The Group Of Ten

Count ’em.

Once you have been in the hobby five years, you begin to look at your game shelf and say, “I have too many games.” This doesn’t actually mean you’re going to get rid of any of them or that you will stop buying new ones. Mostly it’s just an acknowledgement that, hey, space is getting a little tight, and that you’ve spent a considerable amount of money on all the games you have. Continue reading


It’s a common misconception that playing a lot of games means you are good at them. There are obviously some games that only pay off with experience, where knowing the rules will surely give you an advantage. There are some that you know well enough to have a fighting chance, even if you don’t win all that often. But we also all have “kryptonite” games. Those are the games that we always lose. They might be a constant source of heartbreak, where we always find a wait to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They might be games where we just cannot wrap our head around how to win. But one thing is for sure: we almost always lose them. We all have that list of games, but here are mine. Continue reading


The New Year means a lot of things to a lot of different people. For college football teams, it’s a way to crow about winning a meaningless game. For parents of young children, it’s a reason to stay up until exactly 12:15 and then go straight to bed. For me personally, it actually means a birthday. (Thanks to my Facebook friends for the well wishes, by the way. For someone who never gives birthday greetings on Facebook, I sure got a lot of them.) And of course, it means resolutions. Continue reading

Games I’ll Never Design

Original Pandemic prototype

Designer Matt Leacock’s original map design for Pandemic

I hate playtesting games. A big part of this is because 90% of all designed games aren’t worth publishing in the first place, and I frankly don’t need to play someone else’s take on deck-building or worker placement. My gaming time is too precious to waste on polishing someone else’s game, especially if it’s not a very good one. Besides that, I just don’t have a lot of patience for the process of design and playtesting. I don’t know how other people can stay engaged with a design long enough to see it through to completion, so I have a lot of respect for people who do it well. Continue reading

Apples Return

apples to apples

When I was in college we played a lot of Settlers of Catan, but we also played a lot of Apples to Apples. Some of the biggest laughs I’ve ever had at a game table came from those early days, before Apples to Apples was sold in every store and had become a mainstream hit. Once someone matched up “Manly” with “Anne Frank,”  and we had to take a 10 minute break while everyone recovered. My wife and I got a copy for our wedding, and we trot it out every so often with the right crowd. I like it well enough, but it’s kind of a stupid game, one that acts more as a joke-generating experience than as an actual competition. That’s not really a problem, just something that I’ve come to accept. Continue reading

Ode to Punching

Duel of Ages cardboard

Yes, all of those cardboard sheets are for punching stuff out.

The board gaming hobby spends a lot of time wondering how we can draw new people into the hobby. There’s discussion about whether one should emphasize the social aspect, accessible game design, or even if this is a hobby where new people belong in the first place. Those are worth discussing, but it seems to me that we’ve overlooked the most obvious draw of the board game hobby: punching out the pieces. Continue reading

How to Force Your Kids to Become Gamers

Is that Mastermind? I hate mastermind.

Fun for the whole family!

It’s a common misconception that when you have kids, you don’t have much time to play games. This is untrue: you don’t actually have time to do anything. Oh you may pretend that you still get to play games. You’ll buy them and promise to play them. You’ll participate in forum discussions. But you’re now the guy who goes to game night for an hour and a half, and then leaves early. But all is not lost! You’ve figured out a way to literally create gamers, and if your anything like me (i.e. a man) it was totally painless. So what better time to get started on those budding gamers than in their youth? Continue reading

To-Do List

shopping list

Sowndz gud

Anyone who claims to have any authority on a subject needs to do  their homework. Would you trust a film critic who had never seen The Wizard of Oz or Casablanca? How about a rock columnist totally unfamiliar with The Who? Well, I’ve fashioned myself as something of an authority on board games (cue laugh track), but I must confess some gaps in my own knowledge of the hobby. So I thought about what games are among those that I feel I should have played by now and haven’t? Continue reading

All Part of the Plan

Image by kang_a_roo on

This past weekend I played Nexus Ops for the first time in almost a year, and afterwards I found myself wishing that I hadn’t waited so long. It was one of  those sessions where you don’t have to remind yourself of any of the rules, where the new players grasp the basics in a hurry, and everyone is able to kick back and just have fun. Nexus Ops is a game uniquely suited to this, because it’s so straightforward. Get in fights to fulfill missions, rinse and repeat. Continue reading