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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Watch The Birdy

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:30 am
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From the ridiculous to the sublime...

Anthony Boydell
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They like to start early at the Snowdonia Dragons, as evidenced by a full-but-silent car park when I arrived on the dot of six thirty pee-em. The Bar of the Golf Club was also full but chatter volume was muted until, upon my entrance, Aaron halloo-ed a cheery "Tony!" and I nearly shat/dropped my box of games in response. Aaron suggested a try-out of an iPad-integrated dexterity thing and - given it's always a pleasure to play games with Aaron AND he might get to teach me Flamme Rouge later - I tagged along for the ride; how bad could it be?


Beasts of Balance - Electronic co-operative Bausack, sort of.


In summary: Choose a piece (animal, 'food' or 'mutate'), scan it on the base unit and then place it on the current stack (if any); the scanning & placement is picked up on the iPad and a colourful cartoon app shows you what's been added, what's been boosted by the addition, if anything has been changed (similar to Pokemon evolutions) and your current score. If the stack collapses, you have a limited time to rebuild it before 'you all lose'. Some pieces give you bonuses at the cost of mini-games interrupting your stacking.

Well, it's chunky plastic Tier Auf Tier meets Bausack meets 21st Century tablet tech to make a harmless-enough party distraction. After three (short) games, hitting an all-time high score of FIFTY EIGHT points (!), I think we'd all got the sense of it and were quite happy to move on to something a bit more stimulating. It was fun...but I don't feel the need to ever play it again.

After the amuse bouche, it was time for something more substantial and we dug, once again, in to Aaron's bag for First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express:


Russian Railroads: The Card Game?!


In summary: over six rounds, with scoring at the end of every second, players draft actions from a central pool and execute them:

Build carriages, upgrade carriages and move your conductors along the carriage(s): Carriages grow in a line (you have two lines to extend) and can be upgraded from 0 to 1 to 2 to 4 to 7 to 12; they only score if your conductor(s) have been moved on or passed them.

extend your railway line and move your train along the railway line: instant points and scoring round income are generated by how far your little train has followed this track.

gain contracts and gain money: money buys 'free' versions of some of the above actions and/or game end bonus cards.

...at least THESE were the actions for THIS setup of the game. First Class comes with a variety of alternate themed mini-decks (think Elysium's God decks) plus a standard (every game) 'X' deck, so while you may be playing with 'Celebrities' or 'Postcards' in one game that will not be true if you exclude the decks with those elements in the next time.

After the six rounds, most points is the winner.


First Class is excellent and, as I alluded in the picture caption, feels very much like Russian Railroads: The Card Game - instead of worker placement, you have action drafting/selection. I elected to avoid using my little chuffer because the other three were doing LOTS of train movement and concentrated, instead, on building the plushest carriages possible and housing 2xVP celebs in the best ones for extra goodness ie. do the thing that everyone else ISN'T. It almost worked but a brainfart on my part allowed Aaron to snaffle a juicy 20 point 'first to finish a line of carriages' (10 long) bonus. Unlike 'Beasts', I want to play this again AND VERY SOON INDEED!

Cranking up the difficulty once more, the table's players swapped (Dan and Denise OUT for Tim and David IN) and Aaron convinced us to tackle the mind-jellifying complexities of the An Infamous Traffic PnP prototype:


Hard. On. My. Poor. Squishy. Brain.


In summary: Er...chits can be bought, if you have the revenue and - by association - the spare 'actions'; they can be 'placed' if a region is open or has a die matching a die off the board (!) and there are other chits that set demand (which removes dice from the pool) OR get rid of chits OR other things. Dammit - it's about Opium trade in to China and has 'police' and 'outrage' and Missionaries too.


It's a Pax Pamir-type affair - all history and detail and pain: not my cup of suspicious tea at all TBH. I'm not sure that we managed to do much, really; some chits were moved about but we only managed two of the four rounds before triggering an alt-game-end condition (all dice in the dice pool 'removed'); money (revenue) was also extremely-tight and we felt it was quite difficult to do anything. I think we, collectively, were glad when it ended (David killed the last die and won 3-2-2-1 on the alt-win-condition). Tim sighed a deep sigh and ran off home before we could suggest "maybe trying it again?"

To close - needing to let the brain cool off for a bit - Aaron did, indeed, consent to teaching me Flamme Rouge and we had a forty minute blast struggling along mostly-uphill route:


I want to ride my bicycle etc


David took a flyer of a start and managed to keep ahead all the way - though things got VERY tight come the final bend (see above): brilliant, and I predict it shall be Spiel des Jahres for 2017 (you heard it here first, remember?!).

After a famine of nearly THREE WEEKS, a single Monday evening in North Wales managed to fill me with quite the eclectic-but-delicious meal of gamery sustenance...the only problem is that whenever I burp, I taste chits again.
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Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:40 am
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everything about the wasp, except why.

Anthony Boydell
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Today I am, again, travelling to the Northern Cambrian wilds for meetings and stormy boardgaming come-the-evening. To tide you over until my inevitable Session Report, I present a timeless work from Wales' finest poet: Dylan Thomas. I am going through a phase of listening to audiobooks rather than podcasts and Thomas' extraordinary Under Milk Wood is nestled in a corner of the Audible app - the best and safest place for it given iTunes and iOS keep shipping my Music library off the local phone and in the bandwidth-shafting 'cloud' (I pine for the times when I'd synch my playlist to the iPhone and it would stay-the-fuck-there until _I_ chose to mess with it!).

Anyway: pull up a rich coffee, and (perhaps) a pastry or bun, and feast your actual and mind's eye(s) on this rich, delicious work:

A Child's Christmas in Wales

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
"Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.

"Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.
"They won't be there," said Mr. Prothero, "it's Christmas."
There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.
"Do something," he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke - I think we missed Mr. Prothero - and ran out of the house to the telephone box.
"Let's call the police as well," Jim said. "And the ambulance." "And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires."

But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

"Were there postmen then, too?"
"With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells."
"You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?"
"I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them."
"I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells."
"There were church bells, too."
"Inside them?"
"No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence."

"Get back to the postmen"
"They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the doors with blue knuckles ...."
"Ours has got a black knocker...."
"And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out."
"And then the presents?"
"And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on fishmonger's slabs. "He wagged his bag like a frozen camel's hump, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was gone."

"Get back to the Presents."

"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why."

"Go on the Useless Presents."

"Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall. And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And then it was breakfast under the balloons."

"Were there Uncles like in our house?"

"There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms' length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers."

Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.

I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high, so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinsled windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o'-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.

Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.
"I bet people will think there's been hippos."
"What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?"
"I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him under the ear and he'd wag his tail."
"What would you do if you saw two hippos?"

Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel's house.
"Let's post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box."
"Let's write things in the snow."
"Let's write, 'Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel' all over his lawn."
Or we walked on the white shore. "Can the fishes see it's snowing?"

The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying "Excelsior." We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.

Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. "What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?"
"No," Jack said, "Good King Wencelas. I'll count three." One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen ... And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.
"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said.
"Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said, who was always reading.
"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said. And we did that.

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.


Also, this:

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Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:15 am
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Eleven 4 Eleven Twelve Sixteen

Anthony Boydell
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Goodness! I haven't done one of these cryptic things for absolutely ages, so here you go: clues to the names of games...

1. Mother's fear of the merciless (in a roundabout way)?

2. Finished in Paris? But I haven't started!

3. About to lean on…

4. Punctuating the vertical axis

5. Afraid of stone?

6. Zeus, Hera, Ares, Janus.

7. Monk shredding a totem

8. Chromium Goddess

9. Sherlock's "Mind Palace" is one of these

10. Confused about email for colonizing!

11. Culminates within!

Remember: please don't spoil the answers for others!

goldencamel



Aside: Yes, I know that I missed showing the Crisis Advent Calendar promo yesterday; I had more important FLGS gubbins to relate and I haven't got the game anyway, so the teeny-tiny designer tiles are now on top of 'the right hand (giveaway) pile'.

Today: Mysterium.
It has a very specific card-back which means it's incompatible with my copy of the earlier, purer edition: Tajemnicze Domostwo. I adore this spooky team Dixit but the separator-screen/blizzard of chits over-engineered Asmodee 'update' nonsense leaves me cold:



goldencamel

Finally, to finish:


*sob*sniff*weep*

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Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:45 am
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FLGS 35 (Good Will)

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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(we are in an FLGS; the shelves, groaning with colourful boxes and cartons, are be-decked with sparkling Festive decorations and richly-scented foliage. A gently-audible soundtrack of traditional carols, sung by the Choir of some Cathedral or other, fills the space from a tinselled ghetto blaster. Expectations of increased foot-fall means there are two Cashiers on duty today; both are wearing humorous jumpers with a Christmas theme)

Door bell: *ding-dong-merrily-on-high*

(a customer enters; he is dressed in a greatcoat, a superscarf and an absolutelyfabuloustophat)

Cashier 1: (straightens his reindeer-with-a-glowing-red-nose jumper and speaks cheerily) Well hello there! And a very Merry Christmas to you!

(a couple of customers enter)

Customer: (removes hat; underneath is a small child reading a pop-up book) Merry Christmas to you, too! Don’t mind her... (points to infant) ...”babysitting issues”.

Cashier 2: (chipping in) …just like Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, had – eh?

Cashier 1: (frowning slilghtly) Well, quite -

Customer: Anyway, I don’t suppose you have a copy of –

Cashier 1: (interrupting; holds up a plate) Mince pie?

Customer: (delighted) Ooh, yes please! (takes a bite)

(Cashier 2 sells a copy of Inis to another customer)

Cashier 1: I made them myself, you know?

Customer: (talking with his mouth full) Mmmf ree-ee?

Cashier 1: Yes, from my own flaky skin

Customer: (gags; spits pastry in to his hand) Oh –

Cashier 1: Now, how can we help?

(customers leave, others enter)

Customer: (wiping mouth on scarf) Ah, yes; have you got a copy of -

Cashier 1: (holds up a bright, cardboard tube) Would you like to pull a Christmas Cracker with me?

Customer: Um, er...okay.

(they pull the cracker; there is a disproportionately-loud bang and the customer is left with most of the cracker and soot on the end of his nose)

Cashier 1: Ah splendid, Sir! You’ve won! Let’s see what your prize is!

Customer: (pulling something from the open-ended tube) It's...a resource-eeple shaped like a Satsuma (holds it up)

Cashier 1: (disposes of rubbish) Don’t forget your party hat, Sir!

(the customer opens the paper crown and carefully lowers it on and around the small – still reading - child)

Customer: So, please, a copy of –

Cashier 1: (pulling out a decanter) A sip of sherry, Sir?

Customer: No thanks, just –

Cashier 2: (chipping in) How about some Gluhwein? Or a snifter of Port?

Customer: No, thank you, no; I’m driving; now, could I please get –

Cashier 1: (puts his finger to the customer’s lips and makes a soft shushing sound) Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (points to the ceiling; there is a large sprig of mistletoe hanging above the Till)

Customer: Really, I –

(Cashier 2 sells a copy of Inis to another customer)

Cashier 1: It’s just a little peck, Sir – and it is Christmas, after all?

(the Customer and the Cashier have a little kiss)

Cashier 1: (straightens his jumper; the nose lights up with a tinkling sound) There, that wasn’t so bad, was it, Sir? Merry Christmas! Now, how can I help?

Customer: I want to buy a copy of Inis, please.

Cashier 1: (looking concerned) Indeed; that is proving to be a very popular choice, Sir!

Cashier 2: (apologetically) Um, I just sold the last copy.

Customer: (crest-fallen) Oh dear...

(Cashier 2’s jumper, which has a three-dimensional pudding on it, makes a farting noise in time to Jingle Bells; the child begins to cry)

Cashier 1: (mournfully) Oh goodness; what a sorry state of affairs in this Season of Joy and Goodwill

Cashier 2: (pointing) Don’t you want to finish your mince pie, Sir?

Customer: Well...(sighs)...thank you anyway (turns to leave; puts top hat back on and walks to the door)

Cashier 1: (calling out) Hold on, Sir! Hold on a December moment!

(the customer turns round and looks expectantly at the Cashiers)

Cashier 1: (reaches under the desk for a gift-wrapped parcel; it is exactly the same size as a copy of Inis) Please accept this (holds the package out) as a token of our VERY good will, Sir.

Customer: (moved almost to tears) Why *gulp* thank you; that’s lovely!

Cashier 1: Our pleasure, Sir. May you have a peaceful time (emphasises) “INIS” Yuletide period (he winks, theatrically, at Cashier 2)

Customer: (a sparkle in his eyes) Oh! I...see! Thank you! Thank you so much!

(the customer departs; the sound of the child’s sobs are barely audible now – muffled, as they are, by the Hat)

Cashier 1: (hugging Cashier 2) I bloody love Christmas!

(cut to: Christmas Day; we are in the home of the Customer. Excitedly, the small child struggles to carry the enormous FLGS parcel to her Father. They unwrap it and find an Inis box underneath! The shrink is removed and the lid lifted to reveal...a solitary, bubble-wrapped copy of Scandaroon)

Infant: Oh.
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Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:30 am
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Can I Get A Witness?

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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(with apologies to Gilbert Shelton)



Spoiler (click to reveal)

I know nothing of this:



And, finally, a song:


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Fri Dec 9, 2016 6:27 am
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Thirty two feet and EIGHT little tails

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Not before time, Mina Guberinic is Geek of the Week:



https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1684522/geek-week-583-m...

In fact, given the sheer, eye-dazzling beauty of her weekly 'What I have played' blog (and the attendant jealousy that she has played quite so much of quite so many precious objects), I think she deserves Geek of the Year, if there ever were a thing. Ah, but I'm biased, of course, having met her - and the silent Rock of Ages that is the shadowy 'Peter' - in October!

Go on, then; pop over and ask her a question or two!





I haven't played Zooloretto 'for real' in many years and, yet, whenever that German convention comes around, I make sure to get the latest promo tile and slip it, tenderly, in to my box. Yes, I know there's an awful lot of unused cardboard in this sheet BUT that's always been the way with Zooloretto extras - you get used to it. This makes promo 3.5 for which I have the associated game...

"But, what's the 0.5?" you might ask. Well, I'm very much tempted to find a copy of Hansa Teutonica after what peeps have been telling me! I _did_ get some cash off my Dad for a birthday pressie, so...

Christmas is a time for reflection, for reconciliation and - naturally - for cheese; apologies, but I have no biscuits to go with this:


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Thu Dec 8, 2016 6:17 am
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The Seven Joys of Mary

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Today it's all about me, oh yes! Having missed out in 2015, I finally get my Christmas Wish:



As soon as I knew that Guilds of London was rolling through the Panda printing presses, I was straight on to Matthias at Frosted Games and offering to design some exclusive tiles for it! In reality, there was already, in one of my work notebooks, the scribblings born of a particularly dull 'team progress meeting' that would do very nicely indeed: 2nd place tile-based rewards. On their own, however, that's not really enough of a prize for having to spend pairs of cards to get a liveryman on them so I added the 'Lord Mayors Parade' bonus of choose your Guild's colour too. If you're unlucky, you might get a double 1VP offering - in which case that Guild may remain unloved for the entire game (not even worth stealing for the colour choice option!) BUT, conversely, how about 8VP? Or, when the expansion comes out, some even juicier 2nd place token bonuses? Proud of myself, I mocked 'em up in Powerpoint and drafted an email...hovering over [Send], I realised - in a moment of reverse dolly-ing horror that the treasures of the Cheese- and Paper-Makers could be rudely undone by those evil neutral liverymen and the No Abstainers Allowed icon provided the final protection.

I've been sitting on these tiles for most of the year, so it's fantastic for them to finally see the light of day: more icing (frosting!) on the tasty cake that's been Guilds of London's 2016!


Finally, something stirringly medieval:
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Wed Dec 7, 2016 6:25 am
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Thy Kingdom Come

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Well, who'd have thought it? I have to admit to being very intrigued by/attracted to the new edition Kingdom Death: Monster currently hoovering up vast quantities of cash on Kickstarter.


Well, goodness!


More specifically, having watched a couple of promotional and unboxing videos, I am excited by the thematics of the thing:
- the minis are astonishing
- the concept is immersive
- the story is rich and odd and scary and dark.

In some sense, it feels like a box set TV serial that everyone else has gotten in to and is telling all their friends about; most of these I can take-or-leave but some, like The Returned or True Detective just hooked me from their first moments and had me utterly-gripped. Will Kingdom Death: Monster have the same effect?


It looks like a lot of stuff, doesn't it?


Maybe I'm harking back to my early gamer days when Roleplaying was all I knew (and cared about/looked forward to)? Maybe I'm becoming jaded by Euros and this growing feeling of longing is the visible symptom of this internal malaise?


The KS campaign vid.


There are a few days left yet so I may decide to jump in at the Lantern (core game 1.5, $250) level. That's a LOT of money, though. A very much lot. An awfully, yes, lot.


In the meantime, here is a more accessible - i.e. free! - (Festive) monster:


Now THIS is an EXCELLENT promo!

And, finally, another song:


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Tue Dec 6, 2016 6:09 pm
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Saint Nicholas' Eve

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Yesterday started cold and frosty, but warmed up with a visit from (Uncle) James and a kettle seemingly-perpetually on-the-boil from 11 'til 3! Alice needed to get her packing sorted - as I would be driving her to Heathrow, late afternoon, ready for her 10.30PM flight back to New Zealand (via Guangzhou) - but we were able to pause for a last bit of gaming:


Those Magnificent Men...coming along very nicely.



Villainous Alice wins the Race...


This particular play-test was an important one: my lot are tricky when it comes to learning new games as they don't enjoy the rules explanations! You can see my quandry BUT 'MagMen' is a relatively-simple pitch: draft and play cards to get you ahead in the Practice race THEN use the drafted cards in a draw deck for the 'real' race. Alice managed to avoid filling her deck with quite as many 'Distraction' cards as the rest of us and pulled away to land in Paris as the victor, despite being almost 100% villainous - where the Hell were the good guys? Phut-phut-phutting along at the back staring dreamily at the clouds! Figurative, as well as actual, forward movement continues to be made with this prototype: think FLAMME ROUGE meets 7 WONDERS (so far).

We had, temporarily, a complete set of Boydell children in the house - come tea time - so, while I loaded the car, there was a final round of farewell hugs, kisses and tears and then me and my eldest whisked ourselves Eastwards for the 3 hour journey to the airport:


Queue for baggage deposit selfie!



Whose flight is THIS? A Robin joins us for a latte...


I maintained a jolly demeanor as we checked-in Alice's huge rucksack and paused for a perking-up coffee but there was no avoiding the goodbye; we hugged, for ages, and I kissed her head like I did when she was newborn and when she skipped through the gates at Primary school and when we left her in her student digs in Plymouth in 2013 and when we sent her off to the other side of the world last year. I watched her zig-zag the empty queue path to Customs & Security and through to Departures until I couldn't see her any more; I coughed out the lump in my chest and the tears in my eyes and trudged back to the car. Only 7 months until she comes back.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Yup! Concealment ongoing:


Yay! I actually have Broom Service! Five days in and a first relevant Adventish gift!



Finally, a song for my heavy Yuletide heart:


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3 Comments
Mon Dec 5, 2016 6:30 am
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