Boardgames To Go - Season 5 (2009)
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames
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Episodes
BGTG 89 - SR & Feedback (Viva Topo!, Slamwich, Tief auf Tier)
BGTG 90 - Veto-Proof Game Night (with Ryan Wheeler)
BGTG 91 - 2008 Year in Review (with Dave Arnott)
BGTG 92 - Game Awards (with Dave Arnott)
BGTG 93 - All About Big City (with Eric Burgess)
BGTG 94 - Are any of our games Classics? (with Greg Pettit)
BGTG 95 - SR & Feedback (Container & Chicago Express)
BGTG 96 - Translations, Editions, and Revisions (with David Gullett)
BGTG 97 - All About Brass (with Stephanie Kelleher)
BGTG 98 - Essen Anticipation 2009
BGTG 99 - Ten Years of Essens
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1. Board Game: Viva Topo! [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1535]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Feb 17, 2009

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 enjoyed even now . . . and expect to enjoy in the future as I turn at least one of them into a gamer. :-)

A lot of the feedback focuses on Dominion, since it's still the hot game right now, and I shared my thoughts about it on the previous podcast. Plus there's one golden feedback about a dad playing HGSB with his kid.

-Mark
 
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2. Board Game: Manifest Destiny [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2548]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Mar 6, 2009
Ryan Wheeler
United States
Mobridge
South Dakota
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My buddy Ryan Wheeler is part of our local game group, the Santa Clarita Boardgamers. In fact, he's the driving force of the group, hosting most of the game nights, always adding to his collection, and infecting the rest of us with his enthusiasm and sense of humor. When schedules conflicts led to only two of us showing up for games one night, I pressured him into recording another podcast with me. (Later that night we played Risiko Express and Ice Flow, which we don't talk about on the podcast.)

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

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

-Mark
 
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3. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:104]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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David Arnott
United States
Tarzana
California
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Mar 20, 2009

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

-Mark
 
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4. Board Game: Award Show [Average Rating:4.14 Overall Rank:13716]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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David Arnott
United States
Tarzana
California
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Mar 29, 2009

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

-Mark

P.S. Let me know if you think the audio levels sound better on this recording. Like most of my guests, Dave has lower lows and (especially) higher highs than my own voice, which makes leveling the audio tricky with my low budget rig. Aldie suggested I pipe it through some software called Levelator, so I'm trying that for this second half of our show.
 
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5. Board Game: Big City [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:900]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Apr 14, 2009
E.R. Burgess
United States
Glendora
California
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It must be just about time for a boring show with just me on the mic, but you're spared once again! This time I have fellow podcaster Eric "Boardgame Babylon" Burgess with me to talk about another of my favorites, Big City. Turns out it's one of his, too, and when I made a half-serious request for someone to do this episode with, Eric responded right away. We live somewhat far from each other, though still both in Southern California. Better still, we commute our opposite directions to both coverge on our workplaces only a few miles apart.

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

-Mark

P.S. Be sure to check out Eric's "Power Grid: In Depth" podcast, as well as the rest of Boardgame Babylon.
 
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6. Board Game: The Book of Classic Board Games [Average Rating:6.59 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.59 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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May 4, 2009
United States
Houston
Texas
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It comes up from time to time in discussions about our hobby--will any of the games we're playing now achieve "classic" status? There are commercial classics like Monopoly, Risk, and Scrabble, as well as cultural or timeless classics like Go, Chess, and Poker. That's an awfully high standard for any game to achieve, even ones we think so highly of on our game nights and gamesdays. What does complexity or availability have to do with it? And is the world just so different today that games have a different path to achieve that status?

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

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

-Mark
 
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7. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:542]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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July 2, 2009

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

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

-Mark
 
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8. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:158] [Average Rating:7.35 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Aug 30, 2009

Let me clear about this--most of the explanation for the delay in this podcast (recorded almost two months ago) is simply that I never got around to finishing & posting it. Part of that is because the show is longer than usual--longer than fits on a CD--and I thought I wanted to edit it down considerably. But as you know if you're a longtime listener, I don't really do that kind of editing. I don't do much editing at all, truthfully. (Feedback welcome on that, by the way.) After I gave up the idea of editing out so much content, I figured I'd just post the show in two parts, spaced about a week apart. Now that it's taken me another few weeks to even do that much, I'm giving up, deciding to post the whole thing. I don't think hardly anybody burns these onto CDs in 2009 anyway, and some gaming podcasts are even longer. So this is part procrastination/laziness, part experiment. Let me know what you think. Whew!
David G.
United States
Moorpark
California
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This is a topic of interest to the truly geeky, the ones that care a little too much about their games. That's me, and it's probably you, too. (After all, you're reading a boardgame blog, listening to a boardgame podcast! You've got it bad . . . ) You won't be in this hobby very long before you encounter some opinions, including your own, about which version of a game is best. The original? The one where they changed the artwork & components? Or the one where they redeveloped the game into something just a little different? Small World is the game that triggered me to record this episode. I'm a huge fan of Vinci, which was Small World's differently-themed predecessor.

Do I like Small World? Yes.

Do I prefer it to Vinci? No way.

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

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

-Mark
 
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9. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:28]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Stephanie K.
United States
Los Angeles
California
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Oct 24, 2009

I recorded this episode focusing on Martin Wallace's Brass with guest Stephanie Bennett (songlian on BGG). Stephanie is at Essen right now helping with the BGG/Geekdo booth!

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

-Mark
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10. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:370]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Oct 19, 2009

As before, I've managed to squeeze in a show just before the Essen game fair Spiel that shares my anticipation for the event and a number of games. Nope, I'm not going there, just living vicariously through the preview information about the games about to debut at this enormous event in our hobby. All of this may will change after we start hearing (and seeing!) more about this games from firsthand gamer experience, first at Essen itself, and especially after a month or so at BGG.con. (Unfortunately, I won't be there, either.)

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

-Mark
 
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11. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:401]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Nov 5, 2009

Chris left a comment after the previous podcast (anticipating this year's Essen), asking what games were my favorites from past Essens. That was the idea behind this show--my favorites, BGG's favorites, and what seemed liked the favorites at the time (Fairplay ratings). I looked up the past decade of Fairplay rankings, compared it against current BGG rankings, and also figured out my favorites from that same Essen. In addition to BGG, the original German boardgame database Luding was very useful, since it allows searches for a particular Essen year.

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

What are your favorites from these years?

-Mark
 
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