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)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Something Else Finished - A record month so far

Yes, the tea rack is finished and currently holding jars and cans of loose leaf tea. I'm pretty pleased with it, there are a few mistakes and some things that could have done better but it still looks pretty good.

For the final finish I sanded the components before I assembled them, much easier to do that way, working up from 120 Grit to 400 Grit sand paper. Very much worth the effort and its not a huge item so it wasn't terribly time consuming to do. I then followed it up with two coats of Danish Oil, Dark Walnut which really brought out the beauty of the Tzalam wood that I used for it.

I'll probably build another one to fix the mistakes but there is no rush to do that, its getting the job done and most people aren't going to notice the mistakes.

She likes her loose leaf tea, the tea bags are for me!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Its that time of year! 2021 Christmas Card

This will be the fourth year that my wife and I will be designing and printing our own Christmas cards. Its definitely something that we look forward to doing each year despite the amount of time it takes. We are not going to tackle a multi color, multi plate card this year! While last year's card turn out pretty good, in the end it was a little nerve wracking and took even more time to finish.

We are going to go back to a single color block this year and I have finished a couple of sketches for the design. Take a look let me know what you think of the two concepts and if you are from Colorado do you recognize the peak.

Quick sketches from this morning. Just have to pick one and then I can refine it for printing. Both of these have far to many very fine lines for printing purposes. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Game Design Thoughts - Mountain Passes revisited

Warning this rambles more than a little bit

While I still feel that ignoring  mountain passes, even in an 18xx game, shouldn't be done. Yet I can't ignore how restrictive that makes the board. Will a restrictive board, from the viewpoint of laying track tiles, be fun to play on? Will there be a reasonable replay value?

I have read all of the comments I can find about the CO 18xx (Rock & Stocks) and I'm not sure that it even came up as a design element, although 3 tunnel companies were originally included in the early drafts and were eventually eliminated because no one used them. The question that comes to mind is that board may not be restrictive enough, especially when you see the amount of track that is seems to be laid in northwestern Colorado. Where is the compromise point?

Let's take a look at just a small area of the map and you can see how much is going in this portion of the board. I did expect this area to be more or less the center of the action since it includes Denver.

A little description. The multi point starts represent the passes. My first thought is that they should be located on the hex sides, so Tennessee pass needs to be moved a little bit. The red line, more or less, represents the continental divide, which is what most passes cross or tunnel through.

The big problem hex is the Golden hex. The area actually includes three major towns; Golden, Blackhawk/Central City and Boulder and four passes, one of which I haven't included (yet?); Rollins Pass, Loveland Pass, Argentine Pass and the missing pass is Berthoud. Of these four passes only Rollins pass was actually built over. Geographically all of this fits in one hex. The reality, on the ground so to speak, is that three of the passes can only be reached through Clear Creek Canyon which the Colorado Central (along with a couple of others) built through going west as far as Silver Plume (a little farther than that but close enough). Rollins pass was reach through South Boulder Canyon (kind of, sort of) between Golden and Boulder on the front range. Loveland, Argentine and Berthoud passes all would need tunnels built (long ones) to keep the grades at reasonable levels. Rollins Pass was actually crossed without a tunnel but that trackage was considered temporary while the Moffat Tunnel was being built (The tunnel construction started in 1923 and was completed in 1927, and the first train passed through in February 1928. It is the highest railroad tunnel in the US at 9,200 feet and still 2800 feet beneath the surface and 6 miles long). Even if the hex is reduced to two passes its going to require a special tile to represent the difficulty

Let's take the hex apart:

1) The first difficulty, three towns occupy the hex at the current map scale. I think Boulder can be safely eliminated, it was never on a major railroad route. Boulder sits in a rather steep valley at the base of the foothills making it difficult to serve by rail. Golden must be there even though its right next to the Denver hex, at the very least from an historical context and if the Colorado Central is used as one of the railroad charters then this would be its home hex. Blackhawk and Central City are strictly gold mining and can be represented as a resource providing revenue. It might need a custom tile.

2) The second difficulty, mountain passes. In the ground scale four passes could potentially occupy this hex with only three sides to work with; Loveland, Argentine, Berthoud and Rollins. Loveland Pass and Argentine Pass, if built, would to the west eventually into the same valley leading down to Dillon (they would roughly meet at Keystone Resort). Berthoud and Rollins pass take you north to Steamboat Springs. Rollins Pass is the only one that could be crossed without a tunnel (although that added 27 additional miles to the mainline, along with all the problems associated with trying to cross mountain passes in the winter). I think I could, in theory shift Argentine pass to an adjacent hex from looking at a map. But it still leaves the problem that Berthoud and Rollins would both need to use the same hex side.

3) The third difficulty revolves around trackage rights. For the moment lets just ignore the hex difficulties, and look at those. In most 18xx games track is really controlled via stations at cities and if you can trace a legal route to it you can use any track on the board as long as it connects to at least one of your station tokens. That rule should still hold true for the Colorado board, the difference is you need to determine who can use a pass and how to mark it. For example If the D&RG builds over La Veta pass (which is down south) then only the D&RG can cross it. However the D&RG should be able allowed to award trackage rights to other companies (either subsidiaries that it owns or those companies owned by other players). At the moment I'm thinking that every pass should have its own tile and every company should have an additional set of "control" tokens, to go along with their station tokens, they would be used to signify which company owns the pass crossing. But then the dilemma is how to show which companies have "trackage" rights over that pass.

Another situation, relatively common in Colorado history is two railroads banding together to form a railroad specifically to build through a particularly difficult stretch of terrain. The railroads would share trackage rights and, almost inevitably, one of the parties would buy out the other, usually when the partner when bankrupt). The more I think about it the more I like the idea of trackage rights if I can come up with a simple mechanism to reflect it. I could envision a game where the need to build track gets as cut throat as the financial side of the game. 

Ideas are still swirling.