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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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You can't get runs in the pavillion!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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I love Cricket, me. It is the sport of gentlemen and their gentle wives. It is the soul-affirming 'thwack!' of leather on willow, the meat paste sandwich and milky tea. It is spending five days on a hard seat, drinking flat ale while something goes on 400 yards away on some grass. It is what God plays in his Heaven (Jesus is 'keeper' and the Holy Ghost's got a wicked Googly).

Given that most of today's action is only available via subscription channels (which I am too tight/lazy to get involved with), me and the missus (an even bigger fan) make do with the excellent - and insurpassable - Test Match Special on t'Radiogram. Many's the car journey, or garden repose, that's been sound-tracked by the glorious witterings of Agnew, Boycott et al.

For those that don't know about Cricket, here's the 'traditional' explanation:
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.

When real matches are unavailable, I make do with a cheap iOS app that I downloaded, about four years ago, called Flick Cricket:


(from L to R): Run! (after a *snik*), Timing the shot, Selecting my bowler, Picking my 'line' and a fine delivery!


You take turns at Batting and then defending your total as the Fielding Team:
- Batting: the app sends a ball 'down the screen' towards the Wicket and you must drag (flick) your finger across the screen to ‘hit’ the ball in the direction of your choosing. Sometimes one of the AI fielders will be in the way to catch it (you’re OUT!) or stop it and throw it back; you might get the chance to ‘run’, or just let the ball fly over the boundary for a FOUR (touches the ground before going off the edge) or SIX (doesn’t touch the ground). It’s a Five Over game (30 balls are ‘delivered’), so you’re trying to score as high a total as possible.
- Bowling: the app asks you to select a style of bowler (Pace = fast, Swing = fast-ish and it drifts left or right or Spin = slow but moves all over the place on the bounce) and then presents the ‘direction’ of the ball (left, middle or right). It’s not very sophisticated but you CAN get a spin bowler to deliver on the right and bounce wildly to the left – very satisfying.

It’s corkingly good fun and presents plenty of opportunities to slag off your fielders when the run away from a ball that’s hit at them, cheer when you hit something for six or make the App ‘edge’ a delivery in to the waiting hands of the Wicket Keeper or a Slip!

There is a sequel (Flick Cricket 2) available now but it's rather inferior...and it's taken player bowling completely away! Boooo, indeed!

Finally, I can't present a post about Cricket without linking to this piece of classic British broadcasting history:

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Wed May 25, 2016 11:13 am
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Eff Eff Ess

Anthony Boydell
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Hours, I spent; hours and hours pouring over the proofs:


For your Reference: is there an echo in here (in here in here)?
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Tue May 24, 2016 6:30 am
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Alternative SdJ

Anthony Boydell
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Blah blah Codenames yadda yadda Imhotep rhubarb rhubarb Karuba; once again, the so-called 'committee' has announced it's 'alleged' short-list 'apparently'; once again, more obvious choices have been shoved to one side! Here's what _I_ would've chosen (and my pick is the ):

(but, hey, what the Hell do _I_ know?)

Ignore the Yeti: A variant on that internet meme from a few years back, this lavishly-illustrated (that Fremens Klanz guy again!), is - in a kind of twist the Jury loves - all about 'not playing'! If you look at the Yeti: you're eliminated. If you mention the Yeti: you're eliminated. If you hear the word 'Yeti': you're eliminated. This means that if you suggest to play it or you read out the rules or you just happen to be in the room, you're all out. Comes with compatibility rules for over 100 other games that feature a Yeti. You're eliminated, by the way.

Codernames: The party word game for IT developers! Yes, hilarious 'microseconds of processing cycles' ensue as one tries to link 'malloc', 'CPU binding' and 'Segmentation Fault - Core Dumped' with one word clues from an 'on the spectrum', bearded Cheetos addict.

The: specifically named to mess up Search engines, 'The' - from Shite Games - is like Cards Against Humanity but without the tact. Players dare each other to perform escalating 'boundary-challenging' forfeits in exchange for VPs eg. 'Call a stranger a cock to their face', 'Drink a pint of your own urine', 'Laugh at a disabled person', 'Drink a pint of someone else's urine' and 'Play a full game of Bora Bora'. Shite Games are releasing a celebratory SdJ nomination expansion pack called The: Legacy, which adds 'Grievous Bodily Harm', 'Inappropriate Touching/Public Nudity' and 'Running for the Republican Presidential Nomination' to the gumbo of laddish fuck-wittery.

And for 'the Kenner'?

Not Elysium (but it is really) - Having been pipped to the grand prize last year, Dunstan & Gilbert try again to snaffle the big ticket.

Isle of Curry: a fantastic auction-led tile-layer where players add up the total of their tiles and then try and split the difference by dividing the total of all tiles by the number of players. Whomever gets the most for the least (eg. by sneaking in a cheeky extra beer or eating someone else's starter instead of ordering your own) is declared the winner!

And for the 'Kinder'? It's figuratively - and literally - a 'no brainer' for Dora The Zombie Flesh-Eating Explorer. The evergreen cartoon favourite leads players on a fascinating (and educational) culinary journey through the Human Body: starting with the removal of the scalp giving access to the living brain, the body cavity & internal organs and ending with a chew on a fat calf. Visceral, dice-rolling fun (6 and over).
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Mon May 23, 2016 10:35 am
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N.S.P.C.C to see you, to see you N.S.P.C.C

Anthony Boydell
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Adam from the Hereford gamers, known for a while now to the Batesons, has been running an annual fundraising 'family game day' (12 until late) in aid of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (N.S.P.C.C). Last year I was invited but unable to attend on account of running around the Forest of Dean with my boys shooting eachother with paintballs! However, _this year_he asked me a bit earlier and so I was able to mark it off in the old diary; well, mostly, because I still had to get back late afternoon to organise Fred's birthday curry supper. Still, four hours of gaming is not to be scoffed at, especially in the light of Friday's tempestuous débacle, so I packed up some more accessible fayre and drove the 20-or-so miles to Hereford.

There was much to-ing and fro-ing as I'd found a cosy nook in the car park and narrowly-avoided stepping in an enormous canine turd; this is not going to be a 'Convention' scale event but Adam and his crew were fussing about most diligently to ensure that a fine time should be had by all. Thus, the hot water urn was already a-bubbling, snacks were laid out and even the prize tables for the Auction/Raffle were beginning to sag under the weight of generous donations. For myself, I added a recently-acquired German Snowdonia with English upgrade pack and a pre-Expo Snod: Seasons - someone is going to snaffle up a bargain in the auction later!


The (almost) empty Hall; I say 'almost' because...


Within minutes, Ben and Becky had turned up: Ben, 'as per', heaving an enormous canvas bodybag stuffed with games. It didn't take long before they were drafted in to a quick couple of games of Blokus:



For myself, I partook of some dextrous frippery in the shape of Toc Toc Woodman.
In summary, it's a visually-pleasing Jenga variant where you have 'two taps' against any part of the stacked, plastic trunk; if you knock the central core 'out' enough, then the bark pieces - slipped on like jigsaw bits - will slide off and on to the table...and score you points! If you should also dislodge core pieces then these will score negatively against you.


"Tony? You're only supposed to knock the bloody bark off!". My first tap had all the subtlety of an aubergine up the jacksy! Setting the unlogic of lumberjacks wanting 'just the bark and none of the actual wood' aside, this is a daft and fun filler in the manner of God's own Loopin' Louie.

With new-to-the-scene Emma joining us for a while, we started off easy with a visit of one of my own favourite designs: Totemo.



One day I might find a way to redo it with much cheaper-to-produce pieces but, until then, I'll continue my personal quest to beat Boffo at it; yes, in six years of playing with the wheezing one I have failed to conquer him at my own game! Today would
see me breaking that particular duck BUT finding the Bateson honour still intact because Smudge edged in front FTW! (impotently shakes fist at the sky)

Having broken Emma in to our way of playin', it seemed appropriate to go from one 'building things in 3D' visual treat to another and I didn't need any persuading to get stuck in to the EXCELLENT Cubist:



I'm rather adept at Cubist and, once again, managed to exploit some cheap artworks and fortuitous rolls to force the end the game and fill up the central museum with four of my dice. I think Emma enjoyed it; the rest us certainly did!

It seemed a bit early for Spot it!, what with it being just after 2PM, but there was a rowdy crowd of punters already full-throated into Codenames at the beverages end of the Hall so we snapped open the tin and said 'What the heck!'.



The Hall was filling up and those that weren't already in a game were gathered round a table of hand-made Dice Towers and there was much happy clacking. We had not yet frightened Emma off so, in for a penny / in for a pound, I slapped my plums on the table and invited her to admire them.



Like Cubist before it, my natural aptitude saw me to a comfortable win (47) but the game was more remarkable for Smudge FINALLY seeming to understand what-the-jiggins is going on (41). Always a pleasure to give 'em an airing, plums remains one of my absolute favourites!

The clock was a-ticking and there was just enough time to introduce John, our replacement for a wanderlusting Emma, to the superlative Glass Road; this has rocketed up the Ross-on-Wye charts like a recently-dead rock star's back catalogue - rightly so because it's a LOT of game in a rich, never-outstays-its-welcome package:



In a satisfying change from the norm, I managed to play this competently, and with some kind of plan, which netted me a career best 21.5 points! Luckily, I delayed any embarrassing 'in your face!' victory celebrations having noticed Smudge still
with things to tally having muttered '21' under her breath! There was just 1/2 a point in it...in HER favour! (again, powerlessly, shakes fist at the sky)

A spicy Birthday tea awaited my attention, so it was a fond farewell to our cheery hosts and full volume on the car stereo and homeward; recently, I have rediscovered the pure pop mastery of Jellyfish's second album: Spilt Milk. It's The Beatles, Queen, 10cc and The Beach Boys all rolled in to one glorious package; here's one of the singles from that record!

You're very welcome.



P.s. Thanks, and congrats to Adam and the team for raising £400!
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Sun May 22, 2016 7:10 am
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In Which My Brain Refused To Provide Traction

Anthony Boydell
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Today's write-up of Friday night in Ross-on-Wye is going to be relatively short, but not so sweet. With the welcome return of Dan came the continuing absence of Byll and the last-minute dropping out of Becky so, once more, it was Four Arsey-Men of the Apocalypse (me, Dan, Boffo and Dan) perched at the fireside nook. To commence proceedings, I handed over Boffo & Smudge's complimentary play tester copy of Guilds of London, making him the first 'customer' in The World(TM) to get it; he was suitably 'in awe':


More awe, Ben! (cue) "Awwwwwwwww..." etc


The chosen 'first game' of the evening was Dominare, yet another entry in the Tempest concept and - so Boffo has been extolling these last few months - the "most highly regarded of the bunch":




In summary: It's a card-driven, area control game and you are dealt a hand of 'people' cards and select three for the first part; you can, and will, get access to more during the game. Each card has two sections:
- the income/area control tokens bit, and
- an effects section.

Each round, one card will be added to your tableau (from your hand) at the end of the line and the position of a card is important for accessing the card's effects. The effects are numbered from 1 to 7 and they scale in power like wot Innovation does ie. low number powers are 'okay', high level powers are preposterous. An effect can only be used if it is equal to or lower than the position of the card in the line eg. a card with a power level 7 effect cannot use that power unless in position 7; a card with a power level 3 effect can use it in positions three and above.

The round proceeds in a fixed sequence:
- choose - and simultaneously reveal - a card from hand to go in to the line
- resolve a random event (which is usually a niggling pain to the round's Start Player plus a chance to boost the final scoring value of a District)
- gain money and distribute your cubes to take control of spaces in districts, and
- use your cards for actions (as long as they have a number equal to or less than the position of that card, remember!).

Halfway-ish through, there is mini-draft of 8 cards to help 'top up' your flagging hands and then the final rounds are played through before final scoring. Points are gained for certain spaces within Districts and for having the majority of spaces in a District (according to how that District has been boosted/penalised by Events); you also lose points via a penalty mechanism that I really can't be bothered to explain.


All-in-all, this was a deeply-frustrating experience; mulling it over on the way to picking up eldest Son, I boiled it down to these reasons:
a) It took over two-and-three-quarter hours and massively overstayed it's welcome; this is not just down to me and Jobbers having a couple of slow turns because - of course - as one's line of cards grow, so do your options. Getting the momentum up also wasn't helped by...

b) Boffo's rules explanation which, tonight, ran along the lines of "I explained that earlier so if you didn't hear it or understand it the first time then tough". So, while I'm trying to get a grip on what's happening, whole paragraphs are being hummed, hurred and agreed upon without me having paid attention!

c) Placement of cubes is one-card-at-a-time-in-turn-order, which leads to repetitive tit-for-tat exchanges (bounce outs) of cubes; this is not 'interactive', it's just 'tiresome'. The monotony is only broken by...

d) the variability of card effects (from a random draw); there are lots of "Aha! Take that!!!" superpowers that you can do absolutely nothing about...apart from waste actions frantically searching the draw deck for a combo that's stronger

e) the draft, after round 4, feels wildly out-of-place with the rest of the mechanisms; there is no drafting at any other time, so why not have another 'draw X and keep Y' like the initial setup?

f) the difficulty in seeing what everyone else can do - the icons are blurred, the text scrawling and there are a happy fistful of italicised keywords - combined with an inability to do anything about it anyway.

*sigh*

I hate feeling like this but there we are; if only there were a card-driven, area control game that played in half the time and with a more fluid card system?


*sigh* (again)
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Sat May 21, 2016 6:50 am
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Unboxing Guilds of London

Anthony Boydell
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Top o' the Box, to ye.



Right Back (of the Box) atcha.



Rules rule.



Tiles! And, yes, they punch out beautifully (and on the marks!)



A couple of excellent References.



Board yet?



It's a game about card-managed area control, you know?



The Sprues of London.



Ready. To. Play!
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Fri May 20, 2016 3:54 pm
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Good things come to those who wait...

Anthony Boydell
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Fri May 20, 2016 12:22 pm
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Use Your Allusion II

Anthony Boydell
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Fri May 20, 2016 12:17 pm
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Use Your Allusion I

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Fri May 20, 2016 8:00 am
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M.I.A.

Anthony Boydell
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Have you ever lost a GAME PIECE? Of course you have! No matter how reverentially one treats the things, there's always an over-slippery cube that finds it's way on to floor. Or a wandering chit that bounces off the side of the Ziploc as you're palm-pouring everything during 'take down'. Not a week goes by at the Ross-on-Wye club without Dave the Barman holding up a coin, gem or token - on our entrance - with the brow-furrowed question: "Is this from one of yours?".

Have you ever lost a whole GAME? With a shed like mine, it's entirely possible that a fourth or fifth copy of Glory To Rome lurks under the On The Cardses; I thought, for ages, that I'd sold my copy of Five Tribes until I shifted some recycle pile boxes and it slipped out on to the floor, at my feet!

Have you ever lost a whole GAMER? I have, on several occasions! Back in the halcyon days of Magic: The Gathering we regularly socialized with a crew from (exotic) Swindon. One of their number, let's call him 'Tom'*, disappeared from our RADAR for several years and it turned out he was being detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. A couple of years ago, 'big' Carl came to Spiel with me (in the van) and failed to be seen for the entirety of the Saturday morning, leading me to fear that the gargantuan beast had perished in his bed; it may be a coincidence, but he's currently being detained at Her Majesty's pleasure too.

My current worry is that it's been at least a month since we've seen or heard from Cap'n Byll at the Ross-on-Wye club; no 'not this week' replies to the weekly calling circular, no doffing of titfers or wry narration to his own play - he's not even been commenting on this blog in that surreal, tangential way of his. I fear - given my history with lost gamers - that he, too, may be 'doing bird' due to some vehicular misdemeanour or, perish the thought, chalking off the days on the walls of a foreign prison after a failed espionage mission!

If you see Byll, could you tell him we just want him 'ome in one piece? Thanks.

*because that's his name
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Thu May 19, 2016 8:50 am
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