Anthem VIP Demo Review

For those in the gaming world who have not heard of Anthem its new game from Bioware and published by EA (Electronic Arts). I would best describe Anthem as a FPS open world shooter in type of Iron Man suits called Javelins, in my view its a mix of Warframe and Destiny 2 gameplay.

How to get the demo?

I was lucky enough to be given a friend key for the demo by my son, I claimed the key and installed the demo into PC Origin App. Easy I thought, excluding the 50gb download.

Other options are

  • Buy VIP Demo key from online like CDKeys (now only 99p)
  • Get a friend key from someone who pre-ordered and has 4 free keys to give away
  • Pre-order the game
  • EA Premium Access

Demo Launch Day 1

Day 1 on 25th Jan 2018 the day the VIP demo launched proved to be a no go due to common following reasons, which I gave up trying after 4+ hours of trying:

  • Max Server connections reached, try again later
  • Unfortunately you don’t have access to the demo this weekend, when you do and have the demo installed by a valid key
  • Game disconnects
  • Game continuous cycling loading screen issues
  • Origin itself coming down for other games, including impacting PS4 and Xbox

Demo Day 2 Improved

Day 2 proved a much better experience save the “don’t have access to the demo issue above” which I finally resolved thank to some investigation by my son and I. turned out something went a miss from EA.COM server registering I have the VIP Demo ordered, Origin App on PC registering I also had the VIP Demo, but the main Anthem game servers not getting to memo. Solved this by re-using the friend key link son provided and then game loaded without the “don’t have access splash screen”.. were in!

Entering Fort Tarsis

Game loads up and you enter into the beautiful city of Fort Tarsis with game running on its default setting for my Zotact GTX 1070 Amp Extreme with i7-6700k I was happily getting average 70fps at 2560x1080p 21:9. The game looks gorgeous in the city!

Javelin Customisation

The armour iron-man like suits you wear during battles are known as javelins and similar to games like Warframe can be customised. This ranges from materials (not effect armour strength only cosmetic) like, metal, cloth, rubber, leather and then add primary and secondary colours which take on the base material attributes to affect their lighting. You can also change armour pieces you earn through the game, such as chest, legs, arms, helmet, all of which have own stats and affect you over strength and weaknesses of the valkyrie. Lastly you can build upto 3 loadout of weapons, armour, ability for predefined mission types. Naming these loadout and how you build them is entirely up to you, eg. Support, Defence, Attack. Check out the shout clip below for more


Flying a Javelin takes a little getting use too, approximately 10-20 minutes and best tip I can give is drop you mouse down to max 1600 sensitivity. I had mine at 2000 and as you see in my first mission footage Im very twitchy flying and hence bounce and hit a lot of rock faces.

First Demo Mission

As expected the outside world looks incredible and being the first time trying to use my javelin I found mouse and keyboard best option. It took little while to get use to but once you are use to the flight model the gameplay mechanics really kick in and become second nature.

You’ll see in the footage my flight skills do get better and in later videos how i’m much improved with reduce mouse sensitivity (see Flight) and using abilities and weapons in the heat of battle.

First Light Boss Fight is fun as hell!

Anthem has a great way to lead you into more challenging fights as you progress through the demos missions. Here you see my son and I having to take on 3 light titans. As you will see, we get use to comboing our abilities to weaken each titan and work together to bring them down one by one. Its a fun and good introduction to the more complex mechanics of fights later down the road.

Manic Boss Fight

Towards the end of demo missions before we can try the first stronghold battle and Freeplay exploring option, you end up working through the final demo mission leading into a nice final boss battle. My son and I was lucky enough to get matched up with two other public players which made for a fun, challenging and sometimes manic battle. You will see in some areas of a mission you are locked into a No Respawn mode until the area or boss is dead. In Anthem when a player goes down they have to wait for another player to repair them and allow them to re-enter the battle. As you see in the video this can be challenging at times when hordes of mobs are chasing you and the boss also takes a liking to you.

The Storm Javelin

After you hit level 12 in the demo, you unlock your next javelin and a neat feature is you get to choose which one you want to unlock next, I chose the Storm and boy am I glad I did. This javelin is the damage dealing glass cannon without the glass apparently. First off I needed to customise the javelin and make its loadout as each loading is specific to each javelin and doesn’t carry over from my Ranger javelin. However, your inventory, is global as a player and can have items such as weapons used by any javelins. Armour items however are specific to each javelin or you craft new armours for your specific javelin if you have the materials (which can aquire by salvaging old gear or Freeplay gathering).

Once I made my loadout, the son and I headed into Freeplay mode and boy is that fun. This is one of the best ways to gather materials for crafting and also allows you to help out any other public players, as well as complete world challenges against bosses you come across. In the video you see we enter an entrance in some underground base that lead us into a base battle and assist another public player. Here I begin to see the power of the Storm javelin and my decision upheld this will be my main javelin at launch (see Final Thoughts).

The last piece of the footage we come across is an open world boss who’s a little challenging and also where we come across the boundary system (see Cons).

Final Thoughts

The Pros

  • Beautiful level of graphic fidelity incorporating materials such as metal, leather, rubber, cloth to your javelin armour allowing for another level of detail
  • Large amount of javelin customisation available
  • Good frame rate of average 60-70fps on high, even on older graphics card such as my Zotac 1070 Amp Extreme at 2560×1080
  • Exciting and challenging gameplay with elements of puzzle solving with grate amount of exploration available to find hidden chests of goodies
  • Smooth animations and details to those animations
  • Good combat and movement control system one use too

The Cons

  • Too many loading screens break immersion. For example out on mission in open world and start to fly into a opening cave and suddenly, bang, loading screen for 20s. Or in Freeplay fighting open world boss, move to far back and bang loading screen to respawn you back in the fighting.
  • High CPU load under general play averaging 80-85% on a Intel Skylake i7-6800k is worrying for those with a lower end CPU. Hopefully its only demo debug code causing this?
  • Constant loading bug on entering and leaving expedition (mission) requiring Alt+F4, end task and then reload Anthem. Benefit is when game does reload it prompts you was in and expedition and do you want to continue. Hitting yes, loads everyone and finishes off the entering or exiting with all loot you earned.
  • Expedition or open world mission boundaries of accidently move out can break immersion with loading screen to portal you back into the fight.

Final Decision

Despite the cons I could not stop thinking about playing Anthem last night and the fun I had, I want more and therefore this morning I pre-ordered from for mere £34.

Another review opinion

Why not check out my good friend Aidan and fellow moderator of Good Guys Gaming review below.

Star Citizen 3.0 Alpha Release – Part 1

Having backed Star Citizen and its single player campaign game Squadron 42 since 2013 I have closely followed its progress of development. technology expansions and evolutions into new areas and even listen to the doom mongers it will fail, never be released.

Well, being a developer and having IT career of over 30 years in numerous other roles including testing I appreciate the scale of what is trying to be achieved.  For most gamers this is just a space game, but this is no ordinary space game.  Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) are trying to simulate everything from the fuel lines in the ships, the ship infrastructure, ship systems including a realistic AFC (automated flight control) similar to the computer systems in a Typhoon fighter.  Even the planets in a solar system are being procedurally drawn in real time (mathematical algorithm to draw planets) with topography, atmosphere and cityscapes like bladerunners cities with interactive space ports for trade and illegal trade like bounty hunting. The procedural generation of gas giants, nebulas of gas clouds and all lighting.

Star Citizen is not a game yet, its a first iteration of 70% the subgame systems being integrated into a first true persistent universe release.  Also bare in mind the parallel development by the the same devs (appx 300) on Squadron 42 single player campaign story driven game using the same tech. Quality takes time and I rather the quality over 7-10 years than the facade in 3 years we’ve seen recently from larger developers.

Star Citizen 3.0 Alpha has been released to all backers on 24th Dec 2017 to the Live servers under 3.0 patch 695052.  Yes, with known remaining bugs from PTU (public test universe) testers discovered and not yet fixed in order to honour the new strategic direction of a release every quarter, the next due in March 2018.  Even with the remaining bugs, releasing now opens up all backers to test the alpha in a live state over the christmas/holiday period and provide further data and statistics back to CIG for review and further investigation.  My expectations was for a fluctuating performance due to the first release merging a lot of the promised systems and with the expanded live players base but a chance to enjoy the best Star Citizen experience to date.  I wasn’t wrong and it’s been fun, frustrating and incredibly addictive as hell.
(UPD 27/12 – Chris Roberts explains the performance issues they have discovered thanks to PTU and working on to improve 3.0 in early 2018.)

I installed the new live launcher which provides the new delta patching (just new changes) and waited for it to install SC 3.0 Live Alpha (appx. 11.6gb).  After around 20 minutes I launched and waited for the main menu to appear (below).

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.08 -

After selecting Universe and Best region (US, EU or AUS auto detected) I let the game load up while the background atmospheric music begins to play.  At one point I felt the game had hung as your left at a black screen which varies in time, this can be anything from 1-2 minutes.  You are then presented with yourself laying in a bed in my stay over cubicle at Port Orislar in the Crusader system. A press of the space key and a wonderful animation of me rolling up and out of the bed into standing in my small cubicle room.  As I walk forward with the usual WSAD key configuration the door panel highlights for my interaction, pressing F to interact the door slides open to reveal the main corridor out and onward to a stairway down a level to the post main area with a cargo trading desk (seen below), armoury, defense clothing, casual clothing shop and ship components at Dumpers Depo.

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.30 -

The cargo trading desk NPC and others now have the first implementation of subsumpsion as described in Chris Roberts, April 2017 Chairmans Road Ahead Letter, “…the debut of Subsumption’s Mission System which provides a scalable and flexible system that is tightly integrated with our new AI systems, allowing us to generate challenging encounters and scenarios on the fly as well as creating a structure for multipart and narrative missions longer term”.  The interactable conversations animations some of the most real I have seen in a game.  Think all those little noisence we human make when we move or interact which makes us human,  The view out of the ports window grabs me as ships are landing and taking off from the port in my first real excitement to see other players going about their business at the space port.

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.30 -

I head into the Defense armour store and proceed to try on a various flight suits with the the deep burgundy one catching my eye.  Now I need to add some armour and decided to select different pieces of armour from each of the available armoured suits to see if I can mix and match, I smile seeing that I can. I open the mobiglass (f1) and equip my chosen flight and armour pieces.  Leaving the store and heading directly over to the Weapons store for a gun or two, spare munitions and medpacs before traversing out into the verse.  The clever technology implementation for layering of clothing fitting over your character as a real person would allows for clothing to have connection points.  When wearing armour its really attached to the undersuit, then when adding your weapons and support gear it’s really attached to the hooks on the armour.  The benefit is when you walk and move in the game the clothing, armour and weapons all move with the realtime physics – impressive!

Next I head over to the main Ship Retrieval Console terminals to select and retrieve one of my ships.  The console can only retrieve ships currently docked and stored at the port the consoles exist.  In my case the RSI A325 is still docked and stored at Grim Hex so I can’t retrieve it here at Port Olisar.  I see other ships listed I don’t own due to me renting them from the Electronic Store with REC earned in Arena Commander or Star Marine. In 3.0, I have the rentals of a Gladius, Hornet, P52-Merlin in addition to the ships I own as part of my pledges.  I select a Gladius which I am then informed on the landing pad which it is being delivered.  I head off into the verse and try to set my destination for Grim Hex space port which is where I at first struggle a little to set a direct jump to Grim Hex.  I need to first travel to the main celestial body planet, in this case Yela.  So, I set Yela as my destination and proceeded to head out through the airlock to landing pad where the Gladius sat in is incredible detail and wonderful lighting from the star.  The new interaction system provide the option to enter and be seat, or just enter the ship or just open the cockpit giving more freedom and options when out in space near derelicts.  I enter my new ship, powered up flight ready status and made a clean vertical take off.  I proceeded to raise my landing gear (N) as else it creates drag in flight (found out by not doing this due to forgot and wondered why sluggish flight) as you would expect and then lined up my HUD for my Yela destination way marker and hit (B) to start quantum travel. Damn the QT visual effect always makes me smile as you begin and enter, which is best observed in free camera mode (F4) and while pressing Z and moving your mouse to pan around during travel.

SC 3.0-694913 PTU Gladius Quantum Travel Entry.png

Once I arrived at Yela, I set my next destination for Grim Hex space port in the middle of an asteroid belt which is held in place my giant metal infrastructure rods going out to other giant asteroids.  As I came within 500m I opened my mobiglass communications and requested a landing pad from the simulated ATC (air traffic control) sub-system.  However, the ATC didn’t allocate me a pad (known bug) and after a few tries it resolves and there it is, landing pad 03 lights up and a vertical beam to let me know which pad I have been allocated to land at.  I slowly manuevure my ship and jump to external camera to a near perfect VTOL landing.

StarCitizen 2017-12-31 17-00-05-44.png

StarCitizen 2017-12-31 17-02-57-51.png

StarCitizen 2017-12-31 17-03-34-04.png

StarCitizen 2017-12-31 17-17-19-92.png

After a wander around Grim Hex I decided to head off to Dalamar and try a planetary landing.  So I decided to spawn my RSI A325 fighter which I left here last time I played and leave the Gladius here at Grim Hex.

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.30 -

I headed out to the landing pad to meet my RSI A325 ship and decide to go try a visit to Levski on Dalamar, the furthest Quantum Travel distance from Port Olisar and 50% to go from Grim Hex, but more on that in the next part of this post…


ESO Addons in use 2017 Part 2

This is part 2 of my 2017 addon series for ESO, if not read the part first head on over to part 1 for the best addon manager Minion and my minimalist UI addons.

Awesome Guild Store

Download  Highly Recommended

Is a much improved version of the Guild Store and provides a much simple UI to search for items, store favorites searches and links into Master Merchant addon (see below)


Master Merchant

Download  Highly Recommended

Providing a tool which will track your sell and buy prices overtime.  In addition its can scan the auction houses your member of for all prices of current items available.  This can be very useful to see the going rate for an item allow you to ensure you’re not overpricing the item to much or providing you the option to undercut the competition.



Download  Highly Recommended

Once installed it can be accessed by the small CraftStore icon below you levels bar but will also popup corresponding recipe list to craft at Cooking Fires and Enchanting benches (see below)


Presenting details of your known researched traits, known styles and access to recipe crafting lists for Cooking and Enchanting.Screenshot_20170511_131312 - Copy.png

Screenshot_20170511_131346.png Screenshot_20170511_131338.png

Shissu’s LUA Memory Manager

Download  Highly Recommended

Is a great tool which will auto-manage the amount of memory required for the list of addons your using.  This is key to stop seeing those annoying LAU memory errors during your game play.


Download  Recommended

Adds missing features of Reply and Forward to the ESO mail box system.

Inventory Grid View

Download  Optional

Provides a nice addition to the inventory view where you can toggle between a listview and gridview.


Download  Optional

Provides an improved UI feature to use the FREE travel option to a friend.  Goto provides a list of all guild members in an area/zone and thus you can locate a FREE portal to jump to instead of just knowing player names and having to type manually.

Crafting Preview

Download  Optional

Is a wonderful tool to add, manage a

Screenshot_20170511_120733.png Screenshot_20170511_120848.png Screenshot_20170511_120743.png

Shissu’s Suite Manager

Download  Optional

Provide a nice set of extra slash commands to simplify the use of guild invites, reloadui, and more.


ESO Addons in use 2017 Part 1

As mentioned in my last post I have had to review latest Addons from my old 2016 to maintain a feature rich game time.  I first wanted a minimalist UI while running around and then when jumping into specific skills or options further enhanced UI should kick in (eg. better crafting).  Due to having settled on 23 Addons I couldn’t live without this post will be split into 3 parts as I want to cover each add-on, why I use it and how to configure it for best use.  I will provide links for each and highlight each as recommended or optional.

Minion Addon Manager

Download  Highly Recommended

Is a wonderful tool to add, manage and keep all your addons up to date as well as a feature backup the addons you have in use.


LUI Extended

Download  Recommended

Reason: Provides a clean minimalist replacing for the default unit frames for self, group, raid and targets plus much improved buffs & debuffs icons and timers.

Configure: Press Esc->Settings-Addon->LUI-Unitframes.
Ensure to enable the unlock UI then press Esc to be able to move around the unit windows to your liking.  Got back into settings and then turn off the Unlock so they stay in place.

Self_LUIFrames.png  SelfBuffDebuff_LUIFrames.png

Voran’s Mini Map

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a much needed mini map with clock (or hidden) which supports other Addons like SkyShards and HarvestMap which also show those Addons icons.

Configure: Press Esc->Settings-Addon->Vorans Mini Map.
Ensure to enable the unlock UI then press Esc to be able to move around the unit


Ravalox QuestTracker

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a a much improved quest tracker which has the default functionality plus expands and shrinks automatically and provides tool tips of objectives on mouse.



Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a world and mini map icon of the SkyShards locations and whether you have already learnt it.


Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a world and mini map icon for the LoreBook locations and whether you have already read them it.

Advanced Filter

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a much needed enhancement to the inventory allow for simple filtering by weapons, apparel (then light, medium, heavy), potions, consumables and much more.

Wykkyd Toolbar

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a much needed quick status bar for many useful and customisable items of information. Information such as current bag space, stable and research timer cool downs, clock, fps, ping, money and much more neatly centered at the top.



Download  Recommend

Reason: Automatically prompts to sell all junk items when interacting with an NPC merchant.


Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides what some may call a cheat, but for someone with little game time it highlights where on the world and mini-map resources (ore, plants, chests, etc) are located.  Best feature is 3d map pins in the world whilst running around and due to the amount this could smoother your screen or world and mini maps. Use the the range filter to limit to only so many feet of what’s displayed.  Also access to filters via main skills, character, etc tool bar (icon on far right)

Note: Only your picked, mined or open chest are remembered unless you merge your data with the main site and then you have access to all known locations.  So it’s your choice to exploit all known or just what you have discovered to date.



The rest of my addons will be in Part 2 and 3

  • Goto
  • Inventory Grid View
  • MailR
  • Awesome Guild Store
  • Master Merchant
  • ESO Master Recipe List
  • Shissu’s LUA Memory Manager
  • Shissu’s Suite Manager
  • CraftStore
  • Crafting Preview

Back to ESO (Elder Scrolls Online)

I first bought Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel edition back in Q1 2016 thanks to my friend Elda providing some insights into the game and being a FREE week of play.  I waded on through the story and slowly became use to the play and combat style of the game reach a reasonable level 27 Sorceror.  This slower pace for me was mainly due to the games quite different in some areas like selling on an auction house, where you actually have to join a guild which is more dedicated to selling and putting up stored in the main towns.  Or the limited combat bar which only allows 5 main spells to use per weapon and equip only 2 weapons, which you must switch between to access all spells.


Due to the levels of depth in the story, skills, crafting, delves, sky rings further depth of having passive in so many different areas you can choose to unlock or not.  A complex crafting system which feels like more genuine crafting, which again you can choose to bolster with extra skills points being assigned.

Well after just under a year of not playing ESO I now back ready to reach max level and start earning champion points.  In addition completing the story and all DLC the game has to offer.  One of the first areas I had to resolve was replacing the old addons which I had used to improve my gameplay experience last year.  After reinstall Minion a brilliant addon maintainer and a few recommendation my my friend Elda, plus watching a fair few YT videos I had a good selection of what I was after.  The resulting UI is shown in the screen below and provide lots of minimal goodness.


For now I will just name the addons which make the normal minimal screen state seen in the screenshot and I find the most clean.  I have at least another 10-12 addons which enhance the mapp, locations, guild, merchant, addon memory manager, etc.  I will do a later post on all my recommend ESO addons.

  • LUI Extended
    • Providing clean health, mana, stamina bars for self, target, groups, raids and fully customisable.
  • Harvest Map
    • Shows map pins and in game 3d pins of resource locations.
  • Quest Map
    • Add quest giver markers to mini map and map
  • Quest Tracker
    • Provide the right had quest list with active quest marked plus tooltip hover of objectives.
  • SkyShards
    • Adds skyshard location on mini map and map
  • Votan’s Mini Map
    • The mini map you see in bottom right with many configurable options.
  • Wykkyd Toolbar
    • The tool bar of key information like stable researching cooldown, bag space, gold, time, area, and much more to customise.

BBQ Adventures – Sons 18th plus friend visit

Its been a while since I posted and felt good opportunity would be to summarise the feedback received form BBQ to date and the techniques I have had to improve on since my initial uses of the Napoleon Pro22k Charcoal Kettle BBQ.

More BBQ ribs this time smoked on Cherry wood and giving a wonderful sweet smokey taste.  In addition I smoked the ribs at a higher temperature 300-325 degrees due last time they didn’t quite have the tenderness I was after.  I identified this to be due to the lids infra-red ambient thermometer seem to reflect hotter temp at the top than lower  in the dome (yet to prove this with a temp probe).  This time the ribs came out allot more tender and falling off the bones as you would expect a good well cooked rib to be.  The image below shows the ribs just before mopping with the first apple juice mop over which maintains the moisture in them and keep them from drying out.  I do this mop every 15-20 min for the last hour.  I then finished with a new foil wrap stage.  Lay out foil, squirt a nice zig-zag of your favorite or home bbq sauce, then opposite zig-zag of some lovely local honey.  Put ribs face (arch side) down and then repeat your zig-zags of bbq sauce and honey on their backside.  Wrap the foiled tightly around the ribs and return to the BBQ for a further 15 mins before finally removing and slicing into the ribs (note to self get picture next time of these last two steps 😦 ).


A few weeks later after my sons BBQ bash I had a friend from Wiltshire, England to stay.  A nice opportunity to try out a new Beer Can Chicken recipe.  I first created a Simon & Garfunkel based rub to prep the chicken with.  Ingredients for this rub was sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and bay leaf powder.  I then applied the rub by a light rub of olive oil on the skin for the rub to stick  to, then applied the rub all over the skin and between the skin and the meat of the chicken.  I allowed it to rest and marinate for 45min in the fridge whilst I prepped the BBQ.  Once the BBQ reached its target 375-400 degrees I added the chicken to the pan & stand (replicating the beer can method) and placed on the griddle for the first 60 mins before reviewing.  After an hour I checked the internal temp and is was nicely at 158 degrees, leaving a further approximate 30-45 mins to reach the 175 degree target. Finally after a further 36 min, the thigh and breast temps had reach 178 degrees, and the skin had turned a wonderful crispy golden colour. Time to get the chicken off the BBQ and leave it to rest on the board with foil wrapped for 30 min.

BBQ Adventures -Birthday BBQ

Time for the new Napoleon Pro22K BBQ first outing for my father-in-laws 70th birthday family event.  Turns out the wife had invited the family to ours and given me the opportunity to try out my new BBQ and a recipe I have been going on about for over year, Smokey BBQ Baby Back Ribs.  So now I had to try and find some ribs at a local butchers or supermarket, turns out  you have to order in advance for our 3 local butchers and Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s all didn’t have any, so this left me a trip to Costco in MK.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I also wanted to go all out and try one of the recipes I found for making homemade BBQ sauce from key ingredients ketchup, tomato paste, black treacle, sugar, apple cider vinegar, water, onion, garlic powder and bit of heat via some cayenne pepper.  Allow to cool, blended in my Kenwood soup blender and allowed to cook before I bottle it in the washed out ketchup bottle.  A shot below in the pan, cooling before the blend.


Setup the BBQ

Setting up for an indirect low (temp) and slow smoking cook of the ribs at consistent 225-250f (100-120c).  Indirect cooking means using the spherical shape of the kettle barbecue to act as a convection type oven.  Heat on one side, rises up, hits the roof of the dome and then back down other side, cooking with its radiant heat.   I setup my  briquettes, approximately 70 in the snake formation to allow me to add lit briquettes at one end allowing a slow burn through unlit briquettes to maintain the temp. (image credit to  I added a few whiskey barrel chips at the start few inches for the smoking of the ribs.

fuse charcoal


Next up was lighting 7 briquettes in the chimney starter and allow them to reach white hot (appx. 20-30min).  Whilst these briquettes heated up I prepped my favorite BBQ rub based on the New Orleans Rub with my own twist.  I prepped all the drumsticks onto a large tray applying the rub to them. I moved on to prep the ribs by removing the membrane using the common paper towl technique which made it much easier.  Applied a light rub of yellow mustard all over for the rub to stick too, then applied the rub layered twice over and put the ribs onto a tray. Wrapped both trays and put them in the fridge couple of hours.

Checking the chimney starter it was time to add (overlap) the lit briquettes to the end of snake of unlit ones in the bbq and close the bbq lid allowing for the temp to raise to 225f and begin smoking.  It took approximately 15min before the heat and smoke was ready and time to add the ribs on the side of the bbq not directly over the heat and close the lid.

The rib smoke and cook lasted 3 1/2 –  4hrs with every 45min or so a light mopping (basting) of pure apple juice to keep the ribs moist.  After the initial 1 1/2 hours I added the first few bbq rubbed drumsticks and cumberland sausages ready for the first of the family due approximately 30min later.

The Result

Ribs had about 40-50min to go and the first drumsticks and sausages were well into their cook. Here’s a near final shot before all the fun started and family arrived break my photo grabbing attention of the bbq 🙂 … tune in next time when I be trying Beer Butt Chicken…


BBQ Adventures – The Beginning

Barbecuing has been another area of cooking I enjoy, but like most, always just been the normal family affair or get out the BBQ, light and cook burgers, sausages and chicken. Thanks to a good friend Faithless, he started a few years ago delving into the more complex barbecuing recipes, like Beer Butt Chicken (more on that later) and slow and low pulled pork.  As I stay with Faithless on a regular basis as one of my benefits working down in Wiltshire, UK, we have tried a fair few other recipes and it got me wanting to upgrade to an improved BBQ myself. The search began in 2015…(currently ole faithful 6yr BBQ below)


My search for new bbq began like for most new items with a budget and my needs, such as how often will I bbq like cooking dinner or will I just use it when we have some British sunshine.  I decided a full blown american style large gas bbq wasn’t for me as I am a traditionalist in all my cooking and prefer the old authenticate approaches (charcoal in this case).  I also decided as I didn’t want anything to big in case I didn’t get the passion for cooking out in the British wet weather, so I ended up targeting a something like a kettle style charcoal bbq.  The research began, through YouTube (BBQ Pit Boys, BBQ Pitmaster X, Kettle PitmasterPostal BBQ, Weber BBQs, Napoleon BBQs, many more, see my BBQ Playlist which im always adding too), bbq sites like AmazingRibs and The British BBQ Society have great advice, information and forums.

Decision Time

After many months (appx. 17mth) of research and attending my friends delivering some awesome cooking results, the time had come to make a decision.  I had so far decided on the following requirements and resulting 4 options…


  • Budget £100-300 GBP
  • Charcoal Kettle (ball shape with lid)
  • Kettle in built thermometer / Buy seperatley thermometer set
  • Light, easy to move in storage (garage) or out to garden for use
  • Medium area of space required to use (1-2m squared)


  1. Weber Original Kettle Premium (57cm) at £172
  2. Weber MasterTouch (57cm) at £202 with lid stand and built in thermometer
  3. Napoleon Rodeo Charcoal Kettle (57cm) at £171
  4. Napoleon Pro22k Charcoal Kettle (57cm) at £250 hinged lid and built in infrared thermometer, iron cooking grate plus offer of FREE cover worth £48

and the winner was….

Napoleon Pro22k Charcoal Kettle 

Results are a very well made, sturdy, strong metal BBQ with the extra benefit over the other makes of providing 3 heights of cooking for the iron cooking grate, ideal for those larger poultry birds, pork joints, briskets.  In addition I luckily bought during (May2015) the offer of FREE £48 cover which is also very well made and protects in the weathers. The hinged lid works great and removes the worry of dropping the lid during food checks. The final built version is ready for next weeks father-in-law 70th birthday bbq (look out for the next bbq blog entry)




Nominated, shocked and excited!

I was nominated for the Creative Blogger Award by fellow friends and bloggers, Eldaeriel and Xannziee which is a great surprise (shock 🙂 ) as I’m very new to getting back into blogging since my first attempt back in the early 2000s.


This award nomination comes with a few rules

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and share a link back to their blog
  2. Post 5 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 15-20 people for this award – Could be tough as only have few fellow blogger friends, but working on it, only three (excluding those nominated me).  I nominate:
  4. Post the rules so everyone will understand what to do – Check √



A very special thank you for the complete shock nominations Eldaeriel and Xannziee.  Very much appreciated although I am a mere baby in the blogging world.

The Nominees are…

I’ve made some great friends over my years of gaming, such as Faithless one of my longest standing friends and newer recent ones from joining the GGGs such as HeadBurrow Antfarm, Eldaeriel, Cmdr Paws, Chrybdis, Arin, KateCold, Ketrikken, Space Dementia and many others.

So my nominations from the list who I have blogs for are:

5 Nonsense Facts 

#1 Few years ago I got fed up with eating manufactured bread and remembered my dad always use to make his own and I loved the smell of fresh bread on a Sunday.  I decided to follow his footsteps but go old style by trying to make Artisan bread and grow my own leaven (yeast).  Took  me 3-7 mth to learn and succeed to point happy with the outcome, favorite was Walnut & Cranberry Sourdough.


#2 Dont like ants much, get everywhere, swarm around from nothing.

#3 Massive sci-fi (space) fan, Babylon 5 for its depth and intertwining story through the series.  I still re-watch all series and see, hear conversations in early episodes reflecting later series story lines and lore which it then later delivers on.  Stargate being another great story telling space sci-fi soap, along with other greats such as Firefly (bring it back please) and Farscape.

#4 I am a passionate “do it right”, config management and automation freak.  Its not just my job but also my core in everything I do.  If something is worth doing well, do it right 🙂

#5 Wife challenged me to ride a horse because I kept saying how easy it was when watching her and my daughter.  Ok its not easy!  First a little trotting, bounce as the horse trots they say… bump.. bump.. my ass hurting. Now a little canter… whats that.. oh… more bumping up n down and not in sync with the horse.. and faster.. bump..bump..bump..  I learnt a lot that day and in particular how much I like horses now too 🙂

Change of Class – Wizards are cool!

I’ve been playing Black Desert Online now for about 2 weeks through trial and now a full paid player.  During my trial I chose the Sorceress and loved her… but I  found some of her skills not so “wow” and a little (to use my teen kids terms) Meh.  The opportunity arouse when I convinced my long term friend and gamer Faithless to try out BDO using my trial key gained from my purchase of the game.  To ensure we was on the same level and I could guide him a little into the BDO play style I create Elkaruk of the wizard class.


What drew me to try the wizard was the coolness of the spells, the magic style and beauty of seeing them in action, along with the wonderful DPS capabilities.  For me the most disappointing thing in MMOs has been the flat progression of magical spells as you level.  What I mean by this is using a fire ball at lvl 10 compared to lvl 20 is usually graphically represented with the exact same animation.  Lets be honest if you was a wizard of (or other magical spell casting class) of 50+ levels you would expected to be able to conjure some serious spells showing considerable graphical scale to compliment its deliver on an unsuspecting mob.  BDO has delivered this to me, finally an MMO where as you level the graphical representation of the spells scales as do the spells.  Most importantly, this increased graphical fidelity does not seem to be at any decrement to my fps (frames per second) smoothness of play.

The differentiation of the spells a wizard has also seem to compliment each other well (in my early trials of lvl 1-15).  One-on-one the chain lightning is great at pulling many mobs to you … then when close … evade back .. freeze them and finish with a nice fireball.  In group play with friends and other GGGs members the devastation you can cause is very satisfying.

Example of how cool it can be:

Something else I have noticed in review my screen grabs is my wizard, whether through gear change as I level or actually a feature of BDO, seems to be aging… or is it me (see 1st screen and one below facial age… is it different?).


Elkaruk is only a lvl 17 wizard at present, but I feel he is going to become my main and I focus my attention on learning his skills, play style and best spell combinations (well those I can do and not mess up which provide the best imho, dps).