For the first time in - well - ever, Boffo has a house big enough to host an actual, bone fide 'convention'; in fact, the living room itself is almost as big as the footprint of his & Smudge's previous (literal) bolt-hole! With a signed chitty from Regimental HQ (Mrs B) in my top pocket, I was out-and-about-and-down-the-A449 between Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth with the prospect of a Leo (Sayer - 'all dayer') and a Barry (White - 'all night') ahead. I'd packed some clean underwear, a toothbrush and my pyjamas along with Pitchcar, Scythe, Wallenstein and Railroad Tycoon.
Already parked up, as I reversed the Touran on to the precipitous vertical surface masquerading as 'the drive', was long lost Cap'n Byll replete with his usual Gladstone Bag of Games We Will Not Elect To Play; the rumour was that Jobbers and Daffers were 'en route' though Dan - surely our only hope of seeing Agricola this weekend - had cancelled at the last minute due to a "skirting board emergency".
While waiting, something small was desirable and we settled on Patronize because Boffo was unwilling to break Scandaroon out of it's shrink: like a deeply-buried, but recently-excavated alien artifact, it's unclear whether the aforesaid shrink is protecting Scandaroon or us:
2 x Patronize - Both were ably won by myself, though a missed (by me) game-end scoring card was ruled inadmissable by Boffo who thought he'd nipped me by a point before it was discovered.
With the full five ready, there was a little dance around the first 'proper' game to play (Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence were nix-ed on account of having been played recently) but no objections whatsoever to my suggestion of the always-brilliant El Grande.
El Grande: Jobbers and I got off to a flyer but ended up being reined in by persistent shenanigans from the others (we ended up joint LAST!). Daffers fought off a late charge from Boffo and - see above - the final round's CASTILLE initiated a monstrous avalanche of cubes!
Patting ourselves on the back for being so fantastic at area control, it was time to get a little fresh air and exercise...so we repaired to the springy-lawned front garden for some log-lobbing larks:
The added jeopardy of a plinth spiced up the proceedings, as did the Paint Your Wagon-esque, ankle-twisting mole tunnel collapses! You can also see (above) that the '4' pin found itself buried neck-deep in a divot providing the singular terror of scoring '46' and never being able to knock the bastard down! Four games whistled by in an eye-blink and we repaired to the dining room once more...but not before we'd assigned ourselves professional Molkky pseudonyms:
Tony 'The Flying Vee' Boydell (2 wins)
'Muttering' Byll (0 wins)
John 'The Skulker' Plant (1 win)
Dave 'Richochet' Daffin (1 win), and
Boffo 'Backhand' Bateson (0 wins)
Jobbers has a bit of a sour history with Cuba but, thankfully, he'd forgotten all of it and happily agreed to us giving it a go. With the full compliment of 5, there was a pleasing parting-of-the-ways with Daffers and Jobbers working Rum and Tobacco, Byll heavily in to the 'Water Strategy', Boffo a little bit of everything (Rum, mainly) and me just manipulating the docks and shipping crops. Byll didn't really get the combo working properly and Daffers/Jobbers sort of bounced off eachother, which left me and Boffo to steadily rack up packets of veeps and tie for the win on all the tie-breakers! Jobbers enjoyed it too which means we're likely to play it again before the decade is out: woot!
Daffers and Byll had just enough time for a last five-lap Pitchcar before departing; Jobbers was originally going back with Daffers which would've left me and Boffo the only attendees left. I convinced Jobbers to stay until late, when _I_ would take him home: this meant, of course, the all-nighter was now a thing of dreams:
PitchCar Five laps of rowdy, back-and-forth flickery: Byll, almost lapped in the early stages, pulled away for a tense victory!
And then there were three...
Tired of ignoring Boffo's cous-cous and tomato salad buffet, Jobbers and Boffo and myself ordered a curry supper and played a couple of short ones while we waited (for 90 minutes, as it turned out); firstly:
Divinare: Jobbers is a demon at this; we - er, rather, _I_ being roundly-CRUSHED.
Port Royal: Pfister's Pfun Pfiller - another gold medal for Boydell!
There was some thought that we could learn the rules to something new while Boffo beetled in to nearby-Monmouth for the scran so, tentatively, we took First Train to Nuremberg from it's shelf. Sweet Holy Christ but the rulebook is a massive pigs-fucking-ear: densely-typed, game information mixed with thematic history, overlapping diagrams with a hundred 'This is...' arrows and all sorts of incomprehensible garbage like "In a 2 or 3 player game use ALL the Influence cubes; in a 3 or 4 player game use the following cubes only...". Two intelligent men and twenty five minutes couldn't decipher any semblance of enjoyment potential from this microfiche of waffle and confusion so we dropped down a mental gear and plumped for:
In summary: travel around Europe spending TIME collecting books/information of varying colours that will, when combined with further TIME in 'excavations' - around the Mediterrranean - allow you to draw a particular number of chits from a site's coloured bag; chits are blank (just sand) or contain relics for points. Add up everything at the end.
Indiana Jones-esque fun was to be had by all in this neat little treat from 2007; of particular note was (a) Boffo's 21 VP haul from a lecture tour which was 80% in place before he'd found his first relic and (b) me pulling 10 chits from a bag and finding two '1 point' so-called treasures!
It was 10PM already and just enough time for a train game; no, NOT Snowdonia but Queen Games' lavish first-foray in to the World of Winsome with:
It was all about 'the blue company' which I managed to hold on to sole share ownership of (dividends = all mine); not even my massive brainfart of winning, but bidding one fewer than the monies needed to run straight in to Chicago, the newly-launched Wabbash Cannonball could stop me from a comfortable victory. It was now DEFINITELY time to leave Boffo for the night; Byll and Daffers would be returning tomorrow (yesterday) but that was it for the J-Dog and me. It's a shame young Dan had cried off because there would've certainly been a couple more hours of Uwe Rosenberg fun awaiting us; however, with the venue proven more than able of sustaining a goodly attendance I don't think it will be too long before we're all doing it again.Finally, to our host, a hearty "Thank You!":
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 Show/Convention Report
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11 Aug 2016
Surprised Stare will only have 300 copies at Essen Spiel so if you want one then it's probably best to pre-order (no pre-payment is required).
The price on pickup is 45 Euros, which includes special Essen promos (watch the What's New page on our website – www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk - for details). Pre-orders must be collected by 12 noon on Sunday 16th October from Hall 2, Stand 2-E119.
All you need to do to pre-order is enter your name and email on the form below:
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So Gencon 2016 has (finally) finished and for the first time ever I've been feeling envious of those who went. This is, of course, down to Guilds of London being something people are interested in and being interested in it through the endeavors of Tasty Minstrel Games.
I have already experienced the thrill of a new game launch at the UK Games Expo and will do again in October at Essen Spiel when we'll have 300 copies to sell: 75% of all the copies that will be available at the show* (and in Europe too given that other language editions are going to be 2017 at the earliest). It is those two shows - and my extensive experience of them - that are fuelling my Gencon jealousy because I know what it's like to be on a Stand and I bloody love it! I adore the setting up, the sweat and the dust, the early starts and late finishes, the noise and the overwhelming love of people who are in their element! It's such a massive adrenalin rush as vouched-safe by the enormous crash that hits you when it's all over.
I eagerly followed the Twittered exploits of peeps like Ignacy Trzewiczek, Seth Jaffee and Paul Grogan and I understand the fixation that keeps them ploughing on without sustenance, without breaks and without rest, in to the early hours: it's an experience you don't want to miss anything of and it's relentlessly exhausting! So, I tip my hat to you, the Exhibitors of Gencon: the designers, the publishers, the BGG crew, the demo staff, the builders and the taker-downers and the volunteers; I know how much work goes in to an event like this and I'm insanely envious:
*details of how you can pre-order your Guilds copy for Spiel pickup will be posted up very soon! I suppose it will be our version of the Fragor mayhem?
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From the Guilds of London page:
This makes me feel sad because:
a) they aren't actually interested in playing it;
b) they have deprived two other people who really wanted to play it from playing it (although they may also have deprived two other people who really wanted to sell it on quickly for a profit from selling it on quickly for a profit); and,
c) the cynical predetermination hints at a less-than-optimal regard for the hobby.
Still, that's supply-and-demand for you.
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A Sore-Throated Saturday Seminar Snippet
Last Saturday morning, pre-opening, I bumped in to Mr Tom Vasel who asked me if I'd like to be a guest on The Dice Tower live podcast that afternoon. It was a 'Designers Panel' and I was to be the meat in the sandwich between Dr Reiner Knizia and, arguably, the coolest game designer in the World today Mr Eric M. Lang:
Reiner and Eric are both like, uh, like poets you know like Shelley or Byron, or people like that. The two totally distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically, you see and I feel my role in the podcast, is to be kind of in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water, in a sense.
Jokingly, because I like a joke, I asked young Tom if I was allowed to swear. He looked me straight in the eyes, stony-faced, and said, softly: "No, Sir". Right. That's clear then.
Now, while I am perfectly used to standing up in front of large rooms of people and banging on about stuff (I shall be doing a lot of that this coming week for 'work', as it happens), I admit to suffering a touch of the squeaky sphincter at the prospect. To further compound this apprehension, I was chatting with the Playtest UK guys about 20 minutes before the 'cast started and my voice cracked!
So, enjoy we three amigos in conversion (or 'Tom-versation', if you will?):
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09 Jun 2016
(we are at a convention; it is close to the end of the final day and everyone is expecting the Tannoy to give it's version of The Last Post. Punters are dribbling away through the exits, exhibitors are beginning the various and complex boxing rituals)
Tannoy: *bing-bong-bo-diddley* Get the Hell out of here, ya punks: the convention's OVER! *bing-bong-bo-diddley*
(zoom in to the Shocked Expression Games stand: a punter approach-eth)
Punter: (tapping one of the staff on the shoulder) Hello.
TonyStaff: (turns around) Oh, hello; can I help you?
Punter: (reaching passed the staff member to pull a box of the shelf) Yes. I'd like to get one of your
SnowdoniaCairngormia special deal packs, please!
Staff: (puts down box, straightens trousers) Ah, yes: a copy of the German edition Cairngormia with English upgrade pack, the latest expansion "Loch Lomond / Yellowstone National Park" and the show promo "Cairngormia: Seasons"? That will be thirty six pounds, please.
Punter: Yes, about that. I wonder if you could do me a deal?
Staff: (slightly irked) A deal?
Staff: Cairngormia, if you can find it elsewhere, will set you back £45 to £50 and the expansion and promo is £7, so that's a saving of £20 at least...
Punter: ...but if you don't sell it to me then you'll have to take it home with you, won't you?
Punter: What if I offer you thirty?
Staff: (mildly irked) Then I would reiterate that the price is £36.
Punter: I see. Thirty two? And that's my last offer!
Staff: Thirty six.
Punter: I won't bother, then. (walks off, muttering)
(the staff member tuts and returns to his work)
Poll: So, what would YOU do?
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Ok, so I promised I'd write up my Sunday experience at the Expo and then got a little side-tracked by overwhelming fatigue and, then, yesterday's awesome 'Hotness' experience! It won't surprise you to know that a Sunday morning couldn't keep the throng from the breakfast room; no matter the Holiness of the day, the venue was (still) opening at 0930HRS.
It was a longer trudge to the NEC this time as I had to check out first then walk the opposite direction to the van's parking zone, retrieve the trolley (I really SHOULD'VE left it on the stand Thursday) and rattle-clatter over to the NEC in readiness for the inevitable Takedown Frenzy come 4PM. The robust Security guards were too busy arguing with another Trader about sneaking in early to stop me from sneaking in early, so I busied myself behind the shelves and floor-standing banners: tidying and sorting. Mike from Who Dares Rolls called a cheerful 'Good morning' and within moments we were chatting like Smooth FM early-morning DJs in front of a rolling video camera!
It was short and sweet, and I managed to blag a free coffee so: result! Not sure when the bants-in-our-pants will make to the Youtubes, so watch this blog!
I managed (you will already have seen the loot pictures) to garner a lot of lovely new things, so all those empty Guilds of London boxes came in damn handy for packing. There were gaps on the shelves for Snowdonias and Ivors, so I faced all of those too; ah, all that retail training when I was a teenager has really paid off!
And then the doors opened.
While not as mad as the other days, Sunday was still a busy old time of it and without Guilds, peeps were stopping by to sample some Snowdonian delights. And not just sampling, but buying; we sold out of all the copies of THAT I'd brought too! In fact, let's remind ourselves of the VW Transporter on Thursday (2nd) afternoon:and compare it to what arrived at Chez Boydell come 7PM (5th):
We sold EVERYTHING apart from some Bad Grandmas and spare Snowdonia: Seasons! What the actual frak?!
I managed to sit down and play an excellent game of Snod with a chap called Daniel, the splendidRichard DewsberyUnited Kingdom
and the equally-splendid, but far more travelled
It was a bloody close thing: Bruce played the sneaky don't mind me; I don't know what I'm doing card and I got all smug-and-gloaty with a couple of rounds to go, convinced I'd beaten Richard in to second place (at last). As it turned out, pride was - indeed - an accurate precursor to ego-plummetage and Richard stole the win with some excellent No.6 Padarn utilization: 95 - Richard, 93 - Me, 83 - Bruce and 70ish - Daniel!
My off-stand wandering increased as I grabbed a final few bits and pieces for the family and I was then pounced upon by the wonderful Andy Hopwood (Mijnlieff, Dodekka) who was bursting with excitement about having explained the rules to Mijnlieff coherently in under 30 seconds! Unclear as to whether this was actually 'a good thing' or not, I mulled upon this bombshell as I went to retrieve the van.
Outside it was ridiculously hot and sticky:
By the time a line of us had made it back in to the cool shade of Hall 1, the place was a skeleton of it's recent former self:
But I did manage to say goodbye to my new pals, including the utterly-charming:
And we're done; you're all caught up now - at least with MY version of Events - so, if you'll excuse me, I've got another long work day ahead of me where every damn brilliant and awesome thing that happened in Birmingham means abso-bloody-lutely nothing at all.
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Got back early evening, in sweltering heat and light, so spent the pre-sleep period cooling down, cleaning up and eating! More on the bigger Sunday tomorrow but, until then, here's a piccy of my UK Games Expo loot...most of which was paid for by M:TG rare stuff and my ill-gotten (everything sold again) Bring & Buy gains:
Mississippi Queen + Expansion
Beyond Baker Street
The Bloody Inn
Broom Service, and
Now, where the jiggling tittyfuck am I going to put them?
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Another day, another plate of fried meat and carbohydrates to start me off; with the earlier 0930HRS public opening, the breakfast bar (‘The Boulevard Restaurant’, no less – high zit gain, yah? Proper posh) was – much to my surprise - elbow-to-elbow with carnivores at 0700HRS. Belly full, a cool amble through the pretend woodland to the Halls saw me straight to the Bring & Buy (again), this time FULLY stocked with much boardgaming bacon (licks lips): mmmmmm...Railway Rivals and *slurp*dribble* Mississippi Queen (with expansion). Also, amongst the gems on the collectibles table, I found these impish stowaways:
Anyway, the tannoy piped up something incomprehensible so I scurried back to the Stand in preparation for the final departure of the Guilds of London ‘forty’...and then there were none. I _say_ none, what I mean is “And then there was ONE orphan copy – fallen backwards off the shelf in to the ‘Rubbish’ box” (...waits for inevitable Boffonian quip...) which was earmarked for Mr Eric Lang after we Dice Tower-ed later in the day (see further on a bit, thanks).
With all of that pressure now off, our attention turned to the dwindling Snowdonias (which is having the mother of all resurgences since we ‘obtained’ them German 1st Editions - checkout the amazing £36 bundle!) and the imminent arrival of a shower from ‘out of town’:
I was able to grab a comforting couple of hours wandering the Hall with this happy, motley band (even got in a game of Dobble!); however, lack of sleep, nerves and excitement have made me feel rather homesick *sniff*.
The Ross-on-Wye board gamers were also ably-represented by Norm, Keith, Gary and Daffers who popped by to say hello then spent inordinate quantities of money on big boxes of stuff and, finally, stopped by on their way out to complain about how heavy everything was! First world problems, my friends - first world problems.
Demo, drink, demo, poo, demo, drink and then - whilst chitty-chatting with the always-delectible Brett J. Gilbert, I coughed a bijou ahem and my voice went! Just like that I went from silky-toned Brit orator to a hooting mid-puberty schoolboy soprano...ten minutes before I was due to be a guest on The Dice Tower Live podcast! Sipping a bottle of mineral water only seemed to make the clenched squeaking worse as Mr Reiner Knizia took to the stage with his stand-up comedy routine (seriously, he was VERY funny!)
Nervously I awaited my segment by bumping fists with Eric M. Lang, to my right, and rasping a gigglingly-nervous complements to this altitudinous and hirsute superstar! Being the meat in this particular Designer sandwich (!), Tom summoned me for my turn on The Rack and I wheezed my way through 10 minutes of cheerful banter feeling like all my passages had closed up. Eric closed off the session with some excellent conversation and all-of-a-sudden it was 5PM and time to go away.
Ah, the walk back was distinctly lacking in spring so I recharged the iPhone, and myself, in the silence of my room before venturing forth for some evening play. As it turned out, I didn't end up playing ANYTHING: after (finally, 45 minute!) getting a burger, I popped to the Bar for a refreshing, throat-soothing pint of Guinness and bumped in to Efka Unpronouncablesurname, Ben O'Steen, Robin Lees, Matt Dunstan, Gil Hova and other splendid pals and partners:
We proceeded to drink, chat, laugh, be rude and generally have quite the most enjoyable 90 minutes; what occurred in the Bar, however, stays in the Bar. From there we decamped to the adjacent 'big room' whereupon I met up with long-time gamer pal 'Guildford George' and was re-joined by Matt D to look over his notes/prototype for Snowdonia: The Qinghai Tibet Railway which is - spoiler alert:Spoiler (click to reveal)Awesome!
More jabbering and jaw-flapping ensued until I, still hoarse and rasping, excused myself for an early(-ish) night and then bumped in to 'Oxford Terry' in the long corridor so I followed him back to an ante room where he and his pals were playing Guilds of London! Another hour passes and we're now - officially - in to Sunday morning so I DEFINITELY pull myself away and head in the direction of Beddington...only to bump in to Chris Marling (Empire Engine, the forthcoming - and excellent - Pioneer Days) and Mr Ludicreations...
Can I PLEASE get to bed! I am EXHAUSTED! Tomorrow is the last-and-final day so, if you'll excuse me, it's time to take forty winkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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As was entirely expected, I didn’t get much sleep on Thursday night; what I did get was deep and dreamless but, once the first lights of the Birmingham morn doth syrup-seep through the drapes around 5.30AM, I woke up and couldn't drop off again.
Showering and adorning myself with troos and a new Surprised Stare Games tee-shirt , I found the breakfast area relatively-empty – ie. buzzing loudly rather than roaring with bacon-breathed blabber-jabber – and was able to scoff a hearty fry-up in the genial company of Mr Rob Harris, Playtest UK plate-spinner and sometime Modiphius lacky.
Keen to get my Bring & Buy offerings safely shelved, it was a brisk walk back through the long hotel to a back door and through the woods to Hall 1. Even though it was still rather light-of-stock, I managed to grab a minty copy of Thunder Road (Mad Max: The Boardgame, basically, from 1987) and then cashed in some Magic: The Gathering rarities for an armful of games:
I couldn't avoid it forever, though, and before the doors opened I managed to enjoy the true Convention luxury of a being able to find a toilet cubicle without queuing for an hour OR finding it erupting like a poo volcano! There was some dithering, and a restorative coffee, back at the Stand before the Tsunami of Dobbershovery overwhelmed us...and I mean overwhelmed:
Continuing the severe weather phenomenon analogy, the next two hours were a whirlwind; chatting, signing and hurriedly unpacking more stock as GoLs - and, to my delight, Snowdonias - whistled off the booth! I managed to escape, mid PM, for a 20 minute perambulation with good buddy Neil and his kids, helping him select some choice goodies for the taking home of. We, SSG, also provided seated sanctuary to a weary Stu Burnham (of this Blog Parish) and son William; Stu returned the favour by doing the occasional 'demo':
In the end, at the close of play, there were 40 rather forlorn-looking Mayors (with their attendant guards) staring back at me...and today (Saturday) is supposed to be the BUSY day!
Supper was from Becky's Bhajis, a most excellent and spicy repast, before seeking out Russ & Alex Martin for some recreational distraction; as I took my seat, I noticed Russ had popped his 'plums' out and I suggested with all play with immediately. Thus, as is no surprise dear reader, did the sous entendu continue for the next 20 minutes before coming to a satisfying pi-filled climax:
We _had_ intended to play Imhotep next but, with the arrival of Ben & Steph & Matt Dunstan, it turned in to a me watching the others playing Snowdonia: A Nice Cup Of Tea:
It was a fascinating mix of players and, after the breezy 10 minute description of what is different?, these seasoned Snowdonians polished the whole thing off in 80 minutes...and there was just 5 points between Matt in 1st and Alex in 2nd! I had tried a couple of tiny tweak-ettes (one more space on the BUILD action for 5 players and tea being worth 2 points each rather than 3) which proved spot-on; I am now happy that this scenario is now ready!
Retiring to the Bar for much-needed hydration, Matt D and I chatted about gamey things then met up with his younger brother for even more chatter; we parted ways an hour later - they have a T.I.M.E Stories session to continue - and I meandered back in to the main room to see if anyone was still about:
Evidently they were so I drove deeper in to the hubbub in search of pals and something to join in with; fortunately, I happened upon an old (young) pal from the London working days teaching Guilds to Gil Hova and others and, keen that this should go well, I plonked my arse down and heckled for the first 6 rounds. The long, exciting day had finally caught up with me and I took myself off to bed around 11PM; Saturday's itinerary starts with an early meeting comprised of myself, Sheik Allegmatey and his business associates Messrs Ash Brown and Ben Zonntoast so, if you'll excuse me, it's time to take forty winkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
*the bonce, not the performance!
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