Boardgames To Go - Season 11 (2015)
Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
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Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames
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Episodes
BGTG 156 - Games of BGG.con 2014 (with Greg Pettit)
BGTG 157 - Games Played in 2014 (with Martin Griffiths)
BGTG 158 - Boardgame Road Trip 2 (with Dave Arnott)
BGTG 159 - 100 Great Games, Epiloge (with Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson)
BGTG 160 - Reflections on my Podcast (with Greg Pettit)
BGTG 161 - BGGcon 2015 daily episodes (with friends)
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1. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:340]
Mark Johnson
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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?


-Mark





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2. Board Game: Port Royal [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:418] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
California
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Feb 25, 2015
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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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.

Martin plays SO many games (173 different titles for 600 total plays!), that by the time we added my totals (195 different titles for a total of 400 total plays), we had PLENTY to discuss just covering our "Five & Dime" titles. It was a great conversation and just scratched the surface of more talks I'd enjoy having with Martin.

...But those other conversations will have to wait until after my break from podcasting. I'm now calling it my "sabbatical," since it's intended to be a substantial length of time when I can recharge my mental batteries. It also reinforces the fact that it won't last forever--I fully intend to return to the podcast after this break.

Links
Martin's BGG summary for 2014 (and Extended Stats for 2014)
Mark's BGG summary for 2014 (and Extended Stats for 2014)

-Mark



Games Discussed (our collective Five & Dime lists)

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3. Board Game: XCOM: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:429]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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David Arnott
United States
Tarzana
California
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Apr 20, 2018

I'm not dead yet!

Yes, I'm still going on a "sabbatical" from this podcast. But no, that hasn't happened yet! In fact, I still have three more episodes to post before I go quiet on you. This one, the 100 Great Games epilogue, and then my "goodbye for now" episode. Two of those are already recorded, and the final one will be soon. Soon!

The one you've got before you is a sequel, of sorts. Back in 2013 I went on a boardgaming road trip to Dave Arnott to visit Jeff, Mark, Joe, and John in Fresno. On the way back we recorded an episode (#135)--in the car--where we talked about the games we played, and the weekend in general. Now Dave & I have done that again, but this time we talk about the games and something else: Dave's role as one of the hosts of BGG's video show GameNight!, as well as a couple word game apps he produces with some partners, Noodle Doodle and Tuklu. Since this is recorded in the car, on a smartphone, there's quite a bit of background noise. I did some post-processing on it to remove some of that, while hopefully keeping Dave & I sounding like human beings...not cyborgs having a conversation in a steel pipe.


We played a lot of great games that weekend, not all of which get discussed in the podcast. Jeff is working on his 10x10 challenge for 2015, so it was fun to help him get in some of those plays with games like Basari, Jäger und Sammler, Port Royal, and Industrial Waste. We also played 5ive Straight, XCOM: The Board Game, Res Publica, and Potato Man. Most of those are my kind of game. XCom really isn't, but we all wanted to try. Wouldn't you know, although my boardgames experience was just so-so with this one, it prompted me to re-install XCOM: Enemy Unknown on my computer. I've played it for a few weeks, but am again reaching that point where I may need to delete the thing because it's such a timesuck. Either that or develop more self-control and just quit the game sooner!


GameNight! has been steadily gaining a larger & larger audience, no doubt fueled by Lincoln's amazing production schedule and the obvious on-screen camaraderie of the four main hosts: Lincoln, Nikki, Aaron, and Dave. (Me, I love the intro credit sequence & catchy song. Normally I watch that, some of the intro, then skip the rules & most of the play to get to the post-game discussion. That's my favorite part.) I wanted to see how much Dave could tell us about the behind-the-scenes aspects of this awesome video show. At the time we recorded the third season for GameNight! had not started yet, but now it has.

GameNight! on boardgamegeektv
Episode geeklist
Season 1 YouTube playlist
Season 2 YouTube playlist
Season 3 YouTube playlist

Dave's also been working with his puzzle-designing partner, Aaron Weissblum, as well as app developer Eric Snider on a couple of addicting word game apps. These are clever & fun little puzzles that scratch that word game/party game itch. We got to talk a little bit about what goes into creating those, too.

-Mark


P.S. We didn't really even talk about it on the podcast this time, but just like two years ago we worked in some Letterboxing on this road trip. It was fun driving through some little towns in "California's heartland." I've driven the I-5 and CA-99 farmland corridors through the middle of the San Joaquin Valley my whole life, but this was one of the few times I went more than a dozen miles lateral to those arteries to find little places like Ducor in the southeastern valley.
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4. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:5]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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May 4, 2015

Stephen Glenn
United States
Virginia Beach
Virginia
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Mark Jackson
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Goodlettsville
Tennessee
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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 the 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.


...

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?! whistle

Our Picks

We started by going over our own individual picks, listed below. I've highlighted the ones on our lists that never made it into the 100 Great Games list, and we each get a little time to trumpet our appreciation for these favorites.


Mark Johnson's picks
1. Entdecker
2. A Few Acres of Snow
3. Pandemic
4. Brass
5. Settlers of Catan
6. Vinci
7. Bohnanza
8. Crokinole
9. For Sale
10. Thebes
11. Africa
12. Magic: The Gathering
13. Dominion
14. Medici
15. Harry's Grand Slam Baseball





Mark Jackson's picks
1. Memoir '44
2. Race for the Galaxy
3. A Brief History of the World
4. Summoner Wars
5. Settlers of Catan
6. Fast Food Franchise
7. Heroscape
8. Dungeonquest
9. Risk Legacy
10. Puerto Rico
11. Princes of Florence
12. Um Reifenbreite
13. Zooloretto
14. Lord of the Rings
15. The Rivals for Catan




Stephen Glenn's picks
1. Acquire
2. Euphrat & Tigris
3. Dominion
4. Navia Dratp
5. Werewolf
6. Settlers of Catan
7. Montage
8. TZAAR
9. Ticket to Ride
10. GIPF
11. Through the Desert
12. 6 Nimmt!
13. Midnight Party
14. Ra
15. Verflixxt




Gold, Silver, Bronze

With all of this data, it's only natural to look at them and count up which designer featured most prominently in the 100 Great Games. We can also look at the most popular years of publication, and the publishers. In this case I simply counted up the number of mentions for each. One could make a good argument that there should be more consideration for appearances near the top of the list instead of the bottom. Nonetheless, I think the "awards" look right, and am pleased by the outcomes.9

(If anyone wants to crunch the data and provide alternate results, it's here on Google Docs.)






Then & Now

We also compared this list (compiled in 2012) to the earlier edition Mark & Stephen did (in 2005). Which games appeared on both lists and made the biggest jumps forward? Which went the other direction? Again, the position on the list should really be factored in here (but wasn't). It takes a lot more oomph to climb from #12 into the Top Ten than it does to climb from #92 into the 80s. Nonetheless, more interesting topics for your second cup of coffee, and slice of pie.




Big gainers: Vinci/Small World, 6 Nimmt!, War of the Ring, Ave Caesar, Can't Stop, Mystery Rummy, Wallenstein, Carcassonne, Lost Cities

Big drops: Too many! So many good games are published every year that many other good ones get pushed off a list like this. The guys did the first list seven years before this new one we discussed on the podcast. A full 44 new games entered the list, pushing out an equal number of old favorites. That's what happened to some classics like Union Pacific, I'm The Boss, Smarty Party, San Marco, Taboo, Chinatown, and many more.



What might have been

In the Top Ten episode I posted a poll that asked my listeners for the recent (post 2012) games that might have joined the 100 Great Games list if we'd conducted the survey a short time ago. Are there any instant classics to make their way onto the list? No doubt there are. I was surprised to find the listeners only settling on a couple, however (and no one suggested a write-in I might have missed in the poll). Those two newcomers would be Android Netunner & Terra Mystica.



One a related note, the guys & I considered what recent games we might have been tempted to put on our individual lists, above. We spared ourselves the difficult choice of deciding which personal favorites would've been pushed out. (It's not always the bottom of our lists, since some of these games "take the place" of established ones. Or, at least, they could.)

Mark Jackson thought he might have to make room for Clash of Cultures. Stephen suggested Tash-Kalar and Machi Koro. I think I would have to make room for Hanabi and possibly Pergamon.





The End

And that, finally, brings the 100 Great Games project to a close. I felt honored to be asked my favorites as part of the first time Stephen & Mark did this a decade ago, and again in 2012. The chance to discuss it all on my podcast was a big endeavor, one that probably took too long for everyone involved, but was also great fun. I can tell from the download stats & comments that it was a favorite for my listeners, too. For all of these things, I'm grateful to Stephen & Mark, to those listeners, and to our wonderful hobby. The list project on the podcast has really been a kind of celebration for all of us. Thanks for listening.

(It's also my second-to-last episode before my big break. One more to go, and that's scheduled to be recorded tonight...)

-Mark (Johnson)
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5. Board Game: Reflection [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
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Jun 9, 2015

United States
Houston
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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 the geeklists 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, Eric marches to the beat of his own drummer, and Dave & Stephen have recorded over one million hours. Congrats to all! I'm happy to be in this club.


-Mark


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


Links
Learning about history from boardgames discussion
Peter Sarrett's Review Manifesto
Boardgames To Go archives
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6. Board Game: Go to Texas [Average Rating:4.25 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Nov 18-22, 2015

I'm still enjoying my break from the podcast, but always hoped that I'd be able to temporarily return to the mic, inserting some simple recordings to cover my experiences at BGG.con again. Last year I recorded daily podcasts from the event, and this year I'm trying to do the same. There will be some modifications in how I produce the episodes, but they'll still get out to your ears the same, old way.

I may add more to this geeklist entry a week after the event, when I catch up on sleep and have more time. While it's happening, I'll just update this post with simple links to new recordings, as they're available. (And if you subscribe through your favorite podcast service, they should show up automatically, like usual.)

If you're at the event, look for me and say hi! Make sure I give you a button and then wear it to find other listeners.


That wraps up this year's BGGcon podcasts for me. It was fun to do them, and relatively easy. Fun to back on the mic, talking with you all about our wonderful hobby. I hope listeners got something out of the above shows, whether you were experiencing the event along with me, or following from afar. I look forward to restarting Boardgames To Go "for real" sometime in 2016.

-Mark
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