After nearly two elapsed weeks...
...30+ hours of building...
...a couple of sessions while also in a muted Conference Call...
...being convinced there was a piece missing at least 8 times...
...several 'rebuild patches' following clumsy presses/lifts/turns...
...over 60 plastic bags...
...and enough 'leftovers' to build a separate probe droid later, we're done:
Thankfully, the huge guide book also has a picture of the correct way to move the bloody thing: arms UNDERNEATH and back straight. It was a total and complete pleasure; a monumentally-rewarding exercise in concentration; a rich seam of future assembly tips 'n tricks - it was worth every last penny. My Lego journey is done; so here's to those of you who have travelled before me and, of course, those who will travel this 'brick road' in the Future.
(rests thumbs in a bowl of iced water, forever)
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk.
Archive for Session Report
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I've been finding myself at the end of the shitty work stick this week: harassed, undermined, challenged (accusatorially) and, generally, kicked about. I have spent 10 months carefully nurturing an excellent working relationship with our developers and have had to, occasionally, body shield them from ill-informed, inappropriate, unfair and/or politically-motivated knee-jerk panics. Of course, this means the aforementioned jerking knee ends up in my bollocks instead: my week in a nutshell, as it were. Still, as a means of escape, binge watching The Queen's Gambit has been most effective and the shiny, hard plastic of the Millenium Falcon has been patiently-awaiting my clicking wrists:
I have noted a soreness in my left thumb from all the 'pressing'; and also on my left thigh/knee where I tend to rest my elbow when close-up assembling. Indeed, the latter provokes a little queasiness as it feels like I'm leaning on a bruise. Eurgh.
As well as the physical manifestation of R.L.S.I (Repetitive Lego Strain Injury), the psychological strain is also beginning to emerge: one particularly-difficult panel placement cracked a side-bar from its mooring and perpetuated a series of further small - but immensely irritating - snaps, pings and drop-offs.
There followed twenty minutes of swearing and barking as I had to re-do a series of distinct assemblies: not entirely successful, though, as I can now hear a flat 4-pip bar rattling around somewhere in the interior. It's also BLOODY HEAVY and without a safe lifting point - so I need to rig up a fabric sling system of some kind too.
"But is it still fun?" you may well ask: "Indisputably!".
Boffo, too, seemed to have had a dogshit cuntbugger of a week and so we congregated for some online gaming by way of a salve; joined by Smudge and Dave, we opened with Snowdonia.
'Snodders' has had a little bit of a facelift on yucata.de - little graphic tweaks that tidy things up/provide a little more direct info: I like it a lot. Now, of course, I wonder if they're planning on implementing some of the expansions? My vote would be for The Daffodil Line or The Wye Valley Tourer.
Becky and I seemed to be the only ones with a semblance of a plan - snatching, as we did, a double-excavate card each off the setup line; all that excavation - and gorgeous run of weather - saw the game close after just 25 minutes! Snowdonia as a filler? Well, I'll be darned...
Next to more worker placement goodness and the sublime Caylus:
Another game of tense, careful actions and - again - Becky and I seemingly much clearer of strategy mind than the other two: I almost entirely ignored the castle in favour of VP-rich STONE buildings and some fruitful gold-into-veeps at my Bank.
It wasn't QUITE enough, though (see above); Becky managed to sneak out enough end game scoring to close the final round gap between us and get ahead by just the one soul-destroying-but-glorious point! Ben complained throughout about how much he 'hates' this bloody game but it's all bluster: Caylus is exactly the kind of thoughtful distraction we all needed after a hard week of worldly nonsense.
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Sunday morning and I made excellent progress with bags three and four - putting the legs on this bucket. Arthur was too busy shooting things on Titanfall 2, so it was just me and the Sunday gloom and the iPhone on shuffle:
For the first time, some of the subtle hinge-facilitated curves are taking shape on the rear, side panels; and the tapering promontory on the nose:
Breaking up the day with a variety of activities, I read and I chored and then a posse of Boydells ventured out into the damp late-PM to give Ziggy a good walk:
The Hereford to Gloucester Canal was clogged with bullrushes and long grass and burbled with field run-offs. The nettles had been beaten to ground by the recent rains, so it was possible to navigate as far as the Cold Harbour Bridge.
Sat under the damp brick arch, listening to the drip-drip of the roof seepage, I realised that the others were nowhere to be seen: the muddy path was too muddy for their ill-chosen footwear and they waited for me back at the artificial lake.
I'm your only friend.
I'm not your only friend.
But i'm a little glowing friend.
But really i'm not actually your friend.
The mutt needed a warm bath so I tucked myself into the reading corner for another half hour or so and, then - when Arthur had completed his homework - we both returned to the Library room for Bag 5 and...
Arty loves jumping ahead and I have to keep reining him in: "Take it easy, mate!", I plead; "'Coz we only get to build this for the first time the once...enjoy it! Savour it!". Ah, the impetuousness of Youth; kids today just don't have the patience...
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15 Nov 2020
In case you missed it: Boffo Bateson previews the upcoming KS deluxe edition of the always-excellent Lancaster:
My money's already set aside - is yours?!
Ha! Only joking! Got you there for a minute, didn't I?! Ha-ha! Such a wag, me! Actually, the above pic came as a response to my recent Lego bragging - and, it transpires, that Boffo has pulled the plug on a huge box o' plastic (in the shape of a franchise space vessel) for himself. I'm a bad influence.
For the first time in ages, I managed to make one of the RoW gamers' Friday Nights Online (ROWFNO, pronounced, rhymingly, as 'row-fer-now'). We (Ben, Becky, Dave and myself) enjoyed an hour-or-so of The Crew (courtesy of BoardGameArena) and then a proper game of St Petersburg to (for me, at least) close. Though I was ducking out early, Ben invited me to join him and Mrs Bateson for a reinvigorated run at our co-design from a few years back: The Bones of Offo - action selection using dominoes:
Occupations for your workers to help make your actions more efficient/provide short-cuts, domino actions that transfer in to scoring opportunities, travelling the long Welsh border and 'ennoblement' - got to get your 'Nob' out.
It was a corker of a session and, unusually, I felt a sort of plan emerging as the game progressed: VPs are tightly-obtained and much planning must be made to make best use of your Doms - you will use all 28 in the process but only see seven at random(-ish) each Round.
It was a Skype session and I needed to flip between the Batesons' main board and my PPTX of the other bits; not too bad, though, and I managed to steal a close win courtesy of my first Round 'King of Mercia' play. Ben's only made some minor tweaks but it's certainly hit the ground running after a couple of years hiatus!
I must, however, get myself a new set of dominoes as the set I used was a Charity Shop purchase that turned out to be a cut-and-shut of two separate sets. It seems the backroom 'staff' had just filled up the box with 28 from a miscellaneous 'stock' and I ended up with about twelve duplicate tiles: this made some of my later game actions confusing and invalid, so we spent 10 minutes resetting my remaining 'deck' before carrying on. Oh, the dramas of lockdown play-tests!
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For those of you who think that spaffing 650 quid (free delivery) on a box of Lego is a wanton profligacy should take a look at what one GETS for one's moolah. Given that the average, 'stocking filler' set comprising a vehicle and a vehicle's 'base' comes in around £30 - and most peeps are entirely happy with this value-for-money / final result ratio - take a look at the monstrous economy of scale: there's a shitload more than twenty-two safari trucks/Halo-franchised robots in THIS box:
Let's start with the Instruction Manual (above); it's 468 A3-ish pages of glossy, full colour, step-by-step schematics with a 24 documentary-style introduction and interviews with the artists and the bloke who engineered the whole kaboodle in the first place!
Next, the Lego itself:
Four premium set-sized cartons with individual - and, together, a single portmanteau - image of the second best spaceship in movies, iconic quotes and packed to the point of barely any between-bag space with bricks, plates and everything else:
I opened the first box - helpfully (!) the one with the lowest Catalogue Serial Number - and found a mix of non-sequential packets: 1, 4, 14 and some unnumbered. A quick sort through and the '1's - about 10 of them - were quickly arrayed on the specially-prepared linen tablecloth:
One hundred and fifty minutes - and a pair of sore knees - later, the skeleton was complete. The structural elements of the foundation are quite astonishing; and, while mostly symmetric, it's not entirely so - there are little flourishes in the details that you know will be important for specific elements later on. Sifting, clicking, pressing, turning, counting and checking is such a pleasure; even though you know thousands have already been through this process, you can't help but feel like an engineer yourself!
So, I return to the issue of the cost: it's a lot of money in one chunk, yes - but imagine saving £10 per week for just over a year and then there's nothing over-priced or over-produced about this stunning work of Art.
Hint: this set can be sourced via the eBays and Amazons and so on and will set you back £800+. Instead, go to the John Lewis (Department Store) and order it from there for £650.
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This is a fun deck and one I like to roll out when the aggro decks - White Life Counters, Party Time, Green/White et al are boring me to tears: it's a pseudo-combo deck and it wants me to draw LOTS of cards and NOT because I have more spell-casting options but, instead:
4 x Ominous Seas - every 8th card I draw lets me create an 8/8 Kraken
4 x Teferi's Tutelage - every card I draw removes two cards from my opponents deck until they've nothing left to draw and therefore - according to the fundamental rules of Magic: The Gathering - lose when they next try and draw a card.
Thus, because the deck revolves around drawing cards by any means possible, we have:
4 x Valakut Awakening - replace your hand with the same number of drawn cards plus one; the bonus is that the replaced cards go in the bottom of your deck and cause no risk of 'decking' oneself!
4 x Opt - a lovely little cantrip (a card that replaces itself when cast)
3 x Cathartic Reunion - cheap triple-cantrip in one
4 x Frantic Inventory - escalating efficiency in instant-speed drawing
3 x Teferi's Ageless Insight - draw two cards whenever you would draw one (after your first in any turn)
2 x Jwari Disruption - counterspells for those very important moments
Sometimes, creatures come out fast on the other side so I need to buy a little extra time (and draw cards with) these little puppies:
4 x Merfolk Windrobber
3 x Cloudkin Seer
Oh, and to REALLY capitalise on those 8/8's coming in to play at instant speed, there's this piece of flying fun:
3 x Terror of the Peaks
Two colours only but with double red needed for the Terror, a couple of fetchers to help fix it:
2 x Evolving Wilds
6 x Mountain
4 x Temple of Epiphany (blue/red double)
10 x Island
In summary, this deck either:
- kills you by emptying ('milling') your deck with the Tutelages;
- kills you with 8/8 creatures; and/or,
- kills you with the Terror damaging you with 8/8s as they come in to play.
There comes a point in the early-to-mid game (around turn 3-ish) where it becomes evident which path I need to pursue: lots of creatures facing me down? Mill-er time! No creatures around? Get out my phat squids! And so on.
It's quite the adrenalin rush when a couple of spell casts result in me drawing half my deck AND creating multiple Kraken AND spewing fiery damage from the mouth of a fuck-off Dragon!
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Everything was going to be ticketty-boo when, last week, I bade farewell to the Tuffley games club: we had agreed to be Scythe-ing in a fortnight. Fate, and the tousle-haired nugget of shite masquerading as a 'Prime Minister' finally gave way to the advice of 'experts' and announced we'd all be locking down again...in a week or so...if that was going to be alright with everyone? Yes?!
With the very real prospect of the 'coming out of it on 2nd December' extending in to the New Year now - 500 deaths in the UK yesterday - this Tuesday (just gone) was going to be the last face-to-face/mask-to-mask oppo for the foreseeable.
Eldest lad, Fred, had expressed an interest in joining his pal Adam's regular DnD group so I told him to tootle over from Cheltenham and I'd pick him up from central Glos - along with some takeout - for the session:
Fred is finding it up-and-down in his supporting living accommodation: little daily routines are testing him in a good way (the triumph of his own home-cooked egg fried rice) and the monumental travails of the Planet Earth are sending him in to black holes of despair. Overall, the lad is doing extremely well, considering. I miss him around the family house.
With the Boris Limit of six applying, Scythe sucked in the first six to pull up a chair and sit down:
I did a rules overview for the new/recently-initiated and then we got stuck in: slapping our dobbers about from zone-to-zone, top actions followed by bottom actions and - as you can see from the above pics - the slow building of an impressive diorama!
While club regular Dave (white shirt, grey tee, belly) was being ribbed for 'always winning this game', myself - and one of the club's backbones Tom - quietly accumulated resources, spread out, nurtured healthy Power and Popularity and sprinkled stars across the achievement line. In the end, a slightly-risky attack on RED - with a 50-50 chance of success - netted me my sixth star and the end of the game. As it turned out, my 66 points was only good enough for second place, with the aforementioned Tom pipping me by the dreaded 'single point'!
Glorious fun and a fitting end to 2020's 'live' experience...apart from a first, tentative go at Silks & Sulkies which - after two-thirds of a full five player race gave me a headful of very useful notes:
Adieu, my new Tuffley pals; until we meet again!
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With great eagerness, Tuffley games club welcomed us in for another Tuesday session and - like good boys and girl - we wore our masks and behaved in an appropriately distant manner.
I'd been promised a game of Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game and we were hoping to get a goodly number:
Indeed, at one point - thanks to a pair of late-arriving Christophers - we were set for seven in the escaping outer space until the club organiser reminded us of the 'bubbles of six' Governmental rule and we threw a couple of players on to the other table (with a third) for Arboretum.
Progress was steady and cautious: all of the first phase of skill checks went through with no more than one (occasionally two) off-colour cards. Ben was cheerily trying to out everyone else as a Cylon which would normally have raised suspicion amongst the rest; however, no obstacles found themselves strewn in our path and we tootled through FTL jumps with a happy efficiency.
Then we had the second-card deal.
As it turned out, the messing about with the secret identity deck for six then seven then back to five meant we'd accidentally left a Cylon Sympathiser IN (not allowed with 5 players) and had four left-over cards after the second deal. Um, it looked horrifying like we had no Cylons in the game at all.
Indeed it was thus: with a frankly-ridiculous earnestness, we over-compensated on the Crisis cards and kept careful stock of colours played - and available - and even threw in a couple of Investigations to see what cards we were all throwing in: all with no indication of metal chicanery! I did suggest we call it early for a Human win but the others insisted on plugging away: it was at this point I realised that there probably was NO Cylon threat to the twelve planets and that were simply sent in to space so the system could be rid of us: telephone sanitisers, hairdressers and marketing executives all!
There was still time for a quick bath and a run at the excellent Cryptid:
A clever - but notoriously fragile - deduction affair, Cryppers progressed intriguingly (as per) until Ben ran out of 'No' cubes - and no-one seemed to know what to do next. Simultaneously, the call for closing time (approaching 10PM, you see) had us throwing up our hands and giving in.
Two fun games that both ended in ignominy: remind me, again, why we go to games club? Oh yes, because it was enormous fun nonetheless! Tom has promised Scythe in a fortnight: count me in!
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The latest Magic set - Zendikar Rising - is all about adventuring and as any fule kno, you need a proper variety of adventurers in your party. Many of the creatures and effects trigger more efficiently, the wider the variety: this Tony deck is about picking the best of each adventuring type and trying to find synergy.
4 x Nimble Trapfinder - handy little bugger who a) contributes to the (Rogue) body of the Party and b) lets you draw extra cards when the group is complete.
4 x Archpriest of Iona - turn 1 Cleric drop that gets out of control very quickly as she grows in confidence (and damage-dealing) when attendance picks up: she's a real Party animal!
4 x Luminarch Aspirant - another cleric that likes to get a-pumpin' on the Party dancefloor (as in [i]giving out free +1/+1 counters)
4 x Emeria Captain - Flyer who loves a good Party
1 x Thieving Skydiver - just the one (because that's all I've managed to collect so far) BUT she pinches artifacts.
2 x Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate - legendary owl/swan/wizard creature that flies and can protect everyone from board-sweeping disaster
4 x Watcher of the Spheres - cheap flyer with a Wizard tag
3 x Seasoned Hallowblade - (very) hard to kill Warrior damage-dealer that really gets on your opponent's tits. He just won't LEAVE the party!
2 x Brazen Borrower - ubiquitous blue creature that everyone uses because it's stupendous. And a rogue for the Party mix.
3 x Opt - card-drawing to dig for the Party crew
2 x Spoils of Adventure - life gain but is often a ridiculously-cheap three-card draw!
4 x Kabira Takedown - it's a Land or a kill spell: essential!
1 x Glasspool Mimic - copies any creature in play on your side: preferrable the Party-inflated OR card-drawing ones
1 x Temple of Enlightenment - only got the one in my collection
10 x Island
11 x Plains
Given I don't read up on the latest stratagems, this Blue/White Party build might be close to something everyone is banging on about BUT I took a card I seemed to keep picking up as a Free Booster Rare (Nimble Trapfinder) and decided to build a deck around it. Blue and White seem to be my favoured colours at the moment - an old man's patient mix of Control and Aggro rather than the heady days of phat creatures and burn of Yore.
It's a bit bitty in early trials - it's winning more than it's losing - and it's rather a hoot to play.
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Boffo and I were recently spanked to within an inch of our lives:
Thrashed, I tell you; until our farming botties were red-raw!
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