Blog feed             Comment feed

This blog & podcast has "moved" to

(Now the leading "www" matters!)

Please update your bookmarks. Your iTunes, blogreader, or other subscriptions should be ok as-is.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

BGTG 103 - SR & Feedback (Pandemic On the Brink, Caylus Magna Carta, Patrician)

First 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 games I've played recently. However, in this one I found another common thread between all of the games discussed, which makes this sort of a themed podcast, as well. In this case, the common thread is boardgame expansions. You may have heard me say before that I generally don't care for expansions...or at least I find them unnecessary. Here are three titles played with expansions that include that reaction, but also some others. I found it interesting to consider, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.

If you want to read Jeff Myers boardgame blog Play2Relax, you can find it here. I'd forgotten about his excellent subtitle to the blog, "Play a game. You'll feel better." Be sure to share with me other recommendations for boardgame blogs, and someday I'll do a podcast about those.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BGTG 102 - Games Played in 2009 (with "Davebo" Gullett)

For 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 the number or variety of games played. I'm also looking to see whether I'm making the time & effort to get my favorites to the table--if you're not careful they can get crowded out by the steady advance of (sometimes forgettable) new titles.

This year I again have a guest on the podcast to help me recap the year with his own stats. "Davebo" Gullett has been on the podcast before, and we have some similarities--both of us play in some similar groups or get-togethers, we have roughly similar tastes in games, and we're both dads of multiple kids old enough to play boardgames with us. But while Dave has been successful getting his kids (especially his oldest) to play plenty of boardgames, I do that much less often.

On the other hand, I play a lot of online boardgames, both realtime on Brettspielwelt, and even more via play-by-web sites such as Mabiweb and Brass Online. We have some discussion about why I choose to include those online plays in my yearly stats, while Dave does not. It goes to the nature of those online plays, whether they're against friends or strangers, and what's the point of tracking plays at all.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Twitter, Facebook, and now Buzz?

I've been making little updates between major blog entries about boardgaming using Twitter. You can find those at 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) Right now it's primarily another way to view those Twitter "tweets," since I have the accounts linked. You can reply to them if you want, but I don't foresee these become a BGTG community or message board, just a little extra something.


P.S. And now here comes Google Buzz. Haven't done anything with that yet. As long as there's an easy way to link everything together I might do just that. But I'm not about to keep up with four separate "identities" for the podcast. If nothing else I'll stick with the blog. Signed, the grumpy old man! ;-)

BGTG 101 SR & Feedback (Dog, Keltis Way of the Stone, Sorry Sliders)

First 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 like he's done for designer ludographies and other relationships he's mapped. :-)

Dog has a Canadian heritage, along with handmade boards displaying real craftsmanship . . . like Crokinole . . . which is like Sorry Sliders in its gameplay . . . even though its in the franchise family of traditional Sorry . . . much like Keltis: Way of the Stone is in the new Keltis franchise family . . . though there's still some connection to Sorry . . . which is itself a "circles & cross" traditional boardgame form, like Dog . . . but Dog is a partnership game, like Crokinole . . . and both Crokinole and Sorry Sliders depend on some quality production and design so that their physical play can really soar.

Once Knizia comes out with the physical flicking game of Keltis Stones, I'll have to revisit this. :-)

I neglected to mention that this Keltis game is also listed as the Keltis Mitbringspiel, the latter word being German for "travel edition." (I suppose a more literal translation would be "take-along game.") I happen to be using Mitbringspiel as a search term as my friends & I are placing an order from


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

BGTG 100 SR & Feedback (Tobago, Numeri, Polar Derby)

Yea! 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 my 100th episode, but after talking with friends (some of whom you've heard on my podcast before), I decided instead to keep it simple. After all, that's what Boardgames To Go has always been: a simple, no-frills podcast that reflects my own interests in analyzing what it is about these games that makes them fun (or not), along with some good feedback. It's the feedback that has always kept me going, so it's a real pleasure to include it on episode 100. In future shows there will still be more opportunities to discuss special topics, have guest co-hosts, and maybe even some more All About episodes.

In this episode I start with some discussion about my favorite new Essen game, Tobago. True, it's the only real Essen game I've got my hands on yet, but I like it so much I'm confident it will remain a favorite even after I've had a chance to try the others, perhaps finding more keepers. It was a title that jumped out at me during my annual pre-Essen anticipation, and it was easy enough to order domestically right away. Another new Essen title is Numeri, which I've at least played in its online incarnation on brettspielwelt. This is a modern reprint in Schmidt's fun Easy Play line that had a much earlier life as a boardgame. In between there was an edition with some particular theming that I'd like to know more about--does anyone have it? Finally, I discuss Polar Derby, a kids' game from Gamewright that feels like a Knizia game . . . because it IS a Knizia game. Hear about how the clever folks at Gamewright put a German game design through the American-izer.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

MJ's Games played in 2009

I'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.

Dominion 47
Brass 44

Dominion: Intrigue 23
Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm 19
Race for the Galaxy 17
Animalia 15
Hansa 10
History of the World 10

Schotten-Totten 9
Dominion: Seaside 8
Numeri 8
Pandemic 8
Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game 7
San Juan 7
Stone Age 7
The Downfall of Pompeii 6
Finito! 6
Industrial Waste 5
On the Underground 5
Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age 5

The rest (single plays unless noted)
Arkadia 4,  Bohnanza 4, Chicago Express 4, China 4, Powerboats 4, Tally Ho! 4, Aton 3, Balloon Cup 3, Cold War: CIA vs. KGB 3, Finca 3, In the Year of the Dragon 3, Kakerlaken-Poker 3, Keltis 3, Kreta 3, Maori 3, Marrakech 3, Monty Python Fluxx 3, Mr. Jack 3, Piece o' Cake 3, Reef Encounter 3, Rosenkönig 3, The Settlers of Catan 3, Walk the Dogs 3, Yspahan 3, Acquire 2, Africa 2, Amun-Re 2, Arbos 2, Bang! The Bullet! 2, Battle Cry 2, Big Points 2, Carolus Magnus 2, Cities 2, Container 2, Crokinole 2, Excape 2, Figaro 2, FITS 2,  Fuzzy Tiger 2, Ghost Stories 2, High Society 2, I'm the Boss 2, In the Shadow of the Emperor 2, Ingenious 2, King of Siam 2, Long Shot 2, Medici 2, Metropolys 2, Money! 2, Musketeers 2
Polar Derby 2, Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age 2, Saint Petersburg 2, Santiago 2,  Spekulation 2, Steel Driver 2,  Strozzi 2, Thebes 2, Tobago 2, Tulipmania 1637 2, Vinci 2, Agricola, Automobile, Basari, Big City, Byzanz, Canyon, El Capitán, Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers, Chang Cheng, Cheeky Monkey,
Dancing Dice, Dice Town, Drachen Wurf, Dragonland, Entdecker, Fauna, Fearsome Floors, Fire and Axe: A Viking Saga, Flowerpower, Fluch der Mumie, Formula D, Get the Goods, Go, The Hanging Gardens, Haste Worte, Le Havre, Hey! That's My Fish!, High Score, Ice Flow, Im Reich der Wüstensöhne, Jet Set, Krieg und Frieden, Lightning: D-Day, Modern Art: The Card Game, Monastery, Mykerinos, Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815, Puerto Rico, Ra: The Dice Game, Rabbit Hunt, Richelieu, Risk, Risk Express, San Marco, Schnäppchen Jagd, Schrille Stille, Sleeping Queens, Small World, Squad Seven, Svea Rike, Take it to the Limit, Take Your Best Shot, Through the Desert, Thurn and Taxis, Ticket to Ride: Switzerland.
Tigris & Euphrates, Tikal, Tohuwabohu, Tonga Bonga, TransEuropa, Turn The Tide, Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation, Vikings, Wallamoppi, Wallenstein, Wyatt Earp, Zeus on the Loose

I see that I played 148 different titles for a total of 485 plays. Seems to me that my numbers in prior years were closer to 100 titles & 300 plays, so this was an up year for me. I think most of that increase came from more online plays, though, as I don't recall more game sessions, games days, or other face-to-face gaming. In fact, I think my games days were down last year, but maybe not.

Something that isn't so easy to pull out of BGG stats is which games were online versus face-to-face. By the time I record a podcast on this topic I'll make my own estimate of pulling those numbers out to make the comparison. Some online games don't feel like face-to-face boardgaming, but a lot of them really do for me--especially when I get to play against long-distance friends I see rarely, or mid-workweek games with my local friends. Another wrinkle I'd like to look into later are the new titles I played this year. Both to make sure I'm spending enough gaming time on my older favorites, and to take note of which new titles I played more than once (perhaps they're new favorites?).

Tons of Dominion, especially when you add in the Intrigue and Seaside plays. I still absolutely love this game, and would be happy to play it face-to-face as much as I play it online. I can't see myself keeping up with (or buying) all of the expansions, but I don't really need to. There's so much variability and replayability in the original game, and just buying a single expansion adds to much to that. The other night we almost played a game with more than 4 players, something I still haven't tried. Some of the card effects are even more fun with more players, so that's something to look forward to.

Look at all of those plays of Brass! A few of those were face-to-face, but so many more were online. This game is outstanding for online play, having a limited number of really thoughtful turns and mostly indirect player interaction. I thoroughly enjoy this game and look forward to nearly as many plays in the next year.

Similar to Dominion, my plays of Race for the Galaxy are inflated by online plays once the Genie site became available halfway through the year. I already liked RftG, but my appreciation for it shot up once I had the opportunity to play so much. It has to be said that the game has a learning curve unlike most of my collection, and it's been a minor obstacle to getting it played face-to-face. Still, we've played it some, and the availability of Keldon's incredible RftG AI downloadable program has helped us tackle that learning curve.

(By the way, I don't count plays of games against the computer, only human opponents. However, I really appreciate these programs for the opportunity to play on an airplane, on business trips, or when disconnected from the net.)

In contrast my other high-play games, Animalia is played face-to-face. (I think I had a single online play this year.) This is my go-to when my daughter & I play a game, and some of my gamer friends enjoy it, too. I own two copies (one of each version), which is another strong sign that this is a permanent favorite for me.

I also own two copies of Hansa (one for work, one for home), but that hasn't meant I got to play lots of ftf games. These were mostly online last year. Which is ok, but unlike Brass, Hansa is a game that's really better face-to-face.

History of the World was one I only played online (at Years ago I played HotW in its first (non-plastic) licensed publication by Avalon Hill, and the experience was horrible. It soured me on ever playing the game again. Then I found this online clone, and it has sparked my interest again, right when the original designers/publishers Ragnor Bros. come out with a new, possibly streamlined edition. I hope to try that sometime, though I'm lured by the deluxe plastic pieces edition by H/AH. (Luckily, some of my local gamer friends already own that, since it's too pricey to buy on the secondary market.)

My "nickels" list has a better spread of games played ftf as much or more than online. It shows my preference for the shorter games. (I know most "Five & Dime" lists favor shorter games since they're easier to play multiple times, but I honestly prefer the shorter stuff all the time.) Pandemic and Roll through the Ages were new acquisitions, and I finally picked up my own copy of Downfall of Pompeii, which I think is often overlooked. On the Underground is the game my wife enjoys to play with me (reminds us of our London vacation! unfortunately Notre Dame doesn't invoke the same nostalgia about our Paris trip). And, of course, Harry's Grand Slam Baseball is a favorite I'll play for the rest of my life.

Among the rest, some quick comments...
  Bohnanza - A good indicator that I'm playing my favorites, not "falling for" the cult of the new. :-) 
  Chicago Express - A Game of the Month for our group, and new favorite
  Aton - Need to get my own copy, since it's a great filler. (And another great Queen production.)
  Finca - Ehh... I've now tried a few times, and I don't care for it. Fits & Fauna were better, but Dominion & Pandemic easily the two best games for SdJ.
  Maori - A late December acquisition, may prove to be a good family game
  Monty Python Fluxx - I tweeted about this. A gift for my son, and the source of great laughs for us.
  Piece o' Cake - A gift from a podcast listener! Will hit a nickel next year, for sure.
  Reef Encounter - Three plays isn't enough! Love this one.
  Settlers of Catan - The Wired article sparked some interest at work, where we played over lunch.
  Walk the Dogs - Finally got my hands on a copy of this oddly distributed game. Fun.
  Svea Rike - I've had this grail (for me) game for years, and finally played it.
  Medici, Thebes, Vinci, Crokinole, Tigris & Euphrates - All longtime faves that I'm pleased to have gotten in last year, but hope to play as much or more next year.


P.S. One of these days I need to upload my nearly decade-long stats of games played into BGG so that I can have fun poring over the data and extended reports available at friendless' site. Snoozefest even sent me information on how to use a spreadsheet to do this in a more automated way, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

BGTG 99 - Ten Years of Essens

Chris 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 from that same Essen. In addition to BGG, the original German boardgame database Luding was very useful, since it allows searches for a particular Essen year.

My favorites from all these years are mostly "superfillers," but there are some heavier games as long as they aren't particularly long. A few kids' games and card games, too.

What are your favorites from these years?


Saturday, October 24, 2009

BGTG 97 - All About Brass (with Stephanie Kelleher)

If 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 really enjoy this game. Stephanie has played more face-to-face games, while I've got a lot more online plays. I tend to prefer lighter/shorter games, but Wallace's games always have a strong appeal for their historical themes. Stephanie is more of a fan of heavy games. The interesting part is how much we both like this one.


Monday, October 19, 2009

BGTG 98 - Essen Anticipation 2009

As 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 firsthand gamer experience, first at Essen itself, and especially after a month or so at BGG.con. (Unfortunately, I won't be there, either.)

If you want to follow along to the titles I run down that I find interesting, you could look through this private geeklist. It's not a polished thing ready for others to comment on. In fact, I disabled the comments, preferring instead to include a link back to this blog entry. Please write your comments here, or else send email/audio feedback to the usual destinations. Thanks.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Last & next month's games

I'm in the middle of more business travel than I've ever had to do before. I know a lot of people have to travel more than I, so I'm not complaining. I'm just experiencing the impact it has on your life, especially your time with family & friends. The family part is my deal, but the friends parts relates to games, which is why I'm writing about it on the blog.

Last month I did play some games. You can see them over to the right in the sidebar. The biggie I played was Le Havre, semi-sequel to Agricola, and just recently the winner of the International Gamers Award.. Now, I missed almost all the excitement about Agricola, but when I finally played it almost a year after the buzz started I kind of liked it. By that I mean I liked it well enough, about the same as many new titles--happy to play now & then, but it didn't displace one of my favorite (say top 20) games. No shame in that--these are my top games after more than a decade of boardgaming, so it's pretty unusual for a new game to be that much better than some proven favorites. Besides, I play more new games in that general category than old favorites anyway. Agricola was in good company, even if it wasn't one of my new favorites.

I figured the same would happen with Le Havre. Like Agricola, I didn't play it when it first came out--I only just played it for the first time last month. I was in no hurry to play it, but I wasn't avoiding it, either. I just knew I'd play it eventually. Now that I have, wow!, I'm not sure why people like this game so much! That's not true--I do understand it . . . kind of. I felt about Le Havre like I felt about Sid Meier's Civilization, Sim-City, or the Realtime Strategy computer games that came shortly thereafter: fun to see how everything works, fun to fiddle with it for a while, but before I finished a single game I was turned off by the micromanagement. Am I the only one who feels this way?

That's why I say I do and I don't understand the appeal. I understood the initial appeal of those computer games, but not their broad success and staying power. To me, Le Havre is a micromanagement boardgame, and that's not a good thing.

To me, of course--to each his own. However, I remember when wargames got too complicated for their own good in the 1980s. I was a borderline wargamer (esp. for the historic stuff), but interested enough to watch it all take place. It's not like gamers & designers suddenly decided complexity and length were good qualities. They just ended up on a slippery slope, where it seemed better to add more "stuff" to a game in order to make it more realistic, more involving, or offer a more rewarding experience. In retrospect it looks like the whole hobby just about went off the rails then, but not everyone thought so at the time. I'm not saying Le Havre is a dramatic lurch in the "wrong direction" for boardgames, but I'm pretty sure it will be a game looked back on in ten years and gamers will wonder why it was so highly regarded.

Or maybe I'm completely wrong. Some complex games like 18XX, Advanced Civ, and maybe Republic of Rome have had staying power. Closer to home, Die Macher and Roads & Boats have their diehards. Through The Ages is perhaps the most recent heavy eurogame with a large(?) group of fans and critical success.

It didn't help that Le Havre was the first eurogame I can recall where I had trouble reading "the fine print" on the game components (resource counters). I could see the ones right in front of me or my nearby opponent, but the stacks across the table I had more trouble with. Some of the resources have distinctly different icons on either side of the counter, but others don't. Mostly that's a problem with the physical design/production of the game (well, that and my 43 year old eyes!), but I think it's also fair to say it's a limitation of the game itself. Ours was the part of the hobby that used to get by (and look classy, by the way) with wooden cubes in a few colors that had no text on them at all! I'm getting old, I guess! :-)

Besides that one game of Le Havre, I've played a fair bit of Race for the Galaxy. Between the online server and the amazing standalone AI download, this has been my go-to game when doing all of this traveling. My record at the game is pretty horrible, but that's what you want in a program with AI opponents--a real challenge and chance to learn. I've always liked RftG, even though I like San Juan (and Dominion) more. Most of all, I think Race is not an easy game for newbies, or to relearn after you've been away from it for a while. Neither of those limitations even shows up when I play it on the computer, though, whether against those sharky AI opponents offline or the sharky human opponents online. It was clear this is a game that rewards experience, strategic thinking, and good tactical decisionmaking. How amazing that both of these implementations are free! My own copy of Race sits comparatively unused at home, but I'm getting its money's worth out of the computer implementations. :-)

Plus I can also go back and read Brian Bankler's strategy articles, now that I can understand them.


P.S. Next month? Oh, I'm not sure what I'll be playing next month, but it should be some face-to-face games with my buddies. Maybe we'll even try Le Havre again!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Go "vote" on the À La Carte card game award

I've always enjoyed reading through the results of the best card game award given in Germany, the À La Carte. Kind of like the Spiel des Jahres or International Gamers Awards, this award is given by an editorial board. However, this year they've opened up an online poll--not to decide or change the outcome of the award, just as a fun check between what the game-buying public thinks is the best game, compared to that editorial board thinks.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Gamewright euros (and testing Twitterfeed)

Gamewright is mostly known for mass market kids' games that are notably better than what you usually find on the shelf at Toys R Us or Target. They also do an amazing job at sneaking a little educational value into some of the titles (often math), while others are just silly fun.
Another sneaky move they pull off is bring eurogames by award-winning designers to America by skillful retheming of the games. That's how we got Turn the Tide (aka Zum Kuckuck by Stefan Dorra/FX Schmid), Loot (aka Pirat by Reiner Knizia/Amigo), and Ka-Ching (aka Combit by Palesch & Rösner/Winning Moves). That's fantastic! Our only quibble might be that they keep the designers of these games almost a secret, putting their credit in small print at the end of the rules, and on the back of the box.

I just received a batch of new & old Gamewright games, many of which I hope to try soon and discuss along with previously played Gamewright titles in an upcoming podcast. While reading the rules to one, I thought how the mechanics sounded similar to Circus Flohcati or Cheeky Monkey. Sure enough, I looked hard and found it was designed by Knizia. Another one is an American version of the newest game in the Schmidt Spiele EasyPlay line.

Has someone made a Geeklist of these clandestine eurogames brought over by Gamewright? I didn't find one.

(With this post I'm also testing my new Twitterfeed linkage. Could be the best of both worlds if I can do a "full" blog post here and have it picked up on twitter.)


Sunday, August 30, 2009

BGTG 96 - Translations, Editions, and Revisions (with David Gullett)

Let me clear about this--most of the explanation for the delay in this podcast (recorded almost two months ago) is simply that I never got around to finishing & posting it. Part of that is because the show is longer than usual--longer than fits on a CD--and I thought I wanted to edit it down considerably. But as you know if you're a longtime listener, I don't really do that kind of editing. I don't do much editing at all, truthfully. (Feedback welcome on that, by the way.) After I gave up the idea of editing out so much content, I figured I'd just post the show in two parts, spaced about a week apart. Now that it's taken me another few weeks to even do that much, I'm giving up, deciding to post the whole thing. I don't think hardly anybody burns these onto CDs in 2009 anyway, and some gaming podcasts are even longer. So this is part procrastination/laziness, part experiment. Let me know what you think. Whew!

This is a topic of interest to the truly geeky, the ones that care a little too much about their games. That's me, and it's probably you, too. (After all, you're reading a boardgame blog, listening to a boardgame podcast! You've got it bad . . . ) You won't be in this hobby very long before you encounter some opinions, including your own, about which version of a game is best. The original? The one where they changed the artwork & components? Or the one where they redeveloped the game into something just a little different? Small World is the game that triggered me to record this episode. I'm a huge fan of Vinci, which was Small World's differently-themed predecessor.

Do I like Small World? Yes.

Do I prefer it to Vinci? No way.

Why not? Because of the theme. Vinci has a historic theme and map, while Small World has a fantasy theme and map. You know my preferences. I've heard some say that Vinci has no theme, but I don't understand that at all. Clearly we have very different ideas of what constitutes a game theme. (That's another podcast I'd like to tackle some day.) Of the several design modifications in the latter game, I prefer the original, but they're not a big deal. It's the theme that is driving my opinion, more than anything.

Which do I recommend? Well, it depends on the gamer, but I have to admit that most will probably prefer Small World. Certainly you can easily buy Small World, while Vinci is now, sadly, Out-Of-Print (OOP).
We talk about a lot more than Small World as I tried to generalize what's going on here. All those versions of Settlers, Cosmic Encounter, Medici, and even Careers make it in to the discussion.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

BGTG 95 - SR & Feedback (Container & Chicago Express)

Whoops! I almost let two months go by since my last show. I've been playing plenty of games, so here's a session report & feedback show to describe my inability to play economic games with any skill! But as badly as I've been doing at them, I'm still interested. In fact, I'm even more interested in the games because it feels like there's something everyone else understands about their strategy . . . that I don't! Two plays of one game, four plays of the other, and I'm still struggling. What I really need is for someone to make a play-by-web version of either of these games, then I could really practice. (I've gotten pretty good at Brass that way.)

The previous few episodes generated a ton of great feedback, and that's what I really wanted to share on the podcast. Keep 'em coming--all of your podcasters love feedback.

Monday, May 04, 2009

BGTG 94 - Are any of our games Classics? (with Greg Pettit)

It comes up from time to time in discussions about our hobby--will any of the games we're playing now achieve "classic" status? There are commercial classics like Monopoly, Risk, and Scrabble, as well as cultural or timeless classics like Go, Chess, and Poker. That's an awfully high standard for any game to achieve, even ones we think so highly of on our game nights and gamesdays. What does complexity or availability have to do with it? And is the world just so different today that games have a different path to achieve that status?

The conversation is long, but a particularly good one. I think so, anyway. I told my guest, Greg Pettit, afterward that this is just the sort of subject I enjoy tackling in the podcast. Because I always enjoyed reading about it from the likes of Peter Sarrett, Mike Siggins, or Greg Aleknevicus. That's good company to be in!

We go back & forth between philosophical descriptions of classics, and considerations of individual titles. Partway through the show, Greg poses a wonderful question about what games we might put in a 50 or 100-year time capsule, wanting to show future generations how wonderful, entertaining, and creative these games are . . . even if those future people are used to playing virtual reality, holographic, full-sensory "videogames" and zipping around in their flying cars. :-)


Monday, April 20, 2009

Follow BGTG on Twitter

I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with it yet, but went as far as deciding to get a Twitter account for this podcast. My podcasts have tended to be longer and in more depth--Twitter is about the opposite form of communication. That's why it may prove useful--sometimes I have small, even tiny things to say or ask that are appropriate for Twitter.

Boardgamegeek now has some hooks into Twitter, but the one for logging game plays wasn't too meaningful yet. Perhaps it will be improved, or perhaps I'll just write my own tweets to note game sessions of interest. I look upon this is an expansion of the cool widget Aldie made that lets me show the covers of the last several games I played. I don't know if anyone takes notice of those (the RSS feed doesn't update when the games played scroll changes), but with Twitter I can send out a one-liner about some interesting game played. If I hear back about some interest, perhaps that indicates an interesting podcast discussion? It's worth experimenting with. If you're at all interested, go check out .

And don't worry--this isn't about to replace the podcast itself!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

BGTG archives going ALL the way back...

A podcast listener recently posed this question about easy access to the BGTG archives.

I'm a long time listener but ever since my iPod was decommissioned I've been away. Now that I've got a new one, I'm trying to catch up with previous episodes but I've hit a small snag - iTunes (or rather BGTG's feed on iTunes store) only shows the 10 most recent files [. . .]

Not that this is really a problem, since I can manually download each file, but they show up as regular music files on iTunes and not as Podcasts (alongside the most recent shows). I've looked all over on how to make these downloaded files be grouped together with those available via subscription but there's apparently no way (short of buying a Mac to run a AppleScript hack or creating a fake Feedburner feed with a modified hosts file).

Soooo, I was wondering if you could please make all files available via iTunes (update the XML?). This way, after searching for the show on iTunes Store, I could manually select the podcasts I'd like to download before hitting the "Subscribe" button. It seems all files are already available via Libsyn, so there wouldn't be new costs involved. As an extra benefit, new listeners (as well as old a****-retentive users like myself) could be able to select what to hear, like a special all-about show or a particular theme. How about that?
I know how to do this. A setting in my blog hosting software will allow up to 500 blog entries to be listed on the front page. As I recall, that will reset iTunes into listing them all again. The only trouble is that it might start automated downloading of all those old episodes for ALL of my listeners, not just the ones who are actively seeking them. Some people may be unhappy about the inconvenience of it all.

I'd like to see if anyone knows how to solve this request another way. The listener who wrote me is willing to dig back through the BGTG archives--he just needs a way for them to show up as podcasts on his MP3 player, not just as generic music files.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

BGTG 93 - All About Big City (with Eric Burgess)

It must be just about time for a boring show with just me on the mic, but you're spared once again! This time I have fellow podcaster Eric "Boardgame Babylon" Burgess with me to talk about another of my favorites, Big City. Turns out it's one of his, too, and when I made a half-serious request for someone to do this episode with, Eric responded right away. We live somewhat far from each other, though still both in Southern California. Better still, we commute our opposite directions to both coverge on our workplaces only a few miles apart.

Big City is a game notable for its wonderful plastic pieces--not normally something I'm swayed by--but it's also an outstanding and unique tile-laying game with strong theme. Though out of print by Goldseiber and Rio Grande Games, it is due to be reprinted by Valley Games pretty soon. And there's always the used game market.


P.S. Be sure to check out Eric's "Power Grid: In Depth" podcast, as well as the rest of Boardgame Babylon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

BGTG 92 - Game Awards (with Dave Arnott)

Part 2 of my discussion with Dave Arnott was about game awards. There are a bunch of them, from the Spiel des Jahres to the Golden Geeks. We talk about a whole range of them, and also consider how game awards are similar or different from other artistic awards, such as the Oscars. (By the way, I did go see Slumdog Millionaire that night, and though I liked it I wouldn't have called it the Best Picture of the year.)


P.S. Let me know if you think the audio levels sound better on this recording. Like most of my guests, Dave has lower lows and (especially) higher highs than my own voice, which makes leveling the audio tricky with my low budget rig. Aldie suggested I pipe it through some software called Levelator, so I'm trying that for this second half of our show.

Friday, March 20, 2009

BGTG 91 - 2008 Year in Review (with Dave Arnott)

What started as one show with two topics ended up being two shows. This is the first part, where Dave Arnott and I reflect on 2008. That means talking about our games played, totals as well as "fives & dimes." We also consider which were are favorite releases or discoveries in 2008. Along the way are some inevitable discussions about online plays, whether realtime (e.g. brettspielwelt, Game Table Online) or play-by-web (e.g. Mabiweb, Spielbyweb).


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Join me for PBW Brass?

Lately I've really been enjoying Brass in its play-by-web implementation. The presentation isn't pretty, but is perfectly functional, and it enables more play of this deep game. Anyone care to join me? The password is bgtg, as always.

Friday, March 06, 2009

BGTG 90 - Veto-Proof Game Night (with Ryan Wheeler)

My buddy Ryan Wheeler is part of our local game group, the Santa Clarita Boardgamers. In fact, he's the driving force of the group, hosting most of the game nights, always adding to his collection, and infecting the rest of us with his enthusiasm and sense of humor. When schedules conflicts led to only two of us showing up for games one night, I pressured him into recording another podcast with me. (Later that night we played Risiko Express and Ice Flow, which we don't talk about on the podcast.)

The topic I chose was a recent, successful experiment in the group: veto-proof game night. It was the idea of Ryan's wife, Erin, who occasionally plays games with us. That label (and the title of this BGTG episode) isn't what Ryan & Erin called it, and doesn't quite describe what she had in mind. But it was the only name I had for it. Basically, she suggested that each of us gets one week's game group session in the month of December to pick a game from our collection that we really wanted to play, probably one we haven't gotten to the table yet, and as a "gift" everyone would happily play it--no questions asked.

It was great. Three of us picked games on successive weeks--games that probably wouldn't have seen play otherwise--and everyone was onboard with just jumping right in. What was interesting for the podcast was the different nature of the three games. I think it made for some interesting discussion, together with side points about session reports and game group dynamics, in general.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Games for auction

I've posted another auction on Boardgamegeek. Help me get rid of some games so I can trick myself into buying more, immediately overwhelming the storage space I'm trying to recover! :)

Auction ends on Friday, March 6. See the instructions at the top of the page.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More play-by-web

I'm doing that again (never stopped, really). Go to the usual sites (SpielByWeb, Mabiweb, to look for games I've started for BGTG podcast listeners, and the password for each is bgtg.

Also, if you go to the realtime sites Brettspielwelt or GameTableOnline (or the hybrid pbw/realtime site just added Arkadia in beta test), be sure to see if I'm online. I always go by the straightforward username MarkJohnson.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Did you leave me a voicemail?

Someone just did, and I'd like to respond on a future episode, but unfortunately he must've been calling on a cell phone with a poor signal. The audio drops out during all of the important words of his message, like his question why I don't do more shows about my ______ games. What was that? Or his name--that also dropped out.

If you're out there, please try again!