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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Keeping the flame alive!

Anthony Boydell
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Spring is springing and our thoughts, naturally, turn again to love upcoming conventions: UK Games Expo, Origins, GenCon and many more. One convention that most of us are unlikely to attend - but is no less significant because of this - is the 3rd Uganda Village Game Convention:





Aside from the usual board game try-outs, art arena, RPG and LARP sessions, the organisers - ie. the children - have planned some spectacular additional events:

A demonstration 7-player event for Twilight Imperium III, "which...will have centre stage in our brick shelter!"

2 vs 2 X-Wing tournament, which will introduce the children to miniatures for the first time

A Burley Games Treasure Island tournament.

A This War of Mine "How long can you last?" competition for older children. Reading will be a pre-qualification to participate in this brilliant game.

"How to make your own Omweso set" plus the Gulu Youth Omweso Championship.

A board game design workshop (for which I, Tony, am a Judge!!!)

How utterly, completely and overwhelmingly fan-bloody-tastic is all of the above? Education, fun, socializing and a healthy dose of ambition too!

As always, I don't feel I'm doing enough by just posting a few blogs about this soul-enriching endeavor so - this time - I made use of my recent Game Design Weekend (with pals Ben 'Boffo' Bateson and Matt Green) to brainstorm a small-but-perfectly-formed game...and it was Boffo who steered us in to the daft valley of 'matchstick railways' OR, as I have now determined: Firebox!







Each matchbox 'set' contains the components for a single player and the range is for 3 to 6 players:

In summary: you all have five minutes to lay out your obstacles (tunnel, mountain) and your six stations and your matches to connect/build through/build over them and those of your opponents. Once connected, you can ship passenger dice to their home (pip count) stations ANYWHERE you can reach...the further and more elaborate the journey, the more points you score!

So how does when get hold of this astounding box of delights? Everyone who donates £30 or more will be able to get copies according to this handy summation:

£30 : Three copies of a Firebox 'box' - enough for 3 players)

£40 : Four copies of a Firebox 'box' - enough for 3 or 4 players!

£50 : Six (a complete set) of Firebox 'boxes' - enough for 3 to 6 players!

£100 : Two complete sets of Firebox 'boxes' - enough for 3 to 6 (or 12!) player PLUS a set of six 'hand-drawn by Tony' landscape sheets (that's a piece of coloured-in A4 to you, my dears)

Now that's got to be a real incentive to show your love and admiration?!

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Today 6:20 am
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Sweet Christ! We nearly killed Boffo?!

Anthony Boydell
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(was Why Don't You Switch Off The Television Set and Go and Design a Boardgame Instead?!)

One of the infrequent board game design weekends chez Boydell kicked off - as one would've already seen - with Matt G joining in The Plough Inn festivities; on Saturday, however, the serious business of playing and dismantling prototypes began in earnest.

Despite a number of absences, myself and Matt and Boffo Bateson made the whole endeavour quorate and - later, after a slap-up curry, we even managed to rope Mrs B and Daisy in to Off The Rails (see much further on, below): a Dobble-esque observation/race game that encourages players to help each other as one winning stratagem. OtR was a blast and received warm murmurs from the assembled; this will be perfect for trying out at the UK Games Expo, for sure.

Anyway, the busy (busy) day started with Coppertwaddle v2.0 or, as I'm now referring to it: "Danse Macabre" (having abandoned the drafting idea).


Danse Macabre


What began the weekend as a single, shared 80 card deck (that's about 30 more than its ancestor) morphed in to two partial-identical and partially-asymmetric decks: loosely, Science vs Religion. Plenty of scope for combos and card-manipulation have been enabled by these extra cards and mine & Matt's Sunday morning 'duel' was an intense 60 mins of pleasing back-and-forth.

Next up - having refreshed everyone's hot beverages - was Boffo's return (and Matt's introduction) to Attention All Shipping:



The new mechanism for 'contracting' - forged in the balmy atmos of Leiriacon - was universally loathed by both gentlemen and they suggested the contracts eschew fish (as that what everything else on the board is about) and, instead, poach some of the Events and make them in to non-fishy tasks. Resting our full bellies in the library room after supper afforded us the chance to brainstorm a huge list of thematically-true 'mini quests':



Matt G brought out his bijou card-based deduction game - Under Siege - where players are manipulating their hand of cards (number 1 thru 10) against an enemy deck of cards. Each round has a different resolution effect for the card(s) played with the main aim to either let the enemy win and be left with the highest card (you held back the most) OR win for the King and be left with the lowest card (you played as best as poss). A devious, and addictive, little piece that runs for 5 minutes and immediately demands re-play! As I type, Matt left his prototype at the house so I shall be posting it to him tootie-sweetie to take even further.

While we waited for Mrs B and Daisy to hunt-and-gather a snack lunch, I presented the chaps with the weekend's 'fun design project': Matchbox Railways. It was named by Mrs B after I showed her the book of matchbox covers I'd bought last week and quipped that I should invent a game; for the exercise, we had a match box (tubular outer and inner tray), sixteen matchsticks, six tiny d6, six small card pieces and a wooden train marker.



The idea was to brainstorm something we can offer as a fundraiser for the upcoming Ugandan 'Gamechangers' project and, to be honest, it took Boffo about 30 seconds to come up with the skeleton of a work of genius:


The outer is a railway tunnel, the top of it - and the flipped tray - are mountains which could have a match(es) laid between them as a viaduct; the dice are number passengers wanting to be delivered (by the train piece) to ANY numbered station (the card pieces) that match: travelling over the obstacles to the destination gains extra points AND connecting to other player networks (on their own sheet of A4 'base') is actively-encouraged! It's a bloody blinder of an idea and we spent the next hour playing and re-playing it until we'd sanded all of the rough edges out! Add a five minute period in which to build (carefully) and connect matches AND run the deliveries and you have a delectable amuse bouche of a quirky filler! Keep an eye on this blog as there shall be more news VERY soon - look for it under the title: "Fireboxes" (or, maybe, "Rail Strikes").

Pausing for afternoon tea - and a little bit of a creative break - we three retired to the library room for Citadels and a bit more Under Siege (playing it as if it were a final product...and then tweaking it). Arthur had completed his Lego mech and wanted a game of BOG (Black Overcoat Game), roping in Mrs B too:



Sitting out the round in my 'Comfy Slippers' (card) - warm of toe and completely invulnerable to the games and the players' machinations! I won, in the end, in the slowest race to the treasure I've seen in many a year!




Off the Rails is very much On Track!


Brains aching - rinsed of ideas by 12 solid hours of concentration - needed resting, so Boffo went home and the rest of us watched some TV comedy.



Sunday was bright and scrummy-warm in the sunshine but chilly in the shade so, toast browning in the toaster and coffee bubbling to brew, Matt and I decanted the latest version of Escape from Dicelantis: a push-your-luck dice roller that is an absolute delight to play but currently languishes as a brown&grey, sci-fi themed, published edition.



Escape from Dicelantis adds a whole bunch of colourful and cool extras to the mix - think the way powers and races combine in Small World - while leaving the central dice rolling/scoring mechanics unchanged; this is an absolute peach with its shiny new costume and accessories and I'm pretty insistent that SSG bring it to market in 2020!

The day moved quickly on and the (long-promised) game of the highly-entertaining (and a bit daft) Miremarsh with Arthur saw off the hour-or-so that Mrs B had taken to visit Church. I managed to 'Steal a Baby', Jareth-style, to take the win...and I was only on my second Goblin life (having previously been devoured by a Giant Freshwater Crab).



It's hard to feel any more satisfied by the proceedings: six games put under the spotlight and six games making it through, intact and more finely-honed, to their respective next steps. Quality work, people; absolute quality!
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Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:10 am
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Living In The Plastic Age

Anthony Boydell
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We are joined, this week, by visiting game designer and long-time gaming pal Matt Green. I have known Matt since the late 1990s when I'd spend my working week in a crappy B&B in Reading and playing Magic: The Gathering in the evenings. Matt was part of the Snooks/Hemel Hempstead club and, like me, attended in all-weathers on his motorbike: that's dedication for you when the cold, slithering drip of a torrential downpour has wormed its way through your 'leathers' to the crotch. An icy creeper along ones Pont de Biffin.

He was a little waylaid by a crotchety SatNav, leaving the four of us (Becky is absent this week) to catch a quick Boffo40 For Sale. Matt refused to be drawn in to a potential re-deal ten minutes later on account of loathing For Sale and everything it has ever stood for. No matter, John triumphantly announced what he thought was the winning score only to have his golden moment snuffed out by a quietly-spoken, slow-counting Gerv: how quickly one can go from glee to gloom, eh?

It would've been very rude to enjoy Matt's attendance without getting a game of Wildlife Safari in so, of course, it was decanted from Boffo's body bag sharpish. There followed much trash talking and chin-stroking until, in a viciously-tense fifth round, Matt edged in front of Gerv. Quite alarmingly, Matt - at one point - referred to his 'zebra shit' hand as 'an Attenborough'! The Ross-on-Wye club will have no truck with such disrespect and, forthrightly, adjusted his nomenclature to the correct 'pulling a Nutkins'.

Sticking with the quick-but-devious theme, Matt introduced us to the nasty Northern Pacific: a railway racing game.



In summary: place a 'share' cube or extend the game's single route; any time the route connects to a station with player cubes in, those players take additional cubes. Routes are 'one way' so if a station is bypassed, it is bypassed for the whole round and will be a penalty at scoring.

As you can see from the pic above, my red score markers bookend the track in a triumphant manner: no accrued penalties at all. Not a one. Nowt. None. Zero. Null string. So enamored were all the RoW-ers that I '1-Click'-ed for an eBay copy upon returning home!

More cubes followed immediately in the form of not-played-for-a-while Calimala; Fabio's brisk(ish) and sweet festival of area majority/action resolving was well (re-)received (especially by Jobbers who stayed out in front despite late charges from myself and Boffo). I did get in all of pickle around how the tie-breaking worked and I'm still not convinced we did it right:



To close (we had just over an hour):



An unusually-civil game of Chinatown given passed shoutfests, grumbletrades and snipemarkets! Folk seemed entirely happy to be a little more patiently-speculative in the businesses they were collecting - a distinct lack of the aggressive 'I need all the pieces RIGHT NOW' / pay through the nose because you SO need this Dim Sum etc. Keeping a stern eye on Jobbers - who was my major trading partner this time - I set up a couple of steady-payers early and sat back selling dribs-and-drabs for the remainder. The result was a ridiculously-marginal, slump-back-in-the-chair-and-cry-"Phew!" neck-and-necker where I just failed to top $1,000,000, Jobbers $40K behind and everyone else lined up with similar gaps between.

A session of figurative elbowing, shoving and kicking-under-the-table then, much to the satisfaction of all attendees. Bravo!
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Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:04 am
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I’m busy...

Anthony Boydell
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...no, really; it’s been a very busy day and I’ve been so very busy. Busy, busy, busy! *phew* I’m knackered #busy
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Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:35 pm
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Strike a light!

Anthony Boydell
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Yesterday, everyone seemed to have found a reason either not to be in the Bristol office or to have left by 2PM. All my own meetings were done by lunch and - after writing up various minutes and arranging some upcoming workshops - I'd completely crossed-off my 'To Do List' and was eying the maple syrup biscuits hungrily. Despite the overall size of the team reducing, there still seem to be ample occasions for the decanting of cakes, sweet treats and pastries which - for someone like me under a (voluntary) nutritional regime - is a constant temptation: for example, this week a CRM release went in successfully and that resulted in enough Mr Kipling battenberg to sink the flippin' Bismarck. Anyway, the long and the short(bread) of it was that I left early.

Dursley is a market town in the hills between Bristol and Stroud and Gloucester and one I have not previously scoured for charity shop goodness; a quick clicketty-click on Google Streetmaps highlighted a couple of potential goldmines in the form of an Oxfam and a generic local hospice property. The latter was the first I stopped at and, lawks a-mercy, 'twas a veritable Tutankamun's tomb of delicious (and cheap!) treasures. In particular (ignoring the usual armful of railway tomes), my eclectic eye happened upon this 1946 First Edition oddity for just six of our earthly pounds:



I'm not sure that there is anything particularly useful for game designing purposes beyond, maybe, coming up with some games presented in a matchbox (which could be a lot of fun, of course: think Chris Handy's Pack O'Games line); no, indeed, it stands purely as a colourful and curious diversion. And I learned a new word too:

Phillumenism
the hobby of collecting different match-related items: matchboxes, matchbox labels, matchbooks, matchcovers, matchsafes, etc.

Oh and, if you want to turn your stomach a little, try looking up "Phossy Jaw" gulp
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Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:58 am
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A camera, some beer and some mates...

Anthony Boydell
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Leiriacon 2019 from a slightly-different (sometimes-inaudible) perspective;
this - along with the latest 5 Games 4 Doomsday meditation
(https://fivegamesfordoomsday.com/2019/03/21/leiria-con-a-5g4...)
- really illustrates how utterly wonderful this convention is:

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Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:19 pm
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A Quick Note From The United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland

Anthony Boydell
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She's finally, publically gone bat-shit crazy.

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Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:27 am
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Almost there (Stay on target!)...

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Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:30 am
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Resolution No.9

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After several decades of squabbling, wrangling and general bickery-fuckery, celebrated game designer Marton Willis has sorted it all out with former partner Jim Bahra and despised, cynical publisher Dick Swabbe, (purple) head-honcho at Aquiline-Shite Games. Here is Marton's I wrote this myself freely and absolutely NOT under any duress press statement in full:

Hi Folks,

Good news, Dick and I have made an agreement (and we also made a nice cake). The following is an officially-agreed, gun-to-the-head press release. From my point of view (staring down a barrel), I am now "happy" with Aquiline-Shite Games proceeding with Era of Locomotives.

1) Whatever disputes about Era of Locomotives that may have existed in the past have now been laid to rest in a shallow grave in a remote wood (otherwise it would probably have been me).

2) I will no longer dispute that Aquiline-Shite Games is the proper successor in interest to Aquila Games, the entity I signed a Purchase Agreement with in July, 1988 conveying various ownership rights to Era of Locomotives; Tussle of Kingdoms; and a game to be designed at a later date if I could've been bothered.

3) I have conveyed whatever rights I might have in Era of Locomotives free (as in 'no money' rather than 'without obstruction) and clear (like a handful of mud) to Aquiline-Shite Games.

4) I will not dispute that Aquiline-Shite Games is the sole and exclusive holder and owner of the rights to Tussle of Kingdoms, Locomotive Rich Man (later named Cube-Shunters of the World), and Cube-Shunters of the Isles of Man and Wight (later named Island Cube-Shunters) – games that I donated through gritted teeth in good grace to Aquiline-Shite Games.

5) I also give my permission to Aquiline-Shite Games to use my name in relation to the Era of Locomotives game at ASG's discretion (e.g., on the box cover; on the rules; in advertising and marketing including press releases regarding Era of Locomotives; and specifically in any StartKicker campaign, updates, comments, blame exchanges etc.). I realize that they are under no obligation to use my name on the EOL box or otherwise and that is perfectly okay with my wife me.

6) I will no longer speak or write ill of Aquiline-Shite Games, in public or in private because the oily turds have promised they will come after me with the full force of their morally-bankrupt legal team. I will write no more BGG threads or on any other similar forum negative comments about Aquiline-Shite Games, as I have no basis to continue to do so; though it would give me a well-needed giggle to see someone else call them out for the arseholes they so patently are. ASG has agreed to reciprocate until it suits them. In short, we are both ready to put this behind us and move forward with our respective projects (mine legit, theirs probably stolen).

7) I encourage everyone with an interest in the present Era of Locomotives Prestige campaign running on StartKicker to pledge and support that production and not to feel that some obligation to me prevents them from doing so...especially when the cynical short-changing on the component quality can prevent you from doing so instead.

Yours, absolutely not drenched from a morning's waterboarding,
Marton Willis.
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Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:15 am
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Leiria Control - Town Called Malice

Anthony Boydell
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So the brief respite from normality is over and it's a return to my regular life; to be honest, I am happy to back - all good things must come to an end - so I can start looking forward to next year!

As 2019 dawned, it seemed as if I was heading for sparse prototype presentation: a revamp of Fzzzt! that, after playing it's progenitor at Leiriacon, seems like too much hard work PLUS the first iteration of the 1950s train traveller party game that certainly survived it's 'porting' to a tabletop visual-dexterity thing. At the risk of repeating myself, the rapid emergence and coming-together of Attention All Shipping has left me trembling with excitement: the reception by, and resilience to, serious players giving it a solid hammering has been overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, I have little doubt that we could be putting this out for 2020 - previously, only Paperclip Railways went from inspiration -> prototype -> production in a similarly-rapid time frame (and that, too, may be making a 2021 Tenth anniversary 'deluxe' re-appearance)!

I am missing my Leiriacon friends already but if you break down the next twelve months in to milestones - as you would a long journey - then there's more than enough going on to make it fly by:

- UK Games Expo in June (10 weeks away)
- Snowdonia KS Holiday (4 weeks after that)
- Family Holiday (4 weeks after that)
- Essen Spiel (11 weeks after that)
- Gathering of Chums 3 (2 weeks after that)
- Bastion 2020 (7 weeks after that) AND
- Leiriacon 2020 (7 weeks after THAT).

All this and a mailbox full of artwork, proofs and contract negotiations: it doesn't get much better than this!

Postscript: the blog title refers to my general feelings about passing through UK border controls - always tetchy and unfriendly.
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Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:30 am
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