My pals at Robin Red Games - the fine folk who published Bad Grandmas - are running a bijou KS for their new fun filler Tea, Scones, and ARSENIC. They had a little trouble, it seems, with KS dealing with the word 'Arsenic' in the campaign title but...it's all good now!
Okay - so it's en Francais but you get the general idea!
Daft, drafting, bluffing fun with biscuit-shaped tiles - what's NOT to like?
BTW I am in conversation with the company about negotiating a (much) cheaper shipping cost that involves receiving X copies first and then re-posting them: if you're UK-based and interested, let me know below and I'll add you to a list!
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
Archive for Tony Boydell
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You're very lucky indeed if you have friends that have travelled with you for most of your life and, it seems, that friends made at University (and equivalent institutions) are the most persistent of all. It must be the shared experiences in an environment we chose for ourselves - unlike school, where we had to be there and our choices were woefully-limited. In Further Education, you're - hopefully - finally working towards/doing what you want to do in life and - also hopefully - now have the requisite social skills to bond with like-minded souls!
Malc and Angie are two such granite pillars of Mrs B's and my - lives: student housed together, becoming parents around the same time, growing into mortgages, careers and the old age together. Had there been no pandemic, the Boydells and the Instone-Halls get together three or four times a year (alternating venue) for long weekends of chat, games, walking the dogs, food and plenty of ale. Having BEEN in a pandemic, M&A's visit this weekend was the first in 15 months (apart from a socially-distanced walk along the Malvern Hills last Spring).
This rekindling was planned with as much 'outside time' as we could muster: walks in-and-around Newent, barbecues and much reclining in the (newly mown) garden with - of course and naturellement - the clacking of balls and the tossing of wood.
11PM and you can still bleed a garden photo out of the iPhone: the Molkky had been dispensed in a sunset glow and all that remained was to slowly intoxicate oneself next to the open fire.
Recently-repaired (by Mrs B), the home-made family Croquet set (50 years old) graced the baking green for several highly-competitive rounds:
There were no tabletop games - not due to any reluctance but with the continuing presence of both beers and glorious weather that simply refused to go away! Even a couple of inflamed insect bites on us Gentlemens' fat legs could not distract from the simple bliss of a weekend at home with best friends.
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What better way to get back into IRL Ross-on-Wye board gaming spirit than with some good, old-fashioned, highly-interactive favourites? When I say 'highly-interactive' I do, of course, mean 'brutal and unforgiving' (wherever possible): it's so good to be back home again.
Boffo messaged, mid-Friday, informing me that we would be joined - at Jobbers' Garden Palace - by Xander (a VERY occasional attendee these last 10 years) and tentatively-suggesting The Princes of Florence. I replied: "Oh good Christ! Yes!!!" and we had the main course in our figurative Friday Night Dinner menu*. I slipped the excellent Senators in the bag (the ONLY thing in the bag, this week) relying, instead, on Boffo to fill in the rest of the 'Best with 5' blanks:
We opened with Northern Pacific: simplicity itself when it comes to the rules (place an investment cube OR advance the railway) but rich in turn-order importance, tiny alliances, follow-my-leader and opportunistic dickery. The first round was so nervous that three players placed just one cube and two none-at-all before the train steamed into Seattle (!) Round two, however, had more meat on its bone ('Meat' is the MVP word for this week's club), with a spread of cubes and some nicely-timed 'right turn's getting us all scoring and hustling into round 3. The last round was properly tense: who would break first in the blockade of the West Coast before the locomotive would come steaming home?! A high scorer for almost everyone, I managed to sneak just the one cube ahead for victory. The game, as a whole, was a potted example of the players' journey from 'New game, who dis?' to 'Ah! Now I get it!"
On to the star attraction, then, and The Princes of Florence: one of my 5Gs 4D and, if the Club were a person, one of its picks too**! Xander was new to the delights of this tetris-y, recipe fulfilment, 21 actions (7 of them auction purchases) leviathan of repute and perfection. Xander, I think, added an interesting spanner into our Works (literally!) as he hoovered bonus cards to help power some lucrative professions; we all followed and never have I seen the Bonus Card deck punished so hard! Boffo played a 'long game', quietly nurturing a couple of 'easy' Prestige cards and a trio of heavily-boosted Works: it wasn't enough to come from a distant last to a win..but it was more than sufficient to pip the usually-reliable Jobbers into third position for second. Smudge, as always, maintained a steady hand on the tiller: it'll be a cold day in Gamer Hell when she doesn't end in the top Two.
The sun had still not set over the Much Marcle church, so out came Senators: keeping 'on message' with the knife fight in a phone booth theme. Previous outings had been a little subdued with Senator movement a bit sluggish; this time, however, there was a LOT of to-ing and fro-ing! Free Senators, stolen senators, War and other Event card Senators, big 'cash-ins' - the whole lot! Senator markers danced up and down the track with a remarkable fervour! I, myself, managed three substantial 'cash-ins', buying the loyalty of at least two nobles each time (with money to spare); indeed, my final cash-in lured 5 money each from Xander and Jobbers (to 'join in my action'), giving me the funds for a third! It wasn't enough, though; Jobbers pipping Ben for the laurels in this superlative, chewy filler.
We closed the session with one last bastion of the unforgiving in the form of Knizia's amazing Too Many Cooks or, as we like to refer to it in RoW: "Soup!". Yes, indeed; a quick rules explanation from Boffo elicited repeated "Don't leave NO SOUP until the final round"s from Jobbers, myself and Smudge - it's good to be clear about potential pitfalls. Terrified of this trap myself, I opened the first round with my NO SOUP goal predicated entirely on surviving-without-taking the first trick...which I singularly failed to do: gah! Round one down and I went from plus 5 to minus 4 (the rules say you cannot go below zero but this is the RoW variant and all the better for being so). Boffo - half a bottle of red wine into the evening - almost suffered an embolism at my catastrophic ineptitude; his enthusiastic ribbing of my clumsiness would, unfortunately, come back to bite him in the ass (along with several carpet tacks that Jobbers had used to fix the fabric to Ben's chair! - Ouch!). Jobbers sailed away with the win - ably followed by Xander and Smudge, who both survived their own NO SOUP rounds with relative ease. I, pleasingly, clawed my way out of the minuses to end on nine points; Ben, not so gloatingly now, languishing below zero.
We could really get used to this open-to-the-elements gaming environment: the cooling Summer evening, the fresh air and bird song. Xander might be up for an Eclipse (Jobbers too) if I can a) rustle up Ian, Daffers and Dave Wood as fellow Hegemonics and b) set up a Gazebo in my garden to assuage Jobbers' lingering Covid transmission fears.
Gazebos are cheap compared to the priceless experiences we have as a Games Club.
*Paul Ritter R.I.P. Who, in the Club, is Jim?
**A 'Club' interviewed? That would be interesting!
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May, 2021: As the uncertainty in my previous job increased, my Teams meeting doodles kinda swept me along; the smudged border is courtesy of the Left Outside, Overnight adventure from last weekend:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 6:15 am
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Yesterday, I nipped into Newent during my lunch break to finally get a look inside my preferred location for the Museum in The Shambles 'arcade':
That splendid display window:
The unit is the first thing you see when you enter the courtyard from the main street - this is a Good ThingTM - and is plenty big enough to get started. At the moment it's full of all sorts of survivalist gear and Vape refills...but that's all going to be moved out by the end of the month, making way for me to:
a) tidy up;
b) re-touch the paintwork;
c) open up the display window to be a mini exhibit room; and,
d) move my shit in!
Now the search is seriously on for some display cabinets or - at the very least - sturdy, level shelves that I can affix perspex sheets to! And, of course, I must return my attention to the Patreon pages...
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If there's one thing worse than chasing after a very rare board game, it's realising that there are TWO versions of it available! More often than not, it's a different implementation/skin for the US and UK markets though (sometimes) a tweak to the theme itself leads to the separation.
I'd already known that Astron had an aeroplane version and a space version:
Recently acquired from a recently-departed gentleman's collection with the blessing of his wife & daughter.
In the case of Ship Ahoy, it was hard enough finding the UK edition...to then discover there was a US version too:
Aside from the packaging, the boards themselves were unique:
The presence of all of the player pieces is also a scarcity measure: still retaining full sets of yachts, planes and Buck Rogers-esque spaceships after 60-80 years? Wow!
Finally, both games are BIG buggers to store and display, even before you consider doubling each one up!
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Eldest son - Fred - has taken up D&D, again, with his long-time pal Adam; the latter runs LOTS of roleplaying campaigns and is universally-regarded as an excellent G.M. The venue is the Tuffley Community Centre - home to my non-Ross-on-Wye gaming at the tail-end of 2020 - which has opened up in a masked movement/table service for drinks type-way. Adam's dad (Ian) did the driving last week with Fred bussing over from Cheltenham; last night Ian had to work so I thought I'd whet my in-person/wider club whistle by driving Adam into Gloucester and picking Fred up along the way.
Fred's been just-about coping in his supported living for 9 months now: the restrictions of the pandemic have seen him up-and-down emotionally BUT he's been coping and I'm burstingly-proud of him. His younger brother - Benedict - was with us for a couple of days to help with various garden projects and I dropped him off as I picked Fred up. I had a momentary flashback to when all the children were living at home: younglings - before the dramas, the traumas and the growing pains. My heart aches for the simplicity of that time.
Anyway, with the boys safely ensconced in the RPG cupboard (it IS a cupboard where the Community Hall keeps the fitness club crash-mats and foldable tables), I settled into the Darts Room for board games:
Ah, Cubist! Straightforward rules and 40 mins of dice-rolling, dice-stacking shenanigans: the perfect opener! Cubist has just the right amount of luck (the rollin'), planning (the bonus effect cards) and opportunism (Jack didn't a marvellous about-face from one complex template - 70% done - to another complex template that was now 90% done). Andy somehow snuck in four MUSEUM builds (a difficult setup meant at least three other chances to add fizzled with no valid play) to sneak the win from Siona. Jack and I tied in failure - but it's the artistic process that's more important than the final Art itself, right?!
Next was something family-friendly (and daft) from Siona:
It's Jenga with fuzzy, cloth balls and forfeits when you drop a fuzzy (or two, but not the whole tower). The penalties - you can have up to three simultaneously - apply for your next turn only; play continues until someone destroys the tower:
"Elephant arms using my off-hand" + "Pick with Index and Middle Finger"(not the provided tweezers) + "Must be placed as the Highest Fuzzy" = Lancing pain in broken shoulder and ineptitude"
Next: two goes at the 8-bit aesthetic of Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game:
It's Dungeon Lords without all of the tiresome Euro-ing about: lay out a line of room cards, entice heroes to your dungeon and kill them before they make it to your 'Boss' at the end of the line. If they survive, they count as damage (5+ = you're out; sole survivor = winner); if dead, they're VPs (first to 10 wins).
May I just point out - at this juncture - that I'd also packed the following games into my bag: Agricola, Glory To Rome and Senators. I fear I was being rather optimistic because these were all new to the folks at the table and would, therefore, require a full Boydell teach - not something I - or, indeed, they - should suffer so early on in our hibernation awakening!
A quick round of Perudo followed - using the dice from Cubist - and we closed with a six-player 6 nimmt! extravaganza: oh, the joy of watching the expressions of new players as the catastrophes play out!
Fred and Adam were kicking stones around the car park - waiting for me to pack up and get them home - so we beetled back to Newent to a soundtrack of their evening's adventures: bandit attacks, wolf-taming and self-harming Goth wizards. It takes all-sorts.
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For a game designer with game designer pals, perhaps the harshest side-effect of the pandemic has been the inability to get ourselves together to eat and drink and push our collaborations forward. Some work has been possible via Skype/Zoom/whatever but nothing quite beats being crowded round a table with a bottled beer in one hand and shoving components around a taped, paper board mock-up with the other. This weekend just gone, long time gaming pal Matt Green (Miremarsh, Flicky Spaceships, Beyond the Gates of Antares: The Dice Game a.k.a Bugger t'dog) journeyed up from England's garden - the South East - for a few sunny days.
Showing him to the spare room, I assured him that the shelves of museum stock were secured to the wall and presented no potential crushing hazard in the middle of the night. Then into the garden for sunshine, a welcome cup of tea and his first attempt at Aleph Null. The six hour journey - it's really NOT a good plan to travel around the bottom of London on a Friday afternoon - had knocked the wind out of Matt and, after a cod-and-chips supper, he retired to his room for a short nap...which turned into a full settle-down-for-the-night, leaving Mrs B and I with a couple of hours in which to catch up with the usual Friday evening TV.
The day dawned gloriously and, over tea and coffee, we set to work on the business of the visit:
Matt had started on a sort-of Tokyo Highway-ish, String Railways-esque every-game-will-look-different-at-the-end scenery building game; he mentioned it, in passing, on a Tweet and I chimed in with an urgent desire to know (much) more. What has ensued, these past months, has been a Google Docs exchange of ideas, schemes and assorted noodlings. With no particularly-easy way of just moving things around while apart, the main goal of this first face-to-face was to do shit 'for real' and see if we could settle on some clarified rules, currency and flow.
Ninety minutes later, we were patting ourselves on the back having established some clear - and elegantly-lean - parameters for the game; quite a bit of rework to the original docs is required but that's a job for another
dayevening this week. Gerv, the third aspect of the gathering's Holy Trinity who'd have to be away again by 7PM, turned up on the dot of 10AM and we were straight into the first playable prototype of the day:
Gerv likes RSR very much; indeed, it was the last game he played at a Newent meetup before the World went Covid. Matt is more than comfortable with multi-use card card games - though his oversight in one particular area would have to be rectified the following day (see later) - and was soon settled and complaining about the quality of his draws It was a tentative first twenty minutes as we danced ourselves into comfortable positions then things began to kick off - and kick-off quickly - with Gerv achieving the TECHNOLOGY crown, me the POLITICS crown and Matt (in the same turn as me) the CULTURE CROWN. I took the laurels thanks to a well-stocked CATACOMB and a "two points per" crypt bonus.
In summary: use MAJOR or MINOR actions to progress up (and down) the four attribute tracks, build buildings for points and track-affecting abilities, survive EVENTS and seek out combinations.
From a test perspective, RSR flowed well enough but Matt's initial discomfort at his perceived lumpen start - and the slow, first twenty minutes - suggests I need to find a way of getting things moving much quicker: the solution is to start everyone further up the board tracks so they are closer to INCREMENT-ing into the meaty effects BUT ALSO able to DECREMENT on tracks to use any MAJOR or MINOR action from the beginning.
More drinks and to something already-published by way of a palette-cleanser; Matt taught us Fort. It has suggestions of all of your favourite complex card games - eg. Dominion, RftG, GtR - with a joyful 'gangs of kids playing through a long, hot Summer' theme. Pizza and Toys are your resources, building a better fort is one of the goals and scoring points along the way is essential. The turn sequence goes as follows:
i. cards in your YARD go into your discard pile (cards are friends; if you don't "play with them" in your turn, they may go and play with someone else instead - see iii.)
ii. play a card from your hand for an effect - possibly boosted with other cards of the same suit (or wild); resolve it and/or a 'only for you effect' (if there is one) then all the other players may follow the open action by playing equivalent card(s) of the suit.
iii. draft a card into your discard pile from the deck, a tableau OR the YARD of any other player
iv. cards for your 'board' are discarded to your discard pile; and,
v. all other 'unused' cards go into your YARD and you draw 5 new cards.
Simple flow, simple actions: deliciously tricky little race game!
We wandered into a deserted and Sun-dusty Newent for lunchtime snacks and returned via The Shambles: the bijou retail courtyard home to the two potential Museum sites - both Matt and Gerv agreed that the 'Vape' shop site was, by far, the better option.
Bellies stuffed with salad, quiche, rustic breads and cheese, we moved onto the Patio for some train-based, Cluedo-inspired murder investigation:
BE has morphed from trad. worker placement to an Obsession-style WP: the train is now populated by a variety of workers who are allowed in some - but not all - carriages of the train. The WP replaces the roll-and-move but accusations must now be fueled by gathered resources: tobacco, money, wine, time, food and 'heat' (as in 'suspicion', rather than warmth). Workers gather resources and then convert them in to clues - accusations a la "PERSON in the CURRENT CARRIAGE with WEAPON" - that elicit card revelation in a Cluedo style (one or none, stop when someone has shown 'one' or everyone has shown none etc). There is another wrinkle in my design that allows you to reveal card(s) from your hand to gain a benefit for them being in play - as well as letting everyone else know what to eliminate from their investigations: the only feedback - after I'd Marple-d my way to the win - was that the card revelation effects should be less wordy and, if poss, more powerful. Excellent notes, gentlemen: I'm on it!
Not wishing to waste the gorgeous day, I took the boys - and Ziggy - for a medium-sized walk: toward May Hill and back again in a 75 minute tramp through tidal wheat fields (Gerv doing his best Maximus Decimus Meridius impression). It was more humid than we'd anticipated on 'set off' and, thus, arrived back at the house a little 'glowing': big, icy drinks please!
To let our brains relax a little, we played a couple of games of Res Arcana with Gerv dominating both.
The dart board attracted some attention until it was time to make fire and cook meat with pointed implements.
It was quite the palaver getting the sausages to brown but, in the end, everything was in place for the household to gather for a feast and, of course, the best garden game ever devised:
Everyone but Mrs B and "us lads" drifted off after my 3-0 drubbing of all-comers; Gerv had postponed his evening appointment to stay for just one more in the form of Rüdiger Dorn's SdJ nominee and aesthetically-pleasing Luxor:
It took just 60 mins to find our way into the central chambers and
lootpreserve the treasures for future generations; poor Matt was a little irked that he'd missed my mention of 'explorers score for the space they're on' as his last turn had him shunting a chap onto a 'gain a key' tile for '0' location points instead of any other for >0 location points: the difference, my friends between a WIN and THIRD PLACE! Gerv departed on a victorious high while we repaired to the Living Room.
Leaving LUXOR on the patio table.
For the overnight rain to despoil.
And my loverly cartoons notebook as well.
An even slower start for the Boydells on the Lord's Day apart from me. Matt and I got stuck into hot drinks and Fort, a teaching game of Glory to Rome (merciful heavens: how has Matt not ever played this before?!) and Gosu: Kamakor:
Gosu is a rather splendid shared-deck, tableau builder with plenty of CCG-esque combos and clashes to be milked from the six mini-decks (clans) that are shuffled to make the main deck. In summary: you play out, and sometimes pay for, cards into a virtual 3 row x 5 column tableau. The rows - Levels I, II and III 'ascending' - contain increasingly powerful creatures that support each other (part of the tableau-building rules) and provide strength for the 'Great Battle'. All of the tableau shenanigans are in preparation for this Battle: the winner, of which, gets a victory token. Reset tokens, leave the tableau in play and proceed to a new phase of preparations: the first to THREE victory tokens is the winner.
I enjoyed Gosu very much; it's chock full of 'I'm buggered...but, wait, no I'm not!' moments, lure plays, take that!s, exasperation and exhileration. Shame it's almost impossible to get your hands on in English.
The only prototypical treat was Matt's run at the third in my solo game trilogy: Triskaidekaphobia. I sat back and watched him wrestle with the ebbing and flowing of the zombie hordes; his stress level slowly increasing. He managed to survive the full 13 rounds of relentless, undead attacks - amusingly spending one long turn agonising over what to do about an 'Overlooked Doorway'. Matt, alone (one survivor point), walked away from the horrors of that long night: his mind haunted by the loss of the other 39 survivors in his community.
Ah, but all good things must come to an end; Matt departed, as he had arrived, in glorious sunshine. What a bloody fantastic working weekend!
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