Believe it or believe it not, we’re not the best board game blog out there. We’re actually not even in the top ten! There’s actually loads of different board game related blogs, YouTube channels and podcasts out there, but how to you know which to read, watch or listen to? In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some of the websites, blogs, podcasts and other media that I enjoy. They have really helped me think about board games in a different way. They’re reviewers I go to for opinions, interviewers who offer insight, and just all round general entertainment. Having said that, let’s jump straight in!
This list has no particular order, except for this. Shut Up & Sit Down are my favourite tabletop game website. These guys are amazing, releasing polished, original content on a regular basis. Moving away from the “dude in front of his board game collection” trope that is very common, they place a huge emphasis on board games as a shared experience for friends, as well as the stories and memories that these shared experiences can generate. With a witty writing style, hilarious videos, and uncensored podcasts, Quinns, Matt and Paul are the guys who really made myself and Emmet believe that there is space for something different in the crowded board game internet space. I visit the Shut Up & Sit Down homepage so often that all I need to do is type the letter “s” into my browser address bar, hit enter and I’ll be taken straight there.
The Dice Tower is a pillar of the board game community. Running since the early 2000’s, Tom Vasal has built a hugely impressive board game brand, and even has a Dice Tower Convention and a Dice Tower Cruise. Mostly, I listen to the Dice Tower podcast, which I like for it’s huge variety of segments. The hosts, Tom Vasal and Rich Somerer not only do reviews, but they answer readers questions and give their insight into happenings in the board game industry, such as the recent purchases of Fantasy Flight Games by Asmodee. Coming in at about an hour, The Dice Tower podcast is usually what I listen to as I walk to my Tuesday night game group.
The Ludology podcast is hosted by Geoff Engelstein and Mike Fitzgerald, and is focused on board game design. They interview game designers and dig deep on topics behind why games are fun and how they work. Not only that, but they do a short segment called GameTek which looks at research relevant to game design. The GameTek segment also appears on The Dice Tower Podcast. If you’re interested in designing your own board game, or are just interested in seeing how the process might work, this is worth a listen.
This Tumblr is also a must follow if you are interested in board game design. In essence, it’s an aggregator of interesting tidbits and articles related to board game design from all over the internet, be it forum discussions on BoardGameGeek or Reddit, links to interviews, designer quotes on Twitter or board game design contests. It’s great.
This is a relatively new podcast to me. The Board Games Insider podcast, like the Ludology podcast, is more about what goes on behind the scenes at board game companies. The hosts, Stephen Buonocore and Ignacy Trzewiczek are the owners of board game publishing companies (Stronghold Games and Portal Games respectively) and give their insight into what running a board game company is like. If you’ve ever wondered what the impact of Asmodee’s purchase of the Catan franchise, or about the costs involved in getting custom plastic miniatures versus wooden cubes, this is the podcast for you.
This podcast looks to offer something different to the other podcasts in the board game space. The host, Geoff Gamble, will spend an hour with a guest talking about a single game. If the focus on a single game is not unusual enough, the guest will have played the game multiple, multiple times, think 40 or 50 plays for something big like The War of the Ring, or 1000’s of plays for something shorter like Dominion. This podcast brings huge insight to games, makes you appreciate them more, and curbs that desire to always go out and buy the newest, latest game.
To be honest, I like reading rule books, most of the time. I feel like I can make it through even the most badly written rules and figure out how the game works, but sometimes I want a little bit of extra help. In this situation, my first port of call is Rodney Smith’s Watch It Played YouTube channel. Hell, even if the rulebook is pretty straightforward, I’ll still check these videos to see it all in action and make sure I didn’t misunderstand anything! The production quality of these videos is insane and Rodney is incredibly easy to understand. His explanations are clear, precise and really help give you a grasp of how the game works. He has an excellent personality for video, and I would love to have a beer with him someday, just to say thanks for those videos.
I’m not big on YouTube video reviews of board games, partially because of the abundance of the aforementioned “dude sitting in front of his board game collection” type of video. But I’ll make an exception for Rahdo. There’s just something about him I like, maybe it’s his unending energy, or the enthusiasm he brings to a game, regardless of if he likes them or not. His run throughs are always aimed at two players, as his wife is his most frequent opponent. While I’m not interested, generally, in how a game will work in two player, watching Rahdo run through a game will often help me figure out if I’ll like a particular game, rather than just teaching how to play the game. Rahdo also has a HUGE amount of videos, so if you’re looking for a particular game, odds are, he has a video on it.
As you can probably tell, I’m big into my podcasts, but not much into my reading or watching. To be honest, this is mostly shaped by my circumstances: I can listen while commuting, walking or cooking dinner. It fills those gaps that music fills for a lot of people. Having said that, there are two blogs which I have come across recently and I think they’ll become regulars for me:
Why do I want to read a website with such a melancholy sounding name. Well, a short excerpt from their about section should make it clear enough: “Here you’ll find humourous, sarcastic, or just plain drunk reviews of board games and board game-related stuff.” Sold.
Games, gaming, and playing don’t care who you are or where you’re from. They’re inclusive, and everybody can and should be involved. But it’s hard to find voices that represent a minority in mainstream gaming culture: Irish people! So it’s great that there’s another site out there where two Irish gamers share their passion for all things gaming.
So, there you have it! The list of places where I go to get board game information. OK, so it’s mostly podcasts, but they’re all fantastic and worth your time and brainpower. Any other recommendations for me? Please share in the comments below!
- If you’re interested in board game design and you live in Ireland, check out the fantastic Board Games Designers Ireland group over on Facebook. A passionate group of people who organise monthly play test meetups.