Boardgames To GoAuthor: Mark Johnson
25 May 2019

Boardgames To Go

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Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

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    Boardgames To Go 190 - Grail Games (with David Harding)

    Openers: KeyForge and Lost Cities Rivals

    Closers: "It's light but and I liked it" / Fillers fill me up; Do gaming statistics add or subtract from your enjoyment?

    Over the many years on this podcast I've interviewed plenty of gamers, and a few designers. Apparently I'd missed talking to a publisher, however. I first encountered David Harding as an online gamer-friend, whether through Yucata.de, Twitter, or just email. We played some games together and traded messages. Somewhere along the way he became a game designer, and then a game publisher. David designed & produced Elevenses, One Zero One, and Matcha, then broadened into publishing other designers' titles. Most notably, he has produced new editions and new games from Reiner Knizia himself. Besides the well-known Medici, David and Grail Games brought us Knizia's most substantial new game in many years, Yellow & Yangtze. In fact, Grail Game has published quite a number of amazing Knizia titles.



    Have you ever been dissatisfied in your day job and fantasized about being a game designer or publisher? David's story will resonate with you. Clearly it isn't easy, and it doesn't make you rich. In fact, you probably still need to stick with that day job. But there's a joy & pride in bringing thee games to the public, too, and you can hear that in David's voice and story.

    Towards the end, David describes the current state of the hobby in a way that will resonate with anyone who takes a longer view. Although he's super careful to allow any gamer their own way of enjoying the hobby, personally he's the sort that appreciates repeated plays and games we can all stick with. Or even just games that he likes personally.

    "Like the games you like." Good advice for all of us.

    -Mark

    P.S. You can tell from this podcast that David is unique, fun, and self-deprecating personality. If you want to see & hear more of his charming quirkiness, check out his Grail Games channel on YouTube.


  • Posted on 15 Apr 2019

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    Boardgames To Go 189 - Welcome to Season 15

    I pushed back an interview show I have coming next* in order to open the 15th year(!) of this podcast with a solo episode. In it, I reflect a little on the podcast and (re)tell some stories about it. Then I launch into a LONG list of games I've managed to play at three recent events: EsCon 2019, SoCal Games Day #76, and an extended weekend boardgame cruise with some buddies. In those events I played a mix of old favorites, some new-to-me superfillers like I prefer, a few longer games, and some that have some hype/hotness about them. See? Even I play those trendy titles sometimes, kickstarted or not. As you'll hear, I sometimes like them!


    Opener: Stories about the podcast

    Closer: I always say, "Thanks for listening," and today I mean that more than ever. I wouldn't keep doing the podcast if not for the positive feedback I receive from my audience. You all make it worth the labor of love.

    -Mark

    * Spoiler alert! It's with David Harding, the designer/publisher behind Grail Games.


  • Posted on 11 Mar 2019

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    Boardgames To Go 188 - Essen 2018 (with Chris Marling)





    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


  • Posted on 16 Dec 2018

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    Boardgames To Go 187 - Post-BGGcon 2018 (with Ryan Wheeler and Greg Pettit)

    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

     

     
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    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


  • Posted on 12 Dec 2018

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    Boardgames To Go 186 - Kniziathon (with Doug Adams)


    Openers: Root and Krass Kariert

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


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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


  • Posted on 27 Nov 2018

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