Boardgames To GoAuthor: Mark Johnson
07 Jul 2022

Boardgames To Go

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

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    Boardgames To Go 203 - What We're Playing Online (with Dave Arnott)

  • Posted on 01 Jul 2022

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    Boardgames To Go 202 - SdJ and Kenner Predictions

    June 1, 2022

    Please join my Discord server There you can find other BGTG (and WargamesToGo) listeners, introduce yourself, share some current gaming thoughts, find online opponents, and maybe even meet someone who lives within driving distance of you in the real world. It's happened!

    Opener: Lisbon Tram 28

    Year in, year out, I care about the Spiel des Jahres...even though gamers here on BGG grumble about these awards. These are simpler games meant as ambassadors from our hobby to the general population. They're a significant part of the growth of boardgaming that we enjoy & appreciate. Then when those newbies want to take the next step in boardgaming, the Kenners are good for that. All in all, I think it's a great system. I'm not concerned about the heavy gamers--they can look to the DSP, the Golden Geeks, or other awards.

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    While the SdJs are meant to be lighter, more family-targeted games, the very best ones are capable of being played in two modes: friendly and shark-y. Or family-style and gamer-style. I think Carcassonne, Settlers, and Ticket to Ride are great examples of that, and there are others.

    The nominations and recommendations for the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres awards were announced last week...but not before I recorded an episode! Every year some number of other hobbyists who care about the SdJs make their guesses about what games will be on those lists. I like to follow along on those, sometimes making my own guesses. There was some speculation about these games on the BGTG Discord server, too (come join us!).

    So this episode is kind of foolish, but I did it anyway. I recorded my rundown and commentary about the games people thought MIGHT be nominated for the SdJ and Kenner awards. Then I went back and recorded a shorter addendum since the actual nominees and other recommended titles had been announced after my first recording. You'll hear that the guesses managed to include all of the final nominees, though there were several other contenders that weren't named by the jury.

    Closer: Games should accelerate to the end. Or, at the very least, they shouldn't slow down!


  • Posted on 01 Jun 2022

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    Boardgames To Go 201 - Top Ten "New" Games (with Brian Murray)

    May 1, 2022

    Please join my Discord server There you can find other BGTG (and WargamesToGo) listeners, introduce yourself, share some current gaming thoughts, find online opponents, and maybe even meet someone who lives within driving distance of you in the real world. It's happened!

    Opener: Playing games with the "correct" player count (e.g. Disney Villainous)

    The last two episodes have been a look back. Back at my entire time in the hobby, and also back at the first Top Ten list of favorite games I ever made. It was fun for me to reflect on those titles, finding how many of them I still enjoy. But admittedly, it featured a lot of old games. I think the NEWEST game on that list was twenty years old!

    Now I wanted to make more of an effort to talk about some recent games I enjoy. Because the truth is that I play new games all the time. I'm not a Cult of the New guy, but between my own purchases and those of my buddies, we still fill most game nights with one or more titles that are new to us. I've long maintained that encountering a new game is a significant aspect to the hobby--especially among the most avid hobbyists. I'm not so different. In theory I'd also like to be part of "the conversation" about whatever is topical in our hobby, but in practice I'm usually behind that curve.

    When I set out to make a list of these recent games I like, I first thought in terms of the past decade. Or just take it back to 2010, to use a round number. Fortunately, everyone around me laughed me out of the room, saying that a dozen years ago isn't anyone's idea of "recent." So I tried harder, limiting myself to games released in the past five years. So that's 2017. It's the best I could do. Then I heard the recommendation to include another gamer friend who's much more focused on the latest releases. Brian Murray has been on my podcast before, but it's been a while. Now I was super glad to have him onhand to share his top five recent games, and he went MUCH more contemporary than I did.

    Board Game: Maracaibo
    Board Game: Ethnos
    Board Game: Pax Pamir: Second Edition
    Board Game: Dealt!
    Board Game: 18Chesapeake
    Board Game: Azul
    Board Game: Dune: Imperium
    Board Game: Paleo
    Board Game: Nemesis
    Board Game: Wingspan

    We wrapped up by sharing our honorable mentions. Brian mentioned Lost Ruins of Arnak, Cataclysm, Res Arcana, Faiyum, and Viscounts of the West Kingdom, while I also included Just One, War Chest, The Mind, Belratti, Little Town, and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

    Closer: Not relocating, and vaccines are working, so I'm looking forward to some gaming events.


  • Posted on 01 May 2022

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    Boardgames To Go 200 - A Quarter-Century of Boardgaming (with Dave Arnott)

    Opener: Please join my Discord server ! There you can find other BGTG listeners, introduce yourself, share some current gaming thoughts, find online opponents, and maybe even meet someone who lives within driving distance of you in the real world.

    From gallery of MarkEJohnson

    I almost can't believe I've made it to episode 200! Even though my boardgame podcast has been around a long time (the longest!), contemporaries like The Dice Tower and Garrett's Games and Geekiness are closer to a thousand episodes. "Newcomes" like Shut Up & Sit Down will be passing me very quickly in terms of episodes...they all passed me in terms of audience long ago. But that's ok--I remind myself that I do this podcast largely to make a contribution to the hobby and get my voice out there. That a loyal handful of you listen & enjoy it is icing on the cake.

    From gallery of MarkEJohnson

    I should've asked my wife to take a photo of Dave Arnott and I recording this episode. There's a photo of us recording one long ago, perhaps the earlier retrospective we did about the hobby. That was episode 75, back in 2007, now 15 years ago! At that time we were reflecting on how things were different, mostly better, than when we both entered the hobby after Settlers and Siggins. We were looking back on a decade or so, feeling that we were "old men" in the hobby. Now we can look back on a quarter-century of boardgaming, and we're REALLY the old men now.

    A lot has already been written about how the hobby is different now than it was in the past. Everything from Kickstarter to under-represented folks to co-op games to social media to "mainstreaming" our games with distribution in Target or Barnes & Noble. Dave & I touch on some of that, but we don't try to analyze the industry or the hobby so much as our changing experience. To some degree, I think all of us go through an "arc" in this hobby: discovery, enthusiasm, purchasing, missing old favorites, downsizing, and a "settling in" for years of enjoyment with old friends. Is that right? What do you suppose is next for me?

    From gallery of MarkEJohnson

    Whatever you think about that, thank you for helping me get to 200 episodes, no matter how long it took. I still think about games all the time, play them almost as much as ever, am interested in new trends as well as old favorites...and feel compelled to share my opinions. It's how I came up in this hobby--hearing others' opinions. Boardgames are inherently social and communal. Perhaps it only makes sense that talking about them is a related activity.


  • Posted on 01 Apr 2022

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    Boardgames To Go 199 - Top Ten Revisited

    Opener: 7 Wonders: Architects, France's Game of the Year winner (the As D'Or)

    Do you have a Top 100 list? How about just a Top Ten, and do you update it every year? I have a sort of list, but it's the same one I've had for over twenty years. In fact, I ran through it very quickly on the first episode of this podcast back in 2005! (No need to dig up that old fossil, but my show had to start somewhere. )

    I've been thinking about a new top ten of more recent games, but I'm not ready with that. Perhaps that will be in a future show, because there ARE plenty of modern titles that I really enjoy. It would be fun to talk about them, in part to contrast them against the "hotness" on BGG and Kickstarter that I often can't connect with. Again...that's a future show.

    In THIS episode I thought my original top ten was worth discussing all over. In some cases they are games I love just as much as ever. Others are more sentimental favorites, not really making it to the table any longer. In a few cases I think the games represented of a type of game that I still enjoy, and there are newer examples.

    Board Game: En Garde
    Board Game: Bohnanza
    Board Game: Apples to Apples
    Board Game: For Sale
    Board Game: Verräter
    Board Game: Ausgebremst
    Board Game: Vinci
    Board Game: Medici
    Board Game: Catan
    Board Game: Entdecker

    Closer: Fragility in boardgame mechanics


  • Posted on 01 Mar 2022


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