Episode 336 - Songbirds

Release Date:  Oct. 18, 2019

Download: PDF

Designers: Yuo    Artists: Kotori Neiko, Claire Donaldson

Publisher:  Daily Magic, Homosapiens Lab, Gen-X

2 -4 players  | 20 min  |  ages 8+  | 5 min to learn | $20


You are a forest spirit, delighting in the songbirds around you. But which one is your favorite?  Gather your flock and send them out to battle for the sweetest berries. In the end you must choose one species as your own.   

Songbirds is a small card game full of big decisions. Pick a bird card and play it to the forest grid. The type, the number, and the location of the bird will influence each choice you make. This depth of decision, combined with a small hand of cards gives Songbirds a richness and beautiful agony to treasure. All in a very simple set of rules.

Read on to learn why we think Songbirds deserves our Spiel of Approval and a place on your table, too!

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 335: 5211

Release Date: Oct. 14, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  79 min.

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5211 is a press-your-luck card game with deep roots in casual classics. On one level, it's a kissing cousin to stud poker. 

Cards are selected by each player in secret and then played out: first  2, then 1, then 1. Then we score. Only cards in the majority color score... as long as the total isn't pushed too high!

If everyone can plays nice, all have the potential to benefit. But, the minute you get too greedy, you're likely to get bit and another color will score.

5211 has two lives. One as a modern game that can be as thinky as you want it to be. One as a bridge for social interaction, inspired by card nights with family and friends from days gone by.

Listen in to discover how a game so simple in design but rich in its strategy and tactics can be a source of joy for all. We think anyone can play and find Major Fun in 5211.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 334 - Space Explorers

Release Date: Oct. 1, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  65 min.

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You are the head of a Research & Development Hub in the Golden Age of Astronautics. Your goal is to complete large-scale space projects by gathering the best and brightest minds humanity has to offer.

Space Explorers is a richly thematic card game inspired by Soviet-era agitprop art. Driven by a wide range of action and card synergies, the game is simple to learn but packs a compelling amount of  depth into a 30 minute experience.

Listen in to learn how Space Explorers pushes strategy games into a new frontier, and in doing so, earns our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 333 - Vadoran Gardens

Release Date:  Sept. 27, 2019

Download: PDF

Designers: Frank West

Publisher:  The City of Games

2 -4 players  | 20-40 min  |  ages 8+  |  10 min to learn |  MSRP $20


You are an Acolyte in the Vadoran Gardens. You have trained for many years and now you are ready  to assume the mantle of High Priestess.

Over a series of 10 rounds, you will build unique pathways of grass, water, and soil, all while minding your final lessons. The more interesting features you connect and lost items you return, the more points you’ll score.

Vadoran Gardens is a competitive card drafting puzzle game. It starts out simple, but quickly demands a serious level of thought. Each seemingly small decision has many consequences.

For this reason, Vadoran Gardens offers players a deeper path beyond most gateway games. Its surprising challenges make it a delight to play. Read on to discover why we think it is most worthy of our Spiel of Approval.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 332 - Fantasy Ranch

Release Date:  Sept. 27, 2019

Download: PDF

Designers: K & A Swanlund

Publisher:  Fantasy Board Game

2 -4 players  | 15-75 min  |  ages 5+  | 5-15 min to learn | $40


You started when you were young. Riding the trails, corralling horses through the wilderness, guiding them through shows and into camp to add to your herd.

Next, you bought a barn and a small patch of land—just enough for a few horses. Can you make your ranch into the talk of the town? With a lot of hard work and planning (and a little luck), folks will flock from miles away to admire the ranch and the beautiful show horses you’ve raised.

Fantasy Ranch is a collection of six horse-themed games enjoyable by a wonderfully wide range of players, whether you’re a greenhorn or a grizzled ranch hand.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 331 - Dekalko

Release Date: Sept. 16, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  68 min.

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Dekalko is a drawing game that is not a drawing game.

Everyone must get others to guess a picture without seeing the picture itself. How you get there requires a quick hand, a pen, and almost no artistic skill.

That's because Dekalko is a tracing game! The lines are right there for you to draw. Which ones are important? Which ones can you leave out? 

And that's where the magic of the game begins. You don't have to draw like a professional artist to learn how to see like one.

Listen in to explore the game and learn how Dekalko takes a possible point of stress and turns it into an opportunity for Major Fun.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 330 - Krass Kariert

Release Date: Sept. 3, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  57 min.

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Krass Kariert (Checkered Combinations) is the free-spirited granddaughter of several beloved classic card games. It combines elements from ladder games like Tichu, trick-taking games like Euchre, shedding games like Uno, and adds a dash of Poker just for fun.

Your goal is to play combinations of cards to stay alive as long as you can in the round, playing sets or runs to each trick... but here's the twist: you cannot rearrange any of the cards in your hand! 

This seemingly simple tweak (along with three special cards) makes the game sing. We think it's a modern classic and most definitely worthy of our Spiel of Approval. 

Listen in for a full review and discussion!

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

GenCon 2019 Panels

Here you'll find an index of all the discussion panels we recorded at GenCon 2019.

It's a great mix of interesting, intelligent and engaging people who are involved with the world of board and card games and united by a passion for play.

GenCon 2019 - Iterative Game Design

Release Date: Aug. 16, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   53 min.

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Like artists in other disciplines, game designers often stand on the shoulders of those that came before them. One great idea provides the spark and inspires the next - each one an iteration - the goal being to create something unique and yet it remains connected to a lineage beyond itself.

This panel assembles a group of renowned designers to examine the process and protocol that goes into iterative game design.

The panel:

Ted Alspach  (Bezier Games)

Justin Gary (Stoneblade Entertainment)

Ben Rosset (designer: Between Two Cities)

Elizabeth Hargrave (designer: Wingspan)

Tom Lehmann (designer: Race for the Galaxy)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

GenCon 2019 - Thinking Inside the Box

Release Date: Aug. 15, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   54 min.

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It's a simple pleasure: the joy we get from the components in a game. How can humble cardboard, wood, and plastic create such magic? 

From the publisher to the manufacturer and even after market accessories, we examine the incredible amount of time and creativity that goes into every bit and how that shapes our experience with a game.

The panel:

Beth Heile (BGG)

Frank Jaeger (Ludo Fact)

Jean-Francois Gagne (Panda)

Scott Hill (Flying Frog Productions)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.