Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

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Working Fast, Working Keen

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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After David J. Mortimer's flying Friday visit, I did the chores and walked the son and the dog and then settled in with an eternal iPhone soundtrack and the laptop to do some Attention All Shipping re-engineering: putting the prototype in to dry dock and scraping the barnacles off of the hull, if you metaphorically like.

Step one was to review and categorize all of the cards in to theoretical phases; I want the mechanisms/complexity/hazards of the game to increase as the campaign progresses, you see:


Sort in to piles.



Separate, balance the numbers, move/rearrange/promote/demote etc


Several 'tales' (quests) that affect the board have been pushed in to being Hazards which, in turn, have been spread out across multiple phases for thematic purposes eg. all of the WW2 mine hazards now come from phase II onward:

I - The Early 20th Century
II - The Second World War
III - The Post-War Years
IV - The Swinging Sixties

That's right: 'onward'; the game's Tale and Hazard decks grow as the players move through the campaign; I've also split the Ship Part upgrades across the phases too - this means more sophisticated equipment becomes available later. Put simply: as players get to know the game, the options get more diverse and involved. And, of course, there's nothing stopping a group playing with everything simultaneously, if they so wished.

At the moment, it looks like there will be eight games in the series, with players recording cumulative scores and tale totals along the way - more than enough to satisfy a 'normal' group.




Tales available from Phase II onward.



Hazards introduced from Phase III onward.



Phase IV 'game altering' scenarios.



Equipment only available in Phase IV.



More Tales; this time only available from Phase III onward.



Some reference guides - how does the 'Quick Start' work for you?



Cutting and sleeving and sticking.


As a last tweak, I've extended the Market track to extend the end-of-game trigger by at least one round; combined with the overarching story, I'm feeling much happier about the 'density' of play experience. Naturally, I need to get this in front of you lot: the impartial, play-testing public!


Ready to go...now I just need to write up the new rules.
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Today 6:15 am
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The Plough And The Stars

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Despite Dave and Gerv being absent this week, we had a smashing six turn out on a sparkling, golden evening; even better, we were surprised by arrival of new-blood (and our 'seventh' for the night) Aled (who lives just across the road, apparently!). He missed out the opener: a long-neglected Heimlich & Co. which last made a RoW appearance when we were resident at The White Lion - four plus years ago now!

In summary: you get die-rolled movement points and shuffle the seven dobbers - in various combinations and pip-splits of your choice - around a small town. The aim is, as your allocated dobber is secret, to get your old chap on the higher scoring buildings when a 'scoring' occurs and - simultaneously - try and work out who-is-what-colour for extra final-scoring bonuses.

I managed to keep my Yellow thief near the front and was only denied glory by a pathetic zero-for-six player-to-colour guess disaster; to be honest, I was a just a pinch away from getting my own colour wrong too.

We split: Ian and Boffo and me picking Res Arcana, the others voraciously-clamouring for Terraforming Mars; despite being a generation-and-a-half in to the proceedings, the SpaceBrickies (Jobbers, Smudge and Byll) were gracious enough to restart and give Aled a place and a rules run-down. They were destined to spend the rest of the evening complaining about their draws, letting Becky run away with the landscaping and having Byll drop rocks all over their lovely tableaus.

For ourselves, we eschewed the R.A 'draft' and plumped for a much-preferred 'Deal 10, Keep 8'; this proved most satisfactory for everyone. Boffo was keen to give this 'one last chance' and the two games we played certainly revealed the extremes: the first was won by me with a carefully-constructed, gold-spewing, monument-building monstrosity; the second by me again but with a Place of Power-deluge that overtook Boffo's courtesy of Ian passing early. The pass stalled Ben's end-of-game trigger; that extra round set me up for a 7VP gain and a very satisfying victory. As frustrating as game one was for Ben - he really didn't get ANYTHING going thanks to mine and Ian's dragons - the second was a superb illustration of the crunchy puzzle this game provides: this is a very smart, interactive and rewarding diversion.

I'm not sure whether Boffo's ultimate opinion of Res has been modified at all but I couldn't have wished for two better, illustrative examples.



Ian was given the choosing choice and wavered between Macao and Glass Road; Ben and I would be delighted with either and it was Uwe that won out! Another new experience for Ian, he acquitted himself splendidly with a final score of 15...just 1/2 a point behind Boffo who - in turn - was just 1/2 a point behind me: low scores, yes, but another excellent tutorial in what a game has to offer.

There was a scuffle at the bringing-together of the tables over Dobble or Codenames, with Smudge taking an inordinate amount of time to pack away Terraforming Mars: shamelessly trying to run down the window for 'Coders' in favour of the card-slapping stupidity of Dobblers. Byll scurried off in a cloud of 'I don't play Codenames's but we ran with just one round anyway: it was a bloody close one too - no easy-win shenanigans this week but my "Statue of Liberty: 2" for 'New York' and 'Iron' saw Team JobberBoddlecky over the line.

The bar was quite well packed for a non-Skittles evening and this turned out to be a farewell party of sorts: our Landlady is moving on and the future of The Plough Inn is, woefully, in flux - indeed, we don't know if the place will even be open for business next week (or ever again)! The Ross-on-Wye board gamers may become itinerant once more.
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Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:50 am
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Mortimer's Not Cross

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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It was a flying visit but, as always, an extremely productive one! When you're setting out on a collaborative design - and you're more than just a local bus ride away from each other - there's only so much that Dropbox and Skype and eMail can cover: eventually you just have to get face-to-face and thrash everything out in person.

David J. Mortimer pulled up about 10 minutes after the school drop-off rush had retreated and - apart from a highly-hoppitty Ziggy the Dog - found the Boydell household calm in a hot, bright Autumn. Possessed of coffees, and having dispensed the customary nicetudes, we repaired to the Library room for some The Cousins' War-on-steroids prototype action:



It started with a 'What if?' and David has run with it. And run. Andrunandrunandrun! He's done a phenomenal amount of work which meant the first joint playtest was smooth and clean! That doesn't mean we're done with the tweaks but it didn't die on its arse and that's always a reason to celebrate! And celebrate with did with a slap-up feed at the Newent Good News Centre; we took eldest lad Fred along with us to help him get a healthy dose of fresh air and sunshine too.

The tuna and cheese jacket potato was sitting heavily on my tum as we opened the deck-devourer that myself and Matthew Dunstan are noodling with; unfortunately, I was missing a large chunk of the rules (AND some components) so that was quickly back in the box.

Instead, we plumped for a Attention All Shipping:



I have been niggled, in recent plays, with the worry that the game might not go on long enough; indeed, I think there might be too much going on in the small timing space I've established.

In our post-match analysis, David mentioned recording the board state between games as part of a semi-historical campaign...and this got me to thinking: how about a game deliberately carrying through its State (like Charterstone, for example) but progresses through the 1900s Fishing timeline with the same rules (unlike Charterstone, for example) but having time-appropriate hazards and quests (the 'Tales') slotted in and out along the way? Players' boats can be raw and functional and progress to better engines, storage and so on?! A bloody marvelous idea, actually; a single game spread across eight (a number plucked out of the air) episodes with a winner declared at the very end. Such a sharp turn of direction means I'll need to get back to the cards and perform some deeper analysis: this makes me feel very excited!
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Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:55 am
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You Little Tees

Anthony Boydell
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Bin sortin' aht the old "uniform" for Essen Spiel and decided to get some Lux Aeterna tee-shirts printed:


Everyone say "Cheese!"



Look! An aeroplane!


If you like, you can get your own from here:
https://www.teepublic.com/user/tonyboydell
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Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:40 am
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Bad News for People Who Like Bad News!

Anthony Boydell
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(an announcement via the KS pages)

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Thu Sep 19, 2019 3:00 pm
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Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet

Anthony Boydell
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Have you ever listened to 'Christian Rock' music? It's absolute tosh; it's monumental, tiresome arse: anodyne, cringeworthy, bland. Truly, the electric guitar is the Devil's instrument and all the best stories are His: Praise Be*.

And what of Christian board games? If you'd ever wondered what the answer the question "Is there anything worse than a roll-and-move game?" is, then just add a Heavenly theme to one and there's your reply. I'm'not suggesting that religious themes are shit - look at that Pope game (Habemus papam yadda-yadda) and Rajas of the Ganges' - just that Christianity-pushing themes are: self-flagellating, demeaning, prissy, bigoted and smug.

Follow the path of Redemption in to the clouds or slide down the greasy, sin-pole to the underworld? Candyland for the perpetually-terrified. Sanctimony is not a good vibe for an evening's entertainment; I'd rather not spend my gaming sesssions being told I'm an appalling Being - and a massive Cosmic let-down to my 'Father' - by a bloody board game! Boring, preachy, scripted; if a Christian board game were to be a true reflection of our spiritual travails, it should begin by espousing the mantra of Free Will and then increasingly punish you for exercising it as the rounds go on: multiple paths to Defeat, preferably lined, with good intentions. No, indeed; if I am to lose my self-esteem then I want to do it attempting to establish a lucrative railway network, a sustainable medieval farm and/or the judicious manipulation of the Art markets.



So with my cynicism dialed up to eleven, here's a starter-for-ten list of pun-tastic Christian board games:

Fiddlytwinks / Popeline / Nonce Upon A Time (Vatican special editions)
Terraforming Mary / Anachronysm
Gloomheaven / Dam-Nations
18{Cross}{Cross} / Railroad Revelations
At The Gates Of Sheol(ang) / St. Peter's Burgh
Holy Ghost Stories
God Of Love / ...and then we nailed hands...
Hey That's My Fish! (and Five Loaves)
Pope John Company / An Infamous Maffick /
@Habits / The Cassocks Are Coming!

Oh well; rant over. Go about your business.

*and Blessed Day, Under His Eye etc
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Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:21 am
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Innovations

Anthony Boydell
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Essen-tial Equipment for the Gaming Connoisseur:

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Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:20 am
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Save One For Meeeeeeeee!

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Another Autumn, another Essen Spiel and so the usual Geekmails and post comments asking "Can I pre-order {INSERT_NAME_OF_GAME_HERE}, please?". Pre-orders seem, on the face of it, to be a marvelous thing: a steady flow of guaranteed sales that calm the nagging fear of having to bring as full a van home as that with which you set out in the first place. They are, in reality, a monumental pain in the ass.

In the 2000s, taking pre-payments was less straightforward so one would need to ensure a List Monitor was around to tick off the names and ensure that we didn't sell reserved stock by mistake. If things were successful, you would find yourself turning customers away while boxes were still on display - oh the complaining and the injustice! - and then find - come the last day - that 20 people changed their minds and were no-shows: that's 20 copies that could've found an alternative home had we been told. Taking money up-front mitigates absenteeism - as does the 'It will be sold after Sunday lunchtime' caveat - but all that only eases the mind of the pre-orderer; we, the publisher, still have the admin and stock control overhead (what happens if someone DOES lose a box of set-asides by mistake?!) the disgruntlement/abuse of The Denied is a litany of woe to drown the very Messe Halls.

An example: In 2016, we had 290 Thursday/Friday collection pre-orders for the Spiel release of Guilds of London - that's 290 out of our 330 copies of the delivered game. By the end of the third day, we still had over 70 of the pre-orders unclaimed. We had sold the forty 'spares' by lunchtime on the Thursday and were sending people away for the rest of the time. On Sunday, we sold the remaining 70 to first-come/first-served but then received complaints from unlucky punters who had somehow been doubly-denied (unlucky on both the Friday and the Sunday!): as if I was exercising a personal vendetta.

I've heard all the pleas and excuses:
"I can't make it this year - could you save me one for after the show?" (no)
"I have to work so won't be coming until the Saturday" (should've taken some holiday)
"A friend said you would keep a copy for me as well" (so what?)
"I don't know why I am not on the list as I did send you an email...Are you calling me a liar?!" (yes)
"My cat just died and it would make me really happy to get a copy" (I hate cats)
"Why didn't you print more then?" (then I wouldn't be able to annoy people like you, would I?)
- and so on.



My Essen brain is full of hotels, transport, paperwork, money, fees, storage, security, food, sleep, meetings, anxiety, health and friends - banes and boons (of my own making) that I accept willingly, of course; what I don't need is to have to take on everyone else's emotional baggage too!

"But we pay your wages, Tony; you have a duty..."
I won't even dignify this particular strain of entitled dogshit with a response. Oops, I already did.

And don't get me started on being asked to 'mule a few things for me': all the hunting, all the money paid out in advance and then all the grumbling when you come back with gaps in the request list. "What do you mean it was sold out by Friday morning; why didn't you get up early on Thursday?!", "You should've paid the extra 10 euros, for God's sake!", "Whaaaaat?! You LOST the promo card?!" and "This is the Standard version but I wanted the Deluxe version!" etc.

So, with that all said, if you want a copy of Lux Aeterna, Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea, Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set, Foothills and/or Guilds of London: Wards of London then you're just going to have to visit 4-F121 sooner-rather-than-later on your Essen visit...even if we've sold out, it will be nice to say 'Hello' (and maybe give Attention All Shipping a try? As long as the session is not already fully booked up, that is!)
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Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:20 am
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Come on, baby.

Anthony Boydell
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I first noticed we had a problem at the games club when the table caught fire. It was the second round of auctions and I had significantly less than my initial allocation of funds and a poor abstract by Karl Gitter; as I waited for the next piece, the table loudly combusted taking a double ‘Lite Metal’ - and my eyebrows - with it. Someone screamed: “What the Hell did you do that for?!” and, looking down, I realised I had brought the petrol can in from the car (I worry that the fumes will make it dangerous for me to drive so never leave it in there on it’s own); the still-burning match sizzled against my finger nail and went out. There was a lot of smoke in the room and it was getting difficult to see the playing area what with all the firemen; it must be one of those work’s parties or something. I was forced to set up Nusfjord across the trolley in the ambulance but the fish kept slipping out of their storage boxes when we went around the corners too quickly; also, the crinkled hose from Jobbers’ oxygen mask kept snaking across the action board, scattering the worker discs, so I unplugged it; Jobbers seemed a lot quieter after that. Someone started coughing so I opened the back doors to let some fresh air in (it was getting stuffy) and Jobbers’ trolley slid out, bounced once on the tarmac and then disappeared under the van that was following us; the siren was very loud indeed but you could still make out people shouting so I covered my ears for a bit. At the hospital. I sat next to a policeman that I’d seen outside the Pub when it had got to burning a beautiful shade of autumnal orange and gold; he needed the loo at the same time as me, so I held the door open for him and then he was behind me in the queue for the vending machines: that’s a funny coincidence. I think I must’ve passed out because someone suddenly started shaking me and slapping me across the face; they were obviously worried because they looked like they had been crying – I have such lovely gaming friends. Apparently, Jobbers going home early meant we were now one player short for Princes of Florence (which was a bit thoughtless TBH) but at least he’d left us his folding table: it’ll only take a quick wipe with a soapy cloth to get rid of the blistered plastic and the soot. I had plenty of good, four-player fayre in my bag (especially since Ben’s bags had both disappeared from the Back Room in all the ‘heat of confusion’). It was late and the excitement had made me very tired, so the crowd in A&E helped me grab a quick nap by holding my head down and kicking me repeatedly in the temples.
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Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:15 am
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The Rough With The Smooth

Anthony Boydell
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After a veritable drought of audio-visual media intrusions - I think my last foray was with Garrett's Games & Geekiness back around Easter? - I plucked up the courage to visit Ben Maddox in the Post-Apocalyptic Compound for a chinny-wag. Unfortunately, I committed a bijou faux-pas and we ended up in the Latrine complex shoveling Scheiße at the groaning undead for the duration:



But hold! Stay your click 'pon the [Next Subscribed Item] icon because Ben has a little more to add with his review of Guilds of London: Wards of London:



Not as complimentary as his Alubari review but, sometimes, you've got to take the rough with the smooth. Of course, I still love listening to him.
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Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:55 am
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