Today sees one of those 'Tony is travelling' posts: something brief to tie you over for another day.
As it happens, I'm travelling to make one last delivery on behalf of Surprised Stare Games. These are the requisite, company-funded exhibition bits-and-pieces (sack truck, posters, 20th anniversary cloth bags) - and a few dribbles of stock - that have normally resided Chez Boydell between shows:
Today (a Thursday in early July) is the first sensible opportunity Alan and I have had to meet up and perform this last physical and symbolic handover of SSG responsibilities: we shall conduct this solemn ceremony in the car park of a Banbury Starbucks (almost exactly half-way between our domiciles). This shall also be the first time I've seen Alan in person since the parting of ways and, given we've both been fully-vaccinated, I look forward to giving the splendid fellow a manly hug.
Blimey - the shed's gotten a bit dusty and now I've got grit in my eye.
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
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Tuesdays come around quick (with Friday sure to follow): it's time for games and gaming at the Tuffley Community Centre. An impromptu chat with Tom last week, while packing Scythe away, brought up Cyclades and how very fine we both thought it was: an area control Euro dressed up as dudes on a map "-trash". Tom duly lugged his copy over for the evening (we being on a promise) - and were joined by Ian and Nick:
Despite horns of plenty a-plenty to boost my roundly income, it was Ian who subsisted better - even bounced down to just the one island in the early game - with a collection of discounting Priests that would put the Catholic Church to shame. Tom was first up with a Metropolis followed by myself - too close to an envy-eyed Ian - while Nick quietly pottered about in the calmer waters of the Aegean avoiding my burbling Kraken. As curiously prophesied during the rules teach, the Pegasus monster card proved pivotal in letting Ian drop his army onto Tom's stone-throwing devil-protected City for the win despite our best efforts to get it shuffled out of the discard pile into the main deck and, thus, make it MUCH harder to retrieve.
To cleanse the palette in anticipation of the other table nearly having finished the monstrous eye-vomit that is Hadrian's Wall (a 'flip and write', apparently; call it, casually, a 'roll and write' and wait one microsecond for the entire table to 'correct' you in chorus!), I waggled the literal dice chucker that is Mondrian: The Dice Game under my fellows' noses. Tom rather ran away with this - despite having to ditch three cards in final scoring 'levelling'; to be honest, I'd have had more chance at getting a die to land on a useful card if I'd walked into the Warhammer 40000 hall and just lobbed polyhedra over my shoulder, blind.
Coincident to the ending of my artistic travails, the 60 minute 'roll and write' had come to an end after two hours freeing up Mark to join is for the gloriously unfriendly Senators.
I fear that Mark may well have preferred to remain with his scribbling buddies because he had the most miserable, 'no cash'/'everyone is picking on me' Senators experience ie. a perfectly normal Senators experience! After some nipping and tucking, the fourth War found Ian ahead by the one with Tom and I chewing at his be-sandled heels: what a bloody triumph this game is...and everyone at the table agreed.
And talking of triumphs - our closing Deep Sea Adventure netted me my first scoring tile ever:
Departure coincided with news of Italy's penalty win against Spain so the perfect end to a perfect evening of gaming.
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Thematically-serendipitous (sort-of) with the new book I've just started (The Murdstone Trilogy), something old and gorgeous and fantastical arrived for the Museum:
The sharp-eyed will note that The Prince's Quest is in the Glevum Series and is of "British Manufacture" which points to it, squarely, as being a Glevum Games product: local boys that they were. I have only the board, though; leading to a quest (of my own) to find a complete copy at some point in the future. Not that there's any particular hurry; I have more than enough stuff to fill the museum premises (for now) and, looking at the BGG page, it's the board that is the most beautiful bit of the package:
Zooming in a little, watch out for the hedge of roses as you're about to happen upon your true love:
Or, perhaps, stop to chat with the talking dog?
Or gaze upon a wonderful horse?!
Or just let the eye wander slowly along the 200 step path and enjoy the journey.
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The garden strimmer broke last Summer so it's a bit of pain getting right into the nooks and crannies of the garden; thus, I turn to the plight of the Bees to save me from unnecessary horticultural labours ie. you've got to let those flowering weeds succeed for the sake of our Anthophilian pals!
I admit that letting a few old pallets - and a wingback armchair - weather away gives a rather poetic "Nature reclaims" vibe to that edge of the garden - shielded, as it is now, from the irate complaints of our curmedgeonly neighbours: think Roald Dahl's The Twits and that's the kind of elderly couple we're dealing with!
Talking of 'twits', Friday marked the first chance for the liquid metal core of the Ross-on-Wye boardgamers to gather again in one place thanks to
a) the very nice weather;
b) it was a Governmentally-compliant 'six'; and,
b) whole armfuls of appropriate vaccinations had been received.
Sixteen months have been kind to the curtilage of the Batesons' home as it's kept them close and very busy taming the landscape; we opened proceedings with a couple of rounds of Molkky on the custom-mown pitch (see above). The rolling curves of this devious arena played havoc with the bounce of the 'Molkky' and, at times (because Dave is a throwing beast) the safety of Becky's nearby Greenhouse. However, it would be style that won over brute force: Becky wiping the overgrown path with the rest of us.
Inside, then, for a series of suitable with 6: why would you split things up so soon after they'd come together?! There could not have been anything else more appropriate than one of the Club's 5Gs 4D in the now-thematically-tricky Chinatown; by the manscaped nether regions of John the Baptist, but it was a triumphant exercise in cheek, compromise, blustering intransigence and (Covid-ly awkward) belly laughs. A close examination of the final 'city' shows a charming propensity for 'joint ventures' rather than belligerent isolationism and the final scores ranged for a respectable 650 thousand through to Jobbers' magnificent 1.05 million.
With the scent of a Summer's evening burnt tire stinging our nostrils - there is a speedy road not very far from Chez Bateson - two rounds of 7 Wonders were followed by a third (with the 7 Blunders rules): Ian scoring almost double his score from the second in the last.
"You should've played your normal game." japed Boffo but, TBH, we were all thinking it.
Two teams coagulated for the party closer: Wavelength. Fun though this is, it's no Codenames (which was my proposal for an ending); as if to reinforce the minor anti-climax, most of the ratchetting 'spins' ended up as 'mostly to the right': no subtle clues worked. Perhaps the only controversial moment was Becky - faced with a third/two-thirds split toward the left picking "Donald Trump" as our team's clue for "Worst Human Being"...by her reckoning, there are two billion people on the planet worse than him: really, Smudge - REALLY?!?!
These, truly, are the moments we live for.
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Soon it will be holiday time and, should one be fortunate enough to be allowed to venture further than the curtilage of one's back garden, might I recommend some Summer reading?
XX by Rian Hughes (sci-fi, fantasy) - 'The Matrix' meets 'Close Encounters' with a splash of Titus Groan for good measure. This is a hefty tome but reads addictively-quickly.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910, 1969 and 2009 (graphic novel) - bonkers mash-up of sci-fi, horror and fantasy with enough literary and filmic references to keep old folks like me happy:a Where's Wally? for geek polymaths.
Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu (fable) - what REALLY happened 65 million years ago.
Love on a Branch Line by John Hadfield (farce) - a joyous romp through 1950s provincial England.
Ramblebook by Adam Buxton (autobiography) - the life and career of one of my favourite comedians and podcasters.
The Axiom Trilogy (so far) by Tim Pratt (sci-fi) - pulpy, but very readable, space opera; bounces along merrily.
Electra Assassin by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz (sci-fi, ninjas) - a perennial favourite and true graphic novel classic: The Omen meets Kill Bill.
There: that should be enough for now...
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News! Progress! Doggy-dumps!
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I always get the timings wrong when picking up Adam and Fred for Tuesday night games in Glos; it stems from first forays (last year) that needed to factor in 30 mins to fetch - and consume - a takeaway supper of some stripe. Given I'm trying to remain on a healthy eating kick*, scoffing before I - and they - leave the house is to be encouraged. Anyhoo: justly fed, we still rocked up at the Community Centre - a squat, Brutalist-on-a-budget 1970s construction afterthought - with 45 mins to spare(!). Fortunately, the exciting footballs were on to pass the time away until the real gaming could begin.
As you may have noted in recent posts, I am un-enamored of the England footballing experience: a tendency toward sluggishness, lack of imagination and low self-esteem. Watching ten minutes of Chuckle brothers' "to me, to you" while nursing a pint of warm cola wasn't doing anything to change my opinion until England scored a goal: simultaneously, I was delighted that they produced a fabulous little set piece from the boredom but also utterly-horrified at the ridiculous cacophony coming from the CommCentre bar. It sounded rather like there was a throat-shredding contest going on: who could howl their oesophagus onto the circular table - and into their 'jug of ale' - the quickest. When the second goal went in (Kane, emerging from his goalless state of fluffery-buffery) and the TV camera cut to a weeping, German child in the crowd, the guttural gymnastics changed to jeering laughter: evidently, it's not the England team that I despise, it's their bloody "supporters"! Football is not War but, sadly, this pathetic little tin-pot nation still likes to wank onto its figurative Ration book. Hairless heir to the throne Prince William was also on hand to punch the sky and applaud magnanimously - thank the good Christ - lending the whole affair that much needed Empire vibe. Anyway...despite a far-reduced gamer turnout after the busy weekend, we managed to spin up two tables for some solid dobbershovin'.
Be-stubbled Tom had promised big-bearded Andy a teach of Scythe and, thus, was it to be for myself and beardless Mark too:
A curious affair that panned out in quite the not-previously-seen manner; I found myself quickly assailed by an aggressive Tom (rightly so: I was sat there with a couple of resources and an Encounter token) and his charismatic Mechs (meaning he can attack me and send my workers home without losing Popularity). It also didn't help that I'd Lake-walked my way to the Factory for first dibs on an extra Action card.
While Mark pushed quietly - but insistently - forward (and Andy got to grips with timing top and bottom actions), Tom kept my workers huddled on their Home space unable to get out into the fields and actually produce stuff; should they dare to emerge, blinking, into the misty morning a Mech would rattle off a few rounds and send them scurrying back! Mercifully, I'd manufactured all of my own steel leviathans, so I had some means of titting about in the landscape.
Of all the weirdness that transpired, however, it was - perhaps - Andy's approach to combat that confused and entertained in equal measure: replete with combat cards, the most Power and the ability to rob a combat card prior to engaging, his actual bidding was the behaviour of a lunatic: winning his first battle with a power bid of ZERO and a '2' card (!), winning his second with harsh language and a fistful of air. Not in all my games have I seen such military skinflint-ery be so successful. Add, to this cautious-but-victorious strategy, Andy's barefaced brainmental negotiating skills:
Andy: "Tony! I'd like to attack Tom - thus gaining myself both a Star and an extra Hex - so will you pay me those (he points) resources?"
Andy: "Pay me those resources to attack Tom..."
Tony: "But those are the ONLY resources I've got...what with my population currently sharing bodily-warmth and home-brewed vodka - thanks to Tom - in a Gulag somewhere?!"
Andy: "Is it a deal?"
Tony: (speechless with indignation)
Andy: "That's a 'No' then, yeah?"
Thus died any possibility of an hairy alliance. TBH, it all got a bit ugly after that: cheeky, tunnel-popping incursions, opportunistic raids on Tom's rear, a brace of punch-ups at the factory and so on. When the dust had settled, my pond-dwelling robots and six stars carried me comfortably to a score of 58 and Victory! Encounters - and the 'Trade' action - providing just the right amount of materials when my workers had been so despicably-hounded into non-utility!
There was still some Star Trek Panic occurring, so a long-promised demo of my Tickets Please! prototype ensued (at Tom's insistence):
We closed with a number-based card game filler - the name of which I forget - that reminded me a bit of The Game and 6 nimmt!:
Cards are played out, simultaneously, to see who's closest to the current scoring card and can retain it for final 'chilli' scoring. If you play a value in a 'safe range' (which changes round-to-round), you're ok but - if not - you must draw more cards. Round ends for scoring acquired chillis when someone's hand is empty or the deck has run out. It was okay but I think I'd rather play 6 nimmt!.
Tuesday night's alright for fightin', it seems!
*gods damn you to Hell, delicious cheese!
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I nabbed a mixed bag of 1950s parlour games from a charity shop's eBay storefront and they arrived, neatly-packed. There was a blue box/red letter edition of Railway Riot among them: one more copy for the spares/possible retail box, I thought, until a cursory content check revealed TWO copies of the game. And not just two copies but two different route sets from the same, common starting stations: wha-aa-aat?! Here's me - all along - assuming that they'd hit on the routes for the first edition and just reprinted subsequent editions from that: oh no - somewhere along the line they re-pointed the station stops and the timed transitions:
Pulling the huge box of 'Category: Race to find' items from the shelf, I noted three distinct Journeys in all:
Journey A: The 'First' & 'Small, White Box' editions.
Journey B: Yellow box, Blue box/Red Letter and Red Box/Blue Letter editions.
Journey C: The Australian edition (entirely different stations altogether - naturally).
A lovely bit of detective business, then, for a rainy workday morning? Hold on, though, because also in the charity package 'double copy', were a couple 'Station Platform Weighing Machine' tickets. Evidently, a ha'penny deposit earned you a reasonably-accurate weight measurement and a collectable stub from of a possible set of 24. I can only assume that the reason I have the two is that one may have been intended as 'swap' stock for stubs not yet acquired?
Doing a bit of internets browsing, it seems that 6st 5lbs (89lbs) is about the average weight of a 13 year old back then: just the right profile for a keen ferroequinologist and collector!
Altogether, quite the corking little diversion that adds just a teensy bit more information for my history book.
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Occasionally, I like to talk with folks outside of the Forest of Dean about games and gaming and, heaven knows, how we've been starved of international contact: two Leiriacon, a Bastion*, an Expo and a Spiel. Podcasts to the rescue, then; you're just a series of echoing Skype chimes away from foreign accents** and new friends!
Cue a welcome invitation from Royce Calverley and Aaron Milic at:
Definitely a Board Game Podcast
As per usual, I love a good chat and both gentlemen are kind, patient and accommodating hosts; thankfully, it's audio-only so you're spared my near-constant gesticulation. This is what happens when you wheel an old man out of the Care Home, into the sunshine, for an hour!
*Wales counts as pseudo Inter-
**A and R certainly "try on" a few accents for size in this episode!
Deffo A BG Poddy
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