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Every Man Needs A Shed

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 What was that beardy bloke going on about?

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Stand up and speak out!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Today I am flitting between the front of the training room and the back as me and the proper Trainer double-team a Course (hopefully not coarse) rehearsal: l'll be covering the North Wales region in early April, you see. Rest assured that unless the rehearsal audience (our IT Support buddies) get proper lairy (20% chance), I shall not be required to hide in/ blog from the silent sanctuary of a remote ' cubicle'.

I _do_ enjoy delivering presentations for work and gaming purposes, giving interviews and gesticulating thru BGG videos etc and don't feel any Stage Fright; mind you, I was a bit more nervous than usual at the Expo last year because I'd lost my voice about 15 mins before The Dice Tower Designers thing and was worried about cussing on Mr Vees poddie (sitting next to/being on the panel with Reiner Knizia and Eric Lang was very cool too). Fundamentally, if you know your subject then it's all plain sailing:

"Fail to prepare and you should prepare to fail!"

From the mostly sublime to the ridiculous: in 2012, I woke up at 4am on the day of my Snowdonia BGG video record and lay in the dark playing through the entire demo - from the 'hello world' wave to the 'thanks very much' takedown. As it turned out, my son Benedict stole the show in the background anyway!

Table demonstrations are at the opposite end of the scale, of course: intimate as opposed to broadcast and they evolve in efficiency with (the luxury of) repeated performance.

(sound of someone calling in the distance)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a laser pointer and I'm not afraid to use it!
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Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:25 am
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Can't be arsed.

Anthony Boydell
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See subject.

Actually, it's more that I could be arsed if I could think of something but I feel oddly empty, strangely vacant, unusually blank. Ah, well.
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Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:02 pm
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St Patrick's Day

Anthony Boydell
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Neither am I Irish nor do I have any Irish heritage and so, on a day when everyone chugs Guinness and wears green, I am aloof and unaffected (or so I thought). Traveling straight from Cardiff to High Wycombe on Thursday night (to break up the journey to Brighton for Peter's funeral), I stopped over at good pal Richard's; it's been a few months, so we caught up on news and opinions over a takeaway Chinese meal and then partook of a little gaming to accompany the citrus-y bottles of ale:



What I've heard of Baseball Highlights: 2045 has all been good and - encouragingly - I don't need a deep knowledge of the sport in order to play. Richard precis-ed the rules and we were quickly in to our 'Best of 7' tournament.

In summary: It's a sloooooow deckbuilder. You start with a vanilla team and will play a match using 6 (possibly 7) of your 15 card deck. Cards are players and have three main elements: their cost/money value for the end of the match 'Draft', a 'comes in to play' effect and a hit value(s). If you have a card already in the waiting area, you perform player movement (resolve the 'hit' section) around your bases and move the card to the 'done' zone THEN you play a card in to a waiting area and resolve any 'in to play' effects immediately; the 'hit' section is "threatened" and - if uncontested (on opponent's turn when they play a card to their waiting area) - will put players on your bases / push players already out 'along', depending on their speed. Players come 'home' and score you runs; when all six cards are played out, most runs = a game win. At the end of a game, you total up the money value of your six cards played and use it to buy one or more players from a central tableau - one in, one out to keep your deck at 15 cards.

Apart from being mildy-confused about how the different speed of players affect other players already on bases when they move, it's a clean and breezy affair and imparts a pleasant tension. The artwork is fun - the box (above) is wonderful, the cards are more cartoony...and some of the players are Fzzzt-like wacky robots! BH2045 is great fun and I may have to get a copy of my own, now.

The Friday morning drive around London (the infamous M25 motorway) was happily (and surprisingly) uncluttered and accompanied by bright, warm weather and Richard's excellent early-80s Punk/New Wave playlist. We had plenty of time, rolling down the hill in to Brighton, so we took a wander around the Crematorium's grounds and happened upon a Family Plot with rather an unusual twist:


Can you see it? Can you suggest a 'Why?'


Peter's friends and family, all sporting a flash of green (his favourite colour), milled about in the sunshine until the hearse pulled up and Peter trumped the lot of us: his coffin was the brightest of bright greens you have ever seen and, in the dazzling morning light, it glowed almost radioactively - we entered to the strains of Stairway to Heaven and the Vicar stepped up to place a small, velvet bag of dice on the head of the coffin. Always a man of intensely-excellent taste, Peter treated us to Lewis Carroll, Antony & The Johnsons, Zero 7, Debi Gliori and Pink Floyd in a no-standing-room packed Chapel; as Shine on you crazy diamond soared and sirened, everyone stepped up to his luminous cardboard box and tapped/stroked/patted their farewells.



It was windy on Brighton sea-front; Richard and I wandered, gusted and chilly despite the glorious golden orb, passed the cartoon fairground of the East Pier, the i360 'space elevator' and the rusted wreckage of the West Pier. A young lad and his girlfriend were gamely trying to get a kite up but it kept crashing in to the pebbled beach in the strong down-draft; the few of us that were watching from the indoor warmth of the Wake quietly-cheered when they eventually got it to stay sky-bound. That's proper metaphorical, that is.
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Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:22 am
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BTW #3 was...

Anthony Boydell
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The Doodlebug answers are:
Spoiler (click to reveal)

1. Ova Rose and Berg
2. A LAN moon
3. Ode
4. Igneous E Trevi Cheque
5. Mat Le Coq
6. Toe Knee Boy (Dull)


Well done to NONE of you for getting them all right!

devil
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Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:57 am
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The Last Post

Anthony Boydell
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I'm not around for any Friday Frolics, I'm afraid; I'm at the funeral of my friend Peter. So, here's something for him and for all of our lost pals:



And now for something completely different (that I know he would have enjoyed):

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Turn it up LOUD!


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Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:35 am
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Doodlebug

Anthony Boydell
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Six scribbles done during a particularly tedious meeting, six game designers:


(remember to use spoiler tags to protect the indifferent)
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Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:25 am
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CMON Sense.

Anthony Boydell
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Man Who Designs Games And Has Occassionally Made Millions For Miniatures-Obsessed Company Joins Miniatures-Obsessed Company to Design More Games!



I think Eric is a very cool guy AND he's designed some monstrously-good (and goodly-monstrous) things AND I seriously envy the amount of hair he has on his head BUT why is everyone going all...

...about the news?

It's CMON sense, surely?
#amimissingsomething?
#goodonyerezza

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:30 am
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The Family That Playtest Together Stay(test) Together!

Anthony Boydell
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Friday afternoon: after powering down the (makes the sign of the cross) work Windows laptop, a weekend of larks and japes and pranks lay in store. The Boydells are currently fasting from chip shop suppers, for Lent, so a home-cooked repast was followed by a Gloucester drop-off for two of my boys then having to hang around in order to pick up two completely different boys from the railway station (steady!): Messrs Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert.

I have quite a serious game designer affliction at the moment; it has been getting steadily worse since 2013 when I finished by sojourn to London: a profound lack of play-testing resources. As you might expect, I have a number of prototypes in progress (including collaborations with the above-mentioned) but they (the games, not the collaborators) have not been given proper scrutiny (aka 'a good going over'). Inspired by Cédrick Chaboussit's recent visit, I resolved to organize a miniature “Playtest Convention”: hence, the presence of M & B.

Poor Brett had been in Gloucester for several hours by the time I ambled onto the station concourse; not even a tour of the splendid cathedral - and a blast of Evensong, therein - could wash away the foul taste of this most grizzled of cities. If any conurbation could be said to suffer from low self-esteem then it is this former jewel of West of England transport and industry: self-harming with ghettoized communities, filthy streets, seedy food outlets, threatening gangs of loitering youths, disproportionate parking charges and fascistic traffic enforcement officers. But I digress: Brett and I waited five minutes more for Matt to make it down the longest railway platform in the UK and then we beetled back to Chez Boydell.

After introductions to those left in the building (Mrs B, Arthur and an excitedly-peeing Ziggy), we three retired to the Library - supping on a rather delicious Carmenère - for chinnywags and banter; we ran the conversational gauntlet through games, gaming, movies, books and music (Picture 1 - Brett had this exact LP as a youngster; both of us big fans of the 1970s children's TV sketch and music show) for the next three hours without any sense of time-passing. When eldest son, Fred, popped his head round the door to say 'Hi!', we realised it was already 11.30! Matt, being the baby of the group, kept making notes of the many (mysterious) cultural references so that - in slower time - he might get up to speed; here is that list:

Quote:
10 (Dudley Moore)
Toms Midnight Garden
Play-by-mail (PBM) games
"Jazz" magazines
Ray Brooks (Actor) / "Big deal"
Weetabix - 'save up for' Lego Town / yellow Aston Martin
The Wombles / Sir Bernard Cribbins/ "Right said Fred" (song)
Playaway albums / Derek Griffiths
Oliver Postgate
Movies: The Last of Sheila, Don't look Now
Jenny Agutter / The Railway Children / Logan's Run / Walkabout
Nicholas Roeg: Man who fell to earth
Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
Not the Nine o'clock News
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1980s TV)
All Creatures Great and Small / Christopher Timothy
Lionel Jeffries
Hellraiser
Swapshop / Noel Edmonds
Jasper Carrott
Old printer paper (alternating white & green lines, spool holes either side)
Mr Nosybonk
Missile Command (video game)
The Dead Kennedies
Getting the cane at school
Ripping Yarns
1970s TV Public Information films (Dark Water, Kite-flying near pylons, "Charlie Says...")
Battle of the Planets (7-Zark-7)
Smack the Pony / Reginald Perrin & Sunshine desserts


Before retiring - at an unheard-of at my age 0100HRS - we managed a quick Mondrian: The Dice Game (Picture 2).



*


Saturdays always begin busily for some of us so, by 8.30AM, all bar the teenagers, were up-and-doing. The game designer trio's first review of the day was half a run at Foothills (the 2 player Snowdonia); as is Brett and Matt's modus operandi, much 'challenging' of design decisions ensued and more notes were duly added to the 'To Do' list. We didn't have time to pack it away there-and-then, though, because I had arranged another distraction: one of Arthur's school friends was having a Birthday Battlesports session inspired, directly, by Arthur's own laser-tagging mud-crawl in February; with adults able to join the group for a nominal fee (just £10 each), it seemed an opportunity not to be missed! Myself, Brett and Matt and me, camo-ed up and jumped right in to The Big Shoot (pictures 3a - before - and 3b - after); the birthday boy's team (ours) - the Blues - proved victorious over the next two hours, shaming a party from Cheltenham Boy's College Prep School. (Aside: there is nothing quite as satisfying as your gun saying: "Hit Confirmed - Hit Confirmed - Hit Confirmed - Kill Confirmed" in quick succession.)

Exhausted, but 6000 steps 'up' on my Fitbit, we returned - boots caked in earth, glowing with perspiration - for a Summer lunch (summer this, summer that) which included a delicious spur-of-the-moment Mrs B-special Mushroom Soup. Having dutifully cleared the pots away, we were left to ourselves. Warming up on the soon-to-be-publically-available PnP Good Little Trains (picture 4), we moved on to my MAIN anticipated event for the weekend: Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (aka The Air Racing Drafting Game, picture 6).

In summary: I'd gotten to the stage where it works: a combination of the drafting-to-build-a-deck PRACTICE phase followed by a use-your-deck RACE phase. Mostly-happy with the card effects and core mechanisms, I was aware it was running a bit slow and a bit 'gamey' overall; I very much wanted Brett - my main collaborator - and Matt (Mr Sound Advice) to help me smooth it out...and smooth it out we bloody well did! It was like Edward Scissorhands and his ice-sculpting: dazzlingly, we pruned away a number of awkward extremities after PlayThru 1 and re-ran it with great success for PlayThru 2! If nothing else came of the subsequent hours, this was reason enough to count the entire weekend a roaring success!

Mrs B likes to have the kitchen to herself during the Suppering process - loud music and chopped vegetable detritus ahoy! - so we scuttled in to the library room for First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express and then, joined by Arthur (at a loose end), for Hotel. About a third of the way into the three-dimensional, Monopolistic flummery, I remembered I had to pick up older Sons (plus pals) from the Cinderford Palace cinema ("Logan", thank you for asking) so I bequeathed my healthy game state to the young 'un. Upon returning, Arthur had been cruelly-shyster-ed by our so-called "guests" and, apparently, I was still liable for all of his debts!

*sigh*

By now, well in to the Spring evening, Loopin' Louie was causing much loudness and hilarity from the library (picture 8); indeed, Brett was getting so worked up that I feared he would have a seizure/cardiac arrest/aneurysm! Luckily, Mrs B called us to lay the table and tuck in to several hearty, home-made pizzas (some with a scone mix and - get this - one with 'riced cauliflower' for the base). More wine and more games (Cubist, Pi mal Pflaumen) and another late turning-in.

*


Ah, Sunday - the last leg of our impromptu convention - dawned peacefully. Mrs B nipped off to Church (conveniently-located at the bottom of our garden) leaving us to brew generous vats of tea and coffee and hunker down to Matt's intriguing Perspective (Dixit meets Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective); Brett and I barely managed to 'solve it' when Mrs B hoofed us back out of the cooking area so she could conjure up an enormous Brunch (vegetable-stuffed roasted giant mushrooms, muffins, sausages, bacon and eggs). Brett and Matt were dice-rolling a Matty-Dee prototype (with Benedict and Peter) then moved on to a full-five player of the splendid Adrenaline - Arthur suiting himself up in to the last combatant exo-suit.

Things were beginning to wind down - tiredness leading to a little tetchiness during a Snowdonian scenario 'first tickle' - so we decided to get some air and take the dog for a walk; despite the increasing rain, it was good to get out for an hour. On our return, there was time for one more beverage and then the household were hugging their goodbyes and we were off to the accursed metropolis once more.

Exhausting, frustrating, thoughtful, hilarious and hearty: that was MY weekend, how was yours?
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Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:19 pm
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Just a minute...

Anthony Boydell
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I love this video; I can't keep up with the German soundtrack but it certainly communicates the essentials in it's pocket-sized running time:


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Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:52 am
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Blatant Space Filler

Anthony Boydell
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It's a still, dry Spring Sunday morning in Newent.

Pigeons coo on the power lines, a dog (not ours) barks insistently in the distance, a car boot sale hustles. A crow cackles on the wing. My mind's eye hovers across the back lawn, slowly drifting down to peep at the Guinea Pig in his hutch: he starts and scuffles in to his hay nest. A neighbour lifts his garage door squeakily (it is not he that squeaks, however, but the door), preparing for a day of not-so-rest and do-it-yourself.

Somehow, during the night, my Saturday afternoon sneezing bouts have developed in to a nose-clogging, ear-ringing, eye-aching cold.

Frozen sausages are thawing on the kitchen work top; eggs stand ready for cracking - but where did we put the bacon?

Of the older children there will not yet be any sign (it's only Dawn): an evening of exciting movies and sugary treats kept them awake and restless until the early hours.

The dog sits, trembling slightly, watching the bottom of the garden for squirrels through the patio doors.

The World is paused, poised; just a minute more, my dears - sixty blissful, becalming beats-of-the-heart before the Merry-go-round begins again. I rise from the bed, pull back the curtains and curse softly: I have run out of clean socks.
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Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:31 am
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