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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Sexist Pigs!

Anthony Boydell
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(sounds of forced entry)

*scraaaatttcchhhhhh*

*clunk*

*screeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

*CLANG!!!*

That’s better, sisters! This column is ours! We represent the Feminist Gamer League and we’re assuming control of this Blog!

Every Man needs shed, does he? Well, we’ll show him!

It’s not only MEN (or should that be BOYS) that play games, you know! The fairer sex enjoys the hobby too!

There are plenty of meets, clubs and gatherings where you’ll find vaginas sat around the table! (waits)

Just because they’ve got a penis they think they’ve got the monopoly on economic engines and resource manipulation. Girls like trains too, you know – we’re not all baking and clothes (though we do like Agricola and Pret A Porter)…

…or shoes

…or fluffy toys

…or shoes.

We demand equal gaming rights! We don’t want a ‘quick game of Trans-America when there’s Troyes on offer! We don’t want Alice In Wonderland Parade when there’s Age of Steam! We want welcome advice NOT unwanted advances – just because we’re interested in Ticket To Ride doesn’t mean we want creepy come-ons!

(Ok – maybe we do, but brush your teeth first and don’t tuck your shirt into your underwear)

So – listen up you male chauvinist dogs: here is an approved itinerary for the female hobbyist:

- 18XX
- Glory To Womb
- (No) Tide of Ironing
- Uteroyes
- Dominant Species (P.M.T Games)
- Condescension: Wrath of the Homemaker
- Dix-not-it
- Last Train To Harvey Nicholls / Discworld: Ankh LessPork
- Eve
- The Female Einfach (Genial) / Burn Your Brass
- Thrush Hour / A Brief Hysterectomy of the World
- Carcassdaughter
- Hairclip Railways / If Fake Lashes Were Wishes
- Menstruapocalypse / Tempus (of the Month)
- (Just because I wear a bit of make-up doesn’t make me a) Whore of the Ring
- Le Other Havre / Le Better Havre / Game Of Wife
- Monopolly / Puerto Rita / Sun, Sea & Sandra / Loopin’ Louise / Nora Et Labora
- Memoir ‘44play (would be nice)
- Two Girls, One Balloon Cup
- Colorstilleto

…oh, and call us ‘babe’ one more time and we’ll cut your balls off!

(sound of retreating footsteps...in high heels)
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Tue Oct 4, 2011 8:57 am
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Nice one, Cyril-lic

Anthony Boydell
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A while ago, following the 2009 launch of Fzzzt!, we (in Surprised Stare Games) dreamed a dream! A dream of licensing our first product because we'd sold all of our first Edition between the UK Games Expo and Essen Spiel shows of that year.

In 2010, Gryphon Games took the base game, added the 5-6 player expansion that I'd designed and presented the whole thing in a lovely, big tin box with a velvetty trim. I was, as you might expect, chuffed to pieces!

In the same year, we'd been contacted by a Russian company with a view to a Cyrillic re-print and, because they wanted to put it in a bigger package, I designed something called 'the Peripheral Devices' expansion to go with the 5-6 player cards and the basic stuff.

The peripheral devices expansion is a 12 card deck that you shuffle at game start and draw one card from at the start of each round. The device affects the way the round functions in various ways - from adding extra cards to the conveyor, changing the way the Chief Mechanic works etc. I posted up a Powerpoint file of the first 8 cards ages ago (it's still there on the Fzzzt! pages somewhere) - but we had some spare card slots, so the customer and I added four more. It's been so long since the files were sent off that I can't remember the details but JUST THIS WEEK we heard that the Russian version of Fzzzt! has now been released and we were sent a couple of complimentary copies!

The box - amusingly this is the same kind of box you get kitchen fittings in from builders merchants; very 'tech'!


Opening the box - chunky insert, a REAL SPANNER FOR THE CHIEF MECHANIC!, a large 'main deck' and the blue-backed PERIPHERAL DEVICES cards:


A closer look at the stuff in the box:


The six mechanics in all their fat, sweaty, clumsy glory!


Finally, the Cyrillic Peripheral Devices...oh, to have them in English, eh?


That's it, really.

Just wanted to share my delight you with you all, dear friends.
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Sat Oct 1, 2011 6:12 pm
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Quarriors & Quarrelling

Anthony Boydell
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It's Wednesday so it must be over to Carl's - just for a change - to play, as an occasional diversion you understand, some bloody games.

If Games As Distraction (see yesterdays post) wasn't the main reason for my obsessive immersion at the moment, I'd probably take the night off and watch movies instead. Oh, that's right - I tried that the day before and couldn't get Richard's film library to work and ended up going to bed early - a 'no win, no win' situation.

Anyway, I arrived uber-early expecting to have the big man all to myself, only to find Perpetual Student Iain and Argumentative Teenager Blaine already there: the former entrenched in a two-player Quarriors! with Carl and the latter hunched over some Maths homework.

Deciding to actually give the Emperor's New Clothes a chance, I played a 3pl and a 4pl of this die-rolling Dominion meets Magic: The Gathering offering and was utterly underwhelmed by the whole thing. So, to win I need to have the most GLORY - to get the most GLORY, my monsters must stay in play for a complete 'round'...oh, that sounds like a skillful and mentally-taxing VP condition, doesn't it. So, in a game where randomness determines a) what you can buy (the amount of quiddity you roll) and b) whether anything you buy ends up being of any bloody use to you, how is this going to add up to fun?

I spent most of the games rolling my dice, buying stuff which then a) failed to kill much else and b) got killed before my next turn. Whomever bought the most death-dealers and/or drew them and rolled monster face up seemed to be the winner. The Death-dealer attack-amplifying ability seems high disproportionate to everything else you can get...apart from the Dragon which, once cast, none of us could ever get rid of so it was a guaranteed GLORY-gain a round later.

Cheebus, I don't want to be ungenerous BUT this felt so much like a half-finished game. The die-rolling and buying, and the multiple cards selectable for each set of dice, are cool (but nothing at all different from, say, Dominion); however, what you ACTUALLY USE THEM FOR is so poor, so unbalanced and so sodding cliched that this feels like a COLOSSAL waste of an opportunity!

Someone remarked that 'maybe the expansion will even things out a bit'...so, let me get this straight: I pay £30 for a game that is, in actuality, only HALF the game I need (that's why I mentioned M:TG earlier). Ok - would you stomach this from anyone else? "Yes - Agricola is a cube-pusher with a farming theme but only goes as far as turn 7; we'll be released turns 8-11 and 12-14 as expansions later in the year. Oh, and Cattle will be a promo item, there's a Stone Cutter expansion due next Summer and the basic game only comes with the E decks"

Still, it seems the gaming world is in a permanent state of toe-hopping incontinence about this shiny, but inconsequential, fayre - one side of this argument must be wrong.

So, with a start like that, imagine how I felt when (at Carl's kind request) we launched into a 5 player Mountain Railway (yes - MY design, still tweaking) only for Richard, freshly arrived from a long day in the hot capital, to energetically complain about, request clarification on, and compile statistical matrices for the rules and mechanics.

If he didn't want to play he should've just said so.

I was feeling totally-deflated come the end (nearly two niggle-filled, snipe-y hours later) and, if I'm honest, I was relieved to be driving home for 90 minutes - watching out for slippery roundabouts - and listening to the comforting tones of The Word podcast (all about the music of David Bowie through the 1970s).

It's not always rosy in Tony's Garden of Games...sometimes next doors' cat does a juicy turd in the long grass on the day you've decided it would be good to wear flip-flops.
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Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:37 pm
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Games As

Anthony Boydell
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As the balm of Summer precipitates into the chill mists and leafy detritus of Autumn and the brightness of the Sun, low in a September sky, heralds the approaching dark like a Sodium street lamp fizzing into life at dusk, my thoughts turn inward: what’s it all about (Alfie)?

My N.D.E* on Monday has raised the question foremost in my mind and, as I sit reclining on the train, large filter coffee comfortably within reach, I find myself pensive, aching of shoulder (delayed whiplash?) and butterfly-of-stomach.

Games and gaming play a number of significant roles in my life – it’s not just about having a hobby:

Games as a Hobby
Everyone’s gotta have a hobby – I’m sure ‘the man’ once said that and it’s certainly in a few songs I’ve heard. Hobbies are an essential area of social and mental development and, unless they involve crime and/or criminals, they help you avoid crime and/or criminals. Whether you’re a face-to-face fan or an online junkie, gaming has become an essential part of our lives – don’t try to deny it! You’re reading a blog on a gamer site instead of browsing the financial markets or topping up your awareness of International news! Take gaming away from me and what would be left? A bored, tubby bloke, probably. With a lot of empty shelves.

Games as a Creative Outlet
It’s not just about playing games, but also about designing and building them. For myself, the constant near-Tourettic mis-firings in my noggin are channelled, ‘earthed’ if you like, into the varied and colourful products that you can read about elsewhere on this site. I also get heavily involved in the artwork (I draw most of it), the design and layout, production, collation, marketing and selling (you won’t see Donald X stooped over a trestle table at Essen Spiel explaining Kingdom Builder in loud, basic English to a group of Italian tourists – oh bloody no).

Games as Therapy
There is the widely-held belief that no-one learns anything after the age of 8 or thereabouts. The brain has locked itself in to a set configuration and that’s that. Piffle! Like pumping iron, or long hours of teenage onanism, practice can indeed make perfect**! Repeatedly building rail links across continental USA and cube-shipping will improve your spatial awareness and economic skills. Regular Combat Commander sessions will develop an efficiency for strategic planning, innovative solutioneering and, of course, a pathological desire to send thousands to their doom in a futile gesture of heroism and sadism. And a weekly dose of deck-building, Dominion-style, gives the other players a chance to catch up on some sleep.

Games as a Distraction
Not the same as being a hobby, games as a distractive technique to (albeit temporarily) forget the worries of the day unless (of course) you’re:
- a Farmer struggling to earn a crust in the light of declining Governmental subsidies, the rising cost of borrowing, seemingly endless waves of floral and faunal blight;
- an electricity engineer deeply-entrenched in a Nationwide infrastructure upgrade;
- a sugar plantation owner profiting from the exploitation and abuse of a dislocated, unpaid workforce; or,
- someone who grows beans for a living.

The grateful respite one receives from cold sweats and palpitations when giving it a few rounds of 7 Wonders cannot be over-stated.

Games as a Business
Well, you’d think with all the whining on BGG about how game companies keep stiffing the consumer (how much? Poor quality? Wrong font! Etc) that we must be rolling in paper currency and flicking the bird at a punter every time s/he walks away from the Stand! As businesses go, games is not one renowned for profitability – only a select few can sustain a living from it. Even the ‘big’ companies are little more than two or three (wo-)man operations with timely-contracting of resources as demand dictates. No – the best one can hope for is that the sales of game A give you enough dosh to produce game B and so on. In fact, in 2011, Sebastian Bleasdale will be making more money from Surprised Stare Games Ltd (with On The Cards) than any of us who have been running it for the last 10 (ten!) years…

Games as Status
I’m quite good at some games and sphincter-clenchingly poor at others (I’m calling you out, Brass!). So, I revel in my Agricolean triumphs and my Rome-glorifying victories. Some take this kind of thing a step further and enter real tournaments! A word of warning, however: telling a prospective partner that you’re the Pickomino World Champion is unlikely to grant unrestricted access to the contents of their undergarments…but the $25,000 prize money just might!

Ah, the train is now arriving at it’s destination (exit via doors to the left of the carriage in the direction of travel), so adieu – dear reader – anon, a demain etc. I leave you with one final thought…

Games as...Love?

*Near Debt Experience – the slewing, uncontrolled slide of my little car that could’ve lead to a hefty repair bill but, thank Heavens!, didn’t.

**Self-abusers, according to recent studies, are - statistically – better, more sensitive and more adventurous lovers. See that Colin Farell? He’s a reknowned cockmaster and a colossal wanker – I rest my case.
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Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:44 am
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Salvete!

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Carolus Maximus had popped over to the Slave market to purchase a couple of extra Christians for the evenings' entertainment. Ever the generous host, Carolus had also intended to procure a couple of tigers 'just make things more interesting' but the traders missed something in the Latin translation and Carolus ended up with a big pussy he'd not originally bargained for (miserabilis visio).

Senator Enrico Maximus Barba and myself (Antonius Oratio Testiculum) arrived a little later - the Senator was carrying a generous amphora of ale and the weighty accoutrements to the evening's gaming: Ave Caesar and Railways of the Western U.S.. I brought the sparkling aqua (I was designated Charioteer for the evening).

Awaiting our noble presence in the Vomitorium were the other guests for the festivities: young Janus Semper-Disciplus (who was celebrating his XXIIIrd Dies Ortum) and the positively-foetal Brendani Brendani, the Wycumum dwarf and possessor of possibly the LOUDEST quiet voice in the Empire!

In tribute to our beloved Emperor, we ravished a couple of passing virgins (no easy task to find in the Via Conegra) and played a couple of rounds of Ave Casear. Drawing low value pectae when I needed high and vice versa, my own performance was a disappointing 'absolutely last (no salute performed)' and 'fourth out of five'. Janus paused from vigorous consumption of patisserie and fared little better.

We all emptied our stomachs in preparation for the next course; Brendani also took the opportunity to empty his bowels and disappeared for almost half an hour. We were worried he'd fallen into the latrine or, worse, been pinched by the Visigoths (ouch!). All fears were banished, however, when he returned - suggesting we 'dona pauci minutum' if he were us.

A tense couple of hours followed with Railways of the Western U.S: Carolus set off on an admirable trail of iron-horse-road building around the South West corner of this unknown continental mass, with Enrico building North and mostly East, Brendani and Janus in the East and myself 'right up the middle passage' and heading Northwest. Despite his 10 shares, Carolus managed to stay a couple of points ahead of Enrico, myself, Janus and then Brendani.

With the ale drained, delicacies of the Orient consumed and then regurgitated, it fell to us (at the late hour of X of the sun-dial) to close the session with something light...Agricola. There followed the usual mix of worker placement, food engines and inappropriate puns ('sausage grinder' anyone?); just after midnight, the result was 46-42-37-33-30 and laurels awarded to Janus.

Pausing to sack a nearby peasant village and initiate a dubious relationship with a house-boy ("would one prefer to eat oysters or snails?"), we repaired to the Villa for a final emetic ritual and consequent slumber.
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Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:32 pm
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In a bit of a spin

Anthony Boydell
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Lore lummy its been a rum few days and no mistake.

General life issues - you know: work, family, biology etc - have conspired to make my waking hours one long bloomin' panic attack. It's certainly not pleasant to be breaking out in cold anxiety sweats at 5.30 every morning. Sometimes it's work-related, other times its work-related BUT MASQUERADING AS family-feeding worries in my BOITEAJEUX Agricola games (must be playing TOO MUCH of this!).

My early Monday journey (this morning) to London was interrupted, albeit temporarily, by my little VW Polo going into an unannounced spin whilst traversing a roundabout. Front wheels locked, big muddy trench scraped into the wet grass. The car seems ok and a patch of soggy, longer flora seems to have been the slippery culprit. Must've just caught it with the front wheel while in the long curve. I paused to refuel, imbibe an energy drink and procure some sausage-based breakfast. I recently purchased a replacement car stereo (the other one burnt out), so at least I was able to enjoy the usual podcasts whilst travelling.

The Surprised Stare Games Ltd preparations for Essen Spiel'11 continue with purpose, only I keep misunderstanding policy emails and announcing the wrong prices, availability etc (much to the annoyance of the others). So, I asked 'em for the definitive and absolutely correct pricing info and here it is:

Essen Spiel Price List:
On The Cards = €10
Paperclip Railways: Express Edition = 30 euros
Paperclip Railways: Express Edition Upgrade: 5 euros
Paperclip Railways: Freight Expansion: Free with PCR purchases at Essen
Other Paperclip Railways promos: Free with PCR purchases at Essen
Totemo (only 100 or so remaining): 25 euros
Coppertwaddle = 5 euros
Fzzzt! (Tin Box) = 10 euros (includes the 5-6 player expansion)

NOT at Essen Prices (mailing is extra)
On The Cards = £12 (pounds)
Paperclip Railways: Express Edition = £30 (pounds)
Paperclip Railways: Express Edition Upgrade: £5 (pounds)

Doctor Who was funny at the weekend but there's only one episode left in the season and there's SO MUCH to resolve - worried that it'll be an overly-busy, techno-babbled, daftly-complex last 50 minutes. Not a bad series at all, this time round, though.

Made a bit of a verbal faux pas at a dinner/dance on Saturday - meant to suggest it would be interesting to see what a MAN in charge of our children's primary school would do following long years of WOMEN head-teachers. Came out all wrong and now I must seem like a sexist twat. A bloody hate polite conversation - it's just a morass of traps waiting to be sprung! And the quiche was stodgy. And I wasn't able to have a drink while everyone else around me was getting totally wazzocked.

Friday wasn't SOOOOO bad, I 'spose. Youngest boy (Arthur) and mi'sen took a trip to the Quayside in Gloucester (Great Britainshire) and enjoyed a light lunch and boat watching. We dropped in on a rather lovely 'light ship' permanently moored there but it, disappointly, accommodates a 'healing centre' - you know the kind of rubbish: crystal therapy, nettle smear treatments, psychic yodelling, astral masturbation - all that bollocks. Deep in the bowels of the pillar-box red craft held yoga studios and a Cathartic Shouting Suite (probably). Still, we found a foam rocket shooter for Arthur in the nearby 'retail outlet' and seven back-issues of 2000AD (50p each, of the eight that I need to complete the set) for myself.

I played some boardgames on Friday night but, as you may have noted, couldn't be arsed to write it up properly.

Lord in His Heaven, but I really could do with an change.
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Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:41 pm
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Brevity is...

Anthony Boydell
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Last night I watched the others play Discworld: Ankh-Morpork - Becky won. Looks colourful and fun. We played Chinatown - I won. Enjoyed the free-for-all negotiation phase. We played Dixit - Ian won. I nursed one orange juice and lemonade through the whole evening. There were no Pork Scratchings for sale.
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Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:21 am
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News from a Surprising Source

Anthony Boydell
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Well, the Surprised Stare Games Ltd gnomes have been working late into the evenings in recent weeks, burning the candle at both ends and generally flogging themselves into a coding frenzy to bring you an update to the web site: www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

There are now links to pages for Paperclip Railways(Express Edition) including the slightly-tweaked rules (can you see what I changed?), an updated Station list/guide to include the new stuff (but NOT the stats! A-booooo!) and quite a lot of additions to the Promo Cards section including news of a free mini-expansion (called the Freight expansion) which you can pick up printed copies of from our stand at Essen Spiel (subject to availability) OR print'n play yourself in a few weeks time. By way of a little teaser...

Rules for the Freight Expansion:
Game Start:
- Shuffle the stations and set 10 randomly-selected cards aside, face-down. Shuffle "End-of-line" into it and set them to one side.
- Take the SHIP CUBES station cards in the colours of participating players (there are five, return others to box) and make X roughly-equal piles of cards using the station deck, where X is the number of players
- For each pile (no.1 to X-1), shuffle in one of the SHIP CUBES cards (unseen, random) and set the pile aside (on top of already set-aside station cards)
- When one pile remains, put the last SHIP CUBES card at the bottom of the pile and put the pile -on top- of the set-aside station cards

THUS, THE SHIP CUBES CARDS ARE SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE DRAW DECK WITH END OF LINE SOMEWHERE IN THE LAST ELEVEN!

When a SHIP CUBES station card is drawn from the deck:
- Stop the game and enter the FREIGHT PHASE (the game will continue from player to left of the person who drew the SHIP CUBES card) ; the
drawer of the card completes their DRAW or DRAW ? Cards action, drawing a replacement for the SHIP CUBES station card they drew

The Freight Phase:
Starting with the player of the same colour as the SHIP CUBES card, each player (in turn) MUST remove one cube of their colour FROM any station in play and, tracing a path across clip links, move it to either:
- the STARTING CITY of the SHIP CUBES station card colour; score 2 points and return that cube to his/her supply; OR,
- any station in play with space in it (Metropolis singularity rule still applies)

Each clip link crossed by the cube on its journey, if it belongs to another player, scores 1 point for that player (you do NOT score points for crossing your own links); adjust the score track accordingly.

In other news...
We've also added pages for On The Cards, our big card game in a pocket-sized package from Sebastian Bleasdale. The rules are there, as is the designer diary (for when it's rotated off the BGGNews front-page stack) and lots of other stuff!

And, just in case you find yourself at a loose end, why not take a wander around the Bloody Legacy house? Or have a gander at the learned Coppertwaddle library? Or just snigger at how out-of-date my self-portrait cartoon is on the 'About Us' section!

Don't let those gnomes die in vain..oh, did I say they died? Er, I meant to say: don't let those gnomes 'remain bedridden' in vain.

*Phew* I think I got away with that one.
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Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:50 pm
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In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Whine

Anthony Boydell
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I was all excited, I was.

Six players for our evening at Carls: sat round his capacious dining table, expectant of a few hours of Skill checking, Raider-shooting, loyalty card-cradling, toaster-abusing space shenanigans (Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game, for the uninitiated).

Ray, the ‘lost boy’, had made a special appearance after a month or so sorting out his head-space in China, Taiwan and Warwick (ex-ot-ick). I arrived to find him merrily tossing his cubes while watched by the others, showering the laminated tabletop with Quiddity (the game is Quarriors!, for the uninitiated).

Keen to get the battle for the survival of the remnants of the 12 colonies underway, we emptied out the contents of Richards scuffed box (any cricket fans in the house tonight?) and selected our characters:

Role Call:
Ray = Tori ‘Someone just slap her’ Foster
Carl = Lee ‘He’s a British actor, you know?’ Adama
Iain = Super hard bitch Admiral Kane (for now)
Brendan = doe-eyed wet fish Boomer
Tony = ‘Hair-trigger’ Cally
Richard = Felix ‘Hopalong’ Gaeta

We played the usual ‘lots of Cylon ships board’ from the second expansion, the Pegasus (for cannon-fodder damage soaking) and a loyalty card deck with 2 cylons and a sympathiser shuffled in.

From the off I was a Cylon – so there ensued a couple of full rounds of cautious helpfulness and trust-building, though Tori came under fire very quickly from Admiral Kane (role-played beautifully by young Iain). We passed a skill check that allowed Tori to look at one random Loyalty card and (s)he picked me…then kept very, VERY quiet about it! Looks like TWO of us were Cylons from the start!

A couple of quick jumps (special abilities = good times for the fleshy ones) meant they were on distance FIVE already! Ray revealed on his next turn and brigged Lee Adama (one less pilot = good news for the pretend people); then mis-plays during his subsequent break-out attempt – both by ME and by IAIN (he thought green counted positive and ended up putting four green cards in) – meant that Felix (Richard) analyzed himself into a frenzy and deduced that either HE or I had put in a rum blue card (he was correct, of course) causing the release to fail.

I had to reveal my cybernetic origins, knocking the jump track back two spaces because they were doing so damn well, missing the opportunity to use Cally’s bang! bang! once-per-game ability (emotion chip set to ‘sad’).

One hour in and we knew who all the Cylons were.

What followed for the next hour was a frustrating round of rules-lawyering and metallic impotence that bordered on the tedious. Carl and Brendan are relative noobs to the game, so pretty much ALL of the planning was done by Iain and Richard. Every time I wanted to do something, it seemed that the response from the humans was one of the following:

- you can’t do that
- you can’t play more than one
- that text doesn’t exist for you
- that’s not how the rule works
- that text is ambiguous, but it should read like THIS
- there is a house rule…

At every turn, rules and game-play questions were resolved with ‘no’. Now, I may seem like a grumbly nay-sayer here, but the Cylons were a little more bloody effective in the TV series and no mistake!

So, time passed as we waited for the food to arrive and the game ran on the combined R/I auto-pilot much to the boredom and frustration of the rest of us – well, to us Cylons at least. We managed to get Kane executed as the result of a nasty Super Crisis Card (Iain reincarnated as Tom Zarek – O! Happy Day!), but it looked rather scripted and inevitable for a human win.

Then, bless my USB ports, Ray spotted an out – we had a LOT of Cylon ships on the main board and we exploited the ‘knock the jump track back / roll less that 14 on a d8 to damage Galactica’ actions – a couple of rounds (and the demise of Pegasus) later we needed one more hit on Galatica for the win – activated raiders could do it on one roll of an 8 out of six, or I could take an action on my next turn….and the dice did it again! Just the one eight, but the one that snatched victory from the jaws of hum-drum defeat!

Ray was jubilant, I was less enthused. The problem, we (sort of) agreed, was that everyone knew everyone’s loyalty TOO EARLY in the game, and with R/I having played this the most, they were best set to steer the humans through.

Strictly speaking, with all my complaining, I would’ve been better suited as Gaius Baltar…go figure!
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Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:08 am
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The Italian Stallion

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
Unspecified
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Ciao, bello!

Yesterday I snubbed an evening trip to Hemel Hempstead (and all that implies) to attend another session at the excellent London On Board (Google is your friend). Pausing to purchase the components of a ridiculously large blue-cheese baguette from an ‘M&S Food’ franchise on Cheapside (take a peek on your The Great Fire of London 1666 board), I descended the abyssal steps into the Red Herring pubs’ basement at 5.30PM to gaze upon a vista of already-buzzing gaming tables: Cowboys here, an Elder Sign or two there, Automobile, King of Tokyo, Chaos in the Old World and, in the murky corner – blinking at the lights, guttural, subsisting on poker chips and real ale – the first stirrings of an 18XX.

Game Idea: Club 1830XX – players operate night clubs on Ibiza and use DJs to earn money. DJs are made obsolete during the game, players buy interests in each-others clubs and, at the end, the player with the fewest stabbings and least-serious STD wins.

New players dribble occasionally into the venue, sheltering in the womb of the +1 RSVP status, wide-eyed at the groaning table of pleasures that await.

Your first time, you say? How about Age of Steam followed by a quick After The Flood? (cue: green light and evil cackling through an echo pedal)

I was clutching my prototype but, as often seems the case, this just makes me even more unapproachable and (in the end) I conceded to wicked fate and stowed it back into my smelling-of-Danish-Blue plastic bag.

Wondering if I’d actually get to play anything at bloody all, I was saved by the timely arrival of two Italian gentlemen: Guido and Mikele (sp?). Guido is moving into the area and will be making LoB his hobby-home and Mikele is a long-time pal and occasional visitor. They suggested a quick 3pl Race for the Galaxy (must be a year since I played this) and we set to. I had a terribly slow start and by the time I had a ‘Double VP’ engine set up, they’d triggered the 12 for the end: 44-36-33 – one more round and I was gaining 12VPs a time (ah, the usual post-match analysis). G&M played a lot of 2pl RftG while on holiday in Thailand in the Summer – eschewing the floral, faunal, geographic and ‘other’ delights on offer in the exotic East in favour of Tom Lehman’s classic? That’s a long way to go to just sit in a bar and play cards (and certainly puts a new perspective on ‘Consume Trade’ and ‘Performing a deep Explore’)…

Game Idea: Chaos In The New World – an Ameritrash platter accompanied by Dvorak’s aural gem; players compete to build (Wasabi-style) bars of symphonic delight by spending ‘notes’ (the game’s currency), attacking other players’ clefs and laying out completed bars (basically, a set-collection mechanic). Four factions (Woodwind, Strings, Percussion and Brass) vie for ultimate power in the form of the ‘Conductors Baton’.

Anyway, Mikele spotted a battered Agricola box beneath the fecund supply table and professed his undying love for the same…I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to play this with two new opponents who don’t actually need any kind of rules explanation! My hand offered early vegetables, bonus grain and a Schnapps Distiller plus Constable (from which 5 points were drawn) for the 4-wood accelerator, so I drained my food to zero in the first Stage and snifter-ed my way through the first harvest with one food to spare. I was a little concerned that almost all of M&G’s ‘start player’ actions went unaccompanied with a Minor Improvement and it turns out they play a lot of 2 or 5 player games, with nothing in between! As any fule kno, the three player is quite the nastiest and hardest variant – so I felt at a distinct advantage. Pressing this home, I was at four family members by round 9 with almost 10+ food in my supply, a well and an oven, pairs of animals, all poised for baby 3 and some voluminous plowing and sowing. In the end, it was a comfortable victory that was most unimpeded – its gratifying when your plans don’t really overlap with the other players’: 51-42-36

Game Idea: Agricola – The D (Diseases) Deck. Building on the infirmary mechanic introduced in Farmers of the Moor, the D deck adds 24 new cards sharing a distinctly malaise-ridden feel. Occupations include: Proctologist, Back-Street Dentist, Drunk Medical Student, Illicit Organ Dealer and Off-Duty Pharmacist; improvements include: Hernia Truss, Contaminated Blood Supply, The Plague, Sick Note, Warm Chicken Soup and Village STD Clinic (return the Private STD Clinic to gain extra VPs and more anti-biotics from general supply) etc

I made a date to meet up with these jolly Neopolitans at Spiel’11 – they want to learn how to play Glory to Rome (!) FFS – looks like I pleased the Good Lord today and no mistake.
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Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:49 am
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