The Tyranny of Small Decisions

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Things which must be done

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Well, let’s face it… if you bought a limited-edition Easter-themed re-skin of a game -- which lives in a special Easter Egg-shaped box -- then you’re going to have to get it out every Easter …aren’t you?

From gallery of MrShep


So Oh My Goods (“Royal Eggs” edition) was back on the table on Monday

From gallery of MrShep


And I had way more fun with this than I was expecting to. I mean… I remember it being a reasonably good game … but I can’t ever remember playing a game of OMG where my resource-producing engine slotted together quite as well as it did this time around.

From gallery of MrShep


You don’t have a lot of wriggle room in OMG; it’s very lean. Nine(ish) rounds doesn’t give you the leeway to just-build-what-you-fancy and hope it all churns out points in the final reckoning — you really need to get focussed on a production strategy very quickly, or all of the high-price, impressive-looking buildings will just slide through your hand without stopping …taunting you with their loveliness, but never getting (usefully) built.

Your ability to get the necessary infrastructure out isn’t something that comes easily until you have a few games under your belt (and definitely isn’t helped by leaving slightly-too-long between plays! *ahem*). However, this time… for maybe the first time… we both seemed to get some really decent production chains up and running in time for the end game. And when you do that — and get to execute some “big” resource-transforming plays — then… yeah… Oh My Gods definitely steps up to a new level of gaming gratification.

So much so that I’m eyeing up my copy of Longdale in Revolt again. I mean, I know I said exactly the same thing when we had a spell of (Easter) Oh My Goods around this time last year… but I think its moment to shine might finally have come.

We’ll see…

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Fri Apr 9, 2021 7:10 am
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A world without Shed

John Shepherd
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Ovington
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Bank holiday Monday. I couldn’t remember if we’d planned to do the usual monday-night-online-gaming sesh in face of the bank Holiday or not … but a quick check in with the chaps suggested that at least some of us had nothing better to do that evening. So that’s what we did.

First up: Snowdonia, with the somewhat-new-to-Yucata Daffodil line. Daffodils? Spring? … seemed vaguely appropriate

From gallery of MrShep


Fate was not on my side with this game. The white cubes tore through the board at breakneck speed … and frustratingly managed to snatch away the one-big-play-I’d-been-building-up-to at the very last second. That’s Snowdonia, I guess. And yes, that’s me placing 3 surveyors in the final round. And no, it wasn’t a mis-click -- that was pretty the only thing I had left in the bag to scrape a few extra points in arrived-all-too-quickly final reckoning. Still came last though.

Bah. Stupid game. Who suggested playing that one?

(Urm… oh yes. It was me. And of course I love it really )

Snowdonia was followed by a “first time we’ve tried this one online” play of Marrakech, as something light to round off the evening with.

From gallery of MrShep


Even without the tactile pleasures of tiny felt carpets to play with, this is a jolly enough version. Marrakech is a fun game. It does, by nature, kind of play on auto-pilot for 75% of the time … but the 25% that requires brain intervention … well… that’s enough to make it work. And you can’t help but feel a triumphant sense of glee when somebody moves onto a particularly high-scoring bit of your carpet, and the money flows in your direction. I enjoyed this.

…and it was over so quickly that (despite Board Game Arena’s very best attempts to crash) we managed to squeeze in a quick game of 6 Nimmt! before we bade our farewells. 6 Nimmt! with 3 players? Does that even work?

With the expert mode… (3 players = play with cards numbered 1 to 34) …. yeah, it sort of does. Way better than you might expect. I mean, perhaps not quite as well as it works with 4 players … but, no complaints here. It still managed to be satisfying in all the ways that 6 Nimmt! usually is. Good stuff

* * * * * * *


All in all, I had a good Easter for board gaming. In addition to the games mentioned above, I still have a few others to blog about, played face to face with Mrs Shep -- though I do try to shy away from making every day a post of “Today I played X, and it was nice”. Because… seriously… do people really want to read a blog that only says that kind of thing, day in and day out? I’m sure I wouldn’t.

Speaking of blogs which very much don’t do that kind of thing: it would appear that Tony Boydell quietly left his shed, and hung up his blogging trousers (for at least a while) over the weekend. With … to be fair… a mic dropped so softly and carefully (so as not to anger the moderators) that I’m not sure that many even people noticed. I’m sad to see the shed … the reading of which has been a regular fixture in my daily routine for way too many years now — and which has obviously been a big influence on my own path into blogging — go off-air.

I’ll probably write more on this when I’ve had time to reflect. I had a short chat with Tony this morning, and understand his reasons. Everything you need to know is in his last couple of posts. (And for sake of clarity: all his own choice, not a ban).

I normally end my posts with the little green sheep icon, asking you to click the like button. Instead, today, I’d urge you to go and read Tony’s last post, and amplify that one instead. Even if you normally skip the FLGS episodes (YOU FOOL!) ...it deserves it.
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Tue Apr 6, 2021 2:57 pm
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The smell of April

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Does a thing that you really bought with the intention of playing with multiple players still, spiritually, sit on your shelf of shame if you’ve only ever managed to play the solo version?

Maybe. I got a copy of Petrichor back in a sale, in mid-2019 … and although it then went into my game bag for a couple of trips to Newcastle Gamers, I could never raise enough enthusiasm amongst the crowd there to get it played. So -- apart from a short dalliance with the solo version -- it’s stayed on the shelf.

From gallery of MrShep


...Until yesterday, that is. When Mrs Shep spotted it on said shelf, and expressed an interest. (“Nature” boardgames definitely seem to be a thing that appeals to Mrs Shep at the moment). And… well… it doesn’t take much to goad me into playing a game when somebody expresses a random interest in something in my collection. Especially if it’s been sitting on the shelf-of-almost-shame for so many months

From gallery of MrShep


For those of you who haven’t encountered Petrichor before… it’s a bit of an odd one. You play cards from your hand which depict an assortment of weather conditions (which I didn’t really manage to get into the photos here, oops!) … which allow you to load raindrops into little cardboard “clouds”, nudge them around a modular board depicting various types of crop, and then rain your drops down on the aforementioned crops to score points. There are some clever thematic things about two clouds merging into one whenever they collide — often increasing the payload of the “merged” cloud to a point where they’re likely to burst and instantly disgorge their entire contents onto the land below … and all the different crops have their own quirky rules on how scoring works and how and when it would be advantageous to have your particular raindrops sitting on them. Plus, there’s a sort of meta-game that you play each round where every card played allows to you to vote for bigger, significantly-game-state-influencing weather effect at the end of the round, and some clever risk/reward pacing stuff which allows you to play 2 moves a turn, but only by burning through your hand at a faster rate … which cranks up the thinkiness by an order of magnitude.

From gallery of MrShep


It was good fun. It is, fundamentally, area-control-with-all-that-that-entails (a core mechanism which can be a bit hit or miss for me!) … but done in a very unique way … and a bit less mean than I was expecting from the rules read-through and the solo game. I hadn't anticipated the way that many of the opportunities that you get to mess with your opponent tend to play out in a tit-for-tat sort of way -- if I do something super-mean to you, then you can often instantly revert that super-mean-ness on your next move -- unless I've put in some solid groundwork to cover myself. Which is, really, just as it should be in a game like this.

It’s a shame that I never got to play this with the Newcastle crowd; it doesn’t run for too long, and I think they would’ve liked it. But sadly… I’ve got some real corkers sitting on my shelf-of-opportunity for when we do get back to face-to-face gaming … and, although Petrichor ‘aint a bad game at all … there’s the cream of a year-and-a-half of other acquisitions that I’m way more eager to put in front of those folks first. And their appetite for learning new stuff only stretches so far …so it’s likely going back onto a shelf-of-something-or-other for at least a little bit longer.

But… one day…

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Sun Apr 4, 2021 1:33 pm
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Roamin' around...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Easter weekend … a couple of days off work, and — since the “Stay at Home” lockdown restrictions were lifted this week — a good opportunity to go on a bit of an adventure. Though nothing too ambitious; too much sunlight after all this time in the bunker might be a bit of a shock to the system. Best to take things by stages, right?

Living close to the course of Hadrian’s Wall, there’s no shortage of ancient Roman remains to be found hereabouts. In fact, they’re so abundant that you’d be surprised where they crop up. A few weeks ago, Mrs Shep saw at TV show where they were digging up some back gardens in a suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne in search of roman remains … which drew our attention to a couple of not-too-far-away ruins which we haven’t seen before. So yesterday seemed like a good opportunity to go and take a look.

The temple of Antenociticus is a bit of an odd thing to find in a tiny gap of land on a 1930s housing estate. And yet… there it is...

From gallery of MrShep


Antenoociticus isn’t a Roman deity that you’re likely to have heard of before; only a single temple to Antenociticus has ever been discovered, and this it it. Apparently he was worshipped by the locals long before the Romans turned up, but the invading army decided to adopt him as their own — a practice not uncommon in such circumstances. I guess they wanted to keep on the best side of any indigenous deities… just as a precaution. And it seems to have worked out well for them; one of the inscriptions on the shrine is apparently a note from a person of some importance, thanking Antenociticus for helping him out with a significant governmental promotion.

A couple of streets away is another bit of Roman ruin; a gateway and crossing point for the vallum — a huge defensive ditch, marking the perimeter of the military zone south of Hadrian’s wall. Sadly, this one was in a locked enclosure … to stop the local kids from playing on a site-of-historic-importance, I guess … but there was a decent view over the railings.

From gallery of MrShep


Returning home after all of this ancient-roman excitement, there was only one obvious thing to play, right?

Concordia … on our newly-acquired (and as-threatened-last-week) Britannia map!

From gallery of MrShep


Another surprisingly non-confrontational game (even on the more confined map) … I got an early Minerva card for tools, and promptly set about plundering my way through the tool-providing midlands and south wales …(what?!) …while Mrs Shep shot off along the east coast, pursuing entirely different goals. Still a bit of a points gap and a few take-backs as Mrs Shep gets to grips with the finer points of the game … but she likes this one, and is keen to get better. Further plays may be in store

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Sat Apr 3, 2021 7:10 am
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Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

John Shepherd
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Ovington
Northumberland
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Hmmm… I seem to have missed a few days, haven’t I? It’s been a busy week. And I while some people resort to extreme measures like having a new child in order to take some time away from doing a daily blog (congrats Alex!), I’m not nearly organised enough to plan my time off 9 months ahead

Anyway… what do I need to catch up on? Hmmm… Obsession! Let’s start there

From gallery of MrShep


We had our 5th play last weekend … and we finally took the leap to playing with the Upstairs Downstairs expansion. And yes … just like the comments below my previous Obsession posts have stated… this massively improves the game. Aside from the luck mitigation, it seems like you have a far higher proportion of “big play” turns with the Upstairs Downstairs servants in the mix, and the change brought about by a hire action being added to the passing phase makes everything flow that little bit better. Good changes.

It does feel like a bit of a “Patch” release though. Especially if you consider the expansion elements which were back-ported into the second edition of the base game. And as such, some of the modifications feel a little bit inelegant … perhaps most exemplified by the fact that the “Useful Man” worker has 5 different, not-entirely-intuitive uses, which have you repeatedly reaching for the player aid card just to remember the swiss-army-knife array of functional tweaks and bodges that he gives you access to.

From gallery of MrShep


But, inelegant as some of the Upstairs Downstairs alterations might be… they do seem to result in a far better game.

In fact, the way that objective cards are now handled (get dealt 5 at the start of the game, discard one in round 4, draw 2 new ones in round 6, then discard one in rounds 8, 12 and 16, leaving you with 3 cards which you’re evaluated against at the end of the game) looks appallingly over-complicated and tortuous when described like that… but in practice, this flow of cards gives you a really pleasing level of control over your final scoring conditions. It’s a massive improvement on the “get dealt some objectives at the start of a game, and then pick which ones you want to pursue before you’ve got any idea how the rest of the game will unfold…” way of doing things.

So… yeah. Things are now a little bit messy in places … but the game is definitely improved, despite this messiness. To an extent where I’d say Upstairs Downstairs is pretty much an essential addition. And I think, when I teach this to my heavy-euro-loving friends, I’m going to have to throw them straight in at the deep end with the full-on version.

But I have mixed feelings about this whole business. On the one hand … yeah, I own both halves of the package, and I’ve got a pretty decent and very-uniquely-themed game now. But on the other hand … this is yet another example of a problem endemic to crowdfunded games (particularly first-timer-indie-developer-crowd-funded-games), and my inner grumpy-old-gamer feels the need to whinge about it. The designer clearly took the game as far as he could (I’m not, for one moment, doubting the fact that there was a whole load of internal testing and revision to get it to its current state) …got a pot of money to produce it from the kickstarter fairies, and then put it out into the world, without that extra layer of scrutiny + 3rd-party development that the “old” way of making games involves. And in doing so… missed a bunch of ways that the base game could’ve been that-little-bit-better from the outset. Quite a few of the 2nd edition tweaks seem to have been sourced from the fan community … and there’s some very smart, extremely solid mechanical solutions within those tweaks, from folks who very clearly know their stuff. But they’re retro-fits … and, by nature, retrofits tend to be inelegant. You can’t help but think how brilliant / more-fully-baked the base game might have been if that same level of developer input had happened prior to the initial release.

I do feel a little bit guilty about writing this… I know that Dan really engages with his player community, will almost certainly be reading these words, and that Obsession has been a very clear labour of love for him. And, to his credit … this title was way more complete than 95% of the nonsense kicked out by the kickstarter sausage machine, and he HAS gone back and polished things… raising the game up to a level where it’s way more satisfying for a heavier/more serious gamer to play. Which is awesome.

But yeah. There is much about the way that games come into existence these days which disappoints me. And this bypassing of the old publisher/developer gatekeeping step is one of them.

Anyway let me be clear: despite this whinging … Obsession is a good game, we really like playing it, and it’s definitely staying in our collection.

…and it’s not like post-release-patches-bundled-with-an-expansion ever did the likes of Jamey Stegmaier any harm, did it?

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Fri Apr 2, 2021 12:07 pm
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Ludum in armarium

John Shepherd
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Ovington
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Back in November 2018, I bought a copy of Concordia. I didn’t have a compellingly-desperate need to buy Concordia …because Owain owns a copy (along with all the maps, add-ons, bells and whistles) and it gets relatively frequent plays amongst our regular group. But a bunch of cheap copies of the game washed up on Amazon around the time of Concordia Venus’s release (hopefully because PD Verlag were repositioning Venus as the intended jumping-on point for folks, and NOT because it was an early example of amazon-distributed forgeries!), so I thought I might as well seize the opportunity, and get myself one of those. Because Concordia is — I think — an extremely solid design, and likely to be one of the enduring euro game releases of the last decade … definitely worth a spot in any “collector’s” collection.

So I bought it. And it arrived. And it went in a cupboard… as games often do. And although I’ve played Concordia umpteen times since November 2018, it would appear that none of those plays have involved my own copy. ...As proven when I spotted the box sitting on the shelf, popped it open (out of curiosity) …and discovered that I hadn’t even punched it out yet! laugh

Naturally, a piece-sorting, punching-out and bagging session quickly ensued … drawing the attention of Mrs Shep.

“Is that new?”

“….urm… not really. It came out nearly a decade ago. And this copy has been sitting in my cupboard for a couple of years, ‘cos we usually play Owain’s copy. It’s an excellent game though. Bit of a classic. You should definitely try it at some point”


Well… one thing led to another, and…

From gallery of MrShep


…Concordia got a played on Saturday

You can see from the board that it very much wasn’t a high-interaction game; Mrs Shep went off in one direction, and — since it was a learning game for her — I thought I’d head off in the other direction and not interfere too much. But she very much enjoyed the experience, and is extremely keen to play again. Happy days!

The Italy map feels way too loose for 2 players though (albeit good for teaching the game on) — and since it looks like further domestic plays of Concordia are now very much on the cards, perhaps this would be a good opportunity (/excuse) to go shopping for one of the more constrained expansions…

Britannia perhaps? Or Aegyptus/Creta? … decisions decisions!

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Postscript: I just found this post in the archives. Check out that first comment. blush
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Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:10 am
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A few small boxes sneak in...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
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A few new game things have arrived this week; that copy of Kingdomino that I mentioned a couple of days ago … along with some reduced-price copies of 5211 and Piepmatz. The latter two caught my eye whilst browsing the “biggest price reductions” listings at boardgameprices.co.uk on an otherwise-dull Sunday afternoon. They were both on sale at Chaos Cards; initially I was drawn in by the promise of 5211 for less than a fiver … but since they also had Piepmatz for close-to-half-the-regular-RRP, I thought I might spring for a copy of that too. Learning new card games — I have discovered over the years — is usually a far easier sell to Mrs Shep than learning new board games

From gallery of MrShep


I played Owain’s copy of Piepmatz a few years ago … and mostly remembered it to be a bit of a quirky set collection game, with gorgeously-illustrated cards. Not something that I felt a desperate urge to rush out and buy my own copy of… but… a decent game, all the same. Circumstances are different now. The best games to own are always the games that’ll actually get played. My main gaming partner right now (in fact, my only face-to-face gaming partner right now) is Mrs Shep… and this seemed like something which would really appeal to her. Plus… it fills a (small-but-perfectly-formed) gap in my Lookout Games collection.

Sure enough… a mere glimpse of the box (“oh! that looks nice… is it new?”) was enough to lure Mrs Shep into an initial game on Wednesday night. And then she demanded a follow-up game the next night “just to cement the rules”… So it seems to have made a good first impression with her

From gallery of MrShep


For my own part… I’m still not sure. Design-wise, Piepmatz is cute. “Cute” in the sense that the card flow — the way that the birds jostle for position at the feeders, the way that the column of nut cards falls as each one is taken — really does feel like an interpretation of the bustle and activity you see around a real-life bird feeder. But the thing I’m still struggling with — after a few plays now — is seeing the causes, and effects, and the levers that I need to pull to get a particular bird-of-interest out of the draw pile, through my hand, into the bird feeder queue, and then back into my scoring pile. Maybe that’ll come clearer with a few more games … (or maybe I should accept that it’s more about tactics than strategy) … but, so far, it has kind of lacked that “everything-suddenly-clicks-into-place” moment that you normally get, just a few hands into learning a good card game.

From gallery of MrShep


Our first experience of 5211, on the other hand, had those “oh! I see. OH! that IS clever!!” interactions in spades.

There is no attempt at theming here… just cards, with colours, irrelevant abstract artwork, and numbers. The name of the game — which seems a bit odd until the reason behind it clicks — actually encapsulates the rules: you have a 5 card hand, you take a turn where you play 2 cards, then a turn where you play 1 card, another turn where you play 1 card …and then you score the round. I won’t go into the fine details of scoring here … it’s a bit quirky, but nothing too difficult to grasp after a couple of turns … and with lots of scope for you to sabotage your opponent’s plans with suitable counter-play if you successfully anticipate what they’re trying to achieve before the round comes to a close.

Players select — and then reveal — their cards simultaneously … so it’s got that appealing, rapid-fire 6 Nimmt! vibe to it; that thing where you think you know how the round is going to play out, and you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve got points in the bag this time… only to see the cards flipped and realise that your plans have been torpedoed by that ONE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU DIDN’T SEE COMING.

We’ve only had one session so far… which isn’t nearly enough experience of the game to decide how much of this is down to luck vs skill -- so please take this as a strictly-first-impressions piece … but discussing the game afterwards, we both had the impression that there was something clever going on with 5211, and that it felt like a “proper” card game. It’s one that I can imagine getting played a fair bit … and I’m very curious to see how it scales; I can already sense that the 2-player experience is maybe a little bit more blocky / prone to zero-point rounds than the game might be at higher counts … it’ll be interesting to see how that changes.

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Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:23 am
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Kingdom Death Diary 66: Pool Duty.

John Shepherd
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Two Kingdom Death posts in one week? Meh. I guess it’s not like I want to be on the “top blogs” list on the front page every day, is it?

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Standing waist-deep in the warm and mysterious pool, Mrs Meomwt cupped her hands and drank the strange water. And as she did, her mind was flooded with strange thoughts and new knowledge… she found herself able to speak the language of the sun, and understood the reason why the group had been called here …they were destined to be the sacred protectors of the pool, and of the warm light that shone down upon it! She excitedly beckoned the other survivors forward … and as each of them ritualistically sipped the water of the pool, they also gained the language of the sun, and an understanding of their new, shared purpose.

The pool must be protected. Always.

The tribe busied themselves, fashioning crude shelters close by, and making simple weapons with which to protect the pool.

And as they worked, the eggs at the bottom of the pool glowed happily.

MrShep wrote:
A convincing poll victory for Mrs Meomwt, taking almost 30% of the vote. And at the other end of the scale… ollybh scored 0%. Which suggests that he didn’t even vote for himself.

Which... things being as they are in Kingdom Death world… might be an entirely-sensible tactic.

From gallery of MrShep


Here’s the starting settlement for The People Of The Sun. This time, we have the sun instead of a lantern hoard (and note that the camp is so warm that our survivors are unable to wear heavy armour in this campaign. At least it’s a better outcome than that awful Gorm Climate!).

And we also have a Sacred pool — from which, once per settlement phase, a pair of consenting adults may drink the sacred waters. Speaking of which…

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Some time later, it was time to perform the first of many rituals in the Sacred Pool!

Coraval and Imperator Zero stepped into the waters, and tasted the strangely-scented oils floating upon the surface of the pool.

From gallery of MrShep


The couple quickly fell into a strange trance-like state... and as the rest of the tribe members chanted ancient and mystical words in the language of the sun, the murky waters began to churn and bubble! As the chanting reached a crescendo, it seemed like something very large, and very powerful might be moving beneath the roiling surface!

But almost as soon as it had appeared… it was gone. The water surface was still, and the tribe fell silent.

Time passed… and Coraval was blessed with a child; the first born to the tribe, and the first member of the tribe not to have eyes mysteriously stained with ink. The child was a boy, who came to be named danrodz.

MrShep wrote:
There was a bit of hand waving and general vagueness around childbirth and parentage in the last campaign. Primarily because it’s possible, in the base-game Kingdom Death campaign, for childbirth to be fatal to the mother, or to the child (or even — in some circumstances — to both of the parents!). But infant mortality — even fictional infant mortality — wasn’t something that I felt very happy about applying to a game where my characters are named after real people. So, if such a result was rolled in the last campaign, I decided that I’d play the result correctly “behind the scenes” … but that the characters in the narrative would suffer a co-incidental death in some other story-appropriate way.

In this campaign, the “intimacy” action carries an entirely different risk. Specifically: you might not make it out of the pool without being eaten by the-thing-which-lives-within. But if you manage to get past that not-being-eaten challenge… well, the actual birth will be fine

That said… the actual odds of being eaten during the intimacy ritual are worryingly high. (Essentially: Roll 2d10 … if either dice shows 3 or less, it’s dinner time! … although there are various mitigations and preparations which you can use to influence that roll…)

Clearly, this makes population growth a bit of a risky business to The People of the Sun. But I’m definitely not saying that it would be strategically sensible to put our most battle-injured and disruptive citizens into the pool.

That’s absolutely, definitely not what I’m saying.

Maybe we should have a vote next time.

Speaking of votes…
Soon the people of the sun decided that they would need more weapons and stronger armour with which to protect the sacred pool and the great sun. Nothing was more important than this task!

A hunting party would be sent into the plain of faces, to collect resources and slay another White Lion.

But which brave warriors-to-be would be bestowed with the honour of this undertaking?

Poll
The Hunting Party
Multiple votes allowed...
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
danrodz (the young 'un)
24.5 percent
24.5% 12
DSHamster (the foul-mouthed)
63.3 percent
63.3% 31
masonap
8.2 percent
8.2% 4
moesjiff
14.3 percent
14.3% 7
ollybh
32.7 percent
32.7% 16
sowilliams
10.2 percent
10.2% 5
Heurmistic
10.2 percent
10.2% 5
Kristabelle
36.7 percent
36.7% 18
Mrs Meomwt (the strong and couragous)
53.1 percent
53.1% 26
Mizerak
14.3 percent
14.3% 7
Wulfman
28.6 percent
28.6% 14
Voters 49
This poll is now closed.   49 answers
Poll created by MrShep
Closes: Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:00 am

(Coraval and Imperator Zero are still in recovery)

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Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:10 am
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Kingdom Death Diary 65: Once upon another time...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Once upon another time, there was a place of carved stone faces. A man with a lantern lay sleeping a dreamless sleep. He knew nothing.

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Dearest Heart,

It has been SUCH a long time since I last had company here at the great pool. Just how long HAS it been, I wonder. Months? …Years?

Perhaps decades … or even centuries?

…it is difficult to be sure when there is so little here to provide me with entertainment and amusement. So, dearest heart, imagine my delight when a new group — containing no fewer than a DOZEN new survivors — arrived at the great pool today!

There appears to be six males … calling themselves DSHamster, Imperator Zero, masonap, moesjiff, ollybh, and sowilliams …plus six females, known as coraval, Heurmistic, Kristabelle, Mrs Meomwt, Mizerak and Wulfman. A selection of most unusual (and at times confusing) names, but I shall neither complain nor fuss; it is good to see the place busy again, and I shall make the most of this new opportunity for distraction!

Sadly, two of the survivors do not appear to be in the best of health. I do hope that they recover soon; it would be a shame to lose two of my new friends so soon after getting to know them. Apparently DSHamster, Imperator Zero, coraval and Mrs Meomwt were attacked by a White Lion mere moments after their awakening! All four put up a brave and frantic fight — armed only with shards of stone that they found on the ground. But alas, coraval was gravely wounded … a “destroyed back” leaving her virtually immobile … and the one called Imperator Zero now has a gaping chest wound and ruptured spleen! — I doubt he’ll be fighting any more lions for quite some time.

From gallery of MrShep


DSHamster — although outwardly fine — seems to have suffered inflictions of a different sort … a damage of the mind! He seems incapable of staying quiet for any length of time … and whenever he opens his mouth, a stream of most foul and inappropriate phrases pours forth!! “Coprolalia” is, I believe the name of the disorder with which the pour soul is afflicted.

Mrs Meomwt — the last of the survivors involved in the Lion Skirmish — seems to be the only one who came away without any permanent damage. Quite the opposite, in fact — It seems that whilst dealing out a particularly lethal blow to the feline monstrosity (by fist and tooth, no less!) she discovered herself to be capable of feats of strength far beyond her expectations … in fact, I suspect Mrs Meomwt to be the strongest survivor in the entire band!

From gallery of MrShep


Sadly, all of the weapon-stones were lost in the fight … apparently the White Lion — cornered and close to death — had resorted to repeated use of its Terrifying Roar … an intimidating attack which chipped away at the very sanity of the survivors, repeatedly pushing them out of melee range. The only way to break the cycle — before dangerous levels of brain damage ensued — was to hurl the very last stone from a distance … wounding the lion and breaking the cycle of torment … but permanently losing the weapon in the darkness!

Fortunately, the tactic worked … the lion was vanquished, and the group — along with several other people who found themselves simultaneously (and mysteriously) awakening in the nearby darkness — were inevitably drawn to the light and warmth of The Pool.

From gallery of MrShep


But of course they were. This is always the way. Soon there will be a hive of industry here at The Pool …the survivors busying themselves, fashioning new weapons from the lion’s bones. Such fine adventures await!

But I wonder who will be the first to drink the water, and discover their true calling? (Not one of the wounded, I suspect…)


Poll
Let the tyranny decide!
Who drinks the water?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
DSHamster
21.3 percent
21.3% 13
masonap
3.3 percent
3.3% 2
moesjiff
1.6 percent
1.6% 1
ollybh
0.0 percent
0.0% 0
sowilliams
3.3 percent
3.3% 2
Heurmistic
1.6 percent
1.6% 1
Kristabelle
23.0 percent
23.0% 14
Mrs Meomwt
29.5 percent
29.5% 18
Mizerak
8.2 percent
8.2% 5
Wulfman
11.5 percent
11.5% 7
Voters 61
This poll is now closed.   61 answers
Poll created by MrShep
Closes: Thu Mar 25, 2021 6:00 am


Rest assured, dearest heart, that I shall keep you informed of all developments!

Your obedient servant.


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Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:10 am
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Monday morning you gave me no warning (of what was to beeeeeee....)

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Monday night is an odd sort of a night for a games night -- even an entirely digital one. The first working day of the week is always a bit of a shock to the system (and even more of a shock to the system when you spent much of your Sunday disconnecting a whole bunch of light switches and crawling around in the loft with a multimeter … but, more on that in some future post) ...and while it’s usually nice to have the prospect of a games night to greet you at the end of a Monday, there’s also the possibility that the first-day-back-at-the-9-to-5-grind can leave you a bit mentally frazzled (especially during the times-in-which-we-find-ourselves), and not-at-all-in-the-best-state-of-mind for a session of deep eurogaming. The Monday night group therefore seems to have fallen into a bit of a policy that if one of our number turns up with a request along the lines of “can we just stick to gentle things tonight?” …then that’s what we do.

Of course, some people’s definition of “gentle” might vary a little bit from ours. For us, "gentle" mostly indicates a switch to games with a lower cognitive load on the rules front, a nudge towards the tactical-rather-than-strategic end of the gameplay spectrum, and a shorter play time (so that if you DO stuff your game in the first few moves, you’re not going to have to sit there stewing over the consequences for the next 3 hours). And it’s not been a bad thing, switching into "gentle" mode every couple of weeks (which seems to be the kind of regularity with which it happens)... we’ve ended up playing some games that we haven’t played for years — and there’s some very neat, satisfying-to-play games that sit in this particular sweetspot.

This week was a designated “gentle” week — the impending end-of-financial-year seemingly having increased work pressure for some of our number (though — amazingly — not me for a change!) … resulting in Board Game Arena plays of Alhambra, 6 Nimmt!, No Thanks! and … for our very first time on BGA: Kingdomino.

From gallery of MrShep


The other guys seemed way, way more familiar with Kingdomino than I am. It’s a game which, for some reason -- and despite its massive popularity -- seems to have largely passed me by. To the extent that I’ve previously only played it once. In 2017. As a 2-player filler. In Owain’s Kitchen, prior (or after?) playing whatever it was that we were really meeting to play that night. And I couldn’t really remember a thing about it.

So it’s fair to say: I was a bit out of practice. Or possibly hadn't even had any practice in the first place.

But… it’s a super-simple draft-tiles-and-piece-a-landscape-together game, which didn’t take very long to get into the swing of at all — and which seems to work particularly well in this digital adaptation. I enjoyed it. I placed last — and I’ll blame my unfamiliarity/slow start for that — but this play-through very much left me wanting to play it again.

Maybe I should pick up a physical copy; I’m certain that Mrs Shep will like it. Admittedly, it fills a similar niche to some other things we already have (Limes?), so it’s not like I really need to own it. But it’s cheap as chips. And I can always justify it as a thing-that-I-should-really-have-in-the-collection-due-to—theSdJ-accolade.

Can’t I…..?

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Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:04 pm
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