Published: Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:36:54 +0000
Last Build Date: Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:42:37 +0000Copyright: Copyright (c) 2013
Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:36:54 +0000(Gregarius) Opener: skipped this time, because we cover so many games in the main show As before 2014, I was not able to attend BGGcon myself, so lived vicariously through my friends there. Greg is an "every timer" at BGGcon, and many of those years we've talked over Skype afterward about the games he played there. I know Greg--he keeps a pocket notebook with him to at least record the titles he plays, and maybe a thought or two about them. Later that helps him construct a geeklist with all of those games, and a simple, first-impression 5-star rating for how he felt about the play. You can follow along to that geeklist while listening, or refer to it later if you need it. Closer: Improving AI in boardgame apps, and the BGGcon Puzzle Hunt -Mark[...]
Wed, 23 Nov 2016 14:24:15 +0000Opener: Saint Malo The gig in France that allowed me to go to Essen last month has a downside--I had to cancel my plans to attend BGGcon. I'd attended the big event in Dallas last two years and was eager to make a third year in a row. Instead, I had to skip it this time, and follow remotely like so many others in the hobby. (Gregarius) Dave OConnor (daveo1234) Ryan Wheeler (Ryan Wheeler) Spielgeek.com (elschmear) Rick Byrens (civplayer) Luckily, my buddies were willing to take a break from their fun to record a long-distance podcast with me. While they were being night owls at BGGcon's Saturday night, I woke up early in France to dial in. Several of them gathered around an iPhone and told me about their time at the event. Greg Pettit always does this with me (and that's still an upcoming episode), and he took the reins to direct a meta-conversation about BGGcon itself. Later we wrapped up with some specific game recommendations. Closer: Light/Short/Couples Game Group in Paris, combined with Joueurs Anonymes at the Anticafé Beaubourg -Mark[...]
Mon, 07 Nov 2016 14:42:02 +0000
Opener: Bohnanza Das Duell
A solo episode where I get to tell stories about Essen 2016 and reflect on my own experiences there. If you followed my Twitter feed during or after the event (on my blog), you may already know what I'm going to say.
If you've listened to my podcast for a while, you know that I like taking the long view of our hobby, looking back a decade or more to gain more context about what's happening now. In this case, I have my own personal long view to take, since I was at Essen once before, back in 2003. That was before I had a podcast, yet I still reflected on my experience in an online magazine article. I've recently re-posted that article on my blog here at BGG.
I don't think it's the best aspect of our hobby, but it's undeniable that "show us the loot" photos and lists are part of the Essen experience. There's more buying than playing at this event, as far as I can tell. Ok, here are mine:
Closer: Light/Short/Couples Game Group in Paris
Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:59:57 +0000Against my own expectations, I ended up recording a podcast WHILE I was at Spiel 2016 in Essen. My buddies DaveO and Steve joined me just outside the Messe convention hall for an open-air recording this afternoon. Now I'm editing it and posting it while on on wifi with the train back "home" to Paris. This is a seat-of-the-pants episode, just giving you a feel for what the impressions are DURING the actual event, when general impressions and incomplete information are the name of the game! (Shoot, I forgot about my opener/closer framework AGAIN! This was MY idea! I'll get better at that.) By the way, I also recorded a segment with Doug Garrett for HIS longstanding podcast, Garrett's Games & Geekiness. I'm just one of a few people he talks to for that upcoming episode. Check it out. Games mentioned: Papà Paolo, Key to the City - London, Great Western Trail, Railroad Revolution, Qwixx Das Duel, Life is Life, Take That,Kuhhandel Das Brettspiel, GLÜX, World Monuments, Checkpoint Charlie, 13 Clues, HMS Dolores, Camel Up Cards, X Nimmt!, Bohnanza Das Duell,Twins, Port Royal Unterwegs!, Fuji Flush, 23, Mea Culpa, Area 51: Top Secret -Mark P.S. Maybe later I'll upload some of the photos I sent out over social media while I was there. In them meantime, you can see them all here. http://twitter.com/BoardgamesToGo [...]
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:18:03 +0000Opener: I should've made it more clear in the audio, but the obvious opener is that I will be going Essen this year, and you can find me on Saturday afternoon at the NorthStarGames booth, Hall 3 P-103. It’s near a corner by a restaurant, and the same hall where Amigo, Z-Man, Pegasus, Stronghold, and others are. Please stop by and tell me if you listen to the podcast. I'll also be around on Saturday morning and all of Sunday, just taking it all in myself. I'm not wearing a BGTG shirt or anything, so just try to keep a lookout for this guy. Woo-hoo! After work on Friday I hop a train to Essen! I'll arrive after Spiel closes for the evening, but hope to see some folks that evening. Then on Saturday & Sunday I get to take it all in. I'm buying a few things, but mostly I just want to experience the spectacle of it all. I was last there (my only other time) for a single day in 2003. I wrote an article about that experience for an online magazine of the time, The Games Journal. It's still there, with a photo of a younger me. Now it's over a dozen years later, and I have the opportunity to go back. What am I excited to see? Everything, really, but for podcast purposes I made a list of a "baker's dozen" games that most pique my interest. These lists are typically personal--lists by others feature different games, and you may find some of my choices curious. You can just listen along, of course, but I've also recorded these in a geeklist. Check it out. Here's what I wrote on that list about my "process" for picking games. Quote: By now we know the drill... Look through BGG's Spiel (and Gencon) Previews, and flag too many titles that catch my attention. How do they grab me? Theme/setting matters, but hints about the gameplay/mechanisms (especially playing time) matter more. So does the designer and publisher. Anything that has its roots in Kickstarter makes me instantly wary. It's not an automatic NO, but I'm so skeptical of that platform as a development tool (as opposed to merely funding), that I'll let others take the plunge first. Wait & see. Expansions rarely grab my attention. I'm just not an expansion guy, expect for a few rare favorites (e.g. Port Royal). Similarly with abstracts--not my thing, but there are rare exceptions. In general, my ranking of factors is 1. Publisher (which goes to development process & production quality) 2. Gameplay/mechanisms (looking for the types of games I know I like, though sometimes something unique & new. I steer clear of games rated at over 60 minutes--wait & see only, for those) 3. Designer (I'll let someone else take a flyer on a new, unproven designer...in most cases) 4. Theme/setting (I have distinct preferences toward real-world, historic subjects, and away from zombies/elves/spaceships. But I've learned from long experience that this is the least reliable indicator of whether a game will be a hit with me, alas) Full list including many more Honorable Mentions, and some additional comments on my geeklist. Closer: It's too long to call my honorable mentions the closer, so I guess that means it's the part where I talk about how Mars games aren't automatically on my list. Almost the opposite, really. Does it work that way for you? Is your day job uninteresting as a game subject? I think it's because we know too much about our own jobs, and any game about them falls short...but if they include all of that detail, it's too much! (Plus, it becomes work again.) -Mark[...]
Tue, 04 Oct 2016 13:09:22 +0000
Opener: Whoops! I recorded this little episode so quickly that I completely forgot about my new Opener/Closer framework! Ok, let's say that the opener was my intro en français. Vive la France!
The shortest episode I've done in a while, this is to "clear the decks" of boardgame session reporting before I do my traditional Essen Anticipation episode in a week or so. This year I'm going to the event, at least for the most crowded part of the weekend, and I'll be doing both Pre-Essen and Post-Essen episodes. That's the plan.
In the meantime, what have I been playing lately? Not as much in France as I'd hoped, but a special opportunity let me try one new game. Add to that the games I played at my last visit home to California for a long while.
Closer: Actually, I kind of had a closer, I just forgot to set it aside as such. At the end I mention how new Essen titles can sometimes show up in online versions, contemporary or soon after the Spiel event itself. Are there any of these for 2016? I haven't noticed, but should look harder.
Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:16:56 +0000Opener: Geeklists for the podcast Season 12, my Extra appearances, and Session Reports Just a solo show this time, something like the old "Session Report & Feedback" episodes I used to do. I wanted to get something out relatively quickly, before I make my move to France. This fit the bill, and it also let me get a show out with better sound quality. (My switch to a Mac has presented me with some challenges to the multi-person shows, whether over Skype or in the same room. I'll figure it out.) It didn't take too much thought to come up with a unifying idea for this episode: changes. Of course my big change is the temporary relocation to France, which will have unknown impacts to my hobby. The other changes are to this podcast, which happened already--new shows are posted to the same old audio feed, but on the web they're at a slightly different location, in my Season 12 geeklist. You should subscribe to that. Also my "Extras" geeklist, which is where you'll find my guest spots on other podcasts and video shows. Finally, if you like this session report episode, then you really should be subscribing to my (mostly) weekly session reports that I post in geeklist form on BGG. Got all of that? Good! The other changes I note are to the hobby itself. While those things can be a consternation to old farts like me, who still think in terms of email lists and 1990s German Games, these are clearly changes for the better. We sure seem to have more people playing games than ever. If Kickstarter products and mini-filled "thematic" games aren't my favorite things, I can at least agree that this rising tide is lifting all of our boats. I think so, anyway. Kickstarter produced a nice Medici reprint, and you can get more 1990s German than that! My local Barnes & Noble already had a decent game section, and now hosts a monthly public game night. The other day I went to Target to buy a game for my brother's family, and while there I was amazed at that the second-largest retailer in the US has Hanabi, Magic Labyrinth, Rolling America, Ticket to Ride, Spyfall, Qwixx, Codenames, Evolution, Catan, Machi Koro, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Forbidden Island, Dixit, Sheriff of Nottingham, King of Tokyo, and Pandemic. Probably even a few more of "our games" that I missed. Wow! Closer: The mainstreaming of our hobby at places like Target and Barnes & Noble. -Mark[...]
Sun, 24 Jul 2016 22:49:48 +0000
Openers: Evolution, Bruges/The Last Spike/Treasure Hunter (also EsCon)
I know this is a subject that resonates with many gamers--having too many games. How many is too many? It differs for everyone. Even the reason to think about "too many" games differs for many people. In my case, it's a physical limitation of storage space. For other folks, it's about saving money (or using proceeds from game sales to buy new stuff). For still others, they want to focus on playing old favorites more & more, less focus on the latest new thing. I guess for most of us, it's a combination. Greg adds to his "degree of difficulty" for this effort by wanting to have an attractive visual library of games.
I've got a medium-sized collection (a few hundred)...but I've run out of room. Greg's got a pretty enormous collection (a few thousand)...and he's also out of room. How do we decide what to downsize? Greg approaches it in terms of series, versions, or expansions, finding clusters of games he wants to keep, and how that allows him to (theoretically) release a bunch of similar series, versions, or expansions.
Closers: Getting active in the hobby community, Finding gamers after a (temporary) relocation
Thu, 23 Jun 2016 03:18:29 +0000
Openers: Trambahn, Animals on Board
As long as I've been in the hobby, I've never taken a liking to long games. Even though I'll play for hours & hours on a Saturday, I always want that time to be spent playing many different games. Why is that?
The truth is, I've been asked that question many times and have never been able to answer it. I know what I like, sure, but on my podcast I try to analyze my own opinions & preferences. That's what I'm doing here, with the help of Eric Brosius. Eric's an interesting guy who's been gaming even longer than I have. He likes short games like I do...but he also appreciates long games. I sought Eric out to work through this topic. He told me he thought of this topic through his own life experience in the hobby, encountering different games (long & short) over the decades. His story matches my recollection that the history of the hobby had a lot of long games before Catan came along. There are long games after Catan (and some short games before it), but 1995 was a landmark year when our hobby changed.
By the second half, I have a few different ideas about why I avoid long games. Some of it is complexity or length for its own sake, without a corresponding increase in narrative depth or strategic interest. I hate that, and those games feel like a waste to me. I get more fun out of 2-4 shorter games that play in the same time. Another consideration is the mental reset that happens between games, which is nice. Still another is the "arc" of a game, with its own beginning, middle, and end. I inherently have more interest in multiple games that will have multiple strategic milestones in them.
Closers: Game design efficiency, Packing games for a family weekend
Fri, 27 May 2016 18:04:37 +0000I'm back! I'd said that my time off (the "sabbatical") was only temporary, and that I planned to return to the microphone to continue Boardgames To Go. And that's just what happened. During the year that I've been away from this podcast, I've still been playing plenty of games, which you can read about. I've been doing more wargaming, which you can hear about. And perhaps you've seen or heard me at BGGcon or on other podcasts & videocasts. Which means I was never really gone. Nonetheless, those things are different from producing my own boardgame podcast, and I'm happy to be doing that again. To kick off my return, I'm featuring a roundtable discussion with a bunch of friends after we played a full day of Star Wars-themed boardgames. You may recall that I once grumbled about boardgame themes that were for kids (including kids that never grew up), not grown-ups. I have to admit I still feel that way about most games involving goblins, zombies, or spaceships. BUT...you're all welcome to call me a hypocrite when it comes to Star Wars. Here is where I cave. I was in 5th grade when A New Hope was released, and it may not be an exaggeration to say it changed my life. I'd decided to be a "spacecraft architect" the year before, and that's sort of what really happened in my life, but Star Wars probably sealed the deal. I remember talking with a college classmate who had a similar experience, and she grew up in Singapore. What an influence! Back in 1977 I was everything Star Wars. My brother & I saw the film many times in the theater. I had the LED watch, the belt buckle (this was the 70s), the t-shirt, the action figures, the X-wing, the LP records... When the prequels came around my kids were the perfect age to enjoy them with me. Now that the new movies are upon us, I'm loving the fact that they're December releases, so even though they're away to college (& beyond), we can still enjoy them as a family over the holidays. Star Wars has always been an important part of my life. What about Star Wars games? Well, yes, kind of. It took a long while for some really good games about these favorite movies to arrive on the table. I had the vintage Escape from the Death Star game, but it's not good. We played some Star Wars RPG when it came out in the 1980s, and a couple of the associated wargames. (Star Warriors was tedious, but Assault on Hoth was good.) Though I'm only a casual computer and videogamer, in the 2000s I definitely had wonderful times playing Rebel Assault, Rogue Squadron, Battlefrontand others with my son. Anything we could play co-op was our favorite. More recent years have produced quite a few family strategy games with a Star Wars subject. Oddly enough, the prequels have some of the best games, probably because that's just when Craig Van Ness and Rob Daviau at Hasbro were doing incredible things with the production capability of that mainstream publisher. Other publishers, too, however. Now we're seeing a resurgence in Star Wars boardgames, like an awakening in the Force... I invited some friends over to play several of these titles for a Star Wars-themed game day, and then flipped on the recorder to have a roundtable discussion of them. Enjoy! -Mark P.S. AFTER the Star Wars game day we learned about the Black Series (aka deluxe) edition of the Risk game. It addresses most of our grumbling about the production shortcuts in the mass market edition we played...but not all of them. I'm not sure if it's worth the extra money. And I've already bought a couple MicroMachines to get figs for the Falcon and Executor in my game. [...]
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 05:25:08 +0000Last daily podcast of BGGcon, this one a live recording with Greg in the main hall as it was closing down.(image)
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 01:49:26 +0000This daily podcast from BGGcon has my buddy Brian on to talk with me about wargames! Triumph and Tragedy, Wings of War, and Down in Flames(image)
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 22:54:31 +0000Outdoor, impromptu recording of a bunch of BGGcon friends at a local beer garden. Talks about games played & looking forward to.(image)
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:37:37 +0000(image)
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 02:33:02 +0000Test recording to make sure I got the intro/outro music.(image)
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 06:35:05 +0000(image)
Tue, 17 Nov 2015 22:51:14 +0000Am I back from my break? Not entirely, but I DO plan to post daily mini-podcasts from BGG.con 2015, where I'm headed tomorrow. This podcast is the first in that series, sort of a test of my new, minimalist podcasting process that I'll attempt throughout the convention. / / I also talk about two recent games, The Grizzled and Brass (the new app for iOS/Android). / / Comments on BGG are always encouraged, and look for me on Twitter & Facebook, too. If you're also attending BGG.con, please say hi if you see me & get a show button. / / -Mark (@BoardgamesToGo)(image)
Wed, 10 Jun 2015 04:21:24 +0000Ok, now I'm finally on my break from the podcast. I wanted this one last, odd episode as a chance to reflect on the 10 years I've been doing the show. (And as longtime listeners remember, I never really think of it as a "show." I like to think of it more as an "audioblog.")To answer the question that keeps coming up, my break/hiatus/sabbatical won't last forever. I'm not quitting, I'm just taking a year off. Maybe it won't be that long, but the point is to take a significant break while I recharge my batteries and think about some other things. Also, I'll still be boardgaming the whole time I'm on this break, and I'll keep posting to BGG. I've enjoyed posting my Recent Gaming geeklists, and hope some of my listeners read & respond to those. I've also been having fun talking with the boardgame community on Twitter (@BoardgamesToGo). Come join us! You may even spy on the occasional episode of Game Night!On this episode you'll hear me talk about envying the way other podcasts and videocasts have taken the idea of "seasons" from television and used it to frame their broadcasts. That never occurred to me in the old days, but I wish it had. Well, I've decided to retroactively apply annual seasons to all of my episodes, and put them all up on BGG in a series of geeklists. I'm really happy with how it all came out. Whether new listeners discover my old episodes, or you go back and re-listen to part of one you remember, it should now be easier. They were always on the podcast feed, but now they've got an easy place to find on the web. Also, the geeklist format has proved useful and robust for so many purposes. They're easier to subscribe to, and they're a good place for comments. I even cut & pasted my accompanying blog entries for those old episodes, putting them in the geeklist entries. I may even look into porting over some of the notable comments/discussion from those old episodes. Yes, this may mean that the focus for writing & feedback shifts to these geeklists instead of this blog. That's ok. Blogs on BGG are nice, but they're just not as convenient for everyone as geeklists. I think this will work better for everyone.As I've said many times, my original impetus for creating Boardgames To Go was demonstrating how do-able an amateur podcast could be. I hoped there would be more boardgame podcasts available for me to listen to on my drive, run, or whatever. It worked! Well, I know for a fact that these podcasts would've come along anyway. But if I did my small part to create some to arrive a few months earlier than they otherwise would've, then I take some small pride in that. Geekspeak/Boardgamespeak was first (Aldie is always on the leading edge!), but I'm pleased to be the Avis of boardgame podcasts. Although Aldie let Boardgamespeak lapse as he moved on to other projects, there are other podcasts besides mine that have been chugging along for years & years. Tom Vasel & Doug Garrett have each racked up over 400 hundred episodes, and Dave & Stephen have recorded over one million hours. Congrats to all! I'm happy to be in this club.-MarkP.S. When you listen to the end of the show, mentally replace my answer of "Pergamon" with "Tigris & Euphrates." Much better choice. [...]
Mon, 04 May 2015 05:50:05 +0000
As you may recall, Stephen, Mark, and I already finished our countdown of 100 Great Games in an earlier episode. However, for a long while we'd planned to do one more episode together--this one--where we talk about our own picks, surprises, disappointments, trends, and so on. I foolishly thought this would be posted before Christmas! Will I never learn?! :-)
Mon, 20 Apr 2015 17:55:42 +0000
Just as we did a couple years ago, Dave & I recorded a podcast on the way back during our boardgame road trip to play with friends in Fresno. Recorded on a smartphone in the car, there's more background noise in this one, but listeners were ok with it back in 2013, so here we go again. We talk about some of the games played, but also some behind-the-scenes stories from GameNight!, as well as Dave's work on a couple word game apps, Noodle Doodle and Tuklu.
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 06:18:51 +0000Like a lot of you, I keep track of the games I play, mostly to look back on and contemplate. The end of the year is the perfect time to do that, and I've been doing it since 1996. I don't track wins or much else--mere reflecting on the games played last year (total plays & unique titles) is what I enjoy. Even though I'd like to focus on my favorites, there are just so many new, interesting games that make their way to the table. You know I'm not a Cult of the New guy, but that's not true of all of my friends. However, this year I'm joined by someone who really DOES rack up a lot of plays of his favorites. Martin Griffiths, better known here on BGG by his username qwertymartin, plays a LOT of short card games and quite a few of his meatier favorites, too. In fact, he flat-out plays a TON of games. Unlike me, he's not including online plays, either--these are all face-to-face plays (like Davebo will respect!).That's not the only reason I asked Martin to join me, though. He thinks deeply about games, and writes in-depth analyses of them. Besides the conversations he & his insightful buddies have on their GameChat League, Martin keeps a blog you should be reading, QWERTYUIOP, and has recently re-launched his contest for the best written game reviews, Voice of Experience. If that's not enough, check out the Cult of the Critical guild, where I believe he's a charter member.It comes through in his writing, and Martin's own user profile has several key elements that resonate with me. Knizian elegance, Chicago Express over Le Havre, and shorter card games? Sign me up! When you get to his mini-editorial about his dissatisfaction with recent 'mainstream' euros, I feel I've found a kindred spirit! Too bad he lives halfway around the world from me. [...]
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:10:40 +0000
ANOTHER episode related to BGG.con?! Well...yeah. But really, this is about a bunch of new games. In fact, this is as close as I get to joining the Cult of the New! Listeners know that's not really my style or preference, yet every year after Essen I would interview Greg Pettit about the new titles he played at BGG.con. This time, of course, I get to contribute to the conversation, too. (Actually I always do--we've been doing these shows for years--this year I just to say more.)
With both of us having plenty to say, this is a longer episode. Lots of very topical games to discuss. At the very end, though, we also do one of my favorite segments, a "where are they now?" look back at the games discussed 12 months ago. Are we still excited about them? Are you?
Tue, 23 Dec 2014 21:27:15 +0000I'm glad I've received good feedback about all of these BGG.con episodes, because I have TWO more. There's this one with Davebo, a look back on the con after I'd been home for a while (which also serves as a look forward to next year--I hope to return). Then a little later I'll record my traditional post-BGG.con episode with Greg Pettit where we talk about the new Essen titles we played. We kind of did that already in the daily episodes during the con, but we've each had more time to play other titles, refine our opinions, and also look back a year to consider what happened to the 2013 titles.In this one, Dave & I reflect on what we enjoyed, what we want to do again next year, and what we would wish to do differently. Some of those I have a clear idea about, and others I'm still not sure about. In particular, I can't quite figure out what I want to do about meeting new, random people and playing new games with them. Perhaps old games with new people can be a good combo (like the Entdecker-with-BGTG-listeners idea), and new games with old friends (who can do the teaching) can also be good. I'm not sure I'll do new games with new people again. Maybe.Hey! I'm really asking for feedback this time. Dave & I asked several questions, and we want your feedback. I'm giving away podcast buttons as little prizes. If you win, you get a Boardgames To Go button, a Wargames To Go button, or both if you want!Button contests!!1. Best answer: What game SHOULD I have played (geeklist)2. Best answer: Suggestions for the upcoming (March!) BGTG 10-year anniversary (geeklist)3. Randomly chosen: A commenter on this blog (below)4. Randomly chosen: A commenter on Facebook (facebook.com/BoardgamesToGo)5. Randomly chosen: A commenter on Twitter (@BoardgamesToGo)Plus a couple more for Dave's questions:a. Best answer: How did you make the convention shuttle work for you? (comment below)b. Randomly chosen: When did you listen to the daily episodes? Right away or later? (geekmail to Dave)[...]
Sun, 23 Nov 2014 23:26:33 +0000
Today isn't even really a "day" at BGG.con. Most people sleep in (after late nights), then wake up, check out, and are heading home. That might have been me, too. The thing is, I'm not really a late night/sleep in kind of person. Definitely not the up-til-5am, sleep-til-noon variety. Not even the 2am/9am type of gamer, which was my pattern for most of the week. This time, on the last day, I wanted to try two new things, as a trial run for how I'd try to do more of BGG.con next year, if I'm lucky enough to return.
First, I got up "early." At a convention, that means 8am. I was in the main game room by 8:30, where a small subset of gamers were already playing games. (Some guessed they were STILL playing games, but this didn't look like the allnighter crowd.)
Second, I sat down at a table, set my game up (Hellweg westfalicus), and put up one of those "players wanted" flags the convention provides to help you get a game started. Within 5 minutes I had one player, and before I'd even really started the rules explanation we had a third. That was a good number, so off we went. I'm sure we could've gotten a fourth to fill out the game if we'd wanted to, but three is usually a good number for Schacht's games. Neither guy knew me or my podcast, we just sat down to learn a game together. I liked it quite a bit, another liked it, too, while our third player was less enthused. I think of it as a cousin to Hansa, overland in theme, and with a little more going on. (I really love Hansa, but understand how it can be pretty spare for some folks.)
In this last episode from the actual BGG.con, Greg prompted me to write down five things that I felt were highlights of the event. My own personal highlights. If you've been listening over the past few days, they probably won't surprise you. Thinking about it (and in no particular order), I thought mine were
1. The friends
2. The library
3. The BBQ
4. The Flea Markets (both kinds)
5. The Spiel des Jahres seminar
I hope to go back again! Thanks to all who told me they enjoyed my podcasts. That really meant a lot to me. It's no exaggeration to say that feedback like that is the reason I'm still doing it. :)
Sun, 23 Nov 2014 05:51:15 +0000
Last full day of BGG.con. Last day at all, really, since tomorrow I check out of the hotel & head to my airport terminal/gate around noon. Apparently the Library will be closed. Though I have a few games of my own on-hand, it may not work out for me to play any games. Might just be saying my goodbyes and having last conversations with friends.
Today, though, started & ended (for me) with big events. At the start of the day was the Flea Market. Greg had 4+ tubs of games to sell there, and I got to be his assistant. We were up relatively early (alarm clock required) in order to set up in the hour before the doors were opened to buyers. Then THEY have one hour to shop, haggle, and purchase before everything has to be closed up again.
The end of the day had the "closing ceremonies" for BGG.con, including lots of well-earned thank-yous, prize giveaways, and some announcements for BGG.con's future. You've probably seen this already. In addition to BGG.con (which will continue unchanged for next year & beyond, when I hope to return), they've now added BGG<3FAM--meaning something like BGG Loves Families)--a family-friendly (spouses & kids) version of the convention. The first one of these is next Memorial Day Weekend. This is in addition to the previously announced BGG game cruise, BGG@SEA. The empire grows...
In between, I got to play some more games and go out for BBQ one more time. Greg & I were finally able to successfully play Isaribi. Still thinking about it, but I think I like it quite a bit. I already like Hayashi's Sail to India, so he's definitely a designer for me to watch. Also, I wanted to get some recent Knizia titles to the table, which we did with both Orongo andRondo. I think the latter is a pleasant pastime or family game (for two), while Orongo is an unfortunate miss for me. We also played the older (but still good!) title, Yspahan.
Sat, 22 Nov 2014 08:36:10 +0000
Today was a full day where I'd planned almost nothing ahead of time. A full day of gaming, right? Actually, it turned out that I played very FEW games today, but had a whole day of fun nonetheless. We had our little BGTG/WGTG lunch at the hotel, I watched Artemis, went out for Texas BBQ dinner, watched the "World Series," and spent some time relaxing with friends at the hotel bar. Oh, and I also got to play Deus, Doodle City, Port Royal, and almost a game of Isaribi. (Hope to get in a real of game of that last one tomorrow.)(image)
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:16:09 +0000
My first full day at BGG.con, and it was a good one. This was the only day I had several scheduled activities, some wargame-ish titles early in the day (Gunslinger, then Pax Porfiriana), as well as the Virtual Flea Market, a Spiel des Jahres seminar by jury chairman Tom Felber, and finally (for me) a game of Panamax. Greg & I recorded this episode, and I'm about to collapse at 1am. I am not a late-night gamer. Meanwhile, Greg headed back down to the convention for the Werewolf games...
For anyone here at the con who wants to join us for lunch tomorrow, we'll just go to the hotel restaurant right around noon. Hope to meet more listeners and hand out more buttons.
Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:02:23 +0000
A long day, starting with a 4am alarm clock in Santa Clarita, California, ending with a 2am bedtime in Dallas, Texas. I'm here, and taking it in. My roommate is Gregarius, the same Greg Pettit you've heard on the podcast. He's a native Texan (Houston), and has made it to EVERY BGG.con. Besides my roommate, he's also my able guide for this event.
On my plane I saw Dave Arnott, Mike Schwerdtfeger, and met some other SoCal gamers. Maybe next year(!) I'll plan to sit by someone. I thought about playing a game on the flight, but decided I'd have more than enough when I go to DFW.
I got registered, Greg toured me around the various ballrooms, library, and other venues. Today I played La Granja, Rolling Japan, Pandemic: The Cure, Spinball, and Port Royal.
Tue, 18 Nov 2014 19:13:58 +0000
Just a test recording, really, to see if I can make a passable podcast with just the mobile devices (not a laptop) I'll have with me at BGG.con this week. Today (Tuesday) I'm still at home, but tomorrow I'm on the early flight out of LAX to go to Dallas. I've got a full schedule of events, people, and games to take in during my time there, and I'm very excited about it all. I was at the first BGG.con, but that was 10 years ago, and now the show has grown tenfold.
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 21:39:04 +0000At long last, here are the Top Ten! As we count them down in reverse order, we stay true to form--having a few personal grumbles about these amazing titles. At the same time, we're honestly respectful and enthusiastic for all of these games. Several of them are in our personal top ten lists, too. Though this is the end of the list of 100 Great Games, it's not quite the end of this podcast series. We promise to come back one more time for an epilogue episode, one that shares some analysis of the overall list, considers what games only missed the list because they were released post-2012, and what our own votes were. Remember, this list is a compilation of many experienced gamers' input. By now it's pretty obvious that we each have our own personal tastes that differ somewhat. If you have topics you'd like us to cover in the epilogue, let us know.In my poll associated with the last installment of 100 Great Games, I asked for your favorite Knizia auction game. Of the many options available Ra came out as the clear favorite. As you may have heard last time, Stephen preferred Ra, I went with Medici, and Jackson picked Traumfabrik.Now that we've reached the top of the list of 100 Great Games, are there ones you thought we missed? Of course that will be true--everyone has different tastes. However, any game released after 2012 didn't even get a chance to be on this list because that's when the project started. Below I've put together a poll of notable titles less than two years old that might have made it onto the 100 Great Games list. It's a tough choice, but which one do you think would've made it on the list? As always, if you've got a good suggestion that's not included in the poll, write it in the comments below. Thanks.[...]
Tue, 14 Oct 2014 04:58:14 +0000
I don't even know how long I've been doing this. My window-shopping the Essen lists predates this podcast of nine years. Who else fondly remembers Mik Svellov's Brett'n'Board], Ken Tidwell's Game Cabinet, or all the other places we learned about Essen before, during, and after the fair? Now, of course Eric Martin does an amazing job here at BGG with the annual Essen Preview. It has nearly six hundred items when I finally stopped looking on Friday. Wow!
It took me two passes to get through these lists. For some reason, I found a LOT more games that interest me this year. Is that because there are more of the shorter, family strategy games that I like? That might be true. Not that there were a lot of the 45-minute "superfillers," but I think there were more filler/microgames at the low end--under 20 euros, under 30 minutes. The ones that are still Love Letter derivatives about bluffing & hidden identity don't interest me, but there several others. As before, we see more and more offerings from other countries, especially Japan, Korea, and Poland.
My first pass through that megalist came up with 30 I was really excited/curious about, and another 50 that had something that sparked my interest. Though that's 80 games (waaaay too many to discuss on the podcast), that's culling out more than 80% of the titles in the full preview. Then I squeezed it down to ten I put in my companion geeklist, and discuss on this episode, plus several other titles that work their way into the discussion. Wow!
Also, I can't resist some meta-analysis of the entire list, and how well my previous years' anticipation lists matched what became my keepers from those years.
Finally, this episode anticipates something else, too--my return to BGG.con! I'm so excited about this. I went to the first BGG.con a decade ago, but it's grown & changed quite a bit since that time. I'm coming up to speed with what to expect, doing some planning, but not TOO much. Hopefully I'll meet some listeners and play some games with them when I'm there next month.
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 00:51:13 +0000
"Mark hates games."
Is that true? No, but it's a comment I've heard secondhand more than once! Brian Murray is a great gamer I've met at SoCal Games Days, and through our shared friend Davebo. He's the one who hears me critique a game, or just be completely lukewarm on it, or pick it apart, and thinks that I just don't know how to relax and have a good time with boardgames. Or something like that. I'm probably putting words (the wrong words) in his mouth, but that quote above is 100% from Brian.
So it was time to have him on the podcast. Then his words can come out of his own mouth, and you all can decide what you think about it!
(We recorded this at Dave's house, sitting in his living room during a Sunday in July. Partway through the recording a raven squawks outside, and keeps going for a while. But he eventually stops. Nevermore! Perhaps a more serious concern about the audio is that all three of our voices sound pretty similar. Good luck with that.)
I've never been a Cult of the New guy, but Brian clearly is. Or, as he clarifies, he's a Cult of the New-to-Me guy. Lots of boardgamers are that way. Maybe that's you, too. Not me. I'd much rather play an old favorite. Despite that, I still play a lot of new games. And no matter what Brian says, I love some of them. Lots more are perfectly fine, just ok, but nothing more. I'd probably rate them a 6 on BGG and have no need to play them again. Brian is more likely to enjoy the experience of playing a new game just for its own sake. The excitement of seeing something new, how it's produced, the way it plays, new rules, and all the rest.
The conversation inevitably crosses over into Kickstarter. You can imagine why. If you're excited by the newness of a game, then Kickstarter is heaven. There are so many new games there! But if you're like me, and prefer to wait until a consensus emerges through the community (& marketplace) about the tiny subset of "keeper" games, then Kickstarter doesn't really offer much. Honestly, I'm looking forward to the first "modern classic" that comes out of Kickstarter that even I need to own. It just hasn't happened yet. Call me up in 2016.
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 21:53:34 +0000
Here are #11-20 on the list, counted down in reverse order as we discuss them on the podcast. I thought we'd have nothing but praise for all of these highly-ranked games...but perhaps I should've known that that the three of us would take turns expressing reservations about even these amazing games. (It's going to make my upcoming "Mark Hates Games" episode all the more relevant.) ;)
In my poll associated with the last installment of 100 Great Games, I asked about the theming--or lack thereof--in Knizia's landmark cooperative game, [thing=823][/thing]. The smallest portion felt this was a mechanical, pasted-on theme kind of game. Instead, most felt that the theme does come through from the cooperative gameplay (mechanisms), while several more credited the amazing artwork for evoking the theme.
This time I'm returning to Knizia for the poll. It just worked out that way. We discussed Medici in a previous episode (and I recently played the unfortunately-ugly latest edition), and now Ra has come up. We used to ask ourselves which of Knizia's "auction trilogy" was our favorite (these plus Modern Art). That's what I'm asking here, only Mark Jackson suggested I widen it to include several more of Knizia's excellent auction-based games (including Mark's favorite, as you can hear in the episode). Did I forget to include your favorite? Tell me so in a comment, below.(image)
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:09:59 +0000Microgames are hot right now. It all "started" with Love Letter, when it burst onto the scene at Essen two years ago. Here was an game that was so inexpensive as to be an impulse-buy, so small it could fit in your pocket, so simple it was easy to teach anyone, and so quick it invited games whenever you had some spare time & friends onhand, like at a restaurant. Suddenly the game was everywhere, re-themes were ubiquitous, and other small games inevitably followed.The problem with that explanation, of course, is that Love Letter wasn't the first incarnation of a microgame. Far from it. In the days before euros (almost before RPGs), the term "microgame" appeared to describe small format wargames. In fact, I have an early BGTG episode all about those! For some diehards, that term still starts in the late 1970s with pocket-sized hex & counter wargames. Even if that was way before your time, you probably know one example from that era, because Steve Jackson recently republished his landmark title, Ogre. Besides the Kickstarter behemoth, he proudly re-issued the original microgame version of the game, and at the same price! $2.95!But putting aside the history lesson (and soapbox), it's still true that Love Letter got a lot of attention, and has sparked interest in gamers, designers, and publishers, for new boardgames in a small format. Jeff Myers, of the excellent GameGuyThinks blog, joins me to discuss this topic. This time, I try my best to avoid the trap I usually make for myself: definitions. Though we try to define what microgame means in 2014 a little bit, we don't get bogged down or philosophical on that point. It's more fun to talk about some examples we've played, as well as reconsider some earlier games that might now appear to be microgames. Or are they? To be honest, I don't see a big difference between what we've long called Filler Games and this new crop of Microgames. Not unless there's something magical about having only sixteen cards. Also, the ever-increasing field of Print-n-Play games crosses over to this topic, too. (If you really want to discuss/argue about the definition of microgames, go see manchuwok's geeklist.)We talk about the new line of modern micros from Chris Handy (his Pack O Game series) and Rob Bartel (his Famous/World's Smallest Sports Games series). There are some good ones in there (I particularly recommend Famous 500, the car-racing game).[...]
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 22:29:04 +0000
Here are #21-30 on the list, counted down in reverse order as we discuss them on the podcast.
After the previous episode of 100 Great Games, we received some (ahem) feedback regarding the games we didn’t like (I’m looking at you, Taj Majal), or didn’t know much about (such as War of the Ring). I’m pleased to say we don’t have that issue this time. I get to look over the still-secret list going all the way to Number One, and I can safely say that we’re familiar with all of the remaining games. Which is as you’d expect, right? As we get near the top we’re getting into even more of the modern classics that every self-respecting gamer should seek out & play. But, since you’re only hearing three voices from a survey of many more people, we may not all LOVE the remaining games. But we certainly respect them. (And as you’ll hear, in many cases we do love them!)
We’re nearing the end, only two shows left after this one to finish the countdown! We’ve already had suggestion for a supplemental episode, and it’s under consideration. Other ideas are welcome.
Finally, taking a page from Geek Weekly, I’m going to try adding a poll to each of my podcast episodes. I’d like folks to check out the blog (perhaps comment below), and there’s always a good question to pose after a podcast. Be sure to listen to the episode first, to get the context for the question. In this case, it’s about the theming (or not) in Knizia’s Lord of the Rings.
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:59:52 +0000It's a little crazy to finally publish this long-delayed episode, but I'm doing it nonetheless. A look back at 2013 is kind of ridiculous in July of 2014, but I think it's interesting nonetheless because we also talk about broader topics like gaming statistics (personal & community), gaming trends, and looks forward into the "new" year (that's now half-over!).Year-end stats often start with number of plays, and number of games. In my case, those numbers include online plays--which aggravates Dave!--but we're both beyond actually arguing about that. My numbers have remained remarkably consistent for many years: right around 300 plays, 150 titles. The actual numbers were 342 plays, 155 titles, 60 new-to-me. Dave's are somewhat higher (325 plays, 126 titles), but NOTABLY higher when you realize he's a purist that only includes face-to-face plays. However, I prove my point with a story about a game of Timeline: Music & Cinema that the two of us played online just prior to recording the podcast. Another well-worn statistic within our hobby are the "Fives & Dimes," which even predate BGG and Mark Jackson's tally of this data. Sure, it always skews toward the shorter games, but even I get a good feeling when I see a beefier title like Brass show up.[...]
Fri, 02 May 2014 05:14:53 +0000
Remember when I used to do "Session Report & Feedback" episodes? Me neither. These are when I'd just talk about some games I've played recently (not part of a meta topic, just a session report), and tack a segment on the end where I read & respond to some listener feedback. In theory these should be a show that's easy for me bang out every once in a while. They also have the [i]potential[/i] of being shorter episodes.
At any rate, this time I stitched together some accounts of recent card games I've had on the table. The coincidence of a couple euro card games on the table recently sparked an idea for a future game group session that focuses on traditional card games. We haven't done that yet, but we're excited to try some titles like Euchre, Spades, 1000 (the marriage game), Cribbage, Pinochle, and so on. (I've also just joined an Up & Down the River card game group at lunch.)
But that's for later. In this episode I'm still talking about modern, euro card games with their unique decks, rules, and mechanisms...(image)
Fri, 31 Jan 2014 04:44:35 +0000
Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson rejoin me (Mark JOHNson) to continue this series. In 2012, these two guys polled a number of experienced gamers (a few designers, many reviewers, all enthusiasts) for their top games, consolidated their answers, and asked to come on my podcast to count down the results. I was pleased to be part of the poll, and doubly pleased to have them on Boardgames To Go. I really like how Stephen describes this:
"a fun list to discuss over coffee & pie."
The poll was for our favorite games, not necessarily the best games. We even got to submit a top fifteen, which took the usual tough request for a top ten and gave us more breathing room for five more titles. I know in my case, it made it easier to add some very recent games to my longstanding favorites. On each podcast we're counting down a bunch of titles until we get to a final show with the Top Ten. I'll be interspersing 100 Great Games countdown episodes with my other podcast episodes.
Here are #31-40 on the list, counted down in reverse order as we discuss them on the podcast.
This show was especially fun because BGG had gone down for maintenance when we did our recording! That meant that we had to go on our own knowledge and memories of the games' designers, publishers, and years, in addition to usual opinions about how they play. Fortunately, we're getting so high up in the list now that the games are very notable. I think we did pretty well without our normal reference material...but you tell me!
Note: we had a little audio problem with Mark Jackson halfway through the podcast, but stick with us! I edited around it as best I could, and it gets better after the Ave Caesar/Ausgebremst/Q-Jet discussion.(image)
Mon, 13 Jan 2014 07:03:49 +0000Have you ever played Bunco? I'm now in a couples Bunco group, a new thing for me. It goes without saying that this is not the kind of gaming group I normally have, and talk about on the show. These are not hobby gamers. They aren't even party gamers. They're just regular folks, all empty nest-ers (or close to it, like me), who get together to talk, have dinner & drinks. That we play a game or two at the end of the night for a few bucks' stakes is purely a social activity, absolutely not intended to be competitive. After Bunco kind of wore off, the group switched to LCR. Yikes!Here's my Catch-22: I want a game that's more fun for me because it has a little bit of strategy, but everyone else wants a game that is so easy & automatic that it doesn't pressure anyone or limit conversation. Almost by definition, this is a no-man's land since it's looking for a game that has decision-making yet requires no thought.Well, gamers often make suggestions about titles they think are light enough, but really aren't. Or we consider party games. In this podcast I cover that very topic with Dave Gullett, who is the rare gamer who understands my dilemma! In the show we go through a lot of ideas, and I proceed to basically shoot them all down for one reason or another. Am I the problem? Or is it basically un-solvable with the constraints I've given myself?Look at all the types of games we consider, and please give me your own ideas. Particularly if you've had some success in similar situations, tell me about the games you played as well as describing that situation and its other players.[...]
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 03:50:14 +0000
Who really believed me when I said I'd get Part 2 of the podcast out this week? I realize my credibility for prompt podcast publication isn't great. :) And yet--here it is!
As I said in the first part, this is my now-traditional interview with my friend & BGG.con regular, Greg Pettit. He goes to the convention every year and plays a ton of new Essen releases. I'm quite jealous, and hope to finally make it back there myself in 2014.
We pick up the podcast halfway through our discussion about these games. Towards the end I get to offer my opinions about some new ones Greg didn't get to. The conversation also meanders a bit sometimes about keeping versus selling/trading games that don't make it to the table anymore, etc.(image)
Tue, 10 Dec 2013 05:52:33 +0000Although I've only made it to one BGG.con so far (the first one, I think), my buddy and frequent BGTG guest Greg Pettit is a regular attendee. For the past several years he's joined me on the podcast after the event to tell us all about it, especially the new Essen games he was able to play. I love hearing about them.Something else that fascinates me is the slippery topic of figuring out which new games are the best ones. Not to get too highfalutin, but this is really the timeless matter of judging art. Why are some artistic works better than others, and do those opinions hold over time? In our little way, I like to explore this topic by prompting Greg for a "star rating" for these games (adding my own where I can)...and then revisiting those ratings a year later. It's only one year, but that's enough for the bloom to be off the rose for some new titles. Even some that we honestly love struggle to make it back to the table. Most interesting of all, a select few appear to be new classics--or at least personal keepers. Gosh, I love this topic, as subjective as it is.Want to follow along, and even add your own star ratings? You can do it on the companion geeklist I've posted for this show. You can also go back to the lists we did in 2012 & 2011 to do the same, or measure our prognostication skills.Greg played so many games this year (and I added some of my own), that the podcast got to be quite long. For that reason I've split it into two halves. I'll post the first half now, and the second half at the end of the week.-Mark[...]
Mon, 28 Oct 2013 20:14:57 +0000Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson rejoin me (Mark JOHNson) to continue this series. In 2012, these two guys polled a number of experienced gamers (a few designers, many reviewers, all enthusiasts) for their top games, consolidated their answers, and asked to come on my podcast to count down the results. I was pleased to be part of the poll, and doubly pleased to have them on Boardgames To Go. I really like how Stephen describes this: "a fun list to discuss over coffee & pie." The poll was for our favorite games, not necessarily the best games. We even got to submit a top fifteen, which took the usual tough request for a top ten and gave us more breathing room for five more titles. I know in my case, it made it easier to add some very recent games to my longstanding favorites. On each podcast we're counting down 15 titles until we get to a final show with the Top Ten. I'll be interspersing 100 Great Games countdown episodes with my other podcast episodes.Here are #41-55 on the list, counted down in reverse order as we discuss them on the podcast.Now we're really getting into some notable titles with firm reputations of being great games. And yet, one or more of us keep finding games that we take issue with. There's nothing wrong with that, of course--these are the compiled results of many gamers, not just us. You should understand that we can respect a game, and its place on this list, even if we don't like it personally. In fact, I hope that sort of different opinion makes for a good listen, and will spark some feedback in the blog comments, below.[...]
Mon, 14 Oct 2013 05:09:16 +0000
Session Report and Feedback episode with games I've played recently, as well as my experiences attending out-of-town Meetups.(image)
Fri, 27 Sep 2013 06:30:48 +0000
Last year I failed to do my annual "Essen Anticipation" podcast. It was just too much. This year, however, I got an earlier jump on it...and I enlisted the help of a friend.(image)
Mon, 15 Jul 2013 02:27:04 +0000
Do you know the term, Experience Game? I thought everyone did, but in prepping for this episode I found that it's used a lot less often than I thought. Not only that, but I learned it's a term that was used more often in the early days of hobby boardgames, by which I mean the 1990s. Well, let's bring it up to 2013. (Actually, it IS still used sometimes.)(image)
Fri, 31 May 2013 06:04:09 +0000
I've been doing this podcast now for more than eight years! I can't quite believe it myself. In the beginning, more than a handful of shows were audio session reports, which I then combined with feedback that I read "on-air." These are simple episodes, inevitably solo shows, and I often used them to go between episodes with a guest about a particular subject. Especially as those shows are getting more and more meta about the hobby itself, a simple "session report & feedback" episode is kind of a relief. I hope you like them, also. I particularly like reading feedback on the podcast, as it reminds me of the Letters section in Sumo, Counter, or other boardgame zines. Those were always the best part.(image)
Fri, 24 May 2013 07:40:00 +0000
Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson join me for part 3 of our 100 game countdown series.
Wed, 13 Mar 2013 05:40:00 +0000
Have you ever gone a boardgaming road trip? I expect quite a few people might drive a few hundred miles to go to a game convention, but I've never done that. Games Days on Saturdays are local for me, about the same hour's drive I do on my daily commute. Recently, though, my buddy Dave Arnott drove the two of us halfway up California to spend a weekend of games, food, and conversation with other gamer friends. That was different, and a complete blast!
This is sort of like a session report show--remember when I did those? The podcast goes a little long, but that's because we were having fun talking about games on the drive back. That's right, we recorded the podcast about the road trip while we were still on the road trip. Vroom!
We got to play a whole lot of great games: a few new ones and several more old favorites. Jeff Myers is working his way through Spiel des Jahres winners on his blog, [url=http://gameguythinks.com/mississippi-queen/]Gameguythinks[/url], so we made sure to play a couple more of those classic titles, [thing=256][/thing] and [thing=54][/thing]. Other old faves we played were [thing=1315][/thing], [thing=73][/thing], [thing=261][/thing] (1994!), and [thing=5306][/thing] (1962!). The newer ones were [thing=123260][/thing] and [thing=103185][/thing]. I'll cheat a little and include [thing=357][/thing], too, since there was a recent reprint. In between is [thing=40769][/thing], which seems to have slipped past people but is really pretty great. Has EnderWiggin does one of his awesome photo-reviews of Valdora? Seems right up his alley.
Besides the boardgames, we get to tell a couple side stories. We stopped at a thrift store where I grabbed a few bargains (or not--you tell me). Another of Dave's hobbies is [url=http://www.letterboxing.org/]Letterboxing[/url], which is described as "an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming 'treasure hunt' style outdoor quest." Perfect for a road trip! We did that, and we also got to stop at the warehouse for wargame publisher Decision Games. I picked up a couple items in-person, but also had the fun of seeing what goes on at the publisher of Strategy & Tactics, as well as many good wargames.(image)
Sun, 24 Feb 2013 23:18:26 +0000Every year I like to look back over the previous one in boardgaming, and reflect on what happened. At the most basic level, this means reviewing my statistics, the number of distinct titles played, as well as the overall total of games played. For me that's typically about 100 titles, 300 total plays, but you'll hear how 2012 was a bit higher than normal. I'm not entirely sure why that was, though I have some ideas. I also talk through my "nickels & dimes" list of games played at least five or ten times.However, those sort of stats aren't as meaningful for self-reflection as it is to remember some particularly notable games or individual plays. Some games just stand out, regardless of the number of times they were played. My games of Olympia 2000 (v. Chr.) and Reiner Knizia's Decathlon, played during this summer's real Olympics in London are an example. So is my partnership game of Mr. President, played during the last US Presidential campaign season is another.I often play games online, though Play-By-Web sites like Yucata.de, Michael Schacht's Boardgames Online, or Brass Online. Not everyone agrees that these plays "count," but I do. More important, they let me keep playing games with friends I don't see during the week, or even friends that are in distant places like Houston or Afghanistan. :-) (For what it's worth, I don't log iOS plays, even if they're against a friend. As the games on that platform get better & better, that could change in the future.)Around the discussions about specific games are other observations about the recovery of my local gaming group, my rekindled interest in wargames, the undeniable impact of Kickstarter (not necessarily on me), solo boardgaming, and why I'm sometimes reverting to the term German Games instead of euros. It has to do with my preference for a style of shorter, elegant game that's more at home in 2000 among Carcassonne, Africa, or Bohnanza rather than 2012's overburdened euros with their resource economies and player status boards. The criticism of my favorite style of boardgame is that they're "superfillers" that are just chasing the Spiel des Jahres for wide, family appeal. Even with a group of gamers over on Friday night, those are the sort of games I like.[...]
Thu, 07 Feb 2013 04:22:29 +0000
The guys join me for part 2 of our 100 game countdown series.(image)
Thu, 03 Jan 2013 16:04:00 +0000
Have you seen the latest video project on BGG? It's called GameNight!, literally hosted (i.e. in their home) by Lincoln Damerst & Nikki Pontius, as well digitally hosted by Scott Alden on BoardgameGeek's YouTube channel. On this podcast I got to talk with both Scott and Lincoln about GameNight!. At the time of recording they'd put out one show, but by now there are three episodes up.
Thu, 20 Dec 2012 07:47:00 +0000
Several years ago, Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson polled a number of experienced gamers (a few designers, many reviewers, all enthusiasts) for their top games. I was pleased to be part of it. They consolidated the results, and published them with commentary in a blog called "The One Hundred." It carried the tongue-in-cheek subtitle "The Official & Completely Authoritative 100 Best Games of All Time Ever Without Question...So There!" Not everyone got the irony of that title, but if you knew these guys you'd know they never take themselves too seriously.
Now in 2012 they felt it was time to do the survey again, adding some new people to the mix to get a broader range of input. I was happy to be asked for my input again, and then pleasantly surprised that they asked for my help with Boardgames To Go to get the survey results out via podcast. Hurray! This time around, I really like how Stephen describes it: "a fun list to discuss over coffee & pie." We were asked for our favorite games, not necessarily the best games. We even got to submit a top fifteen, which took the usual tough request for a top ten and gave us more breathing room for five more titles. I know in my case, it made it easier to add some very recent games to my longstanding faves.(image)
Wed, 12 Dec 2012 07:03:17 +0000As he's done for the past few years, Greg Pettit joins me on the podcast to talk about the annual Boardgamegeek convention, BGG.con (do they still call it "dot con"? I always thought that was clever.) I didn't go to the convention. In fact, I've only made it to the first one, and I hear it's only gotten bigger & better since then. Greg, on the other hand, goes every year. I really need to make it back sometime. Occurring the week/weekend before Thanksgiving here in America, the convention is timed to include a lot of brand new Essen titles in its famous game library. Even I might succumb to the "cult of the new" a little bit when presented with the opportunity to try so many brand new, exciting titles that have barely made it to this country yet. Greg is like that, too, and it's great to talk with him afterward about so many of these brand new games. With that in mind, I can chime in on a few new titles I've managed to play somehow, even though I didn't make it to the convention.For this show, Greg and I prepared a Geeklist to go along with it. This was for our own notes & preparation, but we found in prior years that it's fun to share with everyone. I always like comments here on the blog, but you may want to comment about individual games over on that listt. Towards the very end of the show, we also take a brief look back at our similar list from the previous year, too. Though we don't spend too much time on them, you know that I'm always fascinated with analyzing or merely reflecting upon what makes some games longterm keepers, and which ones we're finished with in less than twelve months. In some cases that's completely ok to have "short-term games" like that, but mostly I'm interested in those permanent keepers. [...]
Wed, 28 Nov 2012 13:22:56 +0000
Do you read boardgame blogs? I mean, besides this one? :)
My friend Jeff Myers is a boardgame blogger, and he joins me on this episode to talk about the subject, both as a reader and an author.
In some ways, I think blogging is a lost art...and the literary form has only been around since the late 1990s. Perhaps that's because they've developed along with the Internet during that same time period. Though they started out as humble web-logs by quirky, individual authors who wanted to write about something, they exploded into the commercial and professional media world who displaced those private authors.
Except that they didn't.
While the New York Times, Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Wall Street Journal, and even consumer products such as Coca-Cola and Volkswagen have things they call blogs (and I guess they are), the blogs boardgamers care about are still around. I'm talking about individual authors with their personal point-of-view, writing style, and a talent for giving us good stuff to read. It's about the boardgames, yes, but it's as much about the author. You find a few you like, you subscribe to the blogs, and (hopefully) give the blogger some feedback.(image)
Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:54:00 +0000
Greg Pettit must enjoy talking about meta topics on my podcast as much as I do. After helping me on my shows about game themes (for grown-ups or otherwise!), he told me he'd been thinking about the value of a boardgame. Not boardgaming, the entire hobby, but an individual title. And not in a strictly dollars & cents way, but more of a holistic, personal value of an individual game. Ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? It might be good background for Greg's thoughts in this episode.
Tue, 16 Oct 2012 21:31:00 +0000
Every year I look forward to Essen, both for the games that are being released, and at the analysis of the hits & misses from current & previous years. This time I tried to do the same thing, but was simply overwhelmed by the volume of information. It doesn't eliminate my interest & excitement for Essen, but it takes on a different character. Which is what's it's done a time or two already due to changes in the hobby (both "press coverage" and games published).
Thu, 09 Aug 2012 04:50:00 +0000
After the last episode where I complained about geeky games, I felt a little compelled to describe a few of those games I DO happen to enjoy. It's a bonus that I got to work in a reference to Curiosity, the Mars rover that just landed.
Fri, 03 Aug 2012 05:25:11 +0000
Greg Pettit returns to the topic of narrative themes in boardgames, except that it's mostly Mark that needs to unload his true feelings about geeky versus historical themes.
Thu, 14 Jun 2012 05:16:30 +0000Notice: I'm in the process of moving this blog over to Boardgamegeek. I'm still running the show, and the podcast will still be available through your normal subscription (iTunes, or whatever)--I'm just using a different host on the internet. This move is only happening because I think it will be more convenient for my listeners, and it may also generate more comments. Please follow me over to(image) (image)
Mon, 28 May 2012 17:57:09 +0000Notice: I'm in the process of moving this blog over to Boardgamegeek. I'm still running the show, and the podcast will still be available through your normal subscription (iTunes, or whatever)--I'm just using a different host on the internet. This move is only happening because I think it will be more convenient for my listeners, and it may also generate more comments. Please follow me over to(image) (image)
Wed, 16 May 2012 20:49:06 +0000Although the podcast will continue to be available through iTunes or wherever else you get it, I'm planning to move this blog over to a new location, on Boardgamegeek. I welcome your feedback about that in this post over on BGG. -Mark(image) (image)
Sat, 28 Apr 2012 17:48:20 +0000Filling in the gaps between episodes with guests, I like to post episodes that let me simply talk about some games I've played lately, offer scattered opinions & thoughts about them, and then share some of the podcast's feedback. My listeners often have great suggestions and comments that expand upon topics discussed in previous episodes. In this "Session Report & Feedback" show, I discuss (image) (image)
Thu, 26 Apr 2012 15:33:12 +0000I'm still trying to keep podcasts coming out more frequently, and now I've got friends who are actively pushing me along. That can only help! In this case, it's Greg Pettit, who I thought of immediately when I decided to do a podcast about secondhand games. Whether you're acquiring Out-Of-Print classics or being economical about the Cult of the New-To-Me, sometimes buying used games is the way(image) (image)
Tue, 13 Mar 2012 20:57:40 +0000What?! Two episodes in the same month?! When was the last time I did that? Unfortunately, it's been a while. But as I say during the early part of this podcast, I've got a little more free time now, and I hope I can use it to publish podcasts a bit more frequently than it's been. This could change at any time, but for now I've got my fingers crossed. In this episode I do a few things. Most(image) (image)
Thu, 08 Mar 2012 06:22:59 +0000Train games mean something special, at least to train gamers. Usually they involve the 18XX system and hours of deep gameplay. Oddly, though, sometimes it means a very light game such as Express. Within hobby gaming, the term predates the German style of boardgames typified by Settlers and the like. Are there games that include some of what "makes" a train game, but also includes the design/(image) (image)
Mon, 05 Dec 2011 19:55:55 +0000This is a very long episode, but no one ever complains about length so I decided to keep it intact rather than splitting it into two shorter shows.Just as he did last year, my buddy Greg Pettit went to Bgg.con in 2011 and joined me on the podcast afterward to discuss the new games he played there. Like a lot of people, he focused on new releases, including a bunch that are new from this year's(image) (image)
Sat, 12 Nov 2011 01:23:35 +0000First of all, welcome to anyone who discovered (or re-discovered?) my show after hearing my guest appearance on boardgame podcast, Ludology. I joined Ryan Sturm over Skype (when Geoff Engelstein was snowed in) to discuss the difference between 2-player and multiplayer games. There's also been some good follow-up discussion on Ludology's guild over at Boardgamegeek.But back here, on my own show,(image) (image)
Wed, 19 Oct 2011 04:47:51 +0000I'm not even late! Not quite, anyway. The annual small (& large) game publisher extravaganza in Essen, Germany is set to start with the press day about 24 hours after I post this, and the doors open to the public the day after that. Four days of record-setting boardgame product launches and direct sales will follow, along with some sense of which games are the best ones.For those of us who don't(image) (image)
Sat, 16 Jul 2011 19:28:08 +0000The recent announcement of the Spiel des Jahres winner, Qwirkle, gave me the good idea to play that game again...as well as the excuse to talk about a handful of other SdJ winners I've played "recently." Ok, not really that recent, but there was a game party last year when I specifically wanted to concentrate on games from 1999 or earlier. Quite by accident, I found myself concentrating on some(image) (image)
Tue, 05 Jul 2011 02:07:29 +0000You may think it's odd or ridiculous that a guy who hosts a boardgame podcast feels uncomfortable in some social party games due to the putting-yourself-out-there part of them. But that's exactly how I feel, and my suspicion is that other boardgamers may feel the same. Meanwhile, there are clearly a bunch of other people--including boardgamers--who really enjoy the fun, laughs, and camaraderie(image) (image)
Tue, 05 Apr 2011 14:52:20 +0000Part of what's kept me away from the microphone lately has been some overseas travel. First was our family T. O. A. L. (Trip of a Lifetime) to Germany & Italy. Then, surprisingly, a return visit to Europe shortly thereafter by just me because of a new assignment at work. Though neither of those trips were about games, I couldn't help getting in SOME shopping and playing while I was over there.(image) (image)
Tue, 01 Feb 2011 06:19:06 +0000Here's a podcast that I recorded with my buddy DaveO last summer. You probably know that I prefer lighter games. Well, DaveO likes the heavier stuff (as well as some quicker games). We got to talking about that, and the conversation drifted to our differences in opinion about the number of players in a game. I felt that five was a troublesome number, while he could quickly think of several(image) (image)
Mon, 29 Nov 2010 19:24:57 +0000I'm posting this show again to get the correct version in the RSS/iTunes feed. (An earlier posting of this show erroneously copied an earlier episode.) Sorry for the trouble. -Mark(image) (image)
Mon, 29 Nov 2010 05:35:27 +0000For the first hours after it was posted today, the latest podcast episode had a glitch that meant subscribers were getting a repeat of the previous episode #110. A couple astute listeners brought that to my attention, and I was able to quickly fix it. If you're one of those that got the wrong episode, try redownloading. (In iTunes, I got it to work be deleting the duplicate show, the un- and(image) (image)
Tue, 16 Nov 2010 05:39:20 +0000At long last, another "All About" show, the format in which a guest and I talk through a particular game in great detail. This time we tried something a little different, discussing the entire series of fast-playing games in small, square boxes called Easy Play by German publisher Schmidt Spiele. Since we covered so many games in this episode, this is one of my longest shows ever, nearly two(image) (image)
Sat, 06 Nov 2010 18:25:51 +0000At long last I've managed to make all of Boardgames To Go's five and a half year podcast archive available on iTunes! They've always been available through this blog, but the process was cumbersome (at best). Now by getting all of the shows into the main podcast feed, podcast accumulators like iTunes (the 900-lb gorilla), iPodder, Podtrapper, Zune, etc. should all have the entire back catalog of(image) (image)
Sun, 17 Oct 2010 14:30:06 +0000Whew! I hurried up and recorded Part 2 of my annual "Essen Anticipation" episode so I could get it posted before the Spieltage itself. Hopefully some of the people who wanted to listen to it before the show opens (even when traveling there?) will get it in time. This episode is more like my Essen shows from previous years. I talk a little about about general things, then launch into a long(image) (image)
Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:42:01 +0000It's that time again. Time for excitement about the Spiel game expo (Internationale Spieltage) held in Essen, Germany every October. Even when my fall season gets busy with work, kids' school, and other activities, there's always this time when I start living vicariously through the pre-, post-, and (now) during-the-event reports. Over a decade ago we heard about the new titles debuting at(image) (image)
Fri, 08 Oct 2010 00:14:43 +0000Not only has the podcast not blown up yet (at least I think that's right), but this morning I managed to Undo something I fiddled with on the feed that I later regretted. Though it hasn't gotten me any closer to having all of the podcast archives in iTunes--that's still my major project--I'm hoping I've restored things back to their previously working condition. That's because a listener reminded(image) (image)
Sun, 03 Oct 2010 02:42:20 +0000You should know that I'm still here. And by "blows up," I just mean that the feed may disappear from iTunes, or stop showing podcasts attached at all. Or it may be just fine. Either way, Boardgames To Go is still going strong, just publishing erratically as usual. All that's happening is that I'm transitioning the hosting location and blog/podcast feed details from a multi-site mess to(image) (image)
Sun, 05 Sep 2010 17:54:09 +0000I grabbed two of my artistically talented friends (Greg did my podcast logo!) and put them on the microphone to talk about their hobby-within-a-hobby: handcrafted games. These guys have both taken a known, existing boardgame or two and hand made their own copies. It might have been to create something that's hard to get, or it might have been to make a personalized, deluxe version of a favorite(image) (image)
Sun, 05 Sep 2010 17:52:48 +0000For a while now, listeners of the podcast have asked for an easier way to access all of BGTG's archives. They've actually always been available, but it takes some work. You have to click on one of the archive pages, then find a show and click on its MP3 link to play it through your browser, or right-click it to save it to your computer for later copying to your player or importing into iTunes.(image) (image)
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 13:22:38 +0000Got those acronyms? Now Boardgames To Go has its own existence on Boardgamegeek. This is in addition to this blog & website, which I intend to always be the podcast's true home. However, for some it may be convenient to keep up with the podcast from BGG, along with their other favorite boardgame podcasts. Like so many features that Aldie adds to that amazing site, its full potential isn't yet(image) (image)
Tue, 17 Aug 2010 04:23:34 +0000At long last, another episode, and a long-winded one at that! These session report & feedback shows are supposed to be easier episodes for me to bang out--I need to remember that! Doing them more often will work through the response backlog and make them easier & shorter. We'll see how well I do at remembering that... :-) In addition to a lot of great comments about past shows, I talk about(image) (image)
Mon, 28 Jun 2010 02:49:48 +0000June was a crazy month at work (as I knew it would be), so I haven't managed to post shows even though I've still got a good one in the can . . . and I managed to record another one. I need to post some "normal" session report & feedback shows in between the featured episodes, though. I'll get to that. Despite all that, I still got in some great gaming in June, especially with one big(image) (image)
Mon, 14 Jun 2010 14:27:35 +0000Themes in boardgames are a favorite subject of mine. I'm sure I've said before how interested I am in the themes these games of ours have. Some themes instantly attract me to a game, while others are an immediate turn-off. When I'm playing a game, I particularly enjoy historic theming on the cards, or historic notes within the rulebook. You'd think that makes me a theme-gamer. I certainly(image) (image)
Sun, 30 May 2010 19:22:52 +0000Yeah, I lost my old call-in number, the same one the show has had for five years. I haven't completely given up hope, and I may ask for your help in getting it back, but for the moment any audio feedback should instead go to 206-337-7401. Sorry for the inconvenience.(image) (image)
Sun, 30 May 2010 19:19:11 +0000Now that the first decade of the new century & millennium is past, Dave & I reflected on what that ten-year span meant for boardgames. Back in late 2007 he & I recorded a "decade+1" retrospective for episode #75, but that had a little different focus. For that earlier show, we tried to talk about our own introduction and growth in the hobby, like what games we first learned about & played, how(image) (image)
Fri, 14 May 2010 22:00:13 +0000By the way, you can subscribe the comment feed in order to keep up with comments on all of this blog's posts without having to remember to check them.(image) (image)
Fri, 14 May 2010 20:06:01 +0000The flurry of good comments & discussion following the recent podcast about boardgame theming was split between those posted right here on the website, and others on a Boardgamegeek thread. Though that's fine, it makes me wonder if it wouldn't be better to facilitate them more on one location than the other. And though I'd really prefer to have the comments archived here, with the podcast itself,(image) (image)
Fri, 30 Apr 2010 05:35:00 +0000Hmm, I'm not sure. Since I set this site up in the prehistory of podcasting, it's built on a complicated mix of three different hosting accounts (libsyn for the podcast files, GoDaddy.com for my webhosting, and Blogger.com for the blog editing interface). Now after five years one of those tools has changed how it works, which means I need to tweak settings I haven't touched in that long. (And,(image) (image)
Thu, 18 Mar 2010 14:35:20 +0000First of all, please consider bidding in my latest Geeklist auction. It ends mid-day on March 24, and has some great, unusual, and/or out-of-print games. Titles like Zoff in Buffalo, Basari (the good version!), Krieg und Frieden, and a pair of games from an original Chinese publisher & designer. I'm back with another session report & feedback show. These episodes are usually only about some(image) (image)
Thu, 11 Mar 2010 05:33:50 +0000For more than a decade now I've kept track of the games I played over the course of a year. For nearly as long I've reviewed those lists after each year passed. First I posted on Usenet or my own website, later boardgame mailing lists, my blog, and lately this podcast. Like a lot of you, I find it interesting to look back over the stats from the previous year, noting increases or decreases in(image) (image)
Thu, 11 Feb 2010 04:56:50 +0000I've been making little updates between major blog entries about boardgaming using Twitter. You can find those at twitter.com/BoardgamesToGo. This blog and its podcast will always be my main content, but if you want little tidbits in between the irregular episodes, that's where to find them. Just recently I also created a Facebook page for the podcast, at (you guessed it) facebook.com/(image) (image)
Thu, 11 Feb 2010 04:34:11 +0000First show of the new year, and it's another session report & feedback episode. Though I originally just picked three games I played recently & wanted to discuss, as I prepped for the show I found a number of related points between them. That's why I mentioned this could also be called "The Crossover Show." Maybe I should ask Shannon Appelcline to produce one of his snazzy relationship diagrams(image) (image)
Tue, 05 Jan 2010 16:00:33 +0000Yea! When I started this podcast nearly five years ago, I had no idea I'd still be doing it now. The pace certainly slowed down from the early days, but I'm so pleased to have stumbled across the finish line to episode 100! Except that this isn't really a finish line--I'm going to keep podcasting, and I hope you'll keep listening. I thought about some big celebration or other special show for(image) (image)
Sat, 02 Jan 2010 20:24:15 +0000I'll do a show recapping this information later, but while I can't record a podcast right now with family visiting, I can squeeze in a blog post. Throughout the year I keep my games-played statistics on Boardgamegeek (the "cloud" of our hobby), which makes it so easy to pull that data out now. Here are the raw stats, and below I'll offer a little commentary. "Quarters" Dominion 47 Brass 44(image) (image)
Fri, 06 Nov 2009 04:16:29 +0000Chris left a comment after the previous podcast (anticipating this year's Essen), asking what games were my favorites from past Essens. That was the idea behind this show--my favorites, BGG's favorites, and what seemed liked the favorites at the time (Fairplay ratings). I looked up the past decade of Fairplay rankings, compared it against current BGG rankings, and also figured out my favorites(image) (image)
Sat, 24 Oct 2009 19:20:28 +0000If you pay attention to the episode numbers, you'll see this one actually belongs before the previous show about Essen. I only needed to hurry that one out in time for the big game fair in Germany this week. I'd recorded this episode focusing on Martin Wallace's Brass with guest Stephanie Kelleher (songlian on BGG). Stephanie is at Essen right now helping with the BGG/Geekdo booth! We both(image) (image)
Mon, 19 Oct 2009 19:56:11 +0000As before, I've managed to squeeze in a show just before the Essen game fair Spiel that shares my anticipation for the event and a number of games. Nope, I'm not going there, just living vicariously through the preview information about the games about to debut at this enormous event in our hobby. All of this may will change after we start hearing (and seeing!) more about this games from(image) (image)