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
 Thumb up

I Often Dream Of Trains

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
flag msg tools
Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
Welcome...to my Shed!
Back in the mid-1980s - when I was a be-quiffed, skinny and awkward teenager - a mate of mine decided to learn to ride a motorbike. One day in the Summer hols, he rode all the way from Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth; I cannot recall WHY he would do such a thing! I went to school in Ross, I was the only one in my Year who didn't LIVE in Ross etc. Anyway, we were on the Chippenham Playing fields and he was vrooming the 250cc-er from one edge to the other - without a helmet - and he offered ME a go. Up to that point, I had had NO interest in motorcycles whatsoever; not the slightest, merest, slenderest of curiosities and - after a hair-raising, heart-stopping few seconds when I couldn't stop the bloody thing after I'd started it - aforementioned interest shrank once more to quantum dimensions.

Stay with me; there IS a point...

Little did I know that 10 years later, I'd be tearing up the tarmac to-and-from Cheltenham then Reading then Swindon on a commuting basis!

In a similar manner - here it comes - I had never found myself lured to the end of a concrete platform to jot down engine numbers or take photographs of rolling stock in motion. The only reason for walking the route of a (then recently-dismantled) railway line was to find the best Conkers, chop down the Triffid-like Giant Hogweed or to use the World's Greatest Rope Swing*

When I took up gaming while working away from home in the mid 2000s, it wasn't so much Ticket To Ride as 1830: Railways & Robber Barons and pal Richard that begain to pique my interest. Richard has an enviable collection of games, magazines, books and other ephemera - but it's not the QUANTITY of this that impresses, it's the QUALITY! Oh yes, amongst the TCG foils there are obscure 18XXs and ultra-rare Railway Rivals maps. In those early days, we played Age of Steam and Railroad Tycoon in between Glories to Rome and M:TG and the flea of obsession nipped me squarely on the gaming ankle! Soon I was tentatively 18XX-ing with the occasional simplistic diversion via Canal Mania.

What is it about trains in games that grabs me so?

It is, of course, the network building, first-and-foremost. No game mechanic conjures theme more elegantly than 'laying track'; and laying track as robust hex tiles is the most satisfying of all: extend, join, upgrade, fiddle and adjust in the comfort of your own O.C.D. Railway Rivals (aka Dampfross et al) adds the hand-drawn/wipe-clean variation (which is simultaneously admirable and stupid), TTR the plastic trains and - of course - the ripe-for-cannibalising-for-Snowdonia-prototypes Trans America with it's itty-bitty rods; rods aren't quite as ubiquitous as tiles but they make honourable appearances in On the Underground and Steel Driver amongst others.

It's all that share dealing too; powerfully-manipulating the ups-and-downs of 'the Market' or a particular Company. You may have ownership of some Corporation or other but they're like your children: noisy, messy and financially-parasitic only a temporary part of your life! Usually, you win or lose because of your timing - it's nobodies fault but your own (except when it's Richard's).

Aside: I recall a delightful episode at London On Board when John B (you know who you are, Mr Bandettini, but I won't tell!) needed to get home a little before the projected End Time of an 18XX; Richard dumped a shed-load of stock in his company AND caused the obsoletion of all his trains in one, horrifically-splendid turn! Bye, John! Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out! Etc.

Cube-shipping, of course, adds the spice; connect and transport the turn before your opponents could do the same and you can fling poo across the table in aggressive, gloating delight! It's a pleasing step up from the Nanny-ish 'join up points A and B' and if you, additionally, 'home' the colour of a cube to the colour of a Station Hex then you've just added another layer of strategy...and 60 minutes to the playing time!

Finally, talking of the duration, perversely it's the frequent longevity** of these games that fills the hungry gamer belly! You really feel the golden Age of steam rumbling and hissing passed; the sense of progression supported by the need for toilet / meal / sleep / going-to-work breaks!

So, to recap, there was a time that I didn't care for Kawasakis and Hondas but I ended up in Leathers with a well-kept helmet; and I didn't have any early love for the choo-choos (apart from Ivor the Engine obvs), but now you'll find me sighing over the bindweedy, be-brackened and crumbling platforms along with the best.

I even have access to tupperware!

*every childhood memory MUST have one of these...you know: a dry, hard clay 'bowl' underneath a sturdy oaken bough; an off-cut of 4x2 lashed to rope as thick as your arm

**what an odd juxtaposition of words, there!
Twitter Facebook
Subscribe sub options Mon Jul 7, 2014 12:31 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.