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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

Archive for Tony Boydell

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Stranger Danger?!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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A SpiderSense-tingling Sunday Snippet


Yesterday there was an 'open day' at a local Christian Adventure Centre and, because they're caring, they lay on a shuttle bus service between the Town and the venue. Arthur and I spotted it setting off on yet another 'loop' as we walked in to Newent to get sweets (and browse the Charity Shops):



Could this be any MORE sinister?
#lookedgoodonpaper #spaedoman
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Today 6:30 am
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Knitwiticulture

Anthony Boydell
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The stars had aligned, yesterday evening, such that
a) I didn't have to pick Fred up from Gloucester at 11PM (which usually cuts my Friday night gaming short), and
b) Benedict wanted to come along with me.

The latter presented the usual 'do we have anything for five?' problem, given that this was a last minute decision and 'the others' had packed for four; fortuitously (because I planned it that way), I did remember to put some emergency fayre in to the car, including Notre Dame:


No Ifs, no Buts: a bona fide classic.


Ben's early 'Garden' fill, followed by Becky and John continuously passing him 'VP' actions during the drafts, seemed to set him in an unassailable lead as he repeatedly 'play a card, score 7 VPs'-ed. My own 'cube-light' approach ie. bouncing peeps around the district rather than recruiting lots more, combined with a turbo-charged Wagon, netted a phat wedge of points (note, above, the THREE 4vp messages!) and the win. Benedict's first game had him languishing a long way back but he suffered a little from rat anxiety...and his old Dad drafting the good stuff before it got to him.

With ND for five done-and-dusted in under the hour, Ben proferred - and we keenly accepted - his recently-muled-from-UKGE-by-yours-truly copy of Viticulture Essential Edition:



In summary: it's a worker placement game where rounds are split in to two pools of action spaces: Spring and Autumn; the Spring actions are all about sowing crops, building your vineyards buildings and earning a bit of cash while the Autumn actions are about harvesting grapes, training new workers (family growth), making and selling wine. VPs come from conditional one-off action cards and from selling wine. When someone scores on - or passed - a trigger value (20), you finish the current year and see who's got the most points.

Viticulture exudes a pleasant, gentle atmosphere while playing and is certainly one of the less-brutal WP-ers; this is because one of your workers, 'the Papa', can use any occupied space so you're always guaranteed one action you definitely want every year. I managed an early sprint in to the lead (orange) - thanks to some nice bonus cards (visitors) - and cemented a 'to the end of the scoring track' win with a couple of high-value Wine Orders; although, it DID seem like everyone was going to score big simultaneously in one explosive, game-ending year...a bit like what happens in Guildhall and others.

Aside: I am avoiding the copious, chortling references to the turn order 'Cockerel' pieces because it's tiresome. Funny, but tiresome.


You can tell it's a Jamie 'stretched' KS game because of all the custom wooden sculpts! Lovely, but a BIT over-the-top?


Two engrossing games ticked off, it was time for something (I had expected to be) lighter; indeed, the first two pegged words boded (bade?) well for sniggerific fun:


Oh dear.


But. Do you remember me mentioning 'simmering' earlier in the week? Well, the EU Referendum result has done nothing to turn down the heat inducted in to my soul and a general feeling of hollowness and disbelief has now joined the overcrowded emotional party. Unfortunately for those around me, I find myself occasionally venting like a geyser (or should that be Geezer?). I'm sure it will be much more entertainingly (and archly) described by young Ben on the Ross-on-Wye board gamers blog, but suffice it to say that a little too much exhuberant 'shouting down' of one of mine & Becky's Knit Wit answers had me scraping the components off the table and back in to the box before we'd score even half of the answers. I really couldn't face more of that kind of thing yet, even as I was sliding the box back in to it's sleeve, I was regretting it; but, hey, it was too late to turn back (a bit like the EU referendum) so, instead, I threw myself (with over-compensatory gusto) in to Becky's suggested replacement/alternative Codenames:


The usual blah-blah.


There were, as usual some comic moments at the expense of Jobbers' almost-wilful clueing obscurity but, for me, the best was glancing over to see Ben and Becky cuddling up on the other side of the table in a rare (and delightful) public display of affection. My hissy fit was, then, the only off-colour moment in an otherwise bright evening. I am sorry.
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Sat Jun 25, 2016 11:01 am
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Playing with oneself

Anthony Boydell
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Hi everyone!

Below are the latest, available-for-playtest solo player rules for Guilds of London, as developed by (the splendid) Mr Ricky Royal and myself; if any of you are so inclined, it would be wonderful if you could give them a go and provide your feedback on the Forum thread on the GoL page!



Thanks, in advance,
Ricky & Tony

Guilds of London Solo Rules

In the solo game you will be the 1st Player, and the 2nd Player will be "Boris". You will always be 1st player.

Setup:
As per the 2­ player game, but only place two (2) neutral (black) liveryman pawns on the game board and do not give Boris any cards.

All of Boris's liverymen start in the Guildhall (​you can place them off to the side of the board if you prefer, where their occupation of the Guildhall is implied​). NOTE: Boris can never run out of liverymen, so use those of the other colours from the supply if necessary.

Seed the Guilds with Neutrals, as follows:
If the plantation is Virginia, place 1 neutral (black) liveryman pawn on each of the 6 lowest-numbered guilds;
If the plantation is Ulster, place 1 neutral (black) liveryman pawn on each of the 6 highest-numbered Guilds.

Player Turns:
Play your turn, as usual.

On Boris's turn (reminder: always the last turn of the Round), draw and discard 3 cards from the top of the action card deck in turn. Place 1 of Boris's liverymen on the next face-­up guild or special building of that suit, proceeding from left to right, top to bottom, starting with the guild occupied by Beadle, looping back to the guild in the top­left corner if necessary.

End of Round Phase:
Just as in the 2­ player game, you resolve tiles during even­-numbered rounds only. However​,any neutral liveryman pawns on a tile prior to Negotiation add one (1) to the majority value ​required ​to resolve that tile, BUT do not themselves count towards satisfying the majority value of the tile prior to Negotiation!

thumbsup The 'standing' neutrals add one to the required number but do not count toward that number! Your neutrals behave as usual.

If Boris wins control of a Tile then reward Boris with the tile's victory points. Boris does not need to place masters on a controlled guild. Boris is also entitled to the 2nd place reward when YOU win a tile, if he has liverymen on that tile.

thumbsup Boris is only ever awarded VPs.
thumbsup Boris does not place Masters on resolved tiles


Before the completion of every End of Round Phase, after resolution checks in even-numbered rounds and at the end of every odd-numbered round, flip the tile where the Beadle stands and reward Boris with the tile's 1st place VPs. Note: Your liverymen are not entitled to a 2nd place reward from this tile. Move the Beadle to a new tile, as usual.

thumbsup Every round, the Beadle's tile is flipped if not resolved normally

Growth Phase:
Just as in a regular game, there will only be a Growth phase at the end of rounds with a grey space on the round track (every 4th round). The only thing that happens during this phase is the resolution of the Plantation tile:
If there are NO liverymen on the Plantation then Boris wins it, gaining 7VPs from Virginia or the 2nd place reward of 3VPs if the plantation was Ulster; then flip the plantation tile.
If there is just ONE liveryman on the Plantation then no one wins it, and Boris takes the 2nd place reward of 3VPs; then flip the plantation tile and return the liveryman back to the general supply.
­ If you have TWO OR MORE liverymen on the plantation you win it (gaining the 1st place reward) and flip it, returning all liverymen back to the general supply, as indicated.

Check for end of game:
The game ends if the round marker has reached number ten (10) on it's track OR if all tiles have been resolved OR if there is no numbered tile for the Beadle to move to.

thumbsup There are three ways the game can end

Winning the Game:
At the end of the game, you win if your final score (​after adding any mayoral reward bonuses and guild master adjacency​) is greater than Boris' final score (​Boris does ​not ​get a bonus for guild master adjacency​).

thumbsup Boris does not score for adjacency
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Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:30 am
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Out is the new In

Anthony Boydell
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Something properly-gamerish later but, for now, simply this:



#brexit #stupidfuckingstupid
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Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:24 am
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Gotta Keep Moving

Anthony Boydell
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I may be jumping the gun here but since the UK Games Expo - and a conversation with long-time gaming pal Iain - I've been thinking about an expansion for Guilds of London. "Good God, man! It's only JUST come out!" you might well exclaim but, given the gestation period of the average Ludus Boydellae, this might be exactly the right time to start! Young Iain sent me a fulsome email with lots of interesting ideas but they were pushing the game in to territories TOO new and TOO different (at least for now) BUT there were the seeds of one theme at least: The Inns of Court.

The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. All such barristers must belong to one such association. They have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members. The Inns also provide libraries, dining facilities and professional accommodation. Each also has a church or chapel attached to it and is a self-contained precinct where barristers traditionally train and practise...

There are FOUR Inns: Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, Middle Temple and Inner Temple; as pompous and self-important as the Guilds, the Inns should make a juicy addition to GoL shenanigans:


Four Inns, four inn-teresting bonuses!


The coin icon represents - er - gold coins; they fit nicely on to the tile punchsheet, five at a time, and are exactly what they suggest: money to pay the cost of card effects. If you pay without having to spend other cards, then you have more cards left in hand and more combos to save up for and execute! This is going to be awesome...and, probably, UTTERLY BROKEN!



Now, if you stare long and hard at the full set of Guild tiles, you will notice that we have a 'gap' in configuration that needs an expansion to fill: 'three symbol-ed Guilds':


Ten combinations, ten powerful tiles!


Like their two-symbol-ed cousins, the triples offer a string of rewards for the victor, as well as a choice of Master's symbol; for second place, a counter (both physically and conceptually) to the dread neutral liverymen in the form of 'Ban Chits' (an ugly name at the moment) - these may be played on to a tile (for free) at the start of resolution and prevent the use of neutral liverymen completely on that tile (both the proper Tony use and the Carebear version too!)



Finally, for THIS preview/discussion/toe-in-the-water-dippage, you're all just getting acquainted with Virginia (US) and Ulster (Ireland) but I've been playing with the bloomin' things for YEARS, so no expansion would be complete without a couple of new overseas destinations:



Of course there should be more Mayoral Rewards, more action cards for the main deck, proper Official solo rules, maybe an official Carebear variant (see the Ham's Law thread) and goodness knows what else! I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man!

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Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:23 am
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Just a Jeuxgolo!

Anthony Boydell
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I love this song and, in particular, this energetic tongue-in-cheek rendition. On my Stag Night (July, 1992), our group had ended up - 'vigorously-refreshed' - in a Cheltenham nightclub and my Best Man requested it of the DJ; as it began, we were all linked, arms-across-shoulders, and Can-Can-ing around the polished laminate floor...within a further 30 seconds, the ENTIRE SODDING ROOM was doing it too: an enormous, high-kicking, bellowing snake! It was bloody marvellous!

So, today, by way of something to cheer me us up, I give you the back-combed and splendid nincompoop that is David Lee Roth:

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Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:55 am
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The Red Mist Descends

Anthony Boydell
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The world seems determined to have me suffer a coronary at the moment, what with all the rage-inducing shit it’s flinging my (and our collective) way; indeed, my use of the C-word has risen sharply in the last few weeks (which is upsetting other people in Church) and I can feel myself in an almost permanent state of ‘vigorous simmering’. The contributing factors range from the mundane to the extremely serious:

The European Football Championship 2016: digesting the output of the British media, you would be forgiven for assuming that our fair isles have just the ONE team hoofing the pig’s bladder about for 90 minutes. As usual, the presentation revolves around a quivering hope that ‘the National Squad’ doesn’t shit the fucking bed again like what they have done at every other tournament since after 1966. What everyone’s missing is that ANOTHER UK-based National squad have made it to the tournament and a) seem pleased to be there b) are proud to be representing their homeland and c) actually putting in a creditable performance! But, then, when it comes to International football and the UK, we are now only able to focus on the abhorrent behaviour of ‘fans’ and the England team’s consistent failure to even score a goal most times. Being a Wales fan – the team with the a/b/c I was alluding to above – I found the commentators on last night’s England match hilarious: spouting on throughout about “controlling the match” and “impressive domination” only to have the whole thing end in a dick-wilting nil-nil draw! Wales, on the other hand, hammered Russia 3-0 in a wonderful display of confidence!

The EU debate: every time, without fail, this brings down the red mist; whether it’s an ignorant racist or a self-serving swindler presenting their so-called ‘arguments’, the British public are on the verge of committing a lemming-like mass suicide based on hearsay, scaremongering and barefaced lies. From my own (selfish?) perspective, we currently owe $X,000 (£Y,000, where Y is 0.69X) to TMG which – if we ‘vote to leave’ the EU and the GBP goes in to freefall’ – could become, almost overnight, something approaching a 1:1 £X,000 – not something that will please me or, indeed, allow Surprised Stare Games to continue functioning! Poor Mrs B has to navigate a hail of C-bombs whenever the BBC News is on…

At work, we have a stroppy Lead Developer who frequently drops in to ‘Whining Bitch’ mode and – when this happens – he spunks out complaining emails - like Ron Jeremy on National Orgasm Day - suggesting that ‘the business are incompetent’ and that Yours Truly is not fit at this BA job because I don’t write requirements the way he would like. On most occasions, I let this pass but – today – the heart began beating a little to quickly and that pounding started in my temples...

Someone posted a critical review of Guilds of London that was wholly inaccurate in (some of) it’s assertions and muddled in it’s conclusions. Given all of the above, I didn’t react well: “Don’t read reviews!” they say; when will I ever learn? I did refrain from posting the 'line-by-line' issue-taking essay that I'd drafted, though!

There is also another, far more serious, weight pressing on the Boydell household at the moment and that’s the ultimate progenerator of my heightened, sensitive state; I may not make it through 2016 in one piece at this rate.
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Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:07 am
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Would you jump in my grave as quick?

Anthony Boydell
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I, like many of you, am a creature of habit and take it ill when my habits are disrupted. Today - literally about an hour before this post - I rocked up at the Welsh Government offices, despite the torrential Cardiff rain*, confident of a safe parking space in the bowels of the building. It's so very pleasant to meander across the cool, subterranean, halogen-illuminated concrete breathing in the damp and oil-tanged air. However, today, an usurper was arrogantly parked in my allotted space! Bay 1073, lovingly pre-booked over a week ago, was unavailable for my occupation and it was with a tummy-flip and an angry word that I returned to the Security Hut to voice my dissatisfaction; from the hut to the Control Room and from the Control Room to a double-yellow-lined 'space' on the public forecourt, I must now spend the day anxiously fretting about officious windscreen-ed missives and/or shaming 'Move it NOW!' tannoy announcements! This fresh Monday morning Hell got me to thinking about game-related gazumping situations that similarly disrupt one's equilibrium:

When someone takes your usual table at the venue:
This, of course, depends on the nature of the venue and the temporal placement of the session ie. 3PM on a Bank Holiday Monday on the beach at Blackpool is probably going to end up in 'having to go somewhere else'; indeed, the Ross-on-Wye board gamers are well-used to being relegated to a murky corner/spare broom cupboard during the peak tourism months of June, July and August. The whole concept of a favourite table is predicated on several key factors: access to refreshments, access to ablutory facilities, access to warmth/ventilation and - most important of all - access to light! Any variations in this suite of elements can be disastrous, nay cataclysmic; who amongst us, after being 'shunted', HASN'T fainted from over-heating/dehydration, got a migraine headache from three hours of squinting in to the murk OR pissed themselves during a particularly stressful 18XX operating round because the loos are 20 yards further away?

When someone takes your usual chair:
Not a major problem given the requirement of many games to randomise seating but, especially in the Winter months, a cosy wood fire-adjacent nook can be sorely-missed. You could try playing the "Gimme my seat back, Dave, because the last time I contracted double pneumonia" card...but being told to "Man up or fuck off" often offends. Or you could turn up an hour before everyone else?

When someone plays your colour:
Here be monsters, my friends, in what is probably to most contentious and impactful appropriation scenario! The fallout scale ranges from 'Picking up the wrong pieces during upkeep' through 'Moving the wrong pieces and now the board layout is incorrect' right up to 'Playing and strategizing the entire game using someone else's position'; indeed, the latter was in evidence a few weeks back when Anne, normally 'red', planned EVERY turn of Broom Service using MY red pieces for reference. And when player colours are key-ed to specific asynchronous powers, the whole thing goes to Hades in a hand-cart!

When someone takes your 'action space':
You're clutching at straws now, Tony; that's just regular 'game stuff', so get over it!

Right. I'll just nip downstairs and make sure my car hasn't been towed away...

*the same as other UK rain, only it splashes with a Welsh twang
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Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:51 am
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Father's day

Anthony Boydell
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It's Father's Day in the UK today and I just got this from the youngest one:



#proud #chipofftheoldblock #trains
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Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:32 am
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Bobbins

Anthony Boydell
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I managed to convey my pile of games 'twixt the car park and the Bar of the White Lion without getting them too wet: yet another day of Mediterranean baking bliss flip-flopping with drenching downpours for Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. No matter, for the Ross-on-Wye boardgamers or, at least, this week's representation thereof, were already seated and huddled over Legal documents pertaining to the forthcoming Batesonian domiciliary relocatative scenario; much flourishing signature action followed, particularly from John who looked like he was whitewashing the garden bloody fence. He nearly had Becky's eye out with his waggling elbow!

Aside from the usual suspects, young Garry had made the effort to join us this week which was marvellous; he's dead keen and has picked up the bug for buying himself a decent library of games. The only problem with that is, as we have seen to some extent with (much missed) Norm, never getting a chance to PLAY the bloody things subsequently! Tonight that would change in a pleasantly even-handed distribution of diversions:


A Grande Day Out


Five being the awkward number, there was a brief flash of Puerto Rico at the table to which I heavy-sighed; I love the game but didn't really fancy it at that moment. With hardly a breath taken, Ben immediately counter-proposed El Grande and had not even orally punctuated his suggestion before it was being unpacked and laid out!

After the woefully chaotic area majority mayhem that was Dominare a few weeks ago, it was a pleasure - nay, a joy - to be back in safe, 'classic' hands again. And, yes, El Grande has a mean streak but it's a transparent and up-to-you/in-your-control mean streak; oddly, Becky complained - only a little - about this at the denouement...even though the two meanest moves of the game had been perpetrated BY HER, AGAINST ME! John managed to keep himself ahead for almost the entire game and it was Becky's last round 'Veto' of my action that stopped me from catching him in the final scoring. A tremendously tense and exciting finish that, like other RoW favourites Princes of Florence and the aforementioned Puerto Rico, had us purring with contentment.

Garry was so taken with 7 Wonders the last time he dropped by that he picked up a cheap (£20!) copy from off of the Internets so, seeing as he'd made the effort to bring it along, we made the effort to play it with him. Despite our usual heckling of John's performance, he managed to pip an in-form Ben (who won the first) in the second game by just a couple of points...on the play of his final Age III card! I didn't take a photo because, frankly, there are enough pictures of 7 Wonders in the world though - given I've got a captioning theme, here's something from the BGG archive:


A Close Shave...between Ben & John (courtesy of aquarian)


Unsurprisingly, because I put this in the pile knowing Becky would be unable to resist, the last game - for me, at least, on 'pick up' duty - was the still-in-shrink Knit Wit:


The Wrong Trousers (loose tailoring link)


In summary: The bastard child of Codenames, Scattergories and Venn diagrams. Each turn, players will loop a coloured string (there are 8) around a placed spool and attach a randomly-drawn word to the peg at the end of that ring then they will place a new spool in a 'space' created by the overlain strings. When all strings and spools are placed, players must then come up with something for each spool that matchs the pegged words it's surrounded by eg. something 'dry' and 'sharp' elicited my extremely clever answer "My wit!". There is a voting mechanism for 'dodgy' answers and scores relate to a) being unique amongst all answers and b) how many strings surround the spool.

What a delightful, if massively-overproduced, treat this is, dear friends; it's a word game (which always impresses our erudite Club), it looks gorgeous and it allows for heckling banter (v. important indeed): a thumbs up all round from the 'guys'!

In other news, and to our immense relief, Byll has (finally) been located alive and well; I say 'located', what I mean is that he popped up on Facebook for a brief moment, typed something typically-cryptic and then disappeared again - oh, the worry!
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Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:29 am
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