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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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BGTG 154f - BGG.con 2014 (Sunday)

Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames
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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
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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Sun Nov 23, 2014 4:57 am
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BGTG 154d - BGG.con 2014 (Friday)

Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames
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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)

Mark Johnson
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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
United States
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California
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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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Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:11 am
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BGTG 154a - BGG.con 2014 (Tuesday)

Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
California
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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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Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:15 pm
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BGTG 153 - 100 Great Games, the Top Ten! (with Stephen Glenn & Mark Jackson)

Mark Johnson
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Santa Clarita
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@spielfriek
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Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson rejoin me (Mark JOHNson) to continue this series. In 2012, these two guys polled a number of experienced gamers (a few designers, many reviewers, all enthusiasts) for their top games, consolidated their answers, and asked to come on my podcast to count down the results. I was pleased to be part of the poll, and doubly pleased to have them on Boardgames To Go. I really like how Stephen describes this:

"a fun list to discuss over coffee & pie."


The poll was for our favorite games, not necessarily the best games. We even got to submit a top fifteen, which took the usual tough request for a top ten and gave us the breathing room for five more titles. I know in my case, it made it easier to add some very recent games to my longstanding favorites. On each podcast we're counting down a bunch of titles until we get to a final show with the Top Ten. I'll be interspersing 100 Great Games countdown episodes with my other podcast episodes.

...

At long last, here are the Top Ten! As we count them down in reverse order, we stay true to form--having a few personal grumbles about these amazing titles. At the same time, we're honestly respectful and enthusiastic for all of these games. Several of them are in our personal top ten lists, too.

Though this is the end of the list of 100 Great Games, it's not quite the end of this podcast series. We promise to come back one more time for an epilogue episode, one that shares some analysis of the overall list, considers what games only missed the list because they were released post-2012, and what our own votes were. Remember, this list is a compilation of many experienced gamers' input. By now it's pretty obvious that we each have our own personal tastes that differ somewhat. If you have topics you'd like us to cover in the epilogue, let us know.

In my poll associated with the last installment of 100 Great Games, I asked for your favorite Knizia auction game. Of the many options available Ra came out as the clear favorite. As you may have heard last time, Stephen preferred Ra, I went with Medici, and Jackson picked Traumfabrik.

Now that we've reached the top of the list of 100 Great Games, are there ones you thought we missed? Of course that will be true--everyone has different tastes. However, any game released after 2012 didn't even get a chance to be on this list because that's when the project started. Below I've put together a poll of notable titles less than two years old that might have made it onto the 100 Great Games list. It's a tough choice, but which one do you think would've made it on the list? As always, if you've got a good suggestion that's not included in the poll, write it in the comments below. Thanks.




Stephen Glenn's designer page at BGG (Balloon Cup/Piñata, 1st & Goal, You Must Be an Idiot!, Spike, Rattlebones)

Mark Jackson's personal blog

-Mark

P.S. If you want to see the original version of the list these guys made it in 2005, it's still available at 100 Great Games, 2005 Edition (THE ONE HUNDRED).



Poll
Which of these games (which were too new to be included) would push their way onto the 100 Great Games list (displacing others) if we did it again? Vote for as many as you want.
  Probably Maybe Probably not
1960: Making of the President
Android Netrunner
Dominant Species
Dungeon Lords
Hansa Teutonica
Keyflower
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Terra Mystica
Trajan
Tzolkin
Village
Other (comment below)
      62 answers
Poll created by MarkEJohnson





#10 - 7 Wonders
Designer: Antoine Bauza
Artist: Miguel Coimbra
Publisher: Repos Production
Year: 2010





#9 - Acquire
Designer: Sid Sackson
Artist: various
Publisher: 3M, Avalon Hill, Hasbro
Year: 1964





#8 - Magic: The Gathering
Designer: Richard Garfield
Artists: various
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Year: 1993





#7 - Race for the Galaxy
Designer: Tom Lehmann
Artists: Martin Hoffmann, Claus Stephan, Mirko Suzuki
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Year: 2007





#6 - Power Grid
Designer: Friedemann Friese
Artist: Antonio Dessi, Lars-Arne "Maura" Kalusky, Harald Lieske
Publisher: 2F-Spiele, Rio Grande Games
Year: 2004





#5 - Ticket to Ride
Designer: Alan R. Moon
Artists: Cyrille Daujean, Julien Delval
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Year: 2004





#4 - Tichu
Designer: Urs Hostettler
Artists: various
Publisher: Fata Morgana Spiele, ABACUSSPIELE, Rio Grande Games
Year: 2004





#3 - Catan
Designer: Klaus Teuber
Artists: various
Publisher: KOSMOS, Mayfair
Year: 1995





#2 - Puerto Rico
Designer: Andreas Seyfarth
Artist: Franz Vohwinkel
Publisher: Alea, Rio Grande Games
Year: 2002





#1 - Dominion
Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino
Artists: various
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Year: 2008










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Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:40 pm
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Boardgames To Go/Wargames To Go "meetup" at BGG.con (Friday lunch)

Mark Johnson
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Friday lunch! Anyone who wants to join should meet at the hotel restaurant at noon. See you there.


BGG.con is just around the corner, and I'm excited to be going back after a long hiatus. Is there interest in a low-key "meetup" for podcast listeners while we're there? I'm just talking about going out to lunch together on Friday, something really easy. Besides myself, some of my frequent guests on the podcast will also be around. So if you want to ask Greg Pettit about his Theme as Metaphor/Narrative ideas, or Dave Gullett about Harry's Grand Slam Baseball, those guys should be around. Of course, those guys have been on other episodes, too. My road trip buddy Dave Arnott will also be at BGG.con, but he's so busy running the Puzzle Hunt that I'm not sure if he can join us. I hope so!


Regardless of the lunch/meetup, if you spot me at the con you should say hi. I guess we all have badges with our familiar avatars on them, but a day or two I'll also be wearing my podcast shirt. I've got the one for BGTG, and expect to have the WGTG one by then, too.


(By the way, I don't always wear glasses. You can also see me in some of the Gamenight! videos with Lincoln, Nikki, Dave, and Aaron. Like this episode for Blueprints, a great game!)

-Mark

P.S. For as long as they last, I'll also have these buttons to give away.

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Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:09 am
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BGTG 152 - Essen (and BGGcon!) Anticipation 2014

Mark Johnson
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I don't even know how long I've been doing this. My window-shopping the Essen lists predates this podcast of nine years. Who else fondly remembers Mik Svellov's Brett'n'Board, Ken Tidwell's Game Cabinet, or all the other places we learned about Essen before, during, and after the fair? Now, of course Eric Martin does an amazing job here at BGG with the annual Essen Preview. It has nearly six hundred items when I finally stopped looking on Friday. Wow!

It took me two passes to get through these lists. For some reason, I found a LOT more games that interest me this year. Is that because there are more of the shorter, family strategy games that I like? That might be true. Not that there were a lot of the 45-minute "superfillers," but I think there were more filler/microgames at the low end--under 20 euros, under 30 minutes. The ones that are still Love Letter derivatives about bluffing & hidden identity don't interest me, but there several others. As before, we see more and more offerings from other countries, especially Japan, Korea, and Poland.

My first pass through that megalist came up with 30 I was really excited/curious about, and another 50 that had something that sparked my interest. Though that's 80 games (waaaay too many to discuss on the podcast), that's culling out more than 80% of the titles in the full preview. Then I squeezed it down to ten I put in my companion geeklist, and discuss on this episode, plus several other titles that work their way into the discussion. Wow!



Want to comment about any of these games? Check out the listen-along geeklist I have to accompany this episode.


Also, I can't resist some meta-analysis of the entire list, and how well my previous years' anticipation lists matched what became my keepers from those years.

Finally, this episode anticipates something else, too--my return to BGG.con! I'm so excited about this. I went to the first BGG.con a decade ago, but it's grown & changed quite a bit since that time. I'm coming up to speed with what to expect, doing some planning, but not TOO much. Hopefully I'll meet some listeners and play some games with them when I'm there next month.




Poll
What game are you most excited about for Essen 2014?
What game are you most excited about for Essen 2014? (Yes, you have to pick just one. Though if you pick "Other," please tell us in a comment.)

List of games comes from Daniel's excellent meta-list, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/179963/top-50-most-thu...
Panamax
Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice
La Isla
AquaSphere
Fields of Arle
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Deus
Kanban: Automotive Revolution
Greenland
Other
      77 answers
Poll created by MarkEJohnson


BGTG 152 Geeklist

-Mark




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Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:00 am
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