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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Fish Rising

Anthony Boydell
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The unloading of the car took but moments - only slightly frustrating after the monumental game of TETRIS that it takes to pack it in the first place - and I managed to sneak in to town for 10 mins, fist clutching a sheaf of 'red Royal Mail dockets'! Only one of them was for me (see below), the others being Fitbit-related items after Mrs B lost hers to the West Shore at Llandudno:



A school pal and, during the years in-and-around Liverpool Polytechnic/my sandwich year, gaming irregular Ian was having a clear-out and offered the above for the princely sum of £20 plus postage. I believe, when we were all RPG-ing a lot, that it was THIS copy that our group played a couple of sessions with! I remember very little apart from it being a deeply-thematic and atmospheric campaign; free from many of the typical dungeon-crawling tropes, we were steeped in Gaia-esque spiritualism and some intriguingly opaque aliens. I am, naturally, delighted to revisit this 30+ year old curiosity in the comfort of my own reading chair!

Basking in the delights of proper Broadband - after the snail-crawl of the Welsh valleys - I caught up on the holiday snaps iCloud upload/download dance before realising it was nearly 7PM and I really ought to leave for Friday night gaming! Yes, indeed; a two hour speedy pack-and-depart followed by a four hour drive is nowhere nearly enough to stop me from getting my fix!

Jobbers was parked up at a jaunty angle adjacent to The Plough Inn waiting for the rest of us to be bloody bothered. He has, increasingly, been taking the piss WRT the painted parking bays given
a) it's free after 6PM, and
b) we're pretty much the only ones using it.

Tonight he was almost sideways across three sections and gently nodding along to Steve Hillage:




Two players hit £million and I came fifth (out of six) with £840K (!) in a rather pedestrian-paced go at this classic.



Despite Jobbers' busy plate-serving, a timely REFOREST kept me two points ahead.



Harbour: often cited as Le Havre-lite, this thinky filler can run almost as long if you're not careful!


We could've done with any soundtrack at all to pep up the evening's proceedings TBH: it was a 'pensive' session that even the normally-frenetic Chinatown couldn't inject adrenalin in to! Much board-staring and chin-stroking and "Whose turn is it?"-ing took us to 2330HRS and a grateful, yawning departure. Despite the house reeking of garlic bread upon my return, I retired to my boudoir and enjoyed the memory foam delights of our matress by falling instantly asleep.

Home again, home again jiggetty-jig...
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Today 10:05 am
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Pob beth da

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I always joked that working for the Welsh Government was, when escaping the moribund clutches of Merthyr Tydfil or Cardiff, like a holiday: the Vale of Neath, Cardigan Bay, Snowdonia, Anglesey and Colwyn Bay to name but-a-few.

During my time as chief BA, and over-emotional smart-alec, I visited mountains, passes, viaducts, aquaducts, canals, heritage railways, beaches, bridges and castles; even the odd 'curiously-named village' failed to escape my attention. I've eaten supermarket sandwiches overlooking a black lake, gasped at resplendent valleys and sweated my way up to hilltop obelisk. I went to the cinema, the theatre and the end of a couple Victorian piers. I have stayed there in snowy January and sweltering August and every month else and it has had something soul-warming to offer every time.

And, of course, I played so many board games in a golf club, in pubs and restaurants, and in people's homes. Sooooo many with so many excellent people!

Now that that chapter in my working life has ended, so too has that outstanding fringe benefit. How marvellous, then, that this Summer we'd elected to spend our family holiday in this astounding environment - just one last literal and figurative throw of a North Wales' die! We rented a cottage in the middle of the hills and spent the fortnight on beaches, in forests, amongst the rubbled-ruins of castles and - finally - reaching the summit of the most important mountain in my life.

You have followed me on this adventure throughout and - hopefully - enjoyed it vicariously; I'm not sure that the daily commute to Bristol is going to offer anything near as remarkable but - hey - there are plenty of ways of getting up and down there so we'll wait and see!

Diolch, indeed.
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Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:17 am
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He marched them up to the top of the hill...

Anthony Boydell
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We congregated at the Snowdon Mountain Railway station (Llanberis) though, of course, we would not be availing ourselves of it's steam driven delights this time.



Setting off on the path - all unknowing of what was to come.



Right: this is the official start...after a thigh-weakening uphill road climb #alreadytired



The map of our route!


From the sunshine in to the clouds!





Eerily silent near Clogwyn.






You saw the main summit pics yesterday...



Here we all are IN the cafe at the top: hot pies, sugary drinks and steaming the mist off of our coats.


...now we're making our way back down:






Trains! Yes, there were TRAINS!!!



THE Moel Siabod!



"Yeti" (apparently)




And, finally, a majestic closing shot:


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Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:45 am
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21 Points!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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More pics soon because I am absolutely knackered!



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Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:30 am
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Today, I shall be mostly...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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...walking.

And walking.

And walking.

And walking!



I haven't been up since 1974.

I brought my Surveyor with me.

I am so excited I could, literally, puke!

gulp
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Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:30 am
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But soft?

Anthony Boydell
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Yesterday we went to a ruined castle*.

It was ace.

The original layout is utterly perfect for my re-engineering of The Black Overcoat Game.

Did I say it was ace? Because it was!












But soft, what light from yonder window breaks?
It is the East and Juliet is the su-

Er, no; hang on...
it’s just a cock-and-balls.
Oh.
#shakespearewouldloveit #statelygraffiti #hedgehogcastle

http://gwrychtrust.co.uk/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwrych_Castle


*early 19th century castle-style home aka a monstrous, elaborate and wonderful fairy-tale folly
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Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:50 am
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I heard it through the grapevine?

Anthony Boydell
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It seems that I am always the last to know.



Trying to find out more, but...if it ain't (print) ready then it ain't (print) ready.

soblue

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Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:45 am
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There's plenty more fish in the sea.

Anthony Boydell
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I've been banging on about it for ages now so I suppose I'd better give it a formal review: Nusfjord or "You're gonna need a bigger boat!". Obviously, I don't normally 'review' anything; I might mention something in passing AND/OR provide a simplistic summary as part of a session report AND/OR pronounce my general approval or disapproval BUT I can't recall ever having sat down and composed a proper, considered appraisal. Why, then, should now be the time? For a number of reasons and here they are:
I have now played it >40 times
I have played it at all of the player counts
I don't feel like stopping any time soon.



Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to access a whole series of feted prototype expansions which, in their theme and variety, transport me back to the heady days of 2007/2008 when it's grandpappy - Agricola - first tickled my gaming nuts and blew softly in my gaming ear!

The framework of Nusfjord is comfortingly-familiar: worker placement where one collects and spends resources and a little bit of board management. With only the three resources available - fish, wood and gold coin - the web of possibilities is spun. Because wood and gold are, effectively, secondary goods; the competition to get them is always heated - be it via the acquisition of personal action spaces (elders), card combinations and/or share-dealing.

If you've experienced Glass Road then much of Nusfjord will be straightforward: the focus in both are the buildings - rich in VPs and tricks. Unlike Glass Road, however, there is no unbearable hidden card selection horrorshow; no, the agonizing choices lay out in the open for all to see. This is no multi-player solitaire; you will ALWAYS be stepping on someone else's fins toes as you go about your fishy business: fishing for fish, consuming fish, paying fish and serving fish.



Saying that, you can buck the thematic hammer and win Nusfjord perfectly well without fishing beyond your paltry starting ability (the 'Catboat'); you can, instead, invest in other players' endeavours and subsist on a regular dividend. You can ignore the perceived 'standard opening moves' (sell a share, take an elder) and drop straight in to cheap buildings or forest management depending on what cards have been dealt to the opening tableau. Satisfying combos are plentiful and you will be well-rewarded for "doing what everyone else isn't": I have seen (and been) a player exploiting a full Reserve, no reserve at all, ship-building, ship-ignoring, forest decimation and a gerontophiliac obsession with Elders.



Nusfjord is another milestone in Uwe Rosenberg's oevre in that it boils all of his worker placement ideas and mechanisms in to a match-fit, all-killer-no-filler, forty-five minute, 'Feast'-free fantasy: it's so frigging tight it squeaks! Nothing is superfluous, no element is an indulgence; this is a game that's pure in the challenge it presents. The fact that it emerged in to the light of our notice just before Spiel 2017 - no information, no hype - only adds to the sweet aftertaste; that it was unavailable outside of Europe until the Spring of this year also allowed its reputation (the word of mouth recommendations) to grow.



Don't be fooled by the cynical, the dismissive and/or the ill-informed: play Nusfjord yourself and discover the Best New Classic Euro of the last 10 years (apart from Snowdonia, natch)!
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Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:30 am
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Big Yellow Taxi

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Now, I may be reading things into it and seeing things that aren't there but watching Gary's intro to the Ragnar Brothers' latest promotional video - titled in the YouTubes as "The Romans - The last roll of the dice for the RBs" - made me feel enormously sad. Especially when he opens the overview with "...to tell you a little bit about what may be our least game..."



Perhaps most famous for the classic History of the World, many people have never realised that it's actually an autobiographical game: they have been around for THAT long - civilizations have risen-and-fallen while they got us all mania-ed about canals and moulded up those amusing 'flashing' monk-eeples in Monastery. It matters not whether your donkey is steam-powered or 'au naturelle', the 'Rags' (as no one calls them ) have been fighting the good gaming fight for almost three millennia and the thought of not having their I.K. Brunel-costumed personages cheerfully halloo-ing one across the Trade Halls fills me with melancholy.

In today's noisy, chrome-obsessed hurricane of puffery and short attention spans, the RB's brand of 80s-style chit-and-die histories-in-a-box / gentlemanly Euros have been receiving short-shrift. So, here's the deal: if you like medium-weight Euros with a classical fight-y edge, why not give them a shout and see if you can scrounge a play-test copy/a demo and give The Romans some of your time and love?

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...
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Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:35 am
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The WTF?-le Brothers

Anthony Boydell
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To me, to you...to WHERE?!


Still no news on Fraser, Gordon and their magnum opus* of Aardmanian proportions and we're fast approaching what will be the third Essen Spiel without the Lamont bros. With the rate the Spiel is expanding - almost in proportion with the Fragor Games' game boxes themselves - they'd be hard pushed to find a space in Duisberg let alone Essen itself...unless that ENORMOUS new Messe frontage is being custom-built for the display copy?

As someone who blog-blurts out any piece of news at the drop of a hat (because I get so excited I just can't help myself**), it feels an oddly self-eviscerating move to go for nigh-on two years without a single peep, press release or micro-update; there's no game entry in the BGG DB and it was 2015 that their website last got a refresh! A loyal following they have, for sure, but are they enough to power a Kickstarter campaign to splendid fruition? Is the (Oscar winning) Wallace & Gromit license strong enough to attract an international crowd in sufficient quantity?

In short, where the Grand Day Out-ing, Wrong Trouser-ed, Closely-Shaved, Matter of Loaf and Death fuck are they?! The silence (like that mountain from A Game of Gnomes) is crushing!

*almost EVERYTHING is 'magnum' from the boys TBH
**in hobbygame circles, this is known as 'Premature e-Circulation'
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Thu Aug 9, 2018 6:35 am
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