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Friday, September 30, 2005


Who'd a thunk?

It's only $300 more to fly from Fairbanks to Essen, Germany, than to fly from Fairbanks to Seattle?

It's $200 cheaper to fly from Fairbanks to Dallas than from Fairbanks to Seattle?

I think the missus and I will be hitting some game conventions next year.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


It's that time of year.

The oppressive summer temperatures of the mid 60s to mid 70s are finally a thing of the past. Moderate autumn temperatures are here for a while.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Why I don't watch TV.

I still feel pretty lousy. Look for the latest installment of Beyond Left Field when I feel better. Editing other's work is a chore for me. I just don't feel like doing it right now.

I distinctly remember the last time I turned on the television in my house. It was 2 or 3 years ago and I was feeling under the weather. It was before the cable company switched over to a digital feed and we were still getting free cable. That doesn't mean that I haven't watched any TV in 2 or 3 years, but I only watch rarely and I never turn it on. At the time I last turned on the tube, the Discovery Channel was having a big "Barbarian Week" promotion. I sat down and watched barbarians on the Discovery Channel for 2 or 3 hours.

Well, I was feeling under the weather again, so I plopped my excessively large butt down on the couch and watched some television the other day. There's not much on TV on a Monday night if you don't have cable. "The Antiques Road Show" was the best I could find, so I watched it. That lead into American Masters "Bob Dylan: No Direction Home" directed by Martin Scorsese.

Dylan and Scorsese, how could you go wrong? The film featured rare footage, and never-before-seen performance footage. The film wasn't overbroad in its profile either, the film centered on Bob's early years exclusively. There were a multitude of guests: Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez to name but a few, surely such a showcase of big names would be worth watching.


What a stinking pile of dung. It was as if a first year film student had put it together with no editing help.

Bob Dylan's is an all American story about a man who started with nothing, came from no where and became a superstar. A man who was the artistic focal point of a generation, or two. A man who is one of the most well known poets in a century. A man who will be talked about for decades after his death, and whose influence in music will be felt for many, many decades.

And Scorsese came up with this pile of dreck to honor Dylan? None of the rare footage has any context. If you didn't know that Dylan's electric phase was met with jeers, most of the rare footage would leave you scratching your head. Much music from various bands is featured in the piece, little of the non-Dylan music is explained as to why it is important to Dylan's musical influence, or why we are listening to it.

Several people are extensively interviewed, all of them are identified when they are first introduced then never again. I found it impossible to remember who was who and what their relation to Dylan was. I suppose for a Dylan fanatic, all the names would have meant something. Although I recognized some of the names, I quickly forgot who was who.

Haphazard and disjointed. Scorsese should be ashamed.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Coldfoot has a head cold.

A Game of Thrones, 1830, Spy Alley

I've really been under the weather for the past few days. Spent much of the weekend in bed, getting out of bed only to game.

Played "A Game of Thrones" with the wife and 3 other friends on Friday evening. Dame Koldfoot said that she liked it, we will see if she requests it again in the near future. Another friend pulled a win out of his butt in the 6th or 7th round, catching everyone by surprise. If the wife does ultimately decide she likes it, "A Game of Thrones" will be the first "war-like" game that she has admitted to liking.

A Game of Thrones is the best Diplomacy variant that I have come across. It may be heresy around these parts, but I think it is a much better game than Diplomacy. The smaller map, with rivers that restrict movement, makes negotiations more limited (read: shorter) between players. Territories have different symbols in them that make them different values to different players. Ie, a territory with one supply symbol and a crown symbol may have as much value to one player, as a territory with a stronghold may have to another. This aspect can lead to richer negotiations, even though the negotiations aren't as time consuming.

The order tokens simplify the whole writing orders aspect of Diplomacy, as well as giving players more options for their forces. The power tokens are a nice touch that give the game a political aspect, as well as a war aspect. Players use a "blind-bid" mechanism to resolve political affairs and all bids are lost.

It is a game that I would like to play more, but only with the right group. As with Diplomacy, I have seen players storm off in the middle of the game after getting stabbed in the back by their former "ally", swearing they would never play it again.

Note to self: Never trust your allies.

Finally got "1830: Railroads and Robber Barons" to the table for the first time in several years. The first game was on Friday evening. It was a refresher game for myself and one friend who had played before, and a learning game for 3 other players. We so hated to quit the game when we finally called it at 2:00 a.m. that we decided to get together on Saturday afternoon for round two. Because of mistakes made we started a fresh game on Saturday. We were unable to finish either game. Both games were played with 2 kids, ages 10 and 12, who did pretty well, but were in slightly over their heads.

I don't remember 1830 feeling like a long game, even though it has always lasted 5+ hours to play. It sure felt long this weekend. I'll chalk that up to the fact that I was feeling under the weather, and not the fact that the old Avalon Hill games don't stand up as well as nostalgia would have us believe.

Got to play a game called "Spy Alley" that I had never heard of before. It is a quick little bluffing/deduction game. Players secretly get dealt an identity, which is merely a nationality. The goal is to collect 4 items (key, codebook, password, and disguise) related to that identity and escape to your respective embassy, or to be the last player in the game. Collected items are displayed for all players to examine.

If a player correctly identifies your nationality you are eliminated. If a player mis-identifies your nationality they are eliminated from the game.

For example, a player is secretly dealt the Italian identity. He must collect the Italian key, Italian codebook, Italian password and Italian disguise, and then make it to the Italian embassy without being identified as the Italian. To do this he must acquire other items to throw off his opponents. He might first acquire a Russian key and codebook, then a German disguise, before acquiring his first Italian item.

Successfully identifying an opponent earns you the right to take all the items he had acquired over the course of the game.

Although it is a roll-and-move, collect-money-as-you-pass-Go game, it clocks in at less than an hour and more likely 30-45 minutes. It is a decent, short deduction/bluffing game.

Good gaming

PS. Now that I have a camera I'll need Dame Koldfoot to start reminding me to take pictures.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Pet Peeve #1

A Very Specific Rant

1. I know a guy who is a jerk. He is at least 40 years old, and might be in his early 50s. He still lives with his mother. His mother is retired but has a nice income, her son has never held a meaningful job that I am aware.

This is a true story, by the way.

I picked his mother up in a taxi one afternoon. The guy followed his mother out to the cab, loudly begging for money the whole way. She gave him a ten or a twenty as she was getting into the cab. He said that wasn't enough, and wouldn't let her close the car door until she coughed up another five dollars. He argued with her for a full minute or two, and then called her a bitch.

I'm not one to hold my tongue. I'm also not one to be rude. I told him that was uncalled for and he needed to close the cab door so that we could leave. As much as I was tempted, I didn't swear or call the dumbass a dumbass. I was pretty polite.

What do you suppose he said back to me?


He didn't have to, his mother lit into me like a mother bear protecting her cub.

He just flipped me the bird as we pulled out of the driveway while mother read me the riot act.

Question 1:

Was the guy out of line, even though his mother didn't seem to mind?

2. Another guy has a product he wants to sell. He spray paints an advertisement on an unused billboard.

Question 2:

Is he out of line? After all, the billboard wasn't in use and no one is hurt by his actions.

Which brings me to today's rant: By posting an advertisement for your wares on the BGG forum are you innocently sharing information with game geeks, or are you making a buck off of someone else's time, money and effort with little regard for that time, money and effort?

Although I could go off on this topic for a while I will give the condensed version.

The forum exists because a couple of guys have a passion for games. They are basically maintaining a free database in their spare time. A few users donate to the site, a small percentage is charged for selling games on the site, and some advertising is sold. That's it for income. Even though users add content, it is basically a labor-of-love for a few administrators.

On the other hand, the site is intended for the open discussion of boardgames by enthusiasts. By posting announcements about your game, you are simply putting the word out about your game, and many users appreciate the information.

(Here is where I tie in my first two examples.)

Compare that to the guy who posts his message on an unused billboard. He is simply getting the word out about his product. Many consumers might appreciate the advertising. Why should the owner of the billboard care? The board wasn't being used for anything else.

The point is that the billboard is only there because of the owner's investment of time and money. If the owner hadn't gone to the trouble of erecting the sign, there would be no sign spray paint on. Likewise, Boardgamegeek is only there because of a few guys investment of time and desire to maintain the site.

The guy who uses either medium without paying for the privilege is using someone else's labor and investment without regard. Ethically speaking the advertiser ought to pay for the use, even if he can get away without paying for a period of time.

Several companies do pay for advertising on Boardgamegeek. It is rude, selfish and tacky for other companies to utilize the free area just because there are some nice guys running the site who let such abuses slide. Just because you can get away with something does not make it right. Just as the guy who called his mother a bitch was out of line, so are companies that use the forums for advertising. It matters not that neither mother nor BGG admin are willing to call the abusers on their bad behavior.

Just because it is easier to ignore the behavior than it is to address it, does not make the behavior any more acceptable.

The billboard owner can either invest time and money to go clean up his sign, or he can ignore the abuse. It is probably easier and cheaper for him to just ignore the abuse. Just like the billboard owner, it is probably less aggravation for the guys at BGG to sit back and do nothing. The ad will be off the front page in 24 hours anyway.

The loser who called his mom a bitch was rude and wrong to do it, even though mom didn't seem to mind. The guy who spray painted the billboard was wrong. And it is wrong for a company to not pay for their advertising on Boardgamegeek even if the administrators don't seem to mind.

The site sells advertising. Buy it. Your competitors do. You are abusing the good nature of others by advertising for free. Furthermore, you are profiting from their hard work, which was mostly donated because of their love for boardgames.


I do not think that most people who advertise on Boardgamegeek without paying are doing it maliciously, they probably just never considered buying advertising. I don't think it is right nor practical to be rude to these people, but I see no harm in pointing out the error of their ways. I think that once their error is pointed out, most companies would consider buying advertising. If their behavior is not affected, the guy who is considering utilizing the forums for free advertising might be prompted to pay for advertising instead.

Most people choose to do the right thing when confronted with the right thing.

There are always (cough Shillking cough couggggghhhh) exceptions.

Addendum II:

Whereas the billboard owner placed his billboard where there was already a lot of traffic, the guys at BGG started with no traffic and have built up their audience by hard work. That is worth something in and of itself. The fact that there is a site that attracts so many gamers has value, at least offer to pay to show your appreciation for that achievement instead of taking it for granted.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Concerning HeroScape Expansions.

Do they glue the hell out of those things or what?


Finally, Got Me a New Camera.

The picture is just a test. I haven't had a digital camera since Blogger changed the way pictures were added to the blog.

They really made it a lot easier. I promise to post pictures with some regularity now that I have a new camera.

Much to my surprise I got to play a couple games of Rheinlander. One was a three player game the other a four player game. I enjoyed the games, even though I came in dead last in each. Rheinlander is certainly an under appreciated game, even if it is not an upper tier game. Chalk up its under-appreciated status to the fact it was originally published by Hasbro (Hasbro's European Division to be exact).

Face 2 Face Games republished this Knizia title that was originally released in 1999 as part of their effort to reprint games from master designers. It is a fine choice on their part. Perhaps more gamers will come to appreciate it.

Personally, I found the game to be intriguing, but missing that indefinable spark that pushes a game over the top.

Here's my strategy tip, if you are silly enough to take strategy tips from a two time loser. It is more important to have all your dukes on the board at the end of the game than it is to have well developed duchies. Each duke is worth 5 points at the end. You can score many more points with dukes than you can with cities, castles and cathedrals at the end of the game.

Monday, September 19, 2005


From Beyond Left Field: Chapter 3, part 1 of 2.

The third story in series by Walter Tommy. For reference see the introduction from Tuesday, September 6.

This story was tough for me as the editor. I decided early on that I would split it into two parts, and almost split it into 3 separate entries.

Here is part one.

1970 I was out firefighting all summer long. September was our last fire, but in July while we were in town my cousin asked me to go with him to BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) at the Arctic Bowl. I asked him, ”What for?”

He said, “let’s apply for school.”

“OK,” I said. We applied and Frank Peratavich helped us with our application.

When I got home mom told me, “ You got an important letter here". I looked at the address and it was from BIA. I opened and read it. I had a big smile on my face. Mom asked what it was about. I told her that I got accepted for training. Her eyes got big and she asked what I did. I told her the whole story. She was so happy she gave me a big hug and kissed me.

“Good for you skook”, which means 'son'.

I was asked to go back to BIA and talked with them because they wanted to know what kind of training I wanted. I knew that the oil pipeline was going to be built, so I asked for welding training.

I had over $6000 but they game me $300 for clothes. I did a little shopping for a few more clothes and they gave me a date in the last part of October to go to Seattle for orientation into BIG city life.

When mom and my stepfather got me to the airport, I saw Shirley Holmberge there. We both had a big smile and hug. She asked me where I was going and I told her. She was so happy because that was exactly where she was going also. When we got to Sea-Tac Airport it was so huge we got lost and couldn’t find the baggage claim area, so we found the restaurant and had coffee and breakfast.

I asked her if she had a phone number to call, she said no. What? Well I had the phone number to call so we waited until 8:00 to call. They asked where we would be, I told them we would wait at the loading zone.

When they (BIA staff) got there they asked us where our luggage was. We didn’t know and they sounded angry. I said, “Hey! Wait a minute here. The village I come from is so small, maybe the most that live there is only about 300 people.” He got really apologetic and said, “OK, OK. I’m sorry please accept my apology.” So we went to get our luggage.

We stayed at 3100 West Lake Ave. The first thing when I woke up I went out on the balcony and saw so much smoke and thought there was a forest fire around. My roommate was a Viet Nam vet and I mentioned this to him. He laughed and said “No, that’s car smog.”

I couldn’t believe him, he said, “Yeah, that’s car exhaust fumes.” After a month of big city life we got our destination. I asked Shirley where she was going. Madera California. Wow! Oh boy! That’s where I’m going also. We were the biggest group to arrive at the same time, so there was a celebration waiting for us.

After our training we were asked if we would like to go somewhere down there for experience. I was given a choice of Louisiana or Texas. I said, “No, I want to go back home.” Me, Shirley and Annette Bearchild figured we’d go to Anchorage. But when we got to Seattle I wanted to go back down to California. They begged me and cried but I didn’t want to come home with them.

I gave Annette my plane ticket and kissed her and told her to go on up there, "You’ll enjoy it up there". They kept crying and begging me to please come home with us. "NO!" I had my mind set to go back down. I got my luggage and caught the bus back to the Seattle Greyhound station. I had enough money to get to Sacramento. From there I called my friend to come pick me up. He was so surprised and happy he said, “Wait there, I’ll be right down.”

I stayed with them for about a month. We traveled all around Eureka, Monterrey, Santa Cruz, L.A. then to Fresno where I stayed and helped pay for rent with my councilor from the school I was at.

Finally in May, 1971, I asked him to take me to San Francisco. I wanted to go to Alcatraz Island. That was when Indians of all tribes took over the Island. The Feds went back on an old treaty that stated any Federal land that is not being used reverted back to Indian Land.

I got there early at Pier 41 under the Bay Bridge and waited for anyone. Finally this long grey-haired Eskimo came up, “Hey! Brother, you’re from the Fairbanks area, huh?”


He was from Southwest Alaska. “Joe Bill is my name,” he said. I told him my name and I asked him, “Could you do me a favor?”

He said, “ What?”

"Do you drink?”


“Buy me some beer, wine and whiskey and cigs.”

So we walked to the liquor store and got what I wanted. We went back to the pier, and sat around for a while drinking. Pretty soon Indians started to come around, someone opened up the warehouse and we all went inside. Of course I shared my drinks with them. They made liquor runs also, until our boat came up. But just before, Joe came in and told me, “Hey, your homeboy wants to talk with you. He’s out there in the car.”

I said, “My homeboy?”

“Yeah, homeboy out there, he’s waiting for you.”

I went out there and looked in and here was one-eyed Al Stevens. I really didn’t know him, in fact that was our first meeting. He started talking to me in our own language and I understood every word he was saying. I was so surprised and happy to hear my own language way down there. I got in the car with him and he said, “You want to go back home?”


“Yeah, we’re leaving in the morning. You don’t have to worry about money, we have enough to get back home.”

“ALL RIGHT! Hell yeah, I want to go back home. It’s springtime. Ducks and geese, get ready for firefighting season, but the only reason I’m here is I want to go out to the island.”

He said “OK, but be back on the first or second boat in the morning, otherwise we’re leaving whether you’re here or not."

I said I’d be there.

When we got out there (to Alcatraz) everybody was feeling high, so they made more runs back to San Francisco. It gets real dark down there, so as they were coming back they hit some rocks and punched a hole in our boat.

Walter Tommy

Saturday, September 17, 2005


ASL weekend/Winter's around the corner

Well, I got through my first Advanced Squad Leader tournament without winning a single game.

Some of us from Fairbanks and some guys from Anchorage participated. We played one round on Friday evening, and two rounds on Saturday. Unfortunately the Anchorage guys had to leave early Sunday morning, so that was the extent of our gaming. Word around the campfire was that we would try it again next year and make a three day tournament of it.

I also found out that one of the guys I regularly game with was a play tester for the original Squad Leader. Imagine my surprise.

I regret very much not having a camera to post pictures of the location the tourney was held. It was held 30 miles outside of Fairbanks at an old gold camp that has been turned into a restaurant and hotel. It is quite scenic.

I stopped at the only convenience store between my house and the game to pick up a disposable camera on Saturday morning. The only convenience store was closed until noon that particular day. On the bright side; at least there isn't a photographic record of my humiliating defeat.

By participating in the tournament I figure my gaming buddy (the organizer of the tourney) owes me a game of Rhinelander and Tower of Babel, at least.

While we had some gamers gathered from around the state, I made an off-hand suggestion we band together and name the "Alaska Game of the Year". That was met with yawns. It was pointed out that I am the only one who buys significant quantities of German games. I have joked on this blog that I am the German game market in Fairbanks, I think I can claim to be the German game market in Alaska.

If you live in the Great White North north of 60 in the US or Canada and play German games contact me. koldfoot@hotmail.com There must be more German gamers than me and my few acquaintances.

I don't bite... much.


The leaves are gone from the trees. The temperatures are regularly dipping below freezing at night.

The price of home heating fuel is insane. Usually we only use wood to supplement our home heat. Normally we would just be running the furnace at night this time of year, but this year we are relying on our woodstove. We've been stoking it up at in the evening and letting it burn itself out overnight. We've been staying warm, but we don't have near enough wood put up to get us through the year at this rate.

Wish we could heat primarily with wood all year, but once the temperatures start dipping below zero we'll have to rely primarily on the furnace or our water lines will freeze up underneath the house. It won't be long now.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

For no good reason, here are my top 10 boardgames.

1. Tigris & Euphrates
2. Puerto Rico
3. Through the Desert
4. Settlers
5. Roads and Boats
7. Mare Nostrum
8. Struggle of Empires
9. Advanced Civilization

After reading Sodaklady's blog on Gone Gaming yesterday I went out and bought Rheinlander. I've had my eye on it for a while. After reading the rules I am quite impressed. This looks like a good game.

The average rating of Rheinlander on Boardgamegeek is 6.65, or the 799th highest ranked game in the database. Not a resounding endorsement to say the least. The complaints seem to revolve around the length of the game. It is too short. It is too short? Since when do German gamers complain that a game is too short? That seems odd. I am eager to find out if there is a disconnect between the game and its average rating.

As I recall, several years ago Knizia had another game that was under appreciated. Samurai had an anemic rating. Through word of mouth the reputation of the game slowly increased and its rating slowly increased. Samurai is now a respectable 7.72 and the 36th highest rated game in the data base.

Looking back, it seems to me that several Knizia designs went unappreciated for a time. Ra was unappreciated until it was out of print, then is started selling for sizable bucks on E-bay. There was a buzz when Taj Mahal was released, then it fell off the radar screen for a while. Two years ago there was much talk about Knizia not releasing a good for the previous two years. I think that the simplicity and depth of his games may not easily grasped after only a few plays, it took me several years to realize Knizia's true genius.

I am very eager to play. I can't wait to report back.

Good gaming

Monday, September 12, 2005


From way beyond left field: Part 2

The second story in series. For reference see the introduction from last Tuesday, September 6. Remember, these stories were written with no intent of ever being widely read nor published, much less put on the internet.

Two notes:

Steamboats plied the rivers in Alaska until the mid-twentieth century. Despite the lore of bush-pilots, bush-pilots could only deliver small loads such as mail. The residents in interior Alaska were dependant upon steamboats to deliver most of their supplies such as fuel, food, and hardware. The steamboats were the lifeline in an area where there were no roads and still are no roads. Barges still make deliveries to villages up and down the Yukon and its tributaries in the summer months.

Some people may think of Alaska as a vast tundra. The interior of the state is a vast expanse of rivers, marshes and forest. The forest is mainly birch and black spruce, a scrawny spruce that rarely reaches 12 inches in diameter at the base. There are also significant stands of cottonwoods, aspen and white spruce.


I think about the old times when I was just a little kid, watching mom doing her beadwork by kerosene lamp. That was how she bought our log house and land we were raised up on. I would sit there at the table listening to her and grandma talking, telling stories, once in a while they would sing old Indian songs. I enjoyed hearing the crackling of the wood fire and the popping of the wood pitch and the warmth and safety of home.

My brother and I would cut wood after breakfast with those old big-tooth, cross-cut saws that got a handle on both ends. I loved to hear the sound it would make, whick, whoke, whick, whoke, whick, whoke until the block would fall off. Then we would move down another stove length an continue cutting. When we finished that log we would stack them up nice and neatly and grab another log and set it up on the sawhorse and continue until we had a nice big stack of firewood. We had a little swede saw but only to use on little skinny wood or lumber. Then we got out the big sledge axe, double blade axe and wedge we’d look at the block of wood carefully on both ends to find the biggest crack where we could split it easiest.

My older brother would do all the heavier work and I used the double blade to chop it smaller and smaller. Then we would use the little hatchet to make kindling. After that my brother would make me hold out my arms and start piling wood for me to carry to the house. After I thought I had enough he would say, “NO, no’” and keep piling it up to where I couldn’t see where I was walking. I’d have to turn sideways to see where I was walking.

When our cross-cut would get dull we loaded it in our dogsled and took it up to this old white man. He lived all alone at the confluence of the Nenana and Tanana rivers. He clamped down the saw on this big workbench, and told us stories of the old times when our people would cut firewood for the steamboats. I have pictures of my mom and uncles standing in front of their big woodpile. They’d get $5.00 a cord, at that time that was a lot of money. Mom would tell me she cut, limbed and stacked 5-7 cords of wood by herself. $25 to $35 was a lot of money. She’d buy food staples, rice, noodles, coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper, flour, maybe a slab of bacon, eggs, bread, cracker and butter. Whatever she had left she’d look at bead catalogs and get together with aunts and other women and make the order out.

She had cookie or candy tin cans of loose beads she had saved and I would be at the table when she did her work. I would put hand fulls of beads on the lids and separated and string all the beads for her in the evening time.

The stories that old man would tell, while he sharpened our saws would be about all the activities, loading the barges with wood and supplies, and how strong our people were. That was the good life then, hardly no drinking, hard work, and all the people visiting each other once in a while they would have a big fire and everybody would bring a little bit of food and get together and have a good time.

After all the teeth were sharpened to his satisfaction, he had a smaller clamp to set the teeth the full length of the saw. He’d look down and see a few that he would have to set. Then he would get us to look down that big curved blade and saw how straight the “V” was and the tips were all lined up straight. We would thank him and see the twinkle in his eyes and the big smile. He enjoyed our companionship and visits. I knew really in my heart this was so.

When our wood got lower I had 1 dog to pull the sled, he was half large-german-shepard and half black lab. The sled we had was made in the old style, no screws, just babish. When it got loose we would bring it in the house, thaw it out, and tighten up all the babish. That’s the best kind of sled to use I believe, because it’s got a lot of give in all terrain. Not stiff at all. We’d go out and get a load of wood. My dog was so strong he’d pull that sled with me sitting on top of all the wood. My brother would be in the back, sometimes pushing along to help get back home. Then we would go back out and get another sled load. We’d continue until all the wood we cut was piled up beside our house.

It was hard work, but we were happy. Grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles felt proud of us to see all the work we did. After dinner we were so tired we would fall asleep soundly but sore in our muscles.

Nowadays people have it so easy. Electric heat, gas or oil stoves, chainsaws and snow machines. Back in my days we took our time and enjoyed being outdoors.

Everybody wants to get to where they want to go so fast. They miss all the beauty of what the Great Spirit gives us to enjoy what he created and provides for us.

To have a good night’s rest and dream. Alcohol takes all this away. Passing out is not sleeping. It’s sleep depravation. This sleep depravation is a sort of brainwashing technique that is used to control you. I like my freedom to try the best I can and to help however I can.

Walter Tommy


Ruminating Inconsequentially

I'm dyin' to post some pictures, but my digital camera died about 3 months ago. Dame Koldfoot gave me permission to buy a new one. Any suggestions?

I'm no longer sure how many pixels I should be looking for. When we bought the first digital camera I recall that 5 megapixels was state of the art and 3.5 megapixel cameras were in my price range. We got a great deal on 2.something megapixel camera at the time.


I logged on to E-bay for the first time in a year or more. A year ago I would frequently search for "board game" when I got in to work the night shift. There was rarely more than a page or two of "board game" auctions that ended in the overnight hours. There are over 10 pages of board games that end in the next 8 hours as of this writing on Sunday night, of course many of them are Australia listings, but many aren't. Might I reiterate "Sunday night". Weekends were exceptionally slow a year ago.

Same with "boardgame" (no space) there were usually less than one page of "boardgame" auctions that ended in the next week. There is one full page of "boardgame" auctions that end in the next 30 hours, four full pages of games that end in the next week.


Played another game of Carc with my 5 year-old daughter and Dame Koldfoot. Daughter did quite well. I was impressed. She actually requested the game without being prompted.

Good Gaming

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Dungeon Twister: Two reviews

Short review

The latest, greatest, over-hyped, under-tested, (possibly over-tested), snot-rocket.

Mid-Length review

I am always on the lookout for a two player game that my wife might enjoy. After reading some reviews I picked up Dungeon Twister at my local game store. Dungeon Twister looked appealing because of the fantasy theme and no-luck nature of the game.

Dame Koldfoot has a soft spot for fantasy themes. She is especially partial to Talisman. With the different characters and objects associated with the game I thought it might have a Talisman-like feel that would appeal to the wife.

Players start on opposite sides of the board. The goal is to gain 5 victory points. Players earn VP mainly by killing opponent's characters and by maneuvering their characters to the opposite side of the board. The board consists of 8 smaller boards aligned two wide and four deep. The boards forms a maze that characters need to maneuver through. The "Twist" in the game is that each small board is a room that can be rotated.

Players utilize action points each turn to perform actions with the four characters they control. Each player has 4 cards valued 2-5. The card played on his turn is the number of action points that player may utilize on a given turn. Action points may all be given to the same character, or split between several. When all four cards are played they are returned to the player's hand. Characters can pick up objects such as armor, rope and sword that help them towards their goal.

When all is said and done the game feels pretty juvenile. Yes, there is no luck, but so what? There isn't much fun or tension either. I suppose that I might appreciate the "twist" mechanism more with more plays. If used correctly it is apparent that it is a more efficient means of moving your characters than regular movement and is an equally efficient method of hindering your opponent. I might bring it to the Boys and Girls Club just in case I need two player game that appeals to 12 year old boys, other than that I doubt I will play it again.

There is a much better game in this genre, Dame Koldfoot won't play it with me, but I'll stick to Doom: The Boardgame when I'm in the mood for a mindless, fantasy, maze game. For now I'll gladly stick to Talisman (second edition, I proudly proclaim) when the wife is in the mood for a fantasy game.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Dungeon Twister

Two huge thumbs down.

Make that four thumbs down after Dame Koldfoot added her two cents.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Best of the Boardgame Blogosphere/E&T patsies

Alfred over at the orange blog posted his picks for the best blogs of the week. He plans on making it a weekly thing. It's an idea I've been kicking around for a while, and has really been in the front of my mind since Yehuda brought it up in his blog a week or so ago.

Good stuff. I'm glad to see it. I'm glad the boardgame blogosphere is getting big enough to make it possible.
Got to play my favorite game the other day. Played a 4-player game of Tigris and Euphrates with one newbie and one mathematically challenged veteran. I won, but it was a hollow victory. The mathematically challenged player, let us call him "Walter", kept forcing external conflicts with me that he couldn't possibly win. He would force a blue war that was 8-2 before any tiles were committed from my hand. If we had been playing on-line he would have been accused of being my "Patsy".

I've seen a few complaints that on-line players are using "patsies" so that they win every game. I don't understand. Where is the satisfaction that comes with cheating?

I would much rather lose a game because I was out played, than win a game by cheating. I guess there are other points of view. I just don't see that it would be fun. The game I mentioned was a hollow victory and I wasn't even cheating, I was merely the recipient of some mathematically impaired largesse.

Good gaming,

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Labor Day gaming

Played some more Advanced Squad Leader on Friday night. I have come to the conclusion that I will not be participating in the ASL tournament. I just can't get past the point that I don't have to ask basic questions. "Do I get to fire in the next phase?", "Why is that building the only one I can retreat to?", "How many spaces does this squad move, and what are the ramifications of CXing?", "Why does that dice roll of 3 activate my sniper and the other roll of 3 didn't?"

I will play a few more times, but only to help my friends get brushed up on the rules. It isn't a bad game. It just isn't my kind of game.

Saturday was a good game day. We started early and ended early because I had to be at work by 5:00 p.m.

Played a 3 and a 5 player game of Ticket to Ride: Europe, as well as a game of Puerto Rico. I came in last in Puerto Rico. I didn't do too badly in Ticket to Ride, but I was the only one who had previously played. The Ticket to Ride groups were pretty cut-throat, that made a big difference. Up to this point I had not played with aggressive players. Aggressive play makes for a much better game.

I've stated that T2R:Europe is a better game than T2R. That was not a resounding endorsement on my part. I'm fairly unimpressed with the original game. But with cut-throat players (and only cut-throat players) I might suggest playing the European version. Up to now I would just grin and bear it when my wife suggested playing.

Look out dear, from now on I'm only playing with the goal of cutting you off to piss you off. Now that should be fun.

On Monday I broke out Carcassonne: The Castle and played with my wife. I am not a fan of Carcassonne, but the Hunters and Gatherers version was good enough that I thought I would try another game in the series. How could I go wrong? I figured Carc: The Castle was designed by Knizia so it had to be better.

Knizia added some interesting twists, but I was unimpressed. If I am unfortunate enough to play again I will post a better review.

My five year-old daughter watched us play Carc: The Castle. She seemed to grasp the game fairly well so I held my nose and played a 3 player game of Carcassonne with her and mommy. My daughter did pretty well (of course we scrapped the farmer rule). My wife and I almost didn't have to throw the game in order for my daughter to win.

Good gaming

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


From way, waaaay out beyond left field

I was lucky enough to be able to read some handwritten stories that a gentleman had written with no intent of ever publishing. The stories were short and quite good. I asked his permission to reprint them here and he agreed. I explained that I wrote about boardgames on my website with only a few references to Alaska. He was still okay with the idea of me putting the stories on the internet. He gave me permission to use his name as the author of the stories. I decided to not reveal his name until he has seen my blog and has a chance to read my transcription of his words. Some of his words are quite personal.

I am not a good editor. If there are spelling errors they are very likely mine. I only made minor edits.

I will put these stories on my blog over the next several weeks. I like them. If you do not, don't read them.


One note:

When most people think of Alaska natives they think of Eskimos and possibly Aleuts. Of the 15% of Alaska's population that is native, Eskimos make up about 50%, Aleuts 12%. Athabaskans in the interior and Tlingits in the southeastern panhandle form most of the rest of the native population. Many Athabaskan villages are found in the interior of the state and deep into the Canadian Rockies. Although Athabaskans dominated the interior of Alaska and the interior of northern Canada, there are tribes in the lower 48 that are Athabaskan in origin. The Apache and Navajo are among the most widely known. The fellow who authored these stories is Athabaskan.


When I was 3 years old I remember when my uncles would come back into town from their traplines. I would be so happy to see them and have them back again.

Of course they would drink, but they never fought nor argued. They'd stay at our house and did their partying there. They'd dance and sing Indian songs all day and night. We'd eat good fresh meat and they were all good cooks. I'd be right in there singing and dancing with them. They'd teach me all the right moves and songs.

After the holiday season I knew they'd be going back out to their trapline which was about 35 miles out of town. They were very strong and had a lot of endurance. 35 miles is a long way to walk pulling their sleds with food staples and whatever else they needed. I'd be so sad and wanted them to stay longer, or I'd want to go out with them.

The morning when I knew they were leaving I crawled into my uncle's sled and covered myself up good with the canvas cover and waited. I heard them asking for me, wanting to hug me up and say "We'll be back later". But I just stayed real quiet and still.

Then I felt the sled move and felt so happy, Oh boy! I thought. After hours and hours of moving, I moved in the sled. They seen me move and stopped, lifted up the canvas cover and their eyes got big and they laughed, "YOU! Doggone it." They moved a lot of stuff out of one sled and decided uncle Talbert would have to continue. Uncle Harrison said, "I'll be back tomorrow, brother." He had to haul me all the way back home which was at least 15-20 miles and I'd beg and beg, "Please uncle, I want to be with you!" "No, you're too small yet." And I'd cry. He'd hug me and kiss me on my cheeks. I knew he felt sadness also and said, "It's hard work, man's work, you're still just too small to do that kind of work." I saw tears trying to come out but he just hugged me. We got back home just as it was getting dark. Uncle Harrison walked in first and mom was so surprised until I walked in. Oh no. Then we sat down at the dinner table, and had hot tea and rabbit soup.

Nothing was said too much, until after dinner. Then they burst out laughing and laughing. Grandma was totally blind, so they had to tell her everything and she joined in the humor of it all. She'd hold out her arms and I knew it was for me. She hugged me so long and kissed me. At least I was happy Uncle Harrison was with us for one more night.

One year later the same thing happened, only this time mom and grandma hid my moccasins, mittens and hat. I cried and cried, until mom filled up a cup full of wine. It tasted sweet, but I still cried. They'd fill that cup some more and continued until I quit crying and then they started singing and I danced and danced and forgot all about my uncles.

Next morning mom asked me how I felt. "Sick. I don't feel good." That was my first hangover but I didn't know what it was called so she left me alone.

For years and years she'd tell that story and thought how humorous it was. 1965 grandma passed away and mom quit drinking totally. She told that story every once in a while, until alcoholism got a hold of me. She never told that story anymore even though I'd try to bring it up, but then I saw and felt the sadness in her for the road I was going on.

1972 she sat me down and told me her story.

My brother and I were put in a children's home, which I hated. I wanted to be home with mom, so we walked on the railroad tracks to Nenana. It took us two days, but we made it. We knew exactly where she was so we went there. Morris came out, saw us, and said, "Wait here." Mom came out looking not too well. She told us to go up to Auntie Daisy. Aunt Daisy saw how tired we looked and fed us. Next, the State Troopers were there. That was my very first experience in jail. 30 days just for running away from that children's home.

Mom got sober that summer, so we got back together. 1972 she told me what we told Aunt Daisy. Aunt Daisy told her "Look what your boys did and think about that. That's how much they love you."

Unconditional love is so powerful, it does miracles you would not believe. Unconditional love is not expecting something in return.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


There must be something in the air.

I just read Tom Vasel's blog on Gamefest. He remarks that he tried to get some thoughts down on paper and ended up not using them.

Joe Gola and Grognads on Gone Gaming both remark that the human calamity on the Gulf Coast is what is really important.

In light of the human suffering from the hurricane boardgames seem a trifle. It disgusts me to see human suffering used for political purposes. Small minded people have gone so far as to blame the current administration's environmental policy as causing the hurricane.

I rarely turn on the television, but in the course of my job I see what others are watching on TV. I'm pained by the news coming out of New Orleans. When reporters are reporting on the scene I am riveted to the news. When the anchors start interviewing political hitmen back in the studio I am disgusted.

Where is Mayor Giuliani when you need him? Giuliani was on the ground and on the TV leading the rescue efforts in the wake of the 9-11 disaster. He presented a strong figure who made a goal, set a course, and saw that the job got done. In stark contrast let me just make one comparison; every time I see the mayor of New Orleans he is on TV pointing fingers, placing blame, and wondering why other people are not doing more.

As we have heard over and over, a crisis brings out both the best and worst in people, let us apply those same words to the pundits.

It's a long ways from Alaska to Louisiana but it still gives one pause. Many Alaskans can remember the 1964 Anchorage earthquake. It was the most powerful seismic event ever recorded. The earthquake and resulting tidalwave killed many people. The Fairbanks flood of 1967 caught the entire town unaware and flooded the entire town for days. It was a fall flood to boot. There was no time to repair the damage before winter set in. That is a significant footnote to the flood tragedy that many people may not appreciate. There was a giant earthquake between Anchorage and Fairbanks two or three years ago. It did little damage because of the remoteness of the region, but it was the most powerful earthquake to hit North America since the '64 Anchorage quake.

You probably live in an area that could have a catastrophic event, whether it is a sudden event like an earthquake, hurricane, forest fire, flood or tornado, or a slower event like a drought, or disease. Few of us are immune to these events and we should never lose sight of that fact.

Thank God that you haven't yet been affected, and show the same respect to the victims of the current tragedy that you would want.

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