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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The Circle Of Life

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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This work lark is all very well but it does, sometimes, put a strain in one’s gaming activities. Carl has solved this by eschewing work, at least for the time being, and berating us – be it by email, text or voice – for being ‘late home’. If he had a wooden rolling pin and a plastic hair-net, the picture of 70’s British domestic dystopia would be complete:
“What time do you call this?”
“I should’ve listened to my mother”
“You treat this place like a hotel”

etc

Wee bairn Brendan was joining Big C, the Beard and myself for an evening of quite heavy entertainment. Even though Quarriors! was perched tantalizingly at one end of the table, it was the more thoughtful fayre that won out.

First up, as a quick filler (ha!) to lead us to supper time, was Dungeon Lords; the bastard love-child of a thinky Euro and Pratchett-esque humour (with a ‘u’, of corse!) and a(n un-)healthy dose of chaos to really mess with your mind. It’s clever, its colourful, its probably got too many bits and pieces – all of which I like and admire, but it also punishes your little miscalculations quite drastically and, equally as often, punishes a solid and considered approach with random acts of ‘precipitative ordure’.

I have no real idea how to go about winning this game, often placing second by a couple of points. The same was true this evening, with Carl – on his first play – taking the laurels. The Beard performed admirably well in a fourth place only nine points behind Big C, even though he had a 21 point penalty gap to make up over the rest of us! Fine play, indeed.

Remarkably, quips about ‘sending an imp up my passage’ or similar were few and far between.

All the talk of food and ‘feeding monsters’ was leading to rather over-gluttonous looks from Carl in mine and Richard’s direction so we hurriedly telephoned our order to the local Chinese Takeway and hastened to collect. Pausing to remark that it was colder in Richard’s dining room by some way than outside, Carl suggested we play our next game ‘al fresco’.

Lummey! When it’s suggested we enjoy access to someone’s front garden, I get all hot and bothered! (aaaaaaaaaand…we’re back on track).

The evening’s dessert (apart from the banana fritters currently dribbling their way down Carl’s front like the alien slugs in ‘Slither’) was the splendid Key Market. Slightly easier in the rules explanation than Dungeon Lords and a lot less components!

Brendan looked to “cheap to hire” / no-pay workers to power his Manor House/Retirements, Carl opted for early and more profitable selling/buying, Richard went for better production (and almost constant start player) and I slapped my Key worker (oo-er) into a village and then produced FOUR luxury goods per Season – quickly getting to Master of two guilds (10 pts per luxury pair, Key Worker produces +2). In one splendid Farming phase, I upgraded my farmhouse, became Master in the Wheelwrights and retired a wheezy old labourer!

I believe my Guild-ish set-up was the subject of a vigorous debate (and contested ‘rules update’) a while back, but seeing as Mr Breese ‘he say no’ I continued to exploit this uber-productive combo. Despite mistakenly selling luxuries into the market for extra cash (making them available to the others), I took the high podium spot with 152-127-124-95.

We had been pressed for time, with Brendan needing to be home by 11.15, but it turned out that our brisk 90 minute playing time (not bad with TWO noobs) meant he was only slightly at risk of turning into a vegemeeple. Of course, his mother would be perched on the door-jamb, rollers in her bouffant head-carpet, scowling like the bull in a Bugs Bunny cartoon:
“What time do you call this?”
“I should’ve listened to my mother”
“You treat this place like a hotel”

etc

It’s the circle of life, innit?
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Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:12 am
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Fatty Ham

Anthony Boydell
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I went to the Games Designer Day at (the new) Surprised Stare Games HQ in Nailsworth (aka Alan's House) on Saturday. Quite a sturdy attendance from the usual suspects (Bleasdale, Vincent, Fisher, Breese) and the relatively new (Ratcliffe, Harris).

I kicked off with a couple of strong coffees and a round of 'Top Banana' - Mr Bleasdale meets Dr Professor Lord Sir Reiner of Knizia in a sweet, if slightly-overlong, dice-rolling/saving filler. Literally, 30 seconds to learn the rules but upwards of 30 minutes to actually play...more work needed (and requisite, if copious, feedback from us other players also provided).

With a couple of hours before the usual delicious buffet lunch, the congregation split into two groups for a 5 player Mountain Railway (Un Jouer D'Antoine Boydell) and "Key Seven" (tantalizingly un-named candidate for an upcoming R&D slot) - I'm not sure, but I think K7 is 'From the stable of Sebastian Bleasdale' - it's hard to know on account of Seb appearing at this kind of do with a van load of prototypes...

The Mountain Railway test pulled in to completion after approximately 1h 45m (including rules explanation) and the slight over-run was due to quite the most horrible chain of in-game 'weather' I've seen so far - add to this: my forgetting to insert an extra event cube into the 'bag', and we could've clawed back 15 mins. Not unduly worried by any of this. All feedback was positive and the scores were pleasingly close (lots of 'ifs' and 'buts' in the post-match punditry): 104, 99 (me), 80, 79 and 75. I shall be bringing this along to Spiel'11 for anyone who'd like to give it a birrova blind test too...

Lunch intervened and then it was time to hammer some smaller, shorter fayre. I took on Rob Fisher's Cockatrice (Rob = Monkey Dash) with Robert Harris (sometime UK BGGNews correspondent and playtest group pioneer). Scarily, Rob shares his name with my dearly departed pal (see a prior article) and so I was reminded of him every time _this_ Rob's name came up.

Alan Paull had a game to test (cue: trumpets, cue: ticker-tape parade!) - a revamped version of his published 80's classic City of Sorcerers; I didn't get to see it being played, but I heard that Sebastian took a heavy-duty metaphorical sledgehammer to it, forcing Alan back into his laboratory. Alan also has a new 2 player wargame ready for further battering - this one I need to have a go at sooner rather than later as I'm trying to want it ready for UK Games Expo next year!

Anyway, back to the quiet table for three upstairs in the sunny living room: Cockatrice (not the final name, I'm sure) is a race/chase game about Gnomes stealing treasure and being chased by a big, old monster. Fun, quick-ish and very much in the EARLY EARLY stages of development, this was creaky BUT fun!

Looking at my watch, it seems that seven hours had passed with uncanny haste and the final event, at least for me, was a round of a deduction game (no name yet) presented by Rob - quick, clever and easy to explain. Ian Vincent (Ticket To Ride: India map designer) arrived, following the completion of another game test, so I challenged him to take (no name yet) apart and then left!

Home in time for baked pasta, irritable children, a nervous wife (she would be doing a triathlon the following morning) and, but of course, Doctor Who.
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Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:45 pm
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Why Don't You...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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...Pack Away Your Boardgames and Go And Do Something More Interesting Instead?

The following are TRUE and REAL and ACTUAL hobbies, clubs, organizations and/or recreational concepts etc. Do you REALLY want to spend the rest of your lives pushing cubes about, rolling die and laying 5cm square tiles on the table? No, of course not – so, do any of the following entice?

Conversational Anglo-Saxon
http://www.tha-engliscan-gesithas.org.uk/
The English Companions promotes interest and research into the Anglo-Saxon era (AD 450-1100) (TB: Web site is a bit out of date…(waits))

Barbed Wire Collecting
http://www.antiquebarbedwiresociety.com/magazine.html
To inform interested individuals about the many aspects of barbed wire and related items including but not limited to barbed wire canes, books, fencing tools, fence posts/tops, liniment bottles/tins, ornamental wire, paper items, planter wire, postage stamps depicting barbed wire, salesman samples, staples, and warning/signal plates. (TB: Driven insane on the open range? Well, here’s fun…)

Barbershop Singing
http://www.singbarbershop.com/
Barbershop harmony is a style of unaccompanied vocal music characterised by consonant four-part chords for every melody note in a predominantly homophonic texture. The melody is consistently sung by the lead, with the tenor harmonising above the melody, the bass singing the lowest harmonising notes, and the baritone completing the chord. Barbershop singers adjust pitches to achieve perfectly tuned chords in just intonation while remaining true to the established tonal centre. (TB: …speechless, in four parts)

Brick Collecting
http://www.tlgwindpower.com/tweety/
” We collect all kinds of bricks, building bricks, paving bricks, firebrick any brick as long as it's branded with a name on it or a design, pattern, pictures, or numbers. Never do we pick up just a plain brick, we call them vanilla's. Three times a year we have a brick swap, these meets are more like big Family Reunions that's when we bring extra bricks for our brick friends. We picnic and tell lots of wonderful brick stories, yes there's lots of stories and history to be told about bricks.” (TB: Serious activists lob blocks through people’s windows wrapped around letters…)

The Dozenal Society
http://www.dozenalsociety.org.uk/
Base twelve (also known as dozenal and originally as duodecimal) has long been singled out as a possible replacement for base ten. It offers many advantages over base ten… (TB: They’ve been counting to 12 on their hands in Cornwall / Norfolk for centuries in the UK)

Ear Candles
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ear_candling
Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. (TB: You know your parents discouraged you putting things in your ear? Well, they were right…)

The Floatation Tank Association
http://www.floatationtankassociation.net/
Floatation R.E.S.T. (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy/ Technique) is floating on top of a 25cm deep pool of salt water in an especially designed tank. The tank resembles a large enclosed bathtub. Usually constructed from fibreglass and is built so as to eliminate all outside distractions such as sight, sound, tactile sensations, and gravity. A large amount of Epsom salt is added to the water to create optimal buoyancy. The water is warmed to a temperature of 35.5 centigrade. All these elements help create an atmosphere in which one can achieve a profound feeling of relaxation and well-being. (TB: Has anyone else seen Altered States?)

Graeco-Roman Wrestling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Roman_wrestling
According to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), Greco-Roman wrestling is one of the six main forms of amateur competitive wrestling practiced internationally today. (TB: Greasing yourself up and attacking fellow swimmers in the changing rooms is NOT Graeco-Roman Wrestling)

The Japanese Tea Ceremony
http://japanese-tea-ceremony.net/
It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one's attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one's heart. (TB: Kettle ON!)

The Letter Box Study Group
http://www.lbsg.org/
...the Letter Box Study Group is the recognised definitive authority on the British letter box... (TB: Meaning the rest of us don’t need to give a toss)

The Maledicta Society
http://aman.members.sonic.net/unique.html
The International Maledicta Society, founded in 1976, unites some 6,000 scholars and others interested in this ubiquitous phenomenon of human speech. (TB: Fuck, yeah!)

Overtone Singing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtone_singing
… is a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances (or formants) created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody. (TB: Isn’t this just singing with an extra word in front?)

Pyramidology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramidology
ome pyramidologists claim that the Great Pyramid of Giza has encoded within it predictions for the exodus of Moses from Egypt[2], the crucifixion of Jesus,[2] the start of World War I,[3][4] the founding of modern-day Israel in 1948, and future events including the beginning of Armageddon; discovered by using what they call "pyramid inches" to calculate the passage of time (one British inch = one solar year) (TB: What’s the point..?)

Qigong
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong
…the control and manipulation of qi, a form of energy (TB: Ohh, Qi-ky!)

Rat Fancying
http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/home/
Rats are social creatures who naturally live in large colonies. No rat should have to live alone, without the company of another rat(s) of the same gender. If neutered, bucks and does can also live happily together. (TB: Recently merged with the Bubonic Plague League…)

The Sausage Appreciation Society
http://www.lovepork.co.uk/blog/article/bsas-campaign-page
Not sure I can add anything else…

Competitive Snuff-taking
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snuff
It is generally insufflated (inhaled) or "snuffed" through the nose either directly from the fingers or by using specially made "snuffing" devices. (TB: First to sneeze is OUT)

Subterranea Britannica
http://www.subbrit.org.uk/
”Our members study and investigate man-made and man-used underground places — from mines to railway tunnels, military defences to nuclear bunkers and everything in between. “ (TB: If you try and ban this kind of thing, you only end up driving it…er..underground)

Toe-Wrestling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toe_wrestling
Players must take off their shoes and socks, as the game is played bare feet. It is common courtesy for each player to remove the other player's shoes and socks. Players must link toes and each players feet must touch flat on the other person's feet. Typically, after a short starting chant which varies by region (for example, "one, two, three, four, I declare a toe war."), the opponents proceed to attempt to pin (capture or trap) their opponent's feet for three seconds, while avoiding the same. Pinning is accomplished by placing one foot on the same foot of the opponent (for example, 'Jack swings his foot right, trapping Harry's feet underneath for 3 seconds). (TB: Sweet Holy Lord Jesus…is there really NOTHING ELSE to do with your time?)

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get on with my Hedgelaying homework...
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Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:39 pm
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Getting excited about Essen!

Anthony Boydell
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What I love about Essen Spiel:

[1] The journey over: I start in Wycombe (chez Richards) at 6AM - its dark and, usually, damp / spotting with rain. I trundle along the lanes to the M40 at Beaconsfield and thence to the M25 and M20 (via Maidstone services for a restorative Costa Latte) to Dover. Podcasts a-playing on the old iPhone. It's quiet (coz its a Tuesday morning) in Dover as I trundle through Customs, check-in and park-up at the ferry dock. Just time to nip into the shop (almost deserted this time of year) to buy a magazine and some mints. We board and I settle in at the canteen for a full English fried breakfast. We disembark at Dunkirk and it takes 15 minutes to exit the Port complex (huge expanses of reedy grass and empty warehouses) and join the main motorway. Up through France, hang a right at Brugge, a left at Gent, go through the Kennedy tunnel and round the east-side (anti-clockwise) of Antwerp heading for Eindhoven. Then its Venlo and Essen as the working day is ending (usually get caught up in a little traffic)

[2] Setting everything up: paying the 50 euros deposit and having three hours to unload the van and get it out into the official parking area. The building of shelves, the pasting-up of posters, the quiet wanders to see what preview / pre-order stuff I can pick up. We're usually done and dressed with the stand by lunch-time, but it's such a buzz having easy access to everything that you just don't wanna leave the Messe!

[3] Meeting up with old pals: while the public are absent, getting the chance to chinny-wag with Zev or the Lamonts or Peter Burley or the Treefrog folk.

[4] Buying stuff on the set-up day: always happens on the set-up day - after all, we'll get little chance when the show kicks off for real!

[5] Selling stuff on the setup day in 2008, we saw 200+ copies of Confucius immediately pallet-trucked off to the FRED Distribution stand; with Fzzzt! we sold nearly 100 copies on the Wednesday! There's quite a lot of Press folk who've sneaked in, so it's becoming almost a proper Spiel day...

[6] Eating Out: meat, chinese buffet, sushi, mexican et al - lots of scrummy stuff to scoff. When you're in the Messe at 9AM and leaving it at 7.30PM (phew!) you don't want to be cooking for yourself! Helpfully, Essen is replete with delicious restaurants.

[7] Gaming in the Evening: when else are you going to cut loose and try other peoples stuff / the games you've bought? Usually accompanied by much beer, retiring BEFORE midnight is seen as rude, really. Long days, short nights - it gets a bit draining after a while (but its only one day a year, isn't it?)

[8] The Show Itself: What a buzz! What a rush! If you're busy its the greatest thrill in the world, if you're stagnating its the worst pit of Hell in which to reside. Proper f*cking with your mind, it is! When we launched Tara, Seat of Kings in 2006, the game was in the top 10 Fairplay list and we were demo-ing non-stop for four exhausting days! In 2007, train strikes and international cashpoint failures conspired with the lack-lustre presentation of Scandaroon to make it the most unhappy show ever (at least for me - I was contemplating driving home two days early, it was so de-moralizing).

[9] The 'Last Meal': traditionally, the SSG crew debunk to an excellent Mexican restaurant on the Sunday night (with the van restocked with remainders, furniture and all of our purchases) to gorge ourselves on spicy selections, riff comedically (and slightly-deliriously) on the week's events and generally collapse in a heap.

[10] The journey home: up early (6AM), checking out and belting it back across Western Europe to catch the ferry back to Dover. A couple of fuel / coffee stops for sanity, and before you know it you're rumbling off the ramps at Dover and down the M20 and onto a congested M25. I'm usually home by 9PM and I leave everything in the vehicle - the next day (half-term holidays) will see me distributing gifts and goodies.

It's only four weeks or so away...getting VERY excited about Essen.
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Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:49 am
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Most Delicate Care

Anthony Boydell
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A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.

Richard and I arrived as Carl was putting the final touches to a monumental chilli – a sprinkle here, a dab there, the careful clockwise scoop-and-stir motion. Carl’s recent infatuation with TV’s “Hells Kitchen” thankfully not extending to bellowed tirades of fishwife expletives and ladel abuse. I don’t care who you are, Mr Ramsay; call me a c*nt one more time and I’m going to stab you through the eye with this filleting knife.

Appropriately, the chilli and its accompanying dustdevil of spice would line our stomachs for an excellent evening of gaming: Dune (see what I did there?) followed by Power Grid: Benelux/Central Europe, by way of an iPad-based game of Battleship wherein I was utterly routed by a 10 year old: “You sunk my ego!”

Richard’s copy of Dune is an original and mooted to be worth a daft sum of dollars, so with oily be-sauced fingers we all ‘set to’ to the setting up. A minor heart attack was induced when I thought I was missing one of my tokens (minus 10 dollars) and, later, when Brendan (small child, seen-and-not-heard, nothing a sound thrashing wouldn’t fix etc) kept tapping his leader tokens against his mouth (minus 15 dollars – saliva is not a value-enhancing attribute to items of cardboard manufacture).

Amusingly, Richard had packed each set of components into ‘Bank coin bags’ – how delightfully ‘80s - and, yes, he has kept all the sprews from which the tokens had been ‘punched’ (+25 dollars, huzzah!).

The rules explanation was a little extended due to the amount of ground that needed to be covered (nice pun, Tony! - Thanks) and a constant dribble of pointless quips and banter from the rest of us BUT the game is – at its heart – a very simple one: put people on the board, move them about, fight and collect money (spice), use the money to by bonus effect cards and/or improve your fighting options. The first person/people (alliance) to control a number of key regions (the cities) is/are the winner(s). Thematically, its full-on integrated to Mr Herberts classic and satisfyingly so! My Imperial troops drop-shipped into a southern city and then, albeit temporarily, allied with the Harkonnen (who’d want to fight a guy with 8 trick cards in his hand?) before letting the Fremen, Atreides and Guild fight themselves into severely-reduced numbers and stealing in to take the requisite three cities (the timely arrival of a Sandworm allowing me to break my alliance and take the solo victory!).

It has that wonderful last century feel and I would love to play it again – it’s the stupidly intricate, doubled-sided (and reduced font-ed) player crib sheets that omit the REALLY IMPORTANT INFORMATION, the tiny cardboard chits and the daftly-custom combat wheels and player shields. It’s the playing time – we took nearly two hours and were five turns in to a game that nominally lasts for 15 turns! One for a late night session double-header with Cosmic Encounter, methinks!

Carl’s passive-aggressive suggestion that he’d ‘like to play Powergrid tonight or tomorrow night’ was voted a unanimous thumbs-up from the rest of us (Ray wasn’t here to grumble into his squash) and Benelux was arrayed upon the gaming table. I really feel like I’m beginning to get a handle on this game and, like a good cycle race, it’s seems to be about hanging back in the Peloton and then timing your breakout: oh, I can here people (Ray) lamenting the random appearance of Power Stations and being able to luck out / fall flat on the whims of the square deck, but that adds a necessary leveling factor IMO. The better players should always win, but there’s always room for a little good fortune to make things a little more interesting! Power Grid: Benelux/Central Europe is a good, quick map and everything resolved with Richard making/powering the 15 cities a round before Iain was going to make 17; I managed a (very) satisfying second place by powering 13 with others tailing off – all desperate for one more turn, but thwarted by Richard’s exact money!

As you would expect, the proceedings were liberally sprinkled with ‘sous entendu’, biscuit crumbs and good-natured abuse.

Gaming doesn’t get much better than this.
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Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:02 am
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Lounge Act

Anthony Boydell
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(We are in a cramped, sweaty, cheroot-smoky basement-bar on the cheap side of town. Red fake leather adorns the walls, patchy and faded with nicotine stains and beer. The furniture is chipped plastic chairs and matching tables with aluminium legs. The barman is cleaning glasses, occasionally getting the barflies to spit in them for him because he's too damn jaded to do it himself anymore. A soundtrack of elevator jazz drifts through the perma-haze from crumpled eight-foot Marshalls on either side of the box-carton stage. The curtains sway with a un-sourced draft)

Barfly (slurring his words): Wazza iteen?hit-oon-erairy? eye-tie-nairy? wazzup seeven'in, b'keep?

Barman (raising his eyebrows): Got a new comedian in town; goes by the name of Benny H@LL

Barfly (trying to raise his eyebrows, but drops one into his whiskey chaser): Benny H@LL? (hics) See th'same Benny H@LL oo (hics again) who played at the gates of Loyang with Stefan Seinfeld?

Barman (raising just the one eyebrow, the other waits patiently): One and the same, my good man; the one and the very same.

Barfly (fishing in his beer): Ware-ziz mates now? Ware-ziz hero pals, eh? Wazzee doin'n a scumy dive like thissun?

Barman (so shocked that the elevated eyebrow leaps, momentarily, from his forehead, then lands with a soft 'plop' on his top lip - he now has a toothbrush moustache): Same thing you're doing in this (does that air-quotes thing with his fingers) "scummy dive" - mixing it with the rest of the scum.

(starts singing to the tune of 'YMCA' by The Village People)

Young man, there's no need to feel down (I said)
Young man, pick your cubes of the ground (I mean)
Young man, there's a place you can go
Where you'll find a comm-une-ih-tee
Young man, you can play ‘Gricola (I said)
Young man, players near and a-far (We say)
Young man, give your rating a boost
And become a real pro player

(pow-pow-pow-pow-pow)

It's fun to play inside?
Boite-A-Jeux, eh? (it's fun to register)
Boite-A-Jeux, eh?
They got moutons and Dvonn, Zertz, Cities and Kamon
Alhambra and Torres too!

Young man, go register today (I said)
Young man, go log-in right away (we say)
Young man, many players await
With var-i-uh-ble turn times
Young man, you can play lots and lots (I said)
Young man, you’re reminded by ‘bots (we say)
Young man, you’ll hit [Refresh] so much
You’ll be kill-ing all the band-width!

(bish-bang-bash-bop-pow)

It's fun to play inside?
Boite-A-Jeux, eh? (it's fun to register)
Boite-A-Jeux, eh?
They got moutons and Dvonn, Zertz, Cities and Kamon
Alhambra and Torres too!
Boite-A-Jeux, eh?
Boite-A-Jeux, eh?

(repeat to fade, arms flailing like a freakin' windmill)

Barfly (so pissed he's not sure whether that last statement was a compliment or an insult; his brow furrows): Chew mean b'that, y'bassud?

Barman (retrieving a comedy blunderbuss from under the bar): Whatever you want me to mean, you low-life, good-fah-nuthin', lazy-ass, two-bit, no-hope looza.

Barfly (falling off stool): Wa-zaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaa (barf)

(The barman throws his head back theatrically and laughs heartily. He stows the cartoon projectile weapon and resumes glass-cleaning. He pauses to fart into a jam-jar and quickly screw on it's lid. He writes 'September' on the label and places it next to the Tia Maria.

Cut to backstage: Benny H@LL is in full comic regalia: rubber chicken, clown boots, comedy troos etc. With him is an old, warty gentleman - stooped and chain-smoking – this is his manager: Hanno 1503)


Benny H@LL (fidgeting with his hair): By the beard of Andrea Meyer! I'm so nervous!

Hanno 1503 (exhaling a cloud of blue smoke in the shape of an arse): Don't worry about it, my son, you'll do great, I just know it!

Benny H@LL (fidgeting with his cuffs): How can you be so sure? What if they're font fascists? I’m completely naked...which makes me a "Comic sans…clothes"? (waits) What if they start throwing things?

Hanno 1503 (inhaling the insubstantial, misty derriere through pursed lips): C'mon now, Benny - you're better than that! Sock it to 'em! (punches the air, misses, and hits Benny square in the jaw) Awww shoot!

(Benny collapses to the floor, eyes rolling and animated bluebirds twittering and tweeting around his head. A man dressed as a bowl of fruit pokes his head out from behind a lighting rig)

Fruit/Man (whispering): Hey, Benny H@LL? Two minutes to curtain up, you gert pansy!

(We are in a short dream sequence; the image is fuzzy round the edges - all sort of misty - and the sound of a Hi-NRG disco-synth beat rises in the background. Benny is training at the Barre, sporting a leather thong, a Bat'Lef, and a sexy, Errol Flynn-like moustache.

There is a colossal SMACK! noise, and the wistful hallucination disappears. Hanno 1503 lifts a groggy Benny by the arm-pits and drags him onto the stage. Benny's unceremonious entrance is greeted by intermittent slow hand claps and shouts of "Tell us a joke, you fat bastard!", "Sing us a dirty song!" and ‘Cock-slapper!’)


Benny (suddenly realising he's 'live' and standing to attention): Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it's lovely to be here tonight in sunny? (pauses, then addresses the wings) Where the hell IS here?

Hanno 1503 (off stage): Geekdo Main Page!

Benny H@LL (aside): Geek-what? (to audience)...here on the Java-enabled Geekdo index page! Actually, it's lucky that I made it here at all tonight, ladies and gentlemen?

Heckler#1: Not for us it isn't!

Heckler#2: Show us yer tits!

Benny H@LL (pressing on): Yeah - me and the road crew were travelling on a 3 train that got obsoleted during an operating round and had to rent a few camels to get through the desert! **BOMP-TISH** No, but seriously folks, those little, ugly folk in Lord Of The Rings TCG, eh? Two of ‘em in a bar and one of them says to the other: "Are you a goblin?", and the other one replies: "No. But if you give me $20 I’ll suck you off!" **BOMP-TISH**

Heckler#2: Ruuuuu-bish!

Benny H@LL: I'm not saying TCG-ers are stupid, but to confuse 'em all you need to do is stick 'em in a circular room and tell 'em to go pee in the corner **BOMP-TISH** Stupid? I said to Hanno, my manager, I said: "Hanno - what do you get if you cross a Elephant with an Imaginary Pet?"; he says: "Something that doesn't exist shitting all over your carpets!" **BRRRRRR-DOMP!** Anyway, two horses from Totopoly go into a bar and the barman says "Why the long faces?" **BOMP-TISH** Agricola Vegemeeples: Corn live with 'em, corn live without 'em! **SPLA-DOOOOSH** Here's a thought? Would a robot Uve Rosenberg dream of electric sheeples? **HONK-HONK!**

Heckler#1: Don?t you know any jokes?

Heckler#2: Show us someone else's tits!

Benny H@LL (showing a lot of pluck, isn't he?): Martin Wallace, Gordon Lamont, and Tony Boydell are lost in the Desert and find Aladdin's Lamp. Martin Wallace rubs it and a Djinn appears and offers to grant each of them a single wish. Martin asks for a ton of oranges. "Why?" asks the Djinn. "So I can eat the oranges to stop dehydrating, and then rub the peel over my skin to keep cool." "Good idea," says the Djinn and **PING** the oranges appear. He turns to Gordon Lamont and asks him for his wish. Gordon replies: "I'd like a ton of limes, please." "Why?" asks the Djinn. Gordon responds: "For the same reason as Martin; I can drink the lime juice and then rub the peel over my skin to keep cool." "Great idea," says the Djinn and **PING** it is so! Finally, the Djinn turns to Tony: "What do you require?" he asks. "I'd like a car door," says Tony. "Why?" retorts the Djinn. "So I can wind the window down when it gets hot!" **TA-DAAAAAAAAAAH!**

Heckler#1: Somebody get a medium - we need to let him know he's died up there!

Heckler#2: (throwing a miniature chair): Geeeeeeet oooooooooofffffffffffffff!

(Cut to backstage)

Hanno 1503 (mournfully): He's dying out there!

Fruit/Man: I could send on the stripper - she (pauses) always goes down well

(Hanno 1503 is open-mouthed; he can't quite bring himself to make the obvious joke. Cut back to the stage)

Benny H@LL (we've come in mid-joke): …and then Dr Knizia says, "Don't ask me! It was all in one piece when I shoved it up there!" **BOMP-TISH!** Do you know I was chatting to a meeple the other day; he was really depressed on account of his girlfriend having recently left him for a playing piece that looks exactly like him **BRRRRRRRR-DOMP!** You know, they say it’s a small world - but I wouldn't wanna buy all the bloody expansions! **BOIINNGG!** . Knock, knock!

Heckler#2: Who's there?

Benny H@LL: Bruno Faidutti.

Heckler#2: Bruno Faidutti who?

Benny H@LL: Ah, the fickle nature of the gaming community! **BOMP-TISH!**

Heckler#1: Sing us a song or we'll kill you!

Benny H@LL (nervously): Er – now, I'd like to sing you a medley of songs from my latest album…

Heckler#1: With an emphasis on 'bum'!

Benny H@LL (crooning quite astoundingly badly to the tune of 'Fly Me To The Moon'):

Fly me Alan Moon
And let me play with T.t.R
Let me build a 5 link
Draw a loco or box-car…

(the tune shifts into 'Come Fly With Me')

Come fly with me, let's fly let's fly away
We can float on up with some Ball-oon Cup
On Airlines: Europe take a flight
Come fly with me, we'll fly we'll fly away

(the tune morphs into 'New York, New York')

Start spreading the news, we're changing the art!
I want to be a part of it – New York, New York!
These Alhambrian hordes down Queen Games’ way
Right through the very heart of it - New York, New York!

(Cut to front of house. Scott Alden and Doug Garrett are dressed in aprons and sanitary caps. They each hold a mop)

Both: …we’ll that went as well as could be expected.
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Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:21 pm
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101 Uses For a Dead Gamer

Anthony Boydell
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Section A - General Usage
1. Send 'em over (complete) to www.manbeef.com

2. Scoop out their insides to make an attractive pyjama case; for the larger gamer (let’s face it – that’s a significant percentage) you could use them as a house-boat or, maybe, a public theatre.

3. Scoop out their insides to make a novel Dominion / Thunderstone card storage facility; for the larger gamer, you could open a shop.

4. Carefully remove the skin (keep in one piece, if possible) and use as a cunning disguise whenever you attend Gencon / Gathering of Friends / BGG Con / Spiel et al. Unless you are a reasonably au fait with the players’ history, this ruse may be rumbled fairly quickly.

5. Staple the cadaver to a hallway wall and use as a display unit for pot plants. Miniature hanging baskets look very attractive as 'earrings,' and the seated cadaver is especially good for supporting larger fauna upon it's lap. The mouth is best avoided, as the effect is, invariably, of the individual vomiting.

6. Under-floor insulation: Best avoided in areas susceptible to flooding (as they float about beneath the floor boards, banging against joists etc - this can keep one up at night), but (overall) a good, cheap alternative to fibreglass. You will need a number of gamers to properly line the average kitchenette, and they will need replacing every five to ten years.

7. As extra 'dummy' audience members at an amateur dramatic production - never be plagued by images of half-empty houses again!

8.A 'comedy' draught excluder in your home (stop the wind whistling in through those cracks and, instead, have it whistling through THEIR crack – ho! ho!)

9.A 'comedy' draft excluder at a TCG tournament (make sure you get all the best picks by populating the rest of the 'pod' with corpses)

10.A hat rack (for just the one, amusingly-placed hat)

11.Are you familiar with the concept of Mr Potato Head? Well, you'll need at least a couple of gamers…

12.If you are strange, mother-lovin', three-eyed, twelve-toed introvert with a sociopathic disorder, then recently-shuffled-off-this-mortal-coil high-class proponents of the Euro ‘Art’ make fine dinner party companions! Simply seat them at your table, dressed in whatever manner of clothing you desire, and bingo! Instant middle-class, candlelit, gourmet shenanigans!

"Would you like some more asparagus tips, Mr Bauza?"

"Everything okay with the gazpacho, Dr Knizia?"

"My! What an attractive floral-print, summer dress you’re wearing this evening, Mz Wallace!"


13. Re-enact those famous gaming moments by setting up a three-dimensional reconstruction! Replacing each cadaver's joints with metallic hinges allows you to 'pose' them at will eg. ‘building a 6’ (Ticket To Ride), ‘Renovating to Stone’ (Agricola), ‘Buying a 4 Train’ (18XX’ or ‘Getting Wood for Sheep’ (Animal Farm)

Section B - Using Specific Parts
14. Sell their fingers, toes, ears, nose, nipples, and other extraneous bits as "good luck" charms.

15. Sell their fingers, toes, ears, nose, nipples, and other extraneous bits as inter-round snacks. Actually, a "Geek Roast" makes a fantastic central focus to a large gathering - kid's just love to turn the spit! Serve it all up between your flour-y buns.

16. The pubic hair can be gathered and fashioned into a popular 'afro' wig or, perhaps, a bushy moustache (especially effective ‘on the Lady’)

17. Make an unusual 'life counter' using an eye-ball and a piece of card cut into a circle. Draw the numbers 1 thru 60 around the edge of the card (which should allow an inch space all round when the eye-ball is place in it's centre), and then simple point the eye-ball so that it 'looks' at your current total.

18. Mount (as in affix) the arse in the back window of your car for an amusing 'moon' effect to other road users

19. The be-starched male naughty bit can be usefully employed as a joss stick holder or, if you really force it in, a candlestick.

20. Femurs make excellent Cricket 'wickets', novelty rungs in 'pirate rope ladders', or kettle-drum sticks.

21. Bone marrow makes an excellent 'play putty' substitute (it's also highly nutritious).

Section C - What To Avoid
22. While you may be tempted initially, one should avoid using the former cube pusher(s) in any sexual context. By all means, adapt previous suggestions for storage, eg. hat rack, flower unit etc if you have nowhere else for chromed metalwork, buckling items, and/or shiny PVC 'equipment'

23. One should resist the temptation to flaunt the deceased in public as this a) draws attention to you, b) draws attention to the carcass, and c) (most importantly) draws attention to you WITH the carcass.

24. Ritual beating - please avoid taking out your frustrations on the 'stiff'…(waits)… this causes it to degrade much more quickly (see Caring For Your Corpse)

25. Small children tend to find cadavers equally interesting and repulsive. Be aware that many of the orifices may become blocked with toy cars, LEGO bricks, and Barbie dolls. You have been warned.

Section D - Caring For Your Corpse
While it may seem disrespectful to remove the internal organs of the no-longer-alive player, it is better in the long-term for the preservation of the rest of body (as the soft, glistening, sticky bits tend to decompose first). If you're still worried about completeness, you can buy those plastic 'replica' organs from good medical supply shops - simply fit those in their place and hey! presto!

It is best if the once-talented carcass is stored/displayed internally, as all manner of beast will cause damage if left outside. I once had a Uk Games Expo ‘Guest of Honour’ that I stood up by the wood-shed for just two days while I readied a place in the dining room, only to find that a family of badgers had removed the left leg up to the knee and the right leg completely!

Painting the body should be avoided, as this prevents the skin breathing - damp may set in and, as a consequence, quicker deterioration.

Anyway, that's enough for one article - happy butchering!
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Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:12 pm
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The Hands of Fete

Anthony Boydell
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Today is the Newent Onion Fayre - a mix of amateur produce stalls, vegetable matter and fairground rides.

I shall be selling second hand books, DVDs and the occasional copy of Scandaroon to random passers-by. Hopefully, the weather will hold out (but we have a gazebo for shelter JIC).

We're usually pitched next to a stall selling burgers and roast pork baps...mmmmmm, feeling hungrey already! Here are some games that would go down well in such a small-town festival!

Second-hand Biblios
The Cheeseburgs of Burgundy / Roast Porkemon
World of Handicraft
Dom-onion
Candyflossfieber (Fast Flowing Fluffy 'Fectionary) / Toffee Apples to Apples
Raffle Encounter
Reiner Knizia's Flea Market
Browse
Raise for the Charity
For Yard Sale!
Haggle-is
Hook-a-Duck Dealer
Sherwood Ferris / Paperclip Ghost Railways / A Bouncy Castle for All Seasons / Ticket To Ride: The Merry Go Round
Here I Stand (All Day)
18Eggs-Eggs for a Pound (or Dollar)

I'm off...
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Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:45 am
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Who's The Twit?

Anthony Boydell
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The subject is regarding a game by a well-known designer and a lament about why it has no expansion. After this lament was posted, here is an extract of a conversation that followed:

Person A: ...it really needs something to turn it into an actual game...

Person B: Indeed! What is with all these pointless exercises in logic, planning, and tactics masquerading as games! I mean, where are the dice? Where is the fighting? How am I supposed to eliminate my opponents?? This is no game!

Person A: The Emperor has no clothes with this one. After (GAME NAME CENSORED) and (GAME NAME CENSORED) do you really think (COMPANY X) got this in some kind of frenzied bidding war? No. (COMPANY Y) obviously thought it just wasn't good enough. D minus - could do much, much better than this confused and ho-hum jumble.

Person B: By no means is this the obvious reason, or even the likely reason. I understand if you don't like the game, many people don't. But to state "The Emperor has no clothes" means you think everyone who does like the game is a fool blinded by the reputation of the designer. I think it's very quaint that you think you have it all figured out.

Person A: Yes I do think you're all blinded by the reputation. Yes I do have it all figured out.

(time passes)

Person B: I thought for sure you were a teenager from the way you make inflammatory posts like you're on reddit. Checked out your [BGG] page and you appear to be a full grown man. This is very sad.

So, vote now: who is the twit: Person A or Person B...
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Fri Sep 9, 2011 12:01 am
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Blinded with Science

Anthony Boydell
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Carl was 'in the smallest room' when I arrived late afternoon - hot from a sweaty, if mostly dull, day 'working' in Central London. He called out that he would 'be down in a minute' and I was left pacing the front porch in full view of curious neighbours and passing helicopters.

It's a terrible quandry to be caught 'sur la commode' by a visitor, especially if one has settled in 'for the long haul' following an ill-advised weekend of hard-boiled eggs. In some senses, I would rather people thought I was 'in the bath', clipping my toe-nails or (at a push) masturbating to a furious climax RATHER than be pictured, by my mates, curling one out on the old porcelain.

Luckily, all of these thoughts remained unspoken and I've avoided the embarrassment of airing them publically.

The program for the evening was play-testing - another visit from the venerable Mr Richard Breese, his new card-driven 'RftG meets Dominant Species' prototype winging its way into High Wycombe from down the M40. This was my fourth outing with the game and I find it confunding and pleasurable in equal measure - Mr B is a rigorous developer of his games and this admirable work has (obviously, duh!) paid off in the past!

Once Carl had finished his ablutions, I was allowed to enter his inner sanctum and we chatted a while on this and that before Iain 'The Student' Shirley arrived and had a minor gloat about beating me on boiteajeux not three hours earlier (thus ending my 11 game straight winning streak AND robbing me of 44 - FORTY FOUR - ranking points!), followed shortly after by Richard 'The Beard' Clyne.


He did have THIRTY FOUR future food at round 5 - beating me with his Manservant and abusing the Chamberlain

The Beard: Afternoon
The Student: Afternoon
Carl 'The Host': Afternoon
The Blogger: Afternoon

(Christ, this is conversational DYNAMITE!)

Not wishing to allow Carl to really wind up on the secondary gloating, we had an hour before Richard B rolled in so I eagerly pulled out Underground Paperclip Railways for its FIRST EVER showing. Naturally, during my rules explanation, the boys were argumentative, pedantic, making everything deliberately abstruse and generally being picky pains-in-the-arse; this is important, if unsettling, because thats what YOU LOT are all like when a game actually gets released.

In summary:
- station cards contain stations on the London underground
- stations belong to one or more lines
- stations have a position number on each of their lines
- stations have a general indicator about where they are in the 'imaginary topography' of the play area (top-left, bottom-middle etc)
- stations have point values for when they're placed

The turn:
- draw 2 cards OR
- build a link: you name a line then build and/or link a station(s)

Links can be one of three flavours:
(1) a new station that has a line position between two stations already in play
(2) a new station that has a line number NOT between existing, so canbe placed 'in the open' OR
(3) joining two existing stations with a clip link only (if there's not clip link joining them already)

In (1) you place the station 'on top' of the existing clip link and score the station points only

In (2) you place the station and lay a clip link of an appropriate distance (calculated using the line position numbers); you score the station and for the link

In (3) you score for the link only

In all three cases you also place a marker on a track for the 'line' you have just built on - at the end of the game, points are scored for the most builds on the District line, most on Bakerloo etc etc

Some stations also have RAIL and/or FERRY CONNECTION icons - the player(s) with the most of these also scores points at game end.

It was a bitty test - as one would expect - and the initial numbering of line positions caused insane geographical mis-placements eg. Leicester Square located to the West of Victoria (near Hammersmith) and so on. I think it was fun - we played for an hour and The Beard pipped The Student by 4 or so points. The scores are unimportant, as I was watching ONLY for mechanical foibles...lots of notes to take away, but a valuable first run nonetheless!




After a chilli-infested chinese supper interlude, we repaired to Mr Breese's work and the five player moved quickly and smoothly to a 60 minute finish. I concentrated on an odd, but oddly effective strategy of just 'moving my animals' up the continent boards and came fourth (no end game bonuses, you see) but now have the dubious honour of taking JUST THE ONE UNGULENT to the top of North America - appropriately, it was a BISON! The Student walked the game in the end (the first time that Mr Breese HASN'T won in our games), with a score larger than mine and RB's totalled!

The long drive back home was accompanied by a fascinating podcast interview with Thomas Dolby - a favourite artiste of mine from the 80s - who has done astonishingly well designing the synths you now find in most mobile phones! He blinded me with science, indeed...
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Thu Sep 8, 2011 10:53 am
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