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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Tales from the Red Table

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I sat scoffing my chicken pasta and stared out over the tide-well-out Prestatyn beach in the bright evening sunshine; a long-vaunted 'heatwave' finally arrived mid-morning and has been baking the population of North Wales throughout the rest of the day. The boiling orb brought with it a vigorous wind too so those (unfortunate enough to be) out jogging in the mid-20s temperatures* got themselves some easy evaporation. Young Promethean Ed - also early arriving and assuming he'd meet me in the Beach Car Park - ambled over and joined my contemplation of the horizon. His waterproof slacks rattled in the sea breeze. The Bay was conquered by a huge, blue sky and windmills twinkling in the distance and the only thing letting the poetic scene down were the muddy brown waves slapping on the damp sand.

Work, distance and/or illness have conspired to keep the attendance to a bare Ross-on-Wye-esque four with Mark and Paul joining us on the dot of 7PM and so we wasted no further time and got stuck in:



No prizes for what I was pushing tonight (40 points). It was also great to exploit Paul's love of Suburbia and snick another notch in my Alspachian bedpost. Tonight, alas, my performance with this hexy beast was less than optimal and I dribbled, limply, to a woeful third place. We closed with new-to-me Tiffin: an area control game that's a sort of cross between Ticket To Ride and Smash Up! but without all of the latter's grindingly-turgid 'ability' cascade. It was pleasant enough, if rather plain in it's presentation considering the theme of Dabawalas delivering curry to a busy city.

Hardly the baying hordes of Monday, then, but cosy enough to wile away a balmy April dusk.


*Celsius not Fahrenheit, you cheeky bleeders.
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Today 6:45 am
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fishy on a little dishy

Anthony Boydell
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Our family - the in-laws and us - have booked our holidays for Summer 2018 and, in a huge break in tradition, we're NOT going to North Yorkshire: shock! horror! How will I cope without a railway to ride or places to walk?! Easy: we're going to Snowdonia! Yes, twelve of us have booked a cottage in the middle of nowhere - 20 miles from Blaenau Ffestiniog and about the same from Llanberis - so I think I've just answered that particular question. The aim will be to walk UP the mountain and catch the train back down again - though I'd better book it soon as the bloody thing is backed up for months. Of course, it also means that on Monday nights I could sneak out to join the Snowdonia Dragons or settle with the Prestatyn Prometheans on a Wednesday or spend Thursday evenings in the company of the Bangor crew...or all three?!

Last night, however, I settled for the first option and availed myself, in daylight, of The Mulberry on the Conwy Marina for some ludological distractioneering:


Another outing for Welcome to Centerville; this time taught to Philip, Aaron and Tom.


'Twas a brisk and breezy 60 minutes and a nail-biting final tot-up with Philip emerging victorious after a disastrous Round 1 (of 3). I'm not sure if they all liked it, though, as it was a relatively silent packing-away.

The table behind us had started light and then borrowed my copy of Nusfjord; during the lull in our Centerville die-rolling, I would glance over my shoulder and gaze enviously at the magnificent table-spread. When the reshuffle - and drinks restocking - had completed, I pulled Fjordy (as no-one is calling it) from my bag almost immediately after it had been put back in. An unusually-buzzing first floor delivered me three others to get a-fishin' in the form of Philip (again), Tom's wife Denise and new-arrival Melanie:


#badteacher Oh dear: 41 points.


Nusfjord is a pleasure to teach because there's not a lot of complexity to impart so, within 10 minutes, we were smoothly away. I eschewed any kind of boats and hoovered up enough shares to keep me well-supplied from the comfort of my harbourside bunker. Melanie (29pts) and Denise (32pts) made excellent use of Elders for building while Philip (25pts) surrounded himself in Forestry combos and spent the entire game taking his forests off his player board and then putting them back on again. I'm not sure I could love this game even more without bursting.

Philip chose something to close - remember that these Cambrians don't like to be out in the Witching hours - and it was his all-time favourite: 7 Wonders.


Just four points in it between first and last!


Another evening under my belt, then, and so back to the B&B through a ghostly Conwy Castle and up the riverside-running Deganwy road. Fortunately, there's just time - after jotting this blog down - for a pre-snooze chapter or two from today's bargain purchase:



It's all very civilized, isn't it?
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Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:45 am
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Tyred, but Happy

Anthony Boydell
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It's the end of the Easter holidays; this weekend will see the collation of school uniforms, the eating-up of the last dregs of 'holiday cereal' and a return to earlier goings-to-bed. Well, for young Arthur at least: oh, to be ten again! As I was gathering a few bits-and-bobs for the Ross-on-Wye club - we would be an irritating five thanks to Byll - Arthur asked if he might come along too; how could I refuse his doe-eyed plea? His wobbling lip? And the chance to boost the numbers to six and make it two tables of three?!



Without really thinking, we trundled over to Ross to a De La Soul soundtrack (3ft High & Rising is just glorious) and then sat in the car park for 20 mins on account of being waaaaaaaaaaay to early. As soon as it was reasonable, we decamped to The Plough's back room and awaited the others. A Barfly's shout of "What you got in there - a dead body?" announced the arrival of the Batesons with their enormous kitbag; Jobbers followed shortly afterward with his dribbled table.

I am, of course, ever so keen that Arthur gets in to boardgaming - preferrably as much as I am at some point. However, the journey is fraught with peril and he is still wont to get distracted; most often this is him following a single goal to it's fruition at the expense of the other rich possibilities/action efficiency eg. building the whiskey barrel in Agricola or a specific building in Nusfjord (see below, he built the Castle for 11 points). This skews the play a bit and, with a seasoned group of gamers, I worry that the appearance of a 10 year old might cause a few tummies to sink? There was definitely none of that tonight, however, as Jobbers and Arthur and I spent the evening fishing and building 'palaces' while the others merrily Keyflower-ed and Lancaster-ed:


Jobbers builds for victory in round 7: gold coins fountaining in to his Personal Supply.




Recently acquired from Geek of the Week Stu Burnham, my 'foreign' copy of The Palaces of Carrara had an English summary sheet included but, for the richer details, I turned to this:



Boffo would argue that this is far better quality than my usual explanations and it was certainly enough to get the three of us going in the 'basic mode'.

In summary: pay for resources (blocks) from a section of a wheel that rotates and restocks making blocks progressively cheaper. Cash those blocks in for buildings BUT what colour of blocks you pay determines which of the cities you can place the building in on your player board. Score building types or cities for VPs and/or money until the end game is reach and then do some final scoring.

Arthur found the intricacies of getting the right blocks at the right time a bit testing and, combined with the mentally-spacial scoring element, it proved too much. He pronounced that he never wanted to play it again but soldiered on to the bitter end*: Jobbers lapping him and almost lapping me! This is a smart and intriguing game that will really shine, I think, when we play in it's 'Expansion' (normal) mode.

Jobbers was now free to join the others - not long for their Lancastrian noodlings - as it was 10PM and Arthur was noticably-flagging. As we trundled in to Newent, there was an almighty scraping sound signally a sudden flat tyre and the prospect of a Saturday spent scouring the County for an open garage: the cloud behind Friday's gaming silver lining.

soblue


*which is more than his old Pa has done in the past!
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Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:06 am
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We needed a bigger boat!

Anthony Boydell
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The Ross-on-Wye club end-of-the-week meet was called off thanks to Fate kicking each member - apart from The Good Batesons - in the figurative testes; for my own excuse, the Boydell household is home to a wince-inducingly injured Ziggy The Dog who, during a hop-and-a-snuffle in the nearby woods, snagged himself on something sharp and tore a chunk out of his front leg (!). The poor chap is feeling ever so sorry for himself with a shaven foreleg and a Cone of Enforcement encircling his bonce.

Spoiler-ed for those of a sensitive disposition:
Spoiler (click to reveal)


Thus, with Friday evening jinxed, we'd all resigned ourselves to having to wait another week; it was fortunate, then, that a window opened in Boffo's schedule and he popped over Saturday for an impromptu gaming session! Stowing the goodies he'd purloined from the Huntley Farmers' Market in our spare fridge, we made excellent use of a table in the library (to ourselves) and played a testing brace of Foothills: The Great Little Trains of Wales's:



With just the one arising situation that required a rulebook clarification, it proceeded so smoothly that Boffo and I were almost playing for the simple game of it (sharing a victory each). We're both very pleased with the progress indeed.

With the afternoon proceeding lazily and everyone quite happy to drift along, I brewed some more tea and we invited Arthur away from his Kindle for something tabletopping:



We certainly know how to pack 'em in! Arthur acquitted himself admirably to steal second in both New Bedford and Kodama and a joint-second with Boffo in the afternoon's closing Nusfjord (Arthur's board is in the left of the Nusfjord image). He certainly seemed to have a better plan, better executed, in Nussers (as no one is calling it); the wonderful variety of buildings (and paths to points) certainly engaged Arthur's attention, so this is a game I think I'll bring out with him again (and soon!).

Shockingly, it was almost 5PM - this Ludic dalliance having eaten up the best part of four hours - and there was just time for Boffo to retrieve his Wild Boar sausages and stinky cheese before we sent him off in to the quiet dusk. What a marvellous, and wholeheartedly-embraced, way to spend a snoozy P.M.
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Mon Apr 9, 2018 6:20 am
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Nice 'n Spicy!

Anthony Boydell
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It finally seemed like proper Spring as I meandered back to the B&B after a day's training; flumping on to the bed, I caught up with some loose games of 'Gric on boiteajeux.net while the happy sound of chattering tourists rattled my windowpanes. A number of options presented themselves, prone though I was on the deco spread, as potential evening entertainments:
Go to the cinema and (possibly) kill my diet with a delicious double-scoop of Baskin Robins' ice-cream;
Stay in at the digs and borrow one of their DVDs (and probably scoff grapes all evening); or,
take the car out for a sunsetty spin down the coast road to Bangor and play some bloody board games.

So, I decided to stay in...

...no, but pish! I merely jest with you because OF COURSE I decided to go and play some games! It is ridiculous that (just a couple of months ago) it was getting dark as I set out on my evening mission of ludography and now it's still a bit glowy-in-the-distance on the coming back! A brief diversion by way the supermarket for some scrummy end-of-the-day sushi bargains then it was up the whooshing lift to the 5th floor of Pontio's Art Centre; après "ping!", one is dumped in to a quiet area bedecked with tables, foamy chairs and many an earnest student-type gazing - brow-furrowed, bic biro interdental, at their laptops. I scurried quietly by attempting to keep the boxes in my bag rattling like cuboid maracas.



It was an excellent turn-out (with over 20 in total) even though it was just a shade passed 6PM; they like to get their gaming done early in these 'wilder' parts and - indeed - the place had emptied and people were looking at the inside of their lids by 10PM. I, of course, remain awake to document the sessions' delights. To open, Rob - who works at Bangor Uni (of which Pontios is a 'wing') and his son Ethan (?) joined me for some dice-chucking and Welcome to Centerville:



I find myself curiously enamored of this Yahtzee-esque meaty filler and I'm not sure I can tell you why coherently; it's just a feeling I have when I think about playing it. It pleases me with the simple rules: roll/re-roll six dice up to three times then 'spend' them on a variety of actions, score area majority and set collection in two currencies (Income and Prestige) at various times and then the lowest of those two currencies at the end of the game is your final score. It's more than Roll Through The Ages and it's ilk and less of bastard fiddle than Roll For The Galaxy. (Semi-)amusingly, Ethan kept rolling the dice so that they'd bounce on the central board and scatter player cubes in all directions; indeed, this perilous corruption of the game state was further compounded by Ethan's tendency to lean on his player reference and slide it either OFF the table (his weight creasing the cardboard - argh!) OR slide it toward the (aforementioned) board for minor nudging. Anyway, it mattered not because the fight was really for second place between Father and Son as #badteacher I romped away with proceedings.

Things wouldn't be quite so clear-cut when Aaron joined Rob, myself and Yollo (?) for some hot, spicy Goa action:



Both Yollo and Rob were in virgin territory here, so there was much for them to take in and they did tickle along for a couple of respectable scores (29 and 31); on the other hand, the very LAST action of the game was from Aaron playing an Exploration card that allowed himself to sell 10 spices for 3 dukats a-piece and edged past my own 28 cash to claim the 'richest player' 3pt bonus! This took him from 44 to 47 and me, consequently, from 44 to 41! Robbed, I say! It turns out Yollo and Rob have a great many other fantastic games of the Goa Era to explore - Princes of Florence and El Grande to name but two - so I need to find an excuse to be up here on Thursday evening more often!
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Fri Apr 6, 2018 6:50 am
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In Space No One Can Hear You Scream...

Anthony Boydell
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North Wales I am in you (again)! Honestly, I'm up-and-down like a Dysentery-afflictee's trousers. This time I brought the rain with me just to make the journey that much more grey and miserable. Thankfully, the twin podcast delights of Greg Proops' Smartest Man In The World and Pappy's Flat-Share Slam-Down helped buoy my mood until I'd scampered - chill droplets upon my newly-shaven pate - in to the warm bosom of the Llandudno Junction office.

The P.M whistled by, in a flurry of print-outs, until it was time to stow my gear at the B&B and vroom-vroom along the coast road to Abergele*. Not as far as Prestatyn this week because everyone - apart from those habitating proximal to Abergele** - were indisposed so there was no need to keep driving unnecessarily.

We - that is myself, Ed, Yvonne, (camera shy) Daffydd and (loud shirt) George - rendezvoused at the DPL (short for Departure Lounge but that doesn't quite work...and neither does the huge "Bar and Grill" with tiny DPL lettering sign). Being a Wednesday evening, it was just we five blocking the tall table near the toilets; this was a boon because the staff (all four of them hanging about just for us) started shifting the furniture around "for a big party tomorrow" in between serving us soft drinks/scowling at the nonsense we had arrayed before us:



George was expected to be a while, so we'd opened with a test run of The Great Air Race but George arrived at exactly the point where we could no longer "deal him in" and had to sit out the remainder of the 20 mins watching semi-bemused. The main event was - as you can see - something still buzzing mightily across the Cult of the New Now: the always-excellent Terraforming Mars. It was the usual suspects pulling away from the field from the off - ie. me, Ed and Yvonne - and it was a lack of board presence that 'did' for Ed in the end, leaving the way open for a joint victory. I did fear for Daffydd's health half-way through, however, when he proudly claimed the 3rd (last available) achievement from under his fiancées nose and was roundly chastened by a hissed "You twat!"; it's at times like these that one judiciously absents oneself
a) for a toilet break,
b) to get a drink from the bar and, if really desperate,
c) both of the above.



*As in 'belly'
**But not as in 'jelly'
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Thu Apr 5, 2018 6:40 am
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For Personal Use Only

Anthony Boydell
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I needed something to take to the In-Laws for the big family Easter lunch (cousins and uncles and aunts all in attendance too) and there’s only so much of Codenames I can take before wanting to mash someone’s face into the table so I did the honourable thing and mocked up something quicker, louder and, most-importantly, quicker:


Have scalpel and 100+ spare card sleeves, will snippety-snip.


The family are a rowdy, jolly bunch but tend to flinch when I present board games at this type of gathering; we're dealing with a brought up on Monopoly and Cluedo lot, here. As I found out this time, even the relatively-light drafting mechanisms of my prototype The Great Air Race (see below) confounded and befuddled a couple of the keener ones.



The one game that they could all get behind, though, was my hurriedly-concocted PnP of The Mind (because you just can't buy it anywhere in the UK at the moment):



It was an absolute smash and there was a table of four playing at any given point in time between 3PM and 7PM! One particularly-delicious moment had the team about to beat Level 3 and the onlookers - in unison - simultaneously edged closer to the table (unbidden) to see if they'd do it! It made me laugh out loud with the joy of it! I know that I came back from Spiel with Azul my sure-and-certain SdJ winner but, after Easter Sunday, there's a new star in the firmament: The Mind is worthy of all the buzz for sure!
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Mon Apr 2, 2018 10:27 am
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Time Was

Anthony Boydell
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Easter comes around (quickly) once more and an all-dayer game sesh at the Bateson residence has become the must-do Good Friday distraction. Time was* that I'd get some spiritual business out of the way before beetling across a drizzling Herefordshire but the last couple of years have soured my soul to Catholic influences so, instead, it was chores and eggs Benedict. Gaming over a long holiday weekend is not a recent, post-Surprised Stare thing as I was startlingly-reminded when eldest son (Fred) reminisced over a long-dusted family photo album (Volume 2: 1995 thru 1996, complete with actual photographs):


Remember how I said we used to use Alice as a start player marker?


I was struck by an overwhelming emotional wave looking at these 23 year-old snapshots: how young we are, how new everything is (that's our first home, that's our first child) and how much I miss my dear friend Rob who passed in 2012. How I wish my Now self could step in to the picture and chat for a while and, it goes without saying, join in with the Black Overcoat Game too.

Returning to 2018 and we call a cheery 'Halloo!' to modern Euros. Stepping across the Lilliputian** threshold - narrowly missing a shelving unit (is it on it's way in or on it's way out, I wonder?) there's just enough time to get a brew on before our hosts and us two 'first arrivals' (that's Garry and me) get stuck in to the wonderful Nusfjord:


Fjishing and Flying.


Garry was new to this condensed Uwe classic but not unaware of the babble surrounding it; I can precis the babble thusly: people who have played it think it's brilliant and those that haven't say it's crap because that's how things work these days. The solution is simple: play Nusfjord because it's absolutely fan-bloody-tastic (and I'm not just saying that because I won (again)).

With Mark and son, Max, expected in due course - with Jobbers and Wendy promised a little later - it was the perfect opportunity to try out the re-engineered prototype of The Great Race. We played the 'basic' version - ie. the version without the asymmetric powers - which was, as one would expect, a little bland: it worked, for sure, but for a table of proper gamers it lacked the crunchiness/wrinkles/combos that the extra mechanisms bestow. As it turned out, I lost by one point to Becky despite being the sole flyer in Paris at the end of the main race; the scoring is the other major element on mine and Brett's watchlist, as it needs broadening a bit more.

Happy at yet another productive and thought-provoking play-test, we raised our heads and greeted Mark and Max (who had occupied themselves during the last stages of our air racing with Star Wars Dobble). Jobbers, too, bounced merrily through the portal carrying an armful of (delicious) low-alcohol cider so we could immediately split for a Becky pre-requested Terraforming Mars:


Squeaked it: Tony takes Mars!


Please bear in mind that our first meeting with Mark - just a couple of weeks ago - revealed him to be a keen Chess player and that's all. In the ensuing fortnight, we've dropped him right in it with introduced him to Peloponnes, The Castles of Burgundy and Scythe and, now, we were dumping in the thin atmosphere of this card-driven trickery without so much as a potato! He gave very good account of himself - asking for advice and clarifications, as needed - and pulled clear away on the TR track; he came a cropper (as many do) on Mars itself by failing to build stuff there. He enjoyed the experience immensely though (huzzah!) and was impressed how it felt like his favourite sci-fi series: KSR's Mars trilogy, naturally!

It was dark outside - but still pissing-it-down and chilly - and we persuaded a knackered Garry to stay for just one more game:


Beering it down the Wye Valley with Smudge. Jobbers (off to the right) played an absolute blinder and was a comfortable victor - much to his chuckling satisfaction!


Another play-test but, this time, not a recognisable one unless you looked really closely; we were chuffing up-and-down the Wye Valley in search of tunnels to dig, bridges to build and beer to sup! Oh, yes; the Surveyor really gets his whistle whetted in a quest to tick off the sights on his Postcard. So enthusiastic is his quaffing that when he's lifted his elbow in one station, he's forever barred from drinking there again and must take his custom elsewhere! Not be scoffed at, there are twenty four points and a number of VERY useful triggered-effects awaiting the thirsty traveler; the tunnels, too, can prove a tasty source of points for the track builder (completed tunnel spaces count as track for Contract scoring). All-in-all it was a tremendous game that only reminded me it was a prototype when a couple of contract cards identified themselves as unworkable in the scenario; the rest of the time you'd never have known it was a WIP!

All that concentration had taken it's toll and I withdrew in to a sleepy, mostly-silent end-of-the-evening El Grande:


From dead (and dribbling) last place to a gnat's whisker second!


Things weren't looking too good at the start when Boffo snagged a 'send everyone home to the Provinces' card on Turn One (!) and was "punished" a round later by Wendy gifting him an easy 10 points (score all 'fives'). By the mid-game, I was a good 20 points from the leader(s) and resigned to limping home at the last; it didn't help that Boffo kept (loudly, fortified by his transfer from Earl Grey to red wine) announcing which cards and actions benefited which player(s). I quietly chipped away at the deficit (always late in the turn order) until the very last round, which set itself up to be an absolute corker: all five players within a couple of points of each other! Boffo stole it - he went after me in the final sequence meaning I had to hedge my bets somewhat - but I'm happy to have pulled back so much ground. I've said it before and I'll say it again: El Grande with the full complement is one of the finest board games in existence.

It was still raining on my 11PM departure:

driving home to you
dancing diamonds in the road
lay-by emeralds,
rubies,
and wet smoke obscure my view
driving home to you


*I am suddenly reminded of this:


**The Batesons' bungalow - or should that be FUNgalow?! - is called Lilliput***
***NOT after the 1950s-era 'gentlemans periodical'
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Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:39 pm
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Boys Keep Scything

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Well that week went quick! Mrs B and I nipped out for a posh lunch while the Sun was shining and the household seemed to be recovering from a flu-esque outbreak. Me? Well, I'd managed to escape the worst of it but a minor form of retribution would visit itself upon me for my smugness, just an hour before departing for Ross-on-Wye, thanks to some bad calimari* and resultant 'gas' piped up from the very heart of Hell itself.

The Plough Inn was strangely quiet in the Lounge Bar but, in contrast, the back room was buzzing with the anticipation of an uncharacteristic mob of meeple-shoving gamer types: no Becky (still handling her Super Trouper) but, instead, Mark (see last week) returning with his 10 year old son in tow, Byll, Boffo, Jobbers, long-time absentee Paul C with his fiancé, myself and Arthur.

I had suggested that Scythe would be a great choice if the young lads were to be in attendance and, thus, was it so:


(clockwise from left) Mark, Arthur, Max and Jobbers


Boffo couldn't have scurried away from 'the big table' fast enough (!) and settled himself against the back wall with Byll and a copy of The Downfall of Pompeii. The rest of us blocked 90% of the thoroughfare and laid out the bright, colourful eye-candy that is an alternate 1920s Europe.

Although it might seem that we were throwing Mark and Max in to the deep end, the basic mechanisms of Scythe are really very straightforward: the actions at the top get you stuff while the actions at the bottom convert it in to some manner of progress. Turns are brisk enough so that you quickly get a flavour of what's going on but, of course, working out the right order of doing them is what needs the learnin'.

I'd also added The Wind Gambit because
a) Arthur was foaming at the mouth to play them;
b) They allow players to get around the board quicker to produce stuff (so better rewards, sooner); and,
c) one MORE mechanic wasn't going to make much difference to the learning curve.

It took a while but everyone was soon ticking their turns off sharply; naturally, there were confusions, queries, error takebacks and - for the two youngsters - a gleeful zeal for fighting despite being ill-equipped with POWER and/or COMBAT CARDS. Jobbers was worryingly-quiet throughout; backed in to a bit of a corner by Max's constant tit-for-tat attacks, I fear he may have regretted signing up for 'the noob table' - especially as Pompeii, behind him, had been succeeded by an intriguingly-narrated-by Boffo Nusfjord! My own evening was proving utterly exhausting: a combination of squid-induced digestive discomfort, the need to be on constant 'advice' alert and a general tiredness borne of medication.


A win with $69 #badteacher


Aside: We were briefly interrupted by a pair of elderly gents who sidled in from the Bar and expressed much interest in what was going on; it turns out they're dyed-in-the-wool wargamers and 1970s tabletoppers (think Kingmaker, Diplomacy, Britannia etc) and were soon promising a near-future Friday pop-along. Boffo nearly coughed out his beer!

Unsurprisingly, there would be no further games once the Mechs had powered-down and the Peasants returned to their rustic domiciles; Sycthe, with rules explanation, had bitten the best part of three-and-a-half hours out of the evening. Despite my fatigue, however, the ultimate goal was achieved: Mark, Max, Arthur - and even Jobbers - saying how good they had found it! Giving a great sigh of relief** we went home too.

*sounds like a Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn movie
**from both ends
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Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:03 am
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Tom Tom Club

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Today I bring you a scrapbook of the weekend just gone: a curious couple of days where I was temporarily handed the reins of Casa Boydell so Mrs B could drink Prosecco and sing along to ABBA tunes without me tutting away in the background. Only Arthur really needed to be kept occupied - the others old enough to sort themselves out - so it was a vee relaxed (ie. lazy) period with nought to get worked up about.

With some Newent shopping on their agenda, the Batesons popped around mid-morning on the Saturday for some Foothills: The Great Little Trains Of Wales (oooh, get the new title!) testing which went very well indeed:


(from L to R: Boffo, Boffo's tableau, the railway lines (and action card supply at the bottom), Smudge's tableau and Smudge.


This was Becky's first bash at the re-vamped version (now circa v5, officially); that's the one with the 'flipping card actions'...which is not (oddly for this blog) 'swearing' but an accurate description of the physicality of the mechanic. A couple of ability tweaks, some card layout suggestions (for clarity) and a graphics refresh would see me through the subsequent Monday evening: have laptop and printer, will prototype!

There being no particular hurry, it would've been wantonly careless to have missed out on a chance for some Agricola and, with Arthur's semi-reluctant agreement, we set out the Revised Edition with the Artifex deck shuffled in for good measure:



I settled upon a delightfully-abusive combo that let me slip in to already-occupied non-accumulation action spaces and was loudly-whinged by the others as being a runaway leader; in the end, Boffo was tickled in to second by just a few points. Arthur got distracted by trying to get enough grain to brew himself some whiskey and was lucky to make it in to single figures! Mustn't grumble, though; a game of Agricola is a game of Agricola and is always savoured!

Bidding farewell to the Batesons, we soon bade welcome to my brother-in-law Tom who was here to help us watch some Saturday night movies; on the agenda were Annihilation* (recent Netflix-ed sci-fi-er) and Cronenberg's The Fly**. Neither were suitable for young Arthur so it behooved us to spend some time with him (always worth it because he's a splendid fellow) before his bedtime:



Bärenpark didn't really catch his imagination so we closed - pre-pyjamas - with my oldest, daftest and most beloved design: the treasure hunting, card-driven cartoon antics of the Overcoat family. It played to great hilarity and I found myself - FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AT LEAST TWO YEARS - the winner! Huzzah for me! We all had such a hoot that we set it up again the following (snowbound) morning (over elevenses) for a couple games more.


On the far right: please note my opening hand of cards and Benedict's tableau after the opening turn - in B.O.G terms, I would be 99% certain to gain the requisite three Map Pieces on my first turn and - if the draw of the Treasure Location went my way - win it then too! I didn't, of course, because every picked on me.


*It was okay.
**Everyone was too tired and, besides, my taped copy was very grainy; we have postponed until Tom can bring his Blu Ray disc over.
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Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:15 am
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