Thursday, 1 September 2016

Back from the East

I've returned from a month in Ukraine and the Caucasus, largely just traveling around Armenia and Georgia, and soaking up some of the sunshine on the Black Sea coast. I enjoyed myself immensely, and if you have the capability to do so, taking more than two weeks away comes heartily recommended.

Part of my objective was to get off the well-trodden tourist trails, and avoid the legions of British tourists that tend to descend on France and Spain in the summer months. Ukraine fitted the bill, as it is popularly assumed to be a war zone. What many people fail to realise, however, is that Ukraine is a big country, and the area where there has been limited fighting with Russian-backed rebels is hundreds of miles away from the capital.

While in Ukraine, I took the opportunity to visit the WW2 museum in Kiev. Sadly it was closed, but there was a large display of Soviet-era armour outside to marvel at, including a Hind gunship and some Russian vehicles captured by the Ukrainian troops last year, complete with battle scars.

Captured Russian APC with wheels removed.

Kiev is a spectacular city, and despite Ukraine's economic and political  hardships, there seems to be a great deal going on there, particularly if you like to party! The old city is sited on an escarpment that overlooks the River Dnipro, and you can stand looking out over the river and then the miles and miles of forest that stretches away towards the east, unbroken apart from the odd factory or Soviet tower block. Kiev is an amazing place, extremely cheap compared with other parts of Europe, and a great place to learn more about Orthodox Christianity and indeed the entire history of Ukraine, much of it dominated by outside forces like the Poles, Lithuanians, Tartars, and of course Russians. Don't miss the church of St Sofia, which has a superb 6mm scale model of medieval Kiev.

I am now back in England, which is pleasantly warm. I am expecting work will resume with a vengeance shortly, hence I'm taking the brief opportunity to update my blog.

Gamingwise, I took several card games on holiday, including Skulls, Mama Mia, Cthulhu Fluxx and my now well-worn copy of travel Settlers of Catan. I am now at that stage where I am getting regularly pounded by my children at Catan. There's no holding back on my part now, but that does not seem to be saving me. In two games of Settlers, I ended last out of four, a desperate result.

Now we're back, hopefully the roleplaying season will be starting soon. I'm currently working to finish my Cthulhu Vietnam War mini-campaign 30 Days In The Valley, which I hope to be able to start soon, while our Dracula Dossier campaign is on brief hiatus. I've also been re-reading the modern Cthulhu scenario Cold Dead Hand by Adam Scott Glancy, which with any luck I'll be able to run at some stage.

On the acquisitions front, I have finally found and won a copy of Kuro on eBay, and recently coughed up some money for The Edom Files for Night's Black Agents and Beyond the Rim for Star Wars - Edge of the Empire. I also succumbed and backed the Kickstarter for Zweihander, a next generation version of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rules engine.

Finally, this weekend I hope to be attending the Reunicon roleplaying convention in Brighton at the Dice Saloon here in our fair city. More on that later...

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