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Constantine Thomas
Attended Lancaster University
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Constantine Thomas

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Apparently I am crazy enough to spend over C$300 on this... 
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chopshopstore/historic-robotic-spacecraft-poster-series-two
Chop Shop is raising funds for Historic Robotic Spacecraft Poster Series Two on Kickstarter! Chop Shop’s second series of posters celebrating the most popular and most notable robotic space exploration missions.
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1989: Dawn of Freedom

I first played this about a year ago, then a couple of times towards the end of 2014 where i was testing out a variant I was working on to replace the Power Struggle (because I really hate that mechanic). We had a long gap but finally managed to break it out again!

For those who don't know, 1989 is a derivative of Twilight Struggle, set in 1989 as the cold war was ending. The board covers only eastern europe and the balkans (and the cards only cover 1989 itself rather than the whole cold war), and the game follows the struggle of pro-democracy forces against their communist overlords. There are a few streamlined things (e.g. there are no Coups or Realignment Rolls - there's just "support checks" which are mostly like Coups but that have a few elements of the realignment rolls in there. And no DefCon track or Headline events either), but otherwise it's very similar to TS. 

I'd actually prefer it over Twilight Struggle if not for the Power Struggle mechanic that they use in it. They basically took the battle mechanic from Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage, changed the theme, and threw it in here to take place every time a scoring card is played. The effect is that you get yanked out of the Twilight Struggle-like mindset to play a totally random, pointless little mini-game with suits of cards.

Anyway, between reminding ourselves how to play it and fiddling with the variant rules (and trying out the original power struggle rules, which we again found to be very distracting and unsatisfying), it took us about 5 hours to get to the point in the photo, which was the end of Turn 6/start of Turn 7. (we'll pick it up again from here next week).

So far I (the Democrats) managed to take power in Hungary and Poland in the early game, and I delayed the East Germany scoring by 'spacing it' (there's actually no Space Race in this game - the Tianamen Square track is the direct equivalent, but I still say I'm 'spacing' the card if i use it there ) but the Communists managed to score and retain power in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. I managed to wrest control of East Germany from the Communists though thanks to a handy Monday Demonstrations card! But we are fighting a lot over Czechoslovakia (for some reason whenever I play this game there's always one space that's intensely fought over, usually just because we start fighting for influence there and refuse to drop it :). This time around it was Brno in Czechoslovakia, which was being hit by Support Checks and Ops in pretty much every turn of the game).

Now the deck's been shuffled again and the Czech, Bulgaria and East Germany scoring is back in the mix for Turn 7's cards, so things could really shake up in the coming turns!

(It's pretty late here now, so I'll post the variant Power Struggle rules tomorrow if anyone's interested).  
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Click image to see full poster. Posters are printed on 12 x 18, semi-gloss cover stock. Buy 5 posters get one FREE. Use code 6POSTERS at checkout.
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Just another lazy Martian afternoon...
http://www.nivnac.co.uk/martian_vistas/?p=77
A wonderful low sun, late afternoon, view looking to the north side of Marathon Valley and beyond. Full Resolution (2014 x 2196) ( 1MB ) · Half Resolution (1007 x 1098) ( 303kB ). Posted on 25th July 2015 Author james. Leave a Reply Cancel reply. Your email address will not be published.
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Heads up for any Traveller fans out there - SJG's Traveller license expires on 31/12/2015. So pick up their stuff before then if you want it!
http://www.sjgames.com/general/press_releases/150723.html
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And look! Evidence of exotic ice flowing on Pluto! 
http://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-horizons-discovers-flowing-ices-on-pluto
NASA’s New Horizons mission has found evidence of exotic ices flowing across Pluto’s surface, at the left edge of its bright heart-shaped area.
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Shame it's 1400 ly away... I wonder if they'll find any other planets in that system - it'd be interesting to see whether the general layout of the system is similar to ours too. 
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-kepler-mission-discovers-bigger-older-cousin-to-earth
NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”
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I think there's almost certainly going to be a system similar to this but a lot closer to use, so maybe we won't have to look that far!
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Have him in circles
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Before anyone starts going on about this bloody EMDrive nonsense again... nope.
http://io9.com/no-german-scientists-have-not-confirmed-the-impossibl-1720573809
Two German researchers claim they have produced measurable amounts of thrust using a copy of NASA’s controversial EMDrive. It’s a result that has many people talking, but don’t plan your trip to the to the Alpha Centauri system just yet—the experts we spoke with are all highly skeptical of the study and its findings.
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Hmm, still a good order of magnitude larger than the Pioneer anomaly.  I'm sure future, more precise experiments will fix that :)
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Being part of something like this must have been the most fun ever! I really hope the Foos can go give 'em a show! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JozAmXo2bDE
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My board game collection, finally all in one place! :)
 
I think I missed the main #shelfie  rush here - I was moving and only just ordered and built a mightly Kallax shelf to put all my boardgames in one place - but here's my collection! (and still there's two boxes left at the bottom to expand into!). 
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Sweet!
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More info on the backlit Pluto image - multiple haze layers are visible! http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2015/07241705-looking-back-at-pluto.html
I don't think anyone was prepared for the beauty -- or the instant scientific discoveries -- in this
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You know, I was expecting a nice "departure crescent" image from Pluto around now - but what I got was this, to which I have to say HOLY WIBBLING @&$%!!!! That is absolutely freakin' SPECTACULAR!! I need to go find my jaw now, it fell off around here somewhere...
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-new-horizons-team-finds-haze-flowing-ice-on-pluto
Flowing ice and a surprising extended haze are among the newest discoveries from NASA’s New Horizons mission, which reveal distant Pluto to be an icy world of wonders.
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Have him in circles
183 people
Wayne's Books's profile photo
James Carlson's profile photo
Warren Huelsnitz's profile photo
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Rune Heart's profile photo
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Robert Saint John's profile photo
Craig Barnett's profile photo
Education
  • Lancaster University
    Planetary Science PhD, 1996 - 2002
  • Queen Mary, University of London
    Astrophysics MSc, 1995 - 1996
  • University College London
    Exploration Geophysics BSc, 1992 - 1995
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Introduction
Armchair planetary scientist (I do actually have a PhD in Planetary Science!) and science blogger, roleplayer, music and science geek. :)

Favourite quote: "Yep, hand to hand combat is the old school way to kill your enemies. Killing a man with your bare hands says, "We're all equals as men, except I'm slightly more equal because I'm still alive and you're dead." Of course, dropping a nuke on them from fifty thousand feet is totally acceptable. I mean, let's face it, there just not enough time in this world to show everybody the courtesy of a good strangling." - Sarge, Red vs. Blue.
Bragging rights
Held a billion-year old piece of the planet Mars. Met astronaut John Young (he's a really nice guy!) at LPSC.
Work
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Data Analyst
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Male