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

Archive for Tony Boydell

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Bird's Eye View

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I love Google Maps. I love dragging-and-scrolling around familiar postcodes to see what’s happened to places from my childhood and I love researching places to stop by and visit on my home from work (the fruits of which you have been privy too in recent months, of course). Most recently, I have topped-down and zoomed-in on the old Llanwern Steelworks in Newport (my Grandfather lived within earshot of it in the 1970s), various tunnel sites in the Forest of Dean and – because I’ve seen quite a lot of it from over a hedge / walking the Ziggster - the original route of the Daffodil Line from Ledbury to Newent (my current home town).

I started with the railway station and began tracking along avenues of trees, odd crop lines and places where I know there are bridges:


Snaking right through the middle of Ledbury Town!



Raw topography...but the clues are there!


The final 'trace':

Spoiler (click to reveal)



Anyone else done/doing this kind of thing, or is it just me?
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:25 pm
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i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

Anthony Boydell
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It was about 0100HRS on the 1st of January, 1991 and our little group was walking back to Karen's family home from the marketplace in Ross-on-Wye; our traditional method of seeing in the New Year was to begin at The Hope and Anchor pub (by the river) and then wander up to the centre of the Town around 11.45PM to cheer and shout with thousands of others. On this occasion, our friends from Liverpool Polytechnic days - Malc and Angie - were with us and, as Karen and I meandered hand-in-hand up the road ahead of them, something flashed in my mind and I pulled her in to a doorway: "Will you marry me?" I asked, my head clear and my heart pounding. She paused, temporarily dumbstruck, and then looked me in the eyes and breathlessly replied: "Yes!"

The families were delighted with our plans because they've known each other since the Second World War: two prior generations of honoured and close friends now brought together, Shakespeare-style, by marriage. A year or so later, with a house mortgaged and ready for decorating, on July 25th, I stood in Blaisdon Chapel - in a too-big-for-me purple suit - and watched my true purpose walk down the aisle toward me.


One of my favourite photographs of all.


Five children, three houses, two careers and a quarter of a century later, Karen and I are still holding hands when we walk in to town, still cooking together, still cuddling up in front of our favourite TV shows, still lying awake in the late dark talking and planning and reminiscing and still very much in love with each other.


(drawn by our eldest daughter)


Twenty five years is half my life and, yet, in no time at all it has whistled by; it's been a joyous, fraught, glorious, painful, surprising and wonderful trip so far and long may it continue - Karen and I walking it together.

For my love:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


e.e.cummings (1952)
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Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:05 am
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Keep Calm and Build Mechs

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Arthur has been angling to play Scythe for a while now and is especially taken with the Mech miniatures: "they're cool!". It was a quiet Saturday and I had sort-of hoped to rope Benedict in to a three player run-thru just to get the young 'un up to speed'; Benedict, however, was in a monosyllabic teenage mood and barely able to give Kingdomino 10 minutes of his time, let alone an hour-and-half to an alternative-history steampunk-er! On the off-chance, I sent Arthur in to the Parlour (Mrs B's place of creative industry) to see if she would like to join us. She agreed, albeit a little nervously. Of course I still had to play this VERY carefully: the rules of Scythe are straightforward but take a little time to outline and Mrs B is not good with long explanations, preferring to just get on with it. I explained the pieces on the player boards by putting them on at the same time; I explained the main board and how rivers and encounters worked; I said I'd not talk about combat until it looked likely that someone would need to know; I explained the actions available and how doing both 'a top and a bottom' was A Good Thing(TM) too. And then we were (tentatively) playing...



Naturally, both started off relatively slowly as they were unsure of what they should be focusing on. I gently reminded the two of them of the rules, where needed, and made sure we read out the encounters in full - and embellished moves with made-up narrative - to help keep the storytelling element (and their interest) alive!

Mrs B spread out and exploited her swimming workers to set up some juicy production which, in turn, powered Mech manufacture and the building of buildings. Arthur, finally able to play with the minis 'officially', decided that he wanted all of them on the board as quickly as possible...so produced a tidy group of workers to mine all of the metal he needed. He also exploited his faction ability to teleport in to the Factory (with a two Mech escort for his Leader) early doors and pulled the 'Pay a Combat card for 1 Power and an Upgrade' card from the four available; he then dispatched his peeps in to Tundra hexes to complete one of his objectives, super-moved his Leader for encounters, max-ed the Power track and had four stars out while me and Mrs B had just plopped our seconds! I then noticed that a Power-poor Mrs B had presented Arthur with a double combat opportunity that would end the game and hand him the victory! It was DAMN CLOSE, though, because a straggling sent-home worker in the Blue faction knocked Arthur in to the lower Popularity zone and we ended 52/48/48.

For me, this impromptu Saturday sesh was nothing but wins all round: I taught and played a more complex game with the family, they all liked it (!) and - on a selfish note - I got to play Scythe again! Bloody brilliant!
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Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:20 am
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Strapped for cash..?

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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...is one way to raise money (!) We can't all spunk fat gobbets of legal tender up the figurative curtains of our FLGS OR - gasping with relief - expel a fat, painful currency turd in to the metaphorical basin of the BGG Marketplace: no! Some of us just don't have the money to buy all of the games all of the time so, with such pauperesque hand-to-mouth-ers in mind, here's a list of cheaper/cut-price games suitable for the thinly-waged hobbyist:

- A Packed Lunch For Odin / Allotments of Arles
- Terraforming Ma's
- A Few Square Feet of (Artificial) Snow / Muck / A Study In Purest Green



- Half-a-Keyflower / 8oz Age
- Can Stop
- 4 Wonders
- Glory to Frome



- Grand Austerity Hotel / Lorenzo l'ordinario
- One Night Penultimate Werewolf
- Bora
- Gulo
- Above OR Below (you can't have both)
- Decaffeinated Coffee Roaster
- (Counter)FITS
- Pitch Car Boot / Xia: Legends of a Thrift System
- A Game of Thrones: Secondhand of the King / Hand-me-Downfall

Any more for any more?
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Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:45 am
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Water Water Everywhere

Anthony Boydell
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It was like driving through the heart of a storm cloud all the way to Bridgend and all the way back again: spray whiting out the windscreen. We managed to find a nice, tree-sheltered spot in the Asgardian camp - just over a tump from their 'longhouse' (see below) - and I was about to give eldest lad a hug goodbye (and £10 for the Bar) when I realised he'd disappeared: wandered off with his pal, Adam, to practice combat or somesuch. So I came home.



There was just enough time to warm up the curry leftovers from the previous night before Jobbers fair knocked the front door off its hinges and sent Ziggy the dog in to an excitable whirlwind of spins and bits of wee coming out. It was also the last day of the school term for Arthur so, with nothing but six long weeks of do as you please ahead of him, he watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 then joined us for some opening games:


The big, bright, brash and rather over-produced First edition of Peter Burley's excellent Kamisado


Jobbers was roundly thumped in game 1 but began to see the shenanigans and took the match 2-1; Arthur, ever gracious in defeat, wrought his revenge by digging out a succession of the noisiest games he could lay his hands on to distract J & me from another prototype run of (Snowdonia) Foothills: Dragster, Rebound, Operation and Ker Plunk*! We had to abandon Foothills, in the end, but not due to the rattling and shout-accompanied cacophony generated by the Arty/Mrs B end of the table BUT the arrival of occasional attendee Dan from Skenfrith. Skenfrith is about 20 miles away and accessible via some delightfully scenic-but-winding roads; I imagine this short-ish journey was made a little more 'interesting' by being flooded-to-buggery after the day's incessant downpour.

I wanted the three of us to get stuck in to something properly-chewy that would, normally, have been pooh-poohed by our Boffonian Overlord; Dan is (as you may recall) a huge fan of Agricola, so it seemed appropriate to introduce him to its bigger, tougher sibling:


Le Havre: an even more glorious mess than Agricola, when laid out in all its finery.


It was a very silent and subdued game and, for once, it wasn't Jobbers who was the slowest but he was certainly the quietest; this usually bodes ill with our cider-quaffing pal, it means he's not enjoying himself at all. He certainly seemed to be steering his way, rudderless, through the rounds; whilst I - and more noticeably Dan - were building buildings and setting up miniature combos, he seemed without any visible plan. I ended up scuttling myself when failing to get the (any) Steel Ship I'd been circling around; this cost me about 40 points, which would've made the final 180-112-92 reckoning a little less comprehensive a thumping! Job done, though; Dan declared it (as well as himself) a winner!

To close, it was out with the penguins:



*my original 1967 edition copy...as old as me, it is!
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Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:36 am
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My Daddy

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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This was brought to my attention by the most excellent Mr Stuart Burnham. I share it with you today because I'm off travelling (taxi-ing): taking my eldest son to a LARP weekend in Bridgend.

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Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:40 am
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"If the crowd are behind you, you're facing the wrong way"

Anthony Boydell
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(the quote is from renowned UK comic Simon Munnery; also this post contains pomposity, ill-formed argument and wild generalization in the hope of creating a whirlwind of controversy)

There is much talk, nowadays, of innovation in gaming; the desire, so we are told, is for new and interesting departures from the norm - for the never-before-seen. The old ways are done with; we're in the 21st century and must cast aside childish things; designers should not seek the instant approval of our audience but, instead, confound and challenge them at every turn.



This is scalding horsewater of the yellowest hue because Pandemic Legacy is just Pandemic with permanent marker pens and a 1960s sci-fi plot; 'Exit' et al are just The Adventure Game in a box and anything with an App is Electronic Detective*.

We don't desire (or deserve) innovation, we only THINK we do when - in fact - we just want more of the same of what we know we like as quickly (and regularly) as possible thank you very much.

Familiar,
re-purposed,
re-visited,
re-worked and
re-booted are the true order of the day; everything else is aspirational, pseudo-intellectual hogwash.

Concept cars always look great and exciting but you can't get a week's shopping for a family of 7 in to one of them; this similarly applies to the "groundbreaking"/"revolutionary" Magic Maze - the box is too small, you see, and the condensation from the refrigerated goods always makes the cardboard soggy.

I seem to have wandered off the point, somewhat, so rage hard in the comments section then go about your business. Thanks.

*a friend and I wrote a version of this on his Dad's Commodore Pet 80 (in 1980, oddly), printed it all off and typed it in to the school's Pet 40. It never ran properly after that, so we just went on to the playing fields for 30-a-side football.
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Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:20 am
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The Rodeo to Damascas

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Another curio from the travels of Phileas Boydell; this time it's a jigsaw - well, actually, it's FOUR jigsaws with very similar (but not the same) pictures of rodeos - that are all mushed together and the pieces then dealt out to each player.



Build your jigsaw then, in a sort of PIT meets 7 WONDERS drafting/passing frenzy, one swaps the useless bits for similarly (to the others) useless bits.



If you finish your jigsaw first - so it matches the image on the inside of your Dungeon Master-style player shield - then you are declared the winner! Everyone else grumbles on while you go and sort out the tea and crumpets.



Two quid this cost me - this oddity from the mid 1970s - and I feel that I should be able to do something with this rather splendid premise to bring it in to the 21st gaming century: cue the SdJ 2018!

#iwish #itprobablyhasafatpatent #theydidthatwithgamesbackthen
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Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:15 am
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"We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots"

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:24 pm
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Consolation Schmonsolation

Anthony Boydell
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Spare a thought for those designers and publishers that were nominated for the SdJ but simply rolled in as runners-up. Not for them the glorious celebrations and dancing-in-between-the-seats on announcement day nor the much-dreamed of spike in sales that will see them transformed as an entity. Not for them the giant, themed booths at Essen Spiel or the fountain of praise (sparkling, fresh water) and admonishment (rusty brown and tangy) in the geek forums. Instead, the shaking head and the what might have beens. Ah, well.

Did you know, for instance, that the designer of 1987s also-ran My Monkey Is On Fire was so disenchanted he spent the next 25 years tracking down all of the copies sold, bought them back and then buried them in a landfill site?! In 2000, the horribly-overconfident publishers of the year's third-placer Würfel Zäpfchen (trans. "Dice in the Pipe") had to print 25,000 cardboard sleeves to make it look like a copy of Torres in the hope they could offload their over-printed stock. In 2007, a Reiner Knizia lookalike streaked across the stage - during the handing over of the giant dobber - in a protest against battery chicken farming or something or other. And we ALL remember what Stefan Feld had to put up with in 2013, don't we (it was three months before he could put on a hat)?!

So, while Bruno Cathala (above) takes a well-earned champagne bath - and Blue Orange Games talk to their financial advisors as to how to offload the forthcoming avalanche of cash against tax - just remember that the Ravensburger offices will be filled (to ear-puncturing volume) with weeping and the folks what done Magic Maze will be angrily - but non-verbally - hammering their big wooden knobs on the trestle tables until they splinter.

It's cruel, I know, but that's what we all signed up for I'm afraid #themsthebreaks
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Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:25 am
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