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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Seasons (not) In The Sun

Anthony Boydell
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Back in the early 'twenteens', I remember settling down for a game of Seasons with the Wycombe boys and my only recollection is that I hated it. In fact, given it was a 2012 release I must have blogged about it; give me a few moments to see if I can dig out my original prosaic impressions...

(the sound of receding footsteps then a short silence. a crash, as if several boxes had fallen to the floor, followed by a muffled curse. A duck quacks. The sound of returning footsteps)

...A-ha! Here we go (from September, 2012):

Quote:

So, the journey into work was bright and sunny (no complaints, it’s late September)
Only soured by a road-rage bint under-cutting me in a Vauxhall
My fault, apparently, as she drove off silently-ranting through her wing mirrors *sigh*
Elsewhere, the hyper-cheery, Stepford wife-like bonhomie of Starbucks’ staff
Took the edge off my remaining good humour: “Just give me a coffee, you bloody robot!”
I spent the next two hours processing emails then nipped into the office.
My working day ended at a reasonable hour, so I returned to my digs weary.
Enter Uncle Stevington Walkerford replete with a luxury car full of games and gaming paraphernalia.
Seasons was the first item up – colourful; a sumptuous visual feast with all the usual trappings of ‘not a TCG, it's an LCG or something’

I’m perhaps over-wary of this one – dripping as it is with the excited (nay hysterical) micturate of a post-Gencon massive.

- Collect energy (from dice) in four flavours and use this to put power cards into play.
- Add the movement of time (the ‘seasons’) to adjust the relative availability of energy.
- Now convert your energy into ‘crystals’ (Veeps).

Bingo! Three ‘years’ later and the one with the most crystals is the winner.
Eek! I’ve won! How did that happen? I droop-shouldered my way through most of the game finding it turgid.

(Similar to that Dominion feeling: wait 10 minutes while everyone else plays combo-tastic turns before it comes round to you)
Uncharitably, I began a minor rant – unfairly so, and much to Mon Oncle’s dismay.
Couldn’t stop myself from ‘pronouncing’; farting out my ‘first impressions’ with a sour face (and little grace)
Having now had the evening to mull it over, Seasons is actually smooth, balanced (at least for now) and of high quality.

Aaaaaaaaaand I should play it again (with some f*cking humility)

Mid-session “impsy Steffie-Poo” (with a belly too) had to duck into a conference call, so Carl and
I gathered up the 7 Wonders box and got it all ready – with Cities too!
Stopping, briefly, to order the supper (curry)
Everyone enthusiastically-launched themselves into Bauza’s still-fresh, draft Goddess of a game
Really enjoyed the two games we played, though I was less happy to find my food NOT INCLUDED with the first delivery.
Another set of Age cards, with some Leaders for flavor, open up play a little more (but not drastically so)
Black = Cities; they introduce new takes on old abilities and effects (money, combat, science etc).
Libertalia was the last entertainment with Steve (Steve) who had to leave shortly – quick and satisfying
...Except for the 3rd week when, after a solid start, I was royally schmagiggittied up the gahoofenplatz by Lady Luck and 3 beggars.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke, eh?
Unswayed, the three of us remaining broke out Alien Frontiers – AGAIN!
No trouble for Carl, who won relatively-comfortably, while I smarted from THREE (count ‘em!) Raider’s Outpost pillagings!
Then, to cap it all, Carl beat me in a boiteajeux Agricola and robbed me (a fourth crime!) of 48 ranking points!



Seasons is Prestatyn Promethean Paul's favourite game so, by way of thanks for all of the deferring to Uncle Tony's choice of games these last few weeks, I demurred to Paul's and gave it that much-delayed "play it again (with some f*cking humility)":



By Hovis, but I was a grumpy young thing back in my mid-40s: Seasons is an absolutely delightful meaty filler of die-drafting and combo-building! Contrary to my misty memory of unplayable cards and confused energy droughts, this second chance run found me merrily spunking out Power cards (triggering crystal-accruing bonuses as I did so) and only being mildly-irritated by Ed taking the die I wanted for the first half of the game. By the end, I was digging for more Power cards to play and pig-in-shittingly enjoying every colourful moment! Paul accelerated passed me in the final scoring thanks to three huge-point cards but I was creditably-close behind; Ed was obviously saving up his mental energy for the game we would play next:


Fishy fishy fishy fish.


Yes, it's Nusfjord again and, yes, we played with my PnP copy of the as-yet-unreleased expansion. Ed hoovered up all the shares going and saved up for a couple of huge gold-earning bonus buildings to take the salty laurels by just the one point (35). I eschewed trees for a full-as-possible-given-my-FARM board of buildings (34) and Paul played it a bit safer but was only denied a joint 2nd place thanks to a couple of un-issued dockets (32). I think it's the worker placement combined with the Glass Road-esque tableau that pleases me so much; all the fun of those buildings without the torture of having to select five action cards!

Tired, and tender-of-tum, I return to the South for a few weeks of sensible home life respite; the peeps up here have been as cheerful, welcoming and enthusiastic as one could wish for. Little game groups are precious indeed.

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Nom Nom Nom

Anthony Boydell
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https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame


Oh, and Artwork & Presentation!

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame



Closing Date for nominations is tomorrow (22nd)

Thank you!
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Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:32 am
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Super Furry Animals

Anthony Boydell
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Someone seems to have broken the First Seal because many ill portents accompanied me to Llandudno for the last in a four week Tour of Duty amongst the wilderfolk of Wales. Firstly, much of the drive was behind a towed caravan/articulated lorry which was wearingly dull. Secondly, there was no chicken available in the Cambrian branches of KFC which caused them to temporarily shut. Thirdly, a number of goats had escaped their Great Orme moorings and hoofclattered in to town and were tugging and chewing enthusiastically on box hedges near the B&B; you've not seen anything until you've seen a shaggy caprine tottering along to top of some railings in search of a delicious herbaceous order!

Less apocalyptic - though no less impressive - was another Monday evening in the company of the Snowdonia Dragons at the sumptuous marina-side Mulberry: the whole of the upstairs given over to those odd folk with large bags. There were plenty of players and games to go around and I took the chance to introduce Bernie to Agricola with the support of stalwarts Tim and Aaron:


Pretty as a Revised Edition picture.


Tim combo-ed out Occupations and was greeted with the sung cry of "Vegetable Man!" from Aaron everytime one of his bonuses netted him a pumpkin. Bernie, naturally, missed many opportunities but seemed to be enjoying himself - he was certainly pulling clay off the spaces immediately before I had intended to. Several times. Aaron saved up for a double-room build and pulled away, comfortably, in the final few rounds.

My yearning for a face-to-face Agricola now sated, Aaron - as usual - produced something 'of the moment' for us to sample: the new Iello/Richard Garfield potentio-smash Bunny Kingdom:



In summary: draft 2 cards from 10 and play them, then 2 cards from 8 and so on until all 10 cards have been drafted and played. The cards let you place your Bunnies on specific spaces (labelled A-J, 1-10 in a grid), build castles with 1/2/3 spires, add extra resource production to a space or provide hidden game-end scoring bonuses. The aim is to create a number of 'Fiefs', ie. contiguous, orthoganally-connected areas with your bunnies in, which will score X x Y at the end of the round, where X = the number of Towers in the Fief and Y = the number of different resources you produce in the Fief eg. I produce Carrots and Fish with a couple of 2 tower castles, so I score 4 points for the Fief. Play four rounds, calculate bonus scoring and tot all the numbers up.

The scoring is a little fiddly (Kingdomino-style on a bigger, shared board) but you settle in to spotting the Fiefs that actual trigger (you need both towers AND resources together). Round one was a dribble of veeps but by Round two, I'd begun amassing a single, rich Fief and hopped off in to the distance ne'er to be caught. Round three saw me >100 points ahead of my nearest rival and it was only Aaron's 40+ points in the final summation that made it look even slightly like a contest (I was still 80+ points ahead!).

Synchronicity released all of the tables simultaneously, so there was a mash-up leaving myself, Paul and Bernie to get serious with some Glory to Rome:


Experience will out...two out of two wins for meeeeeeeeeeeee!!


Agricola and Glory To Rome in the same night? By the flared nostrils of HG Wells, I think I may have time-travelled back to 2008!
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Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:30 am
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Gamer Suicides

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No.17 Putting the 'Gloom' in to Gloomhaven:

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Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:45 am
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embargo farrago

Anthony Boydell
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This tweet popped up in my browser and I immediately spat out a mouthful of tea: "embargo"?!

I am trying to visualize the circumstances in which our beloved Eric was fed this particular tidbit and then told he wasn't allowed to reveal details on pain of...well, on pain of WHAT? Never letting him get privileged info about a gaming product at a very well attended Public trade show ever again? Eh?! The guy from the Industry's most voluminous and influential media presence is gonna be shunned ad infinitum for bleating out details of "Codenames: Legacy" or the "Rising Sun iOS App" or "Pandemic: Flu Outbreak at the Old Folks Home"?! Get bloody real, you twats; you're not the effing NSA. Was he told this Gaming Extinction Level Event (GELE, pronounced 'Jelly') in front of other punters as part of the general publicity ie. is this info freely advertised at the Toy Fair BUT every single attendee is now under this %$@#! embargo? (unlikely) OR was he led in to a booth in the bowels of the Stand and shown this particular Fart Of The Covenant in secret? What the actual, low-calorie, vegetarian friendly, gluten-free FUCK do these publishers think they're doing? This is a shitnugget game/toy NOT the discovery of a new quantum particle or confirmation of communications from extra-terrestrial life!!! Still; it's a good thing these pills I've been taking are keeping me at a low anxiety level otherwise I might've really let rip.

Cunts.
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Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:30 am
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9127 steps

Anthony Boydell
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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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Sun Feb 18, 2018 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

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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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