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Promos & Geekflation

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Covid day 2. Or possibly day 5, if you count from the day that I got an initial suspicion that something wasn’t quite right. Or day 1 or 4 if you adopt the official government way of counting isolation days (a system which starts with day number zero. Because …of course it does). Anyway, whatever day it is … I’m still OK. A cough and sniff here and there …but nothing major. In truth, if it wasn’t for the test result, I’d just think I’d just caught a pretty minor cold, and simply get on with my life. Hopefully that’s the vaccines doing their work, and things won’t get much worse than this. Fingers crossed.

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In gaming news… an envelope arrived from across the water today; a few bits that I’d been tempted into buying at the Geek Store:

From gallery of MrShep


Specifically:

Promo bonus plates for Hansa Teutonica; the only item of Hansa Teutonica stuff that I didn’t already own. And yes, I got all of my Hansa Teutonica stuff the hard way. None of those big box jonny-come-lately get it all in one purchase shennanigans from ME, I’ll have you know! Because I did it the proper way. Piece by hard-earned piece, in a quest spanning many, many long years. Oh yes. I definitely did the work on this one. And do you really think you can get the same satisfaction …. the same overwhelming sense of accomplishment … the same feeling of obsessive collector closure EACH AND EVERY TIME YOU PLAY…. by merely buying a “big box”, and slapping it straight into your kallax??!!

…Do you???? ….WELL??? ….DO YOU???

(More seriously: Hansa Teutonica is an excellent game. Absolutely top notch. And if you can reliably rustle up 3 or more players, take no heed of my elitist gatekeeping rantings and go out and buy a copy of that big box immediately. It’s possibly the single best-value old-school-euro bargain available in the entire hobby right now)

Anyway. There are some very quirky effects on these tokens, which are very different to anything offered by the base game bonus plates. I’ll not bore you with the details — because there’s a perfectly good pdf file which can do that — but they could certainly mix things up a bit.


Also…

MicroMacro:Crime City — Full House: Another Bank Robbery.
(Because a single colon in a promo title clearly isn’t enough)

These bonus cases do annoy me a little bit … because most of the content for the case is — by necessity — already baked into the map that you get with the game itself…so you’re effectively buying a key to unlock a bit of content that you already own. But… we do love a bit of MicroMacro, Mrs Shep and I… and despite eeking “Full House” out over several well-spaced instalments, we’ve only got a couple of cases left to solve now. So this is an add-on that simply had to be got!

And finally…

Carpe Diem: First expansion. We’ve been playing Carpe Diem quite a lot over the last few months, so this seemed worth a try. It all looks really simple at first glance … any time you pick up a banderole token, you place it the next slot on this new track, and if you cover a resource icon in doing so you get whatever’s depicted! Simiple? Too generous? Well… I suspect there’s a bit of a brain-burny timing puzzle in play here too … because if you pick up a banderole when there’s an empty space looming on the track, you get nothing … and you (potentially) set up an opponent to claim something useful on their next turn instead. So building (or not building) on a banderole spaces now carries EVEN MORE consequences than it normally would.

Could be interesting. We’ll see.

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So, that was my envelope full of promos. All of which seem promising, in their own little way. Though the trio did set me back a hefty $15 (plus $7 postage!) to obtain. Which is — lets face it — a fair bit of cash, for such tiny bits of cardboard. But at least the money goes to a good cause*.

This did set me wondering though… just how much have the geekstore prices changed over the years?

I had a look back through my records. My very first purchase from BGGGeek was, it seems, a set of Dominion promos … the Envoy and Black Market cards. Today, the list price is $5 for each individual deck of those… but when I bought them, back in March 2010, the geek store shipped them both as a single item.

…but what do you think that single item cost?

Poll
(postage & handling excluded!)
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
$20.00
3.4 percent
3.4% 4
$15.00
4.2 percent
4.2% 5
$10.00
9.2 percent
9.2% 11
$7.50
4.2 percent
4.2% 5
$5.00
20.2 percent
20.2% 24
$2.50
23.5 percent
23.5% 28
$1.99
21.8 percent
21.8% 26
$0.99
8.4 percent
8.4% 10
$0.01
4.2 percent
4.2% 5
$0.00
0.8 percent
0.8% 1
Voters 119
This poll is now closed.   119 answers
Poll created by MrShep
Closes: Fri Feb 11, 2022 6:00 am


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*Or is maybe just spent on cocaine and prostitutes. It’s hard to tell, really.
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Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:35 am
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Playing with balls. Not going to the ball. Balls to work.

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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This weekend I expected to be awash with new games, having gone a bit spend-happy in post-Christmas sales at an assortment of online vendors. Alas, despite the fact that we live in a miraculous age where “boxing day sales” can start the very second that the last pre-Christmas delivery truck has left the warehouse (i.e. somewhere around the 22nd December?), and in which you can buy things at 3am wearing nothing but your pants (but only if you want to) … the veneer of 24-hour availability of lovely board-gaming goodies belies the cold, hard fact that the people who do the picking and packing have all buggered off home for two weeks, and that the british postal service is currently beleaguered with covid-related short-staffedness.

I’ve got at least one “parcelforce 24” board game delivery pending which — as I write — is fast becoming “parcelforce 116-and-counting”. Ho hum.

From gallery of MrShep


At least my parcel made it onto the van yesterday. It then had a nice ride around the county and then back to the depot, by all accounts. But at least it made it onto a van…

I did get ONE consignment of board game “sale” goodies through the door earlier this week though:

From gallery of MrShep


Would you like some first impressions? Oh. OK then…

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NEW ARRIVALS:

Medici, the dice game.

I didn’t really know this was a thing, until I noticed a copy listed for less-than-a-tenner while seeking something to nudge my order value into a “free shipping” breakpoint. A Knizia roll-and-write, based on a very good game, which more-or-less paid for itself in the savings I made on shipping? Well … I’d be mad not to, wouldn’t I??

From gallery of MrShep


Medici the dice game plays surprisingly true to its parent game -- but with dice drafting instead of auctions. The active player rolls the dice, and then claims from 1 to 3 of the results to “load” onto their ship … other players must then load a single die from those which were left behind. Numbers are written into the ship’s hold, colours are used to tick off progress on goods-specific score tracks, and there’s 3 end-of-round scoring phases (once ships have been filled) where folks score points for having the highest-scored ship(s), and for having the current majority (or, more accurately: plurality) in each of the 5 goods colours. Which is all very medici-like indeed.

And it works well… though plays way more interactively than the majority of roll-and-writes, with lots of subtle ways to put pressure on your opponent(s) — an element that Mrs Shep isn’t so keen on, as she prefers her roll-and-writes to be a fair bit gentler than this one is. And obviously there are dice at the core of the game, which can sometimes lead to slightly swingy luck-of-the-roll results. But in terms of packing a full medici-like experience into 15 minutes or so, it’s pretty impressive.

However …. one criticism -- and it’s a criticism that I’ve also levelled at the Grail Games edition of the board game in the past — is that you’ve got to wonder just how well the publisher tested this game with the production-ready artwork + components. Not only does it share the colour-confusability issues of the board game version (goods in three different shades of orangey-yellowy-brown)…but the colour saturation on the player sheet is so bold that it can be very difficult to see where folks have ticked off boxes at the darker ends of certain tracks. Especially if you use the pencils that are included in the game. We had to swap those out for nice, dark, higher-contrast ink pens to make the game playable. Hardly the end of the world ... but it’s definitely an annoying example of looks-over-usability, and something which should’ve been shook out pretty quickly in testing

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Masters of Renaissance

From gallery of MrShep


Subtitled “Lorenzo Il Magnifico — the card game” … though it actually has fewer cards in it than Lorenzo Il Maginifico does, just as many boards, plenty of wooden resource counters, and this superb marble-based toy at the centre of things:

From gallery of MrShep

…which very much doesn’t say “card game” to me!


The game has a very simple (and somewhat Splendor-like) structure: on your turn, you can either draft a bunch of resources from “the marketplace”, or spend those resources on cards (i.e. machine bits), or run the machine that you’ve assembled so far to get … stuff. The big gimmick is the aforementioned grid of marbles. Should you decide to take resources on your turn, you choose a row or column of that marble grid, and then take a corresponding resource for each colour of marble in that row/column. You then slot the “spare” marble into that same row or column, which nudges all the marbles one space along the grid and ejects one out of the other side (where it falls into a ball return groove, and rolls back around to its resting position in an ever-so-satisfying sort of way) — leaving a slightly-different grid for the next player to choose from. So tactile. So very nice.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the three games of this that I’ve played so far (one solo, two 2-player). Admittedly, it’s an ultra-basic machine builder (albeit with a very nice toy controlling that draft mechanism), and the theme soon melts away into being nothing more than “now I need a blue and two yellows, to let me buy the thing that’ll turn one yellow into two grey and a red, and also get me 12 points…” … but it still manages to be ever-so-satisfying when you get all your ducks in a row and pull off some super-efficient resource conversion. And the race element really adds to the tension.

TLDR: It’s Splendor++

The downside? … I can’t remember the last time that I saw Mrs Shep get quite so close to rage-quitting a game as she has with this one. She’s really struggled with it. She has, at least, mooted the prospect of playing it “at least one more time, to see if I finally get it” after our last play… but, kind of through gritted teeth. And …. wow … she wasn’t a very happy bunny during game number two. I’m currently taking at least a little bit of solace from the fact that the solo game is perfectly playable and reasonably interesting.

Oh well. Fingers crossed. Maybe the third time will be the charm?

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Fire!

You’ve probably already read about “Fire!” many times over on Alex’s blog. If not — you clearly need to visit Alex’s blog more often

From gallery of MrShep


“Fire!” plays a lot like an old-fashioned solitaire/patience card game — lay the cards out in a certain way, and then draw-and-deal from a frequently-recycled-but-ever-diminishing deck to cancel those cards out and clear the table. I’m only two games in so far, but — my gosh — it’s a little bit clever. And punishing. And more than a little mathy. And did I mention “Fun”? … yep, definitely fun too. Though possibly ”type 2” fun. whistle

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ALSO PLAYED:

So… what other (non-new!) titles have we been playing that I haven’t told you about yet?

Well… we’re still going strong with MicroMacro Full House, which proving to be every bit as enjoyable as the first season was… though we're very much trying to ration ourselves to 1 or 2 cases per session, so that it’s not all over too soon. Only half a dozen chapters left to go now. *sob*.

My freshly-patched copy of Obsession made it back to the table for the first time in a little while over the festive period. And in an effort to make it a little bit Christmassy … we slipped in the “Costume Ball” promo tile. Not that the tile is particularly Christmassy in and of itself… but it's a very festive shade of red, and we referred to it as "The Christmas Ball" throughout the game … which made everything seem just a little bit more seasonal

From gallery of MrShep


It’s a particularly odd promo tile, and unique in the respect that it can’t be bought from the game’s marketplace — instead, it triggers a game-interrupting special event as soon as it moves down to the £500 market space. Though, as it turned out, I messed up my timing for it and failed to have the requisite £200 entrance fee available at the appropriate time, so my family very much did-not-go-to-the-ball. Oops. What a festive faux-pas!

And other than that… the Exit Advent Calendar pretty much dominated my “logged plays” for December. Though I can’t really post a picture of how ours looked by the end of the season, as such a picture would be laden with spoilers, and I don’t want to ruin it for anybody… so, instead, here’s a few pictures from a late night walk that we took around the next-village-down-the-lane-from-ours, where they have a new custom of turning on an “advent window” somewhere in the village on every night leading up to Christmas…

From gallery of MrShep


Despite my initial reservations, by the time we came to the 24 December we found that we’d really enjoyed our Exit-Advent experience… and Mrs Shep is now particularly keen for me to look out for the one that they’re releasing next year. The challenges were varied, all reasonably-solvable after a bit of a think, and It did manage to pull a particularly nice plot twist on the last day. And slip in an amusing end-of-the-game easter egg** too. But… my lips are sealed on what that was — it’s something you’ll have to experience for yourself.

Needless to say, by the end of the month the calendar had been opened, cut, punctured, torn, dismantled, scribbled on, and looked very much in a “used-beyond-reasonable-repair” kind of state. I was therefore somewhat surprised to see a copy advertised on facebook a couple of days ago, in one of the popular (UK) board game trading groups, where the owner was saying that he’d completed it, but had also retained all of the content in a perfectly-re-playable condition. I mean… I know that some people are a little bit funny about keeping the metaphorical virginity of their legacy-style games intact. But for an advent calendar consisting of perforated doors, full of stuff that asks to be cut out, folded, punctured, destroyed and written on to solve each challenge…? Either that guy had the most miserable, self-hobbled, half-arsed experience possible with the calendar … or the buyer is in for a severe disappointment.

Probably both.

But what do I know? Maybe the same guy also clinically dissects the crackers on his Christmas dinner table, reads the jokes, wears the hats, and then painstakingly reassembles everything afterwards?

“Stop crying, kids! Just think of the resale value!”

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REAL LIFE:

Real life (by which I more accurately mean: work) returned with a bit of a vengeance this week. And not in a gentle way either… as I found myself chipping large slabs of melted-and-re-frozen snow off the car at 7:40 on Tuesday morning. At least the commute into the office was reasonably clear — most (sane) people seemingly observing government advice to work from home. Unfortunately — for me — I’ve had a bunch of new starters to onboard, requiring far too much of my physical presence in the office

Currently, about 8% of our staff are covid-positive, in a company which (a) provides an essential service to tens of thousands of people, and (b) is already on a bit of a back-foot in providing that service, thanks to the storm damage that came in December. It’s necessitated a fair bit of mucking-in on roles that I wouldn’t normally be involved with. So as you might guess, it’s been a bit of a stressful week. (Sometimes I wonder if the move away from a cushy IT consultancy job — where the need to ever leave my home office was becoming increasingly diminished — was such a smart idea after all*).

….and that’s why the blogging has been a bit light this week, and why you’ve been treated to a bit of a “weekend newsletter” post instead. Whether this pattern might prevail for a little bit… I’m not sure. But whatever happens, please be advised that I will not be altering anybodies subscription fees in any way at this time.

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BEER OF THE WEEK:

“The Dude Abides”. White Russian Imperial White Stout, 10%abv

From gallery of MrShep


Is it obvious yet that I got a big crate of Brew York stuff delivered late last year? This one is particularly impressive. I’m not entirely sure how it gets classified as a stout; it looks more like a pale ale to me. Lactose sweet, with coffee and a dash of nutmeg thrown in for good measure (yes… nutmeg. Which is why I’d been saving it for the festive season). Sounds odd… but it’s delicious. Absolutely delicious. And if you have doubts... well, you know, that’s just like, your opinion, man.

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EPILOGUE:

I’m about three quarters of the way through writing this post, and Mrs Shep demands “one last try at that game with the balls, because it’s really annoying me***”. And thus… we tried Masters of Renaissance together for a third (and potentially final?) time.

And you know what… something clicked!

Not only did Mrs Shep finally (and absolutely) nail the workings of the game … she also managed to kick my butt by a very convincing margin.

She’s decided she likes it now. Maybe it’s not destined to live in the solo heap any more.

(And the potential for ongoing ball-related innuendo lives on…)

‘Phew.

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*But then I remembered that my previous employer was Capita
**before anybody asks, yes, I’m aware that one of my new games has an easter egg concealed within too.
***Fnarr fnarr.
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Sun Jan 9, 2022 7:10 am
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Misdirected

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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The global shipping + production crisis — and the fact that everything seems to take 6-12 months longer than expected to arrive now — definitely adds a bonus element of jeopardy to that sinking moment where you see THIS appear on a parcel tracker website…

From gallery of MrShep


…while knowing full well that nobody was home during that time of day, and nothing actually got delivered

Because… well… I only waited for a year for this thing to arrive, and now it looks like postie shoved it through a random letterbox by mistake?

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Fortunately, after knocking on a few neighbours’ doors, I successfully tracked down my (long-awaited) Kingdom Death Monster Legendary Card Pack! It had been delivered to a house with a similar and yet… not-at-all-similar name, elsewhere in the village (not the first time this has happened!). I did get a massive sense of relief, having successfully located this much-delayed treasure … though I’m kind of disappointed that the recipient had just kept the package on their sideboard, waiting for me to go looking for it, as I’m pretty sure that they know my name / where I live

Anyway, it’s a box of bits -- cards and stickers -- which patches version 1.5 of the game to version 1.6 … sent out “at cost” ($8, I think?) to version 1.5 owners back when I bought it … so very, very long ago ... though seemingly now for sale in the KDM webstore for the princely sum of $25. There’s an impressive amount of stuff in there for $8 … though possibly not an impressive amount of stuff in there for $25… so I’m pleased I got it when I did.

From gallery of MrShep


As you’d expect from such a thing, it’s a whole bunch of nerfs, tweaks, errata, fixes and semi-contentious "improvements"… with a few promo bits and pieces (that have only previously been packaged with accompanying miniatures) thrown in too. Some of which I didn’t have (because I wasn’t too keen on the corresponding minis) ...so it’s nice to get my hands on those without the associated expense

And after a tedious hour or so of rummaging around my existing KDM collection to find all the bits and pieces that needed replacing… I’m up to date. All set to play v1.6!

From gallery of MrShep

(The replaced bits… all destined for the bin ... including the trusty Vespertine Bow which served our merry band of survivors so well in season 1....)

Which reminds me — I’ve got at least two outstanding chapters of Kingdom Death Diary (which definitely WON’T appeal to arachnophobes) that I still need to document here … better get those done soon, so that I can crack on and play with the new content

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Wed Dec 8, 2021 7:10 am
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A Humble Choice

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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In case it hasn’t come to your attention… Asmodee are currently holding one of their semi-regular digital board game software sales at humblebundle.com. Now, I normally wouldn’t call this to your attention, since these things seem to come around all the time … except … you know that “Play Pink” promo that they’ve been running lately, to support breast cancer research? The thing where you could buy a limited edition set of pink Ticket to Ride trains, and $2 of the price would go to charity? Well… this deal is kind of like that. Only with lots of digital board games instead of small pieces of pink plastic. And potentially a whole lot more money going to breast cancer research. Which can only be a good thing.

There are 25 items in the offer… several of which I think I’ve picked up in previous bundles (such as Scythe, Splendor, Love Letter, Carcassonne…), but I’m pretty sure I’ve not had Terraforming Mars, Pandemic, or quite as many Ticket To Ride packages in a bundle before. So given the low price (£9) and the good cause, this seems like an easy thing to buy. And if you’ve never been tempted by one of these bundles before and don't have ANY of this stuff… well, in that case it’s an extremely good deal.

But if you ARE going to rush off to grab this (which you probably should)… here’s a small tip. A feature of these humble bundle offers which isn’t immediately obvious is … you can decide exactly how your money gets divided between the software company, the charity, and the Humble Bundle company. Want to give more money to breast cancer charities than to Asmodee? Well… the choice is yours!

The option is a little bit hidden, but before you check out, click this button…

From gallery of MrShep


…then be sure to select Custom Amount from the options which are revealed.

Use your power!

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Wed Oct 20, 2021 7:10 am
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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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