Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cigars for Christmas (Late but Highly Anticipated)

I got my cigars today!

I regularly go to a forum called EDCF (Every Day Carry Forum). The forum focuses on the stuff you carry with you everyday. Some of it is survivalist stuff (you know, stuff you gotta have with you for when the balloon goes up), but a lot of it is just regular everyday stuff that folks that want to be prepared carry.

As an Eagle Scout, I am fairly dedicated to the Boy Scout Motto of: Be Prepared.

Anyways, there was a thread on this forum about what your favorite cigars are. One of the guys participating is from Holland. He was touting the merits of Dutch cigars and offered to send some to anybody who wanted to learn of the majesty of cigars from the Low Countries.

I thought it was a great offer so I asked for some back in November. They finally came today.

I am not complaining at all. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when he is carrying free cigars.

He sent nine cigars (9!) in a VCR tape case. They were also in a Ziploc bag (which was opened, presumably by Customs). Very very generous and now I owe him something, most likely a favorable review of the products of Holland (although some of them may actually be from Cuba (shh)).

I'm really looking forward to trying them and reporting on my experience. My main posts will be on the EDCF, but I'll copy them here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Well, the poll is closed and nobody voted. I did, but that doesn't count.

I went looking for my last year's resolutions and I could have sworn that I had made a resolution to swim 100 miles (that's just about one mile twice a week, but I never got my schedule so I could actually go swimming for an hour at a time) but I guess I didn't.

Here are my resolutions for the last two years and the new ones for this year:

  • Get paid to publish Reach Out Didn't happen
  • Complete Level 1 of Rosetta Stone Greek Not quite
  • Communicate with extended family once a week Still need to work on this
  • Write another book Guya Principal, see post on this blog
  • Christmas Story Book on CD Nope


  • Publish Reach Out - Edit - Submit to publisher - Sign contract Didn't even do the editing
  • Publish Guya Principal - Edit - Submit to publisher - Sign contract Some editing, that's all
  • Complete Level 1 of Rosetta Stone Greek Still nope
  • Communicate with extended family once a week I hope their not too disappointed in me

So why do I do it? Why do I keep making resolutions when I can't seem to keep them? It feels SO good when you do make them (I did once, back in 99 or so) and besids, it gives your Jiminy Cricket one more bullet for his guilt gun.

Here are the ones for 2008:

  • Make >$1000 Writing
  • Communicate with extended family once a week
  • Submit 12 Novel Queries
  • Complete Level 1 of Rosetta Stone Greek
  • Swim 100 miles

Friday, January 04, 2008

TRP After a Trial

On New Year's Day we finally got a chance to play Traders, Raiders and Pirates.

I think everybody enjoyed the game after wrapping their brains around the idea of it.

Here are the rules we played under and some comments from a friend who really knows his wargames.

Traders, Raiders and Pirates
Game Rules

Traders, Raiders and Pirates (TRP) is a pirate board game for two to seven players in which you get to design your ship, build a fleet; you get to decide if you want to be a loyal trader of your chosen nation or if you want to go free-lance and become a pirate. You can make treaties and you can make war. You can even become a Pirate Prince, Princess or a Royal Governor!

I. Object of the Game – To make money! Seriously, the object of TRP is to make as much money as you can, by trading, stealing, fighting, cheating and capturing prizes. The first player to become a Royal Governor or a Pirate Prince(ss) wins.

II. Equipment
A. Map
B. Ship counters
C. Ship logs
D. Ship log markers (3 for each ship)
E. Treasure marker
F. 6 six sided dice (d6 means six sided dice hereafter called dice)
G. Checkered tablecloth for a map board
H. Poker chips to keep track of money
I. Model ships (Lego, wood or cardboard)

III. Set Up
1. All players roll a single die (d6) with the highest roller going first throughout the game.
2. The other players take turns in a clockwise direction.
3. This order of players never changes no matter how may ships a player has or doesn’t have (see Capture).
B. CHOSE A NATION - Each player chooses a nation to belong to, or chooses to be a pirate; they then chose a home port to start at.
1. Spanish (Green) ports are Santa Claus and San Jose.
2. French (Red) ports are Saint Franc and Monique.
3. British (Blue) ports are Porkport (on Pork Island) and Chickenton (on Chicken Island)
4. The pirate port is Tortuga on Tortuga Island.
1. Place the map on a good, big table.
2. In order of play each player places their home island. Tortuga is always exactly in the middle.
3. Once all home ports are placed then in order of play each player places the other island port of their nation from 12 to 18 squares from their home port.
a. Measure from the ports with no regard for the other island spaces
b. No islands may touch each other
c. Islands from the same nation must be east and west of each other (not north and south of each other).
1. Traders and Pirates each get $30 to build a ship (you cannot start the game as a Raider).
2. Each Class of ship (size of the ship that determines how many guns and how much cargo a ship can carry) cost $6.
a. Class can never be changed.
b. Circle your class on your ship’s log
3. Each level of Speed or Gun cost $1.
4. You do not have to spend all your BoG, but it is recommended.
5. Name your ship and put the name and yours on your ship’s log. Circle your nationality.
6. Place markers on your Speed and Guns.
7. Any poker chips of money you have get placed on the “Gold” block of your log.
1. Place your Cargo counters on the port you load them on.
a. This will assure you remember from what port you last sailed.
b. You cannot sell your Cargo at this port, but you can trade your Cargo for repairs.

IV. Phases and Keeping Track
A. Play occurs in four “Phases,” Move, Fight, Move, Business. Any of these phases can be skipped.
1. MOVE. A player moves into position. Both move phases can only add up to the total of a ships movement points.
2. FIGHT. Players can fire on one or more ships, but each gun can only fire once per turn.
3. MOVE2. A player can close after a battle, move on to conduct business, or retreat.
4. BUSINESS. This includes capturing a prize ship, exchanging pay or bribes, conducting repairs (while in port), selling cargo, picking up new cargo, building a new ship, looking for treasure, or buying a port (and winning the game).
a. Cargo can be stolen in battle,
b. given up as a bribe,
c. traded with other ships,
d. traded for repairs in any of your nations ports,
e. or sold in a port other than the one in which it was acquired.
f. Circle the maximum amount of Cargo your ship can carry and keep track of how much is actually carried with your counter.
a. Can be lost in battle and regained or increased in port.
b. Circle the level of Speed you have purchased and keep track of damage with your counter.
3. BoG
a. Can be stolen in battle,
b. given up as a bribe,
c. earned by selling cargo
d. used to pay for improvements in your ship
e. and used to buy a new ship or port.
f. Keep track of how many BoG a ship has by placing poker chips in the “Gold” block.
a. Can be lost as battle damage or gained by buying more in port.
b. Circle the number of Guns you have purchased and keep track of damage with your counter.

V. Movement
A. The total number of points your ship can move is the points of speed you have at the beginning of your turn. The total number of points you move in both movement phases can only add up to this number.
B. The wind in the Caribbean during the game blows from East to West.
C. Changing direction costs one movement point regardless of the ship’s relation to the wind.
D. Movement costs are dependant on the ship’s relation to the wind.
1. Moving diagonally into the Northeast or Southeast square costs 2 movement points.
2. Moving into the North, South or West squares costs 1 movement points.
3. Moving into the Northwest or Southwest squares cost ½ a movement point.
E. A ship cannot move over or through another ship or a land square.

VI. Battle
A. After the initial movement, a ship may fire one of all of its guns on any ship directly in line with their broadsides. Each gun may only be fired once per turn.
B. The player rolls a die for each gun fired. If the roll is less than the distance between the ships then a hit is scored.
C. Hits cost a BoG, a point of speed or the removal of a gun. All costs are taken before return fire is given.
D. A defending ship may return fire.
1. Return fire is done with any remaining guns.
2. Fire may only be returned if the defender’s broadsides are pointed at the attacker (therefore it behooves the attacker to rake the bow or stern).
E. When a ship’s speed goes to zero it will sink if the attacker does not take it as a prize.
1. When a ship sinks all her BoG, guns and cargo sink away.
2. A Trader whose ship sinks will get one replacement ship back in their home port. The player builds a new ship with $24.
3. Pirates who sink do not get a replacement ship.
F. An attacker may fire on more than one ship during their turn, but each gun may fire only once per turn.

VII. Capture
A. An attacker may choose to take a prize of a ship that is sinking.
1. The attacker must move adjacent to the sinking ship.
2. The attacker chooses the number of speed points to transfer from the attacking ship to the sinking ship in the form of a prize crew. The attacker must move at least one speed point to the sinking ship to keep it afloat.
B. A defender may strike her colors, or surrender. The defending captain states that he surrenders.
1. A defender may not fire or escape after striking.
2. The attacker need not move adjacent to the striking ship, unless the attacking captain wishes to transfer guns, cargo, speed (crew) or BoG. The attacker may also provide a captain for the struck ship (thus taking the other player out of the game).
C. A captured ship may be left to be captained by the original player, who now must obey commands of the owning player. The captured ship also becomes aligned to the new owner (becoming pirate for instance).
D. A captured ship takes their turn when the capturing ship does.
E. The captured captain, if left in command may escape control of the capturing captain (commodore) on the next turn.
F. A Trader does not get a replacement if their ship is taken as a prize.

VIII. Plunder
A. A Pirate or Raider who brings a ship to 0 Speed may come alongside and Plunder the ship of BoG, Guns or Cargo.
B. After Plundering a ship the attacker lets it sink without taking her as a prize.
C. Ships sunk after being Plundered are still eligible for replacement if they are Traders who have not yet replaced a ship.

IX. Business
1. When a ship enters port the captain may sell the ship’s cargo.
a. Traders receive 1 BoG for each ton of cargo brought to port.
i. Cargo may only be sold in a port other than the one in which it was loaded.
ii. A Trader that enters port will sell their cargo and receive a new load of cargo to transport to their other national port.
b. Pirates sell their cargo on the black-market and therefore roll one die for each ton of cargo.
i. A roll of 2, 3, 4, or 5 returns that many BoG.
ii. A roll of 1 or 6 means the pirate cannot find a buyer for the loot. The pirate looses the loot if they cannot sell it.
c. Raiders may sell cargo they take in a raid at Tortuga on the black market just like a pirate.
1. A captain may repair battle damage in one of their nation’s ports.
2. The captain may use BoG earned in that turn or trade Cargo for repairs.
3. Repairing 1 point of Speed or 1 gun each cost $1 BoG.
a. A captain with 7 or more BoG may build an additional ship in port.
b. The new ship will be placed on the board after the original ship leaves port on the next turn.
1. Speed and Guns may be improved while in port.
a. The cost of improvements will be equal to the total cost as if you were taking that level as building.
i. Example 1: If you want to improve from 3 guns to 4 then it will cost $4.
ii. Example 2: If you want to improve from 4 guns to 6 it will cost $6.
b. You may not improve a ship above 6 in either speed or guns.
1. A defending captain may pay bribes to an attacker to keep from being attacked.
2. Bribes may be in guns, cargo or BoG.
3. You may bribe your way out of being a Pirate. It cost $30 for each ship to change from Pirate to Trader or Raider and all your ships must convert at the same time.
1. Any ships may barter with each other. Bartering is trading.
2. Bartering with a Pirate if you are a Raider or Trader is illegal and will get your status changed into Pirate.

X. Treasure
A. The treasure is hidden on Tortuga Island.
B. Ships may search for the treasure by coming adjacent to an island square and rolling three dice (3d6).
1. If the player rolls three ones then they have found the treasure.
C. The treasure is worth 100 BoG.
D. You may not search the same square for treasure two turns in a row.
E. The treasure may be taken to a port and used to buy the port and win the game.
F. The treasure may be taken in battle or offered as a bribe, just like any other cargo.
G. If the treasure has been found and is in the possession of a ship then another ship will not “find” it on Tortuga.
H. If a ship with the treasure is sunk and the treasure isn’t Plundered from her, it returns to be hidden on Tortuga.

XI. Changing Your Status
A. Becoming a Pirate
1. You may change from a Trader or a Raider into a Pirate at anytime by simply doing something illegal (like attacking a ship from a friendly nation or selling cargo in Tortuga if you are a trader).
2. Mark a big, black "X" Through your nationality and circle "Pirate" on your ship's log.
3. If any of your ships become Pirates voluntarily then all of your ships are Pirates.
4. Involuntarily becoming a Pirate when captured.
B. Becoming a Raider
1. If your nation is at war, you may become a Raider if you are a Trader.
2. Put an "R" near your national designation on your Ship's Log.
3. If you have more than one ship, you may have any combination of Raiders and Traders.
4. Raiders sell cargo at Tortuga just like Pirates
5. Raiders may attack either Pirates or ships from the nation with which you are at war.
6. Raiders get one replacement ship for a destroyed ship, just like Traders.
7. Raiders may take cargo themselves from a home port to a home port, but why would they?
C. Becoming a Trader
1. Raiders may return to Trader status at any time.
2. Pirates may never change back into either a Trader or a Raider. Once a Pirate, always a Pirate except when you aren't.
a. You may return to Trader or Raider status from Pirate status if your ship had been captured and you were kept on as captain. If you escape control of the Pirates you may return to your former status.
b. You may pay a $30 bribe for each and every ship to return to Trader status.
i. All ships must convert at the same time.
ii. The money goes to the current Governor (who doesn't really exist so all the money is just taken from the players coffers).

XII. War and Alliances
A. War
1. At the end of each complete turn (all players have taken a turn) the first player rolls two dice (2d6) to determine the war status.
a. England is 1, France is 2, Spain is 3.
2. If there is no war and 1, 2 or 3 are rolled with a 1, 2, or 3 then those two nations are at war.
3. If a 4, 5 or 6 are rolled on either of the dice then there is no war. If doubles are rolled with any number, there is no war.
4. If a war already exists then it will end when a double is rolled. Any other combination of numbers means nothing.
· Example 1: If there is no war and a 1 and 2 are rolled then England and France are at war until a double is rolled.
· Example 2: War exists between France and Spain and a 1 and a 2 are rolled, nothing happens.
B. Alliances
1. Alliances may be made between any two friendly nations.
2. Alliances may be any sort of deal between the two colonies as long as they are not illegal.

XIII. Buying a Port or Winning the Game
A. A player intending to buy a port must bring the first ship into port and announce the intention to buy the port.
B. Each ship is brought into port and leaves all the BoG.
D. A Pirate or a Raider may enter the port and steal the BoG there during the process.
E. Once $100 are in port the player (as a Trader or Raider) has bought their Governorship and wins the game.
F. A pirate follows the same rules in the port of Tortuga. When the port is bought, the pirate becomes a Pirate Prince(ss) and wins the game.

These are the comments that MMC made:

1. Movement point cost to change “heading” with the wind should be 0.

2. Smaller islands…maybe add a few that are not ports as well, just obstacles. Make a random island location generator. Make the islands with wavy/curved shoreline drawn onto the “squared” pattern for better visual playability. Maybe even draw mountains or ground features to make them more pleasing to the eye. Cut them out of “green” poster board.

3. Allow a ship in port to be fired upon, but at an increased difficulty to be hit, maybe from adjacent range and with a roll of six to hit only.

4. Allow trade from any nationality port to any nationality port. Cargo would have a chance at having more value if taken to a more distant port. So, when cargo is delivered, roll to determine 1-3 gold pieces per cargo for a “near” port, 3-5 for a “medium” port, and 5-7 for a “distant” port. Trade to an enemy (at war with) port is not allowed.

5. Make up movement point ‘compass” that can be placed on map for the players quick and easy reference.

6. Ports should generate 1-3 (or something random) cargo each turn. When cargo is picked up, it would be actually removed from the port and placed upon the ship. Sometimes a port would have an abundance of cargo; sometimes it would have a dearth of cargo. This would cause the trade ships to race to a particular port that had cargo available. Cargo delivered and turned into gold would be removed at the port, and not added to the ports available cargo.

7. Make a very visible COLOR marker to distinguish each player’s ship(s) for easier game play recognition. Maybe place a colored die adjacent to each ship on the board.

8. Half the gun range, from a six squares (needing a roll of six to hit) to three squares (needing a roll of six to hit).

9. Reduce the variety of ship classes to four; ship-of-the-line, frigate, sloop, brig.

10. Change the term “guns” to “gun batteries”, sounds like you have more guns then.

11. I think you’ll need a playability rule so that no one blocks a port with their ship in it. Maybe you can only remain in port for one turn. This would keep a player with multiple ships from blocking a port that had an abundance of cargo available.