Saturday, April 5, 2014

Busy day and bumper sticker magnets

In yesterday's post I said that today was going to be busy, and I was not exaggerating at all!

From 11 to around 3:30, Steve and I participated in a game tournament for Settlers of Catan at The Board Game Barrister in Greenfield, Wisconsin.  Settlers of Catan is a board game where you collect resources and build roads, settlements, and cities.  The more you build the more victory points you earn.  That's a very simplified explanation for a pretty complicated game.  If you'd like to learn more about it, I suggest visiting the Catan website I linked to above.  It's not for everyone, but those who like the game really like the game.

There were 11 people (kids as well as adults) in the tournament.  We played three games (each one lasting an hour or longer and playing to 10 points), and they tallied up the points earned in each game to pick the tournament winner.  Steve and I didn't play each other in any of the games, which was probably just as well - we get really competitive.

In my first game I came in second and had 7 points.  In Steve's first game he also came in second and had 8 points.  In my second game, I won by a pretty fair margin.  Steve came in second in his second game with 7 points.  He was one point away from winning, but someone took the "Longest Road" card away from Steve, which lost Steve 2 points.  Frustrating!  Steve won his third game, so he finished up with 25 points.

My third game was a nail-biter at the end.  I was up against the top-scoring players, and I think I was in second place.  One of the players had won both of his previous games, so for the tournament he was at 20 points.  I was at 17.  Throughout most of this last game there was a fight between another player and me for the "Longest Road" card, and once it was sure that I couldn't get it back, I concentrated my efforts on building settlements and cities.  In the final round, all four of us had 9 points, either all on the board or with development cards.  (See - I told you it was a complicated game!)  By this time, the other two games had ended, and I think all the tournament players were gathered around our table to see who'd win.

At this point of the game it usually goes very quickly.  Players can get a lot of resources with each roll of the die (or lose them all if the "robber" is thrown).  Everyone counted their victory points and started saying things like, "If I don't roll a seven (the robber), I can win the next round," or, "If any of these numbers is rolled, I'll win."  Even though the robber didn't come up, the numbers were not in their favor.  I said nothing and quietly gathered resources.  I knew if I built one more city or settlement, I'd win.  I showed Steve my cards, and we knew that if I didn't get robbed, I'd be able to build a city.  Finally it was my roll, and I lucked out.  I very calmly (on the outside) laid my cards out, built my city, and won!

 It's a little hard to see, but I'm orange at the right side.

Everyone said that was the closest game they'd ever seen and that it was very exciting.  Hours later, Steve and I were still high-fiving over it.  Even though I won that game, it was by such a narrow margin that I was in second place for the tournament.  The top player had 29 points, and I had 27.  Steve tied for 3rd with 25 points.  Everyone who played got a cute "sheep" plushie (wool is one of the resources), the top four players got a water bottle (either Settlers of Catan or Mayfair Games, which is the manufacturer of the game), the top two players got Settlers of Catan polo shirts, and the top player got a number of maps for the game.  So Steve and I cleaned up with 2 sheep, 2 water bottles, and a polo shirt.  More importantly, though, we had such a good time, and we might end up getting together with some of the players again!  (Thanks for telling us about it, Cindy!)

Today was International Tabletop Day, so there were a large number of people in the store's open game area playing so many different types of games.  It was a lot of fun!

Part of the festivities included some freebies, including bumper stickers, which leads me to today's project.  I like bumper stickers, but I'm not keen on sticking anything permanent on my car.  In 2011 I wrote about flower magnets I have on my car (although now they're red instead of purple - red shows up better), and in 2012 I wrote about a train magnet that's on Steve's car.  There is a risk that the magnets will come off, especially in a car wash, but you're not (literally) stuck with the same things on your car for years and years.  This is perfect for political messages - once the election is over, you can remove the magnet and reuse it for the next election.

You can buy magnet sheets at craft stores (like Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics) or online like at Expressions Vinyl.

I cut out a lot of vinyl magnets, so I have magnets of different thicknesses.  The sheets at craft stores tend to be pretty thin, but I've never had a problem with the magnets coming off of my car, even though I fly down to Illinois and back on a fairly regular basis.

The magnet I used tonight is pretty thick and has black vinyl already on it.  It's a bit hard to cut with the Cricut, so I don't like using it for that.  It's perfect for bumper stickers, though!

The top sticker is what we got today, and the Catan sticker we acquired ... somewhere a long time ago.

When applying your bumper sticker to a magnet sheet, I recommend using a squeegee or vinyl application tool to reduce the number of air bubbles.  Air bubbles are unsightly and nearly impossible to get out once they've formed.

Because the backings of bumper stickers are usually cut somewhere in the middle, I apply one side first then the other (instead of peeling off the whole backing and trying to get it stuck on the magnet straight and without bubbles).

Use the applicator (or credit card, ruler without a sharp edge, spatula...) on the outside and gently push the sticker onto the magnet.  That will push the backing off.  Use your free hand (or someone else - Steve helped me when he wasn't taking pictures) to guide the backing so it doesn't get caught up or come off too quickly.

Once you've done both sides, if you have air bubbles you can try using the applicator to push them to the edge, where they should just disappear.  That doesn't always work.  You can also try releasing the bubble by poking a small hole with a pin, but then you're left with a hole in your magnet.  We got lucky, and both stickers went down like a dream, and we had no air bubbles.

To trim the magnet, you can use scissors, but an X-Acto knife and a straight edge will give you a straighter cut.  Because I'm a little anxious around sharp blades, Steve does all my X-Acto cutting for me:

He wants me to tell you to use multiple passes instead of trying to cut deeply the first time.  The knife could slip.  The thickness of the magnet will determine how many passes, of course.

Once it's cut out, you're done!  We tend to put our bumper stickers on our fridge:

Along with many other magnets, as you can see.

Back to the middle of the day... After the tournament, we went to my mother's in Illinois for birthday cake and to visit for a while before dinner.  We went further into Illinois for our favorite Japanese restaurant, Tsuakasa.  (Thanks, Mom and John!)

Here's some of my dinner:

That's filet mignon, golden shrimp, and some vegetables.  For the first time, I brought leftovers home!  I blame the birthday cake.

We had such a good day!  Steve said, "That was the most enjoyable second-day-after-my-birthday in memory."

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