Table of Contents
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 necessity 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.
I’m regularly blown away by how much work people put into their own reskinned version of their favourite games. This remake of Ethnos to fit the Moana theme though… not only is it a marvelous piece of work it is a very fitting tribute for an absolutely joyful theme. I see what’s happening, yeah. We’re face to face with greatness and it’s strange.
AnnaMaria Jackson-Phelps over at Girls Play Games pointed me towards this awesome Indiegogo project. I don’t usually often link to crowdfunding campaigns here since it’s not really what we do but this one in particular has a lot of merit and you might well consider supporting it. It won’t be up for long after this roundup goes live but if you want to support boardgaming in Africa this would be a great way to do it.
Have you been keeping track of the Overturn Kickstarter drama? If not, then this writeup from the Australian Tabletop Gaming Network will get you all up to speed. As long as the speed and aggression with which KS projects get funded remains a point of pride within this hobby, things like this are going to keep happening. You’ll also get a lot of hot takes on the Reddit thread on the controversy. Kickstarter eventually responded by suspending the project, and as you might imagine that provoked its own thread of spirited discussion.
Given some of the things that we’ve discussed in the past with regards to paid previews/reviews of games it won’t come as any surprise that we were interested in this reddit thread on the value of paid previews. The key question here is ‘value for whom?’
A similar thread popped up on BGG and I’ll also direct your attention that way.
Conventions can be a tense time for people – they’re loud, busy and often stressful. Many people love them and are energised by them. Some though find them intimidating and uncomfortable. We’ve been through a rough patch regarding conventions but we have this upbeat tale of a mother and her daughter visiting Dice Tower Con as a more hopeful take.
Teaching the rules of a game is one of the more constant challenges that face many of us that are enthusiasts for the hobby. Before anyone gets to have fun they have to listen to a lecture like they walked into some kind of weird board-game classroom. Pawn and Pint put up an interesting video about how they approach the task and why they do it.
There are lots of studies that show gaming has a positive impact on depression and other conditions. Play Therapy is a real thing and has been a topic of vibrant study for years. I found this reddit post on boardgaming and depression to be a heartening read as a personal testimony.
Last month we pointed you to the work of Ertay over at the Sightless Fun blog as he worked to make Pandemic accessible. Well, he’s done it again with Secret Hitler and (obviously) I think you should head over there and check out what he’s been doing.
Being a cloistered academic with no real world skills, I’m often profoundly envious of people that actually make things. I look at their hobby projects like a dog that’s been fooled by a fake thrown ball one too many times – some kind of trick must be involved, right? But no, here’s an awesome video of a game table being made right in front of you.
It seems like Kickstarter games are engaged in a constant spiral of oneupsmanship, each trying to outdo each other in terms of the ridiculously lavish and over the top production values they offer backers. That’s fine and all, although I’m increasingly concerned about the socioeconomic impact such indulgence has on the hobby. I think we can all agree though, I hope, when your ‘miniatures’ are bigger than an actual baby it’s time to take a moment and step back even if it’s just to change the language.
One of my favourite discussions this week was on a Reddit thread that managed to end up with 146 comments and zero upvotes. It was on the Splotter series of games and how the author believes the finished products look like prototypes. There’s a lot in here to consider including the views of those that like the graphic design, those that don’t, and those that take the topic off the rails into more philosophical areas of value, elitism and game design.
Have you at any point found yourself thinking ‘I wish I knew what BoardGameGeek’s community had collaboratively decided were the best games of each chronological year from 1968 onwards?’. Admit it, you have – we all have. Well, you can have it Cinders! Here’s a Reddit post that gives you that exact thing.
Kevin Wilson appears relatively frequently in these roundups because his twitter threads are usually very good. Here’s another one on design bandwagons and it’s well worth your attention if you’re at all interested in game design.
Another great Twitter thread is this one from Actualol on how Twitter itself makes him depressed and distressed on a daily basis. There is so much of value in here. A lot of Twitter follows a cycle of ‘virtue gazumping’ that ends with everyone feeling sad, helpless and endlessly judged. I think a lot of people on Twitter are well meaning, but also stuck in a dangerously naive echo chamber where mass agreement is easily mistaken for having a positive impact. Anyway, that’s me editorialising but I think you should definitely check out and reflect upon what Actualol has to say.
Being aware of people with disabilities at a convention is hugely important – it’s already busy, crowded and stressful and carelessness can be a major impediment to people enjoying the experience. Hans Cummings has a great post up, specifically about Gencon but applicable to any convention, that’s well worth reading to make sure you’re appreciative of the challenges people might be facing.
A new documentary about board game designers has been announced, coming from a partnership between Zoom Out Media and BoardgGameGeek. The problem is, as Katie Chironis points out, that of the 28 designers they were originally featuring, not one was a woman. It’s genuinely is a really poor showing in this day and age. When asked on Twitter about who should have been included, Katie also provided a link to this excellent Reddit post that lists women designers and their associated BGG ranking. At the time of writing, some women designers have been added to the lineup but it’s really not good enough that it takes a public backlash for a half-hearted stab at representation.
I have never played Tales from the Loop (RPGs are a difficult thing to fit around all the other obligations and barriers in my life) but I have been enchanted by its art, design and aesthetic. So I’m really interested to see that Amazon are going to be making a Tales from the Loop television series. It’s kind of weird though – Tales from the Loop is kind of like ‘Stranger Things: The Game’ and now ‘Stranger Things: The Game’ is going to become ‘Stranger Things: The Game: The TV Show’. I’ll be keen to see how it all manifests.
Rebecca Strang of To Play is Human and Lauren Woolsey of the CGS Unit have teamed up to start a new podcast focused on inclusion and accessibility – it’s called the Playability podcast and you can follow their Facebook page here! I couldn’t be happier to see more voices covering this important topic and we here at MLU wish them all the luck in the world. We’ll be following along closely!
I saw a really interesting thread on Twitter – it’s from Papa Shell and it’s about the real-life economics of TTRPG publishing. It’s an enlightening read regarding just how little money there is in even what seems like a monster hit.
As always, one from the archives to finish up. I was reading through some old Cardboard Children columns the other day, because that’s just the kind of guy I am. I made it all the way through to the earliest entry and thought ‘Well, that’s a good thing to put into the roundup for this month’. For those that don’t know, this was Robert Florence’s (mostly) weekly article for Rock Paper Shotgun on the topic of board-games. I’ve made no secret in the past that I think Rab Florence is great, and I believe he’s one of the most undervalued talents in the hobby. He’s been at it a long time too, as this column from September of 2010 shows. In completely unrelated news, you should all also keep checking out Cast the Bones for the absolute best thing that is happening in board game video content. Happening right now! I am going to keep plugging this thing until it gets the attention it deserves.
This Month’s Spotlight
Are you in Scotland, or at least within easy reach of the Scottish city of Perth? If so, you really should come along to Tabletop Scotland, a new Scottish gaming convention that will be running on the 1st and 2nd of September. It’s shaping up to be a marvelous event, including lots of open gaming space, roleplaying game sessions, local and national game tournaments and a whole lot more. We’ll be there too, running a seminar on game accessibility. I did have plans before to kick off something like this myself but I’m delighted, given how little I enjoy organizing anything, to see that someone else has taken the initiative and done considerably better than I ever could. If you’re around, or can make the trip, consider coming along!