My Essen Spiel 2020 Want List

Every year, the massive Spiel game fair in Essen highlights dozens (even hundreds) of recently released and soon-to-be-released games.

Here’s a look at 10 games featured at this years Spiel — and it was hard to narrow this list to just 10 games, because I’m leaving off plenty of games that I’m eager to try — that I’m most looking forward to.

1. Pandemic Legacy: Season 0. I playtested the first several months of this game a while ago and I’ve been eager to play it ever since.

2. Detective: Season One. I already own this, but I can’t wait to get it on the table. I love what Portal Games is doing with this series.

3. Sagrada: The Great Facades – Life. Sagrada is among my favorite games, and I’m excited to play this expansion!

4. Lost Ruins of Arnak. Anything from Czech Games Edition gets my attention, and the theme is right up my alley.

5. Under Falling Skies. See #4 above: Anything from Czech Games Edition gets my attention, and the theme is right up my alley.

6. The Shining: Escape from the Overlook Hotel. I’m not a huge fan of the film (don’t @ me), but man this game looks cool.

7. Curious Cargo. Tile placement games with interconnecting routes appeal to me, and this looks to add some creative twists to the genre.

8. Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade. I loved the print-and-play version of this game that designer Geoff Englestein released earlier this year, can’t wait to play the full game.

9. Clever Hoch Drei. I’ve loved the first two roll-and-writes in this series by Wolfgang Warsch.

10. 7 Wonders Duel: Agora. Playing 7 Wonders Duel on BoardGameArena has helped me appreciate its greatness. This expansion looks fantastic.

Board Game Trivia on Zoom!

I’m hosting a series of free trivia games on Zoom all about tabletop games, and I’d love to have you join the fun!

Upcoming games are scheduled for Oct. 24 and 27 (details below), and if you love board games and card games, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

This trivia game features five rounds — each completely different from the others — and it can be played by individuals or by teams. (If you play with a team, just be sure you have a way to consult each other that won’t be heard by others on the Zoom. Discord, texting, and using the private chat feature on Zoom can all work.) The entire game takes about an hour, maybe a little more.

I hope to see you there!

The links below will take you to the registration page for the listed date. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email that has all the details you need to join.

Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. Eastern U.S. time

I’m hosting these trivia games to help celebrate the Oct. 27 launch of my book HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT, which is available for pre-order now!

This game is probably best for people who enjoy modern games like Azul, Pandemic and Ticket to Ride — but there are plenty of questions about classic games, too, along with some multiple choice and 50-50 questions.

If you’re interested in playing but none of the scheduled times work for you — or you want to schedule a private group trivia night, let me know ( and I’ll try to schedule another.

EDIT: Earlier events were held on Oct. 17, 22, and 24.

NOTE: The same trivia game will be played at each session, so there’s no reason to sign up for more than one.

Rank These Games by the Number of Dice

In honor of the upcoming (two weeks from today — it comes out Oct. 27!) release of my book HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT, here’s a trivia game that will probably appeal most to people who play a lot (a lot) of board games — but anyone can give it a shot.

All you have to do is take the 10 games in the image above (click on the image, or here, for a larger version) and rank them in order of the game with the most dice (#1) down to the game with the least dice (#10).

Each game you put in the right position is worth 1 point. (So if you list the same game in all 10 positions, you’re guaranteed to finish with exactly 1 point.)

(If you’re reading this on the front page of my website, click through for the answers. Otherwise, scroll down.)

Continue reading “Rank These Games by the Number of Dice”

Nine Tournaments at BoardGameArena

I’m a big fan of BoardGameArena, a website where you can play hundreds of different board games and card games for free. (And if you really like BGA, a premium membership is not expensive and has some benefits.)

To help celebrate the upcoming (later this month!) release of my book HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT, I’ve set up nine tournaments over at BGA. And you’re invited!

All of the tournaments start on Monday, Oct. 12, at 7:00 a.m. — but they’re all turn-based, which means you don’t have to worry about being there on time. Just sign up for a tournament (or two, or three…), and when it’s your turn, BGA will send you an email to let you know!

Because these are turn-based tournaments, some games will end quickly, while others might play out over the course of a few days. That’s fine! It’s all part of how turn-based games work. You take your turns when you can. (There is a five-day limit on most games in these tournaments.)

If you’d like to join, just click on the game title(s) you’re interested in below and then click “Register for Tournament.” I hope to see you there!

HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT will be available on Oct. 27, 2020. It’s available for pre-order now in both paperback and ebook formats. And it has a whole chapter on virtual game nights where I explain why I enjoy playing games on BGA so much.

Discussing Catan on NPR

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that the pandemic — which is causing many more people to stay at home much more often — has led to increased sales of board games and jigsaw puzzles. In this report from NPR, reporter Rob Schmitz looks specifically at the modern classic Catan (aka Settlers of Catan).

Rob talked to me for the story and some of my comments are included. When he asked about the impact Catan has had on boardgaming, I gushed (if my recollection is correct) even a little more than is included in the final report.

It’s difficult to overestimate, in my view, the influence Catan has had on the design of modern board games. You can’t draw a straight line from every game back to Catan, of course, but that’s also part of its influence. It broke the mold, and was wildly successful doing so. That helped inspire other designers and publishers to take more risks, to be more creative.

We’re all treated to a much richer selection of tabletop games today because of Catan.

You can listen to Rob’s story below, or on NPR’s website (where a transcript is also available).

How to Host a Game Night – New Book in October

My next book — HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT — is available for pre-order!

It’s no secret that I love board games, and writing HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT was an absolute blast. It’s packed with practical advice, incredible and funny stories about gaming, and reviews of some of the games I love best.

I wrote a piece for The Opinionated Gamers that talks a bit more about why I love this project so much.

Published by Tiller Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT is scheduled to release on Oct. 27, 2020. Go ahead and order a copy from your favorite bookstore today!

Continue reading “How to Host a Game Night – New Book in October”

Betrayal Legacy is the Greatest Game Ever Published (No Spoilers)

Betrayal Legacy is the greatest game ever published. You’re free to disagree, of course, but you would be wrong. And please note that I’m not limiting the discussion to board games. Card games, video games, lawn games, whatever games – Betrayal Legacy is the greatest of them all.

I recognize the fact that (though on some deep level I do not understand why) not everyone will enjoy Betrayal Legacy. Not everyone enjoys Citizen Kane, Don Quixote and Daredevil, either. That doesn’t mean they’re not the greatest film, novel and comic book series of all time.

No other game has so perfectly combined luck and strategy, theme and mechanics, agency and narrative. From the first time the components are spread out on the table, players take themselves on a wild ride through the history of one very haunted house. Generations of families will return to this place decade after decade, century after century, and they will discover mostly terrible things.

Read my complete review of Betrayal Legacy at The Opinionated Gamers.

17 Games You Can Play Right Now!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of board games. A few of my current favorites are Ticket to Ride (especially the Pennsylvania map), Betrayal at House on the Hill (can’t wait for the upcoming Betrayal Legacy), Pandemic (and its offspring), and Downforce (a wonderful auto racing game).

But there are times when you find yourself stuck somewhere without any games. No cards. No dice. Not even a coin to flip.

That’s why I put together the ebook 17 Games You Can Play Right Now!.

As long as you have a pencil and paper, you can play any of these 17 great public domain games, including laugh-out-loud party games, deep-thinking strategy games, clever word games, and more. I rewrote the rules from top to bottom to ensure clarity and consistency. (That was the goal, anyway. You can decide if I succeeded.) Here’s the full list of games:

  • Bulls & Cows (2 players)
  • Capture (2 to 4 players)
  • Categories (3 to 12 players)
  • Celebrities (4 to 12 players)
  • Charades (4 to 12 players)
  • Dots (2 players)
  • Geography (2 to 8 players)
  • Ghost (2 to 6 players)
  • Gomoku (2 players)
  • Hangman (2 players)
  • Labyrinth (3 to 6 players)
  • Paper Soccer (2 players)
  • Paper Telephone (6 to 10 players)
  • Poker Squares (2 to 8 players)
  • Salvo (2 players)
  • S.O.S. (2 players)
  • Word Squares (2 to 8 players)

17 Games You Can Play Right Now! is available as an ebook for Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Nook, Kobo and other e-readers.

And right now, it’s just 99 cents!

The Throes of Crime, Government & Board Games

Pandemic LegacyMy buddy Christopher Irvin recently asked me a bunch of questions about THE THROES OF CRIME, government, board games, and much more.

Read the full interview here.

(Spoiler alert: My current favorite board game is pictured to the right.)

You can also check out Chris’s books: SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, BURN CARDS, and FEDERALES.