acquired four more along with undead horses; and with an empire knight I had spare I was able to convert and complete the unit to a useful ten figures.

I think they'll serve as Blood knights for me.  Which means they are now a huge addition to my Vampire Counts army.

Only half points for this unit as only 5 models were actually painted in the month.  The totals are consequently:

Russian Guns and crew: 6
13th Cuirassiers: 24
Ghouls: 21
Blood Knights: 10

Making for a modest result of 61; not close to my best this year, but twice my pledge demands so still excellent.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Things wot I don't Play

I've been considering casually for while the games I dismiss out of hand. Being part of a large vibrant club, one sees no end of games played, and over the years one way or another I've tried most every historical period going. There are some that I either wouldn't do again, or won't touch with a bargepole, and the same goes for games and wider genres. I felt it could be interesting to look at why...

Periods of History

When it comes to historical gaming I'm a pretty broad church, though the are a few gaps which hold no interest. Going back in time the farthest would be what I guess they call the Renaissance, Roughly 1450 to 1630 has never appealed to me from a gaming standpoint. One reason is the outfits, another is that it's neither here nor there in my mind tactically; it isn't medieval, it's not fully pike and shot. Finally, if I want to paint or play something in that style, then the human races in Warhammer Fantasy have it pretty much covered.

I don't collect for, but have no aversion to the 18th century.  Rather,most of the 19th century is a big period for me and many gamers. But enter the 20th century and the morality of what your doing becomes an issue for me. Yes I do many 20th century games, but I avoid World War One, as neither generally much of a game, and as it feels in poorer taste to make a game of it than so many other wars (and in a sense, that is what any wargaming is doing, let us not forget). Similarly I've drawn an arbitrary line at 1995, and don't go beyond it. My last historical period is the wars in Yugoslavia, and that has to be approached tactfully to avoid seeming in poor taste.

Force on Force, interesting, but not for the Gulf, thanks.


Broadly speaking I've no interest in air combat, or for that matter space/starship battles (barring Star Fleet Battles some 20 years ago, and the reasons fit in with the following point). In the main I see computer simulations can do a far better job of simulating the dog fighting aspects, and the strategic side holds no interest for me in such combat. Any future battles in space will not look like Star Wars/Trek and so I don't find much appeal in them as a tabletop game.

Linked to that my interest in Sci-Fi gaming in general is on the wane, only Epic hangs in there on the strength of a good game system. Again, the reality of future warfare, as I see it, is not likely to be anything like that which games try to imagine. I fear it will be clinical and precise and dehumanised. I only hope we are civilised enough to avoid it altogether before then!

For the most part you can add alternate history games to that bag. Steampunk, Magic augmented histories, fantasy ancient worlds. Best left in books and films for me, I'm quite happy with my history as it is for wargames. Straight fantasy is fine on it's own.  I would be lying if I said this was without exception mind, but those exceptions are on the whole, limited, Pirates and Greek Myth get through as exceptions!

Flintloque, yes I used to play it, and the experience still leaves me scarred.  Players can ruin a game...

Collectible games I've dabbled in on and off, but really with the exception of using the Axis and Allies models I've dropped them all. Several are very enjoyable, don't get me wrong; but they are money pits of the highest order.

Specific systems

Amongst the Games I do not/will not play:

Flames of War is one of the most obvious and pronounced exclusions, and i have a variety of misgivings about it. I've only played the rules once, and there seemed little wrong with them in principle, but the resultant style of play is influenced by an ideology to encourage buying as much stuff as possible, and then cramming it onto a table.

The typical game is company sized, but with over generous (IMHO) support, notably entire tank formations and on table artillery, and for all it's fancy rules a weak attention for real tactics. Games seem to revolve around massed blobs of infantry trooping around, unsupported tanks racing everywhere and lines of artillery engaging the enemy over apparently open sights. I like my WW2 games playable, but I really want them to reflect the reality of the period. Flames of War so far as I'm concerned does not achieve that, rather it is a points led competitive wargame, that happens to use WW2 as it's background.

Add the fact there are an unending library of resource books to buy, and the official range of models are at least 25% more than anyone else's models, not to mention in the wrong scale for me!. Well it's a long rant to say no deal.

I think my issue with Malifaux is simply one of personal taste. Sure there are nice models, the game mechanic seems clever, it's not that expensive to get in to. Still, nothing; couldn't be less interested. It just doesn't float my boat.

To an extent the same applies to Warmachine/Hordes, but the background models and rules leave me cold. Certainly there seem to so many special rules that break the core system, never a plus point for me unless it is well handled.

Warmachine? Well, it's your money....

The real killer is the price; I recall at a time when I was coming back into fantasy gaming Warmachine was the new kid on the block and the metal figures were from £4 to £20. It seemed ludicrous to me back then as a hardened historical gamer, and I never was sold on it as a result. Those prices are if anything more reasonable now, but I remain disinterested.

Now I tried to get on with DBM/DBMM I really did, but it's a case of reading the impenetrable rules does not prepare you for what a game will really look or be like. I has plenty of adherents sure, but it's not for me. I'll stick with alternatives. Fields of Glory falls by the wayside for being altogether too similar to DBMM.

Secrets of the Third Reich, or any game extending WW2 or introducing fantastic/sci-fi elements to it are a straight up no for me. Not acceptable to even go there; I don't care if you do think Reich Robots are cool, I think it's in poor taste.

Lord of the Rings never caught me either, although the models were lovely, and at least initially attractively priced. Somehow I just never once looked at the game and thought, 'oh. gotta get me some of those'.

Finally a special mention goes to Occult Wars, a game I know nothing about, but see advertised intermittently, often persistently on websites like TTGN and TMP.

Sexy? hahahahahahaha......

Boy it makes me laugh, are they actually claiming to make wargaming sexy? isn't that a contradiction in terms? Either way, it's one of many games that tries to attract nerds to it with the classic combo of girls and guns.

Find some down on her luck model; or more likely the girlfriend of the one mate you have who can get one, put her in a low-cut top with a bb-gun or cheap Samurai sword and that's your cover and the internal illustrations sorted! How could any spotty, roleplayer resist? I'm not even joking that much. Girls in real life generally have nothing to do with anyone who plays this nonsense.

So what have we learned? like an episode of Family Guy, perhaps not a lot other than about my fickle tastes.  But I wonder what other people consider outside their field of interest, and why...