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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Mission to the Heart Stars

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Tue Feb 5, 2013 3:05 pm
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Simmerniscing

Anthony Boydell
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There was little chance of me making it to the Ross-on-Wye gathering on Friday night, what with leaving Marylebone station around five-ish for a thirty-minuter to High Wycombe and two hours ont'road, so I kept the pedal a respectable distance from the metal and bim-bim-bogglered across the Chilterns and Oxford plain. Friday saw another milestone in the life of the humble RoW club as it turned Three: walking confidently, stringing together reasonably-coherent sentences and almost out-of-nappies!

When eventually home, I just managed to catch a quick goodnight hug with Arthur before fortifying myself in the family bathroom and dipping, ooh-ooh-ooh-ah-ah-ahhhhhhh, into a steaming bath. I've recently started picking up paperback sci-fi anthologies again - never much more than a quid for some joyfully quirky, hallucinogenic (and often self-indulgent) amuse cerveau - and this particular broil/cleanse session was accompanied by some choice Brian Aldiss.

The girls were fighting over the rights to the Broadband (making the totally-missable unmissable on iPlayer - *sigh*), the other two boys were hypnotized by real TV/Minecraft and the missus was drifting from mini-crisis to minor fracas with a gliding grace and shortening patience. The almost-scalding immersion pulled several wobbly gasps from my lungs as I 'got used to it' and then I sunk back until just my face was above the waterline - nostrils dangerously-close to the flooding threshold - and listened to my heart thudding...

...there's a lovely piece of Super 8 film, that was recently transferred to digital and unseen by me or th'aforementioned missus before, of my wife's Uncle's wedding (please excuse that little clumsiness); there are many familiar familial faces in those 20 minutes of picture-only snippet; not only for my wife (who wasn't born then - more about that in a minute) but for myself because, over the last 60 years, our two tribes have been close friends. Near the start there is a fantastically-grainy panning shot of a convoy cars arriving and one of them is my Mum and Dad with an old (or, then, new) sofa strapped to the roof! I think we'd all been - them, my nearly-three year old self and infant sister - on holiday to Norfolk and (ever the pragmatist) my Dad had picked up some bargain furniture! The cameraman lingered over the vehicular-decanting and doesn't everyone look so young?! It's so magical to see the Ma and Pa so fresh-faced, so in love, so naive and with so much ahead: a third child, hard graft, financial woes, house moves, infidelity and divorce. How powerful my wish to step into the picture and embrace them. And then, just as I'm getting all choked and emotional, this tiny incarnated late-1969 silent memory delivers its killer blow: there, shy in the corner of the picture, are my future Father- and Mother-in-Law; barely out of their teens and that bump on her tummy incontrovertible evidence that my wife would shortly be joining this happy crowd! God in his Heaven with His pipe and His slippers! There I am toddling about the Reception (trifle, prawn cocktail, cake) with the growing foetus of the love of my life, and the Mother of my awesome five children, no more than a few feet away and separated by mere centimetres of tissue...

...there was a Sunday evening in 1989 when - after a lengthy role-playing session - our group decided that a game of Diplomacy was required. With no obligations the following day, we repaired to Threshers - local purveyors of cheap beer, wine and spirits - and stocked up on refreshments. The game duly began all-the-usual alliances and text-book opening orders and degenerated thereafter, unsurprisingly, in direct proportion to the emptying of the bottles. At one point the younger brother of our esteemed super-GM fell off his chair singing a song about a turkey* and just didn't get up again; later, my flatmate flounced off in a fury at being back-stabbed and, with a few more bleary retirements following in short-succession, it was left to me and my late friend Rob to argue into the daylight about whether Chess was a role-playing game or not...

...1976 was a hot year in the UK: climate-wise as well as musically, politically and socially. The first raw gobbets of punk phlegm sizzled on the baked pavement slabs and an 8 year old Tony wandered about the dusty site that was his next home to be (my Father, being a builder, always bought wrecks for renovation). I distinctly remember finding a row of gooseberry bushes growing near the entrance and, surrounding it, were clumps of clover; within those clumps I found six - count 'em: SIX! - four-leafed clovers! Outdoors was the place to be - preferably in some shade - as two crudely-welded static caravans were the only other living space available to us. Hedgerows, partially-ploughed fields and two enormous spoil heaps (filled with broken crockery and 1950s glass medicine bottles) provided all of the entertainment one could want or need...

...there was a chap called Vic who used to turn up to our first Magic: The Gathering club at the Three Crowns pub in Cheltenham - we're talking 1996-ish when the double-deck gift boxes complete with black velveteen bag and blue/clear glass pebbles were all the desirable rage. Vic had a lot of Revised Edition cards and preyed on our new found enthusiasm for completing sets of our own by trading away his surplus Ebony Horsess, 'Laces and The Hives for our Taigas, Underground Seas, Armageddons and Wraths of God - we were wet-behind-the-ears and unknowing of the ways of the (very new, remember) T.C.G. community. A couple of years later - now fully up-to-speed with this kind of predatory trading - karmic balance was restored by the splendid Joe. Joe (God Rest His Soul) was a member of the Swindon club who - dying of cancer - ran several local events in which he gave away his entire Alpha and Beta M:TG collection - all Moxen, Lotuses, Time-this and dual land that...


...splashing noisily upright I sighed and dried out the last of the long week. Simmer yourself into reminiscence every now and again, I say; the brain needs a soak as much as the body.

*Surely this was a monumental ad lib:
"Stick in your hand, Mrs Murphy
Coz it only weighs quarter-of-a-pound
It's got hairs up and down like a turkey
And it spits when you rub it up-and-down"
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Sun Feb 3, 2013 11:10 am
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Open Mike?

Anthony Boydell
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Stefan Feld walks into a Vetinary Surgery and says “I’m having trouble with Macao wandering off” and the Vet says: “It sounds like a bit of a Roma - you’re obviously not Trajan hard enough!”

Ma cow? Roamer? Tryin’?

*cough*

Q: Why do the Undead cross the road?
A: To get to the Zombi-cide!

(waits)

Q: How did the Usher know the first three people to attend the opera didn’t design Agricola?
A: It ain’t Uwe till the fat lady sings!

Knock-knock!
Who’s there?
Doctor!
Doctor Who?
Doctor Who: The Card Game!
Oh fuck!

Q: What do you get if you cross Ken Follet with Coloretto, Hanabi and The Resistance?
A: Fillers of the Earth!

(bomp-tish!)

Q: Why did the Zombie cross the road?
A: To get to the Last Night on Earth-er side!

Q: How many BGG moderators does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None – this isn’t the appropriate forum for requesting replacement electrical fittings and your comment has been deleted.

Q: Why did Bilbo Baggins call the Police and have Gandalf arrested?
A: Because the Wizard wanted to destroy Frodo’s ring!

(rimshot!)

Two Nuns in the bath together and one of them says: “Where’s the soap?” and the other one replies: “Not if you put it in a zip-loc baggie first”

Q: Why did the partially-deaf dominatrix end up playing Agricola?
A: Because she thought she heard someone say they needed a firm hand!

(waits)

Knock-knock?
Who’s there?
Martin Wallace!
Not any more.

Join in, peeps - you know you want to!
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Sat Feb 2, 2013 9:27 am
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Separation Anxiety

Anthony Boydell
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The future isn't looking very bright and it certainly isn't looking a brash combination of yellow and red for, as-of-tomorrow, my engagement to work in London 'some' days of the week comes to an end and I have to scrabble about looking for something else to do.

I have been extraordinarily lucky to combine my work, family and gaming lives so flexibly but 'all good things' etc. The group of pals with whom I have been meepling for the last few years will suddenly be very far away indeed and, while the delights of Fridays in Ross-on-Wye will continue, a whole limb of my hobby-body will have been amputated.

Last night a small gathering of The Beard, Big Carl, Uncle Stevenford and myself played through the Northern Europe map of Power Grid and a speedy - pan takeway - Terra Mystica before I had to drive, darkly, home; pressed on all sides by weariness, a head cold and sadness...and a Merc with supernova-strength halogens seemingly driven by a massive, impatient cock.

Power Grid was excellent - a welcome return to tightness after some disappointing experiences with the Quebec board. The replacement power stations for Scandinavia mixed up the auctions a little and provided some nice new pictures to look. Though The Beard had managed a trio of end-game worthy generators, he lacked the subsequent cash to build in cities to compliment them. At the final reckoning, the other three of us all powered 17 and it came down to cash in hand: Stevenford (lots), Big Carl (42) and Uncle Me (36).

Terra Mystica proved a little more predictable for the Big One - who is currently 8 wins out of 9 games of this. He swept ahead mid-game with his Auren and never really needed to look back. My stout Halflings (NOT playing that stupid, broken sit-and-do-nothing strategy) gamely trotted about 20 behind for a second place, The Beard's Swarmlings in third and Uncle Steve's Giants bringing up the back-end. We may be at the point where not playing this will Carl due to geographical separation is a good thing because he's pretty much unassailable with ANY race; it's lucky I sourced my own copy, then!

*sigh* I can feel the melancholy descending...
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Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:28 pm
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A Farm Favourite

Anthony Boydell
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Oi bin woken early doors boy them cows mooin’ and lowin’ on account of their udders bein’ swolled wi’milk, so oyze put on me bez mock and a fresh stick o’grass fer me gob ‘n oyze lead ‘em in to the milkin’ shed ‘n empty them udders ready for ‘im milk tanker an oy goes back in farmhouse ‘n fills in me subzidee forms fer th’week. Then issoff fur-boy-furrin’ wi’ the lads, few points down at th’ Prolapsed Dog then iss clubbin’. Course, it weren’t easy loike tis now fer farmers in olden dayz, azzum found out playin’ Gricola (some new game from Yurp).

Game 1 - Wallonia & Flanders deck with E (Draft)
Not having played these new cards properly (though I [i]did[/d] proof-read the English language versions for Lookout in Summer, 2012), I was keen to see how they fared in ‘real life’. My big worry with these cards, and the preceeding Belgium deck, is the sheer amount of text on them – not that I can’t handle text (being a master of the philibustering ramble-og myself), but there seems to be a LOT of words to explain a rather narrow effect; consequently, one finds oneself exhausted by the processing of it all! In this instance, and as we were drafting, I found myself casting a first preferential look at the cleaner Occs and improvements, rather than seeing if I could pull off some abusive combo described in Thomas Hardy-esque prose. As it turned out, my first WA/FL pick – Cast-Iron Oven proved to be the only non-E card that I played; I was taken by it a) being an oven b) baking 1 into 4 and c) baking off sow/bake AND/OR playing an occupation – this gave me a get out should someone else decide crops were the way forward for a food engine (as Carl ended up sort-of doing). The steady staples of Stonecutter (get 1 Stone discount on stuff) and Seasonal Worker (get a grain or, later, a vegetable off Day Labourer) allowed me to settle into a comfortable (and flexible) baking methodology. A late game opportunistic grab of 4 Boar followed immediately by 5 Sheep rounded things off for a 39-35-35 win.



Game 2 – Pi deck with E (Draft)
Again, new cards that I’ve had development involvement in but never actually used in agricol-anger (especially the Geode!). The Pi deck were 24 cards left over from the play-agricola.com Gamers Deck 2 project that morphed into the 2011 World Championship Decks; locally referred to as the G2X deck, the Pi cards are unusual and/or swingy in a way NOT desirable for tournament play and thus they were excised for future release.

Our first go at drafting these oddities fell fowl of forgetting we’re playing a 3 player game and we’d all drafted some juicy 4+s; I only noticed (through my headcold fug) when working out if I wanted Contortionist but couldn’t find the Travelling Players space (!). You can tell it’s been a while (too long) since we played this in proper three-dimensions with human-to-human interaction, can’t you? We LOL-ed and PMSL-ed for a brief pico-second, then re-dealt and re-drafted.

Once again, Seasonal Worker and Stonecutter ended up in my hand, as did a first-pick Braggart (get lots of points if you have lots of improvements at the end of the game). Again, the other two felt it would be unfair to involve themselves in any kind of baking/confiserie, so I was able to build a Round 2 clay oven (“Bazinga!”) followed by the Start Player-grabbing goodness of Ceramics (pottery is free), the Pottery and others – all helping to boost my boasting occupation at the end-game! Again, animals found their way into my pastures more easily than I had expected but it wasn’t QUITE enough(!) with Carl pipping me for the win (43-41-32).



Overall, Richard tried – as per - exploring one or two cards in an attempt to pull off a mutant combination; this doesn't often work for him but it never stops him from trying! Carl is convinced he is crap at Agricola but face-to-face, when there’s banter and commentary (and an end-to-end flow) he’s really rather good (stick him online and stretch the game over a couple of weeks and he’s quite easy to pull apart TBH). For me, Agricola continues to be an absorbing exercise in rhythmic harmonization – use one’s cards to start the journey but remain flexible to course corrections both minor and major (if you’ll excuse the pun). I just love it, pure and simple; it remains as intriguing and engaging as it did last year and the year before and the year before that and so on.

I may request that my copy is buried with me when I pass over.
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Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:39 am
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Pack up your Troyes-bles...

Anthony Boydell
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Mother,

I’m sorry to report that your hamper delivery seems to have gone astray these last few weeks - the lack of a nibble on your smoky kipper in the mornings is driving the men to distraction. We’re having to make do with locally-grown produce and Boffo’s “traditional cooking”; Smudge, in particular, never seems to be without a mouthful of Swede. A recent Boffo specialty (Chilli Con Carnal) was met with contempt, however, as was his Frog a la Peche*.

Catering woes aside, it was a crowded evening in the Bunker with a full compliment of the usual suspects: Boffo (still clutching his pestle), Smudge (full of an Irish Stew), Cap’n Billikins (a notorious veteran of Ypres and Dogger), myself and – of course – the effervescent (a nice word for ‘volatile’) Jobbers. New blood for the black pudding of our game nights (or, at least, these epistles) came in the form of David ‘Daffy’ Daffin, from the 1st Ledbury Low BMI Fusiliers, who has been enthusiastic in the embrace of our humble gathering; Smudge said she hoped Daffy might enjoy meeting her. Daffy, a modest and polite fellow, blushed as bright as a beetroot bride on National Embarrassment Tuesday.

First up on the rickety, make-shift trestle was Chinatown – the loud, bartering econo-blast where almost anything goes deal-wise. The aim is to collect ‘shops’ of the same type and build them in adjacent blocks – the bigger the block (up to a shop type maximum), the better for your wallet. Players are dealt ‘sites’ and shops at random and then attempt to bargain their way into the aforementioned ‘chains’ with the other players. Traditionally, this would involve swapping of sites and/or shops with – perhaps – cash incentives but Boffo decided he would expand into complex short-selling shenanigans which – more by luck than design – ended up gifting Smudge the win. Jobbers ran his usual tight, somewhat inflexible, ship; Daffy went along for this first ride with aplomb but poor Captain Billikins floundered like a beached flounder at Low Tide. Boffo briefly tried to scuttle his over-complicated failure-ship by claiming a respectable joint-third with yours truly, but I soon disavowed him of that fiction…a detailed record of points and play (plus a ‘to-hand’ service revolver) is a gamer’s best friend.

For the main portion of the evening, we decamped onto two tables with Daffy, Smudge and myself on Snowdonia duties leaving Boffo, Jobbers and the Cap’n with a ménage a Troyes! From the frenzied woodpecker-like tapping of pipe barrels at the denouement, it was quite the exceptional high-scoring, dice-roller.

For ourselves, we were content to plough the Jungfrau – blasting her lower slopes with our explosive sticks. We all bought locomotives early, losing mine immediately to double cube-triggered upkeep without even a first-use of the pub-bound labourer. Despite this setback, I managed to place 15 out of my 16 scoring markers across track-laying (4), excavation (some courtesy of a good blow, some down to manual work) and station building to spit in the faces of my opponents 130-110-105. We still had some time, so I broke out the excellent Guildhall – a teaching game, but one that ended so close you’d need a Dermatome to separate us! Smudge showed remarkable spunk by spit-roasting her epic Snowdonian fail between a pair of generously-endowed Chinatown and Guildhall victories.

With a distant Bugle sounding the ‘to quarters’, Smudge - an eager fan of ‘top brass’ – was reminded of her own fervent desire to blow a horn into the early hours. The happy band departed into the drizzle.

Your loving son,
Antonius.

*a ripe, juicy peach with the stone removed and re-sealed; when sliced open, the plate is flooded with live tadpoles (recipe: Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling)
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Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:48 am
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Apple-y Ever After

Anthony Boydell
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Once upon a time there was a village. In the village there lived a Farmer who had a large orchard. The orchard, every year, produced fruit for the Farmer and, every year, he would bake many apple pies, load his cart and draw them along the dusty road into the nearby Town. The Farmer liked a variety of apples in his Orchard and there was always something new growing in one of the corners.

The Farmer had just finished setting out his stall in the Town Square, and had written a number of simple signs to inform and delight his customers, when the first visitor of the day arrived. The first visitor was carrying a basket with a mouldy pie in it and a deep frown: "I bought this pie from you last month and when I had it for my breakfast this morning it tasted awful - I want my money back!"

The Farmer replied: "The pie was fresh when I sold it to you, Sir; did you not read the instructions about storage, serving suggestions or note the 'Use by' date?"

The man responded, angrily: "The instructions? Why would I need to read instructions? I've eaten food all of my life and have been known to partake of apple pie on occasion - what use have I for instructions? I think I can work it out for myself."

The Farmer, a reasonable man, explained that he couldn't give a refund but offered a replacement pie by way of good will.

"I'd rather have my money back" said the customer, "because I already have lots of fruit pies in my larder and I'm not sure I need another one."

The Farmer smiled: "But my apple pie contains my own blend of spices and sweetenings that you won't find in other pies."

The Farmer handed him a new type of pie made with a variety of apples, some of which were unfamiliar to the citizens of the town.

"Spices?" sneered the customer, "Spices? My neighbour says spices and apple are an awful combination - he heard it from his cousin, who heard it from a traveller at the Inn"

"So you've never actually tried spices with your apple pie, then?" asked the Farmer.

"No, certainly not." said the customer, "and I'm not about to start now! I regard myself as an adventurous eater. I applaud innovation in baking, I'm all for experimentation - but I just don't want to try anything new - especially if someone else says it's rubbish anyway."

"You can have a pie baked to the same recipe as the mouldy one, then - if you like?" smiled the Farmer.

The customer sighed: "How dull!"

The Farmer continued: "So you don't want something the same as before but you definitely don't want to try something new?"

"Yes...er, no...er, yes" spluttered the customer.

"Take a look at this menu" offered the Farmer. The customer took the menu and scanned it...

"Hmmm....apple and honey? I don't like bees so that pie will be utterly disgusting!"

"Here...try some" said the Farmer.

The customer took a mouthful of the apple and honey pie and spat it straight out again: "Euurrrgh! It's got a crunchy bit of apple in it!" he exclaimed.

"Oh," said the Farmer, "that sometimes happens - just set it to one side and try another bite"

The customer pushed him away: "No, thank you! If I have a crunchy bit of apple in my first bite then I'm bound to have another crunchy bit in the next one...and a maggot...and probably some stones. Someone in the Tavern said that all apple pies will, on average, be 78% likely to contain uneven levels of crunch in the apple. Do you have anything else?"

"I've got small rhubarb pies" replied the Farmer.

"Rhubarb? That's popular in the neighbouring countries, isn't it?" said the customer, "Not sure I care for that...AND I don't like small pies - small pies are pointless and unsatisfying as everyone who knows about pies knows; give me a large pie every time! Preferably one I can divide up into equal shares."

The Farmer sighed.

Cheerily, the customer asked: "By the way, how you tell the different types of pie apart on your stall?"

The Farmer took a couple of delicious-looking dishes from the shelves and pointed to their tops: "I label each one with a pastry alphabetic character..."

The customer grimaced: "Euurgh!" he coughed, "I don't like the font you've chosen!"

The Farmer reached into his jerkin and pulled out a shiny sixpence; he placed it firmly in the customer's hand then closed up his stall and went home to his village.

Fin.
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Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:43 pm
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Fair Enough

Anthony Boydell
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Once again Winter holds Great Britain in it’s water-in-a-solid-state grasp; turning pavements into skating rinks, car parks into viable Winter Olympic bobsleigh venues and all road users into dribbling, panicked wrecks. Luckily, Tuesday’s journeying relied on the sturdiness of my shoe rather than the 4 wheel of my MPV’s drive, so Carl and I gingerly navigated his ice-box street to the nearby Wycombe railway station for coffee and an all-expenses-paid trip to London for Toy Fair 2013.



Now, this isn’t the same Toy Fair that I saw calling seductively from the banners of BGG News – no, that’s the New York Toy Fair (Feb) – instead, this is THE premiere event (yadda yadda etc) for Toys in the UK; everyone who is anyone, plus a minibus-load of desperate singletons, is here showing the retailers of our fair (if frozen) Isle what will be the big things for the coming Christmas: cuddly stuff, tiny plastic anime-themed monster alien things, mouldable chocolate, crafts, art, foxy boxers, magic tricks, LEGO (ah – the glorious exclusivity of the Lego stand; all high walls and triple gate entry systems), radio-controlled robots and horrible HORRIBLE boardgames. Yes, because this is a mass-market UK show, the quality of boardgames being displayed for Brit consumption is appalling (what a snob I am!); roll-and-move with 4pt font trivia cards, patience-testing gaudy shite. But…this stuff sells by the sodding truckload! The Esdevium stand may offer the solitary respite for gamers (a chance to compose oneself, to reset one’s hobby compass) but “Mr Jolly’s What-was-it-like-in-the-1950s Trivial Pursuit clone” is in it’s 7th printing and has shifted 20,000+ copies! Yes – I wanna get me some of that action!

Er...did somebody mention foxy boxing?

So, here are some ideas that the podcaster, game designer and ‘lovely chap’ Michael Fox and I discussed over coffee and muffins:

The St John’s Ambulance Boardgame
This won’t mean much to anyone outside of the UK, but the St J’s A organization are a bunch of part-time, volunteer paramedics who turn up to almost ANY occasion - from Village Fetes to Live Aid - with the express purpose of not being able to treat anyone with an injury more serious than a fly-bite. In the SJAB, players set up an elaborate board representing venues, staff and punters and put on an audio track before spending the next 90 minutes with their back to the whole thing. Then they pack it away and go home. If anything at all happens during that 90 minutes, they must call a qualified gaming group to come and resolve it.

Granny Gussett Dolls
We’ve had Tiny Tears, Baby Annabelle and Timmy the Shitting Toddler – now comes “Granny Gussett”: a cabbage patch doll like 16 inch mannequin of an old lady that leaks water over the furniture at chip-controlled random time intervals and farts…a lot. GG comes with an iOS and Android app that remotely-transmits soundbites to the emetic elder: “It wasn’t like this in MY day”, “Would you like a humbug?” and “Black as the Ace of Spades”.

Mon Petit Cheval
French-themed re-issue of the popular plastic equine figure that comes with glossy mane and tail, grooming comb, detachable ‘shoes’ and a scale model of an abattoir-strength mincer for turning it into burger meat.

Hornby’s Wembley Football Express
A delightful recreation of a sporting ‘special service’ that comes with a series of suggested layouts: “Remaining in platform due to a fight”, “Driver nipped out for a piss” and “Person talking in the Quiet Carriage!”.



Warriors of Stone: Sedimentals Series 2
Blister-packed, collectible minis that come – unsurprisingly – with a stats card and a set check-list. Sedimentals Series 2 comprises 24 different characters with a rocky theme (i.e. they are bits of rock with eyes drawn on): Lord Shard, Hardcore!, Unipebble, Lumpy, Gravelaxe and the oblate Skimmer.

Power Rangers: Bukkake!
Now I’m pretty sure someone just picked a Japanese-sounding word without any further research when designing the latest in this range of TV tie-ins? If not, then I’m setting up parental controls on CBBC (and series record on the TIVO). Expect the usual array of “swinging arm”, saddle-straddling martial arts nonsense.

Make-It-So!
Star Trek TNG-themed junk-modelling accessories from craft experts Old Rope Ltd; people who say this is just a pallet-load of supermarket cardboard boxes with a small sticker of a robot on are missing the point.



Anyway. I was at Toy Fair for one meeting and a general mooch – much caffeine was imbibed early on which leant my P.M. conversations with aforementioned ‘Foxy’ and cerebral Knizia-pal and Keyflower progenitor Sebastian Bleasdale a slightly frantic air (like Hogarth Hughes’ java episode in ‘The Iron Giant’). The latter (Sebastian NOT Hogarth) mentioned he was noodling with ideas for KF expansion (!) and I couldn’t resist but overwhelm him with my own ideas and opinion: he beat a hasty retreat shortly after.

BTW, here’s a random teaser:


Thusly, whence and heretoforth did I wander and drift and ogle and scan and browse and eye-contact-avoid and ablute and snack and sit and sigh and freebie-scrounge and chat and turneth-up-mine-nose until it was spent.

BTW, here's one of the celebrities who turned up at the Show:

It's only Optimus cocking Prime!

Then I went back to my mid-week digs.
Then I rang my wife.
Then I watched Flight.
Then I went to bed.
Then I woke up.
Then I went into London.
Then I had my meeting.
Then I typed up this blog.
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Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:59 am
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Wetpants!

Anthony Boydell
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It's cold outside - yes, the UK has had a minor dump of snow and everyone went and pissed their pants in panic! The media kept screaming that there would be drifting snow, high winds and feet of the stuff...and then, in small print, mentioning that would be 'on high ground' ie. mountains. Supermarkets were selling out of bread, milk and vegetables EVEN THOUGH all of the forecasts said it would be gone within a couple of days.

I had to go into London yesterday for a meeting (meh!) and then come home while thick flakes were falling. Web sites and bulletins warned of "jack-knifed this" and "closed due to snow" that and in the end the most I saw was in the railway station at High Wycombe (car journey start) and on my drive at home (car journey end)! In between, for five hours (and 140 miles) of driving it was slushy and wet - spray making visibility and windscreen-wiping awkward BUT provided you didn't drive like a twat, it was straight-forward and safe and not-in-the-least like THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.

I probably could've made it to the Friday Night Ross-on-Wye meet if I'd tried, but after all that nonsense I collapsed in front of the TV with a Mars Bar and a Lemsip.

On the positive side, excellent progress is being made with my TCG design (for which I am getting paid real money!)...and there's also a spare sledge in the shed! Wahoo!
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Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:38 am
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Some Snow (white) and the Seven Dwarves

Anthony Boydell
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Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a Kingdom. The Kingdom, verdant and ethnically-diverse in line with recent Mythical Domains & Fantasy Settings legislation, was populated by witches and swarmlings and giants and fakirs and nomads and alchemists and Quantity Surveyors and many more Races besides (14, to be exact, though no-one is quite sure as to why this exact number as it bears no magical significance). Ruling over this mystical land were kindly King Jens & fair Queen Helga – beneficent monarchs and amateur dramaticians – supported in their daily dealings and Regal decision-making by their Grand Vizier: Black Uwe. Black Uwe seemed, to all who cast eyes upon him, an Evil and Wicked Stereotype replete with sweeping, obsidian robes; long, arched eyebrows and a tendency to cackle at inappropriate moments. Underneath this devilish veneer, however, beat the heart of a gentle mouse – albeit a mouse suffering with rabies and an extreme bi-polar condition, but a mouse just the same.

Living in the mountains, not far from the castle of the goodly King & Queen, were seven gamer dwarves who spent their days, tiny tools in hand, banging away up a dark passage for little satisfaction. When their exertions were completed, they liked nothing more than stripping off and soaking in a hot, bubbling, foamy bath; the coconut-aroma of the frothy lather combining with the sweaty tang of the exhausted miners as they massaged each-other’s bronzed, iron-like muscles and rubbed each-other down with raspy loofahs, gently exfoliating their…er…

*cough*

The 7 diminutive delvers went by the names: Foodie (Iain), Skinny (Jimmy), Beardy (Richard), Biggie (Carl), Spendy (Steve), Filthy (Tony) and Regretful (Dave).

We play play play play play play play with our games the whole day through
To play play play play play play play is what we really like to do
It ain’t no trick to get a quick ‘Gric
If you play play play with a Terra Mys-tick!

It’s a mine! It’s a mine! It’s a mine! It’s a mine!
Your own co-py you must find!

Chorus
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho!
To the Stafferton we’ll go


*Whistle*

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho… etc

Relocating to Ye Olde Stafferton for supper following a strenuous day pumping the bejesus out of a troublesome shaft, the dwarves congregated in a corner bay and set up two – count ‘em: TWO - copies of Terra Mystica. Foodie and Spendy had not yet played this, so it was down to Filthy – with interjections from Beardy – to explain the proceedings. Supper was disappointingly-humdrum compared to the recent servings at Ye Horse of the Shire: Sunday-style roasted meats and winter vegetables, all carved - ineptly - by a monosyllabic jobseeker with his portion-size comparator set somewhere between “weedy and pathetic” and “wouldn’t sustain a child”. At one point, the incompetent caterer attempted to slice some beef for a customer and sliced the metal hotplate instead; he then gave up and handed a half-empty plate to the disappointed client and moved on to serving someone else. What a tit.

Foodie, Skinny and Filthy made up game 1, the others game 2.


The usual parade of bickering, move-questioning and rules-lawyering ensued and the three-header finished well before the four with Foodie, on his first play, pulling off an impressive victory (122, Swarmlings) from Filthy (105, Giants) and Skinny (in the 70s, Dwarves).


On the other half of the tavern’s trestles, Regretful (also Giants) was continuing his impressive streak of wooden spoons pipped by the noob Spendy (Nomads), followed by Beardy (something Green) and the winning Biggie (Swarmlings).

The halfling trio filled in the waiting time with Regretful's copy of Guildhall which raised a couple of rules questions that were then hotly debated by the other four - despite them still having several T.M. rounds to go! Biggie and Beardy, in particular, locking horns across the cardboard while the Guildmakers played on - and finished - regardless.

Tense, but enormous fun.
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Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:57 pm
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