Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Independent UK games designer, self-confessed Agricola-holic and Carl Chudyk fan-boy. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

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Möbius Dick

Anthony Boydell
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It's a circle of life thing: over the last couple of months, I've been clearing out various parts of the house and selling games I've never played / played just the once but didn't click with. The old Paypal balance incremented pleasingly and then - with characteristic abandon - I micturated the lot on other games for the collection!

I credit myself with some good taste, however, as A.D.2015 has seen me add gems like a first edition Age of Steam (with expansion map 1), a first edition Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, the utterly gorgeous and seriously-covetable Keytown, a Perikles still in the original shrink, Food Chain Magnate, Pax Porfiriana and more Eclipse goodies! And on Thursday, my copy of Mombasa and Patchwork arrived from BoardGameGuru, replete with highly-flammable packing materials:


Ho! Ho! Ho!


All-in-all I think this is a pretty good conversion route for 20-teen cult-of-the-new titles like Historia into those games with proven staying power (and the cult of the newer, naturellement).

It will take a while for the Paypal balance to rise again to acceptable spendthrift-triggering levels BUT I've just found two boxes of old Magic: The Gathering rares and a minty copy of From The Vault: Dragons, so it seems I may be haunting the BGG Marketplace sooner than I thought! Now...what piece of essential (pricey) classic-ness should I pick up next?


Footnote: The blog title, as well as referring to me and my eternal cycle of sell game/buy game, also refers to a splendid little time-travel novel of the same name:

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Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:10 am
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Countdown to Christmas 14 - Muckefuck

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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(for the duration of this Festive countdown I shall open a window on the awesome
Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 daily (no advance peeking), present my opinion on it's contents and
(because what lunatic would have an Advent Calendar without processed cocoa?), I shall find
something chocolate-y to witter on about too)



Dear God: it's destroying everything in it's path!

(rummages)

DAY FOURTEEN:

The German language is, indeed, the gift that keeps on giving! Not content with simple words compounding
to the length of famous Welsh railway stations, it also likes to drop in morphemes that are innocuous
'at home' but child-slappingly rude everywhere else! "Muckefuck" means 'coffee substitute',
apparently, though 'down our way' a muckefuck is shagging in a muddy field. As for the
beloved footballer Kuntz, England fans are shouting his name at widescreen pub TVs to this day!

巧克力節:

Bathing in warm chocolate? Gah!
...and where are those bubbles coming from?
surprise

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Mon Dec 14, 2015 6:30 am
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That difficult 1341st post, until...

Anthony Boydell
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It only seems like last week that I was assembling the gubbins for my 1000th post and - gasp - it's STILL THE SAME YEAR and I'm already fast approaching the 1.5K. There's not a lot on my blog mind today, however, as I've spent most of it walking the dog, ferrying children about the County and - most important job of all (even more so than ordering the takeaway curry for supper) - getting the Christmas Tree:


(Mrs B made the Angel for our first married Christmas together...1992)

Now it's starting to feel like a Merry Advent!
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Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:56 pm
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Countdown to Christmas 13 - Scraping the Bottom

Anthony Boydell
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A Slightly-Cynical and Surprisingly-Succinct Sunday Snippet

(for the duration of this Festive countdown I shall open a window on the awesome
Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 daily (no advance peeking), present my opinion on it's contents and
(because what lunatic would have an Advent Calendar without processed cocoa?), I shall find
something chocolate-y to witter on about too)



Christmas at the Bates Motel?

(rummages)

DAY THIRTEEN:

It's from Abyss, apparently. Don't have it; probably never will.

Cockolate of the Day:

Christmas comes but once a year.

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Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:30 am
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Five Have Plenty Of Fun

Anthony Boydell
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Boffo took a pass out to pass out at his Works' Christmas do; he's something big in electroplating, so expect a lot of ribald metallurgy puns and engineers photocopying their "anodes" (I'm sniggering already)! Meanwhile, back at the ranch riverside Pub, a party of rather old-looking Young Farmers where merrily be-decked in paper hats and chain-glugged cheap lager while a series of turkey-based meals were waved in front of them. Never ones to let food get in the way of 'the drinking', this rowdy lot were soon staggering about the Bar nearly pulling the Christmas Tree over, falling loudly up the stairs and fulsomely-fulfilling every social and class stereotype. Luckily, they were SO pissed come 9PM that they couldn't manage the straight-line walk from main room to overspill room and left us gamers alone to our dobber-shoving; for this I am particularly grateful, as trying to explain the workings of Eurogames to an inebriate yokel was only going to end badly. Still, there were other things to be happy about this Friday evening because there was a serious chance that it would only have been myself and Smudge; for this eventuality I had packed Tides of Time and Trambahn, as well as The Voyages of Marco Polo and Grand Austria Hotel. If Byll would make it, Polo and a last minute thrown-in A Nice Cup of Tea prototype would also suffice.

Byll was indeed there - flanked by an unexpected, but by no means unwelcome, Jobbers! Smudge soon heaved her heavy luggage through the door and we were universally-agreed to the setting up of Marco Polo; I had LITERALLY placed the final cardboard chit on the Cities when who should pop through the door, long tresses trailing in the self-generated wind of his passage*, but long-time gaming pal from the East of England: Phil Pettifer! Huzzah! Well met, centurion! Great to see yous etc. Phil is working on the IT system at the Port Talbot steelworks (about 70 miles down the road) and staying in the area (God help him but it's grim over there)...so I'd invited him, via Facebook, to pop by. Hooray! We've gone from a realistically-probably TWO to an actual FIVE! Three cheers for...oh bugger. Once again that dreaded number killed off the majority of our options, unless we could encourage two to wander off with my back-up plan games? No matter, 'twas academic for Byll and Smudge had both thoughtfully brought along Puerto Rico:



We were cheerfully well in to the setup before anyone deigned to ask Phil if he minded playing PR which prompted a short discussion about games that one has been 'put off' by the groups in which one has played them. My tale of Settlers of Catan has already been covered this Advent but, it seems, Phil has had his own off-putting Puerto experiences. He kindly shrugged of his reticence and played himself a solid game, coming in joint third with me and only a point behind Byll; Jobbers ran away with things somewhat (as is his wont) but I think we all behaved decently to our guest (and each other) ie. no derisory comments, no tetchy snipes. Indeed, the thoughtful silence was broken by the happy sound of the crunching of delicious pork scratchings, so it turned out alright in the end.

With about 100 minutes to go, and the howls of drunken injury fading from next door, it seemed opportune to pull out my tea-based Snowdonia prototype ie. opportune in the sense of 'we did not have anything else'. I am always nervous of pressing prototypes on peeps for fear of them playing under sufferance and being far too polite to say 'no'; however, I am very, VERY excited with Tea Gardens. Though all of the elements are familiar, it plays much more as a heavyweight game...and, thematically and mechanically, it's even MORE true to it's subject matter than the original game!


I know some view the wobbly line of Tea Estate cards (running through the middle of the board from top-right
to bottom-left) triggers gamer OCD for some...which is precisely why I'm going to leave it that way!



It's all very crowded down in the Tea Shop!


Jobbers tried exploiting the Chai Train again with it's 'modify an action of your choice each round' bonus (which won him his previous game) but with far less success because he ignored growing tea. It didn't help him in that the weather was mostly wet and foggy - which very much favours those of invested in the fields.

Tea Gardens is proving a much more involved scenario; something more akin to a Lacerda than the usual Boydell. There are keen timing decisions as well as a nasty bluffing element (is he digging for Tea or for track to open up the higher stations and their juicy build spots?). Build spots can get you access to Contracts before the F space resolves, so their was some 'stealing from under the nose of...' too. Trains are by no means an auto-buy any more and - for the first six rounds - I ignored the Stock Yard completely.


A bit of a runaway for me in the end: 134 points but no train - 50+ points each from stations AND from
Tea (17x3=51 points) plus a couple of medium strength contract cards.


We were done and packing up in morgue-silence, worried that we'd massively overstepped our allotted time, but it was only 11.15PM - that's a full 5pl coming in at 115 mins. With no downtime, it was no surprise that we were all feeling pretty exhausted!

And so another session comes to an end and the weekend starts here; though quite what Port Talbot has in store for Phil, I dread to think. Perhaps a jaunt over to Cardiff and Rules of Play (http://rulesofplay.co.uk/) might be in order?

*he walked quickly into the room
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Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:36 am
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Countdown to Christmas 12 - Targimentative

Anthony Boydell
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(for the duration of this Festive countdown I shall open a window on the awesome
Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 daily (no advance peeking), present my opinion on it's contents and
(because what lunatic would have an Advent Calendar without processed cocoa?), I shall find
something chocolate-y to witter on about too)




(rummages)

DAY TWELVE:

Targi has been on my 'must get' list for a while but CAN I find a copy for a
reasonable price? Can I bogroll! All the usual UK onliners proudly boast their bargain price
only to have that superscript-ed 'Out Of Stock' message one-shade-lighter-than-the-background
to the top-right. Gaah! Boffo taught me to play this a while back and took the 'cruel but kind'
approach of hammering me in to the sawdust on the micro-Pub's floor. Gawd Bless 'Im.

Actually, if Boffo is reading this then I suspect it may be with a bijou hangover-ette; he
missed last night's Ross-on-Wye boardgamers in favour of his works Christmas party:
I HOPE YOU'RE NOT SUFFERING TOO MUCH, TODAY!
(bashes plates together un-necessarily loudly; puts large pot of cabbage and dirty dish-cloths on too boil etc)

päivän suklaa (edited!):

Famous people named after chocolate bars. Any more for any more?

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Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:23 am
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Gone Wyddfa Wind

Anthony Boydell
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I love this time of year! Not just because Chrimbo is a-coming BUT because someone starts up a Snowdonia Solo Series geeklist and I get to watch as peeps struggle and triumph (often BOTH) with the weather and those innocent little white cubes! I'm not much of a soloist, to be honest, but watching the tremendous buy-in to the latest event (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/200307/item/4304713#i...), I was prodded in to action! Mrs B was snoozing in front of Strictly Come Dancing, so I retired to the library room and cleared the gaming table for Mount Snowdon with No.3 Wyddfa:


In the beginning, there was a mountain minding it's own geological bizniz...


It's not giving much of a spoiler to say that success in solo Snowdonia is all about managing that bag; very early on I was able to pick up some juicy track laying contracts (the 4x and 5x) and a couple of top-end rubble ones. However, with only 16 scoring markers you really need the game to be finishing the low scoring spaces...and there are quite a lot of 'em!


Steeling myself for the big 'lay'...those two diggers were reassigned shortly after this photo!


No.3 Wyddfa is particularly-effective at assisting bag maintenance because you're getting that extra resource cube for each worker; thus, I cleared iron ore as much as possible and converted it in 9x batches to build up a stock pile of steel bars - this kept the dilution of white cubes to non-white to almost homeopathic proportions.

With my labourers itching to start laying the rails, there was one big double-double excavation required to clear the path; unfortunately, 24 rubble is great for the contract cards BUT I was forced to place three score markers on less-than-optimal VP spots...it also reduced my marker pool to EXACTLY ENOUGH for the track requirements. I really did not want to be scoring any OTHER type of (non-Surveyor) points.

The last five minutes of play was a delicate balance of getting the Surveyor to the summit and lining up all my construction ducks for the big push! It almost ended in disaster when I realised that the bag would deliver full house events across two rounds and finish the game the traditional way, so I dragged Dai out of the Pub and it was all hands to iron ore/steel production to dilute the bag accordingly.


The Game is over - forced to a close by my 16 scoring markers!


Success! The nine track, five station spaces (of seven that scored), a top-of-the-mountain Surveyor and a cheeky coal bunker of 5 coal securing me a life-time best of 221 (two hundred and twenty one) points!

221 points


I think 221 is getting pretty close to the theoretical maximum for the base game; take off those low-scoring excavation spots and add in a couple of slightly-nicer contracts and I think you could push 240 (not that I've ever sat down and tried to work it our 'for real' as that would spoil the fun).


...and where the Hell do you think YOU'RE going, fellas? It's STILL NOT FINISHED!!!


As I was packing it all away, I noticed that we'd not even dug a donkey path to the Summit; our work was done, and that nut-brown pint of foaming ale won't drink itself, will it?
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Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:04 am
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Countdown to Christmas 11 - Mae Bonnie Glassie

Anthony Boydell
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(for the duration of this Festive countdown I shall open a window on the awesome
Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 daily (no advance peeking), present my opinion on it's contents and
(because what lunatic would have an Advent Calendar without processed cocoa?), I shall find
something chocolate-y to witter on about too)




(rummages)

DAY ELEVEN:

Oh boy! There's going to be some fidgeting down at the White Lion and no mistake! Four new
building tiles for Glass Road? Don't actually mind if I do! It's a good thing
Boffo and Smudge don't read my blog posts as I can now put this away as a Christmas Pressie
#cheapgifts #crossanotheroneoffthelist #nowIwantthebasegamemyself

Chockington of the Days-Ward:

A Chocolate Labrador, Yesterday.

It's a barkie! Barklay! Sir Barkington! The Bark of the Covenant! Dr Woof! Bertie Woofster!
Woof-Waff! Muttley! Muttwell! Muttley Crue! The Hound! Hounds Christian Anderson! Das Hund!
Canine the Barbarian! With his cold nosey! Who's got a cold nosey, then? Does he want a
tickle-belly? *tickle tickle tickle* Arff-arff! (ad infinitum).

(Mrs B, calling from afar)
"Anthony? Anthony! Leave that bloody dog ALONE!"


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Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:30 am
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A Fate Worse Than Death (All Joking Aside)

Anthony Boydell
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Folks,

Apologies for those expecting funnies but I've carried this around for a long time and I need to put my thoughts down on 'paper'; this blog is my brain's bleed valve, so here's the blood. Take it as you will.

It was just about a year ago that I lost a close friend. Death is an inevitable consequence of living but the problem is that my friend hasn't been lost to Death, he's been sent to prison.

When someone you know is accused of a crime, it's only natural to react with disbelief and, almost immediately, in full support of the accused. We're all splendid judges of character and we choose our relationships with care; no friend of mine could do terrible things because I'd know, wouldn't I? There would be a sense, a clue. But that's not true. My friend did something awful and it was hidden from all of us. He stood trial, the evidence was heard and the verdict returned: guilty and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

After that utter shock comes the denial: this must be a miscarriage of Justice, you think; he couldn't possibly...

Then comes the acceptance, the realisation that it IS true; a victim has come forward, evidence-presented and due process followed.

Then comes the anger: at the crime, at being led down a false path and at the betrayal.

Then comes the shame. How could I have been taken in? Were there signs that I, and others, could've picked up on? Am I complicit in some way? (I wrote a testimonial to be read out at the hearing, for goodness sake)

Then comes the sadness and the consequences: awkward silences with friends-in-common, the heavy sighs and the shaking of heads, the hurricane of Social Media outrage and the 'take my name off that' disassociations.

It's taken me a year to write this post and find the right words but don't get me wrong: I am NOT a victim here, I am just collateral damage but it hurt(s) like Hell nonetheless.

So, at this time of the year, please pray for the victim and pray for the families. Pray for the friends and pray that you never have to go through this yourself.

Your loyal friend,
Tony
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Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:57 am
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Countdown to Christmas 10 - Orleans On Me

Anthony Boydell
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(for the duration of this Festive countdown I shall open a window on the awesome
Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 daily (no advance peeking), present my opinion on it's contents and
(because what lunatic would have an Advent Calendar without processed cocoa?), I shall find
something chocolate-y to witter on about too)




(rummages)

DAY TEN:

I've only played Orléans the once (in February!) and my copy (which I am
definitely keeping hold of!) languishes on the shelf calling and calling and calling every
time I stock the bag for Friday night. Jobbers played it and liked it, as did pal Ricardo de
Hazlemere, but it's never made it to the table since...mind you, we did recently (last couple
o' months) find one of the character chits on the pub's carpet! Still, this useful - and
appreciated - promo gives me an excuse to wheel it out again.

Straight.
Into.
The.
Bag.
It.
Goes.


scelerisque diei:

Schoko & Co.

Although I have only ever played this game the once, it does have a special place in my heart
because this was the FIRST modern Euro-style board game that I ever played and I played it with
Mr Alan Paull and Mrs Charlie Paull. After getting in to Magic: The Gathering
whilst living in Cheltenham, it was after I moved out in to the countryside that work -
and my experience of board games changed radically! Me, Mrs B and the Paulls set up
Surprised Stare Games Ltd with the ill-gotten gains of our jumps in to I.T contracting and the
fruits of a 3 month stint in Switzerland. It was after a meeting discussing the hows,
whats, whys and wherefores of S.S.G's incorporation that Mr & Mrs P introduced us to
Schoko. Needless to say they sharked us and won rather comfortably BUT my interest
in other, non-Coppertwaddling, things was piqued. The rest, as they say, is as good as a change.
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Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:30 am
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