Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell - Independent UK games designer, self-confessed Agricola-holic and Carl Chudyk fan-boy: www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

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What a State to get into!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Withdrawal from regular gaming is resulting in me shaking like a shitting dog come the evening. The Library room, normally a sanctuary from anxiety, is walled and textured with literature and the silently-howling (side-on) boxes of chitty, cubey, cartophiliac gorgeousness: “Play us!”, they whine. It also doesn’t help that the Interwebs is currently thrumming with the smug joy of BGGCon attendees and the tsunami of ”I published one first!” Essen hotness reviews. Determined to get something, anything, to the table, I dispatched a hopeful call-to-arms to the Ross-on-Wye board gamers – or, at least, those I thought would have half a chance of turning up to the house and (last night), the unusually-empty Boydell household was supplemented by Daffers and Jobbers.

My first thought was to give ourselves a first-look, couple o’ eras run at The Colonists but backed away at the last moment – five minutes before the knocketty-knocks – realising it would be better to point the chaps at a couple of excellent YouTube play-through videos first; a Facebook ‘report’ from Midcon (over the weekend) logged seven hours+ for a full game and I couldn’t face a late finish, what with ‘school’ in the morning.

51st State: Master Set had been winking, coyly, at me from the mahogany coffee table since acquisition-via-Spiel so - in honour of the splendid Ignacy Trzewiczek – I carried it to the kitchen table and we got stuck in. The rules are clear, logical, well-presented and wonderfully-peppered with slightly-sweary exclamations (“I don’t give a crap how you decide who the Start Player is…” etc) – Ignacy is a funny guy made even funnier by his propensity to drop in expletives in slightly-the-wrong-place!

In summary: you draft cards (locations) then collect (produce) resources, build Locations (to provide resources, convert to other resources and/or victory points), make deals (a variation of production locations) and raze cards/other people’s locations for more resources. When someone reaches 25 victory points the end game is triggered, you play the round out and then add on 1VP per (still-standing) location to see who has won.



We played with the ‘base set’ (51st State only) and played a rather overly-benevolent game: Jobbers burnt (‘razed’) one of my Locations early on but for the remainder we kept ourselves pretty-much to ourselves and churned through our little engines. I quickly set up a lovely combination of heavy ‘Iron’ (cog pieces) production and a 3VP ‘iron for VPs’ consumption location which the other two should have nix-ed ASAP but didn’t. As with many games thrust under the Jobbersian septum, this first run was purely familiarisation and I fully expect a much more aggressive outing next time.

Which is a good thingTM.

I think.
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Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:28 pm
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Only ever lent to us

Anthony Boydell
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Being a game designer is a lot like being a parent: you raise it from infancy through tantrums and projectile vomiting (playtesting) and, eventually, release it in to the world to fend for itself. Sometimes it finds itself a partner for the journey to maturity and, if you're lucky, it's a good 'un who will continue bestowing the loving care that you had previously bestowed; sometimes, though, the partner turns out to be a cowardly, deceitful tosser who pulls out of the relationship at the last minute leaving your beloved in tearful hysteria!

Er...

(winds neck in)

Thankfully, Guilds of London has found itself a life partner who loves it just as much as me *sniff* and has a smashing group of friends to help take care of it too: 2Tomatoes, in conjunction with Tasty Minstrel Games, are releasing several non-English editions of GoL (French, Italian, Spanish) and have commissioned a new piece of art for the box:


(left) Rough sketch. (right) The final version.


I think that Pedro Soto - of (recent) Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft fame - has done a great job in re-imagining the Mayoral scene. It's very exciting to see a new interpretation because I've never been through this before with any other of my games; I also feel a little guilty, as if I've somehow been untrue to Klemens, but Guilds has a life of it's own now and - ultimately - I (we) can enjoy the luxury of watching, proudly, from the sidelines...

...plus: I've got a "Nursery" filled with toddlers that are screaming and shitting themselves for my designer-ly attention!

(Ok - that's enough of the offspring analogy, Tony! - Ed)
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Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:09 am
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For Honour!

Anthony Boydell
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Me and Paul Grogan had a disagreement in another Forum (he dissed my beloved) so we decided to settle it the honourable way i.e. through the medium of olive oil:


https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1672205/guild-question-...

Have YOU ever got in to a gaming fracas?
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Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:21 am
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It never rains but it pours.

Anthony Boydell
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Everything used to be so simple but, then, one's children grow up and it all becomes complicated...and louder...and leading to more breakages. When life's stresses accumulate (as they do rather too regularly at the moment), I find it not-a-little calming to prepare a game prototype. Most of my game designs involve (lots of) cards and early versions of them invariably involve much printing, cutting and sleeving. Getting in to a rhythm is, despite the soreness of fingertips / compression marks from excessive scissoring, rather relaxing. It'll be something to do with focusing one's attention, I suppose; distraction techniques and repetition. And, of course, repetition.
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Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:30 am
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Joyeux anniversaire à moi

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Yesterday was my 49th birthday and many, many thanks to everyone who sent me kind wishes! I am noodling with the idea of a 'TonyCon' for my big 50th next year: there's a holiday home near Mount Snowdon that sleeps sixty!.

It was a quiet day, chez Boydell, what with youngest still in his feverish fug but I did manage to hammer together a new version of my and Brett J. Gilbert's air racing game: a complete, from-the-ground-up re-working that ticks off two of my three post-Essen design goals! Only a first fully-mocked Guilds of London expansion to do...

Two massive bags of logs arrived in the damp post meridian and refused to unpack-and-stack themselves, so me & Benedict set to work. There was a pleasing coming together of all the householders - around tea time - when we watched the first episode of the BBC's stunning Planet Earth II and a 'Live from Hawaii' FaceTime with our eldest, Alice.

A tentative "Would anyone like one of our last 44 German bundle copies of Snowdonia?" on a UK Facebook group saw the bleedin' LOT sell out in an hour (!)...so today will be spent packing the buggers up! It's a very nice problem to have, though!

It's a regular train with no continuous ability. However, when it's bought by a player, all of the other players' COAL in their personal supplies MUST be given to the owner of the Birthday Train. If the train is returned (maintenance, the owner buys another train later) and subsequently re-built, the effect happens again!
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Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:45 am
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Round round get around I get around (yeah)

Anthony Boydell
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Poor Arthur's been suffering with a bad cold these last few days: coughing, throatily, and feverishly warm like a hot water bottle as we cuddle up for our evening chapter of Harry Potter. His rattling hack and forlorn snifflage sound-tracked my WFH Friday, distracting me - thankfully - from a load of the usual email tattage and developer whining.

With Boffo away at Midcon, organisational duties were left to Smudge and it looked like there'd be just four of us: her, me, Jobbers and Garibaldi. With this in mind, I re-packed Round House figuring I might actually get a chance to play it that evening, given Boffo seems already to have dismissed it out of hand without evidence (sigh). We'd just got to unpacking the box when Joey and Rob arrived (for the final session of their short local stay) so 'six' split very nicely in to two threes: Smudge joining them for some Artus (I think) and, later, Kingdom Builder.


A cosy corner in the club's new home!


In summary: The board is an enormous, two-lane rondel and you have a couple of 'leaders' who you move clockwise. You choose ONE to move on your turn, traveling up to 3 spaces - not counting spaces blocked by other player leaders - and the Room you end up in is the action that you trigger: gain resources or cards, sell resources for money/VPs and access 'assistant' actions. The latter revolve around your 14 'assistant' tokens - five at the start of the game and 9 'hire-able' during it; assistants are used to either occupy chairs next to Rooms ('Investing' - which gives you a temporary 'double' action for that Room) OR to be sent to one of four 'corner' (!) villages (Traveling Merchant) in advance of ancestral worship. When one of your leaders makes it all the way around the rondel (performing lots of lovely things along the way), they stop and must PRAY at the Temple - either a 'small' prayer (for a one-off boost) OR a full-blown, bead-shaking, flag-waving ululation...which is where those village-occupying assistants come in! The 'full Mass' means taking ALL of your assistants from one village and making a 'chain' through the Temple until the 'bloke at the end' finds an empty space and claims lots of juicy bonuses: the further in to the temple you can snake, the better the bonuses on offer!

The game ends when a pre-set number of full worships have been done and then one totals up VPs (including pyramid scoring for amulets - an important (un)set collection element) and most points wins.


It took a few minutes to run through the rules; it's not a complicated game BUT it did take a short while to sort out the iconography on the separate (variable) ROOM tiles - particularly the actions that are scaleable with cumulative costs. Not that I'm in a position to complain about iconography TBH but I might just print off a plain language gist and affix to the underside of the super-chunky cardboard.

The game lasted just over two hours, after the overview, and by the final third we were whistling through proceedings very slickly. Jobbers exploited a nice completed-contract combo to edge me out and win 114-94-59. However, I'm sure we made at least one rules mistake: scoring contract points 'in game' meant we exhausted the whole contract deck between the two of us while the rules possibly-suggest we should score them at the end only, which would've prevented this.

Round House is an engaging, puzzle-y Euro with some nice timing and blocking decisions and it received a universal thumbs-up from 'the boys'; it also means I am now much better-prepared for teaching this to the Batesons in the near future - the prevarication around the iconography would've driven Boffo to huffing, indignant and self-righteous distraction!

There was no time to start anything new because all bags were full of 60+ minuters and, as usual, I needed to fetch a couple of teenagers from their Gloucester City-based Friday night entertainments. However, playing just the one game is no problem at all when it's as enjoyable as Round House!
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Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:23 am
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Stocking up?

Anthony Boydell
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It's just November, so (naturally) the Shopping Malls are filled with chiming and jingle-belling hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s (nothing decent has appeared since then). You may not be able to get your hands on a reasonably-priced North American Railways BUT you can take a look at some of the other boardgamer-who-has-everything ideas out there!

For instance:


ScoopBuddyTM
Do you regularly play games with lots of resources/pieces and an ever-changing tableau?
No more 'reaching over' - and suffering the attendant elbow strain - when you use the ScoopBuddy!
(Also recommended are a set of Anti-Clonk! Protectors - hard hats - because that swinging arm packs a vicious punch to the temple)



The Sling BuffetTM
You'll never need to pause for supper again with this close-weave, high strength adult 'bib'.
The Sling Buffet handles up to 20lb in weight of salad(!), takeaways and/or other hot (up to 120 degrees) or cold foods.



Optibid2000 from Fractal Math Lab
Worried about securing that 'Eco' power station or that Titanium factory?
What about the correct increment when there's a double 'Karl Gitter' up for grabs?
How should you play the acquisition of the Baltimore & Ohio?
Simply feed in the GAME_ID, the number of PLAYERS and their respective FREE CASH and TYPICAL BIDDING PROFILEs and Optibid2000 will cross-reference it's online library to suggest the perfect bid.
Please note: Optibid2000 is not guaranteed to suggest the perfect bid.
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Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:43 am
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Spread A Little Geekiness

Anthony Boydell
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Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You might try Scythe, Ulm or Feld's Delphi
Play a little map Inis as you go by
Please try.

What's the use of worrying and feeling blue
When days are long, A Feast for Odin's new
Play some Uwe goodiness till dreams come true.

Surely you'll be wise to make the best of every Games Day?
Don't you realise you'll find with every sweet Codenames play
Your heart proclaims 'Yay!'

Even when the moderators 'X' your 'lists
You mustn't sigh, you've got Colonists
Spread some Bios: Genesis as you go by.

Adrenaline and Fields of Green,
Great Western Trail and Orle-eens.
Just set 'em down and start to play
So don't be mean.
Keep out the gloom
Let in the sun
Try Fabled Fruit with everyone.
It's only once we pass this way
So play, play, play!

Even when Kickstarter clogs your Facebook feed
You mustn't sigh, you've got Power Grid
Mars needs Terraforming, yes, as you go by
Please try.

What's the use of worrying and feeling blue?
When days are long the Geek is there for you
Spread a little happiness: write a review?

Surely you'll be wise to make the best of every Games night?
Don't you realise you'll find with every Struggle (Twilight)
Your soul just feels right.

Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You might try Scythe, Ulm or Feld's Delphi
Play a little map Inis as you go by

Surely you'll be wise to make the best of every GenCon?
Don't you realise you'll find your troubles will be soon gone?
So just say "Game On!"

Even when your President's a scary clown
You mustn't sigh, don't let it get you down.
Spread a little Geekiness as you go by.
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Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:04 am
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A Postscript

Anthony Boydell
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What the actual strawberry-flavoured cunting fuck?!
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Wed Nov 9, 2016 6:28 am
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Lux (Interior)

Anthony Boydell
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Since my German trip, my design 'to do' list got a bit more organised. To be candid, I've been stressing about nothing but Guilds of London since pre-UK GAMES EXPO times so, for the first time in over a year, I feel able to put that all behind me (sort of: I'm experimenting with some expansion tiles and add-ons) and open up some of the dustier prototypes!

In particular, my solo (possibly back on to being a 2 player) card game Lux Aeterna has received a lot of Tony Love(TM) courtesy of a suggestion from the most excellent Mr Matthew Dunstan.

Aside: If you've forgotten what Lux is about, you might want to search the blog for some previous posts and/or read the rules in the picture below!

'Stasis' was a little used, and pretty sterile, card function that protected a system at the cost of not being able to target it with other effects: pretty damn poor and ill-formed, to be frank. I've been more than content with everything ELSE in the game EXCEPT 'stasis' but it's very presence has been a bit of millstone and taking it out would mean re-thinking a new mechanism and redesigning 10 of the 90 cards (almost) completely. So, I didn't like it and it would mean a reasonable chunk of work to trash it...hence 12 months of procrastination!

Where Matt came in was with him being - seemingly - the ONLY play-tester of Lux Aeterna who had no problems whatsoever in finishing the game with a 'win' and, thus, able to score decent points! Regardless of his time limit - remember I thought 10 mins was 'hard' - he would exhaust the deck or fix the requisite systems without breaking a sweat. To make it 'harder', he suggested I put (shuffle) in some 'glitches': randomly-appearing events that would further disrupt the player's (ie. his) progress.

The concept of a 'glitch' came to sudden life the day-before-yesterday when, as I stared at the 10 redundant 'stasis' cards, I realised that shuffling some of the SYSTEM cards in to the main deck could act as suitably-disruptive events ie. when they appear, their 'COLLAPSE' penalty could apply immediately. Of course, the main deck 'stasis' cards could have a new ability that allow you to search/remove glitches before they do any harm...

Bingo!

Sorted!

Nailed it!



Spot the stasis mention(s) that need expunging!


Thus, the game is now scale-able for difficulty in FOUR (!) ways:
how long you set your timer for (10 mins = hard, no limit = easy);
whether your SYSTEMS are face-up (so you can see the COLLAPSE penalty/OPERATIONAL bonus - easy) or NOT (hard);
how close to the Black Hole you start (a mechanism tweaked the last time I revisited 'Lux'); and,
how many 'glitches' you seed in to the main deck before you start (between 3 - easy - and 6 - hard); I even added a special ERR glitch to possibly make a seventh!

This is all fresh in my mind and I'm buzzing with excitement at the potential; I feel like a weight has dropped away!

If you're interested in giving Lux Aeterna v6a a go then I'll publish the DROPBOX link for the PnP files soon; just give me and Matt a few days to give it a sanity check. Meanwhile, read the rules (above) and let me know what you think!
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Wed Nov 9, 2016 6:21 am
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