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

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Forbidden Pleasures

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Every holiday has its signature day and, this year, it was a visit to The Forbidden Corner. By advanced booking only, entrance to this wonderland of mazes, follies, dead-ends, gardens, tunnels and curious architectural artifacts is a two hour drive from our Whitby-proximal lodgings and the journey traverses sweeping moors, gold-and-green valleys and the plummeting steep of Sutton Bank: its a delightful pastime just to travel there.

Once you're parked up - and have passed through the genome scrutiny and codeword verification system - you set off on your bemused trek through the grounds:


The green man points the way; a welcoming poem and in to the monkey's mouth!


You can spend a good three hours losing yourself in this piece of eccentric, three-dimensional nonsense and that's exactly what we all did: wandering together, then getting split up and losing each other and, finally, bumping in to each other in Caliban's grotto. Or at The Rat's Underground Schoolhouse. Or in the haunted mausoleum. Or getting drenched in the stepping stone waterspout. Or any number of other splendidly-bonkers Alice-in-Wonderlandesque scenes!


Bears cheatin', boars and our pals, the Warners, sent in to a fountain trap!



(cue: "That's a big chopper etc" gags)



An attractively-painted statue and, well, "Ooops!" #caughtintheact #enterthedoghouse



Underground...



The Frog Fountain


Despite having failed to find all the (quest) brasses that needed a-rubbin', we congregated in the gift shop for obligatory souvenir purchasing and then a snoozy return.

Bliss.
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:35 am
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It were wetter than a dolphin's armpit

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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2000 acres of sky.


Monday was a day of wide vistas, blustering beauty and a boiling sunset.


It was all much more red than the iPhone could discern


As the traditional saying goes: "Red sky at night is a shepherd's delight.." which, basically, means the next day will be sunny and bright...only this particular Yorkshire Tuesday made a liar of centuries of Old Wives and greeted us grey and sodden. No matter; Arthur and I, the only ones up-and-about circa 8AM, made good use of the time to get some 2-player Kingdomino in - we played the 7x7 rules and I was pipped by just 4 points by an increasingly-adept youngest lad. Kingdomino is proving to be a proper hit with everyone in the holiday house (there are 14 of us in all) and is pretty much only off the dining table when the meals are on! All this tabletoppin' is beginning to piss the dog off; Ziggy wanders forlornly from person-to-person seeking tickles (and wants his balls thrown) only to find us all busy. His previously 'cute' face now seems to have taken on a more sinister edge:


Soon..! #ziggpocalypse


The group split up and shuttled to Whitby; Arthur and I were on a mission to hunt down Transformers and secondhand books - he managed BOTH in the form of a Decepticon figure AND 6 consecutive issues of Marvel's Transformers comic from 1986. Me? I found a couple of steak-and-gravy pies and a badly-illustrated DC Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series (which I put back on the shelf for someone else to be also disappointed by). All the while, the sky steadily wept fat raindrops on us until chilly rivulets started seeping through to the insides of our coats! We bedraggled home for hot tea and an afternoon snooze.

Later, while the kitchen buzzed with bodies preparing a Latin American Dances Pun Supper ('Cha-cha-charred' chicken with salsa, merenges and cream for dessert - no rumba-bahs, though etc), some of us managed to sneak Scythe on to the table: Ian (fellow 'adult'), Adam (Ian's eldest) and Arthur (my youngest) all given the rules run-down (a refresher for the latter) and we were away.


Tahm t'build t'mech, lad (etc)


Much coaching and coaxing was required to maintain momentum (and enthusiasm) as the scrummy smells of chilli begin clouding from the cooker; add two more Scythe fans to the list, though, and Arthur was well-pleased to be playing the Togana Shogunate (purple)...though he got a bit over-fixated on stealing The Factory from Adam (which he did, before the end).

A visit to The Mallyan pub (by all of us 'olds') rounded the soggy day off nicely enough; having survived the torrent, there was no way being told to 'keep the noise down' by a posse of sour-faced locals watching the satellite coverage of Man Utd vs Real Madrid would dampen our spirits. We laughed loudly and bollocks to the football.
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Wed Aug 9, 2017 6:30 am
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You'd all better share the heck out of THIS post - unbelievable prizes await! No, SERIOUSLY!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Ok - read this on Matt Leacock's blog:

http://www.leacock.com/blog/2017/8/7/gamechangers

In case you missed it (these are HIS words):

If you do pledge, leave a comment below and let me know, because on Tuesday, August 15th at 12:00 noon PDT, I’ll randomly select one of the commenters who has made a donation to the program (however large) and send them a personalized care package. It might include…

a new, never-before seen prototype role card for Pandemic with your name on it
or a game
or a lenticular Forbidden Island postcard
or a special, hand-made “Box 9” for Pandemic Legacy Season 2 that only YOU will ever know the contents of
or all of the above … who knows?

Whatever it is, it’ll be a surprise and I’ll ship it anywhere in the world if you win.


Now...will you donate?

I thought so!
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Tue Aug 8, 2017 8:53 pm
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Oh! What's this?

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Coming soon (when it's finished) to an Essen Spiel 2017 near you!
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Tue Aug 8, 2017 6:30 am
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The Pillars of the Esk

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It is now an established holiday tradition that, on any given Sunday morning, Arthur and I will scoot off for a couple of hours to find a local Car Boot Sale. Given the popularity of coastal Yorkshire at this time of year, it's no surprise there's a LOT of them going on! Our particular favourite is hosted at the sniggerworthy "Cross Butts Farm" and is just big enough to be a pleasant plod. There was no El Dorado of secondhand Transformers (like last year) BUT there were several happy finds amongst the chipped china, the rusted garden tools and the half-a-million Wrestlemania action figures:




I almost succumbed to handing over £20 for a copy of this:


From the 1930s, it's a sort-of much-more-detailed Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective case.
The pack contained letters, transcripts, envelopes containing forensic SoC pics, tickets, stamps, torn photographs and other tactile evidence. Joyously macabre!


I was saved at the last minute (I was reaching for my wallet) by a collector who asked "How much for the lot?" (there were three) and bit the vendor's hand off at the offered £50.

On the way back, I detoured in search of a train-related monument I knew to be near by: the Larpool Viaduct:



(from Wikipedia) The viaduct was constructed for the Scarborough and Whitby Railway to carry a single track line over the River Esk. Due to its situation close to the sea the design avoided the use of iron, using brick and cement construction. Construction began in October 1882; two men fell from the piers during construction, but recovered. (It is) a 13 arch structure, 305 yd (279 m) long, with the rail level reaching 120 ft (37 m) high. The foundations on land were excavated to the level of rock, and formed from slag based cement. The river foundations were excavated in brick lined wells. Piers 5,7,8 and 9 had triple foundations, connected above the water level by two semicircular arches. Three of the piers in the river are skewed so as not to deflect the tidal flow (the River Esk is tidal as far as Ruswarp upstream).


An impressive shadow (left) and the beached boat (right) is on the site of an old Gas Works.


Eventually, mid-morning hot and high up - vertigo (on my part) and the need for an ice-cream (Arthur's part) snapped us back to reality and we made our way back to the house via a village shop. All this and it wasn't even midday yet!
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Mon Aug 7, 2017 6:20 am
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Five Go To Boggle Hole

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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A Sentimental Seaside Sunday Snippet


Boggle Hole is a small inlet around the headland from Yorkshire's more famous Robin Hoods Bay; when the tide is fully out, one has plenty of time to walk between the two, should one choose. Robin Hoods Bay has pubs and shops and craft exhibitions and holiday cottages and cafés and a cinder (cycle) path that follows the track bed of the Scarborough & Whitby railway (see below). Boggle Hole just has a Youth Hostel which, if one takes a closer look in the nooks and crannies of the tea room, is generously-supplied with games: decks of cards, copies of 'the usual' (Cluedo etc) and - burrowing a little deeper amongst the secondhand paperbacks - Settlers of Catan, Qwirkle and a copy of 7 Wonders too - an unexpected gamer sanctuary!



Clockwise,from top-left: The Youth Hostel; a strawberry of the sea; the whole Hole; and, paddling against the incoming tide.


However, the main business of the afternoon was a hearty menu of paddling and fossil hunting; the Whitby Tide Times Twitter account informed me that there was a good couple of hours of splishing and splashing to be had yet but, of course, that was fine for a long, wide beach like what they have in Whitby (6 miles up the coast); here, in the thin and tiny coves, the water is directed more swiftly and an hour in I noticed (see piccy) that our exit point - a cliff corner - was now awash. We were in swift danger of being cut-off, so I bellowed back down the beach and windmilled my arms frantically until everyone had got a bloody move on! Several who had chosen not to wear shorts found themselves knee-deep and soaked, wading across the short 10 yards to safety.

Panic over, we repaired to the Youth Hostel for pizza and chips and fizzy pop, giggling about our little adventure and, in some cases, sitting in a cloud of their own trouser steam. What larks!


To finish: a corking, if slightly melancholy, railway treat.
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Sun Aug 6, 2017 9:02 am
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wISShing upon a star

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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No more working, just time to relax; as the long traveling day ended, sunsettingwarm, the rope swing - having waited patiently all year for us - was, once again, put to most excellent use:



As per usual, I have selected a number of cardboard distractions to tempt guests' attention; almost all with 'fun' and 'accessibility' in mind, only the one (obvious) selfish pick:



Stuffed to garlic-flavoured burping with spaghetti bolognese, we were alerted - by Mrs B's trilling phone - of an imminent International Space Station fly-over; young and old scampered, barefoot, in to the cool blue dusky garden and there it was!



With the young 'uns a-bed, some of us olds saw through to the thick edge of 1AM with generous Gin & Tonics and an eclectic mix of acoustic songs from my iPhone library. My feet have been put - most emphatically - up.
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Sat Aug 5, 2017 8:48 am
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Les cartes avec Art

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Arthur is nearly 10. Arthur has been exposed to the singular Joy of trading card games - in the form of Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game - by a so-called family friend. I managed, through a friend who happens to work for Konami UK, to get a box of a recent set release at the UK Games Expo and that gave us enough bits-and-bobs to build ourselves a couple of decks: Arthur was all about big dragons and a couple of 'board sweeper' Traps, while I went in for bouncy/recursive 'Lunalight' action.

At the weekend, Arthur learned of a set of three (loosely) Egyptian-themed 'God' monster cards and asked if I might see my way to getting them for him. He's been a kind and good soul this holiday (so far) so I had an eBay 'look-see' and found them as a trio for about £10 OR included in an actual constructed deck for £15; it seemed daft not to buy them with the extras, so the latter price was Paypal-ed.


The wording of these cards confuses me.


The plump package arrived yesterday and, while in the weekly Cardiff team meeting, I received a pleading text from the excited scamp:


How could I possibly refuse?


Momentarily distracted from worthy discussions of internet account authentication and service registration workflows, I replied in the affirmative and got an all-CAPS "THANKS!!" in return. To be honest, I was so proud and pleased to have had this little contact with my lad in the middle of the working day that my mood lifted and, before you could say "User Stories and Product Backlog", it was going home time!

Chips for supper and then I set my Lunalight deck against his highly-tuned, rare-threaded DadHammer(TM): it was close...for a while, at least, and then the big boys came out to play. I'm not sure we played the uber-monsters completely correctly, so a smidge of further Internet research is required. It was a great hour or so, though; just him and me and the dueling banter - easily worth every penny of that £15.
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Fri Aug 4, 2017 6:35 am
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There's a Guinea Pig in my soup!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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The long day was done and I had just enough time to change my trousers at home before getting straight back in the car again to deliver Gengulphus (real name: Mushroom) the Guinea Pig to temporary, vacational accommodation. Having safely stowed him - with seat belts and bungees first - the two of us traveled 15 miles back (along the road we'd just come home by) to Casa Bateson wherein he was decanted in to a luxury holiday apartment: fresh water, hay, leaves and the skittering chirrups of several excitable females just around the corner.



Ben and Becky had kindly invited me to stay for some supper and, perhaps, a game of something; so, with a generously-large bowl of baked potato soup garnished with cheese, lardons and sour cream, long periods of scoffing were interrupted by bursts of smalltalk. Becky cleared away the crumbs while Ben and I set up Agricola - what else could it have been? We three drafted hands of 7 cards - 4 France deck, 3 base 'Interactive' deck - and commenced a quiet-and-thoughtful game:


I certainly did a lot but, despite all the cards and bits-and-bobs, it amounted to a disappointing (and last place) 29 points.


The France deck is an odd poisson: lots of interesting effects and curious abilities but, in the final analysis, a bit 'shruggy'; indeed, the majority of Ben's (winning) 35 seemed to come from the I-Deck Occs, Minors and trad Majors combined with building regular stuff. Becky, too, was a close (33) second employing similar 'base game' simplicity whilst I - all messing about with the shiny new combos - fell flat on my soup-dribbled chin.

A fat mist of rain was still thickening the air as I drove home to find a mountain of new catalogue-sourced clothes lying in 'try me on' ambush. A gentle evening.
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Thu Aug 3, 2017 6:35 am
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time and relative dimension in Snowdonia

Anthony Boydell
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All excavation and building spaces are available to you when you excavate/build (even if they're out of sequence/not been 'reached' yet/blocked in a completed station).
When you take the Lay Track action, you may lay track on any available track card (empty in most scenarios, full in The Daffodil Line) out of the usual sequence too.

Pay 1 coal to get your third worker companion out of the Pub.
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Wed Aug 2, 2017 6:24 am
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