01 June 2005

Podcast/Game Talk: Boardgames to Go

Exercise: none

When I was a young adult, I stumbled across a magazine called Games. It was mainly a puzzle magazine, but it also included short reviews and articles about board games. Through this publication, I learned that games I grew up with like Scrabble and Life are not what people are talking about when they list "board games" as one of their hobbies. Monopoly is a bit closer, but it is still lightweight compared to what are commonly known as German games or family strategy games. I was intrigued, but I didn't have anyone to play such games with so I didn't look into the scene further.

Now, fifteen years later, I'm searching for ways to socialize with my husband and other couples that don't involve going to the movies every weekend. Being the oddball that I am, I want to provide an experience for our friends that is different from what they would get at someone else's house. Into my head popped family strategy games. We have already had success playing games like Monopoly and dominoes at our dinner parties, so now I want to branch out into games that aren't commonly available at Toys 'R' Us. Where did I turn for information? My current obsession, of course -- podcasting.

Video game shows dominate the gaming category on most podcast directories, but there are a few out there that are dedicated to strategy games. One that has captivated me is Boardgames to Go. I tend to shy away from podcasts that involve just a single person talking, but Mark Johnson is engaging because he is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his hobby. Even if you know next to nothing about these games, he gives you a sense of how the gameplay flows and makes you want to go out and buy one right away. Mr. Johnson has been podcasting since March and I have listened to almost all of the archived shows. They seem to fall into two categories. He alternates between session reports, which are accounts of his weekly game nights, and theme shows on subjects such as game awards. For those who are interested in getting started in this hobby, the 28 May show is a good primer on what strategy gaming is, what it isn't, and what games are good for newbies. Check out the show and tell Mark where you heard about it!

**UPDATE**: Mr. Johnson has updated his blog and put a permanent link to his boardgaming primer at the top of the page. Now you have no excuse -- go learn about these games!
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