Thursday, June 30, 2016

Andrew Jackson's Parrot

Andrew Jackson:  populist president, war hero, Indian fighter, much-maligned face of the $20 bill

Parrot lover?

An amusing tid-bit turned minor internet sensation, it appears that not only did Andrew Jackson owned a parrot, but during Jackson's funeral, the animal became so upset that it incessantly squawked, chirped, and unleashed enough curse words at the mourners that it had to be removed.


While many question how the bird learned such language (not a great reach with Jackson), or how he came upon owning such a bird, the big question I have is...

Why was the animal in the middle of a funeral to begin with? 

While this could be chalked up to the bird's cage just being in the same room as the body, perhaps something far more sinister is in order. 

Jackson was a successful Tennessee businessman, an officer in the militia, and a country lawyer, with a short stint in the US Congress.  Nothing to truly recognize the personality and dominance we expect later on.

Jackson's largest military actions came during the Creek Campaign in 1812-14, which obviously ran parallel to the War of 1812.  He command not only Tennessee volunteers, but actual US military forces, as well as men from other Indian tribes.

During the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, his troops killed over 800 members of the Red Stick tribe, but he spared the life of their chief, Red Eagle, a half-Scott/half Creek.   As an offering during the surrender, Red Eagle provided Jackson with a gift of a parrot. 

Red Eagle, birth name William Weatherford, went from leading massacres to suing for a strong peace between the other tribes and the United States.  He lived his last few years of his life as a simple landowner, with little acknowledgement to the viciousness of his past acts.

The loss of his prized parrot to Jackson was the reason for this change in heart.   You see the parrot was some twisted manifestation of Yig, or perhaps Ay'yig, and had controlled the half-breed to ensure a place of prominence among the Creek.  Realizing that it's run of success with the tribes was running short, it gifted itself to Jackson and took over the country lawyer's psyche.  It's no doubt that Jackson became more aggressive with his correspondence and action via the US military, renegotiating the Creek treaty that Thomas Pinckney.   The being had no concept of mercy on those that failed it, punishing Red Eagle's tribe severely, and being far from kind to the other tribes.

With the war winding down, it makes one wonder why a British contingent would try to seize New Orleans.  If not for strategic value, what were they looking for?  And how could Jackson (via "Poll" the parrot) assemble such a group of men and scoundrels, if there was not something more powerful that strategic importance up for grabs? 

"Poll" continued it's aggressive dominance of Jackson, through his stint in the US Senate, his vengeful populism during the elections of 1824 and 1828, and well as his attack on the Masonic Bank of the United States, despite the fact that Jackson was a member of Freemasons, albeit a Tennessee lodge.

For reasons unknown to this researcher, "Poll" stayed with Jackson well past his Presidency, and has been documented, to the actual funeral at The Hermitage.  Perhaps the location of The Hermitage was acceptable for the beings plans?  It is pure speculation.

Of course, during the ruckus with the bird, even the household staff that normally cared for the bird could not control it.  It was finally subdued by a young Army officer, fresh from the Military Academy at West Point.  In a rush to send representation to the funeral, the Army sent a color guard that was ultimately rejected by Jackson's son, Andrew Jackson, Jr.  With the throngs of mourners, it was in poor taste to cast them away, so they were invited to stay.  The name of the young officer who conquered the profane avian is lost in the annals of history, but it just might coincide with a young Lieutenant Ulysses S Grant...  Civil War General, future President, and next occupant of the White House to own... a parrot.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Golden Gnomes

According to a story from  Australia, a local community is considering offering Golden Gnomes to award those homeowners for greening their verges.

Goodwood resident Julia Atterton, with her gold gnome. Pic: Tom Huntley
The report suggested up to 120 gnomes be awarded by councillors to the owners of the district’s best green verges, at a one-off cost of about $1000.

 
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Donald Trump - Dungeon Master

If you haven't been under a rock for the last year, and love gaming, you should be following DungeonsAndDonalds on Twitter.

I've done my best to explain Trump,  but this Twitter account does a far better job taking him from controversial presidential candidate to the ultimate DM (or so he tells us).  


Check him out and help make DnD great again!

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #44: The Destiny of Barons

Zorin Redrock - Gnome Titan Fighter.  Veteran of the Barbarian Wars, and hero of Marakeikos due to the retaking of Frandor's Keep.
General Fonzy "The Fonz" Schlepprock - Hero of the Siege of Akorros.  In reality a low-level Gnome Titan fighter with a silver tongue.
Janus Redrock - Gnome Titan Priest of Pangrus.  Cousin of  Zorin Gnome Titan of loose morals and a hero of Marakeikos.
Cecelia Darkspruce - Half-Elf Fighter Cleric of Sif.   Her previous sorority girl-styled ways had been hardened by weeks travelling the dusty trails of the Northern Mer Kasp completely alone, desperately trying to get back to Celsior.
Terval Sit - Half-Elf Mage
Gwendalyn Lorax  - Half Elf Druid.  Her trials alone in Mer Kasp did not last as long as Cecelia, but they were equally intense and damaging to her psyche. 
Tywuelyn - Pixie Fairy Infiltrator - Gwen's sidekick

30th of HexDec, 1135, The Free Barony of Vadevinscy
The Trogs finally reach the border for the "Vadevinscy Free Barony" renamed according to a few local sources... or were they spies.  No sooner do they cross the border, than but twenty cavalry come charging at them!

Terval threw up a Wall of Fire, but half still managed to charge through!  Gwen whipped up an Entangle spell to discourage the rest. 

As the horsemen were harried, the gnome titans move to attack their flanks.   In spite of yet another nasty injury to Janus (a quite serious flail to the head)...

Zorin: We kicked serious ass!

Janus brought one of the dead soldiers back and they questioned  him, but the Raise Dead had made the man delusional. They were able to determine that their names and descriptions were on a list of people to either kill or just not let into the territory.  The list got to the garrison before they had even decided to come to Vadevincsky, so something was definitely up.

In a split decisions, they decided to continue to Baron Edrin's castle.



31st of HexDec, 1135 Vadevinscy Capital 
The Trogs reach the capital and rest outside of it. Terval cast Invisibility on everyone, so they could infiltrate undetected. Our their way in, they saw an army leaving.

Against Zorin's better judgement, the party was split up.  Gwen, Tyweulyn, and Zorin went go into the castle and Fonzie, Janus, and Terval snooped around town.

After wandering around for the castle for a bit, they discover Baron Edrin's Seneschal's room.  He had supply requests and a letter from Edrin telling him to run the joint while he's gone running the army (!)  Maps strewn about indicated an army may be going to Linnard.

The Seneschal's journal indicated that he'd been the Seneschal for the last few Barons  He also wrote that he was responsible for the murders of the last Baron, Halfred and his son, in order for Edrin to ascend to Baron! Most of the other papers in the office were no more than supply orders for the army, but they did uncover an unsealed letter telling him to contact Bargle if there are any problems.  It was signed by L.

The Baron's room was heavily guarded.  Gwen successfully distracted the guard, but it was also well locked, so no one could get in, and the Trogs felt forced to flee caused a distraction to get the guards away from the door, but it's locked, we couldn't get in and we were forced to leave.

Zorin and company managed to escape the castle and meet up with the other half of the party, but when they got back to where they had left their horse, they were gone!

This is what happens when you leave the sidekicks and protégés at home!

Next:  Episode #45 - The Destiny of Dukes... and Princesses

Monday, June 27, 2016

(Kickstarter) Garden Gnome: Wizard Warfare

The nice thing about a blog covering gaming, gaming with gnomes, and gnome in general is that there's never a shortage of gnome-related product on Kickstarter.

Borzag Games in Denmark has launched Garden Gnome: Wizard Warfare, a card game with a take on rock, paper, scissor.


To be honest, it's more Rock-Paper-Scissor-Lizard-Spock (a la The Big Bang Theory) with gnomes.   The art is also a bit more primitive than another game that wasn't successful, Gnomi.  In their favor, however, is the fact that it's a slightly cheaper pledge with no S&H to Europe and North America and their target number is a little more than a third of the total the Gnomi guys were looking for.

Olley's Armies Web Store Temporarily Down

Upon the collapse of the British Pound after the Brexit vote, I started perusing British mini manufacturers trying to find some deals.  Alas, the very first site I check gave me very bad news. Twitter has since confirmed it.


Don't know if this was a decision regarding the economic situation, or if it's something far more ominous, but I hope everything is alright with Bob.  

More Second Samoan Civil War Research at a Snail's Pace.

With the millions of little projects that are distracting me, plus some recent conversation on restarting the Gnome Wars Tanga Campaign, it would behoove me to not forget about Samoa. 
 
 
The online readings were originally scant, but correct.  Since I started the Second Samaoan Civil War, the editing on informational sites like Wikipedia has became atrocious.  Battle details are now confused, nationalities of participants switched around, and, for some time, the First and Second Civil Wars were combined to occur in 1889

 
I need to do a research vacation in an archive or a half-decent library.  It's a mess.
 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Apathy of New Releases (Jul '16)

It looks like GenCon solicitations have finally hit fast and furious.  There are ten more pages in this month's issue of Game Trade Magazine, chock full of new and usual product.  So unusual, in fact, that I have FOUR different items on my own personal want list. 

That being said, the issue is also chock full of landmines for a potential store.   I already avoid things like Infinity, Fantasy Flight Limited Card Games, and Privateer Press due to the over-priced sitting inventory I see at some Game Stores (even with active communities in each category).  This month trainwrecks come from all directions, so unless you fall in love with a game at GenCon, I would tread carefully.

ViscountEric's Want List
Goodman Games
Age of Cthulhu #9:  The Lost Expedition (IMP GMG7099)................................ $12.99
A better option than the Kickstarter
Judges Guild: Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor  (IMP GMG4612) ...................... $24.99

Hasbro
Robo-Rally  (MLB B8905)...................................................................................... PI
Don't know the price yet, but I will not miss out on another edition, especially since it's fun for kids.

Reaper Miniatures
Mother's Day Mousling   (RPR 01443) ................................................................ $ 4.99


My Money-is-no-Object List
Goodman Games
Judges Guild: Citadel of Fire ................................................................................. $24.99
Judges Guild: Tegel Manor .................................................................................... $29.99


My Imaginary Store (The Pegleg Gnome) List
Asmadi Games
One Deck Dungeon ................................................................................................... $25.00

Asmodee Editions
Cash 'n Guns Team Spirit Expansion ........................................................................ $29.99

Catalyst Game Labs
Shadowrun RPG: Anarchy ........................................................................................ $39.99
Shadowrun RPG:  Street Grimoire ............................................................................ $39.99

Catan Studios
Catan: Rivals for Catan - Deluxe ............................................................................... $37.00
Catan:  Struggle for Catan  ......................................................................................... $13.00
Catan:  Geographies Scenario Georgia ...................................................................... $30.00
Catan:  Geographies Scenario New England ............................................................. $30.00
Catan:  Geographies Scenario Rickshaw Run ............................................................ $15.00
Catan:  Geographies Scenario The Carolinas ............................................................. $30.00

Chaosium
Call of Cthulhu:  Pulp Cthulhu ................................................................................... $44.95
The first time I remember hearing about Pulp Cthulhu was nearly two decades ago.  After that much of a wait, and the interviews I've read/listened to, I realize that there are other systems that are far better at running Pulp Lovecraft than "new" BRP.

Cubicle 7
Doctor Who RPG:  Gamemaster Companion ............................................................ $34.95
The One Ring RPG:  Oaths of the Riddermark ......................................................... $39.99

Expeditious Retreat Press
Advanced Adventures #33:  Halls of Lidless Shabbath ............................................ $15.00
Advanced Adventures #34:  The Crocodiles Tears ................................................... $14.00
A Magical Medieval Society:  Western Europe ........................................................ $36.00

Fantasy Flight Games
Star Wars Armada Interdictor Expansion ................................................................. $39.95
Star Wars Armada Liberty Expansion ...................................................................... $39.95
Star Wars RPG:   Age of Rebellion - Forged in Battle HC ...................................... $29.95
Star Wars RPG:  The Force Awakens Beginner Game ............................................ $29.95
Star Wars X-Wing - Force Awakens - Heroes of the Resistance Expansion ........... $39.95

Gale Force Nine
Miniatures Tools:  Laser Line ................................................................................... $ 9.99

Games and Gears
Lots of high quality (?) brushes and high quality prices.  Research would be necessary to even ponder ordering any of this stuff in a traditional shop setting

Games Workshop
Death from the Skies ........................................................................................... $58.00
Ork Wazbom Blastajet ........................................................................................ $65.00
Space Marine Stormhawk Interceptor ................................................................  $55.00
AoS:  Battletome Ironjawz .................................................................................  $40.00
AoS: Grand Alliance: Destruction ...................................................................... $16.50
How to Paint Ironjawz ........................................................................................ $10.00
Ironjawz Orruk 'ardboyz (Black Orks) ............................................................... $53.00
Ironjawz Orruk Brutes ........................................................................................ $50.00
Ironjawz Orruk Gore-Gruntas ............................................................................ $79.00
Ironjawz Orruk Maw Krusha ............................................................................. $110.00
Ironjawz Orruk Megaboss .................................................................................. $40.00
Ironjawz Orruk Warchanter ................................................................................ $30.00
Ironjawz Orruk Weirdnob Shaman ..................................................................... $33.00
Vampire Counts Battletome:  Flesh Eater Courts .............................................. $35.00
Vampire Counts Flesh Eater Courts Crypt Flayers ...........................................  $47.00
Vampire Counts Flesh Eater Courts Crypt Ghouls ............................................ $40.00
Vampire Counts Flesh Eater Courts Courts Terrorgheist .................................. $58.00
Vampire Counts Flesh Eater Courts  Vlagorescu's Ghoulish Host ................... $180.00
Warhammer Quest: Might Heroes   .................................................................. $55.00
Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower ..................................................................... $150.00
A regular assortment of GW.  Outside some hideous overpriced sculpts, I see "situation normal" for a GW fan...

Gate Keeper Games
Halfsies Dice Set (7 Polyhedral) ........................................................................ $ 9.99
13 different designs.

Goodman Games
Dungeon Crawl Classics #89 Chaos Rising (Sketch Cover) .............................. $19.99
Dungeon Crawl Classics #90 The Dread God of Al-Khazadar .......................... $ 9.99
Dungeon Crawl Classics Alamanter's Extraspacial Angularities ....................... $24.99
Dungeon Crawl Classics Chuck's Lucky Dice ................................................... $24.99
Includes d3, d4, d6, d7, d8, d10, d%10, d12, d14, d16, d20, d24, and d30.
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG:  Judges Screen .................................................. $ 9.99
Fifth Edition Fantasy #8 Eye of the Leviathan ................................................... $ 9.99
Fifth Edition Fantasy #9 The Fallen Temple ...................................................... $ 9.99
Fifth Edition Fantasy #10 Castle in the Sky ....................................................... $ 9.99

Konami Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Illusions Boosters
Yu-Gi-Oh!  The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack
Yu-Gi-Oh!  Dragons of Legend Boosters

Koplow Games
Black Velvet Green Satin Lined Dice Bag Large .............................................. $ 7.50
Black Velvet Green Satin Lined Dice Bag Small .............................................. $ 3.50
Leather Dice Bag ............................................................................................... $ 4.50

Mayfair Games
Oh My Goods! ................................................................................................... $15.00

Modiphius
Acthung!  Cthulhu RPG:  Dark Tales from the Secret War ............................. $14.99

Osprey Publishing
Agemennon ..................................................................................................... PI
Bolt Action:  2nd Edition ................................................................................ PI
Bolt Action: Konflikt '47 ................................................................................. PI
The Men Who Would Be Kings Colonial Wargaming Rules ......................... PI
Broken Legions:  Fantasy Skirmish Wargames in the Roman Empire ........... PI
Frostgrave:  Into the Breeding Pits .................................................................. PI
No prices (worse store discount) and lack of actual Osprey reference books worries me mightily.

Paizo Publishing
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising Blu-Ray ................................................................. $29.99
Pathfinder Adv Card Game: War Priest Class Deck ............................................. $19.99
Pathfinder RPG Adv Path Strange Aeons Part 2 - The Thrusmoor Terror ...........  $24.99
Pathfinder RPG Campaign Setting - Inner Sea Temples ....................................... $19.99
Pathfinder RPG Pawns Hell's Vengeance Pawn Collection .................................. $24.99
Pathfinder RPG Adv Pathg Curse of the Crimson Throne HC ............................. $59.99
Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition) ................................................  $24.99
Pathfinder RPG Bestiary (Pocket Edition) ...........................................................  $19.99
Pathfinder RPG Player Companion:  Divine Anthology .....................................   $14.99
Pathfinder RPG Flip Mat Mythos Dungeon ........................................................   $14.99

Palladium Books
Rifts RPG:  Coalition States:  Heroes of Humanity Arsenal ................................  $16.95
Rifts RPG:  Haunted Tech ....................................................................................  $16.95

Pelgrane Press
Gumshoe RPG: Cthulhu Confidential ................................................................... $34.95
Night's Black Agents RPG:  The Edom Files ......................................................   $26.95
Night's Black Agents RPG:  The Thrill of Dracula ..............................................  $10.95

Pokémon USA
Pokémon TCG:  Break Evolution Box
Pokémon TCG: Charizard Ex Red & Blue Collection
Pokémon TCG:  XY11 Steam Siege
(Boosters and Theme Decks)

Steamforged Games
Yet another over-priced Blood Bowl variant (and Blood Bowl's overpriced enough as it is!)   Guild Ball has a $36 rulebook, but the minis vary between $15 and $35apiece with play mats just under $60!  The buy in for this by a player is huge!  The store-buy in makes GW look reasonable, and at least GW has a steady stream of players...

Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin Pathfinder: Guest Artist (Shane White) ................................................ $29.95

Troll Lord Games
Castles and Crusades RPG:  the Long Valley ...... ................................................ $ 9.99
Castles and Crusades RPG:  the Outpost .............................................................. $ 9.99

Wizards of the Coast
Magic the Gathering:  Kaladesh

Wizkids
Star Trek Attack Wing Expansion Packs .............................................................. $14.99
USS Enterprise-E, Klingon Gr'oth, and Orassin
Wizkids Locations: RPG Premium Maps .............................................................. $24.99
Tavern or Throne Room
Marvel DiceMasters:  Doctor Strange Team Pack ................................................. $ 9.99

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Podcasts Overfloweth...

It's that wonderful six months out of the year where I've been plugging in and tuning out the world.   As if my own recordings of "Eric Rambles About Stuff While Driving Home from Work" weren't enough for my gaming needs, I now have a plenty of podcasts for my listening pleasure.

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff - Truly the gold standard that I measure podcasts by.  Even their ramblings about Surrealist painters and Communism is ripe with ideas to pluck for my own games.  Plus, they brought back the Atlas ads for Murder of Crows and Mad Scientist University...

Miskatonic University Podcast - After some technical/scheduling difficulties, these fellas appear to be back on track.   They've begun to go over the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu, there's enough discussion and ideas to keep this 6th Edition Luddite happy.

After trying a few podcasts for Savage Worlds and finding many lacking, I'm reserved to hold onto The Savagecast.  Interesting discussion, both system and style-wise, that covers from the ever confusing world of being shaken, to the higher nuances of the new, setting-specific rules. 

Happy Jacks RPG Podcast - There's songs, there's beer, there's the same three or four style of letter repeated every episode, but the crew loves gaming, and loves to have fun gaming, so the advice is always solid. 

Fear the Boot:  Still getting a feel for this one, although the most recent episode on Mental Health Issues was top-notch.

RPGGamerDad Podcast:  This is my new addiction.  RPGGamerDad plays games with both adults and his son, RPGGamerBoy.  Episodes are short and sweet, and somehow he's managed to interview the likes of Kenneth Hite and Robin D Laws.  There's a sixty-episode back catalog before he went on hiatus last year.   I do hope he comes back one day. 

Wargaming Recon:  Wargaming in General from New England.  Everyone involved is relaxed and there's certainly no "One System to Rule Them All" the overwhelms other podcasts. 

Theodore Roosevelt:  An Autobiography:  A Libriovx recording by numerous persons.  I've read a physical copy of this book... twice, and didn't find it as long and laborious as the readers are making it.  On top of it, a few of the readings are rife with horrible mis-pronunciations, and other are spoken so slow that the only time TR spoke at such a lumbering pace was when he was half-comatose in the depths of the Brazilian wilderness.

The Nerdist:  Definitely not a fan of the interviews that I have little interest in, but those I do most certainly rock.  Not everyone goes in the directions you'd expect (see Jodie Foster and Anthony Mackie) and I've skipped the last two, but it's the next podcast I check on each Friday, after Ken and Robin. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Maja Millie: A Real Savage Worlds Character

The craziness has descended upon the household again.  Between a minor dental emergency for little Millie, local school board insanity requiring me to attend multiple meetings as a concerned parent/citizen, and Maja completely destroying Summer basketball, my late night respites have gotten as far as cleaning up the office, glancing at a few message boards, or perhaps a short dose of Netflix.

Last night I took Maja away from her new Youtube obsession (adults playing with toys is weird) and  together, we started statting out all the new figures I've painted up so that they're ready for the next Pulp game. 

One character has survived all of the Savage Showdown games, esteemed archaeologist Maja Millie.  It seemed fitting that while Maja (my daughter) created her first-ever full-blown RPG character, I expand upon the Savage Showdown stat card to a Savage World character sheet with experience for the Archaeologist. 

Maja Millie, Archaeologist and Treasure Hunter
Agility d8  Smarts d6  Spirit d4 Strength d6 Vigor d8
Pace 8 Parry 8  Toughness 6 Charisma 0

Edge: Luck, Fleet Footed
Hindrances: Code of Honor: No Hand Guns 
Skills: Fighting d6 Shooting d4  Stealth d4 Swimming d4 Throwing d4  Investigation d8 Streetwise d4 Survival d6  Climbing d4
Equipment:  Knife
16 xp

Maja Millie (center) with some friends in a simpler time...
We're still working on the rules for Savage Worlds (the basics from Showdown are cake, but they only cover Shooting, Throwing, and Fighting skill checks, with no experience advances).

Going over all the adventures she partook in, the code of honor hinderance against using hand guns was a no-brainer (I also figured that her code would stop at rifles and shotguns, since she seemed okay with cannons.)

For advances, I figured Luck was a no-brainer, a few current skill increases, and for a girl who needs to dodge bullets to escape, Fleet Footed to add +2 to her pace (and a d10 inches to run) was great improvement. 

I'll post novice stats for "Julie of the Jungle Police" soon. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hackmaster Minis Getting Re-released!?!?

Outside a very disappointing sweep by Star Wars in almost all categories of the Origins Awards, there was very little news out of Columbus, Ohio last weekend.

Then, completely out of the blue, a gentleman who goes by The Geekpreacher posts a Facebook announcement that Iron Wind Metals will begin producing Hackmaster minis again in time for GenCon!



Given the heft of the figures, and what Iron Wind charges for new Battlemechs, these will not be the near-bargains of nearly 15 years ago.  However, this gives people hope for a few more character minis to round out the set.  More Simian Apes?  Probably not.  Dude with a Hackmaster +12?  Hopefully.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It's THE Freakin' Weekend

The ViscountEric family proudly proclaims that we survived The Weekend, both the four day vacation we took to Lancaster, but the small convention of the same name at The Continental Inn as well.

Thursday
With the van packed up and the dogs dropped off at the kennel the night before, we departed an hour late with our first stop for gas and food by the Lebanon exit of I-81.  The forecast called for intermittent showers throughout the day, but we were completely caught unawares by the deluge that poured forth from the heavens.  We barely sailed into the truck stop, grabbed breakfast, and waited out the hydroplaning weather. 

Although we were two hours late from our original plan, we made it Dutch Wonderland for the kids and a wet and empty parking lot.  We had gotten discounted passes valid for Tuesdays and Thursdays only, so we waited for a break in the weather and dashed towards the entrance. 

I must admit that I'm spoiled by our constant trips to Knoebels, but Dutch Wonderland is a throwback to an amusement park for kids, certainly pre-teens and younger.   A stop in the rain allowed the girls to go on a number of rides multiple times in a row and we worked our way through the original park, into the newer Exploration Island. 

My wife was shell shocked from this ride.
 
Even though she's too big for it, and the bee hive is deceptive, a girl loves her pandas...
The Exploration Island included a gondola cruise, an antique car ride, and a dino path with some animatronic dinosaurs. 
One of the kids was a good egg for this picture.
We got on the flume ride and were just about to jump on the "big kid" wooden roller coaster when the heavens poured forth again.  We scurried to the covered confines of one of the shows, moved over to the diving show right after, and putzed around, patiently waiting for the larger rides to re-open.

They did not. 

I managed to spend some time playing a do-or-die battle between a remote control boat and the ducks and koi in a pond while the girls got their faces painted. Slightly dejected from the weather, we jumped aboard the train, took one last tour around the park, when my wife made a glorious discovery. 


 
Hidden in the fine print of our maps was the following...
 
Rain Guarantee - Don't let a cloudy day keep you away! During the regular summer season Dutch Wonderland is pleased to provide a second chance for a day of fun in the sun! If it rains for more than one (1) consecutive hour during your visit to Dutch Wonderland and you decide to leave the Park for the remainder of the day, stop by Guest Services as you exit and present your ticket stub. You will be issued a single-day admission ticket valid for any day during the remainder of the summer season, Happy Hauntings or Dutch Winter Wonderland. You must have your ticket stub to receive a rain ticket. Rain tickets will only be issued on the day of your original visit at the Guest Services Office.
 
So we will be returning with our free passes.   That made an almost-bust of a day completely awesome.

After checking-in next door to our room at the Continental, we grabbed a solid dinner at IHOP, went back to the hotel so the kids could change and go swimming, while I snuck to the main building to grab my name tag for The Weekend. 

I was cajoled into a game of History of the World.  Despite nearly getting wiped out during the Mongol sacking of Jerusalem, my Holy Assyrian/Spainish team (with a castle in Scotland and a colony in Australia) won a commanding victory.  Fun was had by all, even if we did finish after 2am.
 
 
Friday
After breakfast at the Continental, we scampered off to the Strasburg Railroad for a train ride, and a stroll through the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum.
 
I think I was the only one who loved the train ride, but even I was saddened by the amount of commercialization encroaching onto the tracks.  What used to be a drop-off for a picnic grove and a "ghost train" has evolved into corn mazes, activity centers, and corn cob guns. 
 
Let's not even mention that Saturday was the beginning of Thomas the Train's week.   We narrowly missed complete chaos.
 
The ladies all decided to avoid the gift shops and head right to the Museum, where Millie provided a detailed history of this man, John Quincy Adams.
This statue is actually of Matthias Baldwin....  How 5-year old Millie knows about John Quincy Adams is beyond me.
With a few activities stations and a couple of diesels open for touring, the kids had a pretty good time. 
 
Unlike the school and camp field trips running amok, we paid attention to the volunteers and the signs, most notably the one that told people to descend the steps of the locomotive backwards (they are quite steep).  My girls took the rule to heart so much that, when we came upon a raised platform to view the interior or a passenger car or perhaps the brake training car, they walked backwards down the traditional steps.
 



The last part of our stay was at the Stewart Junction Railway Education Center, a portion of the Museum designed directly towards kids.  Plenty of hands on displays for older kids, Brio-style trains for the little ones, a traditional model train display, a Lego train display that was top notch. and a parent-child team activity involving yard switching locomotives on a G-Scale layout.  We all took a chance to sit down and play for a bit

Everything is awesome....
A late lunch/early dinner at DJ's Taste of the 50's was absolutely fantastic.   USA Today dubbed them "The Best Burger in PA," and I can accept their opinion.  Everything from the actual cherry in the Cherry Cokes to the burgers to the ice cream was top-notch.  Since it's a zig and a zag away from the Continetal/Lancaster Host I will be adding this to our itinerary for Fall-In!/Cold Wars.

After a quick trip to the Coach outlets to reward my wife's infinite patience, we finally returned to the Continental, the family departing for the pool and I heading down toward the "secret" ballroom where The Weekend was being held.  
 
WW2 Bug Hunt
The Weekend will never supplant Historicon in terms of size and scope, and that's exactly what Otto, our esteemed host, had in mind.  I never counted more than fifty people in the ballroom at any one time, although the pile of munchies everyone brought could feed three times as many.

 
 
I got into a game of Divine Right for the evening.  I had owned a copy in the past but never got the chance to play it.  We played until the lights got turned off for the B-movie-fest and we retired for the evening. 
 
The limited-edition upside down version of Divine Right
Saturday
More breakfast from the Continental and my wife took the girls shopping at the outlets.   The Divine Right game resumed and finally finished after six more hours...
 
Two pieces of advice for potential players.  (1)  The entire game is based on killing kings and sacking cities, no matter what and (2) don't play your first game with the board upside down.  My brilliant success at History of the World was mirrored by my catastrophic actions in Divine Right. 
 
 

There were no dealers at The Weekend, but there was a bring and buy table that allowed me to snag some Wargames Illustrated, an Osprey, and a copy of Muchkin Bites rather cheap. 
 
Then there was the freebie table, where I absconded with a copy paper box filled with a mixture of army guys, some odd palm trees (more terrain, gah!), and a few mounted fellas in 54mm. 
 

The rest of the weekend was swimming with the family, an aborted attempt at teaching Maja to play Munchkin, and a late checkout to head back to reality (and barking dogs).
 
The Weekend achieves what it sets out to do:  Get a bunch of like-minded individuals together to play a variety of games and generally have a good time without the organizational drama of the larger cons.  With four or five full games going on at the same time, it's exactly what I envisioned my 40th birthday party should be back in 2014, only in a far better centralized place than a fire hall in northeast Pennsylvania. 
 
Next year's Weekend is the weekend after Father's Day, so we might make the short vacation a thing again.   Heck, I may even run something...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #43: Prelude to More War

General Fonzy "The Fonz" Schlepprock - Hero of the Siege of Akorros.  In reality a 1st level Gnome Titan fighter with a silver tongue.
Zorin Redrock - Gnome Titan Fighter.  Veteran of the Barbarian Wars, and hero of Marakeikos due to the retaking of Frandor's Keep.
"Whitey"  - Albino Halfling Priest of Yondalla.   Zorin's sidekick.
Janus Redrock - Gnome Titan Priest of Pangrus.  Cousin of  Zorin Gnome Titan of loose morals and a hero of Marakeikos.
Cecelia Darkspruce - Half-Elf Fighter Cleric of Sif.   Her previous sorority girl-styled ways had been hardened by weeks travelling the dusty trails of the Northern Mer Kasp completely alone, desperately trying to get back to Celsior.
Terval Sit - Half-Elf Mage
Gwendalyn Lorax  - Half Elf Druid.  Her trials alone in Mer Kasp did not last as long as Cecelia, but they were equally intense and damaging to her psyche. 
Ramsa - Mute Halfling Fighter - Gwen's Protégé.
Tywuelyn - Pixie Fairy Infiltrator - Gwen's sidekick
Coreena Ruddledater- 9 year old halfling torchbearer.

17th of Hexdec, 1135, Mirros, Kingdom of Marakeikos
After a storming trip, the Trogs finally arrive in Mirros.  Their heavy cavalry had gotten ahead of them in the storm and had arrived two days prior.

The Trogs clean up and meet with the Seneschal, Alexis Korrigan, Princess Adrianna, the woman who would become Queen if her brother does not return by the end of the year, AND Yarbay emissaries of the Master.

Korrigan essentially says that Marakeikos must stay neutral, because he does not have the authority because he's not sovereign.

18th of Hexdec, 1135, Mirros
At a luncheon hosted for the diplomats by the Royal Family, members of the court tell the Trogs of some unsettling news of Vadevinscky desiring to leave the kingdom.  They decide to investigate rumors.  The Barthey 1st Expeditionary Force is left in Mirros.

21st of Hexdec, 1135, Celsior, Kingdom of Marakeikos.
The Trogs arrive in Celsior, clean up at their HQ, and request and audience with Baron Desmond.

Desmond suggested they offer territorial concessions for military aid (something they were not authorized to do), but personally supports Barthey.  He had heard no news to the north for days, which is very suspicious.  He recommended extreme caution.

24th of Hexdec, 1135
The Trogs left all the camp followers, save Tyweulyn, at HQ, and headed to Vadevincsky, avoiding all roads.  The closer they got to Vadevincsky, the more obvious that military maneuvers had taken place.

Next:  Episode #44:  The Destiny of  Barons

Monday, June 20, 2016

Assault the Secret Base

As much as I enjoyed my time at "The Weekend" this weekend in Lancaster, upon returning home on Father's Day, certain traditions must be maintained.

This would be the fifth year that I've played a game with the kids to celebrate the Day of Dad.  Here are the last four
2015 - The Lost Shrine of Tu'Lip
2014 - Battle of Hook's Farm
2013 - Attack of the 50-Foot Princess
2012 - Rorke's Drift

2011 - Battle in the Mists  (Father's Day Weekend gaming with friends, no bambinos)

Usually my wife has worked Father's Day, leaving me with the kiddos and a low-key weekend.  This year we got home, unpacked, threw in some laundry, and while my wife went out for groceries and take-out, we set up the board.

With this year's vacation in Lancaster, we had limited time to play, plus, I wanted to use Green Army Men, and try out a scenario "Secret Base" for a board game that had been printed in Game Trade Magazine back in 2014.  We changed some of the figures, added leaders, and changed some names to protect the innocent. 

For rules, I broke out an old stand-by, Burning PlasticBurning Plastic was a rules set I helped write back in 1994 for Green Army Men and little concern for casualty rates.  In the game, each figure represented a robot with each vehicle acting on orders from headquarters (think mini-OGRES).   With the robot angle, there was no compunction using your troops and self-destructing suicide bombers... or, better yet, forcing morale checks on opposing figures, getting a catastrophic result on the roll, and having some robot with a panicked CPU flee backwards and self destruct into a unit of his own guys!   We ran it at local cons in PA and NY for a few years, sold out of our print run of 100 copies or so, but we still pull it out from time to time....

I decided to pull out my copy again and see how it worked without the self-destructions...

After years of plotting, the Great Green Army charged into the lands of the USA.  Fighting was fierce. 

However, on the flanks of the attack progress was much slower.  Years of environmental studies and campaigns to save various species had slowed improvements in the road system.  The deluge of rain didn't help things either.    The Green Army was hoping to reach the next village to rest up and refuel before crossing the bridge over the swollen river and finally reaching the USA border. 

They had heard artillery off in the distance all day, but these two shots sounded awfully close....

**KABOOM!**

**KABOOM**

The shells ripped through the APCs in the column and the Green Army was in chaos.  A few seconds later, Green Army scouts radioed in to report that USA forces had occupied the town.  How long had they been there?

For Commissar Vladimir Frogovich, the choice was clear.  The village must be retaken in the name of Mother Nature!

The Green Army reaches the outskirts of the village.
Order of Battle
The Green Army (who are all yellow army guys, please note the irony)
Commissar Frogovich  (treat as an extra leader with 12" range)
3 units of infantry (1 regular officer - 4 privates)
2 tanks

Objectives:
#1  Take back the village
#2 Destroy Enemy Howitzers
#3 Prevent destruction of the tanks.

Commissar Vladimir Frogovich leads the Green Army
 
The USA
The Flaming Pegasus, hero of the USA.  (treat as an extra leader with 12" range)
3 units of infantry with 5 bazookas mixed into all units (1 officer - 4 soldiers)
2 Howitzers
 
Objectives:
#1  Hold the village
#2  Destroy the Tanks
#3 Prevent the destruction of the howitzers
 
US forces defend the town
 I gave us a six-turn deadline. 
Civilians escape the fight across the bridge.  Some are taking it better than others.
Turn One:  Maja, Commander of the USA, struck early,  breaching the hull of one of the Green Army tanks (the take two shots to destroy) and a firing directly at the Commissar!   Even with a great defense against the howitzer (3d vs 3d) there was no way my measly 5 had a chance against her hot dice. 
The Commissar is taken out on the first shot!
The Green Army advanced on the exposed howitzers, knocking one out, but failing to scratch the other. 
The first howitzer is toast.
Turn Two:   The Green Army slowly moved forward, taking out a bazooka, put still failing to hit the remaining howitzer!   That proved their undoing, as it rotated slightly to hit the breached tank and destroying it!
First tank is taken out...
Turn Three:   The USA began falling back to the cover of the bridge and buildings.   The howitzer blew up a Green Army officer before it was overwhelmed in vicious hand to hand fighting.
... and is used as cover.
The tank breaches the first line of defense.
 TURN FOUR:   The USA seized initiative and the four remaining bazookas fired at the soft underbelly of the tank.  *BLAM-MO!*

The bazookas regroup

'Murrica!
Two soldiers emerged from the cover of the bridge and took out one of the Green Army troops.  The rest, including the Fiery Pegasus, continued to fall back.
US forces emerge from under the bridge.


TURN SIX:  The Green Army descended the hill, capturing the soldier....
.... and the Bazookas.
I've spent the last few games with Maja, teaching her how to effectively use cover.  It rarely comes up in our Pulp game, and when it does, she brazenly ignores it. 

With most of my officers out in the open, I asked Maja why she continued to fall back and not fire at them.

Lesson of Maja #20:  "Daddy, you taught me the best thing to do is use cover."

"Yes, sweetie, good job, but you have to fire back!"

With a contested hold on the village, and no tanks for me, Maja and the good ol' USA was awarded a minor victory. 

Enough with fighting, for it was time for the other tradition:  The annual Father's Day tea party of Grape Juice, Tastycakes, and Barbeque Chips.... using the good china.

And the annual Father's Day tea party....
....is a long standing tradition.


(Kickstarter) Heroes of Red Hook

Oscar Rios and Golden Goblin Press are proud to announce their first-ever Kicstarter for one of their fiction collections, Heroes of Red Hook.

From the Kickstarter...
Heroes of Red Hook is a collection of cosmic horror tales taking place during the Jazz Era with a very important focus. The protagonists of this anthology are members of the various under represented demographic in Lovecraftian fiction. Our heroes and heroines are the outsiders who are most often blamed (wrongly so) for the actions of various alien horrors of the mythos. Our stories put the spotlight on ethnic and religious minorities, immigrants, independent free thinking women, those with special needs, and members of the LGBT community. This collection features people struggling to overcome not only the horrors beyond mankind’s understanding, but an oppressive society seeking to deny them basic human rights.

The vast majority of the fans of Cosmic Horror Fiction struggle to reconcile their love for the genre with inherent racism of the original works of its creator, H.P. Lovecraft. Many of us are disturbed that bigots and hateful groups treat Lovecraftian fiction a manifesto to support their racism.They point to stories like The Horror at Red Hook and say, “See there, that is what’s wrong with the world.” They point to places like Brooklyn, and all they see is taint, corruption, and shadows.



As a male apparently swimming in the Scrooge McDuck vat of gold coins which is white privilege, and someone who has studied history, I don't find Lovecraft any more racist than dozens of other writers in the era.  In fact, I've known enough people who were adults in the twenties, whose racism was so far worse than anything Lovecraft wrote that the worst lines attributed to The Horror at Red Hook would be the closest things to compliments they would give.  Racism is an inherent part of the 1920's.  Your delicate modern-day social sensibilities can not whitewash over that fact. 

What we do have are seventeen different stories with a wide-variety of protagonists being put together by Oscar and Golden Goblin Press.  I haven't taken up any of their previous fiction collections, but Kickstarter material has never disappointed and I would have pledged to this whether it was typical Lovecraft protagonists, a immense and diverse variety of characters that will appear in this addition, or, to go back to Scrooge McDuck, if all the characters were anthromorphic ducks. 

Kobolds Ate My Baby - The Music Video

Because some games just need a most triumphant video, even if Eddie Van Halen is not available...
 

Just a reminder that there's only a day or two left to pledge to Knuckle Sammich, the Kobolds Ate My Baby card game.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Gold Gnome of Father's Day

Perhaps I should get some "upgrades?"  A porcelain gnome?  Wouldn't bode well with two kids, two cats, two dogs, AND the neighbor's kids.


May the Gold Gnome provide with a relaxing day, tasty food, a beverage of your choice, and a great game tomorrow!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cthulhu Investigators and... MICE WARRIORS!

I'm still uncomfortable that I've had this strange phenomena known as time these past two weeks.  Painting and a beverage have been a nice way to end the evenings, although I'm still working off that discount case of Stegmaier Winter Warmer.   Outside the beer being shaken prior to my purchase in March, it's still maintaining a quality flavor.

After getting my first figures done just under an arbitrary wire.  This week I made a breakthrough and finished what I consider "Cthulhu/Pulp Wave 2."  Again, a mixture of Metal Magic "Dunwich Detectives", Pulp Figures, and the new RAFM 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu figs.

Dale (Metal Magic), Hayden (Pulp Figures), and the mysterious stranger (Metal Magic)

There's something fishy about that guy....
 You don't often see the back ends of the minis, but in this case, they all came out splendid (if the spray sealant was just a wee bit too close and frosty).    I usually avoid all things Games Workshop with fire and a hail of bullets, but he Citadel Seraphim Sepia works just as well as it did at the mini-painting tutorial at the FLGS.   I will be getting another pot of it soon.  
A little frosty, but well-sealed.
 Sharing the "evil bad guy role" with the Purple Necromancer and Lieutenant Colonel Thaddeus Ovaltine in my kid's Savage Showdown pulp game is Dr Robert Huston from Masks of Nylarathotep.  Dr Huston will be assuming the mad scientist/alchemist/modern cult leader the next few episodes will need.   Penelope may just be the innocent bystander I didn't know I needed until just now...

Dr. Robert Huston (RAFM) and Penelope (Metal Magic)
With "Wave 2" out of the way, I begin turning my attention to the mouslings, starting with two non-mouslings, specifically Warrior Mice from Eureka Miniatures.


Pretty basic figures, great for bulk troops for a Mouse Guard game.  Very little fur made it harder than normal to shade gradation's in the fur.


Two mice down for my Cold Wars game, at least fifty to go...

Next:  Mouslings and Gnome Sikhs, plus a return to the Blue Martians and more $#%@!$#%@ terrain!