Monday, February 12, 2018

Time for a new rifle.

My parents gave me a CVA Buckhorn as a Christmas present a few years ago.

Dad and I were pretty impressed with how it shot right out of the box. It came with fiber optic "iron" sights that were actually made of plastic. The hunting season before last I was walking on snow covered ice when I slipped and fell and broke the front sight clean off. I already had the 3-9x scope for it but hadn't been able to make it shoot well. It turns out the mount I had was wrong, with the correct mount it shoots well. I use 80 grains of loose 777 powder with a 250gr TC sabot which will produce 1" groups easily at 50 yards. Thats not extreme accuracy but this is a really cheap gun. The fit and finish is nice but it does have a problem.

This is the closed bolt position. The thing is that this is quite a primitive system and in this position the primer will have been struck and the gun has been fired. That means you can't transport it like this.

In the open position you can see where the primer goes and this is the real problem.

The breech plug holds the primer in the center. The primer is retained by a spring clip around the hole. The breech plug itself is tightened with a slotted screwdriver. The problem is that any time water gets anywhere near the breech plug it can go through the slots, around the primer and in the touch hole and wet the powder. The time I fell snow packed into the breech and wetted the pellets I was using at the time.

Obviously those weren't going to go off. I figured that the problem was only because snow had really packed into the breech and I wouldn't have trouble if I took basic precautions. Well last December I spent two days in the field and didn't fall down once. I did however go through some heavy country. After the first day I pulled the charge and found it soaked.

That clump toward the top of the picture is all wet. Thats a duck sauce container from my local Chinese restaurant, they're super handy for this.

To ensure I didn't have an issue the second day I packed Bore Butter into the slots the screwdriver engages. With the breech plug installed I used a toothpick to ensure all the gaps were filled. I didn't get a chance to pull the charge until recently, when I did I found all the signs of a wet charge that had dried out. This one *might* have gone off but I wouldn't bet on it.

Contrast this to last spring when I was turkey hunting, I had my percussion cap 16ga and it was raining. It rained so much it pretty much ruined whatever crappy finish there was on the stock, that stuff just melted off. I pulled the charge every day, its super easy on a shotgun, and never found any sign of water intrusion. That was real black powder instead of 777, both are fairly hydroscopic but the percussion cap covers the only point of ingress on that 16ga, unlike the CVA.

The CVA is an "inline muzzleloader" which means the primer is inline with the barrel. Its the hot thing these days, the 209 shotgun primer gives powerful ignition and when the powder is dry I really can't complain with how the gun shoots. However that accuracy is no good if the gun won't go off...

I was thinking about another in-line. The newest models are break action which gives good coverage for the primer and prevents the ingress of water but then I was thinking that my 16ga works just fine why not get another percussion gun, a Hawken would work great. I'm thinking .54 cal, it'd be fun to play with a big bore gun for a change and "The Ancient Ones of Maine" gun show is coming at the end of the month...

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Great Games #5 King of Tokyo

Favorite Games #5 King of Tokyo

Giant monsters thrashing it out for control of Tokyo, whats not to love? King of Tokyo is a dice rolling game similar to Yahtzee, the twist is that players are giant monsters and the dice dole out damage, healing, energy or victory points. Just like Yahtzee you're trying to make combinations of dice, but in King of Tokyo your goal is to either get to 20 victory points or to kill off your opponents.

My favorite part of King of Tokyo is the player cards, to keep track of your health and victory points there are wheels inside the cards that display a number in a little window. This game mechanic works super well and is easy to handle even for players with less than perfect manual dexterity.

On interesting thing about King of Tokyo is how gameplay changes with different numbers of players. With 3 or 4 people you'll tend to focus on victory points and have less combat. With 5 or 6 you tend to have a lot more combat and the winner is usually the last monster standing. I've played King of Tokyo a lot and especially with big groups that don't know each other well everybody will start out being polite to each other with relatively few smacks but as the game progresses somebody (usually me) will become "that guy" and deliver a barrage of smacks and then its on!

King of Tokyo is a great game to play with kids or novice gamers, the dice are some of the best feeling I've ever used, they're slightly bigger than normal d6 and heavy with good feel in the hand. We play this game often with Angela's family and everybody has a great time.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Great Games #4 Tokaido

Favorite Game #4: Tokaido

Another Japanese game and I think its safe to say this is Angie's favorite game. In Tokaido players journey the East Sea Road having a traditional Japanese vacation. On the way they can interact with interesting people, buy souvenirs, paint pictures, eat interesting food and relax in hot springs. This is a game where enjoying the journey really is the goal. Each activity earns players points and the player who had the most satisfying vacation as measured by the points, wins.

My trick to winning at Tokaido is to not play to win, just to have fun. Tokaido is a very zen game, its probably not a great choice for young kids, its recommended for 8 and up but in our experience this is a pretty adult game. The pace is relaxed and players who want more excitement should probably look for another game like King of Tokyo.

There are several expansion sets for Tokaido, the miniatures are worth having although they are a little too big for the board. The other expansions I'm not too excited about, the game is well balanced the way it is and I feel like the expansions upset that balance.

One last piece of advice is to play Tokaido in a relatively quiet place, maybe with some Japanese music in the background, this will enhance the zen like experience. We've played in loud environments and it really hurts the game overall. Remember this is all about the journey not the destination. I often find myself at the end of a game of Tokaido wishing their was more.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Great Games #3 Love Letter

Favorite Game #3: Love Letter

Love Letter is another quick card game. The goal is to get your love note to the Princess and receive a token of her favor. To get your message to the Princess you ask for help from one of a cast of characters including a Guard, the Baron, Priest, Handmaid, King, Countess or if you're really lucky you can pass your missive directly to the Princess herself. Each character has some special ability or trait to help you in your mission. In each round one card is put back into the pouch which adds variation to the gameplay. Each player holds one card, on their turn they pick another card and choose one to play. The round ends when either the deck is empty or all players but one have been eliminated. Rounds are quick, each is 3-5 minutes so a game will involve several rounds.

Intended for 4 players we've played Love Letter with as many as 6 people although the rounds just get really short. This is another good game to introduce novice gamers to although it might be a little difficult for young kids.

There are several variations of Love Letter, a friend gave us the Batman variation in which your goal is to capture the highest criminal of Gotham, the joker. While I like the variation I'm pretty traditional and prefer the original. I'll put links to a couple variations below. One other nice thing about Love Letter is its low price which makes it affordable for most everyone.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Great Games #2: Dixit

Favorite Game #2: Dixit

Dixit is a French game thats a little hard to explain but easy to play. Players are each given a hand of cards with pictures on them. The active player chooses a card and says a word or phrase that characterizes their card. The other players then choose a card they thing fits with the word or phrase. The cards are then mixed together and laid out for all to see. Players vote on which card they think belongs to the active player.

If the rules ended there Dixit would be a somewhat fun, somewhat frustrating game but the scoring method is what really makes Dixit interesting, if everybody votes for the active player's card or if nobody votes for the active player's card the active player gets no points and everybody else gets zero. Non-active players get 1 point for everybody who guessed their card. This sets up kind of a perverse scenario where players want to vote for themselves, however if only some players vote for the active player's card the active player and the players that chose the active player's card get three points plus one point for each player that chose their card. So its more valuable to find the active player's card than to not. Play continues until somebody scores 30 points, score is tracked on a board with delightful little rabbit tokens.

This is another game thats good for younger players and for people who normally claim they don't like board games. Dixit takes a lot longer than Sushi Go and is better in quieter environments. There are several expansion packs and, at least for the version we have, the box is built to accommodate those additional cards. I'll put links to the main game and a couple of the expansions below.

Great Games, #1 Sushi Go!

I see its been awhile since I've posted, best intentions and all that...

Anyway some of you may know that Angela and I are tabletop gamers that is to say we like to play boardgames. These aren't your games of old although we're not opposed to a game of Life now and then. Today's boardgames are full of strategy, adventure and other sorts of foolishness and fun. In the next 5 posts I'll to introduce you to 5 of our favorites.

Favorite Game #1: Sushi Go

Sushi Go is a card game where your goal is to accumulate points by collecting delicious pieces of Japanese cuisine, or at least cards depicting delicious Japanese cuisine. You start by playing a card from your hand, you then pass your hand to the player next to you and receive a new hand from another player, play another card and then pass the hand, on and on until all the cards have been played. Some cards are worth points by themselves, some require a set of cards to be worth anything and some others become more valuable as you have more of them. The play mechanic of passing the hand keeps things moving and when you're playing in an advanced group play can get really quick.

Sushi Go is an excellent game for novice gamers, kids, older folks, and people who say they "don't like games". We've invited total strangers into our gaming group to play Sushi Go and had them ask to buy our copy. There are a couple versions of Sushi Go, I like the Gamewright version particularly because of the artwork and the metal carrying case. Although the rules specify 2-5 players we've played with as many as 8, for that to work you need to recycle some of the cards but if you shuffle frequently its fine. Available anywhere games are sold but remember if you use this Amazon link your faithful blogger gets a cut.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Powder flasks update

First off a big welcome to everybody from Facebook, thanks for stopping over, have a look around.

Now a couple weeks ago I wrote a post about powder flasks, which is actually my most popular post ever, in which I declared the CVA powder flask my favorite, I said the Traditions flask didn't dispense powder reliably. Well last night I went to the range and my opinion changed a bit.

Yesterday I was shooting this pistol I was given with my Kentucky rifle. The previous owner had really wanted to hear about it being shot so even though the light was failing I ran over to the range to give it a try. You can see the Traditions flask at the top of the shot, I'd forgotten the CVA flask at home.
In the past when I was using the Traditions flask it was for my shotgun which I load with 2Fg powder, the pistol is .45cal and I used 3Fg powder and I'll be darned if the finer powder didn't flow just fine through that flask.

So I'll change my guidance slightly, if you're only going to shoot 2Fg get the CVA, if you're only going to shoot 3Fg it doesn't matter, they're both fine. If you're going to switch between 2Fg and 3Fg then get the CVA, remember its a little cheaper anyway...

Traditions:    CVA:

How did the pistol shoot? Not bad, the sights are kind of crude and were hard to see in the low light. I think I kept all 3 shots on the paper but its hard to tell, I forgot to bring a piece of cardboard for a backer.