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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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Rollin'

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Look what arrived at Surprised Stare Games HQ yesterday:


Our 2017 promo pack 'Rolling Stock #1'!

It will be available at UK Games Expo and Essen Spiel and, probably, through other channels at some point (yet to be confirmed).
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Wed May 3, 2017 6:35 am
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W.I.P.2

Anthony Boydell
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(whispers) It's very, very early but I'll already be on the road to North Wales AGAIN; so here's something to look at until tomorrow.

I have been working with someone, rather intensely, these last few weeks on revisiting and revamping my Snowdonia spin-off big-box game A Nice Cup Of Tea. It was intended as a bigger, grander expansion for Snowdonia but has morphed somewhat in to it's own beast! With many alarming similarities to the 'final tweaking' process that I went through with the original Snowdonia, we have been playing and fine-tuning various elements and - this weekend - looking at a full shuffle of the components and, in particular, the board itself:







It is, to its ancestor, as Age of Industry is to Brass but kind-of/sort-of in reverse ie. getting more specific rather than becoming more 'generic'. ANCOT is coming along a treat; hopefully more news soon!
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Tue May 2, 2017 6:05 am
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...then it's back to work A-G-A-I-N

Anthony Boydell
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The plan, such as it was, was to get out in the garden today (Monday) seeing as its yet another Public Holiday (we are in one of those years when they all come in succession); as it turned out, I made it in to the garden, raked up a load of leaves and set another bonfire alight while everyone else sheltered indoors. When the sun came out it was lovely; when it hid behind the black clouds, it was cold and wet. Still, the flames kept a-burnin'.

Having inhaled a huge cloud of smoke, I coughed my way up the garden in an April shower (late again!) and decided some games around the kitchen table would be a much better idea...at least until it was time for me to take all the boys to see the 1730 showing of Guardians of the Galaxy 2:



Immensely popular on the iPhone, it's been years since my physical copy of Take it Easy! made it to the table and Arthur managed exactly 100 in his first ever go.

To follow, with Benedict's pal Peter about too, it seemed entirely appropriate to break out The Black Overcoat Game (B.O.G): my first ever completed-and-prototyped design from waaaaaaaaaay back in the early 1990s.

Move about, find things and attempt to get three pieces of the treasure map: first to reach the treasure 'room' is the winner



The card-combos and silly situations kept us chuckling for the 45 minutes (game 1) which was won by Benedict - 'possessing' me at the time and guiding my whole turn to his nefarious ends. Game 2 went just a little longer and ended up with Mrs B knowing the treasure's location, calling everyone to an 'Event' in the adjacent room and then wandering next door for the victory! Mrs B is very good indeed at B.O.G and her reward was to be left in peace for 3 hours while the rest of us sodded off to the Cinderford Palace Theatre.
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Mon May 1, 2017 9:39 pm
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Toppermost of the Poppermost?!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:38 am
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The Visitors

Anthony Boydell
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Another Friday, another sunny day that - after email filtration and a couple of conference calls - afforded Mrs B and myself the rare chance to nip out for a spot of lunch. However, the café at a nearby Garden Centre was rammed to the Werthers Originals with septuagenarians and it was too late to turn back and try and find somewhere else; elbowing our way through the clouds of Lilac eau-de-toilet and frizzy blue rinses, we managed to order a Coronation Chicken baguette and a Lasagne before the queue settled itself in for the afternoon. Later, having scooted to the chip shop for the usual Friday repast, Mrs B let loose for the weekend with a well-deserved glass of wine:


(Courtesy of our daughter Daisy, another kitchen item designed to imply that Mrs B has the physical stature of a Borrower)


After dropping a couple of the boys off in Gloucester, it was straight over to Ross-on-Wye and The Prince of Wales; we were on a promise of a visit from the Oxford Burnhams (Stu, Mrs B and the irreplaceable William), who - without regard for their own welfare - had taken it upon themselves to commit to a three hour round trip just to see us: this is generosity of spirit above-and-beyond 'the call'! Having arrived thirty minutes early, I dibs-ed the light corner and watched a fat bloke waddle in to the Beer Garden for a smoke; with great effort, he heaved his bulk on to the picnic table and sucked the Lambert&Butler from tip to filter in three breaths: sweet Gordon Bennett:

("Gordon Bennett!" is an expression of incredulity which alludes to the outrageous behaviour of the American sportsman, publisher and all-round hell-raiser James Gordon Bennett Jr. The expletive Gordon Bennett appears to be a minced oath ie. it is a version of Gor blimey, which is itself a euphemistic version of God blind me.")

Boffo and Smudge rolled up dead-on-time, followed by Jobbers - silently slipstreaming Boffo's enormous package - and a cluster of lycra-ed cycling enthusiasts. As the sweaty pedal-merchants settled adjacent, waxing lyrically upon 'long climbs' and 'cleats' and 'burning thighs', Jobbers launched in to a short diatribe about how much he hates cyclists having just taken up the hobby himself. Fortunately, before he could wind himself up to a proper frothing rant, the splendid Burnhams appeared: thank the good Christ.

RoW irregular Gary also joined us for a belated birthday celebration so he got choose - as is the club's custom - and Table 1 plumped for Keyflower (Mrs B, Boffo, Billy and Garry) leaving the rest of us (Stu, Smudge, Jobbers and me) to be introduced to Feld's Bruges. Now, I am a bit of a recent Feld denier and have found everything post-Castles of Burgundy to be a tortuous tornado of chit-laden flatus BUT Stu's recent blogmentions had me very much intrigued:


(from L to R) The main board; Garrry's in-game looky-likey; and my final tableau


In summary: it's multi-function cards and several - but not too many - ways to score. Lots of little decisions and a pleasing puzzle to solve.

I loved it! Much of our attention was on 'veteran' Stu, who had built himself a Villains' Row of shady characters (thieves, assassins, cyclists), and we missed Jobbers' quiet accumulation of phat pointage until the final reckoning: he announced his total first then sat back on his laurels...only to have missed out on at least three of the scoring categories and just kept moving his dobber further and further forward!

The other table had entered the Winter of their 'Dis-key-tent' (see what I did there?), so we broke the seal on my copy of Brett J. Gilbert's Fish Frenzy: set collection via bounce-out auctions (see below). Jobbers seemed willfully-unable to understand the (very) simple rules so, after a couple of run-throughs I basically resorted to reading from the rulebook verbatim. Boffo, at this time, managed to spin his Keyflower actions with heckles.

It was all-change (after Jobbers came away with the most fish), having finished synchronously, so we threw Smudge and Stu off to play Glass Road (with Boffo and Garrrry) in exchange for Mrs B and Willikins. There was a passing thought that we'd plump for Isle of Skye but my mention of New Bedford - and whaling ("with an aitch" proffered an ever-helpful Boffo) - pricked up the ears of both Burnhams:


From little fish to big mammals!


Karen was having no little trouble with a pair of woefully-tiny dobbers so, gallantly, I got out something bigger; it gave me great pleasure to see her handling a piece almost three times the size of Boffo's. And speaking of size, Bill-Bill rather ran away with the game after landing both the Blue Whale AND Moby Dick and being a regular visitor to my Brickyard to fund their 'processing'.



It was nearly time to go home but there was just enough minutes to split and Braggart or High Society. Garrrrrrrry and Stu shuffled over to replace Mrs B and Jobbers for daft storytelling; amusingly (at least to me), I told both of the rulebook 'misprint' that neglects to say "Players must not build a brag that results in harm to Simon, The Lonely Ogre". Garrrrrrrrrrrrry, incredulous, exclaimed "How did they manage to miss that TWICE?!" and looked on in dismay before I told him it was a wind up. Stu won comfortably - a full 20 points ahead of his nearest boasting rival.

And so to bed.

Bags were packed, glassed stacked and Jobbers bade a cheery farewell; just as he approached the door, I called out "Don't hit any cyclists on the way home, now!". Oh my stars! This playful quip unleashed a tirade of effin-and-jeffin' that would shame 'The Thick Of It's Malcolm Tucker! Un-phased by our increasing laughter, Jobbers ranted and raged about the time he hit a deaf pedaller; poor Boffo was turning purple and howling in his hilarity - I feared he might've been having a cardiac arrest - and the rest of us ached and wiped our streaming eyes. The man is a bloody maniac...but he's OUR bloody maniac!



Thanks, then, to our Oxfordian pals - we shall return the favour in the coming months!

BTW Happy International Tabletop Day.
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Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:49 am
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Jean Genial

Anthony Boydell
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*phew* Another week bites the dust.

Finally able to extricate myself from the attentions of nervous and needy staff, I pulled away from the Llandudno office and - at the 'big roundabout' - decided that today (Thursday) I'd go straight on down the A5 through Llangollen. It's a green and pleasant route that's mercifully quiet this time of year and, about halfway along, rumbles past the Rhug Estate:

Quote:
Rhug Estate, Corwen in Denbighshire is the main estate and home of Lord Newborough. The present house was built in 1799 and extended by Charles Henry Wynn when he reached 21 years of age when he became absolute owner. In 1911, Rhug Hall had 60 rooms with 14 servants living in. The present Lord Newborough, the 8th Baron inherited the estate on the death of his father who, by all accounts, was a rather eccentric character: a Boy's Own war hero who made five trips to evacuate troops from Dunkirk, blew up the German docks at St. Nazaire and ended up in Colditz! After the war he returned to farming; he died in Istanbul in 1998 and his ashes were shot out of an 18th-century cannon.


I mention this in passing because, through my paternal line, Lord Newborough is a distant cousin (!); I am related to a country nob and no mistake*. Thus, stopping off at the Estate is really just a 'family visit', isn't it?

The Estate, as you would expect given the way British history works, has it's own Chapel and - with cramping calves - I pulled in to the grounds for a leg-stretching nosey. The Chapel is now maintained by Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environmental service, and for the princely sum of £4 I was granted admission:


From the outside, it's small and tidy and unremarkable...



...but on the inside...



...the roof is incredible...



...the panels on the walls, all unique, are sublime...



...the paintings...



...the ceiling panels...



...and the Angels!


I was the only person on the site apart from 'Jean', the Liverpudlian receptionist, who nipped off - as soon as I'd paid - to the Vestry for a warmed-up chicken tikka masala. When I'd soaked my eyes to saturation with the ornate, medieval beauty (see above) I returned to the gift shop whereupon 'Jean' started a conversation that looked like it would never stop! Hardly able to get a word in edgeways, 'Jean' narrated her life story to my polite nods and 'hur-hum's; the poor flower, trapped eight hours a day in a silent pre-Seasonal tourist attraction, was evidently starved of human interaction...and she wasn't letting me go without a (verbal) fight!

Eventually, with still a good three hours of travelling ahead of me, I took my leave and bade this genial prisoner farewell. Looking back on the photos, there are many worse places to be stuck in for one's job! Rhug Chapel is a real gem.

*awaits inevitable Boffonian/enoonian interjection
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Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:00 pm
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Three more castles

Anthony Boydell
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Longer than I would've liked, this working Wednesday was troubleshooting and yakketty-yakking and general brain-mushing interrogations until, later than I'd planned, I managed to escape to The Escape with barely enough time to climb in to a pair of slacks and eff-off back on to the road again for some Prestatyn Gamin' Lovin'. In a ridiculous contrast to the previous evening's precipitating ice storm, I needed the windows wound down to keep me from suffocating in the heat as I rumbled along the A55 for my mid-week fix.

Supper, after building a quick sandcastle on the beach - the tide being so far out it was lapping against itself on the shores of the Isle of Man - was a beetroot, bean and grainy pulse affair from Marks & Spencers served (my own recipe, this) with a garnish of Melton Mowbray Pork Pie: scrumptious! Washed down with a mango compote and a bag of beef-and-onion crisps, this made for a Kingly (if calorific) dish.



Two tables of six tonight saw Philip (this week's Selector) desperate to learn The Castles of Burgundy so, nobly, I skipped a chance of a first play of Anachrony (with Yv and Mark and Ed) to be 'Teacher'. My golden rule with CoB is 'take Mines' because if you don't have mines, you don't win (access to silverling-bought tiles is awesome); many, many games on boiteajeux.net has taught me this. I failed to take any mines throughout and Philip won rather comfortably (with three of them).

The time-travelling, pool-table hoggers were still only-just reacting to the arrival of the asteroid so Daffydd picked Caylus from Philip's bag. During the run through, both Philip and I emphasised the unimportance and pointlessness of the universally-derided 'Gate' action, only for Daffydd to pick it as his first (ever) placement and then use it to fuck me over over with a 'three spaces back' Provost recall. Hilarious though this (obviously) was, it served to relieve Philip of early pressure thus gifting him the entire game 90 minutes later; indeed, had Daffydd made a sensible, non-contrary joke assignment (an indisputably witty play) he may well have set in chain a series of actions that could've resulted in a virgin victory for himself. I'll not dwell on the incident - comedy 'gold' though it was - but suffice it to say that he spoiled it for everyone and, effectively, Kingmaked Philip to a comfortable win. His fault, not mine. Ahem. When we looked up from the wreckage of our magnificent construction, everyone else had gone home apart from Yvonne who - silent but cheerful - was solo-ing Terraforming Mars in the corner.

A fine evening.
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Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:20 am
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Ice Cold In Llandudno

Anthony Boydell
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Work colleague Craig, and myself, returned from a day's system support to glorious sunshine at the B&B. Ah, how we basked in the Spring glow as we ambled up the stepped gardens, admired the tadpoles wriggling through the quiet-fountained pond and aurally-delighted in the twittering of birds.

Half an hour later, as we set out to hike to the Iron Age village promontory, we were caught in a blizzard of hailstones and a wind cold enough to freeze the piss in your bladder! Cursing, we scuttled to the Cottage Loaf pub for a warming burger and pint of fizzy, fermented apple juice. Finally feeling our fingertips and toes once more, we determined to exercise our full bellies with a walk along the Llandudno pier, hoods up and teeth a-chattering, in the chill sunset.


Peering up the Pier: no fisherman, or jellyfish, at the end.


Oddly, in the far distance, through the forest of windmills, I could see Rhyl and Prestatyn bathed in a Summer's glow of their own - in stark contrast to our Arctic ambulation. Bugger.

The beach, shadowed by the Great Orme, laughed coldly at our frozen faces as the tide rolled in:




Still a beautiful vista, though.
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Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:15 pm
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Whales in Wales

Anthony Boydell
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After such a lovely weekend, basking in the sunshine and mooching about the garden, it was a proper chore to have to drive back to North Wales for work; the Easter holidays are over for the boys too so, luckily, I got to drop Arthur off at school first. No sightseeing on the journey, it was as quickly as possible to the office to support the latest 'go live' and deliver (even) more training. Ho-diddley-hum; money may make the world go around BUT rhubarbing on to business support staff about task queues and RAG statuses certainly hoovers up the afternoon in the blink of an eye so, as is my routine, it was back to the B&B for a quick-change then supper watching the fat gulls scrounge on the Conwy quayside. Blazing and blue the great Arch may have been above me but there was one Hell of a breeze gusting in off the Irish Sea; the Touran was a-rockin'*

The board gamers were squeezed in to one half of the restaurant bar because - shock! horror! - now that the weather had brightened up, everyone and his Father-in-Law/Boss/Probation Officer had come out to twat white balls around 100 acres of reclaimed silt. No matter, Ed and Aaron and Tim and myself bagsied the window seats and set up Mr Alan Paull's criminally-overlooked (but highly-regarded by those in-the-know) Confucius:


Halfway through clear-up, I remembered I needed to snap the board state: note me (purple) in a criminally picked-on last place.



My action: sail to distant lands for this fabulous Emperor's reward card.
Aaron's action: send his army in to the last Invasion tile space.
My action: Swear and sulk and curse and moan and grumble.


I know how to play it in my head but stumbled through letting everyone else know; Aaron remembered bits from a while back too so, between us, we managed to piece things together for the other two. Playing pace was brisk and there was much giving and receiving of gifts which lead to the inevitable "What? I have to pay for YOUR candidate in the examination rather than mine...because you slipped me this f**king gift?! Damnit!" and so on. Aaron ran away with it all, in the end, but it was fun to give the old hoss a new airing. Funnily, Confucius was recently higlighted as "a hidden gem of board gaming" on Geek and Sundry (!):

http://geekandsundry.com/3-hidden-gems-of-board-gaming-you-s...

(time to give it a Twenteens facelift and a reissue, surely?!)


Ed and Tim lagged behind for a chat and then we suddenly found ourselves the only ones not 'in a game' so, naturally, we put ourselves 'in a game' and I chose the "something in about an hour" New Bedford:


I managed to 'land' three of the four KS promo tiles, thanks to my 'furthest out' little ship, plus a sack load of cash (from stolen goods via the Chemist Shop) and a VP-rich Seamen's Bethel for a (first ever) game-winning 26 points!


I meandered about the room, after Tim left, and managed to blag a three-player Linko! with Dewi and Denise. Apparently, Dewi has only lost at this once so it was extra-pleasing to hold him to a 40-40 tie after three rounds! My seven 1s were followed by, yes, _his_ seven 2s and he let me take them back (!); I played them again next turn, unchallenged, leaving me four 8s to end the round and steal his almost-certain victory away from him: huzzah!

I needed a toothbrush, so drove around for a bit in the hurricane until I found a 7-11; confusingly, when I parked up at the B&B - in the shadow of the Great Orme - the air was as still as a mouse's millpond. Where had all that angry air gotten to? I'll be blowed if I know.

*consequently, no-one came a-knockin'
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Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:35 am
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A Castle For All Seasons

Anthony Boydell
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Goodrich Castle, April 2017.

This is the castle that I've probably visited the most in my life: on school trips, both before and after my family had moved up the Wye Valley from Newport; on cider-drinking, school-bunking afternoon's off from the Sixth Form; and, countless times, with our own - and extended - families.

It's a brilliant place; sunk in to a square 'well' on the hill, it overlooks the River Wye on two sides and has everything one could possible want from a visitable castle:
A dry moat? Check!
Towers you can climb to the top of? Check!
A dungeon you can go in? Check!
Spiral staircases by the dozen? Check!
A restored Chapel? Check!
A deep, DEEP Well? Check!
A cannon and some cannon balls? Check!
Outbuildings? Check!
Big rocks you can climb? Check!
Battlements you can walk along? Check!
Garderobes? Checketty-check-check-check!

It's just perfect...and only 15 miles down the road!

On this occasion, we met up with Mrs B's cousin and her family (whose parents live just a 10 minute walk up the hill a bit further) and took the same paths, scrambled over the same rocks and wobbled vertiginously at the top of the same towers as we ever did:
























Naturally, once we had had our fill (this time) of goodly Goodrich, it was off to the Uncle/Aunts for tea and hot crossed buns. Oh, and Arthur discovered the joys of sliding, face-first, down a staircase on one's belly:


He's such a special child.
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Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:30 am
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