I have so much to say about the making of this review, but I'll save it for an episode of TCbH Reviews or some other upcoming, opportune podcast. For now, please enjoy our review of Hunt for the Ring - the all new, all different, prequel to War of the Ring!
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and are about to embark on a spectacular New Year. 2017 was amazing in both video and board games, and markedly less so in so many other ways. For that reason, I thought we could end 2017 on a really positive note, and tomorrow (yeah, I know, I know, it's gonna be late!) I'll post our final TCbH Interviews episode of the year, ft. Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, Andrew Birkett of Atheris Games, Chris & Lindsey of Behind the Box, Jerry Hawthorne of Mice & Mystics and Stuffed Fables, Chris & December of C&D Discuss, Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games, and Bruno Cathala of... well... everything. Each of these people have supported TCbH in some way over the past year, and I consider them friends of the show. They have each contributed a story of a favorite gaming memory, and so that will be our closure for the year. You can find it on the interviews tab, itunes or stitcher.
Oh, you just can't bare to wait for it? Fine, tide yourself over with our very special Christmas episode of Rook & Record!
Take care everyone. And please, please, please... Let's make 2018 a much more civil and reasoned year. Encourage your friends, family, heck, even yourselves, to empathize with the people on the other side of an issue. Think about WHY they view something they way they do, and encourage them to reason with compassion and sympathy. Try to find the humanity in these polarizing issues and relate to one another. You may find that you have more in common with "the opposition" than you may expect. This doesn't mean that you need to compromise your values, it means that for us to stop this pendulum from swinging, we need to think about how rational people on both sides of an aisle can reach an understanding, and work toward mutual prosperity. Yes, there are idiot extremists out there, deplorable idiots inciting violence in support of their ideology. They don't represent you, they don't represent me, and they don't represent the majority of humanity that is kind, decent, and just wants a better world for our children. Let's work together, not as republicans and democrats, not as liberals and conservatives, not as atheists and theists; let's work together as kind, decent, and creative people.
Love you all and thank you for your amazing support in 2017.
Are a band that I quite like! But that has nothing to do with games, so lets just have a little December check in here.
So many games. I mean, I always am playing lots of games, but in the last month and a half I've been trying to wrap up so many reviews that I've been playing just a TON of freaking games; and yet the list of games from 2017 that I still have yet to play is enormous. 2017 may have been an absolute dumpster fire in terms of Civil Rights, the Integrity of America, and Consumer Protections, but damn if it wasn't a great year for both video and tabletop games. I just posted the review for Harvest Dice that you see up above, and I'm working on reviews for Hunt for the Ring, the new 2-player starter for Dragon Dice, Dice of Crowns, the 2 Catacombs Expansions, and supposedly I'm being sent Charterstone... Will the kid be able to finish all these by the end of January!? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.
This week's podcast was an interview with Joshua Lobkowicz of Grey Fox Games, someone who I've been trying to get on the show for a long time. Josh is a great dude, his company makes really interesting games, and it was one of the rare interviews that I got to record in person.
For the next two weeks we are going to have some compilation podcasts. The first of which is a bunch of small show-floor interviews at PAX Unplugged, which will be the last of my con coverage going up on the podcast. The following week will be a very special end-of-the-year episode with all kinds of touchy-feely stories about favorite gaming memories, featuring awesome people like Bruno Cathala, Jamey Stegmaier, Behind the Box, and more...
Just a big shoutout to Rick Lorenzon for his awesome video pairing music and boardgames, citing Rook & Record as inspiration. I'm working on a bunch more of these, and have some fun ones paired up.
Oh, also, there's been a lot of great discussion on /r/boardgames about the ethics of board game reviews, disclosure of compensation, products, and all that kind of stuff. I encourage everyone to pay attention to these things, engage in discussions, and above all, reach out to me if you ever have any concerns. I made a very conscious decision to label at the front of each video review whether I received a copy of a game or not. I want to be as transparent as possible, and make sure that you feel like you are getting the full picture going in. By no means am I perfect, and I'm certainly not a lawyer, so if you have any feedback on ways that I can improve my transparency or disclosure, or integrate it better into reviews, let me know!
And there came a day unlike any other...
Well, mostly unlike any other. I recently had Kenna on the show, but I was itching for the opportunity to talk to the full dynamic duo, so I was thrilled when Kenna and Rich of the Going Last podcast agreed to do a live recording at PAX. The three of us teleport you to the atrium of the downtown Philly convention center, bustling noise of thousands of PAX attendees and all.
Tons of Videos
I mentioned this last week, but there are tons of videos popping up on our video channel, largely as a result of PAX. From furniture to wyverns, records to krakens, there's something for everyone there...
3 Awesome Things
While there are TONS of things I'm working on for TCbH, sometimes I just want to use this as a platform to geek out on stuff with ya'll. Here are 3 things that I'm kind of obsessing over this week:
I know, I'm kind of behind on this one, but after the dissapointment of Iron Fist, I wasn't expecting much out of the Defenders. I'm a huge comics fan, and Iron Fist has long been one of my favorite characters (check out Ed Brubaker's run in the late 00s, it was incredible). But I heard good things about Luke Cage so I gave that a shot, and was 100% back on the Marvel/Netflix train again. Luke Cage was start to finish incredible, and while I'm not liking the Defenders as much as each of the individual shows leading to it (except for Iron Fist, which remains supremely lame), I still appreciate how comic-booky it feels while still maintaining a separate identity from The Avengers. The characters feel natural together, and the actors bring a huge amount of chemistry, and heck, even Luke Cage manages to squeeze a little levity and humor out of Danny Rand, making him much more likeable than in his solo show. I'll probably finish this one up this week.
-Tolarian Community College " What We Owe To Each Other"
I'm not deeply invested in the MTG community anymore, but the controversy surrounding Christine Sprankle quitting MTG cosplay caught my attention. The Professor at the Tolarian Community College channel did an awesome video explaining the situation, and calling out toxic members of the community. I had never watched any of the professor's other videos, but he came across as thoughtful, genuine, and deeply integrated in a community and hobby that he loves, and I applaud him for standing up for his beliefs that MTG, as well as all hobbies, deserve to be positive, welcoming environments. Even if you don't follow MTG, this is still a fascinating look into both what good, and horrifyingly awful, community interaction can be.
-The Hunt for the Ring
I had to put a game in here, didn't I? Full disclosure, I got a review copy of this game, and I interviewed a designer and one of the publishers for the podcast. I'll have my full thoughts later, but for now, I just want to say that this game has me SUPER PUMPED about Lord of the Rings. I've never hidden the fact that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan, but while I like and even love many of the games based on Tolkien's works (Lord of the Rings LCG, Middle Earth Quest, Battle of Five Armies, etc...), many of them are tough to recommend because they are unwieldy, long, or out of print. Hunt for the Ring on the other hand feels incredibly clever, with cool systems, plays quick, and is deeply thematic. Man, I LOVE how this game is feeling right now. As I play more, I may find flaws or things that don't work for me, or reasons why I might not recommend this for other people, but for now, this feels like such a refreshing and elegant take on Hidden Movement Games, and is incredibly reverent to the source material.
OK, so I had a bonkers time at PAX, and it was amazing. First and foremost, the best part about the Cardboard Herald is that I get to interact with so many awesome and creative people, and while I did tons upon tons of video and audio work there, I couldn't have done it without the support of so many awesome individuals, chief of which are my friends Rob Conley and Chris Douglas. These two are incredibly thoughtful and creative individuals who deserve tons of attention for their own projects. More on that soon, but for now you can find them both on twitter: Chris is @CDElite1 and Rob is @Paperheroescast. FOLLOW THEM!
As far as specifics at PAX, where to begin. Games? Games! There were a ton of cool things to check out, probably the two things I'm most hyped on are Catacombs: Wyverns of Wylemuir and Hunt for the Ring, both of which will have reviews upcoming soon. Speaking of which, I don't think I posted about the Catacombs and Castles review since it went up, so go watch that and tell about 6,000 people to do the same. There were plenty more games that looked rad like Favelas, Palace of Mad King Ludwig, Queendomino. I also played a bunch of unpub stuff like ATK! The Game and Fire Tower. I have a bunch of footage straight from the con posting soon. The first vid already went up, a first look at the aforementioned Wyverns of Wylemuir:
Oh yeah, and people! There are so many cool people at PAX. A lot of my time spent at cons is spent on networking and meeting rad people, and I have no shame in saying that The Cardboard Herald favors projects by rad people. If your game is an authentic representation of you as a creative person, I want to check it out, and that's a lot of what I talked about Carla of Weird Giraffe, and Andy & Eric of ATK!, for a podcast that'll go up soon (see photo above). I also caught up with Kenna and Rich of Going Last, Sean of Thing 12 Games, Aron of Elzra, and more. Man, this hobby has a ton of cool people...
In Non-PAX Unplugged News
We got a few new episodes since we last talked. Christopher Davis of Windborn Games came on to talk about Runes of Ragnarok, and on TCbH reviews we put up our review of Scythe. The TCbH PAX Unplugged Strike Force joined me for deliberations about that one, since Chris Douglas in particular is a Scythe super-fan.
I've been thinking a lot about the future of TCbH, what I like best about it, how to best spend my time. I've considered cutting some aspects, refocusing on others, branching into new territories. Being around so many creative people has been a real shot in the arm, but I want to make sure that no matter what I'm being authentic and having fun. The moment something becomes a chore, I need to rethink what I'm doing. In truth, if I could do this for a living though, I'd do it in a second.
Anyway, one of the things that brings me the most joy is Rook & Record. I know it's such a niche thing, but it is a perfect distillation of what I'm all about, earnest enthusiasm about awesome, creative stuff. The latest episode is below, and you KNOW I recorded one live at PAX that I'll have up soon.
Anyway, stay strong true believers! Support your friends, support creative projects, keep rocking good music, and keep playing awesome games. You are the best, and I'm so glad that I have so many awesome people in this community. from game designers to show hosts to listeners/viewers/readers like you, that I get to call friends.
Hi all, just a reminder that I'm going to PAX, I'll be recording all sorts of stuff over there. If you want to hang out, talk on the mic, or just game, hit me up at the contact link above.
As for new stuff this week, I just posted a new Rook & Record which you can watch below (check out that rad thumbnail!) and I posted an interview with the amazing Roberto Di Meglio or Ares Games.
Interview with Jerry Hawthorne - Designer of Stuffed Fables
Hi all! Our interview with the amazing Jerry Hawthorne hit today. Jerry is the designer and mastermind behind Plaid Hat Games' whole Mice & Mystics line, as well as their upcoming Stuffed Fables. As per usual, we cover everything games and non-games related, including military service, raising children, imaginative play, and of course, his awesome games.
2017 Stonemaier Games Charity Auction
A rare opportunity has arisen, where you can support 10 amazing causes and help the Cardboard Herald out to boot. We were selected to participate in this year's auction and we nominated The Hispanic Federation's Unidos fund to aid Puerto Rico. I encourage you to bid to support any of the charities, but please also give us a thumbs up while there. The outlet with the most thumbs up on their listing will receive an early review copy of Charterstone, which would be a huge boon to a small growing review site/podcast/channel like ours.
Rook & Record
Did I already mention that I'm doing these awesome things? Episode 2 of Rook & Record is live, a video series where I pair a board game with the perfect record in 2 minutes or less. This combines 2 of my favorite hobbies into one awesome thing!
"Previously, on The Cardboard Herald..."
First and foremost, can I say how AWESOME it was to talk with Kenna of the Going Last podcast? They are my favorite tabletop gaming podcast on the net, I have the utmost respect for their style, whit, and occasional professionalism. Plus, that "Gaming News" stinger is great EVERY TIME. Kenna is the guest on this week's podcast, and I'm really looking forward to having her and her co-host Rich back on in the future.
A Fresh New Look
Frequent visitors will notice that the site has a bit of a revamp, but the two most important aspects of the update are the Latest Reviews and Archive tabs. I felt both of these needed a major quality of life update, so now on the Latest Reviews tab you'll see a display of our latest Written, Audio, and Video work, with links to those full libraries in chronological order. Then on the Archive, I'm building a list of all of the games we've covered (no, not just ones that got a side mention on a podcast one time, a game we actually discussed), and then a list of all the content we have corresponding to it. I think it's looking great, and if you have any feedback, feel free to send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, we talk reviews (Duh Duh Duhhhhhhhh):
This week is a BIG week for reviews, especially if you include last week. So basically, this AND last week are big weeks for reviews. Got it!? Let's check these puppies out:
(click on the image to hop to the review)
Yamatai Review - For Queen Himiko's Smile
This one is by me, I'll take all of the hate. SPOILERS - I didn't really like it. Which is a shame because I tend to adore anything Bruno Cathala is involved with. Anyway, I tried going back to my old conversational style of review, I think it worked out really well here.
Broken Token's Terraforming Mars Insert
You thought we'd limit it to games only? You were wrong! Behold, the impressive TM insert, with all it's birch smell. Also, do us all a favor and SUBSCRIBE TO THE CHANNEL!
Gumshoe Struggles - A Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective review
Occasional contributor Luke Muench comes back with a review of this awesome, classic game of deduction, social construction, and ...seduction? I got a little lost in the weeds there, but Luke did a great job. As always, you can find more of Luke's stuff over at the Budget Board Gamer youtube channel.
Elder Sign Review -
What's that, 3 written reviews by 3 different reviewers, all within a week of each other? GHASP! Cheyenne Morse, Jack's oldest friend, fierce rival, and co-host of the Fictional Females podcast, makes her reviewing debut by tackling this beloved co-op classic. (This review won't go up till Friday... Stay tuned!)
Five Tribes & Scoundrels of Skullport
What's that? A THIRD format of review, all happening this week? PHEW! We've been busy. If you are only acquainted with our interview podcast, definately check out TCbH reviews, it's like a review + behind the music, except board games, because that's what we do.
As per usual, I've been a busy little bee here in the Sheep Shack. First off, this week's guest is Chris Faulkenberry of Stone Circle Games. Battle for Biternia launches November 7th, so mark your calendars. You can actually hear the moment when I decide how much I want to derail the conversation to just spend 20 minutes talking about SNES RPGs. The answer is "very much". Alas, I left it at Meteos and Spoony Bards, but my inner 10 year old was tragically disappointed. Maybe someday Chris, Isaac Vega, and I can do a Final Fantasy geekout podcast...
Oh yeah, there's a new spooky episode of Cardboard Cutouts you should check out. And while doing so, why haven't you subscribed to our channel? Tut-tut... There are literally THOUSANDS of you listeners out there, and I know at least a few hundred of you are watching the videos we put up. Time to show some love and support by subscribing. It honestly helps elevate our content by showing publishers that TCbH is a channel worth supporting, and bottom line, the more ways I can share opinions, the less BAD GAMES people will have to put up with. Win Win! If you subscribe, tweet to me @cardboardherald and I'll sing your praises to the twitter-verse.
Lastly, I'm proud to say that I'm still able to piss people off when I say I don't like a game. I posted my Yamatai review here and over on BGG, and *spoilers* I didn't like the game (it's not really a spoiler when I introduce it that way, huh?). Anyway, a BGG user had a LOT to say about how terrible my stuff is, how I only played the game once, how I must not like it because I'm bad at the game, etc... etc... and everyone else? They were super supportive and had very polite discourse. Remember folks, if I say I don't like a game, that's not an attack on you.
This week we have returning guest Michael Coe of Gamelyn Games, on to talk about the new kickstarter for Tiny Epic Defenders 2nd Edition and it's expansion The Dark War. If you listened to the last episode with Michael or our episode with designer Scott Almes, you know that TED holds a very special place in my heart. Not only do I love the game, but it came at a very trying time in my life. I'm super excited by all of the changes in the second edition, and can't wait to get my hands on the game to share with you guys.
Did I make a terrible pun in our First Impressions of Inis video? Yes. Was it wrong to do so? Maybe. Will I apologize? Absolutely not. You can check it out (and even add in your own sad trombone effect) here:
One of the core tenants I had when starting the Cardboard Herald, was that I wanted to document my goals, successes, and failures. I'm planning on doing a more expansive year-in-review podcast and video, but I thought I should make a goal public.
As you can tell, I'm trying to make a big push into video. While I didn't know much about audio editing when I got started on the podcast, and knew next to nothing about video production. That said, I feel like my skills are rapidly improving with each video, learning from every auto-focus, editing, filter, and pour mic placement mistake. BUT, I'm having an awesome time, and I hope that shines through. My realistic goal is that I have a new video out every Saturday till the end of the year, with 50 subscribers by the end of October and 100 by December 31st. You all came through in helping the podcast expand to where it is now, with a few thousand unique listeners each month, and I hope you'll continue to support me through spreading the word on our video arm of things. Also, feedback is critically important. Let us know what you did or did not like, and above all, thank you for watching.
Just a quick plug for our Expansion Review of Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium. It's not so much of an expansion as it is a replacement, but hey! New content is new content, and TM is one of my favorite games to play, so check it out.
That's it for now! Until next time, internet land!