Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

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Testy McTestface

Anthony Boydell
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Another gamified weekend (that's the second one this year, already) with, this time, the good company of Mr Brettwell J. Gilberton. We're on to the next leg of hammering out The Great (Air) Race because recent independent test sessions have suggested we need to have a bit of a rethink. As per, Brett also brought another prototype along and some juicy goodies for the Boydell household:


Fussball!


First to arrive was young Stu Burnham bearing gamer snacks (which I can't eat because of my diet) and beers (which I can't drink because of my diet). No sooner had I popped the kettle on than the three of us were trying out Brett and Matt's 'abstract thread-maker':



It's a tiny bit Azul-ish but immediately had me thinking of a train theme: a line of bonus cards are stocked with 5 discs from a bag (five colours). On your turn take 1, 2 or 3 discs from an end card (carrying over in to the next card when that one is depleted, taking the depleted card too) and place it/them in to one space of your player board (see photo). If you take a single disc then you can 'split' any hex of >1 disc, sending the disc(s) of your choice in to adjacent spaces. Why? To connect colour spots on the outside of your board with that colour of discs in a line (straight or circuitous). At the end of the round, cash in any taken cards for bonuses and extra disc placements THEN score edge-to-edge connected lines. Scored lines use a disc at either end to cover the edge spot and wholly-completed segments of those edge spots score more points at the end of each remaining round. It plays very smoothly and I was pleased to have almost completed the entire border but I was pipped in to second by Stu.

Not much to feed back, really - apart from it being very clean - so we took advantage of an arrived Boffo and launched straight in to a pair of simultaneous Foothills:



Stu and I had a monstrously white-cube-heavy first game which was contrasted by a steady and normal-paced second. Brett and Ben struggled through their singleton being waylaid by Brett's anxiety about the card play; it's a mechanism that takes a little getting used to as you can't just race through the actions doing everything you want, one after the other. Forward planning and good attention to what your opponent is doing/can do is essential. The net result of their discussions was a win for Brett and a suggestion to build a set of 'starter' action cards for each player. For Stu and I? Well, he may chime in below with his thoughts...

A quick bite of lunch and then we flew from London to Dover and then from London to Paris. *Tchoh* Not really, dear friends; we were, of course, testing The Great (Air) Race Again, Stu may chip in a tuppence-worth but it was an incredibly valuable test generally: some nagging fears were (sadly) reinforced but a new direction was revealed - onwards and upwards.

The least said about the appallingly dumb Danse Macabre try-out, the better.

Ben had to go - something about Dancing - so fresh beverages were brewed and, at Arthur's suggestion, we treated Brett and Stu to the eclectic delights of The Black Overcoat Game:



Arthur enjoys the (many) opportunities for shenanigans that B.O.G presents and it was particularly funny when Stu took severe damage from a bomb and was then forced by the young tyke to pick that bomb up again, fatally, a turn later! Following the tradition that house guests seem to always win their first game of B.O.G, Brett raised the treasure chest high in game 1. We played again, straightaway, and it was Stu who found the treasure location first only to then get stuck in the Gardens trying to get his Jet Boots to work - this gave me enough time to shimmy up the front in my ballet shoes and race to the Guest Bedroom for victory!

Supper was a Mrs B classic Lamb Curry to which I only had to add some boiled brown rice (brown rice smells like a drain!) then we sneaked a quick Bärenpark (me, Brett, Stu) and a Nusfjord (joined by Arthur) before Stu had to go home:


Stu shows his appreciation for my robust score of 39. Arthur got a personal best of 32 (tied with Stu) and Brett scored the same as he did the night before: 31.


With Arthur safely snoozing, Brett and I chatted over the findings of the day and then retreated to the living room to watch Event Horizon with eldest lad Fred. Quite the productive session, all-in-all.
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Today 6:15 am
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A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Anthony Boydell
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Give me a moment to explain.

It's not what you think, honestly!

It didn't mean a thing to me; it was just a passing fancy:


Spoiler (click to reveal)


Look what I went and bought:



You see: it's customizable! It's Monopoly: Legacy!



With personalised, slot-able Property tags and Chance/Community cards, I'm gonna have a ball working up a Tony version: 'Tonopoly', if you will.





In fact, it would be a lot of fun to get my friends and fellow designers to assist with this defacement modification at the UK Games Expo!

If you're coming (or you're there with a Stand), feel free to stop by the SSG booth and scribble something: let's make this a real work of (f)Art!



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Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:35 am
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Hush!

Anthony Boydell
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This is one Hell of a piece of work: smart, tense and gripping. Movie of the year, for me, by some distance. Just: wow.
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Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:02 am
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The First Molkky of the Year

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Bollocks to 'the cuckoo'! You know it's the first proper day of Spring when you can get on to a grassy locale and lob your wood about in order to score. Despite the 'Pick up your dog's poo' signs, The Plough's beer garden was liberally strewn with stenchful canine turds - probably belonging to the ratty little fuckers that bother us every other Friday evening: big things come from small packages. Ben, Becky and Byll were already Molkky-ing but I, having arrived with Brett J. Gilbert and Dave from Ledbury, joined the lignum-launching a little later than I'd planned having been seized by violent stomach cramps. My temporary absence led to a pleasingly-diverse series of emetic puns but Brett, mercifully, saved us from the thickening tree pollen and cigarette smoke by finally knocking the bloody 11 over. We scurried inside for more cerebral things:



Spinning parallel Nusfjords, then splitting for Snowdonia (with Bärenpark) and Kraftwagen, it was a delicious Euro banquet that couldn't even be spoiled by the howling Darts/Skittles/Shove A'penny tournament going on in the Bar. Our brace of happy trios balanced stuff on/huddled over pairs of square and circular tables in Jobbers' absence - no John equals no jizzy trestle - and it all worked splendidly enough. Brett took to Kraftwagen like a duck to milky bread and positively trounced/pummeled/dominated Byll and Ben* whilst I managed an uncharacteristic mountain railway victory over the usually-dependable Becky. My tender tum also behaved itself for the remainder, which was mercy for everyone else more than it was a mercy for me TBH.

When we got back, the house was filled with teenage boys: Benedict and pals tenting in the garden with the attendant neighbour-bothering 2AM chatter and 3AM raid on oven fries. A trail of strewn grass clippings from back door to cooker / the down stairs loo recorded their Witching Hour wanderings the following morning (Saturday) and guess which 'muggins' had to clear it all up while they snoozed?! *sigh*

*flob-a-dob
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Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:15 am
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Two Castles

Anthony Boydell
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The route back from Llandudno gets really boring around Oswestry: dual carriageways and by-passes and nothing to see either side on the embankments. Thursday, for the second time in as many visits to the North I chose, instead, to avoid the mundane thoroughfares and keep heading directly South in to the middle of Wales. First to Welshpool, keep going until almost in Newtown then swing left to meet the back of the Marches.

Long, wide, green valleys and the bluest-of-blue skies on this wonderful afternoon had me hankering for a bijou diversion-upon-my-diversion and I spotted a sign for "Castell Caereinion". Oooh, a castle you say? Don't mind if I very much do! The only problem was that the village of Castell Caereinion has been without an actual castle since the 12th century, so it was back-navigating the lanes to the main road again with a bit of a sulk.

Approaching the Shire town of Montgomery from the East, however, and I was greeted by a sheer cliff face with the unmistakable tips of broken towers peeping out from the trees: I had found a castle...by accident!

Tucking the Touran under a shady branch at the top of the hill - it was bakingly hot by now - I followed the chalky path with the town stretched out below me, on the right, and the landscape stretching off in all directions. Wales felt very big today!



























Beautiful.
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Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:30 am
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Jobs

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:55 am
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Tales from the Red Table

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I sat scoffing my chicken pasta and stared out over the tide-well-out Prestatyn beach in the bright evening sunshine; a long-vaunted 'heatwave' finally arrived mid-morning and has been baking the population of North Wales throughout the rest of the day. The boiling orb brought with it a vigorous wind too so those (unfortunate enough to be) out jogging in the mid-20s temperatures* got themselves some easy evaporation. Young Promethean Ed - also early arriving and assuming he'd meet me in the Beach Car Park - ambled over and joined my contemplation of the horizon. His waterproof slacks rattled in the sea breeze. The Bay was conquered by a huge, blue sky and windmills twinkling in the distance and the only thing letting the poetic scene down were the muddy brown waves slapping on the damp sand.

Work, distance and/or illness have conspired to keep the attendance to a bare Ross-on-Wye-esque four with Mark and Paul joining us on the dot of 7PM and so we wasted no further time and got stuck in:



No prizes for what I was pushing tonight (40 points). It was also great to exploit Paul's love of Suburbia and snick another notch in my Alspachian bedpost. Tonight, alas, my performance with this hexy beast was less than optimal and I dribbled, limply, to a woeful third place. We closed with new-to-me Tiffin: an area control game that's a sort of cross between Ticket To Ride and Smash Up! but without all of the latter's grindingly-turgid 'ability' cascade. It was pleasant enough, if rather plain in it's presentation considering the theme of Dabawalas delivering curry to a busy city.

Hardly the baying hordes of Monday, then, but cosy enough to wile away a balmy April dusk.


*Celsius not Fahrenheit, you cheeky bleeders.
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Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:45 am
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the regular show

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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For the longest time it was just me and Eric Martin spamming the BGG landing page with our daily scribblings and then, four-or-so years ago we were joined by Stu Burnham and ‘It Beats Watching TV’. Stu and I share(d) an eclectic approach to our blogging – games, family, the World and/or whatever flotsam drifts across our Bow – and people seem to like that mixture. In recent months, several bloggers have ‘up’-ed their regularity and are forging forth with their daily posts in a similar vein; this is no mean feat (believe me) and I hope that they settle in to rhythm of it. The first 12 months are definitely the hardest!

Anyway, here are some other regular BGG blogs that I think you should subscribe to:

Browsing the Game World https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/6104/browsing-gaming-world
Alexandre seems to be playing lots of board games every single day and you can read about his experiences, impressions and other bits-and-bobs in his comprehensive posts. The photos are great too!

The Tyranny of Small Decisions
https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/1784/tyranny-small-decisions
John is a Brit (please don't hold that against him) and I am proud to have him as a Snowdonia expansion playtester in the past. Like Stu and me, he's going for a this, that and the other approach and has just completed his second full month of daily posting. Funny and insightful, you should take a look. Please note: he's going on a vacation soon, so his blogging mettle is about to be tested!

Thoughts by Bez
https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/7332/thoughts-bez
I think Bez is a true force of nature and, if you've ever met her at conventions, you'll agree whole-heartedly: she is quite the most exuberant, effervescent - and red! - individual I've met in recent years; Bez is overflowing with ideas and wants a proper conversation about game design. I behooves you to stop by and, perhaps, join in?

Notes from a Frustrated Gamer
https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/6056/notes-frustrated-gamer
(Very) Occasional attendee at the Ross-on-Wye club, Dave 'from Ledbury' Daffin is a lovely man and a big proponent of solo gaming. He loves Cricket and is a 2001: A Space Odyssey fan, so that's too more incontrovertible reasons to browse his musings. He's only just started, so please be gentle!

The Ross-on-Wye Boardgamers
https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/400/ross-wye-boardgamers
This is very much home turf and Ben 'Boffo' Bateson provides the alternative view (to mine) to the goings on at our tiny little club. Sometimes, the differences between my recollections and his are hilariously huge. The blog is usually served with a healthy side of ego-puncturing and good-natured mud-slinging for good measure.

Surya's Game Blah Blah
https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/936/suryas-game-blah-blah
Not prolific by any means but regular enough - with reports and ratings of his game plays - to keep up with the latest trends. Surya plays a LOT of games and is relatively open-minded which means his appraisals are pretty fair. Not much swearing and not many knob jokes here but an informative read nonetheless!

Everything that sucks! And some things that don't
https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/7061/everything-sucks-and-som...
Mentioned not too long ago, Christian loves his 'dudes on a map' and his 'minis' and his video games but, occasionally, likes to stray in to the world of Euros. His recent explanation of German versions of game names translated was eye-opening and utterly hilarious.

A Gnome's Ponderings
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blog/743/gnomes-ponderings
One of those rarified 1000+ers, Lowell's jottings cover a lot of lighter fayre and a goodly amount of PnP stuff too. This guy is a veteran!

*phew*

Quite a lot to get through, there! Be prepared for a fulsome coffee break catching up with this lot most days

Finally, if you want to hear my thoughts about gaming in 2017 then why not stop by Garrett's Games & Geekiness where Doug and I have our annual rambling chat: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/75921/garretts-games-...

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Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:30 am
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fishy on a little dishy

Anthony Boydell
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Our family - the in-laws and us - have booked our holidays for Summer 2018 and, in a huge break in tradition, we're NOT going to North Yorkshire: shock! horror! How will I cope without a railway to ride or places to walk?! Easy: we're going to Snowdonia! Yes, twelve of us have booked a cottage in the middle of nowhere - 20 miles from Blaenau Ffestiniog and about the same from Llanberis - so I think I've just answered that particular question. The aim will be to walk UP the mountain and catch the train back down again - though I'd better book it soon as the bloody thing is backed up for months. Of course, it also means that on Monday nights I could sneak out to join the Snowdonia Dragons or settle with the Prestatyn Prometheans on a Wednesday or spend Thursday evenings in the company of the Bangor crew...or all three?!

Last night, however, I settled for the first option and availed myself, in daylight, of The Mulberry on the Conwy Marina for some ludological distractioneering:


Another outing for Welcome to Centerville; this time taught to Philip, Aaron and Tom.


'Twas a brisk and breezy 60 minutes and a nail-biting final tot-up with Philip emerging victorious after a disastrous Round 1 (of 3). I'm not sure if they all liked it, though, as it was a relatively silent packing-away.

The table behind us had started light and then borrowed my copy of Nusfjord; during the lull in our Centerville die-rolling, I would glance over my shoulder and gaze enviously at the magnificent table-spread. When the reshuffle - and drinks restocking - had completed, I pulled Fjordy (as no-one is calling it) from my bag almost immediately after it had been put back in. An unusually-buzzing first floor delivered me three others to get a-fishin' in the form of Philip (again), Tom's wife Denise and new-arrival Melanie:


#badteacher Oh dear: 41 points.


Nusfjord is a pleasure to teach because there's not a lot of complexity to impart so, within 10 minutes, we were smoothly away. I eschewed any kind of boats and hoovered up enough shares to keep me well-supplied from the comfort of my harbourside bunker. Melanie (29pts) and Denise (32pts) made excellent use of Elders for building while Philip (25pts) surrounded himself in Forestry combos and spent the entire game taking his forests off his player board and then putting them back on again. I'm not sure I could love this game even more without bursting.

Philip chose something to close - remember that these Cambrians don't like to be out in the Witching hours - and it was his all-time favourite: 7 Wonders.


Just four points in it between first and last!


Another evening under my belt, then, and so back to the B&B through a ghostly Conwy Castle and up the riverside-running Deganwy road. Fortunately, there's just time - after jotting this blog down - for a pre-snooze chapter or two from today's bargain purchase:



It's all very civilized, isn't it?
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Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:45 am
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I believe the children are our future

Anthony Boydell
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(prompted by a niggling worry)

When children are brought to 'game things', I am acutely aware that peeps find this uncomfortable and not a little irritating; after all, this a grown-ups environment where grown-ups are playing grown-up things and speaking in a grown-up way - the last thing we want interrupting our chin-stroking and strategic planning is fidgety and inattentive youngsters!

The problem, though, is not the fidgeting and inattentiveness and the near constant demands for fizzy pop; no, the the problem is that they just don't have the experience in this style of game: the analysis, the forward planning, the assessment of risk, the necessary focus and the 'to-and-fro'. Drop them in to something medium-weight and the whole thing is skewed by their sometimes random and/or inefficient actions. People get fed up grumble phrases like "I came out to get away from the kids!" or "I'm not the bloody babysitter!". How, then, are they going to learn by actually doing if they're not given the opportunity to actually do?

The problem for a club such as Ross-on-Wye, as an example*, is that the attendee numbers are so small that there's generally no space for choice for anyone - there can only be one game at a time so it's going to be a heavier one...then the inexperience can take it's toll.

What, then, should one do? As a game player, designer and publisher my children have had their childhoods saturated in boardgames and yet they've not found the process any easier than 'the great unwashed'. The only answer is to keep bringing them along, to keep playing and playing and playing these games with them until they either decide it's not for them OR the gears click in to place (which they will and do and have done).

All of the above issues are faults with adults too; younger players don't have the monopoly on poor concentration, dumb moves and/or small-minded tit-for-tat retaliations!

Ultimately, I regard our child/children and us as an indivisible unit - if those around you can't support that concept then someone's gonna end up leaving. And that's no fun for anyone.

*please note that, for the record, the guys in Ross are an amazing group of tolerant and supportive gamers...at least they are to my face!
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Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:20 am
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