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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...At The Spiel - Part 6 (End)

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Two days reported in one blog? How's that for VFM, eh?

Anyway, I wandered over to the Messe (and our stand) early (and alone, as usual, to clear my head for the day in the crisp German A.M); my phone beeped several times to remind me to call home and wish my middle son, Benedict, a happy 10th birthday. It's not that I'm forgetful, I just don't want the show to distract me and take this moment away! Unfortunately, his birthday ALWAYS falls in the middle of the Essen fair, so any weariness/homesickness is exacerbated by this joyful event of which I am, invariably, not a part - until NEXT YEAR, when Benedict reaches Year 6 at his school and I am able to whisk him off to the show WITH ME (huzzah!) as I have done in passed years with my eldest three! There will then be quite a hiatus before Arthur, our youngest, is eligible...more slightly lonely years ahead, then.

Regular demos helped to see the quiet morning through - sales were quite slow as the more discerning customers watched their budgets...at least until about 2PM when there was a surge, including a wave of shops taking Paperclip Railways stock by the box! Within 60 minutes, we were reduced to just 29 copies and, by 5PM even my sole remaining Brake Van edition had left the stand without even a fond farewell *sniff*

Various peeps ‘stopped by’ to say hello – some professional, some personal – so here’s a hearty halloo to the Spiral Galaxy boys, Joyce from Jolly Thinkers (Hong Kong), the Roach and his hairy friend, Chooi and Phillip, Paul Alwood and many more.

Once the bing-bong-bong of the 'end of show' had called punters exit-wards, we set to packing everything up again - a MUCH easier job when 2/3 of your stand is now internationally-distributed! I retrieved the van from P3 car park and waited for the magic 7PM when the hour of pre-paid free-for-all piss-offage is replaced by a more sedate 'taking down'. There was some thought we might have to bring a pallet or so of Treefog stuff back with us (space in our van = a good thing) but their problems seemed to have been solved and all I got is a couple o’ boxes of carrier bags.

As is traditional following the close of yet another Spiel, the S.S.G. crew bimbled along the darkened high street (turn left at the Messe, watch out for the trams and park up) and went to a favourite Mexican restaurant. I never feel like alcohol by this time; partly because I was utterly drained and dehydrated, but also because they serve a delicious glass of Banana Juice. Accompanying our meal was a Salsa dance class which was cheery to behold - smooth, romantic and good fun (no joining in for Uncle Tony 'Snake Hips' Boydell, however).

Monday morning was an almost illegally-early start, up at 6AM when the alarm clock rang and my bed collapsed (not for the first time this week, either – ever seen a grown man shocked by a sudden crash into a standing position? Eerie doesn’t quite cover it). We were in the van and driving by 7.30 – my unofficial target – but I took the wrong turn and it took a further 30 minutes to find my way out of Essen on to the [40]. A further navigational blip at Gent (that f*ckin stupid place) sent me another (45 minute!) scenic exploration!

With some relief we arrived at Dunkerque with over an hour to spare. The journey accommodated a full game of Last Will which I found very entertaining, though the rocking of the Ferry and my accumulated weariness made me sleepy and grouchy in equal measure (sorry). We parted company, at least for the next few days, from Alan and Charlie Paull (still relatively chipper given our exhausting Germanic odyssey), and Mr Richard Breese, on the restaurant deck.

I perked up in the UK leg, following a Relentless and a pie, to drop off Cubiko stock with Gavin in London and drop off pal Neil in Oxfordshire (the stop/go delights of the M25 London Orbital and M40 notwithstanding). The final leg to Chez Boydell was driven in constant drizzle and the refracted full-beam headlights of on-coming traffic. Home at 10PM, fourteen and half hours total journey time driving a laden van, for a warm bath and camomile tea – but do I get peace and quiet? Do I bog-roll – the house is full of drunk teens celebrating my eldest’s recent 17th birthday.

No rest for the wicked.
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Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:51 pm
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...At The Spiel - Part 5

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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The damp clouds of yesterday gave way to crisp, clear skies this morning as I trudged along the quiet backstreets to the Messe. The big hole in the ground remains an impressive site, though currently unfilled with detritus (human or otherwise).

Yesterday was such a blur that I forgot to pick up the copy of the Firehouse / Starter / Putter-outer co-operative Kickstarter-funded thingy for Ian Backhome; he sent me a frantic email as a remind to collect before their Sunday cut-off. Of course it doesn’t help that the times on Wednesday and Thursday (and Friday first thing), when I’d popped round their stand to collect aforementioned pre-order, the copies of the game STILL HADN’T BLOODY ARRIVED!

Still – thank goodness I managed to pick up copies of Ora Et Labora and Hawaii in English like I wanted to…oh, that’s right: THEY’VE NOT ARRIVED AT THE ESSEN FAIR EITHER!

Not that I’ve any reason to complain with a further complimenting of my Essen hoard:

3 x Glory To Rome (old version) expansion – which includes my DOMUS card (woot!)
1 x Glory To Rome (new version) 1 of 30 Ltd Edition poster (I have print no. 1)
1 x Monkey/Lemur thing promo tile for Zooloretto
1 x Tier Auf Tier (large) for youngest son (also a pillow-flinging game)

We re-engineered the table orientation on the stand to have rows of punters sitting in a line FACING the aisle and the otherside with their backs to the aisle – no side-on fussing about! This gave us mini passages of access to the shelves without having squeeze, press, tummy-tuck and/or shove (better for customer relations).

I also had to collate the copious load for Richard (‘The Beard’), as pals Steve and Steve were taking it back for him. Steve Squared had driven over yesterday morning and had a day and a half of ‘man time’(!); they had the idea of running a mule service for all the Brits unable to make it the Spiel next year – collect, store and return. Nice idea – but such an obviously-transparent ruse to play games for five days under the wife-deceiving auspices of ‘business’.

A brief meeting with Aaron from the UK (hi, Aaron!) at 10 was followed by the slow trickle of humans – an innocent Homo Sapiens wavelet - preceding the Geek Tsunami that is ‘Essen Saturday’. Good Lord but it gets crowded!

COLONEL GHADAFI IS DEAD? HOW DID I MISS THAT?

As is usual for the Day 3, there were many people around and willing to sit and give the games a solid pounding; they were mostly a genial and jovial crowd who seemed to enjoy our offerings. One old cynic remarked that it was because it was so bloody hard to get a seat ANYWHERE in the Messe today that when you found one you took it regardless of the game you would end up playing!

How unfair!

It was a real heel-numbing, lumbar-bending endurance feat - when you’re not FULLY busy ALL of the time, everything drags…and hurts…and aches…a sags. I’m beginning to feel the effects of four days of eating nothing but animal flesh supplemented with coffee and/or uber-tinnies of Relentless. Stopping off at the van to store my precious poster, I walked with a leaden step back to the apartment – taking twice as long as normal.

Charlie Paull had prepared a scrummy Mexican-themed supper for a whole group of us with Beer and conversation and only a couple of games. Charlie, Caroline and I gave a cautious tryout with the gorgeously-presented Drum Roll – a solid Euro with a cracking theme! Very pleased to have picked this up early and it’ll get some good outings at home, no doubt!

What’s left to do? Well, in particular order we have:
- sleep
- get through day 4
- sell lots of stuff
- load up the van in reasonable time to get supper
- sleep
- get up early and on the road to Dunkerque / catch ferry
- drop Gavin’s stuff off in London
- drop Neil off near Oxford
- get home in one piece

Most importantly of all, tomorrow (23rd) is my middle son’s 10th birthday – I shall be stealing off to ring him up and sing the usual song.

I wish I was home.

In a day or so I shall be.
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Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:41 pm
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...At The Spiel - Part 5

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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The damp clouds of yesterday gave way to crisp, clear skies this morning as I trudged along the quiet backstreets to the Messe. The big hole in the ground remains an impressive site, though currently unfilled with detritus (human or otherwise).

Yesterday was such a blur that I forgot to pick up the copy of the Firehouse / Starter / Putter-outer co-operative Kickstarter-funded thingy for Ian Backhome; he sent me a frantic email as a remind to collect before their Sunday cut-off. Of course it doesn’t help that the times on Wednesday and Thursday (and Friday first thing), when I’d popped round their stand to collect aforementioned pre-order, the copies of the game STILL HADN’T BLOODY ARRIVED!

Still – thank goodness I managed to pick up copies of Ora Et Labora and Hawaii in English like I wanted to…oh, that’s right: THEY’VE NOT ARRIVED AT THE ESSEN FAIR EITHER!

Not that I’ve any reason to complain with a further complimenting of my Essen hoard:

3 x Glory To Rome (old version) expansion – which includes my DOMUS card (woot!)
1 x Glory To Rome (new version) 1 of 30 Ltd Edition poster (I have print no. 1)
1 x Monkey/Lemur thing promo tile for Zooloretto
1 x Tier Auf Tier (large) for youngest son (also a pillow-flinging game)

We re-engineered the table orientation on the stand to have rows of punters sitting in a line FACING the aisle and the otherside with their backs to the aisle – no side-on fussing about! This gave us mini passages of access to the shelves without having squeeze, press, tummy-tuck and/or shove (better for customer relations).

I also had to collate the copious load for Richard (‘The Beard’), as pals Steve and Steve were taking it back for him. Steve Squared had driven over yesterday morning and had a day and a half of ‘man time’(!); they had the idea of running a mule service for all the Brits unable to make it the Spiel next year – collect, store and return. Nice idea – but such an obviously-transparent ruse to play games for five days under the wife-deceiving auspices of ‘business’.

A brief meeting with Aaron from the UK (hi, Aaron!) at 10 was followed by the slow trickle of humans – an innocent Homo Sapiens wavelet - preceding the Geek Tsunami that is ‘Essen Saturday’. Good Lord but it gets crowded!

COLONEL GHADAFI IS DEAD? HOW DID I MISS THAT?

As is usual for the Day 3, there were many people around and willing to sit and give the games a solid pounding; they were mostly a genial and jovial crowd who seemed to enjoy our offerings. One old cynic remarked that it was because it was so bloody hard to get a seat ANYWHERE in the Messe today that when you found one you took it regardless of the game you would end up playing!

How unfair!

It was a real heel-numbing, lumbar-bending endurance feat - when you’re not FULLY busy ALL of the time, everything drags…and hurts…and aches…a sags. I’m beginning to feel the effects of four days of eating nothing but animal flesh supplemented with coffee and/or uber-tinnies of Relentless. Stopping off at the van to store my precious poster, I walked with a leaden step back to the apartment – taking twice as long as normal.

Charlie Paull had prepared a scrummy Mexican-themed supper for a whole group of us with Beer and conversation and only a couple of games. Charlie, Caroline and I gave a cautious tryout with the gorgeously-presented Drum Roll – a solid Euro with a cracking theme! Very pleased to have picked this up early and it’ll get some good outings at home, no doubt!

What’s left to do? Well, in particular order we have:
- sleep
- get through day 4
- sell lots of stuff
- load up the van in reasonable time to get supper
- sleep
- get up early and on the road to Dunkerque / catch ferry
- drop Gavin’s stuff off in London
- drop Neil off near Oxford
- get home in one piece

Most importantly of all, tomorrow (23rd) is my middle son’s 10th birthday – I shall be stealing off to ring him up and sing the usual song.

I wish I was home.

In a day or so I shall be.
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Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:41 pm
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...At The Spiel - Part 5

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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The damp clouds of yesterday gave way to crisp, clear skies this morning as I trudged along the quiet backstreets to the Messe. The big hole in the ground remains an impressive site, though currently unfilled with detritus (human or otherwise).

Yesterday was such a blur that I forgot to pick up the copy of the Firehouse / Starter / Putter-outer co-operative Kickstarter-funded thingy for Ian Backhome; he sent me a frantic email as a remind to collect before their Sunday cut-off. Of course it doesn’t help that the times on Wednesday and Thursday (and Friday first thing), when I’d popped round their stand to collect aforementioned pre-order, the copies of the game STILL HADN’T BLOODY ARRIVED!

Still – thank goodness I managed to pick up copies of Ora Et Labora and Hawaii in English like I wanted to…oh, that’s right: THEY’VE NOT ARRIVED AT THE ESSEN FAIR EITHER!

Not that I’ve any reason to complain with a further complimenting of my Essen hoard:

3 x Glory To Rome (old version) expansion – which includes my DOMUS card (woot!)
1 x Glory To Rome (new version) 1 of 30 Ltd Edition poster (I have print no. 1)
1 x Monkey/Lemur thing promo tile for Zooloretto
1 x Tier Auf Tier (large) for youngest son (also a pillow-flinging game)

We re-engineered the table orientation on the stand to have rows of punters sitting in a line FACING the aisle and the otherside with their backs to the aisle – no side-on fussing about! This gave us mini passages of access to the shelves without having squeeze, press, tummy-tuck and/or shove (better for customer relations).

I also had to collate the copious load for Richard (‘The Beard’), as pals Steve and Steve were taking it back for him. Steve Squared had driven over yesterday morning and had a day and a half of ‘man time’(!); they had the idea of running a mule service for all the Brits unable to make it the Spiel next year – collect, store and return. Nice idea – but such an obviously-transparent ruse to play games for five days under the wife-deceiving auspices of ‘business’.

A brief meeting with Aaron from the UK (hi, Aaron!) at 10 was followed by the slow trickle of humans – an innocent Homo Sapiens wavelet - preceding the Geek Tsunami that is ‘Essen Saturday’. Good Lord but it gets crowded!

COLONEL GHADAFI IS DEAD? HOW DID I MISS THAT?

As is usual for the Day 3, there were many people around and willing to sit and give the games a solid pounding; they were mostly a genial and jovial crowd who seemed to enjoy our offerings. One old cynic remarked that it was because it was so bloody hard to get a seat ANYWHERE in the Messe today that when you found one you took it regardless of the game you would end up playing!

How unfair!

It was a real heel-numbing, lumbar-bending endurance feat - when you’re not FULLY busy ALL of the time, everything drags…and hurts…and aches…a sags. I’m beginning to feel the effects of four days of eating nothing but animal flesh supplemented with coffee and/or uber-tinnies of Relentless. Stopping off at the van to store my precious poster, I walked with a leaden step back to the apartment – taking twice as long as normal.

Charlie Paull had prepared a scrummy Mexican-themed supper for a whole group of us with Beer and conversation and only a couple of games. Charlie, Caroline and I gave a cautious tryout with the gorgeously-presented Drum Roll – a solid Euro with a cracking theme! Very pleased to have picked this up early and it’ll get some good outings at home, no doubt!

What’s left to do? Well, in particular order we have:
- sleep
- get through day 4
- sell lots of stuff
- load up the van in reasonable time to get supper
- sleep
- get up early and on the road to Dunkerque / catch ferry
- drop Gavin’s stuff off in London
- drop Neil off near Oxford
- get home in one piece

Most importantly of all, tomorrow (23rd) is my middle son’s 10th birthday – I shall be stealing off to ring him up and sing the usual song.

I wish I was home.

In a day or so I shall be.
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Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:14 pm
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...At The Spiel - Part 4

Anthony Boydell
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Well THAT wasn’t a very good night.

By 23.30, the ‘open’ apartment contained four softly-huffing and (purportedly) sleeping gamer geeks though it turned out, upon rising circa 0700 this morning, that we were all lying awake unable to ‘get off’. I think I finally managed to enter <TOSS MODE=OFF> somewhere around 0200. There followed a pseudo-cinematic dream involving selling a friends CD collection while he’d nipped out of the house to buy us all cakes (WTF?) and an awakening at 0530 from which I didn’t regress. Giving up lying in the dark thinking about how tired I was, I decided to have a pippetty-piping hot bath and read my aging muso magazine (‘The Word’) - much, much better.

There followed a brief browse of the Geek for praise and/or blame (re: our stuff), the Opinionated Gamers site (to see what ELSE happened in the Messe yesterday) and boiteajeux.net to take my Agricola turns.

Coffee and the chilly trudge across Martinstrasse with Neil – his ear doing an excellent impression of being bent – pointing out very large holes in the ground, new hotels that weren’t there a few years ago, cars coming from the wrong direction for us left-conditioned Brits etc.


A quick re-shuffle of the stand was required, extracting all the stowed-away PCRs and getting them accessible to restock the display shelves. You may notice a Bleasdale-shaped entity hiding mid-shot, setting up On The Cards for the day. Sebastian, fresh from his BGG live-stream demo, is wearing that shirt for a second day and, yet, remains as fragrant as ever – either he’s not working hard enough OR he’s the man who fell to Earth…I’ve not decided yet.

Another busy day for demo-ing though the rate of sales slowed noticeably; it felt like the general throughput of peeps was down on yesterday – a sort of quiet before tomorrows insane Saturday Storm; everything you’ve heard about ‘that day’ is correct! I find short-cutting through the open van park in the midst of Halls 4, 5, 9 and 10 is great for watching heavily be-costumed LARPers twatting the be-Jesus out of each-other with latex axes! You can’t help but root for the little guy…the one who’s just taken a square blow to the temple with something foamy the size of a small horse!

Anyway, pausing to have some VERY important meetings (oooh, get ‘im), the day progressed to a satisfying and welcome close after a great chat with some new Swede designers (designers of games from Sweden, not people who sculpt and/or restructure large, sour root vegetables).

Edit: 02/07/2014 - That'll be Ollie and Anders showing me an early prototype of The Battle at Kemble's Cascade!

A large party of us (including Sarah, our ever-chirpy German pal who has helped us out on the Stand in years passed) nipped into the Istra for supper; the Istra is, effectively, a Croatian abattoir with a couple of Bunsen Burners attached. The salads are perfunctory, the décor comprised pretty much of stuffed birds of prey and the waiting staff suitably cold and aloof (a smile incurs a 15% surcharge), we spent an initial period negotiating exactly HOW MUCH dead stuff we were willing to consume followed by a doctorate-level financial analysis of how to split the bill at the end.

A brief visit to the Jung in search of games proved fruitless – not enough tables and a rogue, bloody-mouthed poodle roaming the first floor corridor in search of flesh. Home for a quick play-test of Underground PCR, a chilled beer and late-night (French accent) conversass-ee-on.

More of the same of everything tomorrow, no doubt: bring it on, bitch!

Love, Tony

Todays games bought: Duck Dealer, For Sale!, Governor promo (Dominion, gratis).

Todays meetings: genial swedes, frantic Brit designer, old pals from the UK on a whistle stop visit (assorted), important company types, one German artist, a tray of delicious paprika-coated pommes frittes.
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Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:01 pm
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...At The Spiel - Part 3

Anthony Boydell
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Out early with just the teethy-brushy (following a tepid bath last evening), I picked up some goodies on my way through the empty(ish) halls: Powergrid stuff (First Sparks, Robots), Stone Age expansion x lots, Poseidons Kingdom, Lookout stuff (alas NOT Agricola trinkets this year, apart from a light beer thing) and others. Pretty quickly the Halls began to fill and it was a blur of demoing, chitty-chatting and punter-intercourse for the next 9 hours (!).


I had a brief lunch break around 3PM to grab some cheap pizza, a caffeine drink and a chat with fellow 2000AD fan and gamer Wakefield Carter at the Cambridge Games Factory stand, along with Zombie In My Pocket designer Jeremiah Lee (tall, is that a zombie in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me etc).

The day rounded off with Sebastian doing a demo of On The Cards at the geek live-feed and me running through Paperclip Railways. Then it was quickly tidy up the stand and sod off for some supper.

Oh dear what can the matter be
Tony Boydell is stuck in the lavatory
He’ll be there tomorrow and Saturday
Nobody knew he was there!


After a long, throaty, hunger-generating marathon day, who would’ve thought that an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet could cause such problems?


Looks innocent, doesn’t it? Well, the lock moves as per specification, but another piece of metal not normally associated with security decided to interfere and drop into an awkward place and keep me imprisoned in a greasy toilet.

Tony cusses.
German person calls out.
Tony says he is stuck.
German person asks if he should get help (duh!).
Tony says yes please.
Man comes in and shakes the door. Man asks Tony to unlock door.
Tony says the door won’t unlock.
Man shakes door then goes away.
(waits)
Woman comes in and shakes the door. Woman asks Tony to unlock door.
Tony says the door won’t unlock.
Woman shakes door then goes away.
(waits)
Enormous Caribbean chef comes in with screwdriver and shakes the door.
Chef asks Tony to unlock door.
Tony says the door won’t unlock.
Chef hits door with screwdriver (not the DRINK!*) then goes away then comes back with two screwdrivers (STILL not the drink*), giving one to Tony (steady!).
Tony and Chef wreck the door.


Tony (washes his hands then) goes and has his supper. Nobody asks Tony where he’s been for 20 minutes – they assume he was wrestling with an enormous jobbie (vegetables are a hidden optional extra here). Tony eats his noodles in shame.

The evening takes a turn for the cosy better with the arrival of Essen noob Neil – travelling with just his tiny suitcase and his wits for three days of gaming delight. We retire the Jung for some gaming – just a smidge of Mountain Railway while each nursing just the single beer.

Before we know it, it's gone 11..time for beddy-bo-bibbles.

*(c) Neil Yates 2011 - ho bleedin' ho.
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Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:42 pm
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...At The Spiel - Part 2

Anthony Boydell
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Rise and shine! It’s set-up day! Huzzah! Pausing to brush of the teeth and dress of the clothes, I eschewed breakfast (too excited) and took the van out of the car park before the start of the official ‘paying’ day. Quickly into the Messe – it’s best to get there earlier so you have a fighting chance of getting the van in, unloaded and then out again. Leave it too late and you’re boxed-out, boxed-in or an uncomfortable combination of both.


The view from behind...the van, missus!
As is fairly typical, due to my over-zealousness, I was the first of the SSG ‘crew’ to arrive so I set to unloading. Zones are important to us, particularly as we’re sharing some space with young Gavin of Cubiko fame.


We have all this space to play with!


Alan and Charlie have arrived and its time to put some shape to this Metropolean city-scape of packed product


No tables up yet, but the main job of work is done – very pleased indeed!


Oh…Gavin’s let the side down. I know he’d not arrived yet but REALLY…very, very poor effort

With everything pretty much sorted, I wandered off to pick up some early pre-orders / blag some freebies / buy interesting stuff before the hordes arrive. My list for today includes:

- 2 x Settlers of Catan Wonder (Repos, 2 euros each)
- 2 x Small World: Tunnells (DoW, Free)
- 2 x Dungeon Petz (Czech guys) + two promo badges for Halina
- 2 x Last Will (Czech guys)
- 1 x Pictormania thing (Vlaada, bought blind)
- 1 x Drum Roll (35 euros) – circus themed, beautiful looking and of immense interest following half an overview
- 1 x Trajan (can’t remember their name, 39 euros)

As seems to be the usual story now, there was no 51st State stuff available nor any Agricola goodies (not even PRINTED yet), no Ora Et Labora/Walnut Grove on site yet, other items ‘expected soon’ or ‘tomorrow morning’ or (sad face) ‘stuck in customs’.

Steady stream of pre-order and ‘while they’re still there’ Paperclip Railways sales, some On The Cards and miscellaneous back-catalogue stuff. At least, there was until an official came round to tell everyone they were not allowed to SELL until 10AM tomorrow. Cue: imaginative variations on debt repayment and ‘one off hiring fees with the game being non-returnable’ etc.

On my wanderings, I bumped into W.Eric Martin (of this Parish), the BGG Stand folks (Doug and Shelley Garrett, Aldie et al), Gordon Lamont, Dale and Brian Yu, Stuart Dagger and Mr Martin Wallace. The latter led me into his inner sanctum to look at their Discworld cake (yummmmm!) and admire the immense storage and meeting facilities…impressive, indeed.

No sign of the Cambridge Games Factory guys, though…not even a post-it note.
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Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:57 pm
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...At The Spiel - Part 1

Anthony Boydell
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Every year, at departure time, its EXACTLY the same:
- weather = windy in Wycombe, by the time I get to the M25 (drivin’ South) it turns drizzly (enough to whet the windows but not enough to leave the wipers on normal swipe).
- it’s dark, but turning to dawn, when I reach Maidstone services for the traditional restorative caffeine shot (unhappy memories of two years ago when I parked in the wrong space and came back 10 minutes later to find a wheel clamp hugging the vehicle, the Neanderthal clamper had pissed off to the next ‘mantrap’ on his rota and it cost me £190 to get going again(!)
- Dover was a ghost town, blustery and grey; managed to sneak on to the earlier ferry

And so it came to pass this morning – playing out in the pre-ordained sequence. Before I could blink the last flecks of sleep from my eyes, I was tucking in to a fried breakfast as the Ferry backed its way out into the English Channel.

The ‘hands’ who were responsible for guiding the van to its berth for the journey were beligerent, grumpy, sarcastic and unhelpful; first sending me one way, then calling me back, rolling their eyes and generally being a couple of dayglo Mendies*

Having rendezvous-ed with Mr & Mrs Paull in the front lounge (I refuse to use Naval terminology because a) I am not a sailor and b) I never remember the right-way-round), we refused to fight our destiny and we did what we usually do: play some game (singular).

This time it was On The Cards – rehearsing the demo-speak for the coming weekend.

But, hey! This is the road-trip to Germany and we’ll not have any of that relaxing lark – oh no! No sooner had I sipped the dregs of my 3 euro bottle of water, than we were called to our vehicles and me ‘n the van became ‘as one’ for the next five and half hours.


Open the pod-bay doors, Hal

A nervous trundling out of the Dunkirk port area ended with the sigh of relief that is joining the North bound dual carriageway towards Bruges. Twenty minutes later I left La Belle France behind me and entered the spacious and gusty fields of Belgium


Windmills – no sign of any mice on the stairs, however – clogged or unclogged!

A right turn to Gent.

A sharp North to Antwerp, following route 2 around the City and through the Kennedy tunnel.

Cutting across a huge stream of traffic to make the turn for Turnhout & Eindhoven


A Horse’s Arse – surprised this one made it out of France intact!

We used to sing a song about this at school– about a ‘friend’ of ours:
Richard Davies!
Richard Davies!
Richard Davies is a horses arse!
He’s the meanest
Sucks a horse’s penis
Richard Davies is a horses arse!

*sigh* As true today as it was 27 years ago.


Into the Netherlands for 80 or so Km.


A bloody big bridge near Eindhoven

A short break for bread, cheese and Monster and then

Germany!


I couldn’t resist, sorry. It gets me every time. I mean – who’d put 1000m when you only need to write 1Km – LOL!

Junction 23 on the [40] for Essen-Zentrum (and the Messe/Grugahalle) takes me into familiar streets and before you can order “svei weissenbier, bitte” I’m parked in front of the Hotel Jung with an old lady hurling abuse at me in German for parking a gert-great VW Transporter Van too close to her Mercedes ‘All-About-Town’ Codger-Mobile.


Look at the registration plate

Tony Boydell 1 – International Relations 0

Soundtrack to my Journey – Outbound:
- Royal Society of Gamers Ep 6 (podcast)
- Into the Gamescape Ep 52 (podcast)
- Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review – latest (podcast)
- Kind Of Blue (Miles Davis)
- The Unforgettable Fire (U2)
- Requiem (Faure)
- The Planet Suite (Holst)
- Mitch Benn Comedy Songs (podcast)
- Pappy’s Bangers and Mash (podcast)
- Misc. Nirvana, Blur and similar ‘uplifting’ snippets

*Mendy / Mendies – approved Agricolean abbreviation for the title Medicant…
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Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:24 pm
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Eurolways On My Mind

Anthony Boydell
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After the weekend (last) of counting and sorting and picking and wrapping and boxing, Charlie Paull popped over on Friday (14th) with a Kia Rio stuffed full of boxes and paraphernalia. Close to the wire, but with a healthy margin to spare if you read the recent BGGNews article about Spiel and games production/delivery, On The Cards had finally arrived from Carta Mundi in all its 55 games/box glory. Twenty minutes later and it was residing, in all its aforementioned glory, in my library room – blocking access to the Delderfields and the Schotts.

Seeing all this stuff clogging up my gentlemen’s retreat made me think about Essen Spiel and it gave me a wobbly feeling in my tum!

The Rio bim-bim-bimmed its way back to Nailsworth with the promise of a return (maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow – but someday etc) – it was too small to take a full load, apparently*

I retreated to the lock-up to wrestle the few remaining Totemos and Coppertwaddles into the open from underneath the bicycles, summer garden ornamentation and feral copies of Scandaroon. Ah! Memories of Spiels past came flooding back, as did that shakey/excited feeling.

I was not going to be picking up the van until first-thing Monday morning, so the posters and blu-tac and stickers and pens and scissors and other stuff lay piled in the middle of my shed (office), waiting to be packed. That tug in my solar plexus returned – eager for the off and the long drive to Essen Spiel.

An evening of games in Ross-on-Wye (see previous blog entry) served as a welcome distraction from my mounting anxiety and anticipation; though my feet did a little dance (of their own accord) under the table when we discussed what the peeps might want me to bring back from Germany…from Essen Spiel.

Come Saturday, come Mr Charlie Paull in the shape of be-bearded cube pusher and uncontrollably cerebral designer of games Mr Alan Paull (some times he’s SO cerebral about it, he forgets to actual get on with the designing bit!). The Kia Rio tootle-y toot-tooted onto the drive positively sagging under the weight of our remaining stock and 300 (spare) mail-out boxes (flat-packed for your comfort). We unloaded, drank coffee and got a little giddy when we talked about Essen Spiel.

An evening of celebrity dancing failed to distract me completely from thoughts of gaming and I went to bed late (as usual) and tossed for a while before settling – images of Essen Spiel, rehearsing of demos, playing in my mind.

Sunday! The Lord’s day and a day for spending with the family before I departed for Essen Spiel. Well, we all missed the Church bit and after taking Arthur, Fred and Benedict swimming, we ate a hearty brunch before I did a few last minute checks on my itinerary and packed the main bits of my suitcase – ready for Essen Spiel. We popped over to Great Grandmothers for a sunny afternoon picking apples, drinking tea and – inevitably – being wished good luck for Essen Spiel. Another quiet, if mildy-preoccupied, evening followed – boiteajeux.net, Spooks and nervous chitty-chats about my hopes and fears for Essen Spiel.

Monday at last! And all that nervousness about getting the van loaded (finally) etc evaporated as I bade farewell to my children and spouse and rumbled off the driveway in a VW Transporter plump with hobbyist delights destined for Germany. Pausing to purchase a caffeine-infused energy drink and some pies for necessary sustenance, I delivery-vanned my way into Hanwell (London suburbs) to pick up some Cubiko stock from pal Gavin. Fully-laden for Essen Spiel, I returned to the soft bosom of High Wycombe for (what has now become) the pre-Essen Spiel drive evening of games with Richard, Carl and Brendan. Not wanting to be ‘late a-bed’, we settled on a number of lighter games to pass the evening: Airships x2, Quarriors (I won, but I still don’t like it much), Modern Art x2 and 7 Wonders.

By 10.30 I was settled, a little windy from the beer matching the windy weather outside; thinking of the next day, the drive and Essen Spiel.

I did a little wee in my pants.

(Note: it is now 5AM – just need to post this up then I’m off)

*For goodness sake.
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Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:15 am
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Journeys End? I think not...

Anthony Boydell
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Mother,

Much gratitude, as always, for the parcel of 'purely medicinal' refreshments received via the surely-overworked Fortnums dispatch department! From the snippets of Smudge's conversation I've overheard, she's been sampling the generous packages of quite a lot of commissioned officers recently: plum jerkum, a Rum mouthful and the occasional chaser/mixer (she remarked that she often enjoyed a robust Scotch in cider).

To be honest, with combat activities going through somewhat of a lull and Boffo taking up stamp collecting (he avoids the word 'Philately' as its a bit of a mouthful, and has been crying off recent 'team rec' evenings to lick a Barbadian Penny or 'gum up a Swiss'), an alcoholic stupour has been a welcome distraction.

Imagine my joy then, after a few weeks of depression, unseasonal weather and trench elbow, when we were finally able to get everyone together for some board gaming!

Billikins was already in mid-San Juan with Boffo when I arrived with Smudge noticably absent: 'bellringing' announced Boffo, in response to my query, 'she'll be successfully pulling off a Plain Bob Minor if I'm any judge' he added. With an early-laid and regularly-stocked Chapel taking the win for Boffo, the fellows demurred to me for the choice of next distraction. With this damned War continuing seemingly without-end, I needed the comfort of home and so selected Familienbande - with it's startling array of genetic throw-backs, enormous probosci and the strong thematics of inter-breeding, incest and mental instability, I was immediately transported 'back home' to the bosom of my unloving, detached and emotionless family! Boffo played his cards physically and metaphorically close to his chest and both Billikins and myself failed to spot he was 'spectacles' as he edged a win, courtesy of our assumption they were 'an NPC characteristic', by a couple of points.

Boffo suggested we could move on to something meatier - mentioning the beloved 'A' word, but Modern Art had caught my eye and we set that up instead. Smudge arrived during the preparations, wincing at a knee injury: 'I've been rubbing this throbbing bone all evening', she complained, 'and it definitely put me off my stroke'.

The usual poker-faced bidding shenanigans commenced with Boffo, at times, so blankly-expressioned that I thought he had passed out. Suffice it to say that a second round carved-up judiciously between myself and Smudge put us, unassailably ahead of the other two.

Continuing the vein of shortish but tricky affairs (something that Smudge vocally approved of), we moved on to Gargon; a sort of/kind of blind bidding meets combat meets push-your-luck set-collection card thing from Rudiger Dorn. It plays in 15 minutes but offers lots of interaction and second-guessing - a firm favourite with the ensemble. In summary, you're playing out one or more coloured cards and players must follow the formation (2 of 1, one of another; two differently-coloured cards etc) and then all compare the values of cards of the same colour. Winning cards stay in your scoring array, with lower value cards earning more VPs than the higher value ones. Throw in points for having the most of a colour and it's no more complicated than that.

The distant moan of a bugler plaintively-blowing his horn heralded the approaching end of the evening's distractions and Braggart was duly dealt out. Once again, Smudge proved an accomplished fabricator pipping Boffo by just the one point (one point often comes between them) - though the game was not helped by a marked dearth of Ploys and Liar cards in the first half. Still, an enjoyable session of lighter fayre for all concerned.

Pausing briefly to wish me luck on my forthcoming undercover work deep inside enemy lines, we disappeared into the chilly October night.

Much love to all and I hope Father has decided to stop decomposing.

Your loving son,
Antonius
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Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:18 am
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