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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 What was that beardy bloke going on about?

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Hairy Dog Walker

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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It was cold but the dog still needed a walk, so I wrapped up warm and dragged him off out.


Snug & cosy!


I have a favourite route that takes me to the Arboretum then across the fields to a path that circumvents the High School. Today, as the puppy gleefully rolled in fox shit and nosied every poo-pile in every hedgerow, the School was playing host to a 'local league' soccer match but precious little else: there were more people ON the pitch than AROUND it, each team's supporter base comprising a Stand-in Linesman and an aggressive bloke in a donkey jacket hurling abuse at the Ref. I, in a rather nostalgic role that harkened back to the grainy B&W footage of the 1940s and 1050s, was man with dog as I tried to work out a) what the score was and b) why EVERYONE was shouting and swearing so much!

The players were shouting. The goalies were shouting (and pointing). The linesmen were shouting and heckling their opposing numbers. Jacketman was shouting, swearing and gesturing at all of the officials. The referee - a short, tubby, tonsured fellow who looked like he'd escaped from a documentary about people who like Real Ale - was trying to shout over the top of everyone elses' shouting because his whistle was rubbish (he had to call the team captains over for 'a stiff word' at least three times in the 15 minutes that I saw). In fact, the only people on the playing fields who weren't shouting were me, Ziggy the dog and the Away team's centre forward, who looked like he'd rather go up to his bedroom for a nap.

The latter half-heartedly jogged up-and-down the same 5m stretch of grass occasionally watching the ball sail past him in various directions without changing his pace one jot. When the whole sordid, cuss-ridden, lung-busting bellow-fest finally came to an end, the disgraceful horde sulked over to the changing rooms without even the customary 'Three cheers for...': appalling.



This is why Cricket and Rugby Union are the sports of the Gods and NOT this shameful, self-aggrandizing, puffed-up shitstorm of a so-called pastime. Still, on the bright - if chilly - side, I reached my 10,000 steps for the day goal with plenty to spare.
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Today 6:25 am
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Are You Ready For The Country?

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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The Chef at the Prince of Wales pub, a cheery young chap with a 'man bun' and a stripey apron, limped in to the restaurant with a happy "Halloo, board gamers!" and asked if we were "going to be playing Clue this evening". Well, the face I pulled must've been a picture because he laughed and said "What's wrong with Clue?". There is, of course, a parallel Universe in which I spent the rest of the evening explaining to the catering fool the error of his flippant ignorance but it wasn't this one; no, tonight was a Boy's Night Inn *ahem*

I arrived with nothing but a phone full of podcasts - a lovely milestone in the week - and some re-pasted Foothills: A Snowdonia Game components (Ben and I have sorted out the Vale of Rheidol railway and tweaked the action board yet again); as for any actual games for a-playing? I left that to our Huffing Overlord. Given it would be me, him, Jobbers and the occasional Byll, it was prudent to avoid anything spankingly-new and potentially time-hoovering so that was my minty copies of Railroad Revolution and Great Western Trail most-definitely out. Instead, Ben presented us with the colourful Automobiles to start:


Boffo (purple) performs a celebratory drift upon winning the Inn-dy 500 (500 being the number of times we had to remind either Jobbers or Byll of the very simple rules!), closely followed by myself. The other two honked along in their jalopies an entire lap behind us: *toot-toot*


In summary: It's Dominion with cubes. Assign coloured cubes for their special effects (actions; each colour has a number of alternate actions that are randomly assigned to a game) or to move (gear cubes). 'Wear' cubes (akin to Trains' Waste cards) are collected the faster you go and must be 'chapel'-ed from your bag. Play a certain number of laps and the first/furthest over is the winner.

Boffo and I had no problems at all with the simple - elegant - mechanisms and were quickly powering our bags with higher gear cubes and trimming out the 'wear' and the useless other cubes. Jobbers engagement with the whole thing wavered because he kept arguing about how the coloured cube effects worked - despite the wording on their summary cards being VERY CLEAR INDEED . Byll just shoveled cubes about, accompanied by his usual mumbled narration, but managed to stay ahead of a seethingly-grumpy Jobbers. I thought it was tremendous fun and it breezed along briskly (after the other two had finally understood what was happening).

A long-neglected class act was our next course: Key Harvest. It's Isle of Skye, basically, so Herr Pfister and Herr Pelikan should really give the splendid Mr Richard Breese a belated 'chapeau'!


Me playing the 'Hoarder Next Door' but a bit of a crushing win for young Byll, TBH


In summary: You're 'buying' tiles to fill up your player board (all boards are identical) as two of the areas you build will score at game end. Tiles generate resources with which to 'buy'. You don't buy things directly, you buy them off player stores (yours and/or others) for the asking price and - for your store tiles - YOU set the asking price. Each tile has a unique ID, so when someone has bought the E7 then it's (pretty much) theirs for the rest of the game.

Becky arrived (having diddled with her spot all evening down at the Theatre) in time for a session of three-way Wizard. Byll and I departed early, me being on Gloucester pick-up-the-Sons duty, and so-ended another quiet night in Ross-on-Wye. Dammit! There must be more than five people in the area that like to play board games, there simply MUST.

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Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:59 am
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A True Story

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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As I was walking past the game store, I glanced at the window display and saw the man on the Great Western Trail box wink at me; I was so surprised that I'd stopped in mid-pace, one foot in the air, all my weight on the other. Pressing my nose against the glass, I stared at the game for any further movement...there was none. Remembering how to use my legs, I entered the shop by the second most interesting method: the door. The man behind the counter was doing an excellent impression of not being there at all and the only other customer was engrossed by a line of RPG supplement book spines. I shuffled over to the front window and picked up the Great Western Trail box and whispered to the side panel.

"Did you just wink at me?" I said.

"No," the cowboy replied; "you must've imagined it because I'm not a real person".

"Is that game talking to you?" said the customer by the books.

"Yes" I answered.

"This lot whisper about me behind my back" he continued, pointing at the modules; "but they go quiet if I stare at them."

Just then I felt something blow on my cheek and decided to stop listening to the other customer because he was a weirdo and he was scaring me.

"I'm still here" said the cowboy.

"I'm not." said the empty place where the man behind the counter should have been.

"You've got to get me out of here," the cowboy said, "it's not safe any more."

"I can take you as far as the end of the High Street" I offered, "only I'm supposed to meet a bus there - it's sort of a blind date, apparently. I'm worried I won't recognise it so I printed off a picture". I unfolded a crumpled polaroid and pressed it against the front of the box. "See?"

The man behind the counter had stopped pretending to not be there and was flicking his gaze between the roleplaying nutter and me; there was a five second interval between us, so when he was looking the other way, I rushed the exit and sprinted off down the pavement clutching Great Western Trail and a manic grin. By the Pelican Crossing, I bumped in to an old lady, with an old man's face and an old man's body, and s/he toppled on to the zebra stripes and directly in the path of what might have been a bus; it wasn't the bus in my photograph, so I just waited patiently on the kerb while it rolled over the old lady-man with a crunching, squeaking sound. Now that the traffic had stopped, it was safe to cross - provided you stayed well clear of the screaming children and the very angry bus driver.

The policeman stopped me a bit further down the street; he had a kind face and hands that were bunched in to fists. He introduced them to my chin and I fell over, dropping the game box; I looked up and saw it skidding in to the path of another bus, which might've been the same one as the one on my picture only the picture was in my pocket and the nice policeman was blocking my pockets by sitting on my back and stopping my arms from moving about. The bus was evidently heavy because it made just as much of a mess of Great Western Trail as the other one had made of the Man-Lady.

"The cowboy made me do it" I said, with difficulty.

"They all say that" replied the lovely policeman.

When he had made my wrists safe, by wrapping them in handcuffs, we went to a small, quiet room in his workplace where he and a friend took it in turns to ask me hard-hitting questions ie. whenever one asked a question, the other would hit me hard.

"You brought this on yourself" gloated the deck of standard playing cards in the corner. "I suppose that's true" I answered, and let my eyelids help me do a convincing impression of being unconscious.
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Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:51 pm
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Only Me!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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There's been a growing movement of solitaire gamers gathering behind Snowdonia over the last 18 months which is, given the age of the game - currently approaching it's FIFTH birthday (the day Lookout Games said they wanted to co-publish) - is tremendously heartening and satisfying! Many have immersed themselves in the delights of surviving the vagaries of the weather/Event cubes and, with the various locos in tow, trying to get as big a score as possible.

Others - more recently - have turned to developing their own Automa - a preprogrammed NPP (Non-player player) of sorts - to focus all their hate, loathing and frustration on: not really a solo game, then, but more of a s(t)imulated two-header!



Automa are excellent and very much the 'in thing' at the moment; all of Jamey Stegmaier's games have them and "Big Bad Boris" in Guilds of London is one too. Automa hog your actions, steal your resources and toughen up the experience; they also don't piss about with their phones or get soy sauce all over the components!

So, if it's all gone quiet in the snug this evening, why not give M and/or D's alternative solo Snowdonia setups a run? Make sure you give them bountiful feedback because, if they're a success, I may feel inclined to publish them!

Finally, here's a little blast from the past: it's early Spring 2012 and - with the anticipation of a Summer of final layouts and Snowdonian publication plans - I had been focusing very much on the aforementioned solo variant:

Quote:

(from a round-robin playtester group email of 16th March)

Chaps,

Played a second solo game tonight - reusing train no.1 to see if a) losing the train in the first game was bad and b) I could beat my previous score (186)

- the game lasted 30 minutes (13 turns)
- initial weather was: (start)/Rain/Sun followed by sun, rain, rain, rain, sun, fog, sun, sun, sun, rain, (rain), (sun) (last two not used)
- scoring:
- buildings = 58
- track = 18
- bonus cards = 101 (see photo)
- survey = 1
Total = 178 points

Aaargh! I did WORSE despite keeping my train! (sad face). I ran out of my marker cubes triggering game end BUT the state of the Stock Yard / cubes in the bag meant that the game would've almost certainly finished in the next round anyway (the game laying the last piece of track). I'm content that 16 marker cubes is enough - I was more selective about what I completed this time (a lot of good that it did me!).

Cycling ALL cards at the end of the round works well - a couple of times there were TWO bonus cards I wanted and you're only able to take one!

A couple of times I took and converted/built with resources to put more cubes back in the bag to dilute the event cubes...

Question: 6 cubes per round into the stock yard might be too many?

I would really love to hear how you guys get on with the solo game (with train no.1 to start) - fancy giving it a go (it only takes 40 mins including set-up and take-down)?

Best wishes,
Tony

(and I even included a game end snapshot)


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Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:03 pm
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Always use 'protection'

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Ooh, look what just arrived:



Mooo-vellous Pfister goodness!


But look how it was packed:



All those itty-bitty bits - Gah!


No way was I going to try and cajole the thing out of that sea of polystyrene; just think of the carpets! No, I had to wander off and find the wheelie bin and tip it out, unceremoniously. I suppose I could've found a plastic bag and decanted the thermoplastic polymer into it for later re-use but, really, the mess: always 'the mess'!

There is, of course, an excellent choice of transportatative protectatorial bufferage resources but which one is, truly, the best? It's been a while, so I thought I'd whip my Poll out:

Poll
Packaging is as much an integral part of our hobby as picking pubic hairs off the game board or comfortable slippers...but which 'form' is your favourite?
As the recipient, what is your favourite form of postal/courier service protective packaging?
Bubblewrap...because it's one of Man's greatest inventions after the Wheel, Writing and Bacon. In fact, the item delivered can remain ignored for days at a time when da wrap has been employed!
Plastic curls...because they look like the UK's favourite cheese-flavoured puffed-corn snack 'Wotsits' (Cheetohs to you foreign types) and are always good for amusing 'bowl of mid-game snacks' prankage!
Inflated Rectanguloid Blisters...because they make excellent neck-pillows for those suffering whiplash/trampolines for an adventurous guinea pig
A million tiny shards of electrostatically-attracted plastic...because I absolutely adore housework/I am a pig who cares nothing for my personal or environmental wellbeing.
Scrunched-up newspapers/magazines...because that's what my parents used and my grandparents before them, dammit! You also get a pretty good idea of the Seller's politics by flattening, ironing and then reading the material which - naturally - affects the feedback one provides subsequently eg. Daily Mail = No stars, The Guardian = 3 stars, Knave Readers Wives 1985 = 5 Stars (things were bushier back then) etc
No packaging at all...I like to live dangerously/gain a sexual thrill from dents & dings/trust that MyHermes respect their customers and are wholly-bound by their Duty of Care (ie. I am an twat)
None of the Above...I'm only here for the swearing (of which there has been precious fucking little, lately).
      250 answers
Poll created by tonyboydell

P.S. If you liked my Poll then please do feel free to thumb it.
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:26 pm
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Peace & Quiet

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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This week, the house is dark and silent when I leave for work because it's the half-term holidays. Normally I would bump in to one son (and be berating another for not getting up) but now they're allowed to slumber on. It's a lonely moment unlocking the front door, sliding out to the chilly pre-dawn and closing/locking as quietly as possible; I did it all the time in the prime of my London working, setting off at 0500 to get to High Wycombe in time for the 0730 to Marylebone. Sometimes I'll pull over on a remote road, wind down the window and just listen to the countryside waking itself; just for a couple of minutes, mind you, I'm not a weirdo!

It's poetic and beautiful at that time of day; empty, peaceful. As one approaches 'work', of course, the dribbling spring becomes a stream becomes a foaming river of urgency, fuss and noise! At lunch, I like to lock myself away with a sandwich and a book; recapturing, just for a brief period, the sanctuary of the day's intimate beginning.

Home, then, at the close, to lock the doors and pull the curtains across. The World is a loud, confusing and terrifying place, currently, and the less time I spend directly 'in it', the better TBH.

Oh, my poor wobbling tum-tum.
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Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:29 am
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Blink and you'll miss it.

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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How life quickly passes by, dear friends; and I was forcefully reminded of the fact, this week, by a double-whammy! Firstly, the following pic popped up on Social Media via the medium of a Timehop:



Arthur, then three, and I used to go on (Fri)day trips (when I should've been WFH) to nearby towns for lunch and, wherever possible, cake; shops would be browsed, bridges traversed and castles explored - we even made it up to Worcester on the train one time! Monmouth, Ledbury, Hereford, Cheltenham, Newport, Abergavenny, Ross-on-Wye, Cinderford, Malvern, Coleford, Chepstow...all were visited by the Dad 'n Arty Dynamic Duo in search of cheap paperbacks, toys and an excellent victoria sponge.



Yesterday, whammy 2, we gathered in a chilled and misty field in the Forest of Dean to celebrate Arthur's forthcoming (Wednesday) 9th (ninth) birthday; school pals, big brothers and his old Pa suited up and spent a couple of slippery, damp but exhilarating hours shooting at each other with Laser Rifles from behind fences, ditches and burnt-out vehicles!


Just call me Deadshoteye...


Catch the Flag, 'VIP Extract' and straight-up Team vs Team turkey shoots! 120 minutes of the very plush 'toy gun' telling you 'Hit Confirmed' or 'Kill Confirmed', clicking due to an empty (virtual) ammo clip and/or screaming in agony when you'd got one-too-many headshots and needed to respawn. It was brilliant - I felt like I was nine again myself...until I looked around and saw my youngest bud: so tall, so smart and so grown up.



Unlike 2011, he no longer holds my hand when we need to cross the road; however, despite an afternoon of war games and swapping kill stats with his mates, he still cuddled up on the sofa with me when we all watched The Life of Pi (the Tiger effect is amazing and scary)!

I am savouring every rare minute because if one blinks, one will have missed it.
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Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:25 am
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Givin' 'em out like sweets

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in-between, it is with an acceptable amount of pleasure that I welcome you to this year's Tony Awards; an annual (starting now and probably never progressing to a second instantiation because it's a LOT of work buffing up those trophies and re-covering the knackered faux-velvet seats) appreciation of the board gaming hobby's achievements in the year just gone.

Never being one to reinvent the wheel, the eminent Tony Committee - staffed by industry luminariesy, game designers and media types - follow the typical category pattern though, due to the rising cost of Brass and cloudy perspex obelisks, the awards for 'Best Box Fart', 'Longest Rulebook Credits Section' and 'Most Pretentious Theme' have been discontinued. So, without further ado: order yourself a takeaway meal, get Facebook up in your mobile device and settle down for

The 2017 Tony Awards


Best Strategy Game
And the nominees are: Terraforming Mars, The Networks, Railroad Revolution, Roundhouse, Bugger My Monkey (2nd Ed), Scythe and The Colonists.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Bugger My Monkey (2nd Ed)!
Better production values, a clearer rule book (from Josh Groban at Rules of Vids Gaming) and still all the fun of the original card-drafting, tower-building, 'worker takement' Euro - which remains, STILL, the only Euro to include a see-saw!

No, I'm joking of course; the answer is really: Terraforming Mars


Best Thematic Game
And the nominees are: Terraforming Mars, This Game Is On Fire!, Scythe and Adrenaline.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This Game Is On Fire!
Tear off the shrink, carefully lift the hermetically-sealed lid and you will see this corking auction-driven, area controller's attention to detail spontaneously-combust in your hands upon exposure to the air! Nothing gives you more of an experience of what it's like to have a lapful of burning cardboard than this! Look out for the expansion - This Expansion Is Also On Fire! - later in the year!

Again, I'm yanking on your chain! The answer is really: Terraforming Mars


Best Family Game
And the nominees are: Costa Rica, Fabled Fruit, Granny's Big Bag of Toffees That Smell of Wee, Kodama: The Tree Spirits, Mondrian: The Dice Game, Ominoes and Gooseberry.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Kodama: The Tree Spirits
You thought we'd go for the 'Wee' game, didn't you? Well, that'll teach you to try and double-guess the committee! Kodama is physically-pleasing in aspect (pretty components, pretty 'on the table') and rules-lite yet sufficiently meaty.


Best Card Game
And the nominees are: Fabled Fruit, Handy Chris's Deck Suppository and Kodama: The Tree Spirits.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Fabled Fruit!
Colourful, devious, engaging, interactive and smart...Handy Chris's Deck Suppository only just missed out to the green-haired goblin's damage-less legacy larks.


Best Artwork/Presentation
And the nominees are: Scythe.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Scythe
Nothing else comes close to the astonishing physical glory of this magnum opus.


Best Expansion
And the nominees are: Concordia: Gallia/Corsica, Snowdonia: Fuck You, Dr Beeching!, Oh my Goods: Blah Blah Im Wotsit and Scythe: Visitors from Afar.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Agricola Expansion for 5-6 Players!
Because I helped check the wording, tweak some effects and - most importantly - make sure none of the card names had a rude double-meaning in English!


Most Innovative
And the nominees are: Adrenaline, The 2016 Advent Calendar, Vast: The Crystal Caverns,

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Adrenaline
Forty five minutes of blast 'em, hilarious, high octane, video-game fun as plastic and paper! Where else can you chainsaw your Grandpa and then set fire to the room as you leave?


Best Podcast
And the nominees are: The Perfect Information Podcast, Who Dares Rolls, Heavy Cardboard and Uncle Fusty's Grunting Review Thing (the 2016 're-boot').

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Perfect Information Podcast
More than any other, I eagerly await every alternate Monday when this pops up on my subscription feed. That will change, of course, as I am but a fragile and fickle individual BUT (for now) I am delighted to welcome Ben and Georgios in to my (ear) canal.


And so, ladies and genderpeeps, we come - finally - to the most important award of them all: the Board Game of The Year!

For the last time, the nominees are: Terraforming Mars, Great Western Trail, The Colonists, Railroad Revolution, Roundhouse, Scythe and Adrenaline.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Guilds of London!



Wait...what?!

Oi, Tony!!!!

(descends in to chaos, shouting, recriminations and protracted Legal Action)


(the REAL answer is, of course, Scythe)


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Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:40 am
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I only wanted something else to do but hang around

Anthony Boydell
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Smudge handbrake-turned the hatchback in to the Prince of Wales pub car park - the passenger door simultaneously swinging open - and decanted an adrenalised Boffo on to the thick gravel. He hit the ground, running, his enormous carry-all slung across his back, Smudge calling after him: "Go! Go! Go!". There was a cascade of stones as the car reversed on to the main road, crunched in to forward gear and squealed off down the hill in a cloud of atomised rubber!

Apparently, she had to "go to the Theatre to sort out the lighting but I suspect this was just an allusion to nipping off to catch a screening of Middle Class gusset-trembler Fifty Shades Darker. This left Boffo, still sweat-soaked from leopard-crawling across the Beer Garden, myself and Jobbers occupying 'the round table' for some Friday evening games.

First up, because I'd brought it with me and am currently a bit obsessed with it, was play-testing Foothills (A Snowdonia Joint) (formerly AKA The Great Little Trains of Wales). Boffo watched while Jobbers and I danced a cautious dance: a few more thoughts about Surveyor Action distribution had occurred to me earlier in the day, which played out very pleasingly, but I'm still a bit worried about how the sole Excavation space is leading to inevitable mandatory responses ie. because there is only ONE space for worker to occupy BUT many lines against which the excavation can be applied, players are always driven to gamble on a Build action as first placement (which comes after the digging in resolution order) otherwise the excavating player is gifted free-reign. There have also been periods of total excavation lock-down in all the games I've (seen) played, so it's an important niggle to eliminate (one way or the other); I think I might add a second excavate space...

Two pints, and an hour in, Boffo muttered that he'd quite like to play a game himself; we were almost done anyway and, with me taking the win by a single veep and Jobbers pronouncing that it was "fucking brilliant!", we moved on to a game thoroughly-detested by Smudge but adored by the rest of us:


Suburbia (aka Hex & The City!)


I love the way this game flows: Jobbers' first action was to build a Nuclear Waste site (border) for the quick income boost but then found himself slowly-but-surely running out of cash and ended the game on -5 income and fizzling. Unfortunately, his crash also kibosh-ed my personal goal (fewest non-lake tiles - he resorted to building only lakes while I still needed 'real stuff') and left Boffo free to hoover up green parks to win three goals (to my one); the final margin, just five points, highlighting what a splendid little tussle this was! Personally, my Water Purification plant - costing me $50+ in total (initial build then 2x build) - gave me a massive boost leaving me maxed out on both tracks (REP and INC) twice!

Quote:

Dear Ted Alspach,

Suburbia is a work of complete genius!

Love from,
Tony, Jobbers and Boffo xxx


It was still quite busy in the Pub and, despite being overheard and giggled-about on an adjacent table, we three proceeded smartly to the evening's closer:


Fleet:
I'm all 'bout that (Sea) Bass, 'bout that (Sea) Bass, no turbot


Despite me accruing a Dunkirk-sized flotilla of Tuna, Cod and Processing vessels, I could only come a close second to Jobbers' proficient piscine performance; Boffo, newly-joined by a flushed-looking Smudge (three hours spent c-clamping her spot, extending the end of a Prong Base and frosting her Fresnel) floundered in last plaice *ahem*

It was late. It was cold. We went home.
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Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:56 am
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Number-crunching and cross-referring!

Anthony Boydell
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Last night, just before going to bed, I got distracted: work proceeds, apace, with my and Boffo's specifically two-player Snowdonia variant aka 'Foothills', aka 'The Great Little Trains Of Wales'. Boffo's initial layout had six railway lines as a fixed tableau, whereas I - wanting to mix things up - have sneaked two important-but-missing lines back in (Snowdon Mountain and the Vale of Rheidol); this allows for some interesting setup variability, of course, so I did some calculations. Here's a little peek inside one of the more satisfying 'puzzle-solving' aspects of game design; I had a similar amount of check/cross-check/balancing fun when working out the game-end bonuses & associated scores for the original Snowdonia contract cards:



See below for the 'Key' to this illustration!


Step 1:
I needed to find out how many UNIQUE combinations of setup the eight railway lines would offer when using six-at-a-time; the answer, thanks to a quick online calculator, is twenty eight (28). As luck (!) would have it, there are 27 station cards and a reference card in the components, so this means each one could have it's own 'random setup template' on the back!

Step 2:
Now, I _could_ just allocate each starting template to a random card BUT then it would be messy if a setup referred to the line of which that setup card was a part - this would lead to hunting around, forgetting and so on! So, to facilitate things I allocated the backs to the station cards in such a way as no card has a setup referencing it's parent railway line. Bingo! Nice easy process: pick a card and set it aside; look for all the stations on those lines from those remaining in the pack!

Step 3:
The next thing was to sort out the Contract Cards; the CCs are used for messing with the Work Rate _during_ the game and also for game-end scoring; some are general and some key-ed to specific stations and/or Lines. It's no use players drafting CCs that cannot be fulfilled because their criteria aren't in play. So, for each setup (28, remember), I took out the affected CCs and also checked the distribution of Work Rate Adjustments on the remaining CCs to see if any horribly-skewed games would result eg. too much 'rain' and 'fog' would lead to players never being able to excavate! Each setup template now comes with a list of numbered CC cards 'to remove before play'.

It was an incredibly satisfying hour!
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Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:52 am
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