Billabong Boardgamers

This page gives a brief overview of the gaming biographies of most of the Billabong regulars, plus a list of our 'desert island games' - the games we couldn't bear to be stranded without.

  • David Coutts
  • Alan Stewart
  • Adam Deverell
  • Jo Deverell
  • Tim Brooks
  • Richard
  • Justin Semmel
  • Craig Macbride
  • Karen Babcock
  • Brian Stephens


Gaming became a hobby for me at about the age of 18 (I'm now 42). I was busy designing a wargame when my brother-in-law (David Farquhar) lent me Blitzkrieg. For years I played mainly wargames, culminating in ASL and Third Reich. Then I had a year off gaming whilst on a one year work visa in Australia where I met my wife-to-be, Tina. On returning to England David F (who, by now, wrote articles for Sumo) introduced me to the more European style of game. I was hooked. After almost 3 years Tina and I got married in England, and moved permanently to Melbourne, Australia. On 1st April, 1998 I became an Australian citizen.

Unable to find a decent source of European games here, I set up Board Not Bored Games. That's how I met Julian, Doug and Janet. Alan and I met through the Melbourne Science Fiction Club, but that's his story. These days, I also have ambitions as a game designer! I designed 6 Billion™

David's Desert Island Games

A sort of top ten with some alternatives thrown in for good measure:
Elfenroads/Elfenland, History Of The World/Britannia/Vinci, Euphrat & Tigris, El Grande, Middle Earth (The Wizards, etc)/Netrunner, Settlers Of Catan/Space Settlers/6 Billion, We The People/Hannibal, Daytona 500/Grand Prix Racing, Robo Rally, Acquire/Stephenson's Rocket.

Also ran:
Upfront, Luftwaffe/8th Air Force, Great Battles Of History (Alexander), Manhattan, Drunter & Druber, Serenissima, Airlines, The Russian Campaign, ASL, Adv Civilization, Modern Art, Tutanchamun, Bohnanza.

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Regular gaming: 3-4 times a month with Billabong Boardgamers, fortnightly with friends.

Gaming background: Always played games with my family, in particular mother, sister and maternal grandparents - card games such as euchre, cribbage and canasta, plus board games like Monopoly, Wide World, Scrabble, Masterpiece. Kept up Scrabble and am rated about 50 in Australia on a good week. Started playing more board games in the late 1980s with friends met through SF Fandom and Scrabble Club. I enjoy multi-player games, and prefer ones with hard rules, rather than the "diplomacy" type.

Alan's Desert Island Games

The 'Top 10' I'd rearrange my leisure time schedule to play if invited:
Advanced Civilization, Airlines, Elfenroads, El Grande, Eurorails, History of the World, Middle Earth, Robo Rally, Scrabble, Settlers of Catan

The 'Next 10', I'd enjoy playing, but only if convenient:
1830, Age of Renaissance, Iron Dragon, Mah Jongg, Rail Baron, Serenissima, Space Traders, Tutanchamun, Der Ausreisse

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This page gives a brief overview of the gaming biographies of most of the Billabong ex-regulars, plus a list of their 'desert island games' - the games they couldn't bear to be stranded without.


I started gaming at the tender age of 11, influenced by both my uncle and a friend at school. I've dabbled in a bit of everything over the past 20 years, mainly wargaming though. My friend who I'd played games with for those 20 years forged a small gaming group who met weekly to play. When my friend moved to England in 1995, wargaming became less attractive, while my interest in boardgaming increased. Through the internet I discovered what great games came out of Europe - I could play them with Janet and finish them in an hour or two. I was hooked.

In recent years I've picked up several German boardgames, and have discovered some trading partners in Europe. I found David's great Board Not Bored Games business through internet searching, and that led me into the Billabong Boardgamers group. I still meet with the old 'wargaming' group every 2 weeks or so, and I'm slowly introducing them to these European gems. With young families now, I suspect they are starting to appreciate the clever designs and quick playing times the European games offer.

Doug's Desert Island Games

I'm always ready for: Die Macher, Die Siedler Kartenspiel, Stephenson's Rocket, Elfenroads, Vinci, Ra, Medici, We the People series (WtP, Hannibal, For the People, Paths of Glory). I've recently become convinced that Paths of Glory by GMT is the best game I've played - that one goes up to 11 out of 10.

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History: I mostly played the usual collection of family board games, mostly with my brother - there was Monopoly, Careers, Stock Ticker, Trouble, Clue, and lots of others (I owned quite a few board games when I was a kid). I used to play Scrabble quite a bit with my Mum, and Mum and I used to play lots of card games too (Cribbage, Rummy, Crazy Eights, etc.). My parents taught me Whist and a bit about Bridge.

I had a dry spell of quite a few years from playing games when I left home and lived on my own, though it didn't stop me from buying games here and there. I'd never heard of the German gaming empire until buying Settlers of Catan.

Preferences: Games that are heavier on tactical play are best; highly strategic games are less preferable. A little luck is also usually a good thing.

Desert island games: Settlers of Catan (in any incarnation), El Grande, Vinci, Mystery Rummy #1: Jack the Ripper, Cribbage, Empire Builder, Ra, Lost Cities, anything that can be played with a deck or two of regular cards.

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I first was introduced to games when I was about 19 or 20, by a friend, Chris Brown, now of Bury St Edmunds, England. My introduction consisted of Railway Rivals (still one of my favourites), Survive, Ace Of Aces and Hase Und Igel (perhaps my all time favourite). My preferred style of game will tend to avoid a heavy luck element, unless there is a way of building a strategy to cover the possible vagaries of the luck element, (e.g. The Settlers Of Catan). I used to play long and complex games including wargames, but circumstances made those less and less appealing, and I moved towards the German family boardgames. I also play Magic: The Gathering, (I'm a collector too), but it tends to be outside Billabong's usual gaming area.

I started Glen Waverley Gamers soon after coming to Oz. My 2 sons, Jack (10) and Robert (8) now play most games, expecting and receiving no concessions for their age. For the rest, see the History of Billabong Boardgamers.

Julian's Desert Island Games

In no particular order:
Hase Und Igel, Railway Rivals, Airlines, Entdecker, Der Ausreisser, The Settlers Of Catan, Metropolis, Viva Pamplona!, The Great Balloon Race, Waverley, Modern Art, Members Only.

Special mention:
Detroit/Cleveland Grand Prix, Auf Heller Und Pfennig, Tutanchamun, Medici

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I was introduced into boardgaming by Doug, and together we joined Billabong Boardgamers. The group has been a part of my life for nearly a year and a half now. I always enjoy the company and sometimes the competitiveness of the games. I win a few, and lose a lot! I enjoy just about every game that's brought down from the shelves.

My favourites at the moment would be Durch Die Wueste, Euphrat and Tigris, Die Siedler Kartenspiel, Bohnanza, Air Baron, Acquire, Medici, Scrabble, and of course, Expedition! With so many new games being played, it's hard to keep up to date. It's nice to play games you are familiar with, but it's a lot of fun learning new games as well.

Janet's Desert Island Games

Bohnanza, Euphrat & Tigris, Die Siedler Von Catan, Die Siedler Kartenspiel, Air Baron, Scrabble, Iron Dragon, Acquire, Medici, Tonga Bonga, Durch die Wueste, Res Publica, Schnaeppchen Jagd, and a good old pack of cards.

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Having lived in Germany until 1996, playing both card and board games was a natural thing to do for me while growing up. I was particularly lucky, as my parents had a job that required them to have a nice, big collection of games (which could be bought tax-deductible). During the final three years of high school, me and a group of my friends played a lot of Mah Jongg, as well as any other good games we could lay our hands on (and afford). During my German university years, I ended up living right next to a lovely little student-run pub that stacked lots of board games for use by its customers, and spent many an evening there.

After I moved to Oz in 96 (leaving behind most my games in storage), I found that playing board games wasn't really part of the Ozzie culture, particularly not for adults. Worse, I also found that, as a consequence, good games are hard to impossible to get, especially when one is new to the place and doesn't know better than to search at Chadstone. Well, I found a few games; I also found that quite a few of my friends really liked playing games, once I gave them the idea. Some of them have recently started to give each other games as birthday/Christmas presents.... And due to the baggage regulations on my last 4 trips back to "the old country", I was able to build up a nice collection of German games right here in Oz.

These days, I am hosting a weekly 6 player Settlers/Seafarers game. I also recently found the BBG while searching the Web for English rules translations, opening up the opportunity to play a huge variety of games.

Bernie's Desert Island Games

Note: I am not sure exactly how many people one is supposed to expect on that Desert Island ;-) Settlers of Catan, Mah Jongg, Monopoli, Jenga, Taboo (or possibly "Activity", if the other inhabitants of the island speak German, too), 6 Nimmt, Incognito (A very nice German game that I have been unable to get, as it seems the company that made it went bankrupt a while ago), a set of 3x3x3, 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 Rubik's Cubes (and I'd love one of those Rubik-thingies with pentagon-shaped sides), Master Labyrinth, and a double deck of solitaire cards.

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I remember growing up in Canada, I mean Australia, playing a lot of card games with my grandparents. Other than that, I never played board games a lot because no one in my immediate family was interested enough. That changed when I went to Australia, I mean Canada, and stayed for a bit with Tina. That was when we picked up The Settlers of Catan on a recommendation from a games store salesperson. Then we bought a couple more games, then a couple more, and before we knew it we were paying the gross national product of a small country to Rio Grande Games.

I seem to like games with thousands of little wooden cubes (for instance, El Grande, Euphrat & Tigris) and games which occur on maps (for instance, El Grande, Euphrat & Tigris). I prefer games that are mostly strategic, with a little bit of luck, a little bit of tactics, and a little bit of secrecy.

Billabong Boardgamers has been to me been a great way to discover a bunch of new games. It's also been a good way to discover fellow Canadians, I mean Australians, who like the same games that I do.

Debbie's Desert Island Games

Euphrat & Tigris, The Settlers of Catan (do I really need to bring this? This desert island already has seven copies), The Settlers of Catan Card Game, Advanced Civilization, El Grande, Cribbage, Robo Rally, Scrabble, Caesar & Cleopatra, Upwords, Vinci, Union Pacific, Mystery Rummy #1: Jack the Ripper, Ra.

Alternatively, perhaps if I just bring Reiner Knizia along, he can invent a ton of games on the desert island for me right there.

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