Hello!

Boardgames To Go was one of first boardgame podcasts, starting in March 2005. It's still going strong, now relocated to Boardgamegeek. Meanwhile the old posts are archived here. The audio files of the podcast were unchanged by this, and you shouldn't even notice the change on your MP3 player.

If you're here for the March 2005-June 2012 archives, have fun with the archeology. :-)

Otherwise, please follow me over to the new blog and associated guild, which should make it easier than ever to subscribe to the podcast, spark a discussion with other listeners, and keep the communication going with me. I've got the best listeners of all, and I appreciate your feedback.

-Mark

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BGTG 124 - A Sense of History (or European Vacation Part 2)



Notice: I'm in the process of moving this blog over to Boardgamegeek. I'm still running the show, and the podcast will still be available through your normal subscription (iTunes, or whatever)--I'm just using a different host on the internet. This move is only happening because I think it will be more convenient for my listeners, and it may also generate more comments. Please follow me over to the new location.

Boardgames to Go, now hosted on Boardgamegeek
 

Monday, May 28, 2012

BGTG 123 - Outdoor Boardgaming (with Dave Gullett)



Notice: I'm in the process of moving this blog over to Boardgamegeek. I'm still running the show, and the podcast will still be available through your normal subscription (iTunes, or whatever)--I'm just using a different host on the internet. This move is only happening because I think it will be more convenient for my listeners, and it may also generate more comments. Please follow me over to the new location.

Boardgames to Go, now hosted on Boardgamegeek
 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BGTG moving to BGG...but where?

Although the podcast will continue to be available through iTunes or wherever else you get it, I'm planning to move this blog over to a new location, on Boardgamegeek. I welcome your feedback about that in this post over on BGG. -Mark

Friday, April 27, 2012

BGTG 122 - SR & Feedback (Würfel Bohnanza & Lords of Waterdeep)



Filling in the gaps between episodes with guests, I like to post episodes that let me simply talk about some games I've played lately, offer scattered opinions & thoughts about them, and then share some of the podcast's feedback. My listeners often have great suggestions and comments that expand upon topics discussed in previous episodes.

In this "Session Report & Feedback" show, I discuss Würfel Bohnanza, the new dice game version of one my all-time favorites, the original Bohnanza card game. Dice versions of games are hot right now, and I like quite a few of them (e.g. Settlers, Zooloretto).

Next I discuss Lords of Waterdeep. I didn't realize until researching for this episode that just about every other boardgame podcast has covered this one, as it's the "new hotness." Ha! I'm the last to the party. Well, it's a good game, worth discussing. In my case, what I like to talk about is my well-known preference AGAINST fantasy-themed games, yet how I like this one anyway because of it's smooth, positively euro-style gameplay...even while it keeps a trace of its Ameritrash/heavy-thematic roots.

From there, it's a funny contrast to consider The (Die) Speicherstadt, in some ways the quintessential "boring euro" with its historic theme, auction mechanics, and untranslated name. Yet it doesn't take me long to get enamored with all of those things, and now I've got a sight to see whenever I manage to visit Hamburg. :-)

-Mark

Friday, March 30, 2012

BGTG 121 - Secondhand Games (with Greg Pettit)


I'm still trying to keep podcasts coming out more frequently, and now I've got friends who are actively pushing me along. That can only help! In this case, it's Greg Pettit, who I thought of immediately when I decided to do a podcast about secondhand games. Whether you're acquiring Out-Of-Print classics or being economical about the Cult of the New-To-Me, sometimes buying used games is the way to go.

As for selling, sometimes it's about subsidizing your hobby by turning a little profit on thrift store treasures, while other times you just need to clear some shelf space...to buy more games. Either way, it's handy to know how best to be a seller of secondhand games.

Finally there's trading, which has the potential to be the biggest win-win of all. Both of you exchange a game you aren't playing--or don't even like--for one that's exciting to acquire. Whether you ship them across the continent or hand them off at a local game convention, trading can be a great experience.

Greg and I discuss the many ways that all of these transactions happen, and some of the tools and marketplaces we use. There's ebay, of course, but BGG Marketplace is often better for all parties. In-person deals at big & small conventions are discussed, and we tiptoe into the hobby-within-a-hobby of thrifting.

At the very end of the show I raise the question of whether I ought to migrate the (future) show notes & comment feedback system over to BGG instead of here on my own blog. I resisted that in the beginning, but now in 2012 I'm beginning to think it makes more sense. I'd welcome feedback on that topic.


-Mark

Here are Greg's links to several resources relating to secondhand games

Thrifting for You List: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/99289/were-still-thrifting-for-you-in-2012/page/1
This is an interesting part of the thrifting community on BGG. Basically, you add a game that you’d like to have. If someone finds it, they’ll send it to you for the cost of shipping. It’s completely voluntary, but over a hundred people have received games this way.

OLWLG
http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/OLWLG JeffyJeff
Stands for “On-Line Want List Generator.” I call it the Owl just because I can never remember the acronym. This is an awesome tool for anyone participating in Math Trades (it may even be required these days). It helps you search through the often very long lists and prioritize what you want.

Math Trades
http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Math_Trades&redirectedfrom=Math_Trade#
This is the BGG Wiki article explaining Math Trades.

BGG Auction Meta-List
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/66420/metalist-for-geeklist-auctions/page/1
A nice meta-list for people to advertise when they’re holding a list auction. Subscribe to this list and you’ll be notified of new auctions as they appear. Administered by ColtsFan76.

BGG Auction Aggregator
http://bggauctions.workingasintended.com/auctions
This is a brand new tool jdludlow cooked up that searches BGG for List Auctions and compiles them in one handy list. Even better, you can enter your username and it will filter it to just games on your want list.

Spielboy Pricing Utility
http://www.spielboy.com/GeekPrices.php#
You’ve probably seen this one before. This is really handy when pricing items for the marketplace or auctions. It pulls data from BGG and shows you the historical sales prices for those games. Sometimes there are outliers that skew the graph, but they’re easy to spot. Plus, it gives you a better idea of the market trends, as opposed to the “average” that BGG offers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

BGTG 120 - Favorites of 2011 (A Few Acres of Snow, Pergamon)



What?! Two episodes in the same month?! When was the last time I did that? Unfortunately, it's been a while. But as I say during the early part of this podcast, I've got a little more free time now, and I hope I can use it to publish podcasts a bit more frequently than it's been. This could change at any time, but for now I've got my fingers crossed.

In this episode I do a few things. Most of the time I talk about my two favorite titles from 2011, A Few Acres of Snow, and Pergamon. The first is Martin Wallace's deckbuilding wargame about the French & Indian War, while the second is an historically themed, 1990s-style euro in a field increasingly dominated by plastic spaceships and special powers. I also use the opportunity to quickly recap the games I played in 2011, at least the totals and Five & Dimes.

Finally, I dig through the musty mail bag to read some feedback "on air." That was always a favorite part, for me, and maybe if I keep posting some more podcasts I can get back into it.


-Mark

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

BGTG 119 - Euro Train Games (with Dave Arnott)

Train games mean something special, at least to train gamers. Usually they involve the 18XX system and hours of deep gameplay. Oddly, though, sometimes it means a very light game such as Express. Within hobby gaming, the term predates the German style of boardgames typified by Settlers and the like. Are there games that include some of what "makes" a train game, but also includes the design/gameplay & production advancements of euro games? I think so, and I discussed the topic with my buddy Dave Arnott. We cover the little bit of 18XX I understand (for context), then dive into titles such as Chicago Express, TransAmerica, Paris Connection, Union Pacific, and Railroad Barons.


-Mark

Sunday, December 04, 2011

BGTG 118 - Post BGG.con 2011 (with Greg Pettit)



This is a very long episode, but no one ever complains about length so I decided to keep it intact rather than splitting it into two shorter shows.

Just as he did last year, my buddy Greg Pettit went to Bgg.con in 2011 and joined me on the podcast afterward to discuss the new games he played there. Like a lot of people, he focused on new releases, including a bunch that are new from this year's Essen crop. I haven't played too many of those yet, but did manage to sneak in a few, so I get to offer my opinions about those.

This year Greg and I made a Geeklist that you can view, print out, and follow along with during our discussion. It's got a geekbuzz-style star rating for each game. I've made some comments to Greg's original list, and we encourage everyone else to enter their own comments to serve as feedback for this episode. Near the end of the show we even go back through last year's Geeklist and offer quick opinions about some games, one year later. (In most cases, you'll see that we haven't played them again in a year, which is telling in itself...)

There was an interesting surprise in the early-middle part of the episode, when Greg shares that he was feeling a bit of gamer burnout or ennui when he played all of these new games. Though offered as a side comment, I enjoyed to chance to talk about this topic. After all, it's so incredibly common--many gamers get to a point when they start to feel less enthused about the new games. Some drop boardgaming altogether at that point, and go back to roleplaying, miniatures, video games, or something else. Others take months or years off before returning. And some just power their way through. (A few crazies like me never seem to get tired of new medieval-themed trading games, though I guess I get tired of some other things like worker-placement mechanics.)

We hope you enjoy the episode. Please take a look at the two Geeklists to follow along and offer your comments:

BGTG 118 - Post BGG.con 2011 (with Greg Pettit)

BGTG 111 - Post BGG.con 2010 (with Greg Pettit)


-Mark

Friday, November 11, 2011

BGTG 117 - Long Games (with Ryan Wheeler)



First of all, welcome to anyone who discovered (or re-discovered?) my show after hearing my guest appearance on boardgame podcast, Ludology. I joined Ryan Sturm over Skype (when Geoff Engelstein was snowed in) to discuss the difference between 2-player and multiplayer games. There's also been some good follow-up discussion on Ludology's guild over at Boardgamegeek.

But back here, on my own show, I'm talking with a different Ryan--this is Ryan Wheeler, the former cornerstone of my local game group. He moved away, though, all the way to Mobridge, South Dakota (population: 3,400). He and I always had different attitudes about long games, especially when anything beyond three hours was long for me. I always wanted to explore that topic in a podcast with him, and now we've done that.

However, since he's a good friend I hadn't spoken with for a while, I enjoyed letting the conversation wander into other interesting topics, like what sort of gaming he does in South Dakota, analysis paralysis, and online games. Some of those relate to long games, others don't. It's all interesting.

-Mark

Monday, October 17, 2011

BGTG 116 - Essen Anticipation 2011



I'm not even late! Not quite, anyway. The annual small (& large) game publisher extravaganza in Essen, Germany is set to start with the press day about 24 hours after I post this, and the doors open to the public the day after that. Four days of record-setting boardgame product launches and direct sales will follow, along with some sense of which games are the best ones.

For those of us who don't get to be there in person, we live vicariously through the rumors, news, and marketing info leading up to the event itself, and then through live reports from Essen over streaming video channels. The acid test comes quite a bit later, when everyone gets a chance to really play the games they bought over there, and the rest of us get to play ones that were ordered & shipped to us. That's when we'll know with some certainty which games we really enjoy.

The current moment is something different. It's informed speculation about what we think we're going to have fun with, based on...what? Based on descriptions, photos, comparisons to other games, and the earliest previews. I do it every year--have done so since the 1990s--and 2011 is no different. It's fun for me, and I hope it's fun for you to listen to, as well.

If you have your own ideas about the games to anticipate, why you think that way, and maybe even what you thought about last year's games, I'd love to hear it.

-Mark

P.S. I decided to post a Geeklist after all that lists the games I talk through in the podcast, as well as my p,d,t,m notes about what draws me to them.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

BGTG 115 - Spiel des Jahres, Then & Now



The recent announcement of the Spiel des Jahres winner, Qwirkle, gave me the good idea to play that game again...as well as the excuse to talk about a handful of other SdJ winners I've played "recently." Ok, not really that recent, but there was a game party last year when I specifically wanted to concentrate on games from 1999 or earlier. Quite by accident, I found myself concentrating on some SdJ winners from that earlier decade. It shouldn't have been a surprise, I suppose--the Spiel des Jahres jury is very deliberate in its selection of games it thinks will be modern classics, good for pleasant experiences around a game table for family & friends. That focus runs counter to what some gamers want in a deeper, strategic challenge, but it happens to line up nicely with what I like in a game. For me, I've got enough mental challenge in my day job. I don't need my fun & relaxation to be brainless, just a little less taxing than my workweek. The SdJ winners do that for me.

Games like Settlers of Catan, Mississippi Queen, and Drunter & Druber (Wacky Wacky West) were like revisiting favorite books or familiar movies, while Cafe International was an old classic I no longer care for. Torres is a more complex SdJ winner than others liked more than me, but I still enjoy playing it once in a great while. I cheat a little and consider Bohnanza an honorary SdJ game, since it was an unusual card game that made the nomination list.

Even now, the SdJ jury is making selections that rub some gamers the wrong way, but I think time will show the value of their choices. Qwirkle is light & pleasant--a common reaction is surprise that no one thought of it before! But it took Susan McKinley Ross to do that, and now we've got a game I could see playing in 20 years, unlike many others on my shelf. Time may pass those titles by. For the brand, new Kennerspiel, I agree that 7 Wonders is lighter than expected for new prize, but I also agree that it's a landmark game. We felt that way when Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, and Dominion appeared on the scene. They were so good, they just had to be picked to win an award.

-Mark

Monday, July 04, 2011

BGTG 114 - Party Games for Shy Boardgamers (with David Gullett)


You may think it's odd or ridiculous that a guy who hosts a boardgame podcast feels uncomfortable in some social party games due to the putting-yourself-out-there part of them. But that's exactly how I feel, and my suspicion is that other boardgamers may feel the same. Meanwhile, there are clearly a bunch of other people--including boardgamers--who really enjoy the fun, laughs, and camaraderie that party games deliver. In fact, they do a lot better delivering that payoff than a euro about banking in Renaissance Italy ever could! :-)

For this discussion, I brought one of those party+boardgame enthusiasts on the program--frequent guest David Gullett. Besides our general discussion about what makes party games tick, we debate a bunch of party game types, and spend most of the show talking about some specific titles like Times Up, Telestrations, and Wits & Wagers.Along the way, I discover that I like some types considerably more than others, and the stumbling block with some appears to be performance anxiety (of the "stage fright" variety--not the other kind!).

-Mark

Fine print: Thanks to Northstar Games for a review copy of Say Anything Family.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

BGTG 113 - European Vacation



Part of what's kept me away from the microphone lately has been some overseas travel. First was our family T. O. A. L. (Trip of a Lifetime) to Germany & Italy. Then, surprisingly, a return visit to Europe shortly thereafter by just me because of a new assignment at work. Though neither of those trips were about games, I couldn't help getting in SOME shopping and playing while I was over there. This episode is kind of a rambling tale about that, the shops I visited, the games I bought & played, and the surprises of an American gamer visiting another part of the world.

-Mark

P.S. The name of my kind host at the Dutch game group was Eugene, not Phil. I'm sorry for the mistake!

Monday, January 31, 2011

BGTG 112 - Five-Player Games (with Dave O'Connor)



Here's a podcast that I recorded with my buddy DaveO last summer. You probably know that I prefer lighter games. Well, DaveO likes the heavier stuff (as well as some quicker games). We got to talking about that, and the conversation drifted to our differences in opinion about the number of players in a game. I felt that five was a troublesome number, while he could quickly think of several games that he strongly preferred with five. Me? I'd suggest splitting into a 2 and 3-player pair of games, but most wouldn't agree with that!

We talk about some 5-player classics like El Grande and Mu, but also drift toward a disagreement about playing Web of Power with that number. Add in Medici, Die Macher, Agricola, Age of Steam, and others to round out the discussion.

-Mark

Monday, November 29, 2010

BGTG 111 - Post BGGcon (with Greg Pettit) [second try]



I'm posting this show again to get the correct version in the RSS/iTunes feed. (An earlier posting of this show erroneously copied an earlier episode.) Sorry for the trouble.

-Mark

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Show #111 is now fixed. Please try again.

For the first hours after it was posted today, the latest podcast episode had a glitch that meant subscribers were getting a repeat of the previous episode #110. A couple astute listeners brought that to my attention, and I was able to quickly fix it. If you're one of those that got the wrong episode, try redownloading. (In iTunes, I got it to work be deleting the duplicate show, the un- and re-subscribing to the feed. Then it downloaded the correct version, the one with Greg Pettit talking about  BGGcon and new Essen titles.)

BGTG 111 - Post BGGcon (with Greg Pettit)



After my annual "Essen anticipation" show, perhaps it's only natural that some listeners ask me for a post-Essen show where I can share my opinions about the new games after I've played them. The only trouble is that it will take me some months to get all of those plays in, since I didn't go to Essen myself and haven't hardly had any chance to play (or even see) the new games. Here in the US, the best chance to play all of those games--and quickly, right after they're released at Essen--is to go to BGGcon in Dallas, Texas, hosted by our friends at Boardgamegeek. And while I didn't manage to go there, either, I have good friends who did. One of them, Greg Pettit, took some notes and then was happy to discuss his impressions with me for this podcast episode. As you can see from the list below, Greg managed to play lots of the new titles we're curious about.

You may prefer to follow along to the discussion with this "read-along" geeklist showing all of the games Greg played.
In the podcast I briefly mention another gamer's post-BGGcon impressions. That's the excellent report from Tom Rosen in his column at Boardgamenews. Check it out for another perspective, sometimes similar, sometimes different than Greg's. Finally, you can still review the Geekbuzz results from BGGcon, or other reports tagged from that event.

-Mark

Monday, November 15, 2010

BGTG 110 - All About the Easy Play games (with David Arnott)



At long last, another "All About" show, the format in which a guest and I talk through a particular game in great detail. This time we tried something a little different, discussing the entire series of fast-playing games in small, square boxes called Easy Play by German publisher Schmidt Spiele. Since we covered so many games in this episode, this is one of my longest shows ever, nearly two hours. I'd posted a question about that on Facebook/Twitter beforehand, and the answer was for me to put the show out as-is, not breaking it up into multiple episodes. Feedback is welcomed.

The Easy Play series consists of
Only some of the games have been published in English, but most can be purchased by gamers intent on finding them. Dave & I have played them all, and discuss our impressions of them. We naturally talk about some other titles by way of comparison. Finally, we briefly discuss (speculate, really) on the new Easy Play Kids line of MauseSause, Rakete, and Tipi.


-Mark

Saturday, November 06, 2010

All of BGTG's archives are up!

At long last I've managed to make all of Boardgames To Go's five and a half year podcast archive available on iTunes! They've always been available through this blog, but the process was cumbersome (at best). Now by getting all of the shows into the main podcast feed, podcast accumulators like iTunes (the 900-lb gorilla), iPodder, Podtrapper, Zune, etc. should all have the entire back catalog of BGTG.

My recent attempts to do this had met with failure until yesterday, and in the process I know some folks subscriptions stopped working. Hopefully that's all been repaired automatically, but if you're still having trouble try un- and re-subscribing again.

I can tell the new feed is working for most people, because my download stats have skyrocketed in the past 24 hours! My daily download average is about 500 when a new show is first posted, curiously maintaining at 100 downloads per day even when there's no new show. Over time, that means most episodes get about 2500 downloads. Is that my audience? I guess so. (I wonder what The Spiel, The Dice Tower, and GG&G get these days. Probably lots more--good for them!) However, now I've had nearly 5000 downloads in the past day. The largest downloads are for the most recent show, but there's a "long tail" of recent downloads for episodes going waaaaay back into the archive. On Monday I'll post an announcement on BGG and then I'll probably get some more.


-Mark

Saturday, October 16, 2010

BGTG 109 - Essen Anticipation 2010 Part 2



Whew! I hurried up and recorded Part 2 of my annual "Essen Anticipation" episode so I could get it posted before the Spieltage itself. Hopefully some of the people who wanted to listen to it before the show opens (even when traveling there?) will get it in time.

This episode is more like my Essen shows from previous years. I talk a little about about general things, then launch into a long list of titles that catch my attention for one reason or another. Either they are high-profile titles that don't interest me for some reason, or more likely they're a game that looks good and hopefully I'll get a chance to play sometime soon. If you want to follow along, this year I again took some notes in a private geeklist.

Finally, I wrap up with a quick overview of the games I was anticipating last Essen. Which ones turned out to be as good as I'd hoped, which didn't, and which have I not bothered to track down at all? Similarly, I look over last year's Fairplay Scout Aktion and Geekbuzz lists of the top games from Essen. I maintain that these early indicators--despite all of the reasons they shouldn't be accurate--actually turn out to be good predictors of the best games released every year at Essen.


-Mark

Friday, October 15, 2010

BGTG 108 - Essen Anticipation 2010 Part 1 (with Scott Alden & Lincoln Damerst)



It's that time again. Time for excitement about the Spiel game expo (Internationale Spieltage) held in Essen, Germany every October. Even when my fall season gets busy with work, kids' school, and other activities, there's always this time when I start living vicariously through the pre-, post-, and (now) during-the-event reports. Over a decade ago we heard about the new titles debuting at Essen through reports from Mike Siggins, Ken Tidwell, and others posted to The Game Cabinet in the weeks following. Then we started getting more contemporary online reports from Frank Schulte-Kulkmann & other attendees. People started taking digital cameras with them, and we got to SEE the games we were hearing about.


Last year the Boardgamegeek team had a booth at Essen for the first time, and they improved the vicarious experience for us again with live video, recordings of the same, and Geekbuzz. This year they're returning with the same goals in mind. In fact, the video turned out to be such an exciting feature that they've got a schedule loaded with designers & publishers anxious to show off their new offerings. It's going to be fun for many of us sitting at home to tune in and enjoy Essen from afar. Not as much fun as being there, of course, but at least it's something! Hey, take some of that money you saved on international travel to buy some new titles, or throw a little donation money toward BGG for providing this.

In part 1 of my Essen Anticipation show, I called Scott Alden and Lincoln Damerst to talk about BGG's presence at Essen next week. This year Aldie is staying home to mind the store for BGG, but he's always full of ideas. Lincoln is returning as one of the guys at the booth, and his job is being in charge of the technology they'll use (cameras, mics, laptops, networks, etc.). These guys talk about their plans for Essen, and drop a few references to games they're looking forward to, as well.

In part 2 of the show (posted later), I'll record my own personal list of games to watch out for, as well as a quick look back at what I thought was going to interest me from Essen last year.

-Mark

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Back to normal (and Facebook)

Not only has the podcast not blown up yet (at least I think that's right), but this morning I managed to Undo something I fiddled with on the feed that I later regretted. Though it hasn't gotten me any closer to having all of the podcast archives in iTunes--that's still my major project--I'm hoping I've restored things back to their previously working condition. That's because a listener reminded me that my annual "Essen Anticipation" show ought to be posted soon, and I needed to be sure I could still do that! Look for it sometime during the next 10-14 days (just before Essen, in other words).

Also, if you're not a fan of BGTG on Facebook, you should be! That's where I'm starting to post little snippets about the games I play on game night and other opportunities. I think those posts get linked to Twitter, and then automatically posted over into this blog's sidebar, but on www.facebook.com/BoardgamesToGo you can see the entire blurb, usually along with a photo or link.

-Mark

Saturday, October 02, 2010

In case the podcast blows up...

You should know that I'm still here. And by "blows up," I just mean that the feed may disappear from iTunes, or stop showing podcasts attached at all.

Or it may be just fine.

Either way, Boardgames To Go is still going strong, just publishing erratically as usual. All that's happening is that I'm transitioning the hosting location and blog/podcast feed details from a multi-site mess to something that's much cleaner and more integrated. That's for my convenience, and (hopefully) to your benefit as well once it allows BGTG's 5-year show archive to be available in iTunes.

I tried fiddling with the first part of this transition, and I think I may have screwed something up. That's why I'm posting this. I'm an engineer, but not THIS kind of engineer, and I'm pretty confused about these settings! It may take me a little while to sort it all out. I think the podcast will continue in its current form while I work on it, but if it disappears for some reason, you'll know why . . . and know that it's temporary.

-Mark

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I'm trying something new with this blog & podcast (behind the scenes)

For a while now, listeners of the podcast have asked for an easier way to access all of BGTG's archives. They've actually always been available, but it takes some work. You have to click on one of the archive pages, then find a show and click on its MP3 link to play it through your browser, or right-click it to save it to your computer for later copying to your player or importing into iTunes. What everyone would like instead is to simply have the entire show archive available in the feed so that they'd all show up in iTunes, Zune, or whatever podcatcher you use.

I'm working on it.

Step 1 involved adjusting my feed, which could cause some odd behavior in iTunes or your blogreader. I'm not sure what the final step is, but I know I'm not there yet. It may end up in moving this blog to a new host, which is a lot of work for me, but should end up with a more useful BGTG at the same web address and iTunes subscription you've already got. If you know about this stuff (e.g. itunes tags in the RSS feed), drop me a line.

The rest of you, cross your fingers. :-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BGTG 107 - Handcrafted Games (with Lincoln Damerst and Greg Wilzbach)


I grabbed two of my artistically talented friends (Greg did my podcast logo!) and put them on the microphone to talk about their hobby-within-a-hobby: handcrafted games. These guys have both taken a known, existing boardgame or two and hand made their own copies. It might have been to create something that's hard to get, or it might have been to make a personalized, deluxe version of a favorite game. In any case, it's a labor of love, takes time & money, and takes some real craftmanship & technique. I found their stories fascinating, as much because they're so beyond anything I could accomplish myself.

Lincoln Damerst (heccubus on BGG) starts by talking about his copy of the old Parker Brothers proto-eurogame, Survive! In fact, he posted a good description and photos of the process. Greg Wilzbach (gawilz on BGG) talks about his copy of Spekulation, which Lincoln also did! Though he didn't finish the goal (and never posted images of his efforts), Greg also talks about making his own deluxe versions of Wiz-War and Up Front.

The game I tried to pimp out was Kings & Castles, but I'm not finished. It won't end up looking like the fancy games Greg & Lincoln are doing. I'm just trying to replace the boring cardboard counters with colored wooden discs, hand-inked with simple icons.

Want to see that metal version of Big Boss that Lincoln mentioned? Here it is. Whoa...

I talked about Artscow.com in my previous podcast, and here it was mentioned again. That's for images printed on things (cards, throw pillows, watch faces, you name it). For 3D objects made to custom designs, Lincoln mentioned Shapeways.com. Custom dice are just the tip of the iceberg. You could make custom icebergs!

Merchants of Venus is a handcrafted title these guys haven't done--but admire someone else's work. And someone else's. Maybe there's more of this stuff going on than I realized!

Lincoln's wife Nikki Pontius made a very clever graphic overhaul of Würfel Bingo into something that's improved for its theme: Waffle Bingo! I couldn't find any photos online yet, but I'm bugging Lincoln & Nikki to post some, because you really need to see it. Update: now posted!

Be sure to check out Harbor Freight for your laminator and lamination needs!


Thanks to Lincoln & Greg for joining me on this show. It was like I was a member of an audience, just hearing these guys tell great stories.

-Mark

P.S. Sorry about the occasional nose-whistle going on. Not sure who that was, but I'm afraid it was me. :-/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BGTG now (also) on BGG

Got those acronyms? Now Boardgames To Go has its own existence on Boardgamegeek. This is in addition to this blog & website, which I intend to always be the podcast's true home. However, for some it may be convenient to keep up with the podcast from BGG, along with their other favorite boardgame podcasts. Like so many features that Aldie adds to that amazing site, its full potential isn't yet obvious. I remember thinking there was no point to Geek Gold, and not much more point to Geeklists.

I was proven wrong. :-)

I'm not sure what's going to happen on BGTG's page over at BGG. For now it automatically takes the same RSS feed that lets you subscribe to shows on iTunes, or keep up with my posts in a blogreader. The way BGG works, though, its users will figure out. It's community-driven content. If you're a fan of the podcast, you can help out by adding links, ideas, and information in the appropriate sections. Thanks.


-Mark

P.S. This might mean the end of the newly-formed BGTG guild over on BGG. I'm not sure yet.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

BGTG 106 - SR & Feedback (Super Slapshot, Age of Industry)



At long last, another episode, and a long-winded one at that! These session report & feedback shows are supposed to be easier episodes for me to bang out--I need to remember that! Doing them more often will work through the response backlog and make them easier & shorter. We'll see how well I do at remembering that... :-)

In addition to a lot of great comments about past shows, I talk about two games I've played recently (two games which couldn't be more different). The first is an old "beer & pretzels" card game themed around ice hockey, Slapshot, only I was playing a geek retheming by fan Kwanchai Moriya called Super Slapshot, using a deck of cards made with Artscow. The other title is a brand new game, Martin Wallace's deep game of the spread of the industrial revolution, Age of Industry. This is a reworking of the earlier title--and huge favorite of mine--Brass.

How do I feel about AoI compared to Brass? You'll have to listen to the show for a full discussion. In a nutshell, though, I felt AoI didn't offer enough of an alternative (especially a quicker, easier alternative) to prefer it over the intense history that takes place in Brass. In fact, it was the trigger to finally make me order my own copy of Brass. I really hope the online or iPhone implementation rumors for AoI prove true, because I would love to explore it as deeply as those formats would allow.

-Mark

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Recent gaming (face-to-face, play-by-web, and iPhone)

June was a crazy month at work (as I knew it would be), so I haven't managed to post shows even though I've still got a good one in the can . . . and I managed to record another one. I need to post some "normal" session report & feedback shows in between the featured episodes, though. I'll get to that.

Despite all that, I still got in some great gaming in June, especially with one big weekend in there. I can't record a podcast about it while I'm here on a plane, but I can draft a blog post.

Santa Clarita Boardgamers

Carson City - This was the local group's Game of the Month for May, but I'll still mention it here. I liked it well enough, and everyone else liked it even more, so that's a keeper. It was a very good GotM, as it has q modest learning curve (it takes one game for the scoring to sink in), and offers several variants right out of the box. There are two maps, two sets of role/special power cards, and a couple different ways to handle the random part of conflict. Worker placement is ok, I guess, but not my favorite mechanic. This was a decent twist in it, taking the linear path of Caylus and adding a thematic conflict system to handle when multiple players want the same thing. There's also those special power roles to mix things up. My only real complaint was that I thought it had a little too much going on, mechanics-wise, but what was there worked. The strongest part was the theming. Western themes always appeal to me anyway, and the boomtown development theme really works well, both in feel/story (narrative!) and some mechanics (metaphor).

At the Gates of Loyang - Finally played this third game in the pseudo-series. Although I like Agricola, it's not something that blew me away. Ok once in a while. Le Havre was a step in the wrong direction for me, my one play being enough for that fiddly bookkeeping game. What, then, for Loyang? Well, about like Agricola. Ok now and then. It was pleasant and harmless. The theming was fun. I thought the production was an odd mix of overproduced bits and underproduced "boards."

Snow Tails - I was very happy to play this one, but equally happy that I didn't buy it myself with hopes of playing it with family. As I suspected, it's just too calculating (and unforgiving) for that kind of fun. Still, this is the best Lamont game yet, and the theme does draw me in. As does the wonderful production.

Super Slapshot - This was my first ArtsCow project, and I started off easy. The designer (Kwanchai Moriya) of this fan variant version of the longtime convention classic Slapshot put up a shared library link on ArtsCow that made it easy to get decks of cards. It came out to about $18 or so, and still needs a few components you can scavenge elsewhere. Most important, the game was lots of fun. It has less to do with hockey than HGSB or StreetSoccer have to do with their sports, but that's ok. It's light and fairly random, so I don't want to oversell (or overplay) it, but I'm very happy to have this game.

Small World - All it did was make me wish we were playing Vinci instead.


Game weekend party

One Saturday I had friends over and we managed to play games all day. Besides another fun time with Super Slapshot, we got in the following . . .

Princes of Florence - This was planned in advance, a chance to show Tim a modern classic we hadn't played in years. I guess to be fair this one is kind of fiddly and involved, too. No matter, I still love it. I didn't when it first arrived, but it grew on me. (Kind of like Brass, that way.) Of course Dave Arnott squeaked out the win, but I gave him a run for it.

Golden City - I think of this one along with designer Michael Schacht's Valdora, two smooth as silk euros that use fictional settings to present a completely balanced board & map. I'd give up a little of that elegance for the real-world subjects he used in Web of Power or Hansa, which I prefer. As nothing more than games, though, both of these titles are fantastic.

Easy Play games - The other podcast recording mentioned above is an All About show with Dave Arnott covering this entire game series. To prep for that, I played Big Points again, and a few others for the first time. Burgen Land was the best of that group, though I like Finito best of all. We also played Dragonwurf and Los Banditos.

Notre Dame - Like Princes of Florence, this is another great Alea game that hasn't been played at all lately. I don't even consider this one old, but it can feel that way as we try to get new acquisitions to the table. Good stuff. I suffered for running out of money once (a couple of us did), but never let the rats take over.


With family
I don't play many games with my own family (my fault for lack of effort), but we've managed a few more recently, now that school is out.

Keltis Stones - A little flat with just 2 players, but a fun pastime regardless.

Flowerpower - My wife's longtime go-to, which I'm getting a little tired of but never turn down a play. (No, it's not for sale. I know what this OOP game goes for, even in Germany.)

Animalia - My daughter's go-to, which I still really enjoy. It's actually best with 2.

Thurn & Taxis - So happy this came back to the table, as I think it's just fantastic. My kind of euro exactly (see Web of Power and Hansa comments above!). We've got the northern Germany expansion (the first one), but only played on that map a couple times, and never with the modified rules. I'm curious about the Rome expansion, but heard it wasn't so good.

Telestrations - For Father's Day weekend we went to my folks' house, and so did my brother's family. I asked for this game specifically, thinking it the perfect fit. I was right! We enjoyed two back-to-back games that involved everyone from art-challenged, 77 year old father to my young reader, 7 year old nephew, with every age in between. Good laughs, just what I'd hoped for. (Funniest moment: when some good drawings of The Alamo were misintepreted as Taco Bell!)

PBW Games
A little Thurn & Taxis here, too, another mini tournament for Brass, and the occasional game of Wallenstein or Reef Encounter. But here are two I want to all special attention to:

Maori - I bought this game a while back on the strength of Ender's wonderful pictorial reviews that he posts on BGG. We played it a few times face-to-face, thinking it was pretty good. I just want to get some real shells to replace the wooden cutouts. However, now it's on Yucata.de, and it has rapidly become a great favorite of mine. I quickly finished a couple dozen games online, and it makes me want to play the physical version again.

Gonzaga - Although the title first caught my attention because I've got some relatives that went to college there, I remained interested because of it's subject (European fiefs). Once more, I refer you back to my appreciation for Web of Power! I missed a chance to play a copy around here, and lukewarm reviews didn't inspire me. Now it's available for play on YouPlay.it, though, a pbw site j hadn't visited in years. Though the site still has some limitations (why are there long delays in email notification?), I greatly appreciate the opportunity to play the intriguing game. Four games in, I'm still not sure what to make of it. I want to love it, but may only like it. Know what I mean? Still fun, though.


iPhone Games

I'm glad I switched to iPhone from Blackberry--clearly the critical mass for application development lies with Apple's platform. Though the device itself has some limitations (BB was MUCH better for text, and I miss over-the-air podcast subscriptions), it's all about the apps. For family strategy games, there are some really good ones.

Carcassonne - Never mind the gaps between the tiles. The implementation of this one sets the gold standard. I've played solo puzzles, games against a variety of multiple AIs, and online against human opponents. Superb!

Roll Through The Ages - Love the game, I'm just ok with this implementation. The lack of AI is disappointing. I bought it anyway, and don't regret it, but then they lowered the price. Only a couple bucks' difference, so an annoyance more than a problem.

Settlers of Catan - My favorite implementation before Carcassonne. The AI could be tougher, but they're ok as-is. Both this one and Carc use a good trick of panning & zooming the map automatically to convey a bigger playing surface than the iPhone really has. Very polished.

- Awesome. Really helps you learn the game by wiping the floor with you until you pay better attention and fight for your wins.

There are many others, of course, but these are the ones that got the most play.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New BGTG call-in number is 206-337-7401

Yeah, I lost my old call-in number, the same one the show has had for five years. I haven't completely given up hope, and I may ask for your help in getting it back, but for the moment any audio feedback should instead go to 206-337-7401. Sorry for the inconvenience.

BGTG 105 - Games of the Decade (with Dave Arnott)



Now that the first decade of the new century & millennium is past, Dave & I reflected on what that ten-year span meant for boardgames. Back in late 2007 he & I recorded a "decade+1" retrospective for episode #75, but that had a little different focus. For that earlier show, we tried to talk about our own introduction and growth in the hobby, like what games we first learned about & played, how we used rec.games.board for scraps of information, the importance of Sumo magazine and The Game Cabinet website, etc.

For this show now, we're talking about a different time period (somewhat), and about the games themselves that are notable. What do the titles that were successful in the "oughts" tell us about the direction the hobby is going? Sales figures might be the most important data for this sort of discussion, but those aren't available. Instead, I drew from critical & popular reaction, as evidenced by Boardgamegeek ratings and boardgame awards (especially Spiel des Jahre).

I came away thinking there was a pattern emerging, especially in the latter half of the decade. I'm seeing a resurgence of some deeper, more analytic and longer duration games that took a back seat while publishers chased the commercial success associated with a family-friendly Spiel des Jahres winner. (I imagine even the games that were nominated for an SdJ get a healthy boost in sales. Don't they still get to put that recommendation sticker from the SdJ jury on their boxes?) Maybe some of the other game awards that reward deeper games have had an influence, or maybe the continued growth of the Spiel at Essen and its increasingly international new publishers can be credited.

-Mark

Friday, May 14, 2010

Comment feed working again

By the way, you can subscribe the comment feed in order to keep up with comments on all of this blog's posts without having to remember to check them.

Should I start a BGG guild?

The flurry of good comments & discussion following the recent podcast about boardgame theming was split between those posted right here on the website, and others on a Boardgamegeek thread. Though that's fine, it makes me wonder if it wouldn't be better to facilitate them more on one location than the other. And though I'd really prefer to have the comments archived here, with the podcast itself, I recognize that BGG offers some advantages. It's easier to include links and other boardgame information through BGG's forum posting interface, easier to subscribe to the comments, and there's an interactive user community over there while this is a blog (more geared toward one-way communication).

If there's going to be some good discussions relating to BGTG over on BGG, then maybe it makes sense to finally create a guild for the podcast. I'd resisted that initially because I didn't see the point, but I'm starting to cave. What do you think? I guess there's no downside. My usual "announcement" posts for new episodes would continue to exist outside of the guild, in BGG's podcast forum which sometimes makes it onto the BGG front page due to new-ness or activity. These are the posts that will probably generate the most interesting discussion, and those I can crosslink to the blog. (I'm sometimes doing this already.) I'm not sure what, if anything, would then go into the guild

-Mark

Saturday, May 08, 2010

BGTG 104 - Boardgame Themes (with Greg Pettit)


Themes in boardgames are a favorite subject of mine. I'm sure I've said before how interested I am in the themes these games of ours have. Some themes instantly attract me to a game, while others are an immediate turn-off. When I'm playing a game, I particularly enjoy historic theming on the cards, or historic notes within the rulebook. You'd think that makes me a theme-gamer. I certainly thought so. But then I thought about the games that were my favorites, and in many cases they are those elegant German-style games that are pretty spartan when it comes to theme compared to recent titles from Fantasy Flight or Days of Wonder. In fact, I don't care for the those other games. In some cases it was because I didn't care for the theme itself (e.g. fantasy battles or dungeon crawl), but in other cases I didn't like how the themes I do like (e.g. gaslight London) overwhelm the game mechanics, taking aware from their elegance.

Enter Greg Pettit, who suggested that there are two distinct types of themes in games. Some provide the evocative experience with art, special rules, a story arc, character roles, and so on. That's what Greg calls "theme as narrative." The other type Greg calls "theme as metaphor," and it usually relates the subject of the game into its mechanics. Some games exhibit both types, others skew strongly toward just one type. I imagine everyone can appreciate those few games that manage to succeed with both of these thematic types, but when it's one more than the other you'll find your gamer preferences shining through. In my case, it's for theme as metaphor, which is why I prefer Vinci to Small World, or Entdecker to Blackbeard.

In this podcast Greg & I talk all about this topic, consider several games under his descriptions of theme, bring in the topic of simulation in wargames (a little), and think about why we prefer certain games and not others based on the way they implement their themes. Over on BGG I'm also posting a poll where listeners can rate a bunch of popular games low/medium/high in theme as metaphor, and theme as narrative.

-Mark

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Did it work?

Hmm, I'm not sure. Since I set this site up in the prehistory of podcasting, it's built on a complicated mix of three different hosting accounts (libsyn for the podcast files, GoDaddy.com for my webhosting, and Blogger.com for the blog editing interface). Now after five years one of those tools has changed how it works, which means I need to tweak settings I haven't touched in that long.

(And, stupid me, I waited until the final 48 hours to make these changes I've known were needed for weeks, even months.)

If this entry is correctly posted to the blog, I think that will mean I've done everything right. But I'm still not quite sure, and won't be until the weekend when an old service I've been using is shut down completely. If BoardgamesToGo.com goes down then, that's why. I'll get it restored, but hopefully there won't be any interruption at all.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

BGTG 103 - SR & Feedback (Pandemic On the Brink, Caylus Magna Carta, Patrician)



First of all, please consider bidding in my latest Geeklist auction. It ends mid-day on March 24, and has some great, unusual, and/or out-of-print games. Titles like Zoff in Buffalo, Basari (the good version!), Krieg und Frieden, and a pair of games from an original Chinese publisher & designer.

I'm back with another session report & feedback show. These episodes are usually only about some games I've played recently. However, in this one I found another common thread between all of the games discussed, which makes this sort of a themed podcast, as well. In this case, the common thread is boardgame expansions. You may have heard me say before that I generally don't care for expansions...or at least I find them unnecessary. Here are three titles played with expansions that include that reaction, but also some others. I found it interesting to consider, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.

If you want to read Jeff Myers boardgame blog Play2Relax, you can find it here. I'd forgotten about his excellent subtitle to the blog, "Play a game. You'll feel better." Be sure to share with me other recommendations for boardgame blogs, and someday I'll do a podcast about those.


-Mark

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BGTG 102 - Games Played in 2009 (with "Davebo" Gullett)


For more than a decade now I've kept track of the games I played over the course of a year. For nearly as long I've reviewed those lists after each year passed. First I posted on Usenet or my own website, later boardgame mailing lists, my blog, and lately this podcast. Like a lot of you, I find it interesting to look back over the stats from the previous year, noting increases or decreases in the number or variety of games played. I'm also looking to see whether I'm making the time & effort to get my favorites to the table--if you're not careful they can get crowded out by the steady advance of (sometimes forgettable) new titles.

This year I again have a guest on the podcast to help me recap the year with his own stats. "Davebo" Gullett has been on the podcast before, and we have some similarities--both of us play in some similar groups or get-togethers, we have roughly similar tastes in games, and we're both dads of multiple kids old enough to play boardgames with us. But while Dave has been successful getting his kids (especially his oldest) to play plenty of boardgames, I do that much less often.

On the other hand, I play a lot of online boardgames, both realtime on Brettspielwelt, and even more via play-by-web sites such as Mabiweb and Brass Online. We have some discussion about why I choose to include those online plays in my yearly stats, while Dave does not. It goes to the nature of those online plays, whether they're against friends or strangers, and what's the point of tracking plays at all.


-Mark

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Twitter, Facebook, and now Buzz?

I've been making little updates between major blog entries about boardgaming using Twitter. You can find those at twitter.com/BoardgamesToGo. This blog and its podcast will always be my main content, but if you want little tidbits in between the irregular episodes, that's where to find them. Just recently I also created a Facebook page for the podcast, at (you guessed it) facebook.com/BoardgamesToGo. Right now it's primarily another way to view those Twitter "tweets," since I have the accounts linked. You can reply to them if you want, but I don't foresee these become a BGTG community or message board, just a little extra something.

-Mark

P.S. And now here comes Google Buzz. Haven't done anything with that yet. As long as there's an easy way to link everything together I might do just that. But I'm not about to keep up with four separate "identities" for the podcast. If nothing else I'll stick with the blog. Signed, the grumpy old man! ;-)

BGTG 101 SR & Feedback (Dog, Keltis Way of the Stone, Sorry Sliders)



First show of the new year, and it's another session report & feedback episode. Though I originally just picked three games I played recently & wanted to discuss, as I prepped for the show I found a number of related points between them. That's why I mentioned this could also be called "The Crossover Show." Maybe I should ask Shannon Appelcline to produce one of his snazzy relationship diagrams like he's done for designer ludographies and other relationships he's mapped. :-)

Dog has a Canadian heritage, along with handmade boards displaying real craftsmanship . . . like Crokinole . . . which is like Sorry Sliders in its gameplay . . . even though its in the franchise family of traditional Sorry . . . much like Keltis: Way of the Stone is in the new Keltis franchise family . . . though there's still some connection to Sorry . . . which is itself a "circles & cross" traditional boardgame form, like Dog . . . but Dog is a partnership game, like Crokinole . . . and both Crokinole and Sorry Sliders depend on some quality production and design so that their physical play can really soar.

Once Knizia comes out with the physical flicking game of Keltis Stones, I'll have to revisit this. :-)

I neglected to mention that this Keltis game is also listed as the Keltis Mitbringspiel, the latter word being German for "travel edition." (I suppose a more literal translation would be "take-along game.") I happen to be using Mitbringspiel as a search term as my friends & I are placing an order from Amazon.de.


-Mark

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

BGTG 100 SR & Feedback (Tobago, Numeri, Polar Derby)



Yea! When I started this podcast nearly five years ago, I had no idea I'd still be doing it now. The pace certainly slowed down from the early days, but I'm so pleased to have stumbled across the finish line to episode 100! Except that this isn't really a finish line--I'm going to keep podcasting, and I hope you'll keep listening.

I thought about some big celebration or other special show for my 100th episode, but after talking with friends (some of whom you've heard on my podcast before), I decided instead to keep it simple. After all, that's what Boardgames To Go has always been: a simple, no-frills podcast that reflects my own interests in analyzing what it is about these games that makes them fun (or not), along with some good feedback. It's the feedback that has always kept me going, so it's a real pleasure to include it on episode 100. In future shows there will still be more opportunities to discuss special topics, have guest co-hosts, and maybe even some more All About episodes.

In this episode I start with some discussion about my favorite new Essen game, Tobago. True, it's the only real Essen game I've got my hands on yet, but I like it so much I'm confident it will remain a favorite even after I've had a chance to try the others, perhaps finding more keepers. It was a title that jumped out at me during my annual pre-Essen anticipation, and it was easy enough to order domestically right away. Another new Essen title is Numeri, which I've at least played in its online incarnation on brettspielwelt. This is a modern reprint in Schmidt's fun Easy Play line that had a much earlier life as a boardgame. In between there was an edition with some particular theming that I'd like to know more about--does anyone have it? Finally, I discuss Polar Derby, a kids' game from Gamewright that feels like a Knizia game . . . because it IS a Knizia game. Hear about how the clever folks at Gamewright put a German game design through the American-izer.


-Mark

Saturday, January 02, 2010

MJ's Games played in 2009

I'll do a show recapping this information later, but while I can't record a podcast right now with family visiting, I can squeeze in a blog post. Throughout the year I keep my games-played statistics on Boardgamegeek (the "cloud" of our hobby), which makes it so easy to pull that data out now.
 Here are the raw stats, and below I'll offer a little commentary.


"Quarters"
Dominion 47
Brass 44



"Dimes"
Dominion: Intrigue 23
Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm 19
Race for the Galaxy 17
Animalia 15
Hansa 10
History of the World 10



"Nickels"
Schotten-Totten 9
Dominion: Seaside 8
Numeri 8
Pandemic 8
Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game 7
San Juan 7
Stone Age 7
The Downfall of Pompeii 6
Finito! 6
Industrial Waste 5
On the Underground 5
Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age 5

The rest (single plays unless noted)
Arkadia 4,  Bohnanza 4, Chicago Express 4, China 4, Powerboats 4, Tally Ho! 4, Aton 3, Balloon Cup 3, Cold War: CIA vs. KGB 3, Finca 3, In the Year of the Dragon 3, Kakerlaken-Poker 3, Keltis 3, Kreta 3, Maori 3, Marrakech 3, Monty Python Fluxx 3, Mr. Jack 3, Piece o' Cake 3, Reef Encounter 3, Rosenkönig 3, The Settlers of Catan 3, Walk the Dogs 3, Yspahan 3, Acquire 2, Africa 2, Amun-Re 2, Arbos 2, Bang! The Bullet! 2, Battle Cry 2, Big Points 2, Carolus Magnus 2, Cities 2, Container 2, Crokinole 2, Excape 2, Figaro 2, FITS 2,  Fuzzy Tiger 2, Ghost Stories 2, High Society 2, I'm the Boss 2, In the Shadow of the Emperor 2, Ingenious 2, King of Siam 2, Long Shot 2, Medici 2, Metropolys 2, Money! 2, Musketeers 2
Polar Derby 2, Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age 2, Saint Petersburg 2, Santiago 2,  Spekulation 2, Steel Driver 2,  Strozzi 2, Thebes 2, Tobago 2, Tulipmania 1637 2, Vinci 2, Agricola, Automobile, Basari, Big City, Byzanz, Canyon, El Capitán, Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers, Chang Cheng, Cheeky Monkey,
Dancing Dice, Dice Town, Drachen Wurf, Dragonland, Entdecker, Fauna, Fearsome Floors, Fire and Axe: A Viking Saga, Flowerpower, Fluch der Mumie, Formula D, Get the Goods, Go, The Hanging Gardens, Haste Worte, Le Havre, Hey! That's My Fish!, High Score, Ice Flow, Im Reich der Wüstensöhne, Jet Set, Krieg und Frieden, Lightning: D-Day, Modern Art: The Card Game, Monastery, Mykerinos, Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815, Puerto Rico, Ra: The Dice Game, Rabbit Hunt, Richelieu, Risk, Risk Express, San Marco, Schnäppchen Jagd, Schrille Stille, Sleeping Queens, Small World, Squad Seven, Svea Rike, Take it to the Limit, Take Your Best Shot, Through the Desert, Thurn and Taxis, Ticket to Ride: Switzerland.
Tigris & Euphrates, Tikal, Tohuwabohu, Tonga Bonga, TransEuropa, Turn The Tide, Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation, Vikings, Wallamoppi, Wallenstein, Wyatt Earp, Zeus on the Loose

I see that I played 148 different titles for a total of 485 plays. Seems to me that my numbers in prior years were closer to 100 titles & 300 plays, so this was an up year for me. I think most of that increase came from more online plays, though, as I don't recall more game sessions, games days, or other face-to-face gaming. In fact, I think my games days were down last year, but maybe not.

Something that isn't so easy to pull out of BGG stats is which games were online versus face-to-face. By the time I record a podcast on this topic I'll make my own estimate of pulling those numbers out to make the comparison. Some online games don't feel like face-to-face boardgaming, but a lot of them really do for me--especially when I get to play against long-distance friends I see rarely, or mid-workweek games with my local friends. Another wrinkle I'd like to look into later are the new titles I played this year. Both to make sure I'm spending enough gaming time on my older favorites, and to take note of which new titles I played more than once (perhaps they're new favorites?).

Tons of Dominion, especially when you add in the Intrigue and Seaside plays. I still absolutely love this game, and would be happy to play it face-to-face as much as I play it online. I can't see myself keeping up with (or buying) all of the expansions, but I don't really need to. There's so much variability and replayability in the original game, and just buying a single expansion adds to much to that. The other night we almost played a game with more than 4 players, something I still haven't tried. Some of the card effects are even more fun with more players, so that's something to look forward to.

Look at all of those plays of Brass! A few of those were face-to-face, but so many more were online. This game is outstanding for online play, having a limited number of really thoughtful turns and mostly indirect player interaction. I thoroughly enjoy this game and look forward to nearly as many plays in the next year.

Similar to Dominion, my plays of Race for the Galaxy are inflated by online plays once the Genie site became available halfway through the year. I already liked RftG, but my appreciation for it shot up once I had the opportunity to play so much. It has to be said that the game has a learning curve unlike most of my collection, and it's been a minor obstacle to getting it played face-to-face. Still, we've played it some, and the availability of Keldon's incredible RftG AI downloadable program has helped us tackle that learning curve.

(By the way, I don't count plays of games against the computer, only human opponents. However, I really appreciate these programs for the opportunity to play on an airplane, on business trips, or when disconnected from the net.)

In contrast my other high-play games, Animalia is played face-to-face. (I think I had a single online play this year.) This is my go-to when my daughter & I play a game, and some of my gamer friends enjoy it, too. I own two copies (one of each version), which is another strong sign that this is a permanent favorite for me.

I also own two copies of Hansa (one for work, one for home), but that hasn't meant I got to play lots of ftf games. These were mostly online last year. Which is ok, but unlike Brass, Hansa is a game that's really better face-to-face.

History of the World was one I only played online (at GamesByEmail.com). Years ago I played HotW in its first (non-plastic) licensed publication by Avalon Hill, and the experience was horrible. It soured me on ever playing the game again. Then I found this online clone, and it has sparked my interest again, right when the original designers/publishers Ragnor Bros. come out with a new, possibly streamlined edition. I hope to try that sometime, though I'm lured by the deluxe plastic pieces edition by H/AH. (Luckily, some of my local gamer friends already own that, since it's too pricey to buy on the secondary market.)

My "nickels" list has a better spread of games played ftf as much or more than online. It shows my preference for the shorter games. (I know most "Five & Dime" lists favor shorter games since they're easier to play multiple times, but I honestly prefer the shorter stuff all the time.) Pandemic and Roll through the Ages were new acquisitions, and I finally picked up my own copy of Downfall of Pompeii, which I think is often overlooked. On the Underground is the game my wife enjoys to play with me (reminds us of our London vacation! unfortunately Notre Dame doesn't invoke the same nostalgia about our Paris trip). And, of course, Harry's Grand Slam Baseball is a favorite I'll play for the rest of my life.

Among the rest, some quick comments...
  Bohnanza - A good indicator that I'm playing my favorites, not "falling for" the cult of the new. :-) 
  Chicago Express - A Game of the Month for our group, and new favorite
  Aton - Need to get my own copy, since it's a great filler. (And another great Queen production.)
  Finca - Ehh... I've now tried a few times, and I don't care for it. Fits & Fauna were better, but Dominion & Pandemic easily the two best games for SdJ.
  Maori - A late December acquisition, may prove to be a good family game
  Monty Python Fluxx - I tweeted about this. A gift for my son, and the source of great laughs for us.
  Piece o' Cake - A gift from a podcast listener! Will hit a nickel next year, for sure.
  Reef Encounter - Three plays isn't enough! Love this one.
  Settlers of Catan - The Wired article sparked some interest at work, where we played over lunch.
  Walk the Dogs - Finally got my hands on a copy of this oddly distributed game. Fun.
  Svea Rike - I've had this grail (for me) game for years, and finally played it.
  Medici, Thebes, Vinci, Crokinole, Tigris & Euphrates - All longtime faves that I'm pleased to have gotten in last year, but hope to play as much or more next year.

-Mark

P.S. One of these days I need to upload my nearly decade-long stats of games played into BGG so that I can have fun poring over the data and extended reports available at friendless' site. Snoozefest even sent me information on how to use a spreadsheet to do this in a more automated way, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.