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Boardgames To Go - Season 14 (2018)
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Season 14 of my podcast may prove to be a little different, we'll see. My thoughts about the hobby have shifted. I'm still playing as many games as ever, but I've started downsizing my collection (out of room!), and I'm even less compelled to keep up "the hotness." While I'll still play a number of new games when friends bring them to game night, or when I go to a large game event, the plays I'm in charge of tend to feature old favorites. Some of this is a continuation to my longstanding preferences. Another part is a delayed reaction to my time spent living in France. Away from home and my collection in California, I learned to have just as much fun with fewer games, especially ones that we already know & love.

-Mark


Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames
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Episodes
BGTG 180 - Post-BGGcon 2017 (with Greg Pettit)
BGTG 181 - Brewery Roundtable
BGTG 182 - Downsizing a Collection
BGTG 183 - Spiel des Jahres 2018
BGTG 184 - Conventions for Boardgame Players & Designers (with David Thompson)
BGTG 185 - Essen Anticipation 2018
BGTG 186 - Kniziathon (with Doug Adams)
BGTG 187 - Post-BGGcon 2018 (with Ryan Wheeler and Greg Pettit)
BGTG 188 - Essen 2018 (with Chris Marling)
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1. Board Game: Techno Bowl: Arcade Football Unplugged [Average Rating:8.65 Overall Rank:2620]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 180 - Post-BGGcon 2017

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Opener: Welcome to Season 14 of my podcast! (Also family gathering gaming with Take Your Pick, Raj, 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


-Mark
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2. Board Game: Heaven & Ale [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:340]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 181 - Brewery Roundtable BGGcon 2017

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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.

-Mark



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3. Board Game: Downsize [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:6941]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 182 - Downsizing a Collection

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David G.
United States
Moorpark
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Greg Wilzbach
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Valencia
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Mike Mayer
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Arcadia
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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.

Dave's charts & graphs (fun with data!) are here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1946218/fun-graphs

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4. Board Game: Game of the Year [Average Rating:4.59 Overall Rank:15965]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 183 - Spiel des Jahres 2018

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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?

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5. Board Game: War Chest [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:1657]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 184 - Conventions for Boardgame Players & Designers

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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

-Mark


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6. Board Game: Reef [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:790]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 185 - Essen Anticipation 2018

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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.

-Mark
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7. Board Game: Reiner Knizia's Decathlon [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3051]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 186 - Kniziathon (with Doug Adams)

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Openers: Root and Krass Kariert

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



Doug Adams
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Oakleigh
Victoria
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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



-Mark
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8. Board Game: Treasure Island [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:2672]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 187 - Post-BGGcon 2018 (with Ryan Wheeler and Greg Pettit)

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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
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Grizzly Greg, representin' with a BGTG button...and a brew
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.)

-Mark
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9. Board Game: Witless Wizards [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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BGTG 188 - Essen 2018 (with Chris Marling)

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Openers:
Orbital
Pikoko


Chris Marling
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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.











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

-Mark
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