The Tyranny of Small Decisions

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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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Tom Bawcock's Eve

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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WARNING: Possibly not a good post for vegetarians, this one. If pictures of dead fish are likely to upset you, then it’s probably best to stop scrolling here

Most people reading this blog will, I expect, know that today is Christmas Eve. Fewer people — and perhaps only a few BGGers native to a certain part of the English county of Cornwall — will know that yesterday, the 23rd December, was an entirely different type of eve: Tom Bowcock’s eve.

Every 23rd December, in the Cornish village of Mousehole, a lantern-lit festival is held. The festival commemorates the day that a brave fisherman — named Tom Bawcock — sailed out onto fiercely-stormy seas, and returned with a haul of “Seven sorts of fish” to feed the famine-struck villagers. And as part of this celebration, the harbour is illuminated, songs are sung, and a very special — and very distinctive — pie is baked: StarGazy Pie!

We visited Mousehole on Tom Bawcock’s eve a few years ago, where I made the following video. Watch out for the pie!




A merrier place you may believe
Was Mousehole on Tom Bawcock's eve
To be there then who wouldn't wish
To sup on seven sorts of fish

When murgy broth had cleared the path
Comed lances for a fry
And then us had a bit o' scad
And starry gazey pie

Next comed fair maids, bra' thrusty jades
As made our oozles dry
And ling and hake, enough to make
A running shark to sigh

As each we'd clunk as health were drunk
In bumpers brimming high
And when up came Tom Bawcock's name
We praised him to the sky.


We managed to fight our way into The Ship Inn, the venue where stargazy pie is served (in return for a generous donation to the Lifeboat fund) … and although the idea of eating a pie that features protruding fish heads might seem a little bit gross … It seemed like an essential part of the complete Tom Bawcock experience

And I can honestly say... it was one of the finest — perhaps the finest — fish pie that I’ve ever tasted!

So… 5 years later, confined to barracks in the great british lockdown… I thought I might try to re-create the experience at home, and set about cooking my own Stargazy pie. I even managed to lay my hands on some cornish-caught sardines for added authenticity!

From gallery of MrShep

Pretty convincing, huh?


The fish heads aren’t, apparently, purely for decoration and grossing people out. You don’t eat them… the principle is that the cooking process releases various tasty (and very good-for-you) oils from those parts, which drain down into the body of the pie, infusing the filling with extra-fishy goodness.

And while it wasn’t, perhaps, quite as magnificent as the version served at the Ship Inn (I only managed four sorts o'fish in mine)… it wasn’t at all bad

From gallery of MrShep


Anyway, what better game to follow a meal of Stargazy pie than: Nusfjord … a game all about fishing and developing a tiny fishing village? (…admittedly the fact that it’s one of Uwe Rosenberg’s finest games also helped its case a bit)

From gallery of MrShep


The pandemic has caused my copy of Nusfjord to be stuck on the shelf for far too long now, and this was my first chance to play with my recently-acquired copy of the Salmon Deck. I’d forgotten how well this game plays with two players. To be fair… it’s pretty well tuned at all player counts … but it's absolutely razor-sharp with two; we had an excellent time with this. Brilliant, tight, tricky decisions throughout — with all kinds of interesting combinations and strategic possibilities presenting themselves, thanks to the new deck.

From gallery of MrShep


I really enjoyed this game …we both did. In fact, just before we figured out the final scores Mrs Shep declared: “I loved that. I don’t care if I lose … I enjoyed playing it so much”. Always a good sign

Good game… Good pie… Good Tom Bowcock’s eve! Maybe we need to make this combo an annual tradition.

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Thu Dec 24, 2020 7:10 am
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Size matters

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Fate found us in the East Yorkshire city of Hull, on a rainy Monday Morning … visiting a street called “The Land of Green Ginger” (which is an excellent, and surprisingly ancient name), to see an old pub called the George Hotel.

Why? Well… the George Hotel claims to have “The Smallest Window in England”. Or, possibly — depending on which source you read — the smallest window on any building in the world. It looks like this:

From gallery of MrShep


Apologies for the slightly-rubbish photo; as I said … it was a rainy Monday morning, and the light was not good. And in case you haven’t spotted the “window” … you see that dark crevice to the right of the plaque, where it looks like somebody forgot to put the mortar in? Yeah, that’s the window. It is fully glazed … and was apparently used by staff in the 17th coaching inn to discretely spot the approach of stage coaches.

Now, forgive me for being cynical… but this does make me wonder what — officially — counts as a window. If I took a masonry drill to my front wall, and glazed in a half inch circle of glass at the other end, would my home take the record and become a tourist attraction? Hmmm.

Anyway, this is, of course, a thinly-veiled excuse for a tenuous theme of the day. “Games with unexpectedly-small components” is the first one that sprang to mind … but even though Tokyo Tsukiji Market is now a very strong contender for that title in my game collection, I don’t think anything is going to usurp my experience with The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary any time soon. And I’ve already blogged about that.

So instead, how about something a bit more positive:

Which game in your collection has given you the most entertainment per cubic inch?

The first thing that popped into my head was the Oink series of games… specifically, Startups (17 cubic inches)… which I’ve blathered on about many a time in the past, and which I still rank amongst my all-time-favourite card games. Though regular readers will be aware that Keltis: das Kartenspiel (13 cubic inches) has given it a pretty good run for its money in recent months, now that playing-games-with-more-than-2-people hasn’t been entirely viable. However, I think I’m going to plump for something entirely different: “No Thanks!” (also 13 cubic inches)

32 cards and a small bag of plastic chips actually leaves a little bit of air-space in the No Thanks box … but this is a classic opener/filler/closer that’s absolutely stood the test of time. Quick to teach, fun to play, and packed with drama, laughs and tough decisions; I don’t think I’ve ever had a game of No Thanks! that flopped. In my opinion, it’s one of the very best small-box games that money can buy. And if you’ve never played it… you absolutely should!

So… tell me all about the tiny things that bring YOU great joy*… (fnarr fnarr…)

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*Yeah, I know. But if I didn’t lower the tone myself, then Bateson or Boydell were almost certainly going to…
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Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:07 am
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Art becomes a game.

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Quote:
A game is a structured form of play, usually undertaken for entertainment or fun […] Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work or art.
- Wikipedia


Over recent weeks, on a few different occasions, I’ve found myself thinking about the overlap between games and art. Not so much in a “this game is so beautiful/clever/emotionally-resonant that you should really think of it as art” kind of way, but more in a “this art I’m currently looking at here seems a bit… well… game-like, when you think about it” sort of manner.

In the past, I’ve written several posts referencing my fascination with the work of the French graffiti artist “Invader”, my ongoing quest to track down his work, and how that whole thing has a massively-gamified aspect to it. But I’m also kind of fascinated by other examples of conceptual/modern art which seem to be the consequence of the artist partaking in some kind of rule-based “game” of their own. Or even setting rules that let people be part of a game of sorts; laying down that “structured form of play” mentioned on wikipedia, for other people to engage with. There might be a few posts coming up on this topic.

* * * * * * *

A couple of weeks ago, we visited The Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket. It’s an outdoor museum — the type that features historic buildings and structures, painstakingly dismantled from their original locations, and reconstructed a part of a large-scale visitor attraction. And — being an outdoor kind of attraction — it's probably one of the safest types of museum to visit, under current circumstances …though of course you can go into the buildings (appropriately-masked!) and have a look around inside. It was a weekday, the school holidays were over, and the museum was pretty quiet … so we spent a very pleasant, sunny afternoon poking around various old buildings and sheds full of the artefacts of rural life, and looking at the various farm animals that live on the site.

From gallery of MrShep
From gallery of MrShep
(potential emergency sheep content)


We ended the afternoon by visiting “Abbots Hall” — the big 16th-century house which owns the land upon which the museum has been built, and discovered that there was an exhibition running in one of the upstairs rooms. This fact, in itself, wasn’t too surprising or notable. You often go to these attractions and find out that there’s an art exhibition of some kind going on. Usually it’s some local artist exhibiting pretty-but-forgettable watercolours of local beauty spots or suchlike. But I found this particular art exhibition to be really fascinating.

The exhibition — called “The Year I went Haywire” — was a series of works by a local artist called Chrissie O’Connor.

From gallery of MrShep


It’s a project that Chrissie began when she noticed little bits of electrical litter, left behind by engineers who had been working on a telecoms cabinet in her village. She collected this debris — offcuts of wire and plastic clips — took it away, and then… noticed more of the same, the next time that she passed the cabinet.

From gallery of MrShep


And over time… this turned into a project. Collecting the crimp connectors, wire strippings, crocodile clips, and other plastic debris that the openreach engineers just tossed into the weeds at the base of the cabinet every time they went there… and then turning the items that she collected, day by day, into art. A project to highlight just how much plastic is casually dropped by the telecoms industry every day… sinking into the soil… changing the environment.

From gallery of MrShep


The main feature of the display is a long stream of bunting (the room was way too small to get it all in shot) comprising over a hundred flags, each one containing a day’s findings … annotated with the date, and occasional notes relating to the circumstances of the find.

From gallery of MrShep


From gallery of MrShep


Or angry comments and observations as the project progressed.

Or moments when the artist questions her own sanity.

From gallery of MrShep


…because even after the project has ended, it seems that O’Connor can’t stop compulsively collecting this stuff. It’s like she started a game which she can’t stop playing.

From gallery of MrShep


So aside from being a completely unexpected feature of our afternoon, the exhibition was a surprisingly impactful thing to see. And almost — dare I say — a work that is viral in nature?

Because now — whenever I pass a street-side telephone cabinet … I can’t help but glance down at the ground to see if I can catch a glimpse of the related telecoms debris.

Is this a game that I really want to start playing?

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Sun Oct 4, 2020 7:10 am
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Pudding.

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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A brief diversion on our way back north saw us seeking out a small blue plaque commemorating the birthplace of a great British institution. Apparently, 160 years ago, the very first fried chips were sold in the marketplace at Oldham, Greater Manchester:

From gallery of MrShep


…which, as the plaque would have it, led to the subsequent rise of Fish & Chip shops throughout the UK and -- if you stretch it a bit -- perhaps even the birth of the entire fast food industry that we now know and love?

Appropriately enough, the plaque is located beside a present-day Fish & Chip shop:

From gallery of MrShep


…which was closed and shuttered because we were passing through Oldham on a Sunday. However… Mrs Shep had done some advance research, and located a nearby (heretic and godless) chippy which is open all day Sunday! Thereby facilitating our second reason for visiting Oldham on our journey home:

Rag Pudding.

From gallery of MrShep


Yeah… I know… it doesn’t look massively appetising, does it? Rag Pudding is a dish primarily found in chip shops in the Oldham, Bury and Rochdale districts of Greater Manchester. It comprises diced steak and onions in gravy, wrapped in suet pastry, tied up in a cloth and then steamed. So it’s basically a traditional suet pudding… but cooked in a “rag” instead of a bowl.

And… yeah, it was fine. But I won’t be rushing back to eat another one. Nevertheless, it’s another obscure local British food to cross off the list, so that’s a win!

Tenuous theme of the day will therefore be: Games which feature obscure foods. Preferably unusual national or local dishes.

…Though I’ve got to be honest… I’m struggling to think of anything better than the Haggis Chronicle in Glen More II … and I’m pretty sure I’ve already trotted that one out on a previous instalment of Tenuous Theme of the Day. But I’ve got every faith in you guys… you lot can do better than this? Can’t you?

From gallery of MrShep


(and/or failing that… just tell me about a special-but-little-known dish from your particular part of the world…)

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Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:10 am
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In a hole

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Our week-and-a-bit-long escape is over, and today we’re travelling home… back to the “locked-down-under-special-measures” North East of England. It’s been an odd holiday. Our travels have taken us to a lot of towns and cities… and it’s been interesting to see the effect that the coronavirus has had on various urban centres / tourist destinations. Or, more truthfully… the effect that it hasn’t had on those places. Because when you see all the carefully-designed urban precautions that have been put in place: the one-way systems on city pavements, the designated places to stop and rest, the “strictly-one-household-in-here-at-a-time” notices, the signs asking you to “wear a face covering beyond this point”, the two-meter spacing guides stencilled on the streets … and then you realise that -- no matter where it is in the country that you happen to be -- only a very small proportion of people are following those rules, and you start to feel like your own attempt to follow the guidelines and stay safe is very much going against the herd… well… it’s a bit exasperating. No, actually, it’s really REALLY exasperating. And it’s easy to see why the UK infection situation is fast reverting to the state that we were in back at the start of the year*.

So I’m not too down about the fact that I’m heading back to the most locked-down and covid-regulated part of the country. Because in a week or two, the rest of the country is going to be in exactly the same situation.

Sadly, we only got as far as the end of the beginning. Not the beginning of the end.

* * * * * * *

Last night, we played Caverna: Cave vs Cave – Era II … which I’m glad we eventaully got to the hotel room table, since I’ve been carrying it around in my luggage for the last 10 days; it would’ve been a shame to traipse the length and breadth of England with it and not even get around to opening the box.

I’ve got 2 solo games of the second era under my belt now, but this was the first time that I’ve played it with 2 players. It was an enjoyable game… but… a bit on the lengthy side; easily the best part of 2 hours, and probably even a little bit longer. I don’t really see that coming down massively for us … because it’s a game that demands a fair bit of thought, analysis, and perming-out-of-the-possibilities in a decision space which grows exponentially with each additional round played. And to be frank: if you’re happy to invest that level of time and effort into a Uwe Rosenberg game… there are better options than this. In fact… you’d probably have more fun playing the full-fat version of Caverna.

Cave vs Cave does have portability on its side; the expansion fits nicely into the (small) base game box, and that’s a tiny package compared to most of the more “epic” Rosenberg games … so maybe it’ll remain a good choice for travelling. But for day to day play… I’m starting to suspect that this expansion works better as a solo game; It’s way faster to play when you only need to think about your own game.

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture before we started packing the game away, so I can’t add this one to the gallery of “things that we’ve played in a hotel room” … but it’s a pretty good fit for the bog-standard travelodge desk-unit. (So that’s another tick in the “games you can travel with” box!)

* * * * * * *

Tomorrow I’ll start sorting through the various photos that I took on our travels, I’m sure I’ve got a few blog-worthy things to look back on in there. So rest assured that the lack-of-pictures in today’s post will shortly be made up for with a whole slew of boring holiday photos

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*Except without the toilet paper shortages this time. ‘phew!
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Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:11 am
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A Choir full of longing / will call our ships to port

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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From gallery of MrShep


It’s funny where reading a blog can take you, isn’t it? A little over a year ago, Mr Boydell made a post about The Purton Hulks … a collection of ships deliberately beached upon a small section of the River Severn in an effort to reinforce the riverbanks and protect the adjacent canal. The result of these ship-scuttling exploits (judging from the continued existance of said canal) has been quite successful… and has also led to the creation of the biggest “Ship’s Graveyard” in mainland Britain. But despite this being exactly the kind of odd thing that we like to visit during our travels… it was something that we had never even heard of, until Tony mentioned it in his shed.

From gallery of MrShep


So yesterday — upon leaving Wales — we went for a bit of a nosey around the site. In glorious 29°C sunshine!

From gallery of MrShep


It’s a fascinating place, and quite the curiosity. Well worth a visit!

From gallery of MrShep


Of course, I could turn this into a “tenuous theme of the day” thing, and try to link it back to… say… “games where you are required to scrap entire fleets of ships in order to succeed”. But the obvious winner of that category would be Martin Wallaces “Ships”, wouldn’t it? So I’ll not bother. (And to be honest… it’s not one of Martin’s finest moments. Perfectly competent euro stuff, but nothing exceptional — I moved my copy on in a bring and buy sale, after a single play).

From gallery of MrShep


So, instead of crowbarring in any of that nonsense*, this post is more of a “Thanks Tony. Look what you made us do!” sort of post. And a tribute to the fact that one of the best things about clicking on daily BBG blogs is that you never know quite where they might take you.

Sometimes literally.

Actually, reading Tony’s blog today, I discovered that a much-requested, long-complained-about “see how many people are subscribed to your blog” feature has been quietly added to the BGG Blogging dashboard of late. And through the magic of said feature, I can see that 350 of you have elected to follow my own brand of random witterings each day / haven't been driven away by the kingdom death diary posts yet. Which is a nice number to finally know.

Thanks everybody; I really appreciate having you all along for the ride!

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*Which is actually exactly what I did do, very blatantly. Oops!
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Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:10 am
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Stoned in a hotel room

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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We’ve just spent a long weekend (mostly) in South Wales. A break that was both very restful, but also a bit unsettling.

Restful because… because any break is good, right? And unsettling because… well… I’d kind of got the impression that the Celtic nations were doing a far better job at Covid-19 Precautions / social distancing etc than England was. But… apart from the motorway signs advising that Caerphilly was subject to “special restrictions”, and a rainbow-mural “Thank You NHS!” in the middle of St Davids (the only urban area where we spent any significant period of time) … you would not have a CLUE that some kind of international pandemic was in effect. I only saw maybe 3 or 4 other people wearing face coverings in all of St Davids. And… I mean… on the one hand, it was kind of nice to be in a tourist environment which was just like it used to be under the “old normal”. And the infection rates for that part of the world are pretty low. But on the other hand… I felt nervous being close to those people. Really nervous.

Fortunately, the majority of our trip was scheduled to take in a number of locations well off the beaten track. For example, the Church at Brawdy … the porch of which contains a collection of ancient inscribed stones, dating from around the 5th Century.

From gallery of MrShep


From gallery of MrShep


From gallery of MrShep


…which I’m only mentioning because, by complete chance and co-incidence, I’d managed to pack a tenuously-related game for this trip. So when we got back to the hotel, I had a perfect excuse to propose a game (or three) of Keltis: Das Kartenspiel. A game about Celtic stones.

From gallery of MrShep


In truth, I’d only really shoved this into the bag on a last minute impulse. The first time we ever played Keltis das Kartenspiel was in a hotel room … and therefore, for better or worse, it’s a game which I now always mentally associate with hotel rooms. And since we haven’t played it for a while… I thought I might as well pop it in the bag for this hotel stay too.

Keltis das Kartenspiel is a bit of an oddity. It is, of course, based on Knizia’s 2008 SDJ-winning board game: Keltis. But Keltis (the board game) is, in turn, heavily based on Knizia’s earlier 2-player card game: Lost Cities. Meaning that Keltis das Kartenspiel is a card game conversion of a board game which was based upon… a card game.

But just like the outcome of a particularly convoluted sequence of telestrations — what came out at the process wasn't quite the same as what went in

Sets can be collected in ascending OR descending order (you’re not committed until you add your second card to a pile), a number of multi-use semi-wild “grey” cards have been introduced to the deck, and also a new rule which encourages you to swap out matching pairs to collect a special bonus card from a diminishing central supply adds some not-insignificant pressure. It’s a set of mechanisms which combine to give you a whole host of interesting decisions and meaningful options … mitigating a lot of the luck-of-the-draw of Lost Cities. I mean… the luck of the draw is still there… but less-so. This version feels like it’s been developed in a slightly more gamer-appealing direction.

Plus, you can play Keltis das Kartenspiel with up to 4 people. If you really want to. But we love it with two.

Oddly, it’s never had an English language release… though I think I picked up a german-language copy on Amazon (.co.uk!) for about a fiver, a few years ago. And, all-in-all, I prefer Keltis das Kartenspiel to Lost Cities. I think it’s a better, more interesting game. If you love Lost Cities … well, to be honest, you probably don’t need to have both in your collection… but if you get the chance to play it, or to snap up a cheap copy… you definitely should. And if you own neither game … well, Keltis Das Kartenspiel might not carry the “I own all the classics, me” kudos that adding Lost Cities to your collection would gain you. But I stand by what I said… it’s the better game of the two

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Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:10 am
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Penalty for landing in a hotel...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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It’s 6 months — give or take a day — since the last time that I stayed in a hotel. And it’s also 6 months since I last paid for something with cash, bought takeaway food, travelled further than 50 miles from home, or even wore shoes for a period longer than 4 consecutive hours.

…but all of these continuous streaks have come to an end in the last 24 hours. (I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed about the cash payment one …I was quite enjoying living in the cashless society of the future, until the bloke behind the counter at a random Huddersfield chip shop gave my plastic short shrift, and gestured menacingly at the “minimum card payment: £10” sign stuck to the counter. It’s no wonder that part of the country is a coronavirus hotspot, if you ask me…)

Anyway. I currently find myself in a hotel, after an uncharacteristically long absence from such. And despite the fact that rooms don’t get made up any more, you have to don your facemask and trudge down to reception to ask for more supplies whenever you run out of bog roll or instant coffee, and the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet restaurant is closed until further notice … it’s good to find that at least one pre-covid19 feature of the neo-traditional British hotel stay remains unchanged. And that is:

The experience of being evacuated to the car-park in the middle of the night, due to some lazy, inconsiderate ****er trying to have a sneaky smoke in their room.

I suppose it was a good opportunity to see just how well people observe social distancing and face covering during a fire evacuation. (Answer: not very well at all. Though, to be fair, a lot of people staying in this hotel seem to have difficulty social distancing and face covering even when the hotel isn’t potentially on fire). But… yeah… all in all, not an experience you want to have during a hotel stay. Even in better times.

Anyway, as we milled around in the car-park, wondering if the staff would EVER get any further than the letter “B” in their super-slow, car-park-lapping attempt at a roll call (seriously — if that place WAS on fire, we would probably have been long-dead through smoke inhalation before they got anywhere near the letter “S”!) … and waiting for a fire engine to show up and/or permission to return to the fellow-guest-avoiding safety of our rooms to be given, I was struck by inspiration.

A potential expansion to the best-selling-(-but-slightly-too-random-for-my-tastes) co-operative fire-fighting game: Flash Point Fire Rescue! …an expansion which accurately simulates the thrills and excitement of turning up to a high-risk emergency call out, only to discover your last hour has been wasted by a nicotine addict who thought they could get away with tying soggy towels around the smoke detector in their room.

Simply draw a card from the “potential-false-alarm” deck at the very start of each game…

From gallery of MrShep


I think it’s got potential! … IDC — give me a call, and let’s get THIS bad boy kickstarted!

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Sun Sep 13, 2020 7:10 am
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Tree of death

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Yesterday we went to look at a tree. An ancient tree, in an old churchyard, about half an hour's drive from where we live...

From gallery of MrShep


It's a Yew tree. And like many big churchyard Yew trees... it's very old. Possibly one of the oldest living things in the UK. Historic records suggest that it predates the church, which would put it at around the thousand year old mark ... but other theories suggest that it might date back to the roman occupation, which would add another millennium or so to its age.

As you get closer, you can see that -- like many ancient, sacred trees -- this one has been given a bit of help and assistance in its old age. Iron chains and bands -- put in place in the middle of the last century -- hold the tree in shape.

From gallery of MrShep


Yew trees are, apparently, notoriously difficult to age, as they go through phases of rotting away and then regenerating. Apparently new bark will eventually cover the ironwork ... and, over the course of centuries, as the tree returns to a growing phases ... the rusting metal will be slowly asborbed and dissolve away inside the tree, until no trace of it remains.

From gallery of MrShep


Yew trees are also, apparently, extremely deadly. Pretty much every part of it is poisonous. The berries... the leaves... the bark... there's even an account of somebody dying as a result of inhaling its sawdust! The pollen emitted by male trees is highly allergenic; the Ancient Greeks believed that the tree emitted poisonous fumes, and that sleeping beneath its boughs would cause death!

So... yeah... it was an interesting little jaunt, visiting the Beltingham Yew... and fortunately we escaped with our lives (this time!).

But when we got home, I was reminded that I've had a deadly tree of my own, draped in straps and chains, which has been sitting -- somewhat neglected and unfinished -- on the paint bench since around the start of the year. I should really get around to finishing this.

Our long-suffering Kingdom Death protagonists will then have something new and exciting to go and look at too!

From gallery of MrShep


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Sun Sep 6, 2020 11:19 am
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