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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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!

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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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Sweet Charity

Anthony Boydell
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Another weekend, another trip in to Newent for some supplies; initially, our goal was:
i) grated mozzarella cheese, and
ii) some sweets for Arthur.

I did, however, make the fatal mistake of glancing down at the plastic containers outside the biggest Charity Shop in the town and found beaucoup de livres sur les trains (la droite) and board games (la gauche)!


An unwrapped, 1st Edition Fzzzt! for 75p? Pretty useful given I seem to have given away my Library copies!
Magician's Night is a hoot, I recall, provided you can police the cheeky sods who clack the table with secreted wooden discs and claim it's YOU what done it.
There was also a Scandaroon - unwrapped FFS?! - but I've spent 10 years trying to get them OUT of my house and I'll not start bringing them back home now.

Elsewhere, for a princely single 'round' pound (no longer legal tender after 2359HRS tonight), I picked up this curious 1980s fayre:



I'll not be cutting any of those pieces out any time soon BUT its nice to look at: has anyone played these and, if so, are they any good?

Happy Sunday to you all.
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Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:50 am
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The King is dead. Long live the Queen!

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Jobbers was in an unusually-effusive mood on Friday evening; perhaps it was the result of a fresh, Autumnal afternoon walk or - more likely - having garnered a lift from fellow Much Marcler (and occasional gamer) Xander, leaving him free to quaff pints of Stowfords Press Cider in a dimpled pint glass?! No sooner had he, and his chauffeur, erected the be-spattered pasting table than the Batesons hoved in to view accompanied by the Boffonian progenitor: Judie*. Decorum required that we be on our very best behaviour in the company of an Elder...but decorum could go fuck itself and we proceeded to be as rowdy and uncouth as always.

Oddly, despite Judie having given good account of herself in Glass Road a couple of years back, Boffo had packed a satchel full of (mainly) party games: Cyrano, Codenames and Beyond Balderdash. There was a general eagerness to play the latter (despite it not being immediately-proximal to the Yuletide) but there were NO pencils in the box at all AND a paucity of paper verging on the criminal: "Well, let's play Cyrano instead" suggested Jobbers, already a couple of huge swigs in to his befuddling apple juice. Opening the box revealed more stubby red pencils than a barn-full of excited puppies and a player pad thicker than School Dinners gravy:


Hallelujah!



Left: A typical, 'hard-to-separate-anyone' start. Right: Nothing's gonna stop Smudge now!


As long-time readers of this blog will know, there is much history surrounding the Ross club and Balderdash; in all of the years of it's existence (the Club, obviously, NOT 'Balders'), I have remained unbeaten - a veritable Colossus of Bullshit. Like Bjorn Borg, Usain Bolt or Steve 'Interesting' Davis, I have worn my sporting laurels with great aplomb and dignity but all good things come to an end. After tens of sessions; after runaway leads and seemingly-impossible comebacks and pipped-at-the-posts, I was finally defeated. A less gracious loser might suggest that both Boffo and Smudge read out a few of my definitions with a deliberate awkwardness (or a wry smirk) to suggest 'this is not the correct answer'; indeed, a sour grapes merchant might point to the dubious handling of a 'player definition = the actual definition' scenario as possibly-depriving me of a point or two BUT there's no place for that unsportsmanlike behaviour in this blog! Instead, I would point to this "WORD" definition as being the torpedo that sunk my Balderdashian battleship:

Quote:
vb. Snying - pretending to sit down on a chair that's not there.


I was so distracted by this astounding and beautiful definition that I put my fingers in my ears for the other five 'meanings' and gifted Boffo a free point; fair play, my friends, not since the days of Benedict's "Pokeloken"** have I laughed so hard that I shat! So, then, the Claptrap Crown has been handed on; the Archibishop of Banterbury has lowered the Diadem of Drivel on to a younger head.

Wheezing fit to choke with the merriment of it all, we continued with something more appropriate to a so-called Games Club with Between Two Cities. I've managed to miss playing this on each RoW occasion, so enjoyed a first run-through this evening.



My house-proud, fully-stocked conurbation (shared with Judie on my right) gifted us both the joint win (though I nailed the tie-break) and it was a pleasing enough experience but, TBH, I have a hard time seeing how there's much control over anything. If I want to build a city or two, then I'd rather invest in the superlative Suburbia than in this gossamer-light tile-drafter.

We closed with Codenames but only the one round as I was on late-night Taxi duties once again. 'Twas enormous fun - especially compounded by Jobbers' profuse Cider glugging - but I hanker after more meaty fayre next week: our last session before Spiel!

*Ben brought his Mum along
**https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/9430/maunday-maunday
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Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:08 am
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It was twenty (three) years ago today...

Anthony Boydell
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...Henry Burrows taught us Devs to play!

Twenty [EDIT] three [/EDIT] years ago, I was working as a Civil Servant in Cheltenham and we were a small team working on a juicy little IT project. We were supported by a team from an external supplier and I remember the morning that I popped in to their Dev room - at the (far) end of the corridor - for our traditional start the day caffeine brew: Henry was fart-arsing about with an brownish, oblong box:



"What's THAT?" I queried, shoving another McVities Ginger Nut in to my mouth. He proceeded to give me a brief overview of a new trade-able card game called Magic: The Gathering.

"Oh that sounds interesting," I replied, "perhaps I'll stop by FORMAT* after work and pick one of those gift boxes up."

By the end of that very same week, I had bought a gift box for myself (Plateau was one of the rares) and one for my mate Rob (he got a Taiga); I'd scraped up enough spare change to pull out a few extra booster packs AND learned the "see through the thin white plastic" trick.

Within a month, we - me and Rob and Henry and Steve and Paul - were attending a weekly Monday-evening meetup at The Three Crowns pub on the opposite side of Cheltenham. There I met a chap called Vic who traded his shit rares away for our (unknown to us) much more valuable dual lands and - most importantly - Mr Alan Paull and Mr Mark Stansfield who, in conversation, revealed themselves to be "game designers".

Co-located for work, Mark and I began playing prototypes during the lunch hour and from this fecund period came "Bloody Legacy", "Coppertwaddle" and "Ivor the Engine".

I chucked in the life of a permanent employee and became a Contractor; staying in Reading, Monday-to-Friday, and now - fully addicted to M:TG - motorbiking weekly to Swindon and Hemel Hempstead and Maidenhead for Drafts. I met Peter and Russell and Richard and Jimmy and Martin and Brett and Jamie and Matt and Alice and Paul and Phil and Dave and Hazel and Claire and Keef and a hundred other gamers.

During the 15 years that I was a Magic fiend, I possessed the Power Nine on two separate occasions, got a paid gig writing comedy articles for a US web site and managed to reach the dizzy heights of 54th at the UK Nationals; it also put a strain on my marriage as well as my wallet. When, in 2008, I sort-of gave it up forever and - like giving up smoking - it has not troubled me since.

Of course, I can't (and shouldn't) hate it nor should I try and blur/rewrite the history of something that quite literally changed my life; without Henry's mundane, workplace introduction, I'd never have set out on this incredible, rewarding journey: Every Mana Needs A Shed?!

*the only place in Cheltenham to get board and card games in 1995
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Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:04 am
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Gated Community

Anthony Boydell
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I'm a lucky sausage and no mistake! Thanks to some brilliant friends what I have made in the industry, I get to see stuff early and (sometimes) I have to button my lip! About a month ago, I was sent the English rules for the expansion for The Colonists: Ante Portas. An extra pair of eyes over translated-from-the-German rules is always handy and I am proud to be a Port(as) of Call in this matter!

In summary: it is NOT more Eras! It's a couple of scenario-based ways to play the first TWO Eras: invaders on the ground OR from the air!



For more info, in German for now, go to:
http://lookout-spiele.de/2017/10/12/die-neuen-2017-die-kolon...
because it's not in the BGG database yet!

You heard it here (almost) first!
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Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:17 pm
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Make Love Not War(games)

Anthony Boydell
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If you were able to make sweet, sweet love to a board (or card) game then which card (or board) game would it be and why that game?

I would choose Cubiko: it only has one ball (though that is very bouncy) and it's soooo satisfying when one plops it in to a soft pocket. Or maybe I would choose Carcassonne: Catapult because who wouldn't want an impressive weapon beating down their ramparts? Or, perhaps, Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) because you could (comfortably) spoon with it afterwards? Then again, there's always Baseball Highlights: 2045: when you've finished playing with your deck, you could get to 3rd base? Gosh! Is it me or has it gotten hot in here all of a sudden?

#woodforwood

#iheartboardgames

#everythingyouwantedtoknowabout4Xbutwereafraidtoask
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Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:10 am
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Beer Goggles

Anthony Boydell
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The tummy tremble that accompanies every fleeting thought of an approaching Essen is tempered by the sheer clarity of my memory of catching the Ferry to Dunkerque for the last bloomin' one!

I ask myself "Where has the year gone?" and sigh in to my foamy Latte, but the thing is I do know where the year has gone and it scares the bee-cheeses out of me: life? It will get you in the end!

My 50th birthday approaches (November) and I'll be having an extended gaming weekend from the 10th to the 12th*: Friday night through to the Sunday afternoon at a local (real ale-serving) Pub with a reasonably-big back room and it'll be all back to mine for through-the-night gaming, if needed.

Actually, I'm even MORE excited because I'm working with a local brewery (http://bespokebrewery.co.uk/) to get 144 bottles of their Going off half-cocked beer delivered with a custom label:


What do you think?


Slllllp, aaah! Delicious! I may have to get another batch in time for 2018's UK Games Expo and Spiel too, no?

*if you're in the area, why not stop by?
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Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:20 am
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The Kite Runner

Anthony Boydell
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A little way from our house through the Forest of Dean, and then down the main road (immediately parallel to the River Severn) to Lydney, will find you in the grassy field and cluttered artisan workshops of Taurus Crafts. It's been a while since we needed to avail ourselves of the handicraft-ed toddler clothes and wooden toys, but we have returned for little 'Event Days' like Gifford's Circus and the amazing Illuminarium.

This weekend saw them running a Kite Festival, so we (me, Mrs B and Arthur) rummaged in the lockup/Shed for any Kites we might have lying about the place, dusted off the spiders and trundled along in the late A.M. It was quite clear but, importantly, too still to get anything up when we first arrived; mind you, our signature flyer was missing a cross-bar, so I ripped in to a nearby hedge for a suitable replacement spar:


Success!


Mrs B was cornered - pretty impressive given we were in an open field - by a Kite Bore who regaled (what he thought were) interesting tales of altitude, wind speed and the mechanics of a good launch (he ACTUALLY used the word 'trajectory'!). Seeing she was in trouble - backing slowly towards the heavily-walled Pitch 'N Putt centre - I whisked both her and young Arthur off for some lunch; when replete, we returned to find conditions much more amenable:


With only a bit of coaxing, our pink/lime dart was soon hovering in the heights!



Higher, even, than the show-off's kite!



Soul-soaringly sensational!


Arthur was completely rapt! After an hour the wind dropped and the dart drifted to the ground; we did try and launch it again but the field had become over-crowded: no room for a decent run up. There would be running of a 'Blade' kind later in the day (with the older boys) but, for now, this was a gorgeous, and refreshingly-active, way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:24 am
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He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

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I remember those halcyon days when podcasts had just become popular and we were delighted, and still are, to download hundreds of hours for nothing more than a passing fraction of our monthly broadband charge (for free, of course, if you made sure you did it using the Work Wi-Fi or went round to a mates to piggyback off her/his bandwidth). There was a brief moment when some of the more famous content providers slapped a 49p/99p charge on each iTunes episode and we exploded in a stinky bottom-cloud of bleating outrage...but it didn’t last long and we were soon back to moaning about how infrequently the episodes were rather than having to stump up actual cash for them.

In the last year-or-so, the subject of remuneration for podcast/vlogger services-rendered has surfaced again but – this time – it’s been rebranded so that in return for paying, out-and-out, for our favourite voices we also get extra stuff as well: nothing excites our voracious need and greed more than 'reward levels'!

For some, Kickstarter provides an annual injection of moolah but is fraught with the risks of initial or subsequent campaign failure: (internal monologue) "Can I afford $30 this time around?". For others, the Patreon model is better: smaller amounts but regularly and – like a standing order to your Electric Company or Local Church - it’s an “always on until you switch it off ” mechanism.

I indulge in both but the latter option is obviously better for the Patreonee BUT I won’t (can't) adopt it for everyone: access to my Bank Account, on a monthly basis, is not a privilege granted lightly. Currently, there are two gaming-related projects that I feel strongly-enough about to commit a direct debit to (though I am trying to free up resources for a couple more):



If you don’t already support a project then I strongly urge you to give a monthly dollar or five to, and / or support the annual fundraiser for, something equally dear to you. I would also urge you to look at, and seriously-consider, the two campaigns above: they really ARE top notch.

It certainly gives me a warm feeling, during playback, to know that I am doubly-invested (time and money) in something that gives me so much pleasure.
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Mon Oct 9, 2017 6:20 am
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