Game Grinding – Tash-Kalar Review

tash-kalar cover

Hulk summon!

In The Magicians by Lev Grossman,  the main character is sent to a magical boarding school where he is given a certain textbook. This textbook is filled with complicated hand gestures that must be performed precisely to produce their intended effect. The protagonist is made to practice these gestures over and over again, until they become ingrained in his memory and he can produce them all in a moment’s notice. In the process this textbook becomes the bane of his education, a tormentor that reminds him of how far he has to go as a magician. That’s a pretty accurate description of the process of learning Tash-Kalar, the  new game from Vlaada Chvatil. The only difference is that the payoff is getting good at a board game, instead of, you know, actual magic. Continue reading

Roller Coaster Robots – Steam Park Review

Steam Park

The best rides are the one with robots.

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

For a member of the “gaming press” I’m not particularly good at keeping up with all of the buzz that comes out of the Spiel in Essen. It’s one of the biggest gaming events of the year, but most of what gets released is totally outside of my knowledge. I’m not sure if Steam Park was some hotly anticipated game or a dark horse that no one knew about before. But I do think that it might turn some heads and become something that people talk about now that it’s out. It’s an unexpectedly fun game, one that leavens its family leanings with some good old fashioned silliness without sacrificing decision-making. As such it will satisfy a broad range of people. And at the risk of making it sound trite, it’s a pretty cute game too. Continue reading

Rumpus Room Top Twelve – Parallel Universe Edition


When I posted this year’s Top Twelve list to Facebook, a Euro-fan friend of mine noted that our two lists of favorites had now totally diverged. It’s true too. I started out as a fresh-faced fan of Eurogames, and then cynicism and darkness crept into my soul until only the deep embrace of dice could soothe my fevered brow. Continue reading

A Company Monster – Goblins, Inc. Review

Goblins, Inc. Box Cover

And it was so well put together!

I like Goblins Inc., but not as much as I want to. As a result it’s difficult to review. On one hand, the rules, the advertising, and the game itself seem are aiming for a specific experience that goes undelivered. On the other, I find myself enjoying what’s there anyway. It’s 75% of the way to amazing, which is pretty good. But man, that last 25%… Continue reading

Friday Fallout – September 7, 2012



I’ll be honest: I expected to say that I had a second kid by this time. Our first kid was a week early, so actually waiting for the due date this time has felt like years upon years. But that means that I will get to go to game night tonight. That is until I rush out in an expectant-father flurry of activity. Continue reading

It’s Not Funny If I Have To Explain It

It is to laugh.

Glasses on! Hair up!

Every game store I’ve ever been to has stacks and stacks of all of the different variations of Steve Jackson’s Munchkin. It’s a perennial seller, one that has spawned countless expansions and legions of fans. And at first glance it looks like a fun game, with amusing rules and funny graphics. And look at all those cards! It’s full of items like “The Boots of Running Really Fast,” which is indeed kinda funny. But for my own part, kinda funny doesn’t really cut it. In fact, by the end of my one and only game of Munchkin, I was irritated at the game’s snarky attempts to make me giggle at all of its in-jokes. It was enough to put me off of playing the game again. Maybe you love Munchkin, and if that’s the case I salute you. I’m glad that you, they hypothetical fan, have found hours of enjoyment and humor from this game. But the jokes wore thin for me, and it made me realize how difficult it can be for a game to actually be funny. Continue reading

Friday Fallout – August 10, 2012

pod racer

Now THIS is pod racing.

Welcome to this week’s Friday Fallout, where I’m tempted to gripe about how long the work week feels every week. But none of that right now. It’s Friday, and every bad thing that happens to me today will officially be regarded as Monday Nate’s problem. Our family is taking one last road trip to St. Louis to meet up with some family. It’s just a couple of days, and it’s just St. Louis, but I’m still very excited. Continue reading