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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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C Moon

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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There was a peaceful poetry about 3AM on Monday morning as the Boydell household, shivering in the Autumn night-breeze (despite wrapped duvets), gazed up into the crystal sky at the supermoon eclipse. Fred was still dressed, having decided to stay awake until the appointed hour rather than sleep-then-wake-then-sleep again; Mrs B, I suspect, had done the same while Arthur and myself were looking at the inside of our lids (most snugly) until woken.

Arthur was very pleased to be part of this event, albeit a soft and quiet and unfanfare-ish one; he’ll be tired and tetchy tomorrow but – hey! – it won’t come again until 2033 when he’ll be 25 (and I’ll be 66!). I’ll take a cool Astronomical event in return for a little grumpiness any day.

As the eclipse drifted lazily over the moonscape and it’s hue changed, from bright white to sepia, we were acutely-aware that there were hundreds of thousands of like-minded amateurs were doing exactly the same, all around the World. And that felt cool too.


The technology let us down (the iPhone as blurry as my eyes) but at least it’s a trigger for fireside re-telling in coming years.



Here’s a much better snap from pal Richard.


It's been a great Year for Space (Pluto, Mars, Perseids, Nebulae, Comets & Landers, Earth's twin, Eclipses et al) and it's heart-burstingly romantic to be looking up at the infinite rather than gazing down at the mundane.
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Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:45 am
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Art for Art's sake

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Sunday 27th September, 2015

I've been in and out of the garden and the shed all day for various reasons; one trip was
to gather materials with which to fashion a 21st Birthday card for New Zealand-exploring Alice, another
was to find something to keep Arthur amused after a morning of vegetating in front of screens (TV, Xbox,
DS etc). While I was a-rummaging through the piles of cardboard, paper and such, I happened upon a sheaf
of A5 drawings:


Firmin-esque 'Nogs' performing the various tasks in the construction of a Mountain railway! This was
the original art for my second proper prototype of Snowdonia! Clockwise (from top left):
Excavating, Track-laying (obvs), Building v1 (final version), the Surveyor (the King!), Building v2 (unused),
the Works (forge) and (in the middle) the Stock Yard.


You will notice the absence of the Office (for contract retrieval); this was donated to
a Canadian gaming convention a few years ago and is now adorning the wall of one Mr David Minken (ConnectMore!)


I also found the skeleton art for the cover of Sebastian Bleasdale's superb 504-predestinator: On The Cards



...and the final version?




And speaking of Art, here's one way to bring a bored 7 year old out of a Sunday afternoon fug:


Getting stuck in to some JamSumo (his Uncle Tom won). We also hit Dragster (Arthur won), Cubiko (Arthur won) and Karnickel (Arthur won AGAIN!)

Achievement UNLOCKED!
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Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:45 am
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Blessed Are The Meek

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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It's that time again, folks! Essen Spiel! And the 'what-to-look-for' lists are coiling out of the Internet like that bit with the snakes in the tomb of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'm sorry, that simile got away from me a bit.

Anyway, should you wish to 'gen up' yourself* you can now look forward to browsing 30 'pages' of product in the Spiel 2015 preview! The greatest tip I can offer, not that you should give it any more weight than that from anyone else, is to avoid the mainstream stuff - as this will be D.H.L-ed to your nearest F.L.G.S A.S.A.P anyway - but to seek out the small, the eclectic, the small AND eclectic and the obscure. So, while they're all sweating into their fists of euros trying to snag 504 or Inhabit the Earth or the Voyages of Marco Polo mini-expansion, you could be coming away with this year's Machi Koro! Here's a few treasures you may have overlooked; they'll be knocking about the darker recesses of Halls 4 and 7 and the bungie-obsessed Galleria:

Icelandic newcomers, Eyjafjallajökull Games**, gleefully contravene all sorts of EU legislation with Epli Grípari (Apple Catchers). 2-6 players, from ages 8 and up, compete to pull apple-eeples from a miniature hot water spring lovingly sculpted in resin. A deck of cards instructs the active player to use their hand, foot or (for max points) mouth AND which colour of apple needs to be retrieved; the twist is that the resin spring actually heats the water up to boiling point! Many hours of happy, scalded fun is guaranteed (and be sure to pick up the E45 Hydrating Cream expansion)!

Ever thought that a game about shagging a narwhal in the blowhole would be a good idea? Then why not pop over to the Marine Adventures AG stand and tell them; they're fanatical about all aquatic life and will probably kill you on the spot. With hammers and everything.

Card games are always a fun design space to explore and no-one has explored more deeply and more comprehensively than Pat Melanoma at 54 and No More Games. This year, Pat's extensive output for Spiel includes Scrump My Plums, Marjorie's Barge, 1...2...85!, Tug It!, Shit On The Lino (set collection with a twist), Lion's Cock, Pluckgussett, Shogi Bear and Mrs Wilton's Illegitimate Offspring.


Left: Pluckgussett (drafting phase) / Right: Dealing a new hand of Scrump My Plums (


Hand-crafted abstracts are always a pleasure (after all, who could forget JengaDildo from last year?) and Shave My Wood Games are hoping that Nest of Tables will be spewing off their shelves come October 8th...not least because the expansion, 'Shelves', can't sell until they have! In NoT, players compete in two separate games that utilize the same core components: Assemblé and Disassemblé; the first is about being the first to stack all pieces in the correct sequence, apparently; details of game two are sketchy at time of going to press.


Nest of Tables: Elegant, simple and functional.


Happy Curio Hunting!

*only 0.6% of males are actually able to gen up themselves, apparently
**pronounced Eyjafjallajökull
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Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:20 am
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Isle of Princes

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Ah, a chilly-but-bright Autumn Saturday morning and I'm sat in bed with cup of tea. I've already taken the puppy outside to 'ablute' (ie. do big jobs) and, as the dewy grass painted my knackered old shoes, I determined that the lawn needs one last good mow of the year. The recycling bins are also overflowing with plastics and tetrapaks, so THAT will need sorting too but - before then - I think I will relate the events of yestere'en's Ross-on-Wye boardgamers.

This particular Friday was book-ended by the carrying-and-fetching of sons so, after drop-off in Gloucester, I was at the White Lion early and able to catch a few more chapters of Joe Hill's NOS4R2. It's a rollocking tale that is very much in the style of his Father's work; enjoyable thriller rather than Clive Barker-esque horror gore. Once you've read the latter's Books of Blood it's hard to find anything else as affecting TBH*

As Boffo, Smudge and Jobbers settled in I realised we were going to be the magically-tedious number FIVE for the evening (Dan was on his way), which put the kibosh on everything in my box-of-delights APART FROM Paperclip Railways. "Don't worry" spaketh Smudge, "We have The Princes of Florence".

While waiting for the bearded puffer of e-cigs, Codenames found its way to being unpacked and the mighty teams of Boffo/Boddle and Jobbers/Smudge faced off for some decoding action! Jobbers, completely misremembering last week's "Threadneedle" debacle (see earlier blog post), was in feisty sledging mood: deriding both my and Boffo's clue-ing and guessing skills. How appropriate, then, when in the denouement of game One - with us needing FOUR words and Team SmudgeJob just the one - I guessed ALL FOUR to steal the win! How I roared with delight! Boffo and I double high-fiving and me doing a little dance! The less said about Boffo's "Fray Bentos" proclivities the better, but it wss the final piece of his first clue "Dicks - 4" that gave us the sweet, sweet victory..."WHALE". We played a couple more games after that but, to be honest, they were rather pale in comparison to that initial crescendo of deduction. Dan had joined us too, wreathed - G'Gugvuntt like - in a cloud of sweet-smelling steam.



D. had brought Agricola but The Princes of Florence it was to be. PoF is a real club favourite and only ever played with the full compliment of five. Smudge is a bit of a demon at this and should always be regarded as the one to watch but, really, it could be anyone's game. Tonight it was to be Jobbers; he managed to sneak regular 3 point bonuses for doubling up terrains & builders and pipped Smudge, by one point, despite only having three Works in play. Smudge also brain-farted the selection of a Bonus card in the final round which cost her dearly (ie. the win). It was another tight-squeeze for third, me edging out Dan, and Boffo - for perhaps the third or fourth game in a row - languishing in the late 20s and gifted the wooden spoon.

PoF is the perfect Euro game: it has planning, spacial elements, tightness & difficult decisions and it has the auction. The auction is the making and breaking of the game, of course; players who don't play auctions well will find PoF chaotic and not very interactive.

With my phone counting ever downwards to pick-up the boys time, it couldn't be anything else but Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King; session reports are likely to be repetitive at the Club for the remainder of 2015 with this glorious little tile-layer and that word game! It didn't take long to get Dan up to speed (as the final result shows, above) and a curious set of scoring tiles - all based around completed regions - made for a synergous, high scoring game. A couple of early 'self-contained' landscape tiles scored me richly, and regularly, and kept me in the lead throughout; despite a penultimate round where both my tiles were expensively bought (gah!), I stayed there. In fact, the other players' generosity was probably the key factor: 6 points in surplus cash scoring in the final reckoning!

Next week it will be Jobbers' birthday choosings: expect Cosmic Encounter and Roll for the Galaxy. If he's feeling particularly cruel he might make me play Airlines: Pissing Europe too.

Fingers crossed, eh?

*Chapter 15 of Iain M Banks' Surface Detail is something else though.
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Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:59 am
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Not Going Out

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Playing boardgames on a Friday evening is, unmistakably, an island of sanctuary in my week and I protect it as best I can. As I get older, strong elements of routine are becoming more important, lest I am cut adrift in a sea of anxiety. Of course, I can't always succeed and when I do have to miss it, I get all fidgetty inside while doing whatever it is that has taken precedence. Transferring, albeit temporarily, to another evening by way of compensation helps a little bit but, ultimately, the conditioning of the recent years is deeply-rooted.

A visit from family or friends
I convince myself that even though there'll no White Lion action, I can probably sneak a few bits and pieces on to the kitchen table while everyone is settling in with a beverage. Recent successes have included Mysterium, Cockroach Poker and Jam Sumo but most of the time there's just the talking and those colourful parcels of delight remain un-attacked.

Illness
Though rare, I have been forced to remain at home on account of being too poorly; in fact, this Wednesday I had planned to pop over to Prestatyn but my severe cold had me shivering and sneezing in front of Aranofsky's bonkers Noah instead. Deprivation through illness is, perhaps, the most cruel form; as pumped full of antibiotics and pills as one might be, and as wretched as one might feel, there's always that nagging thought that you could've made it (and would probably have felt a little better for doing so).

A variation of this, a few years back, was falling asleep after reading to Arthur: a few volumes of Ivor the Engine and a "story from my bonce" would lead to bijou nappage on the floor of my youngest's room and the missing of that all-important 8.00PM cut-off. Not likely to recur nowadays...dammit, life moves on awfully quickly.

Other Events
It has to be something rather special indeed to take precedence over cube-shoving, pork scratchings and pineapple juice: holidays (games come too), conventions (games all around) or familial duties (birthdays, weddings etc). In coming weeks, I may have to defer the exploration of shiny Essen goodies in favour of Salsa dancing with Mrs B...now THERE'S an image to take in to your weekend!
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Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:22 am
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Maps

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Thu Sep 24, 2015 7:00 am
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Good News for People Who Like Bad News

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I was a bit late for breakfast in the B&B this morning but it didn't really matter; there was no need to hurry because the office was completely empty of Staff and I'd have the whole place to myself. There's an away day along the coast a bit in Colwyn Bay, you see, at which I was due to make an appearance in the afternoon; so, I took the Blessed chance to catch up on email and Team Foundation Server backlogs. I had pushed confirm on the removal of all contents of my Outlook 'deleted' folder and leaned back in my swivel chair with a satisfied exhalation when I simultaneously coughed and sneezed - oh shag, I done gone and caught a cold! Without warning: no subtle indicators of an approaching ailment, just that cough and sneeze and the frantic search for enough napkin to mop my wet face. All of a sudden my sinuses were aching, tears were dewing in my lacrimals and I had a bloody headache.



The Colwyn Bay stuff (after 12) was mostly fun amid the cringing team-building exercises, the rictus 'are we having fun yet' grins and the motivational speeches; I even managed to blag a full bowl of trifle to take back to the Hotel! Pausing to stock up on tissues, I nipped straight back out into Llandudno to find Hot Lemons and a cinema showing Everest:


The ill-fated 1996 expedition


Everest is impressive and compelling; it follows a well-worn narrative path and is laced with the usual disaster movie tropes; if it wasn't a true story, you couldn't have made it up. Vertigo-inducing at times, was it just me or was it getting colder in the cinema? A fantastic cinema experience, even with all that tragedy!

To pop the tin hat on what has been a dour day, my wife called to let me know that a family dog (Zuma, resident with the In-Laws and beloved of us all) had died after being hit by a car.



Bugger.
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Wed Sep 23, 2015 7:15 am
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Golf, Polo and trivial Passats

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Floaty-floaty, little Boaty; look at me I've got a goatie (etc)


My view of the marina, with Conwy Castle just obscured, was a pleasing backdrop to a supper of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I'd parked up in a lay-by, away from the sailor types and wetsuit poseurs, though I was in serious danger of being 'dogged'. Hastily stuffing the bone-and-gristle remnants of my greasy supper, I escaped to the sanctuary of the Conwy Golf Club.

Clutching a bijou box of boardgames to my bosom, I bade a polite Thank You to the automatic doors and half-expected a sign of pleasure & gratitude in response ("Glad to be of service" etc)...which was particularly apposite because the main notice board was heralding an exhibition of pictures by Douglas Adams*.

There was some commotion from the main dining room - the traditional area of assemblage for the Snowdonia Dragons - and I had just poked my labouring elbows through the doors when Dewi called to me: "Do you know how to play Two Rooms and a Boom, Tony?" and thrust a card at me. There followed 15 minutes of half-flashing IDs at each other (there were 19 of us), electing group leaders and the swapping of hostages; apparently the Red Bomber successfully blew up the Blue President and my own 'Blue Spy disguised as a Red' didn't know whether to be delighted or horrified or a bit of both! Enough already with the group shenanigans; intrigued - and yet deeply confused - this reminded me of recent Spyfall pain when I was randomly-selected as the Spy in my first ever game.

After the post-terrorist atrocity hubbub had died down (and fresh soft drinks purchased from the Bar) Aaron, David and myself launched quickly in to The Voyages of Marco Polo. Apparently, this has been a recent hit with the club and has seen regular play so Aaron was on hand (as he always seems to be!) to lead me through the first round; I have been Rahdo-ed up on Voyages so we were off-and-running tooty-sweetie (despite Rahdo's hilariously, endearingly, Keystone Cops mistakefest of a run-thru video!).


On top with Marco P: literally AND figuratively.


My character let me use an occupied action without having to pay which seemed proposterously good as I no longer had to worry about doing Action A before Action B on a budget: just do BOTH! I also managed to place a trading house in the (1-5=1 gold, 6 = 3 gold) City (also one of my secret goal cities) which proved essential for powering through Contracts. David and I were running very close all the way with Aaron being left behind after the first couple of rounds, and it was my secret goals that delivered the Victory! Huzzah! A most excellent Euro with a great many little in-game goals-and-successes to keep one excited throughout!

As one would expect from Aaron - a gamer with a remarkably-eclectic collection of curios and obscurities - our next game was something unknown that he had been meaning to try for a while: Siesta.


A Goldsieber Spiele abstract oddity from the late 90s


In summary: You score points for Suns (tall, yellow) casting shadows (flat, black and square) over your roofs (roof-shaped, in your colour). Play three pieces on your turn: any combination of sun, roof and/or shadow and then score points for all new/extended roof shadows.

David won. I'm not sure what was really going on but it played nicely-enough and had us all leaning over the board / chin-stroking in deep thought. Not much else to add, really.

We closed with a couple of games of Innovation where I found myself hopelessly out of my depth; it's been YEARS since I played this with any regularity and it showed. Aaron was up to the five achievements quicky-and-comfortably in the first, while the second was (huzzah!) a much more wonderfully-insane combo-fest: David won with five, though I had three and was about to gain a fourth and Aaron was #AltWinCondition with 20 lightbulbs on his next turn. Abso-fucking-lutely bonkers, which is why I love Carl Chudyk and Asmadi Games so much!

The nights are drawing in, so the mass exodus from the Club was in parping darkness and a chilly breeze: Winter is coming, dig out your thermal underpants!

*no, not THAT one.
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Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:00 am
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North by Northwest (-ish)

Anthony Boydell
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After the lull of the Summer, it's time for me to pay another visit to those nice folks in North Wales.


Where I play games when in Llandudno; posh, isn't it?


I also need to go up there for work.


Where I work when in Llandudno; posh, isn't it?


Tonight, hopefully, I shall be hunkering down to some tabletop fidgeting in the company of Paul, Aaron, Denise, Dewi, David, Tim, Lee, Mark, Louis et al and have, for the purpose, packed Voyages of Marco Polo, Tesla vs Edison, Glory to Rome and Innovation: the first two not having been played at all, the latter not for a long time *shame* Ahead of me lies a four hour drive, much podcasting to wile away the miles and the reward of a large coffee on the A55 before rocking up to my deluxe pre-booked parking space. I'm in demo to the Public mode this afternoon, hence the tummy-wobbles as I type - they say it's very good to feel nervous before a performance, don't they?
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Mon Sep 21, 2015 7:30 am
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Dragondaze Like These

Anthony Boydell
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A Señor and his sons' Saturday 'scursion Sunday Snippet


It was a boys day out yesterday! We were supposed to be on the road by 9AM but teenagers, eh? Still, I was given the chance to rack up a healthy plate of marmite toast and a steaming coffee.


Dragondaze at The Newport Centre, Newport, South Wales. Clockwise (from top left): The main trade hall from the miniatures gaming balcony found him! Arthur not too sure re: trustworthiness of these two delegates distrust proven - Arthur kicks butt when is it NOT ever time to poke a Minion in the one eye? MORE trouble - Arthur has a go at a Dalek ...and, finally: well-earned bacon-butty and chips break!


On the way back it seemed churlish to not make the most of the gloriously-sunny P.M, so I convinced the lads that a 30-minute leg-stretcher in Monmouth would be a good idea:


The River Wye, avec kayak-ers, and the end of the viaduct (from the Duke of Beaufort bridge); the gloriously-overgrown viaduct and - inset - the Troy and (distant) May Hill tunnels (see also https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/39819/view-bridge)
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Sun Sep 20, 2015 7:15 am
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