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 WTF?-le Brothers

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


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

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

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

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

Anthony Boydell
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We've been playing a lot of The Black Overcoat Game recently and aside from everyone managing to win at least one session...



...Arthur and Benedict have been re-designing the odd bit-and-piece. It's great: already we've sorted the set up (so it encourages more varied exploring) and they're designing new cards to go in to the main deck e.g. 'UFO' ("Move to any location in the house or grounds immediately but discard all of your objects in play at the location you have just left"), 'Carpet of Lego' ("cannot enter/pass thru a location without taking damage")!

#prouddad #wheresmeroyalties? #yourdarlingskillyou!
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Wed Aug 8, 2018 6:30 am
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The Prodigal (Grand)Son(s)

Anthony Boydell
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How very odd indeed to be browsing the streets and shops of North Wales without having just come from/about to go in to work! The plan was to make our way over to Conwy for lunch and then pootle about the castle, the ramparts and the surrounding country park with the kids and the dog and the In-Laws until tea-time; those not wanting to visit the Snowdonia Dragons would then return to the house leaving me (for deffo) with a micro-car and an IKEA bag full of games for a-playin'. As plans go, it was a fine one but by 4PM everyone had aching legs and rumbling tums so we left early. We're only about 20 miles away from 'the old haunts', so I grabbed a handful of fruit and set off back to The Mulberry with Arthur and Benedict in tow; we arrived on the dippetty-dot of 1830HRS, the official 'start' of this hidden treasure of a club.

To warm things (ie. Arthur) up, we started with the splendidly-daft Flicky Spaceships:


(PRISMA fixes many blurred sins)


In summary: Pick up a resource matching the colour of the hex your ship's 'Nose' is pointing in then flick your ship to somewhere else (preferrably to a hex of a colour you need) then, if poss, buy an upgrade card. Upgrade cards give you veeps and a special ability.

It's no more complicated than that and, for 30 minutes or so, it provides straightforward, no-nonsense fun. Tim, sporting his ever-growing and impressive sideburns, sneaked ahead of Benedict to claim the victory (and the sorest flicking nail)!

Next, because the other tables weren't ready to reset yet, was Nusfjord; an alterior motive here, of course, as Benedict had yet to play this Tony Favourite: the idea being that he, Arthur and I will be able to play this back at the house if/when the rain sets in!



Benedict did very well in his debut, impressively without penalties and sitting on a back-pattingly robust 32 points. Arthur triple-schoonered and forested up his entire board save a small utility building and a whopping Stronghold amongst the trees for 28 points. Tim was, unfortunately, diddled out a couple of lucrative buildings (by me) and a couple of gold in a final round 'filling of the plates' (by Benedict), losing him a potential 20 points (ouch!). I filled my board (see above) for...well, count it up yourselves!

Arthur sat with Yvonne and Daffydd (who are getting married in a couple of weeks time: the club's second 'wedding', I believe) and watched them playing some dungeon crawler or other; while he enjoyed the miniatures, four of us (me, Aaron, Denise and David) settled in to Q.E.: something I've been hoping to try for a while now:



In summary: The start player sets a (ANY) price for a tile; each tile has a straight VP value plus a flag and industry icon. A player's own flags can score for them, in sets, at game end as can monopolies/diversity in industries. The other players then secretly bid for the tile - knowing the 'seed price'; the start player reviews the bids (still in secret) and awards the winning bidder the tile but making sure to write the winning bid - in secret - on the back of the tile ie. no-one apart from you knows exactly how much you've spent. At the end of the game, add up all points and then reveal the backs of one's won tiles: whomever spent the MOST money automatically LOSES (!), whomever spent the least gets 6VPs.

Monstrously-simple and simultaneously tense and hilarious, QE ("Quantative Easing") is a triumph of an auction game! Denise went bid-crazy and disqualified herself from the laurels, leaving a previously-profligate David to triumph. I simply MUST get a copy of this for the Ross-on-Wye crowd as it's utterly perfect for our blend of sniping bonhomie! Superb!

The sun-having-set left a delicious blue-green nightglow over the estuary as we were joined by Arthur and Benedict for the evening's closer: Stock hold'em.



In summary: It's sort-of share dealing with Texas Hold 'Em resetting the share prices between rounds(!). Buy/sell shares then play out cards from your hand to build (or destroy) the poker hands growing against each of the six (aquatic animal-themed) companies. At the end of the round, prices for the shares are adjusted according to the poker hand and then a second - final round - is played. Sell all shares at the end and most money is the winner.

A curious artifact of a game, for sure. Denise salvaged her reputation for financial acumen by running away with this in the reckoning. Arthur was pleased to have 'bigged up' his favourite Dolphin Co. and was only a tickle behind the rest of the scores.

How marvellous to see Tim, Aaron, Daffydd, Yvonne, Ed, Tom, Denise, David and Dan again; we're hoping to make it along next Monday as well - maybe with a few more peeps in attendance (the house will fill up even more this coming weekend) - so, if you happen to be in the area, why not stop by as well?
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Tue Aug 7, 2018 11:12 am
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"I saw this and thought of you"

Anthony Boydell
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I only nipped out to pick up an undelivered package from the Post Office - it was a piece of custom original comic art especially commissioned for Arthur (see below) - and I had to (HAD to) stop off in the Charity Shop on the way back. I HAD to. Really.



And the Customs-chargeable parcel?

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Mon Aug 6, 2018 6:20 am
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Population Implosion

Anthony Boydell
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Closing the lid of the laptop, my next job was to transport some of the Boydell fauna to alternative accommodation: one corn snake and one guinea pig. Fully-aware of the Larson-esque complications that could arise if I was less than vigilant, they were spaciously separated for the journey. The 'pig' is to be a guest of the Batesons who, already, have a fine retinue of Cavia porcellae. Indeed, come the great Brexit Apocalypse (coming from CMON and Eric Lang in 2019!), this army of chirruping furballs will provide an excellent "last line of defense" against the scavenging hordes. Not. *burp*

While I was 'about', and given the hour, it seemed daft to drive all the way home again to only come back in to Ross an hour later so Boffo invited me to stay for supper: fish curry, rice and tarka daal*! While he chopped, sizzled and simmered we were inspired by a VLOG concept that would be right up our allies: food and games. You heard it here first...provided we can get Jobbers to do the filming for us.

The tuck was delicious and, by way of thanks, I offered to do the washing up while Boffo prepared his huge sack for the evening. I am somewhat an obsessive when tidying up a kitchen and - apparently - went way beyond the call of duty with cooker, worktop and sink scouring too. I'm a bit of a domestic goddess, doncha know?!



Anyone who has EVER played Bernd Eisenstein's superb Civ-Auctioner Peloponnes will have experienced that moment; you know the one? A wonderfully-balanced growing of population and tile scores and then, a round before the end: famine, drought, a supply phase or a nut-punting combination thereof - a pat-on-the-back mid-20s score plummets to single figures on the turn of a circular chit! Lydia was forewarned of this wholly-unfair turn-of-events before the first game but, along with Gary and Boffo (with his astonishing inability to pay for/keep any buildings), was unable to weather the storm (oh, that disaster TOO!). Jobbers and I fought a more balanced game and I managed to pip him by the singlest of single points. Boffo didn't want this to be the end of it and suggested we play again (now that everyone knew the rules/what to expect). Hampered by my own 'sacrifice 1 population each income phase' civ 'bonus', I barely squeaked in to double-figures on the repeat; Lydia managed to do worse than game one - thanks to another final round disaster double-feature - and Boffo romped off in to the sunset with a city centre's worth of buildings (making up for his 'Prime' mortgage debacle in the first):



Jobbers was sat next to the bag, so he continued to be the evening's selector. With a sinking feeling in my tummy, he dropped Fürstenfeld on to the table. I have had a bit of a hate-hate relationship with this over the years on account of being abjectly-hopeless as it! I don't deny that it's an odd (and admirable) take on the deckbuilder genre but I don't think I've ever managed more than a couple of 'Palace' tiles out before everyone else is fighting for their sixth. However, this particular session proved a reassuring - and reconnecting - one when I managed an early scavenger/town hall combo to allow me to burn away all of the nonsense and construct a winning Estate:


What the actual, high-protein/low fat fuck?! Furstenfeld finally falls fully in to focus...


Next up? Wildlife Safari. I await the inevitable abuse from Mr mgreen02 in the comments below, but I jokingly 'bigged up' a double-rhino opener in the pre-match banter and watched - as going last in the 'first around' - as they were seized upon...only for me to stick with the tried-and-tested 'double lion' and cruise in to the lead after 'safari number one'! My psychological games worked wonders with Gary who, for the rest of the game (a further four rounds) seemed utterly-obsessed with 'the big cats' leaving an unprotected Elephant. Jobbers and I were neck-and-neck right up to the last when, somewhat coldly, I tanked his rhinos with a judiciously-saved 'Zero' and sailed off in to the sunset the comfortable (if unethical) victor!



We closed with the preposterous Abraca...what? which Lydia stormed - ignoring the 'Dragon'-bluffing nonsense from all quarters - and then we all went home.

"Double rhino"? Ridiculous!

*NOT made from otters
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Sun Aug 5, 2018 6:30 am
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That's no moon..?!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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More Legotimes with youngest 'un:




I have a sneaking suspicion as to how this is all going to end...
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Sat Aug 4, 2018 6:30 am
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"I don't care how hard it is, I want to learn how to play it."

Anthony Boydell
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I'm afraid that I'm asking for your money again and, again, it's for my favourite of favorite causes (one spelling for us, one for my US pals): the gaming kids of Uganda. Ben Parkinson is taking the insatiable curiosity and fearlessness of the children one step further by challenging them with heavier weight games; if this works, then expect some full-blown 18XX in 2019!

From the campaign page:
"We already knew they loved to play boardgames, as they were members of our remote village clubs, that we have been implementing over the last year or so, but they surprised us with their desire to learn more and new games. Cinderella, one of the younger girls, who lives in a very remote place in Omoro District, especially challenged us. We had a competition for the game Dragon and Flagon, one of the more complicated games and our youth team initially tried to dissuade her from playing but her response was "I don't care how hard it is, I want to learn how to play it." And she duly did."



"The Uganda Village Boardgame Bootcamp is a long weekend for young people, who want to learn more challenging boardgames and some of whom have proved themsleves to be interested to create social change. It will be a small group of around 24-30 children, aged 11-14, whom we will teach seven different boardgames..."

Those games are:
Terraforming Mars
Signorie
Spirits of the Rice Paddy
Tikal
Mombasa
DRCongo and
"Something Co-Op"

The last item needs a bit of input from you peeps so here's a poll!

Poll
What co-operative board game should the kids play?
SOL?
Pandemic?
      169 answers
Poll created by tonyboydell


If you voted then I'd very much appreciate you slipping them a couple of pounds towards their £500 target; no pressure, obviously, just a little fizziness of delight in your gaming soul in return!



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Fri Aug 3, 2018 6:20 am
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FLGS 46 (Pitch)

Anthony Boydell
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(we are in your friendly local game store and it's "Designer Open Mic Night"; not, of course, involving stand-up comedy or musical 'chops' but, instead, a chance for budding game designers to 'pitch' their ideas to the indie Owner/Publisher. There is a rectangular table set-up adjacent to the PoS and the Cashier is sat behind it with a notebook, a pencil and a fresh cup of steaming coffee. There is a queue of people snaking away from the table and around the store; the participants are holding a variety of boxes, cartons and packages - one of them is holding a small dog)

Call Bell: (upon being roughly-palmed by the Cashier) *Ding*

Cashier: Next!

Designer: (nervously taking seat) Um, hi; I'm Fiona. How about "You ARE the Dice Tower?"

Cashier: (curious) Speak -

Designer 1: Well, you eat a bunch of dice and wait unt-

Cashier: (interrupting) Next!

Designer 2: (taking the seat) You didn't ding the bell.

Call Bell: (upon being roughly-handled by the Cashier) *Ding*

Cashier: Proceed -

Designer 2: Thanks. Well, I'm sure that you are as worried as I am about (makes air quotes) "accessibility in gaming" -

Cashier: Colour me interested -

Designer 2: - so I've come up with revolutionary technique for a Universal Accessibility Tool for any game.

Cashier: (impressed) Wow! Let's try Keyflower, then, for starters!

Designer 2: This is the method for the hearing-impaired...(SHOUTING) THERE ARE TWO RED MEEPLES ON THE WOODCUTTER TILE! THERE IS A SINGLE GREEN MEEPLE BIDDING FOR THE FIRST-PICK OF THE BOATS!

Cashier: Er -

Designer 2: It works for the vision-impaired too: close your eyes and I'll show you.

Cashier: (closes his eyes) Er -

Designer 2: (shoves the Cashier hard on the shoulder and shouts) OI! THERE ARE TWO RED MEEPLES ON THE WOODCUTTER TILE! THERE IS A SINGLE GREEN MEEPLE BIDDING FOR THE FIRST-PICK OF THE BOATS!

Call Bell: (upon being roughly-fingered by the Cashier after several eyes-closed attempts slapping the table) *Ding*

Cashier: Next!

Designer 3: (is holding several ears of corn) Hello, I -

Cashier: Magic Maize, is it?!

Designer 3: - yes, but -

Call Bell: (upon being roughly-palmed by the Cashier) *Ding*

Cashier: Next!

Designer 4: (shuffles forward, shyly) Hello.

Cashier: (a little impatiently) Yes? Sit down. Get on with it, then!

Designer 4: (starting to take something from his bag) Well, this is -

(the designer immediately behind him in the queue leans in and starts taking things out of the bag too)

Designer 5: - Tell him about the dice drafting mechanic!

Designer 4: Well, it's a dice drafting mech -

Designer 5: It's really great and it means you're not hammered by bad rolls!

Designer 4: - you get special tokens to mitigate the -

Designer 5: It's a co-operative game too; all of the players have to achieve the same, single goal or they lose collectively!

Cashier: And what is that goal?

Designer 4: It's a game about pi -

Designer 5: Pitching games to publishers and getting them signed!

Cashier: Next! (as designer 5 rocks up) and Next! immediately!

Call Bell: (upon being roughly-pummeled by the Cashier) *Ding* *Ding*

Designer 6: Doctor? My puppy won't stop pooing.

Cashier: I'm not actually a veterinarian.

Designer 6: No but you know how to handle a relentless flow of shit, don't you?!


Now THAT'S satire!
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Thu Aug 2, 2018 6:30 am
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"The Postman's been!" she said.

Anthony Boydell
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And left me one of these:


As my most-excellent gaming pal Ulrich Blennemann would exclaim:
"You bloody bastards!"
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Wed Aug 1, 2018 6:20 am
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Ex-po?

Anthony Boydell
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Been musing this morning - in between mugs of free coffee and Outlook Calendar notifications - about the splendid UK Games Expo and how, next year (and forever after), we - Surprised Stare Games Ltd - may decline to attend. I'm not saying we've decided anything BUT I don't get that excited wibble in my tummy when thinking about it.



Why? Well, here's the thing(s):

1. It's really expensive to stay in the area - yes there are places around-and-about but its a real fag having to commute around a draining day's work.

2. The market for our oeuvre is a relatively small part of the overall Expo attendance. Sunday was absolutely DEAD for sales this year soblue

3. Unless we are launching something brand, spanky new (and not always then), the returns barely cover the costs of attending.

4. The Bring and Buy is overwhelming - I shudder just thinking about it!

5. There's no room to play games at the Hilton if you're an exhibitor because by the time you've made it out of the Halls, all of the tables are taken.

6. The 'awards' are a little 'corporate'.

7. I'd much rather spend the weekend wandering about with Mrs B and Arthur than hoping for someone to stop by for a demo of something.

Oh, I don't know; maybe it's the change in the weather?

Whenever I think of Spiel, I get a 'semi' on; whenever I think of the Expo, I feel sad.
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Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:52 pm
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