Boardgames To GoAuthor: Mark Johnson
26 Oct 2021

Boardgames To Go

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

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    Boardgames To Go 195 - Boardgaming during the Coronavirus

    A small, solo episode for me to talk about the boardgaming I'm doing during the coronavirus safe-at-home quarantine that so many of us are under. Mostly that means online gaming of one form another, whether a dedicated website or via videochat. My face-to-face gaming has been extremely limited, almost non-existent. I really miss it, as I miss hanging out with my friends.

    Fortunately we have this technology to keep us in connection and camaraderie, even during this difficult times.

    I didn't do an opener & closure in this small episode, but I did wrap up with some anticipation for the upcoming Spiel des Jahres nominations, especially the curve-ball surprises we sometimes get. The announcement comes later this month in May. Looking forward to it! There's a great geeklist where you can read everyone's guesses for games that could be nominated, adding your own ideas or giving thumbs/comments to ones you agree with.

    From gallery of MarkEJohnson

    Board Game: Dice Forge
    Board Game: Bring Your Own Book
    Board Game: Hansa
    Board Game: Spyrium
    Board Game: Africana

    Online boardgaming sites
    Boardgames Online


    P.S. Just played JackBox (Drawful2) with my kids long-distance!

  • Posted on 11 May 2020

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    Boardgames To Go 194 - 2019 Year in Review (with Martin Griffiths)


    Martin returns to the podcast after five years to talk with me again about the year just passed. This episode we spend less time talking about the raw statistics for our games played, instead having more fun discussing a bunch of "best of" categories for the past year. Best artwork, party game, component, 2-player game, and so on. Fun to reflect on the past year in that way, and there's a special follow-along/participation geeklist for you all to use, as well.


  • Posted on 06 Apr 2020

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    Boardgames To Go 193 - Post-BGGcon 2019 (with Greg Pettit)

    Opener: Skipped this part since all we're doing is talking about (mostly new) games played!

    Closers: Skipped this, too, but you can think that my suggestion that listeners subscribe & participate in the Boardgames To Go guild as my unofficial closer

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    [/floatright]Another year that I didn't make it to BGGcon, but of course Greg Pettit did...he's an "every timer"! Since 2010 (a decade, hmm...) Greg and I have been recording this episode after the event, whether I was able to join him or not. Greg tells us about the event, its new location, and then about a whole lot of games played. Even oldtimers like Greg & I find ourselves playing new games as well as some old favorites at an event like this. Since these are often first plays of a new game, I like to solicit "1-5 star ratings" instead of BGG ratings. What's the difference? Maybe nothing, but in my mind, stars are more of a gut feel after an early play that measures excitement to play again, as well as (or maybe more than) an analysis of a game's long-term evaluation. As Greg says, it's easier to give 5 stars to a game you just had fun with than to say it's a 10.


  • Posted on 19 Dec 2019

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    Boardgames To Go 192 - Origins Game Fair 2019

    Opener: Bukiet (Bloom)

    Closer: BGG's new look

    This isn't the first time I've attended the Origins Game Fair, one of the United States' larger national game conventions. But my previous times were once in the 1990s...and once in the 1980s! As far as we're concerned, that's a completely different era. It was before the current wave of boardgames, even before CCGs had their wave. Now in 2019 the event was dominated by our style of boardgaming, with a subset of CCGs, RPGs, and wargaming around the edges.

    Those other times I attended Origins was back when it moved around--different cities in different years. I went when it was local to me, and I only went for a day or two. Now, of course, the event has its permanent home at the Columbus, Ohio convention center. To get there I had to fly cross-country, staying with friends in a rented apartment for an extended weekend. In fact, these were friends I barely knew before Origins. I knew David already, and his other two buddies I met over Skype. It's another example of what's so great about this hobby, the good people.

    Partway through our time at Origins, these newfound friends & I gathered around my iPad to record our thoughts. The audio is good enough, I think. Like I always enjoy, we had some meta conversation about the convention itself, the venue, people, and overall experience. Then we dive into the games themselves. The funny thing is that we played a bunch of older games, not all new stuff. I swear I'm not responsible for this (not entirely)! These guys were as excited to play some older titles as the new hotness. We had some of both, as you'll hear (or see below).

    Wednesday (travel day): Red7, Wildlands, Blood Red Skies, El Grande, Imhotep, The King is Dead, Railroad Ink, The Mind, No Thanks

    Thursday: Tigris & Euphrates, Silver & Gold, Ringmaster, Museum, Exit (Catacombs of Horror), Cockroach Poker, LAMA

    Friday: War Chest, Keltis Way of the Stones, Musketeers, Piepmatz, Wingspan

    Saturday: Gnomopolis, Undaunted: Normandy, unpublished prototype, Shifty Eyed Spies


  • Posted on 23 Aug 2019

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    Boardgames To Go 191 - Spiel des Jahres Top 40

    I'll be attending Origins Game Fair this year (June 2019) in Columbus. I've been there before, but only in the 80s & 90s, so I'm sure it's substantially different now. I'll be there Thursday-Sunday, including participating on a panel of wargame podcasters/YouTubers/bloggers Sunday morning. That's listed in the program as shown below. I think it's free, and although it's about wargaming you may want to stop by anyway. The topic is the current "golden age" of the hobby, and part of what I have to say is how there are more euro-wargame crossover titles now. Some good aspects of euro design & production have made their way into wargames. I'm thinking of titles like Memoir '44, Twilight Struggle, Academy Games' 1754/1775/1812 series, A Few Acres of Snow, and so on.

    Whether you attend the panel or not, I'm happy to hand out my little BoardgamesToGo and WargamesToGo buttons to listeners. Just track me down and I should have some onhand to give away. I'll mostly be doing open gaming, I think. Drop me a note on Twitter or geekmail if you like.

    Armchair Dragoons Presents Wargaming Media: State of Play
    This panel featuring wargaming media personalities will discuss the current “Golden Age” of board wargaming and what can be done to ensure its survival.
    Location: GCCC - Apods - A210
    Date: Sunday 6/16/2019 10am (2 hours)

    Opener: Silver & Gold

    Closer: SdJ jury comments
    Dale Yu's 2009 interview with Tom Werneck at Opinionated Gamers
    Harald Schrapers and other jury members

    It's Spiel des Jahres season. That means the speculation has happened, the actual nominees & recommended titles have been announced, and now we're just waiting on the final prizewinning selection. This doesn't matter to many people--in fact many gamers don't think it's a big deal. But it's a big deal to me and here's why: I'm a hobby gamer from way, way back. Like four decades. If you think hobby gaming is niche now, you have no recollection of what an odd corner it was in back then. Stereotyped as being full of nerdy boys and grumpy old men, that was kind of true. Game shops did not smell good. Mature romances and stable careers were hard to find.

    Now, those people are still around--and they deserve their hobby, too--but I find it FAR better today that we have more diverse game groups filled with everyday people doing everyday jobs. Interesting games are on sale in bookstores, at Target, and of course online. Not everything has to have an orc in it. I don't know if the hobby IS bigger & broader, but it sure feels that way.

    True, these improvements may have come around on their own. After all, formerly geeky entertainments like Game of Thrones and Marvel comics now dominate our cultural landscape. Perhaps hobby games would've developed on their own. I don't think so, however. Or, at least, it all happened much faster (and--importantly--across a broader audience) because a group of game reviewers in Germany took artistic criticism of gaming as an artform seriously. They drove their publishers to do better, and in turn the publishers were rewarded with increased business. It was a positive cycle, and we are some of its lucky recipients.

    There are a lot of awards thought up & given out by all sorts of organizations. There have been some in America for decades. Yet they didn't have this impact. In fact, there were other awards in Germany, too. The Spiel des Jahres has worked like no others because it has been cultivated & maintained by a dedicated, revolving collection of game critics. Even if the lighter, more family-focused games aren't your favorites, you still benefit from their polishing of the games business. For someone like me, it's even better because I honestly love many of the titles that have won the Spiel des Jahres.

    I don't love ALL of them, though. Not even close. As you'll hear, I'd say I love about a third, like another third, and don't like the final third. Close to that. This episode is a ranking of all 40 of the SdJ winners, and (briefly) what I think of them.





  • Posted on 09 Jun 2019


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