Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Seafall Interruptus

For anybody waiting with bated breath for the report on the next round of Seafall... well, keep on waiting, I'm afraid.  The player hosting our get-togethers had a bit of an accident shortly after our last game, putting it on hold for a few weeks, and no sooner did we try to get together again, he had another, putting him out of commission for the foreseeable future.  We were going to get started again last night with the remaining four players, but one of us was a no-show... and another player is going to be gone for our next session.  So... we'll get back to playing as soon as we can, but, well, life and all that.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Instant Pot experiments: Beef Stew, take 2

While the end result of this experiment wasn't at all bad, I'm still going to classify it as a failure.  Changes from last time:

  • Doubled the butter and flour to thicken the sauce.
  • Chopping the onion into 8 was a definite improvement.
  • Switched out soy sauce for steak sauce
  • Multiple additional ingredients at the "rest of ingredients" step:  1 pack sliced mushrooms, ground pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 1T dried parsley, and a can of tomato paste.
First problem... might be I added too much stuff to the pot this time around, or might be that the internals hadn't dried out enough from my using the pot for a separate chicken experiment two nights before, but the float valve never sealed.  Ended up running it through a second half-cycle to get anything reasonably "done", and even then the carrots were slightly under-done.

Second, while it wasn't bad at all, the tomato paste definitely took the flavor outside of what I would normally call "stew".  Between it and the added flour and butter, the mouth feel of the sauce was wonderful, but it added sweetness and, well, tomatoey-ness, that just wasn't what I was looking for.

So, next time... drop the tomato paste, use half as much carrots and potatoes. maybe knock back the beer to a cup even...that should be more stew-like, I'm thinking.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 13

Yeah, this game didn't go terribly well for anybody, excepting the player who started in second... he burned through nearly all of the research cards he had accumulated, did a fair amount of tomb raiding, and racked up glory like nobody's business.  Worse, he outdid my own "overkill" maneuver from a prior game... having met the score target, he also came into possession of a new tablet, which gave him the first "decode" of one of the hidden entries on the tombs map, which turned out to be the "Secret of Gold" milestone, worth an extra 6 glory.

Not everything went their way though... coordinated efforts from a couple of other players managed to sink one of his ships and relieve him of the relic he was carrying.  In the meantime, I managed to relieve another player of another tablet, improving my position in that race.  So, glad that game's behind me, but next game... as always, it should be entertaining, but I think we're likely to see some major changes coming as well, once I start "sharing" tablets with the current Princess and work to regain that title for myself.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Instant Pot experiments: Beef Stew, take 1

One of the things I got for Christmas is an Instant Pot.  For those unfamiliar with the concept, it's a saute-capable, slow/pressure cooker combo with electronic controls and presets... pretty much, it's made for cooking whatever you want, however works best, with a minimum of dishes to do after.  Well, I mean, it's not built for grilling or broiling, but it does have rice-cooker and cake (!) settings, so it's pretty versatile.

After a failed attempt at one of the recipes included with the device (a refried beans variant, which I blame on the ancient beans I have in my cupboard), I figured I should try something I would get more use out of... and Beef Stew sprang to mind.  It's been years since I dusted off my old recipe, so I started out by looking around online for recipes... and there are several, each with their own twist to the basics, usually involving something I don't have floating around my pantry already.  As such, I figured it couldn't hurt to try my hand at making just a "basic" beef stew for my first attempt, and iterate from there... so, here's what I came up with:

  • Prepare a beef bouillon cube in 1c. of water (mug and Keurig works for this)
  • Heat Instant Pot on Saute setting
  • Add 2T butter, allow to melt before adding
  • 1 medium onion, quartered... knock it about a bit while it softens to separate layers.  Once it starts to soften, add
  • 1 lb. stew beef, cubed.  Brown in butter on all sides (and of course, the occasional stirring will help further separate the onion).  Once browned, add
  • 2T flour, stir to combine (basically a roux), by the time all's said and done the bottom of the pot should look basically dry, with some residue on the bottom. At this point, add
  • 1 12-oz. bottle of beer (Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale this time) and use it to deglaze the bottom (it's going to be a "by feel" process, but the pot is deep enough that the presence of beef and onion chunks shouldn't matter much).
  • Add the remaining ingredients:
    • 1T Worcestershire sauce
    • 1T Soy sauce
    • 1t Rosemary
    • 1t Thyme
    • 1 lb. baby carrots (or, if you want the extra prep work and leftover carrots, just 1 lb. peeled and cut)
    • about 1 lb. russet potatos (3-4), peeled and quartered
  • Stir to combine... should end up with everything mostly submerged, but not a lot of excess liquid.
  • Cancel out the saute mode on the pot, put on/lock the lid, and hit the Meat/Stew button... there will be a delay while the pot comes up to pressure, after which the program cooks for 35 minutes.
  • If you try to wait for things to cool down and de-pressurize on their own... well, you'll be waiting a while.  I tried waiting for 15 minutes with the pot's "keep warm" function going, and another 10 or so with it turned off, before resorting to the "quick release" valve.
End result was... pretty good, actually.  Meat and veg were all cooked to perfection,  the soup maybe a bit on the thin side, and a good basic flavor, but with room for improvement.  Things to keep in mind for the next attempt:

  • All the things I neglected/forgot from my original recipe this time around... don't know how much garlic would add to this, but it couldn't hurt.  Salt was pretty well covered by the bouillon cube, but pepper was definitely missing.  Mushrooms, of course... if needed, could easily cut back on the carrots to make that happen.  Bay leaf or steak sauce?  Both called for in my original recipe, again don't know how much difference either would make.
  • Darker beer might improve the body of the soup and alter the flavor profile a bit.  Or, if I really want to get experimental, a nice ginger beer instead could get interesting...
  • Other recipes than mine call for other add-ins... Tomato Paste I could see as a good thing (in fact, I was going to add that this time, but let's just say the ancient can in my pantry didn't age well and leave it at that).  Paprika?  Brown sugar (reinforces the ginger beer idea a bit)?  Vinegar?  Sage?  Dried Parsley?
  • Of course, there's always room for process improvements as well... I think cutting the onion into 8 would make sense from a getting-layers-to-release-early standpoint, without going to the bother of chopping (and I do like the large onion bits in the final product).  Also, I should definitely be in less of a hurry to both get to the deglazing, and to finish the deglazing... but in my defense, I was pretty hungry when I embarked on this last time!  Lastly, on the final stir, be more aggressive... ended up with much more meat at the bottom of the pot last time I did this, which isn't entirely bad, but more even distribution never hurts.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sony's taking another go at settling that whole PS3 Linux fiasco...

...and it only took them nearly 11 months (if my last post on this was timely) to work out this version.  At least, that's what I gather from the email that hit my inbox today.  Details this time:  rather than try to sort things out into different "classes" of claims, they're just lumping everybody together, and intending to pay out "up to" $65, depending on how many "valid" claims they get.  The cynic in me wonders what expected number of claimants they're using to come up with that $65 number... but the judge involved has slapped down their shenanigans before, so I won't fret over it too much right now anyways.  At least they're not asking us all to re-apply... since I already did last time, I'm supposedly good.  We'll see how things grind out this time, I guess.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 12

No new unlocks, but some fun shenanigans none the less... I don't think I mentioned, in any of the earlier game write-ups, that they added some research cards of the "treasure map" variety, where you needed both halves of a specific map in order to trigger some find.  One of our players has all-but-monopolized the research deck, and, this game, he started playing those maps.  They've been positive-to-mixed results so far (in one case, he released an ancient terror from underneath an active market... he stopped it with cannon fire, but the market was destroyed utterly, replaced with an enmity sticker he can never get rid of).  Each has also given him a "veteran" sticker for one of his ships, increasing the standard 5-unit track for one of the stats to a 7-unit track.

Outside of that, we also checked out the tablets under the Light of Truth... and wouldn't you know, the symbols match the symbols on the tombs map, making a simple substitution for digits... so, if you get all 3 symbols, that will likely call out an entry in the Captain's Booke to read.  I intended to verify that by raiding the leader's vault, but we almost immediately got hit with a "sacrifice enmity to the islands or lose glory" card that queered that do (and cost me some glory in the process), so that will have to wait for next game... especially since we had a player conquer Tortosa as well, so we were able to get rid of the offending card the next time it showed up for us.

All told, I was still able to eke out a victory (and bestow Princess Kitty's first "sparkly pink heart" replacement enmity sticker), between building the Museum and founding another colony, and another player failing to burn the Museum to the ground with his arsonist.  As a side note, from that, we decided (since the rules weren't entirely clear, and we couldn't find appropriate errata quickly) that, on raiding a home port or colony, if you didn't reach the the number of successes for the target you wanted to raid, you aren't forced to take a lower-ranked target... but, if you don't take any target, you forfeit your glory for the endeavor, and still take any damage for the attempt.

On to the next game, come the new year!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 11

Another short game, courtesy of an amazing second year on the part of the overall second-place player, with a successful tomb exploration and destruction of the Society's temple taking him from in-game last to first and out in short order.  At least I got to conquer Ker... but that also means I've got enmity stickers galore on the board now as well, enough so that I've bought some stickers from a craft store in anticipation of running out of "real" stickers soon.

No unlocks or anything to report, but some of the revelations of the people we've put to the question have been... enlightening (sorry, couldn't help myself there).:
  • Not just the front of advisor cards, but the backs also sometimes have hidden messages
  • We got told the "map" has messages as well... checked all over, best we can tell so far is that the tombs map has some odd symbols on it that we can't decipher.
  • Tablets also apparently have something on them, but we found that out right at the end of the game, so no knowing what all's involved there.
Should be fun to see what we work out next game!