I have a special place in my heart for jungle adventures, mostly based on my love for the seminal ’80s movie Romancing the Stone. The exotic mix of hidden treasure, treacherous terrain, and general humidity is a big draw for me. Plus, let’s not overlook the khaki splendor that is Kathleen Turner.

These days, my jungle adventures seem limited to watching Survivor and occasionally ambling through a local nursery. It’s just not the same. Luckily, there’s a new game out called Karuba that yearns to scratch that jungle itch. Does it? No, of course not. How could an adorable game compare to Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito, and Kathleen Turner? But the good news is that Karuba is super fun, and there’s no threat of death by crocodile. Continue reading



I may be an unabashed board game nerd these days, but it’s only because there are so many fun games out there. Truly — it’s a problem. An embarrassment of riches. Just when I think I can ebb the purchasing, another great one comes down the pike, the latest being Iki — a Japanese “game of Edo artisans.” Well, if that’s not a selling point, I don’t know what is.

I first learned about Iki during a particularly fruitful span of procrastination that had me exploring the depths of First, I came upon a glowing review of the game, and since it sounded interesting, I dug deeper until I found a playthrough on YouTube. After watching a few rounds of Iki, I went to the mirror and saw that I had giant hearts in my eyes. Oh dear. Time to make more room in my Ikea shelving system.

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Back in June of 2015, when I was six months into my burgeoning board game obsession/addiction, I learned that a game called Orléans had been nominated for Kennerspiel De Jahres. In gaming parlance, it’s the equivalent of receiving an Oscar nod. Well, sort of. The Spiel de Jahres is actually the award reserved for game of the year, and that award usually goes to something with broad, perhaps family appeal. The Kennerspiel, however, is designated for more intensely gamey games — the titles that are a little more challenging in some way or another. Think of it as the Palm d’Or to the Spiel de Jahres‘s Oscar. This is all an elaborate and unnecessary way for me to say that about six or seven months ago, I heard about Orléans, and I heard it was good.

WELL. I took a gander at some of the early reviews of Orléans, and after seeing the way the game played, I summarily decided that I must have it. The only problem was that the damn thing wasn’t available outside of Europe. I’m a sucker for when people play hard to get, and I guess the same goes for board games because I definitely developed a crush on this bad boy. I waited patiently for months, and then finally, Orléans arrived stateside. In fact, the game’s US distributor, Tasty Minstrel Games, was kind enough to send me a review copy recently. At last I could get my eager paws onto this game; although, full disclosure, my friend Larry bought the game six weeks prior; so, my eager paws had actually pawed about already. But that’s neither here nor there.

Was Orléans worth the wait? Or did my crush merely string me along?

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There aren’t many board games that do double duty as Village People song puns, but Gold West is here to buck the trend. Admittedly, the term “Go West” could also be credited to 19th century author Horace Greeley, but that’s not nearly as fun. I like to think “Gold West’s” designer J. Alex Kevern was making a cheeky reference to classic disco (or maybe even the Pet Shop Boys) when he conceived the name. I know I would.

Nevertheless, I always enjoy a good pun, and there’s no better way to win over my good graces than some light wordplay in a game title. Therefore, I was particularly eager to dive into my new copy of Gold West, generously provided by its publisher, Tasty Minstrel Games. Would the game strike gold? Or would it just be another sad lump of California dirt?

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Is there anything more fun than pretending to be 19th century Japanese industrialists? I don’t think so. Luckily for us, there’s a fantastic new game on shelves that captures the thrill of modernizing Japan, all from the comfort of your dining room table. Finally, the zaibatsu simulation you’ve always wanted.

This madness is called Nippon, and please do not let my snarky tone confuse you: the game is awesome. Players will ascend to great, industrialized heights, thanks to savvy investments in lightbulbs and bento boxes and other exciting goods (paper, anyone?). Factories will rise, infrastructures will grow, and influence will blossom across the island of Japan. Also, your brain may just turn into a pretzel. But what a fun pretzel it will be!

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PLAYERS GONNA PLAY: Viking Bravery and ‘The Champions of Midgard’


When it comes to knowledge of Scandinavia, I sadly glean most facts from my Ikea cookbook, the Thor franchise, and occasional episodes of The Amazing Race. Oh, and my friend Diana. She’s from Sweden.

Nevertheless, one thing I definitely do know about Northern Europe is that Vikings used to sail its shores, paving the way for a cultural legacy that includes the Bjursta extendable table, the Nobel prize, and now The Champions of Midgard, a brand new board game from Grey Fox Games.

What glories lie in this game’s cardboard box? Answers after the jump…

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Making Life Easier in ‘La Granja’


Last week I casually ranked all the board games in my collection, with one of my favorites being La Granja. It’s about farming in Majorca (finally, something to fill that gaming void), and one of the central mechanics has players sliding cards under a cardboard “farm” to spectacular effect. Well, unfortunately, all this pushing and sliding often causes the farmstead to shift around, causing chaos amongst the carefully placed cards. To that I say NO MORE! I’ve come up with a $2 fix, which should help all us OCD types press on in the quest of pastoral dominance.

The Earth-shattering solution after the jump…

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A Bunch of Board Games You Should Play


A year ago, my friend and former blog partner Joe (a.k.a. J-Unit) had a bachelor party up in Lake Tahoe. It was a pretty fun bro weekend full of beer pong, barbecuing, and a forest fire (unrelated to the barbecuing). With the area full of smoke, we spent a lot of time indoors, and thankfully our friend Isaac had brought a game. Specifically, Settlers of Catan. It was the first time I had even heard of this cultural phenomenon, and I can assure you that after my first play, my life was changed — CHANGED, I TELL YOU. Catan blew my mind, and being that I’m a curious type, I spent the next several weeks devouring any sort of media about it that I could find (videos, articles, performance art, anything). I soon discovered that Settlers of Catan was only the tip of the gaming iceberg. There were many, many, many more modern board games out in the world, and they were a far cry from the roll-and-move games of our youth.

A year later, I’ve slid down the rabbit hole and found myself fully obsessed with modern board games. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise: I’ve been a video game fanatic for years; so board games are a logical next step in my playtime activities. Nevertheless, one of my great weaknesses is forcing my obsessions onto innocent bystanders, and subsequently, I now talk everyone’s ear off about tabletop gaming, often hijacking my podcasts to extol the virtues of Catan or Dead of Winter.

The response has actually been pretty cool. I receive several Tweets and messages asking for recommendations, and who am I to deny ANYONE my thoughtful opinion? I’m not a monster, after all. I AM AN INFLUENCER, DAMMIT. (Somewhere there is a Klout score to verify this, as well as several free shaving kits, some Hulu vouchers, and an Audi).

That being said, after the jump, check out an unsolicited tour of my gaming collection. Hopefully you’ll find something in there that will inspire you to either dive into the hobby or expand your collection. At the very least, it’s a fun way to pass five minutes on the Internet.

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BANTER BLENDER #111: Bagels, Hollywood, and The Game of Fiasco

Last week, my friend Jessica Ogilvie ( joined me on The Banter Blender for some good old fashioned banter. As usual, the topics spanned a large variety of topics, starting with another lengthy dissertation on bagels: how we like our cream cheese, how we feel about the word “shmear,” and other important observations from our Northeastern Jewish perspectives.

Eventually, we move on to Hollywood where Jessica tells us about a cover story she wrote for “LA Weekly” a few weeks ago about women in Hollywood. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the gender inequality that plagues the film industry.

Finally, we discuss a recent playthrough of the role-playing game “Fiasco” by Jason Morningstar. Yes, role-playing. But this isn’t some retread of “Dungeons & Dragons.” It was our first time ever tackling an RPG, and not only was it one of the funniest nights we’ve had in recent memory, we can’t wait to do it all again. Definitely tune in to hear about this experience.

BANTER BLENDER #109: Emmys Noms, Caitlyn Jenner’s Speech, LA Complex, and Fiasco

New episode is up! Finally!!

Angie Thomas and I chat about Emmy nominations, Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY speech, transgender stuff, and the overlooked series, “LA Complex.”

There’s also chatter about the games Fiasco and Viticulture as well as the cinematic experience known as The DUFF.

Come listen!