Rituro, Internet Warrior

My Dusty Corner O' The Internet

Kickin' It With Kickstarter

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you do something nice for someone? What if that fuzzy feeling also came with a book? How about a game or a music album?

I recently discovered the burgeoning website Kickstarter, a method of seeking and providing funding for a wide variety of grassroots projects. The fundee explains their project, sets a fundraising goal and provides contribution levels, each with a series of rewards. (Think a PBS pledge drive, minus the tote bags.) In return, funders (or "backers" as they're called) pledge a dollar amount -- it can be any amount, though the simple choice is to stick close to the reward amounts -- and are only charged if project is totally funded by a certain date. Thus, there's no penalty for backing a project that fails to be funded, minus the disappointment of not seeing/getting the cool thing(s) being promised by the project.

So, what kind of stuff can you find on Kickstarter? How about a delightful children's book called "Gwendolyn and the Underworld"? An ingenious indi game involving spaceship combat, "Faster Than Light"? Or the sequel to/resurrection of a gaming classic, "Wasteland 2"?

That last project in particular also heralds a new step forward for Kickstarter: Kicking It Forward, where project starters pledge to use 5% of their profits from a successful venture to help fund other promising projects on Kickstater. It's a noble gesture, one that hopefully takes off. We could be seeing the birth of a whole new model for development, assuming the prospect of funding something more or less sight-unseen proves to be a worthwhile venture.

Victoria Highlanders 2012 Home Schedule

HIGHLANDERS WOMEN

MAY 2012
Sunday, May 13 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - 2:00 PM
Sunday, May 20 vs. Colorado Rush - 2:00 PM

JUNE 2012
Friday, June 1 vs. Seattle Sounders - 7:00 PM
Sunday, June 3 vs. Colorado Force - 2:00 PM
Friday, June 15 vs. LA Strikers - 7:00 PM
Wednesday, June 20 vs. Santa Clarita Blue Heat - 7:00 PM
Friday, June 22 vs. Pali Blues - 7:00 PM


HIGHLANDERS MEN

MAY 2012
Saturday, May 12 vs. Sounders FC U23 - 7:00 PM
Sunday, May 13 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - 5:00 PM
Sunday, May 27 vs. Kitsap Pumas - 4:00 PM
 
JUNE 2012
Saturday, June 2 vs. Fraser Valley Mariners - 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 9 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 16 vs. Washington Crossfire - 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 30 vs. Portland Timbers - 7:00 PM
 
JULY 2012
Saturday, July 7 vs. North Sound Seawolves - 7:00 PM

~

And now you know when and where to be this summer for some great local soccer. That opening weekend in May in particular is going to be phenomenal. Sounders and a double-header against the Whitecaps? Viva Cascadia!

The Whitecaps Come To Town

There's been plenty of news to keep the soccer world buzzing this week. The Vancouver Whitecaps earned a third-straight clean sheet with a 0-0 draw against D.C. United to continue their undefeated opening to the season (2W-0L-1D). Canada's U-23 team rode both the highest of highs (a 2-0 win over the USA!) and the lowest of lows (a 1-1 draw with Cuba, which was a 1-0 win until a last-second header spoiled the victory party) in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. Overseas, Chelsea FC's trials and tribulations in UEFA Champions League have been nothing short of riveting.

All of which are, surprisingly, still being compared to the highlight of my soccer season to date: seeing the Whitecaps in person at the University of Victoria for a pre-season friendly. Yes, it was the 'Caps vs. the CIS champion UVic Vikes back in February (apologies for the lateness of this post; hopefully it won't take me as long to get the photos up!) and I was there, camera and notepad in hand to watch, learn and appreciate.

If you're interested in an alternate view, Eighty Six Forever has their review here. Below, here are my notes, as transcribed from a series of hasty scribbles.

~

-12:30pm, the place is packed... and Pig is here! Mmmm, Pig. I skip the long line thanks to having pre-ordered my ticket. Great crowd; main stand is filled, secondary stand is taking in the overlow. The Southsiders (Whitecaps' supporters) have already claimed their standing-only spot behind the southern goal with flags and banners a-plenty.

-So far, the only player I recognize in warmup is Michael Boxall.

-Oh, wait, there's Gershon Koffie! Excellent. This match is already a success. Now if the rest of you would just turn around so I can see your faces...

-Starting XI:
Brad Knighton (GK)
Greg Klazura (DR) Carlyle Mitchell (DC) Nuru Sulley (DC) Jordan Harvey (DL)
Jun Marques Davidson (MC) Matt Watson (MC) Gershon Koffie (MC)
Omar Salgado (ST) Davide Chiumiento (ST) Darren Mattocks (ST)

-A 4-3-3 formation! Excellent. More attacking options! More, I say! Disappointed but not surprised that this is mostly a "B" team; no Eric Hassli, Sebastien Le Toux or Camilo Sanvezzo. Sigh.

-0', the Southsiders are already singing "Boundary Road". I know I'm supposed to detest the opposition but it's just too cool to not watch/listen to the Vancouver supporters have at it with their songs and chants.

-2', Koffie to Harvey to Salgado, header, excellent save. This is starting off very well for the 'Caps but not so well for the Vikes. Thank goodness this is a friendly; more importantly, with two "local " teams in action, I can cheer for both teams as necessary.

-4', Chiumiento dribbles his way into scoring position and just misses the far post.

-8', Vikes players nearly get past the 'Caps defenders but the ball goes back upfield and the counter is on... Salgado is fouled in the box! PENALTY! Up steps Chiumiento take it... he hits the post!! What a break... except, no, the referee is ordering a redo as the Vikes goalkeeper is called for leaving his line early. Chiumiento retakes the penalty and does not miss: 1-0!

-16', Koffie is looking sore on his ankle. That can't be good.

-20', Chiumiento is having far too much fun as he absolutely undresses a defender with a cheeky yet beautiful toe-flip of the ball in close. Sublime.

-24', Vikes are getting their chances now and a decent pass leads to their second corner kick; Knighton with the save.

-32', Chiumiento is toying with the defense now, as he executes a spin-move to get past his market then flicks the ball on... to nobody. Whoops. The Vikes go the other way and a great cross leads to a header that just misses, followed by a shot that fools half the crowd as it hits the side netting.

-34', Koffie passes ahead, Chiumiento with a dummy as the ball goes to Salgado, he turns and shoots... great save!

-36', Salgado and Mattocks get in close but can't find a way around the mass of yellow jerseys.

-38', YELLOW CARD to Davidson; nasty aerial challenge, jumps late and gets his knee right up into the back of the defender. Free kick is in a dangerous spot but hits the wall.

-41', Salgado plays in Mattocks all alone but he can't beat a diving, onrushing UVic 'keeper. Solid goaltending by the home team.

-43', Vikes spring a counter-attack but Sulley makes an excellent run back to recover.

-HALFTIME, VAN 1 - UVIC 0. 'Caps have a shots advantage, 9 - 5.

-52', Poor Vikes defensive coverage leads to the ball squeaking through to a wide-open Watson who has an easy shot into the top corner: 2-0!

-53', YELLOW CARD to Mattocks.

-55', Salgado is offside by a mile. Seriously, that's some lazy, lazy poaching by Salgado.

-60', SUBSTITUTION: Koffie off, Russell Teibert on. We get to see Teibert?! Awesome.

-64', Teibert tries his luck from distance but the shot is saved. Man, Teibert has serious wheels. That was some excellent speed to find a shooting lane.

-64', YELLOW CARD to Davidson! That's his second! RED CARD! Davidson is done for the day, the 'Caps are down to ten players... and the foul was in the box?! PENALTY! Up steps Craig Gorman... SCORES: 2-1!

-67', solid Vikes effort leads to a great cross... nobody there but Harvey to head it away. Cam Hundal has been putting in a great performance for the Vikes. Great solo battle with Klazura with sustained possession. Actually, both players (Hundal and Klazura) battled well in that sequence. Crowd applauds the effort.

-69', SUBSTITUTIONS: Chiumiento off, Bryce Alderson on; Salgado off, Bilal Duckett on.

-77', Vikes nearly tie the game with an amazing setup but Hundal's cross into the box is blasted over the bar. The gasp of disappointment hangs in the air as the crowd can't believe the Vikes were that close.

-78', SUBSTITUTION: Mattocks off, Long Tan on.

-81', Hundal goes box-to-box for the Vikes to break up a 'Caps counter-attack. Incredible.

-83', SUBSTITUTION: Watson off, Caleb Clarke on.

-85', announced attendance is 2,831! Not too shabby for a friendly! Excellent showing by the soccer community here. Hoping we see that kind of support when the Victoria Highlanders' season starts.

-88', Vikes are fighting like mad to try and tie this game up with their man advantage, but it's just not coming together.

-FULL TIME, VAN 2 - UVIC 1. 'Caps finish with 13 shots to UVic's 10. Great game, worth the $15 and then some. I slowly shuffle out of the stadium with the rest of the crowd, only to realize as I'm looking back through the fence that the players have hung around to chat with the Southsiders and sign autographs! I wind my way back towards the stands but most of the players have left; still, I get Salgado and Knighton's autographs on my program. Woo!

-Is it Highlanders time yet?

Take A Bite: Vol. 6

Two distinct cultures, two great places to nosh in my latest update to eating around town.

Le Petit Dakar

Hands up all those of you who have eaten Senegalese cuisine before? Thought not. Thankfully, you do have the chance to correct this without making an expensive plane trip overseas; the home of the old Crystal Gardens in Victoria is also home to Le Petit Dakar, an unassuming Senegalese eatery with an enticing selection of food.

Two highlights on this menu for me so far (and yes, I plan on going back to add to this list): the Tchiou Boulette, a simply sublime fish dish, and the samosas. Yes, the samosas; I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Le Petit Dakar is a small restaurant so take-out is probably your best option. That said, the service is excellent -- it's true that good service makes good food that much better.

Now, if only I could show up on a day when the jerk chicken hasn't run out...

Jackalope Bistro

Burger places are becoming a common site around town. It appears everyone has it in their minds that they have the winning formula to dethrone Pink Bicycle as the burger champs in town. Many have come close but none have succeeded. And then there's Jackalope.

Where to start? The simple classic that hits the spot no matter what mood you're in? The "Killer Jack Rabbit" which scratches all my spicy-food-craving itches? The vegeterian, vegan, gluten-free and non-beef options? It's all here and -- here's the kicker -- presented at a very agreeable price point. Truth be told, Pink Bicycle's "Metchosin Mutton" is still atop the burger heap in Victoria; however, on the bang-for-your-buck scale, Jackalope is my winner hands-down over the pricey Pink Bicycle fare. A six-dollar basic burger that tastes great, with a side for only a dollar more? Sold.

Also? Someone at Jackalope is a Magic: The Gathering fan. Tacked to the wall is the card Jackalope Herd, which is worth instant geek/nerd cred.

Now, amidst all this positive, one caveat: on no fewer than two occasions, I've had instances of borderline undercooked meat. I can tolerate a little bit of red in my burger, key phrase there being "a little bit". When large, rosy globs of beef are staring back at me from a recently made bite mark, though, I'm not impressed or likely to be back in the near future.

L5R vs. M:TG - A Comparison

Stored at the bottom of a bookshelf in three rectangular boxes is years worth of Magic: The Gathering cards, used and re-used in a myriad of deck combinations. Stuffed into a blue plastic bag with fraying handles are two boxes crammed full of Celestial Edition-era Legend of the Five Rings cards, the majority of which are still foreign to me as I grapple with the intricacies of the game. 

I may be more invested in Magic than L5R on a pure time-spent basis but I've gone from mild interest to increased curiousity about my latest nerdy pastime. As I try to find more room in my gaming schedule to not only maintain both card collections but learn more about L5R, I've begun weighing the pros and cons of each in a desperate attempt to try and dissuade myself from getting too excited. (It's not working. Can't think of why.) So, here we go:

Getting Started

M:TG - Buy a theme or starter deck or a two-player starter kit. Read the quickstart rules. Find an opponent. Play.

L5R - Buy a clan starter deck or a two-player starter kit. Read the lengthy rules. Find an opponent. Play. 

Advantage: Magic. There's no quick way to learn L5R, sadly. The effort is worth it but it's quicker to teach (and enjoy) a hand or two of Magic than a game or two of L5R.

Lore

M:TG - Eighteen years of backstory involving a "multiverse" of different fantastical worlds and the omnipowerful "planeswalkers" who travel between them. Cards are released in three-edition "blocks", telling a story about a specific world or war. Cards themselves contain flavour text and the editions spawn companion novels to complete the story.
 
L5R - Sixteen years of backstory courtesy of a collectible card game, a role-playing game, board games, a miniatures game and novels. Flavour text dominates the game, setting the scene of the feudal Asia-inspired land of Rokugan and its nine "great clans" that vie for power. 

Advantage: L5R. Winning a "kotei"(tournament) carries with it great prestige as it directly affects the story of Rokugan. You could determine what characters live or die, alter the fate of the great clans, even name a yet-to-be-released card in a future edition. The story is so interwoven with the game that it truly takes on a life of its own.

Deckbuilding

M:TG - 60-card minimum for standard deck construction. In a rush? Mana, creatures, sorceries, done. Construction can be simplified for more advanced builds with rules-of-thumb regarding amounts of mana and the "mana curve" for spells.

L5R - Two decks, each with a 40-card minimum for standard construction. In a rush? Dynasty Deck: Slap your favourite characters of the same keyword type together with some relveant clan holdings, go. Fate Deck: Er...

Advantage: Magic, in a cakewalk. Putting together a 60-card red mana "burn" deck is not only quick but effective. Compare that with sifting through the complex L5R card types to find the right combinations to make your standard 40/40 work (good luck getting that done with your Fate deck in a reasonable amount of time) and there's no contest.

Gameplay

M:TG - Start with 20 life. Draw seven cards; optional mulligan to redraw your hand at one less card. Flip a coin to determine who plays first; first player does not draw a card on the first turn. Mana summons creatures and artifacts and casts supporting spells. Victory conditions: opponent drops to zero life, opponent runs out of cards in their "library" (deck) or opponent accumulates ten or more poison counters.

L5R - Start with a great clan's "stronghold" (special card that determines base income and honour), a generic "holding" (money-producing card) and four cards from the Dynasty deck. Draw six Fate cards. Highest honour plays first; second player receives a bonus generic holding as compensation. Stronghold and holdings buy new Dynasty cards out of the four provinces in order to create an army. Fate cards are played to affect the Dynasty cards and the game in general, typically under very specific circumstances (e.g., "Target an opposed Samurai at the current battlefield") . Victory conditions: destroy opponent's provinces, accumulate 40 Honour, reduce opponent's Honour to -20 or bring all five Rings into play.

Advantage: L5R. Understanding the inelegantly worded rules on the Fate cards can take a while but once you're there, the strategic possibilites are wide open. Magic certainly has the benefit of being easy to teach and quick to learn but victory tends to boil down to a slugfest -- i.e., who can drop whom to 0 life first. In L5R, you have a choice of four distinct, achievable victory conditions and the flexibility to abandon one path and switch to the other if and when it suits you.


Add it all up and you get a slight victory for Magic: The Gathering, owing to its ease of deckbuilding. The overall theme is very clear, though, when determining the key difference between the two: Magic is quicker to pick up, while Legend of the Five Rings is a deeper experience.