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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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m.p.b

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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In between walking, eating and the occasional board game someone (thankfully) left a large supply of Lego in our holiday house!

Never one to refuse the lure of "moulded plastic brickettes"(tm) I set about - in those early hours when the youngest has awoken and, yet, the rest of the house is still a-snooze - assembling a few bits and pieces:

Exhibit A: A Helicopter


Exhibit B: An aeroplane

These are early efforts, of course. After some play (and a measure of disintegration), rebuilding and re-engineering was required. No photos exist of the next phase of construction - let's just they they were sufficiently advanced prototypes that they resulted in a Governmental cover-up.

In fact, for a toy that has been left to amuse the tiddlers I have to admit that I am probably the person that's played with it the most...by a significant margin too! Something primal has obviously been triggered - it reminds me of those MANY damp British Saturday afternoons as a youngster when it was either Lego or ITVs "World Of Sport", and I've never been a Horse Racing fan.

So, this week has seen 'guppy'-like sea planes with cargo trays, escape pods and elaborate engines; secret service jet fighters with a detachable (nuke-containing) rocket nose-cone and more temporary dune buggies than you can shake a rotten, river-bottom stick at!

Talking of rivers, we all braved a windy-but-dry afternoon (a welcome break in the drizzle) to take a favourite walk along a small Yorkshire 'beck' to have a pub-lunch (ham butties and pork pies). It was a bit like a low-rent ZX-Spectrum adventure game:


You are standing next to a rushing river. The water is rusty. You can see the far bank has recently collapsed.
> EXAMINE BANK
It looks like it collapsed recently.
> GET STONE
You can't do that - you'll get a hernia!
> GET HERNIA
Ouch!
> E

You are standing on a small bridge. A Troll is leaning against it looking bored.
> TALK TO TROLL
The Troll says: "Alright?"
> E
The Troll refuses to let you pass.
> E
The Troll refuses to let you pass.
> SAY ALRIGHT
The Troll nods and lets you across his bridge. You can see steps up. Behind you is the Troll Bridge; the Troll is smoking a mackerel.

> TAKE MACKEREL
Taken.
>E

You are near a small pub. The pub is offering butties and pie for lunch. Some ramblers are sipping ale on a bench.
> EAT BUTTIES
You are feeling full.
> EAT PIE
You are feeling very full.
> EAT RAMBLERS
I'm not convinced that will achieve anything.
> GO TO THE BEACH

You are on a wide, sandy beach. The sky is clear and the wind is strong, but warm. The waves are powerful just off-shore - there is a sign staked into the sand.
> READ SIGN
The sign says: "Do not swim otherwise you will die and that causes problems and paperwork for all of us"
> EAT SIGN
You are still full from the butties and the pie and the ramblers.
> SCORE
Your wife is watching..oh, I see what you mean: 173/356
> SAVE GAME
Game saved.
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Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:27 pm
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Thairth A Thong To Be Thung (The Thecond Thection)

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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ADVERTISEMENT BREAK

Man: Take TWO Pocket Battles into the Shower? But I just want to WAR 'N GO!

(cut)

Woman: I don't let my Period spoil our regular gaming group. With new 'Diplomacy' easy-applicator, I can REALLY channel that pain, those frustrations and a seething pit of aggressive emotions into a single, apocalyptic 7 hour session. Comes with optional Health insurance...for your fellow players.

(cut - film trailer)
Gravelly-voiced Man: Two men retreat into the remote woods of the North to play some Martin Wallace games. In the bleak isolation, they discover a bond - a love that dared not speak its name. On their return in the Spring, their families sensed something had changed - but they could never know the truth of the men's carnal diversions. From the studio that brought you 'Go For Brokeback Mountain' and 'Forgetting Asara Marshall' comes 'A Few Acres Of Snow': a deck-building tale.

END OF ADVERTISEMENT BREAK

And now we return to our musical feature...

Scene Four
The Professor's library - he has Sister Carter plugged into an electric chair with speakers stacked around his head. Horrendous vowel noises blast from the woofers and tweeters – Ed’s face is red and pained. The chair faces a giant plasma screen displaying a computer desktop - some of the application icons include: Paintshop Pro, InDesign and Johnny Castaway Screensaver. The Professor's close friend, and ally, Colonel Ender Wiggins is also in attendance (Higgins and Wiggins? C’maaaaahhhhhnnn!).

Higgins:
Come on, Ed - repeat after me: "The Art will be Smart if you Dart to Kickstart…er". "In Poland, Germany and Canada everyone loves Unchronia". "How Kind Of You To Let Me Win" etc

Sister Carter:
"The Art will be Smart if you Dart to Kickstart…er"

Higgins:
By Chudyk, he's got it !

Scene Five
Ed is too excited to sleep, and Higgin's announced that he'll be taking him to Gencon Indy 2011 to show off their re-working of the Glory to Rome graphics. Cut to the bedroom - servants try to get Ed ready for bed, but he dances around the room. Several servants return sporting leather 'gimp' masks and horse-whips...

Sister Carter:
(to the tune of 'I Could've Danced All Night' from My Fair Lady)

Bed, bed, I couldn't go to bed
My head's too full of all of this commotion
Sleep! Sleep! I couldn't sleep tonight
Not even for the rights to Innovation

I could have drawn all night
I could have drawn all night
And cut and kerned and primed
I could have built up layers
For all our loyal players
Made Barons look sublime
I'll never know
What made it so exciting
Why all at once
My mouse took flight
I only know when he
Began to work with me
I could have drawn, drawn, drawn all night

Servant 1:
It's after three now

Servant 2:
Don't you agree now
He ought to be in bed

Sister Carter:
I could have drawn all night
I could have drawn all night
I’d post up drafts for thumbs
I’d garner peer reviews
Accept the varied views
From strangers and from chums
I am resolved
That from now on I'll cry less
Use digi-stylus
Or Cor'ldraw Light
I only know when he
Began to draw with me
I could have drawn, drawn, drawwwwwww-n all…night

Mrs. Pearce:
I understand, dear
It's all been grand, dear
But now it's time to sleep

Sister Carter:
I could have drawn, drawn, drawwwwwww-n all…night....All night!

(Ed collapses on the bed and immediately starts snoring. Fade to black)

Scene Six
We are at Gencon Indy 2011.

Punter:
Geeks! Geeks ! Check out these proofs for the Black Box edition of Glory to Rome...they’re...awesome!

(There are gasps from the surrounding crowd. Three familiar BGG faces scuttle sideways across the floor towards the feature table: Scott Alden, Doug Garrett and Dirk. They are alternately bobbing up and down in time to the music, which has just started playing)

The Three Geeks:
(to the tune of 'Three Little Maids' from The Mikado)
We three uber-geeks from the B.G.G,
Pert as an uber-geek can be,
Filled to the brim with rules and glee,
Covering Gencon Indy

Yum-Yum Alden:
Everything is a source of fun.

Peep-Bo Garrett:
Nobody’s safe, for we care for none!

Pitti-Sing Dirk:
Life is a game that’s just begun!

The Three Geeks:
Three uber-geeks are we !

Three level threes who, all unwary,
Issue warnings to the rude and sweary,
Making sure that you all play fair-y

Three uber-geeks are we !
Three uber-geeks are we !

Yum-Yum Alden:
One little Geek is in charge, Yum-Yum —

Peep-Bo Garrett:
Two other Mods in attendance come —

Pitti-Sing Dirk:
Three uber-geeks is the total sum.

The Three Geeks:
Three uber-geeks are we !

Yum-Yum Alden:
From three uber-geeks take one away.

Peep-Bo Garrett:
Two uber-geeks remain, and they —

Pitti-Sing Dirk:
Won’t have to Mod very long, they say —

The Three Geeks:
Three uber-geeks are we !

Chorus:
Three uber-geeks are we !
Three uber-geeks, with the player's buy-in,
Enforce Mod rules with a fist of iron
Look! A nerd’s mouth with another pie in !
Three uber-geeks are we !
Three uber-geeks are we !

The beloved and respected figureheads of BoardGameGeek.com check the proof artwork in sombre silence. Hushed chatter fills the air. Then one of them raises a lithograph to the sky and proclaims...

Yum-Yum Alden:
(to the tune of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' from Jesus Christ Superstar)

This here art
Isn't shite
Go back to your Forums and begin to write

This here art’s
Beauti-ful
If you don’t agree then you are speaking bull!

This here art’s
Quite sublime
Go and pledge some dollars now, it’s funding time!

Cut to the last day of the Show - Ed is riding a wave of warmth, good-feelings and – lets not mince words here - LOVE

Sister Carter:
(to the tune of 'On The Street Where You Live' from My Fair Lady)

I had often done all the Art myself
Taking clipart, fonts and layouts from off of the shelf
All at once am I climbing e'er so high,
Knowing this redesign’s gonna sell!

People whined and moaned, they don't bother me
Coz there's not a game around that I would rather play
See enchantment’s rays shine from every face
Knowing this redesign’s gonna sell!

And ohhhhhhhhhhh the towering feeling
Just to knooooow that vict'ry is near
An U-chronia’s folks they are squealing
As they are reeling I will shed a happy tear !

I just sit and stare at my printer proofs
Heiko’s inspiration: it has really hit the roof!
Just as long as you…don’t want it for Barons too
I will win coz this games gonna sell!

The crowd go wild and join in the big, final number: a medley of tunes including:
- Sod ‘Em All (to the tune of Sodomy, from Hair)
- The Phantom of Uchronia
- Don’t Cry For Me, Robert Seater / O! What A Circus
- The Zombie In My Pocket With The Fringe On The Top

(Soundtrack available from all good stockists)
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:17 am
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Thairth A Thong To Be Thung (The Firtht Part)

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Scene One:
A convent in the remote snow-covered mountains of the Alps. Nuns are going about their business (fingering their wimples, getting in and out of their habits, pulling the wings off flies, harvesting bees, glaring at small children etc). Two nuns are sitting in concerned conversation on an ornate garden swing-chair (with Justin Bieber throw-cushions, and a glass of Pimms No.1 each). One of the nuns has a wimple the size of a small aircraft hanger and stacked platform shoes - she is obviously 'in charge'

Mother Posterior:
(to the tune of 'Maria', from 'The Sound of Music')

How do you solve a problem like Ed Carter?
How do you stop the bugger causing trub?
No matter what we say
He jumps into the fray
He's got a point to make – but there’s the rub
So, how do you solve a problem like Ed Carter?
Distract him with Kickstarter so he stops!

Sister Marmite:
(harmonising with the Reverend Mother)

How do you solve a problem like Ed Carter?
Should all the BGG-ers have a say?
You mention GtR
They say "The Art is poor!’
We know, we know, we know it’s under par
So, how do you solve a problem like Ed Carter?
You pledge one hundred dollars then he’ll stop!

A line of nuns, with arms linked and legs high-kicking, trot sideways across the screen behind the seated nuns. They are screeching the following rising crescendo of a final chorus at the top of their lungs and some are being smacked about their faces with over-sized Rosaries...

All of the Nuns:
How do you solve a problem like Ed Carter?
You distract the tetchy geezer...
The ol’ Desist and Ceaser...
You...distract...the...grumpy...farquar..till...he...stoooooooooppppppssss !

The nuns stop dancing, un-link arms, and start nodding their heads frantically (mouths open) in the manner of The Muppets after a successful sketch.

Scene Two
Sister Ed Carter has been sent, by Mother Posterior and the other Sisters Of The Greased Candle, to the castle of Heiko Von Higgins, the famous Swiss philanthropist and voice-coach. They believe that by getting him to speak proper and learn him some etiquette, he may mend his ramshackle design style and inappropriately-litigious ways and become a friend in the eyes of Geeks again.

Sister Carter:
(to the tune of Wouldn't It Be Lovely from My Fair Lady, as he walks up the path to the Castle we see the rocky road is lined with crucified Roman slaves, some of whom are muttering "I'm bloody Spartacus")

All I want is to publish games
Sold in ‘clams’ and with catchy names
The Fame, the Wealth, the Dames
Oh wouldn't it be lover-ly ?

Ranking high in the Geekdo chart,
My clear brand really plays its part
But no-one likes the Art
Oh wouldn't it be lover-ly

Oh so lover-ly all those licenses for foreign climes
Looks like C.G.F has moved...into successful times!

(a chorus of giant ants marches across the path singing)

The Ants:
All he wants is to publish games
Sold in ‘clams’ and with catchy names
The Fame, the Wealth, the Dames
Oh wouldn't it be lover-ly ?

(Sister Carter joins in, riding on the back of the lead ant, swinging a lasoo above her head)

Ed and the Ants:
Oh so lover-ly all those licenses for foreign climes
Looks like C.G.F has moved...into successful times!

(the ants drop Sister Carter at the castle gates and scuttle away. Sister Carter rings the bell; the door is opened by a small child)

Small Child:
(in heavy, cliched Cherman accent)
Ya ? Ya ? Vot iss it zat you are vonting ?

Sister Carter:
I am Sister Ed Carter from the Convent. I have been sent here to learn good English and to look after the Professors' large family of illegitimate children.

Small Child:
O.K. Common zee in, frauline und velcome to Berg Higgins.

Scene Three
(Small child leads him into an enormous hallway - six other children are suspended from the ceiling in locked iron cages, they begin singing)

Children:
(to the tune of 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' from Mary Poppins)

Um-diddle Photoshop um-diddle-aye
Um-diddle Photoshop um-diddle-aye
Super-ComicSans-and-Clipart-MockedUp-Quite-Atrocious!
Everyone’s reaction to the layout is ferocious
If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious
Super-ComicSans-and-Clipart-MockedUp-Quite-Atrocious!

Um-diddle Photoshop um-diddle-aye
Um-diddle Photoshop um-diddle-aye
We played Glory years ago
When first it hit the stalls
We wanted to adore the cards
But never had the balls
But then one day we learned a word
Now we don’t care a bit
We play it almost every day
Even though it looks like shit
It's...

Super-ComicSans-and-Clipart-MockedUp-Quite-Atrocious!
Everyone’s reaction to the layout is ferocious
If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious
Super-ComicSans-and-Clipart-MockedUp-Quite-Atrocious!

(a large, rotund child sings the next verse solo, showering the marble floor with pie crumbs)

Large Child:
So when there’s cards in garish tones
A-sitting in your hand
Or when you've got cheap library art
That jars when cards are fanned
Just say this word and you will see
The eye-sore fade away...

(tall, thin child cuts in – he has a ridiculously low singing voice)

Thin Child:
I said it loud at Origins
And got a cred in I.V!

Chorus:
Super-ComicSans-and-Clipart-MockedUp-Quite-Atrocious!
Everyone’s reaction to the layout is ferocious
If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious
Super-ComicSans-and-Clipart-MockedUp-Quite-Atrocious!

TO BE CONTINUED...
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Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:14 pm
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Wrath of the Elements?

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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When the weather is bad, the best recourse is to pull up a teapot and make one-self comfortable with boardgames. While the wind howls around the chimbley, while the hail batters the roof, there's nothing that warms the cockles of your soul more than meeple-pushing, tile-laying, deck-manipulating goodness.

Apart from crumpet, obviously.

Woman: Are you hungry?
Man: Muffin?
Woman: ...maybe later; would you like a bread-based snack instead?

(etc)

You lot being such impressionable types, I thought it prudent to suggest a number of published diversions in case the elements micturate all over your holiday excursion plans. Boardgames: never leave home without them.

After The Flood / Through The Sewage: A Story of Civil Amenities
Morganlandslide
Alumbrella
Hail o'Dorada
Cumulo-Nimbali / Cirrus Maximus / Cloudo
Humid-Life Crisis
Fzzzt! (that's the sound of lightning)
Tornado and Taxis
Showergrid / Drizzle Quest
Dampfrost
Slurry To Rome / No-Snow Tails / Thaw The Ages / De-Frosti

Now - to seek out a game of something myself: girls are dye-ing their hair, boys are all transfixed by their DS-s...wish me luck, I may have to play with myself
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Mon Aug 8, 2011 5:35 pm
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A Birdsong Of Stone

Anthony Boydell
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Mother,

I must apologize for the recent hiatus in my correspondence, but we've all been recuperating in the Field Hospital following the dramatic escape from the clutches of our Germanic captors! Boffo, Smudge and myself share the same Ward but Jobbers has been so traumatized by the experience, that he's been shipped off back to Blighty - for medical experiments, apparently.

The infeasibly capacious hamper that awaited our famished return was most welcome - Smudge, in particular, demolished the Single Malt exclaiming she'd never felt so satisfied by a stiff Scotch. Boffo nibbled the Stilton and crackers - using his Brodie as a dinner plate - the nervous tremble he picked up in captivity meant he ended the session with a rather cheesy helmet. I contented myself with a swift Shandy...followed by a semi-alcoholic beverage.

The Doc has worked wonders in rebuilding our mental, as well as physical, well-being. Smudge has expressed a keen interest in Medicine as she would very much like to serve under him in the future - being his right hand, taking things down and the like. Boffo has retreated into a bit of a sulk - heaven knows why: from the sounds of Smudge's daily 'treatments' behind the curtains, she's making an excellent (if vocal) recovery.

The Doctor actively encourages the playing of board games as therapy, so we gathered for the first session in a while on Friday evening. I'd been locked in a vicious struggle with a bedpan and a recalcitrant stool for the best part of an hour, when the rattling of the Agricola box beckoned. Never under-estimate the laxative effect of Mr Rosenberg's Magnum Opus...especially during a bombing raid.

I was pleased to peruse a delicious grain-based combo of Field Watchmen (?) and Grain cart, resulting in the 'Take 1 Grain' action netting me 3 Grain and a ploughed field. Stone Deliverymen paved (ha!) the way for much Major Improvement glory (Stone Oven, BMW etc). In the final reckoning, my five-person (clay) farm was well-stocked with resources and I was able to pip Boffo by a single point (41-40-30) for the victory! Smudge seemed un-phased by her poor showing - though the scores suggest she contented herself by watching the pair of us expertly use our hands to grow, sow and build to a rewarding climax.

Clearing away the detritus of our farming, Innovation was the next course in our gaming banquet. Smudge is particularly enamored of Mr Chudyks astonishing Civilisation-in-a-deck, eagerly pumping the decks and splaying with a frenzy hitherto unknown to Man. She took a rather aggressive stance with The Pirate Code (is there any OTHER kind of stance possible?), but was unable to stop my early score-pile achievements and a final 'alternative game end' garnered by being the first player to venture into 'the tens'. I'd not played this one in a while, but it was a short few rounds before I recalled how damn bloody incredible this design is - the high interaction, the ridiculous effects, the to-ing and fro-ing and the sheer RANGE of decisions (even though you ONLY get two actions a turn!) - quite simply jaw-dropping.

To round off the evening, Braggart made an appearance - this works very nicely with three - rattling on at a fair old pace. Smudge further demonstrated her obfuscatory, deceptional and bare-cheeked liar-ing capabilities by sneaking the win in a 65-60-55 finish.

Exhausted, I dropped off quickly. Boffo nipped out for a smoke under the cold, Belgian skies and Smudge waited for her next injection.

Much love to Father - I trust he has recovered from his recent Death?

Your loving son,
Antonius
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Sun Aug 7, 2011 9:59 am
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57 Varieties - Uses for a Banned TCG Card

Anthony Boydell
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Everyone's going 'hairdresser' about recent bannings in the world of Magic: The Gathering (it's a sine wave of activity that can be plotted all the way back to the mid 90s).

What the jiggidy-spip is one supposed to do with £100 worth of card-board that's now
a) unplayable, and
b) suddenly not worth £100 any more?

Well, how about:
1. Send it back to the manufacturer and attempt to blag a free booster or two
2. Give it to a friend for a birthday
3. Wipe your bottom on it
4. Wipe someone else's bottom on it
5. Option 3 or 4, and then send it back to the manufacturer to get a replacement booster !
6. Shred it and use the result to stuff a small pillow for your pet mouse
7. Shred it and deep-fry the result with some prawns - serve with a light dressing
8. Use it as a missile weapon when appearing in a martial arts movie (as you do)
9. Trade it for a lot of 'not-banned' cards with a noob who has no Internet access (not likely to be found since 1998)
10. Frame it and put it on your wall (with the caption: "In Memorium")
11. Frame it and put it on your wall (with the caption: "Fucked In the Ass by the O.P Manager...Again !")
12. Use it as a drinks coaster
13. Fold it in half (short-ways) to make a tent for your pet spider
14. Fold it in half (long-ways) to make a tent for your pet worm
15. Encase it in perspex to make a key-fob
16. Encase it in plastic, cut it up, and use as a jigsaw (maybe for a young relative?)
17. Use it to prop-up a minutely-wobbly table leg
18. Wear it as a badge
19. Fix a clock mechanism on it and make it a clock
20. Use it as a poopa-scoopa for a hamster/cockroach/other small pet
21. Give it to a baby for use as a teether
22. Save wear and tear on your credit card by using the banned card as a method of illicit ingress...
23. Roll it up and use as a pea-shooter
24. Roll it up and snort cocaine through it
25. A patch for some holey jeans
26. Proxy card in a play-test deck
27. To cover a small hole in a dyke (an artificial barrier against body of water, that is)
28. To cover a small hole in a dyke (a burly woman with no love for men, that is)
29. Use it to fill out a sad trades folder
30. Build a deck around it, go to a tournament, and see how long you can play before you are disqualified
31. Make a Christmas card with it
32. Throw it away, then take it OUT of the bin and throw it away again
33. Send it around the world, having it photographed against the sky-lines of famous cities
34. Collect as many as you can and insert into the Company Rep at the next Pro Tour / Grand Prix / Dark Moon Fayre
35. Name a rock band after it and use it as your first album cover picture
36. Build a web-site devoted to it
37. Give it to 'dear Liza' to fix the hole in her bucket
38. Let it out 'to pasture' in your garden
39. Nail it up and shoot at it with an air-rifle
40. Fold it up and use it as a gum-shield
41. Fold it up and use it as a bum-shield
42. Use it as a taper to light a bonfire of chaff commons and uncommons
43. Bury it in a field for future generations to puzzle over
44. Give it to a Yu-Gi-Oh group to puzzle over ("You call THIS broken ?")
45. Re-cycle it at your local supermarket
46. Fold lots of them into origami animals and bring together in a vast Noah's Ark of fun
47. Staple two to you ear-lobes to make some attractive jewellry
48. Cut into tiny pieces and use as confetti at a Geek wedding
49. Open a museum of cards, with it displayed in the 'Banned' section
50. Use it as a scoop for dispensing rice, washing powder, dandruff etc
51. Use a needle to stab it full of small holes and use as a sieve
52. Give it away as a prize in a cheap-ass quiz
53. Refuse any mention of it's name on pain of death
54. Form a secret society, using the card as the chief emblem and focus
55. Knit multiple copies together to make LARP 'fish scale' armour
56. Use it as the pouch part of a magical 'thong' (and two together as a "bra" for the ladies)
57. Nail to a stick for popular 'windmill' design

Time to quit bitchin' and start itchin', or something.
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Fri Aug 5, 2011 5:48 pm
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Beet Zen Pisces

Anthony Boydell
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[1] Had to up our supply order for Paperclip Railways (Express Edition) on account of pre-orders nudging towards 3/5 of our Essen run - we'll now be putting out a 300 copy run (instead of 200), so if you've not pre-ordered already then GO TO IT!

[2] Been fairly obsessive about all things Glory to Rome over the last few days! First I laid in on the Black Box reprint campaign on Kickstarter - for the first 60 hours I was the only MARBLE sponsor ($175) - it was the handwritten letter of apology for the 'original art' that made me laugh out loud and then raid the kids' piggy banks. Of course, the astonishing speed in which $30,000 (so far) has been raised shows how all-pervading this diamond-in-the-rough is! All we need now is to arrange for Carl Chudyk himself to be carried, shoulder-high, through the (extra) Halls of Essen Spiel 2011 by an adoring and rejoicing crowd! Gotta love the shadowy figure that gave us this super-classic and the quite jaw-numbing Innovation - if I was prone to hyperbole, I'd say he was a veritable gaming Messiah, a kick-in-the-arse personified for tired, Euro-cliche banality.

Oh, and there's a mini-GtR expansion coming with it too! Yes! A whole Geeklist devoted to ideas for 'unplaytested' extras - I've got a few ideas garnering some generous comments and thumbs, so please visit http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/70510/item/1768827#ite... and give me clever little Domus the thumb of approval!

[3] A fleeting visit by some family members resulted in a few games of Drag Strip!, more testing for my Ecological boardgame prototype (I won!) and LOTS of traditional deck card games (Chinese Patience, Cheat etc). I'm looking forward to SSG putting out some more info about On The Cards - our delicious mini-release for Spiel from Sebastian Bleasdale. It's a card game meta-game...and bloody clever.

[4] Passed a prototype of Ticket To Ride: Ivor the Engine to Michael Fox at the splendid Little Metal Dog Show (http://littlemetaldog.com). Hopefully, he'll play it and provide feedback after the weekend - all bringing it closer to being hoofed up to the Geek for print 'n play goodness. For those of you unfamiliar with Ivor the Engine and the other works of Firmin & Postgate, please check out: http://www.smallfilms.co.uk

[5] May just get a game of Agricola in tomorrow night at the Ross-on-Wye club (fingers crossed) - it's been nearly two weeks and I'm getting awfully twitchy.

Ah - the sunset calls! Just time for a G&T on the veranda - watching the wildebeest sweep majestically across the plain. It don't get much better than this cool
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Thu Aug 4, 2011 8:08 pm
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Charity begins at...er, the Charity Shop

Anthony Boydell
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Most of you peeps will be aware of Charity Shops or 'Thrift Stores' to our trans-Atlantic cousins...

(Aside) While we discussing linguistic differences: Dear America, The letter 'U' appears in a lot of words and doesn't cost you any extra, so why take it out? And is the 'z' sound of the letter 'S' so difficult to understand that you have to 'Zee' it instead? Hmmmmmmmmmm? Cntz*

Anyway (lovely coffee), as I was saying...

Our little country town of Newent is blessed with a trio of volunteer-manned, purely-for-the-benefit-of-the-needy secondhand goods stores; a Holy triumverate wellspring of books, games, clothes,toys and china. For such a small settlement, the shops are surprisingly vigorous in their turn-over of stock and barely a week goes by without me browsing for some interesting tidbits.

For some reason, Newent (in the Forest of Dean - you know, not far from where Harry and Hermione holed up for a while) has a hidden community of 60s and 70s games players who - probably due to expiration, or permanent resettlement to an Old Folks Home (aka Living Hell) are having their collections drip-fed into the Thrift stores of the County!

Not that I'm complaining! For the price of a bottled cola I have, in recent years, picked up VERY tidy copies of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases, Hoity Toity (yes, the German version), Stockbroker, Scoop: The Newspaper Game!, Judge Dredd, RuneQuest (2nd Edition) (boxed with all the leaflets and gubbins), Escape from Colditz and many, many more. Yesterday, I popped in to look at the childrens books for my youngest (Arthur) and came out with two lavishly-illustrated coffee table books about Train and London Underground poster art and a tidy copy of Talisman (2nd Ed) sans rulebook!

There is a slight moral dilemma, of course: paying such a stupidly-low amount of money for games that have a (much) greater value - at least if you can find the right buyer! I resolve this in my own mind by the fact that I never get rid of this stuff (well, apart from the Runequest box that got be 35 quid) - they lie, un-played and neatly stacked in my capacious outbuilding. I'm not a shop, just a hoarder...in the grand tradition of these things, I hope that one day I will be able to reuse components or, perhaps, 'borrow' a neat mechanic from these dusty friends in a new work. Plus they just look so damn cool: the art, the cheesy tag-lines and the overall sense of history they represent.

Perhaps I should write a detailed history? The authoritative tome of such hobbyist matters?

I do have a copy of a fantastic reference work on Victorian and Georgian Board Games by F.R.B Whitehouse - a 1st Edition (1951) I picked up for a proper price in a secondhand bookshop. It's a loving slip-cased, hard-bound catalogue detailing linen-printed, beautifully illustrated, 'educational' board games from the 18th and 19th centuries. I also picked up a copy of the 2nd Edition (1971) from an Oxfam bookshop in Central London a few years later which turned out to be the copy F.R.B Whitehouse, himself, donated to the House of Commons Library(!). A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to pick up an original example of one of these games at Essen Spiel from the delightful chaps at Glenwood Games (they deal in the rare stuff, the REALLY rare and beautiful stuff):


Ah, but I'm rambling. What's the best item YOU'VE discovered in a Charity shop? Was it easy prising it from the cold fingers of the Octogenarian 'volunteer' - cup of weak tea in one hand, curare-tipped brolley in the other?

*Please don't take offence - this is just a ridiculous build up to crack a stupid little joke; you know I love you guys really (smooch)
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Tue Aug 2, 2011 9:59 am
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Light the blue touch-paper...

Anthony Boydell
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Re: a comment posted on the Paperclip Railways BGG page:

"I hate the idea of this game so much. Profiting off of someone else's great idea really sticks in my craw. Especially when the original game had such a tiny run anyway. In a word, lame."

Dear Author-of-the-post,

Firstly, since you are not the sole objector to the idea that one game can inspire another, please read: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/1945/homage-of-steam

Secondly, do you like Age of Steam? How about Railways of the World? Maybe Railways of the World: The Card Game? Canal Mania, perhaps? Hmmmm...they share quite a similar lineage. What about Race for the Galaxy and San Juan? Not a lot separating them, really, apart from theme. Heads up! Here comes World Of Warcraft TCG and Magic: The Gathering...different, and yet, the same.

Thirdly, extracting votre tete from votre derriere, you may be interested to know that Hisashi Hayashi, designer of the excellently-unusual String Railway and I have struck up a remote friendship by a new social networking facility called Facebook. I sent him a complimentary copy of Paperclip Railways and have also acknowledged him in the rulebook as an inspiration - note that word and, if you have time, look it up in a dictionary.

Fourthly, Game of Thrones? Shanarra? Thomas Covenant? Man, it sticks in my craw that these series' are profiting off the hard work of J.R.R Tolkien who, himself, ought to be ashamed at ripping off all those Scandinavian sagas and creation myth stories!

You think the idea of Paperclip Railways sticks in YOUR craw? I know something even worse stuck in mine: ill-informed, knee-jerk opinion. I'd send you a cease and desist, but I don't have a new game to promote - at least not yet.

In a word: stupidity
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Mon Aug 1, 2011 9:53 am
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Prototyping...

Anthony Boydell
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I went into my shed this morning (you know, the kind of thing you all need) and dug out various prototypes. As well as the last 15 years of designing and (vastly-increased) playing resulting in more complex (and more polished) work, the quality of the play-test copies / prototypes has also improved markedly.

The earliest of designs (see below) tended to be card-based, and the prototypes reflect the tools I had at the time: paper, an old PC with CorelDRAW on it (no scanner) and, laughably, a laminating machine. Without exposure to Eurogames with their tiles and their wooden pieces, or deck protector sleeves, the 'design space was limited and the process of component production was time-consuming and tortuous:
a) layout card sheet template and print it
b) run all prints through again on the other side with a solid black fill
c) draw a picture on EVERY card (colouring in is optional)
d) laminate all card sheets
e) cut out cards

See Coppertwaddle - I didn't even bother to draw pictures, as I had a minimal library of reference books (boy has THAT changed) and low confidence in my 'straight' drawing ability:



See Bloody Legacy (or, as it was first known: Hesketh's Legacy) - rough and ready cartoon impressions - again, around a long time prior to me having the tools and the environment to illustrate properly:


See B.O.G - the ultimate in 'hand-produced' - 300+ cards meant I've never made a backup copy of this:


How about Autumn Leaves (still unpublished) - an Uno variant with a leafy theme. I seem to recall I actually over-heated a laminator putting this one together (and emptied a toner at work to get the black backing):


Still a card game, but I went for a design aesthetic for Scandaroon - based on the background layers on the final version of Coppertwaddle; I like it's plain-ness, it's 'iconic' nature - in a way, my attempt to give proper suits in the published version weakened it IMHO:



Between Bloody Legacy and Scandaroon, I really stepped up a gear in terms of graphic work by putting together the ridiculously ornate Tara, Seat of Kings art - the prototype was Alan Paull's (I had no control over putting that together), but the Celtic knot-work and the hidden jokes took me 3 months elapsed time in total - I'd pop into the studio for 30 mins here and an hour there and add more curls and swirls:



Confidence rising, lots of experience (doing your own artwork saves a LOT of money) and a Dad with a large workshop lead to the best prototype so far - Totemo:

A proper visualization - and the nearest thing to a prototype being the final version that I've come up with! It would be four more years before Totemo became a reality, with a retro-step in terms of 'mock ups' coming for Fzzzt! - mind you, I'd built up a massive collection of card sleeves by then (no more lamination for Uncle Tony):


In recent years, most of my WIP designs are full-on board games and have the requisite cards, boards, tiles and wooden furniture. Powerpoint is simple and effective enough to provide play-test layouts, scanned docs and iPhone photos can be quickly pasted into templates and the whole thing feels more complete. Being of a slightly obsessive nature, these elements go through many more iterations of tweaking. I abhor crossings-out, extra handwritten text and the like - it all has to be 'just so' - and why not? It all helps your test groups to 'visualize'...

Guilds of London (circa version 11):


Mountain Railway (circa version 8):


Ticket To Ride: Ivor The Engine (version 4) - even for what will be a print&play fan board, the need for a presentable prototype is overwhelming:


Give it 5 years and we'll all have 3D printers in our living rooms too - I look forward to the prototyping possibilities THAT's gonna provide!
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Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:32 pm
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