Everyone Needs A Shed

Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.

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Jesus Has Risen!...and is now in the Shower; someone make him a brew!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Well - its been a few days and I said I'd report back on the reception to the various 'easy' games I brought with me on this family holiday. Most of the games have remained resolutely in the box, but a few HAVE made it to the table and have been requested for replay.

In the last few days, a young second or third cousin has taken to taunting me with his copy of Monopoly and crying 'This is the best game EVER!' whenever I walk by. My response was to bludgeon him into Alhambra and Familienbande - both of which he proved to be very good at, very quickly! There is, indeed, hope! So, now I need to pick up some cheap deals at Spiel in October, in between 'real work' demoing on our stand, and send him an emergency parcel!

Actually, having a bloody great van at your disposal, and a free day of uncrowded access to the Messe, means I usually enter the Spiel period with a variety of lists of other peoples wants, pre-order pickups and promos to hunt out. I was also having to pay for it all 'in advance' - which is especially worrying when people ask you to 'buy what you think will be good' and they turn out to hate your recommendation (*cough* 7 Wonders for Ben *cough*)

But, I digress: Totemo is quick and easy to explain and appealing to the non-gamer eye, so has hit the table on multiple occasions (plus it's one of mine, so folks are naturally curious). Paperclip Railways and Stone Age I've not even tried to start as I think they're both just a step too far for newbies. And as for Carcassonne - no interest whatsoever (f*ck you, Klaus!)

The foot debacle has significantly-improved - the long walk up and down hills and forests went ahead as planned and I hobbled along behind the pack. I hung back for 30 mins, waiting for a few stragglers to catch up, and I ended up having to walk all the way back to the car AND THEN back up the hills trying to find them - they took a wrong turn and got to the top way ahead of me! I caught up with everyone as they were making the final journey homeward - I ended up walking twice as far as them! Still, it 'loosened' the heel and now I only wince occasionally.

Finally, seeing as it's Easter and the world has now been saved, here are some games to play on this Holy day:

- Good Friday
- 18Eggs-Eggs
- Easter Bunny Bunny Chocolate Moose Moose
- Crown of Thurn & Taxis
- Dominion: Over All Things
- Father, Son and Holy Ghost Stories
- Ecce Homosteaders
- Carcassonne of Man
- Bibel
- Stigmeuterer
- Advanced God Leader
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Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:54 am
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Injury Time

Anthony Boydell
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Dammit!

I was playing football in the Garden with the kids, and some of the other Dads, and to say the lawn is 'a bit bumpy' would be like saying Mount Everest is 'a bit of an incline'. During a particularly effective attack, I stumbled in a dip and twisted by foot a little; nothing dramatic, just enough to re-awaken the Dragon of an old heel injury. Following the 6 all full-time score, and a loooong penalty shoot=out, our team won and I repaired to the drinks table for fermented apple-based refreshment.

My heel began to ache. It ached and was shortly joined by a throb. Seeing the emerging 'impromptu gathering of discomfort', both ache and throb were joined by twinge, shooting pain and ready-for-action limp.

The enormous crowd of family decided a walk across the moors to a rusty Tarn would be in order and I was duly obliged to follow (all hands to the pumps when it comes to herding the 'littlies') - now I may not be a Doctor, but perhaps a 90 minute round-walking-trip on undulating scrubland was not the best thing for my now-quite-painful limb.

Now, a day later, it's quite excruciating...and we're supposed to do another big walk in a Forest, up a hill and onto a plateau of climbable rocky outcrops and 'great for hiding' bracken. Some hope.

Now, if I'd brought my copy of Le Havre, I think I could be set up for the day: beer, snacks, a table on the south-facing patio to enjoy the wonderful weather etc. Perhaps I'll make significant in-roads to the latest Iain M Banks Culture novel 'Surface Detail'? Dixit isn't really a solo-game and the second-hand copy of Golden Heroes (Supervisors Book AND Players Book) I picked up in town the other day needs a few more dice than the NONE I have with me. The living room is stuffed to the gunwales with childrens DVDs and VHS cassettes and I don't have any iPod speakers.

Can anyone else hear an annoying whining sound?

By way of a distraction, here's a picture of shrunken head from Friese's Fiji that I think looks remarkably like m'learned colleague Alan Paull:
From gallery of tonyboydell
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Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:13 am
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Granddad

Anthony Boydell
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(with apologies to Armando Iannucci)

(Tony sits in a large, inflatable armchair covered with so many puncture-repair plasters. His back is straight, his knees are together - in the Catholic fashion - and his hands placed,palms up, on his lap. A partially-eaten Eccles cake dries slowly in front of a log-burning stove. An adjacent, pristine inflatable chair stands empty)

Tony: (directly to you, dear reader) I'm just waiting for my grandfather…

(A log cracks loudly in the flames and a shower of sparks lands on the hearth)

Tony: ...he'll be along in a minute…

(a short cough)

Tony:…here he comes…

(The door bell rings)

Tony: (calling) Come in, grandfather!

(An aged gentleman enters - he looks exactly like Tony, but with bad Hollywood 'age' makeup on. He totters over to the spare inflatable chair and falls face-first into it. It bounces away onto the stove and pops. Acrid black smoke from the burning plastic quickly fills the room)

Tony: Hello, grandfather; I was just thinking about adapting life-jackets for colostomy patients who spend a lot of time at sea.

Grandfather: We never used to have colostomy bags in my day…we used to have a hole in the ground and a wheelbarrow. When you fancied a little walk, you'd put the hole into the wheelbarrow and took it along with you.

Tony: And what about board games? How was it different when you were a "wee bairn"?

Grandfather: There weren’t so many Reiner Knizia games for a start – you had only three or four hundred to choose from. Of course, we were at war with Reiner…and Friedemann Friese…twice.

Tony: Did that affect the games that you were able to play?

Grandfather: Of course! When you’re at war with someone, you don’t buy their excellent boardgames at the same time – every copy of Die Macher would fund a doodlebug; every Adlungspiele deck another tank shell!

Tony: So, what games DID you play?

Grandfather: We used to sit around the hearth of an evening looking at a picture of Settlers of Catan that we got off the Black Market. Munchkin was very popular, but only for the first 3 minutes of any given games evening; we used to get them off the GI’s in return for ‘favours’…

Tony: ‘Favours..?’

Grandfather: (blushing) I’m not proud of it, lad, but they were hard times and if you didn’t ‘go’ with the Yanks, you ended up with half a Monopoly set or worse…

Tony: Snakes and Ladders?

Grandfather: (angry; stands and waves his false elbow at the mantel) I’ll not have that name spake in t’house, lad. (calms down) During the Coronation in ’52, after the war, we went round next doors and saw a colour version of Carcassonne on their television – it were only the basic set then, of course.

Tony: The television?

Grandfather: No – Carcassonne. And we used to play Finca with real fruit, though figs were hard to come by so we used shriveled Ox scrota instead.

Tony: (pausing, a grapefruit speared on his thumb) Was it about this time that you met Grandma?

Grandfather: Yes it were! There used to be these Theme nights down at the Town Hall; you know the kind of thing: ‘Big Games In A Small Box’, ‘The Letter P’, ‘Games you will Hate almost immediately’ – that kind of thing. Your grandma was demo-ing a session of Illuminati: New World Order and I was on the next table playing Agricola: Farmers of the Moor. Our eyes met across the animeeples.

Tony: Sounds wonderfully romantic!

Grandfather: Not really – when I say ‘our eyes met’, I mean that my glass eye and hers had popped out and rolled across the floor like marbles. According to the Cambridge Rules, MY eye bombsie-d HER eye so it were mine to keep.

Tony: (aghast) You both had glass eyes?

Grandfather: Oh yes. It was all the rage then – like ear-piercings or Thunderstone. My friend Bill lost a thumb in Sicily and had it replaced with a miniature set of Villa Paletti…and my old Sergeant had his cock and balls swapped for a dice tower….nice one...with stickers and everything.

Tony: Let's go back to the war, grandfather; after all it was a difficult time for the gaming community and, being an old fart, that's all you want to bloody go on about anyway…what was it like playing tournament –level Ticket To Ride against the Hun?

Grandfather: Churchill banned all pens as they were being converted into knives, submarines and wotnot, so that ruled out Railway Rivals. The Yanks dropped demo copies of Ticket To Ride all over mainland Europe and it quickly became a propaganda nightmare. The Bosch were better at it than us, you see. Some of the lads down ‘the Legion’ still won’t talk about the Marklin edition.

Tony: You mentioned the Blitz - how did you cope?

Grandfather: Multiplayer Magic: The Gathering began to get popular back then. It's natural when you're all cooped up in a Nissan hut - it's either Emperor or talking to Mrs Scroggins about black-market bacon.

Tony: Was there a black market for TCG's too?

Grandfather: Oh yes! Spivs would come round the pubs offering "Carpet Of Flowers for the Lady?" or "Genuine Spectral Tigers?" or (singing) "Cockles and Netrunner Boosters - Alive, Alive-Oh!"

Tony: That sounds like a jolly song - were there any others?

Grandfather: "Roll Through The Barrel" was quite popular; so was "Hitler Has Only Got One Power Station", "My Old Man's A Semi-Professional Backgammon Player", ‘I’ve Got A Lover-ly Bunch of Macao-nuts’, ‘Rondel, Rabbit, Rondel’ and ‘Knees Up, Mother Bauza’.

Tony: (standing) Would you like a cup of tea before you die?
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Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:26 am
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Poetry please!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Rejoice!
(after Shakespeare)
Shall I compare thee to the Family Game?
Thou art more complex and more intricate:
Start play’r doth put thy drafted cards in play,
And stone it never e’er accumulates:
Sometime two reed is there for you to take
And often occupation’s tightly fought
And mighty wars do rage for Sow and/or Bake
With ovens, Well and workshops keenly bought
But thy eternal appeal shall not fade
Nor leave the gaming table ne’er returning
Nor sold on eBay or in Maths Trade
I think I’d rather see my gonads burning!
So long as gamers snipe on BGG
Agricola remains the number one for me.

Lamentation
(after Auden)
Stop playing Occs, stop taking reed/food/stone,
Prevent the build of fences, no renovation
Cook up the animals and with Action One
Take the food off Fishing, let the Harvest come.

Let fields be ploughed no more, nor grain be sown,
Don’t Build rooms or stables, no family’s grown
The bonus points on score pad we’ll not jot
No Well, no Ovens, no turner of the Pot

‘Gric is my Mon, my Tues, my Wednesday’s best,
My gaming week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that I would play this game for ever: I was wrong.

The Sheep are not wanted now, pack up every ‘meeple;
Pack up the Cattle, boar, the player people,
Store away the E-deck and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Merriment
There is a great game called Agricola
With its rules I can be quite a stickler
I think its so good
That I often get Wood
Then I take 'Family Growth' in particular

A-haiku-la
Five wood and two reed?
No prizes for what I plan
To do next action
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Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:07 am
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It's not the games you play...

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Rob, a very dear (and long-time) friend of mine, died a couple of months ago. He had been suffering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma for four years and finally, after an aggressive series of chemotherapy treatments, succumbed to the inevitable.

I dreamt about him last night.

Rob and I first met 25 years ago over a game of Warrior Knights which was being run by a mutual pal. He had a dry sense of humour and a keen mind - enjoying those war-sim board games of the 80s (the ones with 1000+ small squares of card). Over the following couple of years, and mainly while I was on a year out of College (work experience 'sandwich' year), we met twice a week to play games and more just to go out drinking.

We played Risk, Blood Royale, Diplomacy, Axis & Allies and more. We role-played (alternating duties as GM/referee): Rob did Boot Hill, I did a Watchmen-take using DC Heroes, Hadyn did Star Wars and Hadyn's brother Mark did everything else (he is a phenomenally talented imagineer!).

I introduced Rob to Magic: The Gathering, though he never had any money to buy cards himself; I made it my goal to swap and trade a wheeler-deal my way to getting him a Black Lotus...it ended up being an International Edition Black Lotus, but it's a Lotus nonetheless!

He was part of our lives when I married and had children, a doting 'Uncle' to our developing brood. He play-tested and then enjoyed many hours of The Black Overcoat Boardgame, my first 'proper' foray into games design. He even drew some of the art on the cards.

As our lives moved apart, he (due to illness) staying at home with his wonderful parents, and us with our expanding family, we still kept in regular touch. Whenever he visited, we would spend the evenings getting tipsy and playing new games (I'd discovered Euros & Essen by this time!)

Sadly, various medical issues meant he found it more and more difficult to learn new games and, having a terrible memory, found it hard playing the ones we already had.

Then we found out he had Cancer. In fact, he'd popped in to see us with his Mum and didn't mention anything - it was only his mother whispering the news to us on their way out that we ended up knowing. Heart-breaking news to hear.

We, of course, kept in touch - sometimes visiting - but our busy lives meant this was less frequent than we would have liked. Last Christmas, we couldn't get in touch and feared the worst! At the end of January, however, Rob called me up around Superbowl time (a particular obsession of his) and we had a fantastic 30 minute stupid chat: joking, laughing, reminiscing. Four weeks later he was dead and cremated. Gone.

There's no particular point to this post - apart from remembering someone who made my life better for being in it.

God bless him and anyone that you have known in similar circumstances.

It's not the games you play but the people you play them with.
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Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:17 am
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For the joy of being alive and steaming

Anthony Boydell
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Railway games are an astonishing phenomena in the gaming world - just looks at the variety and complexity: from the family-friendliness of Ticket to Ride through the more complex shenanigans of Age of Steam/Steam to the ridiculous, time-swallowing share madness that is the Series: 18xx family.

Why do trains have such an enduring appeal?

Simple...because they're a fantastic representation of nature's power harnessed and directed; because we all love building and we love interconnections...and because those great steam beasts make noises like snorting dragons as they power and puff passed!

I mention this because today I embarked on a traditional holiday 'day out': a 4 mile walk through woodland and valley, through stream and gritted pathway, from the village of Goathland (Hogsmead station in the first Harry Potter movie) to Grosmont and then riding the train across the North Yorkshire Moors to Pickering and back. All of this done in wonderful weather - bright, hot and blue-skied! Dusty, coal-y steam blowing in your face as you belt along great cracks in the landscape, over boulder-filled becks and through sleepy villages comprised solely of holiday cottages. Five hours of ambling, rambling, child-on-the-shoulder-carrying, puff-puff-puffing delight!

If you hate railway games, then you ain't never been on a real railway!

A lost Eskdale Bridge
From gallery of tonyboydell


Rusted Majesty approaching Grosmont Station
From gallery of tonyboydell


Perhaps the best view in the world...Grosmont (the final approach) - the walk is nearly over and train ride is about to begin!
From gallery of tonyboydell


Its a steaming big engine!
From gallery of tonyboydell


Beautiful junk
From gallery of tonyboydell


Approaching Pickering (outbound)
From gallery of tonyboydell


Approaching Goathland (inbound)
From gallery of tonyboydell


A Guards van (Goathland)
From gallery of tonyboydell
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Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:28 pm
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Tightening One's Belt

Anthony Boydell
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It's just too beautiful outside and, as any fule no, ice-cream won't eat itself. So, here's a little something I tossed off while everyone else prepared for our trip to a Castle - feel free to join in with suggestions of your own!

In these austere times when one must make do and mend, when the global financial meltdown has left us all feeling pinched, it only makes sense that we should trim our luxury expenditure, hunker down for the long haul and just be miserable (and be happy being so). Board games are a tremendous way of investing a small amount of money in return for many happy hours of intellectual and social satisfaction.

In a neighbourly spirit, I suggest that the following ‘cut price’ games might provide the appropriate anaesthetic during this ‘monetary end of days’.

Diet Agricola
For Rent!
Wits & No Wagers
Age of Cottage Industry
19th Century
Bunny Bunny Bunny Bunny
Through the Age
Off-Peak Train To Wensleydale
Deux*
The Great Chimney Fire of London: 1666
Tara, Seat Cushion of Kings
One Wonder
Dominion: Austerity
Gun$ ‘n Gun$
Key Workhouse
Le Quarter-ve
One-way Ticket To Ride
Roads OR Boats
Warhammer 4K
The B-Road to Canterbury
Monoretto
Beatified Petersburg
Reiner Knizia’s Flea
Workbench of the World
Glen More..More? Mooooore?
10 White Cards
Outhouses of Madness
Very, very Small World
18X

...and so on.

*this is a very clever joke indeed…
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Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:49 pm
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Homage of Steam

Anthony Boydell
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Recently, as you will have noticed (), I have been discussing and (lets not be coy about this) promoting my latest venture Paperclip Railways (PCR) by various means: a designer diary, reports of play-tests and other bits and pieces. While the feedback has been generally positive, I have received a number of second-hand reports of 'muttering' in the area of PCRs supposed over-similarity to String Railway despite everything that I have (publicly) jotted around the subject!

Yesterday I received a Geekmail that explicitly (thank-you for not being passive-aggressive!) asked the following question:

"If you don't mind me asking, how is Paperclip Railways not an infringement on String Railways?"

Well, I do mind you asking a bit, but I will continue to fight for your right to do so.

Now I may be paddling close to troll-laden waters in saying this, but in a world where Dominion, Thunderstone and Ascension: Deckbuilding Game co-exist happily without even the pebble of acrimony being lobbed between them, how is it appropriate to take a swipe at the small guys?

Was Race for the Galaxy greeted with cries of '..but it's just San Juan in Space!' and Tom Lehman derided for it? Would it be churlish to point out the similarity of PitchCar and RoadZters? Equally, I must've missed the meeting when FITS and Blokus were called out as directly-related following a DNA test! And how about every worker-placement product? And the 100 million 'little card games' that are basically 60 cards in 6 colours with the numbers 1 thru 10 printed in the corner? etc etc ad infinitum.

Is the development of an idea just plain ol' copying?

Of course, PCR and SR have the same theme (railways - quite a popular theme, though) and, yes, they both make use of unusual components to represent their theme (wooden cubes as cloth, wood and stone ahoy!). I take accusations, and even 'innocent queries', of plagiarism very much to heart - it is not my intent to (nor do I) 'rip off' other peoples hard work. Myself, and fellow Surprised Stare-r Alan Paull, are pretty boringly-repetitive about wanting to design games with a twist - something new or something taking a pleasing twist on the familiar (ah, maybe there's the rub?)...

So, here's a brief summary of PCR vs String Railway and why it's NOT any kind of infringement / theft / copying etc:

[1] SR is a light, 20 minute game; PCR is designed to be heavier.

[2] SR uses strings of fixed length for placement; PCR gives you 60 paperclips and it's up to you, your 'plan' (and your current station location) to decide how long or short those placements are

[3] There is no 'hand of cards' to manipulate, manage and/or combo off of in SR; in PCR, hand-management is key (you can't build without cards, find the right combinations and interactions between stations etc)

[4] Strings are 'free' to place; PCR demands that you 'buy' your links

[5] SR scoring is immediately after you have placed your string; PCR has in- and end-game scoring

[6] PCR stations are quirkily-named (did someone just say Qwirkle?) and it has a pun-tastic tag-line

[7] There are almost 100 station cards in PCR with circa 50 unique effects and abilities between them

[8] SR offers ONE action available in your turn (draw then play); PCR offers a choice from two (draw OR play)

[9] PCR stations don't have that cute, traveling mouse on them (at least, not yet)

I will concede, to all of you in the whispering gallery, that - yes - without having seen and played String Railway, Paperclip Railways would not exist today. As I have credited in the rulebook, it was 'inspired by' Mr Hayashi's diversion and set me thinking in a particular direction. This is, of course, no more 'theft' or 'infringement' than admiring the auction mechanic in Amun-Re and building it into League of Six, or re-using the 'pick up and deliver a cube' mechanic in every railway game since 2000 and so-bloomin'-on.

Thus, I present my defence.

Next Week: Comic Sans - The Much-maligned Font (ducks whistle)
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Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:12 am
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Lend Me Your Ears

Anthony Boydell
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Back way back when, ooh must be three years ago now, Richard 'Smok' Clyne introduced me to a garish, cartoony card game called Glory to Rome. I can't recall exactly WHY he picked it up - probably on one of his excursions into Leisure Games / Orcs Nest in Central London - especially as it looked so bloody awful in it's blister packaging with its horribly clip-art-ed aesthetic. It must have called to him through the Time Spiral boosters or something.

Jimmy made one of his rare trips over to Chez Clyne and the three of us played maybe three times that evening. I absolutely bloody hated it.

I hated the look. I hated the fact I had to get my head around six different actions with their 'zone movement' rules. I hated the massive, fold-out, hugely-arrowed rulebook with it's card-by-card clarifications.

Most of all, I hated the LEGIONARY action: in a game I'm trying to get to grips with, mechanic wise, having both your opponents rip all of the cards out of your hand makes for a miserable experience.

Looking back, I may have also have been affected by the seeming-ease with which Richard and Jimmy got stuck right in - they were veterans of San Juan (which I have played maybe 3 times in my life, to date) - and (as it turned out) Richard had been to various Cons and been play-testing what would become Race for the Galaxy. So, they were content with multi-function card play. What bewilders me now is that as a long-time M:TG-er, why it was such a terrible 'first impression' for me?

Anyway, I had inwardly vowed to avoid playing this ugly, chaotic beast ever again.

The following week, Richard and I were at our usual pre-Magic supper table ('Have you been to a Harvester before?' 'Yes, thanks - now piss off and get me a large meat pie') with a couple of un-exposed pals; he removed Glory to Rome from it's supermarket sanitary tray and ran through a quick explanation. My heart sank.

However, during that game something happened; I had a Damascan Road revelation. The scales fell from my eyes, this particular bush began burning and the game suddenly 'clicked'. Literally so! My memory is of a specific moment when I looked at my cards and knew EXACTLY what I needed to do next - a proper light-bulb moment. Legionary ain't so bad - there are ways around it, or to use it better.

Once you get over the card movements (and your snobbery over the 'look'), Glory to Rome has an enormous amount to offer: lots of player interaction, CCG-style combo-deliciousness and a crack-like addictive re-playability. For a single, shared-deck design there is a very low level of luck involved - all of the 'buildings',pretty much, are powerful in their own way and you can often develop a plan around your opening hand.

Within the space of that week, I went from whine-y hater to intrigued fan-boy. It became our filler of choice and, often, the main event of the evening. Very quickly, the GtR bug had spread from Richard, Jimmy and myself to Ray, Jon and Iain. Gaming evenings (lots of them) would begin and end with 'Glory'. It was responsible for more early-morning finishes than anything else; not a session would go by without 'just one more'...

The best thing of all, though, is that Glory To Rome became 'the great leveler' for our group. While I may always have been competing for last place in Age of Steam, The Princes of Florence or The Scepter of Zavandor (hopefully not true nowadays!), when Glory hit the table it would be hard to predict the outcome. Jon liked to Merchant, or build a Circus; Richard's a big fan of the Patron-abusing Bath; I can't resist getting Craftsmen clients and Jimmy went through an outrageous seam of winning the game by building an early Catacombs.

In the first year, we were averaging 5-10 plays PER WEEK - even now, three years down the line, we still get 5+ games per month. I've seen it travel from 1000+ in the Geek rankings to 99 (it's current, deserved position). This is a truly remarkable game and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Forget your Nightfalls, your Thunderstones and your Dominions - there is only one TRUE essential card game for your collection..

Glory to Glory To Rome!

Still unconvinced? Take a look at Enders Comprehensive Review.
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Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:02 am
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Uncle Tonys Enormous Packet

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan
In an attempt to spread the hobbyist disease and get the family (the 'bigger' extended family, that is) playing more board games, I have made up a 'box of delights' with which to entertain and amaze this holiday Season. I'm hoping that Messrs Cadbury and Nestle will not be the ONLY providers of Easter Eggs this month! The selected morsels of gaming delight (sans glittery wrapping and fun-sized chocolate bars) are, with my obtuse reasonings, the following:

[1] Paperclip Railways - always good to get a non-gamer view of this, but I have settled in to a bit of a tradition of trying out upcoming designs on the extended relatives. Totemo was a massive hit last year (in prototype form), so I've also hoofed in a 'final version' to leave at the ancestorial Manse.

[2] Carcassonne - calling myself a gamer attempting to push gateway games would be a blatant, and severely punishable, crime had I not included this true classic. SdJ 2001 - was it really that long ago? Looking forward, very much, to next years 'Dominion: Carcassonne' expansion!

[3] For Sale - God Bless Mr Dorra and all who sail in him - this stupidly simple, yet subtly devious little auction game is a great intro to bidding without all the peripheral nonsense of building railways, harvesting / shipping spices and all that malarky.

[4] Familienbande - May the Lord Sanctify Mr Colovini and may perpetual light shine upon him (even when he's trying to get some sleep) for this splendid little filler. Make fun out of genetic dead-ends and take your mutation to the top of the scoring track (remember: purple ears are the BLUE score marker). Not much fun if you're actually ginger, have a nose that folks mistake for a conjoined twin OR ears you could glide off a Pier with.

[5] Alhambra - Dirk done good. Best with 3, though, and unplayable with 5 or 6 (four new tiles and four new money cards come your turn). No need to endanger floor structures with the Biblical flood of expansions - the original is still the best.

[6] Giganten Der Lufte - much better name than the English re-print (Airships) - much grander and more noble! Giants of the Air! Wow! A cute and interesting dice-based building game - fits nicely into 45-60 minutes. Extra points for farting during play and claiming you're launching your own 'air ship'...

[7] Dixit - Beautiful art, a minute to explain and a room full of happy people. Sold!

[8] Stone Age - there is no way I could get away with trying Agricola on the tender newbies, but Stone Age is a colourful gaming 'hit': cocaine to Mr Rosenberg's crack, if you will.

[9] Parade / Gargon / Braggart - a triple of tasty, card-only tidbits; easy to explain, fun to play and never out-staying their welcome.

On The Cards / How to Play Cards - no hyperlinks for this little beauty! Surprised Stares 'plan' for Essen Spiel 2011 and grounded in traditional card-play. Sebastian Bleasdale (On the Underground) has laboured tirelessly on this extremely clever design. No more info for you at the moment (such a TEASE!). This one's for W.Eric.M - did he spot this little rumour-y snippet for his weekly 'round up'?

I'll let you know how we get on with this lot.
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8 Comments
Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:04 pm
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