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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speaking in tongues

Anthony Boydell
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In case you might have missed it, here's this week's 5 Games 4 Doomsday featuring a superb interview with Inka Brand...but there's a twist: Inka and Ben have been chatting in German and Ben, with the help of a voiceover artist, has translated and overlaid the conversation!



I can't think of any other hobbygame-related output that has attempted this before, so all kudos to Ben (and his pal) for putting the work in!

It's also (as usual) a fantastic interview.
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Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:31 pm
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The noise that a train makes?!

Anthony Boydell
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A couple of weekends ago, in that moment just after waking, I wiped the 'sleep' from my eyes and scanned the bedroom. I stopped at the Steam Railways 2018 wall calendar (which was still on August, of course) and as my gaze passed along the sleek, shiny length* my mind transposed the carriages and the track to a line of cards with carriages upon them and then, immediately - because the brain's algorithms for memory retrieval are astonishingly-indexed and optimized - I whispered one word: "Fzzzt!". Fortunately, my sudden ejaculation failed to arouse a softly-snoring Mrs B** and I slipped out of the tangled duvet and down to the library room to retrieve my prize.

It's a constant source of vexation that Surprised Stare Games doesn't have more of a general retail presence - especially given we have a game about Ivor the Engine that seems to be like pulling teeth to get in to the Heritage Railway circuit! My Dawn inspiration offered me a smaller, lighter and more accessible avenue in the form of a trains version of Fzzzt! and, so, Fweeep! is born:



Conceptually, the 'conveyor belt' becomes the track; the robots become train carriages; the 'set icons' become 1st Class, Luggage, Dining and Freight; and the 'zaps' become 'guineas'. Easy-peasy, so let's send the files off to the printer tootie-sweetie! But, wait! Belay that impetuous order! There is still much work to be done!



You see I don't want just a straight re-theme; equally, I don't want to over-complicate things too much either - I just want to give it a vigorous polish. So, I made some tea and had a good think:



Fweeep! is absolutely-recognizable as a Fzzzt! variant albeit with a couple of minor adjustments e.g. the lower 'bid power' carriages will also come with a helpful 'When bought...' effect and I've adjusted the VP allocations a tad. I also dug out the 12 card expansion that only made it to the Russian language edition to really mix up the auction rounds. So, in a way, it should be 80% "re-issue" and 20% "re-think".

The next step is to try it out with some non-gamers to see if the theme helps engage them with the mechanics - ah, the game is afoot afweep!

Aside: I had a quick search for alternative 'whistle' onomatopoeiae for the title and was simultaneously delighted and horrified with the results:

Obviously, someone told 'em I was coming.***


*FFS, people!
**Behave!
***Infants!
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Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:15 am
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The World is, thankfully, NOT like a great big onion

Anthony Boydell
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(this post was drafted the day before the Great Monday BGG Drought)

Early September, at the edge of the Forest of Dean, sees the local Summer event season closing with the Newent Onion Fayre. The origins of the curious, backwater celebration can be found here: http://www.newentonionfayre.org/index.php/origins-of-the-oni... ...but don't go rushing off to read it because it's basically just a hangover from Britain's burgeoning 18th century, (notionally-) National Onion Festival tradition - who the Hell knew we had one of those?! Some bright sparks re-ignited the Newent branch of this bulbous nonsense in the 1990s and the streets of our little town have been filled, annually (and alliumnally), with hook-a-ducks, secondhand books and cub scout groups begging for subscriptions ever since. One end of the town is set aside for 'the fairground' where one can throw away a crisp £20 on three rides and a bag of limp candyfloss in less than half-an-hour; it was to this part of the proceedings that Arthur and I were headed. Pausing to pick up some train-related books from the Charity Shop - courtesy of letting everyone in to their storeroom (a special, annual treat) - Arty and I were pacing a big circle to 'the rides' when I spotted something, in the distance, on the main stage*:

Me: Arty? Isn't that Sam and Mark from CBBC** opening the Fayre?

Arty: (taken aback) Er...yes it is.

Turning ever-so-slightly pink of cheek, Arty followed my lead and we pushed our way to the front of the crowds as the celebs emerged from the performance area. Sam and Mark's Friday Wind-up is one of Arthur's most favourite television programmes; thus, suddenly - and without prior warning - bumping in to them in your home town was not-a-little overwhelming! Still slightly-dazed, we bumped in to pals Mel and Lily; the latter wanted to go on a couple of the rides but had failed to meet up with any of her pals, so she and Arthur paired up to be flung about the Newent skyline to a thumpingly-loud soundtrack:


From L to R: It's always nerve-wracking when you meet someone famous;
a furiously-twisting, centripetal device of torture; and,
fifty feet up on a thin-chained swing (*shudders*)


We were done. After 90 minutes, there was nothing left to see of the 2018 instantiation so we came home: Arthur settled in front of the television while I disappeared upstairs to work on my laptop*** (more of which another time). Everything had drifted in to a pleasingly-undemanding lull as the P.M. took a gentle, Autumnal curve in to evening as we awaited the arrival of our visitors. You see, with Smudge away pulling furry danglers in Cornwall, Boffo was at a loose end and so I'd invited him - and the visiting Shepherds - for an evening of curry and board games. John S. helped play-test Snowdonia: Jungfraubahn & Mount Washington five-or-so years ago and we'd already spent some quality time at the UK Games Expo so, when news of his and Avril's intended visit to our humble Town reached my ears, I felt it would be remiss not to make more of an occasion of it. So, after the pleasantries of a hot beverage and the exchanging of gifts (beers to me, a copy of Tara, Seat of Kings to them) - and with the slow-cookers sizzling with spicy delights - I effected a tour of the slightly-shabby Shed and then we repaired to the Library for the inevitable Nusfjord:


Fish, Startups and tasty ale.


There was much activity from the other players during Nussy and I feared that their various combos were going to cast my own efforts in to shadow; however, I made sure to keep up with their tableaus and what they could - and couldn't - potentially do - this meant I sneaked a couple of actions ahead of John as he was pushing his luck whereas I wasn't! The 35-to-late twenties final scores belied the seven rounds of argy-bargy but everyone seemed happy enough - including Avril, for whom this was a debut.

Having foisted MY current favourite upon John (et al), it was his turn to reciprocate with Startups. It's sort-of No Thanks meets Rummy with a dash of Coloretto and it was fun enough though, really, I'm with Boffo on the Oink Games thing: I've never really enjoyed them as much as I'd hoped. I did rather well (until the final round when Avril stole the win) without really knowing what I was doing, but it was an happy-enough distraction.

Supper had provided a lip-smacking, belly-busting, taste-exploding interlude between rounds 1 and 2 (of 4) of Startups and by the time we'd wrapped up the game, everyone else was up for games - so we decamped to the kitchen table:



We had nine for Dixit, in six teams, and it was utterly-fantastic; it's been a LONG time since this one troubled our attentions and we've been all the poorer for it: sixty-seven percent of the players being 'lightly-refreshed' may also have helped. The lights went off for a rowdy couple of games of Nacht der Magier with at least half of the turns in any game going on longer than normally-allowed due to the 'clack' of an invisibly-toppled piece being drowned out by the incessant jabbering! (I shall write to my M.P.). And then we closed with the ever-dependable Codenames.

Boy, did we ever close with it! Due to driving commitments, John and Avril had stopped drinking so the rest of us made up the shortfall in elbow-swinging activity and the whole thing morphed in to a beautiful, noisy denouement! It was close to midnight by the time J&A beetled off up the M50 for some peace-and-quiet, Boffo was safely installed with a mattress and a good book and everyone else - including an all-of-a-tizzy/pee-on-the-tiles Ziggy - were a-bed.

A thoroughly heart-warming hoot!

(Aside: Be sure to read here for some background and an alternative view: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/81112)

*a flatbed trailer with a tarpaulin over the top and a tractor parked around the back with it's engine running to keep the generator turning.
**Childrens' BBC.
***NOT a euphemism.
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Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:15 am
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Death of a Gamer - 16

Anthony Boydell
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Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:40 am
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Bad Mood Bears

Anthony Boydell
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Friday night at The Plough Inn was a tetchy affair and no mistake. Becky is away - tugging a Little Bob and fingering a Sally - but Gary was joining us (yet again!). Gary had requested a couple of items which - given he tends to end up playing whatever Ben, John or I pick - seemed polite to acquiesce to. First up was Kashgar: Merchants of the Silk Road:



In summary: It's another 'take actions to collect stuff and cash it in against orders for veeps'-er with an alternative take on the action selection mechanism. You have three 'Patriarch' cards that head up their own column of action cards; the card at the 'head' of the column is the action you can utilise. The Patrician lets you draw cards and add one to the 'back' of his column BUT after the Patriarch: a 'used' card goes to the back of the column ('caravan') too. Cue the usual 'get more stuff', search the discard pile and other vanilla bonus effects including - and this is important - the action that lets you 'sell' collected goods to take and score an Order. If you don't draw a 'fulfil an order' card then you ain't scoring anything of significance.

The game also has the 'first to X points triggers the end-game' condition and is grindingly-slow at getting to that point; sweet Christ on a punctured velocipede but there's an awful lot of nothing happening at all. The mechanic of using a Patriarch to recruit BUT PUTTING THE RECRUIT BEHIND THE PATRIARCH IN THE QUEUE (sorry: column...no, sorry, 'caravan') means you're recruiting twice before you get to use that first recruit!

Turgid; Jobbers won but agreed with me: 45 minutes of nothing.

Talking of 'turgid', the pub was entertaining - I use the word in it's "accommodating" sense - a trio of acoustic guitar strummers who chunka-chunka-chunka/slow-brushed their way through two hours of classics and killed every single one with low-volume, thin-throated and embarrassed vocals. The rhythm never varied as they moved from 'Sloop John B' to 'Blowing In The Wind' to, well, it's hard to say because they were so shy-of-voice that the three people in the audience made more noise when they hummed along!

Anyway, back to games: hopes rose when Kingdom Builder spattered across Jobbers' viscously-ribboned bench and the first of the two games was a delightful reminder of how excellent this game is.



The second game, however, (still sound-tracked by the Mumbling, monotonous Simon and Garfunkels) was confused and rambling. The 'scoring conditions' were a little bumpy to retain and, indeed, one triggered a confused-and-grumpy 'discussion' when explained 'in full' after all of the work had now been completed. Not our finest hour, it brought back the ghost of our debut Gentes which put Boffo off the thing for life. All the arguing was a little ungracious given that Gary had pulled a tremendous fast one and overtaken Jobbers in the totalling-up; I'm deeply sorry about that.

Trying to overcome the sour taste of Kashgar with a proper implementation of a sophisticated card game, Jobbers pulled Bruges from my bag - a recent acquisition replete with expansion and promos - and I set to refreshing myself with the rules. We spent no more than 10 minutes on the explanation - a straightforward and logical game - though, from Boffo's snipes and sighs, you'd think it was Trick of the Rails or Al-rashid again! *Pffft*



Once we were off, it was pretty much a two horse race between myself and Boffo; Jobbers limped along almost entirely-ignoring Characters in houses, whilst Gary built lots of houses and no (useful) people. Judging from Jobbers' just swallowed a wasp expression, Bruges failed to win his approval either. So now the room is short-tempered and huffy and the terrible troubadours have effed off in to the good night...to be replaced by someone with an electric guitar and a fetish for Free's "Alright Now", which they played 30-second snippets of for the next 40 minutes. Gary, following the farcical finger-pickers, had retired leaving Jobbers and Boffo and myself to close out the evening with Nations: The Dice Game.

We played with the 'advanced' boards and were assured (by Boffo) they were balanced...only to have him win by a 15 point margin; cue: further grumbling from Jobbers. By the time I'd been for a quick piss, Jobbers had scarpered leaving a solitary Boffo to drain his glass and drag his trolley in to the car park. At the same time, the sole on my shoe had come off and hung on by a mere inch-or-so of material; this forced me to effect an exaggerated, Ministry of Silly Walks stride followed by a clacking 'slap!' every other step. A ridiculous end to a ridiculously ill-mannered evening.
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Sun Sep 9, 2018 6:15 am
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Brick & Arty

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What Arthur and I have been doing on our holidays:


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Sat Sep 8, 2018 6:30 am
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Tome; Toyou

Anthony Boydell
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Browsing the World Wide Internets, as I do on occasion, I happened upon a Twittering mentioning the Rt Hon General Sir Lord James Wallis - the loveliest and tallest designer in the known World - that snagged my attention glands:

"Georgian and Victorian Board Games: The Liman Collection book review: A beautiful coffee-table celebration of games from a bygone age" accompanied by the following link: https://www.tabletopgaming.co.uk/board-games/reviews/georgia...

I am, naturally, a complete-and-utter stooge for anything gaming that is old (I still rue not pushing ahead to win the original Diplomacy prototypes on eBay a few years back) and have accrued a bijou collection, particularly in book form. Reading James' review and then scouting through the fleshy, $Trillion folds of The Great Beast Online, I located a copy for the princely sum of £34 (cheaper than a base set of Terraforming Mars and only slightly more expensive than Terraforming Mars: Prelude - all 15 cards of it). Let me reveal, to you, some of the delights contained therein:












Crivens! Surely 'tis an early Fighting Fantasy?!



Inside Out: Das Brettspiel?!



That’s one Hell of a Start Player marker!



Crumbs! That's a bit grim!



Victoria was a bit of a hottie, eh?





I live near the bottom-left of the 'E' in 'GLOCESTER'



Brass: Birmingham can eff right off!









40 tiny cards used in one of the games...



...one of which tickled my fancy.



Scuffed, but beautiful.


Fancy a copy for yourself? I highly recommend it:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1938461436/ref=oh_aui_de...


Er, hang on a moment?!

...let us return, again, to 'the Giant'...



*Ouch!*


wow
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Fri Sep 7, 2018 6:10 am
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Hard boiled.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-45426332



Well, don't I feel f*cked ova after ordering the full cervix?
#c*ntomlettes #yEaster

Let's make a board game out of this: it's like Buckaroo!, only the equipment goes on the inside.
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Thu Sep 6, 2018 6:00 am
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a friend, in need

Anthony Boydell
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Have you seen this man?



This is Paul Grogan (Gaming Rules!).

He writes excellent rulebooks and he demos at shows tirelessly; he makes rules, play-through and review videos. He produces a regular podcast and he vlogs. He does a truly-astonishing amount for the gaming community. Turn to the credits of most of the biggest/hottest games of the last five years and you're sure to see his name there.

Today I would like to put a shout out to Paul who, in the last few months, has been under an exceptional amount of stress; he has struggled through the long hours traveling to / working at the Summers' major (global!) conventions - which is exhausting enough - but, recently, he also suffered a significant bereavement.

I want to publicly thank him for his commitment, for his professionalism and for his friendship; to know that people respect you and care about you can be tremendously supportive:

Paul - you are loved, Sir!

If you, too, would like to leave a message of support (below) then that would, of course, be completely lovely.

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Wed Sep 5, 2018 6:15 am
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Looty McBooty

Anthony Boydell
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It's the beginning of September and that means two things:
i) the weather will get markedly worse for crossing the August 31st boundary, and
ii) thanks to (i), this will be the last Ledbury Sunday Car Boot Sale of the year.

Despite this clear and orderly script, the weather resolutely contradicted the first item's rule (probably a consequent future echo of a 'No Deal' Brexit TBH) and baked us all in a grassy field for the ninety minutes it took me to zig-zag the stalls! I was headed off at the Pass for a delightful bathroom cabinet (tulip stained glass on the frontage) by a gruff 'local' who simply thrust a fiver in to the vendors palm and fucked off! Grumbling in to my shirt pocket, I navigated the baby clothes and garden machinery, the knackered vinyl and the nests of tables with nothing to call my own apart from a sweet Gruffalo card-game anthology (there is a reason for this but I'll not say 'owt for the mo), until - Sweet Baby Jesus in a Go-Cart! - I saw this:


"Free farrah pahnd, chief!" halloo-ed the chirpy 'booter' and I sunk myself in to the tattered cardboard and cracked plastic with gusto.





Half the player pieces are missing but, then again, I didn't pay £0.33 for the actual game; no, I wanted the BOX: how magnificent is that art?! When I finally get my Museum of Board Games / Eclectica together (this is one string to my retirement violin), it's gonna look so damn good on the wall of the 'Race Games' section!

As I reached the half-way point of my stuffy, slightly-fruitful parambulation, my phone went 'Ting!': 'twas a message from young Arthur back at Boydell HQ:



Alas, there were to be no further transformative discoveries but I did spot several more curios:



Only seven months until the April re-opening - unless I'm desperate to buy some discount Farm machinery in the meantime - but there'll be plenty more opportunities for acquisition therapy over the long Autumn/Winter!

In other news, I remembered to dial in to the Newent Auction Rooms online proceedings on Friday and snaffled this pair of scuffed - but gorgeous - etchings (£20 for the two):





Makes you wonder why we bothered spending money on 'nice wallpaper', don't it?!
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