Saturday, March 31, 2012

Star Wars, Buffing Spells, Supreme Court

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. Things are settling down for me after a very busy few weeks—between visiting family, my daughter’s busy performance schedule in the school play, and a trip down to spring training, I fell behind on a lot of stuff. But now I feel like I’m finally catching up. The girls are home all next week for spring break, so I’m thinking of setting up a Star Wars marathon—they haven’t seen all the movies yet. And I think I’ll show them in the order of 4, 5, 2, 3, 6. I read a compelling argument online that the whole saga is really at its best when the prequels form an extended flashback right after the big reveal at the end of Empire Strikes Back. I think I’m going to give it a try.

Here's a link to a fascinating discussion of story telling across a series of movies:

(Oh, and as to episode 1… it turns out it is not really necessary, and actually interferes with this plan. Maybe we’ll watch it after the others.)

Gaming: I’ve been thinking about the next D&D game I would like to run, and I’ve been looking at the various editions of the game on my bookshelf to ask myself which would be right for my next game. Naturally, I find myself wanting to pull elements from multiple editions to make what I think would be the best D&D. That seems like a daunting piece of work, and one that’s likely to duplicate a lot of the effort a whole team of folks at WotC are now engaged in, so I don’t know if I would really do it or not. It would seem better to pick an edition I like and make some minor modifications to it. Anyway, that whole line of thought got me looking at 3.0 again, and wondering what exactly I would change or houserule to make 3.0 a game I liked better. And the salient thing that stuck out to me was simply, Fix buffing spells.

It’s unfortunately true that buffing spells have been hard to balance throughout the game’s history. In 3.0, they were so strong that they were mandatory for smart play. Many players wouldn’t budge from the inn until the party wizard or cleric had hit ‘em with bull’s strength, stoneskin, fly, false life, death ward, and maybe polymorph other into some useful form like a troll. It was a little beneficial in that it was a system for transferring character power from spellcasters to nonspellcasters, but it was still pretty obnoxious. In fact, we found it so obnoxious that in 3.5 we killed the duration of buff spells to minutes instead of all day so that people wouldn’t have them all running all day. But that just exacerbated the problem of the 5-minute adventuring day and “scry and fry” tactics. So when 4th Edition came around, we ruthlessly expunged anything that gave off the faintest whiff of buffing spell from the system. We finally fixed the problem by shooting it in the head and burying it in the woods… even after we invented a ritual system to do the job. So rituals, instead of being the natural place to harbor buff effects, were nerfed even before the game launched.

I found that answer less than satisfying. There is a lot of coolness and iconic D&D beats in the buffing spells, and I think 4th Edition really misses them.

Anyway, I think I’ve come up with an idea that might fix the problem: the Mantle keyword. Basically, the great majority of buffing spells gain a keyword called [mantle]. A creature can only be affected by one mantle at a time. When you receive a new mantle, whatever you had in the spot goes away (or maybe you get to choose which you keep, whatever). The idea is that your soul, spirit, or psychomagical aura can’t absorb more than one mantle effect at a time. To put it another way, some magic affects you by making a persistent alteration to your psychomagical “true essence.” Just like you can’t paint something red and blue at the same time, you can’t alter someone’s aura in two ways at the same time.

Once we limit folks to one buff at a time, we can restore the long durations of buffing spells from 3.0 days – buffing spells are a LOT less problematic if each character in the party only has one at a time to deal with. You’re not Superman, you’re Ultraboy. Note that it makes dispel magic a lot less tedious, too; you won’t be churning through three or four ongoing buffs.

I could imagine adding another keyword called [benediction] which does the same thing with various sorts of divine blessings – there was always the strange stacking of bless and prayer and recitation in earlier editions, and it would seem to make sense that one blessing or abjuration might overwrite another. But I don’t think short-term buffs are as much of a problem, since they often come with an action cost at a time when you have hard choices about how to spend your actions.

What other elements of D&D 3.0 could stand a little houseruling? I could imagine some work on save DCs, looking for ways to incorporate themes/kits from 2e/4e, or building some at-will attacks for each class. Maybe I’ll make a rainy day project out of it sometime.

Politics/Current Events: Like many people, I followed the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) arguments at the Supreme Court this last week. I think no one really knows how the Court is going to rule on it, but I was gratified to see some very hard questions asked. My opinion (which is worth nothing, of course) is that the Act appears unconstitutional. Throwing it out would be a mess, but keeping it on the books is dangerous. The high-handed regulation-making from HHS Secretary Sebelius that trampled on religious liberty a few weeks back was a pretty good demonstration of what’s at stake. People talk about “the social safety net” all the time—well, the Constitution is a political safety net, designed to prevent the exercise of intrusive power by a government that does not have to answer to the people. We weaken it at our peril.

The Democrats had many options available for moving toward a national health care system that would have been much more sound in Constitutional terms. For example, if they had established a tax authority to pay for it instead of a system of mandates and penalties, they would have been on much more solid ground. Or they could have legislated the system they designed separately in each of the fifty states, since states have the power to create laws that the federal government can’t (that’s why Romneycare is legal in Massachusetts). But the Democratic-controlled Congress tried to minimize the political fallout by using “penalties” instead of taxes and playing games with accounting, and wound up outsmarting themselves by building something that may not pass Constitutional muster. Speaker of the House Pelosi asked “Are you serious?” when challenged on this a couple of years ago. Maybe she should have taken the warning to heart.

So what happens if the Affordable Care Act gets tossed? Well, I think it’s clear that we need *something* to improve the financial underpinnings of our health care system. Off the top of my head, I’d begin with opening up insurance across state lines and examining the question of tort reform. That wouldn’t be enough to fix things, but at least it would be a start.

The Finer Things: Cherry trees. Washington DC is famous for them, but it turns out that the other Washington is darned near ideal for cherry trees too. We have thousands of ‘em in the valley area between Puyallup and Renton. They started really blooming about three weeks ago, so they’re starting to reach the end of their amazing color. But there are so many around here you’ll actually get drifts of petals like patches of pink snow here and there. I never paid much attention to trees, flowers, etc., until I moved out here, but the cherry trees really are something special.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Apache Trail, Victory in the Pacific, Dejah Thoris

Greetings, all! My apologies for a late post; I’ve been out of town since Sunday the 18th, so I’m just now getting around to my March 20th blogging. I took a few days to fly down to Arizona, meet a buddy of mine, and check out Cactus League spring training. Arizona now hosts the spring training camps of 14 major league ballclubs, and they’re well into the process of tuning up for the season. We checked out the camps for the Mariners, Reds, and Indians in the mornings, and took in a couple of M’s games in the afternoons. Then, on Wednesday, we decided to take a break from baseball and sightsee in the Arizona desert, taking in a scenic drive known as the Apache Trail. Theodore Roosevelt called the road/trail “one of the most spectacular best-worth-seeing sights of the world.” He might have been exaggerating a bit, but it was still one heck of a stretch of country.

Gaming: While I was down in Phoenix, my buddy and I played a game of Victory in the Pacific, an old Avalon Hill classic. I managed to fit my battered old copy into my carry-on, figuring that killing an hour or two in the evenings after watching baseball might be a good way to go. When I was a kid, I would save up for months and months to mail-order games full of bazillions of cardboard counters, reference charts, and hex maps. My collection included titles such as Third Reich, Ricthofen’s War, Luftwaffe, Jutland, War at Sea, Arab-Israeli Wars, Titan, and many others. I laid out huge solo scenarios on the floor and drove my mom nuts by leaving square yards of my bedroom impassable for weeks at a time. Every now and then I’d find a friend to play Panzer Leader or Squad Leader with, but honestly, many of these games were my own rainy day activities. (You have to remember, when I was a kid of thirteen or fourteen, there were three channels on TV and video games were things you found in the arcade.)

Avalon Hill, SPI, and other manufacturers of classic hex-and-counter “wargames” managed to drift along into the 80’s and 90’s as the most exclusive niche of a niche hobby. I can’t even imagine what the business model must have been: Publish scores of titles with extremely narrow focus and appeal, each requiring scads of tricky components and countless hours of playtesting and development time, and sell them by catalog and mail order in the days before the internet. But back in the day that WAS the gaming hobby. RPGs came along, then ever-more-reliable and detailed computer games that could out-simulate these massive simulations, and eventually that was that. A handful of boutique publishers such as GMT Games and Multi-Man Publishing sell counter-and-hex wargames now, with sales of a thousand or fewer copies in many cases, but that’s it.  An entire category of the gaming industry, with a few exceptions, went the way of the dodo.

Anyway, Victory in the Pacific was always one of my favorites, because it was light and fast by the standards of the genre but did a fine job of letting you line up big heaps of carriers, battleships, and cruisers, and just bash the tar out of them. One of the very clever things the game did was to separate naval combat into “day actions” (airstrikes) and “night actions” (surface battles). If the two players couldn’t agree on what kind of battle they wanted to fight—usually because one guy had planes, and the other guy didn’t—you’d roll a die, and the high roll got the battle he wanted. If you tied, then you got a doubleheader, a day action followed by a night action. I always felt it was an elegant way to make carrier forces and battleship forces distinct from each other, and I even borrowed this old idea when creating the darkness rules and scenario guidelines in the revised Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures game.

If I could tinker with Victory in the Pacific now, I think I might use some kind of initiative roll instead of forcing the Japanese to always move first; that’s a real beating for the Japanese player. No reason that couldn’t be weighted in favor of the Allies, or even weighted by turn one way or the other in order to reflect different levels of Allied codebreaking success through the war. And I think I would also add some more robust targeting rules and screening rules, so that you can’t have twelve cruisers all gang up on one mission-critical enemy ship while leaving most of the enemy force unfought. But, tinkering and home rules aside, it’s still a darned fun game.

Oh, and my buddy won. I managed to grab a lot of territory early as the Japanese, including the Coral Sea, but I just lost too much fleet doing it, and I rolled ‘1’ on damage dice about six or eight times in the course of the game. Enterprise should have been sunk like three times—ridiculous.

Politics/Current Events: Okay, not very political, but certainly a current event: Has there ever been such an earthshaking week in the NFL offseason as the one we’ve just watched? First Peyton Manning hits the market as the single highest-profile free agent in I don’t know how long, an instant ticket to contention for any of a dozen teams. Major quarterback signings in Miami, Tennessee, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and New York are caught in the crazy rippling spread of consequences. And then, to cap it off, the NFL comes out and hammers the New Orleans Saints with the most draconian set of penalties that I think any pro football team has ever been subjected to. If there’s another example of such an overwhelming beatdown from the commissioner’s office, I’d love to hear about it.

The sad truth of the whole business is that lots of players (and some coaches too) from many teams have set bounties of one sort or another. Why the league hammered the Saints for something that is really not that unusual, I don’t know. The penalties strike me as really over the top.

The Finer Things: I was pleasantly surprised by John Carter; the film was surprisingly faithful to many details of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories, including things that I never would have expected, such as radium rifles in the hands of the green Martians, the sobriquet Dotar Sojat, ships flying on “light,” two towers in Helium, banths with tails that “widen toward the tip,” and so on. I liked Zodanga as a moving city, although I was less fond of the liberties the film’s writers took with the therns or in making Dejah Thoris an action star. Dejah Thoris is supposed to be legendarily beautiful—tough enough in her own way, but more of a Helen of Troy type of character than the 21st-century warrior princess scientist the movie made her out to be. She is, after all, the incomparable Dejah Thoris!

Anyway, that take on Dejah Thoris put an interesting thought in my head: Who are the ten most beautiful women of fiction? The ten women whose beauty is recognized throughout their world as the very paragon of femininity, women for whom whole nations would gladly march to war? Helen of Troy, whose face launched a thousand ships, seems like a shoe-in. In Middle-Earth, you’ve got Galadriel, Arwen Undomiel, and Luthien Tinuviel. Doc Smith’s Lensman books brought us Clarissa MacDougall, the culmination of fifty thousand years of guided evolution and the owner of one of only two perfect skeletons in existence. I’m sure there must be dozens more out there. So what other stories or myths claim to feature the most beautiful woman that ever existed? They can’t all be right, after all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Five Rules of Monster Design, Iran, Riddle of the Sands

Howdy, folks! Sorry for the delay between posts; we were entertaining company this weekend, and it’s been a couple of days since I had a chance to pound out the next Atomic Dragon Battleship. My next one will probably be a couple of days late, too – I’m heading down to see the Mariners at spring training next week. Arizona is looking mighty good these days!

Gaming: For no particular reason, I think I’ll philosophize about D&D monster design for a bit today. Over the course of my career with TSR/Wizards of the Coast, I designed hundreds of monsters in various editions of the game. A few have become “classics” of the game, and people seem to think of them as critters that have always been around. Most have turned out to be fairly forgettable, serving as interesting page-filler in this sourcebook or that. I wish I could predict which monsters will “take” and which won’t, but it’s tougher than it looks. I’m the writer behind the eladrin, the rilmani, the canoloth, and the keeper. I’m also the guy behind the kaisharga, the magma golem, the storm devil, and the cobalt dragon. They all seemed like great ideas at the time.
Anyway, here’s some advice for would-be monster builders, five broad rules that should make your monster something worthy of confronting the boldest heroes:

1.      Monsters should create expectations and meet them. When you see a monster, you should be able to make good guesses about what it does. A player who’s thinking about the tail spikes or glowing eyes on your monster and wondering how your monster is going to use them is a player who is engaged with the game. He’s immersed, and thinking like his character would think. Monsters should carry visual cues or observable behaviors that tip off canny players about what’s coming next—real surprises or “gotchas!” should be unusual.

2.      Monsters should belong in the game. If you have an idea for a monster and you’re surprised that nothing like that is in the game already, you have a monster with good resonance. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding a scrap of real-world mythology no one else has done something with yet, or making a D&D monster out of an inspiration from film or fiction. Sometimes it’s based in game mechanics—you might notice a type of attack that isn’t used very much and think of a creature that would make use of it.

3.      Monsters shouldn’t be like other monsters. Most monster concepts are pretty small pieces of real estate; you shouldn’t try to build multiple houses on that one lot. For example, the game doesn’t need an ice giant when it’s already got a frost giant, or a temple mummy when it already has a mummy, or nosferatu when it already has a vampire. Many designers give in to the urge to design the “right” version of a monster that’s already in the game; I have done so myself even though I should know better. But your monster is probably not going to be particularly memorable if it’s just borrowing the look and reputation of something else.

4.      Monsters need offense, defense, and utility. One of my rules of thumb in monster design was to give a monster a mode of attack, a mode of defense, and a mode of movement or noncombat ability that works within the broad monster concept. Not all creatures need all three, of course; if you’re building a humanoid race you might not want them all to have a special magical attack. But maybe the race has a signature weapon, or uses a poison with a special effect, or possesses a racial immunity to some effect that makes sense for your concept. In any event, this is how I usually finish a monster: By looking over what I’ve got and asking myself, “Did I cover offense? Defense? And some sort of movement or utility?”

5.      Monsters need an Achilles heel. Every monster should have a specific weakness, preferably one that can be observed or intuited by clever players. A weakness can be as simple as a crummy AC, one terrible save category, or a lack of ability to deal with ranged attackers—it doesn’t have to be “slowed by cold damage” or “takes double damage from Bohemian ear-spoons.” Don’t try to patch all the holes; leave something for the players to discover and exploit.

So, there you go: Five broad guidelines for building monsters. There are many small details such as figuring particular numbers in various editions or choosing the right abilities, but the important thing is getting the concept right at the start. Everything after that is implementation.

Politics/Current Events: I’m something of an armchair strategist. And like armchair strategists everywhere I have been following the story of Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. In recent days various sources such as The Atlantic, Forbes, and Stratfor have reported that the odds of the US going to war with Iran in the next 6 months are now hovering around 50-50. Heck, Las Vegas gives the odds as 3 to 2 in favor. (Do people really bet on stuff like that?) I am pessimistic about the chances; I frankly don’t see how a war in the Middle East can be avoided. At this point, one of three things will happen:

1.      Israel will launch a military strike to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program.

2.      Israel and the United States together will launch a strike.

3.      No one will strike Iran, in which case Iran becomes a nuclear power.

There is no option 4. Economic sanctions or diplomatic pressure can’t convince the mullahs and Revolutionary Guard to change course, since at this point the easiest way for the Iranians to bring sanctions and pressure to an end is to finish their program. Cases in point: Pakistan, India, and to a lesser extent North Korea.

Here’s the depressing part: I don’t think there’s an option 3, either. Israel feels that it HAS to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. That’s because the Israelis have no evidence that Iran would behave as a “rational actor” with their nuclear weapons. Remember, Iran has been actively supplying Israel’s enemies (Hezbollah and Syria for a start) with arms and financial support for decades, and its rulers have called for the destruction of Israel on many occasions. What if Iran cannot be deterred by the possibility of mutual destruction? The Israelis can’t take the chance that might be true. In addition, Israel’s history points toward acceptance of preemptive war. So Israel is going to hit Iran, because it is the least bad option for them.

All options are bad at this point, really, but sometimes an enemy puts you in that spot. Aiding Israel may turn out to the least bad option we have, as well. Watch the moonless nights this spring: If something starts, it’ll start around March 21st, or 4 weeks after that, or 4 weeks after that.

The Finer Things: I finally got around to reading a book that may be one of the most important fiction works of the 20th century: The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers. While The Riddle of the Sands is a very engaging espionage novel (one of the first of the genre, really) and has significant literary merit on that basis alone, the reason it’s important is that it was The Hunt for Red October of its time. The book was published in England in 1903, and it served as a dire warning about the potential for war with Germany. In its own way, Sands hardened English resolve to meet the mounting challenge of Germany’s naval building program. Childers looked at the North Sea and saw no English naval bases, no squadrons of warships, and no shore defenses against a surprise attack.  Within months of the book’s publication, the Admiralty announced plans to establish major bases at Rosyth and Scapa Flow, and the strategic relocation of the Home Fleet to the North Sea began to take shape. Anyway, The Riddle of the Sands is a darned good read as well as a fascinating piece of history. Check it out when you get the chance.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Air Force Miniatures, Why am I Conservative?

Hi there! Welcome back to my blog. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve given myself a schedule to post every ten days or so. At the moment my time is my own, and I can keep up easily enough, but I have a few irons in the fire and it’s possible I may be busier soon. Anyway, as promised, this week I’ll share some thoughts about Axis & Allies Air Force Miniatures (or AAAFM, as I much prefer to type).

Gaming: Axis & Allies Air Force Miniatures: Angels 20 is finally out, and so far I’ve been very happy with the reception it seems to be receiving. In particular, I’m relieved to see that the gameplay is receiving high marks from many of the fans. It was more than a little challenging to design a system that struck the right balance between air combat simulation and fun gameplay, and while I was fairly well satisfied with the compromises I settled on, you don’t really know how it’s going to hold up until you see what thousands of people who weren’t in your design meetings do with the system. First, let me post a link to a pretty lengthy preview article I wrote for the Forumini newsletter back in December. It’s a good overview of the gameplay, the scale, and the general design objectives we had for the game.

And here’s a link to the Forumini message boards. If you’re a fan of the A&A minis game, Forumini is a great message board to visit.

Anyway, in no particular order, here are a few reflections I’ll add now that the game is out. First: Why did we include altitude? The answer is that WW2 fighter planes generally fell into two categories: turning fighters such as the Zero or Hurricane, or vertical fighters such as the P-38, P-51, or the later Bf 109 models. (Many excellent planes were pretty good at both, of course.) Although altitude is on the complicated side for a beer and pretzels game, we felt that we needed to include it so that the vertical fighters could fight their fight just as well as the turning fighters could fight theirs. I’m pleased to see that AAAFM players are aggressively seeking out altitude advantage and making use of these rules already; it was one of the hardest things to playtest since many casual playtesters around the office simply didn’t grokk altitude tactics.

Next thought: speed. In my earliest design draft I played around with systems that conserved speed from turn to turn; if you did a lot of tight turns you’d kill your speed, and getting speed back was hard to do. Obviously that would have been much more realistic, but it was shaping up as really complicated and, well, un-zoomy for a relatively light game. In addition, we worried about creating a game that was too dependent on “system memory.” (System memory is when it’s important to remember what you did last turn, and we try to make sure that when we include a system-memory element in a game, we provide players with as much help as possible for it. In AAAFM, aircraft status is a system memory element, but we make sure the game tells you exactly when to choose it and the model’s pose reminds you what you chose when the next turn rolls around and it matters again.) Anyway, we ditched the idea of only changing speed within a narrow band of your previous speed because we didn’t want any more system memory requirements than we absolutely had to have. If you don’t mind the extra tracking, it would be easy to houserule this one.

Onto unit costs (I told you this was in no particular order). The unit point costs are definitely a little inconsistent, and I apologize for that. For the first draft of the costing I created a simple scheme that rated units A-B-C-D for offense, survivability, maneuverability, pilot quality, and special abilities. Those weren’t weighted equally; my scheme heavily weighted sheer gunnery and defense more than maneuverability. For example, planes received 5/10/15 points for frail, average, or sturdy Armor and durability. I knew it was a shaky costing system, but I had to start somewhere; that’s why the P-40 and the P-51 are so close in cost. As the game developed we chose a couple of benchmark units and did a lot of comparative costing against them, but you can tell we should have spent more time on this. In retrospect, I wish we’d weighted Climb a little heavier, since it’s proving to be more important in real life gameplay than our playtesting indicated.

One last thought for now, on the unit mix. If you’ve seen the whole set, then you know we stretched 17 distinct sculpts into 31 different units for the game. At one point the set list was more like 36 units, but cost constraints reared their ugly heads. For example, we had to push the Ki-43 Oscar and the D.520 into later sets to save on sculpting costs (a painful decision, to say the least), and we left a Spitfire Mk II and a South African Hurricane Mk I out of the mix to save on painting costs--we had the units designed, but creating the extra paint schemes proved too costly (a decision I was not too happy with). So, for those folks who wonder why we only made a Spitfire Ace, that’s why. But one interesting thing that turned up as we had to get leaner and leaner on the final set list was the way we were pushed to use the sculpts we did have in surprising combinations. For example, the MS.406 is fun because it not only covers the main fighter of the Armee de l’Aire, but also gives us an overperforming plane in the Finnish air force without using a sculpt on the infamous Buffalo. Down the road, the Hurricane could show up for any number of Commonwealth air forces—but it also flew for the Soviet Air Force and the Romanian Air Force. I’m looking forward to seeing an Axis Hurricane at some point, just because it’s something people don’t expect to see.

Politics/Current Events: My wife asked me an interesting question the other day: “Why are you conservative?” She asked because the great majority of my friends and colleagues (especially in the gaming industry) seem to hold liberal views, and she wonders why I don’t conform. It’s a good question, and it’s one I have wondered about myself.

First, a bit of clarification: I’m actually a moderate on a lot of social issues. For example, gays in the military never bothered me; I knew some when I was serving. I think evolution should be taught in science class while creation should be taught in church, and I certainly don’t have any issue with contraception. But in the big picture, I strongly favor conservative (conservative, not necessarily Republican) philosophy and governance. I have seen no evidence in my lifetime that a Big Government can live within its means. Our government has made promises in the large entitlement programs that cannot possibly be honored down the road; I do not expect to collect a Social Security check or enjoy the benefits of Medicare in my old age unless tough choices are made now. Given that, I’d rather see a smaller government that promised less and offered people more freedom to succeed to the fullest extent of their talents and hard work. In other words, I vote conservative because I think the cultural and social stuff can be worked out, but the questions of fiscal responsibility and national interest require answers at the ballot box.

Why do I think this way, when many people in my line of work cheer for the other team? Ultimately I think the native predilection toward progressive (society can be perfected) or libertarian (the individual is the best judge of his or her own good) philosophy derives from your life experience and your values. Liberalism is not a mental disorder, nor is conservatism. For the most part, people on both sides of the issues dividing our country are well educated, equally intelligent, and are decent human beings, no matter what the obnoxious pundits of both left and right claim. So why is there disagreement? I think that Occam’s razor provides an answer: Issues are complex, there are many “true” ways of seeing things, and people can disagree because there’s more than one valid way of looking at issues.

Final thought: I find it profoundly troubling when I encounter statements from people I know and respect to the effect that Republicans/conservatives must be a) uneducated, b) gullible, or c) evil. Which, exactly, do you believe applies to me? That’s an easy way to dehumanize your opponents and refuse to engage their ideas, which seems pretty bigoted and intolerant to me, especially coming from the side that claims to stand for tolerance and open-mindedness.

The Finer Things: Girl Scout cookies. The Do-Si-Dos are the best. Those are the peanut butter sandwich cookies, which rise to an unprecedented level of Sheer Awesomeness when paired with a glass of cold milk. Do not confuse the Tagalongs with the Do-Si-Dos; Tagalongs are chocolate-covered evil and do not deserve to be known as peanut butter cookies.