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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See ya later, alma mater!

Anthony Boydell
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I took Monday off so I could attend a graduation ceremony; this is the first graduation ceremony I've attended for over 20 years and only the second one - other than my own - that I've attended EVER! (so far).

Regular blogfollowers will know how my eldest, Alice, traveled halfway around the world for a 12 month placement and stayed on an extra year. Returning to complete her Marine Biology degree, she was on the point of giving it all up for more adventures but decided - in no way nagged or pressured by her parentals - to see it over the finish line. And aren't we all delighted she did: a BSc (Hons) 2:1 - huzzah!

Being a hippy chick, she was less enthused about the formalities of the graduation ceremony (and the £30 per ticket price tag PLUS the £50 for robe hire) but there's no better way to end a chapter of one's life and start another than with a bit of 'pomp'! Suffice it to say that I was so proud that I could've burst...which would've showered the other parents, guardians, siblings and carers in semi-digested grapes, yoghurt and thai noodles:


The best is yet to come (and it's been pretty 'best' so far!)
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Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:18 am
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I saw this and thought of you (2)

Anthony Boydell
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Someone should be more careful with the piping bag.
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Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:57 pm
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I was there

Anthony Boydell
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At the weekend I forced myself to clear out some old clothes; this is not my normal choice of activity as doing something with clothes and/or shopping for shoes shall be my eternal punishments in Hell. No, indeed; I've been following a diet since Easter and this has left me 3 Stones lighter and four trouser sizes slimmer, Consequently, much of my attire now hangs off me like a clown's costume - complete with comedy 'room for two' in some of my 'work troos'!

Thusly were all hangers and baskets and drawers decanted upon the bed for consideration with a startling discovery made under a pile of old Christmas jumpers:





There was an announcement on the news, so I high-tailed it to the landing and started speed dialing the ticket line; I was there for 45 minutes getting nothing but the beep-beep-beep of the 'engaged' tone until my bladder could take no more. I passed the phone to my Mum on the way to the bathroom and asked if she could try on my behalf...

First attempt: she got through!!!

By the time I'd flushed the chain and washed my hands, she'd put four x £26 tickets (£5 for the ticket, £20 donation plus £1 'handling charge') on her Barclaycard and I would be spending the next few months showing my gratitude doing odd jobs.

The job of allocating the extra tickets was straightforward in two instances: one each for my pals Mike and Mike. The spare ended up with fellow 6th Former 'Dom' because a) he was a lovely chap and b) his Dad lived in South Woodford (NE London) and could offer us a place to stay! We duly booked our Bus tickets and prepared for the concert of the Century.


Some of the loot...


Given that I'd never been to London on my own before and being an obsessive audiophile, our first goal was - on the Friday - to make our pilgrimage to The Virgin Megastore: the biggest record store in the UK and the place that had at least one copy of EVERYTHING, if rumour was to be believed. The tube journey to South Woodford was unremarkable but - for a countrysider like me - wholly remarkable and I loved every minute of it. Dom's Dad's flat was tiny and we all sleeping-bagged down in the living room, our alarms set for daft o'clock (5AM).

South Woodford to Wembley was at least an hour's trundle, though we managed to get the first trains and had plenty of space right up to the stadium. Getting off the platform took a little longer: 88,000 people were converging on the famously-towered sporting Mecca, after all! We found the Gate and spent most of our budgets on memorabilia - for myself, the above tee-shirt and the 'Programme'. Doors would open at 10AM and so we had a couple of hours to kill; we sat on the steps and chatted to the other punters - it was a glorious morning and it was hotting up quickly.

There were about a hundred people in front of us - and we were a little squeezed through the turnstiles - but entering the stadium was a shocking experience: there was SO MUCH SPACE! Lines of fans jogged on to the tarpaulin-covered pitch and were lost in the grand emptiness: the place was fucking MASSIVE!



There was plenty of space right in front of the Stage - with the TDK sound tent behind us - and we would've been ten back from the barriers; however, the prospect of 12 hours stood up in the developing scorcher sent us scurrying to the Grandstand with bucket seats and - most importantly - shade!



The rest, of course, is history. For those of us who were actually there, we partook of the cheering-of-stars who walked to the broadcast booth suspended 100ft above our very heads; we cheered the teddy bear being thrown around the pitch while Madonna writhed on the screens (we were bored of her); and we ascended in to the Rock Rapture when Queen and Freddie Mercury stole the show with a greatest hits medley that gives me shivers to this day. We howled when the microphone failed at the start of McCartney's Let It Be; we cheered Diana (and tolerated Charles); we waved, in unison, at the Concorde (carrying Phil Collins to the States) flew over the stadium. We soaked our shirts in the toilet sink without wringing them dry because it was so effing hot and we had no money left for drinks. We cried at The Cars video and we watched, bemused, as Bono wandered in to the audience. I was there to see and hear it all.


Left: Mike S & Dom. Right: Dom, Mike M & me.


It took us 90 minutes to get out of the stadium to the underground station and a further 90 minutes to get back to South Woodford; the intention was to watch the rest of the US-side proceedings on Dom's Dad's tiny colour TV but the moment we'd sat down on the sofa, we all fell immediately-and-deeply asleep. The TV was on showing the Breakfast News when we woke and all anyone was talking about, on all of the (four) channels was Live Aid.

Naturally, I have bored friends and family with these recollections relentlessly over the years and today - thanks to my fat-shedding, vestment purge - I get the chance to bore you all as well!
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Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:20 am
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Death of a Gamer - 18

Anthony Boydell
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Thanks to Nigel's propensity for 'A.P', it was two hours in to a game of Through the Ages before they realized he'd actually died.
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Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:15 am
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In Logo Parentis

Anthony Boydell
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How about this for a new Surprised Stare Games Ltd logo?

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Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:15 am
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The Book Club

Anthony Boydell
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*Yawn* it's Sunday morning once again - doesn't it come around quick?! It's a bit chilly around the toes, so I've tucked myself up with a coffee and a good book. It's been a while since Jasper Fforde - one of my all-time favourites - released not-a-children's-book and while it's not the much anticipated (10 years and counting) sequel to his dystopian masterpiece Shades of Grey, it's a standalone novel at least!

Jasper Fforde is Mervyn Peake meets Terry Pratchett with a dash of James Thurber for good measure and was around-and-about Ross-on-Wye on Wednesday evening to promote the new tome: "Early Riser". The local bookshop was holding a talk/Q&A with Jasper and I simply had to nip along to pay my respects!

Aside: Shades of Grey pivots on the concept of a society that is organised, hierarchically, by colour perception so I sent him a complimentary copy of Totemo.

While I already had an Amazon 'pre-order' copy of Early Riser at home, I patronized the establishment by purchasing £70 worth of (huge and heavy) train photograph books; in the queue for the PoS, I chatted to Jasper about railways while the audience trickled in.



The talk was funny and insightful; stories of his craft, of future projects and a bijou reading of the new book's opening chapter. When we'd all done with our questions, the signings began and - because I am a ridiculous fanboy - I picked up the copy Jasper had been leafing through/thumbing/stroking and got him to scribble on it:



There's a bit of his DNA on that copy, you know...
#shrine #misery
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Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:15 am
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QFT

Anthony Boydell
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Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:00 pm
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What breams may come?

Anthony Boydell
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Look what flew over our house this (Friday) morning?!

(apparently part of a new Eddie Redmayne movie complete with stuntman climbing up the outside!)


Anyway, on with the gory details...

Sometimes my stomach sinks when I see the Boffonian message that 'five' shall be in attendance that evening. Five means a probable return to a club favourite and there have been a LOT of evenings like that in 2018. I'm not against playing old faves, of course - otherwise they'd not be favourites - but I felt we could (at least) try something a bit different?! So, I pressed my nose to the shelves and gave the in-house (rather than in-shed) game collection a really good stare and alighted upon the thin, glyphed box for Isaribi:



In summary: spend your action points to move around and collect fish then return to the dock to sell those fish to waiting customers and/or upgrade your boat (action points per turn) / nets (how many fish cubes you can catch with the one action point). Money is Veeps, so spend early to build one's engine for the last few rounds.

I'm not sure what was on Boffo's mind as I gave them a brief run-down of the rules (which I'd read in plenty of time) as he latched on to every stutter and piss-promounciation with a sigh and a roll of the eyes. We got started quickly enough, though, and were soon hauling in Sea Bream, Mackerel, Shrimp and Clams (though not so many 'clam jokes' TBH). Jobbers and Smudge seemed to be managing themselves rather efficiently, Lydia and I seemed to have the makings of plans and Boffo just sighed the heavy sigh of the world weary from Round 1/Turn 1 through to the end of Round 5. Perhaps this is revenge for the bombed reception for Kashgar last week? I feel this was rather unfair treatment to a pleasant Hiyashi though I prefer Sail to India over this, it's spiritual big brother.

In a subdued silence, we (or, rather, Boffo) settled on something more familiar as the middle-of-the-nighter: Hansa Teutonica:



The usual scratchy-head, get-in-the-bloody-way pain of cube placement ensued with Boffo - once again in H.T - pulling away from the pack in the final scoring to win by a significant margin. He seems to have grokked the game where the rest of us most definitely have not; I fear there is little (and reducing) proper fun being had by us also-rans each time.

Smudge had proved victorious in a raffle tickets/pool-of-money Pub diversion and was in line to win a handsome pot o' cash...but only if, as the 'winner' she managed to pull the right key to unlock the moneybox from a bag of keys. What the hairy-nippled, rich-in-omega-3 FUCK is all that about, eh? You get a 1-in-40 chance of 'winning' and then another 1-in-20 chance of picking the right key...otherwise you can piss off with nowt to show for your "good fortune"! I'm glad I didn't participate in this 21st century cup-and-ball chicanery; no, Sir! Smudge had also won a runny nose and a wide selection of sneezes - probably 'Freshers Flu' generously donated by a Library full of new Usk students - and was desperately in need of more handkerchiefs, a hot toddy and a lie down so Boffo took her home.

Jobbers, Lydia and I had a little time to try out my newly-minted copy of fweeep! which would have the advantage of not being wheezed at by a doleful Boffo:



As previously-mentioned, it's Fzzzt! with some extra wrinkles so I knew it would be robust enough at it's heart; no, I was looking for how the 'Regulations' (that apply a different special rule each round) and the carriage bonus effects (on about a quarter of the cards) worked out...and worked out they did in a pleasingly un-'broken' manner. Lydia sunk herself in to a bit of a mire with an excess of Blueprints, half of which she failed to complete the minimum 'one train' against and lost half her points in consequent penalties; Jobbers, meanwhile, seemed to read my high-and-low bid intentions astutely and nipped me for a much-desired carriage on at least four occasions!

For the first time in nigh-on 18 months I was on Son pick-up duty so, we remaining three, vacated The Plough Inn well before the ding of the closing bell.
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Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:30 am
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Death of a Gamer - 17

Anthony Boydell
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Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:15 am
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Suspicious Minds

Anthony Boydell
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A recent FB post by esteemed blog-meister Stu Burnham snapped a long-time niggle to attention in my forebrain: why do perfectly-competent and experienced gamers announce the progress of their turn to ‘the table’?

Stu marked out worker placement games as a particular source of this behavior but I certainly remember the constant drone accompanying Dominion’s card-flopping “back in the day” too! Indeed, any turn that involves more than a simple action tends towards to the narrated and if you should be fortunate enough to be playing with Byll at the Ross-on-Wye club, you’ll also be treated to a burbling soundtrack of thoughts, reactions and non sequiturs too.

To assist those less familiar with a game by illustrating the implementation of a particular rule and/or the sequence of processing combinations;

As a check to one’s own interpretation and application of the rules, as you understand them;

To keep a general level of conversation going lest the table fall in to a gloomy silence for the duration; and/or,

To show everyone else that you’re not cheating.



While all of the above are most-certainly true, it is the last item that niggles me because of what happens if you DON’T say anything: “How did you get those?”, “Where did enough money come from? / How are you able to out-bid me?!”, “When did you get that effect/bonus?” and so on. Not a gaming evening can go by without someone – usually someone who thinks they're going to win OR someone who is pissed off at doing so badly - challenging the veracity of the board state, a personal tableau state and/or the successful completion of an excellent turn. I’m not calling anyone out here as I believe this is a Universal issue: we are suspicious of our mitspielers – especially when they’re doing better than us!

What do you think? What should we do about it (if anything)? And can someone please help me get this satsuma off my thumb?
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Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:15 am
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