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Life and games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell - Independent UK games designer, self-confessed Agricola-holic and Carl Chudyk fan-boy: www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

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For the joy of being alive and steaming

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Railway games are an astonishing phenomena in the gaming world - just looks at the variety and complexity: from the family-friendliness of Ticket to Ride through the more complex shenanigans of Age of Steam/Steam to the ridiculous, time-swallowing share madness that is the 18xx family.

Why do trains have such an enduring appeal?

Simple...because they're a fantastic representation of nature's power harnessed and directed; because we all love building and we love interconnections...and because those great steam beasts make noises like snorting dragons as they power and puff passed!

I mention this because today I embarked on a traditional holiday 'day out': a 4 mile walk through woodland and valley, through stream and gritted pathway, from the village of Goathland (Hogsmead station in the first Harry Potter movie) to Grosmont and then riding the train across the North Yorkshire Moors to Pickering and back. All of this done in wonderful weather - bright, hot and blue-skied! Dusty, coal-y steam blowing in your face as you belt along great cracks in the landscape, over boulder-filled becks and through sleepy villages comprised solely of holiday cottages. Five hours of ambling, rambling, child-on-the-shoulder-carrying, puff-puff-puffing delight!

If you hate railway games, then you ain't never been on a real railway!

A lost Eskdale Bridge


Rusted Majesty approaching Grosmont Station


Perhaps the best view in the world...Grosmont (the final approach) - the walk is nearly over and train ride is about to begin!


Its a steaming big engine!


Beautiful junk


Approaching Pickering (outbound)


Approaching Goathland (inbound)


A Guards van (Goathland)
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Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:28 pm
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Tightening One's Belt

Anthony Boydell
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It's just too beautiful outside and, as any fule no, ice-cream won't eat itself. So, here's a little something I tossed off while everyone else prepared for our trip to a Castle - feel free to join in with suggestions of your own!

In these austere times when one must make do and mend, when the global financial meltdown has left us all feeling pinched, it only makes sense that we should trim our luxury expenditure, hunker down for the long haul and just be miserable (and be happy being so). Board games are a tremendous way of investing a small amount of money in return for many happy hours of intellectual and social satisfaction.

In a neighbourly spirit, I suggest that the following ‘cut price’ games might provide the appropriate anaesthetic during this ‘monetary end of days’.

Diet Agricola
For Rent!
Wits & No Wagers
Age of Cottage Industry
19th Century
Bunny Bunny Bunny Bunny
Through the Age
Off-Peak Train To Wensleydale
Deux*
The Great Chimney Fire of London: 1666
Tara, Seat Cushion of Kings
One Wonder
Dominion: Austerity
Gun$ ‘n Gun$
Key Workhouse
Le Quarter-ve
One-way Ticket To Ride
Roads OR Boats
Warhammer 4K
The B-Road to Canterbury
Monoretto
Beatified Petersburg
Reiner Knizia’s Flea
Workbench of the World
Glen More..More? Mooooore?
10 White Cards
Outhouses of Madness
Very, very Small World
18X

...and so on.

*this is a very clever joke indeed…
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Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:49 pm
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Homage of Steam

Anthony Boydell
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Recently, as you will have noticed (), I have been discussing and (lets not be coy about this) promoting my latest venture Paperclip Railways (PCR) by various means: a designer diary, reports of play-tests and other bits and pieces. While the feedback has been generally positive, I have received a number of second-hand reports of 'muttering' in the area of PCRs supposed over-similarity to String Railway despite everything that I have (publicly) jotted around the subject!

Yesterday I received a Geekmail that explicitly (thank-you for not being passive-aggressive!) asked the following question:

"If you don't mind me asking, how is Paperclip Railways not an infringement on String Railways?"

Well, I do mind you asking a bit, but I will continue to fight for your right to do so.

Now I may be paddling close to troll-laden waters in saying this, but in a world where Dominion, Thunderstone and Ascension: Deckbuilding Game co-exist happily without even the pebble of acrimony being lobbed between them, how is it appropriate to take a swipe at the small guys?

Was Race for the Galaxy greeted with cries of '..but it's just San Juan in Space!' and Tom Lehman derided for it? Would it be churlish to point out the similarity of PitchCar and RoadZters? Equally, I must've missed the meeting when FITS and Blokus were called out as directly-related following a DNA test! And how about every worker-placement product? And the 100 million 'little card games' that are basically 60 cards in 6 colours with the numbers 1 thru 10 printed in the corner? etc etc ad infinitum.

Is the development of an idea just plain ol' copying?

Of course, PCR and SR have the same theme (railways - quite a popular theme, though) and, yes, they both make use of unusual components to represent their theme (wooden cubes as cloth, wood and stone ahoy!). I take accusations, and even 'innocent queries', of plagiarism very much to heart - it is not my intent to (nor do I) 'rip off' other peoples hard work. Myself, and fellow Surprised Stare-r Alan Paull, are pretty boringly-repetitive about wanting to design games with a twist - something new or something taking a pleasing twist on the familiar (ah, maybe there's the rub?)...

So, here's a brief summary of PCR vs String Railway and why it's NOT any kind of infringement / theft / copying etc:

[1] SR is a light, 20 minute game; PCR is designed to be heavier.

[2] SR uses strings of fixed length for placement; PCR gives you 60 paperclips and it's up to you, your 'plan' (and your current station location) to decide how long or short those placements are

[3] There is no 'hand of cards' to manipulate, manage and/or combo off of in SR; in PCR, hand-management is key (you can't build without cards, find the right combinations and interactions between stations etc)

[4] Strings are 'free' to place; PCR demands that you 'buy' your links

[5] SR scoring is immediately after you have placed your string; PCR has in- and end-game scoring

[6] PCR stations are quirkily-named (did someone just say Qwirkle?) and it has a pun-tastic tag-line

[7] There are almost 100 station cards in PCR with circa 50 unique effects and abilities between them

[8] SR offers ONE action available in your turn (draw then play); PCR offers a choice from two (draw OR play)

[9] PCR stations don't have that cute, traveling mouse on them (at least, not yet)

I will concede, to all of you in the whispering gallery, that - yes - without having seen and played String Railway, Paperclip Railways would not exist today. As I have credited in the rulebook, it was 'inspired by' Mr Hayashi's diversion and set me thinking in a particular direction. This is, of course, no more 'theft' or 'infringement' than admiring the auction mechanic in Amun-Re and building it into League of Six, or re-using the 'pick up and deliver a cube' mechanic in every railway game since 2000 and so-bloomin'-on.

Thus, I present my defence.

Next Week: Comic Sans - The Much-maligned Font (ducks whistle)
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Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:12 am
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Lend Me Your Ears

Anthony Boydell
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Back way back when, ooh must be three years ago now, Richard 'Smok' Clyne introduced me to a garish, cartoony card game called Glory to Rome. I can't recall exactly WHY he picked it up - probably on one of his excursions into Leisure Games / Orcs Nest in Central London - especially as it looked so bloody awful in it's blister packaging with its horribly clip-art-ed aesthetic. It must have called to him through the Time Spiral boosters or something.

Jimmy made one of his rare trips over to Chez Clyne and the three of us played maybe three times that evening. I absolutely bloody hated it.

I hated the look. I hated the fact I had to get my head around six different actions with their 'zone movement' rules. I hated the massive, fold-out, hugely-arrowed rulebook with it's card-by-card clarifications.

Most of all, I hated the LEGIONARY action: in a game I'm trying to get to grips with, mechanic wise, having both your opponents rip all of the cards out of your hand makes for a miserable experience.

Looking back, I may have also have been affected by the seeming-ease with which Richard and Jimmy got stuck right in - they were veterans of San Juan (which I have played maybe 3 times in my life, to date) - and (as it turned out) Richard had been to various Cons and been play-testing what would become Race for the Galaxy. So, they were content with multi-function card play. What bewilders me now is that as a long-time M:TG-er, why it was such a terrible 'first impression' for me?

Anyway, I had inwardly vowed to avoid playing this ugly, chaotic beast ever again.

The following week, Richard and I were at our usual pre-Magic supper table ('Have you been to a Harvester before?' 'Yes, thanks - now piss off and get me a large meat pie') with a couple of un-exposed pals; he removed Glory to Rome from it's supermarket sanitary tray and ran through a quick explanation. My heart sank.

However, during that game something happened; I had a Damascan Road revelation. The scales fell from my eyes, this particular bush began burning and the game suddenly 'clicked'. Literally so! My memory is of a specific moment when I looked at my cards and knew EXACTLY what I needed to do next - a proper light-bulb moment. Legionary ain't so bad - there are ways around it, or to use it better.

Once you get over the card movements (and your snobbery over the 'look'), Glory to Rome has an enormous amount to offer: lots of player interaction, CCG-style combo-deliciousness and a crack-like addictive re-playability. For a single, shared-deck design there is a very low level of luck involved - all of the 'buildings',pretty much, are powerful in their own way and you can often develop a plan around your opening hand.

Within the space of that week, I went from whine-y hater to intrigued fan-boy. It became our filler of choice and, often, the main event of the evening. Very quickly, the GtR bug had spread from Richard, Jimmy and myself to Ray, Jon and Iain. Gaming evenings (lots of them) would begin and end with 'Glory'. It was responsible for more early-morning finishes than anything else; not a session would go by without 'just one more'...

The best thing of all, though, is that Glory To Rome became 'the great leveler' for our group. While I may always have been competing for last place in Age of Steam, The Princes of Florence or The Scepter of Zavandor (hopefully not true nowadays!), when Glory hit the table it would be hard to predict the outcome. Jon liked to Merchant, or build a Circus; Richard's a big fan of the Patron-abusing Bath; I can't resist getting Craftsmen clients and Jimmy went through an outrageous seam of winning the game by building an early Catacombs.

In the first year, we were averaging 5-10 plays PER WEEK - even now, three years down the line, we still get 5+ games per month. I've seen it travel from 1000+ in the Geek rankings to 99 (it's current, deserved position). This is a truly remarkable game and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Forget your Nightfalls, your Thunderstones and your Dominions - there is only one TRUE essential card game for your collection..

Glory to Glory To Rome!

Still unconvinced? Take a look at Enders Comprehensive Review.
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Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:02 am
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Uncle Tonys Enormous Packet

Anthony Boydell
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In an attempt to spread the hobbyist disease and get the family (the 'bigger' extended family, that is) playing more board games, I have made up a 'box of delights' with which to entertain and amaze this holiday Season. I'm hoping that Messrs Cadbury and Nestle will not be the ONLY providers of Easter Eggs this month! The selected morsels of gaming delight (sans glittery wrapping and fun-sized chocolate bars) are, with my obtuse reasonings, the following:

[1] Paperclip Railways - always good to get a non-gamer view of this, but I have settled in to a bit of a tradition of trying out upcoming designs on the extended relatives. Totemo was a massive hit last year (in prototype form), so I've also hoofed in a 'final version' to leave at the ancestorial Manse.

[2] Carcassonne - calling myself a gamer attempting to push gateway games would be a blatant, and severely punishable, crime had I not included this true classic. SdJ 2001 - was it really that long ago? Looking forward, very much, to next years 'Dominion: Carcassonne' expansion!

[3] For Sale - God Bless Mr Dorra and all who sail in him - this stupidly simple, yet subtly devious little auction game is a great intro to bidding without all the peripheral nonsense of building railways, harvesting / shipping spices and all that malarky.

[4] Familienbande - May the Lord Sanctify Mr Colovini and may perpetual light shine upon him (even when he's trying to get some sleep) for this splendid little filler. Make fun out of genetic dead-ends and take your mutation to the top of the scoring track (remember: purple ears are the BLUE score marker). Not much fun if you're actually ginger, have a nose that folks mistake for a conjoined twin OR ears you could glide off a Pier with.

[5] Alhambra - Dirk done good. Best with 3, though, and unplayable with 5 or 6 (four new tiles and four new money cards come your turn). No need to endanger floor structures with the Biblical flood of expansions - the original is still the best.

[6] Giganten Der Lufte - much better name than the English re-print (Airships) - much grander and more noble! Giants of the Air! Wow! A cute and interesting dice-based building game - fits nicely into 45-60 minutes. Extra points for farting during play and claiming you're launching your own 'air ship'...

[7] Dixit - Beautiful art, a minute to explain and a room full of happy people. Sold!

[8] Stone Age - there is no way I could get away with trying Agricola on the tender newbies, but Stone Age is a colourful gaming 'hit': cocaine to Mr Rosenberg's crack, if you will.

[9] Parade / Gargon / Braggart - a triple of tasty, card-only tidbits; easy to explain, fun to play and never out-staying their welcome.

On The Cards / How to Play Cards - no hyperlinks for this little beauty! Surprised Stares 'plan' for Essen Spiel 2011 and grounded in traditional card-play. Sebastian Bleasdale (On the Underground) has laboured tirelessly on this extremely clever design. No more info for you at the moment (such a TEASE!). This one's for W.Eric.M - did he spot this little rumour-y snippet for his weekly 'round up'?

I'll let you know how we get on with this lot.
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Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:04 pm
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Smudge Missing In Action STOP Send More Humbugs STOP

Anthony Boydell
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Mother,

Further to my last epistle, and the dispatch of the enormous hampers, may I kindly request that you refrain from sending any more 'Gentlemens Relish', as we have quite enough a stock of it here in Trench 14!

Speaking of games, with or without biscuits, we had another positively smashing evening of cerebral distractions with 'the chaps'; so much so that Boffo was temporarily diverted away from writing his tiresome 'War Poetry'!

Sadly, Smudge has been reported 'missing in action' following a futile attempt to retrieve a dropped monocle in No-Mans Land, and so Boffo dragged along a couple of newly-Commissioned fellows to bring up the numbers.

Jobbers, a rural type, possessed of a keen mind and a large bottle of trench-brewed 'cider'; and 'Manners' - possessed of sharp intellect and an outrageous thatch of unruly hair (which he kept in a tattered Hat Box).

We amused a couple of recently-conscripted Privates (Sonny and Beebs) with a few rounds of Tsuro and For Sale, before dismissing them for the evening (to do whatever it is cannon-fodder likes to do) - Jobbers remarked that he very much enjoyed playing with his Privates too.

The four of us agreed that Agricola would be an appropriate start to a more serious evening of gaming, so the facilities and equipments were duly established and play commenced!

Boffo, sat to my left, once again pursued a stratagem of Astronomy, Birthstones and a general fart-arsing about - consistent, solid play if a little unfocused (I fear he was simultaneously working on a Stream of Consciousness diatribe about futility, mustard gas and veruccas). Jobbers deliberations garnered a tidy, manure-based crop economy and Manners got a little cul-de-saced with Animal Breeder and just the two family members. I, in the other hand, planned and implemented an extravagant farm of livestock, crops and a delightful 5-room stone house with the usual lavish Catering enhancements (a Stone Oven, a Stone Kitchen and so on).

During the game, Boffo cracked an amusing 'bon mot' about his 'stump jump plow' and how he had sufficient 'wood' to plow with (there was much sniggering from the lower orders) although we were all aghast at the prospect of him having to 'keep it up' for five fields!

The final result looked like a graph of our Company morale over the last week descending, as it did, 48-35-30-11.

Once we had tallied, Boffo started to free-form a Ballad on these numbers, the 'loss of innocence' and 'Church Bells at Evensong' but, fortunately, both Manners and Jobbers beat him back to sense with his copy of Goa and we continued.

This was Jobbers' first introduction to Goa, a sometimes-played item for myself and rather an obsession for both Manners and Boffo (and, of course, the absent Smudge). The bidding was agreeably assertive (there's nothing worse than a timid auction) and the game ended in a close run thing with Boffo pipping me out 44-42-something-something else: my neatly-aligned row of 6VP progressions and a full 4 colonies edged by Boffo's 'higgeldy-piggeldy' board position but a full hand of matching Exploration card symbols.

Some would argue this was an awfully crass and gamer-ish way to win as MY plantation fulfilled all of the thematic criteria as well as the scoring - but Boffo was several ales ahead of me and I had no wish to have to pull out my truncheon and assert my authority.

Pausing for eighteen verses of 'God Save The King' (there are - strictly - only five, but Boffo hit a fruitful vein of satirical commentary, melancholic nostaligia and trench-foot), the attendees dispersed into the cold night.

Much love, as always, to Pa-pa and Nanny Cystitis.

Your Loving Son,

Antonius
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Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:06 am
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Alternate Universe

Anthony Boydell
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In a shameless re-hash of a post I did earlier in the year that didn't garner NEARLY enough thumbs, here's a re-visiting (with a few updates) of games that could've been, but weren't, but probably are in an infinite multiverse of parallel realities.

One reality is hard enough, though - imagine an Eternity of geeks bitching about Comic Sans font...omniscient deity preserve us!

Anyway...

NO-POWER GRID
by PAY FRIESE

An accurate recreation of 1970s Great Britain as industrial action leads to massive power cuts and an astonishing increase in the sale of candles. Stations that are unable to function include Coal, Oil and Garbage (which is liberally littering the streets); nuclear stations are still being approved by the Government and won’t come on line until the 80s when they’re immediately removed from the game due to the ’3 mile island’ event card. The first player to power ANY City at all is the winner.

Best played with five - especially if four stand in front of the game and stop the fifth (and anyone else, for that matter) playing.

ARMY OF FROGS
Published by GEN-42 million (and counting)

Open the box and discover the delightfully colourful and tactile pieces which will, every spring, litter your gaming room in marbles that will hatch and create even more bakelite frogs. Within a couple of years, you won't be able to pick up 'LOST CITIES', 'Agricola' or 'DIE FUGGER' without smearing the carpet in croaking, crystalline granules.

Best played with...someone else's copy, preferrably on a different continent (pick the Aussies - they've got LOADS of room!)

DOMINIONOS
by Donald X-Men Vaccination

Now officially encoded as part of the Human Genome, Dominionos is the deck-building game of choice for most of the known Universe. Players spend money and actions to build their own combinations of effects, competing to have the longest and most irritatingly-combotastic turns than anyone else. Cards are laid end-to-end until someone finds something better to do.

Best with: Another game to play while someone (Iain!) takes their turn.

KEY HOLESURGERY
by David Brainsurgeon

The latest in Richard Breese's KEY series, HOLESURGERY takes MB's classic OPERATION and adds resources, a tech tree and a headache from thinking too hard! Spend your money wisely when accruing antiseptic, surgical implements and anesthetists - run your theatre efficiently to slice, chop, stitch and swab as many patients as possible. The game ends when a player is offered a lucrative private contract abroad or someone ends up going to DIGNITAS.

Best played with: A pair of marigolds and a strong stomach.

18YOY
by Professors of Mathematics, frustrated City Traders and Coal Stokers

Basically a tile-laying / pattern matching game with some monopoly money thrown in, 18YOY can take anything between 20 minutes and 'the rest of your life' to play. Shares are bought and sold, track is laid, real-ale is drunk - all to no discernible benefit apart from keeping 18YOY players out of everyone elses games.

NEWCASTLE
by Martin Why-aye-lace

Participate in the building of NEWCASTLE (UK) from the early 1960s through to the present day! Get that real feeling of heavy industry, cheap housing and urban poverty by overbuilding everything, all the time, for no gain whatsoever.

Best played with: 19 pints and a strong curry

See also: BRAS (the nightclubbing simulation) and AGE OF STEAMERS (the sewage re-processing game)

FITS
by that little-known bloke

Quick-fire, pattern matching family favourite with multiple-level variants played in a single game. FITS is accompanied by industrial-strength strobe lighting and House music. Players attempt to slot variously-shaped tiles onto a pre-marked board before their synapses collapse in a super-nova of optic feedback and aural nightmares.

Best with: chairs fitted with restraining straps and a burly Nurse called Martin.

7 HONDAS

The fast-playing, thought-provoking Honda Civ(ic) car-drafting game where players start with Factories of differing abilities and attempt to gain the largest number of points. Passing the buck left, right and then left again, scoring is divided into a number of categories: Horsepower, Product Recalls, Miles per Gallon, Retail Outlets, Profit and a confusing Green policy.

Best played with: massive Government grants and a good Legal team. Not to be confused with The Toyota Recall Game OR Hey! That's My Brake Fluid!

LE OTHER HAVRE
by Lookout, She's Coming! Games

One of the lesser goals of this challenging, resource-juggling think-fest is to score more points than anyone else, although the PRIMARY goal is to get a game of it in before your partner asks you to pause and 'do some jobs around the house'. This is fairly straightforward in the simplified game, but the full game can take upwards of two to three weeks! Bins don't empty themselves*, shelves don't put themselves up** and your partners mother won't stay at home and bitch about you in secret***

On your turn you can either:
a. think for ages and take some stuff, or
b. think for ages and put your worker on a building in play, or
c. think for ages and buy something with money
d. think for ages and sell something for money
e. do d. and then e.
f. do either a./b./c./d./e., think for ages and then take your move back again.

Best played with: 3 (or 1 Wood and 2 Clay)

Footnotes:
* unless you have the RECYCLING CENTRE
** unless you have the CARPENTERS HUT
*** unless you have embedded her Worker piece in concrete and tipped it into the f**king harbour!


SID MIEIUIERS' UNCIVILISATION
by Not Sid Mieiuiers

"Before you lies a vast bounty of land, ripe for the [EDITED]. Your meager [EDITED] will influence the [EDITED] you must [EDITED]. [EDITED] your [EDITED] well and they will [EDITED] you to infinite heights of [EDITED]. If civilization manages to endure the [EDITED], your [EDITED] will hang in every [EDITED][EDITED][EDITED]..."

Fight your opponents, explore the rich terrain, manage your resources an swear a lot. The ruder you are to the other players, the better your chance of winning. Mail-bomb the manufacturers and get a free expansion!
Now fuck off!

Er..BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

One or more of the players are working to a secret agenda and attempting to stop this game ever getting to the table because it takes too long and only one person ever seems to know what they're doing! If the secret players can successful divert the gaming group into a session of NO POWER GRID, FARMICOLA or somesuch OR they reduce the BATTLESTAR players' will-to-live / beer quotient to zero, they win!

Two expansions supplement the game play by adding more plastic pieces, cards, complexity and playing time for no discernable benefit beyond revenue generation.

Best played with: leather straps and a ball-gag for the BSG fan and a box full of other games for everyone else.

TOTEMO - The Simulation

The colourful, 3D building game for braves, squaws and papooses where, after creating your bright Totem Poles, you take control of an Army of invading Europeans who will burn them down, steal the Squaws, kill the Braves and generally trample over everything sacred and precious to your tribe.

Best played with: Fire water and a roulette wheel

FARMICOLA

The new classic of the naughties - the game that revolutionized everything by taking us back 300 years and making everything really bloody difficult. FARMICOLA is an action-placement game played over 14 rounds with players striving to build a workable farm using small pieces of shaped wood and cardboard. It all inevitably degenerates when someone has to place a live pig into their playing area - it's almost impossible to restore the game state when the table is covered in 200lbs of squealing pork and fresh dung.

Players collect resources and trade them in for victory points via a convoluted series of actions, bonus cards and shoving. Resources include stone, clay, grain, horrifying skin diseases, vegetables, pigs, cows, chickens, horses, more cows, sheep, potato blight, mud, fecal matter, cattle (oh, that's cows again isn't it?) and respiratory difficulties.

Best played with: European Community subsidies and a double-barrelled shotgun
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Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:17 pm
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Bloody Hell

Anthony Boydell
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Part Two in an occasional series of retrospectives examining reviews of previous Boydell efforts: why they're 'on the money' and/or 'on the wrong planet'

This week: Bloody Legacy (An un-necessarily violent and offensive card game for all the family)

What Tony Says:
Two to eight players compete in a quick-fire, 'take that', light-hearted and slightly surreal card game. Comedy art, a daft premis and a detailed, quirky web-site combine for some shallow fun. Puerto Rico it ain't. It was extra-ordinarily popular with boys aged 9-12.

Bloody Legacy has been, apart from Bad Grandmas, the lightest game that I have designed - in fact, it harkens back to days working for HM Government (mid-90s) and spending lunch-hours board-gaming in the canteen (it was originally themed as a kind of food fight).

I had an enormous amount of fun doing the artwork - one done daily over the space of a month or so, such that a consistent style ran through them. How I chuckled at 'Shark-infested Duvet' and 'Feeling a Little Flushed'! Even the (eventual) German translations of the names made me guffaw: there is no equivalent Deutsche pun for 'Duck' (bird) and 'Duck' (get your head down!) etc.

www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk/BloodyLegacy/index.htm

What You Lot Say:
"Play cards to kill your opponents over and over. Very little in the way of strategy or replayability." (rated 2) - well-spotted. Now, please point out where it says on the box that this is a heavyweight economic-engine of a game or a complex, interactive resource management machine? No? Can't find such a statement? Exactly...(sniffs)

"Played prototype. Not much fun!" (rated 2) - right! you're barred from playing any more of my prototypes! Next time you can hand over your money before you discover it's so bad! Some people are just so ungrateful! As I say to my teenage daughters: 'A little more gratitude and a little less attitude!'

"The game feels like an overly-long game of chance...I'd rather either a quick game of chance or a similarly lengthed (sic) game where some sort of skill actually matters more." (rated 2.5) - er, given BL takes approx 10 minutes from start to end with EIGHT players, either this poster is immensely SLOW OR he's some kind of giant fly living in a differently-perceived time-line! Perhaps this was on the shelf next to CAYLUS and he got all confused and stuff?

"Very samey after a few plays." (rated 4) - the ratings are getting better, at least. A statement that could, of course, be equally applied to Power Grid, Agricola, and 18XX (the whole chuffing lot of 'em), so Bloody Legacy is in excellent company! Result!*

"Mmm?" (rated 5) - Mmmmarvellous? Mmmmmagnificent? Mmmmmuuuuummmmy!?

"Great for kids. My 7-yr old son loves it." (rated 5) - As I said: It was extra-ordinarily popular with boys aged 7-12.

"Not a great deal of control, but the cards are fun. A few drinks would help me enjoy this game a lot more." (rating 5.5) - yay! someone listened to my suggestion of using tequila shots as life counters!

"Awful game but great fun played not seriously. Some gruesome pictures. and be careful - there's somebody in the oven - ITS YOU!" - now there's the rub! 'played not seriously'.

An FLGS in Reading, England had an irate mother come in and complain about the violent artwork (vomit, immolation, dissection, electrocution, impalement, elephants etc), how it was setting a bad and unsuitable example etc...and then she bought more copies for her nephews! Now that's someone who GETS it...

Anyway, go and take a look at the site - it's a lot of fun, if I do say so myself, and keep an eye-out for the ship in a bottle!

*A triumph of optimism against the obvious.
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Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:55 pm
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Home from Home with Dawn

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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This sunny spell continues and it would've been churlish, nay LAZY, to have missed the chance to travel over to the Paull's Game Developer Day on the motorbike. My helmet has a flip-down sun-shade gizmo which means no more be-dazzlement, the top-box is big enough to accommodate a glut of prototypes and I needed petrol anyway, so this was the perfect excuse to touch my inner Easy Rider.

My prototypes: Paperclip Railways (not for playing, but for discussions about packaging etc), Mountain Railway, Ticket to Ride: Ivor the Engine and Ecology (a VERY early Boydell prototype from 'the Cheltenham Years').

I arrived in Nailsworth just after 10AM to find Sebastian Bleasedale and Brett Gilbert already in attendance (teachers' pets!); Seb was collecting 'names of games' for us all to choose from, Brett was up for some 'localized banter' and Alan did the only decent thing and brewed up a pot of strong coffee.

We were joined shortly after by Mr Richard Breese, Andrew (a new attendee, Alan met him at Essen), Jeremy (looking for some rules QA-ing of a Pirate game due for release at UK Games Expo) and the affable Mr Rob Fisher (Monkey Dash).

Andrew gave us a potted history of his 'career to date' by way of background and what a mix it was: graphic design and advertising in 'the City', moved into Theatre and then, recently, returned to Art and Design to garner some kind of peace. Through his membership of a Quaker community, Andrew came across a spiritual text, 'The O of Home' about what Home means in all sorts of context - from this book came a game, and from this game came the first play-test of the day.

1 - The Home Game
Nominally 3-6 players, this is a story-telling game with a little bit of set collection (of 5 variously-coloured tokens) and a lot of co-operative elements. Players travel (via a die role) along a lattice of spots, through the four stages of life: Childhood, Youth, Prime and Old Age. Certain spots lead to certain actions - such as swapping tokens, the taking and resolution of Event cards, the gaining of personality traits etc. The key to our enjoyment of the game was that any cards that needed resolving involved us, as a group, judging the matching gain or loss of tokens eg. the event 'Your Parents Divorce' lead us to deciding the player would lose 1 x FAMILY token but would gain 1 x COMMUNITY token (out into the big world). Another example was Charlie Paull drawing the personality card 'You Have A Loud Voice' to which we responded: 'everyone else loses 1 INNER PEACE' and so on.

Verdict: The game designer view was that the EVENTS were the focus of the game and the bit we all looked forward to. 'Lose the die and tie movement to the cards' was one suggestion, also 'lose the complicated lattice of movement spaces to simplify, and speed up, progression'. It had a GiftTRAP/Dixit vibe that I liked - definitely a social experience where the-more-players-the-better should be encouraged. Not for the overly-analytical or the socially-awkward!

Lunch of a meaty, cheesy, bready, pickle-y nature was followed by a rearrangement of the group. Alan Paull, Richard Breese and myself repaired to the sunny dining room for a first 'go' at ORIGINS/DAWN OF CIVILIZATION - the new 'proper' boardgame from the venerable Mr P.

2 - Origins of Civilization
As first play-tests go, it wasn't bad at all - although it was obvious that there were a lot of upkeep actions and components that involved much effort to complete but weren't really adding to the core of the game.

In summary, players are vying for control within a number of barbarian clans by recruiting soldiers, priests, bureaucrats, artisans, farmers and merchants. In a Small World-like way, the amount of pawns/rods/discs etc in a clan determine it's turn order - important for the resolution of player actions and subsequent 'attainment' of technologies.

The aim is to get victory chits by either PROPOSING the development of the clan in some way (see list of people earlier) OR by being the clan leader WHEN that development happens OR, of course, BOTH! Technologies are 'claimed' by the presence of people types on one or all boards and/or by the attainment of previous technologies eg. if I have 2 trade routes AND Taxes has already be completed, I can gain '<insert name of achievement here>'.

There is A LOT of promise here...but on longer meditation, I don't feel it's as deep / thinky as Confucius (which should be Mr P's natural home) - at least not in its current form (Mr Breese likened it to Alan's Tara, Seat of Kings in 'feel').

The joy, of course, is that I feel we're on the yellow brick road with this one - looking at an fascinating 18 months of development ahead! I will be nagging him to bring a copy to Uk Games Expo if anyone would like to contact us (feedback@surprisedstaregames.co.uk) and participate in another play-test?

Following several desperate phone calls about 'it all going pear-shaped here', I returned to the family pile circa 5PM to relieve some of the parental stresses and the beautiful, bright day ended quietly.

You will notice, from the above, that NONE of the Boydell prototypes got a look in - this isn't a major worry, as I was being somewhat opportunistic anyway! My only regret is that I failed to try another of Brett Gilbert's designs - he's a funny and inventive chap, you know: http://www.brettspiel.co.uk/
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Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:08 am
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REALLY Filthy Gaming (Cert 18)

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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The dirty-minded amongst you, yesterday, remarked upon the proximity of a laptop to a roll of toilet paper in one of my ShedCam photos.

I think it sufficiently illustrates how the average geek mind works, don't you?

I mean, can't a fellow suffer from Hay Fever without his internet-al actions being queried? Can I not retain a supply of moist tissues in my car for those sneezy moments without insinuations of high-speed shandy-antics? Is possession of an inflatable cyborg proof of a mechanical sex fetish or just 'having a bouncy Dalek about the place'?

For heavens' sake!

Grow up!

Naturally, this foul and despicable slur got me to thinking...I SAID "THINKING"! If we were, hypothetically, to combine porn and gaming - what would we get*?

Rude Board Games (Volume 1)
(Double) Penetration
Briefs Encounter
Age of the Porn Industry
Pantics!
Ménage a Troyes
Anal Mania
Nightfellatio / Thunderbone
18XXX
Scat & Chocolate
*uck Dealer / Galaxy *ucker
A Choir?
Semener Wars
Ticket to 'Ride' / Ticket to 'Ride' Alvin & Dexter (missing colon!)
Race for the KY Jelly / KY Market
Bra's
Whore & Tortoise
Essen M / Dominionatrix
El Grande (that's what I call mine!)
Viagara
Die Mucky
Porn Dungeon Lords
Orgasmic Encounter
Glory Hole To Rome
Dicks-It
7 Wankers
Rough Traders of Carthage
Cottage of Steam
Up (your) Front
Buttlelore
Powergrid: Brazillian / Pain & Part-Yer-Gal

and, of course, who could forget:
2 Girls One World Cup Card Game

Now wash your mouth out with soap and water.

T.B.

*This excludes EVERY new Martin Wallace game which has us all prematurely-ejaculating anyway
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7 Comments
Sat Apr 9, 2011 8:23 am
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