The Tyranny of Small Decisions

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Sheep Safari

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Back in July, I wrote…

Quote:
We’d read that a nearby country estate was opening up some footpaths on its land for the first time in decades. Way back in the 1970s, this estate housed a short-lived a safari park; I remember going there as a young child, and — in recent years — I’ve been more than a little bit fascinated by the fact that remains and ruins of the park are still clearly visible on present-day aerial photography. I’ve often thought that it would be interesting to have a nose around the site.

But, sadly, this opportunity to connect with memories of an even-further-in-the-past version of myself was denied; as we joined the (socially-distanced) crowd of confused walkers at the estate gates, we discovered that the the newspaper article announcing the re-opening had omitted one vital detail. For summer 2020, the footpaths will only open during very specific hours. And on Sundays only. Bah.
Yesterday, we decided to have a second attempt at gaining access to the Lambton estate … and this time, had far greater success, spending a couple of hours happily wandering around various countryside pathways. Mrs Shep hoping to catch a glimpse of Lambton Castle… and yours-truly hoping to catch a glimpse of the remnants of "Lambton Lion Park", an attraction which I vividly remember visiting as a child in the 1970s.

From gallery of MrShep
Lambton Castle near the top, and the site of the old safari park in the lower half of the map.

Mrs Shep got her wish; despite an annoying amount of tree cover down at river level, you do get a pretty good view of the castle if you approach from higher ground.

From gallery of MrShep


Built in the early 17th Century, Lambton Castle is the ancestral home of the Lambton family, who are the historic earls of Durham... but it’s been standing empty — the subject of a long legal battle between the children of its last owner/occupier, Lord Anthony Lambton — for several years.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see much trace of the old Safari Park. That part of the site still seems to be pretty much sealed off to visitors. The best I could manage was an across-the-field glimpse of the back of the old rhino enclosure … which still seems to have the rhino-proof* fencing intact.

From gallery of MrShep


In fact, the most fearsome creature in the park these days seems to be this one:

From gallery of MrShep


There was plenty of sheep though. Including some sculptural ones atop gateposts and bridges. I guess their significance is a play on the family name, Lamb-ton.

From gallery of MrShep


Of course, this entire story could just be a good excuse for me to segue into a tenuous theme of the day post. But if I did that, I’d only end up trotting out Wildlife Safari/Botswana as my selection (yet again). And anyway… those high-visibility sheep monuments reminded me of something else. Something VERY important which occurred to me the other day.

It’s been TWO YEARS since I sought answers to the big question. The mystery that had been plaguing our hobby for decades. The most important board-gaming question of all; a topic on which every board gamer had a strong opinion, and for which an answer desperately needed to be found.

And the question was this:

Which sheep is best sheep?

Lately, I’ve been wondering if the answer that we came to, as a community, all those months ago… is still a valid one. Have popular opinions changed since 2018? Have societal attitudes and behaviours towards board game sheep significantly altered?

And most importantly of all: has there been any significant — dare I suggest, paradigm-shattering — newcomers in sheep-related board-gaming since late 2018?

Well?

Has there?

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*Not, as it turned out, particularly effective rhino-proof fencing … as the rhino escaped at least once during the lifetime of the park. As did a number of babboons. And a Lion. Which might help to explain why Lambton Lion Park wasn’t particularly long-lived.
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Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:10 am
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The force will be with ewe, always.

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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No spoilers in here. Don't worry.

I almost skipped today's blog post... the combination of a short-notice opportunity to go and watch The Rise of Skywalker last night, and an early start for a long journey today have eaten into blogging opportunities. However, whilst googling for a suitable emergency sheep picture to post, THIS thing popped up:

Board Game: Space Sheep!


A Sheep-laden starwars-spoofing board game? From Stronghold games?? Why hasn't this blipped onto my radar before? Could it be a contender for the 2020 edition of Which Sheep is Best Sheep?

Board Game: Space Sheep!


Well, judging from the comments and ratings on its BGG Entry, Space Sheep is a bit of a stinker... and, essentially, a colour-matching puzzle against the clock, with the starwars-esque theme pasted on. Comments such as "This is the worst game I've ever played", and "Might be a good puzzle, but it's made worse by having to play it with other people" do little to sell it to me. Despite the very funky-looking sheeples & millenniumfalconeeples:

Board Game: Space Sheep!


Oh well. At least the film was good! I managed to avoid all spoilers before watching it (being immersed in the world of board games, rather than the world of popular culture, is an advantage sometimes!), and -- as a child who grew up in the era of Star Wars -- was very happy* with how that all played out. 13-year-old-me never was particularly impressed with the original trilogy finale ... so it's good to get a "better" ending to the saga

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*with the possible exception of the highly-contrived scenes to make Carrie Fisher outtakes fit the story. I.E. every single scene she appeared in. I mean... yeah, they were short of options there, and you have to give them a bit of respect for not using cgi ... but it really did jar me out of the movie every time they did it.
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Sat Jan 4, 2020 5:09 pm
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Sheepy Christmas!

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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'Phew. Looks like we made it to Christmas. Well done, everybody!

This is, I'm afraid, a pre-recorded message. Hopefully -- by the time you read this -- I'll be busy punching out the pieces of assorted board game loot delivered by Santa. Or studying new rule books. Or playing board games with the extended family. Or slightly drunk. Or, better still, all of the above! But whatever happens, rest assured that I'll be telling you all about it at the earliest opportunity.

However, I did promise you a Christmas day winner for the grand final of SHEEP WARS, didn't I? Not wanting to shirk my responsibilities, and through the miracle of BGG poll technology, I am now able to bring you the final result:

Poll
The Grand Champion of Sheep Wars 2018 is:
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
Agricola
51.1 percent
51.1% 46
Animal upon Animal
48.9 percent
48.9% 44
Voters 90
This poll is now closed.   90 answers
Poll created by MrShep
Closes: Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:00 am


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...and I'm sure you'll all agree, that was a very worthy winner*. Whatever it was.

Anyway, Merry Christmas everybody. Thanks for reading this nonsense, over the last however-many-months-it's-been. I hope that you all have an excellent day, and I'll see you back here tomorrow. Just as soon as the hangover wears off.

*I'm taking a bit of a risk here -- hopefully it won't end up being a tie; it's been looking very, very close for the last few days!
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Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:10 am
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Sheep Wars: All I want for Christmas is Ewe!

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Remember the Christmases of the last millennium?

A time before reality TV and pop idols?

A time when being Number One at Christmas really meant something?

Slade vs Wizzard?... Sir Cliff?... the Pogues?... Band Aid?...

In the spirit of Christmases past, The Tyranny of Small Decisions proudly presents:

An opportunity to relive the anticipation and excitement of discovering just WHO is the BIG chart winner on Christmas day.

SHEEP WARS 2018 - THE GRAND FINAL

From gallery of MrShep


In the red corner: Agricola. Very much the Pogues - Fairy Tale of New York of the competition: a working-class story of aspiration, hardship and shattered dreams (which usually leads to swearing)...

"I can see a better time / when all our dreams come true..."



In the blue corner: Animal upon Animal. Or, as I like to think of it, the Christmas number one equivalent of: Don't You Want Me Baby, by the Human League...

"I picked you up, turned you around, and (stacked you onto) someone new..."



However, before "it's much too late to find / you think you've changed your mind"...

...it's time to VOTE for your 2018 Sheep Wars Grand Final Champion!

WHICH SHEEP IS BEST SHEEP?

VOTE NOW!


Poll
The Grand Champion of Sheep Wars 2018 is:
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
Agricola
51.1 percent
51.1% 46
Animal upon Animal
48.9 percent
48.9% 44
Voters 90
This poll is now closed.   90 answers
Poll created by MrShep
Closes: Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:00 am


Our lines will be open until Christmas Day

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Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:10 am
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The end is nigh...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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It's "phone it in week" at the Tyranny of Small Decisions; I seem to be having a super-crazy-busy few days coming up, both at work, and at home ... so posts might be a bit more succinct than usual for a while.

* * * * * * *

From gallery of MrShep


If Tony can get away with an 11-word post asking for thumbs to fulfil his daily blogging obligations, then -- in the spirit of "phone it in week" -- I'm not going to feel at all guilty taking the entirety of today's post to tell you that I'm closing the semi-finals of SHEEP WARS tonight.

So if you haven't voted yet ... this is your last chance. Go!
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Sun Dec 9, 2018 7:10 am
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Sheep Wars 14

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Oh! Is it already more than a week since I did one of these? I mean... I was going to do that Kingdom Death write-up today, but I guess it can wait until tomorrow ... I should probably slip in another sheepy semi-final before I forget. Last week’s Agricola vs Fields of Arle vote is currently running way, WAY closer than I anticipated (and hasn’t closed yet, do so feel free to go and express your Rosenberg Sheepy Preference while you still have the chance!)...

...and then this weeks sheepy showdown is:

Animal Upon Animal vs Sheep & Thief

Should I, at this point, confess that I don’t actually own these games, and haven’t actually played either of them?… or should I just try to bluff my way through in the hope that nobody calls me out on my obvious and monumental lapses in sheepy gaming expertise?

Meh. I’ll do the second one. Again. I’m sure nobody will notice.

Board Game: Animal Upon Animal
(Pic Credit: caesarmom)

Look! A sheep, standing upon other animals. For… REASONS!

Also:
Board Game: Sheep & Thief
(Image credit: punkin312)

FURRY BALLS!

HA HA! FURRY BALLS!

And that's it.

That's all I've got.

Furry balls.

Go and vote now.

Poll
Which sheep is best sheep?
      103 answers
Poll created by MrShep


Don’t worry.

It’s almost over.

Almost.


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Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:10 am
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Sheep Wars: The unlucky 13th Round...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Oh, what a GENIUS idea ...thought MrShep of 4 months ago. Just draft a list of 16 different sheep-themed games, face them up against each other, add a public vote to it, and BOSH! ... the posts will virtually write themselves! Easy blog content... what could possibly go wrong?

*Sigh*. What a young, naive fool the MrShep of 4 months ago was. He didn't realise that if he used all of his very best material in the first round, he'd be a bit stuck for things to write about the very same sheep in round two. And if he thought round two was difficult to rustle up content for... then wow... would there be ANYTHING left when those same games came back for the semi finals?

From gallery of MrShep


I mean... just look at it. Fields of Arle vs Agricola. Fields of Arle Sheep on the left, and Agricola sheep on the right... oh, wait a minute, no... I think that's actually an Agricola Sheep on the left, and possibly a Fields of Arle Sheep on the right? ... or did I accidentally take them both out of the Agricola box? Or maybe it was... bah. Why am I even bothering. We all know you're going to vote for Agricola anyway...

BUT WHICH SHEEP IS blah blah blah...

Poll: ?
Go on then...
      152 answers
Poll created by MrShep


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(Out of pure sympathy, if nothing else)
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Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:10 am
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The Saturday Afternoon Results Show...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Two updates in one day? I know... I know. Yes, I am feeling quite well. Don't worry.

While I'm usually a person who is not in the slightest bit worried about shamelessly scraping the bottom of the content-creation barrel in the never-ending torture of finding things to post on "The Tyranny of Small Decisions", even I thought that squeezing another "main" post about the SHEEP WARS quarter finals within the space of two days would be pushing my luck a little bit. So here -- as a hot-off-the-press bonus posting -- are the quarter final results. Please don't get use to this unexpected weekend prolificacy; I'm sure it won't happen often.

From gallery of MrShep


So... it looks we've got an all-Uwe semi-final on the left, with Fields of Arle just pipping Ivor the Engine to the finishing post (110 people voted, and Arle got a measly 2 votes more than Ivor! Sorry Tony. Still... "will of the people" and all that...) ... meanwhile, little-fluffy-sheep-and-thief sheep won out over Shephy in an almost-equally-closely-fought all-Japanese quarter final to face one of the Bookie's favourites -- Animal upon Animal sheep -- on the right-hand side.

But which sheep will go through to the final? Tune in for the next exciting episode, heading your way just as soon as I run out of inspiration for anything better to write about...

(so... probably in the next day or two then...)
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Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:57 pm
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Sheep Wars 12

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Since the dawn of modern board-gaming, one noble beast has loomed large in the annals of gaming: Ovis aries, The common domestic sheep! From provider of foodstuff to provider of clothing, from bringer of cuddles to bringer of nightmares, from wooden sheeples to cardboard counters (be careful not to tread in the sheep chit!) …which board game sheep do YOU have wood for? There’s only one way to find out…

Episode 12: Shephy vs Sheep & Thief

It’s an all-Japan quarter-final, with sheep-manga heavyweight Shepy taking on the little fluffy balls of Sheep & Thief joy. But WHICH SHEEP WILL BE BEST SHEEP? ...YOU DECIDE!

From gallery of MrShep


Shephy took an overwhelming lead in the qualifying round against A Feast For Odin — was it the cuteness of low-level shephy sheep frolicking in idyllic pastoral landscapes which won over the voting public?… or the nightmare vision of a 300-headed sheep-berg and naked fear of the level 1000 behorned-behemoth form of the satanic-shephy overlord? Maybe it was the attraction of solo-gaming … do sheepy game fans mostly like playing with themselves?

Whatever the reason, Shephy has taken the world by storm — now launching a multi-media cross-channel assault on mobile platforms and Nintendo Switch. But Will fear-of-a-sheep-planet and/or a penchant for solo entertainment propel Shephy into the semi-finals, or will it be…

Board Game: Sheep & Thief
(Image credit: punkin312)


...Sheep and Thief? And let’s be VERY clear — we’re talking about the little-fluffy-balls Japon Brand edition here, not the subsequent fluff-free pretender-to-the-throne wooden-sheeple edition released by Pegasus Spiele!

Sheep & Thief Sheep celebrated a landslide victory in the qualifiers, crushing euro-classic Carcassonne (and its Shepherd Meeples!) with a 80% vs 20% split! While some still argue that Sheep & Thief Sheep is a dire case of style over practicality — that sitting too close to a draughty doorway, or suffering the misfortune of mid-game sneeze can spell disaster for a Sheep & Thief session … NOBODY can dispute the fact that Sheep & Thief has a fleecy table presence that remains unequalled in the annals of sheepy gaming. Sheep & Thief Sheep have truly been elevated to sheep-game collector components of legend!

BUT WHICH SHEEP IS BEST SHEEP? There’s only one way to find out…

Poll: Which Sheep is Best Sheep?
VOTE!
      81 answers
Poll created by MrShep


Voting on all quarter final rounds will be closing VERY SOON — and YOUR VOTE could make a real difference (I mean, it probably won’t make any difference at all in most cases, because that’s the strange thing about modern democracy. But Fields of Arle vs Ivor the Engine was pretty close last time I looked. So you should definitely have a go on that one.)


Part 9: AGRICOLA vs CAVERNA
Part 10: ANTIQUITY vs ANIMAL UPON ANIMAL
Part 11: FIELDS OF ARLE vs IVOR THE ENGINE


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(it's not always about sheep. Honest.)
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Wed Nov 7, 2018 7:10 am
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Sheep Wars 11

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Since the dawn of modern board-gaming, one noble beast has loomed large in the annals of gaming: Ovis aries, The common domestic sheep! From provider of foodstuff to provider of clothing, from bringer of cuddles to bringer of nightmares, from wooden sheeples to cardboard counters (be careful not to tread in the sheep chit!) …which board game sheep do YOU have wood for? There’s only one way to find out…

Today on the Sheep Wars Quarter Finals:

Fields of Arle

Fields of Arle.. notably, one of the few modern board games in which you get to milk your sheep.

From gallery of MrShep


Seriously though… milking a sheep!? Just what is wrong with you people?? Have you any idea just how gross that is??? To leave you in no doubt at all, here’s a 15 minute video feature (submitted by regular viewer Miko S.) on the milking of east Fresian Sheep:



gulp

vs

Ivor the Engine

Seen enough sheep-butts to last you a lifetime now? I know I have. So here’s a far more wholesome video for you to watch, featuring Ivor the Engine. And some sheep…



There. That's better now, isn't it?

...BUT WHICH SHEEP IS BEST SHEEP?

Is it Arle, or is it Ivor?

USE YOUR POWERS!...

Poll: VOTE!
Which Sheep is Best Sheep?
      113 answers
Poll created by MrShep



THE POLLS ARE STILL OPEN for previous quarter-final sheep-offs:

Part 9: AGRICOLA vs CAVERNA

Part 10: ANTIQUITY vs ANIMAL UPON ANIMAL


VOTE EARLY! VOTE OFTEN! ...JUST VOTE!

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(And it's not always about sheep. Honest)
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Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:10 am
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