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Seriously Disrespecting These Ships

Today is the second of a three part series on Star Trek Attack Wing. See yesterday’s entry here.

Yesterday I talked about how I have organized the cards for my extensive Star Trek Attack Wing collection. As I said, I don’t know how many ships I have. It’s between 300 and 400.

There’s more to your collection than just the cards, of course. And like card filing methods, there are numerous methods for storing the rest of your gear. I’m going to talk about ships, bases and movement dials.

And I can pretty much guarantee no one stores their stuff like I do.

Why? Because I’m a huge fan of the Ziploc(r) bag method. Everything goes in a Ziploc bag.

Each faction gets their own bag o’ships.

Just like I did with cards, I purged many of ships. Each bag has at most 4 versions of a single ship. I had to decide if I really needed 15 Ferengi Marauders. No. Instead I put four in the bag and the other 11 go off to my friend who resells STAW equipment.

There are a few ships that are too big for the bags, of course. The Borg cubes and the space station go on a shelf in my living room.

The orange box to the right has Vulcan, Species and Borg ships. Those are the ones that tend to break easily, or are just bulky.

I know that some people pack their ships in foam. Or, they at least put each ship in a separate compartment in their travel case. I’ve been asked why I store mine in plastic bags? Don’t they sometimes break?

Yes, they do. And in that case, I remember that they are plastic ships. A little airplane glue and they are good as new. As I said, I’m a player, not a collector.

There are many people who spend hours repainting their ships and buy elaborate display cases to show them off. I think those people are awesome. Seriously, if it gives you joy to customize your STAW fleet, that’s fantastic. For me, they are plastic ships for a game.

If you think I abuse the ships, you’re going to hate what I do with the bases. I use metal rings and loop all the bases for a particular faction onto a ring. And, of course, I have to link rings to each other for the larger factions.

The bases do tend to get beat up a little, since the rings all go back into a gallon Ziploc(r) bag. I haven’t yet purged my bases. Probably because as big as they are, they are still manageable.

Movement dials get a similar treatment. They are divided by faction into Ziploc(r) bags. I also had to purge these. I have dozens of Klingon b’rels for example, I will probably never need more than 4 movement dials.

And, as always at the end of the day, everything fits back into a single bin.

The downside of my methods are not huge. First, it would be nearly impossible for me to reassemble original expansion sets. With the amount of purging I’ve done, I absolutely could not reassemble the ships and the rest back into original expansion sets. But, since I never intend to sell my collection, I’m not too worried.

And as I mentioned, my ships tend to break occasionally. They are in a separate plastic container and that helps.

One of my favorite aspects of my collection is the look of horror on some players’ faces when they see my plastic bag strategy.

I have one more post to add to this. This is my collection, but when I’m getting ready to play, I literally have a shoebox that I use for my playing kit. Again, more slimmed down sets and lots of plastic bags. Look for it next week.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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Too Many Star Trek Attack Wing Ships? I Don’t Understand The Question

This post is about the table top minatures game Star Trek Attack Wing. Read an introduction to it here.

Someone had posted that they were selling their Star Trek Attack Wing fleet. It was with a bit of sadness that I realized I was not at all interested in it. It wasn’t the price. It wasn’t the shipping costs from some far off location. It wasn’t even the make up of the ships. In fact I realized the make up of ships wasn’t even interesting to me. I didn’t want any of them.

Because I realized I already owned them. All of them. I don’t know how many ships I have. At one point last year I counted and I had over 330. That was before the new faction packs and starter sets and card packs came out. I bought at least one of each and generally more than one. (I bought four copies of the Ferengi Faction Pack specifically because I needed “just one more Kemocite.”)

Do I have a problem? I prefer to not think about it.

But, I’ve realized a couple of things by owning multiple copies of every ship. First, it’s not really about how many ship you own. My largest playable fleet was 12 Romulan Science Vessels to win the Klingon Civil War 3 OP. But, like most of you, typically I play 3 or 4 ships in a fleet.

I do have two sons who love to play, so I have to be able to field multiple competitive fleets at the same time, but still there’s no benefit to having endless copies of every ship.

However, I also learned a thing or two about organizing the cards. Typically there are two schools of thought on how to store cards: boxes or binders. I’m a binders guy.

Players just joining the game often ask about how to organize their ship and upgrade cards. I’m going to explain how I do it. But, there are as many storage methods as there are players. This works for me. And considering I literally own every card in the game, my system is scaled for a lot of cards.

For such a large collection, it takes a surprisingly small amount of space. This bin holds all the cards, ships, movement dials, and bases.

Each binder is a different faction, organized by color.

  • Blue: Federation, Vulcan, Bajoran (Two binders)
  • Red Hardback: Klingon
  • Green: Romulan
  • Purple: Dominion
  • Black Softback: Borg, Species, Q
  • Red Softback: Mirror Universe
  • Yellow: Independent, Ferengi, Xindi, Kazon

In addition I have two other binders.

  • Black Hardback: Rules, scenarios, resources, banned cards
  • White Hardback: Current fleets my sons and I are using

Having the factions divided by color makes it easier to build faction pure fleets. Our FLGS typically plays either Faction Pure or Penalty Pure. So, I’m typically building fleets out of just one faction.

Within each binder I have a specific order.

  • Ships – by descending ship cost
  • Admirals – by descending Admiral Skill
  • Captains – by descending Captain Skill
  • Elite Talents – by descending cost
  • Crew Upgrades – by descending cost
  • Tech Upgrades – by descending cost
  • Weapons Upgrade – by descending cost
  • ? Upgrades – by descending cost

Many people build their fleets using Utopia, an excellent free online tool for fleet building. After they’ve built their fleet online, they then pick and choose the upgrades from their collection. While I use Utopia, it’s not how I build fleets. I pick a ship, then flip through the binder choosing captains, crew, tech and weapons.

And that’s one of the benefits of a binder method. I don’t have to remember which cards I have. I can scan each card as I flip through my binders. If I have 3SP left and a TECH slot open, it’s simple to find which TECH Upgrades are 3SP or lower. When I have a ship built, I put the cards into another card sheet and store them in my white binder. I then use the card holder sheet directly when I go to play.

I discovered last year that I don’t really needevery card I own. I went through and did a purge. I kept 2 copies of every unique card and 3 copies of non-unique cards. The rest of sent off to a friend who resells cards. I’ll make exceptions for certain cards. I own 4 Kemocite Upgrades. I also have 4 Ferengi Torpedoes. But, for the most part I got rid of a lot of duplicate cards.

For the cards I still have, I stuff multiple cards into a single slot. I’ll use both the front and back of a single card slot. Sometimes there will be 6 cards shoved into a single slot. (3 non uniques facing one direction and 3 facing the opposite.)

Negatives

There are reasons many people don’t adopt the binder method.

First, it can be hard on the cards. I’m a player, not a collector. I try to take care of my cards, but I’m not preserving them in mint condition. Sliding them in and out, especially with other cards in the same slot, puts wear on them.

Second, and more frustrating, is that it’s a pain to add new cards. My Federation/Vulcan/Bajoran factions have two binders because there are so many cards. The first binder holds all the ships, Admirals, Captains and Elite Talents. The second binder holds Crew, Tech, Weapons and ? Upgrades. There are about 110 Fed/Vulcan/Bajoran Crew Upgrades. When a new ship is released, I have to shuffle hundreds of cards to get the new crew into their proper spots. I try to sort my new ship upgrades right after I get them. You know, while I’m still excited about them.

Third, my binder system breaks down when an Upgrade is Dual Faction. The new Kelvin Timeline upgrades appear to all be Dual Faction, Mirror Universe and Federation or Klingon. I have to put the upgrade somewhere. I typically put it in the binder for the faction I play most. That means Independent if it shares with anything else. But, it also means I sometimes forget there’s an Upgrade that I could add to my fleet and remain penalty pure.

Finally, the binder method takes a lot of space. People who choose the box method can store cards much more efficiently. I literally lug that bin to every OP I attend. It’s portable. . .mostly.

My method works for me. But, wouldn’t work for some other players. The joy of STAW is that you get to be infinitely creative when you are creating a fleet. The same thing goes for storage methods.

Tomorrow I’ll address how I organize the rest of my STAW stuff, ships, movement dials, etc.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I’ve Seen The Shark And The Aliens

anx i e ty

noun

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or somethign with an uncertain outcome

Did you know that when Steven Spielberg was making the movie Jaws, he had a problem with the shark? The mechanical shark was affectionately named Bruce. When filming started he realized that that Bruce looked a little too much like a mechanical shark.

Spielberg was early in his career. He had to figure out a way to make his movie but not have the audience laugh as soon as they saw the shark. His solution was to simply not let the audience see the shark.

He modified the script so that the shark was not seen clearly. There were glimpses and shadows. It was an invention born of necessity, but he ended up creating a much scarier movie as a result. In fact, even today, sharks get a bad rap because Spielberg had a fake looking mechanical shark.

Suspense is like that. We fear what we can’t see. Anxiety is like that too. Anxiety is that dread, not unlike suspense, as you wait for the “event” or the “accident” or just some unnamed, unnameable dreadful happening.

M. Night Shyamalan made a movie called Signs. In it the aliens come to earth. The movie is very scary. . .until you actually see the aliens. Shyamalan kept the aliens hidden for the first half of the movie. They were unknowable, and therefore they were whatever your worst nightmares could conjure up. And then, he CGI’d them onto the screen. And the suspence was over. They were just these odd looking grey guys who “bounced” while standing still for some strange reason. The rest of the movie was somewhat tedious.

If you suffer from anxiety but don’t know you do, then you live in a constant state of dread. Not always severe. But, constant. Once you name it. In some ways it’s a relief. But, you also move yourself to the second half of the movie Signs. The aliens are still there. They haen’t gone away. You’ve just named them and shown them.

In some ways it’s worse. You still have that feeling of dread. You just understand why now. Signs and Jaws were much better movies before you saw the aliens and the shark.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The State Is On Fire

No, I dont live in California, although its on fire too. It’s fire season in the West. Fires in Utah and surrounding states have a weird cycle. You would think a good water year would mean fewer fires.

That’s not always the case. A good water year means lots of snow pack and a nice steady runoff in the Spring. If it melts too quickly we get flash floods and our resevoirs cannot handle all of it. And a mild Spring with good snow pack means lots of growth in the Spring.

Deserts are habitats of opportunity. When there’s plenty of water, things grow. When there’s not, things go dormant. We have several species of trees, for example that have the ability to “shut off” part of their limbs in dry weather. They sacrifice part of their growth to save the rest of it. The oldest tree in the world is in Southern Utah. It’s a Bristlecone Pine, one of the species that can control the flow of moisture to its limbs.

So, with a wet Spring, the desert blooms. The flowers grow. The trees grow. And the grasses grow like crazy. And that’s the problem.

Those grasses eventually dry out in the Fall. Even in a wet Fall, the grasses will dry out. It’s part of the natural cycle. If we had a good Spring, the grasses are extra thick and tall. Perfect for fires.

On the other hand, if we have a bad water year, the state dries out. Becomes parched even. And then, no matter how tall the grass is, it’s going to burn.

This has been a bad water year. The winter saw less than normal snowfall and it’s been weeks of 90-100 degree temperatures without rain.

There are four fires burning within an hour of my house. Most were started by lightening. We don’t have too many man made fires in Utah. It still happens, but honestly, not a lot of people want to go camping in the desert when it’s 100 degrees out.

California, of course, is having a worse time than Utah. There are fire crews from Utah working fires in California. I’m not really sure how that works since we have fires burning here too, but I’m sure the guys who do it for a living have it figured out as to who goes where.

Tragically, yesterday we lost one of our firefighters. Matthew Burchett is from Draper, Utah. He, and his crew were in California fighting their fires when a tree fell on them. Several firefighters were injuried and Burchett lost his life. He leaves behind a wife and a small child.

The monsoon rains will start in September. If it’s a good year, the ski resorts will be open by Thanksgiving. Fire and water coexist in an uneasy alliance here in the Rocky Mountains. Even if it means an increased chance for fires next fall, we always pray for rain and snow.

We do live in a desert, after all.

RIP Matthew Burchett. Prayers for your family and prayers for the safety of all the men and women fighting the fires.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Oh Say Can You See. . .InfoWars?

Football season is starting. Not the high school variety, although that too, but, the pros. The Seahawks and the Patriots. The Eagles and the Raiders. The Cowboys and the Redskins. And along with the start of the games will come the National Anthem. And along with the National Anthem will come protests.

This will mark the third year that players have protested during the National Anthem.

First let’s be clear, the players are not protesting the National Anthem. They are not protesting the flag. They are not protesting the military. They are also not protesting the NFL. They are protesting police brutality against black men.

The problem is that not everyone understands the protest. In fact, to a lot of people it looks like the players are protesting the National Anthem, or the flag, or the troops, or the NFL.

An additional problem is that the NFL is losing viewership. It would be simplistic to say that the NFL problems begin and end with the kneeling protesters. But, it would also be incorrect to say that the protesters haven’t had any effect.

The NFL has decided they are tired of the negative press associated with the protesters. In the off season they implemented a policy that teams could either keep their players in the locker room during the anthem, or teams could choose to fine their players if they protest.

The plan has been adopted with mixed results. The owner of the NY Jets announced that he was not going to fine his players if they protest. The owner of the Cowboys said he would fine players, or possibly even fire them. The Super Bowl champion Philidelphia Eagles players announced they plan to continue to protest.

This post isn’t about how effective it is for multimillionaire athletes to protest at a professional sporting event.

It’s not an issue of first amendment rights being potentially violated. The NFL is a private organization. As a private organization the NFL can set requirements for their employees. The players are represented by a union, of course, the NFL Players Association. But, there is nothing in the collective bargaining agreement to prevent the teams from punishing protesters.

Despite the fact that the NFL has the right to fine, or censure, or even fire the players for protesting, there are people who feel strongly that the NFL is violating the players’ rights. Even understanding that it’s a private organization. There are people who blame the NFL for not allowing the players to protest, even if it hurts the brand a little.

Here’s the thing. Many of those same people think it was 100% correct for googleapplefacebook (GAF) to ban right wing provocateur Alex Jones, of the website InfoWars from their platforms.

Those who support the NFL protesters but hate Alex Jones will tell you the situations are nowhere near the same. People who support Alex Jones, but think the NFL protesters are disrespecting the flag also think it’s not at all the same thing.

It’s the same thing. You either support free speech, or you don’t. You don’t get to support free speech when it’s a cause you agree with and then vote to suppress it when it’s a cause you disagree with.

Freedoms aren’t really freedoms if they don’t apply to people you disagree with.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Smoke And Football

It was 97 degrees outside today in Pleasant Grove, Utah. The calendar (and the thermometer) say it’s still summer, but fall has arrived.

The state is on fire. Not like California, but, still there are fires burning all over the state. Air quality is horrible. A fire started in Spanish Fork canyon a few days ago, and the high temps, low humidity and wind that doesn’t cool, have whipped it into a frenzy, doubling in size in 24 hours.

Some claim it’s clear evidence of Climate Change. I don’t know. I know two years ago we had an especially cold and snowy winter and we were told that weather is not the same as climate and Climate Change couldn’t be shown by a season of weather events. So, maybe it’s not.

All I know is that it’s hot and dry and the air quality is bad and I spent two hours out in it and had a blast. Oh, the conditions were terrible. I was sitting on a metal grandstand watching fourteen and fifteen year olds run up and down a field. One of them was mine.

See, football has also returned. Today was the first scrimmage for the Pleasant Grove Vikings. My son is on the sophomore team. It’s his first year playing football.

I don’t know how well he’s enjoying it, but I’m having a blast.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The First Amendment And Social Media

Alex Jones is an idiot.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– US Constitution, First Amendment

The Framers put a lot into that first amendment. There are five separate protections:

– Religion
– Speech
– Press
– Peaceable assembly
– Petition Government

The Constitution was ratified in the 18th century, more than 200 years ago. Obviously the writers had no concept of the internet, or social media.

Is the 1st Amendment still relevent?

Was George Washington the first president? (That was a rhetorical question, but just in case you are unsure, YES, the guy on the quarter and the one dollar bill was the first president.)

Recently GoogleAppleFacebook banned Alex Jones. (He’s still on Twitter for now.)

Jones is an idiot. He’s a provacature who basically sings for a choir made up of conspiracy theorists, most of whom identify as right-wing.

Jones, and his attendant website, the most popular of which is InfoWars, likes to make people uncomfortable. His most aggregious offense is to claim the Sandyhook Elementary school massacre was faked. That the parents are all actors, and that the kids really didn’t die.

(Don’t ask me to explain it, I’m not a fan.)

It would be easy to dismiss Jones as just another crackpot on the internet. . .except he has hundreds of thousands of followers. Apparently they believe the crazy stuff he says.

It’s interesting to note that Jones, himself, appears to be playing a role. Spouting lines from a script, but not necessarily from his heart. He’s going through a divorce and his ex-wife wants custody. Her attorney, rightly grabbed a bunch of the cooky stuff that Jones as said and is using it as evidence that he’s unstable.

His attorneys have very carefully tried to explain that he doesn’t believe everything he’s said.

That brings us to the 1st Amendment. Should Jones be allowed to spread his lies that obviously even he doesnt’ believe? Do GAF have an obligation to at least attempt to verify that what’s on their platforms is valid?

No. No, they don’t.

First, let me say that GAF has every right to ban him.

But, Rodney, isn’t that censorship?

Why, yes. Yes it is.

Isn’t that banned by the first amendment?

No. No it is not.

The first amendment protects you and me and Alex Jones from the government censoring our free speech. But, a private individual or company can exercise censorship and we all do on a regular basis. For example, if you come to my house I would ask you not use foul language. In fact, if you fail to honor this request I will exclude you from my home.

GAF excluded Jones from their private platforms.

Good, right? I mean he was spouting crazy stuff. Better to nip that in the bud.

No, it is exactly the Alex Jones type speech that we need to work the hardest to protect. Don’t get me wrong. I wish everyone would stop listening to him and he had to go get a regular job. But, it’s important that we as a society give him the opportunity to say stupid stuff.

If the first amendment cannot protect the foulest speech imaginable, it cannot protect any speech.

There’s an old saying,

I abhore what you are saying, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it.

Even hate speech, so long as it avoids threats or libel should be protected. Yes, hate speech is protected speech. It’s the measure of our society to see if we truly have the strength of our convictions, to protect even those with whom we most disagree.

So, while GAF has the right to ban Jones, I think it weakens our society that they have. Who’s to say your views, or mine might not someday be viewed as anti-social?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Martin Niemöller

It’s a true today as it was when he wrote it in post-war Germany.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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