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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But soft?

Anthony Boydell
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Yesterday we went to a ruined castle*.

It was ace.

The original layout is utterly perfect for my re-engineering of The Black Overcoat Game.

Did I say it was ace? Because it was!












But soft, what light from yonder window breaks?
It is the East and Juliet is the su-

Er, no; hang on...
it’s just a cock-and-balls.
Oh.
#shakespearewouldloveit #statelygraffiti #hedgehogcastle

http://gwrychtrust.co.uk/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwrych_Castle


*early 19th century castle-style home aka a monstrous, elaborate and wonderful fairy-tale folly
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Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:50 am
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The Prodigal (Grand)Son(s)

Anthony Boydell
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How very odd indeed to be browsing the streets and shops of North Wales without having just come from/about to go in to work! The plan was to make our way over to Conwy for lunch and then pootle about the castle, the ramparts and the surrounding country park with the kids and the dog and the In-Laws until tea-time; those not wanting to visit the Snowdonia Dragons would then return to the house leaving me (for deffo) with a micro-car and an IKEA bag full of games for a-playin'. As plans go, it was a fine one but by 4PM everyone had aching legs and rumbling tums so we left early. We're only about 20 miles away from 'the old haunts', so I grabbed a handful of fruit and set off back to The Mulberry with Arthur and Benedict in tow; we arrived on the dippetty-dot of 1830HRS, the official 'start' of this hidden treasure of a club.

To warm things (ie. Arthur) up, we started with the splendidly-daft Flicky Spaceships:


(PRISMA fixes many blurred sins)


In summary: Pick up a resource matching the colour of the hex your ship's 'Nose' is pointing in then flick your ship to somewhere else (preferrably to a hex of a colour you need) then, if poss, buy an upgrade card. Upgrade cards give you veeps and a special ability.

It's no more complicated than that and, for 30 minutes or so, it provides straightforward, no-nonsense fun. Tim, sporting his ever-growing and impressive sideburns, sneaked ahead of Benedict to claim the victory (and the sorest flicking nail)!

Next, because the other tables weren't ready to reset yet, was Nusfjord; an alterior motive here, of course, as Benedict had yet to play this Tony Favourite: the idea being that he, Arthur and I will be able to play this back at the house if/when the rain sets in!



Benedict did very well in his debut, impressively without penalties and sitting on a back-pattingly robust 32 points. Arthur triple-schoonered and forested up his entire board save a small utility building and a whopping Stronghold amongst the trees for 28 points. Tim was, unfortunately, diddled out a couple of lucrative buildings (by me) and a couple of gold in a final round 'filling of the plates' (by Benedict), losing him a potential 20 points (ouch!). I filled my board (see above) for...well, count it up yourselves!

Arthur sat with Yvonne and Daffydd (who are getting married in a couple of weeks time: the club's second 'wedding', I believe) and watched them playing some dungeon crawler or other; while he enjoyed the miniatures, four of us (me, Aaron, Denise and David) settled in to Q.E.: something I've been hoping to try for a while now:



In summary: The start player sets a (ANY) price for a tile; each tile has a straight VP value plus a flag and industry icon. A player's own flags can score for them, in sets, at game end as can monopolies/diversity in industries. The other players then secretly bid for the tile - knowing the 'seed price'; the start player reviews the bids (still in secret) and awards the winning bidder the tile but making sure to write the winning bid - in secret - on the back of the tile ie. no-one apart from you knows exactly how much you've spent. At the end of the game, add up all points and then reveal the backs of one's won tiles: whomever spent the MOST money automatically LOSES (!), whomever spent the least gets 6VPs.

Monstrously-simple and simultaneously tense and hilarious, QE ("Quantative Easing") is a triumph of an auction game! Denise went bid-crazy and disqualified herself from the laurels, leaving a previously-profligate David to triumph. I simply MUST get a copy of this for the Ross-on-Wye crowd as it's utterly perfect for our blend of sniping bonhomie! Superb!

The sun-having-set left a delicious blue-green nightglow over the estuary as we were joined by Arthur and Benedict for the evening's closer: Stock hold'em.



In summary: It's sort-of share dealing with Texas Hold 'Em resetting the share prices between rounds(!). Buy/sell shares then play out cards from your hand to build (or destroy) the poker hands growing against each of the six (aquatic animal-themed) companies. At the end of the round, prices for the shares are adjusted according to the poker hand and then a second - final round - is played. Sell all shares at the end and most money is the winner.

A curious artifact of a game, for sure. Denise salvaged her reputation for financial acumen by running away with this in the reckoning. Arthur was pleased to have 'bigged up' his favourite Dolphin Co. and was only a tickle behind the rest of the scores.

How marvellous to see Tim, Aaron, Daffydd, Yvonne, Ed, Tom, Denise, David and Dan again; we're hoping to make it along next Monday as well - maybe with a few more peeps in attendance (the house will fill up even more this coming weekend) - so, if you happen to be in the area, why not stop by as well?
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Tue Aug 7, 2018 11:12 am
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All Along The Watchtower

Anthony Boydell
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Wednesday, 4PM. I'm done for the day, having shoo-ed the last of the training delegates from the tiny presentation suite and shut the projection system down. Outside it's hot and bright and I've got four hours to fill before attending a comedy gig at the Venue Cymru. It's not helping that my car's grumbling engine issues have been getting more audible, ie. worse, so there's no possibility of going for an explore for fear of conking out in a country lane; so, wincing at every cough-and-splutter, I take the shortest route back in to town. As I rattle up the rise from Deganwy railway station with the remains of the Castle to my high right, I spot the distant Bryniau Tower. I've been seeing this stunted turret - an 18th century watchtower - every day that I've stayed in Llandudno over the last four years and have only recently deduced how to get access so, sick of the metallic complaining, I parked in a cul-de-sac and took across the fields:



It was a good walk indeed and, like the one a couple of weeks ago, I was rewarded with a stiff breeze upon summiting. Next to the cracked cylinder is an overgrown quarry with a couple of precipitous sides so I took extra care in my slippy-soled work shoes. I patted the stone and said out loud: "Hello, old friend; we finally get to meet, eh?".

Sweating, and with another 5000 steps on the Fitbit, I seek out my new home for the night (having been denied a room at my preferred domicile due to the key figure in tonight's gig - see earlier this blogweek): "The Manor Hotel" sits at the end of a sweeping curve section of Llandudno's promenade but a section that's on the way OUT of the town - nearer the Little Orme rather than the Great one; it's a bit, how shall I put this, "functional"? The TV had no aerial or power supply (or remote control), there was an Iron-shaped burn on the carpet and the WiFi was so poor that I could barely get BGG to refresh without having enough time to go for a walk along the sea front!



So that's what I did - figuring I'd have more luck checking Twitter on the iPhone 4G while hunting for pretty shells and foot-dragging obscenities in to the pristine sand:



The sailing club came out to play as the sun set over the Great Orme; chugging down the ramp on their quad bikes towing the boats on flimsy trolleys behind them. Talking of sunsets, it was - by now - time to find my alloted seat and enjoy the quickfire comedy of Tim Vine's Sunset Milk Idiot tour:



It was achingly-funny; it was childish and hilarious; it was groan-inducing and rib-ticklingly daft. Here's a little sample of his oevre:



One of the best Wednesdays in a long time!*

*apart from the bloody car!
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Fri May 18, 2018 6:50 am
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Caer-ful with those Mechs, Eugene

Anthony Boydell
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The breezy sun was out on a Llandudno Wednesday afternoon and, after a couple of hours of training a room full of distracted Inspectors (120 minutes without a fag break induces the twitches, apparently), I scarpered the building with a headache and the intention of walking it off somehow. Yesterday was an up-and-down-the-main-shopping-street perambulation that garnered a salad supper and the new David Peace novel; today was a return to the scoured, stone-robbed hillside overlooking Conwy and what little remained of Deganwy Castle:



The glorious Monday sunset had given us a splendid view of this up-jutting from the comfort of our Mulberry Bar & Grill gaming tables so, yesterday, I parked, rolled my sleeves, set the iPhone to camera mode and strode purposefully around the dome-ish, rocky dollop. I'd not noticed the brickwork on my previous excursion, so spent a lot more time at the top climbing the walls and exploring. The wind had really picked up at this altitude; it was such a terrific blow that I feared my ears would pop. Keen to get a little warmer, I completed my circuit of the site and settled myself in the windless sanctuary of the VW Touran and made my way along the coast to Prestatyn:


(clockwise from top-left): a Sand-sperm; a gift from Ed; fractious stuff; and dark clouds on the horizon!


The supermarket provided a delicious, healthy bounty (and a new charger cable for my phone) and I parked next to the Promenade and looked dolefully out over the Bay while I scoffed it*. A silver-haired, smartly-attired gentleman leaned in to the gust as he lurched by; he seemed to be alternately muttering and spitting - the latter surely a dangerously-likely backfiring scenario given the vigorous zephyr. Replete with cous-cous and char sui pork, I soft-footed down to the tide-line in search of driftglass with my hood pulled tight over my head.

Weary of the chilly gale, mud-shoed and with sand up my nose, it was time to leave this exercisal nonsense and play something Euro-ish up at The Beach House; we'd all sort-of agreed on Scythe which meant Paul and Mark wouldn't be joining us. George hadn't replied - he's in our tournament group - but then even he doesn't know if he's coming until he actually turns up at the Pub. It was a daftly-brisk first game - all done-and-dusted after 60 minutes - so we racked it all up for a second. It was a little tetchy in the room with a great deal of woodwork shuffling, backsies and adjustments; your move would be almost done and you'd find yourself back in the spotlight almost immediately - indeed, at one point you'd have been forgiven for thinking this was a simultaneous turns game! The absent George, like an unclaimed Diplomacy power, was made to 'stand' throughout but, nobly, he didn't complain at all.

*the supper, that is.
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Thu May 3, 2018 6:35 am
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Two Castles

Anthony Boydell
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The route back from Llandudno gets really boring around Oswestry: dual carriageways and by-passes and nothing to see either side on the embankments. Thursday, for the second time in as many visits to the North I chose, instead, to avoid the mundane thoroughfares and keep heading directly South in to the middle of Wales. First to Welshpool, keep going until almost in Newtown then swing left to meet the back of the Marches.

Long, wide, green valleys and the bluest-of-blue skies on this wonderful afternoon had me hankering for a bijou diversion-upon-my-diversion and I spotted a sign for "Castell Caereinion". Oooh, a castle you say? Don't mind if I very much do! The only problem was that the village of Castell Caereinion has been without an actual castle since the 12th century, so it was back-navigating the lanes to the main road again with a bit of a sulk.

Approaching the Shire town of Montgomery from the East, however, and I was greeted by a sheer cliff face with the unmistakable tips of broken towers peeping out from the trees: I had found a castle...by accident!

Tucking the Touran under a shady branch at the top of the hill - it was bakingly hot by now - I followed the chalky path with the town stretched out below me, on the right, and the landscape stretching off in all directions. Wales felt very big today!



























Beautiful.
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Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:30 am
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fishy on a little dishy

Anthony Boydell
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Our family - the in-laws and us - have booked our holidays for Summer 2018 and, in a huge break in tradition, we're NOT going to North Yorkshire: shock! horror! How will I cope without a railway to ride or places to walk?! Easy: we're going to Snowdonia! Yes, twelve of us have booked a cottage in the middle of nowhere - 20 miles from Blaenau Ffestiniog and about the same from Llanberis - so I think I've just answered that particular question. The aim will be to walk UP the mountain and catch the train back down again - though I'd better book it soon as the bloody thing is backed up for months. Of course, it also means that on Monday nights I could sneak out to join the Snowdonia Dragons or settle with the Prestatyn Prometheans on a Wednesday or spend Thursday evenings in the company of the Bangor crew...or all three?!

Last night, however, I settled for the first option and availed myself, in daylight, of The Mulberry on the Conwy Marina for some ludological distractioneering:


Another outing for Welcome to Centerville; this time taught to Philip, Aaron and Tom.


'Twas a brisk and breezy 60 minutes and a nail-biting final tot-up with Philip emerging victorious after a disastrous Round 1 (of 3). I'm not sure if they all liked it, though, as it was a relatively silent packing-away.

The table behind us had started light and then borrowed my copy of Nusfjord; during the lull in our Centerville die-rolling, I would glance over my shoulder and gaze enviously at the magnificent table-spread. When the reshuffle - and drinks restocking - had completed, I pulled Fjordy (as no-one is calling it) from my bag almost immediately after it had been put back in. An unusually-buzzing first floor delivered me three others to get a-fishin' in the form of Philip (again), Tom's wife Denise and new-arrival Melanie:


#badteacher Oh dear: 41 points.


Nusfjord is a pleasure to teach because there's not a lot of complexity to impart so, within 10 minutes, we were smoothly away. I eschewed any kind of boats and hoovered up enough shares to keep me well-supplied from the comfort of my harbourside bunker. Melanie (29pts) and Denise (32pts) made excellent use of Elders for building while Philip (25pts) surrounded himself in Forestry combos and spent the entire game taking his forests off his player board and then putting them back on again. I'm not sure I could love this game even more without bursting.

Philip chose something to close - remember that these Cambrians don't like to be out in the Witching hours - and it was his all-time favourite: 7 Wonders.


Just four points in it between first and last!


Another evening under my belt, then, and so back to the B&B through a ghostly Conwy Castle and up the riverside-running Deganwy road. Fortunately, there's just time - after jotting this blog down - for a pre-snooze chapter or two from today's bargain purchase:



It's all very civilized, isn't it?
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Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:45 am
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Nice 'n Spicy!

Anthony Boydell
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It finally seemed like proper Spring as I meandered back to the B&B after a day's training; flumping on to the bed, I caught up with some loose games of 'Gric on boiteajeux.net while the happy sound of chattering tourists rattled my windowpanes. A number of options presented themselves, prone though I was on the deco spread, as potential evening entertainments:
Go to the cinema and (possibly) kill my diet with a delicious double-scoop of Baskin Robins' ice-cream;
Stay in at the digs and borrow one of their DVDs (and probably scoff grapes all evening); or,
take the car out for a sunsetty spin down the coast road to Bangor and play some bloody board games.

So, I decided to stay in...

...no, but pish! I merely jest with you because OF COURSE I decided to go and play some games! It is ridiculous that (just a couple of months ago) it was getting dark as I set out on my evening mission of ludography and now it's still a bit glowy-in-the-distance on the coming back! A brief diversion by way the supermarket for some scrummy end-of-the-day sushi bargains then it was up the whooshing lift to the 5th floor of Pontio's Art Centre; après "ping!", one is dumped in to a quiet area bedecked with tables, foamy chairs and many an earnest student-type gazing - brow-furrowed, bic biro interdental, at their laptops. I scurried quietly by attempting to keep the boxes in my bag rattling like cuboid maracas.



It was an excellent turn-out (with over 20 in total) even though it was just a shade passed 6PM; they like to get their gaming done early in these 'wilder' parts and - indeed - the place had emptied and people were looking at the inside of their lids by 10PM. I, of course, remain awake to document the sessions' delights. To open, Rob - who works at Bangor Uni (of which Pontios is a 'wing') and his son Ethan (?) joined me for some dice-chucking and Welcome to Centerville:



I find myself curiously enamored of this Yahtzee-esque meaty filler and I'm not sure I can tell you why coherently; it's just a feeling I have when I think about playing it. It pleases me with the simple rules: roll/re-roll six dice up to three times then 'spend' them on a variety of actions, score area majority and set collection in two currencies (Income and Prestige) at various times and then the lowest of those two currencies at the end of the game is your final score. It's more than Roll Through The Ages and it's ilk and less of bastard fiddle than Roll For The Galaxy. (Semi-)amusingly, Ethan kept rolling the dice so that they'd bounce on the central board and scatter player cubes in all directions; indeed, this perilous corruption of the game state was further compounded by Ethan's tendency to lean on his player reference and slide it either OFF the table (his weight creasing the cardboard - argh!) OR slide it toward the (aforementioned) board for minor nudging. Anyway, it mattered not because the fight was really for second place between Father and Son as #badteacher I romped away with proceedings.

Things wouldn't be quite so clear-cut when Aaron joined Rob, myself and Yollo (?) for some hot, spicy Goa action:



Both Yollo and Rob were in virgin territory here, so there was much for them to take in and they did tickle along for a couple of respectable scores (29 and 31); on the other hand, the very LAST action of the game was from Aaron playing an Exploration card that allowed himself to sell 10 spices for 3 dukats a-piece and edged past my own 28 cash to claim the 'richest player' 3pt bonus! This took him from 44 to 47 and me, consequently, from 44 to 41! Robbed, I say! It turns out Yollo and Rob have a great many other fantastic games of the Goa Era to explore - Princes of Florence and El Grande to name but two - so I need to find an excuse to be up here on Thursday evening more often!
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Fri Apr 6, 2018 6:50 am
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The Sundowner

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I find myself in a deeply emotional state. Since Christmas, I have been taking pills to reduce my anxiety levels and, until a couple of weeks ago, they were working great; really great. Unfortunately, a side-effect is a form of IBS and after waking in the early hours with a screamingly-painful back and a hot ache in my stomach (the rest of this section is REDACTED), I decided to stop taking them: that was a couple of weeks ago. Now, amidst the usual maelstrom of stresses that accompany high-profile ICT deliveries, the blissful calm that enveloped me throughout January has vaporized and - once more - I find myself vulnerable to panic attacks and over-sensitivity. I am hating my job again; actually, more accurately, I am hating some people with whom I work and I hate myself for feeling this way - perhaps the drugs wearing off have had a further side-effect, a sort of amplification?


Near. Far. Where-eeeeeeh-ver you are...
(discovered in the Car Park; he's run aground on the Beech!)


I am in North Wales again but I avoided calling for an ad hoc games evening on Tuesday and then backed out of both the Prestatyn Wednesday and a Bangor Thursday; I have spent three evenings shut away in the quietude of the B&B. After a particularly irritable phone call yesterday - me in North Wales, everyone else in Cardiff and nought between us but a Conference Phone - I picked up a shitty KFC supper and decided to visit a part of Llandudno I had not, in the four years I have been coming here, visited before: the Great Orme.


A disappointingly scruffy start: the hotel at the (land) end of the Pier



You're soon away from it all - just after the not-operating-yet Toll Booth.



Looking back at the Pier.



Dirty, damp vaults; I prefer a good Cathedral.



The sunset shines on Little Orme: a breathtakingly simple pleasure.




I met a guy called Ali who unfolded some crash mats from the boot of his car and started free-climbing; slathering his hands in chalk dust and probing the rock for holds, he happily chatted with me. A chilly wind began to sough across the flat sea so I took my leave.




Sunset over Anglesey and the Menai Strait.



An orange glow in the cold Welsh evening and a wide, wide surrounding.




My thoughts, as I trudged to false peak after false peak, dwelled upon change: wouldn't it be poetic if this first, well-overdue circumnavigation of the nub of the Creuddyn Peninsula - a headland with which I have become more-than-passingly familiar from a distance - spelled the end of my time with the Welsh Government? The closing of the circle, if you will.


Abbott and Costello greet me in the Cambrian dusk.
They were no bloody help at all.



There's a shipwreck down there; in my slippy work shoes I wasn't going to hazard it, though. The dew was already pearling on the heather, the stubby grass and the sheep dung.



I return to Llandudno's West Beach (having started from the Promenade on it's East); Conwy Castle in the distance and the snowy Snowdonians at the very back.


I really couldn't face any smalltalk-ery so I tip-toed up the stairs, avoiding the creaks - and any unnecessary fellow-guest banter - by keeping to the wall. Snicking the door lock, I signed in to Amazon Prime and lost myself in the grace and beauty of Arrival while an owl hooted, urgently, on the cliff behind the hotel. I feel sick.
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Fri Mar 9, 2018 6:50 am
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Breese-ing in then Breese-ing out again

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Mrs B was off at a funeral (a Great Aunt) for the day, so I was in charge of various runnings-about. A morning of Conference Calls was a tiresome time-hoover (and ache-er of ear) and, indeed, being trapped in the building awaiting the imminent arrival of the Cooker engineer was also somewhat of a bind; he, naturally, arrived AT THE VERY END of his projected 'window' to replace a short-circuited induction hob:


Mundane magnets.


Finally able to boil a proper brew with our whistling kettle, I'd just settled down for chai tea and a custard creme when rappetty-tappetty-rap went the front door and the friendly visage of Mr Richard Breese leaned in to view. Richard and I have been meaning to get together and sort out some serious play-testing for a while now (a couple of years, in fact) but - finally - our diaries converged and here he was.

After a delicious nut roast bolognese (Mr B is vegetarian), the weekend was scheduled to start with a relaxing visit to the Ross-on-Wye boardgamers at The Plough Inn. Wendy was there (again) too, as was pal-from-the-Internets Peter, so we were a robust six to start; as I posted yesterday, we stayed together as one group for a run at Keyflow/Key Flow ie. Keyflower: The Card Game.

In summary: It's 7 Wonders meets Keyflower. Players are drafting cards that are either buildings or meeples with which to activate buildings over four seasons; all of the familiar iconography is there in an intuitive and slightly-more-forgiving spin-off.



Richard pipped me in final Winter card scoring and the whole table pronounced it a hit; I believe this is the 2018 offering from R&D Games so that's one pre-order already sorted for Spiel!

We split for the second half and I introduced Richard (with Becky - just arrived - and Jobbers) to my current addiction: Nusfjord. It's crazy but when I think of the next gaming session, I think of Nusfjord and I get all looky-forwardy-excitedy-tummy about it; I believe I have become a litte infatuated. See below for my trumphantly-comfortable victory tableau scoring a career best of forty one (41):


Sometimes everything just falls perfectly in to place!




Saturday dawned bright and crisp-with-frost so it was breakfast, the brewing of beverages and a Breesian run at saving a failing spaceship:


Lost In Space: Lux Aeterna provides Richard with some vacuum-packed decisions!


Managing to avoid a totally-wrecked ship (and not falling in to the Black Hole), Richard scored a paltry 18 points but was happy to have made it to the end in one piece! Lux is pretty much done-and-dusted now, bar the magnificent plan I have for the Art and Design. We repaired to the Library room for some serious playtestery, leaving the kitchen to the mid-morning bustle of scoffing teenagers:


The Foothills of Snowdonia: In this set-up featuring Snowdon itself!


Jobbers and Boffo would be joining us around lunchtime, so Richard and I played through a full 'Foothills' in just over an hour. The core railway (and Snowdonia-esque) elements are the same but the action selection mechanism - card flipping Concordia-like headache-ery - is a recent Boffonian revelation...and it worked an absolute dream! Apart from one card effect that 'expired' as the game entered the final stages and effectively locked Richard out of a specific action (an easy fix), it was a resilient game from which 'the iconography needs a little tweaking' was the main comment. Hanno, (Lookout Games' main man) is coming to the UK Games Expo this year and I really wanted to be able to show him a functioning prototype of this; we're well on track for that now! Richard even complimented us (Ben) on the innovative mechanic when he turned up for an afternoon of deep Keyper action:


If you thought there were too many animals in Keyper already..!


The Keyper expansion adds fish, mussels, lobsters, crabs and squid (!) along with colour-themed Fishing Boats, more standard and bag-dwelling buildings, a Fish Market _and_ a slightly fuzzy (but it works) flattening out of the Seasons. In the latter element, there are no fixed Season 'ends'; players can claim a board and then transition it to the next Season while other boards are still processing the prior - there's a sort of 'double' Keyper retrieval-of-workers going on. TO be honest, my grasp of BASE Keyper was non-existent given my massive confusion on first play (see a previous Blog entry) so I ended up playing a traditional game and ignored all the new stuff. Jobbers had not played at all before so did pretty much the same, leaving Boffo and Richard to mess about in boats for the most part. One thing for certain is that I actually began to understand what was going on and what I needed to do; this led me to a fantastically-pleasing 2nd place (after three hours), edging Boffo in to 3rd and only missing out from conquering Mr Breese by 11 points! It certainly felt like I had more elbow room than before and was great fun to play; the Seasonal changes, however, were still a bit befuddling even having seen them in action - however, this is a 2019 release so plenty of time to smooth off the rough edges!

The sun was setting and thoughts turned to a slap-up Nepalese curry takeout supper, so lighter fayre - this time initiated (and able to be played) by Arthur - was in order:


The Kingbrick is dead; long live Cube Quest!


Many, many finger-flicking conflicts ensued with Richard taking on - and beating - all-comers; who knew this Euro stalwart had it in 'im?! To close off the evening before Match of the Day (a Breesian must-see), Mrs B and Benedict and Arthur and Richard and Me scampered about the Overcoat Stately Home for the daft card-driven chaos that is The Black Overcoat Game. Richard compared it to favourably to Talisman - one of his top 10 games - and rounded off the session by powering up his Prototype Jet Boots, shoving the rest of us out of the way and whooshing up the main stairwell to the Attic and Victory:


To the victor, the spoils! (in this case, a small cardboard chit with a sketch of a Chest on it)




Sunday was the copy of Saturday and lit up the ice crystals with blue skies and brightness; no time for any more play as Richard had a rendezvous at Goodrich Castle and I needed to sort out my socks for the week.

What a marvellous couple of days!
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Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:20 am
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Here Be Dragons!

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
Unspecified
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Tucked up safe and warm in the toasty comfort of Room 4 (or "The Boydell Suite" as it is now known) of my Llandudno digs, I can hear the storm howling outside and I am glad. For the third week running I have been able to avail myself of the generous company of The Snowdonia Dragons and later, as the wind whips along the back alleys pressed up against the mighty Orme, repair to my laptop for the write-up. I couldn't just make a nest of the many pillows and drop off immediately; no, indeed, I must empty my head of the day's events first.

To start, I'd prepared the way (via the BGG Guild) for a play test of my Snowdonia:Wye Valley Tourer expansion which, originally, started life as 'the B side' to a smaller Darjeeling and Himalaya scenario. The Wye Valley Tourer adds tunnels (co-opted by the recent 1881 Channel Tunnel), a couple of lucrative-the-more-you-build 'bridge' cards and the drinking of tea. With a postcard of 'bonuses', you send your Surveyor up and down the valley in search of delightful tourist spots in which to sup a brew - provided it's not raining - which, in turn, allows you to 'tick off' your postcard in return for points and/or bonus resources or actions.


Sarah, Bernie and Ed take a break from all that hard work!


It was a slow start with quite a lot of rain (ie. almost ALL rain) that cleared up in to a scorching Summer; the four of us drifted off along different paths (Sarah: a bit of everything including a tie for the most tunnel sections, Me: failing to complete my contract cards but clearing my Postcard, Ed: Track and Tea and Bernie: the Tunnel and Track King). We were done in 90 mins and, for a play-test, I thought it went excellently; the three 'new bits' worked smoothly, it's now down to a re-scanning of the contract cards to sort out a couple of minor inconsistencies! The aim is to have it ready for the forthcoming 3rd Edition Kickstarter campaign (Summer, I believe) along with a little tribute to my pal Peter: "The Bluebell Line".

The table in the opposite corner had finished it's Altiplano shenanigans, so we were able to mix things up a bit; in the end we seemed to have only swapped Ed for Aaron, so it was back to our table for a daft WP-ish filler from the makers of the excellent The King of Frontier:


Little Town Builders: King of Frontier 2?!


In summary: place a worker on the board in a free space and then gain resources from the 8 spaces around you OR spend resources to build and place a building. As the game progresses those 8 spaces will cover your buildings and those of other players; in the latter case you must pay the owner $1 to use that building's effect. Buildings are worth points, conversion of resources into points can be done on buildings, secret goals can be attained in-game for points and money is also VPs (3:1). You play four rounds, feeding your workers fish/grain at the end of each one, and then you see who has the most points.

Quick and fun, this is another daft gem from the East; I'm not sure I'd pay 60 euros + postage for it, but it was a hoot nonetheless.

Plenty of time to go yet, so one went up to one's elbows in Bernie's bag to tug out a couple of trinkets; firstly, something with quite a good rep from all I've heard and read:



In summary: Play cards from your hand to your tableau OR to a central 'Capital' that matches the suit (there are four). If you play to a capital, you gain a bonus of some kind (a gold, a card draw, a secret modifier or a low card from a capital); if you play to your tableau, you're setting up majority scoring at the end of each of the three rounds AND your final total too. The trick is to avoid the total value of cards in a suit in your tableau exceeding the total value of cards played to the matching capital in the middle of the table: if you do, you might be in line for scoring bonuses, if you don't you lose all of your collected cards in that suit!

A clever little decision brewer, I thought it would go down well 'at home' so I offered to buy it from Bernie (who had previously mentioned he wasn't likely to play it with 'just two'); he paused for a moment and then simply handed it to me as a gift - how utterly wonderful, how stupendously civilised!

I repaid this fulsome generosity by crushing him at our final game: DragonFlame...


In summary: It's Coloretto with special abilities and mixed scoring opportunities!


While the others were fighting over chests and 'hard VP' treasures, my Wyvern burned up a series of villages and amassed a collection of unique statuary for a comfortable victory; not even a vindictively-donated -3 point Knight from Sarah could dent my Smaugian triumph.

Next week I shall be training folk in Merthyr Tydfil and my Wintry sojourn of gaming luxury will come to an end. I'll be back in the Spring, though, which is something very much to look forward to!
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Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:30 am
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