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Icelandic Catan

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Apparently "Settlers of Catan" was inspired by the settlement of Iceland. I guess this is why sheep is one of the resources. I decided to take the theme further and make a Viking Age inspired scenario for Catan. Playtime is ca 90 minutes.

Set up



The two settlements at the beginning are placed in Iceland (main island). I used the most common numbers for Iceland, to make the game a bit quicker, the other islands do not have any numbers yet. At the beginning of the game one gets the resource of both settlements and a knight. If a number is rolled which is not on the board, the dice are rolled again. The numbers for the smaller islands are in a bag, leaving out the 2s and 12s.

The normal seafarer extension rules apply to building and moving ships and the Longest Road card. To win one needs 12 points.

Gold coins are a resource, which can be acquired on gold fields hexes or by rolling a 7. They can be exchanged like any other resource.

One can only hold 10 resource cards (not including knights/gold) and resources are not dealt to players on the hand limit.
One cannot have more than 2 development cards.

The knights are a resource now, costing one sheep, one grain and one ore (like a development card) the other development cards cost 3 gold.

Trading, raiding and settling
These are the main changes. Vikings always considered the circumtances. Sometimes they would find it more worthwhile to trade with the locals, sometimes thy would raid them and sometimes they would settle the countries they travelled to.
If one reaches a hex of one of the smaller islands with a shipping lane or a road one can start trading. One trades two (of the same) resource with one of the resource of the hex on the shipping lane (like a reversed 2 for one port).
Example: White can now trade two sheep (ore, mud, wood) for one corn
To raid one uses a knight, takes one of the resources of the hex and blindly picks a number out of the bag. One knight raids one hex. The knights are kept and the Largest Army card used as before. As long as one has the end of ones shipping lane on the hex, one gets the resource of the hex when the number is rolled. If another players shipping lane also ends on the raided hex, this player will also get a resource when the number of the hex is rolled.
Example: Orange will always get wood when a 11 is rolled as long as it is positioned on this hex. It can still trade for ore on the hex above.
New settlements on the small islands can only be built on hexes which have numbers. Which means on intersections of two or more hexes, settlements can only be built when all the hexes on that intersection have numbers. Once a hex is settled it cannot be raided anymore.
Example: White just placed a settlement on the wheat and mud hexes. Too bad for orange, it cannot raid mud anymore
Once the bag with the extra numbers is empty the 2s and 12s are placed on the remaining hexes and raiding is not possible anymore in this game, only settling.

Rolling a 7
What happens when one rolls a 7 depends on the dice combination:

1 and 6: Volcanic eruption
everyone loses a sheep. The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and determines a hex in Iceland where the volcanic eruption occurs and turns the number around. The hex will not produce any resources until another volcanic eruption occurs (like the robber) or one of the players uses 2 mud to stem the lava flow.

2 and 5: Bad weather
The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and takes a road or a ship of another player away. The road or ship can only be taken away in and around Iceland (the ship needs to touch Iceland to be eligible to be taken away). It is not possible to build on roads or shipping lanes which are not connected to settlements or cities.
Example: Here orange had a ship taken away, which means it can neither trade for ore nor raid for wood, nor settle.
If a ship is taken away from a closed shipping lane (between two settlements) it is open again and the ships can be moved.

3 and 4: Feud among Vikings
The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and "kills" one of the other players knights. (return a played knight to the deck). Check if this effects who has the Largest Army card

Gold free variation
The gold fields give a resource of ones choice
When a 7 is rolled one gets a resource of ones choice
Knights are mixed together with developments cards which cost one ore, one sheep and one corn

The rules can be downloaded as pdf here


4 pros and cons of the blog directories I use(d)

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After I decided to extend my blog beyond a way to inform my friend and family I'm still alive and well, I signed up to three blog aggregating websites.

Two of those Expat Blog and BlogExpat are specifically for "Expat" bloggers. I mentioned before that I do not particular like calling myself an expat, as it is a classification solely based on social-status and ethnicity as also pointed out in this article in the Guardian.

Of those two Expat Blog is the more active one, which means more exposure for my blog and more possible interaction via the forum. However the script they use to parse the RSS feeds of the blogs they aggregate seems flawed. Mainly it does not parse RSS feeds when https is used and these blogs recent posts do not turn up on the webpage. Considering wordpress.com uses https as a default, it means already all of wordpress.com blogs feeds are not shown, which are a lot.

Bloglovin is basically a glorified feed reader. It reads my feed well and presents it really nicely. Some bugs/missing features:
- There are three copies of my blog listed in several stages of up to dateness. Confusing.
- One can only chose one category for the blog. Common categories like" Politics" or "Technology" are missing.
- Interaction with bloggers only over third party apps.
- I have no likes yet . You can change that: http://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/tines-blog-13504555#Follow

I never signed up on Expatsblogs. I tried to, but after having their button for a week on my website (it was required of me, something none of the other services did) and feeling tired of giving them advertisement I removed it and never heard from them again.


Basically McCarthyism

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The other day me and my friend Steffi, who is here on an internship for the Reykjavik Grapevine, went to a showing of the documentary Silenced organized by IMMI (International Modern Media Institute https://immi.is ). My friend is writing a series of articles about IMMI, which is why we were there. IMMIs goal is to make Iceland into a " journalistic safe haven, protecting both freedom of expression as well as freedom of information".

The documentary was long. I do not like documentaries much. I find them emotionally manipulating, even when agreeing with the subject matter. Fortunately the director (who hilariously is called "Spione" the German word for "spies") did not pretend otherwise, but said:

I'm not a journalist, I'm a documentary filmmaker.


I found two things noticeable in this film.
First, I was surprised by how surprised long standing government officials were by the actions of the institutions they worked for. First hysterical prosecution of any critics has been seen before. Basically it is McCarthyism all over again. You need to give us full unconditional support or are "aiding the enemy".
It is not astonishing that the main motivation of any institution is not efficiently performing the task it was perceived for, but growth and survival.
The hysterics of today, just as in McCarthyism earlier, serves the institutions well. It gives them an excuse to quiet critics and instead of being forced to operate competently they can force the public to give them more and more power.
Just as we have to go through expensive and invasive "security" measures, which do not actually improve security. Or how a lot of terrorist attacks could have been prevented, not by more surveillance, but by the institutions in the "intelligence community" not being incompetent. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/26/whole-haystack

Secondly, the documentary was a good reminder why IMMI is needed for an open discussion and evaluation of institutions by the public. during the panel afterwards the whistleblowers praised Iceland for IMMI and its stand for press freedom and whistleblower protection in general. Birgitta (chairman of IMMI) just smiled and nodded, which surprised me.

The development in the last years in Iceland can not be described as positive for press freedom or whistleblower protection.
A lot of the reforms needed for IMMI to become reality had been in the proposed constitution, which had not only been killed, but a new bizarre law had been pushed through that any changes to the constitution has to be agreed upon by 2/3rd of parliament and 40% of the population (not voters, anyone not voting is considered to have voted no).
Now the laws and reforms needed are bit by bit proposed and fought through parliament. It is a bit like pulling teeth. At the same time politicians started using every trick available to threaten news outlets. Threatening suing for libel, cutting funding or just making ex-party members editors in chief (see link below).
Iceland dropped from 8th to place 21 on the World Press Freedom Index. Earlier Reporters without Borders had voiced concern about the press freedom in Iceland http://en.rsf.org/iceland-freedom-of-information-in-decline-19-11-2014,47248.html.


Unethical games

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Today is game night in Bío Paradís, a cinema specialising in showing alternative movies and a really nice lobby where we play board games every Wednesday (and eat lots of popcorn).

We all bring different games we like. I finally managed to play Tikal, which I had since I was a kid, but for some reason the rules were in Dutch. Thanks to the internet this problem was solved. My flatmate really likes Pandemic and thankfully I do too, otherwise there might be some conflict in our house. Her boyfriend also got a new game for his birthday, called Colonial, which made some of us cringe and others shrug and say: "it is just a game".

In the game one is a "mighty" European power from (roughly) 15th to 19th century, trying to colonialise countries, exploit them for resources (one of which are slaves) and be the most "prestigious" of them all. The subject matter made me think:

When do games about past atrocities become socially acceptable?

If it were some sort of formula it would probably be:

Acceptance = time x current standing of victims

Time
The colonisation period is apparently ok now, there are several "historical" games in the top 200 on board game geek set in this time where one gets to acquire slaves and use them to ones advantage. We also play a card game at game nights called "Guillotine" set in the French revolution where one competes to get to chop the head off the most unpopular noble. Mass execution is a joke if it has happened long enough ago.

Who is the victim?
When the first game about the war of annihilation in the second world war will appear in our western-centric society one will play Japan trying to annihilate China, not Germany - Poland. Another reason why games about the colonisation period and slavery are considered "ok".

My secondary question was : When will it be socially acceptable to make a game about the holocaust?

I googled a bit and found this. A German board game from 1936, where "the objective was to collect as many Jews as you could, and get them off the board".

Racist, but somehow cute


The game was heavily criticized at the time from Jewish societies for obvious reasons, but also in an SS paper because

The game trivialized the anti-Semitic Nazi policies and that the international press would use the game’s existence to make the policies look completely ridiculous.



The game failed, not because of politics though, but because it was really boring. Which is the third variable in the formula:

Acceptance = (time x current standing of victims)^playability

Because if we are having fun, we can justify a lot.





Microformats

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Today there was no beer drinking
But I got to wash my clothes (fresh underwear, yay!) and Barnaby showed me how to add microformats to this blog. So now my blog is machine readable and at some point I could add webmentions.
I haven't added them to the pe_pplog yet, when I get to the bugs I have to fix, I will do this, for now I'm happy to learn a little bit about how to use microformats and other indieweb tools
Posted on - Categories: Geekery


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