Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dogs in Liz' Vineyard 2

A little over a month ago I blogged about character generation for Liz' Dogs in the Vineyard campaign. Thanks to a summer cold, I wasn't able to attend the first actual session of the campaign, but it sounds like they had a good time. Fortunately, I was able to make it to the second session. Unfortunately, Seth and Ty weren't able to. That left Jonathan, Emily and me to play through the town of Angel's Rest.

I should interrupt here to state that I'm describing these events in the terms my character views them, not the way I view them. For those who are unfamiliar with Dogs, it places the characters in a fictionalized 19th Century Utah as upholders of the morality of that time and place. This results in a game with very mature themes concerning the very nature of morality and faith.

What we encountered was the usual mix of sin and tragedy that I've come to expect from a game of Dogs. Little by little we uncovered a chain of events that began with the twin prides of a father who thought his daughter could do better than a teenage troublemaker, and a teenage boy who thought he knew better than the town Steward as to whether or not he should be able to court the Steward's daughter. This led to the injustice of a thwarted love, which led to the sin of an illicit affair, which ended with the murder of an unborn child and the death of the mother from complications. We had just determined what we believe to be the identity of the abortionist when we had to call it a night.

Dogs are young men and women who have been given the authority and responsibility to maintain the moral character of entire communities, and my character in particular is completely sure of his faith. He's positive that he knows what's right from what's wrong, and doesn't hesitate to let others know what's what. When it comes to matters of the Faith and the Book he feels that he's an expert (hmm, some pride developing there...). With matters outside of his expertise, he's not quite so sure of himself.

It was fun to play him as we discovered that there was an illicit affair and an unplanned pregnancy. He's as close to a city boy as you can get in the setting, aside from a bit of experience with hunting, and has had a very sheltered upbringing. He's probably never kissed a girl, and his parents surely never had the "talk" with him. This all leaves him just a bit unsure about how all of that "biological" stuff is supposed to work.

So, when things started to get specific about whether or not the deceased was pregnant, and how anyone knew that she was, he quickly and gratefully turned things over to Rebecca (Emily's character).

The contrast was especially amusing to me given that he had just finished lecturing the kid that was responsible for causing the pregnancy about morality. Suddenly it was the kid who had all the answers and my character that was at a loss.

What's going to be really interesting though is when he starts losing some conflicts, and taking fallout. So far he's managed to succeed in all his attempts to convince others of the rightness of his beliefs. It will be interesting to see what happens when he fails. The circumstances surrounding any fallout he takes will probably determine whether his faith proves brittle and begins to crumble or whether it simply becomes stronger in adversity.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Project: Dominion

Project: Dominion
Ever since the Seaside expansion for Dominion came out I've been looking for a better storage solution for the cards. Rio Grande Games did a good job on designing the boxes to be useful, and if I were playing games at home then I'd probably just leave them in the boxes they came in. The problem is that I don't play at home, I take them to the store to play, and three or four big boxes are just too many to carry. Together, all four of the current boxes don't even fit into the bag I normally use to transport my boardgames!

I think I've finally found my solution: the Ultra Pro Portable Gaming Case. I had been thinking that someone must make a case for CCG players to carry around their cards with beyond just the single deck boxes I've seen. Back in the day we used cardboard card boxes, but they're not ideal for transport, and I knew someone had to have come up with a better solution since then.

Then the other day I saw this case on the shelf at the FLGS. It just happened to be on Magic night, and a couple of the players there already had one so they let me take a look at theirs. I realized that it would probably do the job, so I went ahead and bought one.

The next step was to figure out how to organize the cards in the case. The Rio Grande boxes have individual slots for each type of card, so I hadn't needed dividers. Fortunately, BGG came to the rescue, specifically with Neo42's vertical dividers. Unfortunately, he used Power Point to make them, and opening a Power Point file in Open Office never goes off without a hitch. It didn't take me that much effort to tweak things so they'd work for me, although they still aren't as pretty as the original files. What took more effort was cutting them all out, but eventually that tedious task was done and I finally started putting all the pieces together.

It ended up working out perfectly. I have just enough room to store everything, minus the extra sets of core cards from the Intrigue set. Now I have a far more portable way to take Dominion to Board Game Night! least I do until the next expansion, at which point I'll either have to get a second case, or use a combination of this case and a box. I'll probably do the latter until there's been at least two more expansions.

Some notes on putting this all together: I've put the mini-boards from Seaside in the lid pocket along with all the rules. The tokens from that set are in the lower middle space, as you can see in the photos.

If I wanted to do this fancier, I could have printed out the dividers on cardstock, but I don't really care if they get ratty. I just need something to make finding the cards easier, so regular paper should do for now.

Project: Dominion

Friday, July 02, 2010

History Geek Enraged

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual rants and reviews. See, in addition to being a gaming geek, I'm a bit of a history geek. That means I get a bit bent out of shape when I see people getting history wrong.

Tonight I was downright offended. Ever since moving back to Arkansas my wife and I have tried to attend at least a night or two of the Rodeo of the Ozarks. Traditionally held on the first four days of July, there's always been an air of patriotism surrounding the event, and so I was not surprised as the announcer began to go into the history of our national anthem while the singer prepared herself to deliver it. What did surprise me was what he then proceeded to say.

The story he spun was complete and utter bullshit. About the only things he got right were the name of the writer, and the name of the fort involved in the event that inspired the writing. Just about everything else was wrong. He even got the wrong war!

Here's the tale he told:

During the Revolutionary War, Francis Scott Key boarded a British prison ship anchored off the coast of the US that held countless US prisoners in an attempt to secure their release on humanitarian grounds. The British officer refused and gave his reason by pointing out the entire English fleet gathered to attack Fort McHenry. Key protested that McHenry wasn't a military installation and was full of civilians, but his protests were ignored and the fleet opened fire. The British became enraged by the failure of the flag to fall. The next day Key visited the fort and found that fathers and sons had been killed ensuring that the flag stayed aloft, countless bodies strewn below the flag.


What really happened is that during the War of 1812 (Key was three years old at the end of the Revolutionary War), Key boarded a British warship to secure the release of a Maryland doctor, and was successful, but wasn't allowed to leave the ship until after the attack on Fort McHenry.

Fort McHenry was very much a military installation with the purpose of defending Baltimore from seaborne attack. The assaulting fleet consisted of 19 British warships, not the entire British fleet. The British fleet at the time consisted of close to 1000 vessels, most of which were focused on the threat posed by Napoleon's France in Europe.

The attack lasted all day and all night, and Key had no way of knowing whether or not the British had won the battle until sunrise showed the American flag still flying above the fort.

Total dead in the fort amounted to four: three soldiers and a woman who died carrying supplies to the troops. No one died keeping the flag aloft as they were too busy manning the fort's guns, and the flag didn't need tending anyway. The flag itself was an impressive sight, being the largest battle flag in the US Army at the time.

I have to wonder where the bullshit story the announcer gave came from. I suppose he must have scraped it off his boot after work one night.

The original story is inspiring enough, it doesn't need the Hollywood treatment. I was very close to heckling the guy given that he was only about thirty feet away from where I was sitting, and if it hadn't been the lead in to the national anthem, I just might have done it.

Later, when the guy gave a rambling story vaguely associating the Butterfield Overland Stage with Wells Fargo and claiming that the Butterfield stage lasted until 1918 in the process, my outrage was already mostly used up. This time the reasons for the bullshit were at least more apparent as Wells Fargo was a special sponsor for the evening.

The fact that the Butterfield line lasted only three years prior to the outbreak of the Civil War and that the only connection with Wells Fargo is that Wells Fargo bought up Butterfield's remaining assets after it ceased operations seemed rather insignificant lapses compared to his earlier tall tales.

I live on a part of the old Butterfield route and the announcer isn't even from around here, so I'll let that one slide, but I'm pretty sure we're both Americans, so I won't forgive the mauling of the history of our national anthem.