The Museum of Board Games isn't all about board games, you know; I have handful of delicious RPGs from the 80s that would catch the eye of many a gamer too!
There's something wonderful about the effort that went into designing these systems, most of which are variations on the same, core mechanisms but twisted to fit the story and detail of their subject matter. The player guides, the referee guides, the 'monster' lists and maps - oh, good Lord: the maps! The opportunity to live, breathe and actually participate in a favourite fictional world is splendid thing; movies are fun, but it's passive consumption only.
When this packaged Lot appeared on my eBay feed, there was no way in Hell that I was going to let this pass me by. As I have remarked, previously, I grew up a HUGE James Bond fan - the films and the novels. Since The Spy Who Loved Me, I've made certain to see each film in the cinema first to fully appreciate the daft, exotic nonsense on the biggest screen with the loudest sound. Our first - and only - post-lockdown cinema trip was, of course, to see No Time To Die and I felt 9 years old again: wide-eyed and excited.
NPC lists, vehicle controls, shooting skills, a catalogue of villains, investigations and a huge book of scenario snippets (a la Fighting Fantasy) liberally-spiced with illustrations of fighting men, fast cars and beautiful women.
The solitaire box, especially, piques my interest; I wonder if I might occupy a quiet Winter Museum afternoon with some action adventure - all laid out on the display table for visitors to observe/scrutinize?!
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Father, Grandfather, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
Archive for History of Games
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A remarkable spin-off from establishing a small, but concentrated, exhibition space for my beloved hobby is that folks' generosity is brought to the fore. Gerv gave of his time to help with the logistics of setting up, local fellow 'Shamblers' have been welcoming and exhibit donations both generously-given and happily-received. Prior posts have already noted gifts of rare boards - and even a VERY early edition of Buccaneer - and last week saw a triple-whammy of bequeathals:
From fellow collector of the dusty and ancient, Phil Dennis, came a trove of Pepys/Chad Valley-ian delights, most of which I didn't yet have copies of:
(I think) that'll be my seventh complete copy of Housing Drive
Horsie-Horsie, I Spy and Grasshoppers proudly continue my quest to complete their Publishers' catalogues and quickly found their display places during last Saturday's quiet, rainy P.M.
From fellow Ross-on-Wye gamer Dave W, a small stack of 1970s staples in excellent condition, albeit the occasional lost piece or card (easily substituted nowadays):
And from a previously-unknown local, Steven, who just stopped by to have a look, this collection of Gibsons' classics ('The Big Four') that used to belong to his Father:
I now have several copies of each but none of the other editions came with provenance: under the boards and the cloth bags of tin-base standees, were sheaves of scribbled notes, grids and cartoons from a young man fully-engaged with his gaming hobby.
Trying to date them is a bit tricky as, certainly, L'Attaque and Tri-Tactics bear the art and form of the 1930s printings while the other two have a more modern artistic sensibility (Dover Patrol and Aviation are the 1960 editions).
As tempting as near-mint copies might be, it's the scribbled and annotated games that provide the most pleasure; a tangible, emotional connection between the form and the function whereby the games are brought to life, once again, even if the original players are long gone.
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The life of the Museum of Board Games tickles along at a calm pace as the nights draw in and the weather cools. Ever wary that the gift shop needs a good supply of unique-to-the-Mu items to catch a visitor's eye, I've taken a (welcome, TBH) breather from things to do with matchboxes and tiny dice and finally put together a board game themed version of my favourite parlour game: Railway Riot...
Museum Race is the first of my Race to Find games* and every game featured (there are 144) is present in the Museum...somewhere!
On the flip-side of each the 12 list cards will be a picture of one its games - it's a souvenir AND a game in one, postcard-sized package!
Now, in order to get the cards made, I've been looking at online printers and economies of scale naturally apply; thus, while I'm quantifying what I'll need for the Gift Shop, I figured that I should open up pre-orders for Museum Race to you lot too (and your friends, family, workmates etc)!
I've done some quick finger-in-the-air postage enquiries for those of you lucky enough to be nowhere near The Dogshit Republic of New Englandia (and those of you, like me, who are neck-deep within it):
Within the UK: £8 + £2 P&P = £10
the EU: £8 + £3 P&P = £11
America/the RoW: £8 + £5 P&P = £13
If you'd like to reserve a copy (at this stage) then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - add the subject 'Race you to...' and append your location (see emboldened, red words above).
I'll have a good idea of the first print run, delivery times etc and be able to contact you all for monies and postal addresses when it's a proper, physical thing!
How does that sound?
*next year I hope to have a Forest of Dean-spanning version that takes in the beauty spots, architecture and tourism of this stunning region
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Over 120 years old, Upidee - The Great Race Game is a classic 19th century roll-and-move-and-read-your-forfeit game with a twist: the board is split into rectangular tiles that are laid, end-to-end, to make a larger rectangular circuit:
Sumptuously-illustrated, my copy is missing a die and two pages of the rulebook which - importantly - tell me what happens when I land on forfeit spaces after space 5. Not to worry, as there is a gaming archive database (https://www.gamesboard.org.uk/GARD-intro.htm and https://www.gamesboard.org.uk/cgi-pub/gardpub.cgi) with some handy-dandy pics:
Abstracto - "a game of peculiar interest"?!
Malletino - "the success of the Season"?!
Kuball - "a marvellous shilling's worth"?!
The box engineering is rather modern, though: a hinged-lid/top revealing a well for th standees and a slip-space for the racecourse tiles themselves:
I adore this kind of vintage item: this is top-notch, high-quality stuff intended for the parlours of the Waterburys, the Darlings and/or the Bankses.
Though the tiles are slightly-bowed - and, in places, the box a little creaky - the overall condition is remarkably-good: yet another corking addition.
The mechanisms may be frowned upon but I challenge you not to be won over by the charm of it all.
And talking of Great Races:
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The Ahoy! series of games - hard to find and a compulsive set for a collector like me - bore some rich Museum fruit in 2020 with Ship Ahoy (1947)
and also with Flotilla (1940) and Shipping (1947).
Imagine my delight, then, when one of my favourite eBay sellers (traceypaull, no relation) offered up THIS bearing the 'A-Hoy!' label AND containing exactly the same style lead Yachts as those in Ship Ahoy!...but about 10 years prior!
This Robert Ross & Co. edition (from "the 1930s") looks to be a first iteration of this sailing game idea, accompanied by a couple of other 'race' and series' games in their then-catalogue (The Great Air Race, Queen Mary Ahoy!, Drake and Hexway)! They also seem to have published various books about sailing and ships, so similarly-themed games is entirely within keeping. Exploring a little further, a quick check on the 1940s Flotilla from Dring shows it to be a co-publishing between Ross and Dring, so it looks like the A-Hoy! series was started by the former and built-up/carried on by the latter?!
All-told it's a simple roll-and-move affair but, by golly, another treasure in my 1930s/1940s trove.
Of course, now that the connection between Dring and Ross WRT 'A-Hoy!' has been established, that's opened up a whole new Publisher to chase after...
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At the end of August - on the weekend I opened the Museum - I got a visit from a large man from a local Forest paper. Lamentably, the Pandemic has seriously-reduced the rag's journalistic/photographic resources, so the chap had to do the interviewing and the picture taking on his own*. He was off to cover a Newent Town football match and thought he'd stop by the see what the fuss** was about.
He was "glowing" a little from his walk from the car park to The Shambles and fettled about with his iPhone to record an Audio Note. He then struggled with the iPhone's camera: setting it to 'Burst' mode and taking about 30 pictures of me leaning up against the cabinets. A few choice 'pointed out exhibits' later and he was away to the outskirts for Kick-off.
A couple of weeks later, an article appeared in the aforementioned paper that neither featured any of the photos taken ('burst'-ed or not) nor was authored by the attending gentlemen - indeed, they even half-inched a pic off of my blog:
Replete with typos (huzzah!), a link to a BGG category search against my Blog*** and a leader heading that sounds more negative (I think) than it ought to, the page eventually found its way to me via my In-Laws (who live in the catchment area for this publication). Nobody contacted me to say that it was coming/had come out.
*I may not be being entirely sympathetic in this post
**When I say 'fuss', I mean 'What I mentioned in my prior email to him'
***God help the uninitiated who decide to browse this without safety equipment/a qualified chaperone
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An important string to the Museum of Board Games' bow is the word 'ephemera' in its tagline; I'm not just drawn to board and counter but also by poster, picture and by book:
An explanation, from the introduction:
Phew! That's quite the opening paragraph - and it only covers the first of the "two purposes"! The second paragraph (equally verbose) does that: "spreading knowledge of the curative powers of Hood's Sarsaparilla".
Thus, between lightweight discussions of The Minister's Cat, Robin's Fly and Find The Ring* are testimonials to Rheumatic cramps, disappearing Pimples, Liver ills and Eczema!
It is, indeed, encouraging that parlour games are deemed to be a strong marketing angle - it's hard to imagine that nowadays TBH - and all the more remarkable for being 125 years old too.
From my little experience, it seems that the 1880s were very much a turning point in the acceptance of games and gaming with a moving away from the preachy morals of the previous decades to more social, noisy and 'fun' distractions (around this time, two behemoths of British game manufacture were established: Chad Valley Co Ltd. and Glevum Games).
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Far, far quieter than (for example) this time last year, the stream of Museum exhibits and lockdown-fuelled retail therapy has slowed to a cracked, clay bed with a couple of damp patches. To a great extent, I've currently 'got' pretty much everything I need for the Museum in its current form; of course, there are some choice (and very rare) items that I would jump at should they appear BUT, for the better part, my saved eBay searches throw up the same, disinterested stuff.
Thus, personal recommendations and donations are gratefully received and, in that category, squarely falls this fabulous treasure from the 1980s:
Mentioned, in passing, by Mr Shep when he nipped into the Museum to be roundly-pasted at Tiddly Golf*, waldschattenspiel is a shadow-hopping, family filler from back when naked flames were entrusted to the populace at large!
The premise is simple: one player (the 'adult') controls the candle and moves it around the outside of a board covered in splendid, wooden tree sculpts; in the shadows cast by the trees, the rest of the players hide their Elves. In between the light travelling, a player may shift the location of their elf: on no account must it be caught out of its umbral shield - if it is, someone will need to rescue them! Play proceeds until either all of the Elves have been 'caught' OR all Elves are hidden in the shade of single tree.
Have you ever heard of anything so fucking delightful in your entire, gaming life?!
And talking of elves and families and bringing light to a gloomy World...I think, perhaps, that it's time to show off the Boydells' best (by a considerable distance) recent acquisition :
The peace and reassurance earned from raising five children already means that we grandparents are entirely relaxed and can enjoy the company of this gorgeous little bean with neither fret nor worry. What a privilege to be able to experience this most remarkable aspect of Life once again!
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It was a quiet start to the life of the Museum on a glorious, late Summer's day in a small rural town in the Forest of Dean. The good folk of Newent have hardly returned to outdoor excursions with zeal - unlike on some of the TV news reports for coastal resorts - and still only venture out, masked and in small numbers, for supplies. Newent is quiet on any given day, compared to two years ago.
Regardless of this general peace, the Museum had visitors - a chance to break in the Zettle machine and hand out some teeny tickets; we only had the one 'runner': an elderly gentleperson that heard the entry fee was £2 and promptly scuttled off in the direction of the Tattooist.
Some looked and gasped their childhood recollections while others - see below - stayed for a game or two of something!
Roll two dice and use one to move 'all barrels and fires', the other to move yourself; survive obstacle encounters with 'Leap' and 'Hammer' action cards (worth 'points' when used) in a race to the top. Add your used card values together - with a 500 bonus for the first to the Princess - and the most points wins!
Five regular 'balls' and a doubler (green) are squidged across the Net for points with a) failures to cross and b) 'outs' on the other side counting points against you. Netted balls need to be re-taken, so you can quickly rack up a LOT of points in penalties that become your opponent's score! I re-worked the scoring to be a little more 'positive' (no penalties, just score for your successful squidges of the six tries) and added Set scoring (six back-and-forth exchanges = a set, the player with the most points accrued in those six games wins the Set) and we were all rather addicted for the next 30 mins! I smell a gift shop inventory item in the making!
Today - Sunday - is a day of rest but I'll be back there tomorrow for the Bank Holiday. Next weekend sees a one-off Street Fair for the Town in an attempt to bring people out for gentle fun before the cold sets in; if the weather's good, I might be able to make use of the tables in the Courtyard as well.
Overall, I am content; every venture needs to take that first step else it will never make the journey.
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Only just back from our holidays and I needed to get down to the Museum, just for a few hours, to try and whip it into more shape:
Sorting out some more cabinet groupings and wrapping some of the more interesting (separate) boards in a sturdy, transparent wrap being the order of this sunny, hot afternoon. Slow, but steady, as I aim for a Bank Holiday weekend opening ie. this coming Saturday and the following Monday...
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