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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9127 steps

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Ziggy needed a walk and, because there's only so much of him staring mournfully in to your soul one can stand, I took him for one. Across the busy main road and off towards Oxenhall and the remains of a railway where (last time) Arthur and I found a large, rusted iron 'pin' of some description.



Ziggy the dog is no use when it comes to 'geophysics' as a stick and a metal bar are equal currency and both pale in interest next to fresh fox-shit or a tree where a squirrel has been within the last 7 days!



Walking along the track bed towards the old Newent station site - a route I'd not discovered before - there was much earth-working in progress (but not today); if I were a car boot seller I could make a few quids selling all of the shovels and pick axes that were strewn about the place. I thought a good workman always looked after his tool?!



Large, gridded fencing barred my way in to the platform area itself but there was just enough room for Ziggy to squeeze under and have a good nose-sniffy around. Neither did he retrieve a comically over-large bone nor did he happen upon some children stuck down a well; indeed, he left a little extra "mud" of his own behind instead.

Home for some chai tea and the pleasing sight of 9127 steps racked up in the Fitbit: steady, hearty exercise for both man and dog.
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Today 6:45 am
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Founding Fishers

Anthony Boydell
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How excited we were when we gathered at The Plough Inn! With Boffo and Smudge celebrating their 10th Wedding anniversary, it was - appropriately - just the usual four of us for endoftheweek gaming and it would be a corker. There was a palpable expectation in the air and the reason for that would become clear after we'd notched up yet another club game of the outstanding Nusfjord:



As you can see from the pic (above), I played a 'No Boats' strategy and, instead, leeched off Jobbers and Smudge through my extensive share portfolio! The in-game murmurings were occasionally broken by a Boffonian "You'll not get your hands on my holdings!" and it came down to 'big buildings' in the final reckoning: Boffo (36), Smudge and I tied on 32 and Jobbers slipping on a stray herring at the back with 29. The more eagle-eyed of you may have already noticed that the buildings on my board are not from the regular decks (Pilchard, Sea Bass and Minnow...or whatever the heck they are); instead, these are from the forthcoming 2018 expansion (!) which I obtained from my good pals at Lookout Games. It's a new standalone fishy deck and offered some lovely effects though quite a lot of the 'A' cards are worth 0VP which elicited a few grumbles. No matter, it was an excellent game with some excellent new cards and we love it more with every play.



The second game is one that we've been hanging on with bated breath for since I acquired a copy around Christmas: Charterstone. There was a moment at the end of Nusfjord where we might've just reset it and played again BUT the (unusual, slightly threatening) spark in Boffo's eyes indicated that we must bite the bullet and get a-Legacying! The mood was positively fizzing as we began the Game 1 process of (in turns) retrieving and reading cards, sticking things in the Chronicle (rulebook) and on to the board; even our struggles to open the shrink-wrapped decks caused good-natured hilarity rather than the usual sarcasm. Our first run was tentative; not because it was complex (it isn't - it's a smooth, clean WP engine...so far!) but because not having ALL of the rules at the start just feels really ODD! Early cards begged answers to our questions that would be answered a little later ("Do we name our Charters now?", "What's a Guest?" etc); as seasoned gamers, it felt frustrating not to have all the info up-front. However, the air of anticipation never faded in the 75 minutes as more and more of this strange world was revealed to us: brilliant.



The closer - Capital Lux - was a little disappointing; Boffo didn't take to it (all of his good will seemingly poured in to Charterstone leaving but a husk) and the other two were decidedly 'Meh'; following Jamie's new hotness is going to be a tough task, I think - all the more reason to fill an evening just playing it and nothing else?!



Postscript: Jobbers liked Charterstone so much that he purchased a copy on his phone the moment we'd finished playing; Boffo pronounced that he would be acquiring one in the near future too. I worry that I may have been dreaming all of this - will somebody pinch me, please?
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Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:57 am
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Rules are made to be broken

Anthony Boydell
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Playtesting is a funny old business: sat around a table with some pals, some drinks and nibbles and the clear water of a couple of hours ahead of you to devote to 'just this!'. Lovely.

Today - right now, in fact (3PM on a Friday) - a different sort of playtesting is going on; only it's 120 miles away and someone else is running it:



Paul Grogan is excellent at what he does and he's doing it rather a lot of the time for rather a lot of people in the games industry! Paul is editing (ie. re-writting, laying out and generally sanitising) the rule book for A Nice Cup of Tea and has a group of peeps (none of whom I know) sitting down for their first game 'alone'. Paul gives them the latest rules and sits back to observe their explanation, their referencing and their general completeness of understanding. I sit at the end of Facebook Messenger to answer anything that 'comes up'. Twenty minutes in and there have been one false alarm and two legitimate 'spots'...and I've just chewed the top off my nice gel pen!

Right, must go now...something just went 'ping' in another browser tab...

gulp

Edit: In game shot!

(courtesy of Paul)
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Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:02 pm
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Terraforming M'arse

Anthony Boydell
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Imagine my delight upon arriving at the Llandudno digs to find a couple of cup-cakes reclining upon the Boydellian billet:



There's nothing like sucking on a creamy muffin in a Hotel room.


Just the one game tonight (last night) in murky Prestatyn and no supermoon to light up the hills or sparkle off the waters and windmills of Colwyn Bay. The Facebook group has been alive with banter all week and we were staring down the barrel of a six-er, despite St.Valentine's Day robbing us of a couple of regulars...though not, as you will see, the sitting in a tree / k.i.s.s.i.n.g Yvonne and Daffydd who - because we'd decided on multiplayer Terraforming Mars - couldn't be kept at bay for (chocolate) love* nor (champagne) money! No, but the group was fizzing with speculation as to what colourful boxes would be vomited forth for the shoving of dobbers, the chitting of chits and the tapping of wood upon Hex. Would it be Mansions of Madness? Could it be Agricola? Should it be Terraforming Mars? Dould it be Snowdonia? Quould it be Clans of Caledonia? Or Giaiaiaiaia Project? Or Fould Chain Magnate? Ah, F.C.M - how much strife didst thine initials cause! George, nervously-babbling his typed mental anguish, was simultaneously talking himself in to the session and out of the session; he mis-typed F.C.M as F.G.M**, tried to joke it off and then all Hell broke loose! Well, not Hell exactly (though it got a bit sweaty) and George had to retire, injured! Bernie had cried off earlier after an apparently terrifying 'haunted' jog around the Orme, so that left just four: the ever-dependable Ed, the love-birds and me.



Elysium and Venus Next with ALL of the cards and no 'easy start'; I plumped for some Venusian pioneers and spent the first four rounds of the game dropping floaters and asteroids, which set me up beautifully to snatch two of the three Milestones! Turning my attention to Mars itself - sometimes I forget this most basic of requirements - I pumped out oceans and forests and cities with relative ease to push my total to a career best 91 points. It was almost entirely multi-player solitaire too, apart from me dropping a series of big-ass rocks on to Ed's saplings and laughing maniacally - I love this game so very much.

However, the most important news of all (in today's blog) is that it is Arthur's 10th birthday; double-figures for my gaming pal and my favourite son whose name begins with 'A':


Happy birthday, my darling boy; happy, HAPPY birthday!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!


*Um...
**Female Genital Mutilation
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Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:20 am
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Bluebell brainstorm

Anthony Boydell
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In 1877 an Act of Parliament authorised construction of the Lewes and East Grinstead Railway (L&EGR), now known as the Bluebell Railway. My dear pal Peter was working on this as a Snowdonia scenario up until his death - far too young - last year; indeed, our final messaging session (a month before) covered his progress. Nothing will erase the deep sadness I felt when his 5 year old daughter stepped up to his coffin to say her final farewell but, hopefully, this will be my tribute to him. So, today, I'm running a sort of stream of consciousness exercise where I cut and paste various snippets of history, gossip and curiosity in and around The Bluebell Railway; you can see how I go about connecting the theme to the mechanics - first, I start with the stations:

1. East Grinstead (Low Level) - it was built/rebuilt a couple of times in the first years of the BBR operation, so I'd like to reflect that in the gameplay.

2. (Hill Place Viaduct) - I love a good viaduct, so re-using the viaduct scoring from the Wye Valley Tourer would be perfect; in fact, if I treat BBR and WVT as a scenario pair, one could be on the back of the other.

3. Kingscote - this was a posh station by all accounts: the lavish main station building was designed as a two-storey villa with a T-shaped footprint, with a single storey wing each side: booking office and toilets to the north; waiting room and storage to the south.[1] All of this structure was fronted both sides by a timber-supported hipped canopy, which like all of the other buildings carried a hipped slate roof.[1] The station had substantial sidings and a livestock loading dock located just to the north of No.1 platform.[1] The downside No.2 platform was connected to the main buildings by a 50 feet (15 m) glazed footbridge, and had a similar timber-supported canopy which fronted a wooden waiting room. Need some lucrative building spots, I think, to tempt the more creative Snowdonian navvy.



4. West Hoathly (above) – had the same station set-up as Kingscote, apparently, so this is a perfect candidate for a 4-5 player 'extra' with the same lucrative stats as it's twin.

(Sharpthorne Tunnel) - use a tunnel card or two from the WVT; there is a rumour of the tunnel being haunted.

5. Horsted Keynes - a vanilla station with nothing surprising.

6. (Fletching and) Sheffield Park - built for one of the railway's big-wigs, the Park played host to 9 professional cricket fixtures including several encounters with the visiting Australian team! This is an absolute MUST for the scenario's "twist" - more later!

7. Newick and Chailey – A legal loophole forced British Rail to run a meagre service to this station even though the rest of the line was being closed down in the 1960s; it was called "The Sulky Service" but this happens way too late in the line's history to be of use in the scenario. Ah, well.

(Cinder Hill Tunnel) - use a tunnel card or two from the WVT.

8. New Barcombe – another vanilla station.

9. Lewes - a disappointingly ordinary end to the Line. This displeases me immensely! Edit: see below - there is some AWESOME history for Lewes!

Anyway, anti-climax aside, the quick pass above yields several potential new mechanisms/tweaks:

The double-building of East Grinstead (Lower Level)
It would be quite fun to have station card that flips (via the first Station Build Event) and keeps player markers from before but presents new spaces to build on afterwards ie. 'side 1' spaces would all be worth the same VPs and there'd be a holding space on 'side 2' to transfer them to.

The Sharpthorne Tunnel Ghost
Maybe I could get a phantom third worker to make an appearance during the building of the tunnel(s)? To be honest, pretty much EVERY bloody railway tunnel is supposed to be haunted though.

The Sheffield Park Cricket Matches
The first match played was Lord Sheffield's XI vs Alfred Shaw’s XI in 1881; it would be great to find a way of using players' workers as cricket players in a sort of 'Practice' match triggered by an Event. A later event could be the 'proper' match vs the Australians (1896). I'll have to go off and think about this but maybe a couple of extra action cards to allocate workers to in a co-operative (vs game AI) side-game?

Edit: (after being corrected for my ignorance in the comments)

Quote:

Wow! Wikipedia neglected to mention this rich vein of history and mental Englishness!
Bonfire night in Lewes hosts seven bonfire societies from nearby towns and villages”: could have 6 versions of Lewes station on three double-sided cards with a different bonfire society on each side and a different setup of station spaces and bonuses? The HQs and the Churches (where they have one) could be two of the building spaces plus points if your Surveyor makes it to Lewes to take part in the bonfire (paying ‘coal’ to enter the space)?!
Cliffe (founded in 1853 - HQ is Dorset Arms, Church is St Thomas a Becket's; colours are black and white hoops – Vikings and Moors)
Commercial Square (founded in 1855 - HQ is Elephant & Castle pub, Church is St John sub Castro; colours are gold and black hoops – Native Americans and Civil War soldiers)
Lewes Bonfire Society (founded in 1853 – HQ is St Mary’s Social Club, Church is St Anne’s; colour are blue and white hoops – Zulus and Tudors)
Southover (HQ is The King’s Head, Church is St John the Baptist’s; colours are red and black hoops – Monks and Buccaneers)
South Street (founded 1913- HQ is The Snowdrop; colours are brown and cream hoops – Colonial period and English Civil War soldiers)
Waterloo (HQ is The Lamb Inn; colours are red and white hoops – Mongols, Ancient Greeks and Romans)
Nevill Juvenile (founded 1967) A bit too recent for our line’s story!


More than enough to be going on with, I think.
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Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:30 am
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Here Be Dragons!

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Tucked up safe and warm in the toasty comfort of Room 4 (or "The Boydell Suite" as it is now known) of my Llandudno digs, I can hear the storm howling outside and I am glad. For the third week running I have been able to avail myself of the generous company of The Snowdonia Dragons and later, as the wind whips along the back alleys pressed up against the mighty Orme, repair to my laptop for the write-up. I couldn't just make a nest of the many pillows and drop off immediately; no, indeed, I must empty my head of the day's events first.

To start, I'd prepared the way (via the BGG Guild) for a play test of my Snowdonia:Wye Valley Tourer expansion which, originally, started life as 'the B side' to a smaller Darjeeling and Himalaya scenario. The Wye Valley Tourer adds tunnels (co-opted by the recent 1881 Channel Tunnel), a couple of lucrative-the-more-you-build 'bridge' cards and the drinking of tea. With a postcard of 'bonuses', you send your Surveyor up and down the valley in search of delightful tourist spots in which to sup a brew - provided it's not raining - which, in turn, allows you to 'tick off' your postcard in return for points and/or bonus resources or actions.


Sarah, Bernie and Ed take a break from all that hard work!


It was a slow start with quite a lot of rain (ie. almost ALL rain) that cleared up in to a scorching Summer; the four of us drifted off along different paths (Sarah: a bit of everything including a tie for the most tunnel sections, Me: failing to complete my contract cards but clearing my Postcard, Ed: Track and Tea and Bernie: the Tunnel and Track King). We were done in 90 mins and, for a play-test, I thought it went excellently; the three 'new bits' worked smoothly, it's now down to a re-scanning of the contract cards to sort out a couple of minor inconsistencies! The aim is to have it ready for the forthcoming 3rd Edition Kickstarter campaign (Summer, I believe) along with a little tribute to my pal Peter: "The Bluebell Line".

The table in the opposite corner had finished it's Altiplano shenanigans, so we were able to mix things up a bit; in the end we seemed to have only swapped Ed for Aaron, so it was back to our table for a daft WP-ish filler from the makers of the excellent The King of Frontier:


Little Town Builders: King of Frontier 2?!


In summary: place a worker on the board in a free space and then gain resources from the 8 spaces around you OR spend resources to build and place a building. As the game progresses those 8 spaces will cover your buildings and those of other players; in the latter case you must pay the owner $1 to use that building's effect. Buildings are worth points, conversion of resources into points can be done on buildings, secret goals can be attained in-game for points and money is also VPs (3:1). You play four rounds, feeding your workers fish/grain at the end of each one, and then you see who has the most points.

Quick and fun, this is another daft gem from the East; I'm not sure I'd pay 60 euros + postage for it, but it was a hoot nonetheless.

Plenty of time to go yet, so one went up to one's elbows in Bernie's bag to tug out a couple of trinkets; firstly, something with quite a good rep from all I've heard and read:



In summary: Play cards from your hand to your tableau OR to a central 'Capital' that matches the suit (there are four). If you play to a capital, you gain a bonus of some kind (a gold, a card draw, a secret modifier or a low card from a capital); if you play to your tableau, you're setting up majority scoring at the end of each of the three rounds AND your final total too. The trick is to avoid the total value of cards in a suit in your tableau exceeding the total value of cards played to the matching capital in the middle of the table: if you do, you might be in line for scoring bonuses, if you don't you lose all of your collected cards in that suit!

A clever little decision brewer, I thought it would go down well 'at home' so I offered to buy it from Bernie (who had previously mentioned he wasn't likely to play it with 'just two'); he paused for a moment and then simply handed it to me as a gift - how utterly wonderful, how stupendously civilised!

I repaid this fulsome generosity by crushing him at our final game: DragonFlame...


In summary: It's Coloretto with special abilities and mixed scoring opportunities!


While the others were fighting over chests and 'hard VP' treasures, my Wyvern burned up a series of villages and amassed a collection of unique statuary for a comfortable victory; not even a vindictively-donated -3 point Knight from Sarah could dent my Smaugian triumph.

Next week I shall be training folk in Merthyr Tydfil and my Wintry sojourn of gaming luxury will come to an end. I'll be back in the Spring, though, which is something very much to look forward to!
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Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:30 am
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If at first you don't succeed: chai, chai again.

Anthony Boydell
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Okay, so I don't know why the bloody thing is in Portrait because I held the phone in Landscape throughout; I blame iOS 10 or whatever the Hell downloaded itself and arsed up my logins and apps and everything. I wonder if Apple are deliberately releasing shit just to make Steve Jobs spin in his grave because they've hooked his remains up to a turbine so they can harness the energy. Or something.

Anyway, don't let some slack-backsided coder spoil your enjoyment of an otherwise utterly-professional and wholly seamless promotional 'setting up the game' video for A Nice Cup of Tea*...





...which, incidentally, probably won't be called 'A Nice Cup Of Tea' because it's a bit 'on the nose' for Brits but no-one else. Actually, does anyone fancy suggesting an alternative name? There could be a very cool prize in it!

*I originally made this for Paul 'Gaming Rules!' Grogan who is sorting out the ANCOT rules with me
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Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:40 am
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From Travels to Travails

Anthony Boydell
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Have you ever had one of those weeks? You know, when you get to play games and watch stuff on Netflix and have a nice takeaway meal and enjoy a bit of Wintry weather...while one of your children has a car accident (safe, though!) - with all of the resulting paperwork and phone-based arse-ache - and another one is having a pre-GCSE meltdown and all of that shit has to be dealt with by your Missus? I'm sure we've all been there #PMSC. We'd all reached an element of peace by Friday (I was returnèd from my travels Thursday evening) and I was able to nip out for some (more) games.

Byll joined us, once more, to fill in the early-evening absence of Becky (theatre stuff) and Ben had - quite predictably - packed a number of things Becky don't like for us to guiltlessly devour. No surprises that first up was Suburbia:


Red pulls away - quite comprehensively - in the final summation.


An odd game, this, albeit a return to form for myself and Ben after Jobbers' recent (uncharacteristic) clobberin'. With my 'Fewest Grey Buildings' secret goal and public goals for 'Most Blue' and 'Fewest Yellow', I managed to quietly back away from Grey and Yellow under the guise of 'Gotta take the Waterfront Realty's and within a couple of rounds those public goals were safe in my possession provided I could keep finding non-grey and non-yellow things to do on my turns. This proved more difficult given a dearth of blue buildings in the middle 40% of the game which turned my attention to (a little) lake building but full-on spending of my 2x tokens: this was more than enough to boost my Reputation Income such that I kept pace with an equally-accelerating Ben. And all the while there was a guaranteed 40 points of end-game scoring coming my way!

A text assured us that Becky was imminent, so we rattled out a Sackson classic (previously unplayed by myself): BuyWord



In summary: roll a die and draw that many letter tiles from a bag. Count the pips and pay 'the square' to keep all the tiles OR discard the whole lot. Play out words from your pool of tiles and gain 'the square' of the word's pip count in revenue: as long as you 'buy small' and 'play long', you'll make a profit.

Byll managed to fettle about with the clattery tiles (accompanied by his characteristic audible internal monologue) and make more of a profit than the rest of us, though Jobbers' saucy arrangements elicited a titter-or-two.

Becky arrived and we set up a five-player Aegyptus-mapped Concordia (Ben spending a few minutes nose-deep in the rules pamphlet to work out some of the 'tweaks'). It's a tight starting zone and I missed a double-city build (going 4th) which let Jobbers get it instead; I then realised that I was going to be a couple of turns (at least) before getting to architect anything of any potential use and sat staring at the board position without a clue of what to do next. My brain had seized and I couldn't see anything to get me moving again; with a sinking heart, I realised that I was going to spend the next 90 minutes frustrated and directionless - I couldn't face that joyless prospect (not least for the others who might've been subjected to my grumbling) and so begged my leave.

Mrs B was surprised at my early return but pleased that we could settle down - just we two - in front of some daft, Friday night TV. Gaming is often my sanctuary from worldly worries but, this time, Home was where I needed to be.
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Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:11 am
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More Breaking News!

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Hot off the announcement of Mayfair/Lookout/Mayout/Lookfair/whatever being acquired by Asmodee comes the announcement that - in a fit of over-exuberance and mis-filed paperwork, Asmodee has accidentally acquired itself:



The impact on the rest of the industry is, as yet, unknown...
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Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:02 am
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shortattentionspan

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Okay, so...like a teenager whose favourite band has split up with no chance of any further product apart from tiresome solo projects and interminable 'Greatest Hits' compilations, I have transferred my affections to The Next Big Thing. If this allusion is escaping you (well, I am being a bit coy with this long introduction) then I am, of course, talking about the recent "scaling down" of It Beats Watching The TV and my even-more-recent discovery of Everything that sucks! And some things that don't.:



I may be jumping the gun here but Christian has been jotting very regularly since mid-December so fingers crossed, eh? Come on board (like me) and see what the young lad has to say for himself.

"But what about IBWTT and Stuart B?" I hear you intone.

"Stuart, who?" I reply, lip* ever-so-slightly-a-tremble.

*stiff and upper
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Fri Feb 9, 2018 6:40 am
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