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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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Always use 'protection'

Anthony Boydell
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Ooh, look what just arrived:



Mooo-vellous Pfister goodness!


But look how it was packed:



All those itty-bitty bits - Gah!


No way was I going to try and cajole the thing out of that sea of polystyrene; just think of the carpets! No, I had to wander off and find the wheelie bin and tip it out, unceremoniously. I suppose I could've found a plastic bag and decanted the thermoplastic polymer into it for later re-use but, really, the mess: always 'the mess'!

There is, of course, an excellent choice of transportatative protectatorial bufferage resources but which one is, truly, the best? It's been a while, so I thought I'd whip my Poll out:

Poll
Packaging is as much an integral part of our hobby as picking pubic hairs off the game board or comfortable slippers...but which 'form' is your favourite?
As the recipient, what is your favourite form of postal/courier service protective packaging?
Bubblewrap...because it's one of Man's greatest inventions after the Wheel, Writing and Bacon. In fact, the item delivered can remain ignored for days at a time when da wrap has been employed!
Plastic curls...because they look like the UK's favourite cheese-flavoured puffed-corn snack 'Wotsits' (Cheetohs to you foreign types) and are always good for amusing 'bowl of mid-game snacks' prankage!
Inflated Rectanguloid Blisters...because they make excellent neck-pillows for those suffering whiplash/trampolines for an adventurous guinea pig
A million tiny shards of electrostatically-attracted plastic...because I absolutely adore housework/I am a pig who cares nothing for my personal or environmental wellbeing.
Scrunched-up newspapers/magazines...because that's what my parents used and my grandparents before them, dammit! You also get a pretty good idea of the Seller's politics by flattening, ironing and then reading the material which - naturally - affects the feedback one provides subsequently eg. Daily Mail = No stars, The Guardian = 3 stars, Knave Readers Wives 1985 = 5 Stars (things were bushier back then) etc
No packaging at all...I like to live dangerously/gain a sexual thrill from dents & dings/trust that MyHermes respect their customers and are wholly-bound by their Duty of Care (ie. I am an twat)
None of the Above...I'm only here for the swearing (of which there has been precious fucking little, lately).
      274 answers
Poll created by tonyboydell

P.S. If you liked my Poll then please do feel free to thumb it.
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:26 pm
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Peace & Quiet

Anthony Boydell
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This week, the house is dark and silent when I leave for work because it's the half-term holidays. Normally I would bump in to one son (and be berating another for not getting up) but now they're allowed to slumber on. It's a lonely moment unlocking the front door, sliding out to the chilly pre-dawn and closing/locking as quietly as possible; I did it all the time in the prime of my London working, setting off at 0500 to get to High Wycombe in time for the 0730 to Marylebone. Sometimes I'll pull over on a remote road, wind down the window and just listen to the countryside waking itself; just for a couple of minutes, mind you, I'm not a weirdo!

It's poetic and beautiful at that time of day; empty, peaceful. As one approaches 'work', of course, the dribbling spring becomes a stream becomes a foaming river of urgency, fuss and noise! At lunch, I like to lock myself away with a sandwich and a book; recapturing, just for a brief period, the sanctuary of the day's intimate beginning.

Home, then, at the close, to lock the doors and pull the curtains across. The World is a loud, confusing and terrifying place, currently, and the less time I spend directly 'in it', the better TBH.

Oh, my poor wobbling tum-tum.
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Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:29 am
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Blink and you'll miss it.

Anthony Boydell
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How life quickly passes by, dear friends; and I was forcefully reminded of the fact, this week, by a double-whammy! Firstly, the following pic popped up on Social Media via the medium of a Timehop:



Arthur, then three, and I used to go on (Fri)day trips (when I should've been WFH) to nearby towns for lunch and, wherever possible, cake; shops would be browsed, bridges traversed and castles explored - we even made it up to Worcester on the train one time! Monmouth, Ledbury, Hereford, Cheltenham, Newport, Abergavenny, Ross-on-Wye, Cinderford, Malvern, Coleford, Chepstow...all were visited by the Dad 'n Arty Dynamic Duo in search of cheap paperbacks, toys and an excellent victoria sponge.



Yesterday, whammy 2, we gathered in a chilled and misty field in the Forest of Dean to celebrate Arthur's forthcoming (Wednesday) 9th (ninth) birthday; school pals, big brothers and his old Pa suited up and spent a couple of slippery, damp but exhilarating hours shooting at each other with Laser Rifles from behind fences, ditches and burnt-out vehicles!


Just call me Deadshoteye...


Catch the Flag, 'VIP Extract' and straight-up Team vs Team turkey shoots! 120 minutes of the very plush 'toy gun' telling you 'Hit Confirmed' or 'Kill Confirmed', clicking due to an empty (virtual) ammo clip and/or screaming in agony when you'd got one-too-many headshots and needed to respawn. It was brilliant - I felt like I was nine again myself...until I looked around and saw my youngest bud: so tall, so smart and so grown up.



Unlike 2011, he no longer holds my hand when we need to cross the road; however, despite an afternoon of war games and swapping kill stats with his mates, he still cuddled up on the sofa with me when we all watched The Life of Pi (the Tiger effect is amazing and scary)!

I am savouring every rare minute because if one blinks, one will have missed it.
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Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:25 am
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Givin' 'em out like sweets

Anthony Boydell
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Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in-between, it is with an acceptable amount of pleasure that I welcome you to this year's Tony Awards; an annual (starting now and probably never progressing to a second instantiation because it's a LOT of work buffing up those trophies and re-covering the knackered faux-velvet seats) appreciation of the board gaming hobby's achievements in the year just gone.

Never being one to reinvent the wheel, the eminent Tony Committee - staffed by industry luminariesy, game designers and media types - follow the typical category pattern though, due to the rising cost of Brass and cloudy perspex obelisks, the awards for 'Best Box Fart', 'Longest Rulebook Credits Section' and 'Most Pretentious Theme' have been discontinued. So, without further ado: order yourself a takeaway meal, get Facebook up in your mobile device and settle down for

The 2017 Tony Awards


Best Strategy Game
And the nominees are: Terraforming Mars, The Networks, Railroad Revolution, Roundhouse, Bugger My Monkey (2nd Ed), Scythe and The Colonists.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Bugger My Monkey (2nd Ed)!
Better production values, a clearer rule book (from Josh Groban at Rules of Vids Gaming) and still all the fun of the original card-drafting, tower-building, 'worker takement' Euro - which remains, STILL, the only Euro to include a see-saw!

No, I'm joking of course; the answer is really: Terraforming Mars


Best Thematic Game
And the nominees are: Terraforming Mars, This Game Is On Fire!, Scythe and Adrenaline.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This Game Is On Fire!
Tear off the shrink, carefully lift the hermetically-sealed lid and you will see this corking auction-driven, area controller's attention to detail spontaneously-combust in your hands upon exposure to the air! Nothing gives you more of an experience of what it's like to have a lapful of burning cardboard than this! Look out for the expansion - This Expansion Is Also On Fire! - later in the year!

Again, I'm yanking on your chain! The answer is really: Terraforming Mars


Best Family Game
And the nominees are: Costa Rica, Fabled Fruit, Granny's Big Bag of Toffees That Smell of Wee, Kodama: The Tree Spirits, Mondrian: The Dice Game, Ominoes and Gooseberry.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Kodama: The Tree Spirits
You thought we'd go for the 'Wee' game, didn't you? Well, that'll teach you to try and double-guess the committee! Kodama is physically-pleasing in aspect (pretty components, pretty 'on the table') and rules-lite yet sufficiently meaty.


Best Card Game
And the nominees are: Fabled Fruit, Handy Chris's Deck Suppository and Kodama: The Tree Spirits.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Fabled Fruit!
Colourful, devious, engaging, interactive and smart...Handy Chris's Deck Suppository only just missed out to the green-haired goblin's damage-less legacy larks.


Best Artwork/Presentation
And the nominees are: Scythe.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Scythe
Nothing else comes close to the astonishing physical glory of this magnum opus.


Best Expansion
And the nominees are: Concordia: Gallia/Corsica, Snowdonia: Fuck You, Dr Beeching!, Oh my Goods: Blah Blah Im Wotsit and Scythe: Visitors from Afar.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Agricola Expansion for 5-6 Players!
Because I helped check the wording, tweak some effects and - most importantly - make sure none of the card names had a rude double-meaning in English!


Most Innovative
And the nominees are: Adrenaline, The 2016 Advent Calendar, Vast: The Crystal Caverns,

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Adrenaline
Forty five minutes of blast 'em, hilarious, high octane, video-game fun as plastic and paper! Where else can you chainsaw your Grandpa and then set fire to the room as you leave?


Best Podcast
And the nominees are: The Perfect Information Podcast, Who Dares Rolls, Heavy Cardboard and Uncle Fusty's Grunting Review Thing (the 2016 're-boot').

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Perfect Information Podcast
More than any other, I eagerly await every alternate Monday when this pops up on my subscription feed. That will change, of course, as I am but a fragile and fickle individual BUT (for now) I am delighted to welcome Ben and Georgios in to my (ear) canal.


And so, ladies and genderpeeps, we come - finally - to the most important award of them all: the Board Game of The Year!

For the last time, the nominees are: Terraforming Mars, Great Western Trail, The Colonists, Railroad Revolution, Roundhouse, Scythe and Adrenaline.

And the winner is:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Guilds of London!



Wait...what?!

Oi, Tony!!!!

(descends in to chaos, shouting, recriminations and protracted Legal Action)


(the REAL answer is, of course, Scythe)


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Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:40 am
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I only wanted something else to do but hang around

Anthony Boydell
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Smudge handbrake-turned the hatchback in to the Prince of Wales pub car park - the passenger door simultaneously swinging open - and decanted an adrenalised Boffo on to the thick gravel. He hit the ground, running, his enormous carry-all slung across his back, Smudge calling after him: "Go! Go! Go!". There was a cascade of stones as the car reversed on to the main road, crunched in to forward gear and squealed off down the hill in a cloud of atomised rubber!

Apparently, she had to "go to the Theatre to sort out the lighting but I suspect this was just an allusion to nipping off to catch a screening of Middle Class gusset-trembler Fifty Shades Darker. This left Boffo, still sweat-soaked from leopard-crawling across the Beer Garden, myself and Jobbers occupying 'the round table' for some Friday evening games.

First up, because I'd brought it with me and am currently a bit obsessed with it, was play-testing Foothills (A Snowdonia Joint) (formerly AKA The Great Little Trains of Wales). Boffo watched while Jobbers and I danced a cautious dance: a few more thoughts about Surveyor Action distribution had occurred to me earlier in the day, which played out very pleasingly, but I'm still a bit worried about how the sole Excavation space is leading to inevitable mandatory responses ie. because there is only ONE space for worker to occupy BUT many lines against which the excavation can be applied, players are always driven to gamble on a Build action as first placement (which comes after the digging in resolution order) otherwise the excavating player is gifted free-reign. There have also been periods of total excavation lock-down in all the games I've (seen) played, so it's an important niggle to eliminate (one way or the other); I think I might add a second excavate space...

Two pints, and an hour in, Boffo muttered that he'd quite like to play a game himself; we were almost done anyway and, with me taking the win by a single veep and Jobbers pronouncing that it was "fucking brilliant!", we moved on to a game thoroughly-detested by Smudge but adored by the rest of us:


Suburbia (aka Hex & The City!)


I love the way this game flows: Jobbers' first action was to build a Nuclear Waste site (border) for the quick income boost but then found himself slowly-but-surely running out of cash and ended the game on -5 income and fizzling. Unfortunately, his crash also kibosh-ed my personal goal (fewest non-lake tiles - he resorted to building only lakes while I still needed 'real stuff') and left Boffo free to hoover up green parks to win three goals (to my one); the final margin, just five points, highlighting what a splendid little tussle this was! Personally, my Water Purification plant - costing me $50+ in total (initial build then 2x build) - gave me a massive boost leaving me maxed out on both tracks (REP and INC) twice!

Quote:

Dear Ted Alspach,

Suburbia is a work of complete genius!

Love from,
Tony, Jobbers and Boffo xxx


It was still quite busy in the Pub and, despite being overheard and giggled-about on an adjacent table, we three proceeded smartly to the evening's closer:


Fleet:
I'm all 'bout that (Sea) Bass, 'bout that (Sea) Bass, no turbot


Despite me accruing a Dunkirk-sized flotilla of Tuna, Cod and Processing vessels, I could only come a close second to Jobbers' proficient piscine performance; Boffo, newly-joined by a flushed-looking Smudge (three hours spent c-clamping her spot, extending the end of a Prong Base and frosting her Fresnel) floundered in last plaice *ahem*

It was late. It was cold. We went home.
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Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:56 am
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Number-crunching and cross-referring!

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Last night, just before going to bed, I got distracted: work proceeds, apace, with my and Boffo's specifically two-player Snowdonia variant aka 'Foothills', aka 'The Great Little Trains Of Wales'. Boffo's initial layout had six railway lines as a fixed tableau, whereas I - wanting to mix things up - have sneaked two important-but-missing lines back in (Snowdon Mountain and the Vale of Rheidol); this allows for some interesting setup variability, of course, so I did some calculations. Here's a little peek inside one of the more satisfying 'puzzle-solving' aspects of game design; I had a similar amount of check/cross-check/balancing fun when working out the game-end bonuses & associated scores for the original Snowdonia contract cards:



See below for the 'Key' to this illustration!


Step 1:
I needed to find out how many UNIQUE combinations of setup the eight railway lines would offer when using six-at-a-time; the answer, thanks to a quick online calculator, is twenty eight (28). As luck (!) would have it, there are 27 station cards and a reference card in the components, so this means each one could have it's own 'random setup template' on the back!

Step 2:
Now, I _could_ just allocate each starting template to a random card BUT then it would be messy if a setup referred to the line of which that setup card was a part - this would lead to hunting around, forgetting and so on! So, to facilitate things I allocated the backs to the station cards in such a way as no card has a setup referencing it's parent railway line. Bingo! Nice easy process: pick a card and set it aside; look for all the stations on those lines from those remaining in the pack!

Step 3:
The next thing was to sort out the Contract Cards; the CCs are used for messing with the Work Rate _during_ the game and also for game-end scoring; some are general and some key-ed to specific stations and/or Lines. It's no use players drafting CCs that cannot be fulfilled because their criteria aren't in play. So, for each setup (28, remember), I took out the affected CCs and also checked the distribution of Work Rate Adjustments on the remaining CCs to see if any horribly-skewed games would result eg. too much 'rain' and 'fog' would lead to players never being able to excavate! Each setup template now comes with a list of numbered CC cards 'to remove before play'.

It was an incredibly satisfying hour!
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Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:52 am
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Been there, done that; er...

Anthony Boydell
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I can understand where this chap is coming from but, having wobbled a little on the precipice myself in the past, raise my hand - palm inwards and fingertips pointing up - until it impacts upon my forehead with an audible (but not painfully so) slapping sound against my chin, nose and forehead*

It is, naturally, upsetting when peeps don't like your game(s) (OR your blog OR your singing OR your wire-frame specifications for an online application for the registration of childcare providers - oops, that one got away from me a bit) BUT one's tongue should be bitten at all times; if you can manage a gracious smile too then all the better. Now, I am hardly one to pontificate about this sort of thing so I'll just step away and let you enjoy this all-too-brief pram-sourced toy-expulsion...though I'll just say that spelling 'write' as 'right' when lambasting a perceived foe takes all the momentum out of it and he deserves everything he got:





P.S. Guilds of London was recently highlighted as one of the WORST games of 2016 on the Cubelover podcast but did I react? No, I didn't. Not a peep, not a geekmail, not a Twittersnark: nuthin'. Mind you, dogshit costs a bloody fortune to send to the U.S, doesn't it?!

*I have big hands. Madam.
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Thu Feb 9, 2017 6:50 pm
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I'm Ennui The Eighth, I am

Anthony Boydell
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soblue


I can feel the boiling anxiety in my tum-tum; an aching back symptomatic of tightened shoulders and/or not sitting properly. My appetite has waned and my thoughts are fixating on the same (job-related) things: this is text-book “Stress”. I even managed to book myself a rare work parking space on-site only to forget and pay £5 to park over the road (a-ways) instead – at least the FitBit will be happy with the 1500 extra steps.

On the up-side, my goatee beard is transitioning very nicely in to a proper ‘Seasick Steve’ chin-curtain that can be pensively-stroked to a discernable point; I’m not growing it out for any particular reason than I let it sprout past it’s usual limit over Christmas and I’m now just curious.

I managed a quick hour last night, on my way home from Cardiff, with Boffo to scrounge a cup of tea and continue testing The Great Little Trains of Wales plus Arthur and I have (finally) moved on to Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince – so it’s not all bad, just mostly so. I figured surviving January would help the mental snowdrops bloom in anticipation of Spring but, instead, a Dementor-induced gloom has descended.

soblue


Does anyone know any good jokes?
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Wed Feb 8, 2017 1:07 pm
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I've got to be in it to win it!

Anthony Boydell
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For your consideration in the categories of
Best Board Game of The Year and/or
Best Strategy Game and/or
Best Artwork/Presentation and/or
Best Solo Game
Guilds of London


(courtesy of Meeplepeat)

For your consideration in the category of
Best Expansion
Snowdonia: Seasons


For your consideration in the category of
Best Board Game Podcast




Please go here to register your nominations:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1722155/11th-annual-gol...

Much appreciated, ta!
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Tue Feb 7, 2017 6:20 am
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Triumph & Disaster...

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It's mostly my turn to get up first on a Saturday morning and make the beverages; this week I had time for the former and none for the latter on account of a pre-booked day trip to Wolvercote for an all-dayer with the Oxford Meeples (as alluded to yesterday). In the gloom of 7AM - my FitBit proclaiming I'd managed just 4 hours of 'proper' sleep (as opposed to all of that tossing) - I immersed myself in a hot, deep bath and the closing chapters of Ready Player One*.

The drive was a familiar one - a route I have travelled many, MANY times to-and-from working away in London - and mercifully free of rumbling trucks. In just over an hour, I was sat in the Peartree Roundabout branch of Starbucks with Messrs Stuart and William Burnham:


Playtesting The Great Little Trains of Wales (formerly Snowdonia Foothills).
Think 'All Creatures Big and Small' but with railways.


Since last weekend's stop-and-start test with Cédrick Chaboussit, I had completely overhauled the Stations, moved the fixed station surveyor actions on to separate (randomly-assignable) tiles and rebuilt the Contract Card mechanism. I'd even made some proper VP tokens! Stuart 'won' after William brain-farted in the final Round to end the game and gift his Pa 9VPs.

Watching Father and Son Burnham get royally stuck in, there were a few moments when the game stalled due to unavailability of a decent action to perform or rule clarifications were required BUT the new framework immediately offered some clean solutions and I - beard frosted with the foam from my Venti White Chocolate Mocha (no cream) - was very satisfied indeed! Back to the laptop-and-printer Sunday afternoon, then.

We swapped the warm sterility of the Service Station - pausing to recommend both Dobble and Codenames to a bloke who "drives big buses for famous people" and wanted something for them "to do when the booze and drugs have run out" - for the cool, echoing Wolvercote village hall and 'real' (printed) games. The Batesons had also just arrived and Boffo, as per, was decanting a bag of boxes the size of an SUV (after putting the kettle on, natch). We were the only free agents so, to put Smudge at ease, acquiesced to Lancaster as the opener:


Left: Boffo, 10 minutes in and already fuming at our perceived ineptitude in setting up a mix of Base and Expansion Laws.
Right: Smudge generally wins this game (like my arsing-about Squire) standing on her head!


Despite a valiant attempt from Boffo, Smudge was able to (once-again) load up on all her low-power Knights and sprint passed everyone to victory fuelled by Nobles and getting second places in all the game-end categories! Boffo pronounced that Start Player "is not very advantageous", so it ended up being gifted to Smudge on almost every occasion which gave her free access to the first 'War With France' bonuses (money or nobles usually). Everyone (apart from me, I hasten to add!) seemed to be FOR the Laws that benefited her much too well so I regard this instance not so much a win for Becky BUT a combined loss by the other players! At least I wasn't dead last...that honour fell to William.

A call to come and play/teach Harbour quickly-distracted Boffo a Terraforming Mars was already being unpacked and laid out: Smudge, myself, Stuart, William and Alan (the latter already having expressed his eagerness to play upon my entrance) sat down to a non-Corporate Era BUT drafting included two hours of card-combing, asteroid-diverting fun:


(bottom, left) My Noctis City had probably the WORST outlook ever: an erupting volcano and a smouldering, radioactive crater: the TripAdvisor reviews are AWFUL.


Building the Capital next to three oceans and beefing up my plant production, I was able to nurture some excellent greenery for a pleasing hop-skip-jump in to third behind a tied Smudge and Stuart. Alan had been busy paying large amounts of cash for big effects (mainly temperature-focused), leapt up to an Award winning 35 TR but had just the one Forest on the board thus stalling in the end game. Stuart had lots of points on cards and Smudge - like me - reaped veeps on the map to win (on the tie-break) with the most money. And of William? I think he'd gone to his Martian Room to play Martian video games and eat Martian chocolate cakes and came in dead last.

Smudge, glowing with yet another 'big game win', nipped off to kindly 'brew up' (once more) leaving the others to The Princes of Florence, a newly-arrived Mrs B (Stuart's, not mine) joining them. William and Smudge and myself recruited the day's organizers - Andy and Joanne - for A Nice Cup Of Tea: it's Snowdonia, but a bit heavier.


If you build a train, you get a choccy! William and Andy built trains twice, the greedy sods!


The weather was outrageously excellent for crop-growing and we had (I think) FIVE tea harvests during the game; this gifted both Smudge and Joanne with around 50 tea EACH come final scoring and - with the her East India Company 'train' - Smudge 100+ points in that category alone! A little tweakage is needed, I fear; I am currently noodling with Daffodil Line-like 'bunches' for scoring or - more accurately - 'bales of tea'! Poor William, distracted by cocoa I fear, failed to set the Himalayan foothills aflame and clanked across the finish line in last place.

Glancing up at the Hall's clock, it was already 1630HRS; by the balls of Theresa May, how time flies! At that very moment, I also received the traditional 'Eta?' text from Mrs B (mine, not Stuart's) which - as any fule kno - is a summons ne'er to be ignored; not that I have anything to complain about, of course - it was a fantastic day!



*it's light-as-a-feather but enormous nostalgic fun
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Mon Feb 6, 2017 6:26 am
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