Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays from BGTG

Wow, I really thought I'd have the opportunity to record a show by now. But guess what? It's busy around the holidays. I'll do another podcast as soon as I'm able.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas for me and Happy Holidays to everyone! This year I got several games as gifts. That's unusual, because even though I've been a gamer for 25 years, I don't often ask for games as gifts. Way back when (RPG days), the games were too geeky & hard-to-find to ask for from relatives. Didn't really feel right asking for Magic:The Gathering cards in the mid-90s, either. Even in the early days of German-style boardgames, some of the games I most wanted could only be ordered for a reasonable price from Germany, as part of a larger order. I could never stomach paying $50+ for individual games from American importers.

But now in 2005, the situation has improved dramatically. This year I printed out pages showing games that interested me, all available from a favorite domestic mail order shop (I periodically order from several good ones). I shared those printouts with my wife, who ordered a few for me and spread others around as suggestions to relatives. More and more people are getting comfortable ordering online for all sorts of gifts, and I ended up with several goodies! Let's see, this year I received Techno Witches, Cloud 9, Pizza Box Football, Trump Tricks Game, Wings of War: Burning Drachens, Travel Blokus, and Fjords! Wow!!

Two years ago something similar happened with a list of books I gave out to my relatives. They all pounced on the idea of ordering me a book, or two. The result was that I ended up with over 3000 pages of material on Christmas morning! Oof! All good stuff, but I'm no longer that much of a reader, and it took me forever to get through just part of it. I wonder how long it'll take for me to play all of these games . . . ?

. . .

Though I haven't recorded a podcast, I have had some opportunity to fix up some of the web page. If you're reading this on Bloglines or some other RSS reader, definitely swing by the website some time for a look. I finally updated the webpoll (i.e. there's a new one, and results from the last are now posted). I've now got a Frappr map for listeners that want to indicate where they are. Fun for me to see where everyone is. I relocated the "tip jar" PayPal donation button nearer the top of the page. And I now have a Comment Feed. Sort of.

A Comment Feed is a separate RSS feed that includes the comments to blog posts . . . as well as the posts themselves (like this). Unfortunately, my blog software doesn't offer a true comment feed, but some folks have figured out how to kludge one together. It's not perfect--it doesn't include these original posts, and it doesn't linewrap like I'd like it to. But is a free email-to-RSS gateway that does the trick. If you want to check out the comment feed, the address to use is


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Upcoming podcast

Ok, at least some of my listeners are reading this site, too. So I can at least get the word out about some plans for upcoming podcasts. The in-laws left yesterday, my folks arrive in a week, and I'm going to two more Christmas parties in between. And no game nights. Ah well, that's the way it goes, this time of year. It's always busy, and I haven't had a "normal" week for the podcast since before BGG.con. That goes all the way back to October! Would you believe I recorded the last show, the one with the RPG stories from Steve Jackson Games, while I was stuck in holiday traffic on a bad commute home? (Time that show, and you'll see how bad traffic was!)

What I intend to record next is my standard format of session report and feedback. However, after the last one I decided I need to make a few changes. If you recall, the last sr/feedback show was the one with Hansa. I myself had thought that one's rules description got a little out of control, and I received two or three independent comments saying about the same thing. Although I could have done better with a retry or maybe just some better notes/planning, I think the real problem is that my session reports had slid into a format that's not very comfortable for me: an audio review. Remember when my audio session reports started? I just skimmed the rules or subject of the game, and simply shared some opinions about it. Then, thinking that wasn't too helpful to listeners who weren't already familiar with the title, I started to include more review-type elements. I even started printing out a template to prep for the audio review, with spaces for the publication year, German and American publishers, a rules overview, and key strategy points.

Now, those are all good elements for a game review--and maybe that's even what some of you would prefer I keep doing--but it's more work and less comfortable for me. It's also a bad fit for the shows that are supposed to more breezy talks about games and listener comments. Maybe I'll eventually add specific audio review shows to the rotation of sr/feedback, All Abouts, and general subject podcasts, but for now I'm going to stop doing them. The session reports will go back to being shorter, more conversational, and less comprehensive. That should also allow me time to talk about more than two games per show.

More changes are in store for the feedback segment, too. It will still go at the back of these shows (I really like that), and will still be me reading & replying to written feedback (or playing & replying to audio feedback). However, I'm going to do less of it. As much fun as I have with the "listener mail," I think some judicious selection would make for better listening, especially when it really piles up between the feedback podcasts. I'll still respond to all of the feedback--I don't get too much!--but more responses will be via email or blog comments. I'll try to only read/play the feedback that generates a little commentary or answer that would be of interest to other listeners. Or something like that.


P.S. Though I'm going to miss game nights this entire month, I still got to play some titles recently. The last SCB session for me included Havoc, Rhinelander, and Aqua Romana. At a recent games day Sam & I met up with two more dads and their kids to play games together. We did Tigris & Euphrates(!), Maus-Rallye, Diamant, Star Munchkin, and New Entdecker. Lots to talk about in a podcast, eh? I just need to find the time!

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'm still here...'s just that busy, holiday time of the year. I want to record a Session Report & Feedback show (but with some tweaks for both) soon. Right now we've got my in-laws visiting, so the podcast has to wait for a bit. Hmm, I suppose I could actually use this good ol' blog to start sharing some thoughts until I can record an audio program. I'm never sure how many of my listeners actually read the blog (or visit the website), though, but there's no harm in trying.


Monday, December 05, 2005

BGTG 45 - Dec. 2, 2005 - My days with Steve Jackson Games

The last in the series of BGG.con-related shows, this one's only connection is the fact that I first tried to record it on the way to BGG.con . . . and the fact that it features Texas (Austin, this time). That original recording took place while on layover at the Denver airport. Unfortunately, the background noise was too distracting, so I ultimately had to discard it. But I'd kept my notes, and simply re-recorded it again back in California.

Almost zero boardgame content this time, as it's mostly a rambling story of my work with SJ Games when it was primarily a roleplaying game company. This is post-Car Wars & pre-Munchkin, when GURPS ruled the roost. Not only that, it's what I was playing back then. Yeah, I had a roleplaying phase, too. And though it didn't feature trolls, magic missiles, and greatswords, it was still geeky enough to make me cringe a little now. I've got Geek Anxiety, I admit it!


Steve Jackson Games
Microgames: Ogre, GEV, Melee, Wizard
The Space Gamer magazine (oops! Anyone have a good link?)
The Fantasy Trip
GURPS (Generic, Universal RolePlaying System)
GURPS Supers
GURPS Wild Cards
GURPS Super Scum
GURPS Supertemps
My old Super Scum & Supertemps page