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Podcast title Boardgames To Go
Website URL http://www.boardgamestogo.com/...
Description Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames
Updated Sat, 22 Jun 2019 00:56:35 +0000
Image Boardgames To Go
Category Games & Hobbies

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1. Boardgames To Go 191 - Spiel des Jahres Top 40
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 58.91Mb)


I'll be attending Origins Game Fair this year (June 2019) in Columbus. I've been there before, but only in the 80s & 90s, so I'm sure it's substantially different now. I'll be there Thursday-Sunday, including participating on a panel of wargame podcasters/YouTubers/bloggers Sunday morning. That's listed in the program as shown below. I think it's free, and although it's about wargaming you may want to stop by anyway. The topic is the current "golden age" of the hobby, and part of what I have to say is how there are more euro-wargame crossover titles now. Some good aspects of euro design & production have made their way into wargames. I'm thinking of titles like Memoir '44, Twilight Struggle, Academy Games' 1754/1775/1812 series, A Few Acres of Snow, and so on.

Whether you attend the panel or not, I'm happy to hand out my little BoardgamesToGo and WargamesToGo buttons to listeners. Just track me down and I should have some onhand to give away. I'll mostly be doing open gaming, I think. Drop me a note on Twitter or geekmail if you like.

Armchair Dragoons Presents Wargaming Media: State of Play
This panel featuring wargaming media personalities will discuss the current “Golden Age” of board wargaming and what can be done to ensure its survival.
Location: GCCC - Apods - A210
Date: Sunday 6/16/2019 10am (2 hours)

Opener: Silver & Gold

Closer: SdJ jury comments
Dale Yu's 2009 interview with Tom Werneck at Opinionated Gamers
Harald Schrapers and other jury members

It's Spiel des Jahres season. That means the speculation has happened, the actual nominees & recommended titles have been announced, and now we're just waiting on the final prizewinning selection. This doesn't matter to many people--in fact many gamers don't think it's a big deal. But it's a big deal to me and here's why: I'm a hobby gamer from way, way back. Like four decades. If you think hobby gaming is niche now, you have no recollection of what an odd corner it was in back then. Stereotyped as being full of nerdy boys and grumpy old men, that was kind of true. Game shops did not smell good. Mature romances and stable careers were hard to find.

Now, those people are still around--and they deserve their hobby, too--but I find it FAR better today that we have more diverse game groups filled with everyday people doing everyday jobs. Interesting games are on sale in bookstores, at Target, and of course online. Not everything has to have an orc in it. I don't know if the hobby IS bigger & broader, but it sure feels that way.

True, these improvements may have come around on their own. After all, formerly geeky entertainments like Game of Thrones and Marvel comics now dominate our cultural landscape. Perhaps hobby games would've developed on their own. I don't think so, however. Or, at least, it all happened much faster (and--importantly--across a broader audience) because a group of game reviewers in Germany took artistic criticism of gaming as an artform seriously. They drove their publishers to do better, and in turn the publishers were rewarded with increased business. It was a positive cycle, and we are some of its lucky recipients.

There are a lot of awards thought up & given out by all sorts of organizations. There have been some in America for decades. Yet they didn't have this impact. In fact, there were other awards in Germany, too. The Spiel des Jahres has worked like no others because it has been cultivated & maintained by a dedicated, revolving collection of game critics. Even if the lighter, more family-focused games aren't your favorites, you still benefit from their polishing of the games business. For someone like me, it's even better because I honestly love many of the titles that have won the Spiel des Jahres.

I don't love ALL of them, though. Not even close. As you'll hear, I'd say I love about a third, like another third, and don't like the final third. Close to that. This episode is a ranking of all 40 of the SdJ winners, and (briefly) what I think of them.





2. Boardgames To Go 190 - Grail Games (with David Harding)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 49.59Mb)


Openers: KeyForge and Lost Cities Rivals

Closers: "It's light but and I liked it" / Fillers fill me up; Do gaming statistics add or subtract from your enjoyment?

Over the many years on this podcast I've interviewed plenty of gamers, and a few designers. Apparently I'd missed talking to a publisher, however. I first encountered David Harding as an online gamer-friend, whether through Yucata.de, Twitter, or just email. We played some games together and traded messages. Somewhere along the way he became a game designer, and then a game publisher. David designed & produced Elevenses, One Zero One, and Matcha, then broadened into publishing other designers' titles. Most notably, he has produced new editions and new games from Reiner Knizia himself. Besides the well-known Medici, David and Grail Games brought us Knizia's most substantial new game in many years, Yellow & Yangtze. In fact, Grail Game has published quite a number of amazing Knizia titles.

Have you ever been dissatisfied in your day job and fantasized about being a game designer or publisher? David's story will resonate with you. Clearly it isn't easy, and it doesn't make you rich. In fact, you probably still need to stick with that day job. But there's a joy & pride in bringing thee games to the public, too, and you can hear that in David's voice and story.

Towards the end, David describes the current state of the hobby in a way that will resonate with anyone who takes a longer view. Although he's super careful to allow any gamer their own way of enjoying the hobby, personally he's the sort that appreciates repeated plays and games we can all stick with. Or even just games that he likes personally.

"Like the games you like." Good advice for all of us.


P.S. You can tell from this podcast that David is unique, fun, and self-deprecating personality. If you want to see & hear more of his charming quirkiness, check out his Grail Games channel on YouTube.

3. Boardgames To Go 189 - Welcome to Season 15
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 55.88Mb)


I pushed back an interview show I have coming next* in order to open the 15th year(!) of this podcast with a solo episode. In it, I reflect a little on the podcast and (re)tell some stories about it. Then I launch into a LONG list of games I've managed to play at three recent events: EsCon 2019, SoCal Games Day #76, and an extended weekend boardgame cruise with some buddies. In those events I played a mix of old favorites, some new-to-me superfillers like I prefer, a few longer games, and some that have some hype/hotness about them. See? Even I play those trendy titles sometimes, kickstarted or not. As you'll hear, I sometimes like them!

Opener: Stories about the podcast

Closer: I always say, "Thanks for listening," and today I mean that more than ever. I wouldn't keep doing the podcast if not for the positive feedback I receive from my audience. You all make it worth the labor of love.


* Spoiler alert! It's with David Harding, the designer/publisher behind Grail Games.

4. Boardgames To Go 188 - Essen 2018 (with Chris Marling)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 48.48Mb)




Chris Marling

Game designer, blogger, and real-life journalist Chris Marling joins me once again to talk about Essen. As he did two years ago, he had a new game launching at Spiel, so we get to hear about that. But he's also an enthusiastic game hobbyist like the rest of us, and he also talks about the event itself from that point of view. Chris loves the game fair, and has been going for quite a number of years. From that perspective, he's able to notice some shifts & changes in the hobby that affect the world's largest boardgame event itself. We talk about those, too.

Chris was there, in part, to help launch his new game, Witless Wizards. If you were there, perhaps you saw him, played a demo with him, or got your copy signed. He came home with a lot of new games, as always, and by now he's had a chance to play most of them. (Remember, Essen itself is more of a game buying event than one with lots of opportunities for actually playing your purchases.) Chris gathered up ten titles he wanted to talk about for one reason or another. Sometimes because they're great games, sometimes for other reasons. Besides the two games mentioned in our Openers (above), Chris discusses Underwater Cities, Trapwords, Narabi, Orbis, Fool, Discover: Lands Unknown, Crown of Emara, Showtime, Gnomopolis, and The Color Monster.

• Downsizing a collection...mission accomplished!
• How does journalism tackle the current game saturation situation?


5. Boardgames To Go 187 - Post-BGGcon 2018 (with Ryan Wheeler and Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 63.00Mb)

No Openers or Closers this time, as we have so many games from the event to discuss!

Games discussed: Spring Meadow, Bärenpark, Gingerbread House, Trade on the Tigris, Age of Civilization, PitchCar, Weird Things Humans Search For, The Brady Bunch Party Game, Onitama, Sakura, Indigo, Blue Lagoon, The Arabian Pots, LYNGK, Yellow & Yangtze, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, Treasure Island, Northern Pacific, Micropolis, Voodoo Prince, Ticket to Ride: New York, Pantone: The Game, Tower of Madness, Dune, KeyForge, Poker, Exxtra, Passing Through Petra, Carpe Diem, Streaming, The Quacks of Quedlinburg, Trendy, The Mind, First Contact, Star Trek Panic, 1st & Roll


Ryan Wheeler

Just about every year, my friend & frequent podcast guest Greg Pettit joins me to talk about BGGcon. In recent years I've enjoyed the event with him, but I missed 2018. However, another friend, Ryan Wheeler, does that job this year. Greg, Ryan, and I met around 15 years ago when we all lived nearby and played regularly in our little group, the Santa Clarita Boardgamers. Of those three, I'm the only one still in Santa Clarita, California. Greg's in Texas, and Ryan's in South Dakota. While it's too bad I couldn't join them this year, I'm so happy that BGGcon is around to draw old gamer friends together like a magnet.

Greg & Ryan gave me their combined list of games played at BGGcon, and then gave each game a 1-5 star rating. That's sort of like half of a BGG rating, but really it's a measure of the eagerness for playing the games again, as well as a reflection of the experience at the time. Know what I mean? It's enthusiasm, as much as it's a measure of artistic/entertainment merit according to some "standardized" scale. Think of it this way--it's easier to enthusiastically give a game 5 stars and be excited to play again, even if you're not yet sure the game is a "10."

Whatever the stars are, the real value in the podcast is listening to these guys describe the games and their experiences with them. They played most of them together, though you'll also hear when they split up & tried different things. Along the way you'll also hear about some happenings at BGGcon that aren't strictly boardgaming--stuff like the puzzle hunt, virtual flea market, and bazaar. (No BBQ commentary this time, but I trust they enjoyed Texas' contribution to fine dining. I know I would've.)


6. Boardgames To Go 186 - Kniziathon (with Doug Adams)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 16.30Mb)


Openers: Root and Krass Kariert

Closers: Playing boardgames solo; Stephen Glenn's tweet about Phase 1 & 2 in our hobby:


Doug Adams

Doug and I have "known" each other via the internet for over twenty years. He, Joe Huber, and I were the three that started emailing each other to form the Desert Island Gamers (DIGers) mailing list that was a main source of boardgaming information before sites like BGG were around. Heck, we go back far enough that we knew each other from IRC chat sessions. Although the distance between California (me) and Australia (Doug) has prevented us from meeting in-person, we've kept up an irregular correspondence for all of those years. Doug was on my wargames podcast a couple years ago, and at that time I knew I had to get him on Boardgames To Go, too. He maintains his wargaming days are mostly behind him, and he's almost exclusively a eurogamer now.

When he dove into his own private, Knizia boardgaming marathon challenge, I knew straight away that this was the topic we'd discuss. Being gamers from way back, I knew he'd be exploring lots of classic Knizia titles from the 1990s. He didn't stop there, though. He played every kind of Knizia game he could, from those early titles that impressed so many of us, through some recent years when Knizia was less visible, all the way up to the present day's "Reinerssance."

Though this challenge was big enough to begin with, Doug kept adding to it as the year went on. Then he managed to actually complete this gargantuan challenge by the end of September. Amazing! I invited him on the podcast to talk about that entire experience, both the Knizia games he enjoyed, and the very nature of personal boardgaming challenges. With the new year coming soon, I bet some other gamers will be inspired to try their own challenges. More power to you.

Be sure to also check out Doug's excellent blog here on BGG, full of great photos and tidbits about the games he plays. It's called Reducing Doug's To Play List, which gives some sense of its general purpose. He posted monthly recaps of his progress through his "Great Knizia Challenge."

A fitting reward for Doug from Dr. Knizia


7. Boardgames To Go 185 - Essen Anticipation 2018
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 19.14Mb)


Opener: Reef

Closers: Games with Heidelberg, such as Thurn & Taxis, Web of Power, or Wallenstein (what did I forget?)

The famous Spiel game fair in Essen, Germany starts later this week. I won't be there, but that's nothing new. Like most of us, I window-shop this gathering from afar, and participate vicariously via blogs, videos, and (maybe most of all) getting excited for its arrival. Just over a week ago I commented on Twitter that I hadn't looked at the list of games at all. That was echoed by some who thought I might be "over" the buzz and hype of Essen.

I'm not. Not really.

True, I don't get quite as deep into the research and anticipation of the many games coming out. But that's mostly because it's impossible to sort through that much information about so many new games. The dynamic listing here on BGG tops a thousand titles in the database for Essen 2018. I used everyone else's anticipating (i.e. thumbs) as a guide to look through over a hundred games myself, whittling that down to about 25 that catch my eye in some way. Those are the games depicted above, and the ones I discuss in the podcast.


8. Boardgames To Go 184 - Conventions for Boardgame Players & Designers
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 26.99Mb)



Openers: Ethnos and Ganz Schön Clever (app)

Game designer David Thompson joins me to talk about most of the big game conventions in our hobby, and what they mean when you're testing or pitching designs. Of course, most of us will encounter those conventions as a player, and David talks about that experience, too. We talk about Essen (Spiel), UK Games Expo, Nuremberg, Origins, and Gencon.

Have you been to any of these? Some may be on the other side of the world from you, and would be an incredible expense (and adventure). Others could be within driving range, or at least a reasonably priced plane ticket. Maybe you want to go just to experience one of these events. Perhaps you're a real Cult of the New junkie, and you want to buy games when they are first available. Do you just want to play a bunch of boardgames? Some of these are better for that than others.

Or, heck, maybe you're an aspiring game designer, and you want to pitch some games like David does. That makes some of these working events, even business trips for you. There are some interesting differences between them for that purpose, too.

David mentions several other big cons that he hasn't attended yet: Dice Tower Con, BGGcon, WBC, PAX Unplugged (and GAMA Trade Show). Of course I've talked about BGGcon a number of times, but I'm not going to make it this year. WBC is on my list for a convention I want to attend, too.

And then...he goes on to say that his favorite convention was a regional con, Tennessee Game Days. Sounds great!

Closers: Moving to a new place (as a gamer & designer) and Freedom:The Underground Railroad and Uwe Eickert interview on Harold On Games podcast #10


9. Boardgames To Go 183 - Spiel des Jahres 2018
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 16.73Mb)


Opener: Nothing specific, since I discuss so many titles during the episode

Closer: Check out the Gravity Assist podcast that includes an interview with the project scientist for "my" spacecraft heading for Mars right now.

Perhaps foolishly, I'm posting my thoughts about the Spiel des Jahres nominees just a few hours before the actual winner in announced in Germany. Well, no matter. You may have already heard some of my thoughts about these games (as well as the Kennerspiel nominees) on a recent episode of the video series Game Night! here on BGG. On my own podcast I get to say a bit more about all of them.

I've always liked retrospective analysis of games, and here I do a little near the end, looking back five years to the Spiel and Kenner nominees for 2013. Do you remember what those were? What do you think of those picks now?

10. Boardgames To Go 182 - Downsizing a Collection
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 38.64Mb)


David G.
Greg Wilzbach
Mike Mayer

You haven't heard from me lately (unless you subscribe to my wargames podcast), but I'm still here, still gaming. However, there HAS been a transformation in my engagement with the hobby. For the past half-year I've firmly been in the mode of downsizing my collection. Why, and why now? Well, that's some of what this podcast is about. I'm joined by three of my local gaming buddies, Dave, Greg, and Mike. Dave isn't exactly downsizing, but he's disciplined about NOT letting his collection grow. So as he gets new games, he sells off others. I'm actually shrinking my collection. The other two guys are in a different frame of mind. Greg is running out of storage space, but still wants all of his games (and more). Mike thinks anyone who wants to get rid of games is crazy. It all adds up to a variety of interesting opinions about downsizing a collection.

11. Boardgames To Go 181 - Brewery Roundtable BGGcon 2017
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 18.67Mb)


Bigger & better than a couple years ago, a bunch of my BGGcon buddies joined me around the microphone at an outdoor brewery table. We'd been to the Hard 8 bbq place frequented by gamers, then headed over to the Grapevine Craft Brewery. There we relaxed with a few beers and recorded some thoughts about games we'd been playing. (We even played a few games of Insider.)

You'll hear Zak, Brian, Steve #1, Steve #2, Marcin, DaveO, Eryn, Travis, Greg, Rick, Ryan, and me talk about Magic Maze, Civilization: A New Dawn, Heaven & Ale, Majesty:For The Realm, TransAtlantic, Santa Maria, Calimala, Nusfjord, Merlin, Istanbul Dice Game, Mountains of Madness, and Azul. 



12. Boardgames To Go 180 - Post-BGGcon 2017 (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 67.07Mb)


Opener: Welcome to Season 14 of my podcast! (Also family gathering gaming with Take Your PickRaj, and Codenames)

Closers: Pimping out Wits & Wagers with the Vegas Mat; "Mansplaining" boardgames

Back in November I returned to BGGcon, played a ton of games, and recorded TWO podcasts. Then the holidays, work, and family events took over. Now I'm finally getting the first one out, and I won't make you wait as long for the next one, either. This is a LOOONNNNGGGG episode, too. Not my normal approach, but this time there were lots of games to discuss with Greg. Be sure to check out the accompanying geeklist.

There's dad in summer 2016, grinning as he watches his family play a game together


13. Boardgames To Go 179 - Essen Anticipation 2017
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 18.50Mb)


Opener: Startups

Closers: Wargames To Go (French & Indian War)

It's mid-October, which means it's time for my annual "Essen Anticipation" episode. I may have missed a year or two along the way, but mostly I've been doing these since I started the podcast in 2005. Along the way I think I've learned more about my own preferences, and have gotten better at homing in on just those games that will end up being some of my favorites or keepers for the year. But I'm not THAT good. I still get excited and list a lot more games than will end up being my hits of the year. Even more than I will get a chance to play soon. That's ok--this is part of the fun of the hobby, at least for me: getting excited about new games, new ideas, new (and old!) designers/publishers.


14. Boardgames To Go 178 - One Year After the One Year Purge (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 33.21Mb)


Openers: Innovation Deluxe and Ethnos

Closers: Can a designer be their own developer? and How to leave feedback for this podcast.

Regular guest of the podcast, Greg Pettit, set out to reduce his collection size. Just about all boardgamers can relate--running out of storage space, and not getting your old favorites to the table. Unlike most of us, though, he put this downsizing under a microscope, writing about it each month for a blog/geeklists that tracked his progress. More than that, they contemplated the progress. In this way, did he "murder his hope," or did he refocus on the joy this hobby can bring? That's what we talk about.


15. Boardgames To Go 177 - Spiel des Jahres 2017
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 23.20Mb)


Opener: Pack O Game (especially BOO and DIG from Set #2)

Closer: Tabletopia

As you might have seen, I was lucky enough to participate in a few recent episodes of Game Night! when the gang discussed the recent game awards: Spiel des Jahres, Kinderspiel des Jahres, and Kennerspiel des Jahres. Although I was able to share some of my opinions & experiences with the games on those videos, I have more to say on my own podcast...and here it is.

Kennerspiel des Jahres
Raiders of the North Sea nominee
Exit: The Game winner!
Terraforming Mars nominee (and my favorite)

Kinderspiel des Jahres
Captain Silver nominee
Ice Cool winner!
The Mysterious Forest nominee (and my favorite)

Spiel des Jahres
Magic Maze nominee
The Quest for El Dorado nominee
Kingdomino winner! (and my favorite)


16. Boardgames To Go 176 - Nos Amis à Paris (with Melissa, Olivier, and Candy)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 20.31Mb)


Opener: Aton

I'm back in California now, since my work in France is done. All told, we were there about nine months. That's a little shorter than the year originally planned, but clearly we enjoyed a wonderful experience. I was there for my job, and the job changed a bit (for the better), which is why we came home "early." All of that time was spent in Paris. It was the move to Toulouse that didn't happen. As my wife Candy says, we'll just have to go there on vacation some day.

Before we left France, however, we recorded a podcast with our good friends Melissa & Olivier. They were the first people who responded to my invitation for a Light/Short group. Not only did they become our most reliable boardgamers in the group, they also became our best friends in France. It was difficult to say goodbye, but I'm confident we'll see them again. As you'll hear, they're new to the hobby, very enthusiastic, and are starting to attend big events in the hobby. They'll return to the UK Games Expo at the end of this week, may go to Essen later, and will no doubt start attending the game events in France. If their careers bring them back to New York, then I expect we'll see them at the American game events, too.

I enjoy hearing how my friends got into the hobby, and this interview has the added benefit of Olivier's international perspective. Anyone who wishes their spouse played more boardgames will be green with envy when you hear how these two enjoy the hobby together. Wow!

Other mentions:
New York 1901 with its artwork like bande dessinée
Notre Dame
Risk (which originated as the French game, La Conquête du Monde)
Ticket to Ride: USA, Europe, and UK
Paris Connection
TransEuropa (Polish edition)
First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express!

French game groups & meeting places:
English Speaking Boardgamers of Paris
Cafe Meisia
Anticafé Beaubourg
Joueurs Anonymes

Say hi to Melissa & Olivier if you see them at the UK Games Expo

Closer: Our international hobby


17. BGTG 175 - Curious about Wargames? (with Dave O'Connor)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 31.58Mb)


Opener: A light wargame! Miracle on the Loire: Joan of Arc


My buddy DaveO has been on the podcast before, talking about euro gaming at Essen, or if any games are good for five players. Like most of us, he's played an overwhelming number of strategy boardgames over the years. The didn't include wargames, though he was kind of curious about them. In 2016 he was "tricked" into going to GMT Games' Warehouse at the Weekend, and found himself first horrified by and later part of the wargaming going on there. This makes him a good ambassador to regular boardgamers who don't think in terms of hexagons, Combat Results Tables, and lines of supply. He still remembers watching "pipe-smoking history professors" stick their noses in rulebooks while little happened on their gameboards, an activity that didn't look fun at all. That's not exactly the kind of wargaming he's doing now, but DaveO definitely HAS become a wargamer. Are you wondering what all the fuss is about Falling Sky, Churchill, or W1815?

Whether you are looking to dive into the deep end of wargaming, or just want to see what a smaller/shorter wargame can be like, I hope this conversation between DaveO and I can give you some answers. Definitely also look at Jim Cote's excellent blog post, Wargames: Barriers to Entry. I agree with all but two points of it. Which two points? Let's discuss in the comments.

Closer: Heading back to California

18. Boardgames To Go 174 - Vive la France!
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 12.87Mb)


Opener: Paris Connection

A quick, solo show to catch up on some things. If you've been following my (sort of) weekly session report geeklists, or on social media (twitter, facebook), you'll know that I've been boardgaming with a group I created for Monday nights in Paris. It focuses on light/short games, and has an ulterior motive--it's a good outing for couples. My mostly non-gamer wife even goes with me to these! We're having a good time, and meeting good people. Besides that, I also want to share some of my other observations about being a gamer in France, now that I'm at or past the half-way point of my time over here.

English-Speaking Boardgamers of Paris (Meetup, Facebook)
Okkazeo (French used boardgame marketplace)
Festival International des Jeux-Cannes

Closer: (Finally) figuring out the right kind of games for the players you've got



19. Boardgames To Go 173 - Post-Essen 2016 (with Chris Marling & David Thompson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 35.13Mb)



David Thompson
Chris Marling

Opener: Mansions of Madness (2nd edition), TIME Stories, Terraforming Mars, Great Western Trail

This is really a double-episode. In the second half we talk about more Essen titles, and the experience of my two guests who attended from England. However, these aren't just any two guests--they are collaborative game designers. Their big release at Essen 2016 was Armageddon, and they tell about the experiences designing, pitching, and launching the game. Along the way there are other stories about the collaborative design process, and how those designer-publisher pitch meetings go behind-the-scenes at Essen. It's a fascinating discussion.



Then I asked them to share just a handful of particular titles they acquired and enjoyed from the event. More good stuff.

Closer: The pitfalls of looking at BGG ratings without context; the Splendor app...and its achievement system; does a game become classic when people forget the rules?


20. Boardgames To Go 172 - Post-BGGcon 2016 Part 2 (with Brian Murray & David Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 37.95Mb)


Opener: skipped this time, because we cover so many games in the main show

My last episode of 2016 is going to (pretty much!) wrap up my coverage of BGGcon. Two more SoCal friends join me across many miles & timezones to share their experiences at the convention. It's a very game-specific episode, with many titles discussed. They're pictured below, but you really should follow along with their geeklists (linked below).

This brings another year and season of Boardgames To Go to a close. I'll definitely be back in January to kick off the next season. When I moved to France for my job mid-year, I really wasn't sure what would happen with the podcast. I knew I WANTED to keep it going, but could I? Yes! It may even be possible that I've put out more episodes than I would've at home (especially if you include Wargames To Go, which is on a roll.) Thanks to all of my listeners who stuck with me another year.

Closer: skipped this, too, because we talk about "meta" stuff throughout the episode


21. Boardgames To Go 171 - Post BGGcon 2016 Part 1 (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 34.98Mb)




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


22. Boardgames To Go 170 - BGGcon 2016
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 26.68Mb)


Opener: 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.

Dave OConnor
Ryan Wheeler
Rick Byrens

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


23. Boardgames To Go 169 - Post-Essen 3016
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 19.00Mb)


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


24. Boardgames To Go 168 - Essen 2016
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 12.08Mb)

Description: Against 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


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.



25. Boardgames To Go 167 - Pre-Essen 2016
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 18.79Mb)


Opener: 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.

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.)


26. Boardgames To Go 166 - Catching Up Before Essen
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 8.22Mb)


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.


27. Boardgames To Go 165 - The Times They Area A-Changin'
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 16.31Mb)


Opener: 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.


28. Boardgames To Go 164 - Managing the Hoard (with Greg Wilzbach)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 22.47Mb)


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.

Greg Wilzbach

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


29. Boardgames To Go 163 - Long Games (with Eric Brosius)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 30.51Mb)


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


30. Boardgames To Go 162 - Return of the Podcast
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 23.61Mb)

Description: I'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!


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.

31. BGTG_161f_2015-11-22
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 15.15Mb)

Description: Last daily podcast of BGGcon, this one a live recording with Greg in the main hall as it was closing down.

32. BGTG_161e_2015-11-21
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 10.18Mb)

Description: This 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

33. BGTG_161d_2015-11-20
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 7.05Mb)

Description: Outdoor, impromptu recording of a bunch of BGGcon friends at a local beer garden. Talks about games played & looking forward to.

34. BGTG_161c_2015-11-19
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 17.42Mb)

Description: Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

35. BGTG_161test
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 0.58Mb)

Description: Test recording to make sure I got the intro/outro music.

36. BGTG_161b_2015-11-18
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 13.88Mb)

Description: Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

37. BGTG_161a_2015-11-17
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 5.25Mb)

Description: Am 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)

38. BGTG 160 - Reflections on my Podcast (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 27.27Mb)


Ok, 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.


P.S. When you listen to the end of the show, mentally replace my answer of "Pergamon" with "Tigris & Euphrates." Much better choice. 

39. BGTG 159 - 100 Great Games, Epilogue (with Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 28.25Mb)


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?! :-)



40. BGTG 158 - Boardgame Road Trip 2 (with Dave Arnott)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 28.04Mb)


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.



41. BGTG 157 - Games Played in 2014 (with Martin Griffiths)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 38.20Mb)


Like 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. 

42. BGTG 156 - Games of BGG.con 2014 (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 46.82Mb)


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?



43. BGTG 155 - BGG.con 2014 Planning For NEXT Year
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 21.26Mb)


I'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)

44. BGTG 154f - BGG.con 2014 (Sunday)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 6.21Mb)


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. :)

45. BGTG 154e - BGG.con 2014 (Saturday)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 17.56Mb)


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

46. BGTG 154d - BGG.con 2014 (Friday)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 10.99Mb)


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 DeusDoodle CityPort Royal, and almost a game of Isaribi. (Hope to get in a real of game of that last one tomorrow.)

47. BGTG 154c - BGG.con 2014 (Thursday)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 13.22Mb)


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.

48. BGTG 154b - BGG.con 2014 (Wednesday)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 8.08Mb)


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 GranjaRolling JapanPandemic: The CureSpinball, and Port Royal.

49. BGTG 154a - BGG.con 2014 (Tuesday)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 1.09Mb)


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.



50. BGTG 153 - 100 Great Games, the Top Ten (with Stephen Glenn & Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 38.49Mb)


At 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.

51. BGTG 152 - Essen (and BGGcon) Anticipation 2014
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 20.42Mb)


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.



52. BGTG 151 - Mark Hates Games (with Brian Murray & David Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 36.21Mb)


"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.



53. BGTG 150 - 100 Great Games, part 7 (with Stephen Glenn & Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 31.47Mb)


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.

54. BGTG 149 - Modern Microgames (with Jeff Myers)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 18.50Mb)


Microgames 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).

55. BGTG 148 - 100 Great Games, part 6 (with Stephen Glenn & Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 33.55Mb)


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.

56. BGTG 147 - A Look Back at 2013 (with David Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 30.27Mb)


It'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.

57. BGTG 146 - SR & Feedback (AbluXXen, Walking Dead Card Games, Where's Bob's Hat)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 15.71Mb)


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...

58. BGTG 145 - 100 Great Games, part 5 (with Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 30.52Mb)


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.

59. BGTG 144 - Gaming with Regular People (with David Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 22.58Mb)


Have 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.

60. BGTG 143 - Post BGG.con 2013, part 2 (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 28.38Mb)


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.

61. BGTG 142 - Post BGG.con 2013, part 1 (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 30.92Mb)


Although 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.


62. BGTG 141 - 100 Great Games, part 4 (with Stephen Glenn & Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 42.04Mb)


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 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.

63. BGTG 140 - SR & Feedback (Clubs, Qwixx, Via Appia, more)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 20.92Mb)


Session Report and Feedback episode with games I've played recently, as well as my experiences attending out-of-town Meetups.

64. BGTG 139 - Essen Anticipation 2013 (with Dave Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 45.56Mb)


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.

65. BGTG 138 - Experience Games (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 21.53Mb)


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.)

66. BGTG 137 - SR & Feedback (Vinci II, TransAmerica with Vexation, Eclipse on iOS)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 24.46Mb)


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.

67. BGTG 136 - 100 Great Games, part 3 (with Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 34.03Mb)


Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson join me for part 3 of our 100 game countdown series.


68. BGTG 135 - Boardgaming Road Trip (with Dave Arnott)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 32.66Mb)


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.

69. BGTG 134 - A Look Back at 2012
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 12.71Mb)


Every 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.

70. BGTG 133 - 100 Great Games, part 2 (with Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 26.15Mb)


The guys join me for part 2 of our 100 game countdown series.

71. BGTG 132 - GameNight! (with Scott Alden & Lincoln Damerst)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 13.96Mb)


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.


72. BGTG 131 - 100 Great Games, part 1 (with Stephen Glenn & Mark Jackson)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 22.15Mb)


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.  

73. BGTG 130 - Post BGG.con 2012 (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 39.53Mb)


As 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. 

74. BGTG 129 - Boardgame Blogging (with Jeff Myers)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 22.03Mb)


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.

75. BGTG 128 - The Value of a Boardgame (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 32.94Mb)


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.


76. BGTG 127 - Essen Anticipation 2012 (sort of...)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 14.30Mb)


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).


77. BGTG 126 - A Few Geeky Games
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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.


78. BGTG 125 - Boardgame Themes for Grown Ups (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 26.29Mb)


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.


79. BGTG 124 - A Sense of History (or European Vacation Part 2)
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Description: Notice: 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

80. BGTG 123 - Outdoor Boardgaming (with Dave Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 18.80Mb)

Description: Notice: 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

81. BGTG moving to BGG...but where?
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Description: Although 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

82. BGTG 122 - SR & Feedback (Würfel Bohnanza & Lords of Waterdeep)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 16.97Mb)

Description: Filling 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 

83. BGTG 121 - Secondhand Games (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 30.78Mb)

Description: I'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

84. BGTG 120 - Favorites of 2011 (A Few Acres of Snow, Pergamon)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 20.43Mb)

Description: What?! 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

85. BGTG 119 - Euro Train Games (with Dave Arnott)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 25.73Mb)

Description: Train 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/

86. BGTG 118 - Post BGG.con 2011 (with Greg Pettit)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 38.80Mb)

Description: This 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

87. BGTG 117 - Long Games (with Ryan Wheeler)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 30.41Mb)

Description: First 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,

88. BGTG 116 - Essen Anticipation 2011
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 19.87Mb)

Description: I'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

89. BGTG 115 - Spiel des Jahres, Then & Now
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Description: The 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

90. BGTG 114 - Party Games for Shy Boardgamers (with David Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 28.88Mb)

Description: You 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

91. BGTG 113 - European Vacation
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 16.61Mb)

Description: Part 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.

92. BGTG 112 - Five-Player Games (with Dave O'Connor)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 17.94Mb)

Description: Here'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

93. BGTG 111 - Post BGGcon (with Greg Pettit) [second try]
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 34.62Mb)

Description: I'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

94. Show #111 is now fixed. Please try again.
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (, 0.00Mb)

Description: For 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

95. BGTG 110 - All About the Easy Play games (with David Arnott)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 40.68Mb)

Description: At 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

96. All of BGTG's archives are up!
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (, 0.00Mb)

Description: At 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

97. BGTG 109 - Essen Anticipation 2010 Part 2
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 20.92Mb)

Description: Whew! 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

98. BGTG 108 - Essen Anticipation 2010 Part 1 (with Scott Alden & Lincoln Damerst)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 18.61Mb)

Description: It'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

99. Back to normal (and Facebook)
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Description: Not 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

100. In case the podcast blows up...
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Description: You 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

101. BGTG 107 - Handcrafted Games (with Lincoln Damerst and Greg Wilzbach)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 27.32Mb)

Description: I 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

102. I'm trying something new with this blog & podcast (behind the scenes)
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Description: For 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.

103. BGTG now (also) on BGG
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Description: Got 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

104. BGTG 106 - SR & Feedback (Super Slapshot, Age of Industry)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 27.67Mb)

Description: At 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

105. Recent gaming (face-to-face, play-by-web, and iPhone)
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Description: June 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

106. BGTG 104 - Boardgame Themes (with Greg Pettit)
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Description: Themes 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

107. New BGTG call-in number is 206-337-7401
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Description: Yeah, 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.

108. BGTG 105 - Games of the Decade (with Dave Arnott)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 21.10Mb)

Description: Now 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

109. Comment feed working again
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Description: By 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.

110. Should I start a BGG guild?
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Description: The 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,

111. Did it work?
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Description: Hmm, 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,

112. BGTG 103 - SR & Feedback (Pandemic On the Brink, Caylus Magna Carta, Patrician)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 17.10Mb)

Description: 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

113. BGTG 102 - Games Played in 2009 (with "Davebo" Gullett)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 22.37Mb)

Description: 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

114. Twitter, Facebook, and now Buzz?
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Description: I'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/

115. BGTG 101 SR & Feedback (Dog, Keltis Way of the Stone, Sorry Sliders)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 17.82Mb)

Description: 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

116. BGTG 100 SR & Feedback (Tobago, Numeri, Polar Derby)
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Description: 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

117. MJ's Games played in 2009
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Description: 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. "Quarters" Dominion 47 Brass 44

118. BGTG 99 - Ten Years of Essens
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Description: 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

119. BGTG 97 - All About Brass (with Stephanie Kelleher)
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Description: 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

120. BGTG 98 - Essen Anticipation 2009
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 16.37Mb)

Description: 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

121. Last & next month's games
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Description: 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

122. Go "vote" on the À La Carte card game award
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Description: 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

123. Gamewright euros (and testing Twitterfeed)
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Description: 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

124. BGTG 96 - Translations, Editions, and Revisions (with David Gullett)
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Description: 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

125. BGTG 95 - SR & Feedback (Container & Chicago Express)
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Description: 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

126. BGTG 94 - Are any of our games Classics? (with Greg Pettit)
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Description: 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

127. Follow BGTG on Twitter
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Description: 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

128. BGTG archives going ALL the way back...
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Description: 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

129. BGTG 93 - All About Big City (with Eric Burgess)
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Description: 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,

130. BGTG 92 - Game Awards (with Dave Arnott)
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Description: 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

131. BGTG 91 - 2008 Year in Review (with Dave Arnott)
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Description: 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

132. Join me for PBW Brass?
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Description: 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. http://wargamessoc.union.shef.ac.uk/brass/index.php http://wargamessoc.union.shef.ac.uk/brass/lobby.php?GameID=1406

133. BGTG 90 - Veto-Proof Game Night (with Ryan Wheeler)
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Description: 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

134. Games for auction
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Description: 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.

135. More play-by-web
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Description: I'm doing that again (never stopped, really). Go to the usual sites (SpielByWeb, Mabiweb, MichaelSchacht.net) 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 Yucata.de--which just added Arkadia in beta test), be sure to see if I'm online. I always

136. Did you leave me a voicemail?
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Description: 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!

137. BGTG 89 - SR & Feedback (Viva Topo!, Slamwich, Tief auf Tier)
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Description: Before I can post any new shows, I wanted to clear the decks for some accumulated feedback, as well as follow-through on my previous blog entry about family gaming over the holidays. Again I brought I bag full of specially chosen games, and again we played some of them. Just a few, really, but I knew to expect that. This year my gaming was mostly confined to playing with my young nephews, which I

138. Thanksgiving Weekend gaming
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Description: This Thanksgiving we packed up the car to drive 300 miles to my folks' house. My brother did the same with his family, coming from the other direction. (California is a long state!) As usual, I packed up a bunch of games, knowing full well we wouldn't play all or even most of them. But we've got room in the minivan, and so why not pack different games so we have options. :-)As it turned out, I

139. BGTG 88 - Dominion, Arkham Horror, Marrakech, and En Garde
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Description: This is a session report & feedback show . . . but without the feedback. The reason for that is that I had to record this podcast in the car. I say had to because I spent too much of my at-home podcasting time playing Dominion instead! I started playing this game on brettspielwelt, and then got my own set to play face-to-face games. Hype is a turnoff for me, even buzz makes me suspicious, but in

140. A fresh call for online games
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Description: As usual, your best bet to find me is on a play-by-web game. I've recently started the following, all of which can take more players as I write this. The password is the same as ever, BGTG.On Mabiweb: In the Year of the Dragon, Samuari, Kreta, In the Shadow of the EmperorOn Spielbyweb: Amun-Re, Hoity-Toity, Reef Encounter, SantiagoOn michaelshacht.net: Hansa (two of these)On Boardgamegeek: Tigris

141. Vicarious Essen
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Description: Essen is behind us now, and the Fairplay scouts & other reports are settling in on the better titles. Remember two years ago when I insisted I'd buy Die Saulen von Venedig? Then the mediocre reports came in, and I got to play it once. It wasn't a bad game, but it didn't shine for me. I didn't buy it. (Though I'll probably play it again some day.)This year the game that fits that description this

142. Essen photos
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Description: I mentioned it in the last podcast, and more than ever I recognize how influenced I am by the look of these games. I like reading the Essen first-impression reports, but I like seeing the photos even more. These days, you'd think you could do a search on "Essen spiel" in Flickr and find tons of photos, both from BGGers and average Germans who took photos & uploaded them. I've found a few that way

143. BGTG 87 - Essen Anticipation 2008
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Description: As promised, here's my annual episode running through the new Essen games that have caught my eye. There are games I'm pretty sure I want, others I'm pretty sure I don't, and a whole bunch I need to know more about first (hopefully by playing).Essen opens its doors to everyone tomorrow, and the press-only day has already started. Folks like me will be checking internet sites repeatedly through

144. Pre-Essen show
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Description: Essen is now right around the corner, but I'm going to try to squeeze in an "Essen Anticipation" show, as I've done in previous years. I got a few requests for this episode, and that's the best inspiration for doing it.-Mark

145. Anyone for Vinci?
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Description: This blog recently received a great comment from Tristan who re-listened to the 2.5-year old All About Vinci episode after finally getting to try the game in-person. Vinci is still a great favorite of mine, and now I'd like to see if any other listeners would like to join me in a play-by-web version. Now, I'll warn you that the website is all in German, so if you've never played pbw (or Vinci),

146. BGTG 86 - All About Harry's Grand Slam Baseball (with David Gullett)
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Description: As promised, here's another All About show, my first in a long time. The way these shows work, I usually employ a guest, and the two of us talk about one game in great detail. This time, that guest is David Gullett, who you've heard on BGTG before, and the game we're talking about is Harry's Grand Slam Baseball.Now, HGSB is a rather small, light game to spend more than an hour talking about. That

147. Another "All About..." show is coming
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Description: Hurray! I've wanted to do another "All About" show for some time, and last night I recorded one. It wasn't about Big City, though, as I'd hinted in my last podcast (that's another I still want to do). No, for this one I got my buddy Dave Gullett (BGG's davebo, aka the Big Red Rock Eater) to share the mic with me and talk all about Harry's Grand Slam Baseball. That might seem a little game for a

148. BGTG 85 - SR & Feedback (with Rattlesnake, XiangQi, Citadels, Manila, and Tribune)
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Description: You're in luck. The carcast I recorded earlier about some games played at a recent Games Day was also destroyed accidentally, so I just had to re-record it at home. This way it ends up with better audio quality, and I got to tack on some recent email feedback, too.These are all games I played at a recent Games Day put on by LA's famous Stephanie. You've heard about her on other podcasts, and

149. A truly lost episode
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Description: Oops. I thought I'd finally get around to posting a carcast recorded more than a year ago after I'd played some business-themed games, comparing & contrasting all three of them. They were Shark, Buy Low Sell High (aka Palmyra), and one more I've forgotten. Well, it doesn't matter now because this apparently I deleted this recording I discarded when I was at a low ebb in my satisfaction with

150. Something else about Byzantium (and another car-cast)
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Description: One thing this blog is good for is correcting mistakes & omissions in my podcasts. After recording the recent one about Martin Wallace games, I forgot to mention the interesting and authentic-feeling arms races that happened in our complete 3-player game. Though Ryan & I both agreed that Mike was out to a big lead, we ran into trouble going after him during the middle & end of the game. Because

151. BGTG 84 - Martin Wallace games (Brass, Tinner's Trail, Byzantium)
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Description: Two podcasts in less than a week?! Weird, I know. Not likely to be repeated soon, either. I just figured I might as well jump on the opportunity when I could.Also, I'd mentioned on this blog a couple weeks before that I was thinking of sharing my (changing) thoughts about Martin Wallace games, based on some recent plays of Brass, Tinner's Trail, and Byzantium. Martin's games are so popular on BGG

152. BGTG 83 - Aug 10, 2008 - Re-Introduction with my "New" Top Ten
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Description: Though I'm too chicken to listen to it, anyone that wants to can go back into my archives to download BGTG #1. In that episode I tried to give an introduction to myself, describing my own likes & dislikes in games. It always helps to know those things about a game reviewer. You get to figure out how my opinions map to yours. Maybe you & I are on the same page, and the games I like are ones you'll

153. BGTG auction and my new appreciation for Martin Wallace
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Description: First of all, another podcast is coming. Somewhere I've got an old "car-cast" I did last year after our group had played several different business games. I'll post that soon. Before that I want to record my "re-introduction" episode. I believe I did an intro episode way back in BGTG #1, but I'm afraid to listen to it myself! Instead I think I'll redo the introduction, taking this opportunity to

154. BGTG 82 - June 17, 2008 - SR & Feedback (Hamburgum & Streetcar)
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Description: Uh...yeah. At the start of this show I say I recorded it back on May 29. Which I did. Then I labeled the file and blog entry June 17, because that's when I edited it. Except that I ran into a technical glitch, and I only just now resolved all of that to get it posted on July 13. Whew!Anyway, it's here now. Not long after my 2007 recap described some new games I hadn't had the chance to try yet, I

155. BGTG 81 - May 23, 2008 - Games of 2007
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Description: Memorial Day Weekend is pretty late for a 2007 recap show, but here it is anyway. I said I'd follow this show up sometime with another blog entry to have a written summary of my games played, too. I found that I enjoyed re-reading my reports from earlier years . . . and missed not having them for 2005 & 2006.In a nutshell, I'm still playing 400 games per year, about 180 different titles--the same

156. BGTG 80 - Apr 29, 2008 - SR & Feedback (Galaxy Trucker & Key Harvest)
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Description: Finishing up my feedback backlog (my feedbacklog?), here's a show with audio comments from my listeners. Does that include Mr. Reliable for audio feedback, Mark Jackson? Sure does! He's here, along with a couple other guys that offer some good comments or questions related to some earlier episodes of BGTG.Like all my feedback shows, that part is at the end, preceded by some game discussion. This

157. BGTG 79 - SR & Feedback (Play By Web games)
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Description: Waaaaay back in show #3 I covered play-by-web boardgaming. I've touched on it since then, and for this show it's "where" my game session took place. That is, on the web, against a variety of friends, playing a variety of games. I spend the most time talking about Mykerinos on Mabiweb, mostly due to the excitement of having a new play-by-web game to try. But I also touch on several more, including

158. BGTG 78 - Back in the saddle
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Description: I still need to do a feedback show to go through a backlog, but today I couldn't wait for that. You see, I've had a break in my busy schedule--or at least an attitude adjustment after a recent vacation--and just needed to record a podcast again. I'm playing some more games, catching up on some podcast listening, and wanted to share some thoughts about recent games. This particular show happened

159. BGTG 77 - Recent Game Rambling
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Description: No, I haven't disappeared again, and this little episode is meant to prove it. I have more to say about other games, my year in review, my new top ten list, and a backlog of feedback to work through. But this is what I could get out right now, and it'll have to do. In it, I talk about some older games I played with my son & other kids (and gamer-dad Dave Gullett) at a recent SoCal Games Day. Then

160. BGTG 76 - Summertime Games
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Description: A quick, little podcast this time, one from my "archives." By that I mean this was one of those shows I recorded last summer, when I wasn't uploading any podcasts. At least one of those recordings was unceremoniously dumped, but this is one I still had lying around. It's another recording made in my car, but I learned from episode 74 that mostly leaving the audio alone is better than trying to

161. BGTG 75 - Decade+1 Retrospective (with Dave Arnott)
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Description: Last year, my buddy Dave Arnott and I talked on the phone about how we'd now been in the hobby for a decade. In that time the hobby was in many ways the same, but the interesting parts were the differences. Now we have Boardgamegeek, do a lot less overseas ordering, and I can't recall the last time I played a game with a separate page of card translations we all had to hand back & forth while

162. BGTG 74 - Post-Essen 2007 (with Mike Siggins)
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Description: Once again I'm pleased to bring Mike Siggins' boardgame commentary to podcasting with our annual show recapping his observations about Essen. Mike writes some of these in his column on Funagain.com, called The Gamer's Notebook, and that piece is a good companion to this BGTG episode.At the end, I also have a brief review on the one Essen title I've managed to play so far, Wolfgang Kramer's Origo.

163. BGTG 73 - Oct 15, 2007 - Pre-Essen 2007
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Description: I'm just squeezing this show in before the Spiel game fair starts in Essen later this week. If you're like me you've been reading the lists and rumors about new games with great anticipation . . . even though you aren't attending Essen in-person. This year, I took a closer look back at the previous year's Essen buzz before & after the show, confirming that I've only got about three "keepers" from

164. BGTG 72 - Oct 10, 2007 - Where are all the kids?
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Description: Here's one of those shows I recorded long ago, this one back in April. I went over to David Gullett's house, and we played some games with our kids. And that was also the subject of the podcast--playing games with kids. Over a year ago I posted an earlier podcast with Davebo about Gamer Dads, meaning the games we play with our own kids. This time, I tried to discuss a slightly different topic--

165. BGTG 71 - Sept. 19, 2007 - SR & Feedback (Settlers Dice, Canal Mania, Dschungelschatz)
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Description: A chance to talk about some games I've played recently: one light game, one gamer game, and one kid game. I also talk about ordering overseas using Amazon.de, a new experience for me. Plus some recent feedback.-MarkLinksSettlers of Catan Dice GameCanal ManiaDschungelschatz

166. Help me save an audio interview?
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Description: The last time I asked for help here, a listener in Germany enabled me to get a copy of Saturn, the beautiful wooden balancing game by Theta. Thanks again, Olav!Now I've got a different sort of plea. Recently you've heard me say that I actually have some recordings made earlier in the year that were never posted. One of them, an interview with art & graphics professional Mike Doyle, is great

167. BGTG 70 - Sep 9, 2007 - Light Wargames
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Description: Did ya miss me?Sorry it's been so long! Doug Garrett smoked me out recently, interviewing me for his podcast, and giving me the little encouragement/kick to get podcasting again. I've got at least two more podcasts recorded from some time ago, but I wanted to record a fresh one tonight to lead-in with an explanation of where I've been for half a year.As it happens, besides playing all of my usual

168. Help from a German fan of BGTG?
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Description: I have a favor to ask of a fan of the show who happens to live in Germany. If that's you and you'd like to help me out, drop me an email. Thanks.-MarkUpdate: Got my help, thanks!

169. Carribean, Hacienda, Reef Encounter, game parts
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Description: Another missed game night with friends, but at least I got in a game with Candy. This was Caribbean, acquired in trade just this week in shrinkwrapped condition. It's a game with a decidedly middle-of-the-road (at best) reputation, a lukewarm 6.2 rating and ranking in the high 700s. I got to see this game undergoing final playtesting (I think) when I went to the Gathering back in 2004. It hadn't

170. Spiel des Jahres thoughts
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Description: I wrote the following to my local game group, but it might be of general interest reading here, too. It's my quick, initial take on the Spiel des Jahres nominees.Thief of BaghdadJenseits von ThebenZoolorettoBaumeister von ArkadiaYspahan[I'm in the process of making an internal trade deal for Thief of Baghad now--no one around here seems to own it.]I think I've played Jenseits a grand total of

171. Recent games: T&T, Tempus, Vinci, play by web
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Description: You might think that if I've got the ability to write a blog post, then I should be able to produce another podcast. Well, you'd be wrong. :-) Wasn't it about last year at this time that I got busy? More than that, it was six years ago that my gaming went on total hiatus for a few months. It just so happens that the main project at work is at the same stage the previous monumental effort was six

172. BGTG 69 - Mar 21, 2007 - Adlung Spiele Games
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Description: Here's a solo show focusing on a particular publisher, Adlung Spiele. These are the guys (or maybe just one guy with some freelance authors & illustrators) that produce one of my favorites, Verräter, and other small card games. Most of them are only small in format, though--a single deck of cards in a tuckbox. Many of their games play much larger than they appear, feeling like more of a boardgame

173. My wife's favorite type of boardgame
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Description: Wow, when I said my family gaming was starting to work, I wasn't kidding! Last night my wife & I played our new copy of On The Underground.Not only that, but this was a game she requested, or at least she agreed that it sounded interesting after I described it to her the week before. That was after I'd played it for the first time at my local game group, and thought the mechanics and--especially-

174. BGTG 68 - Feb 12, 2007 - Looking Back at 2006, Forward into 2007
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Description: A quick show with my thoughts on boardgaming over the past year, and what I anticipate for 2007. These retrospectives are a little harder to do without stats . . . but then what would stats tell me, anyway? For me, the real point is to talk about games that have become new favorites, especially ones I think will be keepers for the long haul. To be honest, I'm not sure how many of even the "hits"

175. Some Essen titles (Yspahan, On the Underground, Elephant in a Porcelain Shop, and Null & Nichtig)
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Description: As of this writing, I've actually recorded two podcasts. One of them had to be scrapped for audio quality reasons, and I'm in the process of redoing it. That one is with a special guest, so I really hope I can get it redone sooner rather than later. The other is a more routine solo show, no technical problems, just needs a little more work (editing, test-listen). It's my retrospective on 2006,

176. BGTG 67 - Jan 1, 2007 - Pretty, Wooden Abstracts
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Description: I've surprised myself by becoming more and more interested in abstract games over the years. However, as I discuss in this show, that's due to discovering a wide range of abstracts that don't make my head hurt. You see, I've never been a fan of chess, go, logic puzzles, or anything else that requires such hard thinking. It's just not fun for me. Even then, it's not the analysis that I find as

177. BGTG 66 - Dec. 8, 2006 - Thanksgiving Leftovers (Qwirkle, Winner's Circle, Harry's Grand Slam Baseball, Hyle7, Make Five) & Feedback
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Description: Whew! The show is now posted. You know that getting a podcast out during this part of the year is tricky for me (aren't we all busy with the holidays?), and with the backlog of material it has turned out to be a biggie. Good news, I hope. The last time I had a show larger than one audio CD, almost no one downloaded the split file--everyone downloaded the big sucker like usual. So either you've

178. End of the year games (part 2)
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Description: In addition to the games I've played with gamers to round out the year, I've continued to have more success with friends & family, too. Those are much lighter games, but that never bothered me in the first place, and of course those are much more approachable (and more fun) for people who don't enjoy learning new rules all the time. I had another chance to break out a few light games during some

179. End of the year games (part 1)
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Description: Like I said, no chance to do another podcast this year, but I can fill you in on some recent gaming via the blog. Last night I attended my last Santa Clarita game group session of the year, and we were joined by Greg Parker. He's a long way from home up in Redding, but has family down here so we see him once in a while during holidays. Podcast listeners should be familiar with Greg from his

180. It's that time of year...
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Description: Remember how I said I planned on taking a planned hiatus from mid-November until after New Year's? Well, that was a good idea, because this is just a very busy time for me to work in some podcasting. Just the same, I wanted to catch up on some audio feedback, and my plan is still to put together kind of a "mash-up" show. Somewhere I've still got a recording made last August that was never

181. I must be doing something right
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Description: My best chance for playing games with Molly is when she's bored, having exhausted all other options. That sounds bad, but when that happens she's not reduced to playing a boardgame with dad--she looks forward to it. She just looks forward to it after everything else falls through. :-) Hey, I'll take it. Recently her friends have been busy doing other things, so we've had several days over the

182. Not at BGG.con
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Description: Nope, I didn't make it back to BGG.con this year. I never manage to be a regular attendee of conventions--even though I've been to many of them once. Last year it was BGG.con, the year before was the Gathering, before that was Essen, and before that was Kublacon when Knizia was there. A few years prior I was lucky enough to go to Gulf Games. All of these have been great fun, and hopefully someday

183. Case in point
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Description: I was getting set up to record another podcast tonight. Took the notes, did the research, printed out some feedback. Yep, I was all set. And then my kids asked to play a game before bed, suggesting Time's Up. Obviously, the podcast was backburnered and we had fun with the game instead!(Later I'll have to talk about how to play Time's Up with kids . . . and with only three players.)

184. BGTG 65 - Oct 27, 2006 - Post-Essen Show (with Mike Siggins)
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Description: As promised, here's the post-Essen followup show. A few weeks ago I talked about the games I was interested in hearing more about at Essen. Now here's Mike Siggins, coming on the podcast to give BGTG listeners some firsthand accounts of his time at the fair, and impressions of some games. Be sure to also read Mike's column (the "Gamer's Notebook") at Funagain on the same subject. -Mark

185. BGTG 64 - Oct 23, 2006 - SR & Feedback show (Thurn und Taxis, Gene Pool, Wallamoppi)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 15.08Mb)

Description: I'm starting to catch up with some older feedback as I begin to do more Session Report shows again. I had a bit of a cold while recording this one, but I hope it still sounds ok. And I sure hope I edited out all the times I coughed!Something I forgot to mention was the information Gene Pool's designer posted about self-publishing his game. It's on the Board Game Designers Forum.-Mark

186. BGTG 61 - Aug 2, 2006 - Friendly, Local Game Stores
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Description: Whew! Finally a new show. Like the last time I (unintentionally) took a little time off from the podcast, it was a little hard to get back into the swing of things. Last time I thought a simpler Session Report and Feedback show was the way to get back into the podcasting groove, but this time I wanted to try a theme show. That's because I'd been hearing the excellent series hosted by Eric Burgess

187. BGTG 62 - Sep 18, 2006 - Dialing it Back
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Description: Okay.That was a long break, wasn't it? Too long? I think so. In other words, I haven't quit the podcast. I want to do more... I will do more. But in this episode I explain how a combination of internal choices & external pressures has led to this major slowdown of Boardgames To Go.To be honest, I think I sound a little rusty in this one. But it'll come back to me. I'm looking forward to talking

188. BGTG 63 - Oct 15, 2006 - Pre-Essen Show
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Description: Just like last year, I can't help sharing some of my excitement about the Essen game fair happening this week . . . even though I won't be going. I was lucky enough to be there in 2003, something that may never happen again. But you don't have to GO to Essen to be excited about all of the new game releases. Some of them have already been available for purchase from vendors, but most are making

189. A podcast soon, I hope.
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Description: I've been advised in feedback to stop apologizing for being late on my podcasts. So I won't do that anymore, but I will point out that I'm more disappointed than anyone. I think from now on I'll plan on taking a 6-week hiatus from mid-June to the end of July, and another from mid-November to the end of the year. In fact, I've done both of those now--the trick is to plan for that in the future.

190. Podcast download stats
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Description: Just for curiosity's sake. Those of you with more interest in podcasting ought to at least lurk on the boardgamepodcasters Yahoo group.Measuring the number of folks listening to podcasts is an inexact science. The closest you can get is measuring downloads, but you never know how many people share a single download (such as with an audio CD), how many downloads are trashed without ever being

191. Join me for PBW Hacienda
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Description: I've been playing play-by-web Hacienda for a while on Yucata.de. They even just started offering alternate maps (at least one). But now SpielByWeb.com also has Hacienda, and I like their game manager interface much better. For one thing, I'm able to create password-protected games just for my podcast listeners! You know the drill . . . go to the site, look for a game with Boardgames To Go in the

192. BGTG 59 - June 2, 2006 - SR: Settlers of the Stone Age, Wyatt Earp, Safeknacker, Modern Art, Pirate's Cove (and Feedback)
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Description: Once again, I hope people are reading the blog as well as listening to the podcast. Because I often think of things I missed after the podcast is finished. (It's not just me--the host for the highly recommended BBC Radio 4 program In Our Time does the same thing via post-show emails.)I really want to talk about the family gaming (and other non-gamer gaming) I've been doing lately, but that show

193. BGTG 60 - June 14, 2006 David Arnott Leftovers about Medici, Elasund (and Hacienda)
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Description: During the All About Vinci show, my guest Dave Arnott thought to bring up something we'd failed to cover during our previous All About show, covering Medici almost a year ago. Rather than include that in the Vinci show, I clipped that part out to be used later. Something similar happened when Dave turned the tables on me for the "Dark Johnson" interview, when we got into some discussion about

194. BGTG 58 - May 17, 2006 - SR: Ticket to Ride: Märklin, Buy Low Sell High, Dschunke and Feedback
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Description: See? I told you I'd get a show out this week. Just had to ignore my family to get it done. (I'm kidding.) Don't know if I will, but I think I should try to knock out a couple more semi-smaller shows featuring session reports and some feedback. We'll see. This one starts with a smattering of news items and whatnot before I get into the discussion of specific games. Stuff like mentioning some new

195. Your loss is my gain
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Description: I wish I could be putting out more podcasts. I've got lots of ideas, some guests lined up (some have been waiting for months!), some partial shows recorded, and outlines for future shows. What I don't have is the time or energy to have finished them already.Actually, that's not true. I do have the time, and sometimes I even have the energy. However, my success in a personal goal for my hobby--

196. BGTG 56 - April 15, 2006 - All About Vinci (with David Arnott)
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Description: I was on vacation last week. No, not at the Gathering of Friends, I was in Hawaii with my family. I thought I might catch up on a little podcasting backlog or at least spruce up the web page. Instead, I ended up doing what I should've planned on all along--relaxing! That's why this show recorded at the end of March is just being posted now.But here it is, the All About Vinci show. I announced

197. BGTG 57 - April 30, 2006 - Ordering Overseas
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Description: Here's a shorter show that I've wanted to do for a while, talking about how I've ordered games from overseas. Up until just recently that always meant Germany--albeit from a few different webshops--but last week I placed an order through a Dutch website, too. I organize most of these group buys for the Santa Clarita Boardgamers, and there's something to learn from it. The websites are getting

198. BGTG 55 - April 4, 2006 - "Dark Johnson" Interview (with David Arnott)
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Description: Dave Arnott sprung this show on me, turning the tables on the interviewer. His plan was to expose me for the sinister, heartless gamer that I really am. Of course, the plan backfired and I come out smelling like a rose. :)No, he just asks some fun questions about my changing tastes and even behaviors in this hobby, touching on subjects like game themes, new games vs old, and short games vs long.

199. A show-and-a-half look forward
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Description: I'm wrapping up some editing on a show I recorded with David Gullett (davebo on BGG) about gamer dads, as well as his relatively recent entry to this hobby. Fun stuff, especially when we got both his kid and mine on the air for a few minutes near the end. There's just a little technical stuff on my end to work out and I'll get it posted here. (We actually recorded that podcast the day before I

200. They're coming! Honest!
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Description: Apologies for taking so long to get these shows out. Really--they're very close. I'm proof-listening to the Gamer Dad episode with David Gullett now, and I've already recorded the All About Vinci show with David Arnott. Now, both of these shows are good, but long. Or maybe: good and long. The issue of show length is one I've brought up on the podcast a few times, and though most of the feedback

201. BGTG 54 - April 1, 2006 - New Gamer and Gamer Dads (with David Gullett)
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Description: [A technical complication meant this show took the longest to pull together, but I'm pleased to say it worked completely. If you want to read the audio editing story, check out the boardgamepodcasters mailing list. -Mark]This is a combination show, an interview with David Gullett that's about being a boardgame newbie, as well as about playing games with your kids. It's in the latter context that

202. Happy Birthday to BGTG!
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Description: In prepping that last show I missed the fact that the one-year anniversary for this podcast already came & went! I'd remembered it was sometime in March, but hadn't taken the time to find out exactly when. Then I spotted a "happy birthday" to me from Naturelich on his blog. Turns out it was on March 3rd, 2005, that I posted my first, awful epsiode. Nowhere to go but up after that!Though I

203. BGTG 53b - Mar 6, 2006 - All About La Città (with Jonathan Degann, part 2)
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Description: Here's part two of the podcast, the one where Jonathan and I get into La Città in detail. By the way, be sure to check out Eric Burgess' podcast Boardgame Babylon, which also features periodic episodes where he covers a single game in depth. In fact, he calls them his In Depth features. He's already done Caylus as a solo show, and recently did Ra with a second person.La Città is one of the

204. Homework assignment: La Città
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Description: Not really an assignment, but if you want to get the most out of the next All About show, maybe you'd like to refresh your memory about La Città. I recorded a two-parter with Jonathan Degann about his game analysis in general (part 1), and La Città in particular (part 2). It'll take me a day or three to finish it up.If I had a little better control of my recording schedule, I'd love to give

205. BGTG 53a - Mar 6, 2006 - All About La Città (with Jonathan Degann, part 1)
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Description: Finally! Another All About show, which are the sort that everyone seems to love best. This one was recorded with Jonathan Degann, who you may know from his opinions on mailing lists, his Game Theory 101 articles on The Games Journal, or most recently his own blog. Jonathan is someone I played with regularly for some time, when I was with the Left Coast Gamers. Then a few years ago I helped get

206. Long shows no problem?
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Description: In my 50th podcast I went over the single-CD show duration (about 78 minutes). Actually I've done that several times, but in all the other instances I split the show into two parts. This time I didn't . . . other than to make available a less elegantly hacked-into-two download. I just took a look at the download stats, and they seem to indicate the hacked-up show isn't necessary. They might even

207. BGTG 51 - Feb.13, 2006 - SR: Jenseits von Theben, Vegas Showdown, Bolide, Zahltag, and Feedback
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Description: This episode became my white whale. It was a struggle to get it recorded, edited, partially scrapped & re-recorded, and finally posted. Towards the end, I have to admit that I just gave up a little bit, posting it even though I'm still not happy with the audio quality. Also, I think I ramble on just a bit too much, though at least the second take was better than the first! The audio issues come

208. Sorry for the delay!
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Description: I'm disappointed, too. I actually recorded a podcast three days ago. I was experimenting with a different recording setup, and after listening to it I decided the sound quality in the first half of the show was unacceptable. So I need to redo it, *sigh*. The better news is that I think the recording rig CAN work ok, and it gives me a little more flexibility in where & when I record a show. I'd

209. All About shows Geeklist
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Description: Listener Christopher Boothe took the initiative to create a geeklist of his favorite BGTG episodes, the All About shows. Thanks, Chris!

210. BGTG 52 - Feb.26, 2006 - SR: Vinci, Wallenstein, Hansa, and Tikal (all play-by-web) and Feedback
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Description: Back to another Session Report & Feedback show, and back to my usual recording setup. This show focuses almost exclusively on play-by-web games, sharing some news about them, and talking about a few of the titles I played recently. Plus the feedback, of course.As I hoped, this proved to be a notably shorter show. Anything less than an hour is notable for me, now! :) Gives you more time to listen

211. More voicemail fixes
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Description: Sheesh, around the same time I recorded an outgoing message for the Boardgames To go dial-in number (206-222-BGTG), the voicemail capability on my Skype account (username: boardgamestogo) went kablooie! But that's fixed now, too. Whew!

212. Voicemail and more play-by-web
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Description: It was pointed out to me that the BGTG voicemail line (206-222-BGTG) didn't have an outgoing greeting, making it a little weird to leave a voicemail. That's now fixed, so it should be more inviting to leave me a message. Now I need to do the same for my Skype account.Speaking of voicemail, I've received a few messages lately that were a few seconds of silence . . . nothing more. Recent messages

213. Another good boardgame podcast
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Description: This has already been reported on Boardgamenews.com, but I also want to call your attention to Garrett's Games & Geekiness, a new boardgame podcast by Doug Garrett. Doug is probably best known as the boardgame organizer for the well-regarded Kublacon game convention. It's held in the San Francisco Bay Area over Memorial Day Weekend. A few years ago I got to go when Reiner Knizia made an

214. BGTG 50 - Jan 24, 2006 - A Look Back at Essen (with Mike Siggins)
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Description: My fiftieth podcast! Wow, I really wasn't sure I'd ever make it this far when I started last March. The show has morphed a bit over time, mostly in response to some limitatation I want to address or opportunity I want to seize. The feedback has been pretty great the entire time, so I trust that I'm on the right track. In other words, I'm happy that my listeners appreciate the kind of shows I

215. Join me for play-by-web games?
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Description: I play a somewhat steady stream of play-by-web boardgames. If listeners want to join me, just pop over to one of thsoe sites and look for games called Boardgames To Go. On the sites that use passwords for games, I always try to use BGTG as the password to restrict the game to my podcast listeners. Right now I've got games of Reef Encounter and Through the Desert waiting for players.-Mark

216. Board Game Internet Awards
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Description: This podcast won an Honorable Mention in the BGIA's Best Game Podcast or Videocast category! I appreciate the selection, and most of all the initiative of the Gone Gaming blog that dreamed up these awards. There are a lot of categories and they've all served to put a spotlight on some great content on the net about our hobby. There are blogs, strategy articles, advocacy articles, humor, and more

217. Help a brother out?
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Description: I'm raising some GeekGold so that my logo designer (and onetime BGTG guest) Greg Wilzbach can get an avatar on BoardgameGeek. A nice listener spontaneously donated some GG to me last week--which was very nice--and now I'm running one of those BGG auctions where the currency is GG. The game up for auction is Alan Moon's Slow Freight, the gamekit exclusive Funagain. It's still for sale on that site

218. BGTG 49 - Jan 21, 2006 - Five & Dime Lists (with Mark JACKson)
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Description: Though it's happening less often nowadays, in the past people have confused Mark Jackson and myself. Though that's mostly due to the similarity in our names, we have some similar tastes in games (e.g. original Entdecker), we've crossed paths a few times, and since Jackson moved here in 2003 we're both Californians. California is a big state, though, and we're not so close that we see each other

219. iTunes glitch
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Description: A little note for those of you who download this show in iTunes (and hopefully read the blog, too, or else you'll miss this). For some reason, iTunes refuses to list episode 46A in its listing, even though other podcatching software sees it correctly (it shows up in the feed). So if you missed the first, larger half of my latest Session Report & Feedback show--the part with the news & session

220. BGTG 48 - Jan. 14, 2006 - Retrospective on 2005
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Description: For a long time I've posted a retrospective on my past year in the hobby, first to rec.games.board, then spielfrieks, then my blog. This year, of course, I've shifted it over to a podcast episode. That's the first big shift. The other comes from not having kept track of my game stats last year. And yet . . . I still have things to say. :)-MarkP.S. As I mention in the show, the call-in number for

221. BGTG 47 - Jan. 8, 2006 - Behind the Scenes at BGTG
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Description: This is more or less an update of the "intro to podcasting" show I did way back in May, 2005. It's especially intended for people who might start up their own boardgame podcast--whether they were thinking about it already or not! It might also be of some interest to general listeners of the show, who are curious how a podcast like this comes together. There's not much to it, really.-MarkLinksBGTG

222. Fight on!
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Description: In about an hour my alma mater, the University of Southern California takes on the University of Texas for the college football national championship. But get this--Texas is also my alma mater! Yeah, my two colleges are ranked #1 and #2, facing each other in the storied Rose Bowl today for all the marbles. Am I conflicted? (Everyone asks.) No! Grad school was more like a job--undergrad was where

223. Vintage Gamer (new boardgame podcast)
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Description: Jam Van Verth has just started a new boardgame podcast. It's called The Vintage Gamer, and he intends to cover the older games that are forgotten while we all play the "shiny, new" ones. And by older, he doesn't mean 1998 . . . he means 1978. Or 1958! Something like that, anyway. By its nature I think he'll end up covering boardgames more than any other type of game, but he's also thinking about

224. Ouch.
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Description: That hurt.

225. BGTG 46b - January 2, 2006 - SR: Lots of games, and Feedback
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Description: Here's part two of this episode, just the feedback portion. Keep 'em coming! :-) It's good to be back.-MarkLinksSkype (my username is BoardgamesToGo)Naturelich Games (blog)(what did I miss?)

226. BGTG 46a - January 2, 2006 - SR: Lots of games, and Feedback
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Description: Yea! I finally got to record a new podcast! I needed to do a fair bit of catching up, which meant the podcast got to be pretty long. With that in mind I split it into two parts. This is the first part, about an hour of me catching up for lost time and talking about some games I've been playing recently. The second part, which I'll post next, is the feedback segment.-MarkLinksBGTG Frappr

227. Upcoming podcast
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Description: Ok, at least some of my listeners are reading this site, too. So I can at least get the word out about some plans for upcoming podcasts. The in-laws left yesterday, my folks arrive in a week, and I'm going to two more Christmas parties in between. And no game nights. Ah well, that's the way it goes, this time of year. It's always busy, and I haven't had a "normal" week for the podcast since

228. Happy New Year (and 30 questions)
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Description: Happy 2006! The holidays are just about behind us now, and my schedule will soon be returning to normal. With that will come a chance to get back into some podcast recording. I had no idea I would be out of commission for so long, and I'm eager to get back to it.In the meantime, another blog post. I borrowed this idea from Mark Jackson . . . who lifted it from Mark Haberman. A good idea worth

229. Happy Holidays from BGTG
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Description: Wow, I really thought I'd have the opportunity to record a show by now. But guess what? It's busy around the holidays. I'll do another podcast as soon as I'm able.In the meantime, Merry Christmas for me and Happy Holidays to everyone! This year I got several games as gifts. That's unusual, because even though I've been a gamer for 25 years, I don't often ask for games as gifts. Way back when (RPG

230. I'm still here...
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Description: ...it's just that busy, holiday time of the year. I want to record a Session Report & Feedback show (but with some tweaks for both) soon. Right now we've got my in-laws visiting, so the podcast has to wait for a bit. Hmm, I suppose I could actually use this good ol' blog to start sharing some thoughts until I can record an audio program. I'm never sure how many of my listeners actually read the

231. BGTG 45 - Dec. 2, 2005 - My days with Steve Jackson Games
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Description: The last in the series of BGG.con-related shows, this one's only connection is the fact that I first tried to record it on the way to BGG.con . . . and the fact that it features Texas (Austin, this time). That original recording took place while on layover at the Denver airport. Unfortunately, the background noise was too distracting, so I ultimately had to discard it. But I'd kept my notes, and

232. BGTG 44b - Nov.23, 2005 - My own BGG.con impressions (part 2)
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Description: [Nothing went wrong when I published the last show without a full proof-listen beforehand, so I'm doing it again. This isn't supposed to be my regular practice, but the holidays are upon us, family is coming to visit, and I fear if I don't publish this show now it will be another week before I get the chance. So out it goes. As before, if something is wrong please let me know immediately and I'll

233. BGTG 44a - Nov.16, 2005 - My own BGG.con impressions (part 1)
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Description: [Against my better judgment, I'm posting this show before I've had a chance to listen to it. Someone please email me if there's something amiss, and I'll correct it ASAP. I don't have the opportunity to go through my normal recording-proofing-publishing routine, but want to get this out rather than sit on it. -Mark]Two shows ago I had an interview with Aldie & Derk about Boardgamegeek.con. At

234. BGTG 43 - Nov. 6, 2005 - All About Euphrat & Tigris (with Greg Pettit)
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Description: At last! Another All About show, and one I'd been planning to do for some time. My buddy and BGG.com roommate Greg Pettit has played the game a fair bit, and shared his opinions about the game's strategies, reputation, graphic production, and more. Also, we managed to play the newly-released card game adaption of E&T at the con, which gave us even more to think about.-MarkP.S. Pretty ridiculous

235. Oops (again)
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Description: The last podcast that went out had an unedited bit of messiness in it. Not a big deal, just a garbled description, gap while my thoughts cleared, then a fresh attempt. In reality, this happens in every episode of BGTG--I'm just usually sharp enough to edit those out later (that's also what the gap is for--spotting the edit points in the audio track). Well, I missed this one, and this morning

236. Back from BGG.con
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Description: Last night I got back from a great time at BGG.con. I'd write about it here, except that . . . well, you know . . . I'm going to record it in a podcast. I've actually got a number of podcasts coming out pretty soon. It'll just take me a little while to finish them off. Also, I think when I've got a bunch it's better to spread them out by a few days rather than broadcasting them all at once.

237. BGTG 41 - Oct. 31, 2005 - SR: Hansa, Roller Coaster Tycoon (plus Feedback)
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Description: A bit of a delay last week, with family visiting and a conference. Just time enough to squeeze in one more show before BGG.con, which is in three days! This session report show enabled me to work through my backlog of feedback, positioned at the end of the show as always.Hansa is a game that might not be for everyone, but I still think is somewhat overlooked. (Was it really released in 2004? I

238. BGTG 42 - Nov. 6, 2005 - Boardgamegeek.Con (with Aldie and Derk)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 13.69Mb)

Description: My listeners will know that I wanted to record something at Boardgamegeek.con, and I finally got that chance in the final hours of the event: an interview with Aldie and Derk about the convention itself. Aldie had agreed to it as early as Friday, but those guys were just so busy throughout the weekend that we didn't get an opportunity until the very end. They were pretty fried, but probably

239. Fairplay scout results from Essen 2005
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Description: Fairplay magazine's scout reports are tabulated from Essen 2005. Go over to the magazine's site to see the original data, and to also look at past years' results. Here I've reformatted their data into my own color-coded, sorted PDF file. I set the cutoff point at 20 votes total, then made separations into top, 2nd tier, middle of the pack, lower-middle, and bottom-dwelling games.-Mark

240. Oops!
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Description: I included a link to a file in my last blog entry, and it automatically went out like a podcast. It's not, of course, it's just the reformatted PDF file of Fairplay magazines Essen 2005 scouting report.

241. BGTG 39 - Oct. 9, 2005 - Essen Anticipation
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Description: No, I'm not going to Essen this year. But I managed to go once, back in 2003, and not going never stopped me from getting excited about the event. In this podcast I talk about what observed myself when I got to attend, explain why I (normally) don't get worked up for limited edition games, and share the names of some new titles I'm anticipating.By the way, there's now one more way to submit

242. BGTG 40 - Oct. 16, 2005 - SR: Air Baron & Around the World in 80 Days (plus Feedback)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 14.14Mb)

Description: At last! A session report show! And these days, what's even more important to me than the session report about a couple games is the feedback section. I'm so pleased to get as much feedback as I do, and it's great fun to read & reply to it. Per my new format, all of the feedback is pushed to the end of the podcast, so those of you that only want to hear about games get to listen to the session

243. BGTG 38A - Oct 4, 2005 - Euro/Wargame Hybrids (with Mike Siggins)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 12.92Mb)

Description: Listener, Siggins.Siggins, Listener.The oldtimers in this hobby will recognize the name instantly, as well as my play on Ken Tidwell's introduction of Mike Siggins to his new readers on the Internet. Mike was one of the earliest writers and savvy reviewers of the new crop of German boardgames. Starting in the late 1980s(!) with other mags, he's most notable for his decade-long, near-solo effort

244. BGTG 38B - Oct 4, 2005 - Euro/Wargame Hybrids (with Mike Siggins)
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Description: Mike suggested his own topic for this podcast: the elusive hybrid game that combines elements of Euro games (short play, elegant mechanics, nice bits) and wargames (real history, maybe nice maps). To a large degree, the games we want to talk about don't yet exist. But several attempts have been made to varying degrees of success, and that's what we discuss. Mike also speculates about the growth

245. BGTG 37 - September 25, 2005 - Mark's Wargaming Credentials
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Description: Although this podcast will never be about wargames in a substantial way, I still play the occasional wargame and still consider myself a wargamer. Just an infrequent one. :-) Even though I don't play them so often, my interest in military history remains (all history, really). After hearing more about wargames on other podcasts, reading some Consimworld again, and generally experiencing my

246. BGTG 36B - All About Verräter (with Greg Aleknevicus - Part 2)
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Description: Here's part 2 of the show, the longer part that is the in-depth treatment of Verräter. You know, I'd love to get a translation of Casasola Merkle's "Entsehung" page for the game. It tells the story of the game's development. I can understand part of it using an online translator, but those are always sketchy.-MarkLinksVerräterBrettspielwelt (where you can play Verräter and many others online in

247. BGTG 36A - All About Verräter (with Greg Aleknevicus - Part 1)
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Description: You can tell from the date that I've had this show recorded for a week already. The "All About" shows are often my most well-regarded . . . by both my listeners and myself! So you know I didn't want to sit on this one, especially for one of my favorite games. However, the quality of the sound recording meant that I had to work a little harder to fix this one up. I hope you're able to hear it ok,

248. BGTG 35 - SR: Kablamo, Bootleggers, Indus
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Description: I think this is settling into a standard format for this podcast: an audio session report show with feedback/letters section tacked onto the end for BGTG-aholics. (The other standard format is the theme show, especially the All About shows featuring just one game in depth.) In this show I get back in the saddle again with a Santa Clarita Boardgamer session, though a bit too rambly at the

249. BGTG 33 - Local game groups (with Ryan Wheeler)
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Description: Ryan shows up in lots of my session reports because he's the most constant figure at Santa Clarita Boardgamer sessions. He and his wife Erin host most of our game nights. With that in mind, this show was intended to be about the "care & feeding" of local game groups: how to start one up and keep it going strong. That's pretty much what was recorded, though it also rambled through some fun history

250. BGTG 32 - SR: Torres online, Fjords, Carcassonne:Princess & Dragon
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Description: Though I've missed the past three Santa Clarita Boardgamers sessions (drat), I've still had a few opportunities for playing games. Here are some opinions about those, including a new play-by-web offering, Torres.Also, I hadn't included any email (or voicemail!) feedback for a while, so it was starting to pile up. Rather than cut that short, I decided to move the feedback segment of the show to

251. BGTG 31 - All About Medici (with Dave Arnott)
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Description: Another All About show, another with a second voice, and another long one! This should be interesting... Though I normally prefer shows to be shorter, perhaps only half as long, this is also the kind of show I'd like to listen to. But does anyone else feel the same? An hour of two guys talking minutiae about Medici: whether you ever flip more than one card for auction, offensive vs. defensive

252. BGTG 30 - Game Presentation with Greg Wilzbach
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Description: This was a fun show to record, sitting down with the local gamer & friend who designed the BGTG logo(s). After some general chat about how Greg's background, how he got into the hobby, and joined the Santa Clarita Boardgamers, we got into the main theme of the show: boardgame presentation. For a graphics and design-savvy guy like Greg, that value of a game's good presentation is obvious. For a

253. BGTG 29 -The Wife Show
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Description: It's been a long time coming, but I finally got my wife Candy to join me for a podcast. Considering how popular and everlasting the question "How can I get my wife/girlfriend to play games with me?" is on discussion boards, this podcast should be of interest to many. Candy plays games with me, sure, but she's not an avid hobbyist like myself. Or rather, she's got her own avid hobbies--boardgames

254. BGTG 28 - SR: Way Out West, TransEuropa
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Description: Sorry for the nearly 2-week break between podcasts. That wasn't my plan, but life sometimes gets busy. Fortunately, half of that was for a fun weekend spent winetasting with Candy when the kids stayed with my folks. We went to the Santa Ynez valley area made more famous recently by the movie Sideways.But this show isn't about that--it's about catching up on some older feedback (including another

255. Even more for iTunes
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Description: I finally figured out how to make my older podcasts show up in iTunes. Now the bulk of my listeners should have access to the earlier material. A grand experiment in my podcast host and bandwidth limitations is about to start... :-/What kicked me into gear to finally "fix" this was the discovery that my pre-iTunes shows showed downloads/audience of only half what the more recent shows are getting

256. The Jim Lehrer of Podcasts
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Description: Chris Brooks runs a boardgame blog where he recently offered his assessment of "the three" boardgame podcasts, Geek Speak, Boardgames To Go, and The Dice Tower. I'm happy with his assessment of my podcast, which closes with...Think of Mark and Boardgames To Go as the the Jim Lehrer of Podcasts. A bit dry at times, but solid content worth tuning into.In my own comment to this entry, I mentioned

257. BGTG 26 - Microgames
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Description: Finally! I've wanted to get back to a theme show for a while, and one on microgames has been on my to-do list. As I say in the show, this is really sort of training me for doing some shows about wargames. I'm not ready to do that yet, but it will come someday.This was another recording using the mobile device, a Treo 650, rather than my normal laptop & headset mic rig. There's a drop in audio

258. BGTG 27 - SR: Gygés, Geschenkt, M, Raceway 57, Tower of Babel, Exxtra, Medici
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Description: A little bit longer podcast this time, as we played lots of games and had some interesting discussion to boot! Plus, I responded to feedback at the beginning of the show, something I hadn't done for a while.By the way, one of the reasons we played Tower of Babel at this session was to counteract the botched rules at an earlier outing. I wasn't at that previous session, so those forgotten/

259. BGTG 24 - July 9, 2005 - Two-player games SR: Jambo, Starship Catan, Richelieu, Flowerpower
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Description: This show was something of a hybrid, an audio session report that had an overall theme: 2-player games. That's because the most recent Santa Clarita Boardgamer session just had two players! Myself and BGTG logo designer Greg Wilzbach. We got in some good ones, and once again it made me think that we ought to play these more even on nights when we've got more turnout.Speaking of those logos, the

260. BGTG 25 - July 18, 2005 - SoCal Games Day 22 (with Sam)
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Description: Over a week between podcasts, rats! Well, sometimes our lives get busy, right? Between a crunch at work . . . and a literal crunch at home (car crash--everyone's ok), there wasn't a chance to record anything recently. Hopefully I'll catch up soon.First up is another in-between show. I guess it's mostly an audio session report, but since it talks about SoCal Games Day, and especially dads playing

261. BGTG - July 5, 2005 - SR: Smarty Party Jr., Attacktix, Geschenkt, Oceania
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Description: Once again I included my son Sam on the podcast. This show is an audio session report for some games played with family over the 4th of July holiday weekend. So it's got some angst about getting family to play the sort of games I like, trying to pick things they like, and then worrying about how well they went over. :)Be sure to vote on the new logos using the webpoll in my right sidebar. Thanks!

262. The logos are here!
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Description: Greg Wilzbach's logos are now displayed at the top of this page. I had one idea, helped by some other friends, and Greg also came up with his own concept. The result is two nice logos. While I could use the both, probably one should be the main one--maybe the only one. And why not make it a new web poll!Take a look at those two logos, and then use the voting buttons in the right sidebar. I won't

263. BGTG - June 30, 2005 (All about Entdecker)
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Description: I've been wanting to do this for a while, talk for an entire show about one game. And now I've done it, about one of my very favorite games Entdecker. I suppose this kind of show is really something of an audio game review, though I didn't plan it that way when I started talking. Entdecker is a game that's been published in two separate versions, has a well-known variant, another I prefer, and

264. Tip Jar
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Description: The show I just uploaded marks my need to bump up my podcast hosting subscription plan one level. I'm just recording too much! Even at the 32kbps (sound ok, by the way?), I'm running smack into the 100MB monthly storage limit. Now I've more than doubled that to 250, which should do me until I go to videocasts. (That's a joke, people--remember I'm motivated by podcasts you can safely appreciate

265. Welcome, iTunes users!
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Description: Now iTunes supports podcasting, and shows like mine saw an immediate surge in listeners. Boardgames To Go was one of the shows included in iTunes' initial podcast directory. So welcome, iTunes users! Go ahead and start downloading whatever you like, though if you're new to podcasting or new to strategy boardgames you might consider one of the intro shows permanently linked at the top of my right

266. BGTG - June 27, 2005 SR: Grand Canyon, Victory & Honor, Tonga Bonga, Pylos
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Description: I wonder how long it will be until I feel like I know what I'm doing?! Seems like every podcast I learn a little something new. This time it's as simple as making the podcast and blog post title with the games listed NOT in the order we played them. Otherwise, Tonga Bonga leads every audio SR this month, and at first glance it looks like I'm podcasting about the same thing. In a way, I guess I am

267. BGTG - June 28, 2005 (Boardgame resolutions)
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Description: A quick little show, the shortest I've done in a while. Mostly I just struck while the iron was hot, but with a surge in subscribers due to podcast support in iTunes, it's proven to be timely. Welcome new listeners! As I say in the little audio aside, I encourage the new folks to check out the permanently linked shows at the top of the right sidebar: intro shows about podcasting and also strategy

268. Upcoming shows
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Description: As expected, my flurry of podcasting last week is being followed by 7-10 days of no podcasting at all. Was I right in deciding to just shoot those previous shows out as quickly as I recorded them? Or would you prefer that I dribble them out at a more steady pace...even though that means holding some back? (It's more hassle for me to work to a regular schedule, so I don't expect to do it. Just

269. BGTG - June 24, 2005 (Boardgames and the Internet)
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Description: After a trio of shows sharing the microphone with someone else, I’m back to doing my solo show. That will still be what I do most of the time, I think. It’s back to a theme show, too, focusing on the history of Internet communication on our hobby. Mailing lists, newsgroups, websites, that sort of thing. I didn’t really get to all of the websites I wanted to cover—guess I’ll have to have a part 2

270. BGTG - June 14, 2005 (My daughter's take on boardgames)
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Description: Anyone who's a parent of multiple kids knows this rule: be fair to all of them. So after Sam got a chance to be on my podcast, talking about the games he likes, I knew that Molly deserved a turn. Actually, she had wanted to do it first! Molly just finished third grade, and was my little boardgame player even before her older brother. Although she plays the occasional video game, she's not into

271. BGTG - June 11, 2005 (My son's take on board and video games)
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Description: Here's another show where I have someone else recording with me. Only this time it's my son Sam, and he's plugged in locally to the same laptop. (Technical aside: this was incredibly easy, just patching in a second microphone/headset using a five-dollar audio jack splitter! I need to do more of this with local friends.) Besides hearing from the horse's mouth about a 5th/6th grader's attitudes

272. BGTG - June 11, 2005 (Mike Mayer and Robo Rally)
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Description: You asked for a second voice on Boardgames To Go? You got it!Ok, only some of you asked for a second voice. And ok, I won't have someone like Mike Mayer joining me on the podcast regularly. In fact, right now I think I'll still do the majority of the shows solo. But now that I've figured out how to patch in a remote collaborator for the show, I will do more of this in the future. I want to get

273. BGTG - June 11, 2005 (SR: Tonga Bonga, Crokinole, Fairy Tale)
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r... download (audio/mpeg, 8.33Mb)

Description: Last week I joked that Tonga Bonga would be our Game of the Month. Here we were, playing it again--by request! Maybe it's meant to be. This time was different in that it was a 3-player game, and I won big instead of losing big. Then I got to try Ryan & Erin's new Crokinole board. It's not theirs, really--they bought it as a graduation gift for Erin's cousin. This board is from Crokinole World,

274. Get 'em while you can
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Description: Am I posting too many shows? Can you keep up? You don't have to, of course, but I understand the desire to stay up-to-date with a website or podcast you follow. Turns out I've been uploading a little too much for me podcast host. That's no big deal--I can just lay low for about a week (the usual interval between shows that I record on the weekend anyway). Or, I can replace some of the existing

275. Here they come
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Description: The pattern continues--I don't have time to work on the podcast much during the week, and so it all piles up on the weekend. I actually recorded three new shows today. Partly that's because I'm still pretty excited about this thing, partly it's taking advantage of the time I've got (knowing it will evaporate later). I could hang onto these things and post one every few days, but I don't see much

276. BGTG - June 4, 2005 (Mark's boardgaming biography)
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Description: A show all about me. I hope this is still of interest to everyone--I figure it's important to know where your writer/podcaster is coming from. Once you're calibrated on who I am, you can interpret my reactions to different games a bit better. I start at the games I played as a kid, but then move through the microgames and roleplaying games that dominated high school and college. The boardgaming

277. BGTG - June 5, 2005 (SR: Tonga Bonga, David & Goliath, Oltremare, Tichu, Oceania)
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Description: A nice, big session report. Last week's session wasn't any longer than the previous one, but instead of playing one big game (Struggle of Empires), this time we played several shorter games. These are always my favorite game nights, though I can handle a longer game once in a while.I also was able to open with several listener comments, which was fun. Keep 'em coming.Email Mark JohnsonGamesTonga

278. Another "people's choice" award
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Description: I haven't talked very much about wargaming on Boardgames To Go (yet...). However, I do still play some of those, and today happens to be the final day for submitting your votes for the Charles S. Roberts awards. Though handed out at Origins (I think), the CSR awards have more dignity and credibility within the now-smaller hobby of board wargaming. Their history stretches all the way back to 1974.

279. BGTG - May 28, 2005 (Intro to Strategy Boardgames)
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Description: This show may not be as interesting to listeners who have been enjoying this hobby for a while. But as I mentioned in a previous show, I think it's important that this podcast have one show intended for newcomers. Though there are at least a couple more boardgame podcasts out there, mine is still the one that pops up when someone does a podcast search specifically for boardgames (only because

280. BGTG - May 30, 2005 (SR: Struggle of Empires, Alhambra, Flowerpower)
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Description: I had a few technical challenges with this show--hopefully none of them come through in the recording. (I did the intro on my little Treo phone/PDA thingie, then pasted it into my normal Audacity recording software. I hadn't noticed that this fiddled with my normal sampling rate, which affects some CD burners. I think I fixed it, though.) By all means, let me know if something is amiss.Note the

281. A little tweaking
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Description: I did a little tweaking this afternoon, discovering that I had a way to check some more usage statistics than I'd previously known. One of them I can share right here on the sight: a little graphic at the bottom of my sidebar, tracking the number of listeners(?) using my feed. At least, I think that's what it's tracking. The poll (also at sidebar) indicated over half of my listeners are not using

282. BGTG - May 22, 2005 (Game Awards)
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Description: A theme show I'd mentioned earlier, focusing on the ideas behind game awards. I was consciously trying to avoid just making this a rundown of the various awards, trying to get a little behind the purpose and motivation for game awards. Was I successful? Partially, I think.Email Mark JohnsonLinksBrett & Board's Awards pageInternational Gamers AwardsDeutscher Spiel Preis form (and Mik's explanation

283. New domain name, email, even a BGG text ad!
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Description: Last week I purchased my own domain name for this site & podcast. It's now at (what else?)...http://BoardgamesToGo.com (yea!) This also permits me to receive email feedback at Mark@BoardgamesToGo.com. Don't worry, all of previous email and web addresses will continue to work. The RSS/podcast feed is unchanged. This is just cooler. :) Finding that all less expensive than I expected, I decided to

284. My feet are on the ground, and I'm reaching for the stars!
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Description: It can't last--I know it can't--but all day I've been in the listing of Top 40 podcasts at Podnova.com. This site is primarily a new podcatching service, one that works as a web application or downloadable client . . . or both, synchronized together. They've even got an audio player built into the website, allowing you to stream shows like mine. I've got a clickable link to the right that makes

285. BGTG - May 16, 2005 (Conventions, part 2)
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Description: Finishing up the earlier theme show about conventions, this time covering invitational events like The Gathering of Friends and Gulf Games, then wrapping up with some of the smallest but best events, public Games Days.At the end I mention the next theme show will be about the various game awards, and I'm asking for feedback/input about that topic in particular.Links(No website for private events

286. It's over, but at least I've got a poll working
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Description: Just as I predicted, the universe returned to normal and I dropped off the Top 40 list at Podnova.com. This morning I found that the listing was based on subscriptions, I imagine ones registered through the Podnova website. Now Adam Curry and Dawn & Drew have resumed their rightful places atop the podcast world. However, I see that Geek Speak has now made the list, and that show might have the

287. BGTG - May 14, 2005 (SR: Crokinole, Schrille Stille, Star Wars Attack of the Clones, Puerto Rico, Traumfabrik)
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Description: This audio session report mostly talks about the games I played at two recent Santa Clarita Boardgamer sessions. What do people listen for in an audio session report, anyway? I don't spend any time explaining the mechanics of the games. That's not a good use of anyone's time, especially my own. You can follow the links below to learn all you'll want about rules & mechanics.I'm primarily telling

288. BGTG - May 12, 2005 (Listening to podcasts--and recording them!)
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Description: June 11 update: I've switched over to 32kbps MP3 exporting out of Audacity, rather than the 48 I was originally using. For speech the difference in audio quality ought to be barely detectable, while the filesize savings are nothing to sneeze at (around 25%).This particular podcast has nothing to do with boardgames! It's a special show about podcasting itself. The first third of the program are

289. BGTG - May 10, 2005 (Conventions, part 1)
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Description: Finally did the show about conventions, and I didn't even finish what I wanted to say. But I limited myself to a half-hour, just the same. I'll wrap up in a future show, though that will probably not be my next show. In this one I start at the top, discussing my one day at Essen 2003, other experiences with Origins and Gencon (well, at least Gencon SoCal), talk up some more-than-regional cons

290. BGTG - May 2, 2005 (SR: Settlers, Dancing Dice, Basari, Ra, San Marco, Xe Queo!, Ingenious, Star Wars Ep. 2 Card Game, Kapitan Wackelpudding)
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Description: Oof, that's a long title for this post. But I wanted that top line to tell people what's in this podcast, so that can see it in their RSS reader or podcast aggregator. This entire show is an audio session report. As you'll hear in the podcast, I received some good suggestions that I could kill two birds with one stone by keeping the session reports, just separating them out into their own show.

291. Family game success
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Description: Wouldn't you know, not long after I posted my last show about gaming with my family, I managed to have a new success: 2-player San Marco with my wife. Now, San Marco isn't intended for just two players, but there are a couple variants posted on Boardgamegeek. We tried the one that uses a mostly inert dummy player (some dummy player rules can get too involved--not the case here), and it worked

292. Thanks for the feedback (keep it coming!)
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Description: Ok, now the podcast has been "live" for a few days, folks have listened to some of the shows, and the feedback is starting to trickle in. Thanks very much. It's generally quite positive, which makes me feel good. But there are also some suggestions for improvements, and a couple instances of technical problems. These are all necessary for me to here if I'm to change anything. While I'm not yet

293. More links
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Description: One comment I received more than once was a desire to have some links for the games or sites I mention during a podcast. I've gone back through the past shows and appended some links that should help. If there's something I've missed, be sure to let me know and I'll get it posted.

294. BGTG - April 22, 2005 (Family boardgaming)
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Description: This show is all about playing boardgames with your family. Well, with my family. A family who isn't as blown away by strategy boardgames as I am, they still humor me from time to time. They even enjoy some games now and then. The small audio session report tacked on the end is mostly about a mega Carcassonne game I played before El Grande last week.On the technical front, I changed some of my

295. BGTG - April 16, 2005 (Game of the Month)
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Description: Ok, with four of these shows "in the can," it's time to go live with this podcast/blog. Right after I upload this show I'll spread the word online and we'll see what happens. Naturally I hope people like it, but I'd certainly understand some . . . ahem . . . constructive criticism. (Especially after I suggested some Tough Love for Geek Speak once.) Fair's fair.As I mention near the end of this

296. Boardgames To Go - First podcast!
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Description: This first one is a little rough, both because I was working with a poor microphone and mistakenly thought I should keep my voice relatively flat. But at least it's a start! At the end I wrap up with an audio session report from the Santa Clarita Boardgamers (Garden Gnome Society, Rumis, and Doom:The Boardgame).Email Mark Johnson

297. BGTG - April 2, 2005 (Play-by-Web Games)
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Description: In the third show I describe a variety of online boardgames I like to play, using the play-by-web (or email) format, as opposed to a realtime format like Brettspielwelt or the Days of Wonder site. I also rifle through a session report of the Santa Clarita Boardgamers (Karawane, Rome: Circus Maximus, El Grande, Kraut & Rüben).Other linksBoardgamegeek [English] (Euphrat & Tigris, Auf Heller und

298. BGTG - March 29, 2005
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Description: Second try, and this time I've got a slightly better microphone and less monotone voice. :) I talk about why I'm doing a podcast at all, why I hope there will be more boardgaming podcasts soon, and a session report for games played with my old group, the Left Coast Gamers (Evergreen, What Were You Thinking?, Durch die Wüste, and San Marco.)Email Mark Johnson