Category Archives: Beer

Game Night, Heroic Aleworks, Woodbridge VA

Courtesy of’s thriving Northern Virginia Pavilion group,  I received notification of a game night at Heroic Aleworks in Woodbridge, VA.   I had been unaware of this location until quite recently (through meetup, in fact), and wanted to give it a try.  Now, I like craft beer, and I like it a lot.. but not on a Thursday night during the work week, so I just limited myself to one sampler glass and a cold brew coffee.  Besides, I had my son (who is not 21) with.  I like this place.. the atmosphere is somewhat self-consciously nerd chic, with some obvious geek cultural references–

This was just fine with me and my son. The people there were very friendly– basically a handshake and my name was enough to start a tab. this place hearkened back to a friendlier, kinder way of doing business.

Most importantly, Heroic Aleworks has a keen awareness about the intersection zone between geeks who drink craft beers and other geekly hobbies, like comics, movies, and boardgames. The fact that they know their crowd this well and cater to it, has earned my instant customer loyalty.

Garrett and I got there late– not my fault for once, he has classes until 6, so we were to get there at a little after 7, southbound traffic and all. Heroic is in a light industrial area, like a lot of microbreweries are nowadays (there are two of them in two similar facilities less than a mile from where I work). Thus, food can be a little problematic.

We had time for one short-playing game. I brought a few choices along with me, a mixture of two to four player short games. We ended up choosing STEAM TORPEDO: FIRST CONTACT, by Iello. I had played this at the demo booth at HISTORICON 2014 at Fredericksburg, VA, and not all the way through. I thought it was good fun, and idly put it on my Wish List– not for any motive beyond my own “remember this one and get it later” reasons. My Secret Santa for 2015 ended up getting it for me, and there it has sat, on the shelf, unplayed, mocking me.. “I’m steampunk.. I’m naval.. I feature shooty things… PLAY ME…”

Tonight was the night!

It turns out Steam Torpedo is a light and fun little non-war game. It reminds me somewhat of an older game called RED NOVEMBER. That is mostly a thematic comparison. Both games feature submarines, steampunky settings, and frantically running from compartment to compartment to avoid disaster.

That is pretty much the point where the comparison stops. In Steam Torpedo, you use a series of tiles to create a custom submarine built up of modular components that do things.. shoot at the other sub, make your sub go, defend your sub, and fix your sub. Crew tokens make this stuff happen, and they do it by moving from compartment to compartment.

Complicating everything is the fact that each compartment is rated for structure and oxygen points– a finite amount of oxygen. Once you run out, your ship is done. Every TURN, you remove ONE oxygen from your ship.. somewhere. Every time a ship takes damage.. the target captain puts a damage marker (red) somewhere. Once you start using up the structure points for a compartment, it goes away (not in the physical sense– it ceases to function)

We ended up finishing the game about ten minutes before the event ended at 9 PM.  I pulled off a victory– not from any obvious tactical superiority on my part, it just worked out that Garrett’s design for a sub had more weapons than mine, and mine had more “fix your damage” compartments than his.   Thus, I was able to man both a “sandbags” station AND  a “welding station” to absorb most of the incoming physical damages.   I discovered since you have a finite amount of crewmen, it really doesn’t matter if you have a gigantic array of weapons.  You can only man some of them at any given moment.  So if your opponent has systems that allow his/her sub to avoid the initial onslaught of incoming points, gradually, the balance will shift and as they start taking out your systems in response with their one or two weapons that can activate, and you will be in a bad way to respond.

This event was a lot of fun– I like the location quite a bit but will probably have to leave early to get there in time to have something stronger than a sampler glass.  The folks there are very friendly and I like the decor, the root beer, and the way they cater to their crowd.  Good times!


Beer, Chicks and Wargames

Generally speaking, reading another fellow’s drinking stories can be as dull as watching paint dry unless the reader, in turn, is a bit inebriated. It depends on the skill of the writer. I was simply taken with the title of this thinly disguised memoir of the author’s sojourn at USC.. It has a certain charm. Maybe not enough charm to induce me to pony up the asking price, but I like the fact that Mr. Spikeman published it. Bravo, sir, you have encapsulated my academic career nicely.

Beer Chicks and Wargames by Spikeman

Beer Chicks and Wargames by Spikeman


It is the fall of 1991 at the University of South Carolina. The world is changing. Enter Bart, a stubborn, opinionated and fiercely independent kid who goes to college to get away from his home town and push back adulthood for as long as possible. Beer, Chicks and Wargames: The 6-Year College Plan is his memoir. While getting a degree would certainly be a plus, that goal quickly becomes secondary as Bart discovers Beer, Chicks and Wargames, as well as a myriad of other temptation along the way. He also has a knack for getting into all sorts of trouble. Bart fails in almost everything, yet stubbornly refuses to adapt or mature to meet the academic, fiscal and social challenges facing him. Only desperation and sheer luck keep him afloat from one misadventure to the next until he finds his true calling. In this bitingly honest and humorous look at college life in America, Gregory Spikeman takes the reader on a nostalgic ride through the 90s – the music, culture, technology, and the dysfunctional youth of Generation X. Publisher’s website:

You can find it on Amazon. Hurry, there are only 7 left. By the way, the map in the background is Avalon Hill’s EMPIRE IN ARMS, the very same game mentioned in the post “Has the Sun Set On the Friendly Little Game Store?” as being left set up for a year in a hobby shop I frequented in my recently post-collegiate days. See? I can be topical!

Who said good old fashioned American know how was dead?

John W. Cornwell is a Maker hero

The maker of the giant potato gun weighs in with a small dorm fridge that will actually launch a beer at you, using a remote.

Robotic Beer Launching RefrigeratorThe top video clips of the week are here

Read his article on how to make a beer launching fridge.

I think if it got marketed, it would probably be a runaway best seller– but I can just see the lawsuits from some drunk getting beaned on the head because he wasn’t coordinated enough to catch a flying beer properly.

German Beer

I was bummed that I missed Oktoberfest…

Now… not so much!

Beer banning, say it isn’t so!

Only in America

It’s not the most appealing brand name for a beer, but by God, I’ll fight to the death for them to use it!!!

CBS4) BELCHERTOWN, MA The state of Connecticut is banning sales of a couple holiday beers with Santa on the label.

“Seriously Bad Elf” beer is a British import, that’s distributed by a company in Belchertown, Massachusetts. Its label shows an elf with a slingshot firing Christmas ornaments at Santa’s sleigh.

“Warm Welcome” is another beer distributed by Shelton Brothers. Its label features an image of Santa dropping down a chimney into a fire.

Connecticut state regulations bar alcohol advertising with images, like Santa, that might appeal to children.

The beer’s distributor, Shelton Brothers, has enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union in fighting the ban.

Dan Shelton says his company had no such problems when it sold Bad Elf and Very Bad Elf in previous years. It sells the beer in 30 other states and none have complained.

“We even had a beer called Santa’s Butt last year,” Shelton said. “They didn’t notice Santa’s Butt, but they notice this one. How can you miss that big red thing? Minors are not going to be looking to buy beer because Santa Claus is on the label.”

“Seriously Bad Elf” goes on sale in Boston next week.

They’ll be coming for our guns next, mark my words.

The Perfect Woman

How could I have forgotten this?

I bumped into the perfect female at the Ren Faire last week, and forgot to bring it up… you can only imagine my chagrin!

THE PERFECT WOMAN, hosted by image shack