Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is It Possible? Can It Be?

Well, folks, looks like I'll be employed here pretty soon....

When it rains, it pours...

I don't want to name names, but I am just one background check away from a job with P.I.S. (Great. I was trying to preserve their anonymity with an acronym and it ended up spelling PISS, that's great). However, thanks to Dan Ryan, my friend who is returning to Sacramento, I have an opportunity with D.A. (Duck's Ass! The fun never ends!)

I don't want to violate either company's privacy or mine for that matter so I will just say that I have a decision to make and it must be made very soon.

But if my cards are played right, I should be gainfully employed in a full-time position with a major company by the second week of July.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

We shall fight them on the streets, we shall fight them on the hills...

It may come as some surprise to you that I am playing Axis and Allies miniatures right now. Or maybe not. Actually, I am surprised at myself. I didn't think I would be interested in a wargame like this, but I am hooked. I haven't been this addicted to something since Banana Schnapps. From the beginning of June to this day I have accumulated over 700 points in miniatures. I can almost field a totally French army! (which is a secret goal I have...). After playing some test games last week at John Hunter's War Lab, John reasoned that he would be better off fielding a Jagdtiger in his German army than his Veteran Tiger tank. I told him I preferred the Veteran Tiger because it was a crack shot, even though it had a lower defense than the Jagdtiger.
Soon, June 10th arrived and it was the 2nd A&A tournament at Hobbytown USA on Tracy Blvd. Rob Coulson was the present champion sporting his Hero Medal for all to see. It was Swiss rounds with single elimination and a final 200 point army showdown on a megamap for the final battle.
My first battle was with.. guess who? John Hunter. He was Axis, I was Allies. Okay, we can write this one off! Sure enough, I lost to his Jagdtiger (which I happened to disrupt, which was more than I could do during our War Lab tests). So I was 0-1. Next battle was with Matt. I fielded my US/UK mix 100 pt. army against his tried and true Germans. We generated an Urban Combat map and I had lots of infantry. This game took forever! Eventually, it was turn 7 and even though the objective was contested John Peterson called it due to time constraints and I had just wiped out his two remaining infantry in the objective hex. I won. It was a very close game. Matt felt a little cheated because he was unaware that the adjacent hexes to the objective also counted as the objective. I was 1-1.
My next game was with Stephen Dukes. He was 2-0. We generated a High Ground map. He picked a German army (go figure) against my now battle-hardened Allies. It was right down to the wire. By turn seven I got the objective with my infantry without contest. Since this round was the first of the single elimination rounds, that meant that Stephen was out. He was a bit miffed with this, but we all knew the rules before we came in. In essence, I won the wild card playoffs. I was now 2-1.
Our game ended a little early so I went over and watched the last game left: John Hunter and Rob Coulson (last month's champion). John was Axis, Rob was Allies. What a chess match! John was manuevering his Jagdtiger trying to avoid Rob's tactic of going behind his tank, taking advantage of his lack of turret and nailing his weaker rear armor. I began to worry. If John wins it will be another John vs. Brian match and I'll lose. Unless! Unless I win choice and then I would pick Axis since I know that John wasn't comfortable with his Allied army, plus it's one less Jagdtiger to deal with. By a slim margin, Rob won. Now it was Rob vs. Brian at the megamap final battle.
We had to construct a 200 pt. army for this match. I hurriedly crammed together some Polish and French troops with more UK. Rob fielded a strong German army with no other nationalities involved. When he saw my army, since I deployed first, he commented on the ahistorical mix of allies. I replied that since this was the Armageddon battle, all the allies joined together in a final assault on Berlin. He laughed and shook his head.
The megamap that Matt and John Peterson put together was a large town in the center (where the main objective was located) flanked by lakes with streams going to the north and south off the board. These streams realistically had forests on either side of them. I had choice of sides and I deployed on the heaviest forested side, but also had to contend with a second stream which was placed five hexes out from my side of the board. This made it very difficult to mobilize units toward the objective in a timely manner, thus forcing me to use the one bridge to get anywhere. I stubbornly avoided this bottleneck and traversed the stream, much to my dismay, as one of my tanks and my hunting sniper had some difficulty in crossing it during the match. After Rob deployed his forces, I sent my two Polish 7PTdw's racing past the objective to deal with his infantry. I succeeded in wiping out a MG team or two, but his tanks were waiting for me on hills and it was a turkey shoot. No Pole survived....
It was all a matter of getting my infantry to the town. In the gaps of terrain in between forests or roads, his guns would pick me off. I finally got to the town on turn 7. It was then that Rob started moving in his armor to face me in a knife fight in the town. It was at that point that John called it. Since the objective was contested we went off points on the map and Rob won. It was then that Rob did a noble thing: Knowing that he was strapped for time (this contest took a while) and he had to leave, rather than play the three extra turns to decide a winner by the rules. He gave me the option of walking away with two booster packs instead of the one I would have won and he would get two also (instead of three) plus the medal for June champion. I agreed. I wasn't interested in bragging rights or championships, I just wanted the boosters. So we shook on it and Rob became the A&A champion for the second month consecutively.
I did not dream of making it that far in the tourney. I had felt very elated at the end. Now I am a force to be reckoned with. I await the next tournament.
I'll keep ya posted...

The Khan of Cons... (no double entendre intended)

So, after months of planning, I finally get to go to KublaCon in Burlingame over Memorial Day weekend. Watch this mileage:
I travel from Tracy to Yuba City to get my brother, who told me he wanted to go (this becomes important later), we then travel from Yuba City to Burlingame and park in the Hyatt Regency parking garage (9 bucks for the day), and enter the convention. We couldn't afford a hotel room so we left at midnight Friday to go back to Tracy (made it there by 1 am), get five hours sleep then drive back to Burlingame only this time the parking garage was full. So we were forced to accept valet parking. Now at this time I did not know how much they would charge us for this wonderful service, but I was expecting that since it was the fault of the hotel to not have enough parking for their customers, that we would get it for free or a discounted rate. Wrong! I got skinned for $25! When I left and the valet stood there waiting for a tip I gave him one... "Tell your supervisor that one of your customers is a little pissed off at having to pay $25 to park at your overcrowded hotel!"
So coupled with being skinned alive at the hotel and Mike's (my brother) incessant complaining of 'nothing to do' at the convention, I agreed to take him back home the following morning. So, we go back to Tracy, get up the next morning and go back to Yuba City, drop him off at his friend's so he can get sloshed (I guess this was his idea of 'something to do') and realizing that my day is shot with more holes than Bonnie and Clyde's sedan, I go to visit my friend, Dean, at Rio Oso. I help him put up a couple pony walls on his new house he's building. We go to his place and play a 3-player game of Family Business (which I just bought at KublaCon the day prior). Which was fun. Dean asked if I was going back tomorrow. I said that I would. He wanted me to get him some multicolored dice and he gave me some cash. Cool, I told him that I would do that for him. He got this idea after I told him of the Chessex kiosk I found at the Con. So I go back to Tracy that night from Marysville. The next morning I get up early and head for Burlingame where they (surprise!) have room at the parking garage. Then at about five o'clock pm I leave and head back to Tracy. Mission Accomplished!
A lot of driving, huh?
Well, now that we have the bad news out of the way, let me tell you of the reason why I went back for a third day after an aborted two days of a four day convention: Games, games, games!
The first day I played Antike with four other players. Now, this game I understand is not yet in print in the U.S., but I found the mechanics of the game quite interesting. There is this circle in the top right corner of the board (and btw, the board looks similar to the one in Serenissima). This circle is how turns are executed. You place your marker on one slice of this circle and you can move it up to three places without penalty. If you move it beyond that, you have to pay one coin per place moved beyond the third. Of course, in most cases, what you want to do is beyond the three freebies. But if you just want to produce gold and stone and stuff, you can play it the cheap route and just move it two to three at a time. It reminded me of Caylus in retrospect but I had not yet played Caylus at this point. (I buy that game on Day 3). I didn't win the game, but I learned a lot and the people I played with were very fun and entertaining. In fact, I had more fun interacting with these folks than playing the actual game. Which is the point, I believe.
We had to move our game to another table because of the Friday Night Flea Market which Mike was dying to get into. He brought about $100 and blew it all in that hour. He headed straight to the Magic: The Gathering card dealer and that was all she wrote... All I heard from Mike after that was "He had Clones for fifty cents! He had a shitload of Clones and they were all FIFTY CENTS!!" Ad nauseum.
The next day (Saturday) was the Big Day. The garage was full which meant everybody was there. Mike and I wandered around the vendor shops (Chessex, Days of Wonder, Steve Jackson Games, etc.). We sampled and played with some of the weapon displays. Got to see some nice zweihanders and claymores (the swords, not the mines). Then I saw a guy all by his lonesome opening a new game. It was Wings of War. Well, I had mine with me so I introduced myself and offered to play a game with him. He was elated. It turned out he lives in Patterson, which isn't too far from Tracy, and he knew about the CVGA and wanted to join. I told him I happened to be one of the moderators of the site and would be happy to have him. So we played a few two-player games of WoW. 1st game was two fighters. 2nd game was two fighters, 3rd game was one fighter and one two-seater on a recon mission. Then his friends showed up and we played a game of Ra. This attracted another gamer who promptly got in during setup and we had a four-player game of Ra. After two games of that, we played Carcassonne with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion (as well as The River I). I forgot who won that, but it was a fun game. That game never ceases to impress or surprise me. After those festivities, everyone broke up and went their separate ways. A good time was had by all.
Mike was, meanwhile, playing M: TG with several people. After a while, I set up a game of Nexus Ops and tried to attract people to play it - but no takers. I was amazed that during this whole event I had not seen one game of A&A minis. Not one. Everyone was playing Flames of War and Civil War and Mechwarrior and Necromunda and Warhammer 40K and Memoir '44, but not one game of A&A minis. Strange... They should visit Tracy sometime...
For reasons already expressed, I was not there for Sunday.
But Monday, though depressing, (and I did get Dean those multicolored dice, not to mention some dice of my own :-)), was not a total loss. I did get to buy Caylus and Kung Fu Fighting. I also got to play Merchant of Venus with some folks from Washington state. What a LONG game! It didn't help that one of the players was suffering severe sleep deprivation and downing coffee like no tomorrow. It also didn't help matters that the sun from the overhead windows (we were playing just outside the atrium on the second floor balcony) beamed its hot radiation in such that I borrowed one dude's shades to see the board. It got so bad that we moved the table (thankfully without incident). The sleep deprived dude won the game! And he was new to this game, to boot! Damn! But I did understand it a lot better now that I've played it. Instead of the colored pawns for the starships, I broke out my Twilight Imperium ships which helped the immersion factor tremendously. And this guy (the host, I forget his name, as usual) used poker chips for money instead of the bills that came with the game. Many people came by and commented on the game. Some thought it was a reprint or new edition due to the poker chips and TI ships. But it's a cool game. John Hunter, later on, told me he has an unopened box of this game. That will soon end....
After that game (which lasted a few hours), I kinda just moped around watching everyone else play. Room after room had closed, chairs were stacked, tables put away. I realized that the time to go was now. So, I regretfully got in my Honda and went home.
I had fun, no doubt about it, but next time - I get a room at the hotel.
See ya at ConQuest SF in September, I'm hosting a TI3 game and a Nexus Ops game.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

An Apology...

Sorry about the delay in getting any new posts out.
I have been extremely busy in finding jobs. I worked as a roving inspector, deputized by the county of San Joaquin for this past June 6th primary election, of which, I must say the turnout was extremely poor. I was in charge of six precincts in northern Tracy. No more than 140 votes in any one precinct. I worked for 18 hours that day and I just now got the gumpshun to write a blog entry.
So anyway, if you were keeping up with the site and thought I finally killed myself off, fret no longer, I was just a little busier than usual, that's all.
My next blog entry will be about the last D&D game that we played in Tracy, then I'll finally cover the KublaCon convention over Memorial Day weekend, and the Shadowrun game I hosted this past weekend. Stay tuned....