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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?

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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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The Family That Playtest Together Stay(test) Together!

Anthony Boydell
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Friday afternoon: after powering down the (makes the sign of the cross) work Windows laptop, a weekend of larks and japes and pranks lay in store. The Boydells are currently fasting from chip shop suppers, for Lent, so a home-cooked repast was followed by a Gloucester drop-off for two of my boys then having to hang around in order to pick up two completely different boys from the railway station (steady!): Messrs Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert.

I have quite a serious game designer affliction at the moment; it has been getting steadily worse since 2013 when I finished by sojourn to London: a profound lack of play-testing resources. As you might expect, I have a number of prototypes in progress (including collaborations with the above-mentioned) but they (the games, not the collaborators) have not been given proper scrutiny (aka 'a good going over'). Inspired by Cédrick Chaboussit's recent visit, I resolved to organize a miniature “Playtest Convention”: hence, the presence of M & B.

Poor Brett had been in Gloucester for several hours by the time I ambled onto the station concourse; not even a tour of the splendid cathedral - and a blast of Evensong, therein - could wash away the foul taste of this most grizzled of cities. If any conurbation could be said to suffer from low self-esteem then it is this former jewel of West of England transport and industry: self-harming with ghettoized communities, filthy streets, seedy food outlets, threatening gangs of loitering youths, disproportionate parking charges and fascistic traffic enforcement officers. But I digress: Brett and I waited five minutes more for Matt to make it down the longest railway platform in the UK and then we beetled back to Chez Boydell.

After introductions to those left in the building (Mrs B, Arthur and an excitedly-peeing Ziggy), we three retired to the Library - supping on a rather delicious Carmenère - for chinnywags and banter; we ran the conversational gauntlet through games, gaming, movies, books and music (Picture 1 - Brett had this exact LP as a youngster; both of us big fans of the 1970s children's TV sketch and music show) for the next three hours without any sense of time-passing. When eldest son, Fred, popped his head round the door to say 'Hi!', we realised it was already 11.30! Matt, being the baby of the group, kept making notes of the many (mysterious) cultural references so that - in slower time - he might get up to speed; here is that list:

Quote:
10 (Dudley Moore)
Toms Midnight Garden
Play-by-mail (PBM) games
"Jazz" magazines
Ray Brooks (Actor) / "Big deal"
Weetabix - 'save up for' Lego Town / yellow Aston Martin
The Wombles / Sir Bernard Cribbins/ "Right said Fred" (song)
Playaway albums / Derek Griffiths
Oliver Postgate
Movies: The Last of Sheila, Don't look Now
Jenny Agutter / The Railway Children / Logan's Run / Walkabout
Nicholas Roeg: Man who fell to earth
Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
Not the Nine o'clock News
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1980s TV)
All Creatures Great and Small / Christopher Timothy
Lionel Jeffries
Hellraiser
Swapshop / Noel Edmonds
Jasper Carrott
Old printer paper (alternating white & green lines, spool holes either side)
Mr Nosybonk
Missile Command (video game)
The Dead Kennedies
Getting the cane at school
Ripping Yarns
1970s TV Public Information films (Dark Water, Kite-flying near pylons, "Charlie Says...")
Battle of the Planets (7-Zark-7)
Smack the Pony / Reginald Perrin & Sunshine desserts


Before retiring - at an unheard-of at my age 0100HRS - we managed a quick Mondrian: The Dice Game (Picture 2).



*


Saturdays always begin busily for some of us so, by 8.30AM, all bar the teenagers, were up-and-doing. The game designer trio's first review of the day was half a run at Foothills (the 2 player Snowdonia); as is Brett and Matt's modus operandi, much 'challenging' of design decisions ensued and more notes were duly added to the 'To Do' list. We didn't have time to pack it away there-and-then, though, because I had arranged another distraction: one of Arthur's school friends was having a Birthday Battlesports session inspired, directly, by Arthur's own laser-tagging mud-crawl in February; with adults able to join the group for a nominal fee (just £10 each), it seemed an opportunity not to be missed! Myself, Brett and Matt and me, camo-ed up and jumped right in to The Big Shoot (pictures 3a - before - and 3b - after); the birthday boy's team (ours) - the Blues - proved victorious over the next two hours, shaming a party from Cheltenham Boy's College Prep School. (Aside: there is nothing quite as satisfying as your gun saying: "Hit Confirmed - Hit Confirmed - Hit Confirmed - Kill Confirmed" in quick succession.)

Exhausted, but 6000 steps 'up' on my Fitbit, we returned - boots caked in earth, glowing with perspiration - for a Summer lunch (summer this, summer that) which included a delicious spur-of-the-moment Mrs B-special Mushroom Soup. Having dutifully cleared the pots away, we were left to ourselves. Warming up on the soon-to-be-publically-available PnP Good Little Trains (picture 4), we moved on to my MAIN anticipated event for the weekend: Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (aka The Air Racing Drafting Game, picture 6).

In summary: I'd gotten to the stage where it works: a combination of the drafting-to-build-a-deck PRACTICE phase followed by a use-your-deck RACE phase. Mostly-happy with the card effects and core mechanisms, I was aware it was running a bit slow and a bit 'gamey' overall; I very much wanted Brett - my main collaborator - and Matt (Mr Sound Advice) to help me smooth it out...and smooth it out we bloody well did! It was like Edward Scissorhands and his ice-sculpting: dazzlingly, we pruned away a number of awkward extremities after PlayThru 1 and re-ran it with great success for PlayThru 2! If nothing else came of the subsequent hours, this was reason enough to count the entire weekend a roaring success!

Mrs B likes to have the kitchen to herself during the Suppering process - loud music and chopped vegetable detritus ahoy! - so we scuttled in to the library room for First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express and then, joined by Arthur (at a loose end), for Hotel. About a third of the way into the three-dimensional, Monopolistic flummery, I remembered I had to pick up older Sons (plus pals) from the Cinderford Palace cinema ("Logan", thank you for asking) so I bequeathed my healthy game state to the young 'un. Upon returning, Arthur had been cruelly-shyster-ed by our so-called "guests" and, apparently, I was still liable for all of his debts!

*sigh*

By now, well in to the Spring evening, Loopin' Louie was causing much loudness and hilarity from the library (picture 8); indeed, Brett was getting so worked up that I feared he would have a seizure/cardiac arrest/aneurysm! Luckily, Mrs B called us to lay the table and tuck in to several hearty, home-made pizzas (some with a scone mix and - get this - one with 'riced cauliflower' for the base). More wine and more games (Cubist, Pi mal Pflaumen) and another late turning-in.

*


Ah, Sunday - the last leg of our impromptu convention - dawned peacefully. Mrs B nipped off to Church (conveniently-located at the bottom of our garden) leaving us to brew generous vats of tea and coffee and hunker down to Matt's intriguing Perspective (Dixit meets Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective); Brett and I barely managed to 'solve it' when Mrs B hoofed us back out of the cooking area so she could conjure up an enormous Brunch (vegetable-stuffed roasted giant mushrooms, muffins, sausages, bacon and eggs). Brett and Matt were dice-rolling a Matty-Dee prototype (with Benedict and Peter) then moved on to a full-five player of the splendid Adrenaline - Arthur suiting himself up in to the last combatant exo-suit.

Things were beginning to wind down - tiredness leading to a little tetchiness during a Snowdonian scenario 'first tickle' - so we decided to get some air and take the dog for a walk; despite the increasing rain, it was good to get out for an hour. On our return, there was time for one more beverage and then the household were hugging their goodbyes and we were off to the accursed metropolis once more.

Exhausting, frustrating, thoughtful, hilarious and hearty: that was MY weekend, how was yours?
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Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:19 pm
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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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Gerdts and Uwe still can't sleep

Anthony Boydell
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(we are in the home of Uwe Rosenberg and Mac Gerdts; it is time for bed and Gerdts is already tucked up. Uwe is busy…)

Uwe: (singingly) dum de-dum-dee doo de-dum

(Uwe leaves the room and returns, shortly, carrying a pile of small box card games which he places on his bed)

Uwe: (singingly) diddly-dee pom-pom-pom

(Uwe leaves the room and returns, shortly, carrying some back issues of Spielbox)

Gerdts: (lifting his head) Uwe? What are you doing, Uwe?

Uwe: (placing the magazine on the blanket) I’m getting ready for bed, Gerdts.

(Uwe leaves and returns with a large notebook and a rattling pencil case, which he places on his pillow)

Gerdts: (sighing) But what’s with all that stuff, Uwe?

(Uwe opens the pencil case and tips the contents on to his bed)

Uwe: Just in case I have trouble getting to sleep, Gerdts.

(Uwe scurries out and returns carrying a large Bluetooth speaker and an iPod Touch; he plugs them in and rests them on the bedside table)

Gerdts: (exasperated) What do you need all of that for, Uwe?

Uwe: (arranging some snacks, he points to each in turn) I can read the magazines, Gerdts. The notebook is for writing down any ideas for my next game design, the snacks are in case I get peckish, the card games all have solo variants and the hi-fi is for listening to podcasts, Gerdts.

Gerdts: (sarcastically) I’m surprised you don’t have the tub in case you want to have a hot bath, Uwe!

Uwe: (a light-bulb pings in to existence above his head) That’s a great idea, Gerdts!

(Uwe disappears out of the door; there is a pause and then a violent, metallic-wrenching sound. Gerdts sits up in bed, alarmed)

Gerdts: Uwe?

(there is the sound of spraying water and of grinding - something heavy being dragged)

Gerdts: (worried) Uwe?

(Uwe appears, pulling the bathtub through the door way; he struggles to lift it on to his bed and leans against it, gasping)

Uwe: (panting) Sheesh! That was heavier than I thought, Gerdts!

Gerdts: (outraged) What HAVE you done, Uwe?

Uwe: (looking from his bed to the table to the bathtub and back to the bed again) Oh dear, Gerdts.

Gerdts: Yes, Uwe! “Oh dear” – look at the mess you’ve made!

Uwe: There’s so much stuff that I can’t get in to bed, Gerdts –

Gerdts: Exactly –

Uwe: (evidently having an idea) – which means that I’ll have to sleep in your bed, with you, Gerdts.

Gerdts: Exactly – er, what?

(Uwe leaves the detritus on his side of the room, climbs in to Gerdts’ bed and shoves him out of the other side and on to the floor)

Uwe: Goodnight, Gerdts; sleep tight!

Gerdts: (brushing himself off) Uwe!

(silence)

Gerdts: (looks at his bed) Uwe?

(there is the sound of gentle snoring)

Gerdts: Uwe?!

(the snoring continues; Gerdts looks at us, raises his eyebrows and wails, frustrated)

Gerdts: Uuuuuuuuuu-weeeeeeee!
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Wed Mar 8, 2017 6:30 am
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Hiding One's Light Under a Bushel

Anthony Boydell
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Pretty much all game designers do it - games design - as a side-line; a hobby that provides a bit of extra cash for holidays / a new tea towel and an escape from the mundanity of the regular working life. For example, did you know that, 'in the real world' Cédrick Chaboussit gets paid to stand in fields watching giant metal containers being put in place? That Richard Breese does clever financial things (probably with spreadsheets and,maybe, with quills)? That Stefan Feld works in an abbatoir?* Or that Phil Walker-Harding is really Hugh Jackman? More often than not - unless it's me banging on about everyday shite - you'd never hear of these secret lives at all!

Now: my esteemed British colleague, pith-helmeted goonster, head honcho of YAY Games and all-round good egg Andrew Harman used to be a writer! Yes! And not only THAT but a PUBLISHED writer too!


Comic Fantasy: that Pratchett comparison was probably more of a curse than a Blessing, TBH


We always have a laugh when gathered together so, putting my Amazon Account where my mouth is, I've determined to hoover up his oeuvre (bring your own cloth next time please, Andrew!) and see what all the fuss was about. If his publisher bio photo is anything to go by then these are going to be fucking HILARIOUS!


Gotsa luv that quiffage!


I'll be reporting back on my progress in a future post but - in the meantime - why not check out Andrew's (marvellous) CURRENT occupation:



*this may not be correct**
**he may 'volunteer' rather than 'work'
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Fri Mar 3, 2017 11:13 am
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Heavy, heavy, heavy!

Anthony Boydell
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There was a bit of controversy last week when the most excellent – and Golden Geek nominated – Heavy Cardboard podcast was denied an entry in the BGG Awards list for it’s Golden Elephant Award. Given that a Yahoo newsgroup (Meeples Choice) gets it’s own entry - as well as strangely unheard-of baubles such as the Goblin Magnifico, Spiel der Spiele Griffin Scroll and Bunty Skanktwozzle’s Thing-in-a-Box Award – it seems somewhat unjust that the premier professional podcast about heavyweight games should be brushed aside so casually: not allowed “under current policy”, apparently; a policy known only to the sacred tabernacle of moderators.

Now, this refusal/rebuttal would seem less harsh if it was just a couple of fanboys/girls burping on about their favourites for 3 hours at a time BUT the Heavy Cardboard podcast is a proper, professional and well-subscribed entity: this ain’t no YouTuber in their bedroom at their mum’s house! No, indeed; let me break it down for you:

It has a regular, well-defined schedule of shows (to which it sticks) and averages 30K downloads per month!

It runs it’s own annual convention...in a proper venue and everything!

It’s online profile stretches across all of the major (and important) channels and is maintained (!)



The Golden Elephant is a physical and beautiful thing (see above) that has been presented – in person, for three years now – to excellent, INTERNATIONALLY-BASED designers! In fact, the last Award ceremony, at Essen Spiel 2016, was attended by more than 100 people including many designers (eg. Lacerda, Risthaus, Ode, Soledade/Sentiero, Hova, Joris & Jeroen from Splotter) and publishers (eg. What’s Your Game?, Stronghold and others).


Suitably 'refreshed' with Lucian, one-of-many new pals, at the 2016 Award ceremony!


Personally, I would put this in the same category of importance as the IGA or the DSP and would love to see it flower and flourish in the years to come – encouraging a wider appreciation of where board games can take you (when you avoid the Kennerspiel des Jahres turn-off and just keep driving)!

So, I'm starting a petition to gather support right here:

Poll: I believe that the Heavy Cardboard podcast's GOLDEN ELEPHANT AWARD should be granted official status on BGG
With regard to granting the official status of the Golden Elephant Award:
I STRONGLY-AGREE
I AGREE
      339 answers
Poll created by tonyboydell


Finally, if you're a famous game designer and/or publisher, why not add a testimonial statement (comment below) too? Thanks, in advance!
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Tue Feb 28, 2017 6:08 am
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Licence & Licencibility

Anthony Boydell
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When we at Surprised Stare Games Ltd were setting out on our indie path, we were too small to sustain products much beyond a deck of cards, having no deep pools of cash to draw upon at will; instead, our business model was simple: produce a small run of a game (750-1000 copies) , sell them all and then reinvest the money in the next game. If we could manage to tempt another company in taking a licence for a wider volume/distribution then that would be amazing BUT, for the time being, it was baby steps.

In 2007, now on our fourth game, we co-produced Scandaroon with JKLM Games; not really a licensing deal as such - because JKLM would be distributing it - but it felt quite good to be extending our humble reach. We were building a network of contacts, dammit!

In 2008, JKLM put us through the wringer with the production shenanigans for Confucius; the whole episode had nearly broken dear Mr Alan Paull and sunk our little company! Where could we possibly go from here? Given that we'd reached rock bottom, the only way was - indeed - up.

In 2009, SSG was saved - both as a company and as an emotional entity - by me and Alan and Charlie paring things right back to the bone: we did everything ourselves, just the three of us: the design, the art, the layouts and the manufacturing management for Fzzzt!. My little pseudo-deckbuilder with a cute robot theme quickly sold out its 1500 copy First Edition, won Best Card Game at the UK Games Expo and was picked up for a reprint by both Eagle-Gryphon Games and Lifestyle Boardgames Ltd: our FIRST EVER LICENCES! It had only taken nine years and six games! Since then, of course, things have taken off in a way we could only have dreamed about in those early, post-millennial Essen years: Snowdonia with Lookout Games, uplay.it edizioni and Indie Boards & Cards; Ivor the Engine with Esdevium and Guilds of London with Tasty Minstrel Games, Frosted Games, 2Tomatoes and Czacha Games!

All of which, naturally, leads me on to...

In the post, yesterday, my library copy of the Italian/Spanish/French edition of Guilds of London came; it's been tweaked a bit from the TMG original and is an utterly cool thing to have in my possession:


Box: new art on a slipcase!



Rulebooks: one for each language. Please note the smart addition of the colour-changing cards at the top of the reference sheets: the only cards missing in their entirety from the original sheet (causing MUCH consternation)



The Solo Variant - honed while the First edition was actually running through the printing machines - makes it in to the core rulebook WITH the Essen solo guild promo included 'as standard' too!



Almost a complete set...just the Polish one to go!


Pretty soon I may need a bigger Shed.
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Sun Feb 26, 2017 6:30 am
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A (final) Campaign in the Arse

Anthony Boydell
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(with apologies to Paul Noth)



Vote Guilds of London!


BOARDGAMEGEEK HAS HAD ENOUGH OF EXPERTS!

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame
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Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:47 am
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(Still) on the campaign trail...

Anthony Boydell
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10 Things That WILL Happen If You DON'T vote For Guilds of London:


1. The Third World War will break out!
2. Three million copies of Monopoly will be imported in to the US and Europe EVERY WEEK.
3. Asmodee will own everything.
4. Martin Wallace will get stuck in more litigation through no fault of his own.
5. You will lose your Human Rights.
6. Planes will fall out of the sky; Trains will not get any more Maps.
7. Did you not hear me? Asmodee will own EVERYTHING!
8. Eric Lang will be completely shaved.
9. Cards Against Humanity shall become a mandatory Sunday afternoon activity for all Adults.
10. All Cat videos will be removed from the Internet!


You can prevent all of these by voting Guilds of London!


Go here to TAKE BACK AREA CONTROL!

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame
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Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:20 am
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On the Campaign Trail...

Anthony Boydell
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It all started with the Nomination; the REAL work begins NOW!






Vote Guilds of London!


Go here to MAKE A MERE ICON great again!

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekawards/boardgame
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Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:20 am
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