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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Asmodee = Asmodeus?

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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"Asmodee in Negotiations to Acquire F2Z Entertainment" it says in 'the news' and lo! doth the whine-y bitches descend in their (hopefully) sky-proof hats declaiming the ominous portent of a business conducting itself in a business-like fashion: "Oh but they'll have a monopoly now!" guff the wounded and the ever-so-tender-hearted, as they fear Mammon's scaly grip upon their wallets (clue: what about Hasbro and Mattel, eh? But they don't do 'proper' board games do they, so they don't actually count).

Apparently all prices will go up (again) and small businesses will go into bankruptcy (again) and how can we possibly stop them from stealing our children and raping our hamsters when THAT happens? (clue: none of this will happen). In reality you'll have to pay a fair price for Pandemic Legacy: Season Two so suck it up, ya big babies.



But wait! No 'free and intelligent' discussion* of this evil conglomerate is complete without the 'geek with real legal training' wading in and suggesting you log some official complaint with some official body OR others pronouncing that "I will never buy another Asmodee game again!" (who fucking cares?) OR others wringing their hands/gnashing their teeth at the sheer horrible oppressiveness of it all.

Here's a thought: it will either be fine or it won't...I just don't want to hear you bealing on about it (in that squeaky voice that I imagine you use while you're doing it). Asmodee are not evil, they make stuff and sell it; Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is evil, that fat twat lording it over North Korea is evil...

Anyway, bollocks to all of the geeky arse-gas; you should be doing something like this instead:



or, maybe, this:



A good day to you all.

*ie. exactly the same discussion they all had the LAST time Asmodee did something in tune with their mission statement/business plan
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17 Comments
Sat Jul 23, 2016 7:10 am
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Essentials

Anthony Boydell
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The family holiday approaches and, of course, games must be selected (and packed) according to the following criteria:

1. Suitable for the people who will be there to play them eg. Codenames, Isle of Skye, ThunderRoad etc;

2. Have some hope in Hell of actually being played; if it's going to occupy precious square metreage in the vehicle, it had better earn it's bloomin' keep at the other end! eg. Railroad Tycoons is great but Arthur's clothing for the duration would fit in the box; my complete everything-Agricola wooden treasure chest is wonderful but no-one will play THAT version with me AND it weighs as much as Arthur does*;

3. Is something that I, (me: Tony), am happy to TEACH eg. not ever having played Roads & Boats or my uber-minty and rare 1829, this is not the time to 'learn'...which reminds me:

4. Is something of no great scarcity or particular value: we're on holiday and there'll be sand and fizzy drinks; and,

5. Is something that I, (me: Tony), am happy to PLAY (as it's likely to be me that initiates the majority of the tabletop sesions).

So, this is my final selection:





*for those thinking about it: leaving Arthur behind is NOT an option.
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21 Comments
Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:53 am
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Putting flesh on the bones

Anthony Boydell
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Boffo and Smudge are on the verge of moving house so, last night, I found myself squeezing through stacks of packing boxes to a seat at the coffee/gaming table; boxes labelled ‘Dining Room’, ‘Games Room’, ‘Wet Room’, ‘Sex Dungeon’ and ‘Kitchen’. The visit was, originally, two-pronged of purpose:
a) to deliver one guinea pig for caring whilst on holiday, and
b) play test a couple of early prototypes.

As regards (a), alternative (neighbourly) arrangements have been made to avoid having to tow the hutch (it’s THAT big) over to the Bateson’s whilst (b) was not (surprisingly) just all about me. Boffo has been taking-forward a concept he and I discussed about three years ago: Bones of Offa – an historically-themed Euro with a rather delightful (and unusual) action selection mechanic.

The reworking bears no resemblance to the original idea apart from the action-selection bit and the theme, everything else has been stripped away and revamped. As we sipped our beverages and settled in to his rules explanation, I got a powerful sense of Designer déjà vu; first ‘real’ plays can be (and are, usually) fraught affairs where:
the rules, if written, are usually several versions behind the rules in your head; if relating straight from your head, you invariably miss things and/or explain in an illogical and confusing order;
play testers ask far more questions than you expect; not because they’re being troublesome or malicious but because of the previous bullet and the need for other supporting information (“What’s THIS dobber for again?”, “How much money do I start with?”, “Why is my hair on fire?” etc). I’m often in such a rush to ‘get started’ with a game that I forget to tell people what they’re trying to achieve;
it is rare for reference sheets and reminder materials to be available (as you’re not yet clear what needs to be on them), so you're repeating the same details;
you, as the Designer, may have made assumptions about how people might formulate strategies/’get started’ eg. by asking them to choose a starting role/resource/action when they don’t yet understand the flow / consequences of that initial decision; and,
you probably won’t make it through a complete game.

As sort-of expected, but in no way a detrimental reflection of Boffo’s work on it to date, there was a LOT of stop and start; this meant we didn't get beyond three actions each in ‘Bones’. We, Smudge and I, were orienting ourselves around what we were allowed to do, how to do it, settling the short and long-term goals in our heads and getting anxious about not being able to take meaningful actions. As it turned out, we were both finding ourselves overly-restricted and identified a key area that needs some ‘Euro-fying’: there are 36 character ‘roles’ that convert resources in a central matrix, these really need to have additional asynchronous powers to enable combos, action short-cuts, back-up actions and/or other pleasing stuff. This may not have been the desired outcome for Boffo at this point but, personally, I don’t see this session as anything but a positive experience: we, the players, are engaged with the concept and the Designer has a clear focus for taking it forward. This is going to be a good one...

Smudge generously-recharged our mugs of tea and there was time for a three player working of Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines which – last Friday – endured a similar stuttering ‘debut’ to ‘Bones’; over the weekend I revisited some card abilities/damage to throttle back on quite so much ‘crashing’ and this second game was much, MUCH smoother; there were few questions from either Boffo or Smudge but, then, it’s a 7 Wonder’s-style drafting game so the undercarriage is already familiar. I, too, have some homework from this session which – in context – is going to be a LOT of fun. As nerve-wracking as this stage is, it's also the most exciting and rewarding: don't lose heart, Boffo, the best is yet to come!
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Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:42 am
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Working hard *phew*

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Senior Management Team plus guest speaker...
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Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:06 am
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A touchy subject.

Anthony Boydell
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Is it Kodama, the game with cards and bits of trees on? Well, that looks lovely all laid out on the table, doesn't it? Trees are great for implementing an aesthetically pleasing layout: see also Flowerfall and Best Treehouse Ever. I think it's the overlaying that does it; the higgledy-piggledy, OCD-inducing inexactitude. You also have Marrakech with its carpets and Edo Yashiki with its zen garden.

A couple of years ago I scribbled some notes about a seaside Rock Pool game where the cards (the 'rocks') were 'shuffled but messy' and spread out across the table to imitate a rock pool. You 'lift' stones to find (and set collect) flora and fauna with heavier stones requiring assistance from other players (for a price!). This morning, early doors in Treforest for an all-day workshop, and I looked out over the roof of the building from the canteen window:



And it reminded me of more intricate roofscapes, of which Cheltenham has an absolute doozie! It's the romance of a world hidden in plain sight - Mary Poppins and Gaiman's Neverwhere - with nooks, crannies, troughs, towers, skylights and rusted doorways.



So, for today, the goal - when the meeting is going all yawny - is to come up with a tesselating/overlapping, wonky roofscape card game. I'll report back soon but, in the meantime, how about we build a geek list of overlapping games? Not for any other reason than 'it's a free world and we bloody can!':

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/211404/overlapping-ga...
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Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:43 am
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Two In A Row!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Woo-hoo!


Codenames wins the SdJ - and quite rightly too! There was a big worry that the 'language' nature of it / "...but it's a party game!" whining would swing it towards the excellent, but more 'usual' Imhotep (I think Karuba was dropped, early, on account of the 'broken around the edge strategy' kerfuffle).

Woo-hoo Too!


Isle of Skye: Extraneous Title Bit wins the KSdJ - and it's a DOUBLE 'quite rightly too' from Uncle Tony...and two-in-a-row for Pfister & Pelikan! T.I.M.E Stories was just too badly translated to be in with a realistic shot and Pandemic: Legacy has won quite enough awards thakyouverymuch!

A fine selection and, maybe, that 'special thing' I designed for IoS might see the light of day now (fingers crossed)!
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Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:06 am
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The memory comes like a flood

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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This weekend I found myself sat out in the garden a lot; the weather has been gorgeous – hot with a cooling breeze – and the buzz of distant lawn mowers (supplemented, temporarily, by my own), low flying air-craft and ranting teenagers filled the lazy-baking post meridian. The genial delights of Friday’s RoW session were wholly overshadowed by the subsequent one hour of sleep and following rest-of-the-night in Gloucester Accident & Emergency; thus, my ‘enjoyment’ of the Boydell backyard flora and fauna was interspersed with ten minute naps and boosts of bitter coffee. However, despite the enveloping drama, there is something rather poetic about seeing the sun rise and the sky go from black to white/yellow/blue, over a whisper-quiet metropolis (even if it IS the shit-hole that is Gloucester) and it reminded me of my time working at a petrol station just after I’d graduated...

(cue: wibbling/wobbling transition)

Having applied to work in Cheltenham in late 1990, I decided that getting a job – however menial – would look good during any subsequent ‘research' ie. “Look! Tony’s doing something to keep himself busy while we crawl up his figurative ass with a microscope: what a fine and industrious young chap he is. We ALREADY want to give him the job!” etc.

To this end, I found myself applying for, and being awarded, the job of ‘Cashier’ at the 24 hour Service Station on the M50 in Ross-on-Wye: starting at 10PM, I would ‘man the pumps’ until 7AM (on the weekends ie. Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and, because it was much quieter than the day, restock shelves, sweep floors and so on. To facilitate this employment, I found a bedsit at the opposite end of town for £30 per week. I started in January of 1991 and didn’t imagine it would go on for too long; I mean, what could possibly be in my Past to extend the proceedings?*

My routine was:
2200HRS: Turn up and do the cashing up dance with the previous shift;
2201HRS: Change the channel on the radio to the local station (‘Wyvern’ in Worcester that transitioned, come 1AM, to BRMB – Birmingham);
2202HRS: serve customers, mainly lorry drivers, until 2AM and then – briefly – everyone coming out of the Ross nightclub (‘Jacqueline’s”) for ‘fizzy pop’ and ‘cigarette papers’;
0200HRS: Turn up the radio and commence the restocking and sweeping ritual;’
0230HRS-0400HRS: Enter various phone-in competitions and/or pass messages on to other night workers in the region;
0400HRS: Wander out on to the silent forecourt to watch the sun come up;
0730HRS: Go 'home' when the 7AM shift arrives (late, as usual)

I saw British Summer Time, with it’s paid hour for nothing jump, come and – in October – go again (with it’s mirror work that hour all over again for free); and it wasn’t until November that I was finally accepted for a proper career. During that long year I won 20+ albums off the radio, met the band Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark (O.M.D) as they travelled North from a Cardiff gig at 3AM, hosted a 20 minute film review segment for BRMB, drew 20 full pages of my Black Overcoat cartoon strip, was Best Man for my oldest school pal and still managed a full day of Roleplaying every Sunday despite only having had 4 hours sleep!

(cue: wibbling/wobbling transition)

All that from watching the sun come up on Saturday morning? Memory comes like a flood sometimes...

*As it turned out: Two grandparents fleeing Communist Italy at the end of World War 2.
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Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:40 am
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Because it's Summertime!

Anthony Boydell
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Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:54 pm
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"You can do me with your sword"

Anthony Boydell
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For such a tiny club, the Ross-on-Wye board gamers have been unusually blessed with visits from pals and newly-become-pals from all over World and I don't just mean Hereford!

We've experienced the heady waft of spiced Oxfordian incense, the frenetic marketplace hullabaloo that is Hemel Hempstead and the inscrutable oriental oddness of Belgium! Indeed, the White Lion has proved to be a hotbed of cosmopolitan card-floppery in its six-and-a-bit years. Yesterday was the turn of "Uncles" Steve and Alexander, bringing the infectious salsa rhythms of Surrey to bear in our sleepy backwater. Both are long time gaming mates though Steve, in particular, shared the long years of my London working over hundreds of Magic drafts and Pub/Restaurant/all-you-can-eat buffet sessions. They're on holiday in the Forest of Dean with their families and were given a Pass Out - just this once, mind - to pop by and say a gaming hello! Huzzah!

Friday was also the debut of the Lion's new -lord and -lady Land - John and Leigh - who immediately found themselves a permanent space in Boffo's heart by providing four wingback armchairs in the overflow room:


I say, old bean!


Somewhat gazzumpingly, Boffo email-ed the distribution group with a cheerful 'They do welcome gamers!' message which signed off with the no-nonsense: "Naturally as club organisers, Becky and I have called shotgun on two of these". Cue: a brief, but involved, sulk. No matter! It was time for games once more and - after the usual 'Dance of the Thousand Chips' - I rolled up in a newly-serviced (and noticably six inches higher off the ground - something to do with a completely broken suspension) VW Touran to find Steve and Alex already stuck in to a hearty Supper.

Jobbers popped up, suddenly, like a hairy and psychotic cider-quaffing Pokémon, as did the just-back-from-their-hols Boffo and Smudge, and we were quickly tabled-and-unpacking. Boffo and Jobbers (hereafter to be referred to as BoJo) and Steve visited A Castle for All Seasons while, for myself and Smudge (hereafter to be referred to as BDSM) and Alex, it was a first ever run-through of Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines - my draft-and-play air race card game prototype (a collaboration design with the gorgeous Mr Brett J. Gilbert). As expected, it was a bit of a rough ride BUT a couple of clear development points were identified, including 'crashing' - which happened a lot more than any of us really wanted but is essential for increasing the drama of 'the race' - and what to do about the occasional 'dead hand'.

In that typical manner Fate has of spunking, unbeknownst, in to one's omelette, Smudge has been unavailable on the (many) occasions I brought Caylus and has - like me - been craving a play of this venerable wonderfulness for a while. Well, tonight we - and a copy of the game - were together in the same room so, with others now loudly slagging off the demerits of Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers, I gave Alex the S.P and we were medievally 'off':




Smudge was quick to settle in to castle building and favour buying to keep a healthy level of cash and take the slow(er) route to Gold whereas I decided to exploit the buildings favour track and swipe the Cathedral for a whopping 25 point jump. I'd been keeping an eye on the gap between the her 'n me with this in mind and shrugged off Boffo's passing sarcastic "Good to see Tony doing so well...in LAST PLACE!" with a cautious "We'll see..."


No sign of Alex in THIS photo (he was 'sharked' TBH).


As expected, it was a damn close thing and four more money / a last round resource grab took her three small-but-important points ahead for the win. Well played the BOTH OF US, I say; and (of course) congrats to Alex who did respectfully well in his first exposure (mid-60s).


Jobbers' Nose but Steve knows...


Like all the best romantic novels, we came together in the end...for some hot, pirate action: the superb Libertalia. Boffo got himself a wonderful first week lead-off, closely tailed by Jobbers and Smudge, leaving the rest of us floundering pathetically in their wake. I, in particular, found myself resolutely unable to play any card without it either being nix-ed OR so far down the selection order that I seriously considered opening a Cursed Map & French Officer Shop! Apart from the ridiculous 'Harrrr'-ing and the dropping of the words 'Baint' and 'Scurvy' in to every sentence, it was Smudge who provided the best comment of the night and - indeed - of 2016 so far as Boffo selected a Sabre booty tile:

"Go on then; you can do me with your sword"

wow


Boffo and Smudge, 'swords out' for a tied win.


It took us a while to recover from this aural bombshell, snorting beverages and sniggering in to our 'Dens' for a good five minutes; naturally this proved the thin edge of a particularly-filthy wedge until it was time to go home. Steve thought I'd been exaggerating Smudge's pornographic persona over the years; now he can see it as more of a documentary!
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Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:23 am
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Not so nice in Nice

Anthony Boydell
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All the time and everywhere:
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Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:48 am
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