[This has been in the can since July …]
So, sat on a plane between New York and Los Angeles I have a choice of watching a movie I have no interest in, playing yet another game of patience on my IPad or continuing this series on the Blog. The Blog has it, so onwards ...
Into the Gamescape
A show presented by three chaps from around the Gloucester area. Although that's only c 25 miles away and we have mutual friends, I've never met them which is kind of weird as I've met several US-based podcasters, but not the ones from down the road.
The presenters break down into a normal chap, a clever clogs and a slightly slower one who the other two take the piss out of (and of course is the one that the listener inevitably likes best). Pretty standard British bloke banter really which is both the best thing about it and also the worst - it's funny but somehow a Glawster accent is somewhat less appealing than an American one.
The show itself appears irregularly but is always worth a listen. It is mostly Euros, but they have also covered war games, Ameritrash and, heaven forbid, even RPGs.
Board Games To Go
I believe that only Geekspeak (with Aldie and Derk from BoardGameGeek) was earlier than BGTG as I missed the early episodes. This show is presented by Mark Johnson, with guests appearing on some episodes. This is a show that shouldn't work on so many levels, but it totally succeeds and is an absolute "must listen". Mark's presenting style makes this very easy to listen to and he absolutely has a "radio voice". Above all though he has interesting opinions and that is an essential ingredient for any good podcast.
Recent episodes include one on playing games outdoors (clearly not aimed at UK listeners!) and one on games themed on a European vacation. My favourite shows are the ones he does pre-Essen where he speculates on the games announced for the Fair, in much the same way as we all do. However some of us invariably make the trip and end up with a collection of mediocrity based on a combination of short demos, the "buzz" and ill-advised hunches ... but we never learn!
The Royal Society of Gamers
A London-based podcast that formerly had 3 presenters and worked quite well. They consisted of an English guy, an American and a German. The latter was by far the most entertaining, in one episode stating that Jaipur was "borderline racist" and, following some mild criticism of an abstract game by a co-presenter, saying that his remarks "were offensive to abstract players". Wonderful stuff! The interstitial music between segments was also very stirring.
Unfortunately the German and American guys have left leaving the Englishman and several new co-presenters. Sadly the production is lacking and it is difficult to pick out the individual voices - bring back the foreigners!
So we arrive at the Grand-Daddy of them all, at least in my view. This is the most professionally produced of all the Board Game podcasts and is an audible joy from start to finish. Presented by Stephen Conway and David Coleson from Indianapolis, two very zany characters who are fanatical, and I do mean FANATICAL, about games.
The show is divided into well honed segments, arrives fortnightly and usually runs to well over two hours. It always includes game reviews, including older titles, game news and competitions plus much else. The production of the show is absolutely first-class from the overall balance of the content through to the carefully chosen interstitial music. My only criticism of the show would be that occasionally the reviews are too detailed - sometimes you already have the game or it simply doesn't interest you and you just want to get on with the show. However as I listen in the car, I cannot skip to the next segment.
The highlight of the year is the Spiel's coverage of the annual Spiel Des Jahres award. They play all of the short-listed games for the 3 awards over several episodes (usually including difficult to get hold of games) and forecast the winners and their favourite game in each category. The Spiel have also migrated to video production and their coverage of major events is excellent (Gencon and Essen last year). If you look closely at their Essen coverage you might even spot yours truly!
I was lucky enough to meet up for Dinner with David and Stephen last year at Essen and they are as charming and interesting in the flesh as they come across on the podcast. If you only have time to listen to one podcast, this should be the one!
Of course there are other podcasts, and some of these may be very good indeed, but there are only so many one can keep up with. Of the others, I listen to Board Game Babylon with Eric Burgess if the subject matter is of interest (which it often is). I also listen to The State of Games: the content is not particularly of interest, but the female co-presenter sounds gorgeous!!
Gone, but not forgotten ...
It must take an incredible amount of effort to produce a regular gaming podcast, time that could be spent gaming. Several shows have fallen by the wayside and this is the pick of the best ...
Game On! With Cody and John
Presented out of Indianapolis, the Gaming Capital of the world, by John Richard and Cody Jones. This one ran for 84 episodes and I listened to every one. Early episodes were very much Ameritrash and RPG focused gravitating more towards Euros by the end. The show worked brilliantly because it came across as two very good friends who were also game fanatics, which, of course, was totally the case.
The Little Wooden Cubist
A short-lived podcast that was a delight to listen to. Presented by Charlie Eastwood, a US-based priest who really was an enthusiast rather than someone who was particularly knowledgeable about games. Charlie had a very easy going manner and a radio-friendly voice that worked perfectly for this format.
The Happy Happy Board Game Love-in
Presented by the incomparable Luke Morris, this is the only podcast that has made me both cringe with embarrassment and laugh out loud. It may have been terribly produced, but it was absolutely inspired. More episodes please Luke!
Non gaming podcasts
A weekly podcast on Geocaching, produced by Sonny and Sandy from Sunny San Diego. This is a superb, very professionally produced podcast that covers everything about caching, including events, Groundspeak announcements, tips & tricks, caching stories and much more besides.
One very impressive aspect of the show is that it is truly international. This show is both entertaining and is also a great resource for anyone interested in the hobby. It is hugely impressive that Sonny and Sandy produce a high quality show week after week without fail.
You didn't think there could be a podcast about darts, well think again ... Presented by Justin Irwin (The Bachelor of Darts) and Tricky D, this podcast has now seen several seasons. Covering both the PDC and the BDO, it features coverage of events, interviews with the dartists, and features such as Darts tweet of the week (drollest twitter offering from a darts player) to Darts on the Telly (spotting darts boards on television programmes). Irreverent, fun and unmissable if, like me, you love your 'arras.
Friday Night Comedy from Radio 4
Basically either The News Quiz (with Sandi Toksvig) or The NOW Show (Punt & Dennis) from the previous Friday. A good way to ensure that you don't miss the best comedies on British Radio.
That concludes my journey through the world of podcasting, at least for now.