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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Co2

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I was driving the frosty roads at 5AM to make sure I was 'on site' at the Llandudno office in time for the opening of the phone lines and the launch of our Governmental Dept's online portal. There were a surprisingly large number of startlingly quick-driving Artics bogglering along the mostly-empty country roads which made the newly-purring VW Touran rock and weave in the passing draught. Come 8AM - slowed to 40mph amidst the Colwyn Bay roadworks - I dialled in to the go/no go conference call and immediately pressed 'mute' as I didn't have anything in particular to say and, besides, it was warm and cosy and slightly-sleepy in the car. All that fussing and dark-navigation was for nought given there was a subsequent failure in the phone system (Welsh Govt-wide) and the Developers didn't actually open the website until 3PM! No dramas, though; it was a half-empty office and the day swooshed calmly by without anything to twist one's knickers.

A quick bite back at the B&B and then off to The Mulberry to halloo my Cambrian Compandres; my "Cym-rades" (if you will):


A sucker for punishment? Oh yes!


It having preyed on my mind since last week, I was happy that Aaron suggested we give John Company a second try "now that we all know the rules". Tim and Ed, however, had made themselves scarce as the thin box emerged from the bag so, instead, we hoovered up a loitering Lee and a tarrying Tom to make up a goodly foursome. Wow, what a 90 minutes followed: despite a couple of odd rolls early on, we managed a much more coherent approach to running the aforementioned Company and siphoning off a little of the cream for ourselves! We (pleasingly) managed to finish the full six rounds (a victory of some kind in itself) without laying the good Corporation to waste and a fortuitious attrition role on Aaron's Chairman freed him for an illustrious Royal Wedding and a comfortable victory. We conquered, we traded and we voted DOWN every decent Law and voted IN every tiresome one; indeed - not that I'm bitter - but Tom killed a Bill that would've netted him 12 money and me 8 money across the rest of the game for no initial cost and no benefit to Aaron or Lee! Why? Who knows - perhaps it was my 'honest face'? Or my incessant hectoring? I was playing the most marvellous game of JC in my head, though.

With plenty of time to go - and waiting for Clank In Space to end (or whatever Clank In Space does) - we tried out a recent KS arrival: T. C. Petty, III's Spires. Appallingly, I seemed entirely unable to avoid taking a cart-load of cards with every 'auction', ending the proceedings with a miserable 12 points (Aaron was over 100). It's one of those set collection games where you don't want to collect big sets at all - just the right amount (3 in each colour); I'll just take the tack that I misheard Aaron's rules explanation and went with the opposite. Yes, that seems viable.



It was all change, so I was asked to choose and so I chose Bernie's copy of the excellent Cubist. Dan was quite the master builder, closely followed by Tom, while Aaron and I proved unable to roll even the simplest of requirements; in over 13 'chucks' (26 dice) I failed to roll a single two and, instead, clumsily-clattered more than 12 threes. I blame some obviously-flawed and mis-weighted orange dice; remind me to send Bernie a message recommending he get the publisher to replace them.

To close was the Hanabi-esque delights of Abraca...what?. In summary, you don't see your spell tiles but you can see everyone elses' (and know how many of each are available). On your turn you announce a spell and if it's in your facing-away line then you cast it, usually damaging one or more neighbours; you keep going until you announce a spell you don't have. Each player starts with six lives and a Round ends when one or more players die after an action, with points awarded to the 'killer' and the survivors. Daft but pleasantly-so and, after the heavy start to the night, a cheery and light way to round off the session.
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Tue Feb 6, 2018 6:45 am
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Rise Of The Machines

Anthony Boydell
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Inspired by my Friday messin' about, I present - for your Snowdonian delectation - the following:




Cost: Remove your 3rd worker from the game(the march of progress, eh?)

i) When resolving a Stock Yard action, you may use your worker to take all iron ore above the 5th and all stone above the 3rd and all coal above the 2nd in to your supply; if you do, this replaces the normal Stock Yard action.
This ability is not modified by contract card effects (as it replaces the core Stock Yard action).

ii) You may take the Foundry/Works action ([C]) without placing a worker (resolve it after all other players have resolved their [C] actions).

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Mon Feb 5, 2018 6:50 am
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Family Life

Anthony Boydell
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After a full week's absence in the North - and a couple of full evenings of game playing - I was hardly in a position to complain about having to miss out on a Friday night in Ross-on-Wye. Judging by the (exceedingly timely) write up from Boffo, they had a corking evening without me...though I do slightly pine at missing out on Nusfjord as it's one of my current "hot faves".

Instead, Mrs B and I popped in to the Pool Hill Village Hall for a Quiz Night: a fund-raiser for Arthur's school. We'd not pre-booked a team, so we took a table close to the door and were joined by an ex-teaching assistant and her jolly (if slightly racist) husband. They were about as useful as a nose on a kite (!) contributing just the one answer to our doodle-strewn (that's what happens when you leave me in charge of the pens) answer sheet. No matter, as we managed a punchy and creditable 2nd Place; we were kept at bay by the Teacher's Table. And Mrs B won a box of chocs in the half-time raffle.

*burp*

Saturday saw the family - the girls having returned this weekend especially - rowdily taking up a corner of the Newent Community School Hall to see middle son Benedict perform one of the lead roles in their production of Fame.


Obligatory selfie.


It was as one would expect from an amateur school production: sometimes inaudible, sometimes out of tune (indeed there seemed to be a small elephant trapped in the Brass section of the orchestra) but chock full of energy and larks. As Benedict mournfully warbled "I want to make magic!", the proud Boydell contingent wept and gasped that we'd never heard him singing like that (ie. that well) before! Arthur saw a slightly-edited-for-language version on a school trip earlier in the week; one of his class reviewed the production as "99% kissing" which is obviously not true but illustrative of how easily young lads can be traumatised!

I'm off back to Llandudno tomorrow (Monday), so normal game-related nonsense will be resuming. Have a lovely rest of the day, do you hear?
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Sun Feb 4, 2018 1:44 pm
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Song

Anthony Boydell
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Now the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live

Now the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live

Now the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live

Now the bloggers and YouTubers with their overwhelming hubris re: the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the bloggers and YouTubers with their overwhelming hubris re: the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the bloggers and YouTubers with their overwhelming hubris re: the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live
Now the bloggers and YouTubers with their overwhelming hubris re: the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss are just going live

So if you want to pledge your moolah thanks to Bloggers and Youtubers with their overwhelming hubris re: the temps who put the stickers on the faces of the bases on the Minis in the stretch goals of the CMON big Kickstarter fuss that’s just going live…

You’re too late! Because the campaign’s just closed!
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Sat Feb 3, 2018 6:30 am
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The Help

Anthony Boydell
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Fri Feb 2, 2018 6:35 am
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Moon Over Prestatyn

Anthony Boydell
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There was a full moon over Colwyn Bay on a drizzling January evening as I beetled along the North Wales expressway in Mrs B's Nissan Micra (my Touran having suffered a dashboard-illuminating tantrum last week and now in the 'shop' for £600 worth of repairs *gasp*). It's fun rallying along the meandering Welsh roads in a tiny car but not so much fun when the wind gusting off the Irish Sea is threatening to tip one over and roll one up the bloody hillside! Thankfully, I made it to Prestatyn in plenty of time (and the right way up) to purchase my usual Marks & Spencer Food Hall Supper but, disappointingly, found the sea-front car park gates closed: no thousand-yard staring out at the beacons on the wind farm and DEFINITELY no ankle-dragging cuss words in to the flat sand #sadface.

The Beach House was just warming up for the evening and the gamers were arriving in fits-and-starts; at one point a couple of Tramps (that's 'hobos' for our American cousins) shambled in and looked like they were about to kick off and piss on our chips when I realised they were just Mark and Paul: club illuminati (if scruffy as fuck):


Not a bottle of meths or a dog-end between 'em.


Suitably soft-beveraged, we repaired to the upstairs room and promptly split in to a five for the excellent Peloponnes and four for tiresome Seasons. Peloppers - as no one is calling it - fair blistered along; the two of us who had played it before (and remembered it ie. me and Ed) managed our twin scores well enough to survive the disasters and end on a creditable pair of mid-to-late 20s scores. The others, rather distracted, failed to juggle the demands of their hungry populations and fell victim to the classic 'Ponnes' kick in the teeth: ending the game with 30+ points in buildings and a sad handful of citizens between 'em. Jeremy and Daffydd seemed unperturbed but Yvonne was visibly steaming with frustration - I fear this one is off her Christmas list.

She was still unsettled as we prevaricated over game number two and snuck off to a side table for a solo Fields of Arle while I taught my umpteenth game of Calimala! Jeremy and Ed were donating to buildings with such enthusiasm that Daffydd and I left them to it and built fleets of ships and the collective noun for trading houses of trading houses instead. It was all neck-and-neck, nip-and-tuck around the first corner of the score board as Ed, Jeremy and I hoovered up the scorings; Daffydd was being cut out of points by poor tie-breaks though, fortuitously, it was his hidden scoring card that provided me with the one extra point to steal the victory from Jeremy at the very last! Huzzah for me...and huzzah for Calimala!



Jeremy departed (and Yvonne was still arsing about with Arles) so D, E and me Rolled for the Galaxy to see the session out; I don't feel a burning urge to play this game but whenever I end up doing so, I have an absolute blast.

The journey home - now moonless thanks to rain clouds - was stormier but I was cocooned in a warm cockpit by the transcendent melodies of Dark Side Of The Moon. The whole effect was quite poetic especially when an ambulance sirened passed in a blur of spray and blue light to the strains of Time / The Great Gig In The Sky...

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Thu Feb 1, 2018 6:40 am
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Best Endeavors

Anthony Boydell
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Far be it from me to shill a Kickstarter campaign...er, well, not very far at all actually, especially when it's for a game I have held in high esteem for many years: Endeavor.


(image courtesy of Hammock Backpacker)


In summary: worker placement with the objective of 'exploring' (ie. removing themed chits from) a central board to allow your four themed tracks to advance; the tracks increase your ability to build (personal action spaces for your workers), your available workers, allow you to retrieve 'working' workers (thus freeing up your personal action spaces to use again) and increase your capacity for holding attribute-boosting cards - all to get the most VPs. The buildings let you explore (see above), boot other players out of spaces you want, colonize regions and draw cards as well as providing 'when taken' boosts to those all-important tracks.

I was away on my working-in-London phase and our happy group, having foregone Magic: The Gathering, was meeting at a cheap-and-mostly-nasty Harvester carvery restaurant (in Maidenhead) to play board games. We'd all heard of Endeavor and one of our number had snagged a copy: that Monday we played it three times in a row. We played it again on the Tuesday at the Hemel Hempstead TCG club and again on the Wednesday at Richard's house. We played twice more on the following Monday and so on for the next week until we'd racked up NINE games in 10 days. It's no surprise to find that we loved it. A few more games dribbled in over the following months but, of course, new and shiny things began to distract our attentions. Its found it's way on to a Ross-on-Wye table a couple of times since but, largely, it's reclined - gathering dust - in the assured safety of my "Shall Never Leave The Collection" shelf.

At Spiel, 2017, I stopped by a stand manned by blogpal (and gifter of a most excellent hand-made bottle opener) Bruce who was hawking the up-coming Kickstarter campaign for the Endeavor reissue; he showed me the gorgeous new presentation AND whetted my appetite with promises of 'extra stuff' - I'll be wanting one of those, I remarked, and yesterday I put my moolah where my mouth is:



It funded within 5 hours because, as many of you probably already know, Endeavor is quite the grail game; it's fantastic, highly-regarded and was impossible to get hold of for a reasonable price...until now!


Go on; you KNOW you want to..!


Serendipitously, on the same day I made my pledge I saw the latest edition of the UK's most Middle Class TV Guide - the Radio Times - bragging about the forthcoming televisual return of 1960s-set Oxfordian detective drama 'Endeavour', the highly-wonderful and evocative prequel to 'Inspector Morse':



Verily, my cup doth runneth over!
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Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:35 am
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The Company Of Dragons

Anthony Boydell
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The Snowdonia Dragons have decamped from the windy wilds of the Conwy golfing dunes to a snug, marina-side trendy Pub called The Mulberry; it was all open-plan pine-clad with an upstairs balcony bar perfect for gobbing on the general morass below. It being January, there was no morass to be seen, not even a mild hubbub. It was a notably small - for the Dragons - turnout with just about nine of us so after a brief catch-up about Christmas etc, it was down to some gaming...after all, I'd come here for my mental health after a four hour drive through (a bleak) mid-Wales and the prospect of a whole working week away from home.

Daffydd, Yvonne and Jeremy seemed to have pre-booked a Terraforming Mars sesh and were fully-loaded in one corner with Elysium, Corporate Era and Venus Next for good measure; Aaron was spinning lighter fayre in the other. Ed and a flu-recovering Tim joined me for some disc stacking, area majority fun:


Calimala for three?


It was clear, very quickly, that Ed was getting an absolute flyer; by the end, he almost needed to use his +50 token (unheard of)! I'd blame it all on him drawing 'Ship' and 'Cloth' cards while I kept drawing 'Bricks' and 'Donate', if I was a sore loser, which I'm not so I'll keep it to myself. Tim, almost nodding off in a fug of poorliness, dragged himself through the proceedings with the fabric warehouse he started with but was only picking up mostly-third place scraps.

Quickly done, Aaron joined us from an adjacent table clutching a skinny box of brainfuck & mindtwist a.k.a John Company:


Oddly co-operativeWorkerFamily placement with a sprinkling of Chicago Express?!


Basically, you're all involved in running the Company and making decisions about purchasing, trade and conflict; taking kickbacks from shipyards and factories that supply the Company that, in turn, supply the Indian regions for the Company's profit. Buy shares to get dividends, train up your peeps to take roles in management or the Armed Forces; all to earn cash to reinvest in the departments of the Company and - ultimately - to line your own pockets. It's a Cole Wehrle game so you get no bloody help from the game about what to do, how to do it or - most importantly - how to get through the entire game without tanking the Company. We made it to Round 3 when a horrible dice role on trade denied us $17 essential dollars and collapsed everything; three of us had family members in key positions shamefully-sacked (with their attendant VP penalty) while Tim - thousand yard staring at the busy board through rheumy eyes - was the only one NOT with a negative score! It was a lot of (obtuse) fun, though, and I'm glad I got to play it as I'm never likely to play it anywhere else!

With about an hour left - and Tim zombie-lurching homeward for a hot water toddy - Aaron, Ed and I settled in for a no-fuss Nusfjord; it's fab when one doesn't have to do any explaining and one can just get stuck in:



Apart from discovering we've been playing one (minor) rule wrong in Ross-on-Wye, this was the usual mix of tight decisions and good timing; indeed, managing to buy three shares (two of them my own) in Round Two set me up for a stable fish income. As always, the buildings were important and a deft final round juggling of wood and Elders netted me 6VPs - just enough to keep me ahead of Aaron who had been fishing with his Forests instead of boats! This game just keeps going up-and-up in my estimation: a corker!
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Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:35 am
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Off The Rails

Anthony Boydell
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It's approaching the cusp of one-month-in-to-another which means Auction time in the sleepy Forest of Dean town of Newent. As if the Charity shops weren't burgeoning enough with Tony-attracting goodness, the converted Chapel down Culver Street seemed to house the for sale collection of an avid Ferroequinologist: there was bits of model railways everywhere!

I take the working-from-home opportunity to bid online on such occasions but I forgot to set an alarm on the Auction Rooms website and, consequently, missed a tasty set of Hornby Dublo (in original packaging too); however, I did snag a box of 'clockwork miscellany':



The sun had come out around lunchtime (Sunday) so I got us in the railway mood by taking Arthur plus Ziggy the Dog down to the old canal / former Daffodil Line remnants:



I found a great lump of iron on the track bed path though only a tiny fringe was sticking out of the mud (see above); I think it's a fastener of some kind - any one else know?

When we got back, we were enthused enough to have a play with the (above) box of tin things:


Fshh-te-cuff.



Whsssssssssssssssh etc.



Loverly detail, guv'nor.


And here it is in action:

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Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:30 am
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Screen Test

Anthony Boydell
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Arthur gets up relatively early on the weekend - relative to us grown-ups, that is - and will take himself downstairs after giving us a 'Good Morning' hug. The dog is let out in to the garden to ablute while Arthur settles himself down in front of the TV and/or his Kindle.

It takes a nice cup of tea and a biscuit to get me and Mrs B to properly wake up, so that sees me wandering down a bit later to put the kettle on. The problem with empty weekends is that Arthur will stay in front of screens for as much of it as he can get away with; this means it's a carefully-orchestrated campaign to stop him getting square eyes!

Item one is to go for a walk in to Town; this serves multiple purposes on any given Saturday in that I can post Surprised Stare post, buy the good lad some sweets and browse the Newent charity shops. We can get a bit of fresh air and kill a couple of hours if I also take the long, scenic route home.

Item two is to take the dog for a walk; this is a more problematic one but - with persistence - I can conspire to get us on top of May Hill or (at least) a long spiral around the Arboretum!




Item three is to play some board games. Now this may seem to many of you as a shoo-in for item one but with nobody else in the building up for such, we have to limit ourselves to quick setups. This weekend, already, I've managed to delay CBBC/CITV zombification with Jaipur and Best Treehouse Ever, as well as a lengthy listening to LPs session in the library while he looked through my Judge Dredd comics!

It's an ongoing battle against 'the screens' but we're gaining ground: little and often!
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Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:36 am
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