New Tax Form: 1040-GAMER

by Claire Elizabeth O’Brien

I must confess, the whole concept of filing tax returns confuses me. Since I don’t make money as an intern, I thought I didn’t have to complete any tax forms. Apparently, that’s not the case. Mr. McPeters told me everyone has to file their taxes, except kids. I don’t know why goats get off scot-free, but I’m not one to buck the rules. And if I can follow the rules in Asgard’s Chosen, then how hard could it be to follow a form from the IRS? (I’m still not sure what IRS stands for – maybe Income Reporting Sheep? – but I do know that I don’t want to break any rules).

1040-GAMER
From what I hear, the IRS has a ton of forms, and you have to know which one is right for you. I’m glad I have Mr. McPeters to give me advice. I don’t want to fill out the wrong form. Mr. McPeters told me to use Form 1040-GAMER. He said it’s easier to follow than the form 1040EZ which Mr. MacWordell recommended. Form 1040-GAMER is for all gamers, including new gamers such as me.

Form 1040-GAMER

I got a copy of form 1040-GAMER, and I’ve posted it here so all of you gamers out there can have it too, in case you didn’t know about it. This whole filing of taxes is getting to be a big pain in the tush. Do you see all the lines for board games and related expenses? And why didn’t anyone ever tell me I’d need to keep my receipts?! They’re stuffed into my crafting boxes, board game boxes, purses, under one leg of a table for leveling purposes… you name it and my receipts are stuffed there! It will take me forever to find all of them!

At least I won’t waste time with the wrong form. 1040–GAMER looks easy enough to complete, so this intern will definitely be filing her taxes on time!

Happy receipt-hunting!

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Unsung History: Joan of Arc – Warrior, Martyr, Saint…Short Order Cook?

By Angus McPeters

Welcome back to another post of Unsung History. This series is where I pull back the curtain of known history to display the players and tales that somehow didn’t make the cut for scholarly historians. Spurious? Ridiculous? Fantastical? Perhaps. True? Oh, these are as real as the Great Pyramids and the pterodactyls that helped build them.

Not unlike my previous post on Hernán Cortés, I will again look at a well-known historical figure who is likely known well for the wrong things. This time, let’s talk about Joan of Arc, who was sainted 99 years ago on this very day. Tomes have been penned on Joan’s abilities as a mystic, a warrior, and a standard around which King-to-be Charles VII could rally. But few realize Joan’s greatest gift to history: the tuna melt sandwich.

Born in 1412 in the village of Domrémy and in the thick of the Hundred Years War, Joan had her first vision at the age of roughly twelve. Two sainted women and an archangel visited her in a field while she played alone. As she came of age, French-loyalist forces had suffered humiliating defeat after scandalous rout. Charles’s desperation opened up a door for Joan that she propped wide with tales of her visions and a few prophecies of French victories that came true.

At the last moment, Joan requested that she be outfitted as a knight and dispatched with the forces meant to relieve the Siege of Orléans. With scant options, Charles opted to honor her request. Whether she led, followed, swung a sword, or held a banner, I leave to other historians to quibble over. What cannot be disputed, save by hidebound “traditional” historians, is the effect her cooking had upon the French army.

On the road to Orléans, Joan set up a grill and began to create quick but delicious dishes the likes of which the army had never seen before. A few centuries later, Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach, but the French first learned this lesson with Joan. Her omelets du fromage, various patty melts, waffles, and a host of other short order delicacies boosted the morale of the army to unseen heights. The enlisted men described her fare as “heavenly” while Joan regreased the grill and smiled knowingly.

Once at the siege, Joan the peasant girl defied the existing and overly cautious leadership in open war council. Despite gates locked against her, Joan rallied the townsmen and soldiery, and attacked the stronghold of Saint Augustin with only one captain to aid her.

“For France, for Charles, and for breakfast served all day!” was her reported war cry. And her men responded. Her victory at St. Augustin would eventually lead to a decisive and bold breaking of the siege, which would in turn lead to many other victories both directly attributed to Joan and because of her overall effect on esprit de corps.

Joan fought her battles not only with sword and shield, but also spatula and grease-splattered apron. She invented hamburgers years before Germany, melted various French cheeses over a host of different sandwiches, and scrambled scores of eggs. She also invented a plethora of fried foods the world would enjoy for generations. Why do you think they’re called French fries?

But as we know, Joan’s story ended in tragedy. Captured, tried for heresy, and burnt at the stake. However, years after her death, Joan was retried, found innocent, and canonized. She became the patron of martyrs, captives, soldiers, and the unsung saint of greasy spoons everywhere. Viva la France, viva la Joan, and viva la tuna melt!

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9.10: My Life in Film

News stories about the Great River of Catan and the means of making new explorers in Settlers of the Stone Age cause Angus to add a little cinema to the news broadcast.

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BearFair

by Angus McPeters

Welcome to another installment of the hypothetical joys only Mayfair and Rare Angus Games can bring you. Today’s offering? Another new line of games with an ursine twist: BearFair!

First, something simple: Le Beeaar! The rules are simple: don’t be the one holding the honeypot when you or an opponent rolls the Maul symbol on the die!

BearFair: Whitewater is still a race down a raging river, but with even more dangers! It’s salmon-spawning season! This means not only a markedly increased chance of leaping fish slapping you in the face but also a greater likelihood of bear attacks! Navigating obstacles with fancy paddling is one thing, but what happens when a grizzly yanks that paddle right out of your hands?

BearFair: Ursinia asks the question “What does forest restoration look like if bears are in charge?” You’ll have to manage the Bees to make sure they’re building enough hives and producing enough honey. And how can we ever keep the Fish happy? I mean, without them, we won’t have any schools!

In BearFair’s version of Silverton, one player works as the railroad trying to unite humanity across Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. The other player takes on the role of the grizzly bears whose mountain habitats are threatened by the smoke-belching monstrosities. Can the bear player maul enough conductors and uproot enough railroad ties to keep the trains from running on time? Or will industrialization once again triumph over nature?

But what if you’re of a more artistic bent? Then perhaps Bearbarossa is more your speed. But how do bears factor into a game of riddles and sculpting, you ask? With the addition of a gamer staple: snack foods! Imagine you have a delicious, crunchy, conical delight that just happens to be the right size for sticking on the end of your fingers. You now have an approximation of bear claws that will make the sculpting part of this game even more challenging!

And finally, what does BearFair have in the inevitable Catan department? Naturally there’s the Traders & Barbearians expansion! In this mind-blowing new expansion for classic Settlers of Catan you’ll be—

Okay, look. The fact is right now all I’ve got is a name. But it’s great, right? How could Mayfair not snatch that right up? Then we can even have cute little Catanimal Barbearians. It’s a license to print money, Mayfair! CALL ME, MAYBE!

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Sun Tzu’s Art of Negotiation

by Angus McPeters

I’ve recently purchased a new car. Many people find this a distasteful experience. I find this attitude as befuddling as I do fascinating. In nearly any other establishment in America, haggling over the listed price of merchandise would be considered at best bizarre and at worst gauche. But in the car dealership, oh in the car dealership, here can we still find the art of the deal and the joy of the bazaar.

Whether it’s over the finer points of a game’s rules, the artistic merit of barely-carved pieces of wood, or the price of a car, I love a good argument almost as much as I love a lively debate. (I prefer the passion of arguments, you see.) But negotiating that price is a cut above because it combines the excitement of an argument with the thrill of a cash bet.

Many – nay, most – of you probably dread haggling. Since I am a person who enjoys this process, I thought I’d share my top three pro tips and pitfalls for the price of free. No wrangling, no bargaining, and no dickering necessary.

  • Avoid the “Ray.” Think back on that masterwork of film, Ghostbusters. Egon has just finished explaining to Venkman why the firehouse isn’t going to work as their headquarters. Before they can tell the realtor “no thanks,” Ray excitedly breaks into the scene. “Does this pole still work? We should stay here, sleep here. Tonight. I’m gonna get my stuff.” With that, Venkman has lost all possibility of haggling and the only thing he can say is, “We’ll take it.” Don’t take a Ray with you. And in the name of all things holy, don’t Ray yourself or anybody else!
  • The power of itemization. One of my favorite tricks of haggling is to take a tried and true method of the opposition, and then turn it around on them. Car dealerships are famous for listing every single possible thing they can on the ticket with an itemized charge. To most, this hides the exorbitant price behind the smoke and mirrors of seat warmers and multiple power points. But we hagglers are a cut above the herd! Carefully peruse the itemized list and say things like this: “Oh, the floor mats seem a bit steep at $300. Why don’t you just keep them and I’ll snag the ones out of my trade-in. Could I also borrow a pry bar from the garage so I can remove my old stereo as well?” This method doesn’t often get me everything I want, but it is fun to watch the salesperson sweat while I do it.
  • Relief Pitching. So you’ve asked hundreds of pointed questions about a vehicle. You’ve hemmed and hawed about the color, both within and without. You finally wound up in the salesperson’s cubicle and have spent the last few hours going over every item on the car’s ticket. You’ve made it clear that you know what you want and you know what you’re doing. You and the salesperson are in the final stage of negotiation. You’re already winning, so you say, “Well, I think we have a deal,” and then proceed to sign exactly half your name. The salesperson freezes in mid sigh of relief as you look up at them, a vicious gleam in your eye. “So how long will it take you to put the new set of tires on? Should I wait?” Or, “Make sure you top off that tank.” Or, “We never did agree on that undercoat. I’m sure you can get them to spray it on right quick.” Works. Every. Time.

I’ve got one final pro tip for car shopping. It doesn’t get its own bullet because it is so obvious I almost feel silly saying it. Here it is: HAVE FUN. This isn’t your job! That poor sales guy is stuck there, but you can always just say, “no thanks” and walk out the door! You get to go home in a new ride, and he gets to go home in the flop sweat your negotiation tactics caused!

I love the smell of new car in the morning. It smells like…victory.

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Unsung History – St. Patrick and the Sacred Fire

by Bob MacWordell

Welcome to the first ever Unsung History post written by somebody who isn’t Angus. Angus loves this series because he feels he’s bringing the light of historical wisdom to a populace benighted by the “yoke of elementary school history” (his words, not mine). I appreciate Angus’s passion, but at the same time, I can’t get over the fact that everything Angus has written is demonstrably insane.

So I’m swooping in to share a story with you that is also difficult to believe – indeed, I’m not sure I believe it myself – but it is at least an unbelievable story that many (who aren’t insane cranks by and large) accept as history. Familiar is the tale of St. Patrick’s life of abduction and slavery; how he fell in love with the Irish people while enslaved but nevertheless returned after escaping to convert them to his faith. History tells us that St. Patrick found great success in proselytizing the Irish people. Less famous by far is the tale of Patrick’s Holy Fire.

Again, it’s a difficult story to believe. I’m not sure it counts as actual, according-to-Hoyle history. But it’s a fascinating story and has a lot more chance of being true than anything Angus has written. I’m even going to try and hip it up for the modern audiences.

Ireland used to celebrate a holiday called Bealteiné. The real short version: Bealteiné celebrated the end of winter, the coming of spring, the harvest, the cattle, fertility of the land. It was typically celebrated with a massive bonfire started by the High King and the Arch Druid (the secular and religious leaders of Ireland at the time). After these two guys started their fire, everybody else could start their own celebratory bonfires. But anybody who started one before the Two Big Guys would be put to death.

Just as the Arch Druid was about to light the fire, the High King noticed a fire burning in the distant east. As the High King is the big papa of all Ireland, this got all up in his bidness. He says to the Arch Druid, “Dru, you get your fire started. But then saddle up and bring me the mug what started a fire after I said not to.”

Dru’s crew rolled up on St. Patrick, who had blazed up a Paschal Fire for Easter. And don’t think for a second that Patty and his boys didn’t know exactly whose cereal they were spitting in when they did this on Bealteiné. Dru and his peeps brought Patty and his boys back to Tara, the seat of power in Ireland. But there wasn’t a tussle or anything. Patty wanted the King and everyone else around to hear what he had to say and knew Tara was the place to scream it.

So the High King gets all up in Patty’s grill about the fire, but Patty is not havin’ it. He doesn’t care who said not to start a fire, so starts mad preaching. King and Dru tried to shut him down cold, but the people hanging around were givin’ Patty mad props. Dru decided it was time for a freestyle miracle battle. Imagine a rap battle if the fire they spit were from heaven.

Dru says, “Yo, you up first, Patty.”

Patty says, “Step off, son. I don’t use God’s power to do magic tricks”

Dru says, “Well then here’s a big fat dose of more winter!” And he cast a spell that dropped several feet of snow on the ground and blotted out the sun with all the winter mix.

Patty says, “That ain’t cooler than cool, Dru; that’s ice cold. Call off the snow so the people don’t have to freeze.”

Dru says, “I can’t until tomorrow.”

Patty says, “Oh, I dig it. You’ve got a lot of power to do evil stuff, but not a lot of power to do good.” Patty made the sign of the cross and prayed, and the sun burst through the storm, warmed everyone up, and melted the snow away instantly.

Dru says, “Oh yeah?” and then cast another spell that plunged Tara into smoky darkness.

Patty said, “You’re kinda proving my point here, bro.” Again Patty prayed, and light from heaven banished the darkness.

King was noddin’ off by this time, so he said, “Yo, I only got time for one more test. Throw your holy books into the water and whichever one isn’t ruined is the winner.”

Dru was all, “But he’s got mad water powers!”

King said, “Then throw the books in the fire.”

Dru was all, “No way, boss, he’s got fire magic, too.”

King had had enough. “Okay, smart guy. Then both of you get tents, fill them with dry wood, and then climb inside. I’m going to start both on fire and whoever doesn’t die wins.”

And the crowd probably expected both guys to die, but these were crowds without game shows or reality TV, so they were ready for the throw down. Except Patty said, “Naw, King, that’s too easy. Fill his tent with green wood that won’t burn easily. I still got this.”

Another cat named Benin who was tight with Patty begged to be the one who would go into the tent with dry wood. I’m not sure why, but everyone seemed cool with that. You’d think Dru would buck since it wasn’t Patty going into the fire, but maybe he thought this gave him a better shot at one in the W column. Either way, Dru and Patty traded coats. Benin took Dru’s coat into his tent filled with dry wood and Dru took Patty’s coat into his tent filled with green wood. Then King flicked his Zippo.

The fires were over in a flash. Dru had been burnt to ashes along with the tent and all the green wood. The only thing that hadn’t burnt was Patty’s coat. Over in Benin’s tent, Dru’s coat was the only thing that even got a little singed, and it was a cinder.

King kinda flipped out, but he held it together enough to announce to the crowd, “Patty wins! Flawless Victory!”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody!

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