Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Independent UK games designer, self-confessed Agricola-holic and Carl Chudyk fan-boy. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk What was that beardy bloke going on about?

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Whales in Wales

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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After such a lovely weekend, basking in the sunshine and mooching about the garden, it was a proper chore to have to drive back to North Wales for work; the Easter holidays are over for the boys too so, luckily, I got to drop Arthur off at school first. No sightseeing on the journey, it was as quickly as possible to the office to support the latest 'go live' and deliver (even) more training. Ho-diddley-hum; money may make the world go around BUT rhubarbing on to business support staff about task queues and RAG statuses certainly hoovers up the afternoon in the blink of an eye so, as is my routine, it was back to the B&B for a quick-change then supper watching the fat gulls scrounge on the Conwy quayside. Blazing and blue the great Arch may have been above me but there was one Hell of a breeze gusting in off the Irish Sea; the Touran was a-rockin'*

The board gamers were squeezed in to one half of the restaurant bar because - shock! horror! - now that the weather had brightened up, everyone and his Father-in-Law/Boss/Probation Officer had come out to twat white balls around 100 acres of reclaimed silt. No matter, Ed and Aaron and Tim and myself bagsied the window seats and set up Mr Alan Paull's criminally-overlooked (but highly-regarded by those in-the-know) Confucius:


Halfway through clear-up, I remembered I needed to snap the board state: note me (purple) in a criminally picked-on last place.



My action: sail to distant lands for this fabulous Emperor's reward card.
Aaron's action: send his army in to the last Invasion tile space.
My action: Swear and sulk and curse and moan and grumble.


I know how to play it in my head but stumbled through letting everyone else know; Aaron remembered bits from a while back too so, between us, we managed to piece things together for the other two. Playing pace was brisk and there was much giving and receiving of gifts which lead to the inevitable "What? I have to pay for YOUR candidate in the examination rather than mine...because you slipped me this f**king gift?! Damnit!" and so on. Aaron ran away with it all, in the end, but it was fun to give the old hoss a new airing. Funnily, Confucius was recently higlighted as "a hidden gem of board gaming" on Geek and Sundry (!):

http://geekandsundry.com/3-hidden-gems-of-board-gaming-you-s...

(time to give it a Twenteens facelift and a reissue, surely?!)


Ed and Tim lagged behind for a chat and then we suddenly found ourselves the only ones not 'in a game' so, naturally, we put ourselves 'in a game' and I chose the "something in about an hour" New Bedford:


I managed to 'land' three of the four KS promo tiles, thanks to my 'furthest out' little ship, plus a sack load of cash (from stolen goods via the Chemist Shop) and a VP-rich Seamen's Bethel for a (first ever) game-winning 26 points!


I meandered about the room, after Tim left, and managed to blag a three-player Linko! with Dewi and Denise. Apparently, Dewi has only lost at this once so it was extra-pleasing to hold him to a 40-40 tie after three rounds! My seven 1s were followed by, yes, _his_ seven 2s and he let me take them back (!); I played them again next turn, unchallenged, leaving me four 8s to end the round and steal his almost-certain victory away from him: huzzah!

I needed a toothbrush, so drove around for a bit in the hurricane until I found a 7-11; confusingly, when I parked up at the B&B - in the shadow of the Great Orme - the air was as still as a mouse's millpond. Where had all that angry air gotten to? I'll be blowed if I know.

*consequently, no-one came a-knockin'
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Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:35 am
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Another True Story

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I was so pleased when I turned up and found the Games Club buzzing with excitement and was two-thirds of the way through our Sushi Go starter before a passer-by asked what I was doing "sitting in that bee-hive"; noises confuse me, which is why I always get into police trouble when a church bell goes 'bong'.

In the actual venue, quite a few tables were setting up; I thought, for a moment, that I had become magnetic because every time I approached a spare chair, it would slide - seemingly of it's own accord - away from me and under the table; when I remarked that "We must be the same Poles", someone replied: "A pole of some sort, certainly" and turned around to let me see the attractive design on the back of his tee-shirt.

Wondering if Sod's Law would apply - that there would only be space for me at the last table I tried - I decided to visit the last table by the fire, second-to-last, and vice versa and managed to slide on to the cushioned caquetoire before my new-found repulsive field could take effect. The other players did that funny thing they always do when I join a game - it's sort of a club tradition - ie. simultaneously roll their eyes and tut. I can only do one of those two things at a time, so that's why we don't bother when anyone else comes in late.

The man who spoke the loudest and, therefore, seemed to be in charge, was messing about with an enormous box labelled 'nevahmoolG' - the box was facing away from me and I could only see the name in the fireplace mirror. There was a lot of stuff and he had some stickers that he set to one side as he gave us all piles of special cards. The stickers were coated with quite a strong adhesive and I was able to cover an entire beermat with them – on both sides! – before the leader started shouting and waving his arms around. “You want to be careful” I warned, as he flailed about with his face turning redder and redder; “you might knock someone’s drink over”. I showed him how this might happen by picking up my neighbours bottle of fizzy Mexican ale and pouring it over the landscape board: “See? That would be a total bitch to clean up afterwards.”. My mother always appreciated me trying to help and would often send me on errands along the Dual Carriageway: picking up litter, repainting the chevrons, washing the windscreens of passing “Artic”s etc. The man lunged across the table at me, oblivious to my warning, scattering chits and other components, and we fell sideways on to the enormous box; I am not a small person and neither is he, so the combined kinetic energy of our tumble made quick work - and a musical, tearing rasp - of the carton's vertical structure. There were several small packets of playing card-sized playing cards pressing in to my head and neck, so I pulled them free and they scattered and slid across the carpet to where the Pub's dog was sleeping: he awoke and began chewing at the shinier ones, as dogs do. The man, having been lifted by his friends, was vigorously using his feet to get me off the 'nevahmoolG' box; once more I was reminded of my recently-acquired corporeal magnetism, this time in an attractive sense, when his steel toe-capped boot kept landing on my face regardless of which way I rolled. I was leaking a lot of blood from my nose at this point; the sight of blood always makes me feel cold and nauseous so I heaved the remains of the crushed papery 'Glo/en' mass on to the glowing embers of the fire for warmth.

The man, now being restrained by the Bar staff, was still making a lot of noise and upsetting families who had only come in for a quiet supper, for Christ's sake!. I wiped my ensanguined chin and nodded to the other players, who didn't know where to put themselves now that their friend was being so (frankly) embarrassing. "I did tell him to be careful", I said. "I think you'd better just go" one of them replied.

Outside, the noise of the traffic roared in my ears and I climbed on top of the Bus Stop in case the lion would end up eating me.
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Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:30 am
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As Above, So Below

Anthony Boydell
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So I sat in my car watching the Prestatyn tide roll in, the sea-windmills turn and a fat lass chase her toddler across the sand and nearly collapse of a coronary. I did this to the gentle soundtrack of Nick Drake whilst scoffing a cheese and paté roll and, intermittently, reading an interview with Steve Jones (of the Sex Pistols).

It's been a week of curious encounters, as evidenced by the following public sign:

I doubled-back at the next roundabout to double-take this particular piece of ludicrous phonemic orthography


The party from last night's Abergele FCM conference were joined by Mark and Paul at The Beach House bar and we split in to two threes; the others (Mark, Yvonne and Daffydd) tootled off with Imperial Settlers whilst we (me, Ed and Paul) got our teeth in to Above and Below:


Pretty and straightforward: a non-taxing pleasure.


In summary: It's sort-of worker allocation and pseudo-set collection/push your luck (a bit) VP chaser. Your people can build things (for enhanced abilities, resources and points), recruit other people AND go off an 'explore' an underground world rich in more abilities, resources and points. Tying it all together is an encounter book - sort of Fighting Fantasy - that offers you a selection of 'explore' options in narrative form - go for the easy option or push for something juicier? Your explorers roll dice to see if they look hard enough to reach your selected 'explore' goal: if they do you get stuff, if they don't you get nothing or - maybe - you suffer a consequence.

A&B was quick, engaging and enjoyable (I won 49:39:27) - if a little light for my own tastes - and I'd be glad to play it again in similarly-genial company...so it's a good job I know Ross-on-Wye's Boffo has a copy secreted about his person.

The others were still flopping cards, so Ed - who was King of Picks tonight - landed an old friend on to the red-clothed pool table:


Paul won his debut at my sentimentally-storied pick-up-and-deliverer, pipping me by just a pair of well-proportioned sheep: 31-29-27


With still a good hour to go, Yvonne swapped tables to join me and Ed for one of my absolute all-time faves: Suburbia


My airports, and my 'highest reputation' secret goal, kept me just out of Yvonne's reach; I absolutely adore Suburbia and seem to have a particular aptitude for it. Unlike my colossal catering clumsiness on Tuesday, Wednesday evening found me more relaxed and in-tune with the games: it proves the benefits of intricate, melancholy guitar folk music over pissed tourists as a pre-session warm-up technique. Next week I'll try some Brian Eno to see if I can't chill myself out even more.
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Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:45 am
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The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I left the house at a reasonable hour, still sluggish from the long holiday weekend, after making the awakening beverages: a whistle-stop visit to Llandudno with, hopefully, a couple of evenings of gaming thrown in for good measure. With the sun out, and the sky blue, it seem churlish not to go the scenic (Llangollen) route so – despite the fuel light angrily-blinking ’50 miles’ and ‘Please refuel’, I swung left on to the A5. By the time I got to Betwys y coed*, the car was rasping it’s thirst so I pulled in to a garage for Diesel and lunch; while paying, my phone joined in with a trilling alert that Theresa May, our Prime Minister, has called a ‘snap’ General Election for June – and just after she’d triggered the EU-vacating Article 50 too?! I must admit to being shocked and, simultaneously, not in the least-bit shocked at all: we live in corrupt and terrifying times.

I trundled across Betwys’ Waterloo bridge, tank creakingly-full, and ready to rejoin the last leg of my journey, when I was flagged down by a couple of rucksack-laden hitch-hikers; normally, I would bimble merrily along and give them no further thought but – today – I was extra conscious of being in a big, mostly empty, people carrier and (perhaps) the foreboding of a Tory Government until 2022 made me think “What the hell; let’s extend the hand of friendship while we still can!”.

Hannah and Miriam are German students – one on an internship, the other over for a short holiday – and had spent the week walking (and hitching) from Machynlleth through the Snowdonia National Park (the Trawsfynydd lakeside nuclear power station, Mount Snowdon etc) and were looking to spend their last day in Conwy which – of course – is about 2 minutes from where I work when ‘oop North’. Oddly, they were the first Germans I’ve met who have NEVER heard of Essen Spiel, so any tales I might have woven about my (tenuous) link to the Snowdon Mountain Railway (which they didn’t use anyway because they walked to the summit, which was misty and cold when they got there) would’ve been confusing and irrelevant**. I dropped them off by Conwy Castle’s suspension bridge and wished them a cheery farewell before re-setting the day to it’s more conventional path: office, emails and analysis.

Dumping my stuff at the B&B, I was soon back on the road - this time to Abergele and a restaurant/bar called The Departure Lounge; I was plenty early for the rendevous with Daffydd, Yvonne and Ed so I ordered a burger-with-the-works and refreshed myself with the rulebook for Food Chain Magnate. As I was sipping my lime-and-soda and running through the milestones appendix, a couple - who must each have been in their mid-60s - sagged in to the booth adjacent: he was orange-skinned with a Duran Duran haircut and the skinniest jeans, she a be-furred and heavily-sighing heap of drunken complaint. With a thick, slurred Birmingham accent, she informed me that "I'm afraid I am very drunk" as my stacked meat-in-a-bun arrived, dripping with BBQ sauce and coleslaw, with a side-order of fries (served in their own miniature fryer pan). She eyed my maris pipers hungrily and demanded an omelette from her patient partner. Thankfully, Ed arrived to rescue me from this old lush and we scarpered to another room with a long, tall table excellently-suitable for gaming:




I was inspired to suggest Food Chain Magnate at the weekend after watching the superb Heavy Cardboard live teaching and play-thru video (I saw the beginning and the end and filled the intervening couple of hours with Arthur's bedtime routine); it is a game that scares and intrigues me in equal part.

Last night, I followed a simple Training-first/Get a Fridge plan (T1: Trainer, T2: Train in to a Pizza Cook and get 1st to Train, T3: Produce and throwaway Pizza to get Fridge + Pizza milestones) but then found myself locked out of most deliveries by Yvonne (I forgot about the Business Developer, which would've opened up plenty of new choffing custom on my - lonely and sparse - corner of the board and trained a Discount Manager too late). Daffydd was tuning and fine-tuning his corporate structure but only just selling enough to cover costs with a bit left over. Ed, on the other hand, was rounding up Waitresses like a Human Trafficking Syndicate and produced only just enough fizzy drinks and junk food to keep the Vice Squad off his sordid little tail! Thankfully, the Just-ness of Yvonne's straight-forward "feed the people" approach pipped Ed's 1950s-themed knocking shop by a paltry $12.

Tonight, in Prestatyn, it could be Above & Below or Snowdonia or something else entirely from the evening's Captains of the Selection: Ed and Phillip. See you in the morning with my next report: good day.

*(as opposed to ‘by the time I got to Woodstock’)
**(no change there, then)
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Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:35 am
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The Long, Good Good Friday

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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With a prior Good Friday engagement cancelled, my original plan of popping over to Chez Bateson for an afternoon of games extended - pleasingly - in to staying for (delicious) fajitas and the evening too. The Ross-on-Wye club traditionally aims for a Bank Holiday Leo Sayer at the regular venue but, given that the "very good" restaurant of The White Lion (spits) has been enforcibly-replaced by the functional (and mostly bland) menu of The Prince of Wales, that wasn't going to happen this time: hence, the kind invitation from Boffo and Smudge. Of course, as we shall find out a little later in this narrative, hosting duties afford the pleasure of being able to consume alcoholic beverages...which is absolutely fine despite it being the day of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary (though many of the UK's imbecilic and corrupt newspapers would have one believe otherwise)*.

Thankfully, Ben and Becky - along with Hereford boardgamers Charlie and Kat (whom we have discovered are also conveniently-proximal for Ross-on-Wye attendance!) - were winding down to the final tiles of the patently-awful Pickomino. Pausing to pack it away nicely (I'd have just swept the whole thing in to a dustpan and thrown it on the glowing fire to burn), we repaired to the front garden - while the Sun was still warming the afternoon - for some Molkky.

The pins were clustered and, alarmingly, Smudge's choice of a 'no further than this' launching line suggested she was out to nobble the opposition from the off: six large, rusted nails protruding from a splintered bar of 4x2! These shenanigans were seen off pronto and we were able to commence lobbage shortly after; two wins on the trot for Yours Truly elicited nowt but disappointed groans from the others - even 'new friends' Charlie & Kat - whilst the third's Smudge-ic triumph garnered a smattering of applause and a cheer.

*sulk*

We went inside, chased by a darkening of the cloudy sky and a pattering of drizzle, to introduce 'the noobs' to Agricola. It was slow going with the full (old edition) five and a combination of Boffo (to my right) correctly anticipating - and countering where possible - my schemes with Charlie's seemingly random worker allocations killing my Plan B too. Still, all that frustrated inward mental screaming was good practice for Codenames later.

With the dusk, and Jon, fast approaching the Batesons disappeared in to the kitchen to get supper ready leaving Charlie, Kat and I to break out Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King; I'd just given Charlie (the only one unfamiliar with this triumphant KdS) the once-over of the rules when Jobbers did indeed hove in to grinning view to take the fourth spot.


(from L to R) Smudge's 'throwing line' for Molkky; a randomly-dealt selection sees me playing with myself in 'Gric; and, a pre-fajita IoS.


Bellies bulging with spicily-stuffed tortillas, we were also delighted to welcome a long-absent Dan back to the fray and duly split in to a 3 and a 4...after a rather elaborate "What shall we play, then?" dance. Initially, Boffo and I were well up for Steam but each had assumed the other had taken the trouble to sort out the rules in advance ("It is his copy, your honour m'lud!"); Smudge wanted to terraform Mars but felt unable to teach if neither Ben or I were playing; Charlie wanted to play Terraforming Mars too but was denied because it was off the cards because I was playing Steam and Smudge had suggested Lancaster instead. As the others drifted in to the living room to share some choccy cake pudding, Boffo and Jobbers and I duly swiped the sci-fi hotness from my box and just started playing:


Stuff happens, things get done: Mars - there ya go.


The whole thing cantered along briskly and engagingly, though Jobbers began to get rather a stranglehold by claiming a pair of Achievements in quick succession and, similarly, two Awards as well as foresting the rusty-red terrain like Hellboy's The Last Elemental! Well, his surname is 'Plant', after all.

*baddomp-tish!*

We closed with Codenames - naturally - as I had but barely an hour before the usual late-night offspring pickup; my team was to be both Batesons, with everyone else in direct opposition. The usual Spymastering hilarity ensued with the shuddering climax being Smudge's turn as the clue-giver: "Spy: 3" she doth proffer and, in response, Boffo and I quoth "Bond" and "File" and "Agent" - we 'touched' "Agent" first to be met with an innocent bystander tile! What. The. Eff?!



Glowing from a heady mixture of Archers Peach Schnapps, embarrassment and frustration, Becky continued to clue in a similar vein whilst being heckled by her own shameful team; Ben topped up his glass of red wine and was simultaneously met with a completely-out-of-the-blue command from Jobbers: "Get her another Archers, you c*nt!". Well, dear reader, I fell off my chair laughing. Justice was served, eventually, when both teams tied 2-2: sharing moments of hearty triumph and woeful ineptitude equally.

Given the special occasion, it seemed ironic that the only fasting and abstinence to be found in the whole day was on Charlie's Agricola farm board: board gaming, of course, rises above religion. God Bless it!

*a UK supermarket chain offered heavy discounts on alcohol 'for Easter' and was met with much sanctimonious wailing and gnashing of teeth.
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Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:15 am
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Sonday Sun

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I'd been quietly-baking in the back garden, reading, and had just nipped in for a refresher of coffee when Arthur popped his head round the kitchen door and asked me if I wanted to play a game? Bless his ten, not-quite-as-tiny-as-they-used-to-be toes but he'd already set something up in the library room in anticipation of a paternal affirmative!



Cube Quest - Finger-flicking good!


We played 9 matches in total and, as per usual, it took me three matches to get up to some sort of reasonable standard. Thankfully, Ziggy the dog is not permitted in this part of the house so the tender, be-stickered plastic cubes were safe from masticatory ruin. I thought I'd taken the initiative at 5-3 up when a shock, out-of-the-blue Arthurian knight flew in and blatted my blasé King right off the coffee table and under the chair! No pushover, then; he's one to watch out for, that lad!

With everyone just kind-of drifting about and enjoying the sunshine, I invited an at-a-loose-end Boffo over for a first (ever) go at Fields of Arle: good Christos, how has this evaded us for so long (I've had it at least a year)?




The rule book is dense, full of cross-references and a bit of a bugger's muddle BUT we eventually found our path through thanks to some timely tweeted errata from the venerable Lord Splodge (he is not a real Lord); it is, of course, the bastard child of a thousand maniacs, ie. Le Havre, Ora Et Labora and Glass Road, and is - therefore - NOT an automatic turn-off for me (nor for Boffo either, it seemed) as the recent "other big boxes" from Uwe have been. Most definitely a learning game, I'd be more than happy to get this one to the table more often...as soon as Boffo has tried it out with Smudge, because he took my copy away with him.

But, not before we brewed some fresh tea and retired to the newly-mown lawn for a blazingly blue-skied and glorious quartet of Molkkies! Boffo's throwing arm seemed exhaustedly-limp after all that worker placement and he never really got in to his stride; I, on the other hand, was on wood-lobbing fire and took 75% of the victories, sitting out of one game to let Mrs B complete the Appleton House whitewash. Arthur, splitting his time between Molkky and spinning round-and-round-and-round-and-round-and-round on the swing, stole the show - however - by perfectly timing his handover of the throwing block to Boffo: dropping it to the ground a split second before our guest could get his hands on it!

That's my boy.
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Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:20 am
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The Log of a Dog Returns

Anthony Boydell
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H A L L E L U J A H !

H A L L E L U J A H !

H A L L E L U J A H !



For the first time in, well, medium-term memory, the Ross-on-Wye board gamers hit more than four attendees on Friday night!




ie. we had six!


With so many opportunities now open to us - so many games previously excluded from viable consideration like Agricola (Jobbers hates it) and Terraforming Mars (Boffo refuses to be impressed despite every protesting sinew and nerve) and Suburbia (Smudge dry-retches at the mere thought) - we decided, in a remarkably egalitarian move, to spend the evening as just the one group all together. Holy Christ, what strange sorcery was this? Joined by Dave (from Ledbury) and Phil (from Aberystwyth), the boiling heart of Ross's gaming community opened with my own (treasured) copy of the excellent Civ/Auctioner Peloponnes playing at the full count. This is a game that, early on, I struggled with immensely - despite loving absolutely everything about it; in recent years something seems to have clicked in my brain and I'm building up a small-but-perfectly-formed winning streak!

In summary: there will be eight rounds of bounce-out auctions for building or landscape tiles which provide a variety of resources (wood, stone, food, population, money and/or cash). The resources are used to feed your people (three points during the game, two will randomly occur), build buildings and - should you 'max out' a particular resource track, gain luxury goods (wild card resources at a 2:1 exchange rate). Buildings and landscapes give you VPs too, as does spare cash, which is TOTAL_A in the final reckoning; TOTAL_B is your population x3VP: the lower of the TOTAL values is your final score.



As well as being smugly-satisfied at my victory, it was doubly-heartening to have my two totals at 29 and 30: an almost perfect result! To add even more frosting to this particularly sugar-rich cake, everyone seemed to have had a great time as well. Riding the wave of warm contentment, it behooved us to introduce visiting Phil to the shouty joy of Chinatown:




In summary: each round you get some business tiles and cards that depict numbered spots on the board. The aim is to negotiate, bargain and swindle with the other players so you can consolidate adjacent areas and build chains of the business tiles for increasingly-lucrative incomes. Businesses earn 'ok' amounts while partially-completed but a lot more when completed eg. a Dim Sum plot needs five adjacent Dim Sim tiles to earn at max. Everything is up for 'the deal': straight swaps, hard cash, tiles, percentage interests in future income and combination thereof. Whomever has the most cash-in-hand after the sixth round is the winner.

This is a bona fide Ross-on-Wye Hall of Fame-r and has never failed to deliver a riotous, shenanigan-filled experience; tonight, thanks to a cosy little bit of collusion between Smudge and Jobbers, the two of them ended up close to a $Million in hand each and the latter taking the win by a mere $50,000.

During the meanwhilst, the odour of our group's pork scratchings had drawn the curious (and hungry) attention of a yappy little pug who scurried - excitedly - between and around our feet in search of fatty crumbs. The little prancing effer made an even-more intrusive manouvre - as we were drawing an arm-waving, noisy conclusion to Chinatown - by taking a voluminous and nasally-overwhelming shit in the middle of the room! Imagine our amusement, then, when (all cleared away: Chinatown and the 'mound'), the first card dealt for our closing Codenames was:



Oh how we laughed...albeit with our hands over our noses and mouths. I will leave the description of the ensuing cluing fun to Boffo's complimentary blog which - if you've not seen it - provides an excellent (and often, entirely different) chronology of our escapades (when he finally gets around to writing it!):

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Sun Apr 9, 2017 6:34 am
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Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids

Anthony Boydell
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The training course I am delivering was all done by 3PM so, aching of foot and fatigued of mental, I cleared out the usual high tide of emails and scooted back to the B&B for a pre-game session lie-down. It's only 15 or so miles to Prestatyn but I always end up travelling at rush hour, so it's a goodly 40 minute crawl along the top coastal bit of Wales. As I was ticking the engine over at some roadworks, I noticed the van in front; the main pun is, of course, excellent but the secondary piece of wordplay is the one that made me drop my beef-and-onion hula-hoops in to the footwell:


Who said the Welsh had no sense of humour?


Shocked, stunned and ravenously-hungry, I stopped by a branch of Marks & Spencer to purchase a build-it-yourself supper (rolls, paté, cheese etc) and settled down to choff in the comfort of my favourite beach-side car park. It was rather chilly but it does the soul good to get out once-in-a-while and experience a good blow on the Promenade; for my efforts, I was also rewarded with an excellent view of the windmill farm out in the Bay:



There was the threat of two concurrent games of Terraforming Mars at the the Beach House bar tonight/last night/Wednesday (delete according to time of reading) but no-one has heard from Mr Juggles for a while, and Ed cried off with a migraine*, so it was just a plenty-of-elbow-room-around-the-pool table 'five': Dafydd (of the dry wit), Yvonne (who narrates her strategies and leaves her hand of cards face-up on the table), quiet Jeremy (it's the quiet ones you've got to watch out for), myself and Mark (of the Forkéd Beard).



We eschewed all suggestions of drafting and made do with what we were dealt throughout; this was fine as we were playing the Corporate Era variant and I got to see a huge number of completely-new-to-me cards! There was a lot less dick-move actions in this game compared with, say, the vindictive pool of black acid spite that is the Ross-on-Wye club but Yvonne DID kick off proceedings (as Start player and first action of the game) by forcing Jeremy to lose his initial setup Steel (!). For my own part, I nurtured Titanium production in particular and Income-boosting buildings which, in turn, allowed me buy and play lots of pure VP cards and nick the odd juicy 'forested glade' from Yvonne by paying hard cash for Cities. I was also able to time an Achievement and set up two guaranteed Award wins to take me (the black cubes, as Dafydd always plays red up here) to a pleasing (and quite comfortable) victory. We were done in about two-and-a-half hours but it was just a bit too late to start anything else so, lest I turn back in to a pumpkin, I returned to Llandudno and was comfortably a-bed (and looking at the inside of my lids) before the witching hour.


I will love her forever.


*we were of the consensus that Ed is TM-ed out at the moment and the aforementioned headache was brought on by the dilemma of coming to games and having to play it OR missing out on games altogether which, of course, forced his head hand toward the latter.
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Thu Apr 6, 2017 6:20 am
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Blaidd Spirit

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Mrs B has got a rather splendid alarm clock on her side of the bed: its light fading up from glimmering first twinkle of dawn to fully-over-the-horizon sun burst over an unhurried 10 minute period. Gone are the eye-popping ding-dongs, klaxons and panicked honks of traditional alarms to be replaced by the relaxing, Vaughan Williams-esque emergence of day. Ah, bliss-upon-bliss because this morning was not to be a stupid o'clock rumble down to Cardiff but - instead - a take-your-time-and-get-there-by-lunchtime quest to Llandudno; thus, with my suitcase packed and an iPhone stuffed with podcasts, I bad farewell to Mrs B and Arthur and sallied forth up the Marches.

It was bright and brisk all the three-and-a-half hours; not even a roadworks traffic jam in the last 20 miles - nor a drunkenly-swerving recovery truck - could spoil the shimmering sea view from the stoodstill A55. I wound the window down and turned up the stereo (Kamakiriad by Donald Fagen) and breathed deep of the salty air. Lovely. The sun was contrastingly, thickly be-clouded six hours later as I watched the gulls screaming over the Conwy estuary (and the trains trundling through the Deganwy level crossing) - stuffing cheap chicken in to my slavering maw. Seasoning my fingers with lemony freshness, I made my presence known to the most splendid people you could ever hope to meet in the top left-hand corner of Wales: the Snowdonia Dragons.

Aside: Whilst beveraging a massive OJ&L, I was surprised and delighted to see Mr Phil Dennis - lurker and sometime commentator on The Shed - amble in to the Bar. He usually haunts the Aberystwyth (Western) region but (like me) is up here for a handful of days; oddly, he will be returned South East before the end of the week and we shall see him all-over-again, Friday, at The Prince of Wales in Ross-on-Wye!

My table for the evening would comprise Dafydd and his fiancee Yvonne (both harkening back to my very first visits in 2013) and an earnest young gentleman called Tim; the latter clutched a Settlers of Catan box that contained all manner of multi-coloured cards and plastic tokens and represented a 'new game prototype' which was pitched to me as "Dead of Winter meets Agricola"! Intrigued and, as is often the case when I'm at the Golf Club, happy to acquiesce to someone else's game choices, we were treated a slightly-muddy overview and rules explanation. In the general 30 minute-or-so session, it turned out less like Agricola and more akin to a co-operative New Bedford with DoW sprinkles, a slightly-wonky traitor element and a defiantly non-zombie re-theme: werewolves attacking a medieval village, the occupants of which were trying to dig enough silver out of a mine to forge monster-defeating weaponry. It had the stilted flow and overly-complicated rule-set of an early prototype but had the spark of something intriguing; we sent him off with some layout clarification suggestions, component improvements and logic tweaks - I look forward to seeing what he does with it at the next iteration, certainly.

In return, Tim - and the happy couple - agreed to another play test, this time for Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. It went well, I think, though Tim seemed to have lost his way during the Practice phase and drafted himself an appallingly inflexible deck. Dafydd, on the other hand, delighted in playing the damage-happy German Count and revved over the finishing line to be the sole pilot to reach Paris that round; despite being the most villanous, his armor-clad special power gave him a five point victory over myself even after taking all of his Infamy in to account. Sometimes the bad guy(s) win

To close, albeit much earlier than I'm used to because of the erratic Golf Club opening hours, Yvonne pushed a current favourite to the fore: The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire.





It's a pleasant enough worker placer that reminded me of Lancaster (sort-of) mashed up with, well, pretty much any other WP game you care to name and a dash of 20th Century (but no auctions). The only way to really work out what was going on and what to do about it was to play, so that's what we did. Mind you, now that I've seen it rumbling along, I might do a little better the next time...if there is a next time, of course, as no-one Down My End has a copy (and I wasn't startled enough to want to go hunting for one myself).

Final Note: I really should remember to dispose of my supper detritus before spending a spiffing evening elsewhere; the cloud of stale oil and secret herbs-and-spices almost knocked me off my feet when I opened the driver's door come 10.15PM! The windows were open again, then, for the dark drive up the peninsular.
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Tue Apr 4, 2017 6:30 am
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Hansa Round The World

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Me and Mrs B have been getting the urge for a change of direction recently; me becoming (even more than is usual) anxious and frustrated with I.T work and she wanting to do something more creative, more life-enriching. We've several family milestones rolling toward us in 2017 (our 25th Wedding anniversary, my 50th birthday and sons turning 18 and 16) which only serves to remind us how quickly the years are passing and that, maybe, it's time to get off the Merry-Go-Round. Nestled at the bottom of May Hill, abutting to a large plot of forested land belonging to Mrs B's family, is a countryside Pub...and it's 'For Sale'. So we went along, in some brilliantly-baking sunshine, for a proper nosey, a genuine viewing: a reconnoitre.


May Hill (c) Valerie MacLean


It was certainly some (tasty) food for thought



With the bigger lads safely dispatched to Friday night City-based shenanigans, the quietude of (our) Appleton House in the sunset was distracting and I very-nearly missed the appointed hour of departure for board games at The Prince of Wales; fortunately, I checked my FitBit for 'daily paces', realised I was tardy and grabbed Days of Ire: Budapest 1956 and Round House from the shelf. I've been more selective in what I bring along recently; Ben and I tend to correspond earlier in the day and try and agree something compatible with everyone (this time it was Hansa Teutonica). I say 'Everyone' but, of course, this is currently-translating as 'Ben, Jobbers and Me': another week, another lonely table-for-three.

First up was Ben's copy of Hansa Teutonica - think Thurn and Taxis without all that tedious fucking about with tiny cards:



Pure, clean and devious; HT is boiled down to the simplest of mechanisms: in summary, you take a number of actions per turn to put pieces on to the board - in lines (roads) - with the aim of completing sections between cities and then placing markers in those cities: place pieces, move pieces, bounce other pieces out, claim a completed line and/or recruit more pieces to use. Some cities confer bonuses that improve your actions by opening up information on your player board and you score for your biggest network of linked (claimed) cities. Jobbers managed to squeak out a win - he and Ben hoovering up all of the special Tavern tokens between them - but I wasn't that far behind. Seeing it all play out, engagingly and excitingly in under an hour, had us all stroking our chins and 'hmmmmm'-ing with genuine pleasure; there is much yet to explore so I have recommended we make this our first-ever official 'game for a month', a standard session opener.

Ben is on a no-Beer Lent kick but has, instead, transferred his hepatic affections to large glasses of red wine; two hours in to his evening (dropped off early thanks to Becky's continued Ruddigorean Lighting duties) I sensed that, perhaps, a co-operative historical simulation might not be best received! So, with the words of Doug and Shelley Garrett echoing in my ears (listen to it here: http://garrettsgames.com/garretts-games-560-oracle-of-delphi...), I figured the double-rondel barminess of Round House would be better-suited:



I am very enamored of this game and I think the other two enjoyed it as well...despite them repeatedly forgetting to add points, pick up chits/cards and/or collect the correctly-coloured resources. I can teach the game (no need for you to comment here, Boffo!) and answer queries BUT I can't bloody play it for you as well! Ben called it 'Mad!' which is tantamount to a commissioned, cover-mounted quote from the old cynic...

(Aside: I believe a generous basket of chips was donated to our table, sometime during all that rotating, but no sooner had I caught a whiff of vinegar than the other two - piranha-like - had stripped the bowl to it's salty skeleton!)

With pick-up duties at the forefront of my mind, we slipped - 30 minutes left on the eerily-quiet room's clock - in to filler territory:



In summary:
- Council of Verona: A Love Letter-esque bidding microgame with some gentle shenanigans thrown in - Ben & I regard it as a 'Hit', Jobbers muttered his disdain in to his blackcurrant and lemonade.
- Pickomino: Zero-skill dice-chucker which is funny just-the-once when someone goes bust (due to no fault of their own) and loses a big value tile. For some reason this seems held in high regard but I can't see why: "utterly-random and devoid of tension" is all I got from the 20 minutes we spent rattling cubes across the veneered table - at least Candyland has pictures of sweets on it.

Becky arrived, on cue, as we discussed how a four-player Hansa Teutonica might play out vs our three-player experience, so I bade her a fond 'Good Evening' immediately followed by a cheery 'Fare Well!' and beetled off to Gloucester; I got as far as 'half-way' before I remembered we'd arranged someone else to pick the boys up #twat.
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Sat Apr 1, 2017 8:50 am
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