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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William, without close acquaintances

Anthony Boydell
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*serious face*

I'm not sure, but I think something may have happened to the Internet! I've been a regular on the site boiteajeux.net for some years now and always have a healthy backlog of running Agricola games. However, over the last few days the frequency of my opponents taking their turns has drastically dipped...WTF?

*yaaaa! jus'kiddin face*

Well, the good Lord said he'd come again and I think, this week, his follow-up incarnation has been facilitated by the good people of Playdek Inc. Two thousand years ago he was born in a stable, this time he has to build the bloody thing himself with 2 Wood. The long-awaited Agricolapp (TM) has been sucked out of iTunes mirror sites the world over and is currently draining the very souls of tens, if not hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of thousands of gamers.

And rightly and justly so because it is bloody brilliant. I say this with utter confidence even though I haven't bought it myself because I have been playing it for months; yes, armed with spare time (and a password to the bug reporting site) it has been my privilege to have some (very) minor responsibility in the final product. In return, I get a credit in the rolly-credit bit (awesome!) and a free copy of the 'final release' (double awesome - though I've not been able to download it yet because I'm in Great Britain and the VAT man is probably trying to work out how to sting me for a f*cking customs charge as I type!).

Going back to my original, playfully-sarcastic opening statement I know, of course, where everyone IS and WHY they're not jeux-ing their boites...it's just that I can't join any of them yet (checks iTunes one more time) *bottom lip*
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Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:40 pm
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Puerto Clipo

Anthony Boydell
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I’m really stuck for something to write this morning – the words just won’t flow.

Obviously, there’s a session at the White Lion pub in Ross-on-Wye to document but I’m failing to pull of even a first stab at double-entendre. When I arrived, keeping an eye out for rumoured ‘heavy road works’ along the way (there were none), the peeps were 67% through a game of Kingdom Builder so I glugged half a pint of PJ&L and savaged the first packet of sautéed porcine epidermis in spectator mode. I was barely able to hold back my enthusiasm (or sarcasm, obviously) as the thrilling contest of turn over your card/put some houses on to a board drew to a close…in silence.

The most cursory of ‘what shall we play?’ debates was snuffed out by two, forcefully-spoken words: Puerto and Rico. Any mild protestations to the contrary – my own ‘remind me of the rules again’, Dave’s ‘I have only played it once’ and Becky’s ‘Keyflower plays 5 as well’ – were contemptuously-ignored and the familiar tableau of buildings, cylinders, chits and colonists erected with most wicked speed. It felt a curiously flat exercise: we all built roughly the same number of buildings, produced roughly the same number of goods, shipped and traded roughly the same amount of things for almost the same number VPs – I can’t really see what anyone did to particularly enhance or hamper their final score:

Becky 54, John 53, Ben 47, Tony 47, Dave 45

While both Ben and John nipped out (beer, piss and/or both), the three of us remaining exacted a nanoparticle of revenge by selecting – and immediately setting up – the closer for the night: Paperclip Railways. I’d packed this on the off-chance that should we get the usual-for-recently 6, I might convince never-played-it-befores Dave and Gordon (the latter absent this evening) to give it a whirl. It plays five quite nicely (lots of crowding, penetration and blockage), so after re-familiarizing myself with the setup I embarked on my first rules explanation for this since October, 2011! Ben seemed disinterested in the whole thing but, fair play, made a decent stab at it for the sake of the rest of us – an early cube-swapping shenanigan against John and an excessively-winding ‘scenic route’ to get in everyone’s way being Boffian highlights. John continued his evening of power-play with a convincing win, but Dave (the only noob) seemed to pick it up straight away:

John 109, Dave 97, Tony 93, Ben 84, Becky 83

Be-drizzled, my homeward journey was.
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Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:57 pm
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"Gentlemen. You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!" (no spoilers!)

Anthony Boydell
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(a.k.a Risk it for a biscuit)

Emperor Neighbourleon (Ben from next door), General Ulysses S. Plant (Jobbers), General Pattony (me), General Robert D. Ledburee (Dave) and Benghis Khaaaaaaaan! (Boffo, channeling the shirtless Ricardo Montalban) had gathered around the negotiating table seeking an end to the mongering of their wars, the competitive swinging of their phalli and the merry crossing of breadthless lengths instantiated in a base of silicon dioxide. The talks were doomed to failure from the outset, however, as generals and majors always seem so unhappy less they got a war. Sternly riding their Boomer Cars, Sub-no mercy-bulls and Amphibibuses back to their operations bases the uber-battling saber-rattlers ‘tooled up’ and began the slow escalation to extinction!

General Pattony, of Die Mechaniker (their 3s are Cowitzers: long-range bovine launch mechanisms), stewed in the oppressive humidity of South East Asia and regarded the chilled lager mines of Australia with envious eyes; the Emperor of the Enclave of the Bear (also dis-affectionately known as ‘those naturists’, their 3s being Ursines of Unusual Size) enshrined himself in the Middle East – torn between ruthless exploitation of the Third World and having a pop at the Reds; General Ledburee – Imperial Balkania in Hovertanks - bunkered up in Northern Europe giving it all that across the Atlantic; Benghis Khan, Industrialist and Transformer prop-rider, napalmed another samba street party and plotted the overthrow of Fortress America from his corned-beef farm in Buenos Aires; meanwhile, the Saharan Republic – exiled and under the stubbled dictatorship of General Plant – ‘hung aboot’ Ontario in their Formula 1 racing cars (with tiny guns on top)…presumably with a plan (and soft tyres?). The stage was, indeed, set...



With so few troops at the start, the non Americas-based factions plumped for a considered recruitment/slow expansion plan, quietly occupying the regions of same colour and leaving a sensible no mans land between themselves. Plant and Benghis Khaaaaaaaaaan!, on the other hand, kicked off into a belligerent strutting campaign which ended up with the Industrialists sweeping through Mexico and most of the US.



In the space of a couple of rounds, the Saharan Republic – woefully displaced from that region – were getting their arses royally kicked.

Elsewhere, Emperor Neighbourleon made the first move in Asia with a half-hearted pop at the Mechaniker and was quickly thrown back into the Middle East with his tail shoved right up between his legs. As the Seasons passed, the red menace crept across the Bering Sea into Alaska and fortified that pinch-point, watching the Balkanians join the US conflict and the final days of Ulysses S. Plant’s sandy forces. Khan’s forays into Northern Africa/Arabian peninsula across the Southern Atlantic and a cheeky penetration of the European back door added some excitement to the End of Days – a superb ‘last stand’ by a single Khanian unit in the Iraq brought cheering from all around the table! It was an inevitable outcome, though, with the Mechaniker now too widely spread (oh, that juicy 7 troop bonus for Asia to go with the +2 Australian) and recruiting with a religious zeal: two stars and two ‘other capitals’ FTW.




As reparations were determined, broadcasting organizations ‘politically-realigned’ and a proliferation of commemorative tee-shirts, mugs and baseball caps released on a timid, battle-worn civilian population, General Pattony announced himself Supreme Global Chancellor and founded the Mechaniker capital Timbuctony in the ruins of Mecca. Licking their wounds, the other combatants retreated and sought sanctuary in minor metropolae of their own: Eurosol, Daville, Beningham and Jaywas’erevle.



An uneasy peace continues...for now.
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Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:42 am
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Proof at Last?

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From the excellent http://scarfolk.blogspot.co.uk/

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Sun Jun 9, 2013 6:07 pm
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Pub Fight

Anthony Boydell
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Now that the warm weather is here, we Britains can at last shake off the (hard-boiled) yolk of hearty stews and warming soups and embrace the salad in all it’s fetadorned, be-drizzled, crispy-leaf glory! Determined that I lose the waist-shading belly before we jet off to the holiday of a lifetime in Egypt later in the Summer*, this entire week has been one of green flat stuff, crunchy cellulose and low-fat forkage with the inevitable delight for the palette and the rebellion from the alimentary system. Never one to be interested in taking up a musical instrument**, I can now do a passable imitation of a Colliery Brass Band from the trouser area – much to my own, and everyone else’s, discomfort. The missus prescribed peppermint oil capsules and banishment to another room…

Have you ever tried peppermint capsules? They burn coldly through your insides and encourage a ‘better out than in’ all-or-nothing explosion of gas! During our first game of the evening at the White Lion, Ace of Spies, my brapping retorts were wholly inappropriate to the theme of 1950s/Le Carre espionage but an ironic commentary on the way the game played out! I have yet to receive the set of ‘fixed misprint’ cards for AoS (now 8+ weeks after the ‘dispatch announcement’ and counting), so we had to undo the initial draw and re-seed the three City decks (10 mins of fiddling around). As it turns out, like I said during a play-test session last year, the cards that were misprinted are so game-swingy and bad-taste-in-the-mouth-y (! a.k.a 'Interrupts') that I shall be leaving them out of all future sessions; imagine spending 4 or 5 turns collecting cards you need for a set ('mission') and then someone pulling an ! card off the top of the deck and un-doing ALL of that work? Exactly. Anyway, what do you do in Ace of Spies? It’s basically Ticket To Ride with some set collection and a sprinkle of hand management (for buying special actions) – be the first to 75 points, to complete 7 missions or deplete one of the City decks and the winner is determined. The theme is splendidly-realised with solid art, evocative border templates (desks with files on – that sort of thing) and snappy Secret Service-related flavor text on EVERY card: really, really nice! The problems come MAINLY with the ‘I got lucky so TAKE THAT!’ cards (as already mench-ed) and the horrible, HORRIBLE score track – why so horrible? It goes up to 25 then you get a 25 or 50 token when you scoot off the end, but the maths of going from 25 back to 1 (and, due to the ! cards from something BACK THROUGH the 1 to the 25 end) just messes with your head! And there are times when you are just going: draw 2 cards looking for a Location...nope! Try again next turn...

Side Note: This evening, the Ross-on-Wye club was joined for a first visit by my eldest son Fred; Fred loves LOTS of geeky things like Lego, Minecraft, Sci-Fi, Manga/Anime and Slipknot but he’s never been a massive fan of boardgames – at least not the Euros I tend to indulge in. A few years back I bought a copy of Battlelore for just him ‘n me and it was a great success! Tonight saw Fred wanting to reconnect with that side of things and I was immensely proud to have him with me!

Fred won AoS - his first game at the Club - with 68, to my 46 and Dave (de Ledbury) on a miserable, !-induced 25.

With the other half of the group safely ensconced in Kingdom Builder and, then, Santiago Da Cuba, it was time to play Fred’s choice: the aforementioned BattleLore! Dave was extremely noble and helped us all get refreshed with the rules, setting up the introductory Agincourt scenario and then – in proper adherence to history – letting Fred’s proud English forces utterly cream the arrogant French into the bloody soil! Fred’s stout archers and worthy footmen nipped into the woods and stood their ground respectively, letting the garlic-choffing aggressors ride (and march) to us. Fred correctly surmised that getting rid of the cavalry was a first order priority because, otherwise, they move quickly and roll a LOT of dice! Here are some pictures from my boy’s triumphant campaign:




Yes - that's FOUR banners to ZERO!

It was 10PM before we knew it, so another requested item (this time from me and requested of Ben) was Cube Quest – an absolutely superb, crowd-rousing, shouty JOY of a dexterity game; one flicks hollow cubes around a table in an attempt to knock your opponent’s King from the field of battle – sort of Catacombs without all the f*cking about and the 90+ minute playing time! The basic game comes with two flavours of ‘soldier’, but you can add Ninjas and other-abilitied polygons-of-fun as you so wish. This very rare delight is being reprinted as Cubequest almost as we speak – ORDER IT NOW, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!



And so, 15 rounds of Kingbrick in 45 minutes later, Fred and I drove home – my eldest boy enthusiastically-chattering about how good the evening had been ALL THE WAY.

*this has absolutely nothing to do with the recent $55,000 Kickstarter campaign for Snowdonia 2nd Edition, m’lud!
**still not a euphemism
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Sat Jun 8, 2013 1:51 pm
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Backing Up...

Anthony Boydell
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Britannia Bridge...or,rather, some bits of it





Not long to goi now - can we hit 1000 backers?
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2012515236/snowdonia-2nd...
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Fri Jun 7, 2013 12:05 pm
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Terra and June

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The evening had promised Eclipse but with Old Ledburian Dave sucked into a wormhole and deposited in Manchester (not an _easy_ commute, to be fair) and Ben – fresh from theatrical production and holiday but still of an unfresh Eclipsian opinion – ‘not keen’, I determined to get the latter to FINALLY PLAY TERRA MYSTICA IF IT BLOODY KILLED ME. So, having scoffed a delicious filou quiche (avec asparagus and bacon), I through-the-back-roaded it to House Of Plant for some low alcohol cider and some hi-octane gaming; oh yes! Ben marked his return to ‘the gaming group’ by taking his bloody time getting there but, no matter, when one’s heart is set in T.M one has plenty to do in the setting up and the laying out and the sorting and the randomizing and the blah-blah-blah. With the tardy wheezer finally ensconced with a beverage and access to snacks, I gave a perfunctory rules explanation that unfortunately involved the Halflings as the demo colour resulting in lots of ‘brown-based’ euphamatorical sniggerage but it’s easy-as-a-sophisticated pie really and it’s down to the no-luck decision making skills of the player as to whether their race works or doesn’t. To give Ben time to watch a couple of turns, John (to his left) went first and pulled the Darklings with me half-inching the Halflings and Ben moderately plumping for the Nomads. Ben did okay for his first game, though separating himself from everyone else in the village placement afforded him no favours (not that there was much adjacency-magic AT ALL); John struggled with the ‘Priests do all the terra-forming’ constraints of the Darklings but kicked into gear from about round 3, while I just pushed up the spades and in-game scored my way to a sufficient lead and – once again – the top points for ‘biggest conurbation’. John’s (literally) last minute ascension on the religious tracks brought him within a couple of points, but I held out
FOR MY FIRST WIN IN TERRA MYSTICA EVER!



Feeling an odd mix of elation, relief and smugness, I declined the usual 'in-depth' analysis of why I was so good and we proceeded to John's choice for the second Act: Saint Petersburg. It's been a while but we welcomed this old friend with open arms and genuine squeals of delight...even though John was playing with the horrid paper money *dry-retch face*. Ben's long experience and aptitude with this shockingly good card-game-with-a-board paid in the end, though it was only 4 or 5 points between each of us. Sometimes it feels a bit turny-handle/takey-cardy, but the glow of admiration at the well-oiled engine of it all keeps it pleasurable.
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Thu Jun 6, 2013 7:39 pm
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Right-justified Off-Topic Openly-Optimistic Low-Key Early Morning Note

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With the sun warming your back,
setting, and the butterflies and
the twittering of roosting birds as
you sip a pleasingly fruity gin and
tonic in the garden; scented bloom
and shawn grass springy under-
foot. Ah, me! And then in the morn
the SAME; still bright with insects
and the just-opened-the-fridge-door
cool. Three days to go on the Kick-
Starter campaign for Snowdonia
and over $50K – satisfying in that
we-did-what-we-set-out-to-do kind
of way and just putting the finishing
touches to the new card (expansion &
promo) layouts - *excited face*. John
of Marcle has invited us over for some
Eclipse-ing tomorrow: that’s
music of the spheres to my ears, tho’
the traditional fatty snacks may be off
menu due to diet – “you can have the
techs but not the tacos”…

…and smile.
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Tue Jun 4, 2013 9:08 am
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Left-justified Off-Topic Passive-Aggressive High-Horse Soap-Box Rant

Anthony Boydell
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I'm feeling SO passive aggressive
today, I can almost tell you (but
not to your face)! The subject of
my behind-closed-doors anger? My
neighbour - yes, my bloody neigh-
bour! I have some work on my drains
done (NOT a euphemism) and in the
ensuing 'repairing of the path to
as-good-as-new', a sunken wall sep-
arating myself property from the
himself neighbour property comes a
little loose. Aforementioned resi-
dentially-adjacent humanoid comes
'a-nosin' around the works to see
what crumbs of cement or chips of
leaf he can have a whine about and
while PRODDING he pulls a slab away
and it smashes on the ground. "When
will you fix the wall?" he sour-
faces. "When I can be arsed" I think
inwardly while smiling without. It's
not like its even noticeable to any-
one EVEN UP CLOSE but he's obsessive
about his environs and, unfortunate-
ly, a large noisy family is proving
a massive disappointment for him in
the 'desirable neighbour' stakes.
He's been getting worse over the years:
a moan about us having chickens and
them attracting rats, a whinge about
a leaky water trough that flooded his
entire lower garden (guess what? it
dried out!), a grump about our dog
leaping over the fence and leaving a
small, easily-liftable steamingstool
on his prize lawn etc. So we killed
the chickens, disconnected the water
supply and sent the dog away forever
and still the prissy old woman of an
old man moans his moans and aches his
belly over nothing at all whatsoever.
I was tempted to draw a massive cock
and balls on his pristine green vel-
vet back yard (nope, still not one)
with weedkiller and watch with delight
as the week progresses and the dead
grass darkens...

...and breathe.
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Mon Jun 3, 2013 8:48 pm
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Entente (Pineapple) Cordiale

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In the spirit of international harmony, and for the furtherance of global Unity, the sleepy Ross-on-Wye board game club played host yesterday evening to a visiting Euro-contingent. After many Essen encounters with Mr Surya (Euro snoot and proud of it*), he pleasingly decided that a visit to Wales was in order to thank me personally for Snowdonia; then, as an afterthought, he combined this worthy pilgrimage with a camping holiday. After a week of tootling around Lord of the Rings lite scenery (against a backdrop of drizzle and open cast mining) and ‘sleeping under the stars’ Surya, his partner Miriam and his sister ended up sipping pineapple juice and lemonade with yours truly, Gordon, John (Jobbers) Plant and occasional visitors Anne and Sam. With the most subdued Hen Party in history quietly noshing fondant penis cup-cakes in the corner**, we split into ‘two fours’ toot-sweet:

Table 1 (Surya, Miriam, Tony, Gordon)

To Start:
A medley of Love Letter served in the traditional Japanese edition with English text and a choice of brunette or redhead Princess.
Gordon seemed to make the most of this, wolfing it down (it barely touched the sides) before either Surya or myself could get ours of the ground! Indeed, I’d not even managed an amuse bouche before he was scouting around the table for seconds. Miriam managed a nibble before the plates were swept away from beneath us.

Next:
A hearty charcuterie of Santa Cruz with card-driven marker placement, running VPs and well-done timing; both halves of the meal served in just under an hour.
Blue and Red (Surya and myself) set off exploring this light but filling dish with excitement and not-a-little success, marching across the scoring track exuberantly leaving Gordon and Miriam to pick up a few crumbs with the back-end of their forks. The second half-serving, however, changed everything and the two of us ‘out front’ were chastened to find our “eyes bigger than our stomachs” and, like a fatty on his 50th hotdog at a hotdog eating contest, we slowed to an imperceptible crawl letting Miriam stride comfortably past for an ‘on the tie break with Gordon’ win!

Next:
To cleanse the palette, a simple deck of 60 or so cards decorated in five plain colours and numbered zero through eleven: Sticheln
Apparently, a firm favourite of our natives of the Königreich Belgien (at least, until Race for the Galaxy came along), this horrific brain-juggler provided 45 minutes of raucous, confusing fun and some horrible reflections-of-failure scoring! The basic tenets are:
- get some cards at the start; choose one to be your ‘misery colour’ – any cards you win in this colour score “negative X” where X is the number on that card while all others are worth 1 point each regardless of number
- somebody will lead with a card; the winner of the once-around trick is either a) if all cards played are the same colour, the person who played the highest card or b) the highest card NOT in the colour of the lead card (ties are won by the player who played a card first in that round)

That’s it – them’s the rules: win tricks but DON’T win cards in those tricks in your misery colour…simple. I won’t say anymore, but it gets very nasty and devious and feels completely upside-down as a game. The final scores, over three games, were:
- Miriam (6, 4, 1 = 11)
- Surya (-9, 2, 8 = 1)
- Gordon (4, 0, -25 = -21)
- Tony (3, -22, 3 = -16)

To Finish:
Snowdonia (for 4 persons); a traditional worker placement with a strong Welsh flavor, variable weather and – if you don’t eat it quickly enough, the staff will come along and eat it for you.
How could we NOT sample the delicious, subtle flavours of my piece of resistance, my magnificent octopus? It seemed only fair, given the nature and locale of their vacation, to give them the unprecedented honour of trying to woop the designer…only, I had other ideas *evil laugh*. Surya and Miriam have only experienced it a few times before so, while au fait with the rules, didn't adapt to the run of fog and rain in the early-mid game when I struck out and bought No.1 LADAS, ensuring I could easily dig my way into three contract card bonuses while the others wiped drizzle from their eyes. Gordon completely mis-stepped (almost off the edge of the mountain), failing to get into the rhythm of things – it was fun to play it ‘full on’, having spent many recent games in demo mode and, thus, pointing out options to new players/potential customers.

Table 2 (John, Surya’s sister, Sam and Anne)

To Start:
A hearty stew of Qwirkle, slow-cooked but chunky enough for the diners.

Next:
A Spiel des Jahres award-winning Euro-family favourite, Thurn and Taxis, accompanied by shredded English pronunciation of place names, a near-miss spill of Guinness dregs and a close-to-the-finish full drenching with pineapple juice***

To Finish:
Sticheln – served raw.
Having heard our cries of dismay and befuddlement from across the room and, now finished with the cleaning up of the ruined T&T, the ‘other table’ had an aborted attempt at reading R-Eco before plumping for Sticheln instead – and I think they enjoyed it in a head-scratching way: Surya’s sister***** winning by a country mile, I believe. John is, gleefully, looking forward to trying this again when Ben & Becky get back off their hols...

In other News:
Surya has been involved in games, gaming and the games business for a long time and knows even more people than I do! While the Group B table wrestled with their first game of Sticheln, he and I traded hoary old gaming anecdotes (HOGAs) including our own take on the infamous Reiner Knizia/mudshark episode****.

*http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blog/936/suryas-game-musings
**the traditional Stag Party doesn’t have an equivalent genital-focused confection though, maybe, it should? Fudge-inas, anyone?
***poor Anne – they were all doing so well when a stray elbow – possibly excited by the attainment of a scoring chit – liberally marinated John’s copy of the game in syrupy beverage
****if you’ve not heard this one before, it’s about the time when the mathematician cum devisor-of-entertainment was staying at the [REDACTED] Essen 2003 [REDACTED] from the fourth-floor balcony [REDACTED] intimate internal examination [REDACTED] always walks with a barely-discernable limp!
*****I’m so sorry but I missed the name of this delightful person…
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Sat Jun 1, 2013 10:11 am
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