Episode 317: Illusion

Release Date: Mar. 25, 2019

Download: PDF

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch

Publisher:  NSV, Pandasaurus

2-4 pl  | 20 min  |  ages 8+  |  MSRP $15


Illusion asks the simple question: Can you trust your eyes? All you need to do is put cards in order, from low to high, based on just one color. Everything is right before you— if you can believe what you see.

Illusion takes child like concepts of shape and color, more and less, and turns them into Major Fun for everyone at the table.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 316: Warsaw: City of Ruins

Release Date: Mar. 25, 2019

Download: PDF

Designer: Filip Miłuński

Publisher:  Granna, North Star

2-4 pl  | 60 min  |  ages 12+  |  MSRP $50


Warsaw is a resilient city. It is known as the City of Ruins because it has been the focal point of conflict and destruction throughout its 700 year history. And yet, despite this cycle of hardship, each time the citizens rebuild and remake the city, living and growing above and around these layers of history.

Each player will oversee the rise and fall their own district within Warsaw, hoping to guide it to prosperity from the 1600s to the present by laying tiles representing residential, commercial, cultural, industrial, public and natural areas. At the end of each round time passes and each area will score. But you can only build out so far. Then you must build up, changing the landscape of your district and preparing for the inevitable destruction that war will bring. At the end of 6 epochs, Warsaw will rise into the present and the player whose district has flourished the most will win the game.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 315: Gugong

Release Date: Mar. 18, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   68 min.

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Ming Dynasty China. The Emperor rules from the Imperial Palace, the Gùgōng. 

You are the head of a noble family doing your best to gain influence and power. You do this by bribing palace officials with extravagant gifts, hoping they will act on your behalf. Four days separate you from glory or disgrace. Without an audience with the Emperor himself, your family’s prestige will fade.

Gùgōng is driven by a wonderfully simple but richly strategic set of decisions. Playing a single gift card can unlock several actions and benefits. But at what cost? Servants and cards are precious and often in short supply.

Gùgōng is a deeply rewarding and refined example of modern euro-style game design - a beautiful blend of history and theme with compelling gameplay.

Listen in and wander the Forbidden City with us and discover why Gùgōng deserves your attention and our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 314: Just One

Release Date: Feb. 18, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   74 min.

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Just One is a cooperative party game. A stack of 13 cards stands between everyone playing and perfection. Each round clues will be given and a guess will be made in hopes of finding the magic word for the round. But in each case, whether you’re a clue giver or word guesser you get JUST ONE.

The tension in the game comes from each player’s imagination and trying not to get in synch with anyone else at the table. Can you use your powers of inference, using your knowledge of the word and the knowledge of the people at the table to figure out what path they might be on so you can avoid it and find one of your own?

And by shifting the competition away from each other to a question of how well can we all do, it celebrates the joy of playing over the joy of winning. It’s not even funny how Major Fun that is.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 313: Reef

Release Date: Feb. 25, 2019

Download: PDF

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi

Publisher:  Next Move Games

2-4 pl  | 30 min  |  ages 8+  |  MSRP $40


In Reef, you create your own tiny coral kingdom. Using cards, you’ll gather colorful pieces to build your reef, hoping to stack them into the right configurations to score. 

It's a game of pattern building and recognition. Choose carefully and Neptune will reward you with his approval .

We may not be Greek gods, but to us, Reef is a masterpiece of the sea and most definitely Major Fun.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 312: Piepmatz

Release Date: Feb. 18, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   74 min.

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A flock of little songbirds gather at the feeder to eat. One by one, different birds hop on the perch and carry away their meals, large and small. Can you gather the best collection of bird and seed cards as the feeder empties while avoiding greedy squirrels and angry crows?

Piepmatz is a beautiful and beautifully simple card game for players of all ages. It's easy to learn but provides an enjoyable, ever-changing puzzle to sort out each turn.

It takes creative vision to find a game in something so seemingly ordinary. That vision is a sure path to Major Fun.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 311 Monster Crunch

Release Date: Feb. 11, 2019

Download: PDF

Designer: Forrest-Pruzan

Publisher:  Big G Creative

2-5 pl  | 20 min  |  ages 9+  |  MSRP $20


It’s Saturday morning. You and your monster friends are bored and hungry. There’s only one way to settle this: make breakfast into a battle. Get your bowl and spoon and ice cold milk ready to go. Crack open your box of sugary cereal cards and play as many as you can over the course of three hands. The monster who munches the most cereal wins and walks away the champion of breakfast!

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 310: Petrichor

Release Date: Feb. 4, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   64 min.

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Petrichor is a game about clouds and weather and how they help things grow. Over the course of the game each player will manipulate cardboard clouds, hoping to fill them with rain drops and direct these drops onto fields to score. 

Petrichor is peaceful, but full of interaction. It's contemplative, but filled with moments of sudden change.

Listen in to explore how Petrichor embraces this wonderfully rich subject and invites us to play with it. In doing so, Petrichor helps break our expectations of what games can be.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

The Short List - 2018


We play hundreds of different games every year. Each and every one is given due consideration for our two award programs: The Major Fun Award and The Spiel of Approval. 

Out of these hundreds only 12-15 games are selected per award. And these are the games we cover with in-depth audio and written reviews.

Every year, though, inevitably, there are games that might not be a good fit for the award criteria but are games we really enjoy nonetheless.

So, starting this year, we are going to do a round up of games that made our short list. It's not a comprehensive list by any stretch, but rather a snapshot look at some games that may have slipped past your attention.

Think of  the Short List as an Honorable Mention category from this point forward.  These games didn't make the final cut, but we think they're engaging and fun.

Read on to explore the list.

I bet you'll find at least a couple you'll be itching to try! 

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 309 - Holiday Party 2018

Release Date: Dec. 21, 2018

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   200 min.

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Old pillow cases, burritos filled with pop rocks, nutmeg jail, Gobblesquatch, oh, and a board game or two.

From Tasmania to Norway and Toronto and across the USA, join our party of misfit nerds for a festive, freewheeling conversation spanning the wide world of geekdom.

Most of all, be ready to laugh!


Jay Bartelt (Racine, WI)

Francie Broadie (Indianapolis, IN)

Stephen Buonocore (Boyton Beach, FL)

Maggi Cottrell (Seattle, WA)

Ezra Denney (Alameda, CA)

Gubbins (Indianapolis, IN)

Miklos Fitch (Houston, TX)

Starla Fitch (Houston, TX)

Beth Heile (Chicago, IL)

Debbie Ohi (Toronto, Canada)

Mark Rickards (Hobart, Tasmania)

Jeff Ridpath (Toronto, Canada)

Katherine Rosland (Stavanger, Norway)

Mark Smalley (Indianapolis, IN)

Mark Wilder (Chicago, IL)


Debbie Ohi provided the artwork for this episode. She was doodling while we recorded and, after you listen, you'll see lots of fun tie-ins!

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.