Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Civilization V Gods & Kings: Aztec One City Challenge (Part 1)

Today, I started a game as the Aztecs on a Continents map with all other settings standard. I am aiming for a cultural victory by taking advantage of the Aztec Unique Ability, which is a small culture gain from each enemy unit killed. My strategy was to go through the Tradition policy tree: Legalism, Monarchy, Landed Elite, Aristocracy, and finally Oligarchy. I also wanted to go with a Fertility Rites/Floating Gardens/Hanging Gardens combo that would get my city to grow quickly. However, I did not expect it to grow this quickly. From about size 12 up to size 19, it only took about 4 turns to grow. My city got to size 20 by turn 134, or 475 AD.

Here is the first screenshot, showing city specs by turn 118. My production was excellent for the time: most buildings took only 3 turns and world wonders 8 turns. This caused me to go on quite a wonder spam.

The reason production was so high was because of the Religious Community belief that I had taken. By the time I adopted my religion, the city was around size 10, and grew to 15 not long after. That meant I could take the full benefit much early on, which was a huge boost to production.

The only thing not so great thus far is my science output, which is rather low at this point. World Church (+1 culture for every 5 followers outside your Civ) seems pretty weak after using it for a while. I think it needs to be changed to only 4 followers, like Tithe, or include followers in your own civilization. Let's hope that I can turn this great start into victory!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

AFE Chaper 4: The Warwick Revolution

On September 29, 1788, a large group of Rhode Islanders protested outside of the militia barracks in Warwick. After the amendment, new central government militias had replaced state funded ones across the United States. Some protesters demanded they leave, and the militia refused to do so. Some people were yelling that liberty has died, and that they were being "occupied" by the central government. Then finally, a man at the front said that they would be forced off of their state's land if they did not do so willingly. The militiamen yet again replied with a no. The man ripped a lamp of the side of the barracks and shoved it into the building, lighting it on fire. People were intitilally shocked, but they soon gave a cheer when some men went running. Some militiamen attempted to arrest some protesters, but their attempts were futile. Brawls broke out, and one person even fired on the militia. There would be a number of shots in return, but they did not hurt anybody. 

Within about 90 seconds, there were 10 militiamen and 5 protesters unconscious from the brawls. People were screaming and running as other buildings started to catch the flames. Becuase of the chaos, not enough people were collected enough to get a force to put out the fires. It would take a fire fighting force from Cranston, a city very close to Providence, to stop the flames. Nobody died, but 3 militiamen sustained severe concussions and were deemed no longer fit for service. Messesngers arrived in Providence to take the local militia down to Warwick. When the militia arrived around an hour later, it took around 60 citizens prisoner. Many arrested did participate in the riots and injured militiamen, but some arrested had nothing to do with the riots and were thrown into prison with little evidence. 

That night, hardly anybody in the town slept. People were on the streets without a home, drunks were looting the local shops, and men with families who were able to find the peace to sleep slept with a musket close by. Governor came out by demanding the confederal government release the accused from a confedral prison in  Massachsetts and hand them over to a state prison. The federal government refused to do so, citing concerns that they would spread general anarchy throughout the area. This is the moment when Governor uttered those infamous words: "They have made an unreasonable grab for power. We shall counter." The Governor, in an emergency session of state congress, told them of the horrific situation in Warwick. He issued a proclamation to them that was unanimously agreed to and signed by every member: a declaration of independence. 

This shocked the United States that Rhode Island really wanted to break away. Congress knew that it needed to vote on whether or not to recognize Rhode Island as independent as soon as possible, so they held an emergency session in a Virginian courtroom. Many said that they had no place to break away. Arthur St.Clair, the President of Congress assembled at this time, referenced the idiom "one bad apple ruins the entire basket." He felt that the whole country would be more strongly united if Rhode Island, the epicenter of the firestorm of controversy, were no longer a part of it. The mood was rather somber as about 80% of members agreed to let Rhode Island leave the confederacy. The only members who voted against letting them go were 2 from Connecticut and 1 from Massachusetts, citing concerns about what they considered to be a rather radical state turning independent and threatening their borders. The Republic of Rhode Island was just born. Many hoped that the people of the United States could move on as a stronger country after the breakup, but it was not to be.

AFE Chapter 3: Courts Under Crisis

The United States Congress assembled dragged itself miles to the courts in Rhode Island where they wanted to challenge the legality of the amendment. The initial proceedings were rather short, since both accused each other of circumventing the Articles of Confederation. Rhode Island claimed signing the "illegal" amendment showed they had no respect for the law and should be forced to repeal it. The confederal government came back by essentially calling the state government full of hypocrites, and saying that they had no respect for the law by carrying on with pre-amendment taxation and tariffs. 

The court was arguably biased towards the state, and ruled in the states favor. However, the central government noted a certain clause in the Articles: that the courts of 10 states had to agree with Rhode Island's ruling for the federal government to repeal it. The state did not object to this interestingly enough. It was noted that if the amendment was truly illegal, then all states would be required to rule against Congress. Obviously, central states that were initial supporters would be in support of congress, which means there would be no chance of it being repealed. That meant that the 75% clause actually worked in favor of Rhode Island, but only in order to repeal it. The state slightly glossed over the fact, but many others took notice.

After these initial proceedings, the amendment started really being put into action. The confederal government began to get a steady influx of funds after the taxes being split up between them and the states. This caused the militias to become a nationally funded entity rather than state funded. Congress also had the courage to ask states who had been carrying out it's own diplomacy, most notably Virginia, to cease doing that. It seemed like the nation was being tied together a little stronger, but some criticized it as a loss of states rights and liberties.

As the case moved through the courts of the various states, that contradiction mentioned above would be the scourge of Rhode Island. Not surprisingly, the states Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Deleware ruled in favor of the government. These states quickly started to gather the nickname "the Central Four" among the other states. The fist state to rule in Rhode Island's favor was Virginia, but only with a slight majority. The reason they did so was because of the incident where the federal government asked Virginia to cease participating in it's own diplomatic pursuits. North Carolina also ruled in Rhode Island's favor, but mentioned that they didn't care much for RH and that the ruling was to more to represent themselves. This comment pushed Rhode Island even further away from the rest of the states. Massachussets, Georgia, and South Carolina ruled in favor of the central government. Connecticut had no ruling, the court was absolutely split. 

Surprisingly, New Hampshire ruled in favor of Rhode Island, which went against the ratification vote. The state decided this because they particularly disliked the new federal militias. Men from all over the country would staff these, it was no longer an each state protect itself situation. Many people disliked that, especially the state with the motto "Live Free or Die." New York was on an especially slippery slope. As Alexander Hamilton's home state, they respected him and his ideals for central government and a strongly united country. On the flip side, the amendment seemed to be tearing the country apart, and they felt the country would be much better off without such divisions.

In the end, New York was not able to make a decision either. The final count stood at 7 in favor of Congress, 4 in favor of Rhode Island and 2 undecided. That meant no 75% majority, and no decision about what should be done. Congress decreed that, according to the Articles of Confederation, they should be the last resort in case of extreme debate or a tie. Of course, they made a "perfectly legal ruling that made the amendment officially legal."

Such a remark, that Congress could be the last one to decide in case of a need for a last resort, made many state leaders angry. The Virginian government would enter in talks with the central government for what it believed to be abuse of its power, which dragged the already exhausted Congress through yet another state court. Many people across the Unites States were concerned Rhode Island would do something drastic in response to Congress' decision. They in fact went past what anyone else expected them to do.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

AFE Chapter 2: There is Compromise, and Then There is Rhode Island

Around July of 1787, supporters of the amendment began their campaign in earnest. They talked to many state government assemblies and to the citizens of the state to get them behind the plan for economic reform. Supporters pushed the amendment by telling people that the central government would no longer have to deal with chronic underfunding and that would make America much stronger without having to give the central government too much power. 

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Deleware showed strong support early on. They felt like the states were far too separated and needed to be stronger. They also felt a stronger central government would make America more respected among world powers and be better equipped to defend themselves. 

Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts were on the edge about the proposed amendment. On one hand, the 75% minimum requirement clause put a lot of power into their hands since they were large states and had a lot of clout in the central government and in smaller states. On the other hand, a central government with more surplus funding means that states could be competing for tax revenue, which would make discontent citizens and potentially an underfunded state government. Patrick Henry came out against the amendment, saying that "we cannot allow the central government to become bloated and corrupt. The only people who Virginians can trust their money with is other Virginians!" 

States who had come out strongly against the amendment were Georgia, the Carolinas, and Rhode Island. The southern states who relied heavily on agriculture felt certain that the central government, based in a northern free state, would impose heavy tariffs on slave trading and cripple their economies. Rhode Island felt that it's voice would be heavily drowned out by the 75% minimum clause and that it would just be dragged along with the rest of the states. Most of all, they were afraid the state government would have no power left if it could not tax as it had been currently doing. However, they still felt secure in their veto power since every single state still had to vote for the amendment for it to be passed.

Many politicians in the country were frustrated by the fact that Rhode Island was so stubborn that not a single piece of legislation could not go through it. John Collins, the governor of Rhode Island even said that the more powerful states were in fact jealous that the smallest state could hold as much power as they did. He also said that their power to effectively veto anything is the true beauty of the Articles of Confederation, and they don't want it changed. 

When people in supporter states heard this, they were baffled by how Rhode Island just acted like they had all of the power. Alexander Hamilton called for a meeting between the initial writers sometime during late August to revise the amendment. They were in unanimous agreement that Rhode Island was blocking important legislation and that something needed to be done. To counter this, they changed the 75% clause from only applying to future amendments to the proposed amendment as well as all future ones. The revision also limited the government from fully banning slave trade in order to get the southern states more open to the amendment. After the release of the revised amendment, the Rhode Island state government released an official statement that the amendment was illegal according to the Articles of Confederation by claiming that the 75% clause was legally inapplicable to this amendment, and warned against any further ratifications by other states. This would turn into a major point of contention in American politics throughout the upcoming decade: if popular opinion goes strongly for something that is arguably against the law, then do you go along with the law or the opinion?

As of October 1, the ratification period began. Rhode Island, immediately and predictably gave a resounding nay. On October 3, 1787, a meeting between Pennsylvania and New Jersey state officials was held. They jointly decided to ratify the amendment, becoming the first two votes out of the now required 10. Five days later, Maryland ratified, and then Delaware ratified a week later. New York, Alexander Hamilton's home state, was swayed to his side and became the fifth ratifier on October 13. There was a gap of about two weeks before the sixth ratification: this one came from Massachusetts. Popular opinion appeared to be for the amendment as previously opposed states Georgia and South Carolina brought the ratification count to eight a week afterwards on November 2. They finally agreed with the compromises to slave trade, but Virginia and North Carolina did not. They both voted nay on ratification. It came down to New Hampshire and Connecticut, who after nearly a month after Georgia did so, voted to ratify on November 29, bringing vote count up to 10. According to the amendment, that made it an official piece of law. 

Alexander Hamilton gave a resounding victory speech to supporters in New York City which ended with a booming cheer from the crowd and a very happy central government. North Carolina and Virginia, who both voted nay, grudgingly accepted the new law. Rhode Island was especially unhappy about it. Some of the government was convinced enough that the amendment was not legally passed to carry on like it had never existed, and imposed all of their own taxes. Once Christmas had passed, the state government decided to challenge the central government over the amendment in a court of law in the case that would become the United States v. Rhode Island.

Review: Lego Hero Factory 6222 Core Hunter

My local Target just got some of the new summer sets in stock, most notably the Star Wars and Hero Factory. I picked up one of the $12.99 Hero Factory set, Core Hunter. It was the most appealing set just by looking at the bag, and once I built it, it didn't disappoint. The picture below is the front of the bag: the Core Hunter looks quite menacing and it really captures your attention sitting on the shelf.

Below is the back of the bag. It shows how to enter your code on the Hero Core onto the website, and also show the head at actual size. At this view, we can finally see that the head is a Glatorian head with an axle at the top to attach the mask.

Here is a layout of the parts in the set. There are 51 total pieces, which might not sound like a lot, but it feels quite full when complete. There are quite a few unique pieces in this set. The red claws with clips look like they could be very useful in non-HF creations.

This is a side view of the finished product. It looks sleek: slightly bulky, but not overly so. However, I think the figure would look better a little longer arms or a little shorter legs. I will probably try to mod it and post my results.

And below is a battle shot between my version of Bulk 3.0 and Core Hunter. The figure is overall fairly posable and has a good amount of playability.

Overall, I really like this set, and think that any Hero Factory fan would enjoy it. There are quite a few good parts that could be used on other  HF MOCs and non-HF MOCs. I hope you all enjoyed the review of Core Hunter, and look for my upcoming mod!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

AFE Chapter 1: Go Ahead, Blame It on the Horse

On August 31, 1786, Alexander Hamilton's horse rolled it's front right hoof on an uneven road in northern Pennsylvania, and proceeded to collapse on the ground and break the tibia on it's front right leg. Alexander Hamilton was uninjured from the fall and only recived a few scrapes and bruises. Egbert Benson, who was traveling with him to the Annapolis Convention, helped Alexander find a place to stay while he looked for a new horse. Alexander objected to staying and said that he could at least walk some of the way. Both of them knew it would not get them to Annapolis any faster, so he agreed to stay displeased when they were. It took them and the help of many gracious citizens to find a horse at a cheap enough price that Alexander would still have enough money for food and night stays when needed. It took them two days to find a suitable one, but Alexander doubted whether or not they would still reach Annapolis in time.

On September 11, 1786, the Annapolis Convention began. Many delegates were missing, but the present delegates were most disappointed by the absence of the two delegates from New York, especially the influential Alexander Hamilton who had called for reform more than anyone else on the American political scene. The meeting would carry on without either of the New York delegates, and without one of their strongest voices, present delegates were concerned about how well their call would be received. Never the less, it produced a statement telling Congress and the States of their intent to hold a convention in Philadelphia and some proposals for what they intend to accomplish. 

Congress approved of the proposed convention, but the states were wary. The overall feeling was that some of the ideas presented were bordering on monarchist, which disgusted most Americans. Rhode Island felt that the Constitution would go against its favor no matter what, and stated it would not attempt to send delegates as it had done so in Annapolis. The biggest blow to the proposal came from Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia, one of the most ouspoken opponents of a strong centralized government. He announced that he felt the message was weak, poorly assembled and absent of the approval of Alexander Hamilton himself, which he thought rendered it nearly worthless. Many agreed with the Governor, and proclaimed that if the biggest proponent of a convention did not come, then why should anyone else come?

Alexander was very disheartened by the lack of support for the convention. By the time he got word out of his misshap with his horse as the reason he was not present, most people had moved on past the idea and stuck to the Articles. Still with hope that the states would rethink their rejections, he began to write up his own plan for a new government, which would come to be known as the Hamilton Plan.

When the March of 1787 came around, fewer delegates than expected showed up to the Philadelphia Convention. The states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachussets, New Hampshire, and North Carolina were represented with a total of 21 delegates. The most notable absence was George Washignton, who wished to remain in retirement. He also felt that it would only tear the country apart for somebody as influential as he to attend it. Because of this,  Alexander Hamilton was nearly unanimously elected President of the convention. 

Hamilton was the first to propose his plan to the delegates. It consisted of a two house government, where both were determined by population size.The lower house would be elected by the people, then the upper house elected by the lower house. The upper house would then elect who would be President. Some liked the idea, but many would be angered by the plan and call it monarchist and wiping out the ability of the smaller states to have a voice. The delegates from New Hampshire presented their own plan, which consisted of each state getting three seats in the lower house and two seats in the upper. The lower would elect the upper, who would then elect the President.

By the second day, over half of the delegates were very unhappy with the plans, and proposed only an amendment to the Articles, that would most notably give the central government the ability to place tariffs and taxes to avoid the situation like the one where Rhode Island imposed taxation on traffic passing through the interstate post route and through other roads. With a completely divided house, they were finally able to get a majority to agree through the economic amendments on the Articles of Confederation. This amendment would split the power to tax and place tarrifs between the central government and the states and lower the minimum state count for ratification to 75% (state count rounded up if no exact percentage), among other things. They sent the new amendment through a number of committes to refine it, and by early June of 1787, it was ready for ratification by states. 

Alexander Hamilton and other proponents of a stronger central government were slightly dissapointed but they knew that the amendment was a step in the right  direction. He prepared speeches to travel across the country in order to get people to support ratification. However, in hindsight, the speeches had one gaping flaw: one that would come at the cost of the existence of the United States.

I hope everybody enjoyed the first chapter! This is my first alternate history timeline, so any constructive criticism would be very helpful.