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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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Spice Up Your Life

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Once more 'twas the end of the working week; taking a break from the to-ing and fro-ing of electronic mail and version controlling documents like-a-bastard, Mrs B and myself found ourselves out for delicious luncheon and happening upon an excellent-condition, secondhand hi-fi midi system with separate turntable and CD player! An odd thing to mention, perhaps, but I'd not seen one of these for literally YEARS: it had a double-cassette auto-reverse tape deck, a tuner with AM and FM aerials AND - hold on to your trousers - a GRAPHIC EQUALIZER too! Sweet Moses in his thai chilli sauce-flavoured basket!

There was a chance, this week, that the Ross-on-Wye club would be joined by a passing visitor but this fizzled out at the last minute. Indeed, come 4.30PM it seemed that both Smudge and Jobbers would also be absent leaving just Boffo and myself to haunt a corner of the Prince of Wales pub: "Bring Foothills" he messaged, a somewhat disappointing juxtaposition to my earlier (pre-lunch) epistle demanding he bring Steam. Oh, the frustratingness of it all! Still, it seemed like a good opportunity to dig out some old favourites for the two of us so I packed Le Havre, Foothills, Agricola and Innovation.

There was only one space left in the pub's car park as it seems the wake of Storm Doris was broiling with old folks desperate for a carvery supper; you'd also think that the Pool table was a new-to-the-Town pastime given the crowd of excitedly-rowdy punters laying out their line of 'me next' pound coins. In order to cope sufficiently with this shocking increase in demand for stuff, I believe 'the boss' was having to do a stint behind the Bar: what's the world coming to, dear friends? It's all gone pear!

Smudge opened the doors for Boffo the Pack Horse then disappeared off to the Theatre to fiddle with some knobs; both were, additionally, tail-gated by a looming/grinning Jobbers: thus glinted the cloud's silver lining...though Agricola was definitely out-of-the-question now *hurrumph*



To start gently, I shoved Innovation under their noses and we got started. It's been several years since I last played this wonderful work and I'd just got myself in to the remembered swing of things when Jobbers claimed his fifth achievement and we were done. There was a rather flat response to me suggesting an immediate second - Boffo claiming to be playing this again 'next week anyway' so that was short-and-only-slightly-sweet.

Having made my choice for the evening, it was next up to Boffo and he most-excellently posited Goa - one of my all-time favourite games of all-time:



We had to run Jobbers by a few of the rules to refresh his ailing memory but were quickly off-and-spicing! It all looked a bit gloomy after the first round, when Boffo had bought a twofer field off the main board AND successfully colonised Quilon, but I managed to settle back in to a comfortable routine having nabbed the '1 Free Ship' and '1 Free Restock' tiles myself. A minor brainfart, that left me short of cash, meant I had to give my dibs-ed 2VP 'Temple' to Boffo in Round 4 which, in the final reckoning, proved wholly-decisive: Him = 42, Me = 40, Jobbers = 38. A superb game in all aspects.

Our closer would be another Ross-on-Wye favourite: the incontestably-best example of Mr Rosenberg's recent work - Glass Road. Glass Road is a shining, flawless diamond in a sea of overblown, overwrought, overweight, chit-shitting nonsense.


The Church in the Woods...


Jobbers doesn't like it (which only goes to prove how excellent it is) because he doesn't "get it"; he floundered on 13 points behind me - on 19.5 - and the inevitable victor, Boffo, on 22. Boffo is VERY good at GR and plays it far more frequently than the rest of us; no matter, it's an astonishing piece of work (like Boffo himself) and always a pleasure to spend time with (unlike Boffo himself).

A full, fruitful and fabulous evening in the company of old friends, then; in game and human form.
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Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:53 am
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A (final) Campaign in the Arse

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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(with apologies to Paul Noth)



Vote Guilds of London!


BOARDGAMEGEEK HAS HAD ENOUGH OF EXPERTS!

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame
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Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:47 am
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(Still) on the campaign trail...

Anthony Boydell
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10 Things That WILL Happen If You DON'T vote For Guilds of London:


1. The Third World War will break out!
2. Three million copies of Monopoly will be imported in to the US and Europe EVERY WEEK.
3. Asmodee will own everything.
4. Martin Wallace will get stuck in more litigation through no fault of his own.
5. You will lose your Human Rights.
6. Planes will fall out of the sky; Trains will not get any more Maps.
7. Did you not hear me? Asmodee will own EVERYTHING!
8. Eric Lang will be completely shaved.
9. Cards Against Humanity shall become a mandatory Sunday afternoon activity for all Adults.
10. All Cat videos will be removed from the Internet!


You can prevent all of these by voting Guilds of London!


Go here to TAKE BACK AREA CONTROL!

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame
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Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:20 am
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On the Campaign Trail...

Anthony Boydell
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It all started with the Nomination; the REAL work begins NOW!






Vote Guilds of London!


Go here to MAKE A MERE ICON great again!

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame
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Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:20 am
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I'm in it (so I could, theoretically, win it)!

Anthony Boydell
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(aside: it's a long shot, given the competition, BUT...)

Guilds of London
has made the final cut and has been nominated for:
Golden Geek Best Strategy Game 2016


And, as an added bonus, the excellent

has been similarly-'nommed' for

Best Board Game Podcast

Please go here to register your final votes:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame


(still VERY) much appreciated, ta!
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Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:03 pm
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Hot Metal!

Anthony Boydell
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(apologies for some of the odd formatting / line break effects on the PNGs; for some reason, Powerpoint gets sniffy about margins and 'ting in filled Text Boxes)

Here's a glimpse of at least FOUR hours of my time this weekend when I started putting together the rulebook structure for

A Nice Cup Of Tea:
A Snowdonia Game




This is a great opportunity to sort out some of the confusing elements like 'when does the game end?' (I've flipped the Round structure so it doesn't matter whether the game OR a player lays the last track piece, the round plays out anyway) and a hard statement about the one-time use of Contract Cards.



Sound-tracked by The Dukes of Stratosphear (XTC), Neil Young and others, I got quite hypnotized by the process - only pausing, briefly, to flip or change the rotating vinyl. Mind you, being a sensible sort of chap (and one willing to learn from his previous mistakes), I'm eventually going to hand it all over to someone much more professional and - importantly - possessing that independent, scrutinizing eye!

The journey continues...
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Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:15 am
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Hairy Dog Walker

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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It was cold but the dog still needed a walk, so I wrapped up warm and dragged him off out.


Snug & cosy!


I have a favourite route that takes me to the Arboretum then across the fields to a path that circumvents the High School. Today, as the puppy gleefully rolled in fox shit and nosied every poo-pile in every hedgerow, the School was playing host to a 'local league' soccer match but precious little else: there were more people ON the pitch than AROUND it, each team's supporter base comprising a Stand-in Linesman and an aggressive bloke in a donkey jacket hurling abuse at the Ref. I, in a rather nostalgic role that harkened back to the grainy B&W footage of the 1940s and 1050s, was man with dog as I tried to work out a) what the score was and b) why EVERYONE was shouting and swearing so much!

The players were shouting. The goalies were shouting (and pointing). The linesmen were shouting and heckling their opposing numbers. Jacketman was shouting, swearing and gesturing at all of the officials. The referee - a short, tubby, tonsured fellow who looked like he'd escaped from a documentary about people who like Real Ale - was trying to shout over the top of everyone elses' shouting because his whistle was rubbish (he had to call the team captains over for 'a stiff word' at least three times in the 15 minutes that I saw). In fact, the only people on the playing fields who weren't shouting were me, Ziggy the dog and the Away team's centre forward, who looked like he'd rather go up to his bedroom for a nap.

The latter half-heartedly jogged up-and-down the same 5m stretch of grass occasionally watching the ball sail past him in various directions without changing his pace one jot. When the whole sordid, cuss-ridden, lung-busting bellow-fest finally came to an end, the disgraceful horde sulked over to the changing rooms without even the customary 'Three cheers for...': appalling.



This is why Cricket and Rugby Union are the sports of the Gods and NOT this shameful, self-aggrandizing, puffed-up shitstorm of a so-called pastime. Still, on the bright - if chilly - side, I reached my 10,000 steps for the day goal with plenty to spare.
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Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:25 am
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Are You Ready For The Country?

Anthony Boydell
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The Chef at the Prince of Wales pub, a cheery young chap with a 'man bun' and a stripey apron, limped in to the restaurant with a happy "Halloo, board gamers!" and asked if we were "going to be playing Clue this evening". Well, the face I pulled must've been a picture because he laughed and said "What's wrong with Clue?". There is, of course, a parallel Universe in which I spent the rest of the evening explaining to the catering fool the error of his flippant ignorance but it wasn't this one; no, tonight was a Boy's Night Inn *ahem*

I arrived with nothing but a phone full of podcasts - a lovely milestone in the week - and some re-pasted Foothills: A Snowdonia Game components (Ben and I have sorted out the Vale of Rheidol railway and tweaked the action board yet again); as for any actual games for a-playing? I left that to our Huffing Overlord. Given it would be me, him, Jobbers and the occasional Byll, it was prudent to avoid anything spankingly-new and potentially time-hoovering so that was my minty copies of Railroad Revolution and Great Western Trail most-definitely out. Instead, Ben presented us with the colourful Automobiles to start:


Boffo (purple) performs a celebratory drift upon winning the Inn-dy 500 (500 being the number of times we had to remind either Jobbers or Byll of the very simple rules!), closely followed by myself. The other two honked along in their jalopies an entire lap behind us: *toot-toot*


In summary: It's Dominion with cubes. Assign coloured cubes for their special effects (actions; each colour has a number of alternate actions that are randomly assigned to a game) or to move (gear cubes). 'Wear' cubes (akin to Trains' Waste cards) are collected the faster you go and must be 'chapel'-ed from your bag. Play a certain number of laps and the first/furthest over is the winner.

Boffo and I had no problems at all with the simple - elegant - mechanisms and were quickly powering our bags with higher gear cubes and trimming out the 'wear' and the useless other cubes. Jobbers engagement with the whole thing wavered because he kept arguing about how the coloured cube effects worked - despite the wording on their summary cards being VERY CLEAR INDEED . Byll just shoveled cubes about, accompanied by his usual mumbled narration, but managed to stay ahead of a seethingly-grumpy Jobbers. I thought it was tremendous fun and it breezed along briskly (after the other two had finally understood what was happening).

A long-neglected class act was our next course: Key Harvest. It's Isle of Skye, basically, so Herr Pfister and Herr Pelikan should really give the splendid Mr Richard Breese a belated 'chapeau'!


Me playing the 'Hoarder Next Door' but a bit of a crushing win for young Byll, TBH


In summary: You're 'buying' tiles to fill up your player board (all boards are identical) as two of the areas you build will score at game end. Tiles generate resources with which to 'buy'. You don't buy things directly, you buy them off player stores (yours and/or others) for the asking price and - for your store tiles - YOU set the asking price. Each tile has a unique ID, so when someone has bought the E7 then it's (pretty much) theirs for the rest of the game.

Becky arrived (having diddled with her spot all evening down at the Theatre) in time for a session of three-way Wizard. Byll and I departed early, me being on Gloucester pick-up-the-Sons duty, and so-ended another quiet night in Ross-on-Wye. Dammit! There must be more than five people in the area that like to play board games, there simply MUST.

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Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:59 am
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A True Story

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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As I was walking past the game store, I glanced at the window display and saw the man on the Great Western Trail box wink at me; I was so surprised that I'd stopped in mid-pace, one foot in the air, all my weight on the other. Pressing my nose against the glass, I stared at the game for any further movement...there was none. Remembering how to use my legs, I entered the shop by the second most interesting method: the door. The man behind the counter was doing an excellent impression of not being there at all and the only other customer was engrossed by a line of RPG supplement book spines. I shuffled over to the front window and picked up the Great Western Trail box and whispered to the side panel.

"Did you just wink at me?" I said.

"No," the cowboy replied; "you must've imagined it because I'm not a real person".

"Is that game talking to you?" said the customer by the books.

"Yes" I answered.

"This lot whisper about me behind my back" he continued, pointing at the modules; "but they go quiet if I stare at them."

Just then I felt something blow on my cheek and decided to stop listening to the other customer because he was a weirdo and he was scaring me.

"I'm still here" said the cowboy.

"I'm not." said the empty place where the man behind the counter should have been.

"You've got to get me out of here," the cowboy said, "it's not safe any more."

"I can take you as far as the end of the High Street" I offered, "only I'm supposed to meet a bus there - it's sort of a blind date, apparently. I'm worried I won't recognise it so I printed off a picture". I unfolded a crumpled polaroid and pressed it against the front of the box. "See?"

The man behind the counter had stopped pretending to not be there and was flicking his gaze between the roleplaying nutter and me; there was a five second interval between us, so when he was looking the other way, I rushed the exit and sprinted off down the pavement clutching Great Western Trail and a manic grin. By the Pelican Crossing, I bumped in to an old lady, with an old man's face and an old man's body, and s/he toppled on to the zebra stripes and directly in the path of what might have been a bus; it wasn't the bus in my photograph, so I just waited patiently on the kerb while it rolled over the old lady-man with a crunching, squeaking sound. Now that the traffic had stopped, it was safe to cross - provided you stayed well clear of the screaming children and the very angry bus driver.

The policeman stopped me a bit further down the street; he had a kind face and hands that were bunched in to fists. He introduced them to my chin and I fell over, dropping the game box; I looked up and saw it skidding in to the path of another bus, which might've been the same one as the one on my picture only the picture was in my pocket and the nice policeman was blocking my pockets by sitting on my back and stopping my arms from moving about. The bus was evidently heavy because it made just as much of a mess of Great Western Trail as the other one had made of the Man-Lady.

"The cowboy made me do it" I said, with difficulty.

"They all say that" replied the lovely policeman.

When he had made my wrists safe, by wrapping them in handcuffs, we went to a small, quiet room in his workplace where he and a friend took it in turns to ask me hard-hitting questions ie. whenever one asked a question, the other would hit me hard.

"You brought this on yourself" gloated the deck of standard playing cards in the corner. "I suppose that's true" I answered, and let my eyelids help me do a convincing impression of being unconscious.
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Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:51 pm
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Only Me!

Anthony Boydell
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There's been a growing movement of solitaire gamers gathering behind Snowdonia over the last 18 months which is, given the age of the game - currently approaching it's FIFTH birthday (the day Lookout Games said they wanted to co-publish) - is tremendously heartening and satisfying! Many have immersed themselves in the delights of surviving the vagaries of the weather/Event cubes and, with the various locos in tow, trying to get as big a score as possible.

Others - more recently - have turned to developing their own Automa - a preprogrammed NPP (Non-player player) of sorts - to focus all their hate, loathing and frustration on: not really a solo game, then, but more of a s(t)imulated two-header!



Automa are excellent and very much the 'in thing' at the moment; all of Jamey Stegmaier's games have them and "Big Bad Boris" in Guilds of London is one too. Automa hog your actions, steal your resources and toughen up the experience; they also don't piss about with their phones or get soy sauce all over the components!

So, if it's all gone quiet in the snug this evening, why not give M and/or D's alternative solo Snowdonia setups a run? Make sure you give them bountiful feedback because, if they're a success, I may feel inclined to publish them!

Finally, here's a little blast from the past: it's early Spring 2012 and - with the anticipation of a Summer of final layouts and Snowdonian publication plans - I had been focusing very much on the aforementioned solo variant:

Quote:

(from a round-robin playtester group email of 16th March)

Chaps,

Played a second solo game tonight - reusing train no.1 to see if a) losing the train in the first game was bad and b) I could beat my previous score (186)

- the game lasted 30 minutes (13 turns)
- initial weather was: (start)/Rain/Sun followed by sun, rain, rain, rain, sun, fog, sun, sun, sun, rain, (rain), (sun) (last two not used)
- scoring:
- buildings = 58
- track = 18
- bonus cards = 101 (see photo)
- survey = 1
Total = 178 points

Aaargh! I did WORSE despite keeping my train! (sad face). I ran out of my marker cubes triggering game end BUT the state of the Stock Yard / cubes in the bag meant that the game would've almost certainly finished in the next round anyway (the game laying the last piece of track). I'm content that 16 marker cubes is enough - I was more selective about what I completed this time (a lot of good that it did me!).

Cycling ALL cards at the end of the round works well - a couple of times there were TWO bonus cards I wanted and you're only able to take one!

A couple of times I took and converted/built with resources to put more cubes back in the bag to dilute the event cubes...

Question: 6 cubes per round into the stock yard might be too many?

I would really love to hear how you guys get on with the solo game (with train no.1 to start) - fancy giving it a go (it only takes 40 mins including set-up and take-down)?

Best wishes,
Tony

(and I even included a game end snapshot)


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Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:03 pm
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