As if to herald the import of the day and guide me through it with joy, warmth and sense of ‘everything will be ok, the sun came out in Berkshire and all was right with the world.
A useful 2/3rds day of work was followed by a couple of hours of ‘free play’ time, so I popped into a nearby cinema and caught ‘SOURCE CODE’, the latest from Jake Gyllenhaal and Director Duncan Jones. As an enormous fan of the moody, melancholy sci-fi poem that is MOON, I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed: Groundhog Day meets 12 Monkeys! It was fantastic – and all those other versions of me in an infinite multiverse enjoyed it immensely too.
Come the evening, Richard and myself repaired to Carl’s dining room with the ever-attendant Ray and Iain, for a long-promised (but previously-thwarted) Agricola session! First, however, I had to overcome the worrisome, blank gazes of some of High Wycombe’s finest ‘yoot’ as I parked my car in the leafy residential street – there are few things more disconcerting than a ‘posse’* of threatening kidults giving you the once over – I felt like I was being MRI-ed for mobile devices and credit cards. Oh to be young again…
Ray had been overcome this week by a surfeit of good ideas and had come bearing our supper: a large bag of oven chips and ten delicious pies bought from Reading’s finest purveyor of pastry-encased sweetmeats: Sweeney Todds.
In order to ensure we all had a fair choice, we decided to initiate a ‘pie draft’ – each player, in rotation, selecting ONE comestible and passing left. It was a tense affair, do I take the Duck & Apricot or hate the Venison & Boar from Iain? Is it better to be mono, or two-flavour? Here’s how we ended up:
Iain: Venison & Boar + Steak & Ale (“Meaty Beats”**)
Carl: Steak & Ale + Steak & Ale (“Mono-Steak”)
Richard: Venison & Boar + Sweeney’s Special (“The Game Barber”)
Ray: Five Nations + Vicars Favourite (“Rugby Cleric”), and
Tony: Venison & Boar + Duck & Apricot (“the Birds and the Beasts”)
As it turned out, the pies were delicious and it was Agricola that left a bad taste in the mouth. Much merriment was promised as we laid out the boards, the –eeples, the Agricola X-Deck, the Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest-Deck et al – there may have even been ‘giggling’ and ‘ banter’.
Things got off to a shaky start after the first Harvest when I took 2 Stone at the Stage 2 Quarry and drew ‘Rebel’ from the X deck – this meant I dropped from two family members to one (for action placement purposes). Not a terrible situation to be in as all I needed to do was build a room and grow (not a big problem in the 5-player)…that is, until I took three wood and drew ‘All Your Wood Are Belong To Us’ from the Fairy deck and I was staring down the barrel of one action per Round for the rest of the game!
Compounding this issue was Carl’s aggressive propensity to grab Starting Player at every opportunity – mainly because he gets seriously paranoid about us taking the actions he wants (because we DO)! I say this compounded the issue because on Round 5 he took four wood and revealed 'Lady Of The Sea' – this meant he would be Start Player for the rest of the game unless 'Lady Of The Sea' came out again…
…I am sat to Carl’s right…
…I have ONE action per round and I’m going to go LAST in every round…
Someone needed to keep an eye on the chips as they cooked: given I would have little to do over the next 90 minutes, it fell to me to oversee the baking - just not in the way I had originally foreseen at the start of this god-forsaken session!
Sneakily, I used the Winter action on the Through The Seasons board to get a second family member (Round 9) and began to salvage some kind of farmyard from the wreckage. I collected wood, without any further damage from the stupid bloody Legend*airy expansion, and was about to build a third room (again!) when Richard took Stone, drew ‘Beam Me Down, Welshie’ from the X-Deck and took all of our next turns for us; he put me on Fences, thus forcing me to ‘spend’ my room wood in favour of a couple of bloody pastures!
Game end saw Iain romping away with 50pts (courtesy of being 2nd for most of the game), Ray in second with 48 (he should’ve won – he was working the hardest, and in the most ‘traditional’ manner), Richard with 43 (a 7 room stone house with some pigs and cows – a proper Adobe on his Wild West board), Carl pulling in 4th with 39 (stealing the Stone Oven that should’ve come to ME) and me trailing waaaaay behind, on 27 with 2 family members, Luke bleedin’ Skywalker and a trio of Fairies dancing around my board (a little too joyously for my liking):
I let that lot pack everything up – after all, I was a glorified witness in a 4 player game. On the bright side, I’m quite pleased I managed to salvage 27 points from the relentless testicle-kicking that this game seemed to serve – and we won’t play with these decks again for a LONG time and, when all is said and done, it’s still a game of Agricola for which I am always, always grateful!
We rounded off the evening with Acquire – my first ever play of this throwback – and I enjoyed it very much. It’s retro-look belied it’s area-control strategies – one to play again in the near future.
I believe the venerable Bard was correct when he said: 'Bollocks'.
*Cowboy is captured by Red Indians and buried in the desert soil on the outskirts of the village. His horse is tethered near-by, spoils of his capture, but it is an intelligent horse: the equine equivalent of Lassie! The cowboy whistles and the horse shakes loose from its moorings and trots over to the beleaguered tobacco-chewer – it bends it head close to the ground and the cowboy whispers in its ear. The horse gallops off into the sunset. The next day, his captors are much enraged at a) the loss of the beast and b) the ominous cloud of dust moving towards them on the horizon! There is the rumbling of many hooves, there is shouting and hollering and, within a few minutes, a host of horses rides into the village. The dust clears to reveal twenty young women, in loose-fitting clothing, carrying make-up valises and blankets. “No, you stupid horse”, shouts the cowboy, “I said: Go and fetch the POSSE!”
**this is an ancient Magic: The Gathering players’ sous entendu and its always nice to get them out for people to see rather than keeping them hidden***
***this is just a bad sous entendu
****this is a recursive note****
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
07 Apr 2011
- [+] Dice rolls
06 Apr 2011
If it's Tuesday, it must be Hemel Hempstead.
There was much muttering on my arrival about 'P.R disaster!' and 'You can't compare BGG to the Nazis', but this was quickly dispelled by my pointing at the window and shouting 'What the hell was that?'
I had decided to save my arm muscles this week by only taking the one game, rather than the 'crate of goodies unlikely to get played'(TM): the thinky, bright vegetable-fest that is Key Market. I've known it's author, Mr David Brain, for a fair-few years now - he is a regular attendee at the Paulls' open-house games weekends AND the more chin-strokey 'Designer Days' (there is one of those THIS WEEKEND!*)
We had two new players, one of whom would be dropped somewhat into the deep-end, plus myself and Richard. Phil (new) went for a high-Guild position strategy with the +2/+4/+6 Master position bonus, I went for retirement and money, Richard went for a more efficient Retirement and money strategy and Corinne had to hang on for dear life! It was a close finish: Richard 130, Phil 124, me 120 and Corinne 88. There is a lovely, rural (read: birdsong, hazey sun and baaa-ing sheep) atmosphere while playing this game; you're mulling over Guild progressions, movement and harvesting, what to take to market and what, if anything, to buy. It's a gentle, friendly game and one I want to play a lot more of. In my last conversation with Mr Breese, there were 10 or so copies STILL AVAILABLE - why not Geekmail him and see if you can grab a copy of this lush treasure?
Finally, after last weeks' disappointment, tonight bodes well for a 5pl Agricola (it's MY turn to choose) - we're playing a delayed April 1st variant using Agricola: Through the Seasons, Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest-Deck, Agricola X-Deck - should be a chaotic riot!
*For the Alan Paull fans amongst you, we will be getting a premiere play-test of ORIGINS OF CIVILISATION - his new 'big box', gamer game!
- [+] Dice rolls
05 Apr 2011
Knizia: (leaning back in his inflatable arm-chair, sipping at some amber nectar) Ahh.. Very passable, this, very passable.
Wallace: Nothing like a pint of foaming Irn Bru, eh Klaus?
Teuber: You're right there, Martin – aye!
Bauza: Who'd a thought, fifteen year ago, we'd all be sittin' here designing board-games and reaping critical acclaim, eh?
Knizia: Aye. In them days, we'd a' been glad to have a letter published in’t Spielbox
Wallace: …or a passing mention on rec.games.misc
Teuber: …with our names mis-spelt…
Bauza: …or not mentioned at all…
Knizia: …not even in our own heads.
Wallace: We never used to have games published, as such. We used to have to pages of hand-written text on sheets of A4 handed out with small rocks.
Knizia: The best I could manage was old playing cards with wax crayoning drawn over the top.
Teuber: But you know, we were happy in those days, though we didn't have the Ludofact, Carta Mundi, Artscow and all those on-line resources we have nowadays.
Wallace: Aye. BECAUSE we didn't have those things! My old Dad used to say to me, "Fancy components won't bring you happiness."
Bauza: 'E was right. I was happier then and I sold my prototypes out of a plastic supermarket bag on street corners. We used to get together in an old Pub once a week, rip up beer-mats to make a draw deck, and try out new ideas.
Knizia: Pub? You were lucky to have a pub! We used to manufacture variations on the numbered card genre in a room above an abbatoir…during pig-slaughtering hour! We could barely hear play-tester feedback!
Wallace: You were lucky to have a ROOM! *We* used to have to play in a corridor!
Teuber: Ohhhh we used to DREAM of playing in a corridor! Woulda' been a palace (everyone sniggers) to us. We used to mock up evaluation copies in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We started every session by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! Pub!? Hmph.
Bauza: Well when I say "Pub" it was only a hole in the ground covered by a piece of tarpaulin, but it was a pub to US
Wallace: We were evicted from our hole in the ground. I had to assemble my export product while floating upside-down in a lake!
Knizia: You were lucky to have a LAKE! There were a hundred and sixty of us in a small wooden box in the middle of the road.
Bauza: Settlers of Catan collectors box?
Teuber: You were lucky! We ran a print & play business for three years in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to clean the bag on arrival, work for fourteen hours a day week in-week out, and when the design was finished, the distributor would thrash us, naked, around the car park with his belt!
Wallace: Luxury. Due to contractual commitments, we used to have to meet in the lake at three o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, play Monopoly for 72 hours straight, and the Head Games Scout from (EDITED) would slash our necks with a broken bottle…if we were LUCKY!
Knizia: Well we had it tough. We used to have to get to the collectors box at twelve o'clock at night, and pre-log rejection letters with our tongues. We designed twenty-four hours a day in exchange for a couple of painted meeples and then the boss would slice us in two with a bread knife.
Bauza: Right! We had to play with used toilet paper, with the names of the cards written in excrement, in the middle of the runway at Heathrow (and have to pay for the privilege), every day of our lives with no development support and no artwork. And when the Essen Spiel was over, our wives would kill us, the Spiel Des Jahres Jury would send them bottled urine, and they'd pour it over our graves singing 'Halleluljah'.
Wallace: But you try and tell up-coming designers that today...
Wallace: …and they won't believe you.
ALL: Nope, nope.
- [+] Dice rolls
05 Apr 2011
 Last week I uploaded some images to BoardGameGeek. They were promo stations for Paperclip Railways themed to various games and part of a sort of Easter Egg hunt.
 I uploaded them to various games (all were Surprised Stare Games games apart from a cheeky one for Agricola - mea culpa).
 They were all approved.
 That mythical beast, 'Someone', complained about none/one/all of the images, apparently.
 One of the BGG admins decided to
a) tell me off for doing it (despite point ) and
b) move all the images into the PCR page - thereby negating the 'fun hunt' element of the original uploads
 Following the fantasy first-of-April fun on Friday, it seems that some BGG admins display a disturbing lack of humour.
 They HAD previously approved them, you know?
 In a fit of pique, I have asked for the images to be removed.
Every day that jobs-worths and snitches continue to prosper, God weeps fresh tears of regret. Life's essence - that was denied the famine-starved, the drowned and the war-torn - has been bestowed, and nurtured, in the hard hearts of the witless.
The humorless, the prim, the priggish and the po-faced rule!
At first it's just messing about with your uploaded game images; it's a short step from that to arm-bands, bad anthems and Liza Minelli (previous content edited because it cast a bad light on National Socialists everywhere)
Be afraid! Be a little bit afraid!
Last night we played Power Grid: Brazil/Spain & Portugal and Glory to Rome, if you're interested. But don't let THEM hear about it - they'd probably delete your play history and send you a rude email to accompany it...or something.
- [+] Dice rolls
04 Apr 2011
Actors discuss their reviews - be they good or bad - but will often proclaim that it's better to read nothing at all! Avoid criticism from any direction, at all costs, and you will be happy (or something as near to it as butters at least a couple of parsnips).
For me, I cannot help but 'check out' the ratings and comments against my games on BGG (and when reviewed on 'other sites') and, true to the experience of the acting profession, I am overjoyed and dismayed in equal measure.
There follows a glimpse into my passive-aggressive world - this may well develop into a series.
What Tony Says:
Two player, shared-deck strategic card game with a medieval theme. It has a pseudo-CCG feel (but it's standalone) and is occasionally prone to one player landsliding the other. In my (extensive, 500+ games) experience, however, with players who know what they're doing the BETTER player will always win out. The original rule book is written in an atmospheric style, which (with hindsight) was a mistake - but the world of Coppertwaddle is a rich one:
What You Lot Say:
- 'What the Hell !!!!!!!!' (rated 1) - no questions, no further explanation. Every day's awakening must be a terrifying ordeal for this person.
- 'Poor replay value, but despite strong theme, never enjoyed this at all.' (rated 4) - poor replay value? I had a team of 12 Siebel developers playing this in a League over 4 months in 2003/2004 - they seemed to think there was SOME merit in playing beyond the first 'demo' game! *slaps hand to forehead* He ran the first proper M:TG club I attended - so much for a little encouragement to a 'fellow', eh?
- 'A game with some genuine class. The mechanics, the overload of terminology, and the inherently ridiculous unbalance to the game really do feel like they are centuries old. Some simple but effective card art is the clincher. It's far too luck-driven, though, and the card stock is some of the oddest material I've ever laid fingers upon. It'll probably never go for trade because it has something unique about it, and sadly that seems to be a quality increasingly lacking these days.' (rated 6.5) - now THIS is more like it...however, he's recently put it up for trade...
- 'Alright, so I'm biased but this is the game I have played the most of, excluding Magic: The Gathering, in my entire life. Leagues at home, leagues at work; the only thing missing is an on-line version so I can play across the world!' (rated 10) - excellent! Obviously a man of wealth and good taste! Hang on, that's one of mine...
- 'I thought it was dry and boring' (rating 4) I wish folks wouldn't dress up their opinions in fancy words - say as you see for goodness sake! The commenter is, of course, wildly wrong and should reconsider his 'tastes'.
- 'Here Ye! Here Ye! It has been proclaimed henceforth that he that draweth the best cards shall win.' (rating 3) - kinda true (see above). Let us consider who draws the first Witch in Dominion? Or who gets mana short or mana flooded in Magic: The Gathering...perhaps the bit about statements like this that narks me the most is that it implies no-one actually play-tested the game because we let such a simple, obvious flaw 'carry through'. We DID test it. A lot.
Hark! here comes the voice of reason!
- 'Took it on holiday and played it relentlessly. Seems to get better with more plays- the games certainly take longer once you realise that sloppy threlm placement can spell disaster. ' (rated 5) - this is NOT me, but an obvious gentlemen of high-values and discernment! Thanks, Matt old buddy! I owe you a pint!
However, despite the tirade of wrong-ended, cudgel-headed synapse mis-firings here-to-where-forth-with revealed, I am very pleased with 'the old CT' overall. After all, I have spent many happy hours uncovering my Th'relms, invading the odd Noble and using my hand to pleasurable effect.
- [+] Dice rolls
03 Apr 2011
Thus spake Arthur Frances Elwy Boydell, aged 3 years, youngest of the Boydell clan. He had eaten all the pastry off of his minced beef and onion pie (homemade by this author - and very tasty too, if I say so myself) and wanted to 'leave the table' - but, instead of using the normal phraseology, he cried out:
We're All Going To Die! I'm Getting Out Of Here!
...and went into the Sitting room to play with his cars.
This weekend sees the finalization process for the production of Paperclip Railways - spreadsheets have been tweaked, twiddled and manipulated. Orders will now be placed for cubes, boxes and (of course) coloured paperclips. The printing of the station cards will follow (via a friendly, local printer) but only after final layouts have been completed: this morning I was templating the wording on the stations for consistency and proof-reading v0_12 of the rule set!
This is an exciting time! It'll get even better once artwork is signed off (sounds official, but it's just me, Alan and Charlie saying 'Yeah - fine') and the components start arriving in dribs and drabs.
In the meantime, I've started seeding 'promo station' artwork around BGG (and other places) for PCR fans to print out and play with - happy hunting!
Here's an easy one:
- [+] Dice rolls
02 Apr 2011
Once again I am sending you a few lines from the 'front line' to let you know that the parcel arrived safely; while it's not normal for us, in the Trenches, to have much need of fine China dinner-wear and lithographs of Queen Victoria's favourite stools, we've gamely set them up in the corner of our dugout to remind us 'of those we have left behind'.
Time passes too slowly here, as we wait for the order to nobly headbutt shells in the name of King and country, but we manage to fill the empty hours with a few games.
Yesterday, for example, Boffo and Smudge popped by and we played that old farming classic, Agricola, which - suspiciously - seems to have been designed by 'the Bosch'; they may be hurling leaden death our way every twenty minutes, but they do have quite a knack for diverting pastimes! Perhaps, with Christmas coming, we might spend that Holy Day at peace - in No Mans Land - with an Ingenious or two or, dare I wish it, Age of Steam? Anyway, Boffo went grain-crazy without actually building a decent Oven to cook it, Smudge collected a fine agrarian spread - bits of this and that - while I managed to abuse a fishing bonus to buy early stone and reed. Learning from mistakes of a few weeks ago, my usual card-heavy bonus strategy was accompanied by a stone house, five family members and well-fenced plot. The resulting 41-34-29 victory, while sounding like a rather oddly-proportioned French prostitute, proved satisfyingly comprehensive.
Pausing briefly to put on our masks due to an imminent gas attack (damn that cabbage broth!), the 'chaps' gamely agreed to try a little something I've been working on (in the gaps between firearms drill and latrine digging): Ticket To Ride: Ivor the Engine. I'm still trying to work out where 'the game' should start, such that trying to beat it's final score is challenging but not impossible. Today we tried 25 which proved only slightly out-of-reach from my losing, highest score. Boffo suggested more routes on the map which, if I'm to remain faithful to the source material, CANNOT be rails but (instead) roads and donkey-paths.
As we were setting up our next, Finca, we received the order to evacuate - unfortunately, Johnners (in the next bunk) mis-understood this order and we ended up having to help him out of his soiled fatigues. Upon returning, much fruit was harvested and donkeys 'ridden'* in a pensive, more restrained game than the others that evening - perhaps it was 'this damn War', or just the enormous pork scratchings sitting heavily on our stomachs? Either way, Boffo stole a healthy 6 point victory because I failed to make an Ass of myself to sneak in that final delivery!
To end the evening, we played the uncannily-accurate simulation of European nobilty inter-breeding and familial progeneration: Familienbande. Ironically, I was chasing a victory for Ginger - I say 'ironically' because Ginger, of course, 'bought it' at the first Ypres** Anyway, I skillfully diverted everyone away from knowing my colour by asking 'What happens if the GAME characteristic wins - is it the highest scoring player?'; 'red hair' was beginning to stretch away at that point. In the post-match analysis, Boffo swears he knew I was 'ginge' all along, but that was obviously poppycock, bunkum, hog-wash and piffle...and flim-flam, languishing as he did 70 points behind in last place!
Some of us are born great, some of us aspire to greatness, and some of us get roundly whipped at Familienbande.
Much love to Father, the horses and (of course) Granny's remains,
Your loving son,
*it's a lonely life
**there was a second-hand stall there; he also picked up Stratego and a pipe in the shape of an elephant's penis
- [+] Dice rolls
31 Mar 2011
WHAT dire Offence from Gaming Causes springs,
What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things,
I sing -- This Verse to Raymond---, Muse! is due;
To Carl, To Richard Clyne, To Iain too:
Slight is the Subject, but not so the gripe,
Of dash-ed hopes, of Airlines and of ‘tripe’.
Say what strange Motive, Tony! could compel, O!
A gentle play’r t’assault his playing fellow?
And, say, what stranger Cause, yet unexplain’d,
Would make these chaps cause Tony so much pain?
And dwells such Rage in Boydell’s tender heart?
T’would rend this gathering in double part?
Sol thro' net Curtains set at end of day,
To find Ray, Carl and Iain in midst of play;
The whole day long Ray’s promise shone out bright:
‘It’s Farmers of the Moor we’ll play tonight!’
And all day long that contract filled the Soul
For Tony with excit’ment: Fair Agri-Cole!
He journeyed, musing ‘pon the Farming gem
His thoughts return’d again and ‘gain and ‘gain
Of reed for building, Clay for Cooking stations
Of food for feeding, stone for renovations
Of special actions requir’ing ne’er a piece
And piggy hide, cow leather and of fleece.
Forgetting not that homes need warming too
And getting wood is easier than we’re used-to
Alas, all hope was dash’d and ire inflamed
When R. and T. arrived to play that perfect game
For ‘tween the texts and e-mails of intent
Foul Raymond changed his mind – the rotten gent!
Instead of occupations, baking bread and all
The proposition switch’d to new Nightfall!
O! Wicked spite! O! Nauseous change of heart!
To pass o’er ‘Gric in fav’r of deck-building art?
The mood turn’d black, and thwarted Tony sat
In clouds of sulk, be-moaning this and that!
As play progress’d, and supp’r came and went
The games of Nightfall did not calm the gent
The games seemed random, uncontrolled and wild
And all the while T. steamed and rarely smiled.
In depths of woe, he spake his hard dissension
And claimed: ‘This games’ as shit as that Ascension!’
Two tests were play’d, two hours of evening passed
R. and T. could obviously not be arsed
‘Nightfall is not for me’ the Boydell spake
Now can we play another for FS?
With hours to play now numb’ring only one
Moon’s Airlines: Europe clos’d the evenings fun.
What dire Offence from Gaming Causes springs,
Get over it, Tony – it’s just one of those things!
- [+] Dice rolls
30 Mar 2011
Having struggled to wrestle my over-revving (and over-heating) motorbike out of the road-y madness that is London and it’s environs, I was immensely pleased that Carl was going to drive me to Hemel Hempstead for an evening of games playing.
Seventy five minutes I spent on a two-wheeler in heavy traffic (no gaps to sneak through) being cut up, left and right, by couriers, cyclists and pedestrians (FFS) – a general disregard for their own safety and that of folk around them – gave me a numb backside and a potty mouth.
Upon arrival, pie and chips became scoffed and the first stragglers began to arrive at the Grove Hill Community Hall – some for the dreaded Magic and others for the delights of the more cerebral arts (insert own jokes here).
Optimistically, I had brought made-up prototypes of Paperclip Railways (as always!) and Ticket to Ride: Ivor the Engine. Both ended up being played so I was quite 'chuffed' (bomp-tish!)
Game 1: Ticket To Ride – Ivor the Engine (Ian, Phil and me)
Ian, Phil and myself settled down to some memory lane choo-chooing while the others navigated their way through a first play of 7 Wonders.
TtR:ItE has the usual rules for drawing and ‘building’, a modified rule for tickets and (of course) a map related to the ‘top left hand corner of Wales’ operations of the Merioneth & Llantisilly Rail Traction Company Limited and its single engine, Ivor. By the playing of tickets, or as part of a built-in game timer, Ivor is sent around the board to do various ‘jobs’ – every player track segment he crosses scores points for that player, every ‘empty’ segment scores points for the game – the aim is to a) score more points than the other players by the end and b) score more points than the game!
Play was very smooth and I’m still trying to establish how much of a head-start to give ‘the game’ to make it more challenging for the players. Of course, if I intend to ‘post’ this as a freebie for TtR fans, I will need to get SOME measure of permission from Smallfilms (for the theme) – but would I need similar from DoW, or are ‘fan maps’ allowed/tolerated?
Anyway, Phil and Ian tied for victory (it doesn’t do to make up a tie-break on the spot) and, at 40 mins, the playing time proved very satisfactory. More to follow on this, no doubt.
Game 2a: Paperclip Railways (Phil, Ian and another Phil, I think)
I decided to let them get on with it – after all, they’re big games-playing boys now! I’m always nervous of these kinds of tests as I panic that I’ve not written the rules clearly enough and they’ll end up playing the wrong game and, as a consequence, not get the experience I designed! Thankfully, the draft rules (now v0_11) are mostly fine and only a couple of incidental queries came my way. Phil won his second railway game of the night amidst some MIGHTY game-end bonuses: 48 pts off two cards and 60+ point bonus off three cards! They were all smiling at the end and everything looked fine ‘on the table’, so its now just a question of finessing the files for print.
Game 2b: Citadels
While the unescorted PCR progressed on the table next-door, I settled into a 5 player Citadels – Bruno Faidutti’s excellent group-think filler. Fun all round – slightly miffed at being assassinated as the King in the final round…my plans for a mid-20s score scuppered by a fortuitous guess. Still – that’s why we love the delicious mind games of this classic!
Game 3: Going home for a nap
I watched the tail end of the PCR game before packing up and cadging my ride back. I met, briefly, on the landing with my erstwhile games buddy Richard who had just returned from a long evening of 18West at London On Board – so it turned out nice again for the railway genre, on the whole!
- [+] Dice rolls
29 Mar 2011
Last night I went to a 'pop concert' - for the first time in, oooh, ages! I had originally planned to go with a friend and his son, but they both reneged on the deal at the last minute.
JOHN GRANT (formerly of THE TZARS, now solo - see the excellent album: QUEEN OF DENMARK)
I parked 50yds up from the venue on Great George Street, Bristol (UK) and retired to Nandos for some hot chicken livers and some cold comfort.
At the appointed hour (7.30PM), I wandered up to St Georges (Church/Hall) and caught a quick coffee in the Cafe Bar. It was 'full to murmuring' of pseuds, humous-stained Boden waistcoats and inappropriate (for their age) head-gear. I was happy to take my seat for the support act (Sea of Bees), for fear of being absorbed into a conversation about Pinter or Mung Bean Casserole.
Here's what I hacked into my phones' text app as the eponymous Mz Bee strummed and screeched for 30 mins:
"Awkward - lovely acoustic tinkles and sprongs. Counts herself (and her imaginary band) in with an airy wave to the gallery. Haircut like my Mother-in-law, dresses like my father-in-law and a voice like Cerys Matthews under attack from a cattle-prod. Stumbling, embarrassed spoken interludes and introductions. Much more expressive/coherent in song rather than conversation.
Says 'like' and 'Ummm' a lot.
Thought a roadie had come on early to tune up for John Grant - turns out to be 'the band' (3rd song in).
Sweet. Best song: Fire"
At this point, I had contacted an old pal via Facebook status updates and realized he was
a) in Bristol himself (working away) and
b) about 5 mins from the venue!
One FREE ticket (and an OJ & lemonade) later, we were settled for the arrival of the main man himself.
As soon as that great, melancholy bear began singing it really showed up the support act for the rather average affair that it was. Grant was fearsome! Bold and tender! His voice: a mighty cudgel wrapped in those heart-breaking, velvety melodies. Words of loss, nostalgia, anger, need, romance, bitterness and frustration. That bloody Grand piano - what a goddamn sound! Pounding and caressing - sharply cut by the honks and tweets of the synth. No encore (JG felt guilty at the pretension of the off and on again) - we had 90, full-to-bursting minutes of verdant music interspersed with stories and smiles.
At the end of a quite overwhelming 'TC & The Honeybear', I wanted to cry out 'play it again!', as one would do upon discovering a favourite popping up on the iPod. Curse my 'hibitions'!
I shall now spend a feww weeks (re-)playing QUEEN OF DENMARK over-and-over...lest I forget such a wonderful evening.
On the gaming front: I managed a first play-test of TICKET TO RIDE: IVOR THE ENGINE and most successful it was too! Mind you, this is mainly to do with MOST of the game already having been developed - normally, first play-tests are an unmitigated disaster!
On the gaming front (again): I've posted up a print&play freebie Bad Grandmas - a light-hearted, shallow, slightly-tasteless card game about old women with bladder problems and weaponry.
On the gaming front (finally): check out the Little Metal Dog show review of Paperclip Railways here: http://littlemetaldog.com/2011/03/26/love-train-paperclip-ra...
- [+] Dice rolls