Nail Clippers, Pages 27 & 28

Previously.

Pulling the tornado shelter doors shut and securing the locking bar in place, Jenkins looked down at his problem-he needed to dispose of these bodies and quickly. He kicked the bodies of Chaz and Devin; dumbasses he thought angrily; never again would they cause him or Barbossa trouble.

A day ago…

Barbossa lay on the kitchen floor, not moving. The kitchen, a disaster; table smashed, two of the chairs broken, the other two scattered on the far side of the room, and the kitchen door hung askew. A skateboard rolled across the floor. Chaz sat against the wall holding onto his sides wearing a grimace. Devin stood in the basement stairwell, smug look on his face.

“Told you,” Devin said to Chaz.

“Fuck you,” Chaz retorted.

“Oh shit,” Devin exclaimed.

Jenkins stormed across the room, face red with rage.

“What did you do!” he shouted.

Chaz giggled and Devin snorted.

“Nothing,” both of them said trying to stop laughing.

“Stop laughing!” he commanded, as he crouched next to Barbossa; she was breathing.

He stood up and stepped to Devin, “You and him get out!”

“Why? We didn’t do anything?” Devin responded as his face turning red from trying to hold in the giggles.

Chaz’s giggles turned into laughter; he doubled over holding his sides.

“Stop laughing!”

“Holy shit, my sides hurt,” Chaz said.

Devin looked away from Jenkins to Chaz, “Told you. That was fucking…”

“STOP LAUGHING!” Jenkins shouted as he shoved Devin in the chest. Devin fell down the stairs.

“What the fuck is your problem!” Chaz shouted, standing up.

Jenkins rounded on Chaz, his hands wrapping around Chaz’s throat, “STOP LAUGHING!”

Jenkins bore Chaz to the kitchen floor, using his weight to keep Chaz on the ground. A few minutes later Chaz stopped moving. Sitting back, Jenkins remembered Barbossa. He gently picked up Barbossa, grabbed his keys, and went to his car.

Two hours later, Jenkins returned home. Chaz lay on the floor, not moving. The kitchen remained a disaster zone, but the house was quiet. Jenkins righted a chair and sat down looking at Chaz’s body. Working on a mental list, Jenkins remembered Devin, with a sigh he got up and looked down the basement stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, Devin lay, unmoving, his head at an unnatural angle. Another thing to add to his list.

****

“That was unexpected,” Jax said to Jetta over dinner.

“But a good surprise?” she asked.

“Yes.”

A few moments of silence, Jetta watching Jax push food around his plate, “Is something a matter?”

He looked up, “No,” he began, “I mean it was great…”

“But?”

“Well…”

“No, I am not leaving you and I am not turning lesbo on you,” Mandy said laughing.

“I wasn’t worried about that,” Jax responded laughing.

“Well then, what is on your mind?”

“Can we do it again?”

“I figured as much,” Jetta said laughing.

Puddles and Whiskers New 13

Previously.

“Can you see this?” Chuck whispered into his phone.

Sitting in Whiskers’ car the vid-feed from Chuck’s camera displayed across the interior of the windshield. The feed panned to the right, a battered front door with a sign in gromathi, followed by piles of garbage and a shot down the alley.

“Clear feed,” Whiskers replied.

In the passenger seat, Puddles fiddled with her new frying pan, glancing at the feed every few seconds.

“Did you find a spot to hide?” she asked Chuck.

“I think so, moving there now.”

On the windshield, the feed bounced and moved erratically as Chuck moved. Chuck reached for another handhold in the wall of the building across the street, finding a handhold he pulled himself up onto a ledge. Nice to see the City keeping up on buildings and repairs in Lower Stroud, Chuck thought sarcastically looking around at the debris, exposed wires, pipes, and garbage on the ledge, every building he could see, and in the alley. Chuck spotted a better observation spot a few feet to his right.

The feed stabilized and centered on the alleyway and door.

“In position.”

“Now we wait,” Whiskers said.

Puddles sighed.

“What’s our next step?” Puddles asked Whiskers.

“We wait to see who goes in and out of the chop shop.”

“No,” she began with an irritated tone, “not this favor, with finding the fake Doctor Marlowe.”

“Eth should come through for us,” Chuck whispered.

Puddles shook her head, “Don’t blow your hiding spot, Chuck.”

“Chuck is correct, after Eth finds some gangers to do the work we need, we follow the trail.

“So…” Puddles paused for effect, “you don’t know any more than I do.”

“Pretty much.”

Two hours passed, “I can’t feel my feet,” Chuck whined for the fifth time in the last few minutes. “I know don’t move,” he finished testily.

“You ready ang?” a rough voice asked somewhere in the alley.

“Come on the doc is down here. He does all our hands,” another rough voice said.

“Does it…”

“Hurt?” finished the first rough voice. “What do you think?”

“If you are lucky he will soak your arm in ice first.”

“Ice!” the third voice exclaimed.

Laughter boomed down the alley.

Three gromathi, spiked heads, walked into view on the feed. Two of the gromathi, as they walked into view wore Red Hands leather jackets made for gromathi, spaces over the shoulders for their spikes to show. On the back of each jacket the Red Hands logo, a bloody fist clutched and unclutched with each step they took. Both of the Red Hand gangers had the gang’s trademark mechanical augmented red right hand. The third, obviously younger gromathi wore a red shirt and spent a lot of time looking at his right organic hand.

“Alright kid, we will wait for you in the waiting room,” the first rough voice said as they walked into the building.

“Did you see that,” Chuck whispered excitedly.

“We saw it,” Puddles responded.

“If Eth’s information is correct, an hour from now they should leave,” Chuck said, “Can one of you take my place?”

“I will be there in a few minutes,” Whiskers replied.

“Thank you.”

Games We Play: Tokaido & Teaching Warhammer 40k

Day two of weekend of gaming was fun! Only two games, but they were as I said previously, fun. Both games are new to the majority of people playing, making yesterday a teaching gaming day. Those are always fun and fraught with the tension of teaching a game to catch interest and not overwhelming new players so they give up. This is more important with games like Warhammer 40k that has volumes and years of rules. I think I did well, today people are painting their armies. 🙂

Tokaido

Should be a relaxing game. Should be. Unfortunately, Tokaido can and for us did, become rather cutthroat. I mention this upfront because a lot of people, including us, like Tokaido, but they fail to mention that games can turn cutthroat competitive in a heartbeat.

The premise is simple, you are a traveler walking from one end of Japan to the other. Along the way you have to stop at inns for rest and food. Other than that the only other things you have to do is stop at various points between inns, no die rolling, the choice is yours. Stop at a village to shop, a farm for money, visit with some people on the road, hit the hot springs, pay your respects at the temple, or stop to paint. Task completion is easy, draw a card and collect the reward or pay money to purchase one or more cards drawn.

The kicker, movement is always forward, there are only so many spots at each stop, and the player last on the road is the first to move. Here is the cutthroat aspect, if you and another player are attempting the same thing, such as finish a multi-panel painting first, blocking them requires a bit of planning. With less than four players this should not be much of an issue, with five, at one point or another, especially at the end of the game blocking became as much of a strategy as picking spots beneficial to the player.

Even with the potential for cutthroat play, Tokaido is a game I highly recommend for families. Our kids liked playing a lot, the adults enjoyed playing with the kids, and after the first inn stop everyone should know the rules. Really that simple.

Warhammer 40k

Warhammer 40k is a complex game, not a game I recommend for anyone without them playing a game or two with someone else’s pieces, and the understanding that Warhammer 40k is a very upfront heavy investment of money and time. Catch that?

For our family, 40k is a great game the children are learning:

  • patience
  • painting, a whole set of skills
  • math
  • planning, short and long term
  • risk versus reward
  • and so much more…

The problem for us, other than the lack of gaming for two weeks, only one of us (me) really knows the rules. Unlike many games where one person can know the rules, 40k is best when everyone understands the basic rules, some of the advanced rules, and ALL of the rules of their army. Yes, three sets of rules (see why I don’t recommend this for everyone?).

The goal, to teach everyone including me the basic rules. When stripped down, 40k rules are easy to learn, the big problem for me is the stats, every miniature and every weapon a miniature holds has a stat line, think 4 to 8 numbers and associated use, such as WS for weapon skill how well the miniature is at hitting other miniatures with their fist or weapon in fist or I for initiative used during melee combat or AP for armor piercing, how well a weapon penetrates (negates) armor.

Suffice to say, for me the entire stat thing should be boiled down into something more intuitive and easier, however until I come up with that system or they do we use what we have. The solution to teaching everyone how to play, everyone gets the same people with the same stats. That way they can focus on learning how to move and how to attack.

Here is what I learned, painted miniatures are much cooler to everyone, same with terrain. We had a lot of gray on the field of play. Choosing the same miniatures for everyone while “boring” allowed them to focus on learning and asking questions. Also allowed me to insert knowledge for later use, such as different types of troops and weapon choices. Everyone needs to wear comfy shoes, there is a lot standing around the table, and/or more breaks. I know games will speed up as everyone learns the game, but for a while comfy shoes. Based one everyone working on their army this morning, I think the first learning game went well.

 

 

 

 

Games We Play: Roll For Get Bit Snakebite On the Oregon Trail…and more

Day one of game weekend went well. Before diving into the last two scenarios of Rise of the Goblins we played several mini-games (as in small bite sized (this will come up in a minute)).

Roll For It

Roll For It is a die rolling, gambling/press your luck game. The goal to score 40 points before the other players. To score points you roll up to six 6-sided dice and place the results of your roll onto cards that have images of dice on them. For example, a card might have an image of a 1, 3, and two 5s. To score the card, you must have a die with a 1, 3, and two more dice with 5s showing on the card. Here is the catch, once a die or dice are placed on the card, they stay there until the card is scored by you or someone else. The challenge, allocating your dice in a way that leaves you dice to roll with a good chance of success, while other players do the same.

Roll For It is simple, but not as quick as expected. Between luck of the die and luck of the card draw a few of our games went over 30 minutes. Over five rounds, everyone won a round with the last round being the tie breaker. We had fun, but there were several times where one or more us scored no cards, kind of a downer for that game. If you purchase, get the deluxe tin, save yourself some hassle.

Get Bit

You are a robot swimming with your buddies when a shark shows up and tries to eat one of you, try to swim faster than your buddies. Get Bit is cute, you get several robots that you can and will tear the arms and legs off of and one shark. Gameplay is simple, each player has a hand of seven cards numbered 1 thru seven. Each round, each player plays a card in secret, reveal and resolve. From lowest to highest number each player moves to the front of the swim line. If there is a tie those players do not move. At the end of a round, the robot in last loses a limb (tear off an arm or leg), when all four limbs are gone your robot is out of the game.

The kids loved this, the adults caught onto card counting and paying attention to player patterns a bit too quick, resulting in a lot of games where adults tried harder to be unpredictable in card play than the kids or they probably should’ve. Avoid the deluxe version, the regular version may not come with stickers, but is cheaper and the game is the same.

Oregon Trail

If you are old enough you remember Oregon Trail as one of the first text based video games. The goal then as now, get your wagon trail from one side of the country to the other. Like then, Oregon Trail is a vicious, but fun game. Oregon Trail was the surprise hit of the night and we lost.

Oregon Trail is a cooperative game, win or lose together. Players start the game with a hand of trail and supply cards. The number of supply cards varies with the number of players. On a turn a player may:

  • Play a trail card, follow any instructions on the trail card
  • Play a supply card, usually in response to one or more calamity cards in play

Play five trail cards, create a stack, start a new row of trail cards, create ten stacks of five and you win. The problem, life on the Oregon Trail is rough. Rivers need to be forded; failing to ford costs supplies (washed down river)-our first river took 5 supply cards. If rivers were not hard enough, there are plenty of trail cards that force players to draw calamity cards.

I died from typhoid, if the river had not claimed all of our medicine I might have lived

Our boy caught cholera, broke his arm, got cured, then died literally the next turn to a snake bite

Our girl and Barb got just over half way to their destination, when calamity struck in the form of dead oxen stranding them

Yes, we died, but we had a lot of fun playing. I suggest Oregon Trail for the whole family, hell if nothing else you get a dry erase board to write your created names on and tombstones on the back to write how you died. 🙂

Finally RISE OF THE RUNELORDS GOBLINS

We ended the night with Rise of the Goblins, we had two scenarios to finish Rise of the Runelords Adventure Deck One and we wanted to get them done. Here is the major difference between a non-goblin character and a goblin character, non-goblin characters do not do harm to others as part of their turn to turn activities. Some of the best goblin moments involve hurting fellow goblins to activate other abilities, such as setting off a spell bomb that damages everyone, but they got extra dice.

There isn’t much to say about the last two scenarios, we won and won well. The hardest moment was one of the first cards, Shopkeepers Daughter who nuked me for six cards. Things should get more interesting with deck 2.

Back to gaming.

Pink Tank, Big Table

Two weeks!

Two weeks without gaming.

This is a long dry spell for us.

The cracks are starting to show.

I know as I write this I am potentially cursing this weekend in the same way someone washing their car causes rain, BULLSHIT I say. The ick has left the house, Barb’s work schedule has cleared, and other obstacles to three days of gaming have been cleared.

The funny thing is long periods, in this case two weeks after months of gaming, really do affect all us in different ways. Moodiness, listlessness, and the constant talk about the games we could be playing “if this and that” weren’t in the way. To distract most of us, we have painted and planned. Lots of miniatures sit on shelves in rows waiting their chance to hit the tabletop and wage war for us.

We cannot wait to see them and show them to you. Sure there will be plenty of gray figures (those not painted yet), but the focus for us will be playing. To that end we have a laundry list of games to play and while I am positive not all of them will get played, we will do our damndest to game.

At this moment, our new game table has Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Rise of the Goblins set up, waiting for us to gather round tomorrow evening. The new table is almost as exciting as the thought of playing. For years we have tried to cram one game after another on a long diner table. Games require space and a diner table has space for food and feasts and no matter what size feast we have had just about every game takes up more space.

Frustration they name is when there is not enough space to roll dice without scattering pieces or needing a second table to hold other pieces. Frustration begone! Devil us no more, at least at the gaming table. That picture is our new gaming table, notice the space! I said NOTICE THE SPACE! Everyone has enough space for their character and the pieces necessary for play. Hot damn!

This table allows us to play miniature games, such as Warhammer 40k as they were meant to be played, with space to set up terrain, armies, and move them about without knocking just about everything around.

So here is the deal, I hope, starting sometime in the evening Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Rise of the Goblins. I think we are shooting for finishing the first Adventure Deck. Then a mini-game of Get Bit, Roll For It, or Oregon Trail. Something small and light to break up the long games of Pathfinder.

The next day, Warhammer 40k. I have to teach the rules to three people that I know of and they have been working on their miniatures to one extent or another and want to play badly. Which brings me around to a request from our daughter, a pink tank to match (match is used rather liberally) her pink Imperial Guard squad.

I have no problem at all painting miniatures anyway someone wants. I use the various and numerous army lists and images as reference only. I have painted armies solid black with anarchy symbols, another like KISS, another with pinstripes, another with bubblegum balls as camouflage, and so on. My paint jobs have driven many a purist into a frothy rage. Fine with me, I play better than I paint. So, over the last two weeks I have painted a lot of figures for play, tonight I finally got to her tank; right now base coat of pink, bright blue tiger stripes to come. 🙂

And after all of the above is done there is talk of Sushi Go Party! and Tokaido. If all goes well (knocking on wood) there will be several Games We Play. 🙂

An Explosion Of Reading

I don’t like cleaning up after other people, read my family, however that is one of my many jobs as a stay at home dad. Before you click away, this is not a post about bitching about anything, especially cleaning. This is a post about reading. Yes reading.

While cleaning up I have picked up six books and I know when I go back to cleaning I will find more. We are a family of readers. We did not used to be a family a readers, we used to be parents of children who did not want to read. Those were sad times.

Barb reads one book at a time, I read several books at a time. The point, being both of us read and have read around the children all of their lives. Part of their bedtime routine used to be Barb reading to them Harry Potter and more. Lots of reading. I believe reading is important for everyone for every facet of life. Reading has so many benefits.

The children wanted nothing to do with books or reading beyond what was required of them-school or rules for a game on a card put in front of them necessary for play-see really specific.

Then something happened. I have no clue what or exactly when; one day no reading and no desire to read then BAM books everywhere. Maybe not that fast, but one day our boy who hated reading wanted to play Warhammer 40k and read the rules. The rules lead to a codex, then another codex, then another codex, and then books.

Our girl began reading before him, she picked up a book and ran with it. Awesome we had lots of books for her to read and at her pace we thought we had plenty of time before we needed to get more. DONE! Her pace went up dramatically, along with her retention and comprehension.

Her reading got him reading more. Then his reading upped her game and her upped game, upped his game. The bonus, a lot of changes around the house:

The television died, sure they still watch something from time to time, but the days of coming home and plopping down in front of the TV are over…for now.

Conversations are deeper, richer, more frequent, and not about whatever toy they want.

As a family we have three main vices: game stores, bookstores, and craft stores. The kids did not like book or craft stores. Now, and this just happened, birthday trips (a tradition of ours, the birthday person gets to go wherever they want within reason) are to bookstores.

Instead of no books or one book bought grudgingly, a stack of books for each child. Books are one thing we do not mind spending money on. We are rethinking that a tiny bit. 🙂 For her birthday, our girl left the bookstore with three books, she wanted the remaining nine in the series.

Faces in books, great conversations, books for us to read (read one of your kid’s books just so you can carry on a conversation), and more family activities, doesn’t get much better than that.

 

Nail Clippers, Pages 25 & 26

Remember how I said, way back when I started this, that I felt the whole story went off the rails and then I gave up? Sure you do, if you don’t it’s in writing. Here is where the wheels really began to wobble. See, I like Old Man Jenkins. I like him as a serial killer of sorts. However, I like him not as a serial killer of sorts. When I wrote this I wasn’t ready to make a decision, he kept being loveable and creepy. So I extended the story by adding new characters, in fact here are two now, a police officer and a reporter…see where this is going? Good, cuz I hope to get there. Enjoy. 🙂

Previously.

“Awesome game Banks,” Officer Coughlin said as he walked past Chloe Banks standing at the bar.

“Thanks,” Detective Chloe Banks said over her shoulder, “Bobby another round for the team.”

Already celebrating their victory over division rivals, the bar erupted in cheers.

****

“Silverberg!”

Running his hands over his unshaven face, he wondered what he had done this time. Standing outside the editor’s office, Jacob ran a hand through his thinning hair and straightened out his suit jacket. He tried to put on his best smile, but the best he could muster was his “not so downtrodden” expression.

“Shut the door!” Editor in Chief Ramsey yelled.

Jacob shut the door and sat down with a thud in front of Ramsey’s desk. Even though Jacob barely respected his boss, he always admired how clean and organized the man’s desk and office was. Jacob’s desk was a mess from top to bottom.

Ramsey held Jacob’s latest story between his thumb and index finger waving it in Jacob’s direction, “Do you read what you write before you send it to me or do you write it 15 minutes before deadline and hope that nobody notices?”

****

Parking in front of their garage, Jax checked the clock on dashboard. He looked over at Jetta who was looking back at him.

“One hell of a night,” he said, putting the car in park.

“Sure was.”

Later, lying in bed, Jetta rolled onto her side to face Jax finishing another book on crossbreeding roses, “What do you think about having Mandy over for dinner this weekend?”

He turned the page, put his finger between the pages, and set the book on his lap before responding. “Sounds like a great idea to me. We could use the grill.”

“I’ll call her and see if she has the time. How is the book?”

“This might be the ticket,” Jax said holding the book up, “I’m taking plenty of notes.”

A stack of Post-It-Notes sat on the nightstand. Jetta loved his note taking, she found some of his notes stuck to walls, clothing, or in other random places all of the time. Each time he responded the same way, “I had an idea.”

Rolling over she said, “Don’t stay up too late.”

****

Jenkins checked the kitchen clock, eleven fifty-nine flashed twice before noon flashed. Anytime now, Jenkins thought. Barbossa hopped onto the kitchen table.

“Meow,” she said sniffing around the table, doing her best to not look interested in the plate with two strips of bacon.

“Go ahead,” Jenkins said.

Barbossa sniffed the plate, snatched a piece of bacon, and hopped to the floor with her prize. Barbossa stopped eating, ears up. Jenkins looked outside, a Mayer’s delivery truck pulled into the driveway at that moment.

“Your ears are much better than mine,” he said, tossing the last piece of bacon to her.

Half an hour later Jenkins threw open the doors to the tornado shelter. The deliverymen had been nice enough to bring the boxes to the tornado shelter. Carrying the first box, he descended into the shelter, the musty odor overpowering. Jenkins set the box down and fumbled for the string to turn on the light. With a tug, the light illuminated the shelter, dirt walls and floor with vines sticking out of the walls here and there. Lots of potential and work, Jenkins thought as he headed up the steps to get the rest of the boxes.

“Meow. Meow,” Barbossa said rubbing up against Jenkins leg.

He looked down at Barbossa, “Go play.”

“Meow. Meow,” Barbossa said with a tone Jenkins recognized as hunger.

At that thought, Jenkins’ stomach rumbled loudly. Odd, how long had he been working, he thought as he looked to the tornado shelter entrance and saw night sky. He looked around the shelter; boxes and packing material lay in a pile in the center of the room. A wooden table and pegboard were against the back wall. A variety of hammers, saws, and other tools hung from hooks in the pegboard. Several blue storage tubs sat in the corner next to the table. Next to the tubs a large wooden frame stood. Where Jenkins stood, pieces for a larger table lay in a pile. On top of the pile were two table legs attached to the tabletop. Time flies, Jenkins thought.

“I’m sorry,” he said to Barbossa, “I did not realize how long I had been working. Let’s get some food.”