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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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Those first few moments after waking...

Anthony Boydell
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On the Friday morning of Spiel - around 0600HRS CET - I woke from a vivid dream to the sound of a squealing train going through the Hauptbahnhof. While the bizarre and uncanny images were fresh in my mind, I jotted down some notes on my iPhone:

"People in calm work environment, quite scarce almost deserted . Narrator reads a poem “I was born at sea...” a sort of mermaid lament. It’s bleak almost - people seem fine until the environment changes like a cut scene and they become incredibly confused and anxious. Something is happening or has happened that sees shady people (are they bad or good?) involved in covering an event up and it seems memories are edited to keep the peace/secret. The covering up is fragile and the true situation breaks thru to people. Is it a breakdown of people’s moral inhibitions? Is it a virus that inhibits immoral behaviour? Is there an end of world thing and population protected from it en masse: alien takeover (silent)? Failing planet? People who become half awake and curious about what’s happening are killed if they go too far and are raising too much of a disturbance. Overwhelming air of panic and melancholy - something lost. The poem is a key emotional element as it appears as the only narration."

Reading them back it seems a curious - if familiar - premise and, of course, not quite as affecting as when I'd first opened my eyes. Still, it's rare to be able to capture those lucid dreams.
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Fri Nov 2, 2018 6:40 am
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I believe 100% in your Right to free speech...but you need to shut the Hell up now.

Anthony Boydell
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In the last week I have received 'User Moderation' notices on four occasions...



...related to a Euro Flag for my 'Home Country' request on a BGG-specific forum and in response to some patronising sanctimony on a thread about 'Thefts at Essen Spiel'.

This is not a badge of honour.

In the first case, I requested a new flag icon and added a short (humorously-exasperated) reason as to WHY I would prefer a Euro flag to a Union Flag and this was taken up as being 'political', expanded upon by a couple of vociferous posters and then the whole thing was shipped (inevitably) to RSP. Why was _I_ getting a note when my request thread was hijacked?!

In the second case, there has been much discussion about the merits of cash vs credit card at Spiel and for some posters - who have never been exhibitors, publishers and/or designers themselves - a feeling that those subject to robberies this year were somehow to blame. Any contrary point, any adjustment of viewpoint suggested by others were roundly dismissed by these people and - once again - it is those suggesting they wind their necks in that get 'the notes'?!

The self-righteous, ill-informed and just-plain-argumentative, post passive-aggressively and push-and-push-and-push with a relentless thick-headedness until a respondent calls them out and it's the respondent who gets the yellow card. I'm not alone in even these two threads; a number of 'For God's sake just let it go!' folks now have their comments 'hidden' or 'removed' and, no doubt, their Inbox-es tickled with a friendly wrist-slap.

Shutting people up is not the way to moderate a conversation.
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Thu Nov 1, 2018 7:04 pm
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The Railway A-B-C 4

Anthony Boydell
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Thu Nov 1, 2018 6:30 am
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Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...unless we're talking about games, of course.

Anthony Boydell
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BTW Can anyone spot the interloper?
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Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:30 am
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Boat.

Anthony Boydell
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It was a day of pure travel and, thanks to a smooth new(ish) car and no issues on foreign roads, we made it to the Ferry Port at Dunkerque a good 30 mins before the 12PM sailing...but I'd forgotten everyone pretty much assumes we'll comfortably make the 2PM and takes their time. The upshot is no monstrous, going-home snarl-ups on the M25 and we were crossing the welcome threshold of Chez Boydell at 1830HRS. Naturally, a sniffle and a tickly-throat whilst abluting at 6AM had developed in to a mild fever, headache and a hacking cough: behold, the Con Lurgy!

The boys helped unload the car and I'll post up a final 'Haul Pic' tomorrow...to annoy and entrance in equal measure; I look forward to the complaining with a full heart.
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Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:05 am
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If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness.

Anthony Boydell
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The digital services went back an hour in the middle of the night so there was a blurry (after all it's Day six of The Boydell Boys' Eurodyssey) but happy meander in to the Ibis breakfast bar; Arthur has become quite the Adept on the waffle machine. The car had been strategically parked at the Messe in preparation for the Grand Taking-Down so it was a chilly, Autumn walk to the Hauptbahnhof and - at the other end - to the vaults of the Grand LudoPalace. It was a quiet morning, mostly, with dribs-and-drabs of sales and - oddly - a bit of a run on my stock of Bad Grandmas (selling 30+ copies)! The P.M was no different for SSG business despite the increased scurrying around us: those last minute panic purchases, the handmade 'Reduktion!' signs and - for the companies - those eagerly-sought 'Sold Out!' scribbles on the price lists. A quiet Dad & Lad Lunch in the Hall 3 restaurant provided welcome rest for our aching bones and then it was back to the booth for the final strait.

With ones voice croaky, the base of ones spine aching, ones feet throbbing and the brain daydreaming and distracted I find myself equally ecstatic and miserable about coming to the end of yet another Essen. Not, perhaps, the year we'd hoped-for with Alubari but certainly another rich source of entertainment: now and for the next 12 months.

The 2019 show will also be the 20th anniversary of Surprised Stare Games Ltd and, if all the gaming ducks fall in to line, it's going to be our biggest and most terrifying show yet!

A series of images follows.


Even the signals at the Hbf are surly this morning!




More minis from our Sunday wander of Hall 6



Last day demos.



Just 40 winks...


We ended the day with the Yay Games (Ominoes) crew, Team A-muse-ment (Tales of the Northlands), Ms Stuff by Bez (stuff) and (one of) my favourite German(s) Mr D Danzer. There followed a slap-up buffet at the Karavane: Essen's premiere Morrocan eaterie where the only thing missing after the eternal courses of meat is the waffer-theen meent.
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Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:30 am
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Do everything at the right time, and one day will seem like three.

Anthony Boydell
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It's been a long day. It's been a day all about Dad and Arthur time...except when Arthur wanders off while you're browsing a display cabinet and you end up having to rendevous back at the booth an hour later (!). Yes, today - Saturday - is traditionally my day off and given the opportunity to play as many games as possible, I invariably end up almost continually in motion like some kind of gamer shark (but in a nice way).

After driving in to 6a/6b (underground), we dumped our things at the stand and set off in to an unmolesting Hall 5.


The re-release of the Dire Straits classic has run in to some typographic issues.


We purchased presents for siblings and I managed to snag last copies of Cryptid and the Lost Expedition expansion. Hall 6 beckoned with it's array of miniatures' dioramas, second-hand games and artists:







Arthur was now at least 12 hours since his last 'Lego' purchase and was getting rather twitchy; there was a tired-and-grumpy mini-sulk by the Hall 2 Grotto of Brick Pleasures but this was soon assuaged by a trip to Hall 1 to seek out VOLT. The morning was racing by without due care and attention, so we made sure we were in the Hall 3 restaurant in plenty of time for our 'Lunch with Friends' soiree.

Cedrick joined us for a couple of hours before he had a pitch and we wandered and played a couple of games (and, like last year, the ones he had introduced us to were ones we needed to buy immediately!), bumped in to some admired fellow designers (see below) and generally chilled despite the pressing hordes.


(clockwise from top L): spacial racing (Eco-Links) with Mr C; 'nogging' it out of the Park in Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog; Mr Sébastien Dujardin - designer of a Ross-on-Wye Hall of Famer (Troyes); and a radical (impromptu) solution for Arthur's recurrent nose bleeds.




I left the lad at 4-F121 while I went for a meeting with Klemens and Hanno then gathered some tidbits on a circuitous route back. We reunited and set off once more: the Haribo stand an imperative.

Sooner than we'd realised, it was the ding/dong of the 'piss off now please' tannoy; not required to do any product tidying up, we met with Doug and Shelley Garrett at the BGG booth and we, guest Kevin, Surya and Myriam braved the cool dusk and headed to Vapiano for a delicious (if slow-to-table) supper. Despite the conversation turning dark and serious (health, politics and current affairs), it was a heart-warming evening in the company of fine and honourable people; we also bumped in to Cedrick and Matthias Cramer on the table behind - you could close your eyes and throw a stone in any direction and hit a Game Designer during Spiel!

Hugs and back-slaps for the farewell ensued then me and the boy went to the Martinstraße station to find the next train was 30 mins away (!); this called for a drastic, taxi-shaped solution as we both were now REALLY done.

We're going to need a day off to recover from our day off...
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Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:17 am
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Two good talkers are not worth one good listener.

Anthony Boydell
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Arthur calls the U-bahn platforms of the Hauptbahnhof "our very own TARDIS" (see above); it's all the blue light and brutalist architecture. We tucked ourselves in to a corner of the least occupied carriage (which was 'rammed') and bumped in to - and chatted with - Wales' designer y dydd Mr Adam Porter.

The morning proceeded in a textbook fashion: demo, chat, give Arthur some money for a drink, demo, wave at a friend passing by, give Arthur some money for the bungees, demo, eat some fruit, give Arthur some money for donuts and demo. At 2PM, it was time for the Paulls to eff off and enjoy themselves leaving me to spin the two-and-a-half tables through the loooooong P.M. Most passers-by were punters - directed to my position from Frosted Games in Hall 1 - in search of my Reykholt 'Shed' promo; all were recognized by their clutching of a tiny piece of paper with a Stand reference on it and a gabbled German version of 'AreyouTonycanihaveaReykholtpromoplease'. They only want me for my cardboard.

Pal Sean - newly repatriated Irishman - popped back, wearing his Pope's Mitre, to demand my genuflecting prostration...so I just flicked him the Vees and continued with my tea 'n trains; in fact, this particular game saw Arthur attempting his first Alubarian adventure and the chip-off-the-old-block only went and played a blinder! He ignored tea and built most of the track and cashed in a huge contract card to narrowly miss out on victory by just 3 points!


Before the (tea) storm...note the marker pen mark-ups!


It was very quiet for the rest of the P.M; Friday is, notoriously, a slow day for SSG. Demos were intermittent and, when they popped up, proved quite frustrating on occasion; for example: a German family stop by and enquire about The Cousins' War so I remark that as I don't speak German it might be prudent to stop at (aforementioned) Frosted Games and get a German-speaker to do it instead. They insisted they wanted 'just a flavour' so - being the nice guy - I commenced a brief rules run-though. The 'Dad' smelled heavily of tobacco smoke and the 'son' was confounding his language studies by a) not listening to me and b) interrupting me every 30 seconds to ask about an aspect of the game I had yet to cover. The molten lead in my stomach sloshed about as I knew that I was now committed to nursing them through fifteen minutes of re-explaining with no hope of even a sale at the end (they had already remarked that if they liked it they would buy the German edition). As of today I make a rule: if we are partnering a game in other languages, peoples of those languages can eff-off to the appropriate booth and get someone else to do all the fruitless yakking. BTW they walked off before the end of the first round complaining it didn't have any skill in it: Scheiß drauf.

Mercifully, the grinding PM finally ended with the 7PM ding-dong of the tannoy and us-two scarpered to Fritzpatrick's for supper and a chinnywag at the Heavy Cardboard meetup.


Vitamins and fibre to wash down his rare steak.


Back at the hotel, we poured all of Arthur's Lego on a bed and played with it: a tricerotops, a helicopter, a Star Wars speeder set, misc. minifigs and a Harry Potter/Hedwig brickhead.

Christ, I'm exhausted already.
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Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:15 am
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A man without a smiling face must not open shop

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Day 1 dawned darker and we plodded in to the breakfast room just as the Paulls were plodding out. Waffles and a packed lunch croissant for Arthur; scrambled eggs and muesli/yoghurt for Yours Truly (and a couple of bananas tucked away for snack-age).

It seems that 2018 will be the Year Of Travel Delays because our U-bahn hop from the Hbf to the Messe stalled just before Martinstrasse and we stuck in the stultifying guff of a packed carriage for 15 minutes. Fortunately, we had the sparkling company of Mr Uli B as he regaled us of his evening at the Deutsche Spielpriese ceremony Wednesday: basically, he and Ben '5G4D' Maddox staked out the buffet and gorged themselves on complimentary beer and nibbles for the duration. Actually, Ben has a magnificent tale of a 'brush with the Law' that I hope he repeats as a podcast snippet - how I howled with laughter!

Taking the looooong way around to Hall 4, I picked up even more shoulder-straining, wrist-bending bag-loads of gaming goodness but - at the time - no sign of the Alubari materials (new board, cards etc).



All was not lost, however, as 30 mins after the show started Charlie P and me were assembling prints in frameless frames and sellotaping the new board together:



Arthur had managed to pick up excellent 'old' Tricerotops and Helicopter Lego Creator sets and was happily clicking and rattling at the end of the assembly table (his model and my game!). Later, while I got in to the real meat of demo-after-demo...


Sean beats me at my own game.


...Arthur went a-bungee-ing, chaperoned by Monsieur Cédrick Chaboussit:


It was busy everywhere - as per - and it was noisy everywhere - as per - and it was exhausting and difficult to go to the loo without queuing for 20 mins - as per - and it was a huge adrenalin rush...as per. At lunch, I stopped by the Frosted Games booth to make sure they've reserved me a copy of Reykholt and found Mr U Rosenberg himself signing for an adoring public! And - get this - he saw me, said "Mr Tony?", shook my hand and added: "Thank you for supporting my games". Well, fuck me sideways over a rolling donut!

In the general meantime, Arthur is holding up remarkably well given the sensory overload that is Spiel and even, come suppertime, went for the Pig Knuckle menu choice as we met our Swedish pals Anders, Olle, Mans and Magnus for supper:


He didn't actually finish it all but, hey!, when in Essen you gotsa essen gut!


A rowdy 'wahoo' from the Swedish jury and Richard gets over-excited and smashes my glass.


We nipped upstairs to Fritzpatrick's to say 'Hi' to Paul Grogan and pals but we'd missed the raffle and it was a little drunken (and intimidating for Arthur...and me, TBH) so we scurried out to the U-bahn and thence hotel. Again, we found a gaming room buzzing with no-one I recognised (apart from one) so it was time to call it a night and Facetime Mrs B.

One down, three to go...we're already accelerating through the week!

Today's haul additions: Concordia Venus, Holding On, Futuropia, all the new Lookout Games stuff, 'And Then We Died', Profiteers. Postponed reception of my 'Captains of the Gulf' until Leiriacon'19 and discovered HiG's Lift Off is German language only until 'the Spring sometime'
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Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:02 am
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The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Anthony Boydell
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In the softly-snoring pre-dawn, soundtracked by the squeaking of the first trains, Arthur was 'well out' so I decided to let him sleep and intercepted the 0730 alarm: we dozed for an extra 30 mins. Alan was keen to get in to the Halls ASAP so he and Charlie scooted before Arty and I had settled in to our breakfast; almost the moment he'd bitten in to his jammy croissant, Arthur spotted a make-your-own-waffle machine so that's breakfasts ruined for the rest of our stay!

With no sign of The Cousins' War (second edition) yet, I began the annual setup day mission to collect as many items on my Wants list. Some stands were still bare and some complete, covered and abandoned; of those with personnel with which one could converse, most were happy enough to enter in to a financial transaction. Others, you will be delighted and overjoyed to hear, were happy to just give me stuff. For free. Gratis. See below... #sucksbeingme #not

Arthur was like a fizzing cube of Sodium on a bowl of water; bursting with energy, he was content to follow me around then wander off for an explore and return to the stand to go-kart himself around Hall4 on the trolley and have a perfectly fantastic time. We met - occasionally - for a top up of drinks and food - and then he would disappear again in search of, see below, LEGO:


The first of three dedicated Lego stands at Spiel'18 that Arthur has located...so far!


With more than enough games already stowed, Arthur's mission is to garner as much plastic brick-based excellence from me as possible! With no odd jobs to do - the stand was quickly bolted together and (still) awaiting 2018 goodies - the ticks began to dominate my checklist:


The Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set wooden pieces in actual realness. And, yes, the dynamite fuses withstood severe punishment by Blazej throwing them on to the Messe floor!



A gift from Nick Case; last year it was a Nimbee promo card allowing everyone to call me a cunt, this year it is an original Peter Firmin piece from Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog that is, frankly, utterly priceless!


In a rare moment of Arthur pausing for breath, I managed to keep him by my side for a perusal of Hall 6 - perhaps the furthest Hall away from the main entrance and (no surprises) home to the Cosplay, Manga and Mini stalls and a handful of "hopeful new board game companies":


Arthur scrutinizes some beautifully-painted miniatures!


In our absence, the Paulls had gone awanderin'...in a small circle around our immediate booth island and discovered the trader behind us (next to the Lego Minis one) was a second-hand games trader who had copies of Alan's earliest endeavors!


Alan with a piece of his own history! 5 euros to you, Mr Boydell? Sold!


Still no CW2s, so I took to photographing the days pickins; what delicious commestables can you make out?


Day 0 hoard - Part 1



Day 0 hoard - Part 2


We saw and chatted at length with 'Holding On's Michael Fox, Age of Steam's Martin Wallace and NAR's Peer Sylvester - all of whom happened to be passing 4-F121 while we were twiddling our thumbs! We queued for lunch and chatted with Paul from Hub Games, bumped in to a couple of jovial Portuguese and failed to drink a tumbler of whisky with Uli B and Edward Uhler (there was a Blackfire stand being set up between us and the liquer).

Of course, the games arrived eventually and took about two minutes to decant-and-stack (500 copies in a 'Gric expansion sized box). Thus, it was still light as we wandered out of Hall 5 to the Pig-knuckle Brew House:



A light supper with rowdy - but good - pals.


I was complimented on the cleanliness of my bone at the end of our repast and by 9PM we were on the U-bahn back to the Hbf...though it broke down with a dodgy door and we all had to get off and wait for a replacement Tram. A long, successful (for me and Arthur, at least) and an entirely stress-free day!
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Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:30 am
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