Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Independent UK games designer, self-confessed Agricola-holic and Carl Chudyk fan-boy. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

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China In Your Grande

Anthony Boydell
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It's that time of (alternate) year again: Comic Relief Day. Comic Relief is a charitable telethon originally set up by the UKs 'alternative comedians' in the late 80s/early 90s. The main BBC schedule for the night is accompanied by a week's worth of 'regional interest' stories: folk colouring their hair, running backwards on treadmills and generally invalidating Insurance policies the length-and-breadth of the country in the name of fundraising. No-one can besmirch the great value of this enterprise - this Year they tipped in to a lifetime total of £1 billion - but, boy, is the whole thing a grind to sit through. Between heart-rending visual vignettes on WHY the money is needed and/or HOW MUCH it's made a difference are smug, self-referential 'sketches' which commit the Cardinal Sin (for a comedy event) of not being even remotely funny. Not so much as a mild turning up at the corner of the mouth: nuthin'.

Anyway - gosh, consider one's spleen a little 'vented' - there is no way on Earth you'd get me stopping in to watch this claptrap over a trip out for gaming, so I put together a few bobs 'n bits and popped in to Ross-on-Wye.

I still have no memory of what Boffo (more from his namesake tomorrow) was perusing LAST week but, this week, he was sedately reviewing the rules for El Grande with an obligatory amber brew in easy reach. We would be FIVE for the evening, so that ruled out my freshly-punched French-language copy of Deus, but I was ever-so pleased at the chance to play a true classic again; not experienced since my days in London (now Doppler-ing in to the mists of Memory).

Jobbers sauntered in and threw a loaned copy of James Blish's Black Easter in my direction (I have various editions of this splendid work) before going to (and almost IMMEDIATELY returning from) the Bar for a pint of spineless cider. Byll was close behind, lugging the usual suitcase of product that we would roundly ignore for the night, followed by Dan and the copy of Agricola now permanently attached to his left hand. The attendant number also precluded the chance to play Discworld: Ankh-Morpork "in honour of the recent passing of Martin Wallace" - this being a splendid quote from what would be an 'effervescent and feisty' Friday evening Boffo!



I like El Grande very much and - with it being just one of those games my brain fits around - quickly found myself pushing ahead at the front with Byll, and a protesting Boffo, slip-streaming me all the way. Jobbers, frankly, struggled like a knock-kneed Pensioner at a Ballet audition to grasp the fundamentals of 'area control' and was woefully behind come the denouement. I think it was a Round 7 'retrieve a Power card of your choice' (the 13) followed by a Round 8 'last pick' of a Veto (a gift from Jobbers) that sealed my victory. Boffo was 10 points behind and I could feel his hot, hoppy breath on the back of my neck; if we'd have had one more round I think he would've 'had me'!



Panting with the exertions of medieval Spain, we plumped for a calming filler: my VERY newly-arrived copy of Eggs and Empires! I was, of course, mumbling my complaints at its non-appearance in the Boydell household not two posts ago so I was delighted to crack the cellophane and get going on this sumptuously-presented Libertalia-lite. I don't mean this in a disparaging way because I adore Libertalia!

In summary: Each player has a mini-deck of 10 character cards with which to gather/avoid gathering Dragon Eggs from a central pool. Most of the cards have abilities that juggle with the collecting order and/or what special thing happens if you do/do not collect an egg. Helpfully in this sort of game, a lot of the Eggs are bad and you DON'T want them in your scorepile. Play proceeds for 9 rounds (9 of your 10 characters will be played) and then you score.

The solemn concentration of El Grande was replaced by a raucous, beer-fuelled riot for 'the Eggs' with Boffo taking particular delight at my enforced collection of exploding ova. Jobbers won handsomely due to being roundly ignored by the others who were taking much more pleasure from Boydellian schadenfreude! My own jibes about how 'winning El Grande is much more important than a filler' fell on deafened-by-laughter ears and I limped home to a pathetic -2 finish. We played again straight away and, this time, I managed a late-20s total - still far back from a secondly triumphant Jobbers - and it was Boffo's turn to glower in shame from the negative doldrums!



With the thick end of a good hour to go, we pulled Chinatown from Boffo's manbag in order to better educate Dan. It doesn't take long to explain the rules - though we did argue for a good 5 minutes about how many cards and/or business tiles to distribute - and we were soon wheeling, dealing and bartering like billy-o! I thought I'd stolen THIS one too - Chinatown is another one of my 'affinity' games - but even a 4 round long $40,000 payout-from-revenue from Jobbers and a 2 round same from Byll couldn't get me passed the quietly-scheming Boffo: he ended on $1.14 million, me on $1.1 million and everyone else in the $700,000s...$40,000 (4 lowest value money cards) was all that stood between us! Dan pronounced that it was 'good, but not for me' - a little to free-form for his liking.

Jobbers scarpered with a cheery 'ta-ta!', leaving the rest of us to do the clearing up and chat about (perhaps) getting together soon for a play test session: me with Snod stuff (of course), Boffo keen to re-engineer my 'See You In Court' design and Dan with something 3D and woodenly-tactile in mind.

An hilarious, if sweary, boys night out.
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Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:03 am
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A View From A Bridge

Anthony Boydell
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If it's Thursday, then it's my eldest son's Drama club in Ross-on-Wye until 7PM; this means I'll hang around at work a little longer then stop off in the Town on my normal route. This week, I was dusted - and with a thumping headache - done by 4.30PM so I set off home. By the time I was approaching Monmouth, I was 75 minutes early for the pickup so I took an impulsive left turn after the Gibraltar tunnels and then doubled back over them to the tiny housing Troy Gardens housing estate.

The reason for this spontaneous diversion is that I'm right in the middle of designing a couple of new scenarios for Snowdonia, both of which have been inspired by Cap'n Byll's loan of local railway photographs (see previous blog post)...and the centre piece of both, linking them thematically, is Monmouth Troy Station:

Scenario 1: The Wye Valley Railway
From Monmouth to Wye Valley Junction (nr Chepstow), this has an industrial feel to it with tunnels, wireworks and quarries; it also requires the Surveyor to be a Station if you want to build in there - and there's only one Surveyor space in each station.

Scenario 2: Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth
From Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth via more scenic locations such as Kerne Bridge (in view of Goodrich Castle), Symonds Yat (and the Yat Rock) and so on. This, too, has tunnels and steel bridges but has a more tourist-y feel because the Surveyor is encouraged to visit the places of beauty on the route to gain mini-bonuses during the game and - of course - points at the end. To track THIS aspect, I'm going to provide five POSTCARDS (one for each player) depicting landmarks on the route and - on the flip side - acting as a recording sheet for successful visits.

Of course, both scenarios could be COMBINED to make a longer 'end-to-end' Wye Valley railway and I can add Tintern Abbey (from scenario 1) on to the postcard to tie this together too!

Anyway, I've gotten myself a little side-tracked! The purpose of TODAY's blog is to show you what I did with the hour before I needed to pick Fred up from the Theatre: I went for a walk.


There isn't much left of the original Troy station beyond the (blocked up) tunnel heading off towards Usk & Pontypool and a hard, flat bed of hardcore. There's a wall, probably part of a shed of some kind, but that's pretty much it. The original station building itself was dismantled, brick-by-brick, and is now part of the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire (Heritage) railway and is at Winchcombe (about 30 miles away).

Walking towards the river, through the bracken and along the slender dog-walker path, the view opens up to show this quite spectacular construction: the Monmouth Viaduct


I was dumbfounded. It is an incredible sight. I lived, and went to School, in Monmouth between 1979 and 1984 and never once knew this thing existed! I followed the path around, dipped in to the field and walked right up to one of the arches closest to the River. The thing ends abruptly at the Bank then a hugely-overgrown stub reappears on the far side taking the the old track down to the Wyesham Halt and, thence, to the Forest of Dean or the Wye Valley. My headache was clearing in the cool, drizzle-filled evening air as I gazed up at the crumbling Cathedral to Rail.

I made my way back up to the track embankment and headed away from the Stone to the Steel, an alternative river crossing just 100 yards further along: the Duke of Beaufort's Bridge:


This steel span is rusty-red and the original 'floor' has been replaced with a temporary tubular effect - fine for joggers, walkers and fishermen to cross but no use for bikes...or, indeed, Trains.


I paused, before doubling back, to take some views from this bridge and then it was time to get on.


An original aerial shot of Monmouth with yesterday's landmarks added for reference.


It was only a 45 minute stop-off but one that filled me with joy from belly to brain; nostalgia may not be what it used to be, but it's a great way of escaping the grimness of workaday C21.
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Fri Mar 13, 2015 11:44 am
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And what you give is what you get

Anthony Boydell
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It's been happening for a while, so I thought I'd share my own experience with Kickstarter. On the whole it has been mostly fine though SOME of the pledging seems to have been done when I was 'heavily refreshed':

Key:
- not yet received
- received (dans mes mains 'sweaty')

Currently-backing:
Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents This one looks very nice and the Theme is utterly brilliant

The Thunderbirds Co-operative Board Game by Matt Leacock It's Leacock. It's effing Thunderbirds. It's dripping with cool minis and chrome.

Successfully-backed:
M80 - Explosive Little Card Game! This guy does quirky card games with an Artistic sensibility I find wonderfully naive and attractive. This one game comes with a veritable treasure chest of other card-based bits and bobs!

Pocket Imperium Morti hits the big time...again. REALLY looking forward to this!

BoardGameGeek: The Card Game Shamefully missed out on including Snowdonia as a card...but I've been promised a spot 'in the expansion'

Monster Deck 55 Massively multiple-attributed cards with monster sketches on and lots of variant rule sets

Fidelitas: A card game of medieval meddling for 2-4 players!

The Fitzroy Comic Spin-off from the film funding (below) - light, but fun.

Yardmaster Express Took forever to get here (Jan 15) and MANY non-KS backers got copies at Essen Spiel'14. This was my first experience of being KS-Gazumped.

Waggle Dance: a strategic board game of dice, bees and honey Grublin's second campaign and a fun, bee-themed worker placer.

Yardmaster See my whine comments about Yardmaster Express above

Eggs and Empires - A fast paced exciting card game for 2-6p From those goodly Fleet people; I have yet to receive my allocation despite everyone else in the Galactic Supercluster now in full (playing) swing!

Of Mice and Lemmings from Scott Almes & Sprocket Games! I'm a fully paid-up Sprocket fan and was selling these off the SSG stand at Essen...but I forgot to pick up my own copy...and it STILL hasn't arrived. Hoping Michael remembers before he emigrates to the USA...

Coin Age - A PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT area control microgame What to say?

Dreaming Spires Recently-reviewed, somewhat underwhelmingly, on Garretts Games & Geekiness; I was attracted by the theme and the Carcassonne/pseudo-Walnut Grove vibe.

Keep Running! The game of you, your friends and a huge bear! Foxy Sprocket goodness!

Scopa Playing Cards - Classic Italian Game - Gamer's Edition

FrogFlip from Sprocket Games Flippin' great fun for all the family!

Cornish Smuggler: Signed so heavily on the box that you can barely make out the art! I really must ACTUALLY play this, though I WILL be removing some of the more hysterical luck-of-the-draw-game-changer cards!

Promised Land: 1250-587 BC - a new game design! Avec Tea Towel too. Just need to PLAY the bloomin' thing!

Fox & Chicken - Werewolf hits the henhouse!

Dicecards: The World's Geekiest Dice Bag in a Deck of Cards Someone is trying to KS a VERY sub-standard version of this genius work: http://dicecards.com

/ The Fitzroy (got posters, seen the credits...movie arriving later this year!)

Martin Wallace's Moongha Invaders: Mad Scientists and Atomic Monsters Attack the Earth! I think we're in to 6 figures in KS Updates for this one; it's kind of comforting to receive an email every three weeks or so telling you how the latest proofs have been cleared with only some minor tweaks required. Current ETA is this year, apparently.

Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game What a mistake. Never played it, never will. Haven't even de-shrinked the decks. Actually, I probably only have about 10% of the game when you consider all the add-ons and pledge level bonuses I didn't quality for.

Ace of Spies Fox and Rivera...let down HUGELY by Albino Dragon who, when gently chased for progress to this games delivery, (EDIT I, Tony Boydell, responded rather unprofessionally. Oh, and I got stung for £15 more quid in fucking Customs Charges.

Video Coverage of Essen International Game Fair & Ludo Fact

Board 2 Pieces Comics Compendium Vol.1&2 Ted Alspach in all his pithy cartooning glory before he got obsessed with successful, inventive Euro games' design.

Glory to Rome << Black Box Edition >> Rome Demands BEAUTY! 'Nuff said. I got ALMOST everything I paid $250 for: two copies of Black Box, a Letter of Apology for the original I/I.V art and lots of bits and scrappy pieces. The design is lovely...the card quality is appalling.

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Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:05 am
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Putting the Count in Countryside...

Anthony Boydell
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View from my Hotel (Llandudno) - 10/03/15
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Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:25 am
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Panamax Boyce

Anthony Boydell
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It was a grey, dull drive up the Marches yesterday morning. All the usual peaks (the Mynd, Rodney's Point and others) were be-clouded and a faint drizzle made it just damp enough to need the windscreen wipers on BUT not damp enough to merit a full auto-swipe. By the time I'd bimbled up the boring bypasses around Shrewsbury and Oswestry I decided to sod-the-lot-of-em, hang a sharp left and foray up the wilds of the A5 through Llangollen, Corwen and the backside of the Snowdonians. I was delayed at the former (roadworks) but managed to get a half-glimpse the Castle Dinas Bran on top of the hill (cue pic 1 below) - curious and bleak.

As the road got straighter and more rural, the weather got more spotty and, eventually, I found myself in a queue waiting for a convoy escort vehicle: the road in front me laid thick, down one side, in new tarmac.



Work, unsurprisingly, occupied the rest of the P.M.; come knocking-off time, I was soon-as-blink traversing the bustling pre-Season centre of Llandudno to the Escape, my lodgings for the next two nights. In the car park was just the one other vehicle (pic 2, see above): great looking car, fucking AWFUL colour! It belongs to someone rich&flash rather than rich&famous, according to the Hotel Manager.

Quick change then down the estuary to Deganwy, Conwy via the bridge and the Golf Course. A huge turnout, possibly breaching 20, made for a bustling Bar/Lounge with XCOM: The Board Game (for deffo) on one table and me - with Lee, Tim and Paul - plumping for Panamax near the setting Sun balcony window.



I played the P-dog at the very start of the year and I recalled it all being a little more understandable back then than it seemed last night: the rulebook was EXTREMELY DENSE with text, I couldn't locate anything to quickly get us going and my mind was a complete blank when it came to examples/last time! I struggled (wearily) on and we were (eventually) able to make a start...but I feared for the sanity of my compatriots: Tim looked baffled, Lee looked worn out and Paul seemed like he would pull the beard from his face before much longer!

Still, we got going and - I think we were playing it mostly right - we filled the next couple of hours with die-shoving, coin-changing fun. When I say 'fun' I mean, of course, 'headaches' BUT (like the water in that canal) it 'flowed' perfectly well. My own fine cash accrual allowed a rich company to shower Award-winning dividends upon the great, the good (and Tim) until a terrible final Round where Warehouse-entrenched dice kicked the cash flow good-and-hard in the fiscal gonads. Despite that, I managed to hoard a $90 personal total and was about to do a little celebratory Victory Dance when Lee pointed out that he had $90 too...and, thanks to the tie-break being on current turn order, he was the winner (having leapt to the front of the turn order track courtesy of some train-loading pifflery as his very last action of the game)!

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!



Last up, with the Barman hoovering around our shoes, was Deep Sea Adventure: a quirky little Japanese push-your-lucker where players are scuba divers rolling dice to move deeper in to the Ocean to recover treasure tokens (the chits shown in the photo) - the deeper you go, the more valuable the chits you can pick up. However, as players collect chits so the OVERALL consumption of oxygen from a fixed supply increases and players will need to turn around and swim back to the boat before they drown! I drowned in rounds 1 and 2 but, in the last round, managed to scrabble back on the deck with a paltry 13pt treasure; Paul - hopelessly cut adrift in Panamax - proved (in this instance) to have the best sea legs after all!
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Tue Mar 10, 2015 7:30 am
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Offup Offas

Anthony Boydell
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I'm off up to North Wales, again, with work; hopefully that
means I'll be at the Conwy Golf Club tonight for some
gaming (I have packed Panamax and Paperclip Railways
and some small stuff, just in case).

In the meantime, here's some cheesy 'Hold Music' to help wile
away a few gentle, day-dreamy moments:

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Mon Mar 9, 2015 7:30 am
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Lancastrain Lads

Anthony Boydell
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About a year ago, during that windy and wet EndWinter/StartSpring, the street lamp outside our front gates began to lean; not so much 'at a rakish angle' (like a good hat should be) as 'Sweet Jesus! It's going to kill someone!'. Despite a daily to-ing and fro-ing of parents to a nearby Primary School, it was Mrs B - all social conscience - that phoned in the deathtrap-in-waiting the Local Council. (Un)Like burning shit off a white hot shovel, a branded van (with a couple of bored types) phutt-phutted up the Street a day later and - in between rolling up fags and tutting - they took the thing down, filled in the hole and fucked off.

Cue: 12 months later and Yours Truly is (barely) resisting the urge to send a 'Piss off and die!' email to some primadonna developers when there is a knocketty-knock at the Frontone. The van may be re-branded, and I'm fair dazzled to semi-blindness by the hi-vis jackets, but the gents are politely-here to 'fix the lamp'. By dusk/suppertime, (our part of) Glebe Road is - once again - bathed in a soft, sodium glow.

However, I don't have time to admire the installation preferring - instead - to click a quick pic and get myself over to Ross-on-Wye for some board gaming! Ok, yah!

Boffo is nestled in the cosy corner, nose-deep in a rulebook (I forget for what - see HIS blog for deets, maybe); an ale is fizzing at half mast to his Left hand. I amble to the Bar for a PJ&L and assume the usual 'push through the crowd' position, you know the one:
a) crowd of peeps sit at the Bar sipping somesuch
b) you attempt to get to Bar for-to-purchase one's own refreshment
c) peeps look at you as if you'd just burped in to their crisps for having the cow-felching temerity to want a bloody drink!

I bump in to Norm and Keith and instantly remember that I'd forgotten to bring the former's copy of Shephy with me; both lads had just burst in to the room like a couple of Cub Scouts arriving late to a Sausage Cook-off. We settle, proximal to the tranquil Boffo, and await the final piece of our puzzle: the unstable gaming isotope that is Jobbers.

Both Norm and I have brought our copies of Snowdonia (mine has the 1-4 player Wye Valley Line prototype) but, to unanimous approval, we decant N's copy of Lancaster on to the dark varnish. Boffo offers a rules refresher, supplemented by my presentation of crisped Porcine epidermis, and we are away! Worryingly, everyone - apart from me - chooses a starting Tapestry of 'extra money' but I shrugged this off and decided that leveling up to a big army was the way forward. It ALMOST worked: I missed out on a key noble/battle reinforcement after being bumped out of Dorset by Jobbers which cost me three or four points (and would've put me a VERY close second to Norm in the final tally!). I've only played this twice and that's something I very much need to remedy in the near future; it is absolutely brilliant.


Boffo seems to fall asleep mid-game...Jobbers' not that slow with his turns, is he?


There was a little dance around the selection of game two but a paucity of other suitable 'Fivers' in the bag meant Norm and I would be indulged in some Snowdonia. Boffo insisted on 'vanilla' and then proceeded to complain about the perceived (by him and a few other blowhards) 'Last Player Problem' in the 5pl version (Norm, to his Left, was selected to Start). I sweetened the deal a little by adding Snowdonia: Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, benevolent fog (from Snowdonia: The Necropolis Railway & Neuhauser Bockerlbahn) and an extra prototype Contract card (no. 31 of 30, see below). It was a full and tense game with Boffo, Keith and Norm hogging the postcard Hotel to boost their Surveyors up the Hill (my own wandered, drunkenly, from his lodgings in the very last Round; stumbling upon Waterfall Station, and a couple of veeps, before passing out in a bush). Jobbers' unfamiliarity cost him dear with NO Contract Cards fulfilled and a repeatedly inefficient use of the Works. Despite my completion of four CCs, including the 5 Track for 40, I was neither able to catch a triumphant (last player in Round 1) Bateson (129 pts) nor a glowing Norm (119) with my own beefy, but ultimately not-Bovril 117 points. It was mentally exhausting!


The top two both had trains but I thought I'd got 'em (especially with that 40pt contract card!)


In fact, it was SO tiring that even some patrons calling out 'Enjoy your game of Monopoly!', as they left, couldn't stir me from my seat!

#tiredbuthappy #whatascorcher
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Sun Mar 8, 2015 8:30 am
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You couldn't make it up

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A Snippet for a Sarcastic, Satirical Saturday


Given that I spend much of my time with the Glass of Enquiry pressed up against the Flock Wallpaper of Truth, it's only right that I eavesdrop on some juicy hunks of gaming gossipflesh. Like these:

Shite Games (those tiresome, media-blowing, arm-waving-pick-me-pick-me polyps on the rectum of the hobby) have announced their latest product for a Summer release: "Jihadi John". It's a straight-up retheme of Loopin' Louie...but with an I.S. fanatacist taking the place of the beloved pilot. Watch in stomach-mashing horror as the battery-operated rotating arm carries the fundamentalist in circles, scything the 'head' tokens from players' flipper segments*

You must have been living in a cave these last few days if you haven't seen the announcement from Penthouse Games:

Quote:
Penthouse Games Bids a Fond Farewell to Noted Designer Merton Grommit

Penthouse Games and Merton Grommit have made some games together: games about trains, games about other stuff than trains. Games based on mimeographed 1970s fanzines, games set upon honorable fields and games about assembling things (the rulebooks for which, humourously mimicking the incomprehensibility of flat-pack furniture guides). However, all things, no matter how great or cock-choppingly piss-poor, must eventually end. And it is endings we speak of today. Penthouse Games and Merton Grommit shall venture forth to seek their futures along divergent paths (hopefully his will be rather too close for comfort to a precipice). We, Penthouse Games, wish him variable health (with the occasional heart scare) and career-failingly enforced austerity as we know he will continue to bother board game enthusiasts in the future.

To Merton Grommit from Penthouse Games, best of luck without us and may fortune shit copiously upon your dining table!


Some have been confused by this unannounced announcement and there has been much discussion in the BGG Fora about what it REALLY means! Merton, himself, has remained tight-lipped about the whole affair and strongly denies that his Internet Browsing History includes the phrases 'Hiring a Contract Killer' and 'Long-distance Voodoo Curses'.

*For the avoidance of doubt: this is my personal nightmare, the manner of death that chills me to the marrow. If I don't find a way to laugh then I will weep.
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Sat Mar 7, 2015 7:06 am
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Looping Leonard

Anthony Boydell
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Another one for the Nimoy geeklist (managed to complete it before the battery ran out on my laptop!)



https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/188009/games-made-bet...
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Fri Mar 6, 2015 8:50 am
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Musical Differences?

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This popped up on my Facebook feed this morning:

"Mayfair Games Bids a Fond Farewell to Noted Designer Martin Wallace

Mayfair Games and Martin Wallace have made some great games together: games about trains, games about planes and games about automobiles. Games based on best-selling literary works, games set upon the fields of honor and games about making things. However, all things, no matter how good, must eventually end. And it is endings we speak of today. Mayfair Games and Martin Wallace shall venture forth to seek their futures along divergent paths. We, Mayfair Games, wish him and his family good health and prosperity as we know he will continue to delight board game enthusiasts in the future.

To Martin Wallace from Mayfair Games, best of luck and may fortune smile broadly upon your endeavors!"


( see it, for real, here: https://www.facebook.com/mayfairgames/posts/1015310372421585... )

WTF?

Since when have companies formally announced going their separate ways?

If this was the expiration of a license, presumably reverting back to Martin, then this might make some sense but even so it seems an odd move to post anything.

If this is a polite way of saying goodbye because things have become rather acrimonious then why not just stay silent?

I find the whole 'clipped niceness' of it a bit bewildering (and not a little passive-aggressive).

...and why would you close the door on future projects like this?

Am I reading too much in to it? Reassure me, good people!
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Fri Mar 6, 2015 7:37 am
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