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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 UK Games Expo

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Relatively Awesome!

Anthony Boydell
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We have a first batch of 500 of these beauties arriving on Friday!
(I'll have to wait by the door to load them safely in to the Shed)

The Cousins' War by David J. Mortimer

The Cousins' War by David J. Mortimer

They will be available at the UK Games Expo (next weekend!!!) for the bargain, convention-special, price of just:

£12!!!!

(and, don't forget, you get Snowdonia and Guilds of London promos in the box for FREE)

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Wed May 24, 2017 1:49 pm
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Rollin'

Anthony Boydell
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Look what arrived at Surprised Stare Games HQ yesterday:


Our 2017 promo pack 'Rolling Stock #1'!

It will be available at UK Games Expo and Essen Spiel and, probably, through other channels at some point (yet to be confirmed).
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Wed May 3, 2017 6:35 am
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Fill My Slot

Anthony Boydell
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I am trembling with anticipation to see the final, 'for real' version of The Cousins' War in my sweaty little 'surprised' hands but...did you know there were a couple of spare card slots that needed a-fillin'? Well, we at SSG - like Nature - abhor a vacuum so I set to work with Mr David J. Mortimer to design this cheeky (and thematic) double-sided promo:



For the other slot, I took myself out for a quiet ale and convinced myself to design something for Guilds of London too:



Can you work out what they both do from just the images and the (dreaded) iconography?
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Wed Apr 5, 2017 6:30 am
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(Not so) Kissing Cousins

Anthony Boydell
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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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Media Whore

Anthony Boydell
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It's tiring work hawking yourself around the media outlets but it's also an utter pleasure; here, then, are a couple of Tony Guest Spots:

Video Tony:



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Podcast Tony:


http://traffic.libsyn.com/perfectinformation/Great_Designers...
(FYI: Ben seems to have edited EVERY pause out of this recording with the effect that I felt quite breathless at the end of listening to it!)

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Tony Reviewed:



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I trust that you are all now suitably 'gorged' on the meat of my Wisdom? #knackered #tomdropsstuffagain
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Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:35 am
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The meat in the sandwich?

Anthony Boydell
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A Sore-Throated Saturday Seminar Snippet


Last Saturday morning, pre-opening, I bumped in to Mr Tom Vasel who asked me if I'd like to be a guest on The Dice Tower live podcast that afternoon. It was a 'Designers Panel' and I was to be the meat in the sandwich between Dr Reiner Knizia and, arguably, the coolest game designer in the World today Mr Eric M. Lang:

Reiner and Eric are both like, uh, like poets you know like Shelley or Byron, or people like that. The two totally distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically, you see and I feel my role in the podcast, is to be kind of in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water, in a sense.

Jokingly, because I like a joke, I asked young Tom if I was allowed to swear. He looked me straight in the eyes, stony-faced, and said, softly: "No, Sir". Right. That's clear then.

Now, while I am perfectly used to standing up in front of large rooms of people and banging on about stuff (I shall be doing a lot of that this coming week for 'work', as it happens), I admit to suffering a touch of the squeaky sphincter at the prospect. To further compound this apprehension, I was chatting with the Playtest UK guys about 20 minutes before the 'cast started and my voice cracked!

So, enjoy we three amigos in conversion (or 'Tom-versation', if you will?):

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Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:48 am
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Expo-sure - Easy Like Tuesday Morning

Anthony Boydell
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Ok, so I promised I'd write up my Sunday experience at the Expo and then got a little side-tracked by overwhelming fatigue and, then, yesterday's awesome 'Hotness' experience! It won't surprise you to know that a Sunday morning couldn't keep the throng from the breakfast room; no matter the Holiness of the day, the venue was (still) opening at 0930HRS.

It was a longer trudge to the NEC this time as I had to check out first then walk the opposite direction to the van's parking zone, retrieve the trolley (I really SHOULD'VE left it on the stand Thursday) and rattle-clatter over to the NEC in readiness for the inevitable Takedown Frenzy come 4PM. The robust Security guards were too busy arguing with another Trader about sneaking in early to stop me from sneaking in early, so I busied myself behind the shelves and floor-standing banners: tidying and sorting. Mike from Who Dares Rolls called a cheerful 'Good morning' and within moments we were chatting like Smooth FM early-morning DJs in front of a rolling video camera!



It was short and sweet, and I managed to blag a free coffee so: result! Not sure when the bants-in-our-pants will make to the Youtubes, so watch this blog!

I managed (you will already have seen the loot pictures) to garner a lot of lovely new things, so all those empty Guilds of London boxes came in damn handy for packing. There were gaps on the shelves for Snowdonias and Ivors, so I faced all of those too; ah, all that retail training when I was a teenager has really paid off!

And then the doors opened.

While not as mad as the other days, Sunday was still a busy old time of it and without Guilds, peeps were stopping by to sample some Snowdonian delights. And not just sampling, but buying; we sold out of all the copies of THAT I'd brought too! In fact, let's remind ourselves of the VW Transporter on Thursday (2nd) afternoon:


(it goes all the way back)


and compare it to what arrived at Chez Boydell come 7PM (5th):



(behind those two boxes are all my purchases!


We sold EVERYTHING apart from some Bad Grandmas and spare Snowdonia: Seasons! What the actual frak?!



I managed to sit down and play an excellent game of Snod with a chap called Daniel, the splendid

Richard Dewsbery
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and the equally-splendid, but far more travelled

Bruce Murphy
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It was a bloody close thing: Bruce played the sneaky don't mind me; I don't know what I'm doing card and I got all smug-and-gloaty with a couple of rounds to go, convinced I'd beaten Richard in to second place (at last). As it turned out, pride was - indeed - an accurate precursor to ego-plummetage and Richard stole the win with some excellent No.6 Padarn utilization: 95 - Richard, 93 - Me, 83 - Bruce and 70ish - Daniel!

My off-stand wandering increased as I grabbed a final few bits and pieces for the family and I was then pounced upon by the wonderful Andy Hopwood (Mijnlieff, Dodekka) who was bursting with excitement about having explained the rules to Mijnlieff coherently in under 30 seconds! Unclear as to whether this was actually 'a good thing' or not, I mulled upon this bombshell as I went to retrieve the van.

Outside it was ridiculously hot and sticky:



By the time a line of us had made it back in to the cool shade of Hall 1, the place was a skeleton of it's recent former self:


The Doctor's going to be fucking FURIOUS!


But I did manage to say goodbye to my new pals, including the utterly-charming:


Gil, for some reason, channeling a slightly-startled goldfish


And we're done; you're all caught up now - at least with MY version of Events - so, if you'll excuse me, I've got another long work day ahead of me where every damn brilliant and awesome thing that happened in Birmingham means abso-bloody-lutely nothing at all.

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Tue Jun 7, 2016 6:30 am
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Expo-sure - Every Day Is Like Sunday

Anthony Boydell
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Got back early evening, in sweltering heat and light, so spent the pre-sleep period cooling down, cleaning up and eating! More on the bigger Sunday tomorrow but, until then, here's a piccy of my UK Games Expo loot...most of which was paid for by M:TG rare stuff and my ill-gotten (everything sold again) Bring & Buy gains:



Lanterns
Railway Rivals
Mississippi Queen + Expansion
Railroad Tycoon
Dobble
Battlecruisers
Ominoes
Burano
Extra! Extra!
Chicago Express
Beyond Baker Street
Imhotep
The Bloody Inn
Patchwork
Lignum
Thunder Road
Broom Service, and
Knitwit

Now, where the jiggling tittyfuck am I going to put them?


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Mon Jun 6, 2016 6:30 am
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Expo-sure - Sunless Saturday

Anthony Boydell
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Another day, another plate of fried meat and carbohydrates to start me off; with the earlier 0930HRS public opening, the breakfast bar (‘The Boulevard Restaurant’, no less – high zit gain, yah? Proper posh) was – much to my surprise - elbow-to-elbow with carnivores at 0700HRS. Belly full, a cool amble through the pretend woodland to the Halls saw me straight to the Bring & Buy (again), this time FULLY stocked with much boardgaming bacon (licks lips): mmmmmm...Railway Rivals and *slurp*dribble* Mississippi Queen (with expansion). Also, amongst the gems on the collectibles table, I found these impish stowaways:


Oh the humanity!


Anyway, the tannoy piped up something incomprehensible so I scurried back to the Stand in preparation for the final departure of the Guilds of London ‘forty’...and then there were none. I _say_ none, what I mean is “And then there was ONE orphan copy – fallen backwards off the shelf in to the ‘Rubbish’ box” (...waits for inevitable Boffonian quip...) which was earmarked for Mr Eric Lang after we Dice Tower-ed later in the day (see further on a bit, thanks).

With all of that pressure now off, our attention turned to the dwindling Snowdonias (which is having the mother of all resurgences since we ‘obtained’ them German 1st Editions - checkout the amazing £36 bundle!) and the imminent arrival of a shower from ‘out of town’:


From L to R: Malcolm (college pal), Joe, Mrs B, Adam, Arthur, Daisy, Fred, Benedict and Peter


I was able to grab a comforting couple of hours wandering the Hall with this happy, motley band (even got in a game of Dobble!); however, lack of sleep, nerves and excitement have made me feel rather homesick *sniff*.






The Ross-on-Wye board gamers were also ably-represented by Norm, Keith, Gary and Daffers who popped by to say hello then spent inordinate quantities of money on big boxes of stuff and, finally, stopped by on their way out to complain about how heavy everything was! First world problems, my friends - first world problems.

Demo, drink, demo, poo, demo, drink and then - whilst chitty-chatting with the always-delectible Brett J. Gilbert, I coughed a bijou ahem and my voice went! Just like that I went from silky-toned Brit orator to a hooting mid-puberty schoolboy soprano...ten minutes before I was due to be a guest on The Dice Tower Live podcast! Sipping a bottle of mineral water only seemed to make the clenched squeaking worse as Mr Reiner Knizia took to the stage with his stand-up comedy routine (seriously, he was VERY funny!)



Nervously I awaited my segment by bumping fists with Eric M. Lang, to my right, and rasping a gigglingly-nervous complements to this altitudinous and hirsute superstar! Being the meat in this particular Designer sandwich (!), Tom summoned me for my turn on The Rack and I wheezed my way through 10 minutes of cheerful banter feeling like all my passages had closed up. Eric closed off the session with some excellent conversation and all-of-a-sudden it was 5PM and time to go away.




Ah, the walk back was distinctly lacking in spring so I recharged the iPhone, and myself, in the silence of my room before venturing forth for some evening play. As it turned out, I didn't end up playing ANYTHING: after (finally, 45 minute!) getting a burger, I popped to the Bar for a refreshing, throat-soothing pint of Guinness and bumped in to Efka Unpronouncablesurname, Ben O'Steen, Robin Lees, Matt Dunstan, Gil Hova and other splendid pals and partners:



We proceeded to drink, chat, laugh, be rude and generally have quite the most enjoyable 90 minutes; what occurred in the Bar, however, stays in the Bar. From there we decamped to the adjacent 'big room' whereupon I met up with long-time gamer pal 'Guildford George' and was re-joined by Matt D to look over his notes/prototype for Snowdonia: The Qinghai Tibet Railway which is - spoiler alert:

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Awesome!



More jabbering and jaw-flapping ensued until I, still hoarse and rasping, excused myself for an early(-ish) night and then bumped in to 'Oxford Terry' in the long corridor so I followed him back to an ante room where he and his pals were playing Guilds of London! Another hour passes and we're now - officially - in to Sunday morning so I DEFINITELY pull myself away and head in the direction of Beddington...only to bump in to Chris Marling (Empire Engine, the forthcoming - and excellent - Pioneer Days) and Mr Ludicreations...

God.
In.
His.
Heaven!

Can I PLEASE get to bed! I am EXHAUSTED! Tomorrow is the last-and-final day so, if you'll excuse me, it's time to take forty winkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Sun Jun 5, 2016 6:30 am
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Expo-sure - Friday, I'm In Love

Anthony Boydell
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As was entirely expected, I didn’t get much sleep on Thursday night; what I did get was deep and dreamless but, once the first lights of the Birmingham morn doth syrup-seep through the drapes around 5.30AM, I woke up and couldn't drop off again.



Showering and adorning myself with troos and a new Surprised Stare Games tee-shirt , I found the breakfast area relatively-empty – ie. buzzing loudly rather than roaring with bacon-breathed blabber-jabber – and was able to scoff a hearty fry-up in the genial company of Mr Rob Harris, Playtest UK plate-spinner and sometime Modiphius lacky.



Keen to get my Bring & Buy offerings safely shelved, it was a brisk walk back through the long hotel to a back door and through the woods to Hall 1. Even though it was still rather light-of-stock, I managed to grab a minty copy of Thunder Road (Mad Max: The Boardgame, basically, from 1987) and then cashed in some Magic: The Gathering rarities for an armful of games:


Woo! And, indeed, Hoo!


I couldn't avoid it forever, though, and before the doors opened I managed to enjoy the true Convention luxury of a being able to find a toilet cubicle without queuing for an hour OR finding it erupting like a poo volcano! There was some dithering, and a restorative coffee, back at the Stand before the Tsunami of Dobbershovery overwhelmed us...and I mean overwhelmed:


For the first time in our humble Games Company history...WE HAD A BLOODY QUEUE!!!


Continuing the severe weather phenomenon analogy, the next two hours were a whirlwind; chatting, signing and hurriedly unpacking more stock as GoLs - and, to my delight, Snowdonias - whistled off the booth! I managed to escape, mid PM, for a 20 minute perambulation with good buddy Neil and his kids, helping him select some choice goodies for the taking home of. We, SSG, also provided seated sanctuary to a weary Stu Burnham (of this Blog Parish) and son William; Stu returned the favour by doing the occasional 'demo':


Dazzling!*


In the end, at the close of play, there were 40 rather forlorn-looking Mayors (with their attendant guards) staring back at me...and today (Saturday) is supposed to be the BUSY day!

Supper was from Becky's Bhajis, a most excellent and spicy repast, before seeking out Russ & Alex Martin for some recreational distraction; as I took my seat, I noticed Russ had popped his 'plums' out and I suggested with all play with immediately. Thus, as is no surprise dear reader, did the sous entendu continue for the next 20 minutes before coming to a satisfying pi-filled climax:



We _had_ intended to play Imhotep next but, with the arrival of Ben & Steph & Matt Dunstan, it turned in to a me watching the others playing Snowdonia: A Nice Cup Of Tea:




It was a fascinating mix of players and, after the breezy 10 minute description of what is different?, these seasoned Snowdonians polished the whole thing off in 80 minutes...and there was just 5 points between Matt in 1st and Alex in 2nd! I had tried a couple of tiny tweak-ettes (one more space on the BUILD action for 5 players and tea being worth 2 points each rather than 3) which proved spot-on; I am now happy that this scenario is now ready!

Retiring to the Bar for much-needed hydration, Matt D and I chatted about gamey things then met up with his younger brother for even more chatter; we parted ways an hour later - they have a T.I.M.E Stories session to continue - and I meandered back in to the main room to see if anyone was still about:


Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!


Evidently they were so I drove deeper in to the hubbub in search of pals and something to join in with; fortunately, I happened upon an old (young) pal from the London working days teaching Guilds to Gil Hova and others and, keen that this should go well, I plonked my arse down and heckled for the first 6 rounds. The long, exciting day had finally caught up with me and I took myself off to bed around 11PM; Saturday's itinerary starts with an early meeting comprised of myself, Sheik Allegmatey and his business associates Messrs Ash Brown and Ben Zonntoast so, if you'll excuse me, it's time to take forty winkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

*the bonce, not the performance!
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Sat Jun 4, 2016 6:30 am
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