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Boardgames To Go

Mark Johnson's occasional and opinionated podcast, Boardgames To Go, now has its own blog on Boardgamegeek.

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Mark Johnson
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Do you subscribe to this blog? What about the Boardgames To Go guild? You should! Read on...



You'll hear more about this in upcoming episodes, but after I make it across the "finish line" of my podcast's 10-year anniversary, I plan to take a break. I'm not sure how long, but it will be several months, at least. To be clear--I'm not quitting, I'm just taking a break. In the years since I started, other podcasts have figured out the value of "seasons" that allow for some downtime to recharge. I wish I'd thought of that!

Before anyone gets any wise idea, Greg Pettit already made the joke at my expense: A break from BGTG? How will anybody know?

Yeah, yeah. I realize I've taken breaks before. But those were unintended breaks, and it always gnawed at me that I wasn't publishing podcasts. This time will be different. Like I said, a time for recharging. Also, 2015 may prove to be a year when my time is not my own. (Nothing alarming, just the usual stuff associated with work and aging parents.) For what it's worth, I do think I'll keep Wargames To Go podcasts going, because those are different in nature--fewer & farther between.

I still want to "talk" with everyone about boardgaming, though. I'm still going to be playing as many games as ever. The BGTG guild should be an excellent place to do that! If you haven't joined, please do! I encourage you to Subscribe over there, too. It's one of the usual subscribe links that are all over Boardgamegeek, and it means you'll get notifications when there are discussions going on. Unlike my blog, anyone can post something on the guild. I thought about creating a mailing list for this kind of discussion, and though I like that 1990s approach, I imagine guild messages here on BGG are what most people would prefer.

It's easy to do. Just click any of the links to the guild (#867) that are peppered in this blog, and click the Join This Guild and Subscribe links that you'll find on that page.




-Mark





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Thu Feb 5, 2015 7:34 pm
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BGTG 156 - Games of BGG.con 2014 (with Greg Pettit)

Mark Johnson
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Button giveaway winners!
(I'll contact you to get your mailing addresses)
I've also learned that in the UK these are called badges, not buttons.

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ANOTHER episode related to BGG.con?! Well...yeah. But really, this is about a bunch of new games. In fact, this is as close as I get to joining the Cult of the New! Listeners know that's not really my style or preference, yet every year after Essen I would interview Greg Pettit about the new titles he played at BGG.con. This time, of course, I get to contribute to the conversation, too. (Actually I always do--we've been doing these shows for years--this year I just to say more.)

With both of us having plenty to say, this is a longer episode. Lots of very topical games to discuss. At the very end, though, we also do one of my favorite segments, a "where are they now?" look back at the games discussed 12 months ago. Are we still excited about them? Are you?


-Mark







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BGTG 155 - BGG.con 2014 Planning For NEXT Year, plus button giveaways (with Davebo Gullett)

Mark Johnson
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I'm glad I've received good feedback about all of these BGG.con episodes, because I have TWO more. There's this one with Davebo, a look back on the con after I'd been home for a while (which also serves as a look forward to next year--I hope to return). Then a little later I'll record my traditional post-BGG.con episode with Greg Pettit where we talk about the new Essen titles we played. We kind of did that already in the daily episodes during the con, but we've each had more time to play other titles, refine our opinions, and also look back a year to consider what happened to the 2013 titles.

In this one, Dave & I reflect on what we enjoyed, what we want to do again next year, and what we would wish to do differently. Some of those I have a clear idea about, and others I'm still not sure about. In particular, I can't quite figure out what I want to do about meeting new, random people and playing new games with them. Perhaps old games with new people can be a good combo (like the Entdecker-with-BGTG-listeners idea), and new games with old friends (who can do the teaching) can also be good. I'm not sure I'll do new games with new people again. Maybe.


Hey! I'm really asking for feedback this time. Dave & I asked several questions, and we want your feedback. I'm giving away podcast buttons as little prizes. If you win, you get a Boardgames To Go button, a Wargames To Go button, or both if you want!

Button giveaways!!
1. Best answer: What game SHOULD I have played (geeklist)
2. Best answer: Suggestions for the upcoming (March!) BGTG 10-year anniversary (geeklist)
3. Randomly chosen: A commenter on this blog (below)
4. Randomly chosen: A commenter on Facebook (facebook.com/BoardgamesToGo)
5. Randomly chosen: A commenter on Twitter (@BoardgamesToGo)

Plus a couple more for Dave's questions:
a. Best answer: How did you make the convention shuttle work for you? (comment below)
b. Randomly chosen: When did you listen to the daily episodes? Right away or later? (geekmail to Dave)




-Mark


Links
How to get started on "free" Frequent Flyer miles
Geeklists for games Mark and Dave played at BGG.con 2014
Geeklist for games you think Mark should've played
Geeklist for BGTG 10-year anniversary suggestions




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Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:28 pm
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BGTG 154f - BGG.con 2014 (Sunday)

Mark Johnson
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Today isn't even really a "day" at BGG.con. Most people sleep in (after late nights), then wake up, check out, and are heading home. That might have been me, too. The thing is, I'm not really a late night/sleep in kind of person. Definitely not the up-til-5am, sleep-til-noon variety. Not even the 2am/9am type of gamer, which was my pattern for most of the week. This time, on the last day, I wanted to try two new things, as a trial run for how I'd try to do more of BGG.con next year, if I'm lucky enough to return.

First, I got up "early." At a convention, that means 8am. I was in the main game room by 8:30, where a small subset of gamers were already playing games. (Some guessed they were STILL playing games, but this didn't look like the allnighter crowd.)

Second, I sat down at a table, set my game up (Hellweg westfalicus), and put up one of those "players wanted" flags the convention provides to help you get a game started. Within 5 minutes I had one player, and before I'd even really started the rules explanation we had a third. That was a good number, so off we went. I'm sure we could've gotten a fourth to fill out the game if we'd wanted to, but three is usually a good number for Schacht's games. Neither guy knew me or my podcast, we just sat down to learn a game together. I liked it quite a bit, another liked it, too, while our third player was less enthused. I think of it as a cousin to Hansa, overland in theme, and with a little more going on. (I really love Hansa, but understand how it can be pretty spare for some folks.)

In this last episode from the actual BGG.con, Greg prompted me to write down five things that I felt were highlights of the event. My own personal highlights. If you've been listening over the past few days, they probably won't surprise you. Thinking about it (and in no particular order), I thought mine were

1. The friends
2. The library
3. The BBQ
4. The Flea Markets (both kinds)
5. The Spiel des Jahres seminar

I hope to go back again! Thanks to all who told me they enjoyed my podcasts. That really meant a lot to me. Thanks to those NOT at BGG.con that listened and/or commented during the week. It's no exaggeration to say that feedback from listeners is the reason I'm still doing this.


-Mark

P.S. Here's a geeklist with the games I played & some opinions about them.





Here was the main room (same as last night's view of the closing ceremony), but at 8:30am on Sunday. Lots of open tables. To be fair, there might have been more gamers on the mornings of Thursday, Friday, and even Saturday.


====================



I set up Hellweg westfalicus facing my new players, which is why it's upside down in this view. (I was new, too, but I had read the rules, at least.) This is a good game!


====================



Just before we all headed out, here were some of those friends. Greg Pettit, Dave Gullett, Dave Arnott, and me. Or, as you may know us...

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Mark Johnson
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Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:38 pm
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BGTG 154e - BGG.con 2014 (Saturday)

Mark Johnson
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Last full day of BGG.con. Last day at all, really, since tomorrow I check out of the hotel & head to my airport terminal/gate around noon. Apparently the Library will be closed. Though I have a few games of my own on-hand, it may not work out for me to play any games. Might just be saying my goodbyes and having last conversations with friends.

Today, though, started & ended (for me) with big events. At the start of the day was the Flea Market. Greg had 4+ tubs of games to sell there, and I got to be his assistant. We were up relatively early (alarm clock required) in order to set up in the hour before the doors were opened to buyers. Then THEY have one hour to shop, haggle, and purchase before everything has to be closed up again.

The end of the day had the "closing ceremonies" for BGG.con, including lots of well-earned thank-yous, prize giveaways, and some announcements for BGG.con's future. You've probably seen this already. In addition to BGG.con (which will continue unchanged for next year & beyond, when I hope to return), they've now added BGG<3FAM--meaning something like BGG Loves Families)--a family-friendly (spouses & kids) version of the convention. The first one of these is next Memorial Day Weekend. This is in addition to the previously announced BGG game cruise, BGG@SEA. The empire grows...


In between, I got to play some more games and go out for BBQ one more time. Greg & I were finally able to successfully play Isaribi. Still thinking about it, but I think I like it quite a bit. I already like Hayashi's Sail to India, so he's definitely a designer for me to watch. Also, I wanted to get some recent Knizia titles to the table, which we did with both Orongo and Rondo. I think the latter is a pleasant pastime or family game (for two), while Orongo is an unfortunate miss for me. We also played the older (but still good!) title, Yspahan.


-Mark





The morning's Flea Market, in full swing. (This is about half of the room.)


====================



This sign absolutely sets the tone of the Flea Market. Though sellers are really keen to sell items for a good pice, and buyers are keen to get a bargain.


====================



Isaribi has a great look, and I was also impressed with the gameplay


====================



I was happy to try Orongo, and it had some nice, Knizia-style light theming around the compelling topic of Easter Island, but also had some problems.


====================



Another recent Knizia was Rondo, which was more successful as a pastime game, but I'm still not sure about it



====================



One last trip to Hard Eight more more Texas BBQ


====================



The closing ceremonies in the big room, with seemingly everyone there








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Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:52 am
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Edit: Back to normal (MP3)

Mark Johnson
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Ok, back on a real computer instead of mobile rig, I was able to convert everything back to the normal audio format and fit it all within my podcast storage limit. All good!

If you had any difficulty downloading or listening to the BGG.con episodes, just delete what you've got and re-sync or re-download. They should all work now.

Thanks for listening!

-Mark




====================


These BGG.con updates are fun, and I'm glad people are enjoying them. However, I've just busted my monthly podcast upload limit (in megabytes). Either I don't post anything more until December, or I try changing the format of the audio files. I THINK this will be transparent to anyone using a modern audio player (e.g. an iOS/Android device), but I'm not 100% sure. I'm also not sure that the embedded audio player here on BGG will work--the little grey thingie that you click to listen to the podcast right within BGG.

I guess we'll find out.

Please comment here if you experience anything unusual.
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BGTG 154d - BGG.con 2014 (Friday)

Mark Johnson
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Today was a full day where I'd planned almost nothing ahead of time. A full day of gaming, right? Actually, it turned out that I played very FEW games today, but had a whole day of fun nonetheless. We had our little BGTG/WGTG lunch at the hotel, I watched Artemis, went out for Texas BBQ dinner, watched the "World Series," and spent some time relaxing with friends at the hotel bar. Oh, and I also got to play Deus, Doodle City, Port Royal, and almost a game of Isaribi. (Hope to get in a real of game of that last one tomorrow.)


-Mark





Deus with Dave Gullett and Brian Murray. Remember Brian's claim that "Mark hates games"?


====================



Doodle City, which was a disappointment, unfortunately


====================



Dexterity games are in the main hallway


====================



Texas BBQ at Hard Eight (that's not a hazy photo, that's woodsmoke in the air!)


====================



World Series of Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game, with Dave and champion Chris Booth (SybotCB)









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Sat Nov 22, 2014 8:37 am
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BGTG 154c - BGG.com 2014 (Thursday)

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My first full day at BGG.con, and it was a good one. This was the only day I had several scheduled activities, some wargame-ish titles early in the day (Gunslinger, then Pax Porfiriana), as well as the Virtual Flea Market, a Spiel des Jahres seminar by jury chairman Tom Felber, and finally (for me) a game of Panamax. Greg & I recorded this episode, and I'm about to collapse at 1am. I am not a late-night gamer. Meanwhile, Greg headed back down to the convention for the Werewolf games...

For anyone here at the con who wants to join us for lunch tomorrow, we'll just go to the hotel restaurant right around noon. Hope to meet more listeners and hand out more buttons.



-Mark





Buttons I'm giving to listeners I meet Hope to meet more at lunch on Friday




Gunslinger, before...





Gunslinger, after. That's me, dead on the ground.





What's missing from the library? Why, the better (older) version of Entdecker, of course!





Our Panamax game, near the end









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Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:17 am
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BGTG 154b - BGG.con 2014 (Wednesday)

Mark Johnson
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A long day, starting with a 4am alarm clock in Santa Clarita, California, ending with a 2am bedtime in Dallas, Texas. I'm here, and taking it in. My roommate is Gregarius, the same Greg Pettit you've heard on the podcast. He's a native Texan (Houston), and has made it to EVERY BGG.con. Besides my roommate, he's also my able guide for this event.

On my plane I saw Dave Arnott, Mike Schwerdtfeger, and met some other SoCal gamers. Maybe next year(!) I'll plan to sit by someone. I thought about playing a game on the flight, but decided I'd have more than enough when I go to DFW.

I got registered, Greg toured me around the various ballrooms, library, and other venues. Today I played La Granja, Rolling Japan, Pandemic: The Cure, Spinball, and Port Royal.


-Mark


Ill-fated La Granja, a perfectly fine game I screwed up with a rules error!




Pandemic: The Cure with some SoCal gamers









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BGTG 154a - BGG.con 2014 (Tuesday)

Mark Johnson
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Ok, this first one is just a test recording. If it works, I'll be doing more recordings, with other people, when I actually get to the convention. Maybe I can even snap a few pics and post them here on the blog.


-Mark


Mobile podcasting rig




Tickets, maps, and schedules!






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