The Tyranny of Small Decisions

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Archive for Promos

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Friendly Local Game Bonfire

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Like many other BGG users, I habitually catalogue all of my purchases and acquisitions into my BGG Collection listing page. And while doing so with my new copy of Euphoria: Ignorance Is Bliss, I noticed the following curiosity in the database…

From gallery of MrShep


The title of this promo rang dim and distant bells. Bells about a mysterious shrink-wrapped bundle of cards that came in the Viticulture Tuscany box, way back when I acquired the original release of that game. Which I’d looked at, scratched my head over, and then put back in the box for later investigation. Could it be that I owned this particular promo already, and that my BGG collection listing has been woefully inaccurate* for all of these years?

An investigation was in order!

Popping the box open -- and guiltily digging through the MANY viticulture modules and components in this box that I’ve never got around to playing with — my eyes fell upon the object of my quest:

From gallery of MrShep


Behold! A still-in-shrinkwrap copy of the Tuscany/Euphoria crossover deck!

I have to admit… I had a sudden thought along the lines of: hey, this might actually be valuable! Or valuable, at least, to some kind of viticulture compulsive collector completist type person. Which I'm sure must exist. Somewhere.

There aren’t any copies listed for sale on the BGG page (or any sale history). And information on the contents of the deck seem a little bit scant. So should I break the seal and damage its unsullied, pristine, new-in-shrink status?

Well… yeah. Of course I should. I’m far too lazy to go through the hassle of selling and shipping this to anybody who happens to have more money than sense. And as long as I own a copy of Tuscany …then the rightful place for this is inside that copy of Tuscany!

So, for anybody who’s curious (there seems to be scant information or photos about this item, even on the BGG listing … which seems a bit unusual for a Stonemaier thing) … here’s what I found inside:

From gallery of MrShep


18 building cards -- depicting various Euphoria-related dystopian locations (such as the Center for Reduced Literacy, the Friendly Local Game Bonfire and The Cafeteria of Nameless Meat). Each of which you can potentially add to your idyllic Tuscan vinyard to make it …urm…slightly less idyllic?

Rules-wise, building these locations gives you a residual VP point, but carries the penalty of a permanent thematic handicap of some sort. It’s actually quite a clever way of bringing a Euphoria mechanism into Viticulture (Well… a vaguley Euphoria-ish mechanism, at the very least). But is also… thematically… absolutely stark raving bonkers!

I guess it’s a bit of an Agricola X-Deck/Legen*dairy Forest deck sort of thing.

(Except I still harbour vague hopes of actually playing my copies of those. One day…)

I wonder if anybody has ever, actually, seriously, used this promo…?

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*To be honest... I'm forever finding things that I forgot to list. So the answer to this question is usually "Yes" anyway
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Sat Jan 23, 2021 7:10 am
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Bear Necesssities

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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It’s been a good week for new “not Essen” arrivals here. Aside from the copy of Faiyum that I gave you a peek at yesterday (don’t worry — big write-up coming when I’ve had a little bit more time to chew over it!), a package from Lookout Spiele arrived yesterday, containing Uwe Rosenberg’s new one … Hallertau. Unfortunately I won’t be posting anything about that one on the blog for a few more weeks, as Mrs Shep promptly whisked it away to send it off to Santa. But there was a couple of other things of interest in the box…

From gallery of MrShep
Hmmm… Lookout’s in-package promo games seem to have taken a real downward shift in quality this year.

Only kidding. Of course there were the customary Agricola L-deck cards enclosed. Specifically… these ones:

From gallery of MrShep


Do you remember, back in April I lamented the fact that I had become the owner of a bear trap…

From gallery of MrShep


…but didn’t have a bear to catch in it?

Well… finally, the pairing is complete! Except… urm… what’s that written at the bottom of the Bear card?…

From gallery of MrShep


Wait??! ...I need a BÄRENPARK card now!!???

As luck would have it, a quick rifle through my existing L-deck collection revealed that I’ve had a Bärenpark card tucked away in there for ages, but never really noticed that it also had a bear dependency. Because it turns out that this is no mere DUO of interconnected cards… but, in fact, a TRIO of interconnected promo cards … and I’ve finally caught ‘em all!

From gallery of MrShep


The most convoluted Agricola promo card combo yet?

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Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:28 am
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Expired content

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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I wasn’t being entirely serious when I wrote yesterday’s comment about Carcassonne sweets … and yet, my words turned out to be strangely prescient, since this turned up in a box that I unpacked last night:

From gallery of MrShep


There’s no sign of a “best before” date on the wrapper… and I’m pretty sure that the range of colours in the packet was a little more diverse than “various shades of orange” when I first received these — though I might be mis-remembering. They must be a good 4 or 5 years old now though.

Tempted as I am to do some kind of YouTube video combining the familiar boardgame review format with the increasingly-popular “people-eating-decades-old-tinned-food” genre… I don’t think these are really old enough to warrant that. And opening the packet would destroy the collectability factor (if there is such a thing as a “collectability factor” for manky old board-game-themed comestibles). So I expect I’ll just file them away somewhere, and blog about them again the next time that I randomly stumble across them in another 5 years or so.

In a similar I-wonder-what-the-expiry-date-on-THAT-is sort of find… I also discovered an old/un-used Sea Monkeys kit in the same box, which I vaguely recall my brother giving me as a joke Christmas present many years ago.

From gallery of MrShep


A google search on the viability of brine shrimp cysts suggests a figure somewhere between 3 to 10,000 years. I’m a bit dubious about the top end of that range, but I’m sort of tempted to try a science experiment here. Of course, the only downside of that would then be having a moral obligation to keep any results of said experiment alive. And it’s not like they’re quite as entertaining a pet as the 1970s comic book ads suggested.

Though, it would appear that at least one attempt to gamify said mini-beasts has been attempted:



Different times, my friends. Different times.

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Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:17 pm
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Cupboard Quest 4

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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The great cupboard re-organise / storage solution overhaul rumbles on; in addition to the newly-shelved game cupboard #2, I now have a third cupboard tricked out in all manner of Ikea accessories (Jonaxel mesh baskets are my new favourite thing) …facilitating the filing of my lifelong collection of random a/v cables, a whole bunch of AC adaptors from long-discarded appliances, a dozen or so hard drives from dead computers, and a vast collection of random/odd/bizarre video game controllers (Trust me… three plastic guitars, a drum-kit, maracas, DJ Hero turntable AND a Steel Battalion controller do NOT lend themselves to easy storage).

The final cupboard … the awkward L-shaped cupboard in the corner of the room … is the final challenge.

This cupboard has been pretty much un-disturbed since the week we moved in; I shoved a load of cardboard boxes in there when we arrived, full of stuff that I thought I could leave for at least a few weeks before I’d need to unpack any of it, and then … kind of… never got around to unpacking those them at all. So my next task is to go through all of those boxes and figure out what I’m keeping. Much of the content so far seems to be DVDs … and if DVDs were bit of a dead format when I shoved those boxes into the cupboard 3+ years ago, they seem like even more of a dead format now…

I have, however, tuned out at least a couple of odd board-gaming items in my box-unpacking exploits: promotional freebies that arrived as surprise extras in various packages from the cundco.de web shop over the years.

From gallery of MrShep


To be honest, I can’t imagine ever using these; the fact that I still have them is more of an indictment of my terrible hoarding tendencies more than anything else. The “this game belongs to…” stickers might be useful to people who loan their games out, I guess… but I don’t loan my games out. And — although it’s a very nicely-produced vinyl sticker — I’m pretty sure we won’t have a “meeple on board” any time soon. I think I mostly kept that one just in case somebody (anybody!) that I know in the various boardgaming circles that I frequent happened to reproduce at any point, upon which occasion it might make an amusing gift. Albeit the kind of amusing gift that you laugh at, then file away in a cupboard, or save to re-gift to somebody else. Because you don’t want to actually attach it to your car and telegraph the fact that you’re a colossal nerd to the whole wide world…

I’m pretty sure they sent me a packet of meeple-shaped gummy sweets once too, in Carcassonne-themed wrapping. And I think I decided to keep those as a collector curiosity, rather than eat them.

Maybe I’ll find those in the next box.

Might be a bit past their best though.

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Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:10 am
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Aberystwyth

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Monday night saw the welcome return of something a little bit heavier and thinkier than the other games we’ve been playing at home recently. (I mean… I know that I mentioned us playing Botswana last week… but I don’t really think of Botswana as being in the same category as other board games. That’s more of a next-level, it’s-own-kind-of-thing thing. A bit like you wouldn’t count “chess” in the same category as regular board games, would you? But I digress…) We played Foothills.

From gallery of MrShep


Including, I think, the very first outing for the Aberystwyth promo that Lookout very kindly sent to me back in January. (Yeah.. I know. 6 months to get THAT to the table. But this has been a pretty screwed-up year, right?).

From gallery of MrShep


We both had our eyes set on building here from the get-go… but, alas, our ambitions of getting a sneaky early-game trip to the pub were soundly dashed when a team of Navvies moved in at the earliest possible opportunity and stole the opportunity away from us. Bah!

From gallery of MrShep


But despite the fact that neither of us benefitted directly from giving Aberystwythian tourists a more convenient route to the local viewpoint, I guess this promo still had the effect of making the game run for a few more rounds that it would otherwise have continued for (as the navvies were kept busy for one more white-cube-draw than they otherwise would’ve been in this particular play) … so perhaps this can be more of a game-changing card than it appears at first glance, even when those pesky white cubes do make an early appearance?

Anyway, it was good to get something a bit more involved back on the gaming table; we both enjoyed this session a lot. I did kind of wonder if my appetite for (proper) gaming had been crushed a little bit by general depression, malaise, and crushing existential dread brought about by recent weeks… so hopefully this might be a bit of a metaphorical corner turned.

Or a metaphorical cliff conquered.

Or a metaphorical... something?

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Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:10 am
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Train I (don't) ride...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Alubari. That’s a game that’s really suffered from play opportunities a bit, due to the time that it got added to my collection … pretty much on the eve of the UK lockdown — give or take a week. It almost got played at AireCon; multiple expressions of interest were made when people spotted it in my bag, and comments along the lines of “we’ve got to play that before the weekend is over!” were made… but, sadly, my early exit put paid to that. And a reluctance from my regular gaming chums to play anything that we don’t already know on virtual platforms has pretty much squished the chances of playing it with anybody but Mrs Shep during the era of social distancing.

But fortunately it plays well with two. ‘phew.

And these landed on my doormat yesterday:

From gallery of MrShep


I mean, I usually receive new promos and mini-expansions with a semi-sheepish self-acknowledgement of “yeah… right… I’ve got no idea when I’ll actually get around to using these”, and a growing feeling of guilt over accumulating stuff that I really don’t need. And despite the fact that I’ve kind of come to understand that I’m a collector as much as a player, that particular moment seems to give me slighter more pause than usual now; the sense that I might be collecting things that never, ever see the light of day once they’ve been filed away in the relevant game box seems stronger than ever under the current situation.

Still… these Alubari promos aren’t particularly exotic (especially by Boydell standards!). I’m sure you can throw those in from day 1, and nobody would even notice. And they might’ve prompted a revisit to the game for me and Mrs Shep. So it’s all good

In other news:

Nick clocked up his 1000th blog post today. I’m sure I’ve already plugged his blog quite a few times here (I read it religiously every day!) …but if you haven’t seen his stuff before, then you should go and take a look. And if you HAVE seen his stuff before, then hopefully you’re already subscribed and have congratulated him already. Well done Nick … and long may Meepleonboard last!

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A bit of a late one today. I had difficulty writing anything last night. Let’s face it: The world, right now, is in a mess… and I feel like I’m maybe not really doing the right thing by failing to acknowledge that situation in what I write here. Particularly the current situation in the USA. But you know what?… I’m a 50-year-old white guy, who lives in a not-very-racially-diverse part of the world, five thousand miles away from Minneapolis, and fully cognisant of the fact that — despite being an intelligent person — I’m in a position of ignorance and privilege which would likely make anything I write on current events a bad taste, insensitive, box-ticking, blog-post-filling exercise. Educating myself, and donating is likely more useful to people right now. So this footnote is all you’ll see here, on this matter, for the time being. But please excuse any appearance of business-as-usual, and rest assured that’s not a deliberate act of ignorance and insensitivity on my part.
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Wed Jun 3, 2020 12:12 pm
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The disinfectables

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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You know those days when you find yourself asking: What exactly am I doing with my life?

Like, for example, it’s the middle of Sunday afternoon, and you’re taking a photo to illustrate a particularly blog entry, and you realise that you’re still giving house space to not one, but TWO copies of Exploding Kittens. Despite the fact that it’s an awful game that you never intend to ever play again.

Or those days when the postman arrives, and you receive a parcel which contains nothing but a bag of nine little plastic pyramids. Not because you specifically needed more little plastic pyramids in your life … but because they happen to be in a colour that you didn’t already own.

From gallery of MrShep


“Exclusive Kickstarter Green”. Which wasn’t really that exclusive, as 4 years later any Johnny-come-lately (like me!) can rock up to the Looney Labs web store and buy them …still, gotta catch them all! (and I do like to play green!)

Plus… these plastic pyramid games might turn out be a really good investment... Because you know what’s really useful about a lot of these pyramid games? You could chuck every last component into a bucket of disinfectant after you’ve finished playing, and nothing would take any damage. Definitely a boon in the era in which we find ourselves.

What other games could you do that with? … Hive … and maybe that one with the plastic frogs that I can never remember the name of? …anything else?

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Tue May 19, 2020 7:10 am
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Half a promo

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
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Oh... I forgot to mention, my Oh My Goods (Easter Edition) came with a couple of L-Deck promos tucked into the box. Including THIS suspicious character:

From gallery of MrShep
With a pint of blue drink?


And a minor improvement which seems to be entirely useless unless played with a corresponding major improvement. Which I don't have:

From gallery of MrShep


So, my question to the Jury is:

Which of these promos would devalue my copy of Agricola the most?
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Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:10 am
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Turbo-charging a Unicorn into the uncertain future...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
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A couple of promos landed on the doormat this morning... which I'd ordered from the geek store a few weeks ago, back in more innocent and carefree times:

From gallery of MrShep


Alas, I now fear that the Fast Sloths - Chameleon promo will be confined to the box for a few months, since Fast Sloths is definitely a game that plays better with more than 2 people at the table.

How it works: There are no chameleon playing pieces. You simply set out the chameleon cards as a 7th draw deck, and you can play chameleon cards as a wildcard to boost the action points for any other animal. This seems like a big deal at first glance ... but the highest value in the chameleon deck is a "2", so I suspect that there's a notable efficiency trade-off around taking a chameleon vs taking a much higher-value-but-second-choice sort of animal. So maybe this feature isn't particularly overpowering in practice. One interesting aspect however is the fact that that it's a valid move to play chameleons with unicorns (you can normally only play a single unicorn card at a time)... potentially resulting in a turbo-charged unicorn, should you manage to get your ducks (sorry, chameleons) in a row.

The other inclusion in the envelope (bottom right) was the Firenze - Joker Bricks promo. But I'll admit... this was mostly a "well, since I'm placing an order anyway, I should probably look at what else I can grab to make the international postage a bit more worthwhile" / rabid completionist kind of purchase ... so I won't be massively heartbroken if this one doesn't get to the table quite as soon as Fast Sloths does. (Though apparently Firenze DOES play well with two. So you never know...)

With the exception of a mystery package that I hope to be telling you about in a week or two, I suspect that these will be the last two promos that I acquire for a bit. And -- more generally -- I expect there'll be fewer new games landing at the Shepherd Bunker until the current phase of coronavirus lockdown ends too. I mean, new games are very nice and everything ... but if they play optimally at higher player counts, or are a bit heavier than normally appeals to Mrs Shep, then there's not much point in them just sitting on the shelf unplayed for weeks/months. And I guess it seems like a better time for breaking out some of 2-player-compatible games already in my collection, and revisiting those... instead of simply acquiring more stuff.

All in all, it just feels like it's time to stay indoors and enjoy the things that you already have.

(and it's not like I've got a shortage of already-owned games to be played...)

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Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:10 am
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Tea time

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
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Board Game: Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea


I note that Mr Boydell has another game in the shops next week; Alubari has finally crept onto Asmodee's european release schedule!

I never did get around to grabbing an early copy of this one... mostly because I was a bit awash with new games around the time of Essen 2019, so I thought there'd be no harm in waiting for the retail release to land. Of course, had I realised that the retail release would be 6 months or so down the line -- rather than the "couple of weeks" that people were quoting at the time -- I would've been a lot keener!

However, the game's imminent arrival means that I finally get to dig my copy of the Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea – Hookah Promo Card promo out of its safe place, and marry it up with it's intended game.

Board Game: Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea – Hookah Promo Card


It was Christmas 2018 when I got that promo... and if my memory serves me correctly, it was released in the Adventskalender, launched at Essen that year.

So that's almost an 18 month gap?

18 months between a promo being widely available, and the game it was promoting actually hitting the shelves.

Is that some kind of a record?

Or do you know better?
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Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:10 am
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