A Duel Betwixt Us – A Review

After a rough kickstarter campaign, my copy of A Duel Betwixt Us arrived today. Game Salute stepped in and helped get the production back on track, with regular updates to make sure we knew what was going on. The packaging is very well done, with a large box, bagged and shrink wrapped cards, and pop-up boxes to store the cards in once they’re unbagged. Those boxes are sized so that the cards will fit whether they’re sleeved or not.

In A Duel Betwixt Us, you assume the role of a Victorian gentleman (or lady) and attempt to defeat your rival on the field of honor. Reese and I did a read through of the rules and then set up a game to play test it. The rules are pretty simple, with a quick setup and an easy turn based play mode. You draw cards that represent different weapons and armor that you have to build in order to use, as well as ones that represent events (actions that happen to you, your rival, or both of you) or tricks (used to alter the outcome of a duel). You have miners that toil for you, creating the ingots that are used to build your equipment, as well as occasionally fighting for you or being attacked by your rival.

And finally, there’s the dueling. There are a number of different duel cards, with different types of duels which each have different rules about which kinds of equipment and other cards can be used. Combat is simple, once a duel has been declared both players declare which equipment they will be using, play any tricks, and then total up the numbers on the items. The winner takes either a favor from their rival or adds two new miners to make them more ingots. When one player has taken all of the favors from the other, the game ends and they win.

We had a good time playing it, with a full game taking about an hour to complete including reading the rules and doing the setup. This should be a fast, fun game for parties or other gatherings because even the audience will be amused at the snark in the cards and gameplay.

The game box

The game box.

The box contents

The box contents.

Samurai Exhibit At The Kimbell Art Museum

Reese, Heather, and I headed down to Fort Worth to check out the samurai exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum. We got there just in time to take a docent led tour of the exhibit, as opposed to just listening to the audio tour. It was a really interesting exhibit, with lots of suits of armor, helmets, and even clothing. There was a lot more variation in the details of the armor, such as the helmets and the decoration on the do, than I was expecting. And the condition of the textiles and other pieces was very impressive. The colors were a little faded by time, but they were still strong.

It didn’t take long to go through, and it’s there until the end of August, so please take the time to go. You won’t be disappointed.

Amazon Prime Paid For Itself On A Shop Fox Drill Press

I ordered a Shop Fox W1668 drill press, the next to the last tool for the wood shop, from Amazon today. They’re claiming that it’s Prime eligible, which means that the savings on the free shipping should just about cover the Prime annual membership fee.

This is a bench mounted drill press, not a floor mounted one, so I’m going to have to pick up a stand for it. It’s not as big as some of the floor mounted ones, but with it on a stand it’ll be a little more mobile, which matters since we’ve got some space constraints in the garage. Now to watch the package tracking to see if this is really going to arrive in two days…

Dovetail Demo At Rockler Woodworking

We hopped in the car and drove out to the Richardson Rockler store to watch the live demo of the dovetail router jig and pick one up while it was on sale. The demo went well, and while I’m planning on wrecking a bunch of scrap wood before I start making boxes with dovetails, I’ve got a much better understanding of how to cut the joints. We also picked up a finger joint jig and some other router supplies including a micro-adjuster for the router fence. But the score of the day was the JET 10″ band saw that we got for about 1/3 off of the regular price. We’ve been planning on buying one and this was definitely the right price at the right time. Now to finish cleaning up the garage so that we’ve got room for them…

Alaska Cruise – Day 11

Not much to report about today. We got to the airport and while looking for some lunch, found that Beecher’s Handmade Cheese had a location inside the terminal. That made us really happy because we had wanted to pick some up down at Pike Place but couldn’t because of the TSA’s rules. That’s no longer a problem, and we’re coming home with some regular and smoked cheddars, a goat gouda, and some blue. The flight was uneventful, and we got in on-time. Unpacking will happen tomorrow, it’s time to fall over now.

Alaska Cruise – Day 10

Today was the last day of the cruise, and we pulled in to Seattle pretty early in the morning. Disembarkation was a little more chaotic than our last cruise thanks to the missing central staircase on the Grand Princess. But we managed to slide in to one of the earlier groups and got off the ship pretty quickly. From there we took a cab over to the hotel, got our luggage dropped off, and snagged some breakfast.

We walked back to Pike Place Market and did a little more last minute shopping before heading over to Fado’s, the pub we had wanted to go to on the Friday before we set sail. The food was great, and while we were definitely too tired to make it there last time, it was good that we didn’t miss out on it. While we were there we got to watch a little of the World Cup and Heather got to see her first dive. It was quite amusing.

We grabbed a cab and went back to Seattle Center to go to the EMP Museum. They have a sci-fi/fantasy/horror exhibit that we were dying to check out, and it was worth the visit. There were lots of interactive exhibits and props from movies like The Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, as well as props from Star Wars, Stargate, and Game of Thrones. Once we got done with that section we went up to the music exhibits and took in a great Jimi Hendrix exhibit as well as one on Nirvana.

We took the monorail back to the hotel, dropped our loot, and headed down to Pike Brewing Company for dinner. We weren’t too hungry so we just ordered appetizers and shared around. Plus a tasting flight of some of their limited and seasonal releases to cap the evening off. We walked back to the hotel in the rain, said our goodbyes to Sandy and David, and settled in for the night. Tomorrow we fly home.

Alaska Cruise – Day 9

Even though today wasn’t really a sea day, it felt like it because we didn’t get in to Victoria, BC until 7:00 PM. We had Reese’s cake for breakfast and it was deliciously light and fluffy. The weather had improved, so we were able to eat out on the balcony without freezing. After breakfast, Reese headed back up to the kids club to hang out for the day and we continued to back our bags.

Around lunch time we went down to one of the dining rooms to track down one of our waiters. She’s from Ukraine, is Orthodox, and wanted to see pictures of our wedding. We did manage to catch up with her and, I think, made her day with the pictures.

From there we went up to the passenger services desk to make sure our accounts were correct. We had some minor billing errors on the last cruise, and didn’t catch them until it was almost too late. This time we took care of it early. While the girls were sorting something out, I did a little shopping and found a good deal on a Citizen Eco-Drive watch. Nothing too flashy, but it looks good and will never need batteries.

Later in the afternoon we had high tea, which was interesting. There were some nice finger sandwiches as well as some good brewed tea, as well as some fun conversation with the people we shared the table with. After that we went and sorted through our pictures, placing our orders for prints and a thumb drive with the digital versions.

We pulled in to Victoria, BC on time and Reese and I got our paperwork together and headed off the ship for his first visit to another country. Once we cleared Canadian immigration, which amounted to walking through a building with no paperwork checks, we popped over to the local information kiosk to get some information on local restaurants and pubs. While waiting in line we ran in to the stereotypical ugly American, who was upset that his mobile phone wasn’t working. I asked him who his carrier was, but he didn’t know. So I asked him who he paid his bill to, he said he didn’t have one and that he just bought minutes when he needed them. To that I replied that he was out of luck because none of the prepaid carriers would have negotiated any meaningful kind of international roaming. His response was to tell me that he didn’t like my answer. At that point we were all sick of him so my response was that whether he liked it or not didn’t make it any less right. He stormed off in a huff, probably to make someone else miserable.

We got our information, including a suggestion for a local restaurant, and shared a cab in to town with another couple. We got dropped off close to 10 Acres, the restaurant recommendation from the docks, and got our names on the list for a seat. The menu wasn’t something Reese would enjoy so we walked down the street to a burger place and got him fed. It was perfect timing because we walked in 10 Acres just as our table became available. I ordered a local IPA and had their charcuterie for dinner. The food was amazing, delicious meats, cheeses, pickles, and this chicken liver spread that was absolutely fantastic. This place deserves a visit if you’re in the area.

After dinner we walked around town, did some souvenir shopping, and some picture taking. Since it was such a short stop, we didn’t do too much, but we got to walk around town a bit before taking a cab back to the docks. We got back before Heather and Sandy did, but they were doing high tea at the Empress Hotel, so that was to be expected. I actually got to see them walking back down the dock from our balcony. We finished the last of our packing and got to sleep at a reasonable hour. We’re getting off the ship pretty early tomorrow, so having everything squared away tonight was a must.

Alaska Cruise – Day 8

Today was a sea day, and after how busy the last three days have been, that was really welcome. We had a balcony breakfast with even more of that delicious salmon before dropping Reese off at the kids center for his Junior Chef at Sea activity. They were getting together with the ship’s pastry chef to make some sort of dessert for us. While he was out, we started packing up some of our clothes and loot because, sadly, the cruise is coming to it’s end. We did a little running around, sorted through some of the pictures that the ship’s photographers took of us, and just relaxed for the rest of the time before dinner.

Tonight was the second, and final, formal night of the cruise, which we used to get some more good portraits of all of us in various groupings. After we got done with the picture taking, we let Reese go back up to the kids club for dinner instead of hanging out with the adults at the formal dining. They served Baked Alaska for dessert tonight, including a parade where the waiters marched around the dining room in a conga line carrying them with the lights out. It’s the first time any of us had had it, and it was pretty tasty. We also got Reese’s dessert delivered to the table. He made, iced, and decorated a two layer cake that is going to be our breakfast pastry tomorrow morning.

After that we went back to the cabins and turned in. We’ve got another almost sea day tomorrow before we arrive in Victoria, BC later in the evening.

Alaska Cruise – Day 7

We cruised in to Skagway this morning, our last Alaskan port, and headed off to meet our excursion group. Reese and I booked a helicopter glacier tour, which would be both of our first times in helicopters and on a glacier. We got shuttled over to Temsco‘s airfield, went through the safety briefing, and put on our life vests and glacier boots before heading outside to wait for the helicopters. They got us loaded up pretty quickly and then we were off. We flew down the coast before heading in to the mountains, getting treated to some amazing views of snowy peaks, glacial lakes, and finally, our destination: the Meade glacier.

We landed, got out of the helicopter, and went over to the staging area to meet our guides. The first thing we noticed was how cold it was on the ice, the second thing was that we forgot to pack gloves. Our guides gave us a short orientation before taking us out to hike around for a while. We got to see a number of moulins, listening to the meltwater roar through them, and seeing that amazing glacier blue in person. We also got to see some of the small rocks that we could see from the helicopter as we came in. They’re not so small in person, but there’s just no way to get the scale of a mile wide river of ice without actually being on it. We also got to taste some of the meltwater, which was delicious! Sadly, we had to head back to the base camp to catch a helicopter back to the airfield.

The pilot took us back via a slightly different course, giving us a chance to see some mountain goats, a couple more smaller glaciers, and more mountains. We arrived back at the airfield and headed inside to get out of our gear and do a little souvenir shopping before going in to town to meet up with the girls.

We got shuttled in to Skagway and got dropped off right next to one of the National Parks Service buildings, which was helpful since we needed to get stamps for it. After that, we walked over to where the girls were, did a little shopping, and then went over to the Skagway Brewing Company for some lunch and brews. I ordered a tasting flight to get a feel for their brews, and while all of the beers were pretty good, the Spruce Tip Blonde really stood out. It was so good that I ordered a pint to enjoy with my burger.

After lunch we walked around and did a little more shopping before heading back to the ship. Just before getting to the gangway, we realized that we’d misplaced the bag with our helicopter souvenirs. After a quick dash back along our route we realized that it was gone, so we quickly made our way back to the airfield and picked some more up before heading back to the ship. We got back with plenty of time to spare thanks to the most excellent staff at Temsco who shuttled us back instead of us having to walk. That capped off our last day in Alaska, and the most northern part of the cruise. Tomorrow is a sea day, and then we’re going to be in Victoria, BC.

Alaska Cruise – Day 6

We started the day with a balcony breakfast as we sailed in to Tracy Arm fjord. We were a little concerned about this part of the trip because the cruise immediately before us wasn’t able to get very far in due to ice and weather. Thankfully that wasn’t an issue for us, and we enjoyed some amazing views while we ate some delicious salmon and crab. There were quite a few glacier blue icebergs floating in the water, but we were able to avoid all of them and get all the way in so that we could see the Sawyer glacier. We spent a little time there before turning back and heading out. On the way out we were treated to some glass smooth seas and got to see a solitary humpback whale from our balconies.

From Tracy Arm, we sailed to up to Juneau to spend the rest of the day on land. Our first stop was the AJ Mine Gastineau Mill tour. We got to go in to what was once a working gold mine, learned about hard rock mining, and got to do a little panning for gold. Reese spent a good bit of time panning and ended up with some decent flakes and a few garnets.

We headed back in to town after that tour and split off. I went down to the Alaskan Brewery‘s store to sign up for the tour and tasting while the rest of the group walked around and shopped. I missed the shuttle by about five minutes, so after signing up for the next one, I wandered around and did a little shopping. Once we were ready to leave, we got in the van and drove out to the brewery. We went past the governor’s mansion and down to the industrial area where the brewery actually is. You’ll have to use ground transportation to get there because it’s about 6 miles outside town.

The tour was pretty quick because the tasting room, which was the original brewery, is smack in the middle of the brewery. We could see everything from the three sides of the room while we sampled some of their great beers. We got to drink the Amber, White, Icy Bay IPA, and Smoked Porter. All of them were great, but I really loved the smoked porter. They smoke the malt in-house with alder, using a salmon smoker they bought a few years ago. After we finished the tasting, we went out to the store and got to try a few more beers they had on tap. I tried the Gold Creek Ale and Taku River Red Ale, both of which were good, but I liked the red more. It’s a pretty hoppy red ale and I really hope it goes in to national distribution. I picked up a bottle of their barley wine and a bottle of their raspberry wheat to bring home (hopefully they’ll survive the luggage gorillas) and then headed back in to town.

When I got back, I pinged Heather and headed for the Mt. Roberts Tramway. I missed the rest of the group, actually watching their car pull away and go up the mountain, so I caught the next one and met them at the top. We wandered around, doing a little shopping, before watching a film about the Tlingit people. The tramway and everything at the top is run by a native-owned corporation, so we made sure to spend some money there. After that, we went back down and headed back to the ship to grab a really late dinner.