Boardgames To Go

Mark Johnson's occasional and opinionated podcast, Boardgames To Go, now has its own blog on Boardgamegeek.
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Oldies but Goodies

Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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That's a Palm Pilot on the left, and a pink iPod mini on the right. Yes, I've been doing BGTG that long!
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Those of you that follow my Facebook page (, which I think is also echoed to Twitter (@BoardgamesToGo), already saw this. When I looked back over the games we played on Friday night, I was struck with how much they fit my reputation of playing lighter family games...and old ones at that!

From gallery of MarkEJohnson

To be fair, it wasn't a normal game group night. Only one of the other regulars was able to make it, but we still had a full table of six players. My wife & daughter joined in, plus my daughter's friend, and her boyfriend Zac. The latter is a budding gamer, eager to play (and often win) everything. I mentioned him in the previous podcast.

With this group, I started the night off with a party game, Telestrations. A real favorite that we haven't played for a while. I need to get some better, replacement pens, but the originals worked ok. Of course we were sensible and didn't play with scoring. Just for fun.

Next was One Night Ultimate Werewolf. My daughter really wanted to play this again, while my wife did not. You probably know my feeling about this game. I like that it's clever & short, but I've never really enjoyed any Werewolf game after I got past the spectacle of watching mob mentality. I seem to be surrounded by friends who do like it, however, so it will be one of my nickels or dimes next year (despite my own feelings). Heck, I bought it because I knew this would be true. As a whole, the group liked it well enough to play a couple times.

Last up with the full group of six was Sharp Shooters. Know this one? It's a thrift store regular. Sometimes gamers just get for it's pile of dice & plastic chips. However, it's also a surprisingly good mass-market dice game. It's not really that similar to Yahtzee, but that's still a decent way to explain it to newbies. You're rolling five dice, trying to make poker hands. But each round has a smaller set of "hands" that will score based on their difficulty, and we complete them as a group. Not a cooperative group, though--only the person who places the last die of a hand will get to score it. To be honest, the gamers around the table got more out of it than the casual players, but that should be a mark in its favor.

At that point we dropped down to three players, with Zac eager to try stuff that was new-to-him. Greg & I went to the game shelves in my garage, and Greg suggested Dominion. This is the original set, the only one I own. It's been years since I played this deckbuilder--too long! I still think it's the best one of the style of game it created.

After Dominion, Greg picked another Spiel des Jahres winner, Mississippi Queen. This was one of the first games I ordered from Germany (actually had a coworker bring back with him from Germany). It's got its detractors (Dave Arnott & I discussed this on our "road trip" episode last year), but I've always liked it. More than any game in the 90s time, it blew me away with how the physical production of the game added to its charm. Not just the plastic paddlewheelers & southern belles. I love how the river segments fit together, and the use of the chunky die to lay out the river. Even I'll admit that the endgame "bumper boats" can be a drawback, though that didn't happen in our 3-player game. To me, this game is more than the sum of its parts. I miss Goldseiber as a publisher (though Queen & Days of Wonder do a pretty good job filling in).

Last was another classic, Knizia's Through the Desert, one that maybe should've won the SdJ in its year (it lost to Elfenland, also a fine pick). A year ago I had two copies of this, but decided to sell my Kosmos original in favor of keeping the smaller box from Fantasy Flight. Considering my dwindling storage space, that was probably the right move, but I didn't realize until now that I liked the Kosmos board more (thankfully, the iconic pieces are identical). Oh well. A classic I'd be happy to play every year, even though originally I thought it too dry & abstract. (More accurately, I think my issue with the game is perfect information. I'm not a huge fan of that.)

Did you notice how old most of these games are?! They were published in 2009, 2014, 1994, 2008, 1997, and 1998, for an average age of over ten years per game! As I say, oldies but goodies.

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