Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Apollo 11 - 45th Anniversary

While I know that there are certain people out there that don't believe we went to the moon I am not one of them. I remember getting to stay up late and watch TV as the Eagle (the moon lander) came to rest on surface of the moon July 20, 1969. My Uncle was part of the crew at Cape Canaveral that launched Apollo 11 on its historic trip to the moon.

Today I have a video sequence shot by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of the Apollo 11 landing site. Its getting pretty hard to ignore the evidence now!

NASA Probe Sees Apollo 11 Moon Landing Site from Space (Video)

This is the famous photograph. Every human alive but one is in this picture. The only one missing is Michael Collins the astronaut behind the camera, piloting the command module

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Renovations Underway

A couple of months ago we did the big spring cleaning in the house. I have lived here for 20 years now and its amazing how much stuff and junk (I also pulled out old carpet and stripped all kinds of things in preparation for what was to come) just accumulates. That cleaning filled two 30 yard dumpsters. This past week I started on the serious renovations starting with the now empty front bedroom. This was my youngest son's bedroom from the day we moved into the house (although both boys shared it for a long time when they were younger). With #2 son out of the house and, mostly, on his own I figured this was the place to start. 

The carpets were pulled in the initial cleanup and we went over the floor again to make sure that there were no staples left behind (I don't recommend the bare foot approach but it can be quite effective in finding sharp objects.). Carpet tack strips were pulled up and the old baseboards were removed and will be replaced with new ones. Since we were down to bare subfloor at this point painting really only required us to tape off the window and the closet door. The regular door has seen better days and will be replaced when everything else is finished.

Painted by spraying on new white primer followed by spraying on the first coat of paint. I didn't really get the coverage I wanted with that so we rolled another coat of the paint on. I think it looks great! Then we moved on to the floor putting down and underlayment followed by laminate floor planking (Tavern Oak). I'm basically down to the tricky stuff that has to be cut at this point but I'm very pleased with the result so far. I'm not looking forward to working in the closet though!

A few pictures of the progress from last week.

Looking in from the hallway. Every spot where you see underlayment needs to have planks cut and fitted now. The easy part is finished.

A step inside the room looking towards the NW corner. This is probably the truest looking for colors.

From the SW corner looking back towards the front window (the house faces north).

A slightly better look at the floor.

Looking back towards the door and the hallway. The closet door is still taped off from painting.

Monday, June 27, 2016

ReaperCon 2016 Horror Themed Diorama

Okay, its time to start getting to work on my primary entry for ReaperCon this year. The convention was moved to October this year, primarily because of lack of space in the Denton area and the demands on the limited amount of space that there is. The new venue is going to be quite the challenge as its basically 30,000 square feet of empty space with pillars in it. I'm sure the crew at Reaper will be able to pull it off though.

The theme for this year is horror and I have had a number of ideas spinning through my head but I think I have settled on one involving these miniatures:

I'd like to get this miniature into an elevated position to indicate that the artificial gravity is shot.

I"m probably going to switch out some of these tentacles into something a bit more menacing.

The minions! Definitely need a blue and yellow color scheme for these guys.

The current plan will utilize a cut away look into a pulp style rocket ship complete with a space background and lights. We will see how far I actually get with that. I have a good idea of a minimum amount of work to pull it off and what the maximum effort would be. Time will till, October is coming fast!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Wild West Rules - The Compilation

Something I would like to point out is that this is not an attempt to say that one of these rule sets is better than another. What they share is desire to in some way simulate the wild west of Hollywood and our imagination. Each takes its own approach to accomplishing this goal and that's what I want get into here. Do you prefer running one or two characters or a whole posse of characters? Do you like a lot of detail or keep it sketchy and simple? Those are the types of questions I want to answer here. Unfortunately blogger typically doesn't hand excel tables very well so I'll try and make this as reasonable as possible. I'll I'm giving you here is a taste of each rule set for more information you can refer back to the specific post for that set of rules.

1) Let's take a look at which of these games you can still pick up right off the shelf.

In Print                                  Out of Print
Dead Man's Hand                  Boot Hill
Desperado                             Legends of the Old West
Fistful of Lead; Reloaded
Shoot N' Skedaddle (Cards are out of print and being revised)
The Rules with No Name

2) There is certainly a theme with wild west games involving poker cards, not all of these games use playing cards though so let's sort out the ones that do from the ones that don't.

Uses Poker (Playing) Cards          Does Not Use Poker (Playing) Cards
Dead Man's Hand                          Boot Hill
Fistful of Lead; Reloaded               Desperado
Shoot N' Skedaddle                       Gutshot
The Rules with No Name               Legends of the Old West

3) Another common aspect is running a whole posse or gang instead of just 2-3 characters. 

Posse/Gang Oriented                    Character Oriented
Dead Man's Hand                          Boot Hill
Fistful of Lead; Reloaded               Desperado
Legends of the Old West               Gutshot
Shoot N' Skedaddle                       
The Rules with No Name
Something to note though is that really all of these games could be played with just a few characters per player. While several are definitely oriented towards the posse aspect its not necessarily a requirement that you have to play it that way.

4) Movement is an important aspect of the game for me. There is already a fair amount of luck built into any game that uses cards or dice or both in most of the wild west games that I like to have something that I feel I can control. So whether movement distance is random or a set rate is important to me. However, since movement is always part of some action you need to remember that in some of these games some characters are going to get several opportunities to move in a single turn. So temper your like or dislike of random movement and see if it is offset by multiple opportunities to move in a turn.

Random Movement                        Set Movement Rate
Desperado                                      Boot Hill
The Rules with No Name                Dead Man's Hand
                                                        Fistful of Lead; Reloaded
                                                        Legends of the Old West
                                                        Shoot N' Skedaddle

5) Combat; Shooting - This is a hard one to break down into a couple of simple columns so I'm not going to try. I'll just give the basic shooting concept for each game.

Boot Hill - Percentile dice roll with modifiers
Dead Man's Hand - D20 dice roll with modifiers
Desperado - Percentile dice roll with modifiers
Fistful of Lead; Reloaded - A target number based on the range using a D10 roll with modifiers
Gutshot - Each character has a target number to shoot their target using a 2D6 roll with modifiers
Legends of the Old West - Roll your shooting value or better to hit your target, no modifiers. Target gets a saving throw.
Shoot N' Skedaddle - A target number of 5+ is required to hit your target. Consult marksmanship trait to determine the type of die to roll to hit.
The Rules with No Name - Roll a Six to hit. Character ability and weapon type determine how many dice to roll. Modifiers affect the total number of dice thrown.     

6) Combat; Hand to Hand. Some of these games use the shooting mechanics for hand to hand and some don't. Again this will be broken down by game.

Boot Hill - 2D12 roll with modifiers
Dead Man's Hand - D10 dice roll with modifiers
Desperado - Opposed 1D6 die roll with modifiers
Fistful of Lead; Reloaded - Opposed 1D10 die roll with modifiers
Gutshot - 2D12 die roll to equal or surpass the target number based on the weapon used in HtH.
Legends of the Old West - Roll your fighting value or better to hit your target, no modifiers. Target gets a saving throw.
Shoot N' Skedaddle - A target number of 5+ is required to hit your target. Consult scrap trait to determine the type of die to roll to hit.

The Rules with No Name - Opposed rolls with the number of D6 rolled by each participant based on the weapon they are using.

7) Scenarios and Campaign Rules - Most of these sets have some form of campaign rules as well as scenarios to play.

Boot Hill - Scenarios - Yes, Campaign Rules - Yes, neither is particularly extensive though. later editions of Boot Hill had both available particularly the 3rd Edition.
Dead Man's Hand - Scenarios - Yes, Campaign Rules - No, but campaign rules are in the Legends supplement (which I don't own, guess I should fix that)
Desperado - Scenarios - Yes, Campaign Rules - No
Fistful of Lead; Reloaded - Scenarios - Yes, Campaign Rules - Yes 
Gutshot - Scenarios - Yes, Campaign Rules - Yes
Legends of the Old West - Scenarios - Yes, Campaign Rules - Yes
Shoot N' Skedaddle - Scenarios - Yes, Campaign Rules - Yes

The Rules with No Name - Scenarios - No, Campaign Rules - Yes

And there you have it kind of boiled down to the bare basic game play. I'm not going to sit down and rate any of these rule sets. I will say that while they all share the wild west theme yet the game play is actually quite different. It really comes down to your own preferences. Do you like using poker cards, do you like rolling a lot of different dice, do you want to keep it simple and just roll D6s. I think there is a wild west game to fit all of the different styles of play out there. If you haven't already read the specific blog posts about these different rules I would encourage you to do so. You can find the links to each one below.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Family Business - The Shop

I'm going to stray from gaming for a post and talk about the family business. While I don't work for the family business (we have an employee for that!), I am involved in the decision making. Recently we have been having to run overtime to meet demand. Usually this kind of thing only runs a month or two so we suck it up and work the overtime. This year the demand has increased and stayed steady at those levels since the beginning of the year. Since the work demand was starting to have an impact on our only employee it was apparent that we needed to increase our production capacity and that meant biting the bullet and building two additional machines.

In the shop we straighten fine, stainless steel wire and cut it to length and ship it out to a manufacturer that uses it as their raw stock to create different types of medical guide wires. If you have had the pleasure of dealing with a catheter or even worse an angioplasty odds are good that the wire came out of our shop. This business was purchased by my parents and originally came equipped with 10 machines all hand built by the original owner using whatever materials were at hand when he had to expand his production capacity. You can see the progression as each succeeding machine became more efficient and I can even tell when different machines came online because of the materials and frame design. The basic principle though is that two electric motors spin a series guides that the wire is threaded through to straighten it out. Since the wire comes wrapped on spools it has to be straightened to be usable (but not over stressed either). As the wire advances through the machine it will trip an electronic eye that activates the cutter and cuts the wire to the proper length as specified by the client.  

To add two more machines to the line we had to make some changes and move the cutting operations to a garage in the "Barn" (its shaped like a barn and it has a barn loft but the main floor has a garage and a finished space that we use for meetings and parties, although not so much since my dad passed away last year). Now the cutting of the PVC pipe and cardboard tubes used for shipping takes place in the garage and we can avoid making a mess in the main shop.

The new machines will bring the total up to 15 and these are basically identical as my dad had plans drawn up so that we could add capacity relatively easily. Unfortunately the machines hadn't been delivered when I was there so there are just a couple of empty work areas just waiting for them to show up.

Here are the ten original machines lined up on the left side of the shop. Machine #10, all the way at the back of the picture is dedicated to just cutting wire 110" long, this is the guide wire that will likely be used when they want to work on your heart without opening up your chest cavity!

The five new machines are on the right side along with the shipping area and business area. The bays for the two new machines are closest to the camera. Storage of shipping containers was in the racks above these machines. We will be storing those containers in the barn now.

Here is one of the old machines doing its thing. Innovations we made were changing the cutter and adding electronics that will shut down the machine if it doesn't see wire at the electronic eye after a certain period of time. Each machine has its own little quirks. Mostly around what wire sizes they like to run.

A new machine, my dad's design. These are more efficient than the older machines and all five (hopefully, the first three do) run exactly alike. They are easier to setup and keep running. The tray on the right side is were freshly cut wire sits until there is enough to work with. On the table on the left you can see finished wire laid out. We ship by weight and we know how many pieces of wire, of a given size, will make up a pound of wire (its a lot by the way). That way we can measure rather than weigh it, in this example 15 3/4" , measured across, makes up a 1/4# of wire. We usually aim to ship about 1000# (or a ton) of wire each month.