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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

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Never seeing the light of play

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Here's a list of games, currently on my shelves, that will never see the light of a gaming table with my current group because one or more of the others don't like it, don't like the sound of it and/or don't like the theme:

- Great Western Trail
- Russian Railroads
- Feudality
- Grand Austria Hotel
- Eclipse
- Homesteaders
- The Colonists
- Dungeon Lords
- Madeira
- Village
- Mombasa
- Burano
- Lords of Waterdeep
- Power Grid, and
- Cyclades

These are just the ones I can see from my comfy chair.

I think I need to be part of TWO gaming groups, to be honest, but there's barely enough peeps to make the one we already have without trying to set up/join in something else. Back in the days of London working (cue wistful violin soundtrack; probably something Elgar-ic), we had three nights a week to fill...and a pool of 10+ players who were well up for new things, old things and everything else things in between.

If you're in the Herefordshire/Worcestershire/Gloucestershire area then I beseech you - I beg upon bended knee - to make yourself known so that we can get the above list of shamefully-ignored given their proper due!

Help me!

HELP ME!

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Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:50 am
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a rather plain expansion

Anthony Boydell
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Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:35 am
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People are people so why should it be..?

Anthony Boydell
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Here's an observation about events at last night's club that I remark upon because, while having happened previously (I am certain), it seemed much more obvious than before. We played Gentes, which I have been VERY excited about; ridiculously, schoolgirl-gigglingly excited about. I made extra special effort by re-watching the (excellent) Heavy Cardboard run through (with the always-lovely Mr Ulrich Blennemann) and reading the rule book through THREE times and skimming the Civilisation Card reference too. I may be being paranoid but I fear that many good/great games are dismissed - in this particular environment - thanks to a combination of pre-fixed prejudice and a general contempt for my rules explanations; thus did I go the extra research mile for this one!

After a sun-downer trio of Molkky 'ends' on the well-appointed beer garden of The Plough Inn - with it's steady, slightly-alarming 'slope downwards' - we repaired (Tony triumphant - again!) to the back room. The teaching went very well (for Ross-on-Wye - see my point above) and we were soon taking tiles and time with confidence. Gentes is fantastic: smooth, engaging, thinky (without being overwhelming) and satisfying. However...



...after a trouble-free opening, we found ourselves - in rounds 5 and 6 - increasingly-perplexed by a couple of the mechanisms:
a) the homeland space: how does the 1-10 printed-on-the-board 'Philosopher' option interact with the real philosopher part of the board AND
b) the Civilisation cards: how do the 'infinite' printed-on-the-card actions for Scribe and Philosopher (Irrigation, Theatre, Temple, Workshop) interact with the real Scribe and Philosopher part of the board?

It seems (please feel free to confirm or deny) that the answers are:
a) you put a cube on your building and then 'take a homeland action' which will mean either paying time or money but not having to take an actual action tile from that space on the board; and,
b) you must take a tile (and associated time) BUT the infinite effect replaces the effect on the real tile.

Mind you, none of that matters because the REAL point is how tetchy the atmosphere in the room began to get as I/we attempted to clarify from the rulebook. Four out of six eras of happy, ticking-along Eurogaming began to get tense and annoyed; any suggestion that everyone was enjoying themselves (and actually LIKED a new game rather than instantly poo-pooing it) began to evaporate in a chorus of 'Hem's, 'Hurrs' and irritated mutterings.

I had emphasized (before and during) that this should be regarded as a learning game because we were always going to get SOMETHING wrong and I really want the folks to be as excited about this game as I am! It all seemed to be working out really well until the last 30 minutes when the mood turned and all that good work of the previous ninety was undone by a minor confusion: they all looked like they hated it!

Was it simple competitiveness that was souring the atmosphere ie. it doesn't matter how many times you say its 'play to learn', our instincts take over? Was it MY fault for not understanding everything, fully, in the first place; for not having complete answers to hand when required thus forcing us to delve in to the printed pages? Maybe...but then who would ever want to teach a game? Was it, therefore, the game's fault for not having a clear rule book/components? Maybe...but then I thought the rule book was EXCELLENT when I read through it because I had no questions in my own head when we started playing.

It all comes back to accepting that we will - inevitably - make mistakes and/or misread/misinterpret the printed words and/or discover ambiguities; it's no-one's, and no thing's, fault in particular. Saying that, I feel deflated and sad because I fear one tiny bad apple has (yet again, for some) spoiled an otherwise fantastic barrel.


Gentes are Gentes.
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Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:00 am
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Soap & Water

Anthony Boydell
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I hear that Alan Moon has upset the Dice Tower applecart by telling a dirty joke during a GenCon interview, causing it to excised from the pure, white linen of the Vaselian podcast. Here is a variation of the joke the TTR mogul (allegedly) spouted:

There was a boy standing on a corner selling fish and he was calling out "Dam fish! Dam fish for sale, dam fish for sale!" with great enthusiasm. A Vicar, passing by, walked up to the youngster and asked "Why are you calling them 'dam fish'?".

The boy replied; "I caught them at the Dam, so that makes them 'dam fish'""

The Vicar chuckled and bought some; when he got home, he asked his wife to cook the 'dam fish'. His wife looked at him in bewilderment and said, "The Clergy aren't supposed to talk like that." The Vicar explained the 'dam fish' story and she agreed to cook them. When supper was ready, laid out upon the dining table and everyone was sitting down, the Vicar asked his son to pass him the 'dam fish' and his son immediately replied, "There you go...now pass me the fucking potatoes!".


Nothing to get your skimpy panties in a twist about there, is there? After all, it could've been worse:

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Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:00 pm
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You've got to go away to come back

Anthony Boydell
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I can't resist stopping off along the way when journeying home from my Cambrian travels and, with the sun high in the sky, it seemed churlish not to gaze wistfully at rushing water from an iconic, 400 year old bridge:


Llangollen, Denbighshire: As it was then (18th century)...



...as it is today yesterday (plus something railway-related, natch).

To add figurative chocolate sprinkles and an extra squeeze of raspberry sauce to my Thursday, I found the following goodies waiting in the library room upon my domiciliary ingress:



That's the weekend sorted, then!
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Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:50 am
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Life's a beach and then you (roll a) die

Anthony Boydell
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I'm working away in the Northern reaches of Wales while its still Summer in the UK and a traditional Tuesday evening is gaming-free; instead it is reserved for a cinema trip, supper and a walk of some kind. This week, having lost myself in the visual tsunami of Unicorn vomit that is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets* and possessed of a belly full of all-you-can-eat toffee beef with noodles and with temperatures in the sticky mid-20s (scorching for the UK), I wandered across -and-along the tide-out Llandudno beach; I say 'beach', but it's really more of a rock-strewn graveyard of jellyfish corpses and torn aluminium drinks cans. The tide was turning, however, so I creaked to the end of a lonely jetty and contemplated the bleak view of the Irish Sea:


(from L to R): Scruffy shores; a scruffy selfie; some scintillating souvenir shops and a sad, sobering seascape.


An excess of salt in the air, and in my buffet supper, had given me a rabid thirst so I retreated to the B&B with armfuls of cheap squash from the supermarket and sweated myself to sleep. Wednesday dawned as warm but, thanks to the clear blue, nowhere near as humid; thus, for the rest of the day, would it remain and made my usual drive over to Prestatyn a windows-down/face-breezy delight. Two days and two distinctly-different seaside experiences:


(clockwise from top L): A soft (if sweary) strand; a starving seagull sprog; a satisfied sunny shoreline selfie and some splendid sandcastles.


Having clambered across the be-barnacled sea-break boulders, pretending I was leaping precarious ravines and scaling Himalayan heights like I did when I was a nipper, I found regular Prestatyn club-attendee Ed perched on a bench and fart-arsing about with his iPhone trying to log in to BGG. We chatted for a short while then made our way to the Pub for our raison d'être ici:

Just the five of us and Ed, being the nominated Chooser Of The Week, chose Istanbul; this is a game I have managed to avoid playing and/or seeing played up until now, so it was eyes down for some Yokohama-inspiring dobber-chaining, resource collection and ruby exchanging. Disconcertingly, Ed was four rubies up while the rest of us were still on one apiece but - sportingly - he let us all catch up a bit before nailing the last one (we played with the Coffee expansion which extends the winning line from 5 to 6, apparently) for an insta-win.



To finish, with a realistic maximum of 90 minutes remaining, we all agreed to try some speed Scythe; everyone knows it very well, so we managed a tussle-filled session with even a few minutes to spare! The haste compromised our decision-making somewhat - as you'd expect - but it was a fine old time had by all and the scores were all daftly-close at the reckoning**.

Life is, indeed, a beach and then you (roll a) die.

*I really enjoyed its bonkers visual storytelling and ambition; then again, I'm big fan of Moebius, The Incal and The Fifth Element so it is no surprise.
**Apart from Jeremy who, true to form, ran out of steam and figuratively face-planted once again.
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Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:50 am
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FLGS 39 (Interrupt)

Anthony Boydell
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Door: *ding-a-ling-a-dong ding dong ding*

Cashier: (he is watching a woodlouse crawling slowly across the desk - a Carcassonne meeple is balanced on it’s segmented, chitinous back – and muttering) Go on, my beauty!

Customer: Good morn-

Cashier: (looks up and interrupts) Oh good morning, Sir!

Customer: -ing, shop-

Cashier: (continuing) How can I help?

Customer: -keeper. Um…

(there is an awkward pause)

Customer: Er, yes; I was wondering if you had a copy of King-

Cashier: (jumping in) King of Tokyo?

Customer: No, er, King -

Cashier: King Brick?

Customer: No, um, King -

Cashier: ‘King get to the point?

Customer: Kingdomino

Cashier: Kingdomino?

Customer: Yes; the game that’s just won –

Cashier: (jumping in) of a series like those Escape room games?

Customer: No, just won –

Cashier: - tired Euro mechanic after another?

Customer: No, just won –

Cashier: - derful?

Customer: Just won the Spiel des Jahres!

Cashier: Oh.

Customer: Have you got it?

Cashier: No. Sorry. Was there anything else I could help you with?

Customer: Well, I was hoping I might pick up –

Cashier: (interrupting) – the local radio station?

Customer: No, pick up –

Cashier: - a penguin? (points to a display of chocolate bars and biscuits)

Customer: No, pick up –

Cashier: - a pretty, young gentleman to spend the evening with?

Customer: Pick up something else.

Cashier: Oh.

Customer: Can you recommend anything?

Cashier: (glances down at the woodlouse) Not really, no. You see: I don’t normally work here. I’m just standing in –

Customer: (interrupts) – the local by-election?

Cashier: No, standing in –

Customer:– a pool of your own urine?

Cashier: No, standing in –

Customer: – “Stan Dingin”? That’s your name: Stan Dingin?

Cashier: No, standing in for a friend.

Customer: Oh. Well, in that case, I think I’ll go somewhere else (he leaves)

Cashier: Fair –

Customer: - Enough?

Cashier: No. Fair cough then, yuh bastud.
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Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:30 am
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“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

Anthony Boydell
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Courtesy of the good folk at the Snowdonia Dragons club (Conwy Golf Club, North Wales - yes, I am traveling with work again), I finally got to play a real game of Anachrony. Since my 'swapsies' with Dávid Turczi at the UK Games Expo, the huge box (along with it's companion containing sculpted exosuits + expansion) has been languishing in the library room blocking out the light and putting an unbearable strain on an already-knackered raised parquet floor (see here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/27788/ee-eck-ma-its-p...).



It is, despite the swathes of chittage, iconography and almost-luminous art direction, a very mechanically-simple worker placement game at heart; the frustration fun comes from trying to line everything up at the right time...though that time might be a few rounds ago, er...

In summary: power up suits to allow worker placement in 'the Capital' and/or use workers on 'local' actions you have built (buildings). Resources are gained (extra workers, materials, research tokens), buildings (and special buildings) are built and water is spent like money to help everything gel together. Workers come in three basic flavours (Admin, Engineers and Scientists) and a wild-card fourth type: 'genius'; actions - both in the capital and on your own board - are (mostly) key-ed to worker types, some performing better than others on a given action.

The neat twist is the time travel mechanism: the ability to get extra resources from 'off the board' by borrowing stuff from 'the future' and then gaining points for paying it back later to avoid paradoxes OR travelling back in time to build superprojects that we couldn't build at the time because the resources hadn't been collected in the future yet, er...

The main board actions also change after 4 rounds when an asteroid hits and the game enters a final phase of three further rounds maximum; hopefully you will be able to achieve some VP-scoring goals on your character card when you take your final 'Evacuate' action.


Thematically, Anachrony is spot-on and, despite dripping cartouches from every square inch of board space, is very intuitively presented. It's a lot of fun lining up your timey-wimey ducks and then letting them bounce about the continuum, quacking and honking out victory points! An odd and twisted game, for sure, but a total blast; I look forward - or should that be 'I looked back'? - to playing/having played this again soon, er...
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Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:30 am
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Old Before My Time

Anthony Boydell
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Ahoy there, m'hearties! (no particular reason for the nautical salutation)

The spoils of Sunday morning's trek around the Ledbury Car Boot Sale!


Transformers and Lego for Arthur, a tin Hornby carriage and other ephemera for mi'sen. A "funny" thing also happened while snapping an hilarious pic for a 'Scythe' joke...


"Woot! I picked up 'Scythe' for a quid at my local car boot sale!"

...the lady vendor spied Arthur messing with some rusted bolt cutters and said to him: "Be careful; you could knock your Granddad out (she looked at me) with those!".

Granddad?!

F*cking GRANDDAD?!!!!

angry

And, besides, it's a sickle so the Scythe joke fell flat anyway.
Oh, the ignominy.

Cheap ice-creams for dessert and then it was home to walk the dog:


Around and along the canal: Newent to Oxenhall and back via a Daffodil Line bridge.

Quite a civilized way to spend a Sunday...for an old man
*mutter*grumble*FFS*murmur*grouch*grizzle*mutter*
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Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:05 am
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Ouchies!

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It's been a complicated, cross-referencing, cut-and-pasting, Ctrl-S on a row-by-row basis spreadsheet kind of week and I emerged from this cellular Hell mid-PM on Friday. Sometimes, when I'm concentrating REALLY hard, I forget my seating posture and my shoulders get all tight; this tension migrates down my spine and settles in my lower back and then it's all pain spasms and grunting. Being a sunny/bakey sort of afternoon, I decided to exercise the muscular twinges away by taking Arthur and the dog out for a circumferential to Newent walk; as it happened, we also needed sweets and to post some more The Cousins' Wars*.


Sunny day + Freshwater + New Shoes = Paddling Time!


With just the three of us at home (me, Mrs B and Arty) there would be no chips for supper; instead it was gluten-free tortellini (beetroot & gorgonzola) and stuffed-crust pizza. Still moving about tentatively - and carrying only a light load for my first RoW club night in a while - I made my way to The Plough Inn. We were moved to a side room (thanks to a huge Wake congregation filling the rest of the Bar and spilling out in to the back lawn), which was just big enough to accommodate the five of us (the 'usual' plus Nick, a friend of the Batesons) and Jobbers' Pollack-ed pasting table. To start? Something from Boffo's 'pile of shame': Thief's Market.


Draft or steal dice - buy VP stuff or die manipulation stuff - repeat and add it all up.


In summary: A pool of dice are rolled - each depicts the four gem types, a VP icon and a 'gold coin' icon. The start player selects any number of dice for their own; the next player can either select (any number of) dice from the pool OR steal (all) those already claimed by another player (and the Start Player marker if that's in front of them too) - if they do the latter, they must return at least one of the stolen dice (or the SP marker) to the central pool. Proceed until all of the players have some dice in front of them. THEN use your collected dice to buy a card or trade in for VPs or gold coins. Gold coins are 'wild' gems.

When the card row cannot be refreshed to 'full', the game ends and each totals up their VPs on cards and chits; additional VPs are awarded to the 'most gold' and 'most person cards' players.


Thief's Market is a pleasant enough take on the dice-drafting mechanic but we - in this first game - played the bit about 'stealing the SP marker too' wrong ie. the marker stayed with the SP for the round and we just rotated it left; this made for a frustratingly inevitable series of round resolutions and I was hating it. The ache in my coccyx made me especially grumpy and I was all for abandoning and moving on to something else (ie. something better); I went to the bar to refresh my drink and that little bit of exercise eased and relaxed me enough to return with an inclination to play it again BUT, THIS TIME, RIGHT! The others, sniggering in to their hands, jokingly suggested we play again (not aware of my Damascan revelation) to get me to go off on a rant or something - but were surprised (and subdued) by my immediate agreement/acquiescence!

The second game was much, MUCH better and much more fun! The SP marker did, indeed, bounce around the table and the whole dynamic of drafting/stealing and who-gets-to-buy-first-ing was immensely improved! Like it's thematic sibling, Harbour, Thief's Market provides a lot of fun and interest in a compact (physical and playing time) package! A RoW thumbs-up...eventually!

With El Grande and A Nice Cup of Tea to hand, we decided instead that something classic and re-playable in the time remaining was best for our guest: thus, it could only be 7 Wonders for the rest of the evening:



Game 1 was a 'learner' to get Nick up to speed - I plumped for heavy science but got beaten up a little too much and lost out to Jobbers by a few points. Game 2 saw me going for green again, but with even less success. With forty minutes to go, a half-hearted query "Again?" brought the Boffonian retort: "Seeing as it's out, we might as well play with it" which, naturally, had me in howling stitches of both mirth AND pain, mixed. Stoutly refusing to rise to my bait, Boffo prepared our third 'table' and I was gifted the Pyramids of Giza: I focused on successfully building:
i) it
ii) my military, and
iii) as many blue cards as I could get that didn't interfere with points (i) and (ii)
...for an unassailable 67 points.

Upon returning to the warm bosom of Casa Boydell, it seems that Mrs B and Arthur had had their own games evening:



Glorious games had, temporarily at least, helped me forget my lumbar aches but - as I climbed the wooden hill to Bedfordshire - it seemed 'gingerly' is going to be the main adverb for the weekend: ouchies!

*They're going very fast, you know; I'm not convinced we'll have enough to support Spiel in 9 weeks time! www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk/shop
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Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:40 am
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