Let’s be honest – there is too much happening in board games. There are too many games, too many podcasts, too many blogs. Just too much of everything!
This article series is going to exacerbate that problem by being ‘just one more bloody thing’ that gets published. My hope here is to direct attention to some of the absolutely excellent stuff that’s floating around there. This is stuff that maybe you missed because you blinked at the wrong time as your twitter feed refreshed. This isn’t necessarily the best content from the month, it’s just the most interesting content that I and others actually saw and remembered we’d seen. I stole the idea for this from Keith McLeman over at Cardboard and Coffee, and you should go drop him a follow on his Facebook page for his own monthly digest.
I’m always interested in contributors for this series, although of a neccessity the number of slots for this will have to be limited. I don’t want this to end up being so long a list that it doesn’t even serve as a highlight reel. Please drop me a mail if you’re interested in providing your own monthly roundup, with full attribution! For those that would just like to bring occasional attention to especially good work they’ve seen, or even point out something of their own of which they are especially proud, drop a comment under the post. We also have a Meeple Like Us Subreddit, and if you feel happier adding your favourite posts there then there will be a comment thread for this post right there. I promise to remember to check it. Occasionally.
It’s a real battle on occasion to get people to pay attention to a small outlet. Those with a big audience can rely on the momentum of large numbers to all but guarantee their work gets posted to reddit and shouted about on social media. The rest of us rely on the occasional good will of a smaller number of people. Those that help out with this are genuinely the real MVPs in this whole business. Nothing makes my day more than something thinking something I wrote is worth posting to /r/boardgames or Facebook. With that in mind I’d like to direct you to a pair of really interesting articles from Terminally Nerdy about importance of word of mouth, and how valuable your support can be to those of us without the lengthy reach of the bigger names. The first part is the meat, the second part the dessert.
This next link was maybe the most eye-opening take of the month – executives from Asmodee talking about the growing problem of counterfeit games making their way around Amazon. Whether or not you believe the claims they make, and I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t at least take them seriously, this is genuinely eye opening. It’s worth following this up with Geoff Englestein’s twitter thread about the issue. It’s like pairing a fine fish course with the right course of wine.
Having said that it’s not all doom and gloom – for those with the urge to splurge Kickstarter remains a consistently useful tool for tabletop gamers. Averages are up, funding success rates are increasing, and more projects overall got the funding they sought.
Brandon Rollins over at the Brandon Game Dev blog has a good post on how to get a game reviewed – if it’s hard for content creators (urgh) to get their work in front of people that’s nothing compared to how tough it can be for game developers. It’s important to approach that whole thing in the right spirit.
CMON revealed their super mature trailer for the hilariously comical HATE board game. Seriously, it’s like it’s being developed for edgy ten year-olds in saggy middle-aged bodies. It’s like someone animated a garbage fire and managed to capture the smell in video form. The trailer by itself is obvious ludicrous nonsense, made worse by how poorly it handles swearing. What isn’t nonsense though is the fantastic Reddit thread that instantly sprung up to mock the bejeezus out of it. It is… NSFW.
Jason Levine of the Dice Tower gave his long-awaited video tour of his board game collection. It is simultaneously alarming and comforting to see. There but for the grace of God and all that. There’s no denying that this is a man who aims to please all gaming visitors to his house.
I Slay The Dragon has a great introductory guide on board game photography – I don’t consider myself to be anything approaching a competent photographer even if I did buy a pair of softboxes over Christmas. This is the first step though in explaining why I’m so bad at this. My approach has always been ‘point my phone roughly in the direction of game and hope one of the fifty pictures I take is vaguely in focus’.
This Twitter thread isn’t really about board games, but it’s super relevant to anyone that’s interested in building some intelligent lore into their games. It doesn’t all have to be ‘Lo, in the fifteenth day of the year of Marlock, God of Small Whimseys, a hero was born unto…’
Staying on Twitter for a moment, this is a great thread from @ruelgaviola on fixes for colour blindness in tabletop games.
Eurogamer and Outsidexbox are consistently two of my favourite video game channels. In September of last year they teamed up for a short play through of a D&D adventure, with Johnny Chiodini acting as the DM. It all went so well that they teamed up again in December and January. I’m going to link the whole playlist because everyone involved with both of these channels is impossibly lovely.
Johnny also did a lovely video on hints for GMs. I know this isn’t ‘board gaming’ in the way we usually cover it on Meeple Like Us but I don’t want to miss even a tangential opportunity to plug the Eurogamer youtube channel. It is genuinely my favourite place to hang out on Youtube. I want to be Aofie Wilson when I grow up.
And finally, one from the archives – Brendon Caldwell’s phenomenal review of indie RPG ‘Dog Eat Dog’ for Shut Up and Sit Down. I’d like as part of this series to get some eyeballs on content that is properly worth preserving in our collective consciousness. This is one of those articles. It should be mandatory reading for – well, everyone.
Ben Paul’s Links
Follow Ben over at @OmalleyGames!
My journey through attempting to call myself a board game designer has uncovered a vast amount of information directed towards individuals new to the industry. However, sometimes I feel as if there may be too much information and not enough direction. While I agree that “nothing worth doing is ever easy,” it is ok sometimes to get a leg up, and finding quality information that applies to new game designers can sometimes be like searching for the old needle in the haystack. Specifically, there is a lot of information available that does not always make sense to a first time designer. Although it may contain quality insight, without the proper framework, it is useless. Furthermore, for the first time since starting my journey, I am beginning to feel like I have an acceptable understanding of the industry and can begin to share what I have learned with others just starting their own journey.
I feel my perspective is important to understanding the type of articles I choose to share as worthwhile for the month. While they may cover topics that others would consider obvious, these are all articles which expanded my understanding of the board game development universe. So, here they are for January.
My first article is an interview with Andrew Bosley, the artist responsible for the graphics in Everdell (among other things), conducted by More Games Please. Everdell is currently on Kickstarter and performing extremely well. What I enjoyed the most about the article is the glimpse of what an artist thinks about during their creative process. One of the most challenging aspects of working with an artist is conveying exactly what you are looking for.
Next up is an interview with Dustin Schwartz on the Board Game Design Lab podcast, hosted by Gabe Barrett. In the interview, Dustin covers some of the basic techniques for designing a rule book. While I assumed that the rule book would be one of the easier portions of designing a game, it has turned into one of my largest challenges.
This Month’s Spotlight
Michael here again!
One of the other things I’d like to do with this series is to shine a bit of a light on podcasts, media outlets and creators that I have been enjoying through the course of the month. There may not be anything specific to which I want to draw your attention other than ‘hey, you should check these folks out’. This month it’s Board Games in Bed, a very likable podcast from Becky and Kelly Rofle. It’s one of the things I’m listening to on my daily commute. I’m doing a ‘listen to all the Discworld audiobooks’ challenge for myself this year, so most of my Driving Minutes are used up already. I make the time for this, and you might enjoy it too. Kelly and Becky approach the topic with a great deal of warmth and cosy familiarity. It’s a bit like overhearing a couple in a cafe discussing their favourite things, but you don’t have to feel bad about eavesdropping.
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