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"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!": as Friday afternoon turned to a drizzled evening and it was time to go and play board games! Benedict wanted to come along, and there'd been plenty of 'See you there!'s via the email round robin, so it was with a joyful heart that I packed plenty of good stuff for 3 or 4*: Grand Austria Hotel, Best Treehouse Ever and Dadaocheng.
Beebs and I sat at a relief table waiting for a couple of early-evening/a-quick-one-after-work wine chuggers to get the Hell off of our [Reserved] table; being a sociable being with an understanding of social etiquette, we did this with quiet grace and seething British passive-aggression. Jobbers broke the facade upon entry by calling out (for all in the Bar to hear): "Not kicking those guys off our table, then?".
So much for courtesy.
Resolutely not taking the hint, we waited a few moments more until we'd realised Boffo had snuck in and was already 'a welcome sip' (ie. half a glass) in to his first Wye Valley ale of the evening. It was either Boffo's stern, authoritative demeanor and beer-foamed moustache that made the squatters to leave OR perhaps it was the arrival of their taxi - I like to think it was the former. Conspicuous by her absence was Smudge who is on Am-Dram Theatre duties this evening (one down already); she helps out with the lighting and sound, so regularly has a hot Spot for the lead actor and is rigorous in oiling her Fresnel.
No matter! Just a few more minutes and we should see Suzanna and Ed pull up...except that an email has just popped up apologizing for cancelling at the last minute (three down now). Luckily, Byll - who had been a 'probable' since Wednesday - kept good his word and joined us in his George Smiley garb. Thus: Me, Boffo, Jobbers, Benedict and Byll.
Five - that most a-cursed of gaming numbers - meant almost everything in the Boydell and Bateson bags was redundant; not really fancying an evening of deafening dice-rolling, I tucked Boffo's copy of Roll For The Galaxy surreptitiously under the table and we opted for the Ragnar Brothers 2010 Canal Mania-esque Workshop of the World (recent Boffonian Trade goods).
In summary: Take some money. Each round take a card, in bidded-for turn order, from a tableau of five and place a dobber in that Town/City then (for money) build 0, 1 or 2 'links'. If you cause your dobbers to be linked by your canal/train track ((phase 1/phase 2 a la Brass) then your score points according to the value of the Towns/Cities connected. At the end of the round, those scored points are taken as cash in to the second Phase. Most money is the winning criterion.
Misshapen dobbers, plastic money and an ugly 'functional board'
I admit that I was hugely underwhelmed by the game, after the rules run-thru, and began moaning and grumbling from the end of Round 2 when, due to the randomness of the tableau and Jobbers/Boffo pipping ahead in the turn order auction, Jobbers/Boffo picked up a wild card placement each; this proved - for Jobbers at least - the game winning 'move'. This is, of course, arse-water of the brownest and stinkiest kind but I think my disappointment at yet another failed attendance threshold (and the loss of options for play) was lying heavy on my heart. I was royally pissed off. In reality, WotW plays cleanly and lightly and shouldn't be worried over to deeply; in the final reckoning Jobbers was, indeed, miles ahead (190-130-108-107 and 100) but I'd managed a creditable 3rd place despite the ungracious sniping. Boffo is correct: this is a nice little Wallace-light filler; the component quality is horrible, however.
At least my latest card game prototype, Danse Macabre, can cope with five so we gave it a run - at the risk of breaking poor Byll. After the straight draft, I'd tweaked the play structure from 'resolve lowest number to highest' to a simpler 'Start player plays-and-resolves, then clockwise around' and this worked far, FAR more effectively! Some interesting combos and options surfaced but I still need to fine tune to range of card abilities - some of the 'do something to someones score pile' effects just take too long to process. It's very early doors on DM but it was pleasing to hear a couple of the attendants reassure me that "there is definitely a game there!".
Benedict managed to guide the group in to game number three: Too Many Cooks, a game that is difficult to locate in BGG because there's a bollocks piece of frippery with the same name that keeps hogging the result set. Anyway, my overall demeanor in Too Many Cooks is one of bewilderment as I fail to capture cards for the current round's Soup and, when tackling the notorious 'No Soup', acting as a magnet for value '10' cards (which doom one to at least one unwanted trick). Luckily, Beebs was sat to my right and also 'No Soup'-ing; he was hit with the gleefully-stacked tricks on several occasions, saving me from the ignominy of dead last place! What a good and loyal son he is.
Smudge had emerged from her booth but didn't want to stay; neither did Byll, who has a longer drive home than the rest of us, so there was an opportunity to try Best Treehouse Ever (fresh from the postal jiffy):
In summary: Draft five cards out of six (in each of the three rounds); a drafted card is placed, if possible, on your tree-house, growing it up (overlap style) to five or six layers. Careful, though - you can only add rooms as long as the tree doesn't bend too much and tip over AND, if you already have that colour of room, it's touching. After each round, some score cards are manipulated and then everyone scores by room colour: most points is the winner.
It was an entirely lovely experience though, in the head-spinning trance of his 6th or 7th pint of the evening, Boffo objected to the score manipulation rules: the adjustment cards - something scores more (x2), something does not score (x2) - are 'picked' in Leader-then-clockwise order but then assigned in reverse. This did not sit true with our sagely Patriarch, so the second game was played with an alternative approach: pick in score track order (Leader down) and played in reverse score track order. However, while still fun, it was clear that Mr Scott Almes didn't come down with the last shower of rain and was right in the first place (of course he was!). Game designers, eh? Why don't the players trust us?
*given that we'd be splitting in to multiple groups
I'm sure BGG would like to think that it's truly International but given that it's Thanksgiving and it's quieter than choral recital by the school of the Mute & Mortifyingly Shy, it's not an equitable split!
Mind you, I'm working from home so it could be just you lot are more industrious? It certainly can't be because you've got something better to do because that's not actually possible!
I've mocked up the cards and the board for A Nice Cup of Tea, the tea-based spin-off from Snowdonia, and they're available for Print-and-Play here:
The rules are in DOCX and PDF format, the cards (and a copy of the board) in PPTX and PDF and there's also a png of the board. I've had probs in the past with Mac-generated PDFs, so if they're odd/unusable then PLEASE LET ME KNOW and I'll produce some PNGs instead!
I'll also be starting a Forum post on the main Snowdonia page to log and discuss the play-testing - one each for the two scenarios.
Finally, some bits-and-pieces:
because the Tea Estates can have high numbers of rubble cubes on them, I've included a 5x chit template to help with 'space' (stick on to cardboard etc)
you will need something to use as TEAPLES in the Tea Gardens scenario
if you chop it up right, you can stick the new board on the back of your existing Snowdonia board...this may, of course, utterly horrify you OR make your copy a super-rare one!
Let me know who you are!
Photos (broad, close-ups etc) during, and after, games then posted to the Forums would be excellent!
Please be honest with your feedback!
I'll see you over in the Forums, whenever!
No stranger to getting hooked in to sci-fi/horror serials, me and Mrs B were X-Files nuts in the 1990s, I was a Twin Peaks obsessive and you won't get much sense out of either of us when Doctor Who is on! Always on the lookout for something 'a bit different', a few years ago we were recommended a French series by - of all people - my In-Laws! They were getting rather immersed in the strange, slow and intriguing production: The Returned.
It's set in a remote French town where, suddenly, people who had died, over the last 30 or so years, start turning up - seemingly fit and well - to find and meet their loved ones; the opening scene is of a bus full of school children plummeting off a cliff because a young boy (who has 'returned') steps in to the middle of the road. The bus is important because one girl, an identical twin, returns 4 years later to rejoin her family - including her grown up sister - with no memory of the period between her death and subsequent return (seemingly true for all of 'them'). Cue: a serial killer, a burst dam, time loops, a submerged village, a Christian cult, subtitles, deadly hallucinations, murder, madness, sinkholes, a housing estate of the Dead and other oddness - all set to a creepy Trance soundtrack and filmed with a cold lens. It's coming to the end of season two and it's fantastic!
* * *
The other day, while letting my ears be assaulted by the aurally-brutal monologues of Mark Maron...
...I was alerted to the quirky sci-fi podcast play The Message: a team of cryptologists is engaged to decipher a possibly-alien message with consequences. Eight parts, each about 10 minutes long, trace the progress of this team in a similarly cold and creepy manner. It's a lot of fun!
Are there any other curios and box sets out there that I should be aware of? And I don't mean the usual 'big' superhero spin-offs et al; I'm looking for something darker...
...and talking of things 'dark' and 'transmission'-y:
Despite my general feeling of employment malaise, there IS some fun to be had in the work environment.
For Example 1:
Today, I managed to lure Tim the Head Statistician down to the canteen with a promise of a vegetable moussaka and a board game:
There's nothing patchy about the excellent Patchwork!
Tim is curious about the kinds of games I constantly evangelise about and will often lament the lack of time spent, with family and friends, on this kind of pursuit; the curse of the television preys hard and heavy on his domestic life! No matter: he managed to "name" our IT system and won a minty-fresh copy of Ivor the Engine for his trouble. I've also persuaded him to get Ticket to Ride: Europe and have almost sealed the deal on Risk Legacy, Hive and Kamisado! Not quite a regular lunchtime group, yet, but certainly the rare raw materials! Needless to say that Patchwork is also a likely candidate of something to get for his Missus; so, he's buying a game only he has played as a present for his non-gamer wife? His potential is obvious, the 'geek force' is strong with this one; it's only a matter of time before he's fully one of us.
For Example 2:
Our IT system generates random four-letter suffixes to append to Unique Reference Numbers (combating a Microsoft bugette). Somewhat inevitably, this 'notification ID' turned up, in full view, recently: NOT-00043273-CUNT. How we laughed (inwardly, of course, maintaining a serious and professional exterior at all times)!
Every cloud etc?
man is beset on
all sides by the in-
equities of Users and
the tyranny of Ineffectual
Management. Blessed is he who,
in the name of a Day Rate and good
will, shepherds the weak through the
valley of the darkness. For he is truly
his brother's keeper and the developer of a
new IT system. And I will strike down upon thee
with great vengeance and furious anger those who
attempt to poison and destroy my System. And you will
know I am the Business Analyst when I lay my Requirement
Specification upon you! I hate my job; please give me a new one.
The Live Action Roleplayer and Albert(After Marriott Edgar)
There’s a famous convention place called Essen
That’s noted for fresh games and fun
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.
A grand little geek was young Albert
All dressed in his rucksack so swell
With his map and his folding down trolley
And a fist full of Euros as well.
They didn’t think much to the Comics
The TCGs failed to enthral
There was no space for demoing product
‘Fact, no space for playin’ at all!
So, seeking for further amusement,
They wandered far in to Hall 2
Where there’s alcohol, costumes and weapons
Lots of things a roleplayer could do.
There were one great big LARP-er called Dennis
His nose were all broken and squashed-
He lay in a somnolent posture,
In his chain-mail and jerkin (unwashed).
Now Albert had heard about LARP-ers,
How they practiced the swordplay and that
He was saddened to see him so peaceful,
When he should’ve been deep in combat.
So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his folding down trolley, unfolded
...and spiked it in Dennis’ ear!
Albert shouted: “Have at thee, thou coward!
Get up and get fighting, you cur!”
But Dennis, still sleepy and grumpy,
Grabbed the poor little lad by the hair.
He pulled him by earhole and ankle
He stretched him, he bent him and, woe!
He folded him up like a parcel
Stuffed his head up his arse, made an ‘O’.
Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence,
And didn’t know what to do next,
Said “Mother! Yon LARP-ers killed Albert”
And Mother said, ‘Well I am vexed!”
Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom-
Quite rightly, when all’s said and done-
Complained to the Head of the Messe
That the LARP-er had done in their son.
The Messe were quite nice about it;
They said “What a nasty mishap.
Are you sure that it’s your boy he’s snuffed out?”
Pa said “Am I sure? There’s ‘is sack!”
The manager had to be sent for.
He came and he said “What’s to do?”
Pa said “Yon LARP-er’s ‘killed Albert
And stole all his promo cards too”
The Mother said, “Right’s right, young feller;
I think it’s a shame and a sin,
For a LARP-er to go and stiff Albert,
And after we’ve paid to come in.”
The manager wanted no trouble,
And while thinking touched pen to his lips.
Offered “How much to settle the matter?”
And Pa said: “Martin Wallace’s Ships!”
But Mother had turned a bit awkward
And taking the situ in hand
She said “No! someone’s got to pay dearly –
We’ll ‘ave everything from Japon Brand”
Then off they went to the P’lice Station,
In front of the stern Friedensrichter
They told ‘im what happened to Albert,
And it painted a horrible picture
The Justice then gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would make do with a set of The Game
At that, Mother got proper blazing,“And thank you, Herr, kindly,”
she said“What? THAT card game in lieu of our Albert?
I’d rather Hanabi instead!”
Moral: Just stay away from grown men who think they're fantasy characters.
On Friday night, Boffo's mother joined us at the White Lion and I had to be on my absolutely best behaviour: no "eff"s, "cee"s, "shitting Hell"s or "buggering cock-fungus"s (either during the session or in the subsequent write-up)*! Snuggled in the cosy nook nursing our beverages, the four of us (Boffo, Smudge, myself and Judy) were also not at home to Mr Ian Uendo either; you might as well have gagged me and put me in a straightjacket (waits)...
So, what did we play? Well, the age-old conundrum for the gamer with non-gamer relatives, is how to fill an evening with games that they would enjoy without running your own brain in to a torpor. Boffo took a direct and fearless approach by pulling out Glass Road and treated Smudge and Judy to his 'Mmm, okay?'-peppered rules explanation. We pushed right on with it and everything was, actually, fine; there is a demeaning perception that people not au fait with our style of games are somehow incapable of playing them, and that they should be nursed and patronised and pandered to. This poppyrot was ably-dispelled by Judy's confident (if flawed) play and rewarded her with 17 points...and joint last place with me (her 'experienced' son only four-and-a-half points ahead for victory). If one were to take a blurred view of most medium-weight Euro games, one could summarise them quite succinctly - and understandably - to the unwary; just leave all the fiddling admin to those in the know.
Judy contemplates her next move; Boffo twats** about.
Two games down, 17 points in each. Hmmmm...I don't seem to be learning anything.
Boffo trudged to the Bar and left me in charge of picking the next game; at first I was keen to get stuck in to Pi mal Pflaumen - my accessible card game du jour - but this prompted some distant Boffonian grumbles so, instead, I de-bagged my 2010 (super-rare) 3D family game Totemo; a distant, huffed "Excellent!" validated my choice.
In summary: Play a coloured block for points (itself and all blocks it touches in the 3 orthogonal dimensions) and if you score enough to land on a special space, place and score another block. The most points wins.
I remain unable to beat Boffo at my own game but tonight saw Smudge's first public victory
Smudge's choice was the always-excellent Dixit. Of course, with a new player in attendance, I simply had to roll out the familiar Boydellic complaint that Marie Cardouat's name should be in the box just as prominently as Jean-Louis Roubira's because it's "nothing without the art, is it?". Anyway, everything was going oddly Mirror Universe (Boffo in the lead and, eventually, the winner) until this appeared:
The Ogre's shirt-tails, upon first revealing, looked like a pair of bleached buttocks...and as for the 'follow me in to the woods' vibe...?
It was getting late and the pub had emptied of everyone apart from us and the Staff; it was a little unsettling and I thought it best that we keep our spirits up with the gorgeous eye-feast that is Pi mal Pflaumen. Smudge claims she has "no idea what to do" and Boffo is convinced it's all luck-based, so I was looking to Boffo's Mother to compliment me on my plums***.
What an attractive pear!****
To close, we selected Codenames: yadda, yadda, yadda etc. What else can one say? Smudge was surprisingly coherent in her clue-giving though STILL finds it impossible to remain silent and un-reacting when Spymaster. Boffo and Judy almost pulled off a four-for-the-win but it ended in a Just one-a-piece result.
Another boring shot of Codenames laid out on the table; get used to it because many
gigabytes of image space is going to be used up in this manner.
To close, we played I-Spy with every clue 'beginning with B' (Boffo, Beer Belly, Back, Beard and 'Bastard'). Another fine session and all the better for being polite...I knew I could fucking do it!
***dammit all to Hades!
A Sibylline Syllabary for a Saturday
Me being me, I subscribe to the Shephy
BGG page and a few weeks back THIS forum post appeared:https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1467894/related-2-5-pla...
Of course, me being me, I HAD to have it and contacted Mr Blanco on the off-chance
that he might be going back to the shop before continuing his travels...he DID!
And he got me a copy!
And he posted it to me (after I'd remunerated him for his generous troubles, natch).
And it arrived yesterday!
How do we play it?
George (A noob who played a heavyweight game and
suffered a Catastrophe of considerable Dimensions)(After Belloc)
When George’s gaming group was told
That George was coming to the fold,
They questioned him as what he’d wish
To play when first he took pozish..
And so he said, with brandished fist,
“I want play The Gallerist
And being of a heavyweight sort
It made poor George’s brain contort!
His eyes were tear-ed, his words were stumblin’
The fingers on his hands were tremblin’
And round the table shrieks and yells
Were mingled with unpleasant smells.
For Vee Lacerda’s game (deployed)
Had caused young George’s bowels to void!
And dreadful shrieks as gibb’rous loon
George gibbered: “Sca…Sca…Scandaroon!”
He stood, then tottered to the pane
And threw himself nine floors, in rain,
On to the slabs of Drury Lane!
When help arrived, poor George was dead
The blood, and rules, leaked from his head
The gamers joined all those in prayer
Stood solemn on the thoroughfare.“Why not play Carc? Or Tier auf Tier?
Why step right up to complex fayre?
Why torture such a virgin shoot
With such advanced, forbidden fruit?”
Quoth George’s Ma, o’erwhelmed with stress:You might’ve led with Colt Express!“Moral:
Thus players with such fragile frames
Should not be playing Vital’s games!
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