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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Last night I had the strangest dream...

Anthony Boydell
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...that I wandering Hall 7 of the Essen Messe; I couldn't find my 'Wants' list, so was keeping an eye out for games/company names that I recognised. I found one stand and asked the vendor how much the game was - it was one on Boffo Bateson's list - and the man said: "It's very rare." and I said "Yes, but how much is it?" and he said: "Oh, it's very expensive.". This went on for a bit without the cost being made clear, so I wandered off.

I found a stand selling Japanese dolls and thought "This would be nice for Karen" (Mrs B) whom, in the waking world, has no interest at all in dolls. I handed over a 50 euro note and the vendor handed the doll to a young lad who was stood next to me; the young lad looked at me and said: "This is mine." and walked off. I remonstrated with the vendor for a) a replacement doll and b) my change but with no success.

And then I woke up.

Any amateur psychologists out there want to enlighten me as to the meaning of all this?
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Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:41 pm
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Spieling Spiel

Anthony Boydell
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I've hijacked another podcast again (it's been ALMOST a year, mind you, so the defences have been holding up pretty well to my sustained assault!) and here's the link:



Today I shall be going in to work a little later than usual because it's middle son Benedict's 16th birthday (!); how the years have flown by since I sped up the A419 from work in Swindon to arrive at Gloucester Royal Hospital with literally seconds to spare.



With Mrs B hoovering up gas and air like a teenager gets through a milkshake, young Beebs popped out without any inconvenient messing about. 'Spiel' has traditionally fallen on or around his birthday so I've been in bloody Germany most times since; as it happens, after today's well-wishing and subsequent analysis of business requirements I shall be trundling along the M4 to my night before the journey to Essen lay-off in High Wycombe.

And so it begins...
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Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:50 am
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a la recherche du temps perdu (encore)

Anthony Boydell
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In the distant, misty TV memories of the 1970s I recall - as Christmas approached - the relentless, raging torrent of adverts for cooking utensils (razor sharp, micro-thin blades with which to flay oneself in pursuit of a salad), mail-order vinyl LP collections (the entire Beatles back catalogue performed on Zither & Cowbell, Elvis: The Bathroom Years, Richard Clayderman Plays Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music etc) and vibrant, 3D, clatteringly-plastic board games:



While scoffing a biscuit (or two) and watching Saturday morning TV with Arthur, yesterday, we were assailed by a six minute advertising break - SIX minutes - of repeating 15 second segments: pet toys, 'jewellery making kits' and...er, huzzah???...board games:


(clockwise from top left) A farting cow; balloon punching frenzy; hairy 'chin'anigans (!); and an alarming dildo dexterity game (that actually shouts "Play With Me!").


I really shouldn't grumble: it's a step in the right direction, I suppose...

...isn't it?

shake

Obligatory Sunday Participation Question:
What 3d/plastic-y games do YOU recall fondly from decades past?
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Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:45 am
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Roll up! *choo-choo* Roll up!

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Some quick pics (courtesy of Mr Alan Paull) of Snowdonia: The Siege of Petersburg / The Channel Tunnel 1881:



and the Generals:



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Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:37 pm
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CotN-ing on to the CotO

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The Plough Inn had a bar buzzing with local types - all, obviously, big mates with the Landlady (who was making surgical work of a Scotch Egg and Salad) - clogging up the thoroughfare and loitering on the Beer Garden patio having a fag despite it being Storm Brian (cold and wet) outside. The 'back room', to which we have exclusive Friday night access, spoke a different story:


Forlorn, innit?


Occupying myself with yet another play-through of Monument Valley, my ears perked at Boffo's approaching "Halloos" as he struggled in to the Sanctum bearing a sack of classics; Jobbers followed shortly after with his big table and we were, once again, 'set':



To open, Smudge had picked Concordia but spotted Goa being shifted out of the way to get access to it and plumped for that instead! I love Goa; I play a good game of Goa and am happy to find myself always in contention. However, in this instance, a start player-hogging Jobbers (to my immediate right) took it upon himself to place the flag in the most inaccessible position forcing me - five rounds out of eight - on to a no-choice tile and, more importantly, gifting both Smudge and Boffo (obviously, after the first round, the ones to watch) with a wide choice of tiles for themselves. Even pointing this out after the second instance did nothing to stop Jobbers' wilful Kingmaking. Ah well, it is an amazing game regardless; only a handful of new releases in recent years have come anywhere near to being as good (and eternal). As prophesied, Boffo romped home by a clear 10 (ten!) points (which is HUGE in Goa) - having taken NO extra actions, mind! - while I scored my lowest EVER with a risible, pathetic, appallingly-inept 29.

It was my choice next and I'd latched on to a long, Shed-buried gem:


Zooloretto: Have YOU played this recently? Well, you absolutely should!


Not that I was beginning to feel victimised or anything but - sweet David Attenborough! - those 'boats' were being filled and/or taken with an almost Olympic level of WTF?-age! At one point Boffo, playing a very shrewd game, looked comfortably on the top podium until - with the very last tile draw - Smudge knowingly set up a 10 points-worth boat for Jobbers and swept him, gleefully, to the win! Boffo king-made in to second place by his own spouse! My own score of 9 (nine) points would, rightfully, have passers-by questioning if I was able to use a knife-and-fork without injuring myself let alone 'play proper board games'!

To close, Jobbers plucked a true colossal star of the hobby: Manhattan



This sort of thing is much more in Jobbers' (and Boffo's) sphere of expertise and I fully expected to be ground in to the dust like the gaming cockroach that I seemed to be on this windy evening...but, no! Plugging away quietly at keeping dominance in a couple of districts, letting Jobbers and Smudge waste time-and-effort picking on each-other and snarking away at Boffo's tentative intrusions kept me firmly ahead after each of the four scoring phases and - at the end - stretched way out in front: some dignity recovered, then!

However, regardless of scores (and any perceived persecution!) this was a delicious menu of vintage gaming to be much-recommended. Go delve in the back of your cupboards and sweep aside the modern pompery; give those Elder Statesperson games a deserved airing and you'll be surprised at just how bloody great they are.
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Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:07 am
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Roll up! *hic* Roll up!

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I have managed to get 144 bottles of my birthday beer EARLY (!), so I shall be bringing them to Essen Spiel!



For the princely sum of just 3 euros, you can add a bottle of this foamy wonderfulness* (and it's a Snowdonia train too) to the other items you are able to purchase from our Stand (7-G121):

The Cousins' War (15 euros)
Snowdonia: The Siege of Petersburg / The Channel Tunnel 1881 (12 euros)
(special deal: both for 25 euros)

Snowdonia: Rolling Stock #1 (2 euros)
Bad Grandmas (2 euros)
The Cousins' War Events Expansion only (2 euros)



Roll up! Roll up!


*while stocks last.
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Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:34 pm
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Dancing Daise (Are Here Again)

Anthony Boydell
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With my eldest daughter now back at University, it's been a rum month for Mrs B as the only female in the household: meal times are beset with conversations about internet memes, Rick & Morty and movie trailers in which she has absolutely no interest whatsoever. Fortunately, we both escape to a less-teenage world on a Tuesday night for our Ballroom Dancing lessons and this week it was the Quickstep! A lumpy, grumpy middle-ager I may be but I was positively motoring about the sports hall and (mostly) in time to the music too!


Karen and I, this week.


Further salvation came, yesterday, in the just-for-a-day-or-so arrival of youngest daughter (Daisy) back from her Guildford life for a brief visit; it's been 10 weeks (!) since our glorious Yorkshire hols and the last time we were all together as a family so it was with an excited tremble in my tummy that I drove home through a gloomy Monmouthshire after work! Big hugs, plentiful cups of tea and an enormous pasta bake saw us through to Arthur's bedtime and we settled at the (cleared) kitchen table for some lighter gaming distractions; it's so very nice to just chitty-chat over cubes and chits:


First up was Too Many Cinderellas: the curious micro-game where one tries to protect a secret Cinderella card-in-hand (or two) from a series of player-played 'elimination' criteria which are also, themselves, potential Cinderellas. Daisy proved quite unassailable and won both of the rounds we played...with a Cat and a Transvestite! I, as per, failed to offer up even a single potentially-eligible candidate.



Secondly - because Daisy liked the box - was Fish Frenzy. Play-tested for the good Mr Brett J. Gilbert in it's previous incarnation (working title: "Fuck Off, Cormorant!"), this bounce-out auction set collector proved much to Daisy's liking as well: she hammered us both by a considerable margin (mainly, I think, because Mrs B and I kept flapping-and-squawking over stuff).



Thirdly, and something a bit more push-your-luck was Port Royal. Mrs B has been quite successful in recent outings of this but, tonight, it was Daisy again who seemed to be running away with it! Hold your horses, though, because this Old Hoss made a strident comeback - still glowing from the dancing - to rack up the requisite 12 points and a measure of consolation.



With a few chores to do before settling the house down for the night, we closed with a couple of games of Kingdomino; a shining firmament-dweller amongst the Boydells! Daisy had not partaken of the many 'Yorkshire holiday' plays so had a rocky first game but, naturally, had a much better handle on what she was doing in the second...and won THAT as well!


Sweet, light and warming - like the sticky toffee pudding we scoffed for dessert - this impromptu kitchen table session was a delightful alternative to goggling at the TV for the duration.
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Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:20 am
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A Meditation

Anthony Boydell
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...borne of a chance encounter. Dark times swirl around us, dear friends, and if we don't stick together then we'll be sucked in to the vortex. I met a friend from our Church earlier this week - well, I say 'our Church' but my belief system has been somewhat shattered in recent years and I'm now a stay-at-home spiritualist: one man simply in awe of a cosmological Universe. My friend looked gaunt and bewildered as he wandered the supermarket aisles; his wife of 45 years died of cancer recently and, by all accounts, it was a bitterly-painful passing. She was a kind, gentle and loving woman; the manner of her death is dizzyingly cruel when you would have hoped (expected, even) that it should be dignified and merciful. As I murmured my wholly-insufficient condolences by the cheap biscuits, he said something that shocked me: "My only consolation is that she's now with Jesus..."; he paused and, looking at me through rheumy eyes, added: "...otherwise what was the point of her life?". How could I respond to such a plea; to such doubt? I looked down at my shoes and then back up at him and replied with my best platitude: "You are both in our thoughts and prayers". He sighed, and smiled; there was a brief, hand-clasped, farewell and he shuffled off towards the canned goods, stooped and suffocated by his grief. It's no mean feat to hold on to your Faith nowadays; it's all I can do to stop the long, agonized scream from escaping. I hug my wife and children more and more because, well, who knows?
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Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:15 am
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Perfect 10

Anthony Boydell
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Ok so you all know the deal, right? Here's what I'm lookin' out for at Spiel this year. I'll not mention the obvious essential expansions that are a must get under pain of someone else's death; just the choicest and juiciest cuts that have caught my GamerEpicurean attention. Bubbling around the outside of my Ludic tastebuds are When I Dream, Nusfjord, Riverboat, Loot Island, Herbalism and Harvest; however, the hypersupralist to end all (my previous) lists is undertaking it's commencement now...just after this underlined bit:

10.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Tulip Bubble

...players buy and sell on a fluctuating market, trying to earn the most guilders. The game flow includes a preparation phase, buying phase, and selling phase, with these phases recurring until the bubble collapses or someone manages to outwit the markets by purchasing a black tulip for 120 guilders before that collapse occurs.

Our group sort-of enjoyed Tulipmania (sort-of) but it looked so horrible that a bit of sick kept coming up whenever you reviewed the board state; TB looks gorgeous (thanks!) and it's surely time for a proper simulation of this historical insanity?
(Side Note: Same Hall as us, so this will be a Setup Day (Weds) acquisition!)


9.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Senators
...is best described as an adversarial bidding game. Players earn money by purchasing resources at auction, extorting them from other players, then selling them in sets to the bank. Cash is required to support wars, defend against aggressive bids, and most importantly to buy more Senators. The game lasts a variable number of turns, and when the fourth war is revealed it immediately ends. At that point, the player with the most Senators wins.

Sounds cute and curious.
(Side Note: Small company with likely limited stock - must get on the Setup Day!)


8.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

The Fox in the Forest
...is a trick-taking game for two players. Aside from the normal ranked- and suited-cards used to win tricks, fairy characters such as the Fox and the Witch have special abilities that let you change the trump suit, lead even after you lose a trick, and more. You score points by winning more tricks than your opponent, but don't get greedy! Win too many tricks, and you will fall like the villain in so many fairy tales.

Looks pretty and hoping to be a hit for me and Mrs B.
(Side Note: Two copies needed (one for me, one for Boffo/Smudge))


7.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Perfect Hotel
...you have a fixed date to open the hotel, so plan properly and be careful not to over-research or misjudge the timing of hotel construction. Perfect Hotel is a card game in which bonuses exist for such things as the tallest high-riser, the most luxurious top-floor, and so on.

I've cut back drastically on my Japon Brand purchases this year due to post-Spiel indifference (to those played and those I have yet to play). Also, the obligatory pre-order selection seemed a bit limited this year


6.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Transatlantic
...players lead their own shipping companies, which transport freight, mail, and passengers around the globe. They purchase new steamships from the market (but) purchasing the best steamships is not enough, if one fails to acquire enough coal bunkers and trade posts...The game is driven by cards; on each turn, play one card and execute the related action. As new cards enter the game, build your individual deck of cards with new or improved possibilities. It's a maritime strategy game with low luck, lots of interactive choices, and tough decisions.

It's a new full game from Mac Gerdts; he's awesome.


5.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Calimala
Players of Calimala are cloth merchants in medieval Florence, with a number of trusted employees that they assign to various streets within the city to carry out actions. (Each street connects two places where particular actions can be taken.) While taking these actions, players produce and deliver cloth and contribute to the construction and decoration of various buildings across the city. Employees stay on their assigned places for a while, carrying out their actions whenever the street is activated, and eventually are promoted into the city council, triggering a scoring phase.

The "placing between" reminds me of Hermagor and Spyrium (both of which I like) and the "stacks trigger scoring" seems familiar too; all-in-all this feels like a comforting, capable Euro.
(Side Note: I have a couple of avenues of early access to this sought-after item so this will be a Setup Day (Weds) acquisition!)


4.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Import / Export
...is a role selection game with a passive and active economy driven by player decisions. You have the power to gain over one hundred unique powers by exporting shipments of goods, specializing into a varied tech tree, and unlocking advanced game engines that will be completely unique to each play!

Did someone say "It's like Glory to Rome"? Sold!
(Side Note: Same Hall as us, so this - and it's hundreds of expansions - will be a Setup Day (Weds) acquisition!)


3.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Meeple Circus
Glimpsed, briefly and from afar, last year this stacking-and-balancing fun looks like, well, fun!
(Side Note: Hoping my forthcoming Tea-based collaboration with Matagot will smooth the way to a 'copy for Uncle Tony'!)


2.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Pioneer Days
Dice drafting and combo-building from two of the East of England's finest designers; I played this at a Wedding last year and was so enamoured that I put in my pre-order with Seth Jaffee!


1.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Mini Rails
I blogged about this a few weeks ago (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/69067/blink-and-youll...) and I am no less excited about it.
Side Note: Same Hall as us - and I've already pestered Mark with my begging pre-order - so this will be a Setup Day (Weds) acquisition!


Well, there you have it: my picks for 2017. I'll still be snouting for truffles over the five days because, if any of you have any additional leads, there's an ANCOT advance burning a hole in my gaming trousers!

One week to go!
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Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:22 am
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They're only after me Lux-y charms!

Anthony Boydell
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The (design) road goes ever onward and while SSG waits for a shiny new 3D printer to be delivered, I thought I'd pull my finger out and get some copies of Lux Aeterna ready for Spiel blind testing. Of course, it's missing the final artwork (still very much in the early stage of mood boards and philosophy) but now that it's not thick-stickered cards in half-torn plastic sleeves but PoD-ed and glossy, it feels closer to being a real thing:


(clockwise, from top-left) Six systems and their system dice (there are five different cards for each system - that's 34375 combinations); bad things to go in the deck to make a bad situation even worse; killed to death (iteration 172); how Proximity difficulty looks; and example main deck cards showing the eight basic actions (there are 12 unique others).


I have, naturally, been giving it some play-throughs; unfortunately, my initial greed has seen me plummeting in to the Black Hole with alarming (stupid) regularity so I dialed my ambition back and started mid-Proximity with more success!



The core game is the same: draw a hand of cards each round and assign them to an ship damage, an action (fixing the ship) and movement (your inexorable descent in to oblivion!). In this (final?) version, I have added 'glitches'; these are nasty, disruptive events unless you can 'remove' them, in which case they become a rich source of points.

To grade your difficulty, there are three parameters you can tweak:
i) Events: how many glitches you seed in to the main deck (minimum 3, maximum 6);
ii) Time: how much time you restrict yourself to (10 mins, 15 mins or 'as long as I need'); and,
iii) Proximity: how close you start in relation to the Black Hole (see above) - the white cone is your ship (moving), the white disc your starting point.

Anyone who comes to our stand at Spiel (Hall 7, G121) should give this a go and I'll probably rig up a league table or something. And a prize too, no doubt!

So, who's up for some hot Solo action with me (if that's not a contradiction in terms)?
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Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:15 am
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