The Tyranny of Small Decisions

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Dwile Flonking

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Saturday afternoon found us in the beer garden of the Locks Inn Pub, Geldeston …close to the Norfolk/Suffolk border. It’s an extremely pleasent country pub, with a glorious selection of real ales, and it’s been nearly 4 years since our last visit. Long-time readers might recall that THIS is the place in which I found myself competing in the World Thumb Wrestling Championship. This latest visit, however, was not for purposes of Thumb Wrestling… and we found ourselves attending as spectators, rather than participants. Because this was the day of the annual Suffolk vs Norfolk Dwile Flonking Tournament.

The ancient game of Dwile Flonking dates back hundreds of years*, and perhaps the best (or the only?) way that I can explain the game is through the inclusion of relevant extracts from the wikipedia article, amongst my pictures of yesterday’s event…

From gallery of MrShep


A "dull witted person" is chosen as the referee or "jobanowl", and the two teams decide who flonks first by tossing a sugar beet. The game begins when the jobanowl shouts, "Here y'go t'gither!".

The non-flonking team joins hands and dances in a circle around a member of the flonking team, a practice known as "girting". The flonker dips his dwile-tipped "driveller" (a pole 2–3 ft long and made from hazel or yew) into a bucket of beer, then spins around in the opposite direction to the girters and flonks his dwile at them.

From gallery of MrShep


If the dwile misses completely it is known as a "swadge". When this happens, the flonker must drink the contents of an ale-filled "gazunder" (chamber pot) before the wet dwile has passed from hand to hand along the line of now non-girting girters chanting the ceremonial mantra of "pot pot pot".

From gallery of MrShep


A full game comprises two "snurds", each snurd being one team taking a turn at girting. The jobanowl adds interest and difficulty to the game by randomly switching the direction of rotation and will levy drinking penalties on any player found not taking the game seriously enough.

Points are awarded as follows:

+3: a "wanton" - a direct hit on a girter's head
+2: a "morther" or "mawther - a body hit
+1: a "ripper" - a leg hit
-1 per sober person at the end of the game

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The game ended in a tie, and was therefore resolved in a dramatic drink-off between the two team captains… with the trophy ultimately taken home by the Suffolk team.

From gallery of MrShep


Tenuous board game theme of the day: What’s the strangest game that you’ve ever played in a pub?

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*Or possibly only 1967. Opinions are divided. And you should never let things like facts and opinions get in the way of a good tale!
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Sun May 8, 2022 7:10 am
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I've teamed up with the hippies now / I've had my fringe unfurled

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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May the 1st. Beltane; the Gaelic May Day festival …and at the stroke of noon I find myself standing within the central ring of the Thornborough Henge complex, near the village of Masham in North Yorkshire.

From gallery of MrShep


From gallery of MrShep

Image: Google maps (link)


Thornborough Henge is a huge neolithic earthwork; three vast circular “henges” (one of which is now covered in a small forest) spread over the best part of a mile of english countryside. The henges were built in the bronze age, between 3500 and 2500 BC. Nobody knows exactly why... although it’s been speculated that the slightly-crooked layout was made to resemble the three stars of Orion’s belt.

It’s a very impressive site (albeit one that’s very hard to appreciate from ground level!). Though I can’t help thinking that perhaps if the henges were located somewhere else ... say -- for example -- in the slightly-more-southerly reaches of the UK … then they would be a major archeological tourist attraction. A high-profile ancient heritage site, well known to all. But … unfortunately … that’s not the case. The site is privately owned by a building materials company (Tarmac) who quarry nearby, and the henge complex is not open to public access.

At least… not usually open to public access. But every may bank holiday an exception is made; the landowners throw open the gates to allow a celebration Beltane by a rag-tag group of hippies, druids, wiccans, and curious passers-by.

And this year … we went to take a look too.

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From gallery of MrShep

The May king brings the Beltane fire!
(albeit a very small Beltane fire)

From gallery of MrShep

Handfasting — A druidic wedding


And it was all pleasant enough; lots of people blessing ancient spirits in assorted ceremonies and being very nice to each other. Chanting. Drum circles. Various stalls selling incense, ponchos, reiki healing, and assorted pieces of mystical artwork. But … perhaps more importantly of all … another curious english festival could be crossed off Mrs Shep’s list! Plus it was a good opportunity to get into the site and have a bit of a poke around the circles … with the advantage of there being food, cider, and porta-loos handily available

Anyway — this visit seems like an excellent prompt for a tenuous boardgaming theme of the day. Which will be:

Best board games with druidic content

I have to confess, I thought would be a pretty easy thing to come up with suggestions for this one. After all … druidic mysticism is a pretty commonly-used trope in high-fantasy gaming …isn’t it?

…But… I’m a bit stumped. I was pretty sure that Luna (which I love!) had druids in it … but looking closer, that’s more of a mystical moon-priests-and-priestesses thing. The Keltis series has a bit of an ancient-stones-and-mystical-elements theme going on… but nothing overtly druidic. Ditto for the symbology of Nova Luna. (That’s two more games that get an awful lot of play in the Shepherd household right there!).

But as for a game with actual druids in it? The only one that I can remember playing is Fae … a pretty decent area majority game, which I demoed at UKGE a few years back, but which I unfortunately haven’t played since

Board Game: Fae

Disturbingly-phallic little plastic druids.

Hmmm. That’s not a very impressive example, is it?

Go on. I’m sure you lot can do better…

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Wed May 4, 2022 7:10 am
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Eleven good men and true

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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It was the feast of St George, the day of the great Manorial court, and there was much bustle amongst the townsfolk… for this was the day upon which the Lord of the Manor would gather everyone within the great guild hall, and preside upon the matters of the coming year. The High Constables, The Dozeners, The Pinners … and — of course — the Lord’s official Ale Tasters — would all be present.

As noon approached — and as the various officials gathered upon the raised platform at the front of the great hall in anticipation of the arrival of the Lord Baron — a whisper went around the crowd. Where were the Jurors? Twelve townsfolk, good and true, would be responsible for meting out justice to those who had wronged the court …but only seven seemed to be present in the Juror’s box. What had happened to the other five? Had they unwisely tarried too long in one of the many inns, taverns, or ale houses within the town? Were they suffering from the terrible pox that had blighted the town so recently? Or had they completely fled the county, fearful of retribution and revenge from the relatives and associates of those that they were about to pass judgement upon?

Who could say!

The Steward of the court — fearful of the rage of the Lord of the Manor, should the court be found inquorate — quickly instructed the bailiff to go amongst the crowd, and to recruit some replacement jurors to make up the numbers.

As the Bailiff walked down the centre of the great hall, most of the townsfolk looked away nervously, trying not to make eye contact. Refusing a direct request of the court Bailiff could very easily land you with a night in the stocks, or even worse! But whether they avoided his gaze or not, several members of the assembly were nominated — the long, bony finger of the bailiff pointing in their direction, and his loud, gruff voice demanding: “You, Sir!”.

One by one they were picked from the hundreds who had assembled.

And then… the unthinkable happened! The bailiff gazed in my direction. But as he stared into my eyes, I did not look away. I did not fear him. I fixed his gaze. And so the great finger pointed in my direction, and the voice boomed out.

“You, Sir!”.

The court secretary quickly entered my name into the ledger, presented me with the correct headwear, and sent me to sit in the Jury box. This year, it would be I who determined the fate of the townspeople. It would be ME who passed sentence upon all miscreants put before the Manorial court!

But this new-found responsibility filled me with nerves and fear. In truth … I was a visitor to the town, with no real knowledge of the way that the court functioned, or of the punishments that were appropriate to press upon the guilty townsfolk.

What was I do?

I turned to the Juror to my right; an elderly gentleman, in a very scruffy coat, and who bore an extremely unconvincing blonde hairpiece. But he seemed familiar with the proceedings, and perhaps he could advise me on what was about to happen.

But as I asked my question, and he turned his wrinkled face towards me to speak … a strange feeling of surprise, dread, and recognition fell upon me.

For it was not the face of a simple and kindly peasant farmer that met my gaze,

It was in fact…

(sings…)

“The Face of Michael Fabricant…”
“The Face of Michael Fabricant…”


And then I woke up.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Except I didn’t wake up. THIS ALL ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

From gallery of MrShep


From gallery of MrShep


From gallery of MrShep


In terms of photographs which could be massively mis-interpreted if you weren’t aware of the surrounding context, I think this one ranks very highly.

Possibly, in fact, as highly as such a thing could EVER rank.

God help me.

It was taken just as the Jury was being signed in… some moments before I realised exactly who* I was standing next to. And now I feel a little bit sick in my mouth, just looking at my happy smiling face.

What HAVE I done?

Tenuous theme of the day: Have you ever found yourself duped into playing a game with a complete and utter ***T ?


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*No, his hair isn’t any more convincing in real life than it is on television.
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Mon Apr 25, 2022 7:10 am
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Blog cake brain fog

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Apparently I've been almost-daily blogging for 4 years now*. Who knew? Well, clearly not me, since the actual anniversary was a few days ago, but it slipped my mind completely.

I'm blaming brain-fog. I've not managed to use brain-fog as a free pass for anything yet, so this'll do. Yep, it was definitely covid-related brain fog to blame.

Anyway...

Tenuous theme of the day: Best game with cake in it?

Urm... Grand Austria Hotel.

From gallery of MrShep


Obviously. And look, it also includes champagne, which seems appropriate too. (Though asking for a game featuring cake and champagne might've been a bit much**).

I'm not even going to ask you to try to beat this answer.

Because nobody could beat this answer.

...could they?

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*Almost half of which time has been spent in a global pandemic with severely-limited gaming opportunities. Which seems a bit crazy, given how long it feels like I've been almost-daily-blogging for surprise

**Though I can think of at least one other, straight off the top of my head...
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Mon Feb 21, 2022 7:10 am
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Last and First

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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A very unusual New Years Day for me… I actually spent it at home for the second year running!

Mrs Shep’s fondness for strange British customs and traditions usually finds us in far-flung parts of the country on the 1st of January, attending one of the (many!) weird and wonderful events that mark the passing of the year around the UK. This year, we were planning to be at an event in up Scotland. But Scotland is pretty much closed for business at the moment … and since the last English event that we attempted to visit suffered a last-minute covid-related cancellation, we thought we might just cut our losses and stay at home this year.

Well… almost stay at home. We did take a mid-day trip to the nearby town of Ponteland, to watch the New Years Day wheelbarrow race. A fine and ancient Northumbrian tradition dating back to… urm… medieval times? Well. Whatever. It helped to blow the cobwebs out a bit.

From gallery of MrShep


And I would post a tenuous theme of the day along the lines of best-game-featuring-a-wheelbarrow. But, let’s face it, the start player marker from Cottage Garden is going to win THAT contest every time. So I’ll just write about some games that we played over the New Year period instead. A first-and-last-of-the-year, if you will.

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Last game of 2021: MicroMicro Crime City — Full House. Remember when I said I’d bought a copy of this back in September, and put it aside for a rainy day? Well … yesterday seemed suitably rainy.

From gallery of MrShep


I suspect we’re going to burn through this just as fast as we went through the first instalment … but it is very good fun. And, judging from progress so far, some of the puzzles in this version are slightly more oblique / different-to-each-other than they were in the first one, which makes it a bit more interesting. So, first impressions: All good so far.

BUT THAT’S NOT A PROPER GAME, I hear some folks cry.

OK… last “proper” game of 2021 was...

Wingspan, with the Oceania expansion added.

Oh... didn't I mention that I have the Oceania expansion now?

I went a little bit mad with some of the boxing day/new year sales this festive season … mostly buying slightly older stuff ... things that I’d missed out on at the time for one reason or another. Much of these new acquisitions are now stuck in postal limbo until the end of the new year bank holiday (bah!), but the Oceania expansion is something that I picked up in person from my FLGS. This was our first try out. It did feel like it makes the game a little bit easier … or, at least, seemed to accelerate our early game quite significantly compared to how we usually play. And, unusually, we didn’t end the game with the usual last-roundfrenzy of rampant egg laying … because there seemed to be far more interesting ways to score. But maybe that was just because we had the novelty of new things to do. It’ll be interesting to see how it stands up after a few more tries. I suspect it may have pros and cons.

From gallery of MrShep


And our first game of 2022?

Well, this one came in a bit out of the blue. And our play of Wingspan was partially responsible for the selection ... because while I was packing Wingspan away, and fiddling with the dice tower, I was reminded of another game that has a cardboard tower involved. Though in a far more significant way. A game that I particularly enjoyed, back when it was released, but haven’t played for a very long time. So I thought I’d dig the box out from the bottom of the cupboard, have a flick through the rules, and see if it might be worth an airing in the new year.

Long story short: It very much DID seem like it would be worth an airing. And the game was…
Spoiler (click to reveal)



It's apparently SEVEN YEARS since I last played this (gulp!). Where does the time go??!

But did it live up to expectations? Well, unfortunately Mrs Shep is nagging me to go and play some more Crime City right now. So I guess you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out…

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Sat Jan 1, 2022 9:35 pm
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Boxing Barrels

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Boxing day morning found us in the non-fictional Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester.

I stress “non-fictional”, because apparently there’s a TV show of the same name, set in the same place, currently into its 6th season… which I’ve never seen. Something to do with murder mysteries by all accounts. Though — given the size of real-life Granchester — I doubt there would be very much of the population left, after 6 seasons worth of murders and mysteries.

Anyway, we weren’t in Grantchester for murders, or for mysteries. We were in Grantchester for the traditional Boxing Day barrel race! … a contest of physical dexterity between the regulars of various public houses, first held in the village during the mid 1950s.

I have to admit, I was very wary of going to pretty much any kind of spectator event right now, given the covid/omicron situation — but, in the face of potential-early-2022-tightening-of-restrictions, Mrs Shep was particularly keen to get out to see something over the Christmas break, “while we still can”. And given a choice between feeling a bit anxious over potential omicron exposure, vs Mrs Shep being really mardy all Christmas because I refused to go on a field trip… I figured that being infected by a potentially lethal disease was probably the easier of the two options. So that’s what we did.

From gallery of MrShep


As it turned out, the event didn’t feel too risky at all… the combination of driving rain and covid fears kept the crowds sparse (and apparently omicron infections had caused many drop-outs amongst the compeititors!)… so we managed to keep a reassuring distance between ourselves and all the other attendees. ‘Phew.

The contest takes the form of a relay race, in which opposing teams roll a barrel up and down the main road through the village. Of course, barrels — not being particularly cylindrical — tend not to roll very far in a straight line, unless you constantly adjust your shoving position to account for wobbles and terrain. Some people were very good at this, and could propel a barrel up and down the street at great speed. But most people weren’t so great at this at all (the ongoing monsoon probably didn’t help!) … resulting in out-of-control barrels careering off the course, mid-race collisions, and much fun and japes. The event is probably worth a visit, if you happen to be in the area, on the day after Christmas. But I’d definitely suggest waiting for a dry year. And possibly one that’s a little bit less global-pandemic-y.

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There’s likely the makings of a completely annoying and somewhat-random dexterity game wrapped up in the way that barrel-shaped objects like to roll … but, off the top of my head, I can’t think of a practical example of such a thing. So, instead, I shall be falling back to the usual super-dry euro games for today’s tenuous theme of the day: Best games featuring barrels

Puerto Rico has got to be a VERY strong contender … I mean, you can’t beat the old euro staple of loading barrels of goods onto a ship, can you?? … and there’s still NOTHING that does that better than Puerto Rico. But I think I’m going to have to go for Glen More II for my selection… due to the fact that it contains probably the coolest whisky barrel resource tokens in any current board game:

Board Game: Glen More II: Chronicles
(picture credit: Tobl)


I’m not usually a sucker for bling… but aren’t they gorgeous? …I bet they roll a lot straighter than real-life barrels do too!

But is there a better barrel-featuring board game than Glen More II?

HAS somebody already made some kind of god-awful barrel-rolling dexterity game like the one I imagined above?

I'm sure you'll let me know in the comments

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Sun Dec 26, 2021 7:27 pm
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Night Manoeuvres

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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It’s just over a month since I last posted anything about our mad travels around the country in pursuit of strange customs and traditions. And you might suspect that this means that we haven’t been travelling around the country in pursuit of strange customs and traditions over recent weeks?

To be fair, on the weekend between “chums 4” and the weekend just-gone, our plans were changed at short notice. An excursion to an event in the North West of the country was called off when the organiser fell sick with Covid … so we ended up travelling somewhere much closer to home. The town of Peterlee, in County Durham, which is a mere 40 miles or so from where we live (I could sleep in my own bed that night — hooray!).

The last time we were in Peterlee was for the World Egg Jarping Championships. Which must pre-date me blogging about our travels, since that would’ve been a prime contender for a vaguely-game-related blog post — but isn’t showing up in the archives when I search for any likely keywords. You can find out about it on Mrs Shep’s site if you’re curious. But THIS time we went for…

ART!

The Apollo Pavilion is a curious piece of public sculpture in the middle of a housing estate; a cast-concrete, brutalist piece of architecture built in the 1960s, intended to form an futuristic, artistic centrepiece to the new town. As you might expect of such a structure in a not-entirely-prosperous new town, It’s had a bit of a checkered history … for a while, it became a bit of a derelict, vandalised, graffiti-covered husk of a thing populated by the delinquent youth of the estate. But over recent years, the structure has been restored, and now seems to be a little bit more loved by the locals.

Anyway, just over a week ago — in connection with the (bi-annual) Lumiere festival being held in Durham — the Pavilion had been enhanced by a projection-mapping art installation running each evening. So we thought we’d go and take a look. And it was an impressive show … lots of abstract, bauhaus-style animations, synchronised to atmospheric synthesiser noises.

From gallery of MrShep


On a crispy Autumn night, at a time late enough for there to not be very many other people there, it was a pretty cool thing to watch. But I've always had a bit of a soft spot for brutalist architecture. (Probably a consequence of growing up in Teesside, in the shadow of the concrete steel mills!)

From gallery of MrShep


Yesterday, however, we were back onto more typical customs-and-traditions fayre. On Saturday night just gone, we found ourselves in Glasgow, for a torchlit parade to celebrate St Andrews day.

As you do

From gallery of MrShep


The parade seemed pretty big… but it’s very difficult to get a sense of scale from within the belly of the beast. From where we were (near the back) it was pretty much impossible to see the front of the procession. Or hear the pipe band that was (apparently) leading us. Your average pipe band can usually be heard from a VERY long way away indeed, and we mostly travelled in a straight line. So unless the acoustics of the west end of Glasgow are a bit odd, it must’ve been a pretty long procession. Anyway... it's always nice to have an excuse to parade down the middle of a usually-busy city-centre road with burning torches

From gallery of MrShep


I guess the connecting theme between these events is light in the darkness … or maybe, at a stretch, fire! Which would make for an excellent Tenuous Theme of the Day if I could actually think of any excellent fire-related games in my collection …but I’m not sure that I can come up with any. I played The Great Fire of London once … which seemed decent (if let down a smidge by less-than-perfect QA on the game components). I tried Flash Point: Fire Rescue way back in the mists of time too, but found it way too random for my tastes. And I’ve looked at Bonfire, Stefan Feld’s big release of last year, and been kind of curious… but it does look dangerously like it might just be an over-complicated bag-of-bits with a silly theme on top, so I’m kind of holding out for a chance to play somebody else’s copy of that one first, rather than jumping in with both feet.

Perhaps the fire-related game that intrigues me the most is one that I don’t own, have never seen in the flesh, and have never played … but with a concept so charming that when I mentioned it in passing to a certain board game museum creator, he rushed out to secure a copy of his own to exhibit!

So yep, that’ll do — Shadows in the forest. A game which involves very real fire.

Can you do better?

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Mon Nov 29, 2021 7:10 am
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Batteries, un-punched.

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Batteries. This week has been all about the batteries.

I feel like I’ve already written far too many posts that start with a sentence along the lines of “one unexpected side-effect of the global pandemic was…” … but I definitely feel like the simultaneous break-down of umpteen personal electronic devices — coinciding with the sudden “back to work” switch in lifestyle — was one such thing.

I suspect that too many of my mobile devices have spent way too much of the last year-and-a-half semi-permanently attached to charging cables. In a not-at-all-conducive-to-good-battery-health sort of way. Because why take them off the charger if you rarely leave the house? And I fear that the abrupt return to the daily rigours of a charge/discharge cycle has perhaps been a bit of a shock to their poor little lithium ion souls, after such a cosseted lifestyle

It all started with the face of my smartwatch unexpectedly popped off a couple of weeks ago — revealing a grotesquely swollen battery inside. To be fair… I fancied a newer model anyway, so that particular problem wasn’t the end of the world (though I might try a DIY repair just for the challenge of it… since it looks like a relatively straightforward replacement, and I never like to leave a bit of tech broken!). However, the fact that my phone has also started losing its charge stupidly-fast over the course of the last fortnight or so has presented a more significant problem. So on Saturday morning I decided it was time to pay a long-overdue call to the apple store for a battery service.

From gallery of MrShep
Bad lighting. It doesn't look nearly as dusty IRL.


It’s a while since I’ve visited the mall that houses my friendly neighbourhood apple store. Well, technically, that’s not entirely true — I’ve visited the branch of Marks and Spencer that lurks on one corner of the mall a few times in passing, and dashed into WH Smiths for some emergency stationary a few weeks back … but I’ve never really been deep inside, and had a proper look all at the changes that have come to pass during the covid years.

The battery swap was going to take an hour or so, which gave me the opportunity to wander off and have a bit of an explore. And… truth be told… it was a pretty bleak experience; apart from a thriving food-and-leisure quarter, things are looking pretty grim in there. The mixture of empty units, budget brands, vape stores, and “flight friendly rapid covid testing” pop-ups present but a shadow of the glory days of the 1980s … a time in which the place proclaimed itself to be the largest shopping mall in Europe …and even boasted its own roller-coaster (now, sadly, demolished)

Despite so many units standing empty, I think there’s a corporate policy against allowing charity shops in there (though to be fair, those tend to be a sure sign of a high street death rattle) … which is a bit of a shame, as at least those might’ve provided an opportunity for me to root out some unexpected board games while I was waiting for the work on my phone to be completed.

Instead… the only board games that I encountered during the trip were the usual shelves full of mass-market pre-Christmas tat, and a solitary Martin Wallace title in a discount book store (though presumably not one of his better offerings, as I didn’t recall very much about this one at all, and didn't have a phone to look it up on … so I left it where it was). That said, I was amused to also see a recent reprint of the 1976 Dad's Army board game in the same shop — I remember playing that one as a child, though it seems like a bit of a strange thing to be re-printing / pitching to the mass market in this day and age … so it’s maybe not too difficult to see why its gone straight into the remainder bins?

Anyway, my newly-refurbished phone was ready at the appointed time, and I found myself heading home… thinking about batteries and board games. And wondering if a tenuous theme of the day might fall out of the morning’s experiences?

But as it happened… WAY more than a mere tenuous-theme-of-the-day came at the end of this train of thought. Because if here is ONE battery-management-featuring board game which reigns supreme over all other contenders, it surely has to be Vlaada Chvátil’s Galaxy Trucker …featuring these little green tiles of misery, which few players would ever forget:

From gallery of MrShep


…and as I thought about this game, something notable occurred to me.

Which was this:

I COMPLETELY missed “annual not punching out Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion day” last year — a momentous occasion previously celebrated in August 2019, and before that in August 2018. Talk about being discombobulated by the events of the pandemic!!

Well… more than 2 years since the last not-punching-out day… I can report that my copy of Another Big Expansion STILL remains un-punched

From gallery of MrShep


....buuuuut the event seems to have lapsed a bit now, so this doesn’t seem to be nearly as exciting an achievement for me as it once did

And I’m really short on shelf space at the moment… and pretty sure that I could get all of those bits into the main game box, if I tossed the insert…

Screw it. 7+ years on the shelf, and I’m finally punching that sucker.

All thanks to thinking about batteries

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Sun Nov 7, 2021 6:10 am
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In the pipeline

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Saturday found us in the city of Bristol, to take part in (another!) obscure British custom… The St Mary Redcliff Pipe Walk.

A little over 800 years ago, Sir Robert de Berkley — a feudal Anglo-Norman baron — gifted a water supply to the people of Redcliff (now a district of the city of Bristol); a 2-mile pipe which carried drinking water from a spring on a hilltop down to a church in the centre of town. It’s assumed that the pipe was initially made of wood, but was soon replaced with lead… and the lead pipe survived all the way up until the late 1800s, at which point a cast iron replacement was installed.

Every year, on a Saturday in late October, in a tradition which might be as old as the pipe itself… the church’s appointed surveyor — accompanied by a group of parishioners — walks the course of the pipe. This walk is ostensibly to check for damage, and to preserve the right of way for the pipe to pass through an assortment of allotments and private gardens. However, a significant section of the pipe was destroyed by bombing raid in the second world war, and the water hasn’t flowed beyond the damaged area since that time … so the pipe walk is now entirely ceremonial, and carried out mostly to preserve the tradition, rather than for any practical purpose.

From gallery of MrShep


We meet on a hill in Knowle, close to where the water rises

From gallery of MrShep


The pipe is mostly underground; its path is marked above the surface by stones inscribed with the initials of the church — SMR for “St Mary, Radcliffe”.

From gallery of MrShep


Manholes are raised at various points, and the pipe inspected (though, these days, mostly in a “look, it’s still there” sort of way). This particular manhole is in a (obliging!) resident’s back garden!

From gallery of MrShep


And this shot is taken in a public park. A special initiation ceremony is carried out around this point, for those who are attending the pipe walk for the very first time. Of course, I could tell you exactly what happens … But it’s good for traditions to have their little quirks and secrets, right?

From gallery of MrShep


…and a couple of hours after setting off, we arrive at St Mary’s. The pipe terminates at the feed to this old drinking fountain. Tea, sandwiches and sausage rolls are served, and the pipe is declared to have been duly walked for another year

* * * * * * *

I completely forgot to take a board-gaming component to sneak along into one of these shots (doh!)…. so, instead… it’s time to go back to that old blogging workhorse: TENUOUS THEME OF THE DAY!

And today’s tenuous theme will be: best board games that feature water pipes. Or, at the very least, board games which have some sort of irrigation / water conduit thing going on, because although I’m sure that I’ve seen various pipework-themed tile-layers over the years, I’m not entirely sure that I’ve actually played very many of them.

Plumbing (ha!) the depths of my game collection / games played list, the only ones that spring (ha!) to mind are…

Board Game: Amyitis


Amyitis. An old-school eurogame which involves irrigating the hanging gardens of babylon. I used to be quite a fan of this one… but the last time I played it (several years ago) I found myself thinking that it hadn’t aged particularly well at all / wouldn’t be an easy sell to a modern gamer. And I fear that it might seem even longer in the tooth if I played it again now. So maybe not Amyitis.

Board Game: Takenoko


Takenoko? I really want to like Takenoko. It looks gorgeous, and the first two thirds of the game always feel like a delight to play. But it always seems to have a tremendously swingy end-game, where a lucky (or unlucky) card draw can render much of what you’ve been doing so far completely meaningless. So maybe not Takenoko.

I’ve got plenty of games featuring canals… but that particular form of water conduit is a maybe a touch larger-scale than I’m looking for here…

Hmmm. I’m not doing very well here.

So, over to you folks…

Best game featuring water pipes. What have you got for me?

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Sun Oct 24, 2021 2:25 pm
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Squid Game

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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SQUID GAME!
From gallery of MrShep


(another) SQUID GAME!
From gallery of MrShep


(another) SQUID GA.... oh, wait, are those "octopods"?
From gallery of MrShep



Apparently squid games are the hottest thing on the internet right now And since this has been a bit of a fallow week (did you notice?), I'm all about jumping on the first click-baity boat that sails past.

So, until I find the spare time to post something a little bit meatier (this weekend, I promise!), I bring you...

TENUOUS THEME OF THE DAY:

Show me your best Squid Game!


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Fri Oct 15, 2021 7:10 am
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