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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 What was that beardy bloke going on about?

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Fill My Slot

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I am trembling with anticipation to see the final, 'for real' version of The Cousins' War in my sweaty little 'surprised' hands but...did you know there were a couple of spare card slots that needed a-fillin'? Well, we at SSG - like Nature - abhor a vacuum so I set to work with Mr David J. Mortimer to design this cheeky (and thematic) double-sided promo:



For the other slot, I took myself out for a quiet ale and convinced myself to design something for Guilds of London too:



Can you work out what they both do from just the images and the (dreaded) iconography?
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Wed Apr 5, 2017 6:30 am
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Blaidd Spirit

Anthony Boydell
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Mrs B has got a rather splendid alarm clock on her side of the bed: its light fading up from glimmering first twinkle of dawn to fully-over-the-horizon sun burst over an unhurried 10 minute period. Gone are the eye-popping ding-dongs, klaxons and panicked honks of traditional alarms to be replaced by the relaxing, Vaughan Williams-esque emergence of day. Ah, bliss-upon-bliss because this morning was not to be a stupid o'clock rumble down to Cardiff but - instead - a take-your-time-and-get-there-by-lunchtime quest to Llandudno; thus, with my suitcase packed and an iPhone stuffed with podcasts, I bad farewell to Mrs B and Arthur and sallied forth up the Marches.

It was bright and brisk all the three-and-a-half hours; not even a roadworks traffic jam in the last 20 miles - nor a drunkenly-swerving recovery truck - could spoil the shimmering sea view from the stoodstill A55. I wound the window down and turned up the stereo (Kamakiriad by Donald Fagen) and breathed deep of the salty air. Lovely. The sun was contrastingly, thickly be-clouded six hours later as I watched the gulls screaming over the Conwy estuary (and the trains trundling through the Deganwy level crossing) - stuffing cheap chicken in to my slavering maw. Seasoning my fingers with lemony freshness, I made my presence known to the most splendid people you could ever hope to meet in the top left-hand corner of Wales: the Snowdonia Dragons.

Aside: Whilst beveraging a massive OJ&L, I was surprised and delighted to see Mr Phil Dennis - lurker and sometime commentator on The Shed - amble in to the Bar. He usually haunts the Aberystwyth (Western) region but (like me) is up here for a handful of days; oddly, he will be returned South East before the end of the week and we shall see him all-over-again, Friday, at The Prince of Wales in Ross-on-Wye!

My table for the evening would comprise Dafydd and his fiancee Yvonne (both harkening back to my very first visits in 2013) and an earnest young gentleman called Tim; the latter clutched a Settlers of Catan box that contained all manner of multi-coloured cards and plastic tokens and represented a 'new game prototype' which was pitched to me as "Dead of Winter meets Agricola"! Intrigued and, as is often the case when I'm at the Golf Club, happy to acquiesce to someone else's game choices, we were treated a slightly-muddy overview and rules explanation. In the general 30 minute-or-so session, it turned out less like Agricola and more akin to a co-operative New Bedford with DoW sprinkles, a slightly-wonky traitor element and a defiantly non-zombie re-theme: werewolves attacking a medieval village, the occupants of which were trying to dig enough silver out of a mine to forge monster-defeating weaponry. It had the stilted flow and overly-complicated rule-set of an early prototype but had the spark of something intriguing; we sent him off with some layout clarification suggestions, component improvements and logic tweaks - I look forward to seeing what he does with it at the next iteration, certainly.

In return, Tim - and the happy couple - agreed to another play test, this time for Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. It went well, I think, though Tim seemed to have lost his way during the Practice phase and drafted himself an appallingly inflexible deck. Dafydd, on the other hand, delighted in playing the damage-happy German Count and revved over the finishing line to be the sole pilot to reach Paris that round; despite being the most villanous, his armor-clad special power gave him a five point victory over myself even after taking all of his Infamy in to account. Sometimes the bad guy(s) win

To close, albeit much earlier than I'm used to because of the erratic Golf Club opening hours, Yvonne pushed a current favourite to the fore: The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire.





It's a pleasant enough worker placer that reminded me of Lancaster (sort-of) mashed up with, well, pretty much any other WP game you care to name and a dash of 20th Century (but no auctions). The only way to really work out what was going on and what to do about it was to play, so that's what we did. Mind you, now that I've seen it rumbling along, I might do a little better the next time...if there is a next time, of course, as no-one Down My End has a copy (and I wasn't startled enough to want to go hunting for one myself).

Final Note: I really should remember to dispose of my supper detritus before spending a spiffing evening elsewhere; the cloud of stale oil and secret herbs-and-spices almost knocked me off my feet when I opened the driver's door come 10.15PM! The windows were open again, then, for the dark drive up the peninsular.
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Tue Apr 4, 2017 6:30 am
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There ain't nothing like the real thing, baby

Anthony Boydell
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Hmmmmmmmmm. I'm not sure but I think I may have been sold a counterfeit set of Handy Chris's games:

Spoiler (click to reveal)

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Mon Apr 3, 2017 6:30 am
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Where does everyone go..?

Anthony Boydell
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On a Saturday it's like being stranded in the Sargasso Sea on BGG: no comments, hardly any activity at all. Occasionally, a geeklist will nervously pop it's head over the parapet but - cheeses - is it quiet around here!

Has everyone got Saturday jobs? Do smart phones switch themselves off automatically? What's the deal with the Saturday Dead Zone?

C'mon, Sunday; let's get the party started!
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Sun Apr 2, 2017 6:30 am
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Google Maps is fooling about!

Anthony Boydell
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Today.

April 1st.

Google Maps on my iPhone:

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Sat Apr 1, 2017 8:53 am
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Hansa Round The World

Anthony Boydell
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Me and Mrs B have been getting the urge for a change of direction recently; me becoming (even more than is usual) anxious and frustrated with I.T work and she wanting to do something more creative, more life-enriching. We've several family milestones rolling toward us in 2017 (our 25th Wedding anniversary, my 50th birthday and sons turning 18 and 16) which only serves to remind us how quickly the years are passing and that, maybe, it's time to get off the Merry-Go-Round. Nestled at the bottom of May Hill, abutting to a large plot of forested land belonging to Mrs B's family, is a countryside Pub...and it's 'For Sale'. So we went along, in some brilliantly-baking sunshine, for a proper nosey, a genuine viewing: a reconnoitre.


May Hill (c) Valerie MacLean


It was certainly some (tasty) food for thought



With the bigger lads safely dispatched to Friday night City-based shenanigans, the quietude of (our) Appleton House in the sunset was distracting and I very-nearly missed the appointed hour of departure for board games at The Prince of Wales; fortunately, I checked my FitBit for 'daily paces', realised I was tardy and grabbed Days of Ire: Budapest 1956 and Round House from the shelf. I've been more selective in what I bring along recently; Ben and I tend to correspond earlier in the day and try and agree something compatible with everyone (this time it was Hansa Teutonica). I say 'Everyone' but, of course, this is currently-translating as 'Ben, Jobbers and Me': another week, another lonely table-for-three.

First up was Ben's copy of Hansa Teutonica - think Thurn and Taxis without all that tedious fucking about with tiny cards:



Pure, clean and devious; HT is boiled down to the simplest of mechanisms: in summary, you take a number of actions per turn to put pieces on to the board - in lines (roads) - with the aim of completing sections between cities and then placing markers in those cities: place pieces, move pieces, bounce other pieces out, claim a completed line and/or recruit more pieces to use. Some cities confer bonuses that improve your actions by opening up information on your player board and you score for your biggest network of linked (claimed) cities. Jobbers managed to squeak out a win - he and Ben hoovering up all of the special Tavern tokens between them - but I wasn't that far behind. Seeing it all play out, engagingly and excitingly in under an hour, had us all stroking our chins and 'hmmmmm'-ing with genuine pleasure; there is much yet to explore so I have recommended we make this our first-ever official 'game for a month', a standard session opener.

Ben is on a no-Beer Lent kick but has, instead, transferred his hepatic affections to large glasses of red wine; two hours in to his evening (dropped off early thanks to Becky's continued Ruddigorean Lighting duties) I sensed that, perhaps, a co-operative historical simulation might not be best received! So, with the words of Doug and Shelley Garrett echoing in my ears (listen to it here: http://garrettsgames.com/garretts-games-560-oracle-of-delphi...), I figured the double-rondel barminess of Round House would be better-suited:



I am very enamored of this game and I think the other two enjoyed it as well...despite them repeatedly forgetting to add points, pick up chits/cards and/or collect the correctly-coloured resources. I can teach the game (no need for you to comment here, Boffo!) and answer queries BUT I can't bloody play it for you as well! Ben called it 'Mad!' which is tantamount to a commissioned, cover-mounted quote from the old cynic...

(Aside: I believe a generous basket of chips was donated to our table, sometime during all that rotating, but no sooner had I caught a whiff of vinegar than the other two - piranha-like - had stripped the bowl to it's salty skeleton!)

With pick-up duties at the forefront of my mind, we slipped - 30 minutes left on the eerily-quiet room's clock - in to filler territory:



In summary:
- Council of Verona: A Love Letter-esque bidding microgame with some gentle shenanigans thrown in - Ben & I regard it as a 'Hit', Jobbers muttered his disdain in to his blackcurrant and lemonade.
- Pickomino: Zero-skill dice-chucker which is funny just-the-once when someone goes bust (due to no fault of their own) and loses a big value tile. For some reason this seems held in high regard but I can't see why: "utterly-random and devoid of tension" is all I got from the 20 minutes we spent rattling cubes across the veneered table - at least Candyland has pictures of sweets on it.

Becky arrived, on cue, as we discussed how a four-player Hansa Teutonica might play out vs our three-player experience, so I bade her a fond 'Good Evening' immediately followed by a cheery 'Fare Well!' and beetled off to Gloucester; I got as far as 'half-way' before I remembered we'd arranged someone else to pick the boys up #twat.
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Sat Apr 1, 2017 8:50 am
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A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever...

Anthony Boydell
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...even if it's broken up more relationships than Ashley Madison.

This eBay item popped up on my feed yesterday evening and, for just one moment, I was sorely tempted*:

1959 DIPLOMACY 1ST EDITION 1 OF 500 From Estate of Inventor ALLAN B. CALHAMER







A work of art? Absolutely!

A game to played? Delicately!

Should be in a Museum? Almost certainly!

Aside: Of course, that last point is my retirement plan: to open and run a board game museum somewhere accessible in the UK - Oxford, maybe, but definitely not London.

Oddly, the current price (as of typing) is $1500, which is - ridiculously - the same as one of the recent Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 pledge levels.



Naturally, seeing this joyous piece of history brought to mind my favourite ever Diplomacy playing experience (recalled, previously, in 2014):

Quote:

In 1988-9, Risk was everything to us until we discovered Diplomacy; and after Diplomacy came Blood Royale, Samurai Swords and more. One fine Sunday, it must've been over a Bank Holiday weekend, our little group decided it would be a most excellent idea to play an evening game of "Dippers" to the accompaniment of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds and alcohol. It seemed like a perfectly sensible arrangement and - after clearing the kitchen in my compact & bijou flat - we folded up half of Mark's Table Tennis table and nipped in to town for nutrition.

Dramatis Personae:
1 Anthony Boydell: working his 'year out' of Liverpool Polytechnic for a friend's local I.T company; primarily as a coder, but also as an analyst cum salesman for their Video Library shop software.

2 Mark Roberts: Still in 6th form, I think, and a voracious reader of all fantasy, and Michael Moorcock in particular. He was writing (good) fiction, ran his own postal RPG systems as a business and was generally someone to be admired and detested in equal measure for his creativity.

3 Hadyn Roberts: Little brother of Mark and, while not as prolific as his sibling, certainly held his own as Referee in a splendid Star Wars RPG campaign. Hadyn was about 15 at the time but fitted easily in to the group: either he was mature for his age OR we were incredibly childish*

4 Mike Morris: A close pal of mine from school, one of my 'best mates', who - as part of the unholy Tony-Mike-Mike trinity - messed about shamelessly all through 6th Form. Mike was a dab hand at 'backstabbing' during sessions. He and I sharing the aforementioned flat exacerbated this tendency because, well, you don't really find out the truth about people until you live with them!

5 Rob Harris: The frustratingly fussy elder statesman of the group; Rob suffered from severe eczema which made him shy and self-conscious to a painful degree. He was dryly-witty, fiercely-loyal and - along with the rest of his family - nurtured some endearing eccentricities. He never had a career, only the very occasional job, so was always available for gaming. Rob passed away a few years back but is never far from my thoughts (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/2009/its-not-games-you...).

First stop: 'the SPAR', a corner-shop franchise with a particularly-tasty own-brand corn snack called 'Burger Bites' and 2L of cider for £1.69 (aka 'a Spar Bargain').

Second stop: Threshers (National chain of off-licenses)**

Third stop: Back to the flat.

As you would expect, the first hour proceeded pretty much 'to plan'; everyone fulfilling their roles in the time-honoured 'standard moves' manner. As the vodka and the Budweiser and the Lamb's Navy Rum and the Jack Daniels began to "warm and relax" the atmosphere, so the niggling began. The 'Diplomacy' segments began to stretch, as did the consequent order-writing; by 10PM, after a 'chippy break', and three hours and 3 rounds in, Hadyn (15 remember) sang a delightfully-rustic song:

"Put it in your mouth, Mrs Murphy.
Coz it only weighs 'bout half a pound.
It's got bristles on the shaft like a turkey!
And it spits when you rub it up and down"


...then fell off his chair and passed out where he lay on the kitchen floor. Ensuring all of Hadyn's units 'stood' for the remainder, the next casualty was Mike who - having stabbed and then, consequently, been stabbed - flounced off to his room under a massive cloud of sulk. The tide line on Mark's Smirnoff was worryingly low and given there was only three of us remaining, and it was almost 1AM, he threw in the towel and bedded down in the Bath (it was only a small flat)...but not before we carried Hadyn's snoring form into the broom cupboard to rest with the packing boxes and last year's dried-up Christmas Tree.

Rob and I remained, at opposite ends of the Table Tennis table, slurping lager and arguing about whether Chess is a form of role-playing game or not.

For four hours.

Mark might've popped in around sun-up to ask us to 'shut the fuck up', but from the others we heard not-a-peep. Come 5AM, Rob and I finally agreed to differ and retired for forty winks. I have no recollection about the rest of that following day; I think that we must have played OTHER boardgames until Mark and Hadyn's Mum came to pick them up at Dusk; we, of course, made no mention of the alcoholic escapades of the previous evening. I'm also fairly sure that I have never played a game of Diplomacy since though I remember it with nothing but a wide-smile and a giggle or two.

*the latter.
**This was well before the days of the aggressive Supermarket; you know, the one that sells EVERYTHING at 2/3rds the price of independent shops and laughs gleefully as town centres become rows of whitewashed glass and Southern Fried Chicken outlets.


*I am, in truth, still sorely-tempted.
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Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:15 am
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Going out on a school night?!

Anthony Boydell
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*click*

(whistles; sound of unbuckling)

Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine; last night I drowned my Brexit sorrows in the sharp and sardonic wit of Mr Stewart Lee (Britain's finest stand-up comedian). I picked up some in-the-middle, at-the-front tickets last year while checking in for a different show and my has the time between flown by! I shook and sweated with laughter and my stomach ached from the exertion. It was fantastic.

I don't wish to spoil the show, of course, but perhaps this little snippet from a previous production will sufficiently-illustrate his furiously-smart style:



Anyway...

(klank-fsssssssssssshhhhhhhh)

...time to get on with my day, albeit with chuckling flashbacks!
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Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:25 am
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Message In A Bottle

Anthony Boydell
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So, today, in the UK, our Prime Minister (who looks like an am-dram Miss Haversham and for whom the electorate did not vote and was gifted the role by a posh, spam-faced pig-rapist) - along with her herd of mooing, money-grubbing, rancid cronies - is pushing the Article 50 button to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union (and the single market too). And she's doing it without any idea of the consequences, without any plan (that she's prepared to share with 67 million citizens) and in spite of continued and fervent protest.

Consider the country in which I now live: greedy con artists in Government, an insignificant wet fart (who quite likes the whole idea of leaving Europe, actually) in the role of 'the opposition', a rampant-and-racist media gleefully pumping out it's poisonous arse-gas and a population numbed by (induced and unfounded) fears for their own livelihoods. You are seeing the asset-stripping of an entire Nation, perpetrated in plain sight, and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it except rage against the open, undaunted sky.

I am thoroughly-ashamed of this hateful larceny, this deplorable fraud: not in my name, you thumb-on-the-scales merchants...

Not

In

My

Fucking

Name!




P.S. Any help from 'outside' would be much appreciated.

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Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:20 am
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Playing Those Mind Games

Anthony Boydell
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Wow! A Spring cleaning of the shed unearthed a clipping from way back, ie. 10 years ago, when Scandaroon was an exciting 'Coming Soon!' on the SSG web page and we'd yet to get our greedy hands on Agricola;gosh, was there really a time without that masterpiece? 2007 was also the year of the first UK Games Expo, of course.

Anyway, the following bijou article is from the BBC (yes, that BBC) magazine Mind Games: basically, an A4 sized periodical filled with Sudoku, Kakuro and other miscellaneous picture puzzles. They got in touch after a BBC History programme - What Did the Tudor's Ever Do For Us? - thought Coppertwaddle was real medieval card game* (the Internet back then, eh?) and wanted an interview; I had to tell them it was all made up and that I was the game's real (modern day and alive) designer. They thanked me for not stringing them along and asked me if I could recommend any similar games for their readership; they wouldn't let me advertise CT, so I picked the next best thing (to me, at the time):



The magazine, like it's many glossy pages, 'folded' shortly-thereafter.

(BADDOMP-TISH!)



*They were duped by this lot of online horseshit: http://www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk/CopperTwaddle/index.htm
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Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:20 am
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