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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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Baby Fish Mouth!

Anthony Boydell
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Mrs B had been away for an Aunt's funeral, so it was just me and the boys and Daisy and Ziggy in the house. The two elder children barely surface before midday, so - after walking the dog in the bright sunshine of the A.M (see below) - three of us popped in to Ross-on-Wye to stock up on vittals for the NYE 'party'.



A few friends have been invited over to eat, drink and play some games but I'd realised we were perilously-short of cheese, pork pies and - thanks to Mrs B hemorrhaging my stock of Carmenere as 'house visit' gifts - red wine! Fortunately, Sainsburys was on hand to replenish supplies AND supplement the scran with a fulsome sherry trifle and Lego Jurassic World (XBox360) for Arthur.

Aside: Arthur is a wonder with his pocket money: he earns - via household chores - steadily throughout the month and is able to buy himself one or two 'decent' toys at the end of it. Cash Presents from the Festivities boosted his December balance to £70 (!) with which he has now bought 4 x Transformers, the aforementioned video game and two expansion packs for Lego Dimensions: the lad makes his money go a looooooooooong way!

Six o'clock heralded the arrival of Mrs B (long journey down the M6/M5 from Blackburn) and the evening's guests: the Freemans (Jules, Pip and Peter), Loarne (good friend and Franciscan Friar) and - eventually, when they could pull themselves away from Tales of the Arabian Nights - Boffo and Smudge Bateson. Butternut squash / sprout & chestnut soups were bubbled in to life and the groaning table of comestibles groaned satisfyingly. I took myself out of the loop to deliver Daisy to another house party and then got stuck behind a council gritter on the way back: it seems the bonnet of my Touran will be MORE than safe from frosting over given the generous spraying it received!

Entering the rowdy kitchen upon my return, I was greeted by a dazzling array of players in full performance; a game had already been started (without informing me) whereby everyone was given a random 'trait' card and had to enact that trait for me to guess...me to whom NO ADVANCE WARNING had been given! The pandemonium was positively Ken Russell-esque with Jules hog-snouting through a large bowl of sweet chilli crisps ('hungry'), Smudge braying like an electrocuted donkey ('hysterical'), Pip skulking furtively around the patio avec fag ('suspicious') and other displays of moral disintegration. I got the Hell out of there...

...to the shed to retrieve the first official entertainment of the Evening:

The spoils of a local Auction about 10 years ago: 1960s party games from Pepys (Castell Brothers) and Dennis's


A curious mix of anagrams, objects-from-an-unusual-angle and 'What is wrong with this picture?' formed the split-in-to-three-teams playoff; each team getting 5 minutes with one set of images and then passing left, and so on with end-of-round scoring.


From L to R: Boffo, Smudge (Fast Action Response Team); Pip, Mrs B, Loarne (the Turtle Doves); Benedict and Jules' Knee, pTer not in shot (The Younglings)


It was neck-and-neck between the Farts and the Doves for the three rounds while the Younglings - finally resisting the urge to piss about - managed to scrape back from a woeful opener to end a respectful third (albeit 'of three').

Suitably warmed up, we popped another log on the fire and NOBO-ed five rounds per team of pseudo-Pictionary ie. forget the board, just work your way through the cards from top-to-bottom in 1 minute. I have managed to miss out on the last three sessions of this (at least) which equates to about 5 years in elapsed time; everyone expects me to be 'rather good' on account of my quick mind and cartooning skills and, indeed, so it proved when I busted the others' averages of 2 or 3 with my own 7 (almost 8).



Smugly, I returned to my seat (and my personal bottle of Carmenere) to heckle the remaining 'doodlers' mercilessly: that'll get them back for the 'traits' debacle!


From L to R: Peter, Boffo, Loarne, Pip, Mrs B & Jules


Next: there was no way I was going to let a room full of non-gamers get away without being subjected to the singular light-bulb moment that is Codenames. As expected, it only took a couple of clues before the whole concept took root and they were guessing, mis-guessing and trash-talking the opposition like veterans! At some point during the game, 2015 gave way to 2016 and we all stood to hug, cheer and top-up the bubbles.

Though beginning to flag, the group was not YET ready to succumb to beddy-bo-bibbles and we closed a raucous session with the plain beauty of Dixit. Now calmed, but still giggling, and with the puppy snoring loudly in his den, the assembled persons dis-assembled in to the frosting Newent night.

The perfect way to end, and begin, a Year.
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Sat Jan 2, 2016 6:50 am
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What's Another Year?

Anthony Boydell
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(Oh dear: my head hurts! This blog was jotted a couple of days ago and, thus, doesn't reflect the riot of a New Years Eve we had - I'll tell you about that tomorrow!)

So, dear friends, what will 2016 bring? For myself, that list is (already) well-formed:

Copies of the sumptuously-illustrated Bad Grandmas for Surprised Stare Games to sell at shows

Guilds of London for sale at UK Games Expo (I have signed stuff!) otherwise it will be an expensive stand with nothing in it...apart from the Grandmas, of course.

This blog's 1500th post!

A new job?

A first Tony trip to the U.S for Gencon?

Eldest daughter comes back from her year-long trip to New Zealand!

My Snowdonia (but not Snowdonia) spin-off A Nice Cup Of Tea (Darjeeling / Wye Valley Tourer) in a box with cards, pieces and a new board...hopefully for Essen Spiel!

This blog's 5th anniversary!

The new MegAgricola?

That's enough to be going on with, no? What about YOU?



HAPPY
NEW
YEAR!


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Fri Jan 1, 2016 6:50 am
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(strokes chin - cue: wobbly fade)

Anthony Boydell
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Another 12 months flies by and it's been a decidedly odd year:

As a player...
...I averaged about 25 games per month (across 126 different games) with the following fives and dimes:
42 x Guilds of London (more later)
17 x Codenames (my Silver Medal Game of the Year)
17 x Dobble (I was Born Again!)
15 x Roll for the Galaxy (oddly bored of this now)
13 x The King of Frontier
9 x Unpublished Prototype
9 x Містеріум (Mysterium, the old version)
9 x Snowdonia (incl. other scenarios)
7 x Agricola (!)
6 x Cubist
6 x Eggs and Empires
6 x Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King (my Game of the Year)
6 x Pi mal Pflaumen (my Bronze Medal Game of the Year)
6 x Spyfall (one session, LOTS of fun)
5 x Cubiko (a continuing favourite!)
5 x Harbour, and
5 x Sandcastles

The Ross-on-Wye club celebrated it's 5th birthday (without me!) and continues to be a significant refuge in my weekly routine; I think I might perish without it!

As a Designer...
...Ivor the Engine has competely gone from the Esdevium warehouse which means my own shedstock is now fair game for selling to shops (we were prohibited before)!
...Bad Grandmas has appeared as a real, proper, actual manufactured thing!
...Snowdonia: Trans-Australian Railway & The Daffodil Line made it to Essen, albeit a little rushed, and - of course - there was
...Guilds of London

Spoiler-ed for the benefit of innocent eyes:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Even now, with a distance of 4 months, the bile begins to burn when I recall the shenanigans I was put through. I was dealing with Intrafin on the Saturday before the deadline Monday without ANY inkling there'd be a pull out; we were sanding corners and tidying things up with Mr Klemens Above-and-Beyond-the-Call-of-Duty Franz AT THE WEEKEND! We wanted it to be absolutely right, to be 100% the best it could be! So I don't believe, for a second, that this was a last minute decision on their part: 'gutless' is the word I'm looking for...and 'unprofessional'...and 'inept' too.

I wish them swift Bankruptcy.


As a Father...
...I have sent two children away, one to the other side of the World, and it hurts! A heart simultaneously swollen-to-bursting with pride and with missingness.
...my eldest son has had an incredibly rough year and was crippled by the stress of exams; with the support of a fantastic local organisation, Mrs B has managed to survive a maze of bureaucracy and secured him a place at his hoped-for College!
...the other boys just keep on keeping on: both developing as fine game players (which is nice)!

As a Business Analyst...
...work has taken me up-and-down Wales a lot, which is tremendously rewarding, but it also feels like the walls are closing in! I've been doing I.T stuff for 25 years+ and am yearning for a change!

As a British Citizen...
...I am shamed by the Middle Eastern refugee crisis and our Government's refusal to help in any meaningful way
...I am shamed by our Government's gung-ho, ego-polishing military action in Syria
...I am, however, delighted that the shower of cloned, self-serving shitbags masquerading as the political strata in our Society, are getting a decent opposition - at last - in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn. And that people are finding their voice.

As a blogger...
...I reached 1000 posts and have accelerated through to almost half-as-many again! I think I may need to put myself a Kickstarter book campaign and dig out some other Boydellian ephemera: would you buy a copy?
...I have been joined in this daily discipline by the most excellent (and, importantly, interesting) Mr Stuart Burnham (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blog/4563/it-beats-watching-tv). And he only lives about 40 miles away, so perhaps 2016 will bring a new regular meetup?

Lawks, it's been a thumper of a three hundred and sixty five - let's hope we all meet again at the end of the next one!

Oh, and there was Star Wars
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Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:06 pm
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Oedipus 4X

Anthony Boydell
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Middle son Ben (White), Daffers (Blue) and myself (Red) played Eclipse yesterday; for Benedict, it was his first time...
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Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:00 am
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Bricking It at Boffo's

Anthony Boydell
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The holiday grinds remorselessly towards it's end. Damn! It seems like only yesterday that I was singing along to Driving Home For Christmas and leaving the office for a well-earned break; now I'm steeling myself for noseygrindstone once again. Shit-the-bed!

No matter, though; for today (ie. yesterday), I managed to wangle a pass out and scoot over to Ross-on-Wye to pay in a couple of cheques and play some board games at the tiny abode of the Batesons! We were rumoured to be attended by gentle David de Ledbury but he had to rearrange at the last minute...as did Jobbers, who has backed away from tomorrow's (ie. today's) projected game of Eclipse which Dave can make. *phew* It's hard to keep up sometimes.

Anyway, today it was Boffo and Smudge, on home ground, to the sound of distant Guinea Pigs; the wiggers have been brought indoors due to projections of oncoming bitter weather...it also means Boffo can use the garden's hutch as a beer cooler: smart, if cold (in both senses) thinking, Sir. Look, I'm just wittering on now; perhaps I should just describe what we played?


Biblios - A game of two quickly-played, if rather empty, halves.


While Smudge decanted a generous dollop of potted cheese on Boffo's toast (Please!!! This is NOT a euphemism), we started things light-and-simple...the opposite of Boffo's lunch which looked ripe and complex with a heady bouquet of garlic. After 10 minutes of card selection and a subsequent auction, the final scores were 6-6-3 with Boffo winning on the tiebreak: hardly rip-snorting material for my next Gamer Detective novel! Still, with all munching and curds (fermented or no) dispatched, we were now limbered up for something with a little more flesh on it's bones: Porta Nigra


About to begin: it's all fields...


In summary: Each player has their own deck of action cards, each of which depicts a number of action icons. Each turn you will select one - from two in hand - and use it like a miniature worker placement board: assign dobbers to buy bricks of various (or any) colour, gain scrolls/money/torches and (most importantly) build - using accumulated bricks - for points. When you have used your dobbers, or spent-torches-as-extra-dobbers, your turn is over. You will play/use every card in your deck TWICE (with intermediate scoring/money gain) and then the game ends with some final scoring.

The key is building using the bricks - allocated according to where they were bought in the market - in sets of 1, 2, 3 and (occasionally) more. Building is completed in coloured spaces in four quarters of the board; each quarter has a theme to it's build requirements eg. 1, 2 and 3 height tiers, two-high double tiers, minimum-of-three-high spots and 'a wall'. Building scores immediate points; if you cross a
divide-your-total-bricks-in-the-quarter-by-three boundary you get an extra bonus, variable to each quarter. Building can also get you special cards, as can the scrolls, which provide further scoring and/or short-cut/free-money actions.


...and we're done. I remember when it were all fields around here.


It sounds a bit busy but is, in the playing, extraordinarily straightforward: buying the right colours of bricks (to reduce supply to other players) and building the right height in the right colour in the right quarter will pick up a nice scoring momentum and a flow of bonus bits-and-bobs for later rounds. Despite my steady lead in the first 4/5ths of the game, Smudge's protestations of bewilderment and confusion proved unfounded when she skipped ahead by a handful of points for the win. Boffo was breathing hard behind me...and was only a few points back on the score board too! *badomp-tish*

(sound of cicadas)


The unholy trinity pronounced it 'good stuff' and we moved on - at Smudge's generous suggestion - to Agricola. Though no slouch at The Farming Game herself, she forewent a 'real life' Concordia (we're playing it a lot on boiteajeux.net) for something to make our little faces light up; I dealt 5 each of 'E' deck and 'G'(amers) deck - with a cheeky random sprinkle of my good self - and we were away!


A sight for sore eyes; it has been far too long.



I swear there was no sleeve-play or shenanigans: I took myself in hand and slapped myself down on the table, first turn.


I won't bore you with the details; suffice it to say that my preoccupation with the Braggart, and a consequent collection of pointless minor improvements, distracted me from a renovation here and some extra ploughing there. Smudge, edging in to the 40s off the back of a nice grain/veg combo and cruel exploitation of the Fishing space, proved dominant yet again. Us lads were proving somewhat of a disappointment, I feel.


The Skye's the Limit.


We closed, at my suggestion and to my delight, with Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. Boffo retrieved his recently-purchased Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 promos and added them to the mix and we began. I was having another one of my 'flyer' games, quickly able to exploit early scoring for ship/lighthouse pairs and largest lake to gain a healthy lead. Supplemented by a brace of large, closed areas and the odd dribble of sheep, I ignored any of the '1 per' game-end tiles and just stayed 15 points in front all the way. This game just keeps getting better and better.

It was now approaching late teatime and I had a chip-shop run to complete so, with the promise of some New Year's Eve gaming to come, I bade farewell to the generous hosts and chugged off in to the blustery dusk.
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Wed Dec 30, 2015 7:30 am
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I once was lost but now am found

Anthony Boydell
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When my parents split up in the early 1980s, a great number of family photographs were lost and/or destroyed. For most of my life I've only been able to enjoy a handful of pictures from my earliest years and have over-compensated, somewhat, with my own children: we have documented everything.

When my Grandmother died in May, knowing that I was particularly enthusiastic about 'the family', she left me her collection of photographs, documents and memoirs. This large box of damp polaroids, postcards, sepia prints, albums, cuttings, orders of service, prayers and ephemera was brought over on Sunday by my Dad (on a flying visit) and I spent all of yesterday morning sifting through, in the comfort of my Library room.

The earliest volumes cover the 1920s and 1930s, when my Grandmother was a child, and moves through the post War years documenting great aunts and uncles and my own parental generation. She came from 'noble stock', so there's a touch of Downton Abbey about the garden parties, the houses, the sports (horses and dogs) and the dress! By the time I've mined to the late 1960s, it's a little more down-to-earth but I was shocked to discover a number of badly-clipped - but still intact - images:


From left-to-right: that's me and my Mum, circa 1968; my parents giving me a bath in the garden
(while my sister has a nappy change, by the look of it); my Mum and Dad together, with me as a
babe-in-arms and, finally, just a well-wrapped me and my Father.


I have never seen these pictures before. This paper-based time machine had me raising the page to my nose and drinking in every faded colour, every vintage car and every 'period costume'. As if to further enhance the moment, my iPod randomly-shuffled The Beatles' Golden Slumbers and I was weeping with quiet Joy. What a treasure trove!

Putting this post together - and scanning the images again - I can feel a prickle in my eyes, a heavy sigh swelling in my chest; I have been given a small but vivid window on my past and this may be my best Christmas present ever.
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Tue Dec 29, 2015 7:30 am
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The Definitive Article

Anthony Boydell
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Back in the Summer, I was put up as a Stretch Goal for Ignacy Trzewiczek's latest collection of musings, scribblings and design tales; actually, when I say 'put up' what I mean is: 'mailbombed his Inbox with entreaties until he relented'.

It is, indeed, exceptionally cool to be part of anything Ignacy does because he's one of the real stars/personalities of the board-gaming world! Not only does he design excellent - and varied - games, but he actually interacts with the Community! He vlogs, he blogs and he's been to pretty much every major games convention in the last couple of years APART FROM the Ross-on-Wye Xmas Party! While it's possible to bump in to a Rosenberg here or a Friese there (or, in my case, chill quietly in the corner of Spiel's Hall 3 with Jeroen Doumen or Andreas Pelikan or Cédrick Chaboussit), Ignacy mixes and mingles and meets and greets; he's our tall-and-thin, splendidly-spectacled, thickly-accented figurehead!


Some Christmas and New Year reading matter


Signed with words AND a cow!


Normal service will be resumed after this article!


Sometimes it's brilliant being me!
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Mon Dec 28, 2015 7:15 am
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I blinked; now it's gone already

Anthony Boydell
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The big man with the infinitely-capacious sack was very generous to me this year; my pillow case (all the stockings were taken up by the children) was packed with books...and a pork pie and some stinky cheese! So far, so good. Dawn Mass (in the Church at the literal end of our garden) was followed by a bijou lunch (*burp*) served with a very gluggable Carmeniere.



We paused the gluttony to open a few presents - and let the puppy go mad amongst the wrapping paper - whereupon youngest daughter presented me with a 'Final Battle' Lego set (she was DESPERATE to get me the Death Star Diorama) and Mrs B dug out a copy of Wealth of Nations: how did she KNOW?!?!* The others were pleased with their gifts: new laptops for Mrs B & aforementioned daughter, Slipknot tickets for eldest boy, a Bass guitar for Benedict and Lego Dimensions for the youngest bubz.

The evening was a peaceful affair with snacking-of-cold-meats, Doctor Who and the delightful surprise of The Titfield Thunderbolt on BBC4: a gentle, romping little tale of a village that decides to run it's own section of railway after the National service has closed it down. Charming, bright and utterly ridiculous ie. a joy!



Come Boxing Day, after exercising the puppy in the windy garden at sun-up, it was over to the In-Laws for curry. Mother had confessed a desire to play board games, so - naturally - I packed a box (see what I did there?):


Light and fun fayre for a non-gamer gathering


As food was ready upon our (45 minutes late) arrival, the box waited patiently on the sideboard. There was then a short pause after Ziggy did a surreptitious poo that Arthur stepped in, unawares, and trod all over the Hallway (and it's delightful rug). Eventually, plates cleared, the table was ready for some action; this is what we played:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


That's it; that's all we played: Codenames. I love it to pieces but everyone was in a really odd mood and the gathering went the way of so many before it ie. Anthony brings a big stack of colourful things to enjoy but no-ones interested in the slightest.

Disappointment in extremis.




There was a happy interlude when bro-in-lo Liam was presented with a Whamola - something for which he's been searching for an Age - and much thrumming, mentalist Bass fun was had for 20 minutes:



Everyone was itching to get home, though; and the hoped-for lazy day evaporated in the VERY gusty wind that was blowing through the County this afternoon.

*sigh*

*I got it off a recent Geek Auction
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Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:15 am
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No Blog Today

Anthony Boydell
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There's no blog post today.

Quiz
Is there a blog post today?
No.
Yes.
No and Yes (because this page patently exists).
    157 answers
Quiz created by tonyboydell


Spoiler (click to reveal)
No blog post.
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Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:30 am
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Every Man Needs A Shed

Anthony Boydell
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MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Whenever there is Train Maintenance (against which this is immune), the owner of the Engine
Shed
gets all of the Steel bars paid as upkeep. Two stone hires the extra worker (not coal).


MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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Fri Dec 25, 2015 7:00 am
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