Monday, December 28, 2015

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

This is a guest post from Jacob Valdez, a regular at Nerd Night and a lifelong tabletop gamer.

Okay, I've got six wires running vertically, and some have lit LEDs and stars.
Huh? Oh, found it....great, a Venn diagram. I'm terrible at those.

Your confidence makes me fear for my life. So what do I do?
Um...okay, it looks like we have to go one wire at a time, and you tell me what color it is, and whether the LED is lit, and also if there's a star there.

Wow. All right, first wire is red and blue striped, unlit LED, with a star.
Sounds coloring...uh, blue coloring...has star. Um...

Come on, 30 seconds left!
Uh...okay, P...Got it -- cut the wire if the bomb has a parallel port!

A what? Lemme rotate this thing. What's a parallel port look li--- BOOM!!

You killed me again!
Sorry, man, I guess I have to work on my Venn diagrams.

No time like the present. I just clicked Retry - 5 minutes on the clock.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Unboxing Tokaido Collector's Edition

Delivered today, one of the biggest things I've ever backed on Kickstarter. A few delays in delivery, but by the looks of it the minis are beautiful and detailed and well worth the wait!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mega Civilization: 18 Players, 12 Hours, Infinite Fun

This isn't a review, per se, so much as my recalling of a play session. Mega Civilization is a re-imagining of Advanced Civilization, developed for the last 15 years and released in a $200 box. Learn more about Mega Civilization on

After purchasing Mega Civ at BGG.Con in November, I arranged an 18-player game for December 20th, 2015. We had 18 players join, and 17 players finish the game (one player had to leave early). We stopped two turns short of the end of the game because of time constraints, but I feel like we had a near-complete experience. 

Here's the Mega Civilization map (click for larger image)

I won with 92 points, Ace got 2nd place with 88 points playing Dravidia, and Clancy got third playing Indus. The game took about 11 hours, and would have taken about 13 had we not finished early. I ran the game, and had help from my friends Mark and John, who were captains for their sides of the board (East/West). 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Facebook Poll: Your Three Favorite Games This Year

Click this link to view the poll in DFW Nerd Night - tell us what your three favorite games are this year!

I'll consolidate the votes and use them in our Nerd Nighters year-end recap episode later this month, then post those results back here at The Nerds' Table.

Thanks for your help! :D


Monday, November 30, 2015

Fantasy Fantasy Baseball, by Daryl Andrews & JR Honeycutt

I don't normally post about my own games here, because it feels like shameless self-promotion. That said, Fantasy Fantasy Baseball is the product of a year's worth of work with one of my best friends, Daryl Andrews, and I want to share it with you.

Fantasy Fantasy Baseball is a game about managing a roster of ridiculous monsters with magic powers, and using those powers to win more games than your wizard manager opponents. We feel like we've nailed the middle ground between "fun for sports fans" and "fun for fantasy fans" and turned it into "fun for everyone". Also, we're really proud to be huge fans of both sports and fantasy - something that many people share with us! This game is about celebrating what we love in both genres, and bringing it together in one AMAZING package, thanks to CSE Games and art by Rob Lundy.

Watch the video below, and if you're interested in the game, please click this link to visit the Kickstarter page, which will be live until December 23rd.

Thanks for your support! Please comment or tweet if you have any questions!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Metatopia 2015 - Writing a Rulebook for your Board Game

Interesting and useful recording of a panel from Metatopia - Gil Hova, designer of Bad Medicine and the Networks, and Geoff Englestein, host of the Ludology podcast and designer of Space Cadets: Dice Duels, pair up to talk about how to write rulebooks, a subject near and dear to my heart.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Publishers Answer: Would You Reject a "Good" Game?

After my last post about not being a publisher, I got a surprising number of comments disagreeing with the statement that if a game is good, a publisher will be interested, and if no publisher is interested, then the game isn't very good. JR and I asked a ton of publishers (probably literally) and they answered! Below, in alphabetical order by the publishers' last names, are their responses to these questions:

"Are there any reasons that you might reject a game that you think is both 'good' and finished? What, if anything, would you tell the designer in your rejection?"

Editor's Note: We've left responses in their original format. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Back It! with Diane Sauer of Looting Atlantis

Looting Atlantis on Kickstarter

Back It! with Orhan Ertughrul of Creature College

Creature College on Kickstarter

ACE talks about Tabletop Simulator on Steam

Editor's Note: When asked on Facebook to provide tips, tricks, and a general explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of Tabletop Simulator, Andrew Christopher Enriquez (ACE) provided this response. I think it's great, and worth posting for the world to see. I've made only minor edits. Enjoy! - JR 

Tips, tricks and best practices, this is going to be a long response so bear with me. In order for me to talk about tips and tricks I think it's important to first talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

I should probably start with the bad. There are only a few downfalls of the system but they're important. First and probably most debilitating is the lack of user base. The system requirements and cost are currently prohibitively expensive for any sort of real mass play-testing. This could and probably should be fixed by allowing for a 'Developer' tier where we, the module creators, pay a higher cost, but anyone can use that specific module for free without having to buy TTS, this would have to have some real limitations but I'd use the crap out of it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Scythe, by Jamey Stegmaier

A masterstroke in game design
I've struggled for more than a week to write this review. I'm still struggling. Usually when I enjoy a game enough to want to review it the words flow from my fingertips, pointed and descriptive. Scythe is so good as to almost defy description.

Let me explain. Scythe is a 4x game (kind of, more on that later) about gaining wealth in an alternate-universe, post-Great War Eastern Europe shattered by previous events. Players take on the role of faction leaders, competing to earn wealth, popularity, and a mandate to lead in this world. It's a hex-based area control and resource management game that makes use of restricted action selection and the threat of combat to maintain a constant pressure for you to be efficient, careful, and vigilant.

That's an accurate description of Scythe that places it somewhere between Kemet, Memoir '44, and Agricola, games I like, love, and detest (respectfully), and yet the sum of its parts provide something unique in my experience. Scythe feels a little like puzzle-solving, provides a little of the quasi-negotiation you get from a good game of Kemet, and a lot of the pressure to keep up that you feel in Terra Mystica.

See what I mean? In describing it, I've referenced four of the most popular games in our hobby without scratching the surface of what Scythe really is. That's the mark of something new - even in my most ambitious comparisons, I can only approximate its qualities. Read on, and I'll convince you to play it as quickly as you can.

(Full disclosure: I was provided a review copy of Scythe by Jamey Stegmaier, owner of Stonemaier Games. Scythe is live on Kickstarter now.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Campaign Trail, by David Cornelius

I typically think politics belong in late-night Facebook posts and arguments with my Granddad, and certainly not in my board game sessions. There are few things more divisive than a quick chat about energy policies, or the role of government in healthcare, or the more hot-button issues that we yell about every day.

Somehow, Campaign Trail manages to avoid all of this negativity, while capturing the fun of watching the twists and turns of a Presidential campaign. Republicans have a 15% lead in Illinois? Just wait until the Independents launch their huge ad campaign and claim the state. Democrats are polling well on Environmental Issues in California? Great, but they've been overtaken by the Republican candidate with a strong message on international trade.

These swings and targeted strategies push and pull electoral votes (the score markers in the game) and create some of the most compelling drama I've felt in a game. Keep reading, and I'll go into a bit more detail about what I like in Campaign Trail.

Updated Update: Campaign Trail is now live on Kickstarter, with a lower price, free shipping in the US, and a deluxe version available that I've happily snapped up. Check it out by clicking here! 

Back It! with Luke Crane, Head of Games at Kickstarter

Monday, September 21, 2015

Back It! with Jeff Cornelius of Campaign Trail

Upcoming Interview with Luke Crane, Head of Games at Kickstarter

I'd like your help in picking questions to ask Luke Crane, the Head of Games at Kickstarter, in our upcoming video interview.

Kickstarter announced today that they've restructured their company to be a "Benefit Corporation", and also their intention to "commit to donate 5% of annual post-tax profits to arts education and organizations fighting inequality."

Luke and I have been working to schedule an interview for a while now, and this announcement gives us an excellent reason to finally video chat and have a nice discussion.

Please use the Google form below to submit questions on any gaming- or Kickstarter-related topic, and I may use your questions (and credit you, if you provide your name). Please keep your questions short, specific, and respectful.


Unboxing Tiny Epic Galaxies

Monday, September 14, 2015

First Impressions of Epic, by Rob Daugherty

$15 tuck box with four factions? Seems good...
Epic isn't just an exclamation anymore; it's also the next in the line of Rob Dougherty's genre-defining card games, which includes Star Realms and various Ascension expansions. Epic's not a deck-builder, so that's new territory from one of the hobby's giants, but the rest of the game will look very familiar to fans of Rob's previous work.

Epic was delivered to Kickstarter backers this weekend, and I've played about 10 games, including a quick two-player draft session. I've already had a half-dozen heated conversations on such subjects as "is it good" and "of course it's good" with my close gaming friends (also backers), so it's time for a quick first impression for those who aren't getting KS copies, or who may have a chance to pick up the game elsewhere. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Darkrock Ventures: A Preview

Darkrock Ventures will be coming to Kickstarter on July 14th from a partnership between Gamelyn Games and Magic Meeple Games. I was able to play it a little early with my friend Andrew Enriquez. It was pre-production, and I have no idea of all of the cool things that will be coming, but I can speak to game mechanics and general enjoyment.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

JR reviews Rise to Power at Edo's Guest Reviews

Thanks to Edo for letting me post a video review on his channel! Check out the full geeklist of his reviews here, and if you enjoy the video, please like and subscribe to Edo's channel!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Innovation, by Carl Chudyk

Imagine, if you will, the halls of the Hyatt Regency at DFW Airport in November 2014. A few thousand of my friends and I are huddled together, sitting, waiting for the great pearly doors to swing open and let us ascend into BGG.Con. It's warm inside. There are lawn chairs, and men lounging in them. It's morning, so the smell of fresh-caught taquitos is in the air. A fellow con-goer - lonely, bearded, and proud - looks to me and says, "Innovation is the only game you'll ever need to own." I pall, unsure if I should trust his wild eyes and be led into the darkness... 

Fast forward three months, into the bitter depths of a Texas winter fraught with frigid evenings and frantic gaming with my mates. We've played Innovation a half-dozen times, each round more topsy-turvy than the last. We've nearly lost our wits keeping up with the swirling madness pouring from that golden box. To contain the unpredictable malice that's enveloped us, a member of my crew utters these words of invocation, "Innovation is just Fluxx for smart people."

The enchantment momentarily broken, we force the cards back into the paper vault from which they came. Our breath returns in quick bursts as sanity settles into our minds once more. I wonder, which of these friends was correct? The one who insists Innovation is a vital organ, like a heart or dice tower, or the one who reduces it so aptly into an exercise in randomness? I am lost, I can't find my way. 

Come, join me as I search for my answer...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Castles of Mad King Ludwig, by Ted Alspach

"This castle has six rooms to sleep in but nowhere to prepare food!"

At a glance:
-Players build flat castle layout to score points
-Several clever mechanics working perfectly in tandem
-1 to 4 players
-90-120 minute play time
-Moderately heavy, easy to teach to a player with some experience but maybe not the best choice to introduce a new comer.

(Which I will abbreviate to ‘Castles’)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Eminent Domain: Microcosm, by Seth Jaffee

"Microgame" is an ambiguous term in the tabletop gaming world. It's kind of an "I know it when I see it" thing - Love Letter (16 cards) is definitely a microgame, and so is Tiny Epic Kingdoms (lots and lots of cubes and boards and pieces), but I don't often hear folks call Coup a microgame, even though it comes in the same size box as TEK and has fewer cards than Love Letter (albeit with some chips and other little boards).

I admit confusion at what constitutes "micro", but I still use the word to describe those things that definitely are a game in a small package. Not all microgames are created equal, and in a Kickstarter-led world of reducing components and size and weight to reduce shipping and printing costs, there's a whole host of games that are playable, but fit squarely in the "flash in the pan" variety. 

Not so with Eminent Domain: Microcosm. At 34 cards and about a playmat's worth of table presence, ED:M could absolutely be called a microgame, but I'd rather call it a great game. Just like its macro predecessor, Eminent Domain, there's nothing micro about the depth of choices and the various paths to victory that emerge during play. The experience lives up to everything I expect from larger, deeper two player games like Patchwork and Akrotiri, and for this I say it's one of my favorite games of the year! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Patchwork, by Uwe Rosenberg

There are an understood set of popular themes for games that show up across our favorite titles - space, The Renaissance, exploration, nautical combat, high fantasy adventures, wild west showdowns - if I put up a poll, I bet I could get 20 examples of games that fit those themes. But what about quilting?

Patchwork is a two-player game about making a quilt. It's not a zombie quilt, or a space quilt, or even a magic quilt for Dwarves that live in a cave. It's a regular quilt, and you probably won't even finish it. You'll have some holes left, and it will be covered in buttons (???), and you'll feel so zen while you're doing it that you'll never poke fun at your grandmother's habits again.

With that, I invite you to join me as I explain why Patchwork is one of my top-five games this year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pit, and an Interview With a Competitive Friend

Age ain't nothing but a number
As I've become more and more immersed in this world of tabletop gaming, it's been easy to be consumed by the "hobby" game market and conveniently forget about - or worse, look down on - the millions and millions of people who play "mass market" games like Risk, Stratego, Uno, Clue, Whist, Euchre, etc in their regular play groups. 

For more than a century, at least four full generations of Americans have spent their evenings around the table playing a game about making markets and furiously trading cards in an attempt to collect sets and make money. It's not Monopoly - that mainstay of American tabletop gaming - but it is just as old. (Seriously, 1903 was a great year for game design!)

The game is Pit, and your great-grandparents learned it from their parents around the kitchen table after dinner, when the radio was newer and more interesting than Marvel's current cinematic universe and "Eurogames" meant the renewal of the ancient Olympics in Athens, Greece just a few years before. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Origins Awards Announced, and My Predictions

The nominees for the 2015 Origins Awards have been announced, and I'm surprised and pleased to see that I've played most of the games in the board and card game categories. Given my penchant for expressing opinions about games I've played, I decided to do a quick review of the nominees, and my make predictions for the winners. 

Some of these games were released prior to 2014, so I'm not sure exactly what the nomination criteria are, but I believe the lists represent a fairly well-considered splice of recent gaming releases, so I've got no beef with the nominations. 

If'd like to see the full set of nominees, click here! For my consideration of the nominees, and my predictions, continue! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Shadows Over Camelot Reviewed by a Traitor

This is a guest post from Aubrey House, a regular in my Thursday night gaming group. Aubrey is a long-time MMO player who's new to tabletop gaming, and I've asked her to weigh in on various games to provide a new player's perspective. Aubrey has played Shadows Over Camelot twice, first as the traitor, then a few months later as one of the heroes.

Shadows Over Camelot is widely recognized as the first cooperative game to have a hidden traitor. It still compares favorably to the giants (Battlestar Galactica and Dead of Winter). I asked Aubrey to answer a few questions about her first time playing a co-op/hidden traitor game, both with and without the hidden traitor mechanic.

Please enjoy a Q&A session with Aubrey!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Specter Ops Unboxing Video

Here's my quick unboxing video of Specter Ops by Emerson Matsuuchi, published by Plaid Hat Games!

I'll review this in full once I've had a chance to play it a few times, but right now it's on my short list for most anticipated games of the year. Enjoy!

Rodney Smith teaches Specter Ops on Watch It Played

JR Honeycutt is a full-time husband and game-player, and co-host of The Nerd Nighters. You can find him on Twitter at @JayAhre or at a Friendly Local Game Store in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Some of his reviews are also published in Ravage Magazine or at Tabletop Gaming News

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sheriff of Nottingham, by Sérgio Halaban, André Zatz, and Bryan Pope

Some say that Sheriff of Nottingham is a bluffing game, and while that's technically true, I tend to think of it as a bartering game. Bluffing is at the core of the experience, but the flavor of the game is the wheeling and dealing that's caused by it. It's the difference between Sheriff and Coup, or the Resistance, or any number of other bluffing games.

You see, if the Sheriff has a hunch that you're lying, that you're not just a simple farmer sending goods to market, you've got a chance to finagle your way out of a penalty. If you're a great liar, kudos to you. If you can't lie a bit, that's ok too, and there's a chance you could win. But if you're a great deal-maker, if you've got the blood of the merchant coursing through your veins... well then you're almost certain to claim victory in the famous town of Nottingham. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Pairs Variant From the Editor

I'm a fan of light card games, particularly those that I can carry in my backpack and break out at the bar over drinks, or with my family at dinner. Pairs, funded through Kicksarter by Cheapass Games in 2014, fits this description perfectly!

I had a chance to play Pairs and Continuous Pairs with James Ernest, the designer and owner of Cheapass Games, while at GAMA Trade Show last week. I was inspired to try to design my own Pairs variant, and James was gracious enough to encourage me to post it publicly. Here goes!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mascarade, by Bruno Faidutti

Sometimes the fog of war and the din of battle are too much. Sometimes alien invasions are more than a person can handle. A person can only stop a world-wide spread of a disease so many times before needing some rest and relaxation. When world saving games and battling ancient evils gets to be a little too much, there’s always the Mascarade.

Hide behind your mask, bluff your friends, and collect the gold. In Mascarade you take on the role of a guest at a grand party and, using your wit and wiles, try to collect thirteen gold coins before the other guests. There are three potential sources of gold in the game. The courthouse, the bank, and other players. Each character has a unique ability that helps or hinders the flow of gold. The catch is that nobody, even you, can really be sure who you are.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Image result for dungeons and dragons logo
This is a guest post from Andrew Christopher Enriquez, co-host of The Nerd Nighters and life-long gamer.

So after an exactly 20 year hiatus, I finally played D&D again. I was the same ages as my son is now when i played my first session. I ran my wife and two kids (8 and 10) through the first scenario of the starter box. OK so i have played in a few 1st edition campaigns but they were always really shorted lived, and saying i haven't played D&D is not saying i haven't Role played at all. But for all intents and purposes I've been away from the brand for a very long time.

We went to the Reaper store up in Denton one night to pick out minis for our characters, and minis for the bad guys. I figured this would help keep the kids engaged if they had mini's to care about, especially if they took the time to paint them themselves. My son has ZERO patience for playing games, and a pretty bad temper to boot. Board wiping(he has ODD) because he has to wait in turn is not an uncommon occurrence, so we usually keep it to light quick paced games. And D&D definitely is not light or quick paced, ESPECIALLY since i haven't played in so long

So how did we do? Well to be honest i should really preface this by saying my wife wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with this, she didn't want to role play at all. She has a hard time getting into any game where she embodies a character, even Mice and Mystics and Betrayal are too much for her. This is not a complaint, i understand role playing isn't for everyone, shoot no game genre is for everyone. I just knew going in, that she decided to play with us because i pressured her into making this a family event. And she hung in there as best as she could.