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CruiseSo, I’ve got a sort of love/hate relationship with Elite Dangerous. Didn’t feel like kickstarting it since it looked more like a multiplayer space shooter than the modern successor to FE2/FFE, was still glad it got funded, then watched the gorgeous looking beta, and soothed by the promised offline-mode, got in at premium beta level. Needless to say, the offline mode canning debacle came up as a major bummer to me. I was hoping to play my game in my little pocket universe, by my rules. Not going to happen now.

It took me a while to motivate myself to try it out after launch, and between the unfinished nature of the game (no planetary landings, background simulation so bad that events were injected manually) and the necessary multiplayer gaming choices (arcade model of flight and combat, interstellar travel in all of 5 minutes, no external camera for screenshots), it just didn’t grab me, and two weeks later, I logged out for what turned out to be over 6 months.

Two weeks ago, with the announcement that the Horizons expansion would start implementing planetary landings, I felt like giving it another go. This time round, with no more expectations, it went better. With sort of a mind to try out mining, I started trading rare commodities to equip a Cobra. During those trips, i’d regularly check the outfitting screens for parts. And on those screens, I was regularly confronted to the Advanced Discovery Scanner and Detailed Surface Scanners. One thing leading to another, I started thinking of forgetting about mining in favour of exploration, which used to be a favourite past-time of mine in FE2/FFE. A few more trading trips, and my mind was made: I’d equip the Cobra for exploration and leave settled space for a while. A good while. The destination, as unoriginal as it may be, would be Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of our galaxy, 25k light-years away. Nothing else than me, my ship and the stars…

Final check of installed systems.

Final check of installed systems.

No weapons to save on weight, one heatsink launcher just in case.

No weapons to save on weight, one heatsink launcher just in case. Note the cute ‘Scout’ explorer rank painted on the nose. It should be getting quite an upgrade if I make it back!

Departing Lave for the galactic core. A 50k light-years round trip. I won't see another Coriolis station for a little while.

Departing Lave for the galactic core. A 50k light-years round trip. I won’t see another Coriolis station for a little while.

Tomorrow’s War: first play

So, a good while ago, i got hold of the Tomorrow’s War scifi wargame rules from Ambush Alley. It feels like a pretty nice set of rules, with an action/reaction system simulating simultaneous action, and plenty of scope for assymetrical warfare. This weekend saw a first attempt at playing with them, using 28mm miniatures from 40k in the roles of the Marines rescue mission and the DPRG ambush party.

In the introductory scenario we played, three fireteams of US Marines (in white) enter from their side of the 4’x4′ board with a mission to rescue a downed pilot hiding in a building just past the centre of the map. The opposition is waiting for them, with 4 DPRG fireteams (in green) hidden all around the pilot’s location. Both forces are regular, which simplifies lots of things (irregular troops have more limitations on action count, depend more on leaders, have to roll tests for about everything, etc). The Marines have a troop quality of D8 though, while DPRGs are in D6. This. Is. Huge. It was difficult to measure prior to the game how much of an impact it’d make, but it proved overwhelming. It means that for most tests, the Marines have to roll scores of 4+ on D8s, while DPRGs have to roll the same 4+ but on D6s. And in opposed rolls (like a fire exchange), you need to roll 4+ *and* higher than the opposition. Making things worse for the DPRGs, Marines also are one tech level above, giving them an extra die in various situations. Like when bullets meet armour.

Anyhow, the game kicked off to the initiative of the Marines, entering the board to take position in cover and assess the situation. Fireteam 1 and 3 got into the central ruins, while fireteam 2 set itself into the woods along the left border.

On the second turn, Marines Fireteam 1 started to move carefully towards a wood close to the river, which is when the two side DPRGs teams started to open fire on them, which prompted the other Marines teams to open fire on the now revealed ambushers, which prompted a more central ambushing squad to open fire onto the Marines team in the central building. Basically, we went wild with reactions, and it took us a while to sort out in which order to do things. When the dust settled though, the Marines team in the centre building had taken a casualty, while DPRGs left and right both took a couple.

Fireteam 2 getting into the woods on the left

Fiteam 2 exchanging fire with DPRG 2

On turn 3, the Marines kept initiative. Before activating the units though, it was time to assess casualties, showing the lone Marines casualty to be a fatality. Worse, the fireteam missed it’s quality check, and was therefore under shock, unable to proceed further onwards this turn. The DPRGs rolled a fatality too, as well as an asortment of light/serious wounds, and a rifleman just grazed. The two activable Marines teams opened fire on the DPRG positions, causing them yet more casualties, while taking no casualty themselves. The central DPRGs kept quiet.

Turn 4 was to the initiative of the DPRGs, after they rolled some more wounds in their squads, with fighting numbers dropping fast. More exchanges of fire happened, with some horrible luck for the DPRGs on the right flank of the Marines: not only did they fail to shoot down Fireteam 1, who won the reaction test and dashed to cover in the woods, they got completely wiped out by the Marines in the centre ruins. With no valid fighter left, they were going to have to wait for the medic to come by and check them out before taking further part.

Turn 5 saw the last of the meaningful action. Fireteam 1 got out of the woods and started fording the river while exchanging fire with the DPRGs ahead of them, wiping them out cleanly for no casualties in return. Fireteam 2 took down the DPRGs on the left flank down to one man. The DPRG medic tried to make a desperate dash to the woods with the downed squad on the Marines right flank, but got shot down immediately. This drew the ire of the last DPRG squad who opened fire to no avail on the Marines in the building, being taken down to a single man themselves in the process.

Fireteam 3 watching from the ruins

No risk of fire from the right

At that point, it was basically over, with the DPRGs in disarray unable to hinder the rescue anymore. Contact was thus made with the pilot on turn 6… Which meant that the remaining two turns were actually not enough to evacuate before the end of turn 8 and achieve the main objective. Doh!

Rescue on the way!

It was then time for the conclusions. The first one was that D8 vs D6 is massive. Much much more than we thought. Fire is deadlier, defense is far better. In fact, the Marines could have taken much more risk to accelerate the rescue. And in fact, that led to the second conclusion: they really *should* have, seeing as despite wiping up the opposition, they only won by 3 points (making contact with the pilot) to 2 (one Marine KIA) for the DPRG. In fact, all it would have taken would have been a single additional wound on a Marine to make it a tie. We noticed too that we missed the medic ‘teleport’ at 12″ which may have helped him make it without being shot down. But then, he was too far away so his squad should have moved closer first and exposed himself even more to the deadly D8s. In the end, it feels very very hard for the DPRGs. Maybe they need to wait until the Marines are much closer and open fire all together on a single Fireteam in the initial ambush? It became rather clear here that prolonged exchanges of fire were not at all in their favour, and that even the 2D cover dice (woods + “in cover”) were not enough to save them…

Overall, it was rather fun and, surprisingly, rather fast to play once the first few action/reaction sequences were negociated through. Some 15mm GZG troops are already on the way for the next engagements!

Table at beginning of turn 6, annotated

A thrilling new series coming to a LOTRO server near you: Desperate Entwives! In the seemingly respectable Fairwood Lane neighbourhood of the Falathlorn homesteads, it quickly becomes apparent that “Every tree has a little dirty rootstalk”…

(600kb image, click to open)

LOTRO: The Ganking of Boromir

An MMO-inspired take on Boromir‘s Last Stand, seen from the other side. Inspired mainly by my recent discovery of the PvP area of Lord of the Rings Online, its social customs, its sometimes peculiar spelling pratices, and its calm, reasonable debates over fair fighting or class balance. Originally posted under my hobbit guise on the european LOTRO forums.

History is always written by the winners. Thankfully, some recently found manuscripts provide some fascinating insights into one of the major events of the late Third Age:

[OOC] Ugluk: raid open
*Grobag has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Grobadash has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Lugdroz has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Freepsrlamez has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Sauron34 has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Igbash has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Doombog has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Logdoom has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Bonezai has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Iluvbeanz has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Bobafett has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Nerfgandalf has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Igromog has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Gothpug has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Patrickhernandez has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Morgothismyhomeboy has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Sauron35 has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Killbash has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Killmurgh has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Killzorg has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Gankninja has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Gollum has joined Ugluk’s raid*
*Notmeimavegan has joined Ugluk’s raid*

[Raid] Killbash: sUp
[Raid] Sauron34: sUp
[Raid] Bobafett: hi
[Raid] Sauron35: lol
[Raid] Logdoom: wut r we doing?
[Raid] Ugluk: capture 2 hobbits lol
[Raid] Gankninja: 2? we have support raid?
[Raid] Grobag: lol, we dun’t need support they only 2
[Raid] Ugluk: i lead
[Raid] Ugluk: i’m ur support raid
[Raid] Nerfgandalf: hobbits are OP
[Raid] Freepsrlamez: hobbits are lamez, lol
[Raid] Bobafett: lol
[Raid] Sauron35: lol
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: lol, so true
[Raid] Sauron34: lol
*Iluvbeanz is eating a bit*
[Raid] Gankninja: we have wp?
[Raid] Ugluk: ffs, we don’t need support!
[Raid] Gothpug: lol
[Raid] Gollum: MY PRECIOUS
[Raid] Ugluk: oh ffs not again
[Raid] Sauron35: kick him?
[Raid] Doombog: yeah
[Raid] Freepsrlamez: he’s a freep switcher too. that’s so lamez
[Raid] Bobafett: yeah smagol or sumthin
[Raid] Bobafett: he gives info on vent to freeps
*Gollum has been dismissed from Ugluk’s raid*
[Raid] Ugluk: no switcher in my raid, lol
[Raid] Bobafett: lol
[Raid] Sauron34: lol
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: lol
*Iluvbeanz is eating a bit*
*Iluvbeanz is eating a bit*
*Iluvbeanz is eating a bit*

[Raid] Ugluk: need more time Iluvbeanz or we can start raid? lol
[Raid] Bobafett: rofl
[Raid] Sauron35: lololol
[Raid] Iluvbeanz: lol no ok
*Leader shouts: EVERYONE MAP TO FALLS OF RAUROS*
[Raid] Ugluk: ok, someone track for hobbits
[Raid] Gankninja: we hav no warg
[Raid] Gothpug: lolz
[Raid] Bonezai: oO
[Raid] Igromog: ffs guys…
*Ugluk starts to cry*
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: hobbits r half men
[Raid] Ugluk: ?
[Raid] Grobag: ???
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: two hobbits = two half men = one man
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: track man
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: if u see one it means 2 hobbits
[Raid] Bobafett: ??????????
[Raid] Ugluk: u sure?
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: yea been working for months
[Raid] Sauron35: exploit, lol
[Raid] Bobafett: lol
[Raid] Ugluk: ok one WL track men then
*Iluvbeanz is eating a bit*
[Raid] Ugluk: guys?
*Iluvbeanz is eating a bit*
*Sauron35 mocks Sauron34*
*Patrickhernandez starts dancing*

[Raid] Ugluk: ffs guys track?
[Raid] Grobadash: u only wl Ug
[Raid] Grobadash: we all reavers
*Bobafett agrees with Grobadash*
[Raid] Ugluk: haha, true, lol
*Ugluk thanks Grobadash for his help*
[Raid] Ugluk: Ok tracking
*Ugluk sniffs the air*
*Iluvbeanz hits Ugluk with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Sauron35 with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Bobafett with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Grobag with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Morgothismyhomeboy with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Igromog with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Nerfgandalf with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Gankninja with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*
*Iluvbeanz hits Bonezai with Stink Bomb for 389 poison damage*

[Raid] Gankninja: wtf???
[Raid] Bonezai: lol
[Raid] Grobag: hehe
[Raid] Nerfgandalf: poison effects are OP
[Raid] Ugluk: beanz u lamezor!??!!
[Raid] Ugluk: broke my track
*Bobafett grasps for air*
*Igromog faints*
*Ugluk slaps Iluvbeanz*
*Gankninja shakes his fist threateningly to Iluvbeanz*
*Iluvbeanz apologises profusely to Ugluk*

[Raid] Iluvbeanz: sry guys
[Raid] Iluvbeanz: misclick
[Raid] Ugluk: ok track back
*Ugluk sniffs the air*
[Raid] Ugluk: hehe, ur trick works Morg, got one man on track!
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: told u
*Leader shouts: EVERYONE FOLLOW SKULL*
*Patrickhernandez starts singing*

[Raid] Gankninja: ffs don’t make noise!
[Raid] Gankninja: or they gank us
[Raid] Gothpug: true
[Raid] Ugluk: yea
[Raid] Gankninja: they at least 2
*Ugluk frowns at Patrickhernandez*
*Patrickhernandez stops singing*
*Patrickhernandez starts humming*
*Ugluk pulls out [Great Spiked Club of Philosophical Debate]*
*Patrickhernandez stops humming*
*Ugluk nods to Patrickhernandez*
*Patrickhernandez sighs*
*Ugluk puts down [Great Spiked Club of Philosophical Debate]*

[Raid] Ugluk: ok we there now. on my call we jump them behind the hill
[Raid] Ugluk: lost track but they not far
[Raid] Sauron35: k
[Raid] Grobag: ok
[Raid] Bobafett: sure
[Raid] Gankninja: i’ll stay back for if they sneak to gank us
[Raid] Ugluk: ffs no, all charge
[Raid] Gankninja: …
[Raid] Ugluk: ok 3…
[Raid] Ugluk: 2…
[Raid] Ugluk: 1…
*Leader shouts: CHAAAARGEE!*
*Merry screams*
*Pippin shouts for help*

[Raid] Ugluk: lol 2 easy
[Raid] Grobag: lol
[Raid] Bonezai: aye
[Raid] Ugluk: ok let me check map now
*Boromir sees his friends in need*
*Boromir rearranges his hair*
*Boromir charges*

*Boromir hits Morgothismyhomeboy for 18373594e42 points of Westernesse damage*
*Boromir defeats Morgothismyhomeboy*

[Raid] Gankninja: WTF!!!
[Raid] Sauron34: they’re 3!
[Raid] Morgothismyhomeboy: ffs
[Raid] Gankninja: we been ganked
*Boromir defeats Grobadash*
*Boromir defeats Logdoom*
*Boromir defeats Bonezai*
*Boromir defeats Sauron35*
*Boromir defeats Sauron34*

[Raid] Ugluk: ffs! foolow rat!!! all on champion!
[Raid] Gothpug: i’m stun
[Raid] Logdoom: i’m dead
[Raid] Iluvbeanz: i’m sick
*Boromir defeats Gothpug*
*Boromir defeats Igromog*
*Boromir defeats Notmeimavegan*
*Boromir defeats Lugdroz*

[Raid] Nerfgandalf: chimps are OP
[Raid] Ugluk: comon! he’s almost down!
*Boromir uses Horn of Gondor for 9867231e51 points of Westernesse damage*
*Boromir defeats Killzorg*
*Boromir defeats Igbash*
*Boromir defeats Nerfgandalf*
*Boromir defeats Killmurgh*

*Patrickhernandez starts dancing*
[Raid] Nerfgandalf: champion’s horn is OP
[Raid] Ugluk: on rat ffs!
*Ugluk defeats Boromir*
[Raid] Ugluk: YES!!!!!
[Raid] Gankninja: lol
[Raid] Bobafett: YAY
[Raid] Grobag: hahahaha TAKE THAT CHIMP!
[Raid] Freepsrlamez: lol chimps r so lame
[Raid] Ugluk: gratz everyone still alive
[Raid] Patrickhernandez: i woz born to be
[Raid] Bobafett: lol
[Raid] Killzorg: lol
[Raid] Gankninja: hahaha Boromir QQ on forum
[Raid] Ugluk: lol
[Raid] Gankninja: sneaks on us and now he sez we ganked him?!!
[Raid] Bobafett: lame
[Raid] Freepsrlamez: lol yeah, freeps are lame like that
[Raid] Ugluk: let’s entertain him then
[Raid] Grobag: lol yeah!
*Patrickhernandez starts dancing with Boromir*
*Ugluk scolds Boromir*
*Grobag begins smoking with Boromir*
*Gankninja performs a handstand for Boromir*
*Bobafett cheers Boromir*
*Freepsrlamez highfives Boromir*
*Killzorg mocks Boromir*

[Raid] Gankninja: lol, now he sez we r corpsejump scum
[Raid] Bobafett: lol
[Raid] Gankninja: sez nothing to b proud of at 23v1
[Raid] Ugluk: ya
[Raid] Ugluk: but he’s DEAD
[Raid] Ugluk: not us
[Raid] Ugluk: lol
[Raid] Grobag: lol
*Ugluk gestures rudely to Boromir*
*Iluvbeanz has a bit to eat with Boromir*
*Gankninja flirts with Boromir*
*Killzorg waves to Boromir*
*Boromir succumbs to his wounds*

[Raid] Gankninja: Boromir says “u n00bz, u got the wrong hobbits 2, LOLOLOL”
[Raid] Ugluk: hahaha
[Raid] Bobafett: lol
[Raid] Freepsrlamez: tell him hes lame 2 lie
[Raid] Ugluk: tell him we n00bz but he’s DEAD
[Raid] Grobag: hahaha
[Raid] Gankninja: lol ok
[Raid] Ugluk: ok guys run 2 camp now, map still on CD…
[Raid] Ugluk: and saruman’s on vent, sayz we shoud hurry
[Raid] Bobafett: k
[Raid] Grobag: sure
*Leader shouts: WE’RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD*
[Raid] Bobafett: gard… gard…
[Raid] Gankninja: lol
[Raid] Ugluk: 🙂
*Patrickhernandez begins to dance*
*Iluvbeanz puts [Horn of Gondor] where Anor doesn’t shine*

[Raid] Ugluk: oh ffs
[Raid] Ugluk: that’s it
*Iluvbeanz has been dismissed from Ugluk’s raid*
[Raid] Grobag: deserved
[Raid] Ugluk: can’t stand childish behaviour
[Raid] Bobafett: yea gj
[Raid] Gankninja: lol yea, good riddance
[Raid] Freepsrlamez: yeah kids r so lame

Stuffed Mushrooms Breakfast

Though not inspired by Middle-Earth, here’s a typical hobbit delicacy: stuffed mushrooms. Provided that you can find suitable mushrooms, with wide flat caps, it’s easy to prepare, and can be done in advance to spare some effort in the morning. Garlic, parsley and cheese form the core of the stuffing, and you can add pretty much whatever you fancy to that, provided that it can be chopped into small bits.

For what it’s worth, this version is vegetarian, though obviously not vegan.

For 2 servings

Ingredients:

For the mushrooms:
4 large Portabella mushrooms
40g Cheddar cheese
40g Dubliner cheese (or Parmesan)
6 shallots (or one medium onion)
3 cloves of garlic
handful of parsley
3 or 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs
butter
salt
black pepper

For the tomatoes:
2 tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
salt
black pepper
thyme

For the eggs:
4 eggs
butter
salt

Preparation:
Carefully separate the mushrooms stems from the caps. Take the stems, remove the harder bit at the very bottom and chop the rest. Finely chop the shallots, the parsley and the garlic (or use a garlic press for even better results). Finely grate the cheeses.

In a pan, melt some butter and fry the outer mushroom caps until they start to turn brown before turning them and frying the inner side a bit too. Remove the caps and place them in a baking tray, keeping the butter and mushroom juice mixture in the pan. Throw the shallots in the pan and fry them until they become clear. Add the garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs and cheese, season with salt and pepper, and stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is a rough paste. With a spoon, divide the mixture in four and spread it on the mushroom caps. (If preparing for the next day, the mushrooms can now be left to cool down and stored in the fridge)

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Cut the tomatoes in halves, and cover the flat area with chopped garlic and parsley, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and thyme. Place the tomatoes on the baking tray, and bake tomatoes and mushrooms together for 15-20 minutes.

With 5-10 minutes of baking left, prepare the scrambled eggs: melt butter in a pan on medium heat, beat the eggs, season the mixture with salt and pour it into the butter. Stir continuously and energetically (to avoid preparing an omelette), and serve when the consistence suits your taste.

By now, the mushrooms and tomatoes should be ready. Serve and enjoy with wholewheat bread.

Mulled Wine

With winter settling in, the warmth of the house becomes more enjoyable by the day as snow and ice now cover the landscape. A traditional christmas-period drink, mulled wine (vin chaud as it’s called in France) is ideal shrug off the cold and fill the house with the fragrance of warm spices.

Mulled wine is pretty easy to do, as the basic idea is to warm up some sugared wine, and throw a couple spices to the mix to enrich the flavour. The recipe below is the french interpretation i prepared at the weekend.

For 4-6 cups

Ingredients:
75cl red wine (Bordeaux or Pinot Noir will do nicely)
100-140g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3-5 cloves
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange

Grate your lemon and orange to collect the zest, and throw it into a pot, together with the rest of the ingredients. Bring slowly to the boil stirring occasionally. Optionally, if you fancy it, you can flambé the wine in the pot when just on the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Drain, then serve in a cup with a slice of orange. Enjoy as cold becomes a faint memory!

DBA Norse Irish army


So, after buying the miniatures ages ago when thinking of starting DBM, i finally ended up painting my 15mm Norse Irish army (DBA III/46). Not all of it mind, just enough to play DBA, whose scale fits better with my available time (both painting and playing) these days. The army list represents the armies waging war in and around Ireland from the first viking invasions to the norman invasions. The minis come from the Essex Norse Irish DBM army pack.

First, the spear-wielding, skirmishing kerns. Kerns are the native gaelic warriors. They’re the odd ones out painting-wise as they’re the only minis i actually painted back when i got the pack. I find them too bright and colourful now.

 
 
 

These are bonnachts, professional or hired soldiers. The long two handed axe was widely adopted as it was capable of defeating viking armour. I’m not too thrilled by the miniature choices of Essex here, with the padded armour, kettle helm and kite shields (not seen here as it’s on their backs). It looks far more medieval than the dark ages style i was aiming for originally, making the army more of a post-Clontarf defensive force vs anglo-norman invaders than irish natives fighting the vikings. Of course, the 700-1300AD span of the list pretty much allows for this. When i finally get my hands on some early bonnachts, i’ll move these to a Medieval Irish army (DBA IV/58).

Going along with the ‘late norse irish’ theme too are the gallowglass, heavily armoured soldiers from scottish descent. From historical sources, the two-handed axe seems to be the main weapon too, with the spear interpretation coming mainly from engravings. As i was going to use some of the axe-wielding minis for the general, i opted to use the spear and shield warriors for these. Plus it allowed me to add some colour with the shields.

Finally, the general and his guard, rich enough to afford armour, while wielding the traditional axe of the times.

 
 
 

DBA-wise, kerns are psiloi, gallowglass are blades, and the rest is auxilia. It doesn’t strike as the ideal army to learn the game, but as least, it’ll have me play a lot with terrain and bad going. A littoral-terrain army too, i’ll get to play with boats. Off to paint the Vikings now to provide the opposition…


Lord Of The Rings Online (LOTRO from here) is a middle-earth massive multiplayer role playing game (MMORPG). As most games of the genre, it includes various kinds of crafting as in-game activities. Considering the hobbits love for all things edible, it’s no surprise cooking is one of the available crafts. One consequence of this is that as i play, cook and eat in virtual middle-earth, i soon enough find myself craving some of the virtual meals my hobbit prepared.

Thus, every now and then, my cooking is directly inspired by LOTRO, which has several perks:
– it satisfies my craving.
– it has me learning a new recipe every now and then.
– being ‘middle-earth food’, it gains additional credit with the kids.

The Chicken and Barley soup recipe below is thus one of those things i owe to Tolkien. With a few exceptions, i’ve never been much into soups, but this one happened to catch my attention as weather was gradually shifting towards winter. It’s trivial to make and goes down a treat on a cold evening. In game, it provides a bonus to fear resistance. After eating it in the real world i wasn’t scared, so it works.

In game, to craft a Chicken Barley soup , you will need:

  • green onions
  • a bundle of winter barley
  • some chicken stock
  • optionally, a sprig of parsley

In my adaptation, i went for a large yellow onion rather than scallions, seasoned with thyme rather than parsley, and added a few carrots i had left.

For about 6 servings (less if hobbits involved)

Ingredients:
– chicken stock (enough to fill about 2/3 of the pot)
– 3 fresh chicken fillets
– 2 or 3 carrots
– 1 large onion
– 1 cup of pearled barley
– thyme

Dice the chicken and the carrots. Slice the onion into long thin pieces, and fry them in some butter until they turn golden brown. Throw in the chicken and carrots, season with the thyme, and continue to fry for about a minute, stirring occasionally. Pour the chicken stock, and add the barley. Bring to the boil and maintain it for about 10 minutes. Salt to convenience. Finally, cover and let simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Enjoy.

Note that middle-earth probably doesn’t have instant chicken stock in cubes. For increased authenticity, prepare this soup on the day after eating a roast chicken, and make your stock from the bones and leftovers. Simply remove the remaining skin and fat bits, and break up the bones in a pot. Fill with cold water, bring to the boil, then simmer for at least an hour. Remove the bones, strain the stock, and you’re done.