Have also been whinging about those pesky little generators of late buuuut, it's been a bit cloudy for the past couple of days (no rain yet, but hoping) so had to have a bittuva chat with one of the neighbours to see if I could beg, borrow or hire his generator for the day to see if I can recharge some of the batteries aboard this bus – especially the main 80Amp/hour “ship's” battery. Tell yah what, it takes many hours/days of full sunlight to top that one up again – especially since the solar panel only out-puts 2.3 Amps per hour under ideal conditions. Bit like trying fill an 80 gallon tank with buckets full of raindrops – two gallons per hour, provided it's actually raining. Lord only knows what sort of current the computer (and its ancillary inverters and converters actually DRAWS). Even when I operate the computer during the day – and the solar array is out-putting the full 2.3 Amps – can only do that for about four hours before the inverter starts its high pitched wail “'elp! Runnin' low on grunt!”.
Happily, 'Orrible 'Onda is now putt-putt-puttering away just outside my window. Ah, well. The other thing that struck me as “anomalous” last night; was me happily working away at a very “Hi-tech” $2000 laptop, trolling the interwebs using a very “Hi-tech” USB wireless modem ---- by candlelight! Oh, well.
Can, however, sit here today and write this into Open-Office without watching the little green “battery” icon on the laptop rapidly diminish into “empty” - or – on several occasions when have been in the middle of something terribly important (like the computer “Game” “Rome-total war”) and the laptop suddenly decides to “hibernate” without warning. Very frustrating when one is in the middle of trying to “govern” a dozen or so “provinces”, 15 or so “cities” - as well as fight off the hordes of barbarians when they come unexpectedly knocking at the city gates with ram's head battering poles... heh.
Would, actually, recommend the “Game” to any (sensible) teen who aspires to become an upper level politician of some sort (and by 'sensible', I mean not one who prefers the blood guts gore shooty shooty-bang-bang all over in one hour all dead sort of computer games).
The ultimate aim is to become the overall “Emperor” of, well, the Roman Empire. It's a sort of amalgamation of the board game “Diplomacy”1 and the later versions of “Age of Empires”. Yep, it does give me “diplomats” who I can send across country to a city that I want to .. um, “expand into” (anyone for lebensraum?). Second step after sending a “spy” into the city to find out what sort of “garrison” it contains – the “diplomat” then very politely asks them to “hand over yer city or we'll come and break yer bloody walls down. Our army is bigger'n yours .. Nyah!”. The reply (computer generated, of course) is generally a very polite “Piss orf!!” Oh dear, think I, will just have to do it the hard way – siege! All this is happening while am trying to “build” cities into some sort of viable economic entity so that I can afford an army (or four). Generally involves raising the “taxes” a notch or two – with the result that “citizens” tend to indulge in a little “civil revolt” which has to be dealt with somehow without mass slaughter (hey - no citizens, no taxes). Yer, it all sounds a bit puerile and “boys own” but it really IS quite complex, and has been keeping what's left of my mind reasonably active for quite a few hours (days? Weeks?)
The whole thing begins in Italy (or what we now regard as “Italy”) circa 300 BCE and am only up to about 100 BCE. (game can be saved and re-started at the point left). Be interesting to see what happens, later, when the “year” clock changes to “CE” .. heh.
The “visuals”, while not exactly Hi-Fi 3D, are sufficient, and really quite funny in their own way. Can sort of “fly” around the provinces and battle-fields in a sort of “helicopter” view. If I leave a “unit” of soldiers idle on the battlefield, can zoom in and there they are scratching their nose, or bum, or squatting down chatting among themselves and O, whoever programmed the “game” was clever enough to allow units to get “winded” or “exhausted”, so have to keep an eye on them; especially the units of Cavalry who refuse to “charge” when “exhausted” and tend to “amble” when “winded”. Also, some units have a tendency to “flee” when they think the odds are too great, which is sort of frustrating when things get tight. Used to happen more frequently in the early “years” when all I had were “armed peasants” - not so much now there are massed ranks of well armed, armoured, and trained “Praetorian Guards” and squadrons of “Heavy Cavalry”, but even they turn tail and flee the battlefield on occasion. I don't send a “Roman General” into the field very often – even though he has a button to yell “OY come back, Cowards. Stand yer ground!” ; “Captains” don't have that “special ability” – preferring to have “armies” led by a senior “Captain” as I keep running out of “City Governors” (who become “Generals”, in the field)(they die, unpredictably .. of old age, plague, or the occasional assassination) and “cities” get a bit “restive” when there's no “Guv'na” in residence. I have to wait until the computer decides to “announce” a “noble” birth, then wait for a “coming of age” - or more frequently a “marriage”. Usually to one of the “Senior Captains” of the Army. One way to get “promoted” to the “nobility” apparently - and Hey, I guess some things never change.
And this, also, should have been, could have been – a much longer essay dealing with Empires come and gone, Energy Efficiency, political machinations everywhere, marriages made for gain .. but OY, the 'Orrible 'Onda just ran out of petrol.
1 Am not sure whether anyone knows of – or has even “heard of” - the board game “Diplomacy”. Came out – er, must be 35 year ago, now - back in the days when PC's didn't exist. Wasn't very “popular”. One of my friends (yer, back in the days when I DID have friends) invited a group of us round to play – the “game” needs at least 6 players. We set it up at about mid-day one Saturday – and were halfway through it at 4AM the following day. Not surprised it didn't “take on”. The fold-out cardboard “playing field” was configured into the map of “Europe” pre 1914, which wasn't the “Nation States” that we know today. Most of it consisted of small “kingdoms”, “City States”, “Fiefdoms” and “Principalities”.
Each player chose a “country”. England, France, Austria, etc. The game was divided into two “periods” - the “Summer campaign” and the “Winter campaign”. Each country had “armies” and “fleets”. The “armies” were little red blocks of wood, The “fleets” blue – but not all were equal. “England”, of course, began with one army and two fleets. Some of the landlocked “countries” had three “armies” and no fleets. The only way one could “move” armies across water was by loading them onto a “fleet” for one turn (or more, depending on the distance). The “Summer” campaign consisted of a period of (mostly) individual planning – but this is where the “diplomacy” came into it. The “rules” were quite complex, so won't go into too much detail here, but generally it was difficult to “move” across neighbouring countries without the “permission” of the “owner” of that country – and it was almost impossible (at least in the early stages) to attack and take over another country without “alliances”. So, in the period between Summer and Winter campaigns one had to drag someone else off into a corner somewhere and “arrange” an alliance. THAT was when one found out who one's “true” friends were, since the “alliances” weren't exactly “binding” and one never really knew whether the “ally” - now knowing what they “thought” you had planned – hadn't snuck off and “arranged” something completely different with another “country”.
(Gee, sounds just like REAL LIFE .. heh).
Everyone would write down the “moves” for that section on a piece of paper, place them on the table, read them out, move the blocks – and see who had a tendency to do the “stab in the back” bit. Additional armies and fleets could be “raised” during the “winter”, but only if one had already attacked and “occupied” certain cities that allowed it.
Anyway, it wasn't what we called a “fun” board-game, so we packed it away and never opened the box again.