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

Archive for Show/Convention Report

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That's a very fine pair of plump tomatoes you have there, Sir.

Anthony Boydell
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I popped these on to BGG - albeit my small corner of BGG - as a tempting nugget a few days back (courtesy of Matthias at Frosted Games), so I thought I'd take this chance to explain a bit more about how Reykholt works (also with his Blessing):


Delicious artwork!


In summary: it's a boiled-down, re-engineered and crunchy reworking of the themes of At the Gates of Loyang!

There will be a couple of worker placement action boards: one 'Main' (all counts) and a flip-able second that provides the obligatory extra spaces for 3 and 4 players.

There are LOTS of cute vege-eeples.

Turn order is used for worker placement phase (last to first) and the movement (exhibition) phase (first to last). There is a Harvest phase in between the two.

Each player has three workers.

The action spaces get you 'wares' (mostly vegetables) eg. tomatoes, salad, cabbage, mushrooms and carrots. They also get you action modifying/single bonus cards, allow you to build a greenhouse and/or sow wares in your supply in to separate fields.

A bonus card may be taken by a player and s/he gains the instant/on-going benefit from that point on (place in front of them); in addition, there is an action to 'SHARE' an card from an adjacent player (move it so it's between you both).

There are 36 different cards in the base game.

During the exhibition phase, players return a number of wares from their supply to move along one space on the track; the steps cycle through each of the different wares and more wares are needed to continue moving along the track ie. from 1 ware up to 6 wares for each step. You can move as many steps as you can (or want to) pay for. During your exhibition, you are allowed one 'skip' where you GAIN that many wares from the general supply instead of paying them. You may stop at any time.

The player who moves in to a new space first, goes to the head of the line. When everyon has moved, the player furthest up, and at the front of the line, gets the '1' turn order marker (the second gets '2' etc); this means they will go last in the worker placement but move first in the Exhibition.

The game plays over 8 rounds and the person furthest ahead on the Exhibition track at the end is the winner.


A lovely greenhouse.


How does it play? Well, it's relatively quick (60 mins) and the cards can lead to pleasingly-powerful combos. The whole thing is very intuitive (the theme helps a lot!) and even though I, personally, struggle with the race element ie. keeping up a rhythm of stock my supply/empty efficiently, I found this another meaty and focussed Uwe in the Nusfjord vein.

I predict a huge hit.
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Wed Mar 7, 2018 6:35 am
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Leiria Control - London

Anthony Boydell
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The last day of our Iberian Odyssey dawn bright and cheerful...as did I, despite only having 90 minutes of sleep. With still time before the breakfast bar even coming close to opening, I changed my socks and wandered on to the beach for a good Portuguese blow:


A Few Acres of Sand!



La Strada


Looking back along the scruffy promenade, I could just make out Markus & Inka Brand having a crafty cigarette; they hadn't bothered with sleeping at all because the beery group had disbanded at about the same time as I was dunking myself in a hot, Sunday morning bath!

The restaurant area was awash with the deep, raspy verbal hub-bub of 3 day ravaged vocal chords, the plaintive cries of homesick children and a sloshing of over-filled (black) coffee mugs (the average qty per person being two point something mugs).

Quote:
By the way: here’s the link to my Heavy Cardboard Day 2 chit-chat:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/heavy-cardboard/id886922...


Shambling across the balmy courtyard, I had a last browse of the Bring 'n Buy and I ended up spunking all of my remaining Euros on Card City XL and Welcome to Centerville; not even enough change for a stick of chewing gum! But who needs gum when you've got games?!

The farewells were drawn-out and emotional - man-hugs and slapped backs all round and, yes, the startings of a little tear in the corner of one's eye. Leiriacon has been utterly fantastic: hilarious, welcoming, rewarding (personally and from a business perspective) and extremely comfortable! The food is fantastic and it seemed the FREE beer, wine and desserts flowed almost perpetually! The facilities are superb: comfortable rooms and plenty of tables. Indeed, I did a little bit of maths and worked out it cost me a total of about £400 for the four days including flights, car hire, fuel and accommodation! Four hundred pounds?! You could easily spend that on accommodation alone for the UK Games Expo, for example.


Cloudbusters


The adrenaline was draining fast and the lack of sleep was beginning to manifest; nodding head, thousand yard staring through the aircraft's window and a disturbing number of near-misses with the kerb on the long drive home from London to Newent!

*sigh*

The upshot (the final analysis) is that I had an incredible time and I will move Heaven and Earth to come back next year; in fact, you should all come too!

Don't, however, let this put you off:

Steam!
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Mon Mar 5, 2018 12:41 pm
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Con(temporaneous)

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Time was when UK gamers had GenCon to look forward to and Baycon and, perhaps, a smattering of other bits and pieces around the place - usually hosted University campuses 'off Term'. I remember catching the train with pals for a Play-by-Mail convention in Sheffield, for goodness sake (we're talking mid-to-late 80s). Manorcon and Midcon, The Cast Are Dice, Dragonmeet, Dragondaze, Salute, Sorcon and the UK Games Expo. One's calendar is now bursting with a fecundity of gatherings that would make my 20 year old self blush with embarrassment; for example, in the next few weeks alone we have:



I'd actually penciled Handycon in to my mental diary but forgot to book any tickets; I'd love to go up to North Wales but - oddly - I'm going to be in the area during the weeks either side of the Con but not available at the weekend. OxCon was fun a couple of years back but I shall be holding the Fort at Boydell HQ that weekend and can't get a Pass out. There's a long haul, via Shrove Tuesday, through February until March where there's something happening oop North:



Too bloody far away? Not really, it's just that I couldn't get permission to sneak away twice in the same month and - to be honest - it was never going to beat this St David's Day (and long weekend) beauty of International gaming shenanigans:



I missed Leiriacon in 2017 but, with the blessings (and euros) of Surprised Stare Games, I get to go along this year! Four days of beer-ing it up networking with some of the best designers and players Europe has to offer and, I believe, Heavy Cardboard's Edward and Amanda flying in too. Mac Gerdts is a special guest and, of course, one can't escape the larger-than-life presences of the most excellent Messrs Paulo Soledade and Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro!

It's going to be a hoot, I'm certain and it'll be enough to keep me ticking along until the Expo in Birmingham in June and then the long Summer haul towards Spiel. Phew! This gaming lark is ruddy hard work!
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Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:20 am
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Yet Another True Story

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(Spiel, 2016)

The Hotel man, who writes things in a special Breakfast Book, looked very grumpy as I put the hard-boiled eggs in to my rucksack for day snacks; the bowl was heavy so I had to use both hands to lift it, bracing the lip of the bag with my chin as I poured them in. Some of them were cracked and crushed and when I zipped it up, the bag puffed an eggy cloud over my face.

The Messe security guards gave me a similar grumpy look when I showed my exhibitor pass and wandered in to Hall 1; lying down in the back of the van for the journey across Essen meant I had accidently squashed a few more eggs; the fabric of the rucksack was damp with yolk, as was my branded Stand tee-shirt. I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t miss out on the new Concordia expansion, so I stopped by Mr Gerdts’ and paid for 200 of them – I’m pretty sure I’ll be guaranteed a copy now if I stop by early tomorrow.

I was the first person to get to the stand and was horrified to find that everything had been stolen - the games, shelves, boxes, tables and chairs – and replaced by someone else’s games, shelves, boxes, tables and chairs! I ran to the Administrator’s office in an awful tizzy and waited for 20 minutes until it opened; by that time, I’d forgotten what I’d gone there for and had to come away again. I met Alan by the entrance and he told me there was egg-white leaking down the back of my trousers; he also told me that we were in Hall 2 and not Hall 1: “Does that mean you caught the robbers?” I asked. He walked off, holding his nose.

It was very busy just after they opened the main doors; several people wanted to try out Guilds of London, so I poured the contents of the box on to the table. I reached in to my rucksack and offered them each a handful of crushed egg; one of them was a bit sick in the back of their mouth.

Alan suggested I take a break and “get some coffees”; he gave me a 20 euro note and pointed to the far corner of the Hall at a restaurant booth: “There’s a branch of Starbucks in the town centre” he continued, “it shouldn’t take you more than an hour to get there-and-back.”. It is very confusing to be in a foreign city, so I played it safe – navigation wise – and followed the U-Bahn rails back to the Hauptbahnhof; I only had to duck against the wall twice to let a train passed. My mission was a bit of a failure because the coffee, which I had put in to my rucksack to keep warm with the eggs, had all leaked out by the time I returned to the Messe. My back was sticky and, to be honest, the smell was making me gag.

I met a friend from Boardgamegeek who told me that the International Gamers Award was about to be presented at their booth and would I like to come and watch? I thought this would be nice but it was very crowded; I nipped around the back and stood next to a man who looked a lot like Stefan Feld. I put my rucksack at my feet - which took the weight off my shoulders – and put on my serious listening face when the speeches started. When the IGA Man said “Mombasa!”, everyone began clapping and the man next to me stepped forward with his arms waving; he hadn’t noticed my rucksack and caught his feet in the white chocolate mocha-dribbled straps and plummeted off the podium – face first – in to the carpet. The noise his head made was like the sound of the eggs being crushed from the morning. I began laughing, then, because I remembered that I often mixed up Stefan Feld with Alexander Pfister and that I had, ironically, been stood next to the latter famous designer all along!

All this excitement had obviously made him tired because he had fallen asleep where he fell; it’s nice to have a ‘power nap’ in the middle of the day (Ted Alspach does it all the time, I hear), so I did that too with the help of the IGA Man. He used the trophy on me as a soporific.
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Wed Oct 4, 2017 6:25 am
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Dragondaze are here again

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Hardly on the scale of an Essen Spiel or a UK Games Expo, South (Welsh) Wales' DragonDaze (http://dragondaze.com/) is a pocket-sized micro-con held in the chlorine-tanged environs of The Newport Centre: with flexible conference facilities, a music stage and a (mainly) family swimming pool with flume, wave machine and a fitness suite attached. The Saturday morning shoppers were out in force but seemed determinedly-focused on only one of the two main town centre car parks; this allowed Arthur and I to breeze in to 'the Kingsway', which has been in Newport as long as I have been alive, pretty much - I have lens-fogged memories of being in Arthur's age in the passenger seat of my Father's MGB GT or his Triumph Spitfire or his Vauxhall Viva or his Mini Clubman or his...well, he had a LOT of cars in the 1970s.

Arthur got in for free, so it was just £7.50 'on the door' and narrowly-avoiding ending up in the changing rooms, we navigated to the Main Hall:


From L to R: The esteemed venue; the meet 'n greet stewardess scares the living sh*t out of every child that enters; the view from one side and the (blurred) view from the other.


It was pleasant buzzing and there was plenty of variety to be enjoyed: foamy LARP gear, dice, miniatures, tee-shirts, comics, jewellery, an Esdevium-run demo square and a sprinkling of board games and board game prototypes. There was no chance of missing Bez (see below); Bez was dressed in bright red and her enormous pointy beard swung about in a graceful arc every time she turned her head. In a Bind has been picked up and given a much wider release (including a 10 minute spot on a French TV-based magazine show) so me and the lad joined a forlorn-looking punter to show off this ridiculous plastic-sheetless version of Twister:


Getting in a bit of a twist with Yogi (note that Bez can't keep still for even a microsecond!) and Arthur, proudly, finds one of his Dad's games in the free-play Library!


Of more pressing interest - because he and his models were eye-distractingly adjacent to Bez's contortionist lair (and hair) - was David J. Mortimer and his new pre-KS miniatures project. It's a combat game with 3D models that you buy the templates for and, thus, can then reproduce to your heart's delight; the system is straight-forward so that even I had a rough idea of what was going on:


Ironclads: Space Battles in the Victorian Aether: Rules and 3D printer templates coming to a KS near you very soon.


Arthur got off to a literal flier by special action-ing his entire fleet, across the length of the Sector, to lurk right outside my figurative front-door! Much ramming, blasting and asteroid-avoiding ensued in what was an ugly conflict; we were both rather too 'gung-ho' to be in charge of military hardware, littering the Po-Tay-Toh System with torn Victorian steel. Arthur managed to puncture my last remaining hull to take the victory; 'twas a hollow one, however, because my die-rolling was abominable. That's MY excuse and I am sticking by it (David? You were there...speak up for me!).

Arthur's RADAR led us to 'Find of the Day' in the form of this grandly-illustrated 1984 curio for just a pocket-money dispensing £5:


We trekked once more around the room to see if we'd missed 'owt (mind you, I'm not going to buy anything 'big-boxy' this close to Spiel) and nipped up to the boardgamer's free-play area for a mooch (see above); we managed a quick try-out of Rainbow Rage but aching feet and the urgent call of sweets called us homeward. Same again next year? I hope so.
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Mon Oct 2, 2017 6:14 am
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Minnellium 2000!

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Click [Play] and...




It hardly seems like three years since I crossed the magic 1000 posts line only, now, to find myself - chest thrust out against the shiny tape - pressing home the 2000! Only one other BGG blog has been this way before me and that's Eric's BGG News which had a head start, to be fair (but I'm catching him albeit very slowly).

Qn. Is there anyone who's been with me since the beginning*

I've laughed, cried, ranted, travelogued, designed (and designer diary-ed), japed, "session reported", surreal-ed, rumoured and generally muscled my way in to your mornings (or your last thing at nights) since 2011 and yet I still can't get any love from The Geek Weekly! I get (much) love from you folks, though, and that's the (second) best kind of Love of all.

Qn. Why don't people thumb humorous posts with Polls/Quizzes in?



Just like when its one's birthday on a work day, it is I who have brought along some treats!

First up, for those of you who are still having - or who just got the game and are about to have - problems with Guilds of London's iconography, I've done a couple of helpful markup sheets. Simply print on to A4 sized labels, cut out and then affix to the bottom of each card before sheathing in the branded sleeve of your choice:




(If my GoL expansion ever sees the light of day, I'll be sure and get these done on transparent, sticky plastic)




Qn. What is your favourite post evva?

Secondly, I have been awfully selfish in my persistent banging on about "having a shed" (and the need thereof/therein/wheretofore), so I've made some up for Snowdonia and they come in a variety of first-come first-served flavours:


Costs are varying (there is no defined order, just choose the one you want). Your 3rd worker costs 1 coal, but if you pay an extra coal you get your 3rd worker AND you may take a contract card from the selection - if you do take a card, replace it immediately from the top of the deck. During train maintenance you must discard a contract card you possess or lose the train Shed.




Finally, here's a special edition from Boydell's FLGS:

Quote:

(we are in a FLGS; you can tell because it smells of stale farts and pizza dough even though you’re just reading a description of it on-screen. There are a variety of new releases in the display window along with a sign that says: “Don’t ask because we don’t have: Gloomhaven, any 7 Wonders Dual promos, that game with the ‘tits’ in).”. The cashier is stood behind the counter trying to release his hand from the counter-top, to which it has been stapled)

Doorbell: Ding-dong-dong-ding. Dong-ding-ding-dong.

Customer: (brushing dry leaves from his shoulders) Good afternoon.

Cashier: (looking up; covers stuck hand with a tea-towel) Ah, yes. Good afternoon, Sir! Can I help at all?

Customer: (chuckling, he takes a piece of folded paper from his breast pocket and opens it) Yes, indeed; I very much hope so! Do you have...Whorer Et Labora?

Cashier: Do you mean Ora Et Labora...by Uwe Rosenberg?

Customer: No, I mean Whorer Et Labora by Duvet Rosenbonk. It's about building and running a place of ill-repute.

Cashier: We haven't got any games by Duvet Rosenbonk

Customer: It's about placing your workers in to empty action slots...mostly.

Cashier: That's as may be, sir, but we don't have it.

Customer: You must have heard of Fields of Arse?

Cashier: No, sir.

Customer: A Fist for Odin? (the cashier glares at the customer) - I see. How about games by Richard Breese?

Cashier: Why, yes, we DO have games by him.

Customer: Deflower?

Cashier: Key-flower, sir.

Customer: No, Deflower. Or Inhabit My Berth?

Cashier: (confused) How are you spelling "Breese", sir?

Customer: B - R - I - E - F - S. The 'F' is silent.

Cashier: (annoyed) Of course it is.

Customer: (looks at list again) I'll try another des-

Cashier: (catching on) Before you ask, "sir", we don't have any games by "Stiff 'un" Feld or Anal R. Moon or Ign-arse-y Trevijerk or Reiner Ker-tits-ia or Alexander Fister or Phil Wanker-Harding or -

Customer: (interrupting) Eric Wang?

Cashier: (fed up) No, sir; and now I am going to have to ask you to leave -

(the cashier tries to walk around the counter but his hand his still stuck to the countertop; he tugs extra hard and the hand is freed - the staple pings off and hits the doorbell)

Doorbell: ting!

Customer: Wait! Wait, I want to buy -

Cashier: (hustling the customer toward the door) Out!

Customer: Tony Boydell?

Cashier: What? (he pauses his pushing)

Customer: Tony Boydell - do you have any games by Tony Boydell?

Cashier: Not "Boney Toydell"? Not "Tony Bordello"?

Customer: No.

Cashier: (dusts himself off; notices there is a huge hole in the middle of his staple-less hand) Er...well I've got a copy of (reaches down to pick something up and shows it to the customer) this?


PAUSE

Question: What game did he show the customer?**





So, there you have it: two bloody thousand posts***.

-phew-

Can I stop yet?

*excluding anyone who has died or been imprisoned, naturally.
**there shall be a prize for the best answer
***Of course, I'm expecting peeps to thumb the 'flip' out of this post!
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Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:05 am
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I bless the games down in Africa

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As a coda to my recent enthusiastic outpourings re: May's gaming convention in Uganda, here's a splendid interview with the children who organised it by Ben Maddox at The Perfect Information Podcast:



http://traffic.libsyn.com/perfectinformation/Interview_with_...


It's tremendous and life-affirming and optimistic and I think some of us need to find a way to get stuff (and ourselves?) out there:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1795111/help-us-send-ga...

It just fills my heart with absolute Joy.
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Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:05 am
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Have a gander at Uganda...

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Do you remember I mentioned the awesome Ugandan board game convention organised by Beckham, the other children and with the help of the amazing Mr Ben Parkinson?

(see here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/65192/all-kinds-aweso...)

Well, Ben posted this short video about how it all went!


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Fri May 26, 2017 6:20 am
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The Tip of the Nuremberg

Anthony Boydell
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(with Spiel now a faint garlic-like burp-tang in the back of the throat, the gaming world turns it's slavish attention to Nuremburg. Quite a few Brit designers have been tweeting their little hearts out with tales of early starts and prototype-related hernias. Me? Well, I'm staying resolutely at home: once bitten, twice shy...as this re-printed remembrance recalls)

When we first started out as Surprised Stare Games Ltd, we’d heard it was important for networking and the hawking of designs for us to attend said Festival of Trade-Only Toy Temptations. Our first year was 2003 with Mr and Mrs Alan Paull and myself. Nurnberg is a wholly different affair from the Spiel – and this giant magnet to business is reflected by the astonishing charges for everything. At Spiel, you can pick up a room for 30 or 40 euros a night if you book a few months before – at Nurnberg expect to slap a 1 in front of those number...and you won’t be near the Messe, either – both times we went found us holed up in Erlangen: 10 miles, and a grey express train journey, from the venue.

The 2003 show holds a particular place in my memory due to the astonishing experience of just getting there in the first place (flying in from Stansted)! Sit back, pull up a mug of hot chocolate (and perhaps a rug for the knees) and hear my sad story: very cold weather, probably snow, had been forecast in and around London...

Taken from my diary of the time:

Thursday 30th Jan, 2003
(To Alans’ after work – drive to Stevenage/Hotel)
Rode over to Stroud (on my motorbike) in the early A.M and parked up by the station – heavy rain from Gloucester and fat snowflakes on the hill-top too. Quiet and dull day at work (in Swindon) – left in plenty of time for the train. Arrived at Alan & Charlie’s place circa 5PM. Parked the bike in their garage and we (me and Charlie) set off tootie-sweetie; Alan is working in London today and will meet us at the Hotel in Stevenage. Good progress along the M4 and stopped at Reading, in a reasonable volume of traffic, for supper.

If only we’d known then what we know now, eh?

Got to the M25 7PM-ish and that’s where everything went pear-shaped! Two inches of snow had fallen during the P.M in, and to the North of, London – local councils had decided to gamble and NOT GRIT the roads – consequently, sheet ice was forming on every road in a VERY large radius.

There was absolutely no hope of us making Stevenage by 9.30PM (though Alan had already arrived there by then)…it took us SIX HOURS to get from M25 Jn 16 (the M40 junction) to Jn 21A (on to the A1M). In flumes (!) of snow and white, crispy roads we made 20MPH progress for 5 miles until we hit Hatfield at 2AM – when the gridlock continued. Lorries were jack-knifing or unable to get up hills on the frozen road, cars were being abandoned / running out fuel and stranding the occupants. At one point, I took a walk on to the deserted ‘other carriageway’ – trudging through knee-deep drifts to see what was holding us up in the distance. It was ghostly and silent.

Friday 31st January, 2003
We finally got the IBIS hotel, via a 24HR Tesco for breakfast, at 6.30AM – thirteen and a half hours after we set out on what should have been a 4 hour journey tops! People were checking OUT as Charlie and I arrived! I managed two hours of sleep until Alan woke me at 9ish and we had to make our way across the Christmas Card landscape to the airport. The normal roads were closed, so we had to navigate an alternative route in an area we’d never visited before. Luckily, we checked the status of our flight (8.30AM) on the journey – it had been CANCELLED – and we were able to re-book on a later, ‘more-likely-to-make-it’ flight (8.30PM). That mid-drive phone-call proved incredibly important – when we arrived at Stanstead Airport it was HEAVING and all Nurnberg flights were now full! With many hours to wait, we spent the day holed up Ponti’s café (massive all-day breakfast ahoy!) playing games – we had bags full of prototypes!

It took two-and-a-half hours to check-in (so many people in the building – so many!) and the 8.30PM flight was delayed by a further 2 hours (the airport was having real trouble dealing with the cold and the snow) – though, in keeping with the disaster this scenario was turning into, we didn’t sit in a plane seat until 1AM.

Arrived in Nurnberg at 3.30AM and at the hotel 4.30AM after finding the most dangerous and blasé taxi driver in the region to take us there (one hand on the Sat Nav, one on his mobile – driving the car at 70MPH in snow with his knees FFS). Had to wake up the manager to let us in, though – lots of Deutsche muttering.

Saturday 1st February, 2003
Slept in until 8.30AM (hey...another 3 hours – that’ll be 5 hours total in two days, then). Made our 10AM appointment with Kosmos – he didn’t show much interest in Mind Meld (TB: Now a co-operative, circus-themed prototype called Allez Oops), re-themed Starship Tycoons or City of Sorcerers but DID show interest in my Haunted House prototype – that’s the one test vehicle I nearly left at home!

Had the Devil’s own job of locating Adlungspiele (late PM by the time we discovered their cosy nook) and left Coppertwaddle with them. Also left copies of Autumn Leaves and Ecology with Ravensburger. So, in the end, quite a positive and productive day (if a little disappointing from Alan’s PoV).

Had the most delicious Arabian meal for supper in a restaurant next door to our Erlangen hotel and to bed circa 8.30PM for what turned out to be 12 hours of sleep!

Sunday 2nd February, 2003
Quick meeting with Amigo but they weren’t taken by anything. Me and the Paulls parted company at times – I needed to escape into my head for a while, it’s the tiredness catching up.

END OF DIARY

The journey home was straight-forward and uneventful – the snowy capital had thawed and recovered (mostly) and was beginning the usual round of blame and recrimination.

Alan and I returned the year later for a much more low-key day and a half and, thankfully, a totally routine journey. I've not been back since – work, real life and – to be honest – the quite ridiculous expense puts me off.
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Game-Plan

Anthony Boydell
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I mentioned, a short while back, that I'd been invited to the preview of a new exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood (http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/):

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered


This seemed like the perfect opportunity for Mrs B and myself to get some well-earned R&R given that the kids would be at College/School for most of the day anyway. Thus, Grandparent-ly babysitting was secured and Thursday the 6th of October, 2016 was ours to do with as we would! First up was the cross-country drive, over the Oxford plain and under a clear, hot Autumn sky, to High Wycombe - an old haunt from my working-in-London days and one that offered us the simplest, most flexible access to 'the big smoke'. It was lunchtime as the two-carriage 'local service' beetled in to Marylebone Station so we broke up the underground jaunt directly to Bethnal Green (and a good job too as it's quite "informal") by getting off the Central Line at St Pauls. Our repast was buritos - purchased from an inaudible-above-the-atmospheric-shop-music staff - and consumed within the grounds of St Pauls Cathedral. We strolled down Cheapside, cut across in to Gresham Street (paying my respects to the defunct Red Herring pub - see blog posts from 2011 and 2012) then along to a rather splendid piece of architecture...you might recognise it:


(clockwise, from top-left) Mrs B is exasperated by my preoccupation with the Guildhall; the V&A Museum of Childhood (it looks like a Victorian Tram-shed but, apparently, it was purpose built a few years back); St Pauls - splendidly massive - watches, implacably, as my soggy burito disintegrates over my chin and chest; and a black - BLACK?! - telephone box?


Riding perhaps the city's squeakiest/squealing-est tube train the remainder of the way from Bank to Bethnal Green, we emerged next to a scruffy intersection and walked the last 200 yards to the museum itself. It's FREE to enter and, at this time of day (about 3PM), remarkably free of visitors; there was plenty of room (and time) to amble about, hands clasped behind one's back, admiring the many nostalgic treasures. In particular - and I hope you'll forgive me for going on about it all over again - was the Smallfilms installation; a shipping container-sized space filled with pictures, paintings, models, equipment, puppets and other ephemera related to my most favourite memories of childhood EVER: Peter Firmin, Oliver Postgate, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, Poggle's Wood, The Clangers and Bagpuss. Mrs B is still somewhat-miffed that she was unable to come with me on my two 'special trips' whilst developing Ivor the Engine but I think seeing these priceless artifacts 'in the flesh' has gone some way to de-miffing:


(clockwise, from top-left) Noggin the Nog - note the splendid 'Ice Dragon' and the tiny, richly-coloured animation parts; Poggle's Wood puppets (the Witch, also there, is not shown to prevent nightmares); the Bagpuss tableau replete with the old moggy himself and the LEGENDARY marvellous, mechanical mouse organ; and Clangers (and froglets...and a soup dragon)


It is impossible to convey in words, no matter how many times I try, the absolute crushing wonderfulness of the Smallfilms ouevre; it is sublime and utterly perfect.


Men at work plus a couple of 'grand views' of the Museum


Time oozed slowly in the echoing chamber and the odd, dusky light of the museum; the two of us meandered amongst the glass cabinets and the interactive areas ("Watch out! flying wooden blocks ahoy!") examining almost everything in detail...BECAUSE WE COULD! By the good Lord, it's been twenty years since we have been allowed to go at our own pace rather than be chivvied along by restless offspring: "Is it time to go yet?", "I'm hungry!" and "I'm bored now" being the usual, predictable, refrains. Not so today, huzzah! So, with the 'upstairs' still unseen, we broke for a cup of tea and some delicious cakes:



The afternoon gave way to the evening and I do believe we'd managed to see almost EVERY exhibit. Other friends and gaming world colleagues would be gathering imminently, so Mrs B and I went for a quick once around the park before bumping in to Efka from the No Pun Included YouTubes channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/NoPunIncluded) and the United Kingdom's Tallest & Most Gentlemanly Game Designer Mr James Wallis. The Museum staff asked us all to come back inside, as we were making the forecourt look untidy, so we spent the remaining 45 minutes before the Game Plan preview chinnywagging in the cafeteria.

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered


Amongst the friends and benefactors of the museum, a number of other familiar people appeared including Matt Leacock (he gets EVERYWHERE, F.F.S), David Parlett, the UK Games Expo's terrible trio (Richard, Tony and Pat) and Dávid Turczi (Days of Ire). We grabbed ourselves complimentary booze items, a handful of savoury nibbles and drank in the day's raison d'être:


Old Games!



Interesting Games!



Fascinating Games!



You want to see the original Pandemic prototype, you say?



Challenging , yet fun, activities!



Goodies to take home!


It was great! "Game-Plan" is a colourful, thoughtfully-curated and always-interesting pitched-to-the-masses timeline of our hobby from Senet through to Pandemic. So, while the 'modern games' section might have been lacking in anything beyond "Carc" and "TtR", I was stunned by the beauty of the vintage games on display; even a moralistic 'Snakes & Ladders' provided some wicked chuckles!

Ultimately, though, I got to spend 12 exclusive hours in the company of my best friend heart
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Sat Oct 8, 2016 6:40 am
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