Board Game Feast State of Play

I’ve been rather slack in keeping this blog up to date. Admittedly, in my attempts to noodle with various formats of content creation, I’ve spread myself rather thin, like Bilbo Baggins over too much bread. After catching up on my last big wave of content, I’ve decided to step back and re-assess what to focus on. What that mostly means right now, is no video content. While I enjoy the process of video production and editing, I found myself hitting several hurdles:

  • I’m a solo content creator also managing a young family. The rate at which I was able to produce anything without burning myself out was counterintuitive to what the algorithm wanted from me so growth felt punishing.
  • Video recording/editing is a big time commitment on top of the time spent planning and cooking my feasts plus giving games enough plays to give them a fair review.
  • Trying to manage everything in the kitchen is tough enough without adding a camera to the mix, especially with a toddler underfoot.

For those who missed them, I did recently release two videos that I’m very proud of, for a couple of incredibly exciting Kickstarter projects:

Verdant Preview
Steam Up Preview

That said, going forward I want to focus more of my creative energy into the cooking and photography elements of my content. I’m trying to resist my tendency towards being a Jack-of-all-trades – I’ve certainly lost enough board games to that strategy. This certainly feels like the most sustainable path forward for me right now in trying to set myself up for the long term without burning myself out. I may still consider the occasional video for special occasions or sponsored content. I’d also love to collaborate more with other content creators in the community.

Taking the Oath

So with a fresh vision of what I want to achieve with my content I recently announced my next big project. I’ll be taking a deep dive into Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile (designed by Cole Wehrle and published by Leder Games). This is absolutely a slow burn of a game – I’m a couple of sessions in, have only just started to wrap my head around the rules and barely scratched the surface of strategy depth and variety of cards. But it’s an incredibly compelling world and experience to marinade in, so I’m looking forward to spending some time with this one. I have a group lined up for semi-regular games, and am planning to spread content over several months, with 1 dish for each of the 6 factions featured in the game

Oath: Chronicles of Esculents & Epicureans

The first dish is already live on my other social media channels and I’ll be preparing a recipe to post here soon!

Omnigaming: A balanced gaming diet

Those who don’t follow me closely may have missed the recent announcement that I now have a podcast. I’ve teamed up with the talented Mark Yuasa (of Test Coast Games Podcast fame), for a new offering called The Omnigamers’ Club. It’s a book-club style podcast, focusing on deep dives into a single game each episode but including video games and board games alike. Personally, it’s been a great opportunity to flex my review muscles, but also allows me to let my feast content stand by itself, rather than force traditional reviews on to that.

We’re nearly 10 episodes in already and still experimenting with the format but having a great time embracing our love of games both analog and digital. We have our first guest appearance coming up next episode and also looking at live stream companions of game play. You can join the club at your podcatcher of choice, find us on Twitter or our website where you can submit questions/feedback.

The Omnigamers’ Club Podcast

Final Bites

I’m very much looking forward to what the new year brings. Entering the content creation sphere can be simultaneously frustrating and rewarding, doubly so in the middle of a pandemic. A big part of why I started this endeavor in the first place was to avoid the social isolation of being a new parent, with a structured excuse to bring some friends together and share a meal over a game. Having that element dry up soon after was heartbreaking but in turn pushed me online where I’ve met so many wonderful people as part of the international board game community. That of course comes with it’s own form of isolation, especially being unable to attend any of the big conventions that have now resumed, along with my usual brand of social anxiety.

But at the very least, early 2021 looks to bring a couple of smaller local conventions, where I’m hoping to reconnect with the social elements of the hobby, meet some new friends in person, and share a meal ❤

Board Appétit,
Daniel

Video: Food for Thought – The Isle of Cats Review

The cat’s out of the bag, this months Food for Thought review is The Isle of Cats from The City of Games. I created a pet-friendly sushi feast along with a few other treats and provide my thoughts on the game.

There’s currently an expansion for The Isle of Cats on Kickstarter, right now! Plus if you can pick up the original if you missed it:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tcokgame/the-isle-of-cats-dont-forget-the-kittens

The Golden Pie Awards 2020: The Top Board Games and how I ate them

I think it goes without saying that any ‘Best of 2020’ list is going to come with some provisos. I’m fortunate enough to still have added many games to my collection between fulfilled Kickstarters and efforts to support my local FLGS’s. But the few games I actually managed to play were generally solo or online affairs, with only a couple of exceptions at the start of the year. Even those I did play, it was rarely enough sessions to give informed reviews or comparisons.

That said, these are all games I’ve had a great time with this year and eagerly look forward to experiencing in person with friends again in the future. Furthermore, all have been featured in edible forms one way or another. So I thought this would be a nice opportunity for a retrospective on how I celebrated my favorite games throughout the year.

1. OCEANS

Oceans; Published by NorthStar Games; Designed by Nick Bentley, Dominic Crapuchettes, Ben Goldman, Brian O’Neill

I missed the Kickstarter for Oceans having not played Evolution, but when I happened upon the deluxe edition at my FLGS I couldn’t resist the gorgeous presentation and was not disappointed in the slightest. There is an incredible volume of game in this box, with an whale’s worth of card’s to choose from and a refreshingly dynamic system. With players finding a sandbox of options available to them at any given time, what results is a fascinating simulation of evolution in action. Multiple players start playing predator cards? Suddenly your foraging whale is so longer viable in this new ecosystem, but a new armored species will have it’s chance to shine. I’m usually not fond of direct conflict games, but there’s really no hard feelings when you can so easily, adapt, evolve, and come back even meaner….or grow some wings and fly out of reach.

It’s such a wonderfully evocative game that it kept inspiring me to return to it in the kitchen, more than any other game this year.

‘Deep fish’ pizza
Gingerbread Reef
2 layer cake with jello ‘surface’ and pudding poke cake ‘deep’

2. CALICO

Calico; Published by Flatout Games and AEG; Designed by Kevin Russ

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been challenging but of the silver linings to be found, one is that it pushed me out of my comfort zone to change my gaming habits and try games I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve rarely had much interest in abstract puzzle games but with a theme like this who could resist?! The game is so elegantly simple with only a couple of options available to you at any given time. But don’t let the cozy theme fool you, much like a cat demanding to be petted and then unexpectantly biting you a moment later, the puzzle to solve here is dastardly. With multiple ways to score that overlap you will no doubt be slapping yourself when you miss an obvious hole in your quilt. The hidden joy I found here though, is the number of ways you can approach this game: random objectives, trying for specific achievements that limit your options or my favourite: a series of specially designed scenarios. In a series of increasingly difficult situations you’ll be given a specific setup with particular goals and points to try and achieve before moving on to the next. This really is the sweet spot for me to be able to enjoy an abstract game with clear win/loss conditions without simply chasing high scores.

Now for the twist: I’ve only ever played this game solo. I don’t imagine the game would change very much with more players, if anything it would just result in more frustration when a friend takes the tile you needed and have been waiting 5 turns for. Beyond that there’s no player interaction here so your experience really depends on patience for slowly and silently thinking over a puzzle. For me it’s been lovely to leave the game set up and enjoy with a cup of tea each night. And what better to pair it with than some Calico Cookies:

3. IN THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING

Published by Burnt Island Games; Designed by Jay Cormier & Graeme Jahns

Another surprise hit that I’d missed on Kickstarter but was backed by my FLGS and immediately drew me in with that beautiful artwork by Kwanchai Moriya. As I write this I realize that this is technically a 2019 release but I’m already dealing with an artificially shortened list, and it didn’t fulfill in Canada till 2020 – it is by a Canadian publisher AND designer after all!

I’d been looking to add a tetromino game to my collection and 2020 had no shortage of options to choose from (I’m still eagerly looking forward to trying Isle of Cats). But on top of the tactile joy of laying tiles In the Hall of the Mountain King lays on a wonderful array of unique mechanics in a clockwork puzzle. Not only does the Cascading card system result in a tricky decision space for managing your resources but all resources act in completely different ways. You have several variety of ore to build your tunnels, hammers to clear rubble, carts to move statues along the tunnels, runestones to cast spells, coins to bribe trolls to join your cascade and start the process all over again. It all feels like a wonderful Rube Goldberg machine seeing your engine in action.

If I have one complaint it’s that the solo mode didn’t really work for me. Not only do you just have one set of tunnels being built, you have the mountain actively trying to destroy them. It just didn’t feel satisfying to end a game and only have 2 or 3 tiles on the board. You can use the same system to play co-op with multiple players but in full disclosure, I didn’t have a chance to try that.

I featured In the Hall of the Mountain King for my monthly feast back in March and it was one I had the most fun in creating, especially with such a strong theme to work with.

Cookie Statues
‘Troll hunters’ stew; Now is that stew ‘for’ or ‘made of’ Troll Hunters, you decide….
‘Trollkrem’ (Norwegian Lingonberry mousse) with added rocks and er…what I hope is not more troll hunter
Runestone Rock Candy
Stoneage Nordic bread