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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The Cult of the Old

Anthony Boydell
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Another week, another slight wobble in the numbers at the Ross-on-Wye gamers; we were expecting four-ish with Gerv being a "possibly cancelled at the last minute" and Lydia (aka 'Lydia Gamebox') also a "perhaps, depending...".

(they both made it in the end)

Come 7.30PM and a previously-confirmed Jobbers was nowhere to be seen BUT we were joined by two middle-aged gentlemen carrying pints of ale and a scrumpled plastic bag with a colourful box inside: John and Mark.

The two gents (non-identical twins) were keen as mustard to join in 'the gaming' and, both being extremely local to The Plough, it was pleasing that they finally ventured out to see us; they are, however, old school gamers and know nothing of the explosion in the hobby over the last 40 years. They brought - as an example of what they're 'in to', this colourful piece from 1967:


Exploration is as old as me!


It's a typical roll-and-roll-and-roll-and-roll festival of die rolling with random equipment and personnel draws and random dice rolling; the first third of the game is roll-and-move to collect stuff and the remaining two thirds rolling-and-not-moving-because-you-don't-have-the-right-icons-on-your-equipment-cards. There is no skill at all; indeed, during the first phase I collected a bunch of equipment thinking I could 'sell it back' to the others when they set off mountaineering (or whatever) at a profit - most money = the winner - but, as soon as I actually got going on my quest ('diving a sunken galleon') - I had to discard all the irrelevant equipment for no return! To be fair, some cards had biro on them and there were 'our house rules' pointed out from time-to-time so I'm not convinced we were playing the ACTUAL rules or just their lifelong customization. It's a terrible game but it is lovely to look at and sort-of fun for the hour it took for John to roll better numbers than us other two. They were very brotherly in their treatment of each other during play (much to my amused delight): bickering and chivvying the other on, John calling Mark a 'bastard' whenever the latter rolled a useful face - it was like they were both 10 again! Having treated me to their beloved gaming treasure, we split tables and I treated John (with Gerv's help) to a couple of mine:


'Birds' followed by a couple o'For Sales


John picked this up - tentatively - and needed some coaching throughout; I should think it's quite a leap of the imagination to cross over the threshold; we take so many ideas for granted in gaming nowadays. It was good to see Lydia back again too; she was treated to Wingspan (which she has already played) and Cuba and we all closed (the new fellows catching an early lift) with Too Many Cooks. For once, I managed to get through a NO SOUP round without catastrophe and was pipped in to a close second by a loudly-complaining Boffo; he's very good at this kind of trick-takey game and I don't believe a word of it when he grumbles.

Hopefully John and his brother will return; I may just start packing a few oldies from my own collection to keep their evident comfort zone close-by. And because, sometimes, it's rather fun (if masochistic) to time-travel.
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Sun Mar 3, 2019 6:15 am
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In just 100 words (or fewer)

Anthony Boydell
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Hey, kids! There's a new girl on the block and she's smart and she's sassy and she takes no mysogynistic shit: The Design 100





That's 100 words (or fewer) about contemporary gaming issues and topics from the brightest and the best (and the least-busy) of the gaming world's cognoscenti (aka 'the Ludorati', if you will; or, even, 'the Jeuxnoisseurs').



Why not click through and browse the WisdomNuggets from our Industry's toppermost and poppermost*:



*and me.
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Tue Feb 5, 2019 6:17 am
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It's all in the wrist

Anthony Boydell
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It's nowhere near April 1st so I must, therefore, assume that an advert I saw yesterday for Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write is a bona fide 'thing'.



My initial reaction was to cough up a nugget of my cheesy pasta bake, sauced in stomach acid and cheap red wine and - as I was wiping the unfortunate, 'in trajectory' guinea pig down with a stinky dishcloth - it got me to thinkin': do I have a roll-and-write game in me? And if I do, would they believe that I just sat on one accidentally when I report to Accident & Emergency?

The key requisites of a good* roll & write are
a) a number of dice (preferably 'custom', to appeal to the shallow spendhappy who feels that regular polyhedra are a lazy production-scrimping cut-back);
b) a generous pad of pre-printed papers OR a wipe-clean board;
c) a mechanism for applying ink/graphite to (b) for the purposes of game tracking and final scoring; and,
d) a decision as to whether the dice are 'shared' or 'personal'.

Aside: If you can possibly bot fly larva an existing Property then all the better; if you can 'kill' a similar R&W in the process too then that counts as a double win!

Locking myself in the library room with 'E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Soundtrack LP by John Williams & The London Philharmonic Orchestra' on permanent loop**, I stared out of the window at my neighbour's Sunburst Porch Light(TM) and mulled. The closest contenders in my cogitatory pensivication were Snowdonia (naturally, inevitably) and Guilds of London; my notebook sang to the frenetic scribble of my bulk-bought gel rollerball.

For Snowdonia, the tableau would represent a specific railway configuration - thus lending itself to a series of expansion pads in the future - with the die affording the usual Snoddish actions: Excavate, Resources, Track and Building. I'd quite like weather and events to play a part, still, so they could be GLOBAL-affecting dice (a different colour?) while the rest would be personal to the active player. I might throw in the option for all the other players to use one of the dice too, just to stop them from looking at their phones / complaining that "It's all at the whim of bones"/"Why didn't I roll a double Navvy, FFS!". Every notable game needs a tag line to remember, so how about: "Righting the Rails on the Rolling hills" or "Snow-dice-ia" or "Bandwagon-jumping cash-grab...in the Mountains of Wales"?

For Guilds of London, how about having the Guild tiles but a third of the size and with a wipe-clean surface; select a square of 9 at random. Players roll Meeple dice and Action dice and allocate the latter to the former, inking the appropriate squares and claiming the appropriate elements on their deluxe score pads. With their deluxe marker pens. There is, of course, a beautiful consequence of R&W-ing Guilds in that the dice absolutely HAVE to have iconography all over them: revenge at last, my pretties - the haters will suck it happily without even noticing! Finally, how about "London: City of Bones", "Cubes - not Dudes - on this Map" or "Party-crashing, market-saturating lucre-pump"?

I'd gotten this far when Mrs B and the older kids called me in to the Sitting Room for Saturday Night Film Club; this evening it was to be The Silence of the Lambs and it was about half-way through before I realised the movie was an elaborate metaphor for the genre: gross cannibalism and/or making a horrifying product out of the best bits of others. And bones.

*I use the word 'good' in the context of an industry-accepted metric of a games worth and NOT as an expression of my own delight in this woe-begotten genre of play.
**the side ends; I get up and flip the vinyl over; repeat
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Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:15 am
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A Pair Of Great Tits

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Everyone's going bonkers for the imminent new Stonemaier Games release because it's all about birds! And birds are a cool theme that no-one has thought to do before!* However, begging to differ, part of the recent Dynamic Duo (me and Arty) Charity Haul included this 'educational gem' from the 1980s:


The Blog's titular Tits.










It's not a (loathsome) trivia game but a find out the answers game, which is intriguing (but only for a fraction of a second); no, indeed, I would've left this retro curiosity on the shelf (and the three quid in my pocket) were it not for the tiny-writing author's credit:



Could this be a relation to - or a pseudonym of - my erstwhile Surprised Stare Games co-conspirator Mr Alan Paull? I messaged him and have yet to receive an answer...


...so, while you wait - with breath bated - here's a pic of our Friday P.M haul in all it's glory! And, yes, that is a 1970s Tonka Dune-buggy in excellent condition.


Good day to you (and don't forget to wrap up warm coz it's bloody freezing!).


*apart from Piepmatz and Flock and Angry Birds: Knock on Wood, obviously
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Mon Jan 7, 2019 6:15 am
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With just a single click

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Every December, the local Auction House has a 'Toys & Games'-themed sale; while it's possible to find the odd treat in the other eleven ('Ceramics', 'Art', 'Furniture' etc), it's the pre-Christmas event that yields the juiciest morsels. To make things worse easier, the whole thing can be interacted-with online so I can click on a [Bid Now] button in the comfort of my work-at-home chair; this is, of course, both a "Good Thing"(TM) and a "Bad Thing"(TM):


To you? Sixty quid for the Lot, Sir.



How I wish I had packaged all of the Snowdonia expansion in boxes like this! (there's also, not shown, a turntable AND a girder bridge AND a twin-bladed tin helicopter with its original box)



A pack of cards with the 'Duty' seal still intact? Wow!



A closer look...



One day this shall be a reality...


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Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:15 am
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Quaecunque

Anthony Boydell
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Something for a gloomy Sunday, perhaps? Some links about games and gaming I found on the BBC website:

"Occupation survivors reminisce over board game" - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-45397434

The UK Games Expo 2018 ('You and Yours') from 6m 30s onward - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b0b42qc3

Business Daily (June 2018 feat. Hasbro, a quick history of Monopoly and Reiner K!) - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p02f8l1y (needs Flash)

Some light reading (feat. a pic of ex-Boardgameguru honcho Paul Lister) - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-44214043

Matt Leacock & Pandemic (interview) - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csww7d

Also, apropos of yesterday's exercise in caving in, what do you think of the state of these seven cards?!

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Sun Dec 2, 2018 6:40 am
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Can you guess what I'm holding in my hand..?

Anthony Boydell
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...that's right: it's a book*. Not just ANY book, either; no, it's a new entrant in my collection of game-related tomes. In fact, several books have crossed the Boydell transom in the last few days and some are presented below.





Of particular interest, however, is this weighty little beauty from 1876:





Spurred on by a blog comment from West Walesian - and occasional Ross-on-Wye-r - Phil Dennis, I sought the World Interwebs for a copy of The Sports & Pastimes of the English People. Ebay is, simultaneously, a dear friend and a bitter enemy; the whole transaction took less than 10 seconds to complete and now I (tremblingly) hold it in my sweaty palm (still a book).

For the price of JASE, this musty and crackle-paged time machine figuratively drips with charm, earnestness and wit; for the equivalent of a couple of Terraforming Mars expansions, two thousand years of Britannic arsing-about, time-wasting and leisure pleasures have been collected in this joyful package.

















Comprehensively gorgeous, extensively lovely and utterly precious.

*of course, in my other hand is my knob.
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Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:15 am
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Tome; Toyou

Anthony Boydell
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Browsing the World Wide Internets, as I do on occasion, I happened upon a Twittering mentioning the Rt Hon General Sir Lord James Wallis - the loveliest and tallest designer in the known World - that snagged my attention glands:

"Georgian and Victorian Board Games: The Liman Collection book review: A beautiful coffee-table celebration of games from a bygone age" accompanied by the following link: https://www.tabletopgaming.co.uk/board-games/reviews/georgia...

I am, naturally, a complete-and-utter stooge for anything gaming that is old (I still rue not pushing ahead to win the original Diplomacy prototypes on eBay a few years back) and have accrued a bijou collection, particularly in book form. Reading James' review and then scouting through the fleshy, $Trillion folds of The Great Beast Online, I located a copy for the princely sum of £34 (cheaper than a base set of Terraforming Mars and only slightly more expensive than Terraforming Mars: Prelude - all 15 cards of it). Let me reveal, to you, some of the delights contained therein:












Crivens! Surely 'tis an early Fighting Fantasy?!



Inside Out: Das Brettspiel?!



That’s one Hell of a Start Player marker!



Crumbs! That's a bit grim!



Victoria was a bit of a hottie, eh?





I live near the bottom-left of the 'E' in 'GLOCESTER'



Brass: Birmingham can eff right off!









40 tiny cards used in one of the games...



...one of which tickled my fancy.



Scuffed, but beautiful.


Fancy a copy for yourself? I highly recommend it:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1938461436/ref=oh_aui_de...


Er, hang on a moment?!

...let us return, again, to 'the Giant'...



*Ouch!*


wow
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Fri Sep 7, 2018 6:10 am
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Looty McBooty

Anthony Boydell
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It's the beginning of September and that means two things:
i) the weather will get markedly worse for crossing the August 31st boundary, and
ii) thanks to (i), this will be the last Ledbury Sunday Car Boot Sale of the year.

Despite this clear and orderly script, the weather resolutely contradicted the first item's rule (probably a consequent future echo of a 'No Deal' Brexit TBH) and baked us all in a grassy field for the ninety minutes it took me to zig-zag the stalls! I was headed off at the Pass for a delightful bathroom cabinet (tulip stained glass on the frontage) by a gruff 'local' who simply thrust a fiver in to the vendors palm and fucked off! Grumbling in to my shirt pocket, I navigated the baby clothes and garden machinery, the knackered vinyl and the nests of tables with nothing to call my own apart from a sweet Gruffalo card-game anthology (there is a reason for this but I'll not say 'owt for the mo), until - Sweet Baby Jesus in a Go-Cart! - I saw this:


"Free farrah pahnd, chief!" halloo-ed the chirpy 'booter' and I sunk myself in to the tattered cardboard and cracked plastic with gusto.





Half the player pieces are missing but, then again, I didn't pay £0.33 for the actual game; no, I wanted the BOX: how magnificent is that art?! When I finally get my Museum of Board Games / Eclectica together (this is one string to my retirement violin), it's gonna look so damn good on the wall of the 'Race Games' section!

As I reached the half-way point of my stuffy, slightly-fruitful parambulation, my phone went 'Ting!': 'twas a message from young Arthur back at Boydell HQ:



Alas, there were to be no further transformative discoveries but I did spot several more curios:



Only seven months until the April re-opening - unless I'm desperate to buy some discount Farm machinery in the meantime - but there'll be plenty more opportunities for acquisition therapy over the long Autumn/Winter!

In other news, I remembered to dial in to the Newent Auction Rooms online proceedings on Friday and snaffled this pair of scuffed - but gorgeous - etchings (£20 for the two):





Makes you wonder why we bothered spending money on 'nice wallpaper', don't it?!
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Tue Sep 4, 2018 6:15 am
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Big Yellow Taxi

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Now, I may be reading things into it and seeing things that aren't there but watching Gary's intro to the Ragnar Brothers' latest promotional video - titled in the YouTubes as "The Romans - The last roll of the dice for the RBs" - made me feel enormously sad. Especially when he opens the overview with "...to tell you a little bit about what may be our least game..."



Perhaps most famous for the classic History of the World, many people have never realised that it's actually an autobiographical game: they have been around for THAT long - civilizations have risen-and-fallen while they got us all mania-ed about canals and moulded up those amusing 'flashing' monk-eeples in Monastery. It matters not whether your donkey is steam-powered or 'au naturelle', the 'Rags' (as no one calls them ) have been fighting the good gaming fight for almost three millennia and the thought of not having their I.K. Brunel-costumed personages cheerfully halloo-ing one across the Trade Halls fills me with melancholy.

In today's noisy, chrome-obsessed hurricane of puffery and short attention spans, the RB's brand of 80s-style chit-and-die histories-in-a-box / gentlemanly Euros have been receiving short-shrift. So, here's the deal: if you like medium-weight Euros with a classical fight-y edge, why not give them a shout and see if you can scrounge a play-test copy/a demo and give The Romans some of your time and love?

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...
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Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:35 am
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