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December 24, 2006

A (Not Quite) Christmas Story

So, yesterday morning I set out from Julia and Lou's (after the bi-weekly Friday session of Lou's game SBE and the nifty surprise of each player receiving a handful of custom "SBE" dice Lou had made as a gift to the players). From Fall River to Providence, then down I-95 along the coast. It was raining and miserable, but forecasts suggested that would fade as I went west and, indeed, as I got near to New Haven, CT (and past a massive pothole that had closed the interstate except for one lane), the sky was clear (albeit misty) and it was a comfortable (for December 23rd) 55 degrees. Along the way, the Prius's milage display had ticked down to 45.1, but I expected with consistent driving and warmish weather, I'd be back to 45.2 before I reached Cincinnati. I swung up to the Merritt Parkway, heading toward NY...

And then it happened.

Just after passing exit 38, the car started to vibrate violently, and didn't want to steer well. I slowed, put on my hazard flashers, and crept at half-speed into a roadside Mobile gas station/rest area (which the Merritt has in abundance). The cause was obvious... the driver's side rear tire was flat (and badly damaged from around 1/2 a mile of driving on it). I fought with the inadequate tire changing hardware Toyota provides (a short tire iron means a lack of lug-nut-turning leverage), but two holiday good samaritans, one with directions to a tire shop just 2 exits away and one with the upper body strength to start the lug-nuts loose, meant I was on my temp tire before AAA even hoped to be responding (in fact, they'd given themselves an hour more to arrive... and were openly relieved when I called to cancel the request for help; lots of cars on the road means a busy day for AAA).

But here the tale turns again. For the tires on a Prius, they are not the sort your average tire shop will carry. No, for that a Toyota dealer is needed. And I lacked the patience to fumble around trying to find an open, helpful, and marginally honest Toyota dealer on the Saturday before Christmas in the south-western corner of Connecticut. So I needed to make a choice. Drive the 9-10 hours on to Cincinnati on the temp tire or drive the 4 hours back to Concord.

That wasn't a very hard choice, really. Temp tires aren't made for the long haul, and I'm quite familiar with the route from there home, so I know where I can stop for breaks and such.

So, I type this at home the next morning. My family in Cincinnati will get their gifts once I ship them there, which won't be until the day after Christmas at the soonest, and I may end up actually going in to the office one of the days I was planning to be away, just because...

Oh... and the milage did tick back to 45.2, but I don't expect that to last too long into the new year.

Posted by ghoul at 06:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 01, 2006

TurkeyCon Days 6, 7, and Departure

Late morning Saturday was offered to the World of Warcraft cult, as the adults of T'Con went off on some virtual project or another. I remain at a safe distance, lest all my freetime (and much of my other hobby time) fall into the infinite sink of the WoW.

I do, however, set up a couple of board games while the instancing occurs, for future consumption, one of which got played today. Details below.

Saturday night is given over to Luc's Call of Cthulhu d20 game. Modern-day setting, so I generated a nifty just-back-from Afghanistan soldier scratching out a living as a mechanic and handyman at old Miscatonic U. One haunted theater later, and we were all suitably freaked out and looking at the smoldering remains before scattering before the cops arrived. Well, it was an out-of-the-box solution...

Sunday had the normal melancholy of the last day of TurkeyCon. Where did all the time go? As a pre-emptive measure, I set up a Command and Colors: Ancients scenario for play, and packed away most of my other games. It ended up being a fairly full gaming day, in fact... More below the cut.

And, as I type this early part (game summaries will be done later on), I'm on the train to Greensboro and the better (or at least longer) part of a week of home office time before finally returning home on Thursday.

Much fun was had, and it was over much too soon.

[Added note from later... the week at work was a week at work, and I'm home all in one piece. Cats are likely to forgive me soon if I can wait them out and keep with the treats.]

Saturday gaming:

Shear Panic is a game I brought as much to show off the pieces as to play, but we did get a game in. Lou, Grant, and Ryan joined me in pushing sheep around, and after a bit of fumbling with just how moves work, we were quickly into the spirit of the game, trying to optimize our own moves while pushing others into impossible situations. I took a slight early lead, but wasn't able to hold on (especially since it's easy for 3 players to block 1 from scoring if they really want to), so we ended up at 25/24/21/20, with Grant in the lead and me a point behind, with Ryan and Lou close behind.

Sunday gaming:

First was that C&C:A scenario, facing off against Grant. We'd both played Battle Cry and Memoir '44 before, so the learning part was just the unique rules for this version, which are few but very significant. We played the simple first scenario, the Battle of Akuagas, which lacks terrain and elephants, thus keeping the rules to a minimum, primarily just an overview of the units, evasion, and battling back. He took the weaker side (the historical loser), if only because that chair was closer to the side of the room he entered from, but the cards made it so his strong right flank and my weak left flank were the focus of the battle, with me trying to shift attention to my strong center line but managing this a turn or two too late to keep him from turning my flank before I could march my heavy infantry to victory. A close 5-to-3 win for the Carthaginians. Time wasn't available to re-play with opposite sides.

Then we decided to give in to another of FFG's re-designs, putting the new edition of Warrior Knights on the table. Luc and Grant were both experienced players of the original game, and Ryan joined us in our afternoon of hard-fought war. The rules are just a little on the extensive side, and we made some mistakes (we were too aggressive in removing troops when a battle was lost due to a margin of 2 or more Victories), but it was a hard fought game for most of its length. Unfortunately for me, I got hit with a "traitor to the crown" declaration, which made me a favorite target for Grant and Ryan to attack (as they got a reward for doing so). In the end, I lost my Stronghold two turns running, and Luc lost hers the last turn as well (likely in large part because of that troop elimination mistake, which advantaged aggressive play against a target that should have only been slightly bloodied rather than crippled), so the game was between Grant and Ryan, and Grant won by the narrowest of margins, 15/14/6/6. I was the tail end at 6, since you can't score any points on turns when you lose your Stronghold. Fun was had, but we all agreed there was a bit of a "hopeless position" problem and a bit more time needed than the fun value of the game really supported (though more players and/or less rule confusion might fix that). Still, not nearly as bad on this count as the painfully over-long Order of the Stick Adventure Game.

Fearsome Floors had been set up on the table from mid-day Saturday, a cue from me that I really wanted to get a game in, so Grant and Lou gave me the chance after dinner. The game is a delightful series of puzzles, trying to maneuver your pieces so they are not in the path of the hungry monster. Or, rather, so they are just slightly less in that path than are other players' pieces. There was a good bit of maneuvering, and we all got at least one character munched (mostly in the first round of the game, where it just means starting over rather than permanent death), but in the end Lou and I were racing for the exit, and I was enough in the lead that I took the win.

And, as a rule, it simply isn't TurkeyCon if we don't wrap up by playing Formula Motor Racing, complete with terrible accents and the traditional "Lou gets exactly the worst cards imaginable". This year was no exception, as the non-player Orange and Purple racing teams scored as well or better than the humans in the early races. A ton of luck (and this game is little more than luck) gave me two powerful cards in my color at race-end for both of the third and fourth rounds, so I managed a win. To which the others replied I must be cheating, since I was actually "trying to win". Bah! 25/16/13/10 in the final score, with the non-player colors scoring 23 and 17, since when we don't have cards of our own color, we traditionally pick sides between the Orange and Purple "Robot Masters" for who to help win. And it's all too common to not have cards of your own color. So, yes, the nonplayed racers beat all but one player... As always, this game can be a sad day for living humans, as fun as it is. BTW, thanks to a 10 point final race, Lou was not at the back of the game... he had the 13 to Ryan's 10.

And, sadly, with that game, everything had to be packed up for the return home.

Posted by ghoul at 07:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack