Gamebook Wednesday: Asterix: Alea Jacta Est! #1, ‘The Meeting of the Chieftains’

This is another selection from my childhood collection. My brother Malcolm and I absolutely loved Asterix as kids and had tons of the comics, as well as several gamebooks. I didn’t play this one from the Alea Jacta Est! series nearly as often as the more-tactile Asterix Adventure Books we also had (they’ll be replayed soon!), so it was a treat to be able to replay it recently without remembering much about the story.

Asterix: Alea Jacta Est! #1 The Meeting of the Chieftains

In this gamebook you play as Justforkix, a character from the comic book Asterix and the Normans. Justforkix is the nephew of village chief Vitalstatistix and is tasked with the mission of retrieving his uncle from a spa visit so that the latter can return to the village and attend an important meeting with a rival chief. It sounds a bit pedestrian, but in typical Asterix style it’s a fun romp along the roads of ancient Gaul, either avoiding or getting into fights with Romans as per your preferred play style.

The book comes with a play aid sheet for keeping track of scores and inventory (I had to rub out a lot of decades-old pencil marks). You also need a six-sided die, which was fine. I am obsessed with dice and have a special dice bag full of them. Part of this is due to the too-shiny dice displays always catching my eye when I go to the UK Games Expo.

Game aid

Some of the choices in the book are a bit odd (at one point you bump into Asterix and Obelix and they ask if you want them to accompany you; if you’re a fan of the stories, then the natural choice would be to say yes, but in this book it results in a game over as Asterix decides you’re clearly not up to the task if you want them to help!). However, it’s mostly fairly intuitive – you’re rewarded later in the game for gathering information in the village early on, and there’s a fun maze section where you need to find your way out while getting into as few fights with Romans as possible.

Once you’re out of the spa town, it’s a fairly straightforward journey home and a slightly abrupt ending, though it is fairly satisfying story-wise. The game was meaty enough to take me a few evenings to get through, which felt like just the right length.

This is the only one I have in this subseries, but as mentioned above I am really looking forward to replaying my Asterix Adventure Books soon.

Useful link: listing at Demian’s Gamebook Web Page.

Adventures In Coding: The Return

After a couple of weeks off I’m excited to get back into game creation this week. I’ll be playing with various experimental stuff and also returning to my work on Marie.

Cecil doesn’t have a world to explore yet… but he will.

Part of the reason I’ve been doing my new ‘Screengrabs From Games That Don’t Exist’ series on Saturdays is that I have a ridiculous number of game ideas and not enough time to implement them. I’ve got a few pinned down for working on during the rest of the summer, but there are so many others that will have to stay in the parallel universe for now. One day!


Race Review: Sunderland City 10k 2021

Sunderland is a favourite running event. I did my first 10k there in 2016 (slow and painful but I did it!), moved up to the half in 2017, didn’t enjoy it, and have been sticking to the 10k ever since. The 10k is a great course. It’s mostly flat and I always get a PB there without fail. I had reason to expect that this year would be no exception.

Until this morning’s trip to Sunderland, I hadn’t raced a 10k since the Great North 10k 2019, nearly two years ago (thanks pandemic). My previous 10k PB was 1:09:13, set at Sunderland in May 2019. However, I managed a 1:03:30 10k split in the first half of last September’s Virtual Great North Run (not sensible! I was trying to keep up with faster runners), and more recently have been consistently running around 1:10 during easy 10k training runs. I knew, even with the weight gain and loss of fitness that has come about during the last fifteen months of lockdown, that a PB was almost certain. I also believed, judging by my recent running, that sub-1:05 might be possible. However, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, so I told myself I would be happy with a PB of any amount. I’m not sure I ever really believed that though!

Medal stack
The medal stack keeps growing!

I went off a little too fast, but that was expected. I need to get used to running races with other people again, and not letting others around me set my pace for me (this is a really difficult balance as I also use this initial atmosphere as a boost to get me into the mindset of running faster than usual, and so I’m not sure I’ll ever get it 100% right). However, I kept up really well for the rest of the race, and didn’t burn out. I tired a little in the last couple of miles – I’d made the 5k marker in 31 minutes and was convinced sub-1:05 was on, but in the last mile I really didn’t think I would do it! However, the finish line appeared sooner than expected (they move it around slightly from year to year), and I was able to sprint – sort of! – for the line, finishing in 1:04:41. I am absolutely over the moon.

The great thing is that I’m now considerably closer to something that’s been a goal for the whole six years I’ve been running – a sub-hour 10k. The two 10ks I’ve got lined up in the autumn/winter are tougher courses, so I don’t think I’ll do it this year, but if I train hard and lose the lockdown weight then I think I’ve got a really good chance of getting it at Sunderland next year.

Race t-shirt
It looks red but it’s pink. My first pink race t-shirt!

I’ve been really wiped the rest of the day – surprisingly so. I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired after a 10k before. However, I’m going to take that as a good sign, as it means I raced it properly!

No more in-person races now until the Great North Run in September. London Marathon training will keep me busy in the meantime…