Episode 340: Slide Quest

Release Date:  Feb. 3, 2020

Download: PDF


J. Rochas & N. Bourgoin


Blue Orange Games    

1-4 players  | 15-30 min  |  ages 7+  | 5 min to learn | $23


Your kingdom has problems. From the coast, to the mountains, to the castle at the center of the realm, villains have taken over! It’s up to you and your team to guide one brave night along a perilous path to reclaim the land for your king!

Slide Quest is a cooperative dexterity game that draws equal parts  inspiration from video games and a wooden toy from a bygone era.

Written review continues after the break.

The Short List - 2019


We play hundreds of games every year. Each one is given due consideration for  The Spiel of Approval and Major Fun Awards.

Out of these hundreds, only a dozen or so games are selected per award. 

Inevitably, there are games that might not fit all of the award criteria but are games we really enjoy nonetheless.

These games make our Short List. 

Think of  the Short List as an Honorable Mention category.  

They might not have made the final cut, but any game on our Short List is one we think is 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 339: Holiday Party 2019

Release Date: Dec. 20, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   148 min.

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Join our party of misfit nerds for fun and games, and plenty of freewheeling conversation spanning the wide world of geekdom.

We hope you'll be in a festive mood for the season after listening to some Grade A goofing around.


Francie Broadie (Indianapolis, IN)

Gubbins (Indianapolis, IN)

Allen Chen (Cupertino, CA)

Miklos Fitch (Omaha, NE)

Starla Fitch (Omaha, NE)

Debbie Ohi (Toronto, Canada)

Darrell Ottery (Reading, UK)

Mark Rickards (Hobart, Tasmania)

Jeff Ridpath (Toronto, Canada)

Kristof Tersago (Sint Truiden, Belgium)

Mark Smalley (Indianapolis, IN)

Mark Wilder (Chicago, IL)


Debbie Ohi provided the fun and festive artwork for this episode! 

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 338: Shōbu

Release Date:  Dec. 10, 2019

Download: PDF


Manolis Vranas, Jamie Sajdak


Smirk & Laughter Games

2 players  | 20 min  |  ages 8+  | 5 min to learn | $30


Light and dark. Connection and separation. Peace and aggression. Shōbu is a game of balance… until it isn’t. Using a series of mirrored moves your goal is to push four of your opponent’s stones off a single game board.

There are many flavors of fun. Some are obvious, wild, and boisterous. Others are more subtle but no less meaningful. Shōbu shows us play can be an act of serenity.

Read on to discover how Shōbu offers a calm, thoughtful, engaging form of fun and why we think it's worthy of both awards!

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 337: The Crew

Release Date: Dec. 5, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  109 min.

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The Crew is a cooperative trick-taking card game.

You and your fellow players are off to explore a mysterious new planet at the edge of the solar system. 50 increasingly challenging missions tell  the story of your crew's journey to Planet 9. 

How well can you work together when communication is limited as you cross the vast expanse of space?

If you know any classic card games, you start on familiar ground with The Crew. But be ready! Once launched, these missions will bend your brain and blast your expectations about something as time-tested as trick-taking.

Games can warp our brains. 

The Crew does this in a way that lasts. Listen in to find out how and discover why it earns our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Essen 2019 - The Art & Science of Playtesting

Release Date: Nov. 13, 2019

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Running Time:   40 min.

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Playtesting is a critical part of the design process. A game fresh from the mind of a designer is destined to evolve once other players get a chance to explore it and push its boundaries.

We examine how different designers approach this process and how they use playtesting to shape the games that make it to your table.

The panel:

Bruno Cathala  (designer, Kingdomino)

Antoine Bauza (designer, 7 Wonders)

Friedemann Friese (designer, Power Grid)

Rikki Tahta (designer, Coup)

Smoox Chen (Taiwan Board Game Design)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Essen 2019 - The Con Game

Release Date: Nov. 12, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   56 min.

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Conventions and trade shows are a growing part of the game community on a global scale. We examine the value and necessity of conventions and trade shows from an industry perspective. 

We explore the differences in events around the world and how publishers decide which ones to go to and what they focus on at each event.

The panel:

Ted Alspach  (Bezier Games)

Tiffany Caires (HABA)

KJ Lee (Happy Baobab)

Beth Heile (BGG)

Michał Zwierzyński (Galakta)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Essen 2019 - Teaching & Learning Board Games

Release Date: Nov. 11, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   47 min.

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One of the greatest challenges that unites designers, publishers, and players is how best to teach and learn a game. From reading the rules, to online instruction, and teaching at the table, there's no single method for success since players learn in so many different ways.

We sit down with some experts to see how they approach teaching games and how they factor in different learning styles.

The panel:

Stella Jahja (Meeple University)

Beth Heile (BGG)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Essen 2019 - What A Difference A World Makes

Release Date: Nov. 8, 2019

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Running Time:   50 min.

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More and more, we see RPGand board game worlds converging . This panel explores how the two intersect to create a new breed of thematic and adventure driven game. 

What experiences can these games create that draw from both wells? How difficult and different is the design process? Can both worlds benefit from this convergence?

The panel:

Isaac Childres  (designer, Gloomhaven)

Julie Ahern (Greenbrier Games)

Błażej Kubacki (Board & Dice)

Ezra Denney (Quests & Chaos)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Essen 2019 - Love & War

Release Date: Nov. 7, 2019

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   45 min.

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We examine how and why wargames today can appeal to a much wider range of players than your typical grognard. We explore the variety of reasons there are to love wargames and how this helps bring more players to the table.

The panel:

Martin Wallace (designer)

Katie Aidley (Board Game Brain Project)

David Chircop (Mighty Boards)

Max Michael (Stratamax Games)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.