I'm noticing it more and more, recently: folks commenting - in person and online - about how, out of the blue and unawares, they have suddenly felt overwhelmed; ranging from a wobbly tum or a sad reflection to fully-formed anxiety attacks and deep grief - nought to sixty - in a fraction of a second...and then it's gone again.
I am trying to remember - with no little difficulty - if the Past felt any different - any less chaotic - than the years since the 2016; I think that they did, but not because the news wasn't always so depressing or concerning or important (it was - this is the natural state of a planet of 7 billion people). No, I believe the one thing that cements the horror and the panic is that we're dealing with the same Actors in this long-playing drama: whatever the catastrophe, whatever the tragedy or travesty, it's the same damn people grinning down the lens.
A black woman gets shot while asleep in her home, or a black man's windpipe is crushed in full view and you're just a couple of lily-pad hops to the gurning, lurching Cheetoh-in-Chief. Fancy spaffing £100 million on carbon-lock tech while every theatre in the country spirals down the business toilet? Pull back the curtain and - Presto! - the Charlie Corolli of posh-boy politicking bluffles and bloviates his ignorance/full support/gape-mouthed confusion (delete as applicable). Sailing, serenely and lizard-lipped, through the whole dumpster fire is Vlad the Man's Man: bare-chested and riding in to fabulous SuperMachiavellivision shot like Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia...
Off-shore tax havens; children in cages; "Stay Alert"; paedophile Princes; "do as I say, not as I do!"; xenophobia; "the Will of the People"; "...many people say..."; food banks in the 21st century; currency-shorting; Nazi salutes in front of Churchill statues; a fully-formed, actually-happening-to-us-right-now-and-not-just-in-a-movie Pandemic.
For my own part, I was searching the drawers for a tee-shirt this morning and found my passport - purple and emblazoned with 'European Union', in gold, across the top*. In March, I was sat at my 'hot desk' in the Aldersgate 200 building gazing over at The Museum Of London and planning my Leiriacon itinerary - a little over a week-and-a-half away at the time; by the end of the same week, my daughter - Daisy - was self-isolating (after showing flu-like symptoms) and I've not been in the Capital (or out of the County) since. I recall speaking to my dear pal Rob on his birthday weekend (almost 10 years ago now) and being told, by his parents, two weeks later, that he had passed away - the fucking SPEED of it!..news that has been all-too-similar for 60,000+ families and friends in just the last three months.
Is it any wonder, then, given the Abyssal fecundity of the Spring of 2020, that we find ourselves ambushed by reality checks? It's more important than ever that we keep our eyes open to these lightning strikes in others, as well as ourselves; your mileage may vary, of course, but we're all - undoubtedly, indisputably - functioning at a heightened level of stress.
It is the last straw that breaks the camel's back and, at the moment, it's raining fucking straw.
*this is not a euphemism for my knob
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
Archive for Tony Boydell
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It's official: I am Patron to an Artist...as if I needed another excuse to waltz about in a frock coat and a fake cig-in-a-holder, flicking my head back (as if suffering a whiplash twitch) and calling everyone "Daaaaaaahling!!!".
Like Charles Saatchi - but without the wife-throttling bit - I can rest easy of a night knowing that there's an independent creative talent able to flower his visions upon the World without recourse to Food Banks or 'model agency shoots' he might layer regret! Okay, so a (small) fist of Australian dollars isn't going to pay Kiwi Tim Molloy's mortgage, but it does wash in to the wider stream of monthly supportive funding so he doesn't have to become a "Project Manager" or someone in HR to pay the bills instead.
It will be no surprise to note that Tim's work has a definite Moebius vibe - as does the Lux Aeterna art from cousin-in-law Mr Alex Lee. I'm a sucker for colourful alien dreamscapes, monsters, intricate machines and mostly-naked cartoon women:
Set in a idyllic paradise, Tim's current Period places smoking 'tourists' in the company of 'emissaries': the beach, the forests and in the middle of strange beastly parades.
As a Patron of my level, Tim sends me a unique postcard painting each month; so far, my collection comprises the following:
If you'd like to see more of Tim's work and - if you're FAST - grab yourself one of his bijou, hand-painted pictures, why not visit his website (above) or subscribe to his Instagram feed:
P.S. Talking of great Antipodeans, I heartily recommend watching another Tim - Minchin - in the superlative black comedy Upright:
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Two so-called 'friends' are conspiring to remove all spare cash from my pocket by sending me links to this and that and the other; if it's not Richard and a variety of excellent, essential books, it's Phil Dennis and some vintage products that either he has already (most likely) or isn't particularly interested in.
Phil, you see, curates his collection of vintage games and has nurtured great discipline over the years. Me? Well, I'm at the "Wow! that looks so cool so I'll have it!" stage; a withering space for storage may temper this addiction but, perhaps, the exit of several children to "places of their own" may just exacerbate it!
The most recent of Mr D's recommendations was a select of Chad Valley 1900s games that I lost out to in an online auction despite auto-bidding the selling price:
However, the one prior to that I managed to bag and immensely pleased I am too:
This is a roll-and-move affair but - great scott! - what a beautiful arrangement!
Battered and bruised
I _did_ find another part-copy on eBay this week but the bidding went from a sedate £5-£10 up to the £50 mark in the last 30 seconds (!) - thankfully, I backed away from the frenzy with a cool head.
So, without lamenting what I could've had, let's enjoy what I actually got:
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Global warming seems to have pushed the meteorological concept of April Showers in to mid-June, so a week of hotness rounded out - on Sunday - with glowing warmth cycling in to gusty drizzle in to five minute drenches and back to glowing warmth; fortunately, Mrs B and Arthur and Ziggy and me had light coats and a dense forest to wander through in the PM. Queens' Woods, near Dymock, on the border between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, is a favourite area to lose oneself and a couple of hours; indeed, our Holy Day excursion took us to an entirely new section of the woodland along a baked, twisty-turny tunnel-of-tree-trunks path:
Even though the Heavens opened on a couple of occasions, the dense canopy kept most of it off.
Shafts of golden light spotlighting the humus; be-fungused roots a trip hazard - all giving a Mirkwood vibe.
The last sludged remains of a forest pool; come Autumn, this will be a cold mirror to the grumbling sky:
With the help of the iPhone's compass app, we headed hard-East to the car park and, thence, home for a cup of delicious tea.
Later in the evening - nursing a bowl of re-heated, home-made curry - I signed in to Tabletopia and Zoom for a first go at pal Nick Case's* new prototype: Pilgrim
In summary: the central mancala mechanism lets players seed the pointed Duty (action) tiles with their meeples and then choose one Duty - in which they have a presence - to execute: a majority for you gifts TWO instances of the action, parity (a 'level with someone else' majority) gifts ONE and a minority gifts ONE at a cost of one coin. The actions get you more peeps (serfs) in to the game, let you build roads and shrines to pilgrimage sites (worth LOTS of points), increase your piety, produce resources (wheat, stone), build booster buildings (except the useless fucking BARN) and give Alms to the needy (for end-of-Season scoring boosts). All in all, it's a sumptuous soup of interlocking mechanisms and opportunities for both scoring and screwage - and not nearly as complicated to learn/follow as you might think. In short, like TotN before it, Pilgrim is a heavy gamers' game with much to explore and plenty of time to explore it!
I came last - but only by one point - and now that I know what's going on, here's hoping I can make a better
fistpraying palms of it next time. A rather lovely Sunday, then: restful, scenic and rounded off with some cerebral exercise.
Amen to that.
*see also Tales of the Northlands: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog, Nimbee and The Front Nine
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Edit: Today it’s just a shit joke rather than a pun. T-Rexes have tiny arms...R.I.P the ‘joke’
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My little bro has been "stuck" in Australia for the duration of the lockdown with his fiancé Aki. Aki's mother passed away and both had met up in Oz - Aki currently lives in Japan, Stuart in West Wales - to sort out her affairs. On Friday, Stu reached 49 years:
My little brother who, while I reclined on the familial sofa in the late 70s to watch Swap Shop or World of Sport (for the 'wrestling'), would sneak up and fart in my face and run away with a merry cry of "Smell THAT!".
My little brother who roadied, occasionally, for Carter USM and cut his face open on a collapsing half-pipe on a 1980s Christmas Eve.
My little brother who makes ukuleles and guitars and furniture, has a degree in Quantity Surveying and taught Italian Cookery at a South Wales college: you thought that I covered a lot of ground in the average day?! Well, dear reader, I present Stuart 'Boydellini' Boydell. Stuart was conceived shortly after my mother had suffered an ectopic pregancy and there was much mooting that his own gestation would come to naught; of course I am delighted - despite the childhood guff attacks - that the kind, gentle, softly-spoken and talented fellow made it through to the real World.
For the rest of the day, the failing battery in my Macbook needed regular 'ice pack' cooling as Teams and Skype sucked the life out of it; come the evening - and a brief respite for the chippy supper - it was wheezing again to support BoardGameArena and Yucata japes avec les Batesons:
Three brisk iterations of the entirely wonderful Innovation (2 to me and 1 to Smudge) was followed by an aborted boiteajeux.net 'Gric - because Boffo remembered that Troyes was also available on BGA:
I love this game and don't play it nearly often enough; consequently, the first round is me remembering what the Hell I am supposed to do...which puts me the round (and about 5VPs) behind everyone else. I made a brave fist of abusing the military (Archers) and scooping a generous hand of Event cards but failed to hit my hidden goal 6VPs by a couple of coins. All told, this is still a brilliant piece of work; I wonder how different Black Angel is? Can anyone inform?
We closed at 2130HRS after a speedy, banter-fuelled The Downfall of Pompeii; my own trio of '4' building cards and a generous helping of drawn Omens had me 50% more peeps on the board come the eruption - it should be no surprise, then, that I managed to get the most people to safety:
With a healthy suite of games played and it still light outside, Mrs B and I settled down to watch Ocean's 8: a crime caper (fifth in the series?!) admirable for its extensive female cast but risible for the stale, slack-paced, clichéd and clumsy storytelling. Still, the company was great so much else can be forgiven.
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Fleet Street caught my eye - and my wallet to the tune of a tenner* - purely because of the way it looked: I was immediately struck by the presentation - functional but design-y, wittily jarring (the 'newspapers' - course - vs the 'magazines' - colourful and elegant) and an absolute snapshot of its Time (the 1920s):
Rules-wise, this is a cut-down version of Pit - and who doesn't love bit of noisy, shower-of-cardboard argy-bargy every now and again?
...contrasted by the flimsy, wallpaper texture of the cards themselves. This is not a 'sturdy' product so it's all-the-more delightful to find a copy in one piece.
*(in case you're wondering, I recently purged a view modern items from my shelves to fund these more worthy treasures)
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Waaay back in the mists of Time - almost a million BGG image uploads ago now - I hosted a gaming weekend and it was attended by everyone's favourite wheezy games club host (Boffo Bateson) and my arch MTG nemesis and all-oval good egg Mr Matt Green.
We constructed a series of train games using nowt but matches and some paper and this became FIREBOX:
In a fit of generosity, I offered to provide some FIREBOX copies to generous donors to the Ugandan Chrysalis project as thanks for their well-needed cash. And then time passed.
And then MORE time passed.
And then we had to get ready for Spiel'19.
And then we had The March of Progress and The Ming Voyages kickstarter.
And then Covid-19.
So now, naturally, those benefactors are worried their tiny bundles of inflammatory joy are going the way of the Kingdom: Death Monster crowdfunder...or - qu'elle horreur! - Up Front.
Fear not, Ben (the other one) and fear not most worshipful backers for progress is almost imperceptibly-slow but progress nonetheless:
I have huge bags of non-ignitable matchsticks, dice and train-eeples in the Shed and we are trying to source someone to print all the paperwork (see above); then it won't take long to hand-assemble to bits and everyone will be happy!
Good things come to she who waits...just as long as Tony pulls him thumbs out of his ass, eh?!
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25 Jun 2020
Charity Raffle alert!
My good friend Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules! is running a charity raffle this weekend to support the Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network - you know: that Uganda thing I keep getting my knickers in a twist about?!
Well, proceeds from the raffle will support the work the charity is doing and you get to (possibly) win board game related prizes!
What could be better than that?*Details are here:
*apart from a guaranteed win, natch; but if you buy enough tickets, then...
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Me and one of my favourite ever Germans, Mr Ulrich Blennemann, chew the fat:
(Uli is very quiet - uncharacteristically - in this one)
Here's fun: how many times do I side-eye my live 'room next door' stream from Dominic Cummings?
I do miss my European friends so very much.
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