Azul: Iberia or Lieberia?

A friend of mine, Bob, has just gone on holiday to Portugal. Before he went, I joked with him that the reason had chosen that particular destination was because of the game Azul.

You see, the official rules for Azul stipulate that the first player marker should be given to the person who has most recently visited Portugal, because the game’s theme is all about tiling a palace wall in the traditional Portuguese style. We have been playing this game in our group for about a year now, and Bob has long bemoaned the fact that the only one of us who has ever been to Portugal is me (I had a very nice holiday in there in 1994 – the weather was fine, thanks for asking).

So did Bob go on holiday there just to be able to be the first player at Azul?  It seems a bit extreme doesn’t it, but maybe he did on a subconscious level?  Maybe, flicking through the brochure a few months earlier, he could not decide between Greece, the Costa del Sol, and the Algarve, and a little voice in his head said “Jas, they are all nice places but only one of them will get you that Azul first player token.”

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Second Edition

I am working on a second edition of my book Ticket to Carcassonne.

TTC-mockupThe first edition went down quite well, but a lot of reviewers made the same point – that they were not sure who it was aimed at. On the surface, the book appeared to be an introduction to modern board games, but then there were a lot of strategy tips in the book for specific board games, which felt out of place.

The truth is (as I hinted at in the introduction) that the book started out as a follow-up to my strategy guide Hive – the Boardless Board Game and was originally going to be a strategy guide for the game Carcassonne. However, I got carried away with writing about the history of Eurogames and gateway games, and ended up writing a much broader book about the gaming hobby … except I decided to keep in all the Carcassonne strategy tips, and then decided to add more tips for other gateway games too.  The end result was, I realize now, a bit confused.

So, I want to fix this.  I believe that the solution is to write two separate books. I am going to go back to my original plan, and write a strategy guide for Carcassonne, and I am also going to rewrite Ticket to Carcassonne, taking out all of (well, most of) the strategy tips, and expanding other sections so that the book becomes what it should have been in the first place, an introduction to all the wonderful genres of Tabletop gaming.

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A Great Realization

Recently, I was watching a YouTube video of a group of friends live-streaming a session of Concordia (yes, I have become the sort of person who does that – let’s not make a big deal of it) while spectators from all the corners of the internet watched, and discussed it on Twitter, with the comments appearing on the screen.

There was one older guy who seemed to know what he was doing, more so than the others did. He had clearly played the game a lot. He had a quiet air of confidence about him, and the other players were all treating him with respect, and deferring to him on rules queries. Everyone around the table clearly expected him to win the game.

At the end of the game, though, when they were adding up the scores, the older guy made an error, and instead of moving his own counter on ten spaces, he accidentally awarded ten of his points to one of his opponents, and none of the other players noticed.

Somebody watching the live stream did notice, though – a tweet popped up on the screen, straight away, saying “You moved the wrong piece, mate.”

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D&D and Dee

dd1D&D was a big part of my life when I was a boy. It took over a large portion of my brain, in the same way that, later in life my career, football, and a succession girls with nice smiles and a good sense of humour would.

I have not played D&D for several decades now, but researching my book Ticket To Carcassonne has brought me back into contact with that world again, and made me feel very nostalgic for it. I feel the need to reminisce about my experiences with somebody. If you are reading this, then that somebody is you!

I was introduced to D&D when I was 11, by a boy in my class at school. He played regularly with a few boys from the year above us, and one time he invited me to watch (not play!) one of their sessions.

The session took place late one afternoon in the school library, after everyone else had gone home. It was a long time ago, and my memory of it is a little shaky, but I think it was what D&D veterans would call a “low level dungeon crawl” – by which I mean a bog-standard subterranean adventure for beginners. I think there were orcs, because I have a vague memory of not wanting to admit I did not know what an orc was (where I come from, it is a type of seagull, but I guessed from context that was not what they meant). I think there was also an obstructive ogre, who might have said “You shall not pass!” at some point … or I might just be remembering that from The Lord of the Rings instead. It’s hard to know for sure.

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My Game Collection

I love having a nose around in other people’s board game collections, so it seems apparent to me that other people will be interested in mine. So here we go.

Let us start with this bookcase in my dining room, shall we?

Copy of IMG_20180103_224736425.jpg

Up until about two years ago it had actual books on it, but then, I said to myself, Steve, how likely are you to need immediate access to these novels (all of which you have already read) any time soon?

The answer I gave myself resulted in the books being moved into the loft, and my board games going onto the shelf instead.

This bookcase is where I keep my current favourite games – the ones I choose from whenever I have a game night.  My personal all-time favourites are all here (Keyflower, Istanbul and the criminally under-rated Shakespeare) as well as a few games that I know will go down well with visitors who might not enjoy strategic Eurogames as much as I do (such as Sheriff of Nottingham, Perudo, and Mysterium).

Quite a few games on this bookcase are ones that I got for Christmas, and have not actually played yet – Orleans, Manhattan Project, Great Western Trail, and Mombasa.  I am looking forward to spending a few evenings over the coming weeks getting them out, setting up the board, punching out those cardboard tokens, and figuring out what we are supposed to do with them.

Now, until quite recently, my entire collection of modern games fitted quite nicely onto these shelves. Over the past few months however, I have gotten a bit carried away with all the new releases, and they no longer fit on the bookcase – some of them have had to be moved.

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