Monday, December 04, 2023

Mince Pie Fest 2023: COOP Irresistible

I must admit, I was a bit worried about trying these. They were the clear winners in 2021 and 2022, but everything seems worse this year, and what if my favourites also followed that trend?

Worry not, my mincing mates!

The pastry is a perfect balance between firm and soft, with a nice crumble that stops well short of an unpleasant crunch. It is sweet without being overly sugary, and has a lovely lightness that complements the tasty filling.

There's plenty of that tasty filling, and it is chunky and fruity -- although maaaayyyyyybeeee a little heavy on the electrons currants/raisins/sultanas -- and has a hearty boozy punch, but not an overwhelming one.

What a relief that these remain excellent pies even in this dark time! Only a slight imbalance in the filling prevents a perfect score, but 4.5 out of 5 is not too bad, I think you'll concur.

There are plenty of mince pies still in the testing pile, but if you need to buy some RIGHT NOW -- understandable -- then these are a very strong frontrunner. #MincePieFest2023 #MincePieADay

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Imperial Phase

I have the new Epic 2023 box and although I haven't played it yet -- ye gods, teeny tiny multi-part miniatures! How am I supposed to put those together at my age?! -- I have impressions of the first variety.
  • In terms of rules, it is pretty much second edition Space Marine/Titan Legions, which is good, as Space Marine 2 is the best wargame Games Workshop ever made. Fact.
  • Titans are simplified. I won't miss the aiming minigame, but the old location-based damage charts were fun. You can't blow their arms or legs off any more. (sad face)
  • Titans do still have huge reactor meltdowns when they die, and that's ace.
  • The terrain rules are new and very weird. They are a mixture of excessive detail (every inch of the board is one of about five different terrain types, which you have to track and have their own rules and modifiers) and odd abstractness (you may be able to draw clear and unobstructed line of sight to a model but if it's "within" certain terrain your models can't see it). There's also what looks like an orphaned reference to roads giving a movement boost, but no associated rules, which may be a case of earlydraughtitis, or just ambiguous writing; who knows?
  • Speaking of inches, everything is measured in them. This will make Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Brexiteers happy, and is better than that strange Pentagon-Circle-Triangle-Square thing GW did in Kill Team, but anything other than centimetres for Epic is abhorrent.
  • I'm not sure the Space Wombles can legally field all their models in the box, unless I've misunderstood the army building rules, which is very possible.
  • The rulebook could have been 100 pages thinner with the exact same content, but I think that's a battle we lost a long time ago.
  • The order counters are terrible. They are thin, cheap, and nasty, with none of the hefty girth of the 2e counters. Expect to see a swathe of variants on Etsy within days.
That all may seem overwhelmingly negative, but the core rules of the game are solid, and the miniatures are great, and I am keen to give it a try... as soon as I get someone younger and more nimble to construct the models. More on that if/when it happens.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Mince Pie Fest 2023: Tesco Finest

Well, this is awkward.

Last year these pies were among the best, scoring an admirable 4 out of 5, but something terrible has happened!

It's a big -- 70mm! -- pie with a nice firm bite to the pastry and the filling has a pleasant chunkiness, so it's a pie with presence and heft. The problem is the taste, which is a bit all over the place. The pastry is bland for the most part but also has a hint of bitter saltiness that does nothing for me. The -- slightly miserly -- filling is full of fruity flavours but is perhaps a bit too heavy on the orange, which together with the bitter pastry makes the pie as a whole feel a bit unpleasant.

Not fine. Not fine at all. 2 out of 5. #MincePieFest2023 #MincePieADay

Monday, November 27, 2023

Mince Pie Fest 2023: Tesco "Merry"

These are T, tasty (ish).
These are E, (not) expensive.
These are S, (on the) small side.
These are C, Christmassy-y.
These are O, ooooooohhhhhh oh.





I like the pastry on these. It's almost savoury, more like what you'd get on a dinner pie, and it's got a nice chunky texture. Which is good, because the pie appears to be about 90% pastry with only a blob of filling somewhere in the middle, after you've dug through several metres of crust.

The filling itself is disappointing. It tastes fine, but there's nowhere near enough of it and rather than actual fruity chunks, it appears to be some sort of spicy jam, like festive baby food.

I'm a bit torn. I quite like these but they are so badly made they almost don't even count as mince pies. I'm going to give them a tentative 3 out of 5 but I'll probably feel bad about it for the rest of the year. #MincePieFest2023 #MincePieADay

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Mince Pie fest 2023: Iceland (probably?)

These came from Iceland -- the shop not the lava-imperilled country -- although you wouldn't know it from the stark Repo Man branding.

These are fairly chunky pies, at a prodigious 66mm across, and are packed with filling; these are not cases of empty air, like some pies I could mention.

The pastry is thin, but has a good firm texture. It lacks flavour but at least it doesn't taste bad. Yay? I suppose? The filling is fruity and has a nice bite to it, but there's a slightly bitter aftertaste that tends towards the unpleasant. Not awful, but "luxury" is talking them up a bit. 2.5 out of 5. #MincePieFest2023 #MincePieADay

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Mince Pie Fest 2023: COOP

Hang on! What's this? COOP does a budget range of mince pies? I don't remember that happening in previous years.

(It may have happened. I am old.)

Oh. It did happen.


The pastry is soft and almost chewy, which I thought I would dislike but it's quite a pleasant texture. It is VERY sweet, to the point that it overpowers the filling completely, and makes my teeth tingle. 2.5 out of 5. #MincePieFest2023 #MincePieADay

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Judge Who Laughs

The Batman Who Laughs, an evil version of Batman from an alternate universe, introduced in 2017:

Judge Death, an evil counterpart of Judge Dredd, from an alternate universe, introduced in 1980:


(And yes, I know I'm years late on this.)

Monday, November 13, 2023

We Don't Talk About Bruno, but We Do Talk to Him

The other day I was interviewed about games design! It's a bit rambling and incoherent because it was 4am for me, and then Bruno's power cut out in the middle, so I interviewed myself for a few minutes, and I don't know if that's been edited out because I hate the sound of my voice and the look of my stupid long face so I haven't watched the video.


Saturday, November 11, 2023

Mince Pie Fest 2023: Asda Yummy


These minceys feel tiny! They are about a centimetre smaller than the Sainsbos pies, and yes, readers, I checked.

The pastry has a nice firm texture but there's a hint of saltiness that turns me off; the inexplicable popularity of salted caramel (yuck) suggests I'm an outlier there. On the other hand, the filling is lovely, packed full of flavour and zing. It's light on spice and has zero booze, but the fruity flavours work well without either.

The size of these pies feels a bit miserly, but otherwise these are good. 3.5 out of 5, but if size doesn't matter to you (fnar), you could bump that to 4.

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2023

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Mince Pie Fest 2023: Sainsbury's

And so it begins.

Picked first simply because it's closest to the Top Secret Mince Pie Testing Centre™, we have Sainsbos!

The pastry is a bit too dry and a bit too sweet, but it has a pleasant crumbly texture. The filling is quite tasty, with a bit of zest and a waft of festive spice, but there is far too little of it. Compare the stuffed pies on the box with the contents of the actual pie!

This is an improvement on last year's Sainsbos pie, but the stingy filling and wonky pastry hold it back. Still, a good mid-range pie. Probably. 3 out of 5.

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2023