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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Fish Rising

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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The unloading of the car took but moments - only slightly frustrating after the monumental game of TETRIS that it takes to pack it in the first place - and I managed to sneak in to town for 10 mins, fist clutching a sheaf of 'red Royal Mail dockets'! Only one of them was for me (see below), the others being Fitbit-related items after Mrs B lost hers to the West Shore at Llandudno:



A school pal and, during the years in-and-around Liverpool Polytechnic/my sandwich year, gaming irregular Ian was having a clear-out and offered the above for the princely sum of £20 plus postage. I believe, when we were all RPG-ing a lot, that it was THIS copy that our group played a couple of sessions with! I remember very little apart from it being a deeply-thematic and atmospheric campaign; free from many of the typical dungeon-crawling tropes, we were steeped in Gaia-esque spiritualism and some intriguingly opaque aliens. I am, naturally, delighted to revisit this 30+ year old curiosity in the comfort of my own reading chair!

Basking in the delights of proper Broadband - after the snail-crawl of the Welsh valleys - I caught up on the holiday snaps iCloud upload/download dance before realising it was nearly 7PM and I really ought to leave for Friday night gaming! Yes, indeed; a two hour speedy pack-and-depart followed by a four hour drive is nowhere nearly enough to stop me from getting my fix!

Jobbers was parked up at a jaunty angle adjacent to The Plough Inn waiting for the rest of us to be bloody bothered. He has, increasingly, been taking the piss WRT the painted parking bays given
a) it's free after 6PM, and
b) we're pretty much the only ones using it.

Tonight he was almost sideways across three sections and gently nodding along to Steve Hillage:




Two players hit £million and I came fifth (out of six) with £840K (!) in a rather pedestrian-paced go at this classic.



Despite Jobbers' busy plate-serving, a timely REFOREST kept me two points ahead.



Harbour: often cited as Le Havre-lite, this thinky filler can run almost as long if you're not careful!


We could've done with any soundtrack at all to pep up the evening's proceedings TBH: it was a 'pensive' session that even the normally-frenetic Chinatown couldn't inject adrenalin in to! Much board-staring and chin-stroking and "Whose turn is it?"-ing took us to 2330HRS and a grateful, yawning departure. Despite the house reeking of garlic bread upon my return, I retired to my boudoir and enjoyed the memory foam delights of our matress by falling instantly asleep.

Home again, home again jiggetty-jig...
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Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:05 am
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Pob beth da

Anthony Boydell
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I always joked that working for the Welsh Government was, when escaping the moribund clutches of Merthyr Tydfil or Cardiff, like a holiday: the Vale of Neath, Cardigan Bay, Snowdonia, Anglesey and Colwyn Bay to name but-a-few.

During my time as chief BA, and over-emotional smart-alec, I visited mountains, passes, viaducts, aquaducts, canals, heritage railways, beaches, bridges and castles; even the odd 'curiously-named village' failed to escape my attention. I've eaten supermarket sandwiches overlooking a black lake, gasped at resplendent valleys and sweated my way up to hilltop obelisk. I went to the cinema, the theatre and the end of a couple Victorian piers. I have stayed there in snowy January and sweltering August and every month else and it has had something soul-warming to offer every time.

And, of course, I played so many board games in a golf club, in pubs and restaurants, and in people's homes. Sooooo many with so many excellent people!

Now that that chapter in my working life has ended, so too has that outstanding fringe benefit. How marvellous, then, that this Summer we'd elected to spend our family holiday in this astounding environment - just one last literal and figurative throw of a North Wales' die! We rented a cottage in the middle of the hills and spent the fortnight on beaches, in forests, amongst the rubbled-ruins of castles and - finally - reaching the summit of the most important mountain in my life.

You have followed me on this adventure throughout and - hopefully - enjoyed it vicariously; I'm not sure that the daily commute to Bristol is going to offer anything near as remarkable but - hey - there are plenty of ways of getting up and down there so we'll wait and see!

Diolch, indeed.
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Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:17 am
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TNG

Anthony Boydell
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We've been playing a lot of The Black Overcoat Game recently and aside from everyone managing to win at least one session...



...Arthur and Benedict have been re-designing the odd bit-and-piece. It's great: already we've sorted the set up (so it encourages more varied exploring) and they're designing new cards to go in to the main deck e.g. 'UFO' ("Move to any location in the house or grounds immediately but discard all of your objects in play at the location you have just left"), 'Carpet of Lego' ("cannot enter/pass thru a location without taking damage")!

#prouddad #wheresmeroyalties? #yourdarlingskillyou!
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Wed Aug 8, 2018 6:30 am
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The Prodigal (Grand)Son(s)

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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How very odd indeed to be browsing the streets and shops of North Wales without having just come from/about to go in to work! The plan was to make our way over to Conwy for lunch and then pootle about the castle, the ramparts and the surrounding country park with the kids and the dog and the In-Laws until tea-time; those not wanting to visit the Snowdonia Dragons would then return to the house leaving me (for deffo) with a micro-car and an IKEA bag full of games for a-playin'. As plans go, it was a fine one but by 4PM everyone had aching legs and rumbling tums so we left early. We're only about 20 miles away from 'the old haunts', so I grabbed a handful of fruit and set off back to The Mulberry with Arthur and Benedict in tow; we arrived on the dippetty-dot of 1830HRS, the official 'start' of this hidden treasure of a club.

To warm things (ie. Arthur) up, we started with the splendidly-daft Flicky Spaceships:


(PRISMA fixes many blurred sins)


In summary: Pick up a resource matching the colour of the hex your ship's 'Nose' is pointing in then flick your ship to somewhere else (preferrably to a hex of a colour you need) then, if poss, buy an upgrade card. Upgrade cards give you veeps and a special ability.

It's no more complicated than that and, for 30 minutes or so, it provides straightforward, no-nonsense fun. Tim, sporting his ever-growing and impressive sideburns, sneaked ahead of Benedict to claim the victory (and the sorest flicking nail)!

Next, because the other tables weren't ready to reset yet, was Nusfjord; an alterior motive here, of course, as Benedict had yet to play this Tony Favourite: the idea being that he, Arthur and I will be able to play this back at the house if/when the rain sets in!



Benedict did very well in his debut, impressively without penalties and sitting on a back-pattingly robust 32 points. Arthur triple-schoonered and forested up his entire board save a small utility building and a whopping Stronghold amongst the trees for 28 points. Tim was, unfortunately, diddled out a couple of lucrative buildings (by me) and a couple of gold in a final round 'filling of the plates' (by Benedict), losing him a potential 20 points (ouch!). I filled my board (see above) for...well, count it up yourselves!

Arthur sat with Yvonne and Daffydd (who are getting married in a couple of weeks time: the club's second 'wedding', I believe) and watched them playing some dungeon crawler or other; while he enjoyed the miniatures, four of us (me, Aaron, Denise and David) settled in to Q.E.: something I've been hoping to try for a while now:



In summary: The start player sets a (ANY) price for a tile; each tile has a straight VP value plus a flag and industry icon. A player's own flags can score for them, in sets, at game end as can monopolies/diversity in industries. The other players then secretly bid for the tile - knowing the 'seed price'; the start player reviews the bids (still in secret) and awards the winning bidder the tile but making sure to write the winning bid - in secret - on the back of the tile ie. no-one apart from you knows exactly how much you've spent. At the end of the game, add up all points and then reveal the backs of one's won tiles: whomever spent the MOST money automatically LOSES (!), whomever spent the least gets 6VPs.

Monstrously-simple and simultaneously tense and hilarious, QE ("Quantative Easing") is a triumph of an auction game! Denise went bid-crazy and disqualified herself from the laurels, leaving a previously-profligate David to triumph. I simply MUST get a copy of this for the Ross-on-Wye crowd as it's utterly perfect for our blend of sniping bonhomie! Superb!

The sun-having-set left a delicious blue-green nightglow over the estuary as we were joined by Arthur and Benedict for the evening's closer: Stock hold'em.



In summary: It's sort-of share dealing with Texas Hold 'Em resetting the share prices between rounds(!). Buy/sell shares then play out cards from your hand to build (or destroy) the poker hands growing against each of the six (aquatic animal-themed) companies. At the end of the round, prices for the shares are adjusted according to the poker hand and then a second - final round - is played. Sell all shares at the end and most money is the winner.

A curious artifact of a game, for sure. Denise salvaged her reputation for financial acumen by running away with this in the reckoning. Arthur was pleased to have 'bigged up' his favourite Dolphin Co. and was only a tickle behind the rest of the scores.

How marvellous to see Tim, Aaron, Daffydd, Yvonne, Ed, Tom, Denise, David and Dan again; we're hoping to make it along next Monday as well - maybe with a few more peeps in attendance (the house will fill up even more this coming weekend) - so, if you happen to be in the area, why not stop by as well?
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Tue Aug 7, 2018 11:12 am
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Population Implosion

Anthony Boydell
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Closing the lid of the laptop, my next job was to transport some of the Boydell fauna to alternative accommodation: one corn snake and one guinea pig. Fully-aware of the Larson-esque complications that could arise if I was less than vigilant, they were spaciously separated for the journey. The 'pig' is to be a guest of the Batesons who, already, have a fine retinue of Cavia porcellae. Indeed, come the great Brexit Apocalypse (coming from CMON and Eric Lang in 2019!), this army of chirruping furballs will provide an excellent "last line of defense" against the scavenging hordes. Not. *burp*

While I was 'about', and given the hour, it seemed daft to drive all the way home again to only come back in to Ross an hour later so Boffo invited me to stay for supper: fish curry, rice and tarka daal*! While he chopped, sizzled and simmered we were inspired by a VLOG concept that would be right up our allies: food and games. You heard it here first...provided we can get Jobbers to do the filming for us.

The tuck was delicious and, by way of thanks, I offered to do the washing up while Boffo prepared his huge sack for the evening. I am somewhat an obsessive when tidying up a kitchen and - apparently - went way beyond the call of duty with cooker, worktop and sink scouring too. I'm a bit of a domestic goddess, doncha know?!



Anyone who has EVER played Bernd Eisenstein's superb Civ-Auctioner Peloponnes will have experienced that moment; you know the one? A wonderfully-balanced growing of population and tile scores and then, a round before the end: famine, drought, a supply phase or a nut-punting combination thereof - a pat-on-the-back mid-20s score plummets to single figures on the turn of a circular chit! Lydia was forewarned of this wholly-unfair turn-of-events before the first game but, along with Gary and Boffo (with his astonishing inability to pay for/keep any buildings), was unable to weather the storm (oh, that disaster TOO!). Jobbers and I fought a more balanced game and I managed to pip him by the singlest of single points. Boffo didn't want this to be the end of it and suggested we play again (now that everyone knew the rules/what to expect). Hampered by my own 'sacrifice 1 population each income phase' civ 'bonus', I barely squeaked in to double-figures on the repeat; Lydia managed to do worse than game one - thanks to another final round disaster double-feature - and Boffo romped off in to the sunset with a city centre's worth of buildings (making up for his 'Prime' mortgage debacle in the first):



Jobbers was sat next to the bag, so he continued to be the evening's selector. With a sinking feeling in my tummy, he dropped Fürstenfeld on to the table. I have had a bit of a hate-hate relationship with this over the years on account of being abjectly-hopeless as it! I don't deny that it's an odd (and admirable) take on the deckbuilder genre but I don't think I've ever managed more than a couple of 'Palace' tiles out before everyone else is fighting for their sixth. However, this particular session proved a reassuring - and reconnecting - one when I managed an early scavenger/town hall combo to allow me to burn away all of the nonsense and construct a winning Estate:


What the actual, high-protein/low fat fuck?! Furstenfeld finally falls fully in to focus...


Next up? Wildlife Safari. I await the inevitable abuse from Mr mgreen02 in the comments below, but I jokingly 'bigged up' a double-rhino opener in the pre-match banter and watched - as going last in the 'first around' - as they were seized upon...only for me to stick with the tried-and-tested 'double lion' and cruise in to the lead after 'safari number one'! My psychological games worked wonders with Gary who, for the rest of the game (a further four rounds) seemed utterly-obsessed with 'the big cats' leaving an unprotected Elephant. Jobbers and I were neck-and-neck right up to the last when, somewhat coldly, I tanked his rhinos with a judiciously-saved 'Zero' and sailed off in to the sunset the comfortable (if unethical) victor!



We closed with the preposterous Abraca...what? which Lydia stormed - ignoring the 'Dragon'-bluffing nonsense from all quarters - and then we all went home.

"Double rhino"? Ridiculous!

*NOT made from otters
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Sun Aug 5, 2018 6:30 am
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Place your workers. Do stuff. Repeat.

Anthony Boydell
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A week ago it was bright and hot and nothing much was occurring in the Boydell hooss until a scheduled evening family BBQ so, alone and with a pocket full of change, I trundled over to the Batesons' for a brunch playtest session. The Malta Railway scenario was birthed in the flustered excitement of the KS campaign and it took me but a P.M (under a shady tree) to blast out a first PPTX prototype:



The main points - if you missed them - are:
Makes use of the deluxe set custom -eeples for Water, Daffodils and Dynamite
Has tunnels and regular track - including a parallel track section
Has 'Bus' events in the contract deck that make the work rates progressively better (it's hot in Malta)

I focused on the new elements - particularly the Museum-station's set collection requirements and stole a fine wine over the other two with their trains and their more traditional Contract approach, which bodes well. Some excellent observations - nothing of any major consequence but all helping to polish the scenario.

Its always obligatory - and in no way a chore - to slip in a game of Agricola when at Lilliput*, so we dealt out the Agricola: Bielefeld Deck (a recent gift from me to them) and some standard cards for a draft:


Bingo! One pig successfully propelled in to it's sty!



Another prize-winning farm from Uncle Tony


We paused for a snack lunch; they scoffing crackers and creamy Isle of Wight Camembert while I tucked in to a generous bowl of bulger and veggies whipped up on the spur of the moment by amateur chef Boffo:


Fresh, textural and delicious - yum!


While we munched and crunched, a quick boat trip around the Norwegian fjords happily closed this impromptu session; no photo of my victorious board (a clean sweep!) as I had somewhere to be and my generous hosts were now sick of the sight of me.

*the name of their house.
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Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:30 am
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My Family And Other Animals

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It's the Summer Holidays and the kids are kicking around the house; Arthur was crafting tiny Transformer robots out of his collection of Lego hinge pieces while I worked-at-home:



As has now become the habit, we walked the dog along the old canal - Arthur merrily mountain-biking the lumps-and-bumps - suitably be-hatted against the pummeling sunshine. We are promised storms but, as yet, there is no evidence of anything other than a blue sky. And so did the afternoon progress most gently.

At The Plough Inn, later, our newest member - Lydia - made it four weeks in a row and, with a Gloucester-based Gerv also promising an appearance, it seemed prudent to break out the big guns. Our usual pre-session, abbreviated Messenger exchange mooted Peloponnes and Keyflower but a last minute reach-them-from-the-shelf Agricola and Terraforming Mars revealed my true Master Plan for the evening: oh yes.

Having coped perfectly-well-thankyouverymuch with the likes of Glass Road, Nusfjord and Viticulture, there's nothing in the 'Gric/Keyfers arsenal that's likely to confuse or offend*. There was certainly a plan bouncing around the playroom of my brain as I subtly revealed Terraforming Mars to a panting Smudge and Jobbers, safe in the knowledge a (farming) menagerie-a-trois could be established on the semenless corner table. To a background soundtrack of scientific jargon and 'Floater' puns, Lydia and Boffo and myself got down to the serious business of medieval agrarianism:



As you would expect, this was a two man show with the usual huffing-and-grumbling from the Bateson plot and quiet (!) contemplation from mine; Lydia built herself a perfectly-functional Farm and - hopefully - can now see a little more of the beautifully-oiled workings underneath. L keeps her counsel to herself so it wasn't obvious whether she'd enjoyed herself or was screaming an internal monologue! She didn't flip the table or descend in to a Jobbersian sulk so I think we're okay...for now.

Smudge was still amassing a Croesus-esque fortune on the Red Planet (70 cash per round?!), so it was on to The Breesedale's howlingly-magnificent triumph:



The beauty of Keyflower is that playing a straightforward, focused strategy, ie. latching on to one building effect and squeezing it until it bleeds, can reap generous rewards: this Lydia did with a storage tile and an 'everything counts as the thing needed on the storage tile' boat for a pat yourself on the back forty one points. Boffo and I messed about with meeples - particularly green ones - and did lots of things for barely more points (he 54, me 48). Fabulous.

Jobbers escaped in to the cool Ross-on-Wye evening leaving the five of us to plod through Port Royal; actually, it was to be four of us with Smudge sitting this one out. It was the usual series of push-your-luck successes, preposterous failures and Pinasse jokes but Boffo never seemed to be without at least six cash and crossed the 12VP line with appalling ease.

I left these good people in deep reminiscing - despite it being 2315HRS - as, it seems, Smudge and Lydia grew up in the same part of the Wye Valley. I drove home in near-silence (the tinnitus was particularly whiny) and then fell asleep in front of the TV.

*apart from one's fellow players (as L would find out during a filth-ridden Port Royal!)
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Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:48 am
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Wonders will never cease.

Anthony Boydell
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After a week of background reading and first attendance at a variety of ad-hoc and regularly-scheduled meetings, I came to Friday's WAH* with a nice self-contained piece of work: enhance a list of Non-Functional Requirements. This I did...from 30 to 288 (!). By way of a reward, Ziggy the dog and I went to the canal for some sun-basking, heart-pumping exercise:



Mutley and I mooched about the remains of Newent's railway station until a delivery driver hared up the lane and started honking his horn at the gates. Once again, as we set off for home, I mused upon nicking one of the 'Old Station Road' street signs (best time of day, how to brazenly walk it back etc). Later, The Plough Inn soggily-greeted our happy band of cube pushers with it's usual blend of passive tobacco smoke, syprupy fizz and the distant sound of manly, roaring Skittlers. Remarkably, Lydia joined us for a third week on the bounce so Boffo and I duly clicked in to our 'real gamer personas' and merrily punned, swore and sous entendu-ed our path through the evening.

We were aware that, perhaps, we were chucking some intimidating fayre at our newest, keenest member so agreed to throttle back a little: first was vanilla Hansa Teutonica:



Okay, so the rules are straightforward but the choices less-so and despite all of our best efforts - including me staying (pretty) quiet and constructing a spider's web of connections - Boffo romped away again; this time with enough clear water between him and the rest of us to film a new series of Blue Planet! We're still early doors in learning how this all fits together; indeed, this session saw only ONE bonus token taken and only a couple of cities with >1 player marker in - the latter meant that one person was gaining exclusive 1VP bonuses on builds when we really should've been swapping the priorities. Next time, then...

A true-and-honest classic next by introducing Lydia to Modern Art; even better, it was Boffo's £20 bargain-basement copy of the Oink Games edition (the one that was flying off the stands for 40 euros a pop last-Essen!).


Jobbers, Why so serious?!


The fourth round ended in a thrilling double 'double' and I was pipped to victory by 8 points by Jobbers. I had confounded their mocking of my offers-and-purchases with a carefully-nurtured plan; indeed, going in slightly too aggressively in an auction against Jobbers with one more turn to go probably cost me those 8 points - I should've incremented the bids by ones-and-twos rather than fives-and-tens! A beautiful game!

To close, we Wondered x 7. Ignoring/rejecting ALL requests from Boffo to help sort out the cards, I sat back and let them fuck up the deal all by themselves. Ah, bliss! When we finally got going, we managed three games in the remaining 75 minutes; Lydia picking it up quickly for a comfortable win in Game 2 and only Smudge exiting the evening without a top-of-the-podium finish:



*new job = new acronym for homeworking!
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Sun Jul 22, 2018 6:20 am
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Contains Sheep

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Another day, another video - eh?

Last night, the Heavy Cardboard peeps paid their own bijou tribute to the British artistic legend Mr Peter Firmin by playing a copy of my Ivor the Engine game. First introduced to the craft, beauty and wonder of Smallfilms through Nick Case's forthcoming magnificent octopus Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog, Edward Uhler has been exposed to both of our enthusiastic remembrances and decided - in this humble way - to pay tribute himself. Of course, I would be expected to join the Peanut Gallery and be on hand to offer on-the-spot rules clarifications and/or berate their appalling Welsh pronunciation (both of which I ended up doing!) BUT - and this is the big 'but' - broadcast time was 0200HRS UK time! Two o' the clock of the morning, mes petits chiens: it was dark outside and everything!

I had fastidiously set an alarm and was roused to confusion; I was halfway to getting my trousers on before remembering that I was up for play-thru and NOT to get off to work. I slunk to the Library Room with the laptop and heavy lids for some serious trans-Atlantic heckling:



I would suggest that 'the teach' may have taken slightly-longer than the actual game itself but, then, I never said ItE was heavy - no, it's just got a lot of sentimental Mass; a surfeit of emotional density. There ain't much space between the electron shells of this nostalgia! Watch and, hopefully, enjoy; catch some of my good-natured 'chat' ribbing and raise an imaginary chapeau to Messrs Postgate and Firmin: reunited, at last, to cobble together a joyous interlude in a shed just inside (and to the right of) The Pearly Gates.
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Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:40 am
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Uwe and Uwe

Anthony Boydell
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If Jobbers would relent and get back to join in the occasional Agricola with the rest of us then I wonder if I'd need play another designer's games again. Mr Rosenberg has such a direct, wide and well-reinforced channel to my heart that I would - should the Apocalypse fall upon us - being perfectly happy with his oevre foruwe!

We were joined - a developing habit, it seems - by two occasional (but welcome) visitors AND the return of last week's Lydia*. Gerv is from the Gloucester area and though we have crossed comments on the Trading & Chat Facebook group, this was out first face-to-face meeting. Pal Richard from the East is on a whistle-stop, fly-by tour and wouldn't miss a gaming night for anything. Richard had his print 'n play copy of Turin Market, I brought Hare & Tortoise and Nusfjord (natch); and Boffo his body bag. Rolling his eyes at my suggestion of trawlers and piscine frolics, Boffo stole Lydia and Gerv (along with Jobbers) for Nations: The Dice Game leaving Smudge, Richard and me on the back table:







Things were close in the first Nussy because we were using one of the core decks; Smudge and I creeping in to the early 30s (me 34, she 32) and Richard floundering on a miserly 20. The second game, later in the evening, would be with Jobbers (Smudge migrating to play-and-win Viticulture) and an outrageous selection of buildings giving Richard and myself a tie on 47 points each (!) with Jobbers, grumpily, on 32. Richard was abusing a Elder building (serve fish up to 4 fish total before using an Elder) which meant he ignored the main worker board for most of the game. My own magnificent total was centred around filling my landscape (see above) with high value buildings (no combos, just raw veeps!). Two games with (joint) winners abusing Elders seems
a) something to explore in further play-testing as short-cutting the usual mechanism for triggering elders is precarious; and,
b) a matter for the Police?!

There was a change-about with the synchronised finish of Nations, so we poached Lydia for her first exposure to Glass Road. Boffo, setting up Shakespeare, could be heard muttering in disdain at missing out but it's his own bloody fault. My elevator pitch of "It's like that fishing game but with cards instead of workers..." wasn't quite sufficient enough, so we spent the next 10 mins running through the rules TO A LOUD SOUNDTRACK OF BOFFO BARKING ON ABOUT HOW TO PLAY SHAKESPEARE!





Lydia acquitted herself most respectably with 13.5 (my first uwe GR score was 9.5 and got worse for the two following games!), with Richard in the late teens and Smudge/myself in to the glorious 20s with 22.5 and 20.5. Smudge and Lydia decamped for a closing Viticulture Essential Edition leaving Jobbers to join us for another sea-bourne expedition. See above for the deets.

To close - Jobbers waiting for the others to release his jizzbench - was Turin Market which I didn't understand at all. Tom (aka Mr Lydia) popped in for the last half hour and joined us...and ended up winning outrageously-comfortably! I barely got to say two words to Gerv - which is probably to his benefit - but I hope the chap pops along again.

The squally weather couldn't dampen the spirits at The Plough Inn; it were proper buzzin' in that back room!

*this is NOT her nickname**.
**It seems that neither myself nor Jobbers scared her off!
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Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:19 am
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