Monday, December 19, 2022


My 2019 winter solstice themed adventure Midvinter is on sale for less than one dollarpound, from now until the end of the winter solstice itself, at DriveThruRPG!

In related news, you can listen to some people playing the adventure below, although there will of course be spoilers:

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: The Results!

As I said yesterday, there is still more testing to come, for some special categories, but the main ratings are done.

Over 20 different varieties of mince pies have been tasted and tested -- well, just tasted, I'm not doing anything else with them, except for an early attempt at a mince pie milkshake that, reader, did not go well -- and a clear favourite emerged, and early too. But first, the runners-up:

Asda, Tesco, and, er, Asda produced some solid 4 out of 5 pies, and each is a good alternative if you can't find the best ones, which are...

Once again, COOP rules the roost, which I think may almost be a pun? Last year's winners were an excellent 4.5 out of 5 in 2022, er, too. Last year they sold out super quick and were difficult to find, so keep your eyes peeled!

Congratulations COOP. Feel free to send me free mince pies, or food vouchers, or cash.

But wait! There's more!

Also a 4.5er was this boozy beast from Asda:

I cannot in good conscience proclaim it a joint winner because I'm not sure it's a proper mince pie in the spirit of the competition, but it is very nice indeed, and I'm going to get at least two for the Chrimble period. I will not be sharing.

Also very tasty, but the complete opposite in girth, were these lovely pies from Sugarlumps:

Useless to most of you, but if you're in the greater Brighton area in the run up to Indiana-Jones-on-BBC1-Season, then make sure you grab some.

And now, for those who care, stats!

Here's the top five from 2021:

(Believe it or not, I was going to just test last year's top five this year, but oops.)

This shows us that COOP has maintained its quality for the most part. M&S seems to also have kept up, but 2022 has been a disaster for Iceland and Sainsbury's. There may be other things to learn from this data, probably something like how I'm more strict this year, but I'll leave that to the statisticians.

There will be more mince pie content on the way, as we delve into some special categories, but for now, off you go to buy your minceys!

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Morrisons The Best

Oh ho! That's a bold claim. I'll be the judge, Son of Morris.

Right away, there's an explosion of powdered sugar that goes everywhere, turning your surroundings into an appropriate snowy scene. A bit of a pain if you're wearing dark colours.

The pastry is sweet and juuuuuust on the right side of firm, and the filling is bursting with flavour. It's fruity and juicy and there's a strong taste of something a bit like Parma Violets in there, that I can't quite place. While strong, it's also a flat and mellow flavour, and I prefer the zing of citrus or a boozy punch in my pies, so these are never going to be my favourites, but even so I can taste the quality.

The Best? I don't think so, but I acknowledge that someone with different tastes might. 4 out of 5.

These are the last of the mince pies on my testing list. We're done!

Well, not quite, there will be some other scores to quite literally settle, but the main testing is done. You can go back and find my favourites if you want, but I will post an announcement of the winner very soon.

(Tomorrow, it will be tomorrow.)

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Morrisons

Almost in the final stretch now. Which is good. We've all got homes to go to.

The pastry on these tiny pies is firm, but not crunchy -- thank the ancestors! -- but is a bit dry. You'll want a cup of tea with these. Or even better, custard!

(I sit back and imagine the cries of dismay echoing around the interwebs.)

The filling is surprisingly flavourful; there's lots going on and it's all good, with a lovely warmth throughout. There is a strange and suspicious aftertaste, almost like flowers, that threatens to ruin things, but it passes quickly, thank the ancestors. Again.

For "cheap" mince pies, these are really quite good! Shame about the size.

(That's what she said.)

3.5 out of 5.

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Monday, December 05, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: The Bastard Kipling

The Bastard Kipling, for the sake of completeness.

And in fairness, not bad. The pastry is too firm, nudging just into the dreaded crispy zone, and is a touch too sweet, but the filling has some good flavour, although it lacks any distinctive tastes. Some stronger spices or a hit of alcohol or citrus would have been welcome.

An Exceedingly Average Cake. Pie. Whatever. 3 out of 5.

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park Quote

Magic Eater should be out in early 2023.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Sugarlumps Service

Alas, you will not be able to find these everywhere, as they are local, but perhaps you can bung sugarlumps.service a handful of £50 notes to deliver internationally.

These are lovely little pies, with a proper hearty crust and a rich, tangy filling that's full of flavour. I could quite happily eat an entire box in minutes.

Which is exactly what happened. 4 out of 5.

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: M&S Collection

More pies, this time of the fancy variety, from M&S. How much more fancy? Read on, MacDuff.

The pastry has a nice crumble to it, not too soft, and not too firm, but there is a hit of an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. The filling is fruity and juicy and there are some vague suggestions of stronger flavours in there, but they never quite come through. It's a tasty filling, but it just feels like there should be something more than just "tasty" going on at this price.

If these are indeed fancier than the previous pies, it's only in terms of price. 3.5 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Friday, December 02, 2022

Wakanda Again

You know that thing where the most interesting Marvel films were framed as other genres that just happened to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Winter Soldier was a 1970s conspiracy/spy -- conspyracy? conspiraspy? -- film... but in the MCU. Homecoming was a John Hughes teen comedy... but in the MCU.

Well, Black Panther 2 is an Oscar-tickling drama of family, grief, and loss... but in the MCU. It's an astonishing feat of balanced storytelling, weighty but without ever getting heavy-handed, informed by the death of Chadwick Boseman, but not milking that unfortunate event. But it is also, somehow, a big Marvel blockbuster, although that side does feel almost like an afterthought at times, which to be fair is not a bad thing.

It looks -- mostly -- amazing, it sounds spectacular, and the performances throughout are brilliant. It's not perfect -- there are a couple of elements that feel a bit undercooked, and I would not be at all surprised to see an extended cut appear, perhaps for the home release -- but it is very, very good. If you've been feeling Marvel Fatigue, this may well cure you.

I give it four Sub-Mariners out of five.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: M&S Classic

M&S! As Cat Stevens wrote (probably), the first bite is the weakest.

There's so much sugar on these pies that the top is all crunchy, and I'm not a fan of crunchy. The good news is that the rest of the pastry is firm but crumbly, and much better than the top.

The filling lacks any particular strong flavours -- there's no booze or citrussy kick here -- but does have a pleasant and moreish fruitiness.

These are nothing special, but are perfectly decent pies that are only let down by that dodgy top. 3.5 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022

Monday, November 28, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Waitrose Unessentials

Look, yesterday was (mostly) a joke and I don't have it in for Waitrose. I say this because of what's to follow, and I don't want people thinking it's some vendetta against the poshos or something.

Eat the rich, they say, well go ahead, but don't eat their mince pies. For reasons beyond my working class comprehension, these are even worse than the cheap and not-so-cheerful pies from yesterday. The pastry is dreadful; crunchy, and with a thick coat of chunky granulated sugar, the texture is like eating glass. Or so I'd imagine.

The filling is fruity but has a dull, musty flavour with no citrus or alcohol to give it a bit of interest. It sort of tastes purple-grey, like a depressed grandma.

These are dreadful mince pies. 1.5 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Waitrose Essentials

These are part of Waitrose's probably reluctant admission that there are people who are not upper middle class, and may need access to cheaper food. Let us see what our betters have provided for us.

The pastry is so soft the whole pie threatens to disintegrate as it's held, but once it's in the mouth it resolves into a dry, dusty mess that could easily choke the unwary. What little flavour there is, is bitter and salty, evoking the contempt the average Waitrose shopper has for any household with a second hand car or fewer than four bedrooms.

There is a filling, but I couldn't tell you what it tastes like because it tastes of nothing, but that's probably good enough for the likes of us, as we scrabble for scraps and dream of revolution.

2 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Waitrose Bakery

I nipped into Waitrose for this one and escaped before security noticed my social status. Alas, my reward for my act of class warfare was blandness.

The pastry is soft, with a hint of pleasant chewiness, but no strong flavour. No problem, though, because the filling will make up for it, right? Bueller?

Ah. No. The filling is there, but I can't say much more than that. There's a brief stab of alcohol in there, but otherwise it's just a layer of generic fruity, jammy "stuff".

It's fine. Not fine but fine. 3 out of 5.

#mincetagram #MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Asda Extra Special Giant Mince Pie

While the Americans get ready for their traditional Thanksgiving treats of Gasoline Pie, Cowboy Grits, and Lincoln Logs, here the Mince Pie Fest continues with this absolute unit.

These have apparently been selling out and have been difficult to find, but thanks to a keen-eyed reader, I am in possession of the Holy Grail. And also this pie.

In theory, this should just be a bigger version of yesterday's pies, but we will see.

What this has in common with yesterday's entry is that rich, boozy filling, but if anything this is even richer and more boozy than those. I did not think it possible, but they seem to have poured an entire minibar into this and I think I might be drunk.

I don't really like alcohol -- I might have a cider once a year, maybe -- but this is amazing, but maybe that's the drink talking. But but but.

But I must be professional and I should report that maybe the booze overpowers the other flavours; there is a lovely fruity, saucy filling in there, but it's almost swept aside by the Power of Firewater. And if you don't like boozy flavours then this is no good for you, but that's okay because if you do buy it by mistake you can send it to me. Thanks.

(I think I'm sobering up now.)

The pastry is better than that of the pie's smaller cousins. It's still firm, but less crunchy, and has a pleasant sweet taste, understated but just enough of a contrast to that powerful, punchy filling.

This is a difficult one to score. The things I like about it are going to be deal breakers for others, plus it's not really a traditional mince pie. Let's give it 4.5 out of 5, but with an asterisk.

Asterix&Obelix Brussels-cropped1

Maybe I am still drunk.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Asda Extra Indulgent

"Extra Indulgent" seems a bit redundant, like "more unique".

These are very chunky minceys! I'm not sure the pictures convey how deep these pies are. I imagine they are probably expensive, but I was gifted them so I don't know.

The pastry is chunky and somewhat crispy, which is not my favourite texture, but there's a nice sweet taste at least.

The filling is rich and fruity and saucy, and then there's a BIG hit of booze that made my eyes water and would probably bar me from driving. If I could drive.

These are big, confident pies full of big, confident flavour, with only the crunchy pastry (and maybe the price?) letting them down. 4 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: Lidl Deluxe

We've seen what Aldi has to offer, now let's see what their Teutonic rivals can bring to the Chrimble table!

The pastry looks anaemic, and tastes undercooked and a tad stodgy. The filling starts off a bit bland but then there's a sudden rush of rich juicy flavour and a late hint of boozosity.

A very confusing pie, this. Seems awful at first, but turns out okay. 3 out of 5.

#MincePieFest2022 #MincePieADay #mincetagram