Hot Games

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Podcasts Part I

I drive a lot of miles in an average year: typically 30-40,000 and so have a lot of time to listen to music in the car. For the last 4-5 years, in fact ever since I've had the ability to connect my IPod to the car stereo, 90% of my car journeys are spent listening to podcasts. This is my view on the best I've come across.  Part 1 starts with a few Board Game podcasts, with more to follow in (surprisingly!) Part 2.
The Dice Tower
Let's start with perhaps the most popular.  The Dice Tower is presented by long-time host (and ubiquitous reviewer) Tom Vasel and co-host Eric Summerer.  Tom is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable personalities in the hobby and it comes across in the show. His personal tastes tend to the Ameritrash, but he likes his fair share of Euros as well. He does sometimes come across as quite arrogant, although he seems aware of this and this has diminished more recently. 
I met Eric Summerer at Origins a couple of years ago and taught him Nimmt 11. He is a smashing fella and, although still the junior presenter on the show, his contribution to the show is significant. An important part of the show's appeal in the past has been it's rota of guest contributors. This is one area that is in need of refresh, the current irregular crop of contributors is somewhat lacking, save for the excellent Geoff Engelstein and very occasional visits from the entertaining Moritz Eggert.
Overall, the Dice Tower remains absolutely essential listening. 
Garrett's Games & Geekiness
Mostly games, unless you count drinking wine as geekiness!  (now real ale might just count!).  Anyway back to the podcast ...
The weekly show is presented by Doug Garrett, usually accompanied by his wife Shelley. I met them briefly at Essen a few years ago and they are as nice in person as they come across on the podcast.  Their taste is primarily Euro in nature (special favourites being Michael Schacht & Stefan Feld) and they tend towards the "Cult of the new", although they have just started re-reviewing old games recently.
The show occasionally has round-tables with industry veterans recorded at cons. An excellent recent episode featured Susan McKinley Ross (designer of SdJ winner Qwirkle) and our very own Martin Wallace together with Aldie from BGG. What the American audience made of Martin's dry English humour would be interesting. 
I enjoy Garrett's Games because it's a very easy show to listen to and, by and large, there is a large overlap between my taste in games and that of the presenters. Overall, a highly recommended podcast.

On Board Games
This slightly irregularly appearing show is primarily presented by Don Dennis, Erik Dewey and Scott Nicholson (yes he of the excellent Board Games with Scott video series).   The format of the show is generally a round-table discussion followed by a series of game reviews. 
The industry round-table discussions are usually excellent and sometimes entertaining. They are definitely the best regular such spot on any podcast and, alone, ensure that this podcast is well worth a listen. They also cover a strange selection of games in their reviews which is very different from all of the other podcasts listed here.
One warning about the show is that Giles Pritchard is a fairly regular guest presenter.  Quite possibly a very nice guy, but his abrasive Aussie accent simply grates and I immediately switch off when his contributions pop up.
Overall another podcast that is well worth a listen.
Part II
To come, a selection of other podcasts, including:
  • Boardgames to go
  • Into the Gamescape
  • The Spiel

UK Games Expo 2012 - still disappointing ...

Over-priced food, inadequate parking, grown (!?) men dressing up as Star Wars stormtroopers and games not turning up - yes it must be the UK Games Expo once again!
We've been along every year and in recent years we (well at least me anyway) have said "never again". This year will almost  definitely be the last. So what is most wrong about the Expo:
  1. It just hasn't grown appreciably - the number of exhibitors is still minimal. 
  2. There were no major game releases this year, even worse the one key new game that even graced the Expo's programme failed to appear. 
  3. There are not enough retailers there to generate any price competition between vendors.
So, enough of the negativity, what was good about the Expo:
  • There is plenty of space to play games - we had enjoyable games of Anchorage and Extra!
  • I got to see the Going Cardboard film which was very good
  • We used the trip to visit Imrans on Ladypool Road for an excellent Balti
The future of the Expo seems to be in creating a UK equivalent of Origins at the NEC Metropole. Currently the Expo exhibitor space is around a third of the size of the Origins Dealer Room and considerably less interesting.
I hope the Expo grows and thrives - maybe I'll check it out in a few years time. In the meantime, roll on Essen!