Jen is my wife. We met in college at the University of Washington and we've been married since 1991. She's a professional glass artist, you can find more about her work at http://www.jenefer.net. She's a bit camera shy but has been getting more and more comfortable appearing in videos, and here's a list of everything she's been in: http://jen.rahdo.com
When I started making videos, I decided to refer to her as my opponent because she's the only person I play 95% of all my games with, and I figured it would be easier for me to keep track of what I was talking about. I'm often a bit scatterbrained, and if I always referred to my opponent as "player 2" or "the blue player", I suspect that would be more opportunity to misspeak!
When I first started playing Everquest, I made a human cleric called Raham, which was short for Richard Allen Ham (my full name). I didn't like that character and later made a halfling cleric, and just to have naming consistency, I named him Rahdo, since it rhymed with 'Frodo'.
Rahdo, why do you think [insert game here] is too conflict-heavy? I disagree because...
Okay, let me stop you right there! I understand that you feel that the level of conflict/stealing/attacking/whatever in Game X is not too harsh and I'm perhaps being overly sensitive. But as a wise poster on Youtube said:
Hats Off Games wrote:
When people say that the take that element isn't that bad and give stats in cards, it's like telling someone that the dish isn't that spicy because the ingredients only rate an X on the spicy rank thingy.
It's a matter of taste. If the meal is too spicy for someone then it is too spicy. You're not going to change that and you shouldn't.
Thanks Hats Off, that's a brilliant summation, and I feel kind of silly having written the longer tome below, but I'll leave it here for folks who would like a more thorough breakdown of my feelings.
Here is my response that I believe covers 99% of these cases, broken down into 4 points: 1) I am incapable of experiencing schadenfreude (a German word meaning "to derive pleasure from the misfortune of others"). In fact, I'm quite the opposite, because whenever a game puts me in a position where I must negatively impact my opponents ability to achieve their goals, I find my empathetic response to the "virtual suffering" of my opponent actively distresses me.
Of course, there are varying degrees of this that I find acceptable, but normally where I draw the line is situations the game creates where my best move is one made predominately or solely to hamper your progress, or even worse, destroy something you have created. Cases where there is indirect hampering as a side effect of me pursing my own agenda (most worker placement games, for example) are generally tolerable for me, but even these can be problematic if the game gives me the option to pursue my goals while purposefully limiting your ability to do so where it otherwise wasn't necessary (the dice blocking in Bora Bora, The Ancient World and Covert, for example).
Now, You might be inclined to say "it's just a game, you're not really hurting anyone", but that simply indicates that you feel empathy for others differently than I do.
2) I've found that many viewers forget that I play games exclusively two player, and by its very nature, this zero-sum way of playing tends to increase the value of attacking your opponents over what is experienced with 3+ players. This is because in a 2p game, any move I make to hamper you directly translates into an improvement of my station, and therefore it's always a valid move to consider. But with 3 or more players, if I spend my limited time and resources trying to hamper you, then I slow both you and me down, and the other player(s) at the table are able to pull ahead of both of us, and so "mean" moves are less valuable overall.
Therefore, because I always play 2p, it means my already strong aversion to "messing with others" becomes an even more prevalent, because often, the best move I can make is to purposefully hurt my opponent (in 2p, even hurting you a little can net me a lot), and since I find that distasteful, I end up not enjoying the game.
As an interesting side note, one upside to 2p gaming is that I'm less bothered by "stealing victory points" from my opponent, as the zero sum nature of the game means that you losing 3vp is the equivalent of me gaining 3vp, so this sort of "aggression" I generally find to be acceptable (the military competition in 7 Wonders, for instance).
3) You might argue that in Game X, it's entirely possible to ignore all of the negative options available in gameplay and simply "live and let live". Occasionally that is true, but more often than not (especially in 2p, see above) to completely dismiss all of the aggressive options available means that I have to play the game sub-optimally (i.e. ignore stronger, better moves and make weaker ones). This is not something I'm inclined to pursue, because to get the maximum enjoyment out of a game, I do want to play the best, smartest game I can. So to ignore tools available to me to do my best is unpalatable and as such, I find it un-enjoyable to be put in that position.
4) You might also suggest that I simply house rule the game to alter or remove whatever elements I don't like. As a general rule, I don't care to spend the time and effort to come up with house rules as that requires signficant time and playtesting to ensure that the game remains balaned, and I'd rather spend my time playing games where I'm not required to do that extra work, since there are plenty of them out there So, some combination of these 4 factors are doubtless what has caused me to declare that Game X is too conflict heavy for me. Hopefully that explains adequately that while it might be fine for you, that doesn't make it fine for me, and that we can simply agree to disagree
In a nutshell, I choose not to spend my time playing poor games, and therefore I don't end up filming runthroughs of poor games. I say no to over 90% of the games I'm asked to cover, as I don't want to waste my or my wife's time playing games that we won't enjoy. Once you've read literally thousands of rulebooks like I have, you start to get a pretty good at spotting problems in design without having to play.
Further, of the 10% of games I'm contacted about to cover that I say yes to, once they arrive and we play them, there's probably another 5% or so that I made a terrible mistake in evaluating, and it turns out we find them to be poor design. When that happens, I contact the publisher to tell them why we think the game is bad and why I won't be covering it, and ask them if they want me to mail it on somewhere else, because TBH I don't want to spend any more of my or my wife's time on it!
Also worth noting: of the games I actually do end up filming, about 25% of them end up with me saying in the final thoughts that we didn't end up keeping the game. For a list of those, check the link above, or check out this list of ever game I've ever gotten rid of, and why: http://gone.rahdo.com
TL;DR - I think it provides a great service to my viewers, and I know that the majority of them like it. Often it's hard to tell if a game is right for you when trying to back, and there's often not very much information about a game during it's KS campaign. So that's when buyers most need a runthrough, IMO. Later, when the game is available in retail, a bunch more people have played and reviewed it, and so it's easier to get a feel for the game. Plus, when a game hits retail, my KS video is still a valid way to tell if it's a good fit, so my KS videos serve double duty!
Also worth noting, at certain times in the year, it might look like I do nothing but KS videos, but you need to step back and look at the fact that over the course of an entire year, only about 30% or so of my videos are for KS games! Find that hard to believe? Check this summary for proof
For the first 7 years of filming my show, the answer to this question has always been a strong *no*. However, at the beginning of year 8, I have started doing preview videos (i.e. publisher sponsored) for Kickstarter game prototypes, because these videos take an immense amount of time and energy, much moreso than regular retail games (due to incomplete rules, proxy protypes, designs still in flux, etc.).
This is not a decision I've made lightly, as I'm a strong believer in trying to maintain journalistic integrity so my viewers can be certain that my opinions have not been "bought". So, any Kickstarter preview video you see that was paid for by publishers will be clearly labeled as such, for complete transparency.
What's this I hear about Rahdo's voters? How do I vote?
Every month, I run some private voting ballots to determine three of the games I'll runthrough that month. To vote in these ballots, you need to be one of my backers in my yearly fundraising drives (see previous questions). You can see the results of these votes at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/966204/directors-chair
If you're not a backer, you can still help determine what games I runthrough. Check out http://requests.rahdo.com. That's a list of every game I might ever film. Thumb the ones you would like to see. Every month, the game with the most thumbs on this list gets filmed. You can see the current thumb rankings at http://thumbs.rahdo.com. You can click links on that list to go directly to the entries you like and thumb them to push your favourites forward!
Maybe! Basically, contact me here on BGG and we can talk about whether it's a good fit for me and the show, which generally means it needs to be a game that I can determine my wife and I will enjoy playing, filming, and talking about. This generally rules out the following:
•games that don’t work well with 2 players •games that feature direct player conflict •party games •memory games •abstract games •roll-to-resolve games •kid’s games •games with certain settings (horror, adult, sports, politics primarily)
Yes, I'm a retired videogame designer (here's my CV for that: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardham) with a lot of time on my hands and a lot of love for boardgames, and doing Rahdo Runs Through helps keep me retired instead of having to go back to full time work, so I guess it's my job now
Long story short: Jen and I became board game enthusiasts in 2009 when, while visiting Seattle, I stopped by a great little FLGS called Blue Highway Games (highly recommended!). I was looking for a copy of Travel Scrabble, for an upcoming road trip we were going to make through France, but the guy working the counter talked me into getting Pandemic instead. Jen and I LOVED it, and played it obsessively every day on our road trip (we enjoyed the game almost more than the trip itself!) and since then we've become hard core geeks.
The camera I use for my main runthroughs is a Sony PJ650, held in my left hand while filming, and the one for my static cam overhead vids is a Panasonic TM90.
I also use an Ultradisc 4033 lavalier mic plugged into the Sony pj650. I wouldn't recommend this mic though - the sound is good, but the construction is shoddy (I'm looking for replacements now)
UPDATE April 2018: Recently I've switched over to a YPA MM1 headset microphone, and I'm pretty happy with it. It doesn't quite fit my head properly, but I'm working around that. Also I had to buy a 3.5mm mono->stereo converter jack to plug it securely into my camera because of the screw top.
UPDATE October 2018: Having moved back to the states, I've made a huge switch in my equipment. I now use my Panasonic TM90 with a Rode VMGO mic attached for my handheld stuff. My overhead static cam videos are shot with a Canon VIXIA HFR600 and a Takstar SGC-598 mic. And my final thoughts are with the Sony PJ650 and another SGC-598 mic.
For lighting, I've got an 800W ESDDI 20" x 28" Softbox Lighting Kit.
UPDATE May 2019: I've swapped things up again. Still using the Sony PJ650 + Takstar SGC-598 mic for "talking to camera" videos (final thoughts, top10s, etc), and for handheld still using the Panasonic TM90 (though now with another Takstar mic rather than the Rode VMGO). But for overhead videos, I've switched to a Logitech Brio webcam (combined with another Takstar mic) via Pluggable 10m USB 3 powered cable.
UPDATE August 2019: I've pretty much abandoned handheld video filming altogether, but to make up for it, I've added a "green screen" setup using a 2nd logitech webcam pointing at a green piece of construction paper just off to the side). See https://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/4884368/rahdo for an idea of what this looks like.
Also, I've got a Microsoft QF2 webcam that I use for PiP on live videos, so that means I've now got 3 webcams plugged into an old beat-up Fuji laptop, recording all of it with OBS.
UPDATE November 2019: I've stopped using the Sony PJ650 + takstar mic to record the "direct to camera" vids, and now using the Microsoft QF2 webcam for these as well. And also, now that everything I record is with the 3 webcams through OBS, I've switched to recording all audio with a Blue Yeti Nano microphone (though i still use the Takstar when doing a video with Jen since she's so much quieter than me).
That table was always intended to be a loaner for the purposes of doing a runthrough. After I had it for a few months, it was originally intended to go back to Geek n' Son (the table makers) so they could use it as a demonstration model. But recently, a wargamer moved to Malta, and he liked the table so much, he bought it from Geek n' Son.
The reason we opted not to get a permanent game table of our own was the fact that we were renting our Malta apartment, which came pre-furnished, and since we knew we would eventually leave, we didn't want to have to pay to move a giant table out of the country, especially when we might end up somewhere without enough room for the table.
For a brief time, we had a 2nd gaming table, but that was purposely short lived as it was part of a charity raffle (see comments for more details), and that table too has found a new happy home.
I wasn't happy with the extra motion, plus I couldn't zoom in, plus I couldn't even tell exactly what was on screen while filming. So it was a big fail (but as a side benefit, folks get to see a video of me feeding our chickens )
You've left Malta??? (formerly: "You're an American. Why are you living in Malta?")
Yes, after living very happily in Europe for around 15 years, we've finally moved back home to the USA in 2018. It was a multi stage relocation, leaving Malta in late March and heading back to the UK (temporarily). Then we were in the UK until mid-June closing up our affairs, after which we flew to the US to (again, temporarily) move in to my mother's house. Then another month or so was spent closing up her affairs, and we made the final move in early August to southern Washington State!
For those curious, this was not a move we wanted to make... in fact, in late 2017, we were working on a 5 year plan to stay in Malta (and personally, I could have happily stayed another 20 years or more), but my mother's health had been in steady decline for a number of years now, and so we decided it had finally come to the point where Jen and I felt we needed to move back and have her move in with us, so we could help her out in her golden years.
For folks who are concerned this means the end of Rahdo Runs Through, fear not... this is a very unlikely outcome. Moving to the States means our cost of living will unfortunately skyrocket (in large part due to no longer having access to great government-provided healthcare), but I'm going to try to make a go of continuing to make a living off the show rather than going back to full time employment in the videogame industry (though working on Fable 4 was tempting!). Some things might change about RRT (for instance, I've finally had to turn ads on the Youtube channel), but only time will tell...
Your BGG collection rating & classification is weird! How does it work?
Okay, there is method to my madness. Here's a rundown of the various ways I'm abusing the BGG collection system:
RATINGS First of all, I only apply ratings to games where I own the commercial version (no prototype ratings), and I've played it enough times so that I'm confident in ranking it compared to all the other games I own.
Second, I'm ignoring most of BGG's rating scale because I think it's fundamentally ill-conceived (more on that HERE). So, here's my rating scale:
10 - 100% perfection, which fundamentally doesn't exist. I don't rate anything a 10. There's no such thing as a perfect 10!
9 - the absolute best of the best of all time. Stunning stuff, I weep with joy to think on these. if BGG used a 5 star system.
8 - a really fantastic game. Love it, can't imagine parting with it (but you never know, I am short on shelf space...). Basically
7 - Good stuff, solid game, Jen and I enjoy it, 3 stars!
6 - /shrug. Not great, but not bad. Just 'okay'.
Anything below a 6, I don't keep, and therefore it's not rated.
So why do i rate some games to the 4th decimal place? Specifically so I can rate games relative to each other. As far as I'm concerned, any 8 is fantastic, and an 8.2 is practically as good as an 8.903, but an 8.903 is still ever so slightly better than the 8.2, and so the wierd multi-decimal point rating exist, so that if you go to http://ranked.rahdo.com, you'll see a full ranked breakdown of everyting I've got. But remember, all 8's, no matter the decimal place, are fantastic IMO!
STATUS You may have noticed I use the various status flags oddly as well. Here's what they mean to me:
Want to play - this is a flag I give to everything that I own which I haven't filmed a runthrough for. An easy way to see everything flagged this way is http://unfilmed.rahdo.com
Preordered - these are not actually preordered. I have these in my home, right now. I've co-opted the preordered status as a stand-in for "expansion", so everything in my collection that is pre-ordered is something that I consider to be expansion content to the games I've already got. I don't rate expansions, but instead add their quality to the rating of the base game. Also, some full games are listed as preordered, and this is because I consider them to be functional expansions (Dominion: Intrigue, Dale of Merchants 2, etc.)
Want in trade - this is a list of all the promos and small expansions out there that I'm hoping to pick up in the occasional international promo math trades. I keep them flagged like this so that the OLWLG will make it easier for me to scan for things I'm wanting. None of this will mean anything to folks who don't engage in math trades, I suspect!
For trade - and these are the promos I've picked up somewhere that I'm ready to get rid of in exchange for others!
WISHLIST So I've totally co-opted the 1-5 scale for the wishlist and use it a bit strangely in places. Here's the deets:
1 - I *will* own this, make no mistake. It will be mine!
2 - very strongly considering this, it's all but guaranteed I will pick this up at some point.
3 - "of interest". The description of the gameplay, or the designer pedigree, or the art, or something has made me think that this is probably worth seeking out.
4 - maybe/maybe not. There's something about the game that has sparked some small interest, but I don't know nearly enough. Need to see some videos, or read the rulebook, or something to push it higher into a 3.
5 - here's where things get wonky. This is a flag I use to help prioritize which games I'm going to runthrough, and so this is combined with the "want to play" status tag. Basically, if a game is "want to play" but isn't a wishlist item, that means it's one I've bought myself and therefore it's lower priority. If it's "want to play" and is also wishlist 5, then it means it's something I prioritize higher to film because the publisher submitted it for a review. This means that it will appear on the monthly voting ballots I send out to my show backers, while games that I've personally bought are pretty unlikely to get covered unless "director-level" backers of my show choose them, or they climb to the top of the thumbs chart on my request geeklist. You can see a list of all "wishlist5" games at http://pubsent.rahdo.com
Phew! TMI? Well, someone (maybe you) asked for it!
Have you considered trying [insert idea here] as a variant?
To be honest, I'm not a big fan of trying out variant house rules. The way I look at it is that the developers of the game have likely playtested their rules for hundreds if not thousands of man hours, and done their best to come up with the ideal way to play their game. Just because it doesn't work for me doesn't mean it's not the best way to play. So I'm willing to trust them, in large part because I personally don't want to spend potentially dozens of hours as a tester of some new alternate rule that may have unforeseen consequences on the overall balance of the game.
It's true there are a few games where I've used fan-made variants I found on boardgamegeek, and even a couple of times I came up with my own, but those are definitely the exception to the rule! There are so many great games on my shelves that I can already enjoy without having to muck around with variant rules, and life's too short to try to change the other ones I think.
How am I supposed to learn how to play the game with all the dithering and/or errors in your videos?
My intent with these videos is only to demonstrate what the game feels like to play. I'm not trying to teach anyone how to play, and I certainly don't recommend my videos for that purpose (at best, they maybe make it easier to read the rules after watching, but they're no replacement for reading the rules!).
Trying to capture the feel of the game is why I film like I do: in one long, uninterrupted take, complete with lots of discussion about all the possible options I can take. This is what the core of the boardgame experience is:
1) evaluating options 2) making choices 3) seeing how well they work out
I know there are some who wish I only detailed step 2 and 3 of the above, but then I wouldn't be fully demonstrating the feel of the game, which is what step 1 is all about.
Unfortunately, filming the way I do increases the chance that I'll make mistakes, as I'm not constantly stopping and double checking everything (like I would while playing in real life). It's an unfortunate side effect, but I believe the compromise is worth it to keep the videos spontaneous and energized, so they can better demonstrate the feel of the game.
Now, if one of my videos fundamentally misrepresents the feel and spirit of the game, then I'll refilm, which I have done occasionally. But making bookkeeping errors, forgetting whose turn it is occasionally, or similar small goofs (which are *always* present in my videos, so *PLEASE* watch with the Klingon subtitles turned on: see #3 above for details) don't impact the video's ability to demonstrate the feel of the game, IMO.
If you feel otherwise, then my show probably isn't for you.