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Boardgames To Go - Season 7 (2011)
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 112 - Five-Player Games (with Dave O'Connor)
BGTG 113 - European Vacation
BGTG 114 - Party Games for Shy Boardgamers (with David Gullett)
BGTG 115 - Spiel des Jahres, Then & Now
BGTG 116 - Essen Anticipation 2011
BGTG 117 - Long Games (with Ryan Wheeler)
BGTG 118 - Post BGG.con 2011 (with Greg Pettit)
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1. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:49]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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http://www.WargamesToGo.com
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Jan 31, 2011
Dave OConnor
United States
San Diego
California
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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 games that he strongly preferred with five. Me? I'd suggest splitting into a 2 and 3-player pair of games, but most wouldn't agree with that!

We talk about some 5-player classics like El Grande and Mu, but also drift toward a disagreement about playing Web of Power with that number. Add in Medici, Die Macher, Agricola, Age of Steam, and others to round out the discussion.

-Mark
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2. Board Game: Jäger und Sammler [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:2470]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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Mar 31, 2011

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. This episode is kind of a rambling tale about that, the shops I visited, the games I bought & played, and the surprises of an American gamer visiting another part of the world.

-Mark

P.S. The name of my kind host at the Dutch game group was Eugene, not Phil. I'm sorry for the mistake!
 
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3. Board Game: Say Anything Family Edition [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:3437]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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David G.
United States
Moorpark
California
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July 4, 2011

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 that party games deliver. In fact, they do a lot better delivering that payoff than a euro about banking in Renaissance Italy ever could! :-)

For this discussion, I brought one of those party+boardgame enthusiasts on the program--frequent guest David Gullett. Besides our general discussion about what makes party games tick, we debate a bunch of party game types, and spend most of the show talking about some specific titles like Times Up, Telestrations, and Wits & Wagers. Along the way, I discover that I like some types considerably more than others, and the stumbling block with some appears to be performance anxiety (of the "stage fright" variety--not the other kind!).

-Mark

Fine print: Thanks to Northstar Games for a review copy of Say Anything Family.
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4. Board Game: Mississippi Queen [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1428]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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July 16, 2011

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 SdJ winners from that earlier decade. It shouldn't have been a surprise, I suppose--the Spiel des Jahres jury is very deliberate in its selection of games it thinks will be modern classics, good for pleasant experiences around a game table for family & friends. That focus runs counter to what some gamers want in a deeper, strategic challenge, but it happens to line up nicely with what I like in a game. For me, I've got enough mental challenge in my day job. I don't need my fun & relaxation to be brainless, just a little less taxing than my workweek. The SdJ winners do that for me.

Games like Settlers of Catan, Mississippi Queen, and Drunter & Druber (Wacky Wacky West) were like revisiting favorite books or familiar movies, while Cafe International was an old classic I no longer care for. Torres is a more complex SdJ winner than others liked more than me, but I still enjoy playing it once in a great while. I cheat a little and consider Bohnanza an honorary SdJ game, since it was an unusual card game that made the nomination list.

Even now, the SdJ jury is making selections that rub some gamers the wrong way, but I think time will show the value of their choices. Qwirkle is light & pleasant--a common reaction is surprise that no one thought of it before! But it took Susan McKinley Ross to do that, and now we've got a game I could see playing in 20 years, unlike many others on my shelf. Time may pass those titles by. For the brand, new Kennerspiel, I agree that 7 Wonders is lighter than expected for new prize, but I also agree that it's a landmark game. We felt that way when Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, and Dominion appeared on the scene. They were so good, they just had to be picked to win an award.

-Mark
 
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5. Board Game: 23 [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:2987]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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designer
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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http://www.WargamesToGo.com
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Oct 17, 2011

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 get to be there in person, we live vicariously through the rumors, news, and marketing info leading up to the event itself, and then through live reports from Essen over streaming video channels. The acid test comes quite a bit later, when everyone gets a chance to really play the games they bought over there, and the rest of us get to play ones that were ordered & shipped to us. That's when we'll know with some certainty which games we really enjoy.

The current moment is something different. It's informed speculation about what we think we're going to have fun with, based on...what? Based on descriptions, photos, comparisons to other games, and the earliest previews. I do it every year--have done so since the 1990s--and 2011 is no different. It's fun for me, and I hope it's fun for you to listen to, as well.

If you have your own ideas about the games to anticipate, why you think that way, and maybe even what you thought about last year's games, I'd love to hear it.

-Mark

P.S. I decided to post a Geeklist after all that lists the games I talk through in the podcast, as well as my p,d,t,m notes about what draws me to them.
 
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6. Board Game: Roads & Boats [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:210]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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http://www.WargamesToGo.com
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Ryan Wheeler
United States
Mobridge
South Dakota
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Nov 11, 2011

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.

But back here, on my own show, I'm talking with a different Ryan--this is Ryan Wheeler, the former cornerstone of my local game group. He moved away, though, all the way to Mobridge, South Dakota (population: 3,400). He and I always had different attitudes about long games, especially when anything beyond three hours was long for me. I always wanted to explore that topic in a podcast with him, and now we've done that.

However, since he's a good friend I hadn't spoken with for a while, I enjoyed letting the conversation wander into other interesting topics, like what sort of gaming he does in South Dakota, analysis paralysis, and online games. Some of those relate to long games, others don't. It's all interesting.

-Mark
 
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7. Board Game: Nefarious [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1676]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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http://www.WargamesToGo.com
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Dec 4, 2011

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.
United States
Houston
Texas
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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 Essen crop. I haven't played too many of those yet, but did manage to sneak in a few, so I get to offer my opinions about those.

This year Greg and I made a Geeklist that you can view, print out, and follow along with during our discussion. It's got a geekbuzz-style star rating for each game. I've made some comments to Greg's original list, and we encourage everyone else to enter their own comments to serve as feedback for this episode. Near the end of the show we even go back through last year's Geeklist and offer quick opinions about some games, one year later. (In most cases, you'll see that we haven't played them again in a year, which is telling in itself...)

There was an interesting surprise in the early-middle part of the episode, when Greg shares that he was feeling a bit of gamer burnout or ennui when he played all of these new games. Though offered as a side comment, I enjoyed to chance to talk about this topic. After all, it's so incredibly common--many gamers get to a point when they start to feel less enthused about the new games. Some drop boardgaming altogether at that point, and go back to roleplaying, miniatures, video games, or something else. Others take months or years off before returning. And some just power their way through. (A few crazies like me never seem to get tired of new medieval-themed trading games, though I guess I get tired of some other things like worker-placement mechanics.)

We hope you enjoy the episode. Please take a look at the two Geeklists to follow along and offer your comments:

-Mark


Links
Post BGG.con 2011 geeklist
Post BGG.con 2010 geeklist
 
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