Hump Day Dump: Teaching a game, Learning to DM, and The Reiner Knizia Song

A mid-week dump of the best blog posts from the last 7 days

1. Rocks Fall, So Now What (Across the Board Games)
2. Oh, look, a monster… (Jeff’s Gameblog)
3. Holmes, Sweet Holmes (Every Man Needs a Shed)
4. Teaching a Game (League of Gamemakers)


Rocks Fall, So Now What?, by Nicole Jekich
Across the Board Games, July 23

Subtitled “What I Learned as a First Time Dungeon Master,” Nicole’s article deals with her turn in a rotating series of DMs. The format is a chance for more players to step into the role and learn what it takes to steer a session.

Good DMs – and good RPGers – must master the art of improvisation. And the #1 rule in Improv is, “Never say No!”…

There will be a time during the campaign where a player will ask that question: “Can I do this?”. My immediate reaction to many of these questions that could potentially change the story is “NO!” but I have learned from great DMs that it is better to say “Yes, but you sustain an injury” or “Yes, but now that merchant is going to tell his guild that someone is looking for a golden crown.” You should encourage curiosity within your story but a curious adventurer may gain an unintentional reward or setback.

You gotta love Nicole’s choice of setting she created: The Island of Misfit Toys, where our heroes must pass through a town run by an evil toy-kidnapping Burgomeister. She breaks down how she built her mini-campaign and what she learned from it. Great read!


Oh, look, a monster, by Jeff Rients
Jeff’s Gameblog, July 24

This is a great article for the RPGer who loves using his/her imagination in a game, instead of focusing on beautifully painted miniatures of incredibly detailed monsters. I lot of a game’s joy comes from facing the unknown, but ‘monster manuals’ have taken away that thrill of the unknown by giving us TMMI (Too Much Monster Information).

I’m not saying I’m against monster art. I like pictures of monsters and little miniatures of monsters and videogames where you do nothing but blast hordes of monsters. What I’m concerned about is the effect of definitive visual representations in monster reference books. The systematic representation of monsters goes a long way to de-mystifying them, which takes away part of the numinous joy of having your PCs head ripped off by some unknown thing.

Holmes Sweet Holmes, by Tony Boydell
Every Man Needs a Shed, July 28

Rupert, not Sherlock.

Sung to the tune of Holmes’ “The Pina Colada Song”…

If you like Reiner Knizia and shipping cubes with a train
If you’re not into Triv’ya, if you have half a brain
If you like Power Grid at midnight played with real poker chips
Then I’m the gamer you’ve looked for, come with me and Eclipse!

Teaching a Game, by Christian Strain
League of Gamemakers, July 28

Best part: The section entitled “How People Learn,” divided into Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic.

Worst part: No one knows how to figure out in advance what kind of learners people are.

(The above four blogs earn consideration for the BGA Blog of the Year Award. One point is awarded for being in the top 4, with an extra point given to the Post of the Week.)


Solo Gaming: Good for gamers?, by ???
Board Game Duel, July 29

A stay-at-home Mom who writes about 2-player games is finally getting into Solo gaming.

You know, I have to write to her to find out her name. She doesn’t say much about herself on her site, not even an email address. (Though that may be intentional…)

Not Necessarily a Deckbuilding Design, by Shannon Appelcline
Mechanics & Meeples, July 28

In her multi-post series on Deckbuilders, Shannon developed a theory of mechanics evolution…

1.   A game with an innovative mechanic appears and knock-offs mostly copy the game; they’re similar enough to feel unoriginal, but different enough to not seem like a total rip-off. Examples: Ascension, Thunderstone.
2.   Games continue to use the original, innovative mechanic, but vary more widely, and as a result a genre appears. Examples: Eminent Domain, Quarriors.
3.   The genre matures and the innovative mechanic becomes old hat. At this point this mechanic infiltrates other sorts of game as one part of a larger whole. Examples: A Few Acres of Snow, Copycat.
4.   Further variations appear that are so different that it now feels like the original mechanic was largely an inspiration….

I love a deep analysis like this when it uses lots of familiar examples. That’s Shannon’s strength as a writer/analyst.

“Their literary posts are among the most substantive I’ve seen”, by Jeffro
Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog, July 23

Discusses the current state of game journalism, if there is such a thing.

I gotta say, I rarely see anything in the press that meets any sort of reasonable standard of competency for what I’d call game journalism. The Washington Post Volko Runke story was pretty good, though. Also, that recent [Grantland] story on Diplomacy was extremely well done. Most of the time, a lame content-free “features” style is used for these things and they’re tilted towards the mythical “Old Lady in Dubuque.” That recent Guardian article [on board game suggestions for a rainy day] betrays the fact that the target audience is people that hate games in the first sentence. It’s idiotic.

Burm on physics, by Mike Fogus
Un Chien Andalou, July 23

After last week’s 16-voice retrospective of Stefan Feld’s work, we turn to a solo work this week. Mike shines a light on a line of games by Kris Burm, of GIPF fame. Mike’s focusing in on Burm’s development of “physics as a mechanic.”

In 1996, Burm co-created a collectible dice game called Dicemaster. Yep, almost 2 decades before Dice Masters

Dramatic Rulebook Reading, submitted by Jonathan Wolf
Under the Table/iSlaytheDragon, July 23

I don’t ever include podcasts on this page. Until now.

It’s a brilliant concept, executed well, and deserves a listen.

Pork Pies, submitted by Tony Boydell
Every Man Needs a Shed, July 26

Some of Tony’s session reports are harder to follow than others (Google Translate doesn’t want anything to do with Tony), but this particular one makes for an enjoyable read.

Which was your favorite post of the week? Did I forget to include it here? Tell us in the Comments section and we’ll compare notes!

  • Drew is a contributor to the Board Gamers Anonymous podcast. He's a curator by nature, compulsively reading and obsessively organizing what he's read. He's also been a gamer since the age of 3, which means he's been playing board games for... let's just say more than 40 years, and leave it at that...

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