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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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Tongue

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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On my desk is a cardboard standee reminding me of formal bilingual telephone greetings; this is because I work for the Welsh Government where, unlike the rest of the UK, we might reasonably expect to be conversed with in something other than English. The Welsh language has it’s champions and it’s decriers on this (wild) side of the border but - like it or not - there are now legal standards to which businesses and Government alike must adhere; personally, I think it’s quite poignant - in a global age of ‘universal’ communications - that such a spike of analogue intercourse persists. I don’t speak Welsh, of course, despite being born in the Newport suburbs but – then again – neither do I speak Italian and I have an Italian mother and spent most of my early life staying with my maternal grandparents (post-War immigrants) in Risca; it’s a mild source of irritation that they would all babble along in their Bedonian dialect and not bother teaching me a sentence or two. So, whenever anyone calls me on the Government landline – which is about once in a blue Welsh moon – I am delighted to trip out a cheery, if badly pronounced, “Bore da” (Bor-reh dah – good morning) or “Prynhawn da” (Prin-hown dah – good afternoon).



Thanks to an excellent schooling (and a positive interest on my part at the time), I have been given just enough of a foundation in French to murder that musical tongue and embarrass myself in whichever boulangerie I happen to be trying to purchase bread rolls from; I don’t mind, though, because at least I’m making an effort! Naturally, with Essen Spiel drawing up fast in the rear-view mirror, I must again dust off my tiny vocabulary of German; not so good with the spoken beyond ‘I don’t speak German’, ‘Thanks’ and ‘Two large beers please’, I’m a lot better at deciphering the written word (ie. on road signs and menus). I didn’t study German at school but that didn’t stop me going on a three week exchange trip to Betzdorf in 1984. In summary: I am a hopeless Europhile but delight in all manifestations of the exotic tongue.

Of course, there’s no real need to speak anything other than English because the rest of the world has put in the effort so you don’t have to! It’s fun to try, though, and your hosts do seem to appreciate you having a crack (craic).
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Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:56 am
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#sentimental

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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For all you romantics out there!

heart

Spoiler (click to reveal)


(From the Internets)
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Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:19 pm
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Borag thungg, Earthlets!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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When I was but a youngster, mid-to-late 1970s, the family made it's annual journey across England to Norfolk where the bulk of my Father's family still lived: from Newport in South Wales, through Ross-on-Wye and over the Cotswolds to Stow-on-the-Wold; Banbury and Wisbech, Peterborough, King's Lynn and along the straight, leafy A-road to Cromer. It would take us the whole day and several stops, with five of us crammed in to an Austin Allegro, an Estate Mini or a Vauxhall Viva (my father got through cars like they were sweets); one early year, four of us (pre-little brother) even made it in an MGB! Such a journey could not be completed in one go and so we'd stop in Stow-on-the-Wold to stretch our legs/buy comics and Banbury for lunch. One time - this would've been 1977 - the comic I bought was 2000AD Prog 2: the one with the M.A.C.H 1 stickers that made it look like you were a cyborg with some skin peeled away! Free gift aside, this comic was unlike anything I had ever seen before: it was certainly no Whizzer & Chips, no Beano or Dandy!


My life changed when I opened those pages for the first time...


There were no jolly japes, no scrapes or tricky-situations-over-a-scrumped-apple; there were no 'Dodges' or daft single-frame cartoons. There were spacemen, futuristic fascistic policemen, Rollerball basketball and - sweet grandmother preserve me - flesh-eating dinosaurs:



I don't think my parents approved and only a few issues later my 'weekly subscription' had been stopped! Fast-forward to the early 1980s and I've managed to secure myself a Saturday job in a butcher's shop in Monmouth: 0700 to 1700 for £1 and hour plus an extra fiver from the boss AND a massive bag of meat for me to take home to my Mum. I rediscovered 2000AD and reserved it for weekly collection (around issue - prog - 350) just before I went in to work, and it would wait for me in the staff room until it was time to cook everyone their fried breakfast. As the sausages sizzled and the bacon crisped, I would catch up on Slaine, Halo Jones, Strontium Dog, Judge Dredd, the Ace Trucking Co., Nemesis the Warlock and many others.



About 20 years ago, I stumbled upon a huge box of back-issues in a Cheltenham game store and he sold me all-but-thirty of the progs I need to fill in the 1 thru 350 gap...for £20! The box was so heavy I paid a fiver to catch a taxi back home (all the one mile distant!).



About four years ago, amid a rather dry-and-barren phase for the comic and each issue now setting me back £3 per week, I decided to stop; I packed away the first 10 years worth and GAVE away the rest (1200 issues) in an act of outrageous generosity.



This week, yesterday in fact, the momentous Prog 2000 arrived through the post; that's almost 40 years of sci-fi, horror and/or dystopian cartoon strips written and drawn by some of the most famous names in the medium. A comic that has shocked and delighted and innovated continuously and that survives, even now, in the digital age. As I settle down to read this landmark achievement, I will try and transport myself to feeling 9 again: squashed up against the vinyl door of an Austin Maxi and open-mouthed, drop-jawed at the utter cool of Judge Dredd.

Splundig vur thrigg!
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Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:30 am
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Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah…

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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It may sound odd but Mrs B and me don't play that many boardgames 'for two'. Oh, there's been plenty of sessions with relatives and friends - usually involving JamSumo or Codenames along the way - but stuff specifically pour deux is a scarcity. Patchwork fills a happy 15 minutes on occasion but, to be honest, I'm inept to the point of idiocy and have grown quite exhausted with being trounced.

Today, when Arthur had cried off a re-run of Dreamwell in favour of mock-fighting with Benedict on the trampoline, my better half and me were at a loose end while the roast lamb roasted so she wandered in to the library and picked Marrying Mr. Darcy off the 'small games' shelf:


(from top left) 2 Wit (to woo), Karen ponders her next slur upon my good name and "all's well that ends well"


In summary: You have a starting character with one or more particular attribute values (Wit, Beauty, Reputation and Friendliness). During the game you will draw and enact an 'event' and add Character Cards to your character to improve these attributes. When the event deck is depleted, you match your character's attributes against a line of 'Suitors' and then you commence a little d6-rolling to see which one proposes from those whose 'requirements' match your finer points. Should you accept a proposal, you score points for the match - each character has a preferred list of suitors that value from 12 points downwards. Add your marriage points to your character points and see who has the most to win.

There are a couple of wrinkles provided by shunning proposals and retiring as an Old Maid and some character card 'take that'-ness to the other player(s).


It was sweet, simple and fun; it was also chuckle-inducing to see the many Pride & Prejudice jokes spread throughout the flavour text. Gosh! How one giggled when Kitty messed up her piano recital or Jane lost her favourite comb! Being a bit of a Colin Firth 'fan', Mrs B announced that she had 'won the whole thing' when she triggered a card combination to guarantee marriage to Mr Darcy and a life at Pemberley whilst I ended up a perfectly-content spinster (with more points)! I must play with the wife more often.
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Mon Sep 26, 2016 6:30 am
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Working the land...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Yesterday, I spent the day in the garden doing various important jobs: lawn-mowing, leaf-raking, shed-sweeping, bonfire-building and on eagle-eye doggy-do pickup duty. The latter was necessary in order to wage war on a newly-surfaced bastard mole that's found his twitchy-nosed way in to my bloody garden! Apparently, the trick is to stuff fresh canine dung up it's tunnel thus keeping it away...mind you, if someone stuffed dogshit up MY tunnel, I'd punch his flippin' lights out!



I talk to the trees...




The quest to further educate young Arthur in the games of Uwe Rosenberg continued, yesterday evening, with Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (avec touts les expansions). For him, it's about the same complexity as the recently-tried Agricola: Family Edition and he was actively-engaged throughout; despite being penalised in final scoring for focusing only on sheep (-9 point penalty but, to be fair, I was taking everything else!), he'd picked up the storage building that gave him 1/2 point per left over resource and just about made up that deficit.


Dad 42 - Son 30.5

We would've played again immediately only supper was being served around us...and not even 'farming' competes with Mrs B's tuna pasta. This 'work in progress' is coming along very nicely indeed!
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Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:35 am
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Bloody L

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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This week was 'Week 2' of our weakly-justified two week enforced absence from The Weak White Lion. Week 1 ended up being a Jobbers/Boffo two-header at the latter's newly-acquired stately pile so, this Friday, it was my turn to host and we had a splendid (for recent times) turn-out of six! However, prior to the invasion, there was just enough post-chips time for me, Mrs B and Arthur to play our first game of Dreamwell:



In summary: You are trying to 'find' (ie. 'play out of your hand') friends that are lost in the Dreamwell; the cards have two animal images and a terrain that you must navigate your standees to and, once in place, allow you to release that pal for game-end points and a neat little in-game effect. You can't just wander about willy-nilly, though: you have three actions per turn from five (base game) available - move, draw a card, flush the card array, rotate a tile or play a friend - which you can use in any combination and/or repeat if needed. The first to seven found friends triggers game end and most points wins.

It's a lovely thing to behold and has a pleasing simplicity for less-experienced gamers to enjoy; the decisions are straight-forward and the whole thing breezes along (we three finished in 20 minutes, Mrs B crushed us).

The horde arrived bearing crispy snacks and liquid refreshment; cue the next couple of hours using my utterly useless Millenium Falcon key-fob bottle-opener because the proper one had disappeared (it's useless because IT bends more than the bloody bottle top!). Boffo and Smudge also bore some disturbing tidings re: our temporarily-absented Friday night venue (they sneaked a peak on the way over) ie. that the room we usually use was empty, dark and had tables-on-chairs...NOT the pre-reserved hubbub of committee activity that we were (generously) making way for! We shall, of course, return next week to see what kind of reception we get but the prognosis ain't good.

soblue


Arthur was reluctant to start the bedtime routine given the noisy and colourful gathering in the Kitchen and, as a last ditch attempt at gaining a couple more hours announced (to the room) that "I want to play Agricola!". Dear Reader, how could I refuse? How could I possibly take any decision/action that might push him away from such a noble ambition? Mrs B was unmoved, however, and shooed him upstairs amidst huffs and door-slams; as it turned out, after a quick group mooch to the Library room, Dan and Boffo and me acceded to Arthur's excellent suggestion while Byll, Smudge and Jobbers plumped for Blue Moon City.


Kitchen table replete with 'glorious spread'. Note Dan's 'vape' mid-tableau: the loud, bubbling inhalation turned him in to a vanilla-scented Darth Vader for the evening.


We drafted our hands though not without a fight as Boffo has quite the most fantastic opening draw; this mattered not, however, as he pretty much selected an equally strong hand in the draft. His final score included EIGHTEEN points off cards alone and, in conjunction with a solid basic farm, took him to FIFTY POINTS! My own lacklustre hand - mea culpa, I picked 'em - DID include a couple of cards I'd never used before (Manure: lets you harvest crops between Harvest rounds and Stablehand: gives you a free stable whenever you build fences) that boosted me nicely. In the end, I was satisfied with 39 points and second place - especially as Boffo had been mocking my game-play (unjustifiably) throughout!


Trains, shares, double-sided track hex tiles and money! How could this possibly go wrong?


At my request, Jobbers brought along Stephensons Rocket and - being a Dutch copy - proceeded to read out the (long paragraphs of) rules from an translated printout. It made no sense to me AT ALL and, even in the throes of the mid-game, I was woefully unclear about how and when we scored. It didn't help that Jobbers had introduced a 'fix' to the goods chits rule (which neither Dan nor I knew the original for) and the whole thing crashed to an unsatisfying end with Jobbers earning 34,000 of his 49,000 winning score in the endgame while my 39,000 last place had been accrued throughout the 60 minutes of play. This is a Knizia game, it has some interesting ideas but I am not convinced we actually PLAYED Stephensons Rocket!


(above) Jobbers teaches Blue Moon City...the man should not be let near a rulebook TBH!
(below) The 'panel' await round one of Codenames


To close, in the comforting bosom of Chez Boydell, it could be nothing other than Codenames; Boffo and I self-selected ourselves as team captains and 'picked' our team members alternately. Team Trashtalk (Me, Dan, Jobbers) had two relatively straightforward arrays and won comfortably but the game's highlight was the Fish Movies pun-running that ran on while the Spymasters cogitated: Trout of Africa, Kiss Me Skate, In Cod We Trust, I Turbot, Flounder World In 80 Days and (so many) more.

I suppose you had to be there, really.
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Sat Sep 24, 2016 10:09 am
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No, but seriously...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Sorry, but I couldn't resist that silly gag! Anyway, normal service has been resumed: here's my real post for today...


Spoiler (click to reveal)



*snigger*chortle*wheeze*

*Tchoh* (again)...(again)

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Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:40 am
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Today's PROPER post...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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*Tchoh* I know everyone hates it when I put up an advertising thingy instead of my usual blog fayre but (obvs) I _do_ have a business to run as well! However, in deference to your feelings, dearest hearts, here's a 'proper' post for today:


Spoiler (click to reveal)



Ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha ha-ha ha ha!

It's not good to laugh at your own jokes, is it?

*Tchoh* (again)

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Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:21 am
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Roll up! Roll up!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Have you pre-ordered your copy of Guilds of London yet?

If not, there's only a few left and NO pre-payment is required! The price, on pickup, is 45 Euros which includes a special promo Guild/Snowdonia train AND a copy of the (now) official Solo rules (see below).

(Pre-orders must be collected by 12 noon on Sunday 16th October from Hall 2, Stand 2-E119)

All you need to do to pre-order is enter your name and email on the form below:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSectFFzhLRJnSzMBULt...

OR (if you hate Google and all that it stands for) send an email (with the Subject 'Please save me a GoL for Spiel!') to:
feedback@surprisedstaregames.co.uk



See you in a couple o' weeks!!!

P.S. Snowdonia fans/those who already have Guilds can pick up the specials from us too
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Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:04 am
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Hey, Presto!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Currently, as I type, it's very quiet; unusually so given that I'm in a seaside town, in Season, at around 11PM. No cars, no people noises outside (or in), no birds and - oddly - no weather; the sea isn't so much rolling in and out as puddled in the Bay - it's a relaxing vibe, but a bit eerie too.


Previously, in Llandudno...


I've just gotten back from an evening in the good company of the Prestatyn Prometheans (a bit of an ostentatious name for a genial and generous group) and tomorrow (today) is my going home day. My pre-gaming Supper was hand-assembled corned beef & cream cheese rolls whilst parked on the sea front, thousand-yard-staring at the beach; ten minutes of that and I felt like I was in a Ken Loach movie, so high-tailed it over to the Pub for some colourful chittery and dobberbizniz:


20th Century - close at the end...but I came last.


In summary: auction land tiles which contain cities producing money, technology, veeps and/or recycling in various combinations; pass and buy a technology tile (modifies/enhances your tableau of land tiles somehow); bounce-out auction using technology as currency to avoid the horrible catastrophes the place new tiles, gain income and score the round. Repeat over five-and-a-half rounds, final score (garbage is bad, unhappiness in bad) and see who's won.

Verdict: a lot of thinking but I never felt I had much of a choice in proceedings; I mostly bought the things I wanted and I mostly kept my happiness track in check and I definitely kept my landscape clean but...it all feels hollow, somehow.


Explorers of the North Sea (left); Thor and Cnut enjoy a spit roast (right). Tony comes last (again).


In summary: place a tile from a replenished hand of three then execute any combination of four actions (load, unload, move, build a colony, attack a ship, attack a settlement); repeat until all tiles are laid. Score on various scales for different animals collected, dead vikings, colonies established, islands controlled and settlements conquered etc.

Verdict: Fun with some nice decisions about what to collect, where to go and when to build BUT the tile-laying seems flawed - island bits/sea are printed against whole and/or half edges of the hexagons and all edges must match exactly which means - unless you draw 'well' - your mandatory tile placement can rarely go where you'd want (or need) so ends up in the middle of nowhere instead.


It's bloody Imhotep, innit? What more can I say? Apart from the fact that I came last.


There! All written up! When one has been out for the evening, the blog post - supplemented by some (hopefully) evocative photographs - writes itself...but that's only the first 15 minutes of my recounting; there are still flourishes to be added, jokes to be crafted, curses to be uttered, tangents followed, an angle identified and - most important - some intimacy imparted. It takes an awful lot of effort to make this look like it's just been thrown together, you know!
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Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:00 am
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