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.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

No ducks

As a followup to my last post I'm sad to report no ducks were shot.

I carried my 16ga Centare loaded with 1 1/8oz of bismuth #4s and an equal volume of blackpowder. Its maybe a slightly too heavy load but I want to throw a lot of shot.

We got in the bush, got the decoys out and were ready when the sun came up. There were about 10 wood ducks on the pond, Ben tells me wood ducks are about done for the season but it seemed good enough to me. They wandered all around the pond before finally coming about 20 yards in front of me. A drake and a hen right together, I brought up the gun, hit the trigger and "crack!" the cap went off but the gun failed to fire.

I scratched my head over that one, that gun has never failed to fire before.

Thus ended hunting that spot, the ducks were outta there not to return. We decided I ought to try it again to see if it would actually fire. I had to cap it twice more before it went off. Only thing I can think is there must have been some bore butter in the touch hole. I should have capped off before I loaded but I forgot before leaving home and didn't want to do it in the bush. I won't forget that in a hurry.

The rest of the day was a comedy of errors, I was closing in on a group of 6 on another pond that Ben couldn't see, he made a whole bunch of noise and they flew. Then the last spot of the day I got lost and kept flushing ducks when I needed to be quiet.

Ben summed the whole thing up "You'da had that one duck, maybe both of them..."

The speed loaders worked well when I had them in my carry bag. I've got a Vietnam era Army surplus first aid kit bag that keeps my stuff. Later in the day I got tired of carrying it so I put 4 bottles (2 powder, 2 shot) in my pocket, the shot rattled around in the bottle in my pocket and made a bunch of noise. I may make a belt pouch to carry 4 or 6 bottles with straps to hold them in place, it'd cut down on the noise and be convenient...

Friday, October 20, 2017


One of the complaints about muzzle loaders is the time to reload. In practice I've recorded myself getting off a shot every minute while loading "from the pouch". In reality I had the powder flask in my back pocket, the roundball in one shirt pocket and patches in another but you get the idea. For the shotgun its harder. Shooters of yore carried a shot pouch not entirely unlike my powder flask. I'm not at that level yet so I cast around for a way to carry pre-measured shot and powder and ended up buying some speed loaders.

I forgot to take a picture of them so the Amazon link will have to do. While these are geared for rifle shooting I thought they'd work out for the shotgun too and for the most part they do. The reason I got the Thompson Center brand is because I could cut the tubes down to fit my load. I'm shooting 1 1/4 oz of shot and an equal volume (about 3 drams) of powder. This is a heavy load for my 16ga but patterns well and should work on most any birds I'm likely to encounter.

The TC speedloaders will hold about 2 charges but theres no good way to keep the charges separate so I could cut the tube down to hold just one load.

Instead I decided to get creative:

In the foreground my shot dipper, behind it my speed loaders. There 10ml "regent containers", or in common English, little plastic bottles. I like that they have screw on lids which keeps everything contained. I like that they're see-through so. can see whats in them and I like that the plastic takes Sharpie marker like a champ. The ones with the black top are powder, the S marks shot. They are a bit more than twice the size they need to be, 5ml would be perfect but they're less than half the cost total that the speed loaders would be EACH.

Ben wants to go duck hunting tomorrow so currently I've got all 10 bottles loaded with bismuth #4 shot from Rotometals. I'll let you know how it works out.

Again if you follow the links and buy from Amazon it'll help me out by sending a little cash my way but please don't feel like you have to...