It Beats Watching The TV

A daily blog about games, family and occasionally random other things. Well, it gives me something to do, and you something to read doesn't it!?

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Every Man Needs A Kind Word Now And Then

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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I’ve had a shit day. I typed a long ranty post getting it (and a whole host of other things) off my chest. And then I read it and realised I sounded like a prat. So I deleted it all, it would’ve done no-one who read it any benefit.

What would do some good is a kind word or two. We all need to hear some during our day. So, and I know he’ll be reading this, why not leave a message in the comments for our favourite banged up blogger.

I’ll start off.

Tony; Your humour, your crassness, your (occasional) wisdom are all much missed. Thanks for all those words, especially the rude ones. Keep being you, whatever you do.


“Free the banned blogger”
Day 9: whistle imagine The Great Escape Theme here whistle
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Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:15 am
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Every Man Needs A Rest

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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Yeah, I’m very much out of practice with blogging and as this is the seventh day since I’ve been (voluntarily) standing in for the Shed I feel it is legitimately something of a day of rest. So here’s a lovely little commemorative Agricola card that Ben(Boffo)Bateson made for Tony’s birthday bash.
Why not print it out for yourselves.







“Free the banned blogger”
Day 7: snore snore snore
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Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:15 am
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Every Man Needs A Label

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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Playing board games is awesome, yada, yada, yada. But playing them requires mingling with “other” people. And whilst many of them are also awesome, a few of them will suck the life out of you. And no matter how well designed and built and generally good something is it can’t survive a prolonged assault by such a determined douchebag...



Here’s a few to be on the lookout for;

The Gaming Hipster: always has something obscure that they want to get to the table or talk about. It matters little that it’s pretty shit to play, the veneer of elusiveness elevates it to special status.
Most likely to say; “you probably won’t have heard of it”.

The Know it All: has watched and read reviews and play throughs of most games and know what everyone else thinks about them but have no actual opinion of their own, because despite knowing all about them, they hardly ever play the bloody things!
Most likely to say; “well, Quinns is very sold on this one”.

The One Who Only Wants To Play Their Games: they’ll play something else, sure, but they’ll moan and they’ll sulk and they won’t get into the game at all. Because it wasn’t theirs and therefore couldn’t possibly be any good or else they would’ve already got it. Obviously.
Most likely to say; “I know what I like and..”

The Blogger/ Vlogger: yeah, these arseholes; you’re going to have to keep playing different games all the time (and if they cover Kickstarter campaigns then they’re probably ball squashingly bad) just so they can feed their audience.
Most likely to say; “I’ve got this brand new...”

The Dice Disaster Master: to hear this one talk (oh, and you will) you’d think every die is weighted against them, they apparently can never seem to roll anything worthwhile, ever.
Most likely to say; “well that’s just typical”.

The Master of Hyperbole: initially they just seem very keen and are quite good fun at the table but eventually this over enthusiasm begins to grate as they exhort increasingly excessive praise on a bang average game. At some point you will start imagining slapping them around the head. Repeatedly.
Most likely to say; “oh, this is easily a top 10, maybe even top 5 for me”.

The Wannabe Designer: oh **** this lot. Always taking apart what you’re playing and criticising invisible to the rest of the table flaws in the game. Dangerously likely to pull out a box full of prototype parts as well to properly ruin your evening.
Most likely to say; “Well, I would have improved this by...tell you what, let’s just house rule it”


Please feel free to add your own in the comments below.



“Free the banned blogger”
Day 3! I don’t keep an armoury of potential posts and pics these days, I’m having to wing it!
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Fri Nov 9, 2018 6:15 am
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Every Man Needs A Cage

Stuart Burnham
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For some minor* misdemeanours, it seems that Uncle Tony has been sent to BGG Jail and might not be posting his daily blog for a while.
I’ll help out a bit in the meantime**

This site is, self evidently, about boardgames. But it’s not filled with and visited by people who care only about boardgames. BGG blogs are a place where, I thought, you were mostly free to express personal opinions and experiences on whatever you wished, cardboard or otherwise. I certainly have in the past. Some of the very best blog posts I have read here have often been those that have had nothing directly to do with gaming but instead have been about people and life and hope and pain and fear and anger and concern and loss and love and fun and family.
I would agree that “that post/ picture” wasn’t really any of the above and broke some of the community standards, however:
Some of the colour and the vitality of the place will be lost if it can’t tolerate people; real, messy, sweary, difficult, funny, rude, clever, whimsical, serious, near the knuckle, thoughtful, outspoken, stupid, authentic and unfiltered people.





*my opinion, obviously.
**not legally binding.
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Wed Nov 7, 2018 6:42 am
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They Shall Not Grow Old

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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Some time last year I started to realise that I was becoming much more middle aged interested in history, particularly military history, and that I was also keen to explore games of this ilk. After dabbling with quite a few and, along with my general gaming tastes, discovering that I prefer the lighter playing end of the spectrum, I’ve ended up buying and trading for several different Commands and Colors games. Memoir '44 and the Second World War generally is the period that I am most interested in but, in no small part due to the anniversaries, the First World War is increasingly in my thoughts, my reading, and now my gaming.



The gaming system is simple enough that if you know one game in it then you know 80% of all of the others, but the tweaks in the other 20% really do great things to evoke the period. In The Great War the role of artillery is very prominent, and the protective bonuses from being inside the trenches are far enhanced from defensive positions in other games in the series. But the fact that usually one side is “under time pressure” - meaning that the enemy can gain victory medals from playing recon cards (and eschewing their benefits) - forces them to go on the offensive and into no man’s land.

In the picture above we are at the start of the Somme offensive in 1916, at Hawthorn Ridge, just outside the village of Beaumont Hamel.

(From Wikipedia)
At 7:20 a.m. on 1 July 1916, the British fired a huge mine beneath the Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt. Sprung ten minutes before zero hour, it was one of 19 Mines on the first day of the Somme and was filmed by Geoffrey Malins*. The attack on the redoubt by part of the 29th Division of VIII Corps was a costly failure. The corps commander had ordered the mine to be fired early to protect the advancing infantry from falling debris but this also gave the Germans time to occupy the rear lip of the mine crater. When British parties crossed no man's land to occupy the crater, they were engaged by German small-arms fire. A few British soldiers reached the crater; at noon they were ejected by a German counter-attack. The success of the German defence of the Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt crater contributed to the failure of the British attack on the rest of the VIII Corps front.


*A still from this footage of the mine detonation is below. Look at the foreground for a sense of scale.



In an almost total role-reversal of history the British, greatly aided by an infantry assault card and a combat card (can’t remember the title) that allowed potential extra movement for all ordered infantry (one for each soldier shown on rolling two dice), managed to rush the crater and claim a majority on the hill that they would not cede for the rest of the game (majority on the seven central hexes being worth a start of turn victory point). A detachment also broke off from the hill to clear the front trench on the British right (any British occupancy of a German front trench hex also earn a start of turn victory point). A “Butts & Bayonets” (counter close assault) card on the Germans attempted fight back gained another medal leaving them only one shy of victory after just three turns.

As well as being the beneficiaries of some great fortune with their opening hand the British knew that it was truly to be their day when an all out artillery bombardment from the Germans (boosted by yet another combat card I can’t remember) scattered all around the crater, potentially hitting five British units and yet not a single loss was taken. With a handful of movement cards that only ordered their wiped out left flank the Germans knew the game was up but managed to take down a couple of low strength British units before succumbing to inevitable collapse.

Movement, and swift movement at that, is absolutely key in this game (much as it needed to be to finally break the deadlock on the Western Front in 1918) and assaults must be followed up and consolidated or else the units will be highly vulnerable to counter attack. Crossing no man’s land is highly perilous and should not be attempted without a viable plan for the next couple of turns already sitting on the cards in your hand.



Trying to imagine what is must have been like to hear the whistle that ordered soldiers over the top and to then advance across churned ground that been (often) pounded by artillery, ostensibly to provide cover for infantry advancing across the open, is quite chilling.



I’ve seen some excellent custom scenery and great photography that have really helped to make this game come to life, but this is the best I can manage on a grey afternoon in the living room with the base game only and a couple of minutes with an iPhone and stock filters.
The whole game does appear rather drab on the table, the starkness and grimness being quite evocative actually, but the game does seem to cry out for a bit of painting and modelling, more so than others in the series. Perhaps I will go digging around the old Warhammer paints box and see what I can do to bring a little more life and vibrancy to the tabletop.



There have been previous undertakings to restore colour to old footage but nothing quite as transformative as this incredible piece of work from Peter (LotR) Jackson. When the Imperial War Museum handed hundreds of hours of original footage to him four years ago it was with a speculative “see what you can do”; I heard him say that when he saw the first four minute sample all present in the room were utterly gobsmacked as the people were vividly brought to life as if it were only yesterday rather than 100 years ago. This labour of love and remembrance is further enhanced by all the voiceovers being from veterans themselves, not a modern narrator, and with recordings taken from as soon after the war as possible, to capture them in as youthful a manner as the revitalised film does.

This extraordinary piece is being shown today, 16th October in selected cinemas. It will also be aired on the BBC on Remembrance Sunday.
Play the trailer below; I imagine that I will not be the only one utterly transfixed by it.

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Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:05 am
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Catanachos

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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I don’t know what it was about my lunchtime snack that made me think of boardgames...



A quick review?
A bit dry, probably past it’s best before date, overpriced for what you get, and much better alternatives available I should say.

Enough about the crisps; Catan’s still alright though and this has reminded me that I must be due my annual game of it.
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Fri Jun 1, 2018 6:25 am
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Shut Up & Sit Down Recommends This Car Boot Sale

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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I’ve just returned from the local car boot sale and was thoroughly tickled by this particular scene; surely the offical stall of SUSD no?

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Sun May 20, 2018 10:26 am
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Badge of Honour

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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Oh well, go on then....



Head over HERE and do your best/worst/most irreverent.
Let's have a bit of fun!

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I can't deny that I've always hoped to get this most treasured of awards, but I didn't think I'd have to actually stop writing before it was forthcoming, haha!
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Sun Apr 8, 2018 6:10 am
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Do You Find Cube Pushers to be a Little Dry...?

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
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....in that case what you need is;




Euro Oil; helps games night go smoothly!
(Apply liberally until you feel comfortable.)
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Wed Mar 7, 2018 8:14 am
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My-llennium

Stuart Burnham
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Is that a big number? That's the question that is frequently asked on one of my favourite podcasts (BBC's More or Less, it's a statistical look at numbers in the media, generally). In essence it simply means taking something in context; 1000 isn't really that big number if you're talking about the number of books in your local library. But it is when it comes to the number of blog posts written by someone on BGG. Not counting official BGG news posts there have been (that I can spot, going through the records) only four that have reached this number.
Today, this post, marks the 1000th instalment of It Beats Watching The TV making it part of quite an exclusive little club.
Ain't that grand?

I'm pretty proud of getting this far. In fact I think I'm supposed to receive some sort of official little plaque and get a handshake from Aldie now at a presentation ceremony somewhere. The invitation must've got misplaced somewhere in my geek mail I guess?

I couldn't quite think of what to do to mark this milestone but I wanted very much to say thank you to all of you reading. It's quite odd to consider that there are people regularly checking in to see what I'm rambling or ranting about each day. I hope that it has, on occasion, made you smile or made you think. I don't think I'd have got anything like this far without the thumbs and the feedback. Cheers.



So, to celebrate this and to give something back I'm going to offer up a little gift to a random reader. There have been no tags of games in this post so, as close as I can assume, all of you reading this are people who are subscribed to this blog. If you give this post a thumb you will be entered into a random draw that will take place, shall we say, this coming weekend? On Saturday 13th Jan I will use a random number generator to pick one of you to win a game or game related prize that I will send to you at my cost, wherever in the world you are (due to geography I will be able to be a little more generous should the winner reside in Europe rather than the rest of the world, I hope you understand). Mrs B will arbitrate and record the draw, if anyone wants verification of veracity. I will add a comment to this blog sometime on Sat 13th with the result and will contact the winner via Geek mail to arrange as well.

Good luck and once again, whether you've been coming here since the early days or are a recent reader, thank you so much for dropping in, it's meant a lot to me.
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Tue Jan 9, 2018 6:05 am
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