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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"You're through to the Noggin Helpline - How can I be of assistance?"

Anthony Boydell
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Even to the very last of Thursday, the West-of-England weather held out as fine, dry and warm as any other day in balmy 2018; wandering over to the superstore for a salad bar lunch needed neither coat nor hat nay the rolling-down of sleeves nonely. Cue: Friday AM and the gusty, sodden coat-tails of Storm Agamemnon/{whatever} darkening the skies and sluicing the kerbsides - not that I'm moaning because the upside of global warming and escalating eco-catastrophe is a better British Summer, so that's all good then.

Staring mournfully across from the sofa, Ziggy the Dog's gaze flitted from me to the patio doors and back again; despite the bending trees and a whooshing of air-bricks, the pup wanted 'out':



Thankfully the rain had stopped but, as you can see above, the boughs and branches were forty-five-degreeing; the occasional blown, brown leaf slapping me on the bridge of the nose. With my best Wellingtons, I had determined to forge further along the canal, than ever previously, in search of the mythical 'tunnel'; however, beyond the road bridge, the path disappeared in to a long, bog-pooling straight of water and our journey was halted prematurely.



There was only one item on my agenda for the evening and that was Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog, for which I had prepared meticulously (ie. read the rule book more than once). Nick Case, knowing of my noble intentions, had offered to be on-call should anything arise - a service I believe he is offering world-wide post-Spiel. With a pleasingly-splittable 'six', it was Jobbers and Smudge and myself that took ourselves to the edge of the Arctic Circle for some worker placement, roundel-managing, recipe-fulfilling, semi-cooperative, gorgeously-illustrated and heavy goodness:


The foolish Mine; How I single-handedly completed a Saga; and a pensive Plough Inn.


The teach took about 30 mins - not bad at all - and we set off, albeit a little tentatively. Not being familiar with the source material (a crime!!!), Smudge was - initially - rather disturbed by the illustration of Arup the King of the Walruses who, seemingly, was being stroked by a group of reverential Nogs. Latching on to this potential euphemism, Boffo's ears briefly-pricked at the phrase 'tickling the Walrus' but he soon settled in to his Thurn & Taxis once more.

One particular scenario arose (see above) whereby both of our mine explorations yielded inaccessible sections of the mountain - this was our own fault as we explored away from the starting 'exits all around the edge' tile': the upshot was a distinct lack of stone in the economy which meant 2:1 exchanges were prized muchly. Additionally, limiting the stone led to us being unable to get Noggin to the Throne before his evil Uncle (we just didn't have the time to finish the remaining, requisite sagas); we were exiled to our Granny's in disgrace...but I won in the final reckoning of points!

Situations like the one described are the very reason Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog is a gamers' game: it's not all cosy and nice and there are plenty of opportunities to screw over the points and plans of the other players! Locking out stone, hogging partly-built inventions, refusing to complete sagas, restocking at inopportune moments and many more devious stratagems can be employed to stick the knife in: glorious and grown-up gaming!

We finished just after 10PM (so that's just over two hours of actual play) whereupon Gary - on the other table - departed and left us with five for Wildlife Safari:



Smudge was unapologetic with a double-Lion opening - which is currently under The Society's scrutiny - and, sure enough, this put her in a healthy lead for the first few rounds; total reliance upon the "Bi-Feline Bomb" is, of course, a dangerous tack and (indeed) Smudge's complacency was almost her undoing. Fortunately (for her) Jobbers was unable to rein-in Zebra enough in the last card of the game to prevent her winning by a single point: 61 (her), 60 (me), 59 (Jobbers*), Boffo then Gerv. It is this seeming imperviousness in the face of subsequent tomfoolery that makes the double Lion what it is today: a poisonous blight upon the game.

We closed with some 'hot potato' Dobble: a therapeutic come-down from the tense, thinky heights of 'the Northlands' - what a session!

*At one point, he exclaimed "Grab him by the trunk - he loves it" which nearly choked an ale-sipping Boffo.
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Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:25 am
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A Weekend In Pictures

Anthony Boydell
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Friday:
We played host to a surprise birthday supper for eldest pudding Alice; the surprise, orchestrated by Joe (her Beau), involved diversions, 'friend' pickups and a lost wallet - all ending up at Chez Boydell with a huge takeout curry, beer (for everyone else) and board games:


We're big fans of Braggart so, at Arthur's request, this was our 'Starter'.


Suitably warmed-up, I tucked myself behind the box lid and appeared to everyone in their dreams in the form of the excellent Tajemnicze Domostwo:


We won...with just the one day to spare (on Easy mode, admittedly)


Daisy joined us mid-way thru Ghostly Dixit and stayed for the dessert: The Black Overcoat Game:


Fittingly, with three people (out of the five) on the cusp of winning on their next turns, I combo-ed out some extending hands to steal my required map pieces then banged my copper kettle with a wooden spoon to summon everyone to The Lake (which is where the treasure was). No-one was able to play an 'Excuse' card to stay behind (my secret plan), so everyone won!


Saturday:
We could avoid it no longer: Mrs B and I stole in to the Attic with black bin bags and spare boxes to give it a good old 'pre-Christmas' clear-out:


Thomas Lehmann wrote an article about LARP-ing?!





Another discovery: we really don't need to talk about my haircut...


Sunday:
To escape the constant drone of the neighbour drilling/angle-grinding/circular-sawing something on his front drive, Mrs B and I dropped Arthur off at his best pal's and then took the dog up to May Hill for a long, sunny-morning bounce through the gorse and grass.



With just a tickle of a breeze, it was warming and clean-aired; the view from the top stretched far-and-away to the River Severn, the Forest of Dean and the Black Mountains and, even, a Brecon Beacon or two! A chestnut tree was dropping its spiky scrota as we passed, so we filled our pockets with the shiny brown nuggets for later eating. The bracken crackled and crumbled as we explored the undergrowth: rabbit warrens and fungi a-plenty; there were even a couple of groups of picnicking ramblers tucked out of the wind - to which Ziggy was immediately drawn in the (vain) hope of scrounging a crumb or two.

A proper Autumnal and 'close to home' kind of weekend!
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Mon Oct 8, 2018 6:20 am
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Impressive?!

Anthony Boydell
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I thought so...
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Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:23 pm
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O! What a Circus.

Anthony Boydell
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Every couple of years myself, Mrs B and whichever children are so-inclined (a dwindling parameter on each occasion, sadly) take ourselves off to enjoy a performance from the marvelous, independently-run Giffords Circus*. With its excellent candy floss and pizza (and the Acts are quite good too), we've never failed to have anything less than a simply wonderful time. And so it was yesterday when, in a frantic dash from school pick-up to Stroud, we took Arthur and his pal Jonathan for some colourful shenanigans:









Finishing around 7PM, there had been some hope that I might make it back across the county in time for Ross-on-Wye gaming; however, this goal was severely jeopardized by a jam exiting the Circus field, roadworks and road closures and the need to drop Jonathan off along the way. It's a cold day in Hell that keeps me from my weekly maintainer of sanity: a session of cerebral gymnastics and twattish banter. Guest appearances this week made our numbers to a magnificent 'seven': Phil from Aberystwyth way (bearing a generous gift of more historical gaming books for me), Gloucester's Gerv (fast becoming a regular) and Mrs Boffo's Mother.

Just beating the clock's tick to 8.30PM, I parked myself in a comfy chair in a ready-made space at this evening's Terraforming Mars table - Phil, Jobbers and Smudge had been waiting patiently for my pre-texted arrival:



Seeing as no-one needed any teaching, we were straight in to the thick of it: my own company's enjoyment of playing Events saw me dropping seven shades of kack on to Mars and utilizing steel/titanium to build a "security fleet". This strategy, along with an oxygen-spewing action and drawing every 'play an ocean tile' card, accelerated the finish quite markedly thus preventing all of us from getting a reasonable hold on the planet's surface. Having slightly more forests and an early-drop of Pets (again) won the day for Smudge.

Swapping tables, Boffo had eagerly picked up my messaged 'Glass Road?' and so he and his missus and me tucked ourselves by the exit:



It was another thumping win for Smudge (24.5 to 18 to 17), but I missed out on 6 additional points in the fourth round due to the lack of just one brick. To be honest, Smudge was getting WELL settled in with buildings from the first round so it wasn't that much of a surprise that she ended up kicking us around the room!

We, three, closed with a playtest of *fweeep* (I've added abilities to ALL the cards now); this was a raging disaster for Smudge who admits to just not getting it. With her making numerous bad decisions, that left me and Boffo to fight over the juicy remnants in the manner of a 2 player game: my extensive experience won out. Boffo mumbled that it seemed to have a runaway leader issue but that's an old argument from the Fzzzt! days that's rooted in groupthink/inexperience...and, besides, I only won by 10 points - hardly as crushing a margin as Smudge's Glass Road-inflicted humiliation!

So, even arriving late, we packed in quite the itinerary; we don't mess about at The Plough Inn**!

*see also https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/56593/running-away-ci...
**except when we're messing about
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Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:20 am
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"Well, that must be nice for you."

Anthony Boydell
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Boffo's disdain for all things 'Kickstarter' is well known and, in many respects, entirely correct (I can't really pitch in with him 100% because I've (historically) backed 80 projects and have 17 items 'outstanding'). This Friday - finally! - saw the delivery of my deluxe copy of Endeavor: Age of Sail: a luxuriant, and remarkably cheap, re-issue of one of my all-time faves. Boffo's response to this eager Message-d news is today's blogtitle. The RoW Star Chamber were last-minute-joined by Gloucester-based Gerv for what would be - for him - an all-new-games session but (spoiler alert) a very high quality one.



Five is the magic number for Endeavor and it wasn't a difficult job getting the rules explained. Aside from Gerv occasionally forgetting that one cannot 'draw' (crate) a card OR 'occupy' (flag) outside of Europe until the region is 'open', it was smooth sailing. Jobbers had a fine line in SHIP+OCCUPY thanks to Smudge leaving him at least three 'last places' in the shipping lines; Gerv did a little bit of this and that, as did Smudge, without troubling the card stacks; I took cards and replaced them, further, with better cards and was pipped by Boffo - by a single point - after he'd cannon-ed his way across Europe and snaffled a huge 5VP card and a cluster of link scoring cities!


"Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!...Boom! Boom! Boom!..."


It was every bit as good as the last time we played my 'first edition' copy back in 2013 (!). Aside from some paint-stuck smears and the flimsy player trays, this reprint is a pleasure to fiddle about with...and I've not even opened the rulebook for the extensive 'exploits' expansion.

Satisfied that my desire for the evening had been fulfilled, there was a brief moment when it looked like Lancaster was going to get a rare 'so soon' outing...but Jobbers grumbled and pulled one of my Doomsday games from the bag instead: The Princes of Florence.



Gerv bore himself nobly throughout and scored an impressive 41 points but it was Jobbers and Smudge, with their spot-on Prestige Cards, that accelerated toward the mid-50s (very fine scores indeed).



For some reason, the jukebox at The Plough Inn seemed suddenly eager to play a series of show-offy orchestral covers eg. Thunderstruck on double Cello, Enter Sandman on oboe, Smack My Bitch Up on Recorder and Triangle etc. Barely a tolerable soundtrack to groupthink closer Citadels, the joke wore exceeding thin after the first verse & chorus.



In a rare instance of groove-settling, I found myself untroubled by fear of OR actual thievery / assassination and Architect/Bishop-ed my way to a thumping win over everyone apart from Jobbers whom I pipped by a glorious point. When this game works - as it does most of the time - it is a fabulous, figurative walk on eggshells and a firm club favourite.

In other news, I used four copies of Scandaroon to shore up an old shelf over some Library room strip-lighting: thus, fashioning further - much needed - space for proper games:



In a much-appreciated break from the last few surly huff-athons, Friday night was a delight and a pleasure and a joy. I blame the change in the weather...
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Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:20 am
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What breams may come?

Anthony Boydell
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Look what flew over our house this (Friday) morning?!

(apparently part of a new Eddie Redmayne movie complete with stuntman climbing up the outside!)


Anyway, on with the gory details...

Sometimes my stomach sinks when I see the Boffonian message that 'five' shall be in attendance that evening. Five means a probable return to a club favourite and there have been a LOT of evenings like that in 2018. I'm not against playing old faves, of course - otherwise they'd not be favourites - but I felt we could (at least) try something a bit different?! So, I pressed my nose to the shelves and gave the in-house (rather than in-shed) game collection a really good stare and alighted upon the thin, glyphed box for Isaribi:



In summary: spend your action points to move around and collect fish then return to the dock to sell those fish to waiting customers and/or upgrade your boat (action points per turn) / nets (how many fish cubes you can catch with the one action point). Money is Veeps, so spend early to build one's engine for the last few rounds.

I'm not sure what was on Boffo's mind as I gave them a brief run-down of the rules (which I'd read in plenty of time) as he latched on to every stutter and piss-promounciation with a sigh and a roll of the eyes. We got started quickly enough, though, and were soon hauling in Sea Bream, Mackerel, Shrimp and Clams (though not so many 'clam jokes' TBH). Jobbers and Smudge seemed to be managing themselves rather efficiently, Lydia and I seemed to have the makings of plans and Boffo just sighed the heavy sigh of the world weary from Round 1/Turn 1 through to the end of Round 5. Perhaps this is revenge for the bombed reception for Kashgar last week? I feel this was rather unfair treatment to a pleasant Hiyashi though I prefer Sail to India over this, it's spiritual big brother.

In a subdued silence, we (or, rather, Boffo) settled on something more familiar as the middle-of-the-nighter: Hansa Teutonica:



The usual scratchy-head, get-in-the-bloody-way pain of cube placement ensued with Boffo - once again in H.T - pulling away from the pack in the final scoring to win by a significant margin. He seems to have grokked the game where the rest of us most definitely have not; I fear there is little (and reducing) proper fun being had by us also-rans each time.

Smudge had proved victorious in a raffle tickets/pool-of-money Pub diversion and was in line to win a handsome pot o' cash...but only if, as the 'winner' she managed to pull the right key to unlock the moneybox from a bag of keys. What the hairy-nippled, rich-in-omega-3 FUCK is all that about, eh? You get a 1-in-40 chance of 'winning' and then another 1-in-20 chance of picking the right key...otherwise you can piss off with nowt to show for your "good fortune"! I'm glad I didn't participate in this 21st century cup-and-ball chicanery; no, Sir! Smudge had also won a runny nose and a wide selection of sneezes - probably 'Freshers Flu' generously donated by a Library full of new Usk students - and was desperately in need of more handkerchiefs, a hot toddy and a lie down so Boffo took her home.

Jobbers, Lydia and I had a little time to try out my newly-minted copy of fweeep! which would have the advantage of not being wheezed at by a doleful Boffo:



As previously-mentioned, it's Fzzzt! with some extra wrinkles so I knew it would be robust enough at it's heart; no, I was looking for how the 'Regulations' (that apply a different special rule each round) and the carriage bonus effects (on about a quarter of the cards) worked out...and worked out they did in a pleasingly un-'broken' manner. Lydia sunk herself in to a bit of a mire with an excess of Blueprints, half of which she failed to complete the minimum 'one train' against and lost half her points in consequent penalties; Jobbers, meanwhile, seemed to read my high-and-low bid intentions astutely and nipped me for a much-desired carriage on at least four occasions!

For the first time in nigh-on 18 months I was on Son pick-up duty so, we remaining three, vacated The Plough Inn well before the ding of the closing bell.
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Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:30 am
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The World is, thankfully, NOT like a great big onion

Anthony Boydell
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(this post was drafted the day before the Great Monday BGG Drought)

Early September, at the edge of the Forest of Dean, sees the local Summer event season closing with the Newent Onion Fayre. The origins of the curious, backwater celebration can be found here: http://www.newentonionfayre.org/index.php/origins-of-the-oni... ...but don't go rushing off to read it because it's basically just a hangover from Britain's burgeoning 18th century, (notionally-) National Onion Festival tradition - who the Hell knew we had one of those?! Some bright sparks re-ignited the Newent branch of this bulbous nonsense in the 1990s and the streets of our little town have been filled, annually (and alliumnally), with hook-a-ducks, secondhand books and cub scout groups begging for subscriptions ever since. One end of the town is set aside for 'the fairground' where one can throw away a crisp £20 on three rides and a bag of limp candyfloss in less than half-an-hour; it was to this part of the proceedings that Arthur and I were headed. Pausing to pick up some train-related books from the Charity Shop - courtesy of letting everyone in to their storeroom (a special, annual treat) - Arty and I were pacing a big circle to 'the rides' when I spotted something, in the distance, on the main stage*:

Me: Arty? Isn't that Sam and Mark from CBBC** opening the Fayre?

Arty: (taken aback) Er...yes it is.

Turning ever-so-slightly pink of cheek, Arty followed my lead and we pushed our way to the front of the crowds as the celebs emerged from the performance area. Sam and Mark's Friday Wind-up is one of Arthur's most favourite television programmes; thus, suddenly - and without prior warning - bumping in to them in your home town was not-a-little overwhelming! Still slightly-dazed, we bumped in to pals Mel and Lily; the latter wanted to go on a couple of the rides but had failed to meet up with any of her pals, so she and Arthur paired up to be flung about the Newent skyline to a thumpingly-loud soundtrack:


From L to R: It's always nerve-wracking when you meet someone famous;
a furiously-twisting, centripetal device of torture; and,
fifty feet up on a thin-chained swing (*shudders*)


We were done. After 90 minutes, there was nothing left to see of the 2018 instantiation so we came home: Arthur settled in front of the television while I disappeared upstairs to work on my laptop*** (more of which another time). Everything had drifted in to a pleasingly-undemanding lull as the P.M. took a gentle, Autumnal curve in to evening as we awaited the arrival of our visitors. You see, with Smudge away pulling furry danglers in Cornwall, Boffo was at a loose end and so I'd invited him - and the visiting Shepherds - for an evening of curry and board games. John S. helped play-test Snowdonia: Jungfraubahn & Mount Washington five-or-so years ago and we'd already spent some quality time at the UK Games Expo so, when news of his and Avril's intended visit to our humble Town reached my ears, I felt it would be remiss not to make more of an occasion of it. So, after the pleasantries of a hot beverage and the exchanging of gifts (beers to me, a copy of Tara, Seat of Kings to them) - and with the slow-cookers sizzling with spicy delights - I effected a tour of the slightly-shabby Shed and then we repaired to the Library for the inevitable Nusfjord:


Fish, Startups and tasty ale.


There was much activity from the other players during Nussy and I feared that their various combos were going to cast my own efforts in to shadow; however, I made sure to keep up with their tableaus and what they could - and couldn't - potentially do - this meant I sneaked a couple of actions ahead of John as he was pushing his luck whereas I wasn't! The 35-to-late twenties final scores belied the seven rounds of argy-bargy but everyone seemed happy enough - including Avril, for whom this was a debut.

Having foisted MY current favourite upon John (et al), it was his turn to reciprocate with Startups. It's sort-of No Thanks meets Rummy with a dash of Coloretto and it was fun enough though, really, I'm with Boffo on the Oink Games thing: I've never really enjoyed them as much as I'd hoped. I did rather well (until the final round when Avril stole the win) without really knowing what I was doing, but it was an happy-enough distraction.

Supper had provided a lip-smacking, belly-busting, taste-exploding interlude between rounds 1 and 2 (of 4) of Startups and by the time we'd wrapped up the game, everyone else was up for games - so we decamped to the kitchen table:



We had nine for Dixit, in six teams, and it was utterly-fantastic; it's been a LONG time since this one troubled our attentions and we've been all the poorer for it: sixty-seven percent of the players being 'lightly-refreshed' may also have helped. The lights went off for a rowdy couple of games of Nacht der Magier with at least half of the turns in any game going on longer than normally-allowed due to the 'clack' of an invisibly-toppled piece being drowned out by the incessant jabbering! (I shall write to my M.P.). And then we closed with the ever-dependable Codenames.

Boy, did we ever close with it! Due to driving commitments, John and Avril had stopped drinking so the rest of us made up the shortfall in elbow-swinging activity and the whole thing morphed in to a beautiful, noisy denouement! It was close to midnight by the time J&A beetled off up the M50 for some peace-and-quiet, Boffo was safely installed with a mattress and a good book and everyone else - including an all-of-a-tizzy/pee-on-the-tiles Ziggy - were a-bed.

A thoroughly heart-warming hoot!

(Aside: Be sure to read here for some background and an alternative view: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/81112)

*a flatbed trailer with a tarpaulin over the top and a tractor parked around the back with it's engine running to keep the generator turning.
**Childrens' BBC.
***NOT a euphemism.
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Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:15 am
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Bad Mood Bears

Anthony Boydell
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Friday night at The Plough Inn was a tetchy affair and no mistake. Becky is away - tugging a Little Bob and fingering a Sally - but Gary was joining us (yet again!). Gary had requested a couple of items which - given he tends to end up playing whatever Ben, John or I pick - seemed polite to acquiesce to. First up was Kashgar: Merchants of the Silk Road:



In summary: It's another 'take actions to collect stuff and cash it in against orders for veeps'-er with an alternative take on the action selection mechanism. You have three 'Patriarch' cards that head up their own column of action cards; the card at the 'head' of the column is the action you can utilise. The Patrician lets you draw cards and add one to the 'back' of his column BUT after the Patriarch: a 'used' card goes to the back of the column ('caravan') too. Cue the usual 'get more stuff', search the discard pile and other vanilla bonus effects including - and this is important - the action that lets you 'sell' collected goods to take and score an Order. If you don't draw a 'fulfil an order' card then you ain't scoring anything of significance.

The game also has the 'first to X points triggers the end-game' condition and is grindingly-slow at getting to that point; sweet Christ on a punctured velocipede but there's an awful lot of nothing happening at all. The mechanic of using a Patriarch to recruit BUT PUTTING THE RECRUIT BEHIND THE PATRIARCH IN THE QUEUE (sorry: column...no, sorry, 'caravan') means you're recruiting twice before you get to use that first recruit!

Turgid; Jobbers won but agreed with me: 45 minutes of nothing.

Talking of 'turgid', the pub was entertaining - I use the word in it's "accommodating" sense - a trio of acoustic guitar strummers who chunka-chunka-chunka/slow-brushed their way through two hours of classics and killed every single one with low-volume, thin-throated and embarrassed vocals. The rhythm never varied as they moved from 'Sloop John B' to 'Blowing In The Wind' to, well, it's hard to say because they were so shy-of-voice that the three people in the audience made more noise when they hummed along!

Anyway, back to games: hopes rose when Kingdom Builder spattered across Jobbers' viscously-ribboned bench and the first of the two games was a delightful reminder of how excellent this game is.



The second game, however, (still sound-tracked by the Mumbling, monotonous Simon and Garfunkels) was confused and rambling. The 'scoring conditions' were a little bumpy to retain and, indeed, one triggered a confused-and-grumpy 'discussion' when explained 'in full' after all of the work had now been completed. Not our finest hour, it brought back the ghost of our debut Gentes which put Boffo off the thing for life. All the arguing was a little ungracious given that Gary had pulled a tremendous fast one and overtaken Jobbers in the totalling-up; I'm deeply sorry about that.

Trying to overcome the sour taste of Kashgar with a proper implementation of a sophisticated card game, Jobbers pulled Bruges from my bag - a recent acquisition replete with expansion and promos - and I set to refreshing myself with the rules. We spent no more than 10 minutes on the explanation - a straightforward and logical game - though, from Boffo's snipes and sighs, you'd think it was Trick of the Rails or Al-rashid again! *Pffft*



Once we were off, it was pretty much a two horse race between myself and Boffo; Jobbers limped along almost entirely-ignoring Characters in houses, whilst Gary built lots of houses and no (useful) people. Judging from Jobbers' just swallowed a wasp expression, Bruges failed to win his approval either. So now the room is short-tempered and huffy and the terrible troubadours have effed off in to the good night...to be replaced by someone with an electric guitar and a fetish for Free's "Alright Now", which they played 30-second snippets of for the next 40 minutes. Gary, following the farcical finger-pickers, had retired leaving Jobbers and Boffo and myself to close out the evening with Nations: The Dice Game.

We played with the 'advanced' boards and were assured (by Boffo) they were balanced...only to have him win by a 15 point margin; cue: further grumbling from Jobbers. By the time I'd been for a quick piss, Jobbers had scarpered leaving a solitary Boffo to drain his glass and drag his trolley in to the car park. At the same time, the sole on my shoe had come off and hung on by a mere inch-or-so of material; this forced me to effect an exaggerated, Ministry of Silly Walks stride followed by a clacking 'slap!' every other step. A ridiculous end to a ridiculously ill-mannered evening.
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Sun Sep 9, 2018 6:15 am
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You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.

Anthony Boydell
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Being the end of August, the Ross-on-Wye board gamers are hit with the double-whammy of both Smudge's and Boffo's birthdays; for the former, it is a predictable menu of games that she protests "never get played the rest of the year" (but are) and/or "nobody else likes" (but we do) eg. Lancaster, The Voyages of Marco Polo, Puerto Rico and Stone Age (the exception that proves the rule).



At the mention of Lancaster in the "RSVP if you're coming" e-mail, the sound of panicked cross-Herefordshire revving could be heard as Gary positively fell over himself to get there in time; this meant we'd be six again (!), seemingly also having failed to deter Lydia with a Summer of introductions to exceptional games. Boffo bemoaned 'the split' with reference to Lancs as we're all in unison re: five is the best number so, in an odd twist - possibly prompted by a painful piece of dentistry, probably because he'd do anything for love including that - he gave up his place to watch/play the tag-team with me. Smudge is, of course, the undisputed Queen of Lancs and it's a cold day in Hell when she gets beaten so I took the first round of actions determined to get a quick '2 -> 3' Knight promotion and then beat the heck out of France for veeps for pretty much the rest of the game (claiming those elusive, but lucrative, Nobles). Boffo commanded a couple of the rounds and did most of the voting for team 'Benthony', but I'd set the tone (!) from the start and we stuck to it:


We I won!


There was a little dancing around who would get to play Terraforming Mars (Smudge's new copy) but Lydia expressed a keen interest so I demurred and joined Boffo and Gary for the excellent Troyes instead:



And so to the first distracted brainfart of the evening when I flubbed the chance of conquering the Red Dice/16 (6VP) Event (utilizing a red card effect) by messing up my calculations by a single money...and letting Boffo steal it on his next action. I hear a rumour that Troyes will be getting a Gaia Project-like space makeover:



TM was going to take the other table through to the end, so just before Gary left we dabbled at Mint Works (no photo because it was over-and-packed-away before I remembered to take one) - cue: Tony Distracted Brainfart No.2 and failing to see - even though it was in plain sight - that Boffo was on a game-ending seven stars before declaring 'Pass' even though I could've built to seven of my own instead. I would've lost in the labyrinth of tie-breakers but that's not the point.

Gary scooted, so Boffo and I plumped for a two-player Keyflower:



Once again, I neglected to remember Boffo had quietly-accrued more green/generally more meeples than me and stole the Autumn and Winter tiles I wanted from under my inattentive nose. I blame the fact that he's played a) more 2 player games than me and b) more 2 player games of Keyflower than me so it's not my fault/I claim diminished responsibility, your Honour.

Strike another Friday evening off the calendar, then; one week closer to Essen Spiel, cold and dark evenings and Christmas. For Smudge and (on Monday) Boffo, that's one year closer to death.

Have a lovely day, everyone!
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Sat Sep 1, 2018 10:00 am
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Impressing the Bishop

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I was haggling the purchase of Viticulture + Tuscany from highly-irregular club member Norm (via the Zuckerberg Portal) and we'd struck a deal with only the 'exchange' details to be finalised. He has followed this blog's obsession with Scandinavian Inlets and expressed an urgent need to give it a go; seeing as he is local-ish, I suggested he combine delivery, cash pickup and Nusfjord in one happy evening and so - with less-irregular but still not regular Gary in tow - they swelled the Ross-on-Wye board gamers to six. Not to be left out, Skenfrith Dan (not as irregular as norm but more irregular than Gary) beetled in to The Plough Inn, as did late arrival Lydia. That's EIGHT for a sleepy late-Summer Friday evening of gaming: how delightful!

Aside: while still on the subject of Social Media, let us spare a moment for the Z-dog who, it seems, is a little under the weather:

"Get well soon, Mark Zuckerberg!" (courtesy of Twitter)


First up, then, was a fulfilled promise:


Smudge looks like thunder because I kept taking the actions, buildings, shares and Elders right before she was going to!


Norm loved it so much that he asked we play it again immediately! True to form, he did WORSE in the second game but I've seen that plenty of times and put it down to players trying a variety of things now that they've learned the fundamental structure: he will do better in game three for sure (I guarantee it!). Gary seemed a little bewildered (not that unusual for him, TBH) and focused in on combos that were only drip-feeding points; he was also paying little attention to what everyone else was doing and lost out on a number of desired buildings as a consequence. In Nusfjord you most definitely have to be aware of the other players: can they buy those shares? Do they want a boat or a building? Are they about to Serve Fish? It won't surprise you that, for a game involving fish, I sharked 'em!

It's been nearly three years (!) since we played The Voyages of Marco Polo and that's mainly down to a) Boffo hating it and b) not having enough attendees to split in to a Boffo and non-Boffo group (see a.) and c) me forgetting to bring it along whenever b. is true. No such error this week as forewarned is fore-armed:



Gary sat this one out - wanting to nip off around 10PM - so Norm helped remined Smudge and myself what the colourful jiggins is going on. Very quickly, Norm's oasis-hopping meeple hogged the movement action with high numbers so I decided to hoover my way through the contract tiles instead, staying pretty much dead-still for the whole game. My 'character' came with a free white die and a contract every round, so this further concentrated my attention on the Market. Five rounds and 10 (ten) contracts later, I was comfortably (30+) ahead of a tied Smudge/Norm! It's a corker of a game and I think I need to seek out the expansion now - does anyone have a copy they're not needing any more?

And what of the others; how fared they? Well, there was something else to do with fish and wood on their table and then Lords of Vegas or something:



At closing time, while waiting for Boffo to finish his pint, we conversed about bell-ringing and campanology and the differences between the two; it seems that a fine side income can be earned at Weddings etc during the Summer but only if you're 'old', as everyone 'young' has a proper job during the week. Boffo's ears pricked up at the rumours of free ale and cheese and asked how one might become - for example - a 'lay preacher'? Smudge replied that one needed to "say nice things and impress the Bishop" which, because we're British, had Boffo and myself in convulsions: "Get your kit off, love; I'll be with you in a minute. Just going in to the bathroom to 'Impress the Bishop'" etc.

What wags we are, eh? I love 'em all dearly.
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Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:17 am
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