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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Founding Fishers

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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How excited we were when we gathered at The Plough Inn! With Boffo and Smudge celebrating their 10th Wedding anniversary, it was - appropriately - just the usual four of us for endoftheweek gaming and it would be a corker. There was a palpable expectation in the air and the reason for that would become clear after we'd notched up yet another club game of the outstanding Nusfjord:



As you can see from the pic (above), I played a 'No Boats' strategy and, instead, leeched off Jobbers and Smudge through my extensive share portfolio! The in-game murmurings were occasionally broken by a Boffonian "You'll not get your hands on my holdings!" and it came down to 'big buildings' in the final reckoning: Boffo (36), Smudge and I tied on 32 and Jobbers slipping on a stray herring at the back with 29. The more eagle-eyed of you may have already noticed that the buildings on my board are not from the regular decks (Pilchard, Sea Bass and Minnow...or whatever the heck they are); instead, these are from the forthcoming 2018 expansion (!) which I obtained from my good pals at Lookout Games. It's a new standalone fishy deck and offered some lovely effects though quite a lot of the 'A' cards are worth 0VP which elicited a few grumbles. No matter, it was an excellent game with some excellent new cards and we love it more with every play.



The second game is one that we've been hanging on with bated breath for since I acquired a copy around Christmas: Charterstone. There was a moment at the end of Nusfjord where we might've just reset it and played again BUT the (unusual, slightly threatening) spark in Boffo's eyes indicated that we must bite the bullet and get a-Legacying! The mood was positively fizzing as we began the Game 1 process of (in turns) retrieving and reading cards, sticking things in the Chronicle (rulebook) and on to the board; even our struggles to open the shrink-wrapped decks caused good-natured hilarity rather than the usual sarcasm. Our first run was tentative; not because it was complex (it isn't - it's a smooth, clean WP engine...so far!) but because not having ALL of the rules at the start just feels really ODD! Early cards begged answers to our questions that would be answered a little later ("Do we name our Charters now?", "What's a Guest?" etc); as seasoned gamers, it felt frustrating not to have all the info up-front. However, the air of anticipation never faded in the 75 minutes as more and more of this strange world was revealed to us: brilliant.



The closer - Capital Lux - was a little disappointing; Boffo didn't take to it (all of his good will seemingly poured in to Charterstone leaving but a husk) and the other two were decidedly 'Meh'; following Jamie's new hotness is going to be a tough task, I think - all the more reason to fill an evening just playing it and nothing else?!



Postscript: Jobbers liked Charterstone so much that he purchased a copy on his phone the moment we'd finished playing; Boffo pronounced that he would be acquiring one in the near future too. I worry that I may have been dreaming all of this - will somebody pinch me, please?
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Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:57 am
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Terraforming M'arse

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Imagine my delight upon arriving at the Llandudno digs to find a couple of cup-cakes reclining upon the Boydellian billet:



There's nothing like sucking on a creamy muffin in a Hotel room.


Just the one game tonight (last night) in murky Prestatyn and no supermoon to light up the hills or sparkle off the waters and windmills of Colwyn Bay. The Facebook group has been alive with banter all week and we were staring down the barrel of a six-er, despite St.Valentine's Day robbing us of a couple of regulars...though not, as you will see, the sitting in a tree / k.i.s.s.i.n.g Yvonne and Daffydd who - because we'd decided on multiplayer Terraforming Mars - couldn't be kept at bay for (chocolate) love* nor (champagne) money! No, but the group was fizzing with speculation as to what colourful boxes would be vomited forth for the shoving of dobbers, the chitting of chits and the tapping of wood upon Hex. Would it be Mansions of Madness? Could it be Agricola? Should it be Terraforming Mars? Dould it be Snowdonia? Quould it be Clans of Caledonia? Or Giaiaiaiaia Project? Or Fould Chain Magnate? Ah, F.C.M - how much strife didst thine initials cause! George, nervously-babbling his typed mental anguish, was simultaneously talking himself in to the session and out of the session; he mis-typed F.C.M as F.G.M**, tried to joke it off and then all Hell broke loose! Well, not Hell exactly (though it got a bit sweaty) and George had to retire, injured! Bernie had cried off earlier after an apparently terrifying 'haunted' jog around the Orme, so that left just four: the ever-dependable Ed, the love-birds and me.



Elysium and Venus Next with ALL of the cards and no 'easy start'; I plumped for some Venusian pioneers and spent the first four rounds of the game dropping floaters and asteroids, which set me up beautifully to snatch two of the three Milestones! Turning my attention to Mars itself - sometimes I forget this most basic of requirements - I pumped out oceans and forests and cities with relative ease to push my total to a career best 91 points. It was almost entirely multi-player solitaire too, apart from me dropping a series of big-ass rocks on to Ed's saplings and laughing maniacally - I love this game so very much.

However, the most important news of all (in today's blog) is that it is Arthur's 10th birthday; double-figures for my gaming pal and my favourite son whose name begins with 'A':


Happy birthday, my darling boy; happy, HAPPY birthday!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!


*Um...
**Female Genital Mutilation
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Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:20 am
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Here Be Dragons!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Tucked up safe and warm in the toasty comfort of Room 4 (or "The Boydell Suite" as it is now known) of my Llandudno digs, I can hear the storm howling outside and I am glad. For the third week running I have been able to avail myself of the generous company of The Snowdonia Dragons and later, as the wind whips along the back alleys pressed up against the mighty Orme, repair to my laptop for the write-up. I couldn't just make a nest of the many pillows and drop off immediately; no, indeed, I must empty my head of the day's events first.

To start, I'd prepared the way (via the BGG Guild) for a play test of my Snowdonia:Wye Valley Tourer expansion which, originally, started life as 'the B side' to a smaller Darjeeling and Himalaya scenario. The Wye Valley Tourer adds tunnels (co-opted by the recent 1881 Channel Tunnel), a couple of lucrative-the-more-you-build 'bridge' cards and the drinking of tea. With a postcard of 'bonuses', you send your Surveyor up and down the valley in search of delightful tourist spots in which to sup a brew - provided it's not raining - which, in turn, allows you to 'tick off' your postcard in return for points and/or bonus resources or actions.


Sarah, Bernie and Ed take a break from all that hard work!


It was a slow start with quite a lot of rain (ie. almost ALL rain) that cleared up in to a scorching Summer; the four of us drifted off along different paths (Sarah: a bit of everything including a tie for the most tunnel sections, Me: failing to complete my contract cards but clearing my Postcard, Ed: Track and Tea and Bernie: the Tunnel and Track King). We were done in 90 mins and, for a play-test, I thought it went excellently; the three 'new bits' worked smoothly, it's now down to a re-scanning of the contract cards to sort out a couple of minor inconsistencies! The aim is to have it ready for the forthcoming 3rd Edition Kickstarter campaign (Summer, I believe) along with a little tribute to my pal Peter: "The Bluebell Line".

The table in the opposite corner had finished it's Altiplano shenanigans, so we were able to mix things up a bit; in the end we seemed to have only swapped Ed for Aaron, so it was back to our table for a daft WP-ish filler from the makers of the excellent The King of Frontier:


Little Town Builders: King of Frontier 2?!


In summary: place a worker on the board in a free space and then gain resources from the 8 spaces around you OR spend resources to build and place a building. As the game progresses those 8 spaces will cover your buildings and those of other players; in the latter case you must pay the owner $1 to use that building's effect. Buildings are worth points, conversion of resources into points can be done on buildings, secret goals can be attained in-game for points and money is also VPs (3:1). You play four rounds, feeding your workers fish/grain at the end of each one, and then you see who has the most points.

Quick and fun, this is another daft gem from the East; I'm not sure I'd pay 60 euros + postage for it, but it was a hoot nonetheless.

Plenty of time to go yet, so one went up to one's elbows in Bernie's bag to tug out a couple of trinkets; firstly, something with quite a good rep from all I've heard and read:



In summary: Play cards from your hand to your tableau OR to a central 'Capital' that matches the suit (there are four). If you play to a capital, you gain a bonus of some kind (a gold, a card draw, a secret modifier or a low card from a capital); if you play to your tableau, you're setting up majority scoring at the end of each of the three rounds AND your final total too. The trick is to avoid the total value of cards in a suit in your tableau exceeding the total value of cards played to the matching capital in the middle of the table: if you do, you might be in line for scoring bonuses, if you don't you lose all of your collected cards in that suit!

A clever little decision brewer, I thought it would go down well 'at home' so I offered to buy it from Bernie (who had previously mentioned he wasn't likely to play it with 'just two'); he paused for a moment and then simply handed it to me as a gift - how utterly wonderful, how stupendously civilised!

I repaid this fulsome generosity by crushing him at our final game: DragonFlame...


In summary: It's Coloretto with special abilities and mixed scoring opportunities!


While the others were fighting over chests and 'hard VP' treasures, my Wyvern burned up a series of villages and amassed a collection of unique statuary for a comfortable victory; not even a vindictively-donated -3 point Knight from Sarah could dent my Smaugian triumph.

Next week I shall be training folk in Merthyr Tydfil and my Wintry sojourn of gaming luxury will come to an end. I'll be back in the Spring, though, which is something very much to look forward to!
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Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:30 am
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From Travels to Travails

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Have you ever had one of those weeks? You know, when you get to play games and watch stuff on Netflix and have a nice takeaway meal and enjoy a bit of Wintry weather...while one of your children has a car accident (safe, though!) - with all of the resulting paperwork and phone-based arse-ache - and another one is having a pre-GCSE meltdown and all of that shit has to be dealt with by your Missus? I'm sure we've all been there #PMSC. We'd all reached an element of peace by Friday (I was returnèd from my travels Thursday evening) and I was able to nip out for some (more) games.

Byll joined us, once more, to fill in the early-evening absence of Becky (theatre stuff) and Ben had - quite predictably - packed a number of things Becky don't like for us to guiltlessly devour. No surprises that first up was Suburbia:


Red pulls away - quite comprehensively - in the final summation.


An odd game, this, albeit a return to form for myself and Ben after Jobbers' recent (uncharacteristic) clobberin'. With my 'Fewest Grey Buildings' secret goal and public goals for 'Most Blue' and 'Fewest Yellow', I managed to quietly back away from Grey and Yellow under the guise of 'Gotta take the Waterfront Realty's and within a couple of rounds those public goals were safe in my possession provided I could keep finding non-grey and non-yellow things to do on my turns. This proved more difficult given a dearth of blue buildings in the middle 40% of the game which turned my attention to (a little) lake building but full-on spending of my 2x tokens: this was more than enough to boost my Reputation Income such that I kept pace with an equally-accelerating Ben. And all the while there was a guaranteed 40 points of end-game scoring coming my way!

A text assured us that Becky was imminent, so we rattled out a Sackson classic (previously unplayed by myself): BuyWord



In summary: roll a die and draw that many letter tiles from a bag. Count the pips and pay 'the square' to keep all the tiles OR discard the whole lot. Play out words from your pool of tiles and gain 'the square' of the word's pip count in revenue: as long as you 'buy small' and 'play long', you'll make a profit.

Byll managed to fettle about with the clattery tiles (accompanied by his characteristic audible internal monologue) and make more of a profit than the rest of us, though Jobbers' saucy arrangements elicited a titter-or-two.

Becky arrived and we set up a five-player Aegyptus-mapped Concordia (Ben spending a few minutes nose-deep in the rules pamphlet to work out some of the 'tweaks'). It's a tight starting zone and I missed a double-city build (going 4th) which let Jobbers get it instead; I then realised that I was going to be a couple of turns (at least) before getting to architect anything of any potential use and sat staring at the board position without a clue of what to do next. My brain had seized and I couldn't see anything to get me moving again; with a sinking heart, I realised that I was going to spend the next 90 minutes frustrated and directionless - I couldn't face that joyless prospect (not least for the others who might've been subjected to my grumbling) and so begged my leave.

Mrs B was surprised at my early return but pleased that we could settle down - just we two - in front of some daft, Friday night TV. Gaming is often my sanctuary from worldly worries but, this time, Home was where I needed to be.
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Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:11 am
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(punches your arm) "yellow airship, no returns!"

Anthony Boydell
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I woke up and I looked out of the window and I saw that it was snowing and I made a small shouting noise and put my clothes on as quickly as possible making sure that I wore a shirt AND a jumper because you've got to wrap up properly when it's cold otherwise you will get poorly and I didn't want to get poorly because I wanted to go out and play in the snow.

I didn't eat the crusts on my toast because that would've meant being inside longer when I was looking forward to making snow angels and a snow man and doing some sledding (if I could borrow a sled because I left mine at home) but then I remembered I had to go in to work and I got angry and a bit hot on my face and I said a rude word so I had to drive in to the big Government building and I sulked for the first hour and stared out of the window watching the huge flakes drifting down on to the car park.

I did my chores and it was playtime so I got myself a coffee and was about to go in to the car park to see if my car had been snowed in (!) when I noticed the flakes had stopped and everything had melted and the roads were wet and even the hills around were looking green and normal as if there had never been any snow at all and I said another rude word and I think the man in the security booth heard me so I felt hot in the face again and hid in the toilet for ten minutes until it was time for the Conference Call.


A complicated plan that Jeremy used a computer for; Jeremy is clever with computers. I like the colours too.


At least I was able to go out to play board games after work and so I went over to Prestatyn - which is a big town a few miles away - and got myself a nice pie and some raspberry jelly for my supper and I managed not to get any jelly on the car seats or on my trousers which is good but what was more good was not having to share my jelly which always happens at home and makes me upset because it's not fair because it's supposed to be my jelly so why should I have to give some to other people?

Jeremy and Ed and Daffydd and Yvonne and me had to wait for George to arrive before we could play the first game of Scythe in a special campaign that Jeremy and Ed and Daffydd and Yvonne dreamed up where we all play the different factions once and add up the scores at the end but only every six weeks or so which means I might not be able to play the whole thing through and that's just typical of my luck but at least they served pineapple juice in the Pub so that made me feel less unhappy.



When George arrived he had forgotten how to play Scythe and so every time he had a question at least three people would answer the question and whenever he did something that wasn't allowed in the rules at least three people would tell him that he wasn't allowed to do it and this made George fed-up but he didn't say any rude words but took his pieces back anyway. I was given the Yellow team, which is not my favourite colour, and we were also using the flying ships which make a sort of humming swoosh noise as they move (because I can make that noise with my mouth) and when I had to start I just produced some stuff and then Yvonne moved her ship and then Daffydd moved his ship and Ed moved his ship and George moved his ship and I was about to say a rude word because I've never played with the ships before and I was worried that I should've moved my ship first otherwise I would be a loser from the start but then Jeremy did a production action and I gave a big sigh of relief. "Phew" I said. Then somebody spotted that George couldn't quite move his ship and people the way he had tried and we had to backsies his turn a bit.

I was very pleased to be putting out lots of stars but then there was some fighting from Jeremy that messed up my secret plan and he got to place his first star because of it and I was almost going to finish the game soon and so I thought a rude word and took absolutely ages on my turn trying to do something else which made everyone else a bit fidgetty except George, who had left some wood behind in a space without a worker to look after it so he was undoing his move so that it worked the right way around instead but then said that he didn't need wood anyway and put it all back to the way it was before. He then said he had performed a bottom action which made me say "Well, open a window then!" which nobody actually laughed at and I'm not even joking.

Yvonne did a move that gave Dafydd his sixteenth Power which meant he could place his last-but-one star and then, on his turn, place his sixth star and end the game (almost) in a special way because of something written on a card near Jeremy and so we had to count our money up but I was unhappy because Yvonne and Daffydd are going to get married and so Yvonne giving Daffydd that extra Power felt a bit like "favourites", which is really unfair and everything. George tried to count up points for his combat cards too but at least three people told him he couldn't do that and so he put them away and said a really low score - much lower than my score but my score was quite low too so I don't fancy my chances much of catching up especially if Yvonne and Daffydd are going to keep helping each other in a kissy-kissy way.



When I got home to Llandudno there was a jolly sign that made me feel happy for a little while and then I remembered I had to go back to work in the morning and I got angry and I said another rude word but, because I was in the car on my own, no-one else could hear me which is great because I can also listen to whatever music I want to and no-one can tell me to turn it off.

And the best thing of all was that when I burped I could still taste raspberry jelly in the burp!
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Thu Feb 8, 2018 6:25 am
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Co2

Anthony Boydell
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I was driving the frosty roads at 5AM to make sure I was 'on site' at the Llandudno office in time for the opening of the phone lines and the launch of our Governmental Dept's online portal. There were a surprisingly large number of startlingly quick-driving Artics bogglering along the mostly-empty country roads which made the newly-purring VW Touran rock and weave in the passing draught. Come 8AM - slowed to 40mph amidst the Colwyn Bay roadworks - I dialled in to the go/no go conference call and immediately pressed 'mute' as I didn't have anything in particular to say and, besides, it was warm and cosy and slightly-sleepy in the car. All that fussing and dark-navigation was for nought given there was a subsequent failure in the phone system (Welsh Govt-wide) and the Developers didn't actually open the website until 3PM! No dramas, though; it was a half-empty office and the day swooshed calmly by without anything to twist one's knickers.

A quick bite back at the B&B and then off to The Mulberry to halloo my Cambrian Compandres; my "Cym-rades" (if you will):


A sucker for punishment? Oh yes!


It having preyed on my mind since last week, I was happy that Aaron suggested we give John Company a second try "now that we all know the rules". Tim and Ed, however, had made themselves scarce as the thin box emerged from the bag so, instead, we hoovered up a loitering Lee and a tarrying Tom to make up a goodly foursome. Wow, what a 90 minutes followed: despite a couple of odd rolls early on, we managed a much more coherent approach to running the aforementioned Company and siphoning off a little of the cream for ourselves! We (pleasingly) managed to finish the full six rounds (a victory of some kind in itself) without laying the good Corporation to waste and a fortuitious attrition role on Aaron's Chairman freed him for an illustrious Royal Wedding and a comfortable victory. We conquered, we traded and we voted DOWN every decent Law and voted IN every tiresome one; indeed - not that I'm bitter - but Tom killed a Bill that would've netted him 12 money and me 8 money across the rest of the game for no initial cost and no benefit to Aaron or Lee! Why? Who knows - perhaps it was my 'honest face'? Or my incessant hectoring? I was playing the most marvellous game of JC in my head, though.

With plenty of time to go - and waiting for Clank In Space to end (or whatever Clank In Space does) - we tried out a recent KS arrival: T. C. Petty, III's Spires. Appallingly, I seemed entirely unable to avoid taking a cart-load of cards with every 'auction', ending the proceedings with a miserable 12 points (Aaron was over 100). It's one of those set collection games where you don't want to collect big sets at all - just the right amount (3 in each colour); I'll just take the tack that I misheard Aaron's rules explanation and went with the opposite. Yes, that seems viable.



It was all change, so I was asked to choose and so I chose Bernie's copy of the excellent Cubist. Dan was quite the master builder, closely followed by Tom, while Aaron and I proved unable to roll even the simplest of requirements; in over 13 'chucks' (26 dice) I failed to roll a single two and, instead, clumsily-clattered more than 12 threes. I blame some obviously-flawed and mis-weighted orange dice; remind me to send Bernie a message recommending he get the publisher to replace them.

To close was the Hanabi-esque delights of Abraca...what?. In summary, you don't see your spell tiles but you can see everyone elses' (and know how many of each are available). On your turn you announce a spell and if it's in your facing-away line then you cast it, usually damaging one or more neighbours; you keep going until you announce a spell you don't have. Each player starts with six lives and a Round ends when one or more players die after an action, with points awarded to the 'killer' and the survivors. Daft but pleasantly-so and, after the heavy start to the night, a cheery and light way to round off the session.
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Tue Feb 6, 2018 6:45 am
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Moon Over Prestatyn

Anthony Boydell
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There was a full moon over Colwyn Bay on a drizzling January evening as I beetled along the North Wales expressway in Mrs B's Nissan Micra (my Touran having suffered a dashboard-illuminating tantrum last week and now in the 'shop' for £600 worth of repairs *gasp*). It's fun rallying along the meandering Welsh roads in a tiny car but not so much fun when the wind gusting off the Irish Sea is threatening to tip one over and roll one up the bloody hillside! Thankfully, I made it to Prestatyn in plenty of time (and the right way up) to purchase my usual Marks & Spencer Food Hall Supper but, disappointingly, found the sea-front car park gates closed: no thousand-yard staring out at the beacons on the wind farm and DEFINITELY no ankle-dragging cuss words in to the flat sand #sadface.

The Beach House was just warming up for the evening and the gamers were arriving in fits-and-starts; at one point a couple of Tramps (that's 'hobos' for our American cousins) shambled in and looked like they were about to kick off and piss on our chips when I realised they were just Mark and Paul: club illuminati (if scruffy as fuck):


Not a bottle of meths or a dog-end between 'em.


Suitably soft-beveraged, we repaired to the upstairs room and promptly split in to a five for the excellent Peloponnes and four for tiresome Seasons. Peloppers - as no one is calling it - fair blistered along; the two of us who had played it before (and remembered it ie. me and Ed) managed our twin scores well enough to survive the disasters and end on a creditable pair of mid-to-late 20s scores. The others, rather distracted, failed to juggle the demands of their hungry populations and fell victim to the classic 'Ponnes' kick in the teeth: ending the game with 30+ points in buildings and a sad handful of citizens between 'em. Jeremy and Daffydd seemed unperturbed but Yvonne was visibly steaming with frustration - I fear this one is off her Christmas list.

She was still unsettled as we prevaricated over game number two and snuck off to a side table for a solo Fields of Arle while I taught my umpteenth game of Calimala! Jeremy and Ed were donating to buildings with such enthusiasm that Daffydd and I left them to it and built fleets of ships and the collective noun for trading houses of trading houses instead. It was all neck-and-neck, nip-and-tuck around the first corner of the score board as Ed, Jeremy and I hoovered up the scorings; Daffydd was being cut out of points by poor tie-breaks though, fortuitously, it was his hidden scoring card that provided me with the one extra point to steal the victory from Jeremy at the very last! Huzzah for me...and huzzah for Calimala!



Jeremy departed (and Yvonne was still arsing about with Arles) so D, E and me Rolled for the Galaxy to see the session out; I don't feel a burning urge to play this game but whenever I end up doing so, I have an absolute blast.

The journey home - now moonless thanks to rain clouds - was stormier but I was cocooned in a warm cockpit by the transcendent melodies of Dark Side Of The Moon. The whole effect was quite poetic especially when an ambulance sirened passed in a blur of spray and blue light to the strains of Time / The Great Gig In The Sky...

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Thu Feb 1, 2018 6:40 am
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The Company Of Dragons

Anthony Boydell
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The Snowdonia Dragons have decamped from the windy wilds of the Conwy golfing dunes to a snug, marina-side trendy Pub called The Mulberry; it was all open-plan pine-clad with an upstairs balcony bar perfect for gobbing on the general morass below. It being January, there was no morass to be seen, not even a mild hubbub. It was a notably small - for the Dragons - turnout with just about nine of us so after a brief catch-up about Christmas etc, it was down to some gaming...after all, I'd come here for my mental health after a four hour drive through (a bleak) mid-Wales and the prospect of a whole working week away from home.

Daffydd, Yvonne and Jeremy seemed to have pre-booked a Terraforming Mars sesh and were fully-loaded in one corner with Elysium, Corporate Era and Venus Next for good measure; Aaron was spinning lighter fayre in the other. Ed and a flu-recovering Tim joined me for some disc stacking, area majority fun:


Calimala for three?


It was clear, very quickly, that Ed was getting an absolute flyer; by the end, he almost needed to use his +50 token (unheard of)! I'd blame it all on him drawing 'Ship' and 'Cloth' cards while I kept drawing 'Bricks' and 'Donate', if I was a sore loser, which I'm not so I'll keep it to myself. Tim, almost nodding off in a fug of poorliness, dragged himself through the proceedings with the fabric warehouse he started with but was only picking up mostly-third place scraps.

Quickly done, Aaron joined us from an adjacent table clutching a skinny box of brainfuck & mindtwist a.k.a John Company:


Oddly co-operativeWorkerFamily placement with a sprinkling of Chicago Express?!


Basically, you're all involved in running the Company and making decisions about purchasing, trade and conflict; taking kickbacks from shipyards and factories that supply the Company that, in turn, supply the Indian regions for the Company's profit. Buy shares to get dividends, train up your peeps to take roles in management or the Armed Forces; all to earn cash to reinvest in the departments of the Company and - ultimately - to line your own pockets. It's a Cole Wehrle game so you get no bloody help from the game about what to do, how to do it or - most importantly - how to get through the entire game without tanking the Company. We made it to Round 3 when a horrible dice role on trade denied us $17 essential dollars and collapsed everything; three of us had family members in key positions shamefully-sacked (with their attendant VP penalty) while Tim - thousand yard staring at the busy board through rheumy eyes - was the only one NOT with a negative score! It was a lot of (obtuse) fun, though, and I'm glad I got to play it as I'm never likely to play it anywhere else!

With about an hour left - and Tim zombie-lurching homeward for a hot water toddy - Aaron, Ed and I settled in for a no-fuss Nusfjord; it's fab when one doesn't have to do any explaining and one can just get stuck in:



Apart from discovering we've been playing one (minor) rule wrong in Ross-on-Wye, this was the usual mix of tight decisions and good timing; indeed, managing to buy three shares (two of them my own) in Round Two set me up for a stable fish income. As always, the buildings were important and a deft final round juggling of wood and Elders netted me 6VPs - just enough to keep me ahead of Aaron who had been fishing with his Forests instead of boats! This game just keeps going up-and-up in my estimation: a corker!
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Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:35 am
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Screen Test

Anthony Boydell
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Arthur gets up relatively early on the weekend - relative to us grown-ups, that is - and will take himself downstairs after giving us a 'Good Morning' hug. The dog is let out in to the garden to ablute while Arthur settles himself down in front of the TV and/or his Kindle.

It takes a nice cup of tea and a biscuit to get me and Mrs B to properly wake up, so that sees me wandering down a bit later to put the kettle on. The problem with empty weekends is that Arthur will stay in front of screens for as much of it as he can get away with; this means it's a carefully-orchestrated campaign to stop him getting square eyes!

Item one is to go for a walk in to Town; this serves multiple purposes on any given Saturday in that I can post Surprised Stare post, buy the good lad some sweets and browse the Newent charity shops. We can get a bit of fresh air and kill a couple of hours if I also take the long, scenic route home.

Item two is to take the dog for a walk; this is a more problematic one but - with persistence - I can conspire to get us on top of May Hill or (at least) a long spiral around the Arboretum!




Item three is to play some board games. Now this may seem to many of you as a shoo-in for item one but with nobody else in the building up for such, we have to limit ourselves to quick setups. This weekend, already, I've managed to delay CBBC/CITV zombification with Jaipur and Best Treehouse Ever, as well as a lengthy listening to LPs session in the library while he looked through my Judge Dredd comics!

It's an ongoing battle against 'the screens' but we're gaining ground: little and often!
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Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:36 am
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"For Heaven's Sake, Gary; why don't you just drop your trousers and pop your balls on the table?!"

Anthony Boydell
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'Twas an early start at The Plough Inn for the benefit of Gary and we were foaming at the mouth for a full six-player sesh of Peloponnes promised, as we were, by Wendy's company too. Unfortunately, I elected to nominate Boffo to bring his copy - a recently-replenished replacement for his stolen goods - but it only had enough bits for five: dammit!

Wendy was still in transit, so we plumped for a couple of quick rounds of I Spy (my ruse of 'spying' G for Gary was fooling no-one), the Shopping List Game (Boffo became confused and reeled of his actual shopping list) and The Minister's Cat; during the latter, Boffo splendidly cocked up announcing 'Barberous' and ended up accidentally stuttering the first few bars of The Beach Boys' Barbara Ann!


Not much table clutter with our openers!


Thankfully Wendy arrived to save us from a reluctant Boffo's grumbling ("I vote we play some proper games" etc) and we split in to the traditional "two threes". Wendy, an occasional Euro gamer (mainly with us), has a whole vista of wonderful games before her and was being introduced to the delights of Puerto Rico by the Merry Batesons. For my own pleasure - and spurred by Gary's internet enquiry about the TMG Kickstarter campaign - I'd brought just a solitary item for the evening: the splendid Gentes.



With a few games of this under my belt, I began rocking on with card acquisition-and-playing which gave me some cheeking personal actions and bonuses (seven cards had a * icon, which is 28 placement-triggered points alone!) ; Jobbers used the first Era to accumulate space-hogging double hourglasses BUT seeded the Mediterranean for a healthy Decline phase income. Gary struggled throughout and was, unfortunately, lapped before the final reckoning. Our first game of this - back at the end of Summer - collapsed in the final era with rules confusion and bickering; last night it ended with exhalations of brain-exercised pleasure. I have no interest in pimping my Gentes (gosh, that sounds saucy!) via the crowdfunding campaign but if you don't have a copy already I'd strongly suggest you go take a look: it's a corker!

Puerto Rico ended almost simultaneously to us (we were the tardy ones), so it seemed appropriate to come together and build some Wonders:



7W is seeing a minor resurgence in the club recently and Boffo took our final round ruminations as an opportunity to explain the rules to Wendy. We had a couple of hours ahead of us, so this was going to be a multiple plays session; this has become a pseudo house rule for the Ross-on-Wye gamers because we usually cock-up the Age deck construction. The usual drafting and complaining ensued with Gary, in particular, bemoaning his constant adjacency to Boffo; he reacted to this positional injustice by building outrageously huge armies...at one point Boffo loudly-exclaimed "For Heaven's Sake, Gary; why don't you just drop your trousers and pop your balls on the table?!"

Jobbers took the first, Gary the second and the third was all about Boffo's HUGE 53 point Science tableau! Wow! Gadzooks! It seems Boffo had heeded his own advice and popped his big bollocks out! He only had an additional four points and pipped my 53 (for everything) for the victory, until...


Can you see it?


Oh, the howls of derision! Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth! Oh, the great tide of gloating from Yours Truly! Build two of the same card? I don't bloody think so! I waved a cheery-bye and took my smug self in to the frosty Herefordshire night...
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Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:37 am
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