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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Party In The Castle

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Now, I like a bit o'marmite on my toast of a morning but, really, Mrs B?


The Plough had a live band in residence, Friday, and while the old rockers wrestled with the back-stage snacks (unfoldable ham etc), the pub audio system played a rather wonderful selection of 1980s hits to warm everyone up. Squealing along to Heaven 17's Temptation ("Temptation!"), we sort-of/kind-of hit on a silent agreement of 'choose one game each'; me first, I picked Kingdomino:


The second of the SdJ nominees I've now played: it's a winner!


The rules are dead simple: select a tile, in turn order, and move your king on to it; pick up the tile your 'King' was on previously and place the taken tile in your tableau: adjacent to your castle (matches any terrain) or against another tile(s) as long as at least one terrain (half) matches. Rounds proceed in this bouncy tile-to-tile way until someone has completed their 5x5 (each tile is a 2x1) and score: crowns in a terrain type multiplied by the number of squares in that block of terrain. For example: above, my final score is (7x4)+(2x5)+(1x2)+(2x5)+10 for having my castle dead-centre = 60.

All but Jobbers enjoyed this brisk and chirpy little distraction, so the sulking Much Marcle Madman pulled another (unplayed by me before) pretty abstract from Boffo's swollen bag: Metropolys. While the rules run-thru ran it's brief course, I started cutting-and-sleeving a second copy of Snowdonia: Foothills that I'd brought along; I'm so used to this procedure that I liken it to knitting whilst watching a movie, doodling whilst in a long meeting or catching 40 winks while driving: it's an automatic thing.


I can see my house from here.


It's a weird take on the bounce-out auction mechanic mixed with area control and secret goals and you simply bid a bigger building adjacent to an existing bid or pass; whomever wins the bid gets the area they ended up on (and any chits therein) while everyone elses buildings get taken back. When someone has run out of buildings, the game ends immediately and you score chits, secret goals and region dominance.

Simple rules but lots of scope for argy-bargy, which is perfect for this little band of four!

Smudge's turn and it was a no-brainer given she'd taken the trouble to slip it in to the bag: Lancaster.



This played out as an absolute doozie! Thanks to an almost perfect string of nobles, it seemed that Jobbers was going to have an easy one of it BUT you must never discount Smudge who is - as we all know (and have remarked upon before) - really rather brilliant at this. A set of interesting Laws, cheap Wars and everyone bringing their 'A' game made this one of the best - and highest scoring - games of Lancaster the club has ever seen! An unbreakable tie for 1st, me only 5 points behind and a tailing-off Boffo that belies the nose-to-nose chicanery throughout!

The final round was accompanied by the now-cooking-on-gas band covering The Killers' Mr Brightside and loudly-encouraging the audience to sing along with the 'Now she is sucking his...' lyric. No matter. We closed with Knizia's "Soup" where Smudge and I found ourselves forced to play our 'No Soup' cards in the final round (an AWFUL predicament!); there was much glee to be had dumping hand-after-hand on a depressed Smudge who ended up with a negative final score.
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Sun Jul 2, 2017 6:50 am
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In these shoes? I don't think so...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Once more, the office-based working week over, I diverted myself - in the grey gloom of a drizzled Thursday - to seeking another abandoned railway tunnel. On this occasion, it was to be the Haie Hill Tunnel on the Bullo Pill railway, completed in 1810 to carry coal mined in the Forest of Dean to the River Severn (it was later converted to a broad gauge steam line by the Great Western Railway and was closed in the 1960s).


The Severn and Wye Railroad...and more!


It was easy enough to find the general vicinity but the approach was marred by churned mud, steep cuttings and ridiculously-slippery shoes unsuitable for clambering in the underbrush!


Plenty of good images of the track bed and the walled cutting; it still looks great!


Getting IN to the trackbed was a no-no: the side (I was slipping-and-sliding on next to it) was at least 20 feet high and I had to abandon a parallel traipse for fear of skiddooing through the leaf-mold right off the edge! Consequently, thanks to being woefully ill-equipped, I caught only the briefest, most coquettish, of glimpses of the Eastern Portal through the dense foliage:


Can YOU make it out?


This is what I _could've_ seen had circumstances been different:



(Images courtesy of midlandexplorerboy)


I really must put a special box of things in the back of the car for next time: hiking boots, decent gloves and...what else, please?
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Sat Jul 1, 2017 6:30 am
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Let's all meet up

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Oh you were born in March of twenty eleven.
A handy tool to log my gaming obsession.
Your name is "Shed" (oh yeah) "Shed" (oh yeah)
It always suited ya.
And I knew that very few read all the things I wrote in the Shed
But I never worried, it was never hurried
Oh Shed (oh shed) I can recall
The thumbs were very small with comments not at all.
A rambling free-for-all you didn't notice me at all.

I said let's all meet up in my blog 2000
Isn't it strange it's gone on for so long?
Be there, six-oh-one, on the Eleventh of July.
I never knew that I'd keep going.
I would be writing down this little song on that damp and lonely
Tuesday years ago.

And then in Spring '12 I got my big break.
Launch Snowdonia (with Kendall Mint Cake).
The boys at Lookout were keen to partake.
I was so nervous that I got a headache.
And then came Ivor and those London-based Guilds
(And all the other things I promoted and shilled)
Every month it got a bit more popular.
Oh Shed (oh shed) I can recall
The thumbs were very small with comments not at all.
A rambling free-for-all you didn't notice me at all.

I said let's all meet up in my blog 2000
Isn't it strange it's gone on for so long?
Be there, six-oh-one, on the Eleventh of July.
I never knew that I'd keep going.
I would be writing down this little song on that damp and lonely
Tuesday years ago.

Oh yeah, oh yeah.

(mutters: And now you pay your geek gold and you’ve clicked on subscribe
You put up with my rants and my stream of consciousness and my
Session reports where I moan about Every. Single. Thing.)


Ah I can recall
The thumbs were very small with comments not at all.
A rambling free-for-all you didn't notice me at all.

(And I said) let's all meet up in my blog 2000
Isn't it strange it's gone on for so long?
Be there, six-oh-one, on the Eleventh of July.
Designer diaries, promos, Essen,
Eff Ell Gee Ess-ing, Expo, little songs since that damp and lonely
Tuesday years ago.

It's nice to know you're lurking, baby
Would you like to see me twerking, baby?
When you should be working, baby
Ooooh ooh-ooh Ooh ooh ooh ooh
It's nice to know you're lurking, baby
Would you like to see me twerking, baby?
When you should be working, baby
Ooooh ooh-ooh Ooh ooh ooh ooh.
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Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:25 am
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Foots-y

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Boffo was out at a Work's "team building" day somewhere in Herefordshire - probably trying to get an egg from one end of a cow to the other using nothing but paperclips and reflective listening - which meant an original playtesting sesh of Snowdonia: Foothills betwixt himself and his good lady wife Smudge (watched by me) was postponed for yet another week. However, never one to miss an opportunity to fight over a placement spot, Smudge and I decided to get stuck in while the hubby was off doing his 'bonding' or whatever the fuck 'facilitators' call it nowadays.



I have been making various tweaks in recent months, most notable of which was trying to unblock what had become a rather turgid tit-for-tat over space 1 of the BUILD action; it all felt too restrictive and a little claustrophobic, so I added a Agricola-style "Do X then, if you want, Y" to the track-laying action (Lay 1 Track and then build 1 space in that Station) plus adapting the next action (BUILD) so it offered a discount of 1 iron/stone. Landscaping some of the 'paired' stations so that one track opens up a couple of building sites also - in theory - releases the too-tightness of that aspect.


Above, right: My surveyor made it to the top of Snowdon at the end of the game!


Play was brisk and we achieved a LOT of stuff - which was satisfying in itself - and a modified EVENTS track didn't gobble up as many stations whole, which also felt it was between us two humans (mostly). I thought I'd romped it, to be honest, with four of my six contracts guaranteed and the others almost a shoo-in until Smudge blasted out ALL THREE of the bridges at Devil's Bridge (not viz above, sorry) to deny me ELEVEN (11) full points!!! Not even my replacement bus service-load of passengers (also 11) could save me from an outrageously-hairs-breadth defeat: 23 to 22.5!



I shall sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning (er...this morning now); for the moment, though, I feel like another barrier has been broken down! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
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Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:20 am
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What's occurrin'?

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Well, apart from a dangerously-low supply of paper in this cubicle, I am getting an increasing number of geekmails about the status of a potential Snowdonia 'big box' 3rd Edition. A quick blog post should be a satisfactory solution to having to hand-reply to every one (it would be rude to ignore such approaches otherwise):

Short Answer: I don't know.

Long Answer: I've put together a list of the things I'd want to see in the big box (some - not all - promos, existing expansions) along with some new idea stuff eg. the long-incubated Mount Hakone scenario from Hisashi Hayashi and China/Tibet from Matt Dunstan. I'm split between a Kickstarter campaign, producing it ourselves (we don't have the up-front capital) or getting another Co. to do it. The KS option sounds attractive but only if we do it ourselves but we don't have experience in that area: again, getting someone to help sounds good (after all, it would be nice if WE made lots of money out of it for a change!).

Ah, the lot of the indie designer/publisher is not entirely a happy one.

(rattle rattle)

Damn it!

(rattle rattle)

Hello? Hello! Could someone slip a new roll under the door, please?!
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Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:14 pm
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Traumatic Post Stress Disorder

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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This is the postage receipt from last Friday's batch of The Cousins' War dispatches. Faithfully Jiffy-ed, air mail-stickered and customs labelled, thirty one copies of this a-lot-in-the-box treat are now winging their way to the four corners.

Annoyingly for Yours Truly, the postage rates don't map on to postage stamps of an equivalent (and singular) cost, so:
£5.15 = 2 x 2.55 and a 5p
£4.10 = 1 x 3.30 and 4 x 20p
£2.90 = 1 x 2.55 and a 20p, a 10p and a 5p (!)

The alternative is to let the cashier staff type Addresses, manually, in to a labelling form one-by-one (2 mins each average transaction time) which, naturally, annoys the Hell out of the other waiting customers. So, painfully-slow affixing of lines of stamps it is.

And we're supposed to be in the 21st Century?!
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Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:45 pm
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1d for your thoughts?

Anthony Boydell
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By way of some calming therapy - after the stark horror of my recently-acquired railway crashes book (!) - here's my take on a 'Parly' for my beloved (relaxing) Snowdonia:



As part of the Foundry action (C), you can convert 1 Iron Ore to a Penny as a mini-action (in addition to the other usual Foundry mini-actions) - use rubble from supply to represent pennies and store them on this train; your third worker comes out of the Pub for the price of a Penny. Pennies are worth a point each at the end of the game.
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Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:22 am
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Are you sitting comfortably..?

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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...then we'll begin. Yesterday, on our usual Newentian plod, I discovered the following book:


Cheerful, I know.



A nicely-inventoried catalogue of utter horror and woe.


Ever so pleased with it, and because I'd also promised the kids (to get them out of the house and walking around for a bit), we went for a deluxe drink and cake at The Good News Centre. Sat in the sunny garden area, I leafed through and came across this chapter (sweet Moses in his raspberry-flavoured basket coz it uses phrases like "the greatest slaughter in the history of Britain's railways" and "The lucky ones were killed outright"):











Have a lovely rest-of-the-day, now...
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Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:20 am
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The Night of the Long Scythes

Anthony Boydell
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Smudge has been tepidatious (a mix of both trepidatious and luke-warm) about the concept of Scythe - especially because it has fighting in - since I first waxed-ever-so-lyrical when the super-deluxe KS edition landed (with a terracotta-tile cracking THUD!) on my Hall floor. She hem-ed and hurr-ed equally noncommittally about Terraforming Mars six months back (and she LOVES it now), so I was hoping for a similar Damascan Road experience for her on Friday (last) night.

Of those attending - a circle-the-date-on-the-wall-calendar SIX - only Jobbers and Boffo had played before so I set off on a 20 minute unpacking, setting up and action-explaining spiel including such oldies-but-goodies as:
- "You don't have to do a bottom action"
- "You produce in the indicated number of HEXES not number of individual workers ie. multiple workers in one Hex = a good thing"
- "A single movement icon is 1 unit moving 1 hex, unless it's a big unit and you've built your +1 Move mech"
- Only your big units (leader and mechs) are affected by built-Mech abilities
- If you're stuck for a resource, you can always take the TRADE action
- When you've recruited, you get the bottom action bonus whenever YOU or an adjacent NEIGHBOUR takes that bottom action...and ALL of the bottom actions are in the same position on ALL boards
- and so on.

In addition, to avoid any gripes and whines about 'you didn't tell me!' later, I also made a MASSIVE point of explaining how POPULARITY affects game-end scoring. I only mention (all) of this because much of the game was spent reiterating the above points time-and-time again; not that I'm really moaning because I got to play one of my all-time favourites.


Jesus; you'd think someone had died!


Smudge loaded up on combat cards and initiated the first fight; Jobbers raced to the Factory and then got kicked about by Boffo; Norm forgot to use his flags but conquered a creditable number of hexes (to be let down by very low popularity); Gary completely ignored his Trap ability and stayed in the corner obsessed with completing his objective and always getting the PRODUCTION rule wrong; I spread, achieved, fought, built mechs, upgraded, recruited and everything-and-anything else with alarming ease. Boffo, game-end imminent, attempted a last ditch dust-up to deprive me of points only for me - with my special ability - to steal his POWER 5 combat card from him (a 33% chance of doing so) and send him home in utter disgrace (and to the Bar in a genuinely-unsportsmanlike muttering tirade). I placed my sixth star, with Popularity way up in the teens, and romped to such an easy victory (80 points) that only Smudge (39) and Norm (35) bothered to add up their scores!



It didn't help the post-drubbing atmos that the whole thing had stretched to a bum-numbing (though not for me because I just immersed myself in the wonderfulness of it all) 140 minutes - about half an hour longer than I've experienced a 5+ player game before. I fear that although there was a glimmer, the faintest sliver, of a positive reception from Smudge (she DID pick it up quickly AND she came second), the loooooooooog evening might have ultimately killed it for her. A damn (or should that be 'Dame'?) shame.

Norm and Gary had to scuttle away - a 45 minute journey to the other end of Herefordshire - so the usual suspects broke out an end-of-the-evening comforter:



This is a fantastic game. It is a true classic of the hobby. Everyone needs to play it regularly and with an evangelistic fervour. An odd combination of goals - 'lots of little settlements' plus 'one big settlement is good' plus 'building by water is good' - proved distracting for both Jobbers and Boffo, who forgot one criterion completely, leaving Smudge and myself to edge in front: Smudge pipped me by just the two points, despite Boffo chuckling, mid-game, that I didn't seem to know what I was doing.

A curiously-tetchy evening, then, and - for everyone else - not seemingly a very satisfying one; personally, I thought it was fantastic but 'one out of six' is a poor return on four hours investment.
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Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:00 am
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I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle

Anthony Boydell
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Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:11 am
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