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Every Man Needs A Shed

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

Archive for Miscellany

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The Magnificent Severn

Anthony Boydell
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Anyone hanging around the Chepstow end of Wales cannot fail to notice that there are a couple of bloody great big bridges spanning the River Severn:



I have many misty memories of being driven across the the top one of the two (see above) as a child, on our way to see my Uncle and Aunt in Swindon; the newest one I crossed just last Thursday on my way to pal Richard's. These are both road bridges and, up until about 18 months ago, I was under the impression that the railways had tunneled their way under the River and that it had always been thus. However, scouring maps of the railways of the Forest of Dean (including the eye-wateringly scenic Wye Valley Line), I noticed that there was a railway river crossing ABOVE the ground and it was a proper bridge and everything:


The original Severn Bridge Railway Crossing, Opened in 1879.


Now, knowing my love of rediscovering remnants of this golden age in the modern landscape, it won't surprise you to hear that I sought out the location of this noble and statuesque construction. Of course, my background reading informed me that it was almost entirely disappeared:

In 1960 two out-of-control petrol barges in the Severn struck a pier of the Severn Bridge and brought it down, severing the line. After much deliberation the decision was taken to close the line permanently and to demolish the Severn Bridge.

As with other pieces of local-to-me railway architecture, there was barely the blink of an eye between the decision to close and the actual (and, often, entire) removal of it from the face of the Earth! Luckily, while the steelwork and pillars of the main bridge have gone, the massive groundworks to bring the line up to the crossing still remain; so, with a sunny afternoon welcoming my exit from work, I diverted up the river road to Chepstow then Lydney then Purton to walk the site for myself:


Clockwise, from top left: the bank rises to empty air now that the viaduct and bridge are gone; a train toots passed as I walk along the track bed; the real-life platform, choked by brambles; something trolley-like lost in the undergrowth; the track from the side; centre: in it's hey day and a tiny GWR route map; sleepers, piled high and sleeping; yours truly getting another long shot of the line; the tunnel - matches nicely in that central photo; more of the platform; an archive pic of the signal box.


I shall never cease to be delighted by uncovering these treasures of the landscape; they only serve to make me love railways even more. Rest assured, I'll be doing something about this for Snowdonia - after all, anything that I can do to keep the memory alive is a very good thing indeed.
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Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:30 am
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(Not so) Kissing Cousins

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Coming soon from SSG Wargames (basically Surprised Stare Games Ltd with a fancy new themed logo!):

Cousins' War
2 players, 30 minutes.




The Wars of the Roses were fought between the Houses of York and Lancaster for over 3 decades during the 15th century in England. The houses were both branches of the royal family, therefore the Wars were originally known as “The Cousins’ War”. Each player represents one of the houses as they fight battles and gain influence to control England.

Cousins' War is a new game from David J. Mortimer (Twilight Squabble, Pocket Imperium, [microfilms], Flock and Dragon Slayer). Artwork and layout is by the utterly-wonderful Klemens Franz.

Come and pick up your copy at the UK Games Expo (June 2nd-4th, 2017 at the N.E.C, Birmingham)!

Oh, and we'll have a new Snowdonia mini-pack there too!
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Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:25 am
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Two-Face

Anthony Boydell
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Every few months we get another 'monumental' announcement about what Asmodee is doing / wants to do / has just done and the Forums flare, briefly, with pessimism and rage. It's been a year since the OLGS vs FLGS "policy launch" and it's certainly starting to bite; listen, here, to one man's story:



For me, the main point of frustration is Asmodee's unwillingness to talk out the gray areas; a one-side-or-the-other approach NEVER works in the real world. Simply replying to all pleas and pressure with "Sorry, but that's our Policy" is just a smart uniform away from "We're just obeying orders". Patently, the new rules are harming the FLGS's purported to be protected and, yet, all dialog is stifled.

Of course, there ARE exceptions - mentioned in the interview - that make it even more ridiculous ie. if you're big enough, Asmodee will compromise. Is this the real reason for the policy, then? To protect the online bottom line of the major players? Certainly such situations occur; for example, in the U.K., we have had the ghost of a particular piece of tax legislation hanging over the IT contractor market (IR35) since the late 90s when large IT providers (Cap Gemini, EDS etc) lobbied the (then) Labour Government to penalise independent businesses so they could clean up.

What, if anything, is left for the rural FLGS to do but give in and fold?
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Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:58 am
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I CAN'T STAND IT!!!!!

Anthony Boydell
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Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:37 pm
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Can't be arsed.

Anthony Boydell
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See subject.

Actually, it's more that I could be arsed if I could think of something but I feel oddly empty, strangely vacant, unusually blank. Ah, well.
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Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:02 pm
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The Last Post

Anthony Boydell
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I'm not around for any Friday Frolics, I'm afraid; I'm at the funeral of my friend Peter. So, here's something for him and for all of our lost pals:



And now for something completely different (that I know he would have enjoyed):

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Turn it up LOUD!


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Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:35 am
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Doodlebug

Anthony Boydell
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Six scribbles done during a particularly tedious meeting, six game designers:


(remember to use spoiler tags to protect the indifferent)
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Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:25 am
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Just a minute...

Anthony Boydell
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I love this video; I can't keep up with the German soundtrack but it certainly communicates the essentials in it's pocket-sized running time:


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Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:52 am
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Blatant Space Filler

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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It's a still, dry Spring Sunday morning in Newent.

Pigeons coo on the power lines, a dog (not ours) barks insistently in the distance, a car boot sale hustles. A crow cackles on the wing. My mind's eye hovers across the back lawn, slowly drifting down to peep at the Guinea Pig in his hutch: he starts and scuffles in to his hay nest. A neighbour lifts his garage door squeakily (it is not he that squeaks, however, but the door), preparing for a day of not-so-rest and do-it-yourself.

Somehow, during the night, my Saturday afternoon sneezing bouts have developed in to a nose-clogging, ear-ringing, eye-aching cold.

Frozen sausages are thawing on the kitchen work top; eggs stand ready for cracking - but where did we put the bacon?

Of the older children there will not yet be any sign (it's only Dawn): an evening of exciting movies and sugary treats kept them awake and restless until the early hours.

The dog sits, trembling slightly, watching the bottom of the garden for squirrels through the patio doors.

The World is paused, poised; just a minute more, my dears - sixty blissful, becalming beats-of-the-heart before the Merry-go-round begins again. I rise from the bed, pull back the curtains and curse softly: I have run out of clean socks.
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Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:31 am
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The Kindness of Strangers

Anthony Boydell
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(this weekend I am otherwise-distracted - which will be blogged about shortly - so, in the meantime, here's a brief, snippetory diversion)

One of the great perks of being a game designer - and flagrant self-publicist - is that people give me stuff: free, gratis and 'fer nowt'.


A recent gift; all the way from Australia - thanks, Paul!


I've had badges, board games and (a lot of) books dropping through the letterbox; I've had cookies at conventions, 3d-printed meeples, homemade soap and flaming envelopes full of dogshit - it's very gratifying and humbling to be so generously-supplied!


Long-time pal, Matt, sent me the book but I have NO IDEA who sent me the postcards!


Now, I _do_ try to repay this generosity, more generally, by running donatory campaigns of my own, handing out promos at Shows, selling rare stuff at reasonable prices etc; it rolls along in a pleasurable cycle of kind-heartedness. Of course, if you take a little wander about BGG you will find more of this: pay it forward geeklists, 'The Chosen One' (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/61598) and so on.

This is a good thing and it gives me hope in these dark times.
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Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:30 am
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