Friday, 27 March 2020

Sport of Kings. Part Three.

The Race. One mile two furlongs at the gate.

The horse in lane 5 'White Lion' moves first, bonus number is 9.

Three horses have 9 as their bonus number, marked with large blue discs to remind me.

End of turn one. 'Sweet Talker' three lengths clear of 'Whistling Sands' and 'Capla Spirit. 'Global Melody a further length back in fourth with 'Robero' and 'White Lion' at the rear.

Turn Two. Horse One 'Sweet Talker' moves first, bonus number is 3. You get the picture.

The huge difference in class is very obvious already. The leader 'Whistling Sands' is far too good for most of this field.

OOPS! forgot to take a photo

The easy winner is 'Whistling Sands' no real competition and has almost lapped poor old 'Robero'

The winner finished on turn 8 and was three lengths over the line. This equates to a time of two minutes six point eight seconds. (2.06.8).

That was an interesting exercise, now to create a lot more horses for future meetings.

Sport of Kings. Part Two.

Having done more research on the Win, Place & Show board game, I discovered a set of magazines produced by Avalon Hill in the early 80's. The magazine was called All Stars and ran for just two or three years, being a quarterly publication. Scans of those magazines are freely available to download on the internet.

Someone far smarter than me wrote on article on how he and his group created a full season(s). Recording all the races, prize money, form book etc. and produced a system to create your own. I copied down the various tables as seen below. Table A & B allow you to create the running strength of every horse.

Using two d6, roll on Table A and place that number in the first box of the horse card. After that you roll seven more times on Table B, follow the instructions there i.e. If you roll 13 on Table A you write in 8 in the first box, next roll on Table B is a 16 which is minus 2, Eight minus two is six, so that goes into the next box and so on, simple and neat.

WPS uses a bonus number for every horse as well, Table C allows you to allocate these. Depending on the class of the horse. You roll three d6 and look down the column of what you rolled and match that with the class of the horse. So rolling a total of 12 for a horse Class 70's would give the bonus number of 8.

He also produced an odds calculator and even a speed time calculator to compare horses from different races.

Using index cards I quickly knocked up six horse cards, took the horse names from the daily paper then rolled as explained previously. With just six horses this has given a very satisfactory spread of Class and speed.

The best of the group is Whistling Sands with a Class of 104 and a bonus number of 7. The class is the total of all eight speed boxes. Capla Spirit is Class 88 and so on.

Poor old Robero with a Class of just 30 shouldn't even be in this race as he is totally outclassed. But with more horses created he will no doubt have company. The elite horses will of course be running in the elite races, so will face each other rather than a poor scrog.

Horse cards laid out in starting positions.

Sweet Talker is in Gate 1, the discs denote this horse's jockey is wearing a black cap and yellow silks.

The next job is to run the race, record what happens as that is important for any form book that is created as each race is run. I am not sure how many horses will be needed to have realistic season, but I foresee two to three hundred!

Well none of us are going anywhere soon are we?

The next post will show this race and the form book page it creates.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Sport of Kings

First blog post in quite some time. In these difficult times with the world going into lock down, no going out to the pub, no sport to watch, live or on television, and having to stay in the house and self isolate for the foreseeable future. It calls for a little ingenuity to at least get some sport, albeit in board game form.

I have always enjoyed watching horse racing, both flat and jumps and last year I managed to acquire a second hand copy of Grand National (GN), it is an excellent game and I really like the mechanics of the game, no rolling of dice, very tactical as you are the jockey and have to decide on how you run the race.

All good stuff, but it only covers one unique race, run on a specific course just once a year. I wanted something more. Within the last couple of weeks I purchased another second hand racing game, Win, Place & Show (WPS). I had seen a play through of the game on You Tube and liked what I saw and immediately realised the possibilities for being able to run any meeting, jumps or flat.

The two boards GN furthest from camera, is a really lovely board that captures Aintree Racecourse perfectly. The board for WPS is rather more spartan and functional, but is of a similar size and so perfect for my needs.

It is designed for flat racing in the USA, but no problem, I can soon adapt it for British racing. It has start positions for one and a quarter miles (1m 2f), six furlongs and five furlongs. I had already realised that the number of spaces between the start of the 6f and the 5f races were exactly 10 spaces on the board. So each space represents One Chain or 22 yards. As every schoolboy knows ten chains equates to one furlong, so finding a start point for any length of race will be a simple task. It appears the each bend equates to one furlong, though there are more than ten spaces, a quirk of having to make a sharp 180 degree turn, but not a problem as long a you take that into consideration when working out start lines for different lengths of race.

The beautiful GN board didn't need to worry about that, just one start line, twice around the track and then turn at the Elbow to hit the finishing straight.

WPS come with just six horses, very basic but functional and do the job.

However, six horses will not be enough for what I have planned.

GN comes with 24 pre painted horses, much more suited to my needs.

They fit onto the spaces perfectly.

The extra horses to allow me to run much bigger fields.

The GN track/board has, as well as fences, some horse shoes printed on the track lanes, this is crucial for how GN works, remember it uses no dice. When you finish your turn on a fence or a horse shoe, you draw a card from the relevant deck of cards and execute the instructions it shows.

As the WPS track will be used for all races flat and jumps, I will simply add a coloured sticker in similar fashion to the GN board. They will come into effect for jump racing but be ignored for flat racing when the WPS movement system will be used instead.

WPS comes with six of these programs, very neat and give a lot of information.

Of course every race has just six runners, though three different distances of race are in play.

I won't go into details on how movement works, but if you look at Gunsmoke in the first race, below the purse money for the finishing places will be seen a string of numbers. With 11 twice this horse is a fast starter, with two 9's he begins to slow in the middle of the race and with a 2 and a 1 he tails off dramatically at the end of the race. Other factors do come into moving the horses with bonus movement and dice rolling, but that is the basics.

As discussed, I will be using the GN system for jump races and as such will need to create whole new decks of cards not specific to the Grand National, but suitable for any jump race. That will be very easy, if a little time consuming to do, but hey, we ain't going anywhere soon are we?

New cards will have to be made for all horses, both for flat and jumps and a way figured to give speed points, pace, stamina etc.

A couple of race cards from the recent Cheltenham Festival meeting, this gives me real horses, form, jockeys and lots of other useful information to create my own race cards.

I could even go down the route of using the performance of the horses in my races to create a form book of my own. Now that would be a fun project.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Culm. The journey begins.

Carrying on from my last entry, some early work has now been completed, as well as a number of segments of narrative.

I am still working from the map that comes with the War of the Ring board game, but this is just to allow me to rename all the regions and people it. This will allow me to see each nation in relation to others and as well as work out scale, journey times etc.

An overview of the north west corner of the map.

In the four provinces north of the Tarbet Estuary and west of the Tarbet River, is Clan Moray

Moving west we have the Mountain Orcs who occupy five areas.

Finally, Clan Firth who occupy four regions.

Narrative Segment One.


The northerly wind drove the snow before it in wild flurries, settling briefly on tree limbs and branches before again being swept up into the air to continue its wild dance. It was now past sunset, though little light had pierced the thick clouds all day long.

In a clearing below was a small stone cottage, its thatched roof buried beneath many inches of this white blanket. Smoke rose, and was immediately snatched away, from the single chimney that alone defied the dancing crystals to settle upon it. The cottage was divided into two parts, at one end was the stable, large enough for two horses, though it presently housed but one. The larger part was a single room, it contained simple wooden furniture, two large bookcases occupied the walls each side of the fireplace, a moderately sized kitchen table bearing numerous items stood against one gable wall, a pair of three legged stools tucked beneath. The other gable wall was home to a wooden framed bed. Sacks containing mostly vegetables hung from the rafters above the larger table. By the fire was a smaller table and a single rocking chair. A pair of candles assisted the light from the blazing fire in the hearth to illuminate the room.

Some of that light fell upon a large hooded crow sitting on a wooden perch who was busy preening the flight feathers of his right wing, his head twisted beneath said wing to allow the powerful beak to perform the intricate task. The single human occupant of the room sat on the rocking chair, a long handled clay pipe clutched in his left hand. He blew out a cloud of smoke and smiled in satisfaction, you just couldn't get better than a pipe filled with Miroatlan tobacco. The empty wooden bowl and spoon on the table beside him had contained a delicious rabbit stew, the animal he had collected from one of his snares that very morning. The only thing missing was a tankard of ale, but he was not foolish enough to attempt a six mile round trip to the village in such foul weather. 'He froze to death for want of a quart of ale', was not the epitath he wanted. No he would go without for a day or two more, or however long this terrible weather persisted. Now into the fourth month of the year, it should be Spring, not howling winds and snow as if still mid winter.

He was concerned for the people, they had endured similar weather last year, and barely had enough provisions to get through a normal winter, let alone another bad one. It had to end soon or starvation and disease would ravage the land. He reached forward and placed another log onto the fire, his old bones needed the warmth, at seven score and twelve years, he really did feel the cold now.

'I'm getting old Cuthbert.' he said, looking across to the crow who was now working on his left wing. Startled by the voice the bird briefly froze, looked up and then continued with the preening process. Baradoc smiled to himself and took another lungfull of fine Miroatlan leaf.

The following morning the wind had greatly eased, but the snow continued to fall, though not as heavy as the previous days. Baradoc took his cloak from a peg behind the cottage door, picked up an empty wooden pail and opened the door. He was greeted with a waistdeep drift that would need clearing if he wished to go outside. Not so Cuthbert, who jumped down from his perch, hopped over to the door and using the drift as a springboard soared up into the sky.
Some fifteen minutes later Baradoc had cleared the snow from the front of the cottage including the stable door. He opened the top section of the door and Palliser's head appeared, sniffed the air and then nuzzled Baradoc.
'Good morning my friend, time for you to stretch your legs,' he said as he stroked the grey stallions head and neck.With wooden pail in one hand, his staff in the other, Baradoc made his way down to the stream. Palliser took the lead breaking down the snow and making a pathway with little effort. Not so for Baradoc who struggled along behind him using his staff to keep himself from falling. A thick coat of snow covered ice was all that could be seen of the stream. Baradoc tapped it with the bottom of his staff and frowned, too thick to break through with anything but a large hammer he thought. Baradoc stretched the tip of his staff over the ice, and recited some archaic verse in a language unknown to most. The tip of the staff began to turn white, then red and finally a pale blue shimmering light encased the very tip. He lowered the tip onto the ice and instantly there was a cloud of steam as the ice in a six feet circumference of the tip instantly vapourised, the water beneath bubbling and boiling. Another short chant and the light faded and disappeared from the staff.
Palliser moved forward to drink but Baradoc held his neck.
'Wait a moment my beauty or your tongue will be scalded.' The flow of the stream quickly dispersed and cooled the boiling water as it continued its journey beneath the ice. Baradoc filled his pail as Palliser drank his fill. A loud 'Caw, Caw, Caw' came from one of the surrounding trees as Cuthbert let everyone know he was in residence.

Narrative Segment Two

Robert, High Chieftain of Clan Moray trudged through the snow atop the curtain wall that surrounded his fortified house. The crunch and squeak of the fresh snow beneath his boots heralded his every step. He made his way to the gatehouse tower, two sentries stiffened to attention to show their respect, shields and spears held firmly, one moved to open the entrance door for the upper battlements. Both hoped he would not notice the briar with its pot of oats bubbling on top. Robert nodded and passed through. Inside he climbed the twelve stone steps of the spiral before opening the trapdoor to the roof. A third sentry, with the luckless task of manning the tower also stiffened in acknowledgement of his Chieftain.
Robert smiled at the man, or should that be boy, he barely looked eighteen.
'Go down and join your friends, it seems they have a hot breakfast waiting for you.'
The boy blushed and nodded.
'Thank you my lord.'
The boy scurried down the stone staircase, his head disappearing as he gently lowered the trapdoor.
A bowl of hot porridge is needed on a morning like this he thought to himself as he looked south from his lofty perch. The fortified house stood on a low hill, giving a commanding view of the town down below as it stretched down to shores of the Tarbet Estuary.

It was still snowing, but not as heavily as it had been these past few days, the wind too had lessened, from a gale to a gusty wind. He pulled the woolen cloak around himself, and instantly felt the warmth. It was not coarse wool that warmed him, but the gossamer thin Elven cloak, expertly stitched as a cloak lining that worked its magic, for magic is what it must be. How else could such a flimsy piece of material give such warmth?

Very few people moved about on the streets of the town, most sensibly stayed indoors by their hearths, even at this early hour the smoke from countless chimneys could be seen rising, only to be snatched away by the gusty wind. Just like his sentries, the people had food to eat even though this was now the fourth month of the year, a month that should be for sowing. The ground beneath the deep snow would be frozen solid and even a plough would make no impression upon it. This was the second such winter in a row, most unusual for it to last this long. The first snow had fallen on the eleventh month and had covered the ground ever since.
After last winter he had given instructions for extra fields to be ploughed and seeded as the granaries had barely lasted, it was a good decision, for once again the granaries were fast emptying even with the extra crops.

He had received regular reports from the other provinces of Clan Moray, they too had grown extra, though all the provinces suffered from mostly poor quality soil, they carefully farmed the few areas that were suitable and produced acceptable yields. The northernmost povinces of Ascurg and Othon had to be very creative with farmland for crops, both areas really only suited for sheep. It was a little better here in Aclal and Skaoce to the east, also both the latter had large fishing fleets to reap the benefits of the estuary and sea beyond.

Robert realised that the snow had stopped. He looked up to see clear patches among the clouds scudding across the sky. Could this be the end of the snow? He very much hoped so.

More areas renamed and populated.

The Wood Elves reside in nine regions.

The Hill Dwarves currently have four regions, but this may increase.

Narrative Segment Three.

The Hunting Party.

Rugorim sat motionless behind a low outcrop of rocks, his head below the skyline. He peered between two of the rocks, only wide enough to look through with one eye, but that was enough. His eye flicked upwards, the snow had stopped some time ago and now although dusk was approaching, the heavy snow clouds had broken apart allowing clear sky to show through. He grunted, it would mean any tracks made by the hunting party would not be covered and hidden.
His eye flicked downwards once more, settling on the small croft below. A single man, a big man, was chopping wood, he would have to be taken care of quickly. Just a small house, barn and livestock shed, he had observed two men, this one and an older man. At least one woman, possibly two as well as three children. He would wait until the last light of the day faded in the west before leaving to rejoin his party.
The attack would be as last time, in the middle of the night, he and the other nine of his party would silently descend the slope. Once the door and windows of the house were covered by bowmen the thatch would be torched. The two men would be killed as soon as they appeared, easy targets silhouetted against the flames. The women and children would be bound and carried off, man flesh for the tribe. The two men would be butchered where they fell, limbs and head removed to make carrying easier. They would slip away across the river into Guflon and be well on the way to the village by morning. Only then would the party feast on the bodies of the two carcasses.


Those Moray Clansmen of Othon who lived close by, had been alerted by the distant flames during the night. Now a score of heavily armed men stood by the still smouldering remains of the house. The thick stone walls stood as strong as ever but the roof, door and windows had been swallowed by the fire.
The dawn light illuminated the bloodstained ground outside the doorway, telling its own story, as did the multiple Orc footprints all around the croft area, the prints moving off east toward the Tarbet River and beyond into Guflon.
Even with twenty men, following the Orcs into their own lands would be suicidal, nothing less than a full clan army could hope to enter Guflon, exact revenge and return safely.

At that moment the hunting party, now well into home territory, was gorging on the butchered men. The two women and three children would suffer the same fate later once the party reached their village.

Much more of the map has now been renamed and populated.

No name for this race of men yet, though I am using the Men of Gondor figures to represent them.

Here is the Kingdom of Samada. Rohan figures for this nation.

The as yet, empty lands to the east.

More land in the north east.

The far north east, still some region names to be decided at this time.

Narrative Segment Four.

A shadow in the sky.

Eadfric scanned the sky to the east, he screwed up his eyes in concentration, trying to confirm what he thought he saw. It was far away in the skies above Kibinul but close enough to the border of his home province of Etrait so be seen. The tiny object remained tantalizing just out of focus.
He carried on with his work of ploughing, the two oxen moved forward on his command, he kept glancing to the east just in case the mysterious object came close enough to identify. He fought with the plough, keeping it on course as it turned over the soil. He had heard the winter had been very bad in the north, very bad indeed.
It had even snowed this far south, unusual, but not unheard of, ankle deep at its worst but it had quickly melted away.
He approached the end of the field and without any word of command, the pair of powerful beasts began to swing to the left, dragging the heavy plough behind. Only after the difficult manoeuvre was complete, and Eadfric was once again facing east, did he look once more into the sky.
The shock was immediate, he shouted the command to stop the team, the object was now no more than two miles away, high, but there was no mistaking what it was. The long neck and tail extended front and rearwards respectively from the large but streamlined body. Two huge leather like wings spread out to each side as the creature glided effortlessly across the sky.

'Mauhak!' He spat out the word. He had not seen a Mauhak in over twenty years, why should one suddenly appear now? He thought. He could just make out the tiny shape of the Gruk rider, he felt a chill, it was a bad omen. As he watched, the creature gave two or three flaps of its great wings, smoothly altering course toward the east. It was both magnificent and terrifying at the same time.

Eadfric stood and watched for some time, as the great flying creature slowly grew smaller and smaller until it was no longer visible. With a quick command the oxen began to move again. He would report this sighting when he next visited the town, or earlier if a patrol of Samada warriors should pass by, they regularly patrolled the eastern border of the kingdom.

The Facebook page for this project is now public.
The Chronicles of Culm.

All the latest news will be posted there, as well as on this blog.
Thank you for reading.