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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From The Front (and that's NOT rhyming slang)

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Once again I am sending you a few lines from the 'front line' to let you know that the parcel arrived safely; while it's not normal for us, in the Trenches, to have much need of fine China dinner-wear and lithographs of Queen Victoria's favourite stools, we've gamely set them up in the corner of our dugout to remind us 'of those we have left behind'.

Time passes too slowly here, as we wait for the order to nobly headbutt shells in the name of King and country, but we manage to fill the empty hours with a few games.

Yesterday, for example, Boffo and Smudge popped by and we played that old farming classic, Agricola, which - suspiciously - seems to have been designed by 'the Bosch'; they may be hurling leaden death our way every twenty minutes, but they do have quite a knack for diverting pastimes! Perhaps, with Christmas coming, we might spend that Holy Day at peace - in No Mans Land - with an Ingenious or two or, dare I wish it, Age of Steam? Anyway, Boffo went grain-crazy without actually building a decent Oven to cook it, Smudge collected a fine agrarian spread - bits of this and that - while I managed to abuse a fishing bonus to buy early stone and reed. Learning from mistakes of a few weeks ago, my usual card-heavy bonus strategy was accompanied by a stone house, five family members and well-fenced plot. The resulting 41-34-29 victory, while sounding like a rather oddly-proportioned French prostitute, proved satisfyingly comprehensive.

Pausing briefly to put on our masks due to an imminent gas attack (damn that cabbage broth!), the 'chaps' gamely agreed to try a little something I've been working on (in the gaps between firearms drill and latrine digging): Ticket To Ride: Ivor the Engine. I'm still trying to work out where 'the game' should start, such that trying to beat it's final score is challenging but not impossible. Today we tried 25 which proved only slightly out-of-reach from my losing, highest score. Boffo suggested more routes on the map which, if I'm to remain faithful to the source material, CANNOT be rails but (instead) roads and donkey-paths.

As we were setting up our next, Finca, we received the order to evacuate - unfortunately, Johnners (in the next bunk) mis-understood this order and we ended up having to help him out of his soiled fatigues. Upon returning, much fruit was harvested and donkeys 'ridden'* in a pensive, more restrained game than the others that evening - perhaps it was 'this damn War', or just the enormous pork scratchings sitting heavily on our stomachs? Either way, Boffo stole a healthy 6 point victory because I failed to make an Ass of myself to sneak in that final delivery!

To end the evening, we played the uncannily-accurate simulation of European nobilty inter-breeding and familial progeneration: Familienbande. Ironically, I was chasing a victory for Ginger - I say 'ironically' because Ginger, of course, 'bought it' at the first Ypres** Anyway, I skillfully diverted everyone away from knowing my colour by asking 'What happens if the GAME characteristic wins - is it the highest scoring player?'; 'red hair' was beginning to stretch away at that point. In the post-match analysis, Boffo swears he knew I was 'ginge' all along, but that was obviously poppycock, bunkum, hog-wash and piffle...and flim-flam, languishing as he did 70 points behind in last place!

Some of us are born great, some of us aspire to greatness, and some of us get roundly whipped at Familienbande.

Much love to Father, the horses and (of course) Granny's remains,

Your loving son,

*it's a lonely life
**there was a second-hand stall there; he also picked up Stratego and a pipe in the shape of an elephant's penis
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