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Subject: Geek of the Week #66 - Tom Vasel (TomVasel) rss

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Gilad Yarnitzky
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I have the honor to present the new Geek of the Week.
Tom Vasel

I don’t think there is anyone here on the geek that has not read at least one of Tom’s reviews. His reviews are always detailed and amazing.

Quote:
Biography:

I've been at BGG for four years, enjoying the many many reviews,
session reports, and other resources the entire time. After writing a
few reviews, I caught the review writing bug and have continued to do
so ever since.

Interviews and Musings On also showed up for a while, but I've settled
down to simply writing reviews and producing the Dice Tower, an
internet podcast. That, the occasional Geeklist, and Secret Santa
make up my online board gaming action.

But more importantly than gaming, I'm the husband of the most
beautiful woman in the world, and father of four beautiful little
girls - Melody, Amy, Holly, and Clara. I'm a teacher and missionary
in South Korea, working at Uijongbu Baptist Church and the Uijongbu
International Christian School.

I've enjoyed many things at the Geek, but I'm proud and excited to
finally be a Geek of the Week!! I talk about myself quite a few
times on the podcast, so hopefully I left some things to talk about
here. Bring on the questions!

Now for the two truths and a lie:

Quote:
1.) When living in Pensacola, my wife and I drove a van route for our
church. One day I got into the unlocked van without checking the very
back seat. About halfway through our trip a man sat up (I guess he
was asleep) and told us he had a knife in his pocket and told us to
take him to a certain location. While excited about being carjacked
(I was thinking of the stories I could tell some day), I had my
pregnant wife and a teenage girl in the car, so I did as he said.
When we got to the location - I sped the whole way, yet no police
bothered to pull me over - he jumped out and threw a ten dollar bill
on the seat "to pay for gas". A minute later, I flagged down a police
car, and they caught him within the hour. He had robbed a Pizza Hut
the night before, and had hid in our car.

2.) I'm a rather voracious eater, and I enjoy tacos quite a bit.
Eating ten at a time is not that big of a stretch for me. One day,
however, I was extremely hungry and downed 27 without thinking. I
could have eaten more - but decided to stop mostly due to the fact
that I didn't want to eat all the food. It was at a church
get-together, and another member decided to count how many I ate - and
reminds me about it once a week ever since.

3.) Korea is a friendly place, and all the riots/demonstrations shown
on CNN are usually exaggerated. However, one day - several years ago
- we blundered into the middle of one chanting slogans against
American military. I was slightly alarmed, but the minute they saw
our children, the entire crowd stopped picketing and gathered around
us, talking to the "cute" American kids. They gave them candy, money,
and other trinkets - and then amazingly, the demonstration melted
away. The government should hire us!


To start things going, I’ll start with several questions
1) Can you give us some overview of the gaming scene in Korea
2) What got you into gaming
3) And the question we all want the answer: Where did you get the time control machine, or in other words how do you manage to write all those reviews, be the father of 4, have a job and probably other things also? O-)
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GRATZ! there "Tom Vasel" and it's about TIME as well! The ONLY 'thang' that has brightened our "daze" here, was also the recent announcement that ole "Joe 'Manly-MAN-&-now-'the MAN' Steadman" had re-arrived here'n! So...just how MUCH had YOU 'missed' him also there "Gumply"?
[i]"we didn't start the 'aspire'! tho we sure did miss `im, but don't wish to 'man-hug' or faux kiss `im!"
surprise
 
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Eric Dodd
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Thanks for all your reviews, Tom. Keep up the good work!

I hope answering GOTW questions won't keep you from all your other commitments. I pick number 2 as the lie...

My only question: Are board games getting better every year, or have they reached a peak?
 
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Douglas S
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First, Congrats Tom!

Second, the questions!!!!


1. What is your favorite game that was created between 1900 and 1960?


2. What trend in boardgaming do you least like today? It could be a trend in the games themselves, a trend in the community, a trend at game conventions, etc?

3. What do you think of people who outwardly get very upset or very angry when they don't do well in a game? What about the opposite, someone who laughs at the others while winning and throws their hands up and makes a scene out of his/her victory?

4. Are you two planning on having any more little Vasels?


Congrats again! Good luck with the family, the mission and gaming!

-Douglas

 
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Hearty congrats on becoming Geek of the Week! You’ve got to be the most famous one we’ve had so far, so it won’t be easy to ask you questions that we don’t already know the answer to, but I’m sure everyone will try.

I love your Podcast and have listened to it for well over a year now, so this should be a lot of fun.

Sixteen questions some of which are a bit heavier – but I like hearing answers to those sorts of things as I think they’re revealing of other aspects of a person’s thinking. Some of the questions have two or three parts, but I reckon you will take that in your stride.

As usual the first 10 are general: 5 are games related and 5 aren’t. The next 5 are just a bunch of stuff that I’m interested in. There's a long one at the end...sorry.

Answer/leave out as you feel fit.

1. Do any Party Games deserve more than 5 in BGG ratings terms?
2. Wargames - are there any that haven’t you played yet but are itching to get at or would like to have played the sadly emigrated Joe Steadman at?
3. Which 5 games would you say were the most pure fun you ever played? Since it’s you, Tom, I will define fun as “laughing, joking, lots of repartee and social interaction.”
4. Which games do your kids or wife love, but you hate - or at least play only reluctantly?
5. Are there any kids’ games that deserve to be rated higher than they are and why? Which kids games should adults really play more often?
6. Which are the most interesting places you have visited, and where would you most like to go in the future (apart from Essen or American Cons)? Will we ever see you at a British Con?
7. Should the melting glaciers of Greenland keep us all awake at night? …Where do you stand on the whole global warming issue? Is it the biggest problem facing mankind which some folks are choosing to ignore at their peril or a colossal red-herring that gets way too much media-coverage?
8. What are the best 5/10 albums of all time?
9. Which three characteristics in a person do you most like and dislike?
10. Who were your 5 greatest people of the 20th Century? Name 10 if you really want to.
11. Is there any type of comment on BGG that really tends to get you particularly frothing at the mouth or keen to unleash some invective? (aside from this question )
12. Do you ever feel that Euro game design is getting a bit stale these days? Have you ever groaned either aloud or inside when you’ve seen yet another game with the same mechanic you’ve played scores of times already? Name names if you like!
13. Which films and songs bring a tear to your eye?
14. When have you been most scared in your life? I mean really scared.
15. What was the funniest or silliest moment of your life?
16. A long one. It’s perhaps something more suitable for informal F2F-type chats, so it’s hard to make short:
You are a pretty eclectic and open-minded gamer. Many people, myself included, appreciate and enjoy hearing about all the different sorts of good games you enjoy, BUT, given your position as effectively an “ambassador of gaming” how much pressure do you feel under from some of the gaming intelligencia to tow the “Gamers-line?” By this, I mean that a lot of gamers around BGG and other sites love “gamers-games” and will happily diss games like Ticket to Ride, Memoir, Bang! and Pirate’s Cove as being unworthy, random, inferior or silly. I applaud the fact that you don’t diss them, and feel sure that you’re not about to start, but do you increasingly feel like you need a hard-hat as the gaming community grows and some podcast-listeners and folks in general get (perhaps inevitably) more and more vociferously “serious about their games?”

Cheers Tom! Keep up the enthusiasm.
 
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G'day Tom. Gilad's right of course... as such a prolific producer of game commentry it'd be impossible to be here more than ten minutes without finding your helpful thoughts on something.

I reckon #1 is the fib. (He only left $5)

Questions. Um...

1) Do you have a target ratio of positive to negative review comments (about 99 to 1)? Or do you really find almost everything you play such a joy?
2) Do you really like flags that much? Still?
3) Is there any truth to the rumour R.K. asked you to downplay your comments on Caylus and in exchange he would post you a box of kittens?
4) Everything by Feist? And, don't you think it was so much a better result when he teamed up with Wurts? (Not that she seems to produce quality stuff on her own mind you.)
5) What have you played but don't want to review? (Or is that the same question as "what don't you want to admit you played"?)
 
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Huh? Tom hasn't been GotW yet? ... Weirdsville.
 
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I reckon the lie is 27 tacos. I'm a big guy and I can eat 4 without drawing a breath but not too many more. I reckon you actually ate 10 and that's what you get teased about. Of course, if that's not a lie, man you've got my respect!
 
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Well thanks! I always wanted to be here, even though my wife laughed at me for being proud of being "Geek of the Week". I told her that it's not the name, but just the cool factor of it.

Quote:

1) Can you give us some overview of the gaming scene in Korea

I could talk for some length about this, although lately I've noticed a rather large decline in game shops, game stores, and the such like. I've gotten more involved in my own personal gaming groups - at church, school, and home - that I haven't really done looked at the larger picture.


Quote:
2) What got you into gaming


I was born.

But to be more precise, I guess that a few games have taken me to the "next step" of gaming. They would be
Monopoly - one of my earliest memories, and the first memory of the satisfaction of doing well.
Stratego - a game that allowed me to set up my tactics at the beginning of the game.
Scotland Yard - I was able to beat others with clever maneuvering, something I found fascinating.
Fortress America - introduced me to "war games"
Cosmic Encounter - This game probably would be the one game that made me a gamer - it was that fascinating to me both as a child and then as an adult.

Quote:
3) And the question we all want the answer: Where did you get the time control machine, or in other words how do you manage to write all those reviews, be the father of 4, have a job and probably other things also? O-)


Frankly, by not being "Geek of the Week". Really, typing forum posts, writing blogs, and more takes a huge chunk of time. I concentrate on reviews and the Dice Tower exclusively, and I get more done that way.

Although I do other things occasionally, like the Secret Santa and my forthcoming Top 100 Games of All Time, sticking with a few things helps productivity. But really, as I said on the podcast - EVERYONE has the same amount of time - most people simply waste much of it.
 
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Red Wine Pie wrote:
My only question: Are board games getting better every year, or have they reached a peak?


I'm sure that they'll get better. 2006 doesn't look to be as good as 2005, but that year was an incredible year for gaming. And I haven't played all the games from Essen yet, so perhaps 2006 IS better.

Games keep getting better, both in quality and ideas. Designers are taking the best ideas from other games and utilizing them in new games. I looked at my top 100 games, and only a very few of them come from before 1995. And that's fine with me.

So what's next? Really, I don't know - but I'm happy to wait and see. And if there was never another good game produced in my lifetime, I think I could be happy with those currently in existence.
 
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TomVasel wrote:
Quote:
2) What got you into gaming

I was born.

Excellent answer thumbsup

So has your Secret Santa gift arrived yet? If it arrives before Christmas will you open straight away?

(my usual questions will follow tomorrow)
 
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Quote:
1. What is your favorite game that was created between 1900 and 1960?


Oh my. I had to go look that one up. What a wretched period of time for games. I think I might go with Careers, but I'm also tempted by BAS-KET.

Quote:
2. What trend in boardgaming do you least like today? It could be a trend in the games themselves, a trend in the community, a trend at game conventions, etc?


Well, I don't like the fragmentation of the community, but that's always been there, I guess. The "elite" groups, which annoy me, are also nothing new, so it's not that. I guess I'll go with the trend of "I can't think up a new, interesting theme" for many companies and designers. Sure, there's always a Jim Doherty who will shake things up with monkeys on the moon or penguins fighting for dominance, but many themes today are just another "trade in medieval times" or "build a monument for someone" type game. I like to see new stuff, and that includes themes!

Quote:
3. What do you think of people who outwardly get very upset or very angry when they don't do well in a game? What about the opposite, someone who laughs at the others while winning and throws their hands up and makes a scene out of his/her victory?


I sense that you know this, simply because you asked the question, but nine times out of ten - those two people are one and the same. The same person is a poor winner who is a poor loser. I despise them, although I have learned to deal with them, and mild cases aren't too big a deal. The best way to deal with them is to crush them, and show only a little remorse. Either they'll learn to deal with defeat, or quit gaming with you. Either way, you win.

Quote:
4. Are you two planning on having any more little Vasels?


What, four isn't enough? Perhaps I'll keep going until I finally get a boy. But seriously, I wouldn't mind a lot. Four wasn't that big a deal after three, which was the biggest jump.

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Congrats again! Good luck with the family, the mission and gaming!


Thanks!!!
 
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Admiral Fisher wrote:
I love your Podcast and have listened to it for well over a year now, so this should be a lot of fun.


Thanks! The podcast is a lot of fun to do, even when I get many emails telling me how to improve it!

Quote:
1. Do any Party Games deserve more than 5 in BGG ratings terms?


Of course - quite a few! Time's Up, Apples to Apples, Why Did the Chicken..., Beyond Balderdash, Talking Tango, and Moods come to mind.

Quote:
2. Wargames - are there any that haven’t you played yet but are itching to get at or would like to have played the sadly emigrated Joe Steadman at?


To your first part, not really. I've been slightly curious about Combat Commander, though - and look forward to the new Tide of Iron. And I didn't play wargames with Joe when he was here, so what's to miss?

Quote:
3. Which 5 games would you say were the most pure fun you ever played? Since it’s you, Tom, I will define fun as “laughing, joking, lots of repartee and social interaction.”


Memoir '44 Overlord edition with Richard Borg presiding
Duel of Ages with my friend Ryan (13 characters a side)
Heroscape massive battle - 2000 points on each side - using castles and bridges from table to table
Time's Up - a crazy game with my wife and two other couples
Werewolf - A forty player game at a student lock in.

Quote:
4. Which games do your kids or wife love, but you hate - or at least play only reluctantly?


Well, my kids like Candyland, and I really am not fond of it. Other than that, I'm usually willing to play anything.

Quote:
5. Are there any kids’ games that deserve to be rated higher than they are and why? Which kids games should adults really play more often?


I really don't know what to think about this. Even the best kids' game doesn't really compare to other games. I just compiled my top one hundred games of all time, and no kids' games are on them. Adults should play more kids' games period, because they should be playing with kids!

Quote:
6. Which are the most interesting places you have visited, and where would you most like to go in the future (apart from Essen or American Cons)? Will we ever see you at a British Con?


Probably Thailand was the most fascinating place I've been to. I also had a great time in Beijing, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Okay, ignoring cons, I would probably like to visit the UK the most - especially London. I also would like to see Hong Kong, Micronesia, and India.

But I really want to go to Essen and the Gathering of Friends.

Quote:
7. Should the melting glaciers of Greenland keep us all awake at night? …Where do you stand on the whole global warming issue? Is it the biggest problem facing mankind which some folks are choosing to ignore at their peril or a colossal red-herring that gets way too much media-coverage?


I'm afraid to say too much on this topic because I'm not an expert, and this is a politically charged topic that will get some folks into a tizzy. Just suffice it to say I line up with the conservative side of this debate.

Quote:
8. What are the best 5/10 albums of all time?

I guess I'm not really into pop culture. What does this mean?

Quote:
9. Which three characteristics in a person do you most like and dislike?


Dislike: Arrogance, Snobbery, and Jerkiness
Like: Enthusiasm, Friendliness, Meekness

Quote:
10. Who were your 5 greatest people of the 20th Century? Name 10 if you really want to.


I teach history, and even still this is a difficult decision. In fact, I'm really afraid to make any serious statements here. So without research, I'll throw these four names out.

My father
Douglas MacArthur
Billy Sunday
Albert Einstein

Quote:
11. Is there any type of comment on BGG that really tends to get you particularly frothing at the mouth or keen to unleash some invective? (aside from this question )


Anything political - no matter what side it is. It's ridiculous, no one ever agrees, and everyone tends to treat the other side if they are complete idiots. I also despise when people argue over the different types of games, again treating the other folks like idiots.

But the worst people are those who argue about everything Aldie does, using the words "free speech" and such like to justify their actions.

Quote:
12. Do you ever feel that Euro game design is getting a bit stale these days? Have you ever groaned either aloud or inside when you’ve seen yet another game with the same mechanic you’ve played scores of times already? Name names if you like!


This certainly happens from time to time, but I am playing more and more of the Eurogame hybrids, and am starting to enjoy them. The hybrids are the salvation of the Eurogames!

Besides, new games such as Caylus and Mykerinos are breathing new life into the hobby.

Quote:
13. Which films and songs bring a tear to your eye?


Movies - very few. Anne Frank certainly does, as does Schindler's List. Most romance movies leave me cold, although I blinked a bit at the end of the Notebook. Songs - well, that's mostly just stuff that Laura and I listened to when dating, and it's personal.

Quote:
14. When have you been most scared in your life? I mean really scared.


Hmmm, when my daughter Melody almost died, I was scared. In fact, anytime I get a call or such about one of my kids, I find that the scariest moment of all.

Quote:
15. What was the funniest or silliest moment of your life?

This is a hard one, because I would have to pick one of thousands of moments in my dorm room at college. So I won't.

Quote:
16. A long one. It’s perhaps something more suitable for informal F2F-type chats, so it’s hard to make short:
You are a pretty eclectic and open-minded gamer. Many people, myself included, appreciate and enjoy hearing about all the different sorts of good games you enjoy, BUT, given your position as effectively an “ambassador of gaming” how much pressure do you feel under from some of the gaming intelligencia to tow the “Gamers-line?” By this, I mean that a lot of gamers around BGG and other sites love “gamers-games” and will happily diss games like Ticket to Ride, Memoir, Bang! and Pirate’s Cove as being unworthy, random, inferior or silly. I applaud the fact that you don’t diss them, and feel sure that you’re not about to start, but do you increasingly feel like you need a hard-hat as the gaming community grows and some podcast-listeners and folks in general get (perhaps inevitably) more and more vociferously “serious about their games?”


It's an odd feeling, sometimes. The gaming "elite" accept me as one of them, although sometimes I treated as a stray child, since I like games that many of them don't. So who cares if people get serious about games? I'm serious about the games I like - but only if they are still fun to play. Look at my top 100 list I post sometime this week, and tell me what you think of my gaming likes and dislikes.

As for the hard hat, I'm already wearing it. Go in the forums and look at some of the criticizing people give me. But life goes on.
 
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Quote:
1) Do you have a target ratio of positive to negative review comments (about 99 to 1)? Or do you really find almost everything you play such a joy?


No ratio, but remember that there are a lot of games I don't like, but also haven't reviewed. Look at my collection here and see. Games are fun!

Quote:
2) Do you really like flags that much? Still?


Aha! You're talking about VEX, aren't you? My opinion of that game still stands, and YES, I love flags. I had a wall of them in my classroom, and like to display them wherever I go.

Quote:
3) Is there any truth to the rumour R.K. asked you to downplay your comments on Caylus and in exchange he would post you a box of kittens?


Highly doubtful, since I hate cats. Kittens are okay, until you realize they are going to grow up into cats. And really, I think the fascination people have with pictures of cats and games is silly. This isn't catsgamegeek.com

Quote:
4) Everything by Feist? And, don't you think it was so much a better result when he teamed up with Wurts? (Not that she seems to produce quality stuff on her own mind you.)


OK, maybe only the series I'm currently reading (Krondor, etc.) I've fallen in love with that universe, and love the epic feeling of the story. Pug is a terrific character.

Quote:
5) What have you played but don't want to review? (Or is that the same question as "what don't you want to admit you played"?)


I don't like to review games that are bad from very small publishers, as they don't need negative press. Other than that, I like to review most things. I really don't like writing negative reviews, period.
 
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Anybody who has met you knows that you provided the inspiration for Paul Bunyan (perhaps because of a distortion in the space-time continuum, or possibly due to error on the part of either H.G. Wells or Mr. Peabody). How come I never see you with Babe, the blue ox?
 
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When's the last time you played Duel of Ages, and who won? Also, do you have any juicy gossip on Venatic's plans for the game that you can share? Finally, are you designing games right now?
 
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Tom --

Just want to insert a HUGE thank-you for creating the Secret Santa project on BGG, and for being willing to do it again. I think it is a great boon to the BGG community, although I'm sure it's a lot of work for you.

Also, your family is really neat, and I am very impressed by how you seem to successfully balance family, work, and avocation. Congratulations to you!

Now, get back to playing and reviewing.....
 
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Hello Tom

Congrats on becoming Geek of the Week.

I have one question at this time, about your jobs. It took me a few podcasts before I realised you were really in Korea, and then another few to find out you are a missionary, and now I wonder... What kind of kids do you teach in Korea? American kids (and where are they from in that case) or Korean kids? Do you teach in English?

Congrats again and keep up the good work!
 
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Holy Cow talk about a longgggggg overdue GOTW!

Big Congrats to the first ever Geekbuddy I ever added and fellow DOA lover. I truly appreciate as do most people all the toiling hours you have gave back to the hobby through your various means.

I second the question about designing a game, however with all the games coming your way it is not like you 'need' to or anything but have you ever wanted to and if you are/were what would it be about?

Big congrats again and happy gaming!
 
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First of all, I don't always agree with the conclusions of Tom's reviews. But I always print it out, if it is a game that I own, and then add it to the rule book. The reason is that his reviews are, more often than not, better at explaining the game's sequence and nuances, than the enclosed rules. Review wise, he has set a standard, that only a few others have equalled. I'm actually stunned that he hasn't been the Geek of the week, previously. What is even stranger, is that I pay almost no attention to "The Dice Tower". My respect is solely based upon his body of work at this site. Geek of the year, is a better honor.
 
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Jeff Wolfe
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Zendo fan, Columbus Blue Jackets fan, Dominion Fan.
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TomVasel wrote:
Admiral Fisher wrote:
3. Which 5 games would you say were the most pure fun you ever played? Since it’s you, Tom, I will define fun as “laughing, joking, lots of repartee and social interaction.”


Memoir '44 Overlord edition with Richard Borg presiding
...


Hey, I was there! I commanded your right flank. Great fun. Are you planning to come back to Origins next year?

Quote:
Werewolf - A forty player game at a student lock in.


Wow. Do you remember how many werewolves you had? Any special roles?

Congrats on GOTW!
 
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Joe Grundy
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MisterCranky wrote:
How come I never see you with Babe, the blue ox?
... in the same room at the same time? Have you cracked Tom's secret identity?
 
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James Fehr
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Hi there! Follow my gaming exploits on Twitter (fehrmeister)
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Congrats on being GW (Gentlemen's Weekly?) Tom. To say you're deserving would be a severe understatement. I figured the reason you weren't given this honor earlier was simply because everyone already knows everything about you through your reviews and podcasts.

So a few questions:
- What is one fact about yourself that most people don't know that you'd love to tell them if it came up as part of a natural discussion, but the topic never seems to come up?
- How often do you get to play games with your siblings or siblings-in-law these days? Do you know if your extended family members ever listen to your podcasts or read your written material?
- When you first started The Dice Tower, how accurately did you guess how much work it would end up being? Would you do it all over again knowing what you know now?

Thanks for your time Tom. I hope this week is a lot less busy for you than your average week. It would be a pity if you had this added to your schedule in a week that was already very busy.
 
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Fraser
Australia
Melbourne
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
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Hi Tom,

I try to remember to ask each Geek of the Week these gaming related questions so to start with, here's the ever so slightly modified GeekSpeak (let's face it, that's the name we know and love) Hook questions for you:
Favourite game(s) for d10-1 player (optional, many non-wargamers wouldn't have an answer for this)
Favourite game(s) for d10-2 players
Favourite game(s) for d10-3 players
Favourite game(s) for d10-4 players
Favourite game(s) for d10-5 players
Favourite game(s) for d10-6 players
Favourite game(s) for d10-7 or more players (and you may choose a Party Game here although I wouldn't meeple )

Also Word Association Football , I will list a word and you list a game or games that you associate with it. If you like you can expand and tell us if you like it/them or hate it/them and possibly why. Mostly, if not exactly, the same list as before.

Space ships
Witches
Trains
Transport (may include trains)
Workers (paid or otherwise)
Trading
Building
Pink
Theme
Ships
Money
Purple
Government
Vampires
Infrastructure
Dice
Dinosaurs
Gemstones
Dragons
Beer
Wands

And last but not least, what are the last five games that you have played?
 
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Tom Vasel
United States
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Love Games, Love 'Em!!!
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Check out DiceTower.com!
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Karlsen wrote:
So has your Secret Santa gift arrived yet? If it arrives before Christmas will you open straight away?


No, I haven't gotten it yet. Although I did get another gift from another Secret Santa that was absolutely fabulous (you know who you are!). Three small games - Mogul and two others. When I do get it, if it's wrapped - I'll wait. Otherwise I won't, because I usually open every package I get - not knowing what's inside it.
 
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